Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts

pumpkin doughnuts
I haven’t posted in a really long time.  I apologize.  Not that any of you were waiting around without anything to eat or lacking another post about complex carbs to drool over, but still.  I don’t like being inconsistent, but I’m thinking that may be the new word that will begin to define my life, starting in about four weeks.

We’ve been doing all kinds of prep to the house for the arrival of this tiny baby.  Amazing what all “needs” to be done to accommodate something that only weighs eight pounds.  But I’m a planner.  I love my ducks all in a row and a few of those ducks were still squawking around in my head, so we’ve been getting things done. We rearranged Olive’s room and Eleanor’s nursery, which will also be a guest bedroom.  I’ve made a Quiet Book for Olive for the one Sunday morning a month that our church doesn’t have their children’s program during services, and I’ve been trying to knit Eleanor a cardigan, which I’m sure she’ll like to put on one of her dolls when she’s five, because I think that’s about when I’ll be done with it.  Matt finished building Olive’s bed and I’ve bought the requisite new rug (I feel the need to buy a rug for each new life occasion) for the nursery and so we’re getting there.  Slowly but surely, I’ll be ready for this baby to enter our world.  Things left to do: buy Christmas presents for as many people as I can, write a few dozen blog posts, finish up my last three photo shoots, have a few cooking days to stock our freezer with ready to make meals for the winter, and create/shoot our annual Christmas card.  Yes, we will go to just as much trouble as we always do.  Unfortunately/fortunately.  It’s going to be epic. 🙂

So in the midst of all this planning, I woke at 6 last Sunday morning with my parents in town for a visit, a quiet house, and THIS picture on my Instagram feed.  I quickly scanned my brain pantry for the items and they were all there.  So, I got up and made them.  They were fantastically successful.  So easy and so worth buying a little doughnut pan, although I’m sure they’d bake up into amazing little mini muffins, as well, if you don’t have a doughnut pan.

I promise more regular posts in the coming weeks.  Life’s changing, but we still have to eat, right?!  I hope things have been going well for you.  And if they haven’t, these doughnuts will start you off in a better direction tomorrow.

baked pumpkin doughnuts

Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts*
makes 16

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have doughnut pans, you can bake these in a standard muffin tin; they just won’t be doughnuts.
Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, pumpkin, spices, salt, and baking powder until smooth.
Add the flour, stirring just until smooth.

Fill the wells of the doughnut pans about 3/4 full; use a scant 1/4 cup of batter in each well. If you’re making muffins, fill each well about 3/4 full; the recipe makes about 15, so you’ll need to bake in two batches (unless you have two muffin pans).  Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of one comes out clean. If you’re making muffins, they’ll need to bake for 23 to 25 minutes.

Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and after about 5 minutes, loosen their edges, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

While the doughnuts are still warm (but no longer fragile), gently shake them in a bag with cinnamon-sugar. If you’ve made muffins, sprinkle their tops heavily with cinnamon-sugar.
Cool completely, and store (not wrapped tight) at room temperature for several days.  I’d recommend a tupperware as opposed to a plastic bag.  They sweat like the dickens.

*taken from the King Arthur Flour website, which you all should subscribe to

 

Double Dark Chocolate Waffles

Double Dark Chocolate Waffles
The chocolate cravings have gone overboard.  I really blame it in all seriousness on pregnancy.  When I’m not pregnant, chocolate is good and fine, about on par with every other sweet. Not pregnant,  I don’t think about it outside of seeing it, I don’t dream up ways of using it to its maximum potential in breakfast foods, and I don’t think that it’s “needed” to get from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. successfully.  When pregnant…well, all those things suddenly become priorities.  Like on Labor Day, I got up and looked up a basic buttermilk waffle recipe and then thought of the maximum way I could choco-fy it.  And I did.  Yes, I’ve had a similar waffle recipe on this blog before, BUT it wasn’t as good.  These waffles are fluffier, less dense, and the chocolate chips remain melty like a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie during your entire breakfast.  So.  I’m not sorry for seeming repetitive.  If you’re pregnant, I’ll understand if I get a thank-you note in the mail later this week.
Double Chocolate Buttermilk Waffles
I topped these in three different ways and they were all good: melted butter and powdered sugar – easy, and the most cookie-like experience.  Butter with maple syrup: most waffle-like experience, but I’ve always felt that syrup on a chocolate anything is too much.  Turns out, it’s not.  And three: fresh raspberries all over the suckers.  Chocolate dipped fruit, anyone?  They were all good.  Dress it up, dress it down, this will be your new craving.

