Sunday, December 4, 2011

Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole Bundt Cake




Yes, I said casserole and cake together...in the same sentence...or sentence fragment. Don't come to any icky conclusions just yet! Keep reading.

The American Thanksgiving has come and gone. You cooked. You ate. You conquered the limited capacity of your stomach and it's pH levels. You sent your guests packing with disposable plates full of lunch for the next week. And you STILL have enough leftover food in your refrigerator to stock the local food pantry for a day or two. Hey, that is actually a wonderful idea! Share your leftover Thanksgiving feast with a person, or two, who may not have been so fortunate this year. However, if you just have barely enough leftovers to make another meal but you just can't stand another bite of ANYTHING that reminds you of turkey and gravy, why not transform those boring morsels of future waste into Mouth Heaven?

I have been without a paying job for over three months. While the time to reflect on what I truly want out of this life and to ponder what in the world I'm doing here, occupying this human body, has been very, veeeery nice, the lack of a paycheck hasn't exactly been sending me to the nail salon every day. I've had to really budget what I had left in my bank account, and sometimes that has meant getting really creative with very cheap pantry items, tracking sales and coupons, and being my own kitchen Picasso with the leftover food from previous nights' chow-downs. And you know what? It's actually kind of fun! Well, not the dusty, hollow-as-a-barrel bank account part of it all, but the artistic process of taking something cold, hard, and already cooked and turning it into something totally new, warm, and tasty. This is the very process I decided to take with my own Thanksgiving dinner leftovers.

I had plenty of ideas of what to do with things like turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and rice pilaf. But the sweet potato casserole was something a little more perplexing to me. However, it didn't take me long figure out that I could probably construct a wonderfully moist cake from that rich, orange-y goodness, especially since my sweet potato casserole gets a brown sugar and Ritz cracker crumb topping rather than the traditional American marshmallow and whatever else goo-gone-wrong stuff everyone else seems to enjoy. (Sorry, but marshmallows are only for hot cocoa in my house...uhhmm, and for making marshmallow fondant!)

I did a quick search on one of my favorite recipe sites, AllRecipes.com, and found exactly what I was looking for, adapting the recipe to suit my taste and to accommodate what I had on hand. Although the original recipe called for leftover mashed sweet potatoes, not an actual casserole, it still worked out great. It was a tad bit on the sweet side, but that was perfectly O.K. with my sweet tooth. The cake ended up being super moist, so I would recommend eating this thing within three days. 

Spiced Sweet Potato Casserole Bundt Cake 
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ¾ cups white sugar
  • ¾ cups brown sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato casserole (or just use cooked, mashed sweet potatoes)
  • ¼ cup butter, melted (½ a stick)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tps. vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whole milk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Prepare your bundt pan, or cake pan of choice, with a cooking spray that has flour added (I LOVE Baker's Joy!)—or just do it the old-fashioned way, butter and flour, baby .
  2. Use an electric hand mixer to beat together the sugar and vegetable oil in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla and sweet potatoes. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
  3. Stir the dry ingredients in with the wet, with a large wooden spoon or spatula, just until mixed. (I usually run my hand mixer through it for jut 10 seconds or so to break up any large lumps.)
  4. Pour cake batter into prepared cake pan.
  5. Bake for at least 45 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes clean. I think mine took close to an hour to bake. Times will vary and depend on your oven and altitude.


Because this cake is so sweet and rich on its own (thanks to the sugar, spices, and butter in the sweet potato casserole), I opted to go with a basic vanilla glaze, lightly drizzled on top. You can make one yourself very easily and quickly by beating together some powdered sugar (about 1 ½ cups), a pinch of salt, a Tbsp. of melted butter, and about 3 Tbsp. of milk, or until you get your desired consistency.  (If it is too thin, the glaze will not harden...keep this in mind when adding the milk.)  Just use the Ziplock bag method I mentioned in the previous post to get the glaze over your cake easily and effortlessly. 


I'm surprised it lasted long enough for a photo shoot.

