Pumpkin Muffins with Cinnamon-Sugar Topping

I do have a favorite pumpkin loaf but I can’t resist trying another recipe- especially if it involves cinnamon-sugar. 🙂 This one incorporated lovely spices as well.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. I increased the amount of cinnamon-sugar topping and baked the batter as muffins rather than a loaf. I love the portion control of a muffin.

Makes: 18 standard muffins or 1 large 9×5-inch loaf

For the Batter:

  • 1 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable or another neutral cooking oil or melted butter (115 grams)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 (330 grams) cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • heaped 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • heaped 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • two pinches of ground cloves
  • 2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons (24 grams) granulated sugar (use 1 T for a loaf)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (use 1 tsp for a loaf)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter 18 muffins wells or a 6-cup loaf pan or coat it with nonstick spray. (I used 8 outer wells in one pan and 10 in another.)
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, butter or oil, eggs and sugar until smooth.
  4. Sprinkle baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinanmon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves over batter and whisk until well-combined.
  5. Add flour and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula, just until mixed.
  6. Using a 3 tablespoon scoop, ration the batter into prepared muffin wells, or scrape into a loaf pan, and smooth the top(s).
  7. In a small dish, whisk or stir sugar and cinnamon together. Sprinkle over top of batter. (I sprinkled 1/2 teaspoon over each muffin top.)
  8. Bake muffins for 15 to 17 minutes, and a loaf for 55 to 75 minutes, or until a tester poked into all parts of cake (both the top and center will want to hide pockets of uncooked batter) come out batter-free, rotating the pans once during the baking time for even coloring. (I rotated the oven racks between the two muffin pans as well.
  9. Cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes and then remove, or cool completely in the pan(s). The latter provides the advantage of letting more of the loose cinnamon sugar on top adhere before being knocked off. 

Note: The muffins (or loaf) keep well at room temperature. The original recipe recommends covering the cut edge of the loaf with a piece of foil or plastic and leaving the top exposed to best keep the lid crisp as long as possible.

Caramel Apple Skillet Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

I have made this sweet treat on a couple of occasions. I love skillet desserts! This one is perfect for fall or even in the winter. It has an amazing texture.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell. I used a browned butter glaze from our favorite apple pie bars instead of the salted caramel frosting suggested in the original recipe. I also modified the method. Yum.

Yield: One 10-inch round cake, about 10 to 12 servings

For the Caramel Apples:

  • 4 tablespoons/55 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 large baking apples (about 12 to 16 ounces/340 to 454 grams), such as Honeycrisp, Gala, Granny Smith or Braeburn, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup/110 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the Cake:

  • 1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cup/290 grams dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cup/215 grams all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

For the Browned Butter Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • milk or heavy cream, as necessary, to achieve desired consistency
  • pinch of coarse salt or fine sea salt
  1. Make the Caramel Apples: In a 10-inch cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the apples, brown sugar and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the apples soften slightly, 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Make the Cake: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, and mix to combine.
  6. Scrape the bowl well, then beat in the vanilla.
  7. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg to combine.
  8. Add the flour mixture to the mixer and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the bowl well.
  9. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the apple mixture (including all of the caramel-like liquid in the pan) into the batter. Mix just until incorporated.
  10. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and spread into an even layer. Bake until the surface is evenly golden brown and appears set – a toothpick inserted into the center should have a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely. (I baked it on convection for 30 minutes but may add a couple of minutes onto the baking time next time.)
  11. Make the Glaze: In a small pot or pan, melt the butter. Continue to cook until browned and fragrant.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together browned butter, powdered sugar, a splash of milk, and a pinch of salt. Whisk until smooth. Add milk as needed until drizzling consistency is achieved.
  13. Spoon into a ziplock bag and cut a tiny tip off one corner of the bag.
  14. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake before slicing.

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

I woke up on a cold and rainy morning and read a post about this delicious coffee cake…had to have it. 🙂 My daughter and I started making it almost immediately.

