apple rum-raisin spice cake

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Isn’t this cake pretty?

Heck … I think it’s gorgeous.

It looks so simple and elegant … but it’s flavourful, moist and simply delicious.

It wasn’t always that way.

The first time I made it … I found it a little bit dry.  The taste deepened and the cake actually got better as it sat overnight, but it still wasn’t exactly what I had hoped.

That got me thinking … how can I tweak this recipe to make it moist straight out of the oven?

The second attempt included increased raisins (the original recipe called for ½ cup raisins).  It helped a bit.

The following week I decided to try it out in a larger rectangular pan rather than the original 9-inch round pan.  It was ok … but it certainly didn’t help with the dryness level.  I also decided to add my own baking powder and salt rather than using self-rising flour.  I liked the result in the texture of the cake more.

Since my goal was to add moistness to the cake … I thought why not add another apple?  Only rather than slicing it, I would dice it and incorporate it into the batter.  With that addition my problems were solved.

I got exactly what I was looking for in the recipe … an excellent cake that I will happily eat morning, noon and night (believe me, I had a lot of test cake to go through).

Now for the part of the blog post were I sell you on this recipe.

1.  It’s delicious

2.  It’s easy to make

3.  It looks gorgeous

4.  It would be a great thing to bring as a holiday hostess gift.  Especially since it gets better overnight.

5.  Did I mention that it’s gosh darn delicious and easy to make?  Plus it sure is pretty!

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apple rum-raisin spice cake

Ingredients:

1 c. butter, room temperature

1 c. brown sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

1 ½ c. flour

1 tbsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

½ tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp cloves

1 c. rum-soaked raisins

1 apple, peeled, cored & diced

3 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

2 tbsp brown sugar cinnamon sugar

Heat your oven to 350 F.  Grease a 9-inch round pan with non-stick spray.  Then line the base and sides with parchment paper (I know … it sounds like an unnecessary step – but it honestly does make a difference in your cake).  Spray the parchment paper with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar, at medium-high speed, until light and fluffy – about 3 to 5 minutes.  Gradually add the beaten eggs to the mixture, lowering the speed of the mixer and then increasing it to fully incorporate the batter.  Remember to take the time to scrap the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  You want all of that butter, sugar, egg mixture well combined.

Bakers tip: to ensure that the rum-soaked raisins don’t sink to the bottom of your cake (and stay on the bottom of the pan), sprinkle them with about 2 tbsp of the flour (take it from the 1 ½ cup flour needed for this recipe) and coat them.  Sinking problem is resolved.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.

Using a large spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the batter.  Add the diced apple and raisins.  Gently combine them into the batter.

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Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan and level the surface.

Place half the apple slices over the batter, layering them.

Add the remainder of the batter on top of the apple slices.

Place the left over apple slices on top.  Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes – it depends on your oven and the thickness of your cake.  Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove the cake from the pan (having it lined with parchment paper makes a huge difference – nothing sticks and the cake is easily removed!) and allow it to cool completely on the wire rack.

Don’t put this cake in the fridge.  It’ll dry out.   Keep it in a Tupperware container; air tight, for up to 5 days.  This is the cake that keeps on giving!

mini pumpkin donuts

pumpkin donuts
Are you a little baked out after all that Holiday baking?

I hate to admit it … but I am baked out.

December was spent in the kitchen whipping up eggnog eclairs (numerous batches … a very popular treat), monkey bread, coconut-pecan sticky buns, coconut-date sticky buns, double chocolate gingerbread cookies, sweet & salty brownies, cranberry bliss bars, toffee coconut oreo squares, lemon tarts, chocolate-cranberry tarts, apple chocolate chip spice cake, chocolate ganache cheesecakes, double chocolate pecan tarts, cupcakes (so many cupcakes) … and these.

pumpkinspicedonut

Pumpkin donuts.

Ridiculously delicious.  These donuts quickly found a place in my stomach.  And my heart.

I found the original inspiration (and recipe) for this on pinterest.  It was the kind of picture that made me go … “yeah … I need to try this”; and then when I clicked on the blog, blueeyedbakers, I was hooked.

It’s a winner of a recipe.

Plus … they are dead easy to make.  The only caveat is that you need a mini donut baking pan.

I know … yet another thing to add to your kitchen.  But believe me … once you make these donuts and try them … you’ll be hooked.  And just like me … you’ll end up making a batch of these every week.  For a month.

And again  … even when you’re all baked out.

Because they’re that good.

spices 6

mini pumpkin spiced donuts

ingredients:
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/3 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 c. buttermilk

Heat your oven to 350 F.  Spray your mini donut pan with non-stick spay.  Set aside.

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In the bowl of your stand-mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat together the oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, canned pumpkin and buttermilk together.  This shouldn’t take too long – you want everything to be nicely mixed together.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves together.