Link to original recipe:
 http://allrecipes.com/recipe/holiday-left-over-sweet-potato-cake/detail.aspx




Thursday, December 1, 2011

Low-fat Banana Baby Bundts...with Peanut Butter Frosting!


Hmmm. A low-fat banana bundt with peanut butter frosting. Isn't that an oxymoron?? It is, but who really cares? Not me, not even for a second. We can just OxyClean that Moron right up, and have a piece of cake while doing it! 

 

The truth is this. I had a small bowl of peanut butter frosting left over from a chocolate Reece's peanut butter cup cake I made a day or two earlier for the birthday party of a friend's son. It (the frosting) had been sitting there in a bowl, all alone, covered in foil, without a cake to call home, and I was feeling a little bit guilty. My kitchen creations are my babies, and I was neglecting a child. Now the obvious solution to ridding myself of this guilt was to sit down with the bowl of frosting, insert a spoon, perhaps a graham cracker or two...or five, and pour a glass of red wine. But that was starting to sound cat-ladyish to me. Sooooo...I decided to use up some icky bananas, which had been sitting in the fruit bowl for God knows how long, and not throw away my husband's hard-earned money by tossing the yellow and brown-spotted sleeves of mushy monkey treats in the trash.

Okay. Let me be honest once again. But this is a secret, so please don't tell my husband. I ALWAYS purchase extra bananas that I know my he (the husband) will not eat just so I have an excuse not to waste them, as in turning them into a loaf of super buttery banana bread. But considering I had this bowl of ultra fattening peanut-butter-and-butter-and-powdered sugar goodness in front of me, I decided this time to take it easy on the butter in the cake. Wow. I just realized this is like going to McDonald's, ordering the super-sized Big Mac value meal with extra mayo on the side in which to dip my fries (c'mon, give me a break, I'm German...we like our fries and mayo!) and then asking for a Diet Coke.

Okay, enough blab. Here's the recipeeeeeeeeeee! Oh! And before I forget, I also drizzled the little banana bundts with a very easy-to-construct peanut butter glaze, just a bit. This was simply to use up a handful of Reece's peanut butter chips I had, which were just hanging out and being bored in the pantry. Yes, I will give you the recipe for that as well. Because I love you.


Low-fat Baby Banana Bundt Cakes
  
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/8 cup vegetable oil (I use light olive oil)
  • 1/8 cup natural applesauce, unsweetened
  • 3 medium-sized ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  •  

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease and flour your cake pan, or just take the easy way out like I do and use Baker's Joy spray. (I used a Nordic Ware multi mini bundt pan, with 6 mini bundt cavities in one pan.)
  3. Sift together, in a large mixing bowl, the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  4. In another bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together the oil, applesauce, and sugar. I usually mix on a medium speed until the mixture starts to lighten up a bit and increase slightly in volume. This will help to build some structure and make your cakes soft. If you want slightly denser bundts, beat until just mixed.
  5. Whisk together the milk, egg, banana, and vanilla, and then mix into the sugar/oil/applesauce mixture until well combined.
  6. Stir the wet mixture in with the dry, just until combined.
  7. Fill your bundt cavities about ¾ full, and bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. (I think about 2/3 of a cup of batter is enough for these mini bundts, but I always go a little fuller to use up my batter. Of course my cakes puff up way above the top of the pan, but I don't mind. I like little puffy cakes.) 


Peanut Butter Frosting
  • ½ cup butter, room temperature (1 stick)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
  • 9 Tbsp milk, or as needed
  1. Cream together the butter and peanut butter until well-mixed and creamy.
  2. Gradually mix in the sugar.
  3. Add the milk, 1 Tbsp at a time, until spreadable and desired consistency is reached.
  4. Beat for another 2-3 minutes to get the frosting nice and fluffy.


Peanut Butter Glaze
  • 1/3 cup Reece's peanut butter chips
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp light corn syrup

Just throw everything in a microwave safe bowl and nuke in 20 second increments, stirring well each time. It usually takes about 40 seconds for me to get my glaze completely melted and smooth. I take a whisk at the end to make sure that everything is perfectly melted and mixed really well.

