Cinnamon Bun Cake

Oh boy… this cake is sinful. And comforting…can something be sinful and comforting at the same time? If this cake is any indication, then yes….It’s like a warm hug from your great, great aunt…followed by a slap in the face…does that make sense? Or maybe I have that backward…

The cake is fluffy…like a pancake, but the cinnamon swirl adds pretty marbling and buttery goodness…enough buttery goodness to satisfy old school Paula Deen. The frosting is just the right amount of sweet and creamy.

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This is what cake looks like when you frost it before it cools because you’re running late…

Sidenote: This was actually made as a sample dessert…my amazing friends are getting married at the end of the summer and I am lucky enough to be doing their wedding dessert (cake wasn’t the only option).

I followed this recipe… mostly. I didn’t have any cupcake liners, so I used two 8 inch rounds, I also cut the sugar in half, made a couple of ingredient additions and substitutions and used my own frosting recipe (which has drastically less sugar).

The frosting recipe is a little more complicated than a regular frosting, but it is so worth the extra step or two. Trust me.

Also, please see my notes on the frosting regarding quantity and sweetness.

I had to show you another picture of this...

I had to show you another picture of this…

By popular demand, here is my version.

Cinnamon Bun Cake

Adapted from Every Craving, via Tasty Kitchen (see link above)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CUPCAKE:

  • 2-½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 2-½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked Salt
  • 1 stick Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1 scant cup sugar
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

FOR THE CINNAMON SWIRL:

  • 1/2 stick Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 1/3 cups Brown Sugar
  • 1-½ teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoons Salt

*NOTE: I followed the original recipe instructions for the swirl, but it made too much… so I am cutting it in half to save your insulin levels.

FOR THE FROSTING*:

  • 8 oz (I think) Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 8 oz. Mascarpone, room temperature
  • 8 ounces Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 3/4 cups Confectioners Sugar**
  • A splash Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup (please use the real stuff to avoid breaking my heart!)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

*Note: This makes more frosting than you’ll need. I would suggest dividing your frosting into two dishes then adding the maple syrup and cinnamon to one, saving the other half for a different dessert (mixed with crushed up Newman O’s, or on red velvet cake? Anyone?)… OR you can just half this recipe…I know mascarpone is a bit fancy for a regular old cake, but trust me, it’s worth it.

**Second Note: You’ve probably figured out that I am not a huge super sweet frosting fan..so adjust to your taste.

What to do:

Pre-heat oven to 350. Grease two 8 in round cake pans and set aside.

Make the Cinnamon Swirl

  • Melt butter in a small-medium sized bowl over double-boiler. Once melted, remove from heat.
  •  Stir in cinnamon, sugar and salt until smooth. Set aside.

Make the cake

  • Combine dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
  • Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl (I use my trusty pastry blender for this…you can also use a mixer).
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time (If using the pastry blender, switch to a solid serving spoon or rubber spatula for beating).
  • Stir in vanilla and sour cream.
  • Beat in milk and flour mixture, adding a little of each at a time until all ingredients are well incorporated.
  • This is going to make a pretty thick batter. That’s okay, don’t panic.
  • Divide half of the batter into each of the prepared pans.
  • Give the cinnamon swirl a quick stir and lightly drizzle 1/3 of it over batter.
  • Divide the rest of the batter into each pan and, using a rubber spatula, spread evenly. Drizzle 1/3 of the cinnamon swirl over the top.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick poked into the center comes out clean. Remove them from the oven and let them cool completely before frosting.

Make the Frosting

  • Whip cream to soft peaks, place in refrigerator/set aside.
  • Place mascarpone and cream cheese in stand mixer with whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until combined and smooth.
  • Beat in vanilla and add in powdered sugar, a little at a time, until completely incorporated.
  • Fold in whipped cream by hand (I use a rubber spatula)
  • *Refrigerate until ready to use. *See note above.
  • Right before frosting, add in remaining ingredients.
  • Frost your cake, top with remaining cinnamon swirl.

Happy Wednesday!

PS. How to use up the leftover frosting, two ways:

Crushed up oreo and creamy dreamy goodness... sigh...

Crushed up Oreo and creamy dreamy goodness… sigh…

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Fruit, cookie and whipped frosting parfait


Noelle’s Notes to Self

I often make mental notes…sometimes I even write them down. Here is a look at what goes on inside my head-at least what was going on yesterday and today.

1. Check pants before putting them on, they may have a hole in them.

2. Wear black underwear if you have a hole in your black pants, it’ll help disguise this fact.

3. If you know you’re not going to get a chance to pee, don’t continue to chug water. (I failed at this.)

4.  I think it’s time to buy some new pants. And to figure out what the heck size I wear these days. I also need heels. And shirts.

