Wednesday, September 26, 2012

BAKE 52: WEEK 39


The only good thing about summer ending is the beginning of fall!  Not the middle or end, just the the beginning, when the days are still warm and the mornings and evenings are comfortable in a sweater.  When I can bring out the candle scents I've been craving since last fall.  When the sun light is softer and the house is quieter and I feel like baking every scent I'm burning.
  No other season brings out the baker in me like fall (although every season requires a good amount of baking!).  So what better kick-off to this season than a yummy spiced pumpkin bread?  And since I really felt like celebrating, I took the bread and my family on a picnic dinner in the mountains.  We were at Sundance, surrounded by the beauty of fall leaves, but it was the pumpkin bread that all eyes were on for the few minutes of its delicious existence.  We (even the fussies) absolutely loved this bread! This will be my go-to recipe now for pumpkin bread.  
I loved how much actual pumpkin was in the loaf and that it was moist without being sticky, which sometimes happens with pumpkin bread.  I omitted the nuts and cranberries since I'm not a huge fan of either, and threw in some mini chocolate chips instead.  Chocolate really is a must in pumpkin bread for me, but I think this bread would have been delicious plain too.  This bread just might become a staple this fall for my family.  
Even if you have a recipe you love, give this one chance!


Makes one 8-inch loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 taspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (unsweetened)
1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped coarse
1cup (5 ounces) dried cranberries (optional)

1.  Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/2-inch pan.

2.  Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and ginger together in a large bowl.  
In a medium bowl, whisk the pumpkin, sugar, melted butter, eggs, and vanilla together until smooth.  Gently fold the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined (do not overmix).  Gently fold in the pecans and cranberries (if using).  The batter will be very thick.

3.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, 45 to 55 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

4.  Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn our onto a wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

BAKE 52: WEEK 38

Make Ahead French Toast Casserole

I love a breakfast dish that I can make the night before and throw in the oven the next morning.   So, I was excited to try the Make Ahead French Toast Casserole, hoping to add a new recipe to my breakfast casseroles.
Unfortunately, this recipe did not make the cut.  The name sounds yummy, the taste not so much.  It was more of a quiche than anything, and even though I mostly like quiches, I don't when they try to pass off as french toast.
I'm not really sure what I was expecting, something amazing I guess.  Even the buttery brown sugar topping didn't do much for me.  The whole thing was bland and yet, oddly enough, too heavy and rich (if that can even happen) and too many calories to even justify (and I am the queen of justifying calories).     
It's always fun to try new things, though, and find what works for your family.  Valerie was our host this week and you can get the recipe at her blog, HERE.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

BAKE 52: WEEK 37


How can carbs be the enemy when they taste this good?!  And how can homemade pizza taste this good?  I never, EVER thought I would love a homemade pizza crust--ever!  But I really did love this one; it was soft and crispy and tasted just like "real" pizza.  I'm still searching for a great pizza sauce, though.  I don't love the one used in this recipe, but I'm happy to keep making this pizza in search of the right sauce.  It was really simple to make also.  Amanda was our host this week and you can get the recipe at her blog HERE.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bake 52: WEEK 36


Doesn't the name Tunnel of Fudge make you think of Tunnel of Love?  And really, that's what this cake is; a tunnel of everything you love about chocolate.  It has a rich, gooey core surrounded by moist chocolate-y cake and drizzled with a semi-sweet chocolate glaze.  A love affair waiting to happen.  
Except, I totally messed up the recipe by mixing ingredients the wrong way.  I mixed the melted chocolate mixture right into the powdered sugar mixture.  Immediately, I realized something was wrong.  It was all dry and clumpy.  I reread the directions and, sure enough, I had done it wrong!  I should have taken a picture of the final batter; it was a lumpy mess.  I guess that's what happens when you're having fun baking (and talking too much) with a friend!  Somehow (I really, REALLY don't know how) it still turned out, maybe not as runny as some others, but still really gooey and delicious!  It made me love this cake all the more.  So if you want a super fabulous cake that looks fancy and tastes incredible and one you can't screw up, this is it!  Janet was our host and you can get the recipe HERE.

P.S.  I'm not even going to admit how much of this cake I ate myself!