The recipe was adapted from Nancy-C.com. She makes all sorts of crowd-pleasers. I modified the technique used to make the streusel topping, making it with melted butter to replicate my favorite New York-style crumb cake. The original recipe makes one 8 x 8-inch coffee cake.  I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9 x 13-inch pan. Next time, I may make two 8 or 9-inch rounds so that I could freeze one to enjoy later.

Yield: One 9 x 13-inch cake or Two 8 or 9-inch cakes, about 16 to 20 servings (see note)

For the Coffee Cake:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 15 oz can pumpkin purée

For the Crumb Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • powdered sugar, for serving

To Make the Crumb Topping:

  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon.
  2. Melt the butter in the microwave or small saucepan.
  3. Pour the butter mixture and mix until all the butter is absorbed and you have a uniformly moistened crumb mixture.  Set aside while you make the cake batter.

To Make the Cake Batter:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray preferred baking pan, line with parchment paper, lightly spray parchment; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the oil, eggs, sugar, and pumpkin puree, blending everything well.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry flour mixture, stirring until just combined.
  5. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Crumble the crumb mixture over the top, until the batter is completely covered.
  7. Bake at 350˚F for 20 to 25 minutes for 8 or 9-inch rounds, 30 to 35 minutes for a 9 x 13-inch pan, or until lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean or almost clean. (I rotated the pan halfway through the baking time.) 
  8. Remove the cake from the oven and cool on a rack; dust the top with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. (I let the cake cool completely before dusting with confectioners’ sugar.)

Note: Half the recipe will fill an 8×8-inch pan. Use 1 cup of pumpkin purée. (Refer to the link above to the original recipe for proportions.)

Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf

I am going to take a break from my quick weeknight dinner posts (I have several more) to post a few sweet treats. Back to school treats are very important in our house. 🙂

This cake can be served for dessert or as a very special snack or breakfast. We ate it for breakfast. I recommend eating it as soon as possible 😉 , but, it should keep fresh for several days in an airtight container at room temperature. I made it in a standard loaf pan this time, but I plan to make it in my fluted loaf pan on the next occasion.

The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sarah Jampel. I weighed the dry ingredients and reduced the baking time. Just as yummy as a farmstand apple cider doughnut!

Yield: One 9-inch loaf

For the Cake:

  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or buttermilk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 T (172 g) all-purpose flour (can substitute 63 g with whole wheat flour)
  • 2 T (15 g) cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar

For the Topping:

  • big pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 T reserved reduced apple cider (from above)
  1. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 325°, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly butter an 8½ x 4½” or 9×5″ loaf pan. Line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on both long sides. Lightly butter the parchment. (I used cooking oil spray and a metal loaf pan.)
  3. Bring cider to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until cider is reduced to ¾ cup, 8–10 minutes.
  4. Pour ¼ cup reduced cider into a small measuring glass or bowl and set aside.
  5. Transfer remaining reduced cider to a small bowl or glass measuring cup and let cool 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and vanilla and set aside.
  6. Melt 8 tablespoons of butter in same saucepan (no need to clean) over low heat. Let cool slightly.
  7. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a medium bowl to combine.
  8. Vigorously whisk eggs and 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar in a large bowl until pale, voluminous, and frothy, about 2 minutes. (I used a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.)
  9. Whisking constantly (with the mixer on low-speed), gradually add melted butter in a steady stream; continue to whisk until fully combined and emulsified (no spots of fat should remain). Reserve saucepan (no need to clean).
  10. Whisk dry ingredients into egg mixture in 3 additions, alternating with reserved sour cream mixture in 2 additions; whisk just until no lumps remain. Batter will be thin.
  11. Scrape into pan and set on a rimmed baking sheet.
  12. Bake cake, rotating halfway through, until deep golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–80 minutes. (I baked mine for 55 minutes.)
  13. Transfer pan to a wire rack and poke top of cake all over with a toothpick.
  14. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the reserved reduced cider over; let cool 10 minutes.
  15. Meanwhile, make the topping: Mix a big pinch of salt, remaining 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg in a small bowl. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in reserved saucepan and mix into remaining 1 tablespoon reduced cider.
  16. Using parchment paper, lift cake onto rack and set rack inside rimmed baking sheet. Peel away parchment from sides.
  17. Brush warm butter-cider mixture over top and sides of cake.
  18. Sprinkle generously with sugar mixture to coat every surface (use parchment to help rotate cake and collect any excess sugar).
  19. Remove parchment and let cool completely before slicing.