Would you like to know a little 'trick' on how to get your glaze over the tops of your cakes easily, with little mess, and to get a professional finish? Sure you would.

Simply take a large Ziplock bag and stuff it down inside a tall cup, flipping the top of the bag down over the rim of the cup. Make sure one of the corners is stuffed down into the bottom of the cup as this is where the glaze will come out later on. Pour the glaze down inside the bag, making sure to use a rubber spatula to get all of it out of the bowl. Then just pull the bag out, twist the top around a few times, and snip off a ¼ inch opening in the bottom of the bag. You now have a homemade piping bag and can effortlessly drizzle the glaze over the cakes and give it a nice and neat finish. When the glaze has hardened a bit, you can use the same Ziplock bag technique to pipe a fluffy mound of peanut butter frosting, right in the center of your little bundts.  Enjoy.



Thursday, November 17, 2011

How Did I Choose the Name for My Blog??


Whoohoo! My first big fat blog entry. You may be wondering why I chose such an entertaining name for my baking blog. Well, there are two reasons, both of which I think are perfectly sane and acceptable.


The first reason is embedded in the fact that about three years ago, I developed a strong (and strange) obsession with bundt cakes. My work as a cake decorator in a popular ice cream shop had slowed down in the early autumn days, and so I decided to start playing around with cake recipes to occupy my creatively void time. I was conjuring up edible pieces of Heaven, both by doctoring high quality cake mixes (trust me, I have fooled many 'cake mix snobs' with some of these recipes...) and trying to improve basic from-scratch recipes I'd find online, in cookbooks, and somehow tucked away in my own loose-leaf paper collection. I found the most time-efficient way to test out my projects was to bake them in bundt pans. No layers to deal with, no frustration over frosting, and perfectly even-baked beauties each time, due to the famous hole in the middle which serves as a heating core. And it then it went far beyond convenience. People LOVED these cakes! I was giving them away to neighbors, sending them with my husband to his work, and also taking them to my job...even baking them for charities. Everyone would consistently comment on not only the taste but the TEXTURE of my creations. It was so nice for people to finally eat a truly moist and marvelous cake without having it masked by pounds of frosting. A nice thick glaze with a little frosting on the side...or perhaps just a Plain Jane with a dusting of powdered sugar was all that was required.

The second reason? The delightfully famous bundt cake scene from the movie 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding', involving the bride and groom's mothers.. I love it, I love it! Everything from the argument over how to properly pronounce the word 'bundt' to the confusion, by the mother of the bride, as to why the cake was structured to have a hole in the middle. The characters were like a starry night and a stormy day, somehow complimenting each other in way that shouldn't work but just does. They also gave us all a good laugh at the many cultural differences that are so often misunderstood but that leave room for a little fun-poking. (If you've never watched the movie, just click on the YouTube link I provided at the bottom of this post...it should take you that scene of the move.)
 
And as the name of this blog suggests, I will be sharing with all of you lovelies my joy in baking bundt cakes. I plan on sharing recipes that are created both from scratch and and from the box, doctored up with rich ingredients and a lil' love. So there will be a little of everything for everyone. I know that some of you may be purists, but I gently persuade you to give one of the 'doctored mix' recipes a try, just at least once...do it for me, because I'm asking nicely. *bats eyelashes* And the same goes for all you home bakers who fear the creaming of butter and sugar. I PROMISE...if I was able to acquire the scientific skill known as 'baking from scratch', then so can you! I am not a professionally-trained pastry chef nor did I spend hours in my grandmother's kitchen, watching her make the famous pecan pie and red velvet cakes I commonly dined on around the holidays...or whenever. I have cried many tears, thrown away many cake-bombs, and spent a third of my life pouring through cookbooks, watching Food Network, and more recently scouring other baking blogs. This is how I learned. This is how you will learn.  With ease and grace...and a few expletives from time to time.

Peace, Love, and Angel Hugs,
Trish xoxo

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 'It's a Bundt' scene--very funny!: