Happy 2nd Birthday, Layered! My first cookbook turns 2 today, and I am celebrating with this Hummingbird Cake with cream cheese frosting. Super-moist cake made from bananas, pineapple, and pecans, this southern classic is totally underrated but definitely worth being celebrated. An alternative to carrot cake, the lightly spiced layers of cake are the perfect vehicle for luxurious, vanilla cream cheese frosting. Are you drooling yet? Yummmm!!Read More
Although I am extremely grateful to be able to sit down to a home-cooked meal nearly every night of the week, sometimes it seems like it takes me ten-times as long to cook for my little family of three as it does to actually eat dinner. By the time I finally coerce the toddler into consuming something other than blueberries and sit down to eat, Brett is already up clearing plates and washing dishes. Come Thanksgiving we multiply this song and dance by what feels like 100. With a few days spent poring over recipes, prepping ingredients, and finally cooking. Then, the meal itself is over in nearly an instant, especially with said toddler.
The idea of a Thanksgiving potluck is a total game-changer. I mean, it seems almost criminal to assign just a couple cooks to serve up an entire smorgasbord of food, right? Sure some traditions are here to stay for good, but why not host a “Friends-giving” feast? Unlike Thanksgiving where family members might be staying in the same home (i.e. fighting for oven space in the same kitchen), a Friends-giving potluck allows everyone to prepare their dishes from the comfort of their own respective kitchens before coming together and sharing. Okay, I know this concept isn’t totally innovative or anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less genius. Plus, friends and good food – can’t ever go wrong with that!
I teamed up with Steph from I Am a Food Blog to showcase our best "Friends-giving" dishes. Take a look:
One thing I particularly enjoy about this concept is that it allows each cook to really concentrate on his/her own signature dish (Like me with my cake and Steph with her Turkey Pot Pie). I mean, how can I put all my love and energy into an epic cake (and you know I’ll be bringing cake) when I have to worry about cranberries and mashed potatoes too? I actually make incredible cranberries, but that’s beside my point. If you are like me, then you’ll let someone else agonize over basting the turkey every 30 minutes or whatever, and then be the hero at the end of the evening that swoops in with a show-stopping dessert, re-awakening everyone’s taste buds from their inevitable tryptophan slumbers. However, this task comes with its own challenge: creating a mouth-watering, homerun of a dessert that will win over an over-stuffed and over-tired crowd (However, if are on Team Savory, be sure to check out Steph's delicious Turkey Pot Pie).
Enter this chai-spiced Pumpkin Bundt® Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Glaze and Pumpkin Seed Praline. Nobody can turn down that drippy frosting, and the glistening crown of praline shards is just too intriguing to ignore. Everyone knows that any good pumpkin cake recipe is going to be moist, tender and full of delectable, warming spices. This Pumpkin Bundt® Cake is no exception.
Using a combination of both Land O Lakes® European Style Unsalted Butter and a splash of grapeseed oil not only keeps this cake extra moist until after Thanksgiving dinner is cleared, you can even make it the day ahead and it will still be fresh. Most pumpkin-type cake recipes (pumpkin, apple, carrot, etc.) are usually made with just oil, but you can’t deny the inimitable flavor of high quality butter. Not only does the butter add extra flavor, but by creaming it together with the sugar, it makes for a lighter batter and more tender crumb, too.
Notice how a lot of Bundt® or pound cakes can seem rather dense and heavy? Not this one! Unlike a cake that requires just stirring in oil and the other wet ingredients, this recipe calls for whipping the butter and sugar together – resulting in the sugar crystals cutting into the butter and trapping little, tiny air bubbles in the mixture that helps lighten the batter.
And we aren’t stopping just there – it’s a special occasion, remember!?! I love how the tangy cream cheese glaze pairs with the spiced pumpkin cake. I used spices familiarly found in chai tea – cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove, and a touch of black pepper – but feel free to use any combination you’d like.
And the praline!! Pumpkin Seed Praline sounds fancy, but it is actually super easy to make– easier than brittle, in my opinion. The difference is in the ratio of sugar to seed/nut. Praline consists of only a handful of ingredients and comes together in just about 10 minutes. I don’t know what’s more fun – eating it or shattering the glass-like pieces?!
Nervous about unmolding your Bundt® cake for the big occasion? Don’t be! Super soft butter is king when it comes to greasing cake pans. Trust me. I used to think oil reigned supreme since it seems “slippery-er” but butter coats the pans better without pooling the bottom and gives something for the flour to cling onto for that perfect release every time. I like to smoosh in the softened butter into every nook and cranny with a pastry brush before sprinkling in the flour. Just be sure to flip out your cake while it’s still warm!