5. Buy butter. There is never enough in our house. Especially after kitchen mishaps…

6. Make more peanut butter cookies. (I succeeded at this.)

7. Run run run run run run run!

8. Iced coffee would greatly improve my day.

9. It is definitely a big sunglasses and messy bun kind of day.

10. To post the latest awkward story? Or not to post?

11. Apparently butter and a hot oven don’t mix. Who knew? (okay, that wasn’t actually mine,  I won’t name names to avoid embarrassing this person.)

12. At this time last year, I was going crazy planning a wedding and working crazy hours. This year, I attended a wedding and am still working crazy hours. Life makes me smile.

13. I eat really odd things when left to my own devices. Like sardines.

14. Find tonic that isn’t full of high fructose corn syrup.

15. Until then, drink this instead. With something local. (Check.)

16. Finish the three two other blog posts I started.

17. Pick up items for giveaway.

18. Give Farmer Ben a big kiss. He is way too good to me.

19. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEND!

20. I’m getting old. Falling asleep before 9 pm is ridiculous.

21. Mail Foodie Penpal Package. (Check.)

22. Where the heck is all my chapstick?

23.  I need more cheese in my life.

24. I love Leonardo DiCaprio… and pickles.

25. Holy Cow! This is my 71st blog post!

26. The Ragnar Relay is actually happening! AH!!!! See number 7. Repeat often.

27. Good luck tomorrow Liz! You are gonna rock it!!!!

The End.


Whiskey Cookies? Whoa.

I know what you’re thinking. I spent yesterday’s post talking about how I was so sick of cookies and how much I love veggies and how I was getting back on track…and now I am going to tell you about another cookie?! What kind of sick person am I?! Awkwaaaard.

But in all seriousness, I need to tell you about these. They are…in my opinion, the perfect cookie. Chewy but not crunchy, soft but not mushy, with just a hint of healthy. Oh, and did I mention the whiskey-chocolate-pecan combination? Yum.

Check out that texture.

Also…I made these on Monday. So… that makes it okay.

I got the original recipe from the Serious Eats 2010 Cookie Swap but have made a few changes. It’s a pretty basic recipe. The whole wheat flour and the flax seed meal add a nutty texture and instead of being uniformly flat like most cookies, they are a bit puffed up…I love this, it gives them major character. When I make these, I usually use Red Stag, which gives a lovely cherry tone but this time I used some sort of Jack Daniels Black Label Specialty… whatever you have on hand.

Whiskey Cookies: 

*adapted from Rachel Heise Bolten via Serious Eats*

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use the unbleached stuff)
  • 1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour (Bob’s Red Mill is my favorite brand)
  • 2 tbsp. ground flax seed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks butter, room temp.
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 oz. (Or about half a bag) bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans *I’m lazy, so I usually just break the pecans up in my hand before I throw them in)

Preheat oven to 375.

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix butter, sugar, vanilla and bourbon until creamy. I use my trusty pastry blender to do it by hand, but you can also use the paddle attachment on your KitchenAid.

Add your eggs in one at a time. Mix until combined.

Add your dry ingredients to the butter mixture. I added half, mixed and then added the rest.

Once your dry and wet ingredients are nicely combined, stir in your chocolate chips and pecans with a spatula.

*The original recipe calls for letting the dough sit in your refrigerator for at least three days, because I significantly increased the amount of whiskey, I don’t believe this is necessary. However, if you’re looking for a bit more whiskey flavor, stick it in the fridge for a couple of hours.* 

Drop cookie dough by the (large) spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet-use parchment paper for super easy cleanup.

Bake until edges are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.


Veggie-Tales!

I am so sick of cookies. I am tired of sweets in general. I don’t know why, but this year, I really think I overdid it. I didn’t even do as much baking as I had planned but the thought of eating one more piece of fudge, slice of cake or bite of a cookie makes me want to run screaming for the hills. Seriously… I am going to turn into a chocolate chip cookie…or a stick of butter. Basically, I’m over it.

That being said, I am probably the only person out there who chose yesterday, the day after Christmas, to do some serious baking. I know you’re judging. I am judging, too.  But I had to do it! There are some very dear friends and family members who I had promised crazy confections… and I just… didn’t get around to it until yesterday, I mean, I had time the day before Christmas, but then the cookies would have sat around for days before I mailed them out, and who wants stale cookies? I certainly don’t. Anyway, I decided to jazz them up a little bit and make them a bit healthier (and more delicious-in my opinion-look for the recipe later this week!)…So, to the recipients of my baked goods, you’re welcome.

After overdosing on sugar this month, my latest food obsession is the veggie pita. I take a whole wheat pita, slice it down the middle and stuff each side with mixed greens, sprouts, avocado, tomato, onion and Ben’s chili sauce. I forgot the chili sauce today, so I used hummus instead. I can tell that I have been going through clean food withdrawal because it feels so GOOD to be eating veggies, even if it is just the basic stuff.

