Saturday, October 29, 2011

Brown Sugar Apple Cheesecake

Oh man......this is just as good as it sound. The worst thing about this is, and I guess cheesecake in general, is that you have to wait to eat it once it's cooked. It also doesn't photograph well (clearly)....but this is more than made up for with taste.

One of the best things about this is that there's lots of cream cheese, which is good for you. It's totally full of calcium. There's also apples, another thing that's good for you. And you know what they say, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. This cake if practically the most nutritious thing you'll ever eat.

Taken from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From my Home to Yours"

For the Crust:

30 gingersnap cookies (these will be ground up in a food processor - you should have about 2 cups)
2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 tbs melted butter

For the apples (I used honeycrisp):
4 tbs butter
4 apples, cut into eighths
2 tbs brown sugar

For the filling:
3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
6 tbs sugar
3 tbs apple cider
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream


1) To make the crust, either bash the heck out of the cookies, or use a food processor to grind these up. Mix in the spices and melted butter. Butter a 10-inch springform plan. Dump the crumbs and butter in the pan and use your hands to press the crumbs down and up the sides of the pan. But the pan in the freezer for about 5 minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees. Once the oven is preheated, bake the crust for 15 minutes, once cool, wrap the pan in aluminum foil and place aside.

2) For the apples, melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, toss in the apples and sprinkle with brown sugar. Cook the apples until they are golden brown (about three minutes). You may want to do this in batches.

3) Using a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese until it's smooth. Add in the sugars and mix until combined. Add in the other ingredients.

4) Pour in about 1/3 of the batter into the pan, add in the apples and then the rest of the cake batter.

5) Place the pan into a roasting dish, add boiling water to the pan until it reaches about half-way up the cake. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees, then place a aluminum foil tent over the cake and bake for another 45 minutes to an hour. Bake until the cake is firm, if the centre of the cake still moves a bit, that's ok. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours - these will be longest 6 hours of your life.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Chewy Pumpkin Cookies

I have an addiction...

To pumpkin.

But acceptance is the first step towards overcoming it....the only problem is I don't want to. However, lucky for you this recipe involves pumpkin butter, which I made and now have a huge surplus of, so now I can have a little fix everyday and you won't feel like an enabler by reading this blog. We all win. And I promise, the next thing I make won't be pumpkin.

Recipe (slightly adapted from How Sweet it is):

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 Tbs cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp ground ginger
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter (cooled)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yoke
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin butter
1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

1) whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking soda and spices in a medium bowl.

2) In a stand mixer or with an electric mixer combine melted butter and sugars until well combined. Add the eggs, vanilla and pumpkin butter and mix until well combined.

3) Gradually add the dry ingredients, once well combined refrigerate dough until chilled, about 45 minutes.

4) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the tray half-way through.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

hands of bath tearoom: review # 2

My second tea experience in England was when we visited Bath and Stonehenge on an International Students' trip.  I was wishing that I had done a bit more research before we got there because we just wandered around until we found a suitable tea house that could seat all six of us.  In the end it worked out well though.

Once again we began our day by touristing it up (this is now officially a thing), both at Stonehenge (above) and then in Bath (below).

After walking around for quite a while, we all decided we needed a rest and found Hands of Bath Tearoom close to the central square in town.  It also claimed to sell the famous Bath Bun (which I will get to in a minute).

We both had cream tea, and then Chad ordered carrot cake as well. The scone was really yummy.  It was moist but not cakey and was a really good size as well.  Chad and I both agreed that they were better than the scones we had at Cream Tea which I still enjoyed.  The preserves were not quite as good, more generic than the others but still did the job.

 Chad loved his carrot cake and I will agree that the cake was very delicious. It was moist and had a nice spicy flavour but I personally found the icing to be too sweet.  The cream cheese flavour did not shine through the way I like it to.  Our friend who had never had cream cheese icing before loved it though.

Finally, I ordered a Bath Bun to go.  I saw signs for this around town and figured it must be the thing to get but after doing a bit of research when I got home, it seems as though the Sally Lunn bun would have been the thing to get for a true Bath experience.

The Bath Bun  is a rich, sweet yeast dough shaped round that has a lump of sugar baked in the bottom and more crushed sugar sprinkled on top after baking (from the Wikipedia page).  Mine also had currants and more sugar on top.  I ate it heated with butter and although it was yummy, the lump of sugar was a bit much for me.  The Sally Lunn bun is scented with lemon and doesn't have the lump of sugar in it.  Perhaps I will have to try it one day but missed out on this trip.  There was a giant line coming out of the Sally Lunn place.  

There are a ton of places to have tea in Bath, I couldn't get over how many there seemed to be but alas, we only had a few short hours and I think we made a good choice.  Our next trip is to Oxford and this time around I am my research ahead of time to find the best places to go and baked goods to eat.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pumpkin Cupcakes

I have a confession. The first time I attempted to ice a cupcake using a piping bag it was horrendous, really just the worst thing to happen to a top of a cupcake. Ever. Seriously, after trying with two cupcakes I gave up and reverted to just using a spatula and smearing the icing on top. Which, while not necessarily bad (and in my opinion is a totally under-rated decoration method), it just does not have that ne sais quoi.

