Sunday, September 5, 2010

Heirloom Pumpkin Cake

From my former MIL, Mrs. C

This is one of our most-requested favorites.  Addition of ginger is my own, and I include plenty of pumpkin pie spice till wonderfully fragrant.  Do not overcook.  Is best the next day, keep sealed in airtight container after fully cooled.  Enjoy!

Family Favorite Pumpkin Cake

3 cups sugar
2 sticks butter
2 cups cooked pumpkin (pulp well drained, or 1 Libby’s can of pumpkin)
3 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla (I use 2)
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I use 1-2 Tablespoons, to taste)
1 scant teaspoon powdered ginger (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (300 if your oven runs hot). In large heavy bowl, cream butter and sugar; add eggs. Mixing with mixer, add other dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin. Add vanilla. Batter will be very thick. Butter and flour a Bundt pan, and pour in batter. Tap filled pan lightly on counter a couple times to settle any air pockets. Bake for @ 1 hour 25 minutes, or till straw inserted near center comes out clean. Be sure not to overbake. Allow to cool completely, then store in sealed plastic container or wrapped. Best after first day, if it lasts that long

:)  Watch it disappear!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Polish Apple (Szarlotka) Our Favorite Apple Cake

Tried this to serve at a get-together, and it got eaten down to the crumbs.  It's sweet but not icky sweet, so is really good with coffee.

It's definately a keeper!

I ran across the recipe on Alla's blog Cooking with Yiddishe Mama, which is originally from Jewish Cooking by Marlena Spieler.

Here was the blog hook I couldn't resist:

"It's one of the best recipes. Always successful! You will stick with this recipe FOREVER!!!"

Yeah, well, it's really that good.

Here's the recipe. If I can make it, you can, too!

Polish Apple Cake (Szarlotka)

3 large apples, unpeeled, cored and sliced into thin slices (I used Fujis, DONT use regular red delicious)

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 c. sugar

4 lg. eggs

1 c. vegetable oil

1/2 c. orange juice (I squeezed up some fresh)

1 t. vanilla

3 c. all purpose flour

3 t. baking powder (fresh!)

1/2 t. salt

Grease 9x11 inch pan and dust with flour, shaking out excess.

Place apples in large bowl and mix with cinnamon and 2 tablespoons of the sugar.

In separate bowl, beat eggs and gradually add remaining sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

Combine with egg mixture and mix until blended.

Pour 2/3 of the batter into prepared pan.

Layer with the apples.

Pour the rest of the dough over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees 45-50 minues until golden on top.

Let stand a few minutes and then unmold onto rack.

Cool completely.

Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  I don't bother.

I heeded the advice of Susan , and went and bought FRESH baking powder, since learning that this makes a big difference in the end product. Also, I followed the recipe exactly, which is something I rarely am disciplined enough to do. I cut my apple slices paper thin when preparing the ingredients, and those came out very well.

The cake is delicious, and if you can wait long enough for it to cool to sample it, you'll find it comes out with a slightly crisp top and cakey soft moistness beneath, with just the right sort of sweetness. I sliced the cake into squares, arranged the slices on a platter, and covered the whole thing tightly with foil overnight. The next day, they were moister and there was no longer a crispness to the top.

This one's going into the permanent file, for sure.

1 Hour French Bread

Even though I don't make it as often as I did a couple years ago, I love to make homemade bread. I ran across a recipe for 1 hour french bread a while back (at this post), and it looked really good. Best of all, it said the entire process from start to hot-from-the-oven could be accomplished in an hour.

So I made two last night, and voila...they were great!

They can be made into an oblong loaf, or smaller baguettes or breadsticks. I went with the oblong loaves this time. One recipe makes one loaf. And aside from water, there are only four ingredients.
NO mixer.
NO difficult instructions.
And easy for anyone who is a little standoffish about kneading...the instructions don't call for it, though when I formed the loaf I gave it 4 or five good turns to get it to hold its shape better. The 20 minute rise is all part of the One Hour.

Aside from raw milk, is there anything more delicious than crisp cold salad greens and crusty, hot homemade bread...or the bread itself, with butter and honey?

Or slices toasted with grated mixed cheeses atop?

I'm going to have to hide this recipe, for the sake of my waist. After one more slice, perhaps :)

Here's Sadge's (at Fireside Farm blog) recipe:

One-Hour French Bread
1½ cups warm water
1 tablespoon honey
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ tablespoons Active Dry Yeast
3 - 4 cups flour (any combination of white and whole wheat)

Preheat oven 450ยบ. Combine water, salt, honey, and yeast in a medium bowl. Let sit 5 - 10 minutes, until bubbling. Add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon, until dough is no longer sticky (I'll sometimes dump the dough out onto the cutting board with what flour is in the bowl and roll it around,adding a bit more flour, until it's not sticky). Roll dough into a 12 - 14" roll (or you can divide it in half and roll it into two long skinny baguettes). Place dough roll(s) on a cookie sheet (this won't work in a bread pan), greased or sprayed with non-stick spray, cover, and let sit 20 minutes. Make diagonal slits, 1/2" deep, on top with a razor blade. (Optional: spray with salt water). Bake 20 minutes.

Devour  :)

My Meatloaf and Stuffed Peppers

For Rachel:

No proportions have been measured.  It's mostly guesswork, but here are the ingredients:


Ground beef
Very finely chopped onion
Worchestershire sauce
Dijon mustard (or whatever mustard is on hand)
Bread crumbs or cracker crumbs, finely crumbled
Uncooked oatmeal
Salt and pepper
Garlic powder
1 or 2 eggs, beaten with fork a few times
Little BBQ sauce (optional)

This can really stretch some ground beef to feed a lot more people.  Mix everything together by hand, adding enough of the wetter ingredients to make it kneadable.  Get your hands in there and squish it all together really well till well incorporated, and form it into a loaf or loaves.  Or form one loaf and set aside the remaining portion as the filling for stuffed green bell peppers.  Bake meatloaf in loaf pan or oval casserole 350 F till middle is firm and top is nicely browned.  I put tin foil over mine while baking and then take it off as it gets done and let it brown up the last 10 minutes or so.

If you want a topping, it can be ketchup or ketchup mixed with a bit of brown sugar and pepper and spread over top before cooking.

You can throw about anything into a meatloaf, even diced leftover veggies as long as you have a good proportion of meat and bread crumbs/oatmeal and spices in there, and the egg(s) as a binder to keep it from falling apart.

Stuffed Peppers

For stuffed green peppers, clean, de-seed, and cut in half 2 or 3 bell peppers (any color) and fill each with a portion of the meatloaf mix. 
NOTE:  if you want to make stuffed peppers and NOT separate meatloaf, you CAN substitute cooked rice for the oatmeal and some of the breadcrumbs.  But no worries if you don't have it on hand.

Place in a casserole, cover with tin foil, and bake 350 till done through.  You might want to take the foil off the last few minutes to let the tops brown up nicely.

If you like you can pour spaghetti sauce over all the stuffed peppers before baking, and top with cheese and let it melt on top of them just before finished.  Or dab a little tomato sauce and some garlic powder on each before baking.

Easy Pimiento Cheese

Rachel wants some of my easy recipes, so this is about as easy as they come :)

1.  Take your favorite basic cheese (I like colby-jack, but cheddar, colby, monterrey jack, etc are good),

2.  grate it,

3.  add some canned pimientos (from glass jars only)...dice them first if they're not already diced,

4.  and mix it together with some Hellman's or homemade mayo, till a creamy consistency. 

5.  Serve on really good bread, open faced or closed, or serve on toast.   Great as a side with soup or salad.