Side Note: Ben usually grows everything mentioned above (minus the avocado, obviously) in our garden-we still had scallions and Swiss chard growing up until a couple of weeks ago!- but, as it is the off season, we get most of our veggies at our local co-op, which works with local farms and greenhouses. I bought our tomatoes at Price Chopper- they were hydroponically grown in Vermont (and pesticide free!), I chose these over the organically grown tomatoes from Mexico.

I don’t pretend to be an expert about food and I don’t consider myself a “health-nut”, but as a personal policy, I do try to stick with all natural ingredients and buy local whenever possible. I also try to buy farmer-owned brands (such as Cabot or Organic Valley) and stick to items with ingredients I can pronounce. If I pick up a package that has a list of 40+ ingredients, I immediately put it down. I don’t believe that our bodies were meant to have so much junk put into them.

When we buy meat, we get it directly from local farms, the farmers’ market or from our food co-op. Again, it’s not always “organic”, but it’s local, hormone-free and grass-fed, the way it should be. The same thing goes for our eggs.

As far as microwaveable foods, I don’t. We don’t even own a microwave. I prefer to cook it, chop it, slice it, steam it or boil it myself…and if I make too much I can simply freeze it and reheat it on the stove or in the oven-or give it to a friend. I also avoid chain restaurants as much as possible, just because Ben and I have both worked in the restaurant business and know how much of the chain food comes in a bag and goes in the microwave. It’s gross…and ridiculous, considering how easy most of the food is to make.

The idea of mass-produced foods (whether it be meat, cheese, bread or vegetables) kind of freaks me out…especially after some of the reading/documentary watching I’ve done. I believe that food is meant to be a personalized experience-not just eating whatever garbage is put in front of you-and that you’ll get more out of your meal if you know where it’s coming from and how it was prepared. It saddens me that so many people out there have no idea what they are putting in their bodies, day after day and even more have no idea how to cook for themselves!

I am not saying that I am perfect. I do slip up on occasion, but for the most part, I try my hardest to follow these rules. I realize that it’s not super difficult for me as I was blessed with a wonderful mother who cooked a ton of different things and made me try new foods on a weekly basis (I didn’t grow up eating Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Hamburger Helper, I grew up eating lentil soup, roast chicken, swiss chard, and countless other homemade things) …and I am married to a chef-slowly-turning-farmer-who-cans-freezes-everything.

Farmer Ben, hard at work.

I haven’t always been as passionate about where my food comes from… I used to stand with the many who see buying local/organic as pointless and too expensive. This simply isn’t true, you just have to do your homework. And honestly, if I spend a few cents more on my Cabot butter, I am okay with that, because I know that it is going to the farmers…or if I spend a little bit more buying the crackers with 7 ingredients instead of 47, I feel confident knowing that I am saving my body from a ton of extra junk it doesn’t need. Again, I am no expert, these are just my personal beliefs, but I like to think that I am healthier because of it.

Anyway, that is the end of my rant for the day…who would have thought that talking about vegetables could get one so worked up?!  With that in mind, I’m using this post as a public announcement. I am getting back on track-starting today! I am a big believer in the food journal. Even if you aren’t trying to get in shape, it’s really helpful to see exactly what you are eating-or not eating- and track your water intake. I know that this month I have been horrible about drinking water and I have felt it.

So, I am getting back to my food journaling ways. I recently discovered MyFitnessPal and have been using it…kind of… for the last couple of months. I really like this site because it’s very comprehensive, has a really large and pretty accurate database and has a lot of different tools that I have found very helpful. They also have a smartphone app with a really awesome barcode scanner (probably the coolest thing ever!).  Today, I am getting back into it after a brief hiatus and want to invite you to be …my fitness pal! You can find me-my username is nre820.

Alright kids, catch you later! Be on the lookout for a few life updates and some baller recipes!


Biscuits. Boom.

I have a confession to make. I get weird cravings. I go through odd phases with food. I will obsess over one thing for a few weeks. Nothing can satiate me other than whatever food I am craving. I will eat only what the current obsession is (well…maybe a few other things)…and then, it will be over…I’ll move on.

Lately,  my obsession is  biscuits. Super easy to make. Delicious whether on their own, with a fried egg or served along with a soup or stew, biscuits have taken over my kitchen and my life lately.

It started when Ben came for one of our weekly lunch dates. He had taken some of our leftover turkey and mashed potatoes and made a creamy turkey/veggie/potato concoction. Then he made mini biscuits…it was like turkey pot pie.. but…not.

Any-who, we had leftover leftovers so I decided to make more. There is a biscuit recipe that I have been eyeing for quite some time on Joy the Baker’s site. and I decided to try it out…unfortunately, when I went to make it, I didn’t have buttermilk, so I used half and half instead.  Luckily, the winter has been mild thus far, so we still have some scallions growing.

The next time I made these biscuits, I made it my own. It was love at first bite (side note: I’ve always wanted to say that. haha!). I was hooked.

Here you go, friends!

Bangin’ Biscuits, Noelle Style:

(adapted