Applesauce Oatmeal Bread

This wholesome quick bread really caught my eye. I made it as a special after school snack for my kids (and me!). They enjoyed it with a glass of fresh apple cider. I thought it was absolutely perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee.

The recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour.com. I baked the loaf in a Pullman pan, used freshly ground allspice and freshly grated nutmeg, and substituted pecans for walnuts. Yum!

Yield: One standard or Pullman loaf

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla or boiled cider
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, plus more for sprinkling top, optional
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • cream cheese, for serving, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection. Lightly grease a Pullman loaf pan or a standard 9″ x 5″ loaf pan. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, and spices.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients.
  5. Mix in the rolled oats, applesauce, and nuts.
  6. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.
  7. Sprinkle rolled oats over the top, as desired.
  8. Bake the bread for 40 for a Pullman pan or up to 60 minutes in a standard loaf pan, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool completely.
  10. Store cooled bread, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.
  11. Serve with cream cheese, or as desired.

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French Apple Cake

I’ve had baking a French Apple Cake on my bucket list for a long time. A celebratory Valentine’s Day dessert was my excuse! ❤ This version was custardy and absolutely wonderful. We ate it with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream but it could also served with a dollop of softly whipped cream.

This recipe was adapted from Marie-Hélène Brunet-Lhotse, a top editor of Louis Vuitton City Guides (and a restaurant critic for the Paris edition), published in Around my French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, via Epicurious.com.

Greenspan emphasized the importance of using diverse fruit in the cake to include crisp, soft, sweet, and tart apples for the best result. I used a combination of Fuji, Granny Smith, Envy, and Opal apples. I also increased the vanilla, and substituted apple cider for the rum. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 8

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum or fresh apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • whipped cream of ice cream, for serving
  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.
  4. Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1- to 2-inch chunks.
  5. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy.
  6. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend.
  7. Whisk in the rum/apple cider and vanilla.
  8. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter.
  9. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter.
  10. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s evenish.
  11. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
  12. Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.)
  13. Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.
  14. To Serve: The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-Hélène’s served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.

Note: The cake will keep for about 2 days at room temperature. (The flavor may even improve with time!) The cake is too moist to cover completely; leave the cake on its plate and just press a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper against the cut surfaces.

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Rainbow Sprinkle Cake & a Festive “Candy Shop” Themed Birthday Party

The lollipop candles on this birthday cake inspired the theme for my daughter’s 10th birthday party. As soon as she saw them, about ten months before her birthday, she started planning a “Candy Shop” themed party.

Knowing we would have the guests watch the most classic candy movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, we invited her guests by hand delivering a “Golden Ticket” wrapped with a giant rainbow swirl lollipop. (The biggest ones we could find, of course.) 🙂

She imagined an abundant display of colorful candy and rainbow balloons. We had bowls of Skittles, M&M’s, mini-Starbursts, jelly beans, gummy bears, mini-marshmallows, mini-Twix (her favorite candy), and varieties of sprinkles. The centerpiece was a DumDum lollipop “topiary.”

The girls ate a lot of candy :/ , but they also used it to decorate chocolate covered marshmallows and chocolate-caramel apple slices. We also had pretzels for toppings- so yummy with chocolate. We tried to coat Oreos with chocolate as well, but had technical difficulties.

We had other candy-themed activities at the party including making candy necklaces on kitchen twine. They used Fruit Loops, gummy pendants, and gummy lifesavers as “beads.” They also played a game with Jelly Belly jelly beans- identifying the flavors by taste alone. Even though is wasn’t a candy-themed activity, the kids probably had the most fun having an iMovie competition.

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We had our traditional celebratory Number Cookies too. 🙂

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Having a cake covered in a mound of sprinkles seemed to work with our theme! The Rainbow Sprinkle Birthday Cake is a homemade take on a “Funfetti” cake mix cake. It was so colorful and fun, but also really REALLY delicious- super moist with fabulous vanilla flavor. The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Julia Moskin. I weighed the ingredients, increased the amount of frosting, and modified the decorating techniques.

Rainbow Sprinkle Cake

Yield: 8-12 Servings (1 layer cake or 12 cupcakes)

For the Cake:

  • ½ cup/110 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), slightly softened, more for pans
  • 1 ½ cups/190 grams all-purpose flour, more for pans
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt
  • ⅔ cup/158 ml whole milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup/200 grams sugar
  • 1 whole egg plus 2 egg whites
  • ⅓ cup rainbow sprinkles (not pastel, or naturally colored)


