Category: Cakes


So after being informed by my BFF that the print feature I added awhile back actually prints the entire blog post instead of only the recipe like I wanted it to, I have (with a little help from a more experienced blogger) figured out how to make only the recipe in each post printable. Yay! So from now on you will be able to print only the best part of each post: the recipe! And when I get time here and there I will go back and add the feature to all of my other posts (which number 72 as of today, so it may take me a little while to get it done). Thank you all for sticking with me thus far! ❤

We are preparing to delve into the world of homeschooling this year. We’ve felt the need to homeschool for years but were never in a position to be able to until now. So we won’t have the hustle and bustle of trying to get out the door in time to meet the bus this year. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be mornings that we need to get in the car and go somewhere earlier and in more of a rush than I’d like- especially since it’s a 40 minute drive from our little village to get anywhere. On those mornings it’s SO nice to have a breakfast that I can put into containers or baggies so we can eat it in the car. And it’s even nicer to know that this “fast food” is homemade instead of processed and super unhealthy. Try to get that out of the little packages of muffins from the store!

Since I like to make these as easy to eat as possible, I tend to make these into mini muffins. They’re easily popable that way and the crumbs are kept to a minimum. They are just as tasty as regular muffins, so use whatever kind of pan strikes your fancy. And speaking of fancy, these make great baby bundt cakes! You can ice them with a simple glaze and presto- you’ve got a pretty little dessert!

One of the great things about these muffins is that they use everyday items that are probably in your pantry and fridge as we speak…

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The second great thing about these tasty little gems is how simple they are. All you have to do is mix your dry ingredients…

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Then mix your wet ingredients well…

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Then all you have to do is mix them together…

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Ta da! Done! Now you just fill the liners and put the pan in the oven…

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It doesn’t get much easier than that! From start to finish these muffins take about 20 minutes (depending on what size you make them). And if you don’t want chocolate chips in them, no problem; use whatever you like. Peanut butter chips (or half chocolate chips, half peanut butter chips), toffee chips, mint chocolate chips, dried fruit, your imagination is the only limit! Oh- and if you really want to make these a little decadent, whip up some cream cheese frosting and smear a bit on top of the muffins. That will brighten the dreariest day 🙂 And you can even make a big batch of these and freeze them for later. Then you can just thaw some on the counter overnight and have a quick breakfast in the morning. Or you can put a frozen muffin in your lunch bag and have a tasty treat at midday.

Autumn is fast approaching (thank goodness!!) and with it comes busier schedules. I hope this simple recipe brings a smile to your hustle & bustle the way it does to mine 🙂

The Recipe: 

1 1/2 C Flour

1/2 C Sugar

2 t Baking Powder

1/2 t Salt

1 Egg

1/4 C Sour Cream (or yogurt; vanilla yogurt adds a nice, subtle flavor)

1/2 C Milk

1/4 C Oil

1/2 C Chocolate Chips (I use mini chocolate chips- especially if I’m making mini muffins)

 

The Method:

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

*Prepare your muffin pan by either greasing and flouring each well or lining them with paper cups.

*In a medium bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center into which you can pour the wet ingredients.

*In a small bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients.

*Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until well combined. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps in the batter.

*Scoop the batter into the prepared pan. A small ice cream/cookie scoop works well for mini muffins.

*Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

*Keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Or you can freeze in a zip top bag or well wrapped in plastic wrap and then foil for up to 2 months.

 

I’ve had some requests for a “print recipe” feature, so I looked around and found one of those! You can now find a new button on each post. It’s labeled “print and PDF” and it can be found at the very bottom of each post along with the sharing buttons. You’re welcome and thanks for your continued support! ❤

I have a recipe up my sleeve that I wanted to share this week, but due to technical difficulties I couldn’t get it posted. I hope to have it up next week. In the meantime, I had something exciting happen last week: I was contacted by Endless Simmer to be featured in their Top 10 Gingersnap Recipes list! I consider myself (rightly) a small time food blogger. I’m not one of the big girls or boys who have hundreds or thousands of followers and their own cookbooks in the works. I can’t say it wouldn’t be fun sometimes to be that. But that’s not my goal. I like what I do and I like my blog. I think about the stress and the time taken away from my family to be a big blogger like that and I say, most assuredly, “I’ll pass, thanks.” So I was amazed that someone actually wanted to feature my post along with so many other wonderful posts from fantastic bloggers. Of course I jumped at the opportunity! So here you go; my first guest appearance 🙂

Top 10 gingersnap Recipe Countdown:

http://www.endlesssimmer.com/2014/10/08/gingersnaps-gone-wild-top-ten-gingersnap-recipes/