Pumpkin Bundt® Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon clove
pinch black pepper
¾ cup Land O Lakes® European Style Unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup flavorless oil, like grapeseed or canola
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk
14 ounces pumpkin puree
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Generously brush the inside of a Bundt® pan with very soft butter, sprinkle with flour, and tap out the excess. Set aside.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-low speed with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add in both sugars and mix on medium until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the oil and vanilla. Mix until combined.
With the mixer on low, add in the eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
With the mixer on low, add in half of the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add in the buttermilk and mix until combined. Add in the remaining half of the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated and few streaks of flour remain visible. Add in the pumpkin puree and mix until smooth. The batter will be thick.
Spoon the cake batter into the prepared pan. Tap the bottom of the filled pan on a hard work surface to release any air bubbles. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a long wooden skewer or thin paring knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, or until the cake can safely be handled. Gently loosen the edges of the cake with a flexible rubber spatula (but resist the urge to run a knife around the edges or it may cut into the cake). Place a wire rack or cutting board on top of the cake. Holding on to the edges of the pan and rack, carefully invert everything. The cake pan will still be warm, so use oven mitts as needed. Remove the cake pan and continue to completely cool the cake before adding the glaze.
Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon Land O Lakes® European Style Unsalted Butter, softened
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese and butter with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Gradually stir in the confectioner’s sugar and mix until incorporated.
Add in the vanilla and milk. Stir until smooth. Glaze should be rather thick but still able to drip slowly off of a spoon. Add more milk as needed.
Once the cake had completely cooled, drip the glaze over the top of the cake and garnish with praline pieces.
Pumpkin Seed Praline
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
pinch cream of tartar
1 cup pumpkin seeds
flakey sea salt for sprinkling
Like a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat and set aside.
Place the sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and continue to cook, without stirring, until the mixture turns a medium amber color. Remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly stir in the pumpkin seeds. Tip the mixture onto the prepared pan and quickly spread it into a thin layer with a greased spatula. Sprinkle with salt and allow the praline to completely cool. Once cool, break the praline into pieces. Serve as a garnish to the pumpkin cake.
The cake may be made a day in advanced. Wrap the cake well in plastic and store at room temperature overnight. If traveling with the cake, consider adding the glaze and garnish at your final destination.
Big thanks to Land-O-Lakes for their participation in the post. Words and opinions are my own.
Start these eggnog and nutmeg-spiced cinnamon rolls with toasted pecan filling the night before and add the orange-vanilla bean glaze just in time for Christmas brunch!
I was 9 months pregnant the first time I hosted Christmas morning. Admittedly, I wasn't thinking too clearly or logically by that point, and I decided to make homemade bagels from scratch for the first time. I wasn't very comfortable with yeasted doughs at the time, but I insisted on teaching myself one last new skills before Everett was born. I ended up stressing entirely way too much over those lumpy rings of dough that some-what a bagel and haven't made them since...
Over the last few years, I've become a much more well versed in yeast-risen baked goods. After experimenting with recipes like Lemon Brioche Pull-Apart Bread and Date Bourbon Buns, I better understand the simplicity of working with yeast and just how amazing homemade breakfast pastries taste still warm out of the oven. Bonus points if you get to eat them still in your matching Chirstmas pj's.
One thing in particular that I've truly embraced with these types of recipes is the timing. Want warm, gooey, sticky Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls come Christmas morning without having to wake up at 3am? Start the dough the night before and make time on you side instead of impatiently waiting between rises. By placing the dough in the refrigerator to rise, you are essentially hitting “pause” in the process. The cool temps in the fridge dramatically slow down the yeast, so the dough continues to rise but at a much slower pace. Instead of scheduling 1 to 2 hours between steps, you can pop the dough into the refrigerator for 8 hours (or overnight) and continue on with your day/night, whether that be Christmas Eve or any other time of the year.
These Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls bake up beautifully in a French oven or cast iron skillet. I find that they distribute heat very evenly and efficiently, creating perfectly risen buns with toasted edges and gooey centers. The puffy, pillowy dough is similar to a brioche dough and is loaded with lots of butter. I've used eggnog as my liquid here, but you may use any type of milk in its place. The eggnog flavors are quite subtle, so I like to add a pinch of nutmeg into the dough as well. For a bit of crunch and texture, toasted pecans have been chopped and added to the cinnamon roll filling.
This cream cheese glaze has been my go-to accessory lately (you'll see it again on a couple more cake recipes coming up soon), so I decided to change it up by adding fresh orange juice, zest, and vanilla bean. The bright yet subtle citrus notes pair perfectly with the nutmeg and cinnamon and nearly everything is better with a little vanilla bean. Perfect along side a warm cup coffee and lots of Christmas cheer.