For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 12 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 3/4 cup/165 grams unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), slightly softened
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
  • 4 1/2 cups/450 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, more to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rainbow sprinkles (not pastel, or naturally colored), or more, as desired
  1. img_7880Make the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, and place a rack in the center.
  2. Butter and line the bottoms of two 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter the parchment. Flour the pans, coating the bottom and sides, then tap out any excess flour.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together milk and vanilla.
  5. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add egg and whites and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  7. Add half the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating to blend after each addition.
  8. Scrape down bowl and blend once more.
  9. Remove bowl and use a spatula or spoon to fold in sprinkles by hand.
  10. Divide batter evenly between the pans (approximately 400 g per pan), and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking.
  11. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 to 4 hours, before turning out.
  12. Make the frosting: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, butter and salt together at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
  13. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add sugar and beat until smooth.
  14. Beat in vanilla just until incorporated.
  15. Taste frosting; you should be able to taste the cream cheese and a little bit of saltiness, as well as the sweetness. If desired, add more salt or sugar. Keep refrigerated.
  16. Turn cooled cakes out of pans.
  17. Using a bread knife, cut off any domed or uneven parts of each cake to make flat surfaces.
  18. Place one of the cakes on a platter or a cake stand, cut side up.
  19. Using an offset spatula, frost the top.
  20. Stack the other layer on top, cut side down.
  21. Place remaining frosting on top of the cake and, working from the center outward, frost the top and sides of the cake, as desired. I piped a border around the perimeter of the top of the cake to keep the thick coating of sprinkles on top in place.
  22. Sprinkle the top with a thick layer of sprinkles. Coat the sides with sprinkles as well, if desired.
  23. Refrigerate cake 30 minutes or longer to set. Serve cool.

Note: This recipe would also work well for cupcakes. Fill batter in 12 cupcake liners and bake 17-20 minutes, on convection.

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It was so tasty, I’ve already made it again! 🙂 I think it might need THREE layers next time. We all absolutely love it.

Pear Snacking Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

This cake was just calling for all of the Bosc pears that I’ve received in my CSA share recently. I love it when I have all of the ingredients readily available to make a special treat. 🙂

As a side note, I don’t really understand the idea of a “snacking” cake. This is definitely a CAKE. The brown butter glaze was absolutely essential and absolutely fabulous. Yes, it was easy to eat and, yes, it’s not a fancy layer cake. I also suppose it would be a wonderful snack! We enjoyed it for dessert. 😉

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour and decreased the amount of fresh nutmeg. I also omitted the nuts. Delicious!

I’m sharing this special “snack” at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #142 this week, co-hosted by Elaine @foodbod and Michelle @O Blog Off. Enjoy! 🙂

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup/227 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature, more to grease the pan
  • 1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground clove
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 to 4 large pears (2 1/4 pounds/1 kilogram), peeled, cored and shredded or finely chopped (to yield 2 1/2 cups) (I finely chopped the prepared pears in a mini-food processor.)
  • 2 ¾ cups/350 grams all-purpose flour (I used 175 g all-purpose flour & 175 g whole wheat pastry flour)
  • ¾ cup/75 grams rolled oats
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped, optional

For the Brown Butter Glaze:

  • 5 tablespoons/70 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons/25 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup/125 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons/45 milliliters heavy cream or milk, more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of coarse salt
  1. Prepare the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-2-inch square or 9-inch-round pan and line bottom with parchment paper. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  2. Using a stand mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add sugars, baking powder, salt, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves and baking soda and beat for 1 minute.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  5. With the mixer on low, beat in half the pears, and then beat in the flour until smooth.
  6. Beat in remaining pears, then the oats, beating until well incorporated.
  7. Beat in nuts, if using.
  8. Spread batter in the prepared pan and bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed in the center of the cake, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Prepare the glaze: In a small saucepan, melt butter, then let it simmer until the foam on top falls to the bottom of the pot and turns brown, about 3 minutes. It will smell nutty and rich when it’s ready.
  10. Whisk in brown sugar until it dissolves.
  11. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla and salt until you’ve got a thick glaze with the texture of hot fudge sauce.
  12. Spread this over the cooled cake. Let the glaze set for at least 2 hours before serving.

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Milk Bar Sugar Cookie-Cake Squares

My word. These were yummy. Easy too. We had them as part of our Memorial Day cookout along with a skillet chocolate chip cookie– and ice cream, of course! All-American, right? 😉

This recipe was adapted from Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi, via the Washington Post. Apparently, these cookie squares are known as “The Greta” (named after Tosi’s mother) at Momofuku Milk Bar. They would be perfect with red (or even red, white, and blue!) sprinkles for the Fourth of July. I opted to top them with cinnamon sugar which is another tasty option. 🙂

Yield: 2 dozen 2-inch cookie-cakes

  • 2 sticks, 16 T, unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola, grapeseed, or other neutral oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 to 4 T decorative sprinkles or sparkling sugar OR 1 T granulated sugar mixed with 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously grease a 9 x 13-inch deep sided baking pan with butter. Line with parchment paper- hanging over all sides of the pan. Coat the parchment paper with cooking oil spray.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on high-speed for 3 minutes, until fluffy and homogenous. Stop to scrape down the bowl.
  4. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute, or until just combined. Stop to scrape down the bowl.
  5. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat on medium-low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, then add the milk and beat for about 30 seconds to form a soft dough.
  6. Using an offset spatula, spread the dough evenly in the pan, making sure it gets into the corners.
  7. Scatter the cinnamon-sugar or sprinkles on top generously.
  8. Bake on the center rack for 20 (if you desire a slightly under-baked in the center cookie) to 30 minutes (for a firmer cookie), or until the cookie slab has puffed, lightly browned and is firm to the touch.
  9. Cool completely in the pan.
  10. Using the parchment paper, remove cookie the cookie from the pan. Cut into 24 two-inch squares.

