Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Coffee and Walnut Cake


December is always a busy baking month, and in order not to have a reason to miss this months Cake Slice bake, I had to plan to make this cake even before Thanksgiving hit. 
Coffee and Walnut Cake is what I had to celebrate my birthday with in November. I'm one to normally keep birthdays to myself, I never mention them on social media. I'm weird like that. I don't like to make such a fuss. A simple Happy Birthday from the ones I love is enough to please me. No diamond ring, no perfume, no gifts are expected. I figure if you don't expect these things, then when you do receive them they come with more meaning. I don't want a gift from a loved one just because they feel pressured or obligated. I'm weird like that. 
This years Birthday gift was being able to help my 10 yr. old make my cake. It was unexpected too. I had pulled all my ingredients from the pantry when my daughter walks in and asks if she could help make it. Letting go of my O.C.D for the moment I stepped back and instructed when I felt necessary. She greased and lined the pans, sifted all the ingredients, creamed the butter and sugars, and I helped only with the oven. She made the filling too! I did have to guide her at the end of  frosting the cake. I was pretty impressed how well she smoothed the sides of the cake! For the first time in 75 bakes with the Cake Slice, I can honestly say I did not make this cake! 
If my future Birthdays consist of baking with the ones I love, then no other gift could be greater than that! 


COFFEE and WALNUT CAKE

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 walnut halves
  • 3/4 (1 1/2 sticks) butter,softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. instant coffee powder mixed to a paste with water
  • 1 1/3 c. self-rising flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
For the Filling and topping:
  • 1 tbsp. boiling water
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee granules
  • 1 c. mascarpone
  • 1/3 c. confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
INSTRUCTIONS:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F., and grease and line two 8" round baking pans.
  2. Toast walnuts in oven for 6 minutes.
  3. Cool walnuts slightly and set aside nine most perfect halves ( for garnish of the cake) and chop the rest.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the coffee paste.
  5. Add the flour and baking powder, and mix only until incorporated, add the chopped nuts, mix only until combined.
  6. Pour into prepared baking pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  7. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes, before turning out onto wire cooling rack.
  8. To make the filling, make a paste with boiling hot water and instant coffee.
  9. Soften the mascarpone with the confectioner's sugar in a mixer, beat only enough to incorporate, DO NOT OVER BEAT. Add the heavy cream then the coffee paste and beat until mixed. 
  10. To assemble cake, place one layer on a cake plate. Add 1/3 filling and spread, place second layer on top and coat top and side with remaining filling. Smooth the sides and top of cake. 
  11. Place the the nine walnut halves around the top of the cake and chill to set the frosting. Before serving remove from refrigerator and dust with confectioner's sugar. 
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Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti: #CreativeCookieExchange


"Nuts in Cookies" is the theme for the "Creative Cookie Exchange" this month! Pistachio Biscotti has been on my to do list for a long time, and baking these delicious cookies couldn't come at a better time than the Holidays! 
I found the cookies to be slightly sweeter than I expected, perhaps due to the addition of the cranberries. For this reason I skipped the coating of white chocolate I had planned on giving them. But by all means if you have a sweeter tooth than I do, then go ahead and give these a dip in white chocolate, making them a prettier presentation. 


CRANBERRY PISTACHIO BISCOTTI 

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 c. unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 c. raw pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 1 c. dried cranberries
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy for 6 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, add vanilla and almond extract until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.
  3. On low speed slowly add the flour mixture until combined, add the nuts and cranberries, just until mixed.
  4. Shape two loafs 13x2-inch, on parchment lined baking sheet, spacing the loafs 3 inches apart. Bake the loaves until golden, about 35 minutes.
  5. Cool the loaves on baking sheet for ten minutes. Lower oven temperature to 325.
  6. Slice the loaves on a cutting board, into 1/2 inch thick slices, using a serrated knife. Return the slices to the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes on each side, until crisp and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely before serving.
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Nuts in cookies are a tradition celebrated all over the world--and Creative Cookie Exchange has joined the party! You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Bee Sting Cake



The Cake Slice is baking from a new book! "World Class Cakes" by Roger Pizey, is this seasons baking book! 


I have been so anxious to start baking from this book! As soon as it came in the mail this summer I had my son sift through the beautiful pages of delicious desserts and pick his Birthday Cake! He chose this delicious Bee Sting Cake! A little surprised he didn't op for a thick frosted cake. He's growing up, and his pallet is getting more sophisticated I suppose. 