Overnight Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls
1/2 cup eggnog or milk of choice
1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 3/4 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
heavy pinch nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
Pecan Cinnamon Roll Filling
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
The night before: Warm the eggnog to between 100 to 110°F. It should be warm to the touch. Stir in the yeast and set aside for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, sift the flour, sugar, salt, and nutmeg into a mixing bowl. Stir to combine.
Whisk together the eggs and egg yolk, then stir them into the eggnog mixture. Pour the eggnog mixture into the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Knead the dough by hand or with a mixer fitted with a dough hook on low speed for about 4 to 5 minutes. Once the dough begins to come together, add the butter, a tablespoon at a time, while the dough is being kneaded. Try to add as little flour as possible. When done, the dough should be soft but not sticky.
Place the dough in an oiled mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to rise overnight.
In the morning:Remove the dough from the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature (I place it near a heater for about 20 minutes). Remove the butter for the filling and allow to soften.
Once the dough is soft enough to roll, lightly dust your work surface with a little bit of flour and roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 16 X 12-inches.
Spread the softened butter of the filling all over the surface of the dough, leaving about a half-inch boarder around the edges. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar and pat it into the butter. Repeat with the chopped pecans, if using.
Starting at the long edge of the rectangle, carefully roll up the dough into a long log. Slide a piece of dental floss under the log until about halfway up, pull up on the strings, cross them, and pull to cut the dough in half. Continue to cut the log into 8 to 10 even pieces. If the dental floss is tricky, use a serrated knife.
Generously butter the inside of a French oven, iron skillet, or baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper. Place the cut cinnamon rolls, cut-side up, in the bottom – leaving about a half-inch space in-between rolls. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow to double in size – about 3o to 45 minutes in a warm room.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Remove the kitchen towel and bake the cinnamon rolls for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes as you prepare the glaze (recipe to follow). Frost and serve the cinnamon rolls while they are still warm.
Leftovers will keep covered in plastic wrap at room temperature overnight.
Orange-Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounce cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
zest of 1/2 an orange
In a mixing bowl, stir together the cream cheese and butter until well smooth.
Gradually stir in the confectioner’s sugar and mix until incorporated.
Add in the orange juice, zest, vanilla bean paste, and cinnamon. Stir until smooth. Glaze should be rather thick yet spreadable.
Thank you to Le Creuset Canada for their participation in this post. Words and opinions are my own.
A tender, flavorful carrot cake that fulfills all of your carrot cakes needs! Filled and frosted with fluffy cream cheese frosting, of course.
Spring is finally here in Vancouver, and Easter is just around the corner. To celebrate, I made you all the only carrot cake recipe you will ever need. I was working on a few Easter assignments last month when I realized that I didn't have a carrot cake recipe up on the blog – until now. How could that be? In all my efforts to come up with unique flavor pairing and over-the-top combos, this classic somehow slipped through the cracks...
To remedy this, I started to question all-things carrot cake... What makes the very BEST carrot cake? Do people like nuts in their cakes? Am I the only one that thinks raisin have zero business belonging in a layer cake? Even if canned crushed pineapple adds the best flavor/moisture, is applesauce a more convenient option? Can we all agree that cream cheese frosting is its only acceptable companion?
I actually took these concerns to my Instagram stories – the most legit place these days to find all the answers, jk. Thankfully, a lot of you responded back! Apparently I'm not the only who hates raisins, hooray! But, like with all things, I quickly discovered that not matter what recipe I developed, it wasn't going to please everybody...
You see, I couldn't very well make the BEST ever carrot cake out there, no matter how hard I tried, because there truly is no "best" anything. Everyone has different taste and preferences. Instead, I attempted to make the most flavorful and tender carrot cake possible with several variations to suite all your carrot cake needs.
First of all, I think a carrot cake needs to be (excuse me for this horrible word) moist. It should be tender and never too dense. We are making cake here, not the equivalent to banana bread, and not traditional fruit cake either. In other words, don't shy away from a bit of oil. Sometimes a good amount of fat is needed. Although most of my other layer cakes are baked with creamed butter, I prefer a neutral tasting oil here (like grapeseed or canola oil).
In addition to oil/fat, I typically add crushed pineapple to moisten and flavor my carrot cakes. I understand that not everyone keeps a spare can of pineapples around, but equal parts applesauce will also do the trick. In a pinch, you could even substitute for about a cup of mashed bananas (although I personally have not tested this yet). Weary of adding pineapples to your cake? You should definitely try hummingbird cake next =)
Next, are you for nuts or not? I like the idea of walnuts. They add an additional level of earthiness and texture. At the same time, I personally don't care for large chunks of nuts (or anything, really) within my cake. Instead, I opted for ground walnuts. This way, you get that subtle nutty flavor but with a cake that is more texturally pleasing. Be sure not to grind too far though! Not into walnuts? Try substituting for almond meal. Hate nuts all together? Replace the ground walnuts with 1/3 cup all-purpose flour.