Double Chocolate Waffles
Double Dark Chocolate Waffles
makes about 12 Belgian-style waffles

2 cups AP flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Heat your waffle iron.  In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a whisk until fully incorporated.  In a smaller bowl, whip up the wet ingredients.  Gently whisk the wet into the dry until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Cook waffles to the waffle-iron’s suggested time (mine has a handy little light that goes off when they’re done) and keep in a 200 degree oven while you cook the rest to keep them nice and warm and crisp on the outside.  Serve with powdered sugar and melted butter, or whatever.  It really doesn’t matter – it’s all good.

Baked Chilaquiles – an amazing breakfast on a beach in Mexico or in your own kitchen

chilaquiles with egg
I remember this one year, my friend Cali, actually paid me to go to Acapulco, Mexico and shoot her wedding.  We had moments like this:IMG_8371bridegroom
It was also the hottest I’ve ever been in my life, so I went ahead and cashed her check. 🙂  However, there were extremely enjoyable moments, and one of them was having chilaquiles for breakfast, along with various fresh-squeezed juices.  I had never had chilaquiles before (pronounced: chee-lay-quee-les) and it was a bit of a revelation.  Tortilla chips softened with a rich tomato or chili or black bean sauce, mixed with tender bits of chicken and plenty of cheese.  This is actually a pretty typical breakfast for Mexico.  That may be ignorant of me to say, as I’m sure they have cereal, too, but when we got to go back with Cali and Alex to visit  Alex’s home in Mexico City a few years later, (um, yeah, we’re lucky to know them) it was pretty common to see things we’d associate with dinner, served for breakfast.  Like enchiladas or tostadas.  Not everything had to have an egg on it like we feel compelled to do, here.  Case in point: our version of chilaquiles sure enough had eggs on it.  However, it’s a delicious addition!  Matt made us this breakfast and I shot the picture, so once again, this is a true Family Meal kinda post.  We all contribute in different ways throughout the week and I’m always so happy when he has a plan for Saturday breakfast!

chilaquiles topped with scrambled eggs

chilaquiles
Baked Chilaquiles*
serves 6

10 oz thick tortilla chips
1 – 28 oz can whole tomatoes, drained
3 serrano peppers, seeded and roasted
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2  cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt to taste,about 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
5 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup shredded cheese, such as Monterey Jack or Mexican Chihuahua cheese

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Scoop tortilla chips into 13 x 9-inch baking dish.

In the oven, place seeded serrano peppers, cut-side down on a baking sheet and roast until blistered.  We did this under the broiler.  Take out and let cool.
Coarsely puree tomatoes and serrano peppers in a food processor or blender. Heat oil in large saucepan; add onion and sauté until golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, cook 1 minute, then stir in broth, tomato puree and salt. Heat to boil. Stir in cilantro. Set mixture aside.  In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and scramble the eggs and a half teaspoon of salt till they’re almost done.  Remove from heat.  Pour the sauce over the chips; coating them evenly with the sauce.  Layer the almost-done scrambled eggs on top of the sauce.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake until lightly browned on top and bubbling, about 15 minutes.

Garnish with extra cilantro and a few extra chips on the side.

*adapted from Rick Bayless’ recipe, Chipotle-Baked Tortilla Casserole

The Best Fresh Blueberry Muffins

Fresh Blueberry Muffins 3
Sorry for the delay in posts.  I can’t really blame it on anything except feeling bloated, it’s 100 degrees outside, I don’t feel like cooking anything that’s picture-worthy and I’m rearranging my entire house to make room for a little human that will only weigh about 7 pounds.  So here’s another indulgent baked goods recipe that both me and my little growing baby demand in spades these days (hey, I passed my glucose test almost too well.  This kid needs sugar!)
Blueberries are $1.30 for a pint at our local supermarket!  I bought a couple pints and plan on freezing some for those lonely winter months without a fresh berry in sight.  Plus, I need to start thinking about literally storing up for winter as we will have a brand new baby to feed around the clock during the holidays, on top of everything else that will need to be done!  I’m thinking these muffins will be perfect to freeze and gently warm in the oven when we need breakfast, yet don’t have the brain capacity to read a recipe.
Fresh Blueberry Muffins 2
I made these last week  from the New Best Recipe cookbook and they turned out magically perfect.  I used fresh instead of frozen, as the recipe suggests, and I indeed had “explosions of tart berries throughout the muffins” but I certainly didn’t mind.  Because the recipe was testing in the winter when blueberries were out of season.  The blueberries in the store now taste like…blueberries!  So grab them while you can and whip these up for breakfast tomorrow morning!  I brushed these with melted butter and sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar for a little extra love.  Fresh Blueberry Muffins with Cinnamon Sugar

