{Pumpkin Chocolate Cake}

chocolate pumpkin cake_baking at tiffanys

The best thing about baking in the fall is filling my home with the aroma of pumpkin bread. No matter the dropping temperatures outside, the scent alone is warm, comforting and inviting. Add chocolate and I can imagine of no better way to spend a brisk evening than snuggled up on my sofa with a cup of tea and savoring a piece of this pumpkin chocolate cake. Unfortunately, it’s also the time of year when the luxury of a quiet evening with tea and cake is at a premium. But that’s what makes this recipe so great. Like most quick breads, this cake is easy to whip up without a lot of fuss–making it easy to entertain that unexpected guest, share with neighbors and coworkers, or stealing a moment for yourself to enjoy the season. So before you embark on the monumental task of taking on the American tradition that is called making Thanksgiving dinner, have a little treat for yourself with this pumpkin chocolate cake.

chocolate pumpkin cake_baking at tiffanys

I found this recipe from Whole Foods, and uses all whole wheat flour. I thought it might have too much bite, but the pumpkin and cocoa powder blunts the whole wheat flavor. It’s not a light and refined cake, and is more bread than cake, but it’s rich and flavorful. Because I like to make all kinds of substitutions (it makes me feel healthier and less guilty) I substituted the canola oil in the recipe with with coconut oil, which turned out to add a little extra depth of flavor, and used coconut sugar–and it still turned out more than satisfying.

chocolate pumpkin cake_baking at tiffanys

{Pumpkin Chocolate Cake}

Ingredients

  • 1.75 fl. oz. coconut oil (or 1/4 cup canola oil)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. all-spice
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar (granulated sugar or coconut sugar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (15 oz.) can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees and oil an 8x8 pan or muffin tin (12 regular or 6 jumbo).
  2. Whisk together in a medium bowl dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking powder, baking soda, salt).
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin and vanilla extract.
  4. Whisk together dry ingredients with the oil mixture.
  5. Pour batter into baking pan or evenly distribute the batter in the muffin tin (if using). Bake until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean: about 40-50 min. for an 8x8 pan, about 25 min. for regular muffins, or about 30 min. for jumbo muffins. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
http://bakingattiffanys.com/2015/11/22/pumpkin-chocolate-cake/

{Brown Butter Carrot Cake}

Carrot cake-baking at tiffany's

As a food blogger, I try out new recipes all the time (I just haven’t been posting them!). But there are a handful of recipes I repeat time and time again. This carrot cake recipe is one of the rare few that I turn back to; as far as recipes go, this one is my rock, the one I rely on.

October has arrived, and while the warm weather (where I live) makes me question whether autumn is really here, it’s that time of the year when I long for foods that warm and comfort the soul. With a newly fixed oven and a little restless energy on a Saturday afternoon, it was time to bring this one back out. Carrot cake is a favorite year round, but the spices and heartiness make it the perfect way to usher in the colors and glow of fall.

Carrot cake-baking at tiffany's

Which brings me to why I love this recipe so much. Let me count the ways:

  1. No creaming butter with sugar: I don’t enjoy the creaming process at all. I’m always worried I won’t get enough air into the butter. And I don’t want to want to wait for the butter to soften. No need for any of that with this recipe.
  2. Two words–brown butter: Browning the butter adds an additional layer of nuttiness in flavor and aroma. If any recipe uses melted butter, brown it first. You’ll be glad you did.
  3. Less refined flour: As a financier based recipe, this one uses a mix of almond meal and regular all-purpose flour. Replacing the all-purpose flour with an alternative flour also yields good results for the gluten-sensitive.
  4. Mix it up: Don’t like raisins in your carrot cake? Use pineapple and coconut for a tropical flair instead. Want to add a little decadence? Mix in chocolate chips. Or make it extra hearty with nuts and extra carrots–which is how I like it. You can change the flavor profile each time you make it.
  5. Forget the layering: I’m all for “rustic charm”–and really, I can’t be bothered with leveling and splitting cakes. Pop it out of the pan, slather on the frosting, and serve large slices. People will love it just the same.