And to be quite honest not sure what drew him to this cake. Perhaps it was his curiosity, I have never made a Bee Sting cake before. I've had it, but never had I brought it home to introduce to the family. 


The cake was simple to make, and loved the result! The filling was light and heavenly, the topping was absolutely delicious! The whole family enjoyed the cake, my son especially! 








Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pecan-Peanut Butter-Banana Bread


October is always an exciting time for The Cake Slice Bakers! October is when we bake the final cake of our current book. What's even better is we can choose any cake recipe we desire!


I chose to bake Pecan-Peanut Butter-Banana Bread! A little surprising to me since you already may know that I'm not a fan of Bundt Cakes. I don't like the over baked crusts you get with some of the bundt recipes. I know I'm weird like that. 


Well I'm happy to announce that this cake turned out delicious! I was pretty pleased. The bananas kept the cake moist, it had a nice dense texture, and the peanut butter flavor was just lovely.


Maida's recipe didn't call for a glaze. I decided to make a glaze using peanut butter, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and a little dash of milk. 
It made the cake even better! 


It was a good year baking from "Maida Heatter's Cakes"! I had a few favorites like The Best Damn Lemon Cake, Miami Beach Sour Cream Cake, Aunt Leah's Raspberry Squares, and the Blueberry Surprise Cake.
I also had a few fails, even though I'm happy to have tried the recipes. Kugelhopf was a new cake to me, I'm glad I was brave to make the attempt at least, I found the cake too dry. Then there was the Apricot Strip, the cookie dough turned out delicious, but I failed with the filling, way too tart.
I look forward to a great season, baking with a great group of bakers! I hope our new book leads us to many great recipes. 

Pecan-Peanut Butter-Banana Bread

  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sifted all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 ounces (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 to 3 large fully ripened bananas (to make one cup, mashed)
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) pecan halves or large pieces, toasted 
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter a large bundt pan or two small cake loaf pans. Set aside.
  2. Sift together flours, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until softened, add peanut butter, beat until mixed. Add the sugar, and beat until mixed. Add eggs one at a time, beat until mixed.
  4. Peel the bananas and smash using a potato smasher or fork. 
  5. Add the bananas to the mixture and beat until mixed. 
  6. On low speed add the dry ingredients, beat only until mixed. 
  7. Remove the bowl from mixer and fold in the pecans by hand using a spatula. 
  8. Pour batter into bundt pan or divide between the two small loaf pans.
  9. Bake at 375 degrees F. for only 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes. 
  10. Watch your cakes, oven temperatures vary. Cake will be done after cake tester is inserted and comes out clean. 
  11. Remove cake from oven and cool for 15 minutes, then turn out cake onto a cooling rack and finish cooling. 
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pecan Pie Thumbprint Cookies: #CreativeCookieExchange



The theme this month for The Creative Cookie Exchange is Fall. I knew exactly what cookie I wanted to bake! I fell in love with this cookie a few years ago at a event I attend every Fall. 


For the past six years I have been attending the annual Taste of Home Cooking School show held in October.  I'm always super excited to attend the show. There are vendors and sponsors that make the show fun, tons of prizes are raffled off during the event! 


I have been extremely busy lately with work and life that I completely forgot about the upcoming show. I was also surprised that none of my friends or family that join me every year had remembered either.
I scrambled to log on to the event only to find that it had been cancelled! I should have seen this coming since last year the show lost two of the most important sponsors, and the show for the first time was a flop. All through the event complaints were heard, people wanting a refund, and many people walking out. 


Disappointed, I thought back to all the good memories the show had left. It brought me back to this cookie. One year one of the sponsors supplied the event with Pecan Pie Thumbprints from their bakery. They were delicious!


This town may not have the show anymore but at least I was left with fond memories, and the discovery of this delicious cookie!

PECAN PIE THUMBPRINTS adapted from Annie's Eats 

INGREDIENTS:

For the dough:
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Directions:
  1. In a bowl of a large mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until blended, about 1 minute.
  2. Add the sugars and continue to beat until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla and beat until blended.
  4. On low speed, add the salt and flour, and beat only until mixed throughly. 
  5. Remove the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for one hour.
  6. While your dough chills, make the filling. In a medium bowl add all of the filling ingredients except pecans, and whisk until sugars are fully dissolved. Add the pecans and mix until fully blended.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. 
  8. Using a cookie scoop to measure out the dough, scoop out the dough and roll into balls. Place on cookie sheet two to three inches apart. Using the back of your thumb make a round indentation in the center of each ball of dough. Fill the centers of the cookie with a rounded teaspoon of filling.
  9. Bake for 15 to 16 minutes. Remove from oven and cool cookies on sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.