This is a very special recipe. Really- it is! This is the recipe my husband asks for every single year for his birthday cake. My husband’s name is Ron (Ronald), which means “Ruler”. And as he is the leader of our household and the head of our marriage I’d say that makes him the ruler of this family! Ok, I’ll admit that that was maybe a little cheesy. But it’s all true and I do believe this cheesecake would make royalty happy! This is an incredibly basic cheesecake recipe; no lemon or sour cream. Just a plain vanilla cheesecake. But it is SO good! Rich and creamy with the perfect thick texture- and the plainness of it is the perfect palette for toppings. Ron is a purist and insists that any cheesecake he’s going to eat have cherry pie filling on top and nothing else. Well… maybe strawberry or raspberry puree, but that’s starting to push it. I myself, on the other hand, have no such purist leanings. I’m not crazy about cherries in general so I usually scrape mine off and give them to Ron 🙂 I love lots of different flavors on and in my cheesecake: caramel, pumpkin, strawberry, blueberry, Snickers… anything but coconut and coffee, really! And this recipe is the perfect starting off point for all of them!

As I said; this is a very basic cheesecake, so you want to make sure you have the best ingredients you can get your hands on- especially the vanilla. Being the only actual flavoring agent, the vanilla is very important. If you use cheap vanilla for this your cheesecake will taste like cheap vanilla and the results will be lackluster.

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This cheesecake is incredibly simple to prepare. The hardest part is making the graham cracker crumbs if, like me, you don’t have a food processor. And, currently, we are out of zip top bags, so I can’t even use the trick of crushing them with a rolling pin in a zip top bag. What I do in this situation is use a wooden rolling pin that is missing the handle on one side to pound the graham crackers into crumbs. Sometimes things get broken and become an entirely new tool! 🙂 You have to be careful when doing it that way because it’s easier to make a mess, but it works! You COULD just buy graham cracker crumbs, but they are insanely expensive- it’s not that much trouble to make them yourself and you save a lot of money!

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Make sure you press the crust evenly into the bottom of the pan. If you just spread them in the bottom without pressing them down they will form a crumb layer on the bottom and quite a bit of the crust mixture will end up floating throughout the cheesecake. Tasty, but not how it’s supposed to be. Now this gets put in the oven for about 10-12 minutes until it starts to smell really good and gets a little brown… er. It starts out light brown and you want it to end up a little darker light brown. I know that sounds confusing, but just make the crust & you’ll find out what I mean 🙂

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Once you have your crust blind baked all you have to do is mix the filling & pour it in the crust. You will definitely need a mixer for the filling; cream cheese is a pain to beat by hand. Literally. I’ve done it before and my wrist hurt for 2 days afterward. So make sure your cream cheese is nice and soft and start beating it. I use my stand mixer (with the paddle attachment) for this because it’s a lot stronger than the hand mixer I have. Give the cream cheese a good beating and make sure it’s completely smooth. Stop the mixer a couple of times and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all of the cream cheese is beaten.

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See? No lumps. Lumpy cheesecake=yucky cheesecake. Seriously. Biting into a lump of plain cream cheese ruins the moment. Don’t let it happen to you. Now that you have perfectly smooth cream cheese, add the sugar and beat the heck out of it again. Stop & scrape the sides at least twice to make sure get all of the sugar incorporated before you add the eggs. Don’t be afraid to over beat the filling at this point- you want to make sure it’s smooth & well mixed.

Now you can add the vanilla and the eggs one at a time, mixing very well and scraping the bowl down after each egg. I realize that is a little more work than most cheesecake recipes call for but this is they only way I have found to REALLY make sure you get all of the cream cheese properly incorporated. It only take a few seconds extra, so don’t skip this step. Here’s how smooth your batter should end up:

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Very pretty indeed! Now there are two ways to bake this: with a water bath or without. I have an awful time with my cheesecake cracking either way. I’ve tried both ways several times and have always had my cheesecake get HUGE cracks (calling them “fissures” would not be a stretch) in the middle before it’s even done baking. If you want to do a water bath, put the cheesecake in a pan that will fit into another pan with room to spare. If you’re using a spring form pan, wrap the outside of it with foil so water can’t get in. Set the bigger pan on the rack of the preheated oven, set the cheesecake filled pan in the bigger pan, and carefully pour boiling water into the bigger pan until it comes about halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. Bake as per directions. Personally, I will be using the above pictured pan every time I make cheesecake from now on. It’s a stoneware 8 x 11 dish that my mom gave me as a gift. And the cheesecake didn’t crack while baking! I think it’s because the stoneware dish heats and holds heat more evenly.

