Monday, October 29, 2012

happy birthday, jade!

in honor of my wonderful sister-in-law, i baked some vanilla cupcakes with vanilla bean buttercream and birthday-cake crumbs.

this birthday treat is made from three recipes mashed together:
- magnolia bakery's vanilla cupcakes
- joy the baker's vanilla bean buttercream
- milk bar's birthday cake crumbs

happy birthday, jade! love you <3
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:: magnolia bakery's vanilla cupcakes ::
(makes about 2 dozen cupcakes)
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

preheat oven to 350F. line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.

in a small bowl, combine the flours. set aside.

in a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth and creamy. gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy, about 3 minutes. add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. add the dry ingredients in four parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla, beating well after each addition. divide the batter into the prepared cups--about 3/4-full. bake until tops spring back when lightly touched, about 20 to 25 minutes

remove cakes from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

:: joy the baker's vanilla bean buttercream frosting ::
(makes enough for 24 cupcakes)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still holding its shape

4 to 5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons milk
1 vanilla bean, seed scraped (or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract)
pinch of salt

in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddel attachment, beat butter for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy.

scrape the butter from the sides of the bowl and add 3 cups of the powdered sugar. beat on low, increasing to medium speed as the mixture combines. add milk and vanilla bean or extract. beat on high for 1 minute.

stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add 1 more cup powdered sugar. beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. if you'd like a thicker frosting, add up to a cup more powdered sugar, beating well. forst completely cooked cakes or cupcakes.

frosting will last, in an airtight container, for 10 days in the refrigerator.

:: milk bar's birthday cake crumbs ::

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
3/4 cup cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles
1/4 cup grapeseed oil, or canola/vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

preheat the oven to 300F and line a baking sheet with a silpat or piece of parchment.

in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles. mix on low speed until combined.

stream in the oil and the vanilla on low speed and continue beating until the ingredients clump and form small clusters.

carefully spread the clusters in a thin layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake them for about 20 minutes, breaking up occasionally. they will be slightly moist but will harden as they cool. let them cool completely before using.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

pumpkin granola

one of my favorite things about baking is how it fills my entire apartment with sweet, delicious smells, and this pumpkin granola did not disappoint. the smell of all the spices baking with the nuts and oats was pure fall.

i've been eating this for breakfast plain or sprinkled on yogurt. SO good! it has just the right amount of sweetness from the maple syrup and dried fruit, and i like that there are no oils or butters. i made a couple substitutions: cardamom in place of allspice and dried apricots in place of apples--which i only did because of what i had on hand. (and, i have to admit, i have a weird obsession trying to use my green cardamom pods whenever i can...)

:: pumpkin granola ::
(recipe from seriouseats)

3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice*
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped dried apples*
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1. preheat oven to 325F. line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. in a large bowl, mix together oats, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. add cranberries, raisins, dried apples, pumpkin seeds, and almonds to bowl. stir to combine.
3. in a medium bowl, whisk together maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin, and applesauce until well combined.
4. add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until even coated. spread granola in a thin layer over baking sheet.
5. bake granola until golden, stirring halfway through baking, about 40 minutes.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

let's celebrate fall!

this year i realized how much i look forward to fall. while i may be less than enthusiastic about cold weather (being a california transplant, i can't say i've quite learned how to embrace northeast winters), i love that first breath of crisp air that comes with the season.

it may mark the end of summer, but to me fall has always marked the beginning of things, the start of a new year. it's when a new school year starts; it's when i started working; it's the hint of upcoming holidays. and now it's the start of my blog!

so let's celebrate fall with a little pumpkin kitchen time to-do list:

- pumpkin granola
spiced pumpkin coconut milk ice cream
pumpkin (cup)cake with brown butter icing
baked pumpkin pecan doughnuts

happy fall!