Carrot cake-baking at tiffany's

This carrot cake recipe that I love so much is adapted from Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking, but it shouldn’t be a secret how good this cake is.

Recipe notes: In the version I made this past weekend, as a trial, I omitted the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour with 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (instead of 1 cup all-purpose flour)–the cake wasn’t as moist (though not by any means dry) but was still flavorful and I didn’t miss the extra sugar at all. However, I’m posting the original ingredients and proportions for the carrot cake.

{Brown Butter Carrot Cake}

Ingredients

    Carrot Cake:
  • 1/2 pound or 2 sticks of unsalted butter, browned (see instructions)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup regular granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 - 2 cups of raisins, nuts, shredded coconut, pineapple, etc. of your choice
  • Cream Cheese Frosting (for one cake)
  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 t. orange extract (my variation)

Preparation

    Carrot Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour two 9" pans (or you can line with parchment paper).
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it turns a dark golden brown color. There will be bits on the bottom of the pan. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Sift together flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix the dry ingredients together for about 30 seconds.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs lightly. Then whisk in the sugars, cinnamon and vanilla, each one at a time, until well combined.
  5. Mix the sugar and egg mixture into the dry ingredients on low. Once incorporated, increase the speed to medium and mix for about 2 minutes.
  6. On low, gradually stream in the liquid brown butter, including the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Mix for about 30 seconds on medium, then increase the speed to high for 3 minutes. Make sure to scrape sides of the bowl down.
  7. Fold in carrots and any other additions. This can be done by hand.
  8. Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then invert the pans to remove the cakes and allow the cakes to cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Cream Cheese Frosting
  10. Cream together cream cheese and butter until no lumps remain. Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract and any other flavorings, and mix until smooth and creamy.
  11. Frost each cake as desired once the cakes are completely cooled.

Adapted from Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking.

http://bakingattiffanys.com/2015/10/05/brown-butter-carrot-cake/

Carrot cake-baking at tiffany's

{Buckwheat Waffles}

bakingattiffanys.com_buckwheat waffle-2 If I still have any readers out there following me, you might be wondering: where in the world has Tiffany been?  I haven’t logged into WordPress since…March?!  Is that right?  I checked my last post, and sure enough, it’s been about three months.  I think that’s a record.  I’ll confess that I simply have not been baking very much at all.  It’s not that I didn’t want to.  I really did.  For a short stint, I went…paleo.  (Gasp!)  Looking back, I don’t know how I survived.  But before you cast judgment, I felt I had good reason.  I will spare you gory details but sometimes your body tells you that something isn’t quite right, and I thought I should make some dietary changes to “reset” and “detox” and all that crunchy stuff.  For a month and a half, I went processed sugar-free and grain-free.  Let me tell you, it was awful.  I know some people swear by this paleo thing, but I don’t believe that that is how we were meant to live.  I would agree that there is probably something strange going on with how our food is grown and made–what with GMOs and everything.  And maybe there are individuals who really can’t have grains because their body rejects it for some reason.  But is it true that’s how our ancestors lived–and therefore that’s the lifestyle we need to adopt?  I’m not so certain.  While taking processed sugars out of my diet was a good move, removing grains in their entirety made me feel like something was missing in my life, leaving me dissatisfied and unfulfilled.  I could only eat so many nuts and vegetables, and I craved variety desperately.  What was helpful in the process, though, was figuring out certain types of foods that I was sensitive to, as I began to reintroduce them into my diet.  My two main culprits: dairy and corn.  That was a bummer because I love both.  While I don’t exclude them entirely, I now keep my intake limited and will have them on occasion.  But boy, a slice of pizza is so hard to resist sometimes.