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I did not use a water bath this time- just the stoneware dish. I ended up with a 2 inch, shallow crack in the middle when it was done cooling. I can certainly live with that! The brown around the edges that you see is not normal. The actual edges of the cheesecake are supposed to be a bit brown, but you shouldn’t have cooked on batter on the pan like that. I actually forgot to add the vanilla before I put the batter in the pan. So I had to mix it in carefully after I already had it in the dish. I was talking to my mom while doing this and got distracted. Violated my own rule. Again. But there are worse things. Moving on…

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These are actually the last two pieces. I almost didn’t get a shot of the cheesecake with toppings. With 5 people eating on it, it barely lasted 2 days. I know the lighting is bad; this was taken at 8:30 at night. Sorry. We enjoyed these last two pieces with particular relish, as I won’t be making another cheesecake until Ron- my Ruler’s- birthday. My guess is when you try this cheesecake you’ll want it for your birthday too!

The Recipe- The Crust:

1 C Graham Cracker Crumbs

3 T Sugar

5 T Butter, Melted

The Recipe- The Filling:

24 Oz Cream Cheese, Softened

3/4 C Sugar

3 Eggs

1 t Vanilla

The Method: The Crust:

*Heat oven to 325 degrees.

*In a bowl, combine all ingredients well.

*Pour into chosen pan and, with your fingers or the bottom of a glass or measuring cup, gently but firmly press the crumbs into the bottom and up the side of the pan (only about 1/2 an inch, depending on the size of your pan).

*Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, until it smells of buttery graham crackers and is slightly more golden.

*Take out of the oven and let cool at least 10 minutes.

The Method- The Filling and Construction:

*Heat oven to 425 degrees.

*In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom at least once.

*Add the sugar and beat again, scraping the sides and bottom at least twice, until the mixture is perfectly smooth.

*Add the vanilla and then the eggs one at a time. Mix each egg into the batter completely and then scrape the bowl down after each egg.

* Once as close to perfectly smooth as you can get it, pour the batter into the crust.

*If you want to use a water bath, follow the instructions above.

*Bake the cheesecake at 425 for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 250 and bake until the cheesecake is set in the middle and starting to brown around the edges. This could be anywhere from 35-45 minutes up to an hour plus. You’ll just have to keep an eye on it.

*Once done, open the oven door and let the cheesecake cool for one hour in the oven.

*Remove from the oven and finish cooling on the counter.

*Once completely cool, put the cheesecake in the refrigerator and chill thoroughly.

*Slice and serve with desired toppings. Or eat it plain- it’s just that good!

I’m supposed to be baking my twins’ birthday cake today. The recipe calls for 2 sticks of softened butter. Butter that I was going to get out of the freezer last night and set on the counter so it would be ready to go when I was. Guess who didn’t get the butter out of the freezer last night? Yep- this currently addle brained mother of 3. This week has gotten so insanely busy that I forgot in all my running right up until bedtime to set the butter out. Sigh. But it’s ok! I learned a trick a couple years ago that gets me softened butter WAY faster than leaving it out & waiting and doesn’t leave me with half melted, half hard butter from the microwave. Behold…

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Yes- it’s a piece of marble (formerly a cheese slicer) and a glass bowl. You can just as easily use ceramic or stoneware- that’s what the person who gave me the idea used. The point is to use something that will hold heat, softening the butter gently. The water out of our tap’s hot side is about 120 degrees (my in laws won’t set it lower) so it’s hot enough without heating it farther. If you don’t have water that hot out of the tap heat enough water to fill your bowl in either the microwave or a kettle. Once the water is hot use it to heat the plate (or in my case the slab of marble), then discard the water in a manner of your choosing. Although you might hang onto it in case you need to heat your bowl & base again! Once your bowl & base are heated make it look like the picture and leave it to sit for awhile. In my case about 45 minutes to an hour because it was frozen. If you’re starting with butter out of the fridge it will take about 10-15 minutes. It takes a little longer but I like this method MUCH better than the microwave.

Now I can move on to cake baking. I hope; assuming I haven’t forgotten anything else!