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Warm Strawberry Crumb Cake

IMG_4627Our special springtime family tradition is to go strawberry picking. We love it. 🙂 This year, our favorite berry picking farm limited the quantity each person could pick because a cold snap in the early spring damaged a lot of their plants. I had to go pick on two separate occasions!

There is always a lot of pressure to put our pickings to good use. Along with my mandatory strawberry jam and pancakes, I also made strawberry muffins and this amazing dessert – my new addition this year. This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Gerard Craft. I made half of the recipe and modified the baking time accordingly. We ate it warm with vanilla ice cream. It could also be a very special breakfast. Fabulous!!

I’m joining Angie’s party with this one over at Fiesta Friday #125 co-hosted by my friends Quinn @ Dad What’s 4 Dinner and Elaine @ Foodbod. Check out their wonderful blogs & the fiesta!

Yield: Serves 6

For the Filling:

  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and halved (4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/4 tablespoons of water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • pinch of coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick, 4 tablespoons, unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 large eggs (It’s a little tricky!)
  • 3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

For Serving:

  • vanilla ice cream, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the strawberries with the sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch slurry and vanilla seeds and let stand until the berries release some of their juices, about 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the fruit filling into a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish set on a sturdy baking sheet.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix all of the ingredients with your fingers until a coarse meal forms; press into small clumps. (I set this mixture aside in the refrigerator.)
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
  6. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.
  8. Beat in the vanilla extract and scrape down the bowl.
  9. Add the dry ingredients to the batter in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk.
  10. Spoon the batter over the fruit filling, spreading it to the edge. Sprinkle with the crumb topping.
  11. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling, the crumb topping is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
  12. Transfer to a rack to cool slightly. Serve the crumb cake warm or at room temperature.

Make Ahead: The crumb cake can be refrigerated overnight. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: The fruit filling can also be made with a combination of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.

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My Mother-In-Law’s Napoleon Torte

My Mother-In-Law is an amazing cook. As much as I enjoy baking, I had to take her up on an offer to bring a dessert for our Thanksgiving weekend feasts. After one bite of this beautiful torte, my son exclaimed that it was the best dessert he has eaten in his entire life. I knew that I had to share her recipe as a guest post of sorts. My son wanted the title to be “The Best Dessert the World Has Ever Known.” 🙂

Delicious and pretty! Here it is:

For the Cake Layer:

  • 3 cups (390 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup light cream

For the Caramel:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 cans (14 oz each) sweetened condensed milk (Carnation or Borden’s Eagle Brand)

For the Pudding:

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 T sauce flour (Wondra brand)
  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup light cream
  • vanilla extract or 1 envelope of Dr. Oetker vanillin sugar
  • 3 oz (1 package) serve and cook vanilla pudding (Jello brand)

For the Apricot Layer:

  • 1 12-oz can Solo Apricot Cake and Pastry Filling

To Make the Cake Layer:

  1. Combine the flour, butter, egg yolks, and light cream until a dough is formed.
  2. Divide the dough into 7 equal balls; refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Line 9.5″ cake pans with parchment; coat with cooking oil spray.
  5. Roll out each ball of dough into a 9.5″ circle (to fit into the cake pan), trying to make rounds of equal thickness.
  6. Prick each round of dough with a fork, cover with aluminum foil (or parchment), and pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the foil and weights and continue baking for 4 to 5 minutes, or until lightly brown. (You may have to use a shield to prevent the edges from over browning.)
  8. Repeat these steps and bake the remaining rounds.
  9. Use 6 rounds for the torte. Crumble one round for decorating.

To Make the Caramel:

  1. Place the cans of sweetened condensed milk in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours- making sure that the cans are covered with water at all times. Cool completely. (This step can be done in advance.)
  2. Cream the butter until fluffy.
  3. Add 1 1/3 to 1 1/2 cans of caramel (to taste) and mix to incorporate well.

To Make the Pudding:

  1. Beat 3 egg yolks with granulated sugar and vanilla until lemon-yellow.
  2. Mix in flour.
  3. Combine the milk and light cream.
  4. Add one cup of the milk-cream mixture to the egg-flour-vanilla mixture. Mix well.
  5. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan; add the remaining milk-cream mixture. Add the vanilla pudding mix.
  6. Mix well and heat on medium until the mixture comes to a boil. Cover with plastic wrap and cool completely in the refrigerator. (The pudding must be cold!)

To Complete the Filling:

  1. Fold the Caramel into the Pudding until a uniform mixture is achieved.

To Make the Apricot Layer:

  1. Using a small blender, immersion blender, or food processor, blend the apricot filling to make a uniform mass.

To Complete the Torte:

  1. Spread the first cake round with a thin coat of apricot filling and then spread the Caramel/Pudding on top.
  2. Top with the second round of cake; top with the Caramel/Pudding filling layer only.
  3. Continue the process, spreading the apricot filling on every other round.
  4. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the remaining Caramel/Pudding filling.
  5. Crush the 7th round of cake and decorate the sides of the cake to hide any imperfections.
  6. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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