The Best Fresh Blueberry Muffins*
makes a dozen

10 ounces (2 cups) unbleached AP flour (Gold Medal makes a softer muffin because it doesn’t have as much protein as King Arthur.)
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
7 ounces (1 cup) sugar
4 TBS unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
10 ounces (1 1/4 cups) sour cream
7-8 ounces (1 1/2 cups) frozen or fresh blueberries

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 12 cup muffin tin or line with papers, like I do, because I live in terror of baked goods sticking.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Whisk the egg in a separate medium bowl until well combined and light colored, about 20 seconds.  Add the sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous, about 30 seconds; add the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions, whisking to combine after each addition. Add the sour cream in 2 additions, whisking just to combine.

Add the berries to the dry ingredients and gently toss until they’re all coated.  Add the sour cream mixture and fold with a rubber spatula until the batter comes together and the berries are evenly distributed, 25-30 seconds.  Don’t overmix, some spots of flour will remain.

Scoop into the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake until muffins are light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes, rotating the pan about halfway through baking time.  Dump the muffins onto a wire rack, stand the muffins upright and let them cool 5 minutes.  Serve as is, or brushed with butter and dipped into cinnamon sugar.  You win either way.

*taken from The Best New Recipe.  This cookbook will make you look so, so smart.

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls with Lime Vanilla Bean Icing

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Roll - cross section
Good Sunday morning to you all!  This week has been a tough one for me.  I got sick on Tuesday and as anyone who has ever been pregnant knows, you can’t take the good meds when you’re sick.  So I had the usual, insulting cold in the middle of summer, had two weddings and one family shoot to edit, made a ginormous birthday cake for a friend which took up all of Tuesday AND my wonderful redhead decided to cut her usual nap time in half, so I had only one good hour during the day to get my photo work done (still got the wedding done in my two-week time frame – bragging, I don’t care, gotta throw that out there).

Blackberry Lime Morning Rolls
In the midst of my feeling like my head was stuck in a cloud and everything else, I felt it was the right time to make cinnamon rolls.  I don’t know – it was just therapeutic.  A few weeks ago, Matt made Joy the Baker’s first Baking Bootcamp recipe – a triple berry cinnamon swirl bread – and it was just outstanding.  Wonderful recipe and the flavors were so perfect.
Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
The day he made it, I knew I wanted to turn it into cinnamon rolls with some kind of citrus glaze.  I finally got around to it and…score.  They were so bright and comforting at the same time.  I will definitely make these again when I’m not afflicted with Taste Blindness (I’ll expound on that, later).  And you should make them, too!  They take about an hour less than typical from-scratch cinnamon rolls and can be used with most any fruit – so get creative!

Morning Rolls - Blackberry Lime

 

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls with Lime Vanilla Bean Icing*

For the Dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to a warm lukewarm
1 large egg yolk 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt a bit of olive oil for greasing the bowl

For the Filling: 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh blackberries
Zest from two limes
1 large egg, beaten for egg wash

In a medium bowl stir yeast with sugar. Stir in  the lukewarm milk and then add the egg yolk and melted butter.  Whisk together until thoroughly combined.  Allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes.  It should foam and froth. In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and start kneading it until it pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Place dough on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes more.  Dough ball should be smooth and damp, without being too sticky.  Shape dough into a ball. Grease a large bowl with olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover.  Allow to rest at warm room temperature for about 1 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, whisk together the butter with sugar and cinnamon for the filling.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch cake pan.  Set aside. After the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured counter and knead twice.  Using a rolling pin to roll the dough to a rectangle of about 18×12 inches. Spoon the cinnamon filling over top, spreading evenly, leaving a clean 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the fresh blackberries over the cinnamon filling and grate the lime zest over everything.
Blackberry Cinnamon Rolls
(My blackberries were apparently from the Land of Canaan, so I had to cut them up). Start by rolling the longest side of the dough.  The roll will be a bit lumpy because of all the berries. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1 1/2 inch rolls and place cut-side down.  Brush the rolls with the beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before icing.

For the Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
juice from one lime
3 tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
a good pinch of kosher salt

Mix everything together in a medium bowl and thin out the icing with more lime juice, or thicken it up with more sugar.  Easy as that!