Raisins. I think we can all agree here that you either hate 'em or love 'em. At least when it comes to cake. I opted to leave them out. If you must, add about 1/2 to 1 cup with the shredded carrots.
With carrot cake, as with most other baked goods, I believe any additional spices should play supporting roles. There should be no need to drown out the flavors with spoons of cinnamon or any other spice. I do love a touch of cinnamon for warmth though (and nutmeg, too), but not need to overwhelm the tender cake. Love cloves? Cardamom? Feel free to experiment a little here and adjust the spices to your own taste.
I was baking banana cake recently. As I was gathering ingredients, I realized I was out of brown sugar. I decided to continue on with plain white sugar. As the cake baked, the kitchen began to fill with yummy scents of cinnamon, ripe banana, and baked goodness. I was so excited to sneak a taste test, but was then struck down with disappointment. I've become so used to swapping in brown sugar for a portion of the white sugar that I missing that deeper, slightly more caramel flavor almost immediately. The same goes for carrot cake. I love adding both white and brown sugar. I just think the brown sugar adds more dimension and depth of flavor. Try using a combo of both as I've done here, or even go all brown or even deep muscovado sugar - Yum!
Lastly, the carrots themselves. If you are only making one cake, just shred them yourself. No need to pull out or dirty the food processor either. Grating just 3 to 4 carrots with the large holes of a box grater takes only a few minutes (unless you prefer washing your food processor, hehe). I find the bags of pre-shredded carrots to be a bit thick. When quickly grated at home, the carrot pieces are finer and nearly melt into the cake. To measure, loosely pack the shredded carrots. No need to drain them either, like you would with a zucchini cake.
I lied. The last thing is the FROSTING! Part of me thinks that carrot cake was invented just as a vehicle for consuming large amounts of delicious cream cheese frosting. Cream cheese frosting should have some flavor to it though, in my opinion, not just sugar. I've provided options for both vanilla bean and lemon cream cheese frosting variations below. Either way, I prefer to add as little sugar as possible (but enough so that the filling doesn't squish out the sides) and to whip it for at least about 3 minutes.
Best Carrot Cake Recipe*
¾ cup ground walnuts, toasted**
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 ¼ cup white sugar
½ cup brown sugar
zest of one orange (optional)
4 large eggs
3 cups shredded carrots
8 ounces crushed pineapple or applesauce***
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans as set aside.
Grind about 1 cup of toasted walnuts in a small food processor or spice/coffee grinder. Small chunks of walnut is okay, but be sure not to grind too far or it will start to become more of a paste. Measure out 3/4 cup and set aside.
Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together both sugars, eggs, and orange zest (if using). Stream in the oil and mix until combined. Working in two batches, gently stir in the dry ingredients. Stir in the ground walnuts.
Lastly, fold in the shredded carrots and pineapple until combined.
Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes come out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
* In my humble opinion =)
** The ground walnuts may be replaced with equal amounts almond flour or 1/3 cup all-purpose flour. A great tip for cleaning out your spice/coffee grinder in between uses it to grind up a small bit (like a tablespoon) of uncooked white rice (I read this is Luisa Weiss' Classic German Baking)
*** I have not tested this, but I bet you could replace the pineapple with a cup of mashed bananas as well (sort of like in this recipe)
Cream Cheese Frosting
12 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 to 5 cups confectioners sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
seeds from ½ vanilla bean or zest of one lemon (optional)
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth. With the mixer on low, mix in the remaining ingredients until just combined. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer to medium-high and beat until fluffy. Adjust the sugar and milk until your desired consistency in achieved.
Once the cakes have cooled, gently cut them in half horizontally to create 4 even layers (this step is optional, but then you get to add more cream cheese filling – yummy!). Fill each layer with about 3/4 cup of the cream cheese frosting. Crumb coat the cake and chill for about 15 minutes. Frost with the remaining cream cheese frosting and decorate as desired.
For the buttercream flower crown, I used my favorite Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I tinted it with pastel yellow, peach, and a little fuchsia. I like the blend the different shades together as I go to create a color palette that really coordinates. I currently don't have a full tutorial of how to pipe each blossom (coming soon!), but you can find more info on the buttercream rose here and how to assemble here. For a video of me piping the rose, click here!! All of the flowers were piped using a petal tip, either 103 or 104. The English roses are similar to the rose from the video, but instead of a cone-shaped in the center, I piped two centric circles of ruffles before starting the outer petals. For the 5-petal blossoms, check out this video. Before the buttercream sets, add a few tiny white sprinkles.
One final tip for the flowers – I like to pipe them each on individual squares of parchment paper. I then pop them into the fridge so that the buttercream hardens. This way, you just peel off the parchment then arrange the flowers on the cake. They are much easier to arrange once chilled and are less subject to bumps and bruises.