bakingattiffanys.com_buckwheat waffle-4Fortunately, I got over my short paleo stint in time to go on a trip to Brussels and Amsterdam.  If there is a place to indulge in gluten, Europe is it.  Perhaps they grow their wheat differently or their ingredients are fresher, but their food (especially their breads and pastries) is quite simply better.  Things I would not normally enjoy in the States, I love in Europe.  Sandwiches in the States are just okay, but in Europe, they are in its own class.  Waffles are a treat if I get to have brunch on a weekend, but with waffle vendors every 100 meters in Brussels, there is no escape.   To no avail, I have been on the search for that perfect whole grain baguette I had in Amsterdam and the crispy-and-caramelly (not a word, I know)-on-the-outside, soft-and-chewy-on-the-inside Liege waffle I had in Brussels.

bakingattiffanys.com_buckwheat waffle-5I bought a Croquade Belgian waffle maker from Sur La Table before my trip, and I was inspired to give it a go this morning.  I knew I couldn’t replicate what I had in Brussels, and I still wanted to keep it healthy, so I adapted a Dorie Greenspan recipe from the New York Times and made myself buckwheat waffles for breakfast this morning.  I will not claim that these are nearly close to a real Liege waffle (to begin with, my waffles look terrible).  I wouldn’t even necessarily suggest you use my adapted version of this recipe (though maybe try the original version from Dorie Greenspan).  I can tolerate my own healthy cooking, but would not necessarily serve it to others.  Nonetheless, it’s in a waffle shape, and for this morning, that was good enough.  I’m providing the recipe below, but really, if you’re looking for a good healthy waffle recipe, don’t bother.  I just wanted to post SOMETHING finally.  Hopefully I’ll get a chance to hone my waffle making skills and then I’ll be able to post something worth making.

bakingattiffanys.com_buckwheat waffle-3By the way, I hope to do a little write-up of the places I loved in Brussels and Amsterdam soon.  It’s taking me forever to go through my photos, editing them and all that, though, so next time for sure!  (And I will try to take less than three months until my next post)

{Buckwheat Waffles}

Yield: About 6 small waffles

Ingredients

  • 9 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup whole milk, warmed
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 T. turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites from large eggs

Preparation

  1. Stir melted butter and milk together. And sifted flours and whisk until smooth.
  2. Stir into mixture sugar, salt, and vanilla.
  3. Heat waffle iron.
  4. Beat egg whites on high until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the batter into the egg whites using a whisk.
  5. Pour batter onto the waffle iron and close the waffle iron. Cook on one side for about two minutes, then flip the waffle iron to cook on the other side until crisp and lightly browned.
  6. Serve with powdered sugar, ice cream or whipped cream. (I like mine plain sometimes)

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's recipe for Belgian waffles in the New York Times

http://bakingattiffanys.com/2015/06/20/buckwheat-waffles/

{Healthy-ish Dark Chocolate Brownies}

Healthy brownies_bakingattiffanys.com

A new post at last!  I meant to post the recipe for these brownies for Valentine’s Day–that’s right, a month ago–but kept getting sidetracked somehow.  Days would go by, then weeks, and here we are now in mid-March (on Pi Day!).  How did that happen?!  Of course, now that tax season is upon us, instead of using my free Saturday afternoon to gather all my paperwork to file my taxes, I’ve decided to finally write up a blog post :)

As I’m trying to experiment with healthier ways to bake (e.g. less sugar, more fiber, more protein, etc.), I’ve learned that many baked goods and desserts with chocolate make for the easiest make-overs.  Thanks to its rich flavor, cocoa and chocolate has the ability to hide the flavors of some other ingredients used to make the dessert or pastry healthier (of course I’m referring to natural cocoa used for baking, without added sugar or fillers, like a lot of cocoa powder for drinking).  And there’s something about cocoa itself which keeps said dessert or pastry moist and rich–and therefore is a bit more forgiving when it comes to making other substitutions in a recipe.