Have a happy rest of your weekend 🙂

*I adapted Joy’s recipe for the Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread a bit, but you can see her original and wonderful recipe HERE.

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing
I have a wonderful friend named Katrina.  She is the mother of two, wild at heart, loves all things done from scratch and enjoys nothing more than giving things away for free that she worked hard to produce and for which she should be charging good money.  I try my best to pay her for her amazing pasture-raised, organic eggs, but occasionally she’ll leave a dozen on my porch because “she had too many to use that week.”  Look at these beauties!

free range eggs

free range and all that jazz
So a few weeks ago when I was blessed with an extra dozen eggs on my porch, I decided to sacrifice them to the baking gods and make a chiffon cake.  NOTHING whips up faster than a fresh, room temp egg white.  And when you have fresh eggs (we’re talking hours from the chicken) you do NOT have to keep them in the fridge.  And for baked goods, nearly all recipes will call for a room temp egg.  I was completely shocked the first time I used Katrina’s eggs when making a chocolate mousse and the egg whites beat into stiff peaks in about a MINUTE.  I’m not exaggerating.  Amazing.  This post is really just me bragging that I have a super cool friend who raises really great chickens who lay really amazing eggs.

For the recipe today, I give you a banana chiffon cake with salted caramel icing.  A chiffon cake is kinda like an angel food cake except not so angelic.  It uses both the yolks and whipped egg whites AND has oil.  But the texture is similar to an angel food cake except this cake is super moist.  When I was little, the only cake my grandmother would ever make (to my recollection) was an angel food cake, and I can only imagine that was because it has no added fat.  She was missing out 🙂

Banana Chiffon Cake

 

Banana Chiffon Cake with Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Icing*

For the cake:

10 1/2 oz sugar
5 1/3 oz plain cake flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
7 large eggs; 2 whole, 5 separated, at room temp
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 medium)

For the icing:

1 recipe salted caramel sauce
1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese at room temp

 

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Whisk the sugar, flour, baking powder, soda and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk in the 2 whole eggs, 5 egg yolks (reserve the whites), water, oil and extract until the batter is just smooth.

Pour the reserved egg whites into the bowl of a sand mixer; beat at low speed until foamy, about 1 minute.  Add the cream of tartar, gradually increase the speed to medium-high, and beat the whites until very thick and stiff, just short of dry (as little as 7 minutes in a stand mixer and as little as 2 minutes if you’re using eggs that are only 5 hours old) 🙂 With a large rubber spatula, fold the banana mush into the batter, then fold the whites into the batter, making sure to not over mix, but being sure you get all the way down to the bottom of the bowl to incorporate whites into all the batter.

Pour the batter into an ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter, 16-cup capacity).  Rap the pan against the counter a few times to rupture any large air pockets.  If using a pan with a removable bottom, grasp both sides with your hands while firmly pressing down on the tube with your thumbs to keep the batter from seeping from the pan during this process. Wipe off any bbatter that may have dripped or splashed onto the inside walls of the pan with a paper towel.

Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes.  Immediately turn the cake upside down to cool (I’ll admit, this is scary, but have faith).  If the pan does not have prongs around the rim for elevating the cake, invert the pan onto the neck of a wine bottle or funnel.  Let the cake cool COMPLETELY before inverting.

To unmold, run a thin knife around the pan between the cake and pan wall.  Use a skewer to loosen the cake from the tube.  Loosen the cake from the bottom of the pan with a knife and invert it onto a serving pan.  Hope for the best.  Half of my cake was hollow because I didn’t incorporate the egg whites sufficiently.  This is life.

Spread the icing over the top of the cake and let it drip down the sides.

To make the icing:

After making the salted caramel sauce, leave it in the pan and with a mixer or by hand with a whisk, whip the softened cream cheese until fully incorporated and no tiny lumps remain.  Let it come up to room temp and then beat again before pouring over the cake.

*cake recipe adapted from The New Best Recipe cookbook.  This book is endlessly tested and will never steer you wrong.

 

Chilled Strawberry Soup

Chilled Strawberry Soup
I ran across this interesting recipe last week and wanted desperately to try it.  A chilled strawberry soup!  What could be more summery or fun?

