cardamom crumb cake

If you top cake with buttery sugary crumbs instead of buttery sugary frosting, suddenly it’s breakfast! Not that I’m complaining, mind you. And not that crumbs on top will stop me from eating it for dessert as well as breakfast.

It’s called cardamom cake, but cardamom isn’t the only important flavor. Orange zest in both the crumb and cake compete with coffee, and the orange wins but isn’t too strong. I suppose I wouldn’t have been opposed to more spice or even more bitter coffee, but the cake seemed pretty perfect just how it was. And really, what could be better than cake for breakfast?

Jill chose this recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has it posted. I doubled the salt.  (As well as baked it in heart-shaped muffin cups, obviously. The whole recipe makes 12 muffins. Bake at 400 degrees for about 18 minutes.)

One year ago: Cafe Volcano Cookies
Two years ago: Butterscotch Pudding

apple coconut family cake

I try to maintain a fairly open mind about desserts. I mean, if chocolate and prunes can be great together, who knows what else is out there? But you can’t deny that apples and coconut is weird.

Most pairings are based on geographical and seasonal commonalities – lime and coconut, tomatoes and basil, strawberries and rhubarb. Coconuts are grown in the tropics; apples grow in temperate regions. Apples ripen in the fall; coconuts grow where there are no seasons. You just aren’t likely to find these two trees growing next to each other.

That doesn’t mean they make a bad combination, just an odd one. I didn’t not enjoy it. In fact, the cake was so fluffy and moist that I did enjoy it.  But not as much as chocolate and prunes.

Amber chose this cake for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Sablés
Two years ago: Buttery Jam Cookies

pumpkin oatmeal cookies

One of my coworkers offered me a cookie recently, and while I try to be on my best eating behavior at work, I figured I had to be polite, right? And then he offered to leave the rest of the batch with me, clearly displaying the difference between the metabolism of an active male in his early thirties and that of a female of the same age. The whole container? Just one cookie first thing in the morning was a splurge.

No, when someone offers me a delicious cookie, I don’t eat the whole batch. I ask for the recipe.

Although these pumpkin cookies don’t make that easy. They aren’t the kind of cookie that you eat one of, savoring every bite, and then feel sated. All that fiber makes them feel more like a snack, like they should be healthy and you should be able to eat a few at a time. Alas, a petite (aka short) thirty-something moderately-active female can never forget all that butter. That’s why I prefer to be on the giving side of cookies instead of the receiving side.

One year ago: Chicken Empanadas, Bacon-Wrapped Scallops with Port Reduction, Slice-and-Bake Brown Sugar Cookies
Two years ago: Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake, Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Multigrain Pancakes

Printer Friendly Recipe
Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies (adapted from allrecipes)

2½ cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (7 ounces) white sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line two baking pans with parchment paper or a silicone mat. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat the butter and both sugars until fluffy, about one minute. Add the egg, beating until incorporated, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.

3. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto the prepared baking pans. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Let the cookies cool slightly on the pans before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

cranberry apple galette

I used to have a friend who always served steamed broccoli with her lasagna. “Everyone does salad with their lasagna”, she scoffed. But it seems to me that everyone does it because it works so well.

Cranberry and orange are another combination that is classic simply because it’s good. Cranberry and lime…well, I don’t know, because I wasn’t brave enough to try it. I do love tart foods, but since I knew I’d be sharing these, I took the safe and familiar route with cranberry and orange.

And it tasted just as good as I expected. I’m almost positive the cranberry-lime variation would have been wonderful too. Of course I can’t be sure, having taken the safe route.

The sisters of Celestial Confections chose this galette for Tuesdays with Dorie, and they have the recipe posted. Make minis at your own time-consuming risk, by cutting 3-inch circles from the rolled dough and stuffing them in muffin cups before filling. Don’t bother trying to fold the sides in. Bake until bubbling and browned, 18-20 minutes.  Also, I used this galette dough, because I already had some in the freezer.  I suspect its malleability helps with maneuvering the dough circles into muffin cups.

One year ago: Cran-Apple Crisps
Two years ago: Rice Pudding

all-american, all-delicious apple pie

I’ve made all manner of banana cream pies for Dave, and yet he remains convinced that nothing beats Baker’s Square’s. I have my doubts, as I don’t believe he’s been to a Baker’s Square since I started baking for him. But I keep trying.

By contrast, he declared the first apple pie I made for him the best apple pie he’d ever had. Not that that keeps me from trying new recipes. Just last month (a few days before October’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipes were announced and I realized I’d be making more apple pie soon), I made a rum raisin apple pie that sounded great, but didn’t have quite the perfection of my normal recipe.

Clearly this calls for a comparison, especially because Dorie calls for tapioca as a thickener instead of apple pie’s standard flour. My original plan was to make side-by-side versions of Dorie’s recipe and my old favorite, but, like many cooking endeavors when I’m rushed, this one went awry. I underfilled both mini-pies (although at least I underfilled them equally), forgot the breadcrumbs and butter in Dorie’s, didn’t adequately stir the zest into the filling… Because the recipes are very similar, with the same ratio of apples to sugar to spices to thickener, it really ended up being a comparison of tapioca versus flour.

I couldn’t tell a difference – not in taste, not in texture, not in soupiness. Dave really enjoyed them both as well. Now I just need to keep him from trying Baker’s Square’s apple pie. One impossible pie standard to live up to is quite enough, thank you.