I have learned that carrot cake is a funny thing. You either love it or you run screaming from the person who dared utter the term. The reason is understandable; it’s basically fruitcake and we have all been well versed throughout life on the evils of fruitcake. However I like fruitcake- IF it’s made correctly. Yes, I’m one of those people. The wierdos who are delighted to receive a quality fruitcake at Christmas and think that a well made carrot cake is a thing of beauty. But it MUST be made correctly. There are thousands of recipes for carrot cake if you run a search. Out of these, nearly all will be hideous. Most will be too dry, some will be bland, some will have bizzare ingredients (like the one I found with sesame paste in it). Most of the recipes out there will end in utter failure. Carrot cake should be moist but not gooey, well spiced but not overpowering, and nicely sweet but not sickeningly so. This cake is everything a carrot cake should be. I serve it one of 2 ways: as a cake or as a trifle. Pair it with my cream cheese frosting and you may well weep with joy. Well… you will if you’re a carrot cake person :.) And before you groan at the thought of heavy, grainy, too-sweet cream cheese frosting and decide to pass, hear me out. This is not like all the others. It’s smooth, creamy, and mellow. It has about half the sugar as the traditional recipe and goes perfectly with this cake. I also use about 1 cup of it as the base for my trifle cream, as I will explain. SO! Carrot cake! Will you give it one more go & see if you, too, are a carrot cake person?
Fisrt, let’s bake the cake:
This is a small can of crushed pineapple. It MUST be crushed. No tidbits, no chunks.
When you drain your pineapple don’t throw the juice away! The raisins need to soak and there is nothing better you can use than the juice from the pineapple. Let the raisins soak while you get the carrots ready.
This recipe differs from most because the carrots are steamed instead of just grated into the batter. This, I think, makes all the difference in the world .
While the carrots are steaming you can get your dry ingredients together. You’ll need flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. You can use cloves if you want, however I despise cloves (unless hidden in the above mentioned yearly fruitcake) and don’t bother even buying any.
When the carrots are done cooking take a potato masher to them. You can use a ricer or a foodmill if you prefer. Don’t have a potato masher? Get one. They are good for alot more than just mashing potatoes! (But they are pretty darn good at that too.)
Now put your wet ingredients together. You’ll need the carrots, of course, oil of your choice but no olive oil, unsweetened applasauce (I use half oil, half applesauce and the results are awesome!), the pineapple, 3 eggs, 1T of the juice from the raisins.
Now if you’re ready, combine the wet and dry. You may not know it, but you can prepare these 2 halves of the recipe in advance if you need to; they will keep for awhile. So if you get interrupted & need to attend to something else just don’t combine the wet & dry until you’re ready to bake the cake. Once combined, put the batter into a well greased & floured 9 inch pan.
The batter will come very close to the top of the pan. In my case the batter will run over into the well a bit. If you need to you can put some in a pan and make some muffins or small cakes. However it works for you.
Et viola! The finished cake. It will most likely need to be darker than you are comfortable with it being to get done all the way through. It’s a thick batter- give it time :.)
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Now… If you’re just wanting a cake with frosting leave it where it is and frost it when it’s cool. Or you can take it out of the pan and frost it. But if you want to make my trifle you need to let it cool completely and cut it into 1 inch cubes.
Make your trifle cream out of 1 cup cream cheese frosting and one tub cool whip. Yes- cool whip. This part is putting together- not baking. ;.) (Update April 16, 2014: having come a long way in eliminating nasty artificial things from our diet, I do not use Cool Whip anymore. Whipped, sweetened heavy cream will work beautifully here.) Make sure the frosting is room temperature and the cool whip (or whipped cream) is thawed. Use either a stand mixer or a hand held mixer to whip the 2 together.
Get your trifle dish out or you can use whatever you have on hand. My trifle dish is packed right now so I used the insert out of a 4 quart slow cooker. Layer the cake and cream, starting and finishing with the cake. You will get 3 layers of cake out of this recipe .
Very nice, no? Now, the hard part. You can’t eat this cake right after you make it- in cake or trifle form. You must think ahead when making this recipe. It will be good a few hours after you make it, but the next day it will be truly awe inspiring! So let good things come to those who wait… if you can :.)
The recipe:
1 1/2 C All purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 – 3/4 tsp Ginger
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1 C Cooked, mashed Carrots
3/4 C Oil ( I use half canola oil & half unsweetend applesauce. Chunky is good too)
1- 8 1/4 oz Can Crushed Pineapple, drained, reserving juice for soaking raisins
3 Eggs
1 1/2 C Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp Pineapple Juice from saoking raisins
1/4 C Soaked raisins (These are optional. If you don’t use them don’t forget to reserve 1 Tbsp of the juice when you drain the pineapple.)
The Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch pan. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the wet ingredients, including sugar, in another bowl. Add the wet to the dry and stirgently until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35-55 minutes, until tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Let cool completely, taking out of the pan if you wish. Frost or prepare as a trifle.
The recipe:
Cream Cheese Frosting & Trifle Cream Base
8 oz Cream Cheese, softened to room temp (any fat content you please. I use reduced fat)
1/2 C Butter, softened to room temp
1/2 Lb powdered sugar
1 tsp + Vanilla (this is to taste really. If you want more vanilla, add it)
The Method:
In a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer beat cream cheese and butter until flufy & lightened. Add vanilla & mix well. Gradually add the powdered sugar and mix very well. Makes enough to frost one 9 inch cake plus about 1 C left over to do as you please with.
Trifle Cream
1 C Cream Cheese Frosting, room temp
1 tub Cool Whip or store-brand equivalent, thawed OR 2 C Whipped, sweetened heavy cream
In a stand mixer or with a hand held mixer beat to thoroughly combine.