Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin streusel Bundt cake

Pumpkin streusel Bundt cake

I've gained a bit of a reputation at work for my baking skills, since I can't possibly eat all of what I bake and therefore often bring plates of goodies to work. Usually, my coworkers treat what I bring in as a nice surprise and leave it at that. But last week, they went a step further; I was sitting at my desk, and all of a sudden, I overheard "I thought she was supposed to bring us cake. There isn't any, though, so I guess not."

I have to admit, one of the words that makes my ears perk up is "cake." "Hmm?" I said, looking up across the desks. "Oh, nothing," said the coworker who had been speaking. I pressed further, and eventually, what I got was a general sense of "we'd like you to bring in a cake." "Why?" I asked. "What kind, and what for, and when?" After all, I'm always game for making a cake. But they just sorta said "oh, never mind." They didn't have any particular reason or occasion in mind; they'd just decided that cake sounded good and I hadn't brought any in for a while.

Well, ask and ye shall receive. Mind you, it took me a week or so, 'cause I had to make a pie first -- I'd promised an apple pie to my boyfriend, since it's apple season and we have a house full of them. But once the pie was safely stowed in the fridge (and oh, who am I kidding, indulged in, too), I turned my attention to cake. It had to be something October-y, 'cause I like to cook seasonally when I can. And it had to be a casual sort of cake, 'cause there was no occasion for this, nothing that would justify a fancy layer cake. What I came up with was this: pumpkin is autumn-y, and Bundt cake, well, they're just naturally pretty, without being overly fancy.

But enough of my chatter, 'cause you need to make this, today if possible, or if not today, then as soon as you can possibly find the time and some people to help you eat it. It's moist, it's delicious, it's got the most sweet-spicy filling inside, and you'll have all you can do not to eat four pieces in one afternoon.

Completed cake

Pumpkin Streusel Bundt Cake
Adapted from a recipe from Libby's, via AllRecipes

1/2 c brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
2 tsp butter (teaspoons, this is not a typo)

3 c flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 c butter, softened
2 c sugar
4 eggs
1 c pumpkin puree
8 oz sour cream
2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 c confectioners' sugar
2-3 tbsp milk

1. Butter and flour your Bundt pan. Set aside.
2. Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and allspice. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Set aside.
3. Whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Set that aside, too.
4. Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until combined. Beat in the pumpkin, then the sour cream, then the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture.
5. Spoon half of the batter into the pan, spreading it out evenly to the sides. Top with the brown sugar mixture, being careful to keep it in the center of the batter and not get it toward the edges. Top with the remaining batter, smoothing it out so it touches the edges of the pan.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
7. Cool in pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Then, de-pan onto the rack and finish cooling.
8. Mix together the confectioners' sugar with as much of the milk as you need to make a glaze. Drizzle over the cake and let harden.

Trail mix cookies

Trail mix cookies

I went on a trip last month to a cabin in the woods, and I needed something to bring, something that's easy to grab and munch. Cookies would be popular, of course, but I wanted something more. I wanted cookies that would actually be healthy, cookies that I could eat for breakfast and not feel horribly bad about it. So I picked up a healthy-recipe cookbook we have lying around, and I found this recipe. Trail mix, for a weekend in the woods? That seemed appropriate. And these have nuts and seeds and fruit in them, plus a little whole grain, so they're remarkably healthy. But I won't compromise on flavor in the name of good health, and I'm happy to say that no compromise was required here -- these are delicious, chewy and crunchy and salty and sweet and addictive, for sure.

Trail Mix Cookies
From "The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook"

1 c rolled oats
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c regular all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking soda
5 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
1 c brown sugar (either light or dark works here)
1/2 c dried cherries, raisins or other similar dried fruit (I used currants)
1/2 c unsalted pumpkin or sunflower seeds
1/4 c pecans, walnuts or almonds
1/4 c chocolate chips

1. Whisk together the oats, flours, salt, cinnamon and baking soda.
2. In another, larger bowl, whisk together the butter, egg and vanilla. Stir in the sugar until smooth. Stir in the oat mixture until just combined, then stir in the fruit, seeds, nuts and chips.
3. Roll dough into tablespoon-sized balls and place about 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. (You'll want to use wet hands for this, so the dough doesn't stick to your hands.)
4. Bake at 350 degrees until the edges are set and starting to brown but the centers are still soft, puffy and underdone, 12 to 16 minutes.
5. Let cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a rack to finish cooling.