Emily chose this recipe for TWD, and she has it posted. My other favorite apple pie recipe is by Cooks Illustrated. It’s very similar, with an equal amount of flour substituting for the tapioca in Dorie’s, no breadcrumbs or butter, and 1 teaspoon lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice instead of the larger amount of zest that Dorie recommends.  In all photos, Dorie’s recipe is to the left (with the crimped edge, not forked).

One year ago: Allspice Crumb Muffins
Two years ago: Chocolate Cupcakes

caramel pumpkin pie

Bringing desserts to work is awesome. It gives me a chance to bake without wondering what in the world we’re going to do with all this stuff, people come by and say thanks, and I become known as “the girl who brings treats” instead of “the girl whose desk faces the men’s bathroom.”

The disadvantage is that sometimes I only eat just enough of what I bake for quality control. And by quality control, I mean, is this edible? And not, can I taste the caramel in this?

I didn’t detect the caramel in the few bites I had, and neither did the coworkers I accosted in the hallway when they were trying to enjoy their tartlets (pie-lets?) in peace. But we all agreed that it was good, and that’s all that matters.

Janell, who chose this for Tuesdays with Dorie, has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Split-Level Pudding
Two years ago: Pumpkin Muffins

fold-over pear torte

You didn’t think I’d miss a week of Tuesdays with Dorie, did you? I’ve been in the group for two and a half years, haven’t missed a week yet, and don’t plan to start now. Being late is, of course, a different story. Being late is what I do.

Although if I’d realized how involved this recipe was, I might have procrastinated enough to be even later – pie crust, peeled and chopped fruit, and a custard that involves a mixer. Having overzealously planned my weekend cooking (as always), I jumped in, rushed, without looking at the recipe, with the kitchen counters covered in dinner dishes.

My measurements were imprecise, my rolling was sloppy. While the tart baked, I shaped over-risen bagel dough, realizing too late that the tart and the bagels needed the same oven at the same time but at very different temperatures. The bagels won and the tart (torte?) was under-browned.

But good nonetheless. Pears and rummy custard and dough are such a great combination. Even if it was a lot of steps. It’s worth it to keep my unbroken record of not skipping a week (although not necessarily being on time).

Cakelaw chose this for TWD and has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart
Two years ago: Lenox Almond Biscotti

double apple bundt

I’m all confused about fall this year. I see bloggers baking with pumpkin. Pioneer Woman is sharing her Thanksgiving recipes. People are planning their Halloween costumes. And I just keep thinking: Isn’t it a little early?

It really isn’t. It’s October, which for years has been my official welcoming of fall. That’s when I accept that summer is over and that it’s time to bundle up, enjoy the leaves, and cook with pumpkin and apples. But in southern New Mexico, fall just means that it isn’t quite so hot all the time. It’s still hot. Just not in the morning.

Tuesdays with Dorie is going to convince me it’s fall even if the weather doesn’t, with a month of apple and pumpkin recipes.  Bundt cake with apple flavor coming from both fresh grated apples and apple butter is enough to make me pretend it’s fall here.  I’ll just close my eyes, enjoy this perfect cake, and imagine I’m surrounded by tall trees with fire-colored leaves.

Lynne chose this and has posted the recipe. I doubled the salt, left out the nuts and raisins, and did some complicated thing (you don’t want to know, trust me) to the glaze to make it caramelly.

One year ago: Cottage Cheese Pufflets
Two years ago: Caramel Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

tarte fine

My boss and I both teach a course at the local community college, in addition to our day job. It keeps us busy. Yesterday he said that he’s considered taking semesters off from teaching, but then he wonders what he would do with the extra time.

I’m taking next semester off, and I can tell you all sorts of things I’m going to do with that time. I’m going to work out more. I’m going to brew beer. I’m going to pay attention to my husband in the evenings. I’m going to keep in closer touch with my friends. I’m going to make petits fours again. I’m going to go to bed earlier and buy birthday presents on time and keep my house cleaner. (Okay probably none of that last stuff will happen, because I’ll be too busy making petits fours and brewing beer.)

Until then, thank goodness for easy apple tarts that can be made after a Sunday evening faculty meeting; whose flaky crust and softened apples make for a just reward for going to a work meeting on the weekend, while softening the blow of another rushed week ahead.

Leslie chose this tart for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted. In between grading exams and writing blog entries on Sunday, I managed to make my own puff pastry. I’d forgotten how easy it is.

One year ago:  Flaky Apple Turnovers
Two years ago: Crème Brulée

oatmeal breakfast bread

I finally admitted defeat this weekend. For the first time this year, I bought bread. I also bought pre-chopped vegetables, hummus, and pre-washed lettuce. Why do I force myself to do all these things from scratch? Preparing my snacks and lunches for the work week has been seriously cutting into my favorite Sunday activity (sitting outside with a margarita and a book, of course). The only things I’m still making from scratch are hard-boiled eggs and muffins for Dave.

I’m lucky that so far the quick bread chapter in the Tuesdays with Dorie cookbook has been seriously overlooked, so I can double task lunch prep and TWD. (The celebration cake chapter is DONE, which, for me, is cause for celebration.) It also helps that muffins are so easy and bake quickly.

These are a perfect example of why I can’t bring myself to buy muffins. These aren’t perfectly healthy, but they’re certainly better for you than anything storebought – not to mention how sweet and tender and soft they are as well. I’m definitely willing to sacrifice a bit of Sunday margarita time to make muffins like this.

Natalie chose this recipe, and she has it posted on her site. I used raisins for the dried fruit, but these were so perfectly spiced for fall that I wish I’d used dried apples instead.

One year ago: Applesauce Spice Bars
Two years ago: Granola Grabbers