Turn off the stand-mixer, pour in the dry ingredients, and then beat together on the lowest speed.  You want the flour to be incorporated, but you don’t want to over-mix the batter (it’s considered a cake batter, so treat it the same when mixing).
piping the dough 2

Grab a piping bag (no tip required) and fill it with the batter; then pipe each donut round with the batter.

I only have one donut pan, so I filled the twelve holes and placed the pan in the oven.  Bake for 8 minutes.  The donuts are ready when you press against them and they spring back.

baked donuts cooling 2

Remove from the oven, and turn them out immediately onto a wire rack.  That’s when I toss my donut pan into the freezer.  I want to cool it down quickly so that I can bake off the rest of the donuts.  I tend to get 18 donuts out of the batter.  18 perfect little bites of joy.

But the work doesn’t end here.

Nope.

Now we make them extra-delicious.

Melted butter + cinnamon sugar = delectable donuts.

cinnamon-sugar coating:

ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1-2 tablespoons cinnamon

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan.

Once the butter has melted, take your mini donuts and lightly dunk them in the melted butter, pull them out, shake them a little (get rid of the excess butter), and then put them in your cinnamon-sugar bowl.

In order to not get clumpy sugar, take a large spoon, and spoon the sugar over your donut.  Make sure you spoon over the entire thing.  Take the donut out and place it to cool completely on your wire-rack.
side view sugared donuts

Or eat one immediately.  That’s what I do.

If I still haven’t been able to convince you to give this recipe a chance … here are another couple of reasons:

1.  Since you bake them, rather than fry them, you kitchen smells delightfully like pumpkin and spices, rather than hot oil!

2.  They taste just as good the following day.  Kept in an airtight container at room temperature, you’ll not only have an afternoon treat today … but tomorrow … and the day after.

3.  Baked’s pumpkin chocolate-chip loaf is the most popular recipe on my blog.  So if you’re already using a can of pumpkin purée for the loaf … you might as well make a batch of these donuts as well.  Think about it … you’ll get a double bang for your buck when you buy pumpkin purée.

Are you sold yet?

I thought so!

banana squash chai chocolate chip loaf

Sounds like a mouthful right?

It is.  A delicious, moist, wonderful mouthful.  Oh how I heart this recipe.

Have you ever opened your freezer and found yourself looking at some black bananas and some roasted, mashed squash?

If that’s the case … then make this.  Seriously.  This loaf is so delicious.  I ate (well shared) one of the two loaves in 3 days.  3 days!!!!  It’s the kind of loaf where once you start slicing pieces off you can’t stop.  That is my favourite kind of thing.

I wanted to share this recipe with you today.  I thought we could all use something that isn’t turkey. Or tourtière.  That isn’t a sugar cookie or a ginger cookie.  That has pretty much absolutely nothing to do with the holidays.  It’s the perfect thing to whip up (super quick and simple recipe), pour into a loaf pan and bake … filling your kitchen with all kinds of wonderful.

Your perfect reward for surviving the holidays.

This recipe is  also the perfect example of how I take a recipe and adapt it to my needs.  You can well imagine that almost all of my recipe books start off looking like this:

and then… end up looking like this:

so if you’re missing the squash, don’t like the chai and just feel like a hearty slice of banana bread … check out the ingredients in the unmarked picture … it’ll make one loaf of banana goodness … but the adapted recipe is pretty amazing.  I’m just sayin’…

banana squash chai chocolate chip loaf

ingredients:

4 c. flour, sifted

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/5 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

grated nutmeg (to taste)

1/2 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. white sugar

1/2 c. brown sugar

4 eggs

2 ripe bananas, mashed

half medium squash, roasted and mashed

1/2 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. chai

1 (heaping) c. chocolate chips

Boil some water and make a mug of chai.  You can use half and then drink half while you’re baking :0)  Thanks to Marysol – I used this amazing chai brand – it’s probably the best chai I’ve tried (merci ma belle Marysol!)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray two loaf pans with non-stick spray and set aside.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer (or with a hand-held mixer), and using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well; scraping the sides as needed.  Add the mashed banana, squash, buttermilk and chai to the bowl.

Slowly add the flour mixture.  Once it’s kinda mixed together (not fully incorporated), toss in the chocolate chips, and mix those around for about 15 seconds.

Evenly divide the batter between the two loaf pans, and bake on the centre rack for 45 minutes.  Cover each loaf with foil, and return to the oven for another 15 minutes (this will prevent the tops from getting too dark).

You’ll know that the loaf is ready when you pierce it with a knife and the blade comes out clean (well… except for the melted chocolate).  Allow the loaves to cool on a wire rack (leave in the pans for 15 minutes before removing and allowing to cool completely), and then slice off a piece.  Or three.  Yes.  I ate three slices when I made these.  It’s that good.

Banana bread is one of those things that I truly belive gets better after freezing – so wrap it nice and tight in some plastic wrap and save some for another day.  That’s why you need to bake two – one for immediate gratification, and the other for delayed gratification.