Caramel Apple Upside-Down Cake

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I’ve been thinking about this cake for over 3 months, ever since Thanksgiving. I had a large bounty of apples that I’d picked up from the Farmer’s Market and was looking for desserts to make. And Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect opportunity because I can usually make a few different desserts!

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For the last few years, the boyfriend and I have been hosting a left-behind Thanksgiving dinner, but since we had plans with his family last year, we hosted a Secondsgiving over the following weekend. Usually, I take care of the turkey and the desserts, which are my two favourite parts. But last year, other friends who host a left-behind dinner bought over all their leftover dessert… So I didn’t need to bake anything!

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While I had mixed feelings about not being able to make all the desserts, it was a nice change of pace to be able to focus on savories and sides. But then I never got the chance to make the Caramel Apple Upside-down Cake! After 3 months, I finally found the right time!

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The cake starts with a layer of sliced apples coated in a quick caramel sauce. A fluffy cinnamon cake is baked on top of the apples, and the whole thing is inverted onto a serving platter. The caramel cooks the apples and creates a gooey layer on top of the cake, with a light caramel taste. To boost the caramel flavor, serve the cake with extra caramel sauce!

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One thing to note when baking this cake is to use extra-wide aluminum foil to cover the bottom of your springform pan, and place a large cookie sheet on the rack below the cake. Springform pans have a tendency to leak slightly, so you’ll want the pan there to catch any drippings! Otherwise, you’ll panic when smoke starts pouring out of your oven, like I did… 😛

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

Download the recipe!

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Banana-Blueberry Muffins

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It’s kind of serendipitous that I’m posting a banana recipe today. Yesterday, I submitted my recipe for Banana Blondies to Serious Eats’ “Share Your Sweets” weekly column. And since looking back on that recipe, I can’t get those Blondies out of my head! (Mostly because they would be so perfect right now to invoke the feeling of Spring and shake off this cold and dreary winter.)

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As I’d confessed in my Blondies post, I’m a banana hoarder. I love bananas, but there’s a small window in which I’ll eat them before they end up in the “banana wasteland”. Then I save them for baking. Because of my banana surplus, I’ve come up with a few really good recipes over last few years. And now I have one more to add to the list!

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I threw together these muffins on a whim last week, when I had a jar of mashed banana and a quart of blueberries in the fridge and a hankering for blueberry muffins. And they turned out okay… The flavor was there, but they were dense and chewy. So I went back to the recipe I scribbled out and tweaked a few things.

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And the result was a perfect muffin: not too sweet, fluffy but substantial, and loaded with blueberries. They’re also pretty low in fat (with only a small amount coming from sour cream) and egg-free. You can also make them dairy-free by using vegan sour cream (made with tofu) or soy yoghurt!

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

Download the recipe!

Spiced Apple Butter

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Don’t hate, but I have only recently discovered the wonders of apple butter. As a kid, my experience with apple butter was limited to seeing my mom order it alongside a basket of biscuits at the local Cracker Barrel. (Yes, I lived far enough out in the exurbs of Chicago that we had our very own Cracker Barrel…) In my ignorance, I never quite understood apple butter and instead reached for the packaged grape jelly.

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But my curiosity over apple butter was piqued after seeing the boyfriend order it on all of our Cracker Barrel road-trip pit stops. I quickly learned to remind him to request the side of apple butter when ordering to avoid the inevitable sadface that occurred when he forgot.

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Once I got in to canning last summer, I knew that I needed to cook up some apple butter. But first, I tried out peach butter from some of the 50 pounds of peaches I ordered from the Farmer’s Market. And wow, that was amazing! So next up was apple butter.

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This is the second batch of apple butter I’ve canned, as I had a few over-ripe apples in the fridge and was down to only 1 jar of apple butter left from the first batch. It’s incredibly easy to cook and comes together quite nicely, as long as you have the patience. So make sure you set aside a full day in the kitchen to tend to your apple butter as it will require some careful tending.

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But, trust me, all of that time and effort will be worth it when you can pull out a fresh jar of homemade apple butter! Spread it on hot toast or biscuits, or stir it in to yoghurt (as the boyfriend found out is amazing as well!).

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

Download the recipe!

Homemade Jelly Donuts

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Holidays, to me, are a great opportunity to cook up something special for breakfast. While I’ll occasionally make pancakes or waffles on a regular weekend, the extra time of a holiday morning means I can get up early and start a more extravagant breakfast. This year, I decided to try my hand at homemade donuts.