Do ahead: Cake can be made 4 days ahead. Store tightly wrapped or in an airtight container at room temperature.

Strawberry Spoon Cake

There is a lot of (self-imposed!) pressure to use our beautiful freshly picked strawberries in the best possible way. 🙂 I have several treats that we make annually, but I try to select a few new things to make. I had my eye on this spoon cake after seeing it in the New York Times. I loved the name too! Spoon cake.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Jerrelle Guy. I doubled the strawberries and used a larger baking dish. I also weighed the ingredients, including the berries. I may bake it in a 10-inch cast iron skillet next time.

We ate it for dessert with vanilla ice cream. It could be served as a very special breakfast as well. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus more for greasing
  • 10 ounces/290 grams (about 2 cups) fresh, hulled strawberries (or thawed frozen strawberries)
  • 2/3 cup/150 grams packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup/120 milliliters whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup/130 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease an 8, 9, or 10-inch (square or round) baking dish with butter. Set aside. (I used a 10-inch round ceramic baking dish.)
  3. Using your hands or the back of a fork, lightly mash the berries to release all their juices, and stir in 1/3 cup of the brown sugar. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, remaining 1/3 cup brown sugar, milk and salt.
  5. Add the flour and baking powder and continue whisking just until the batter is smooth.
  6. Transfer the batter (it’s not much) to the greased baking dish, and spread evenly into corners.
  7. Spoon the strawberries and all their juices over the top of the cake batter.
  8. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or just when a toothpick comes out clean in the center. (I baked mine for 22 minutes in a 10-inch round dish.)
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
  10. Serve warm with ice cream.

Vanilla-Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

I have had my eye on a couple of easy sheet cake recipes. My indecisiveness led me to combine them. 😉 It was a successful combination! This cake was moist and delicious.

The simple vanilla cake is from Food 52, from their book Genius Desserts, contributed by Jami Curl. It was proposed to serve it topped with strawberry compote & butterscotch whipped cream. I included these original topping recipes below- just to keep my options open.

The frosting recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. It was originally from an easy sheet cake recipe with a “reverse creaming” technique. Of course, I’ll have to try this cake as well at some point. 🙂

For the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:

  • 3 1/3 cups (400 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 T plus 2 tsp (20 g) baking powder
  • 1 tsp (5 g) kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup (227 g) sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (105 g) canola oil
  • 1 T (18 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (75 grams) boiling water

For the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 T) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • sprinkles, for garnish, optional

To Make the Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch pan with parchment paper. Spray with cooking oil spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk until combined.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the eggs and sour cream with a fork, mixing until smooth. Add the oil and vanilla and use the fork to mix until they’re incorporated. The mixture will be smooth and creamy.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and continue to stir until the dry ingredients are mostly incorporated. The batter will turn very thick.
  5. Add the boiling water and stir until the batter is smooth and uniform with no traces of unmixed ingredients remaining.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to smooth it evenly into the corners.
  7. Bake the cake for 35 (to be safe- check even earlier) to 40 minutes, until it’s golden, springy to the touch, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely.

To Make the Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting:

  1. Make icing while cake cools.
  2. Using electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add powdered sugar, sifted cocoa powder, and salt and beat again, scraping down sides of bowl, until completely smooth.
  4. Add vanilla and continue to beat until fluffy and lightened in color, another minute.
  5. Smooth icing over top of cooled cake (it should not be at all warm to the touch, or else the icing will melt).
  6. Top cake with sprinkles, if desired.
  7. Cut into pieces and serve.

