Happy Thanksgiving!

ThanksgivingI hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday, so I figured I would do so today… and show off my pepperoni and cheese appetizer platter, inspired by a post on Facebook! Of course, the problem with making things pretty is that then no one wants to eat them! We had a lot of leftover pepperoni and cheese.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, and the quiet time before the holiday rush begins!

Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment

Pumking Ale Monkey Cake

Pumking7So I’ve been in a bit of a baking rut lately…luckily, Halloween and the fall in general lends itself to awesome pumpkin recipes. Last year, I fell in LOVE with Southern Tier’s Pumking Ale. So when my husband showed me this recipe for monkey bread, I knew that if I only baked one thing this fall, it would be this. It’s from a blog called Pennies, Pints, Pittsburgh, and it is all recipes with beer. Pretty amazing if you ask me.

I call this “monkey cake” because instead of little balls that you pull apart, mine came out more like a cake. So we sliced it when serving, and instead of dipping in the sauce, we drizzled it on top of each slice. And yes, there are candy eyes on the cake. I had them leftover from when I helped a friend make this dinosaur cake and thought it would be perfect for Halloween.

Before diving into the recipe, let me first say that for the past two recipes I posted, I’ve used a different yeast, and I think it’s pretty fantastic. The dough had a nice, high rise and I’ve never gotten this before with the other yeast I was using. Here it is:

Pumking8For those of you who bake a lot of bread, you can get it in a 48 pack on Amazon.

And now, here is the recipe that will totally change your life. Okay, maybe not…but it really is so damn good!

Pumking Ale Monkey Cake (from Pennies, Pints, Pittsburgh)
 
Ingredients
For the Dough:
  • ¾ cup Southern Tier Pumking Ale
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
For the Caramel Sauce:
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Pumking Ale
  • ¾ cup heavy cream at room temperature
  • 3½ TBSP butter at room temperature
For the coating:
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1¼ cups white sugar
  • 1 TBSP ground cinnamon
Instructions
To make the dough:
  1. In a large saucepan, combine the Pumking ale, whole milk, vegetable oil, and white sugar. Heat until it is hot, but stop right before it begins to boil.
  2. Remove the pan from heat and let cool 15-20 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the yeast on the surface of the mixture and let sit for 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer this mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the pumpkin puree until it is completely combined.
  5. Gently stir in 4 cups of the flour and the ground cinnamon.
  6. Let the dough rest covered with a towel for one hour. It should be very puffy and double the size when you left it.
  7. Stir in the remaining flour (1/2 cup), baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
For the caramel sauce
  1. Next, combine the sugar and Pumking Ale in a medium saucepan, and cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil, without stirring. Boil until the sauce is a deep amber color, about 5 minutes. Watch it, because it can burn easily.
  3. Remove the saucepan from heat and whisk in the heavy cream. Then stir in the butter. Transfer the caramel to a bowl and let cool.
To assemble:
  1. Melt the butter in a bowl.
  2. Combine the sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.
  3. Pull off small pieces of dough and roll them into slightly larger than golf sized balls. You should have about 40-45 balls. Dip each ball in the melted butter and then roll in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Place in the bottom of a greased bundt pan.
  4. Pile up all the balls until the bundt pan is filled.
  5. Pour ½ cup of the beer caramel over the coated dough balls.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees on a cookie sheet for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  7. Let cool 5-10 minutes, and then invert onto a large serving plate.
  8. Pull off pieces and dip into the remaining beer caramel, or slice and drizzle the caramel on top of each slice.

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Posted in Other Desserts | 2 Comments

Oktoberfest Pretzels!

Pretzels1Every year, my in-laws have a themed BBQ in August to celebrate my husband and father-in-law’s birthdays. Last year, the theme was tiki, and I made these tropical tiki cupcakes.¬†This year, the theme was Oktoberfest, so I thought soft pretzels would be perfect.

I have never found a pretzel recipe that I really loved, and especially one that tastes good the next day. But, I found this recipe online from one of my favorite blogs, Brown Eyed Baker, and I figured I would test it out. I have to say, these are the best tasting pretzels I have ever made, and they were still great the next day. I just put them on a foil-lined cookie sheet and warmed them up in the oven for 15 minutes at 375.

I’ve also never found a pretzel recipe that browned as beautifully as these did!

Pretzels4This recipe comes out so puffy and golden, it’s amazing how big they get after being boiled. I thought I would have these tiny pretzels, but they ended up being a great size.

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The dough was also great to work with. Just make sure to really flour your hands before rolling the dough.