One of the best things about fall--in addition to sweaters and football--is all of the delightful seasonal themes that come to mind for baking. Pumpkin, apples, late summer and early fall harvest, Halloween, Thanksgiving…. They are all fun and delicious to play around with, so check out what we have for you this month! You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Old Fashioned Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Cookies: #CreativeCookieExchange



Drop Cookies is the theme for this months Creative Cookie Exchange.
My favorite type of cookie to make! Drop cookies are always easy and quick to whip up! 




I had quick oats I needed to use up from the pantry, which lead me to try this cookie. The cookie recipe called for ground nutmeg, and since I had a bottle of whole nutmeg I had recently purchased, I figured the recipe couldn't be more perfect!


These cookies turned out delicious! They reminded me of Christmas! The freshly ground nutmeg gave these cookies a delicious aroma. My son quickly popped his head into the kitchen just to ask why I was making Christmas cookies! I'm glad I gave the recipe a shot, now I have another Christmas cookie I can add to our Christmas cookie baskets!

Old Fashioned Soft and Chewy Oatmeal Cookies adapted from: The Comfort of Cooking

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon 
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg (fresh ground makes all the difference)
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with baking paper and set aside.
  2. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder, and ground nutmeg in a bowl and set aside.
  3. In bowl of a electric mixer, beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add flour mixture and beat until combined. Add the quick oats and beat only until mixed. 
  4. Using a cookie scoop to measure, drop the cookies onto baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven. Cool cookies on baking sheets for at least 5 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 




We are kicking it old school this September with Drop Cookies! Keep reading to see what craggy and chewy masterpieces everyone came up with… You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Miami Beach Sour Cream Cake


"This is an outstanding "plain" cake, one of the very best I've ever eaten".  
I agree with Maida!



I had a bit of a struggle deciding which cake to make this month with The Cake Slice Bakers. My first choice was this cake, the recipe called for almond paste in the batter. Almond paste is one of my favorite things to eat! I knew the cake was going to be delicious!



I made my own almond paste, from a recipe I found on The Taste of Home, it was super easy to make!


The batter for this cake was incredibly delicious! The almond paste took this cake to another level! I couldn't stop licking the bowl and spatula! I'm glad no one else was awake to fight me for it, that's always the argument in the kitchen when I'm done with a recipe.


Baking this cake and not being able to have a slice until the next day was just plain torture! The aroma while baking was amazing! Now if I can only find a candle scent to replicate it!
The cake had a delicious almond flavor with a light lemon hint. The crumb was light and had a lovely texture, it was just delicious!
If you love almond paste and love lemon, this is the cake for you. It really is worth the effort!


Miami Beach Sour Cream Cake from Maida Heatter's Cakes

INGREDIENTS
  • About 2/3 cups blanched almonds (to prepare pan)
  • 3 cups twice-sifted cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces (1/3 cup) almond paste or marzipan
  • 8 ounces (2sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs, seperated
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Finely grated rind of 1 large lemon
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Butter a 10x4 or 4 1/2 tube pan (like an angel food pan). 
  2. Grind the blanched almonds in a food processor and coat the buttered surface of the cake pan with the ground almonds, set aside.
  3. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter with almond paste or marzipan until soft. Beat in almond extract. Then add sugar and beat until mixed. Add the yolks and beat until mixed. 
  5. On low speed add in 1/2 cup sour cream, then 1/2 of the sifted dry ingredients, the remaining 1/2 cup sour cream, and the remaining sifted dry ingredients, scrape the bowl in between additions, and only beat until incorporated. 
  6. Remove the bowl from mixer and stir in the grated lemon rind.
  7. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. DO NOT OVER BEAT THE EGG WHITES. 
  8. Using a large rubber spatula fold in egg whites into cake batter in three additions. 
  9. Turn the cake batter into the prepared pan, level the top.
  10. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Ovens vary, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR CAKE UNATTENDED, check your cake frequently the last 20 minutes. When cake is done, a cake tester inserted in the cake will come out clean, and top will spring back, when gently touched. 
  11. Remove cake from oven, cool 20 minutes on cooling rack.
  12. Transfer cooled cake to a cake platter.