Do Ahead: Cake can be baked and frosted 2 days ahead. Chill until icing is solid, then cover with plastic wrap and keep chilled. Bring to room temperature before serving.

For the Alternate Cake Toppings:

For the Strawberry Compote & Butterscotch Whipped Cream:

  • 4 cups (600 grams) frozen strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups (800 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 cups (480 grams) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (72 grams) brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons (12 grams) pure vanilla extract

To Make the Strawberry Compote:

  1. Combine the strawberries and vinegar in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until the fruit is soft and has released some juice.
  2. Add the granulated sugar 1 cup (200 grams) at a time, stirring between additions until the sugar disappears.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and bring the fruit and sugar to a boil. Boil for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Turn off the heat and let the compote cool before using.

To Make the Butterscotch Whipped Cream:

  1. Chill a bowl and a whisk.
  2. Pour the cream into the bowl and add the brown sugar and vanilla.
  3. Whisk the cream until stiff-ish peaks form. Take care that you don’t turn it into butter by overwhipping.(You can use a mixer with the whisk attachment to whip the cream.)
  4. Use immediately.

To Serve the Vanilla Sour-Cream Cake with Compote & Whipped Cream: **Two Options:

Option 1: Spoon the Strawberry Compote over the cake. Top the compote with the Butterscotch Whipped Cream, using the back of a spoon to give it some pretty swirls.

Option 2: Use the parchment paper to lift the cooled cake out of the pan. Cut the cake into 12 equal pieces. Spoon some Strawberry Compote over each piece. Top with a generous dollop of Butterscotch Whipped Cream.

Note: The Vanilla–Sour Cream Cake will keep, tightly covered at room temperature, for several days. Once assembled with the Strawberry Compote and Butterscotch Whipped Cream, plan to enjoy this cake the day you assemble it. That said, if you cover and refrigerate it, it will not disappoint the next day or the day after that. Especially for breakfast.

Traditional Ukrainian Easter Bread Podil’ia Style (Podil’ska Paska)

Happy Belated Easter! We were very lucky to enjoy beautiful weather yesterday. 🙂

I like to bake new Easter breads to serve for our holiday breakfast. This year, I looked through my Ukrainian cookbook collection for a paska (Ukrainian Easter bread) recipe.

My mother-in-law has given me several Ukrainian cookbooks and there were many variations of paska to choose from- all quite different from one another depending upon the region of their origin. Traditionally, a paska or babka is an essential part of an Easter breakfast. Many are beautifully decorated with a cross, braid, or birds. This version is more of a cake, with batter, and did not have dough that could be used to decorate the top.

The recipe was adapted from Festive Ukrainian Cooking by Marta Pisetska Farley. According to the book, this paska recipe, from the northwest province of Podil’ia, is at least a hundred years old! It is a golden paska, reminiscent of the sun, and is similar to a sponge cake.  It was very rich and indulgent.

Yield: One 9 or 10-inch cake

  • 1 cup dry white bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 10 large or extra-large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 T powdered sugar
  1. Line the bottom and sides or a 9, 10 or 12-inch springform pan with parchment paper. (Because I used a 9-inch pan (smaller than the original recipe suggests), I cut 7-inch tall pieces of parchment paper to line the sides of the pan, buttered on the portion lining the walls of the pan and sprayed with cooking spray above the walls of the pan.)
  2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  3. Sift the bread crumbs until fine, then sift again with the flour baking powder, and spices.
  4. Add the grated lemon and orange zest.
  5. Separate the eggs.
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the egg yolks with the granulated sugar until thick and pale, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla and beat again.
  8. Fold the bread crumb mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
  9. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold them into the batter until no white streaks can be seen.
  10. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until set or a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. (I was afraid that the cake would fall if I checked it too early- and baked it for 1 hour.)
  11. When fully baked, keep the cake in the oven with the door ajar, and allow to cool slowly. (The cake may fall slightly. Mine did!)
  12. When cool, remove the parchment paper and sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Serve.

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