Sunday, November 25, 2012

Baked Sunday Mornings: Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting

I’ve only been baking with the Baked Sunday Mornings Group for a short time, but this week marks the group’s two year anniversary and we’re celebrating with cake - Pumpkin Almond Cake with Almond Butter Frosting.  I made myself wait until October 1 to begin baking with pumpkin and have managed to make a prodigious amount of pumpkin treats in less than two months.  I finished the end of a can of pumpkin with this cake and think it might be a good time to take a break from pumpkin goodies for at least a week or two.  That being said, this is a fantastic cake to end the pumpkin binge with.

I made a half recipe of the cake in a six-inch cake pan, with enough leftover batter for a tester ramekin.  I wasn’t sure about using almond butter in the frosting, probably because I usually buy chunky almond butter (I thought smooth would be better for this recipe so that’s what I bought), and ended up thinking it was wonderful.  I loved that it was a little more salty than the average buttercream.  I had initially thought I might add some almond extract to amp up the almond flavor, which it did not end up needing at all.  I am happy to have found a new kind of frosting I like so much!

I realized that Eloise has not made an appearance since I started blogging again, so this marks the return of Monster Cuisine.  We just got this mat to go below the sink in the kitchen and she thought it was a new pad for her.  You know, since of course we want a food-obsessed Weimaraner as close and comfortable to us as possible while we are cooking!

Anyway, if you would like a delicious cake recipe, head on over to the Baked Sunday Mornings site.  You can also see if the other bakers enjoyed it as much as I did by viewing the bakers’ links.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Baked Sunday Mornings: Baked Cheese Grits

I missed Baked Sunday Mornings last week because we were busy painting the upstairs of our house and packing things up, which allowed for little recreational time over the weekend. (Also, the recipe was very coconut-heavy, so I knew my husband wouldn’t it eat it and that definitely decreased my motivation to fit it in.) We have entered the stage of the home improvement project that we are not doing ourselves. I optimistically thought that it would be completed in the two day estimate we were provided with, and that as of Saturday evening, we would be putting the house back together and preparing for Thanksgiving. Clearly I am new to home renovations projects (I mean, other than the many hours of HGTV I’ve watched) because after two days, the project is only about a quarter completed, most of our possessions (including a lot of our furniture) are packed away, we can only use about half of our house, and I am taking photos from my iPhone. Luckily, at the moment, the useable half of the house does include the kitchen and I was able to make this Sunday’s selection, Baked Cheese Grits. 

I remember seeing grits mentioned in books occasionally when I was a kid and just assuming they were something with an unpleasant gritty texture. As a Californian, they are definitely not regular part of my diet or even on restaurant menus all that often (at least at places where I eat). I do make this recipe for Buttery Polenta with Parmesan and Olive Oil Fried Eggs on a regular basis for dinner during the cold months, which can also be made with grits. I made the cheese grits exactly as instructed in the book, and instead of having it for breakfast today, I plan to reheat it and serve it with fried eggs and greens per my usual polenta recipe later in the week. After coming home to a chaotic house, it will be nice to have dinner over halfway done some weeknight. And I keep reminding myself that it’s just a few days of living in dishevelment and that our home will be beautiful forever. 

To get the recipe for Baked Cheese Grits and to see how the rest of the group fared, head on over to the Baked Sunday Mornings site.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Baked Sunday Mornings: Buttermilk Pie (with a a hint of Maple Syrup)

This week the Baked Sunday Mornings group made Buttermilk Pie (with a hint of Maple Syrup). I was not familiar with buttermilk pies until a couple years back when I made a lemon buttermilk pie with another baking group. Custardy pies are not usually a favorite around here, but we enjoyed the buttermilk pie before, so I was looking forward to this one. Even so, I decided that it might be good to scale it back in size, as pies do lose their appeal after a few days and there are just two of us. During previous holiday seasons – and seriously, I guess it is that time – Crate and Barrel sold some cute six-inch ceramic pie plates. I went in search of them, but they do not seem to be available this year. Luckily I happened upon one at a different store, making it easy to cut the recipe in half. And yes, I am acutely aware, particularly this week, that I am fortunate that these are the types of “problems” I have. 

This was my first time making the pie dough from any of the Baked books. I usually make it by hand rather than in the processor and the processor made this dough appear smoother than my dough generally looks (I just hope it wasn’t overworked). I have yet to actually try the pie, so I have yet to assess if it turned out. I did make a little tester ramekin of the filling and loved it. I think this pie would be wonderful with any kind of fruit, from berries to spiced baked pears. 

The recipe notes do acknowledge that this pie is not very pretty and I have to say I found it hard to photograph, as there is not much contrast. To see how the other bakers’ pies turned out, please visit the Baked Sunday Mornings site.