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I’ve been mulling over donuts for a long time. The boyfriend and I made apple cider donut holes when we first started dating over 4 years ago, and they were amazing! Since then, the thought of donuts occasionally pops back in to head. (The store-bought donuts just don’t compare, especially down in the states, where I don’t have access to Tim Horton’s regularly!)

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Now that I’ve started making homemade jams and jellies, I decided that I needed to make donuts filled with amazing homemade preserves! So I made up a batch of dough, based on a recipe from Bon Appétit and pulled out a jar of Strawberry Hibiscus Jam and a jar of Blackberry Merlot Jelly. And the result was absolute bliss!

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These donuts are crispy on the outside but soft and cakey on the inside, with a gorgeous center of tasty jelly. If you don’t have homemade preserves, feel free to use store-bought. The dough for these donuts can also be made the night before. After the first rise, refrigerate the dough for up to 8 hours. In the morning, let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling and cutting. Then proceed with the second rise and fry as normal.

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After spending the night ringing in the 2014, these donuts made an amazing New Years’ brunch. Make then on a holiday or when you have extra time on the weekend. Or make them any normal day of the week to make it feel special! The donuts are just that good. 🙂

Click below for the recipe. If you have a question, feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! Enjoy! 🙂

Download the recipe!

Mixed Berry Coffee Cake

It’s summer in DC, and with that comes the inevitable time when I buy WAY too much fruit before heading out of town. This time, it was too many berries… My fridge was full of beautiful strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries right before I left my house for 5 days. I really didn’t want to come home to a fridge full of over-ripe or spoiled food, and I knew I couldn’t eat all those berries before going camping! So I needed to come up with a way to use them…

I cracked open one of my favorite cookbooks, to a recipe I’d bookmarked to try out: a Blueberry Crumb Cake by Dorie Greenspan. As I’m want to do, I modified the recipe slightly, doubled it to make a big pan of coffee cake, and went to work!

And this coffee cake is to die for! It is just sweet enough, chock full of fresh berries, and topped with a delightfully crumbly topping. It’s great as a breakfast cake but also perfect for dessert. The cake is also extremely versatile! I’ve made it with just blueberries and raspberries and with chopped strawberries thrown in. Make it with whatever berries you have or can find, depending on your preference!

If the recipe quantify is a little daunting, feel free to halve it. Or bake the whole thing and store half of it in the freezer, wrapped in plastic wrap, for later this year when fresh berries are no longer in season. Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Sour Cream Pancakes

Happy Pancake Tuesday!! I know some of you may be scratching your heads wondering what Pancake Tuesday is… Well, Pancake Tuesday (aka Shrove Tuesday) is known to most people in the States as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday refers to the practice of eating richer, fatty foods on the last night before Lent. In the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, it is tradition to eat pancakes on Fat Tuesday!

As a kid, I remember my mom occasionally making me and my sister pancakes for dinners on Pancake Tuesday, and it always felt like a very special dinner. In college, I threw Pancake Tuesday dinners for my housemates and friends. And, as an adult, I still use Pancake Tuesday as an excuse to have breakfast for dinner. (Or an excuse to bring my electric griddle in to the office and make pancakes for breakfast, as my coworkers enjoyed today!) 🙂

Today, I share my favorite recipe for pancakes! I stumbled on the recipe one weekend morning when I’d promised the boyfriend pancakes for breakfast. The one small problem was that I didn’t have any baking powder! I’d already sent the boyfriend to the store to pick up toilet paper, but he forgot his cell phone on the kitchen table… So it was up to me to make it work!

I found a recipe online from Epicurious that ended up working out perfectly. It calls for baking soda instead of powder, and I was able to use some of the leftover sour cream I had in my fridge! I’ve modified the recipe slightly, after making more pancakes than I can count! The recipe can easily be doubled (or tripled, or quadrupled) and makes great leftovers. My favorite tradition is to save one pancake for dessert later in the day, topped with Nutella and strawberries! Mmmmm 😀

Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments below! And thanks for reading! 🙂

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Carrot-Raisin Muffins

Carrot-Raisin Muffins

Last week, with some leftover carrots, I decided to bake up some carrot-raisin muffins.  Along with blueberry muffins, carrot-raisin muffins tie as my favorite!

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To me, carrot-raisin muffins are always an interesting balance. I want a muffin that’s sweet and dense, but not too oily or too much like carrot cake. While I love carrot cake, eating it for breakfast usually feels like a bad choice… 😉

These muffins include both all-purpose and whole-wheat flour. The whole wheat flour gives them a little boost of extra nutrients and makes them dense without feeling too heavy.

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Click below for the recipe! Have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments. And thanks for reading! 🙂

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