The original recipe called for Riesling and a garnish of black pepper and olive oil and next time I do it, I really want to try that version.  Since I would be serving it to Olive and wouldn’t be cooking the alcohol out, I decided to alter the 1/2 cup of Riesling for lime juice and I think the results were so refreshing.  Some might call this a smoothie, and it basically is, but it’s thinner and if you go the adult version route, it would certainly be more elevated than a smoothie.  Olive loved this different snack and I loved it for breakfast this morning!  I garnished the soup with a bit of chocolate mint from my plant out back.  Did you know there was such a thing as chocolate mint?!  I didn’t but was intrigued and I think there is a subtle smooth difference between it and basic sweet mint (which has the quintessential “gum” flavor).  I thought mint and hints of chocolate would be great on a strawberry soup and it was – next time I may even add some dark chocolate shavings as a garnish!

Enjoy!  It’s a hot one out there, today!

Chilled Strawberry Soup
makes about 3 cups

3 cups strawberries, hulled
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
Juice from two large limes (about 1/2 cup)
1/3 cup raw honey
Garnish: mint, chocolate, cracked pepper

Put all ingredients except the garnish in a blender or food processor and blend for about a minute, scraping down the sides.  If you want to go the extra mile, strain the soup through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Chill for at least an hour and garnish as you wish!  (I didn’t chill ours at all and it was great).

Ginger Ale Poached Apricots over Warm Cinnamon Rice Pudding

Apricots Poached in Ginger Ale Poached Apricots with Cinnamon and Vanilla Bean
Simplicity.  I crave it, lately.  Maybe because I’m in a world filled with a bouncing-off-the-wall toddler and red-headed drama, or maybe it’s because the summer is heating up and I’m busy shooting weddings, all the while wondering who this little baby growing inside me will turn out to be.  I forget I’m pregnant most days.  Other than my sudden urge to rearrange all the furniture and the hair tie holding my pants together, it’s easy to forget while dealing with everything else.  That’s why I love cooking so much – it forces you to slow down and spend some time in thought.  Even if for just five minutes – there will be some point in meal prep where you must wait.  And in that waiting usually comes contemplation (if you can keep your phone out of reach).

Last week when I stood over my stove and smelled the tart sweetness of apricots stewing, I was transported back to the very first time I made jam.  It was about this time four years ago and the (now gone) huge, old apricot tree in our front yard decided to dump about 10 lbs of fruit on our lawn for a week straight.  I didn’t know what to do with all that fruit and I’d never made jam before, but I just started to create.  Took a base recipe and made all kinds of flavors: Vietnamese Cinnamon, Vanilla Bean, Red Pepper, Bourbon, Chinese 5 Spice – they were all amazing and I felt so good about not letting any of that fruit go to waste.  I also learned the simplicity of jamming.  The joy of tasting that fruit completely come ALIVE with just the addition of some sugar and a squeeze of lemon.  I never cared about apricots before that year, but since then, they’ve become one of my favorite fruits.
Poached Apricots in Ginger Syrup
I didn’t make jam with these store-bought apricots, but I did let them poach in some leftover ginger ale and a stick of cinnamon and vanilla bean.  The scent in my kitchen was as bright as the summer sun.  When the apricots were done poaching, I removed them from the liquid and let the ginger ale reduce until it was a syrup.  The apricots are sitting in that syrup in my fridge, now.  Waiting to be poured over ice cream or spooned over a warm biscuit with butter.  Or maybe just eaten straight out of the jar. Last week I made a cinnamon vanilla bean rice pudding for Olive’s snack time and added some poached apricots on top.  The combination was so comforting and for a few minutes, we both just ate and smiled at each other.

Coconut Milk Rice Pudding with Poached Apricots

Ginger Ale Poached Apricots with Cinnamon Rice Pudding

2 lbs of apricots, halved, pits removed
1 liter of ginger ale
two cinnamon sticks (or a tsp of ground cinnamon)
1 vanilla bean, split
1/4 cup sugar

Place the apricot halves in a large, non-reactive pot over medium-high heat.  Add the ginger ale, cinnamon, vanilla bean and sugar and let the mixture come to a boil.  After 10 minutes, remove the apricots with a slotted spoon and set them in a large bowl.  Allow the liquid to reduce to about 1-2 cups of liquid and pour over the apricots in the bowl.  Spoon apricots and syrup over rice pudding, ice cream, waffles, whatever you want!

Cinnamon Rice Pudding*
makes about 2 cups

1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup arborio rice (short grain rice)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt
1 egg

In a medium saucepan, heat the milks, rice and salt until the mixture boils.  Reduce heat and let the mixture cook about 20-25 minutes, stirring often, until the rice absorbs most of the liquid.  Remove from heat and in a smaller bowl, add the brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean paste and egg and whip until smooth.  Add 1-2 tablespoons of the hot rice mixture to the egg mixture, stirring quickly to temper the egg.  Then, while whisking, add the egg/sugar mixture back into the pot of rice and let it cook over low heat until slightly thickened, about 10 more minutes.

Serve with poached apricots!

*adapted from this lovely recipe off Simply Recipes

Baking Challenge: Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
I love a good challenge.  And Joy the Baker gave everyone a wonderful one!  She teamed up with King Arthur Flour (our favorite flour to use and the one Matt uses for all his bread) to create a baking challenge using four different flours from King Arthur’s extensive selection.  Go here to see the contest rules for yourself and be sure and watch the video – it’s so inspirational!  She makes everything look so easy 🙂

Matt chose two and I chose two – a true Family Meal collaboration!  He went first with the Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread.  It really didn’t seem that difficult for him and the recipe seems pretty forgiving.  I think no matter what your dough looks like when you put it in the pan raw, it’s going to bake up beautifully.  We brought this to our church class this morning and it tasted like one huge cinnamon roll filled with fruit.  In fact, I think if I were to redo this recipe, I would make them into berry cinnamon rolls with an orange icing.  Okay…that sounds awesome.  You heard it here first, folks.  That’s gonna happen.

Go take this challenge and have fun!  Post your pics on Instagram with the hashtag, “#bakingbootcamp”  and enjoy the process!

Triple Berry Bread Uncooked Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Click here for the very helpful recipe with photo tutorials!

 

Baked Double Chocolate Doughnuts

Chocolate Donuts
King Arthur Flour announced on their Facebook page that today is National Doughnut Day.  I was set up to post about a healthy snack today, but I was derailed by their incredible photos of this dark chocolate baked doughnut. I really hate frying things – not for any noble health reasons, but because I fright easily from splattering lava hot grease.  So these baked donuts were calling my name!  In the debate of cake vs raised doughnuts, I’m a cake gal.  I love the dense texture with the slightly crispy outside.  These baked doughnuts come mighty close to mimicking a fried cake doughnut and they were so easy to make!  I had fun with the different icings, too.  In the lineup were:

Espresso Double Chocolate Donuts
Espresso Glazed!  I don’t ever think I could pass up the coffee/chocolate combination if I tried, so I had to do this one.  My favorite, though, was…

Chocolate Chunk Donuts with Peanut Butter Frosting
Peanut Butter Frosted!  Thick, creamy peanut buttery frosting on a double chocolate doughnut?  Well, if you insist.  And then, my wildcard was inspired by Olivia the Pig’s favorite ice cream flavor, cherry chocolate chunk (my little girl watches one single episode all. the. time.) So I made cherry almond!  Because me and almond go way back…

Cherry Almond Chocolate Chunk Donuts
This was a super fun derailment and I hope you all enjoy some crave-worthy doughnut photos!  And try this super easy baked doughnut recipe!  I’ll add my frosting variations below!

Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts*
makes 12-14 doughnuts

2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of cayenne
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons vinegar, white or cider
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the wells of two standard doughnut pans. If you don’t have two pans, simply bake the batter in two batches. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, cinnamon, cayenne, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Set aside.  (I added those other flavors because I’m addicted to Mexican chocolate).  In a large measuring cup or medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar.

Add the wet ingredients, along with the vegetable oil, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend; there’s no need to beat the batter, just make sure everything is well-combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s), filling them between 3/4 and full.
Bake the doughnuts for 12 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.  Remove the doughnuts from the oven, and after 30 seconds or so, loosen their edges, turn the pan upside down over a rack, and gently let the doughnuts fall onto the rack.

*adapted from this recipe on King Arthur Flour

For the icings:

I filled three bowls with 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar each.  Then, I added 2-3 tablespoons of boiling water to each, whisking until smooth.

For the Peanut Butter Frosting:
To the sugar, I added 2 more tablespoons of boiling water and 2 tablespoons of creamy peanut butter.  I also added a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste because I have to add it to everything, and a pinch of salt.  Whisk until smooth.  If too thick, add more water.  If too thin, add more peanut butter.  You can’t lose.

For the Espresso Icing:
To the sugar, I added a teaspoon of espresso powder, a teaspoon of cocoa powder, a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste and whisked until smooth.  Thin out with more water if desired.

For the Cherry Almond Icing:
To the sugar, I added 2 tablespoons of boiling water to about 1/3 cup cherry preserves and whisked until smooth.  I added vanilla, a teaspoon of almond extract and a couple pinches of salt because it was just solid sweetness at first.

Let the doughnuts cool completely before dunking them halfway into the icing of your choice.  Enjoy!