It really did double in size after waiting an hour. I never had that happen before. Usually the dough rises, but not all that much.

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Pretzels2I will definitely be making these again. They went like hotcakes! I made 4 batches, or 32 pretzels. Every single pretzel was gone within a few hours.

So here’s the recipe! The real Oktoberfest is next month, so this is a great way to celebrate.

Soft Pretzels (from Brown Eyed Baker
 
One batch makes 8 pretzels
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups warm water
  • 1 TBSP white sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 packet of active dry yeast
  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
  • 10 cups water
  • ⅔ cup of baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 TBSP water, whisked together for egg wash
  • kosher salt for sprinkling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line 2 or 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper and brush on vegetable oil all over the paper.
  2. Mix the water, sugar, and salt in a bowl and sprinkle yeast on top. Let sit for 5 minutes until foaming.
  3. Add in the flour and butter and mix with a Kitchenaid mixer using the dough hook. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are combined. Then increase the speed so the dough comes together.
  4. Place the dough in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. You may want to flour your hands when doing this so the dough doesn't stick. Place the dough in a warm place in the kitchen and let rise for about an hour. It should double in size.
  5. Combine the water and baking soda in a dutch oven and bring to a boil.
  6. In the meantime, divide the dough into 8 pieces. With floured hands, roll the piece of dough until it is long and skinny, about 24 inches long.
  7. To make the pretzel shape, make a u-shape with the dough, cross the ends, and them down on the body of the pretzel.
  8. Once the water is boiling, place 2 pretzels in the water and let boil for 30 seconds. Remove with a spatula and place on the parchment paper.
  9. Combine the egg yolk and water to make the egg wash, and brush on the two pretzels. Then sprinkle kosher salt on top.
  10. Continue this way, boiling two pretzels, then brushing on the egg wash, and lastly sprinkling salt on top.
  11. Bake pretzels for 12-14 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

Posted in Breads | 1 Comment

Another bridal shower display of cake pops

Bridal-pops1A few years ago (wow, I can’t believe it’s been that long!) I made cake pops displayed on a wedding cake for my sister-in-law’s bridal shower. Well, she hired me to make the same thing for her sister’s shower, which was this past weekend. This was a fun project, so I was happy to do it again, and play with different colors and decorations.

Her main color was teal, so I tried to go for an ombre effect, with different shades of teal. I found this great sequin flower trim at M&J Trimming in the city (this store is crazy fun if you like crafts), and cut the flowers out individually to glue them on the Styrofoam cake. They really tied in all the colors.

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I made the same flavors as last time, except that I substituted the vanilla flavor with my new favorite, sugar cookie. Each tier was a different flavor.

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One other great thing I recently found in my travels is clear crystal sugar. My new favorite cake store, The Chocolate Duck, has all different colors and textures of sugar in little baggies. They were quite reasonably priced, which prompted me to experiment a bit. The crystal sugar still lets the color of the pop show through, and the texture and sweetness is perfect, especially for the sugar cookie flavored pop. And they look so pretty!

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Bridal-pops7Everyone needs more cake pops in their life, don’t you think? ;-)

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Sugar cookie cupcakes with cookie dough frosting

cookie-cupcakes2Hello there! Hope everyone is having a great summer. It’s been a bit slow for me on the baking front, but I have a project coming up next month that I can’t wait to do. To prepare, I needed to test out some new flavors, so I made these cupcakes for my friend’s birthday gathering. I wanted something other than garden variety vanilla, so I went on Pinterest and found cookie dough frosting. I must be behind in the times, because apparently it’s a thing, and I had no idea. The genius part is that you actually put flour in the dough to make it the right consistency. Paired with sugar cookie cupcakes made with half and half, the combination is to die for!

Sugar cookie cupcakes with cookie dough frosting
 
Cupcakes from Creme de la Crumb; frosting modified from Tidy Mom; makes 12 cupcakes
Ingredients
For the cupcakes
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • ¾ cup half and half
For the frosting:
  • 1½ sticks of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ⅓ cup of light brown sugar, packed
  • 1¾ cups confectioner's sugar
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1½ TBSP milk
  • 1¼ tsp vanilla
Instructions
To make the cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. In an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk together.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix.
  5. Add the half and half until completely incorporated.
  6. Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, until ⅔ fill. Bake 18-20 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
To make the frosting:
  1. Beat the butter and brown sugar in an electric mixer until fluffy.
  2. Mix in the confectioner's sugar until smooth.
  3. Add the flour and salt and mix until incorporated.
  4. Mix in the milk and vanilla until you have a nice spreadable consistency.

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Posted in Cupcakes | Comments Off