Healthy brownies_bakingattiffanys.com

For these dark chocolate brownies, I heavily modified a recipe from David Lebovitz.  His recipe uses two types of cocoa–one of them being a black cocoa, which takes a little hunting around to find.  To make these more accessible in general, he recommends using high quality dark cocoa powder, like Valrhona.  A brownie is only as good as the cocoa you use, so don’t skimp on it.  Using maple syrup as the main sweetener, this adapted recipe makes for a rich fudgy brownie.  I’ve seen other brownie recipes using things like avocado to replace the butter.  I didn’t do that here because it seems kind of a waste to hide an avocado in a brownie.  With whole wheat flour, though, I can call these dark chocolate brownies “healthy-ish” because they are, after all, still brownies with sugar and carbs and all that, but at least I don’t feel like I have to run a 10K to eat one.  Maybe just a 5K.

As a side note: someone please tell me how to properly cut brownies (and cakes).  I am never able to get a beautiful clean edge, so my brownies are always jagged.  I just want them to look nice for pictures :)

Healthy brownies_bakingattiffanys.com

{Healthy-ish Dark Chocolate Brownies}

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1-1/4 cup of the darkest natural unsweetened cocoa powder you can find
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 t. instant espresso or coffee powder (espresso is preferred)
  • 3/4 t. sea salt
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (optional)
  • flaky sea salt

Preparation

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line or grease an 8"x8" pan.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan, set aside to cool.
  3. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, espresso powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk together eggs, maple syrup and brown sugar in a separate bowl.
  5. Mix half of the egg mixture into the cocoa mixture, then mix in the melted butter. Mix in the remaining egg mixture until combined. If it's not smooth, David recommends using a whisk, but I found that it's okay if the batter is a little lumpy.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared baking pan. At this point, you can top with the walnuts, chocolate chips, and/or flaky sea salt.
  7. Bake in the center of oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the center is barely set. Allow to cool completely in the pan.

Roughly adapted from David Lebovitz's Salty, Deep-Dark Chocolate Brownies

http://bakingattiffanys.com/2015/03/14/healthy-ish-dark-chocolate-brownies/

{Rosemary Shortbread Cookies…with Spelt}

Rosemary Shortbread

Happy New Year!  Admittedly, I fell into a bit of a slump and hadn’t come up with something blog-worthy to post over the last few months.  However, I made a new discovery (to me) in spelt flour, which I’m pretty excited about and thought this was a good way to start the new year.  I’d been looking for alternative flours to try–whole grain flours that are less processed, more wholesome and nutrient-dense than than the all-purpose variety.  I first learned about spelt flour from the thekitchn.com when searching for different types of whole grain flours.  Spelt is a type of wheat, but has a higher fiber and protein content than regular all purpose flour.  It’s lower in gluten, though not gluten-free.  Spelt also doesn’t have the slight bitterness that comes with whole wheat flour.  The Kitchn recommends a 50:50 substitution using spelt for baked goods like muffins and breads, but suggests that goods requiring less structure can use a greater proportion of spelt flour.  Never using spelt before, I was ambitious for this recipe and used 100% spelt flour in place of all purpose flour.  And it turned out pretty fabulous.  The earthiness from the spelt, coupled with the rosemary, perfectly counterbalanced the high butter content in the shortbread.  I also could not stop breathing in the wonderful aroma from baking these cookies up.  These cookies may not really be healthy given how much butter is used, but at least they’re not entirely bad for you either–so you won’t blow your New Year’s resolution just yet.

Are there other spelt flour recipes you like?  Or what other whole grains do you like to bake with?  I’d love to hear of any other ideas!

Rosemary Shortbread

{Rosemary Shortbread Cookies…with Spelt}

Yield: approximately 18 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1 T. rosemary, chopped
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • organic granulated sugar, for rolling balls of cookie dough

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 300F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder and rosemary together in a bowl.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, honey and powdered sugar until dough becomes coarse and lumpy.
  4. Using your hands, gather dough together and knead until it holds together.
  5. Spoon out dough to make 1" balls, roll cookie dough in sugar, and press down on the dough using a cookie press. Space cookies about 1" apart on the cookie sheet. (This is my adaptation; refer to the original recipe for alternative instructions to make wedges instead).
  6. Bake cookies in the center of the oven for approximately 20-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

http://bakingattiffanys.com/2015/01/01/rosemary-shortbread-cookies-spelt/