I decided it was time to try again. My friend Rob's birthday was last week so I brought mini-pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate cream cheese icing. Delicious.

The cake was moist, and the icing was the perfect mix of chocolate-cream cheesy- sweetness. AND they didn't look that bad either.....I mean not great, but progress has been made.

One thing I will say though, is that mini cupcakes requires a kind of patience I do not think I have, the constant turning of trays and filling of cups in the baking process was enough to drive me mad. But maybe I just need to be better at life. However, the mini-ness of them was totally worth it, if only it provides an extra excuse to eat more than one.

Pumpkin cupcakes - slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

For the cupcakes:

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cloves

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup canola or vegetable oil

4 large eggs

For the frosting:

1 cup cream cheese

5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

2½ cups (or to taste) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Sift together dry ingredients (except for the sugar) in a medium bowl and place aside.

3) Mix together the pumpkin, sugars, eggs and oil. Once well combined, add in the dry ingredients gradually.

4) Bake mini-cupcakes for about 20 minutes, rotating the tray half-way through.

For the frosting:

1) cream together the butter and cream cheese, gradually add the cocoa powder and icing sugar, and then decorate as you wish.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

cream tea: review # 1

When I found out that I had been accepted to school here, I wondered what I would do with my blog.  As you all know, Heather is now on board to keep the posts happening but I also decided it would be fun to do reviews of local cafes, bakeries, etc. here in Brighton.  I'm hoping to continue with these, so if people have any suggestions on how I can make them better, let me know.

Royal Pavilion in Brighton

When I googled places to have tea in Brighton, Cream Tea was near the top and as my friend Chad and I were walking around town last weekend, I spotted it.  We were both hungry after a full morning of touristing it up (see above) so we both went with the afternoon tea.

This cost 8.50 GBP and you got a sandwich, pot of tea for one and a scone with cream and preserves.  Both of us got smoked salmon, cream cheese sandwiches.  These were pretty good.  The bread was fresh and arugula added a nice touch of flavour.

I had a traditional English breakfast tea and Chad had some sort of fruit tea.  It was such a lovely vibrant pink colour.  My tea was their own blend and it had a really nice flavour and was steeped nice and strong, which I like.

After our sandwiches we enjoyed our scones.  The scone was quite nice, a teeny bit dry but still yummy slathered in cream and preserves.  The preserves were my favourite part and sadly, I am not even 100% sure what they were but they were really yummy and a bit runnier which I like.

For our first tea in Brighton, this place delivered.  We got to sit outside in the sun which was so nice, but the inside looked cozy as well.  I would go back for sure, but not before trying all the other tea houses in Brighton.  ; )

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Brownies

Brownies are good, and pumpkin is good so pumpkin brownies would have to be good, right? Maybe not....

Maybe my expectations were too high, but I was not loving this. (Maybe I should stop thinking that everything that I bake is going to be so good it will change my life?) Although if you are in the mood for a fally dessert that isn't too sweet, this could be right up your ally. If I was going to make these again I would probably up the spice in the pumpkin layer and up the chocolate in the brownie layer.

Pumpkin Brownies - adapted from "Brownies, Blondies and Bars from the Fat Witch Bakery"
For the brownie bottom:

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup flour
pinch of salt

For the pumpkin top:
6 tbs butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1-1/4 flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground gloves

1) preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2) To make the brownie bottom melt the butter and chocolate chips in a small pot over low heat and place aside. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until smooth. Add the chocolate and butter. In a small bowl whisk together flour and salt, mix together.

3)To make the pumpkin top, beat the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue beating until well combined. Add the pumpkin. Add in dry ingredients and spices.

3) Spread the brownie layer into a 9X9 pan. Pour the pumpkin top evenly over the brownie layer and bake for 30 - 35 minutes, rotating half way through.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apple Pie

Pie is delicious.

But you need something more than crust. It's fall and apples are also delicious...

Delicious + delicious = fantastic. So, why not?

It tastes best when shared with friends. Also if you share it means you can't eat half of it for dinner. Which I totally wouldn't do.

As a first step, I suggest finding some good music, throwing on a movie, or inviting a friend over. Something to keep yourself occupied, because as good as pie is, it is a bit time consuming.

Apple Pie

Slightly adapted from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From my home to yours"

For the Crust

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 sticks of very cold butter
1/3 cup of frozen shortening, cut into 4 pieces
glass of ice water

1) Put the flour, sugar, and salt into a food processor and mix together.

2)Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse, some pieces of butter and shortening will be small, some will be large. Do not over mix.

3) Add in the cold water by the tablespoon and pulse together, the dough will come together eventually.

