Bundt Cake

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Bundt cake equals party cake.

It means that family is over and it’s likely a holiday. My mother and I whipped together this one for our New Year’s Day celebration with her side of the family. It works perfectly for us because we have picky eaters, and the cake is fairly plain, but we also have people who want more, and they can pile on fruit, chocolate sauce, ice cream, or all of the above. My cousin slathered it in chocolate sauce, my uncle had a little of each, and a few of us just nibbled on the perfectly simple cake and saved the chocolate for the coconut macaroons.

Added bonus? It’s hand-friendly when plain. 

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Bake time: 1 hour —then check every 5.

Bake temp: 350 degrees, 325 if dark cast pan is used. 

10 inch bundt pan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Steps:

  1. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. In a small bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add flour mixture into butter mixture in three batches, alternating with sour cream and vanilla, beating until well blended and very fluffy.
  4. With a large spatula, scrape batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of preheated oven until top is golden brown and crusty, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours but start checking after one hour.
  5. Let cake cool in the pan for ten minutes before turning out to set upright on a wire rack to cool completely. One cake serves 8 to 10.
 

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Best served a la mode. Though I’d recommend not covering your fork in la mode…from experience.

Bran Muffins

I know what you’re thinking. BRAN MUFFINS? Who on earth eats BRAN MUFFINS? Why would someone subject themselves voluntarily to a food that is so bland?

Oh ho ho, I have a lot to teach you, my friends. You can take the bland away from anything if you simply add the right ingredients. Like lots and lots of sugar.

And I know, I know. There are snowflakes on the muffin cups. And it’s March.

But I made made these delicious morsels and took these photos in December…even if the weather and setting try to convince you otherwise! But that was what we got in California—75 degrees and sunshine for winter break. Spring break, on the other hand was 55 degrees and pouring rain. California doesn’t do seasons. It just does rain/fog/cold or glorious sunshine. 

This was a day of glorious sunshine. And snowflake muffin cups.

The recipe is one my mother and I have made ever since I was shorter than her—many many years ago! (But actually, even longer than that. I didn’t surpass my mother until I was like, all of 9.)

Bake temp: 425°
Bake time: ~15 minutes, until you can stick with toothpick and come out clean/aren’t caving in with moisture
  • 3 cups whole bran cereal
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, unsifted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  1. In a large bowl mix bran and boiling water, stir to moisten evenly. 
    Set aside until cool.
  2. Combine buttermilk, eggs, oil and fruit. Add to bran mixture and blend well.
  3. Stir together flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Gradually add into bran mixture.
  4. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full for muffins about as puffy as above. If you want them to overflow/have more muffin top, fill the cup to almost full.

Because some recipes never get old…

Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies

I made more pumpkin chocolate chip cookies this morning.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Last week, I tried to describe a biscuit to a friend from India. “It’s soft. It’s not sweet.” She stared at me. I continued. “It’s not a dinner roll…or a scone..or a muffin. In a way, it’s kind of all of them combined.” She remained in jovial denial (as goes her personality) saying that these “biscuits” weren’t real “biscuits.”

It’s odd to think of how biscuits are quintessentially American. Some serve them up with gravy, sticking them in baskets for Thanksgiving dinner. My mom and I made these for breakfast one morning (she actually came up to my room at some ungodly hour and woke me up so I could help her), and slathered them with jam.

The recipe we used is on the left in this photo. The slanted scrawl is my grandmother’s—a photocopy from her old cookbook. I love the way my mother collects her recipes—clippings from magazines, photocopies from cookbooks, and her own handwriting on slips of yellow paper or notecards. The conglomeration of textures and colors and type and handwriting keeps it feeling like home.

Bake temp: 450°

Bake time: 13 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups sifted all-purposeflour
  • 1 scant tsp salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 4 tsps baking powder
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup + 2 tsps buttermilk
  • Milk and sugar to brush biscuit tops

The dough:

  1. Sift flour, then measure out 3 cups.
  2. Sift flour with salt, soda and baking powder together into a mixing bowl.
  3. Cut in vegetable shortening with pastry blender or fork.
  4. Add the buttermilk.

    Cutting the circles:
  5. Flour surface and rolling pin to roll out the dough to about ½ inch thick.
  6. Cut biscuits with a biscuit or cookie cutter and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Brush lightly with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake until golden brown.

We cut circles with my mother’s Rumford antique biscuit cutter. With the leftover dough—not wanting to overhandle it—we just layered it on and made little reject deformed biscuits. They were adorable.

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Forewarning: this is time-consuming (~3.5 hours, mostly waiting).

But absolutely delicious and definitely worth the effort.

Both my friend Sabrina and I drooled over the shots of this bread and independently put it on our must-bake lists, waiting and waiting for the day to arrive. And then it came. And we mixed and kneaded and sprinkled and cut and stacked and folded and waited and waited and waited. Finally, we consumed it with a speed that can only be described as that of Buzz Lightyear flying across Andy’s room. Because it was that good.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Tis the season to eat pumpkin!

For class on Halloween, I wanted to have some yummy goodness to relive my days of finding pumpkins in the pumpkin patch while eating pumpkin cookies. But I wanted to try something new. If you like the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, these will not disappoint…because they’re pretty much exactly the same. Just in muffin form.

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The Search for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie, No 1: Tollhouse

There are many things I love about college—and one of those things is our ability to solve any problem with an easy fix. For example, my friend Ellen doesn’t have a mixing bowl, so she uses a pasta pot. And it works just as well as a mixing bowl, without taking up her precious storage space. Bam. Solution.

All the while as we mixed these together in her pasta pot, I didn’t inform Ellen of my newest quest: my search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. But it’s true, it’s my new mission in life. I have never been able to make a satisfactory chocolate chip cookie; my mother and I have always resorted to the store-bought dough, occasionally getting fancy and using the recipe off the back of our Tollhouse chocolate chips. But it has never really lived up to expectations.

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Raisin Scones

This recipe was the first thing I made in my new apartment, and I’m not going to lie: they were absolutely terrible. 

I had never really made the recipe before without the help of my mother, I had no idea about the crazyness of my oven, and I failed at reading a couple of my own directions. It was a mess. They were hard and flavorless and not delicious in the slightest.

So I tried again. I accommodated for my over-heating oven and I read every direction.

Round 2: Me versus the scone.

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Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookies

This cookie goes against all of my beliefs. I am a massive fan of chocolate: the more chocolate in the cookie, the better. If I’m spending the calories, there should be no reason other than because I’m eating chocolate. But butterscotch and I could totally become BFFs. That is, if my new BFF doesn’t mind being baked in 350° and then eaten.

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can’t tell you when I first fell in love with these cookies—just that it was early enough that I hadn’t yet started forming memories.

But one of my first memories that included them was at the pumpkin patch with my Pre-K class from Miss Mary Joe’s. We all collected the biggest pumpkins we could carry (and keep in mind, we were four, so these were pretty small pumpkins) and then ran around the pumpkin patch playing hide-and-go-seek behind the biggest pumpkins. At the end, we carried our chosen pumpkin over to the group and sat around in the typical pre-school circle. Then my mom brought these out. 

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