Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

My blog is in dire need of "fall-esque" goodies!  So, as promised, here's the first in the series of everything "fall" on my to bake list.  The original recipe had a cream cheese filling; however, I didn't have cream cheese or the time to add it.   I'm sure it would've bought these muffins to another level of goodness but you won't even miss it as they were delicious as is.  Also, I made my topping without pecans because my coworker has a nut allergy, but I highly recommend adding them.

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
Adapted from Annie's Eats and BH&G New Cookbook
Makes 24 muffins

For the muffins:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
4 tsps pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1¼ cups vegetable oil

For the streusel:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup pecans (optional)

To make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line 2 muffin pans with 12 paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, salt and baking soda; whisk to blend.  In the bowl of an electric mixer combine the eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree and oil.  Mix on medium-low speed until blended.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.
To make the topping, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl; whisk to blend.  Add in the butter pieces and cut into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture is coarse and crumbly.  Stir in the pecans, if using.
To assemble the muffins, evenly divide the batter between the 24 paper liners.  Sprinkle a small amount (tablespoon) of the topping mixture over each of the muffins.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before serving.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Recipes

Happy First Day of Autumn! It's hard to imagine that it's already fall given the temperature around here is still in the 80s. Nonetheless, I dug up a few fall goodies from the archives for some inspiration.  I definitely will be revisiting the following as well as adding a few new ones like apple pie, pumpkin muffins, cinnamon rolls, and pumpkin snickerdoodles this season.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Winter Wonderland Cake

As I mentioned in my previous post, Cake4Kids held their inaugural Cake-Off4Kids Event last Saturday. There were about 50 cakes and 250 volunteers, family, friends, and supporters of Cake4Kids present to help Cake4Kids raise funds for their push to file for non profit status.   Even after putting in a lot of behind the scenes work for this event, I knew I wanted to bake a cake for the competition too.

This 6-8-10 tier white cake (from Baking Illustrated) with buttercream frosting covered in marshmallow fondant is my largest/heaviest/tallest cake to date.

The theme was inspired by my love of penguins.  I had a lot of help from my sister who made most of the fondant animals while I baked a lot of cake.

I have been using A Better White Scratch Cake recipe from Cake Central for over a year now but the recipe from Baking Illustrated is my new official go to white cake.  It was so light and fluffy and moist.  It probably isn't ideal for stacking and carving but given the right support, you can apparently stack anything.  And, in this case, I was able to carve out a portion of it for a slide.  I should've done the cut all the way around but I wasn't sure how it would hold up. Also, I baked the top tier in the Wilton Sports Ball pan instead of carving it for the same reason.

My 8-inch cake pans are actually 8.5 inches in diameter.  Hence, when placed on top of the 10-inch tier, there was absolutely no space to place the penguins.  Not pictured are three of the penguins which I simply had standing around on the back of the cake instead of my planned snowball fight.

My favorite one, if I had to pick, is the penguin making snow angels!  Again, due to lack of space, he had to be on top of the igloo but I think it sort of works.

Transporting the cake to the location 20 minutes away was nerve wrecking.  I have to thank my boyfriend for staying calm and getting us there in one piece.

Taking part in this event, from start to finish, was a lot of fun; the sweetest part was winning the best decorated category!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Black Bottom Cupcakes

I have been baking diligently over the last month; however, finding the time to blog about it has evaded me as I juggled a SOX audit at work, Cake4Kids' inaugural Cake-Off4Kids event, and my second half marathon!  So, here's my attempt at catching up.

I made brookies again because I couldn't decide for a friend's backyard BBQ, which also happened to be a mini celebration for Cake4Kids as it was our one year anniversary!  I made a double batch of  brownies in a 9x13 pan but there wasn't enough cookie dough to go around this time.  Next time, I would just stick to a full batch of cookie dough and a double batch of brownies to create two distinct layers of goodness.

I made some snickerdoodles out of my Baking Illustrated cookbook and it has blown away my previous go to recipe.  We ate them up so fast that I didn't get a chance to take any pictures!

I also made black bottom cupcakes for a work function and despite how unattractive they looked (as the cheesecake overflowed), everyone raved about them.  Then again,what's not to love about a cheesecake and cupcake combination.

Black-Bottom Cupcakes
slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes approximately 12 cupcakes

For the filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature

1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup of mini chocolate chips

For the cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup unflavored vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the filling:
Beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, extract, and egg until smooth. (Avoid over beating the mixture as it will get really runny and not sink to the bottom of the cupcake.) Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Set aside.

Make the cupcakes:
1. Adjust the rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F (175°C). Line a 12-cup muffin tin with with paper baking cups.
2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl or a 2-cup measuring cup, mix together the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients; stirring until just smooth. DO NOT OVER MIX.
4. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Spoon a few tablespoons of the filling into the center of each cupcake, dividing the filling evenly.
5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the cheesecake filling looks set and the cupcakes feel springy when gently pressed.

6. Serve cupcakes hot, room temperature, or cold.  Leftovers should be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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