4) On a clean surface, divide the dough into two equal pieces, wrap in saran wrap and form into discs. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

For the filling:

7 Small apples (peeled, cored and sliced), I used gala
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter

1) Roll out the pie dough on a lightly floured surface. place one half of the dough on a cookie sheet and one in a nine-inch pie plate, return both to the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2) Using your hands mix together apples, sugar, lemon juice, tapioca, and spices.

3) Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over the dough in the pie plate, this will help absorb the excess moisture. Dump the apple mixture into the middle of the pie plate and even out the distribution of the apples. Place bits of butter on the top of the apple mixture.

4) For the top crust, use an icing tip to cut a circle in the middle then gently place the dough on top. Using a fork, press the two crusts together and cut off the excess, cut several slits in the top as steam vents, sprinkle the top with sugar. Loosely wrap the edges with tinfoil to avoid browning.

5) Bake the pie for 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 375 degrees and bake for another 45 to 55 minutes.


Friday, October 7, 2011

monster cookies

I forgot to put these in my summer update post.  I love these cookies!  I've made them in the past and they never disappoint.  This time I used pretzel M&Ms instead of regular ones and they were even yummier.  I was just thinking yesterday that because peanut butter doesn't seem to be as big here, I wonder if they are into pb baked goods?  I am going to have to explore this a bit more and introduce them to the magical world of peanut butter cookies if they aren't already informed.  Any brits out there know the answer to this?

Monster Cookies

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp corn syrup
2 large eggs
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1 cup m&ms

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.  Whisk in oats until combined.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter, peanut butter and sugars until creamy.  Beat in vanilla, corn syrup and eggs.  Finally, beat in the dry ingredients.
4.  Fold in chocolate and M&Ms.
5. Chill dough for about 1 hour in the fridge or 20 minutes in the freezer.
4. Place balls of dough that are patted down a bit on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Cookies should be golden brown and set, but make sure not to overcook them to enjoy chewy cookies for days!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

you can take the girl out of the bakery but you can't take the baker out of the girl (or something like that)

So, I'm all moved in to my new little flat and most things are going quite well.  In the first week I became fast friends with a girl on my floor from the US.  We were both missing baking and decided to try and figure out the little oven that came in our studio flats.  At the same time, I am only here for a year and am trying really hard not to accumulate a ton of stuff.  Here is our baking adventure.

Step 1: Pick a recipe
Caitlin: We should make something easy like cookies.
Lenzie:  I have a banana I should probably use.
Caitlin: Chocolate chip banana cookies it is.

Step 2: Mix together ingredients in the closest thing to a mixing bowl you have.
Step 3: Put cookies on sheet, set oven to "oven mode" and attempt to bake.
Sparking in the "microwave"
Caitlin:  Oh my god, that's not supposed to happen, that's not supposed to happen!  Stop it!!'

Step 4: Place on the "oven-approved tray" that looks like it totally has metal on it but apparently doesn't and attempt to bake again.


Step 5: Try a different setting.


Slightly better but still the texture was not quite right.

Step 6: Go knock on doors to the flats with real ovens and make new friends.

The cookies were slightly more successful but the bottoms got quite browned and we didn't really make friends.  So, we threw the rest of the dough in the fridge and tried again tonight by knocking on a different door.  The people in this flat were super friendly and we hung out and baked cookies for a good half hour and they didn't burn at all.  So, the key to cookie success is to not use our little ovens and to make new friends.  This might mean that I don't get to do much baking this year, but I am joining the tea and cake society and have the first meeting Friday, so I'll at least have that to look forward to.

If you're wondering about the recipe for this one.  We used a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe and just added a banana, a bit more flour and a teensy bit more baking soda.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Banana Muffins

Just as Caitlin did, I thought it would only be appropriate to start off with a recipe from my Mother.

Bananas are gross. I don't like them at all, the texture is disgusting, the sound of someone chewing bananas is weird, and you can't eat them in public without feeling ridiculous. But if you turn them into muffins they become delicious. Almost invariably whenever my parents would buy bananas us kids would let them slowly turn brown on the counter waiting for the morning that we would wake up to the sweet smell of banana muffins. One of the best recipes that my Mom passed along to me is for banana muffins.

One of the best things about these muffins is that they are infinitely variable, you can add anything to them and odds are it will be delicious. Chocolate chips are the most obvious addition, but raisins are also good (just make sure someone won't bit in expecting chocolate chips only to get raisin because they will be disappointed). Adding in other fruit is also a great variation, apples, blueberries, strawberries or dried cranberries are also fantastic. One of my favourite things to do is to spread nutella on them, after all nutella is good for you. Right?

Banana Muffins
4 large bananas
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour


1. Preheat oven to 375, and prepare a muffin tray.

2. Mash bananas and add sugar, egg, and melted butter.

3. Whisk together baking soda, baking powder, salt and flour. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.

4. Bake for 20 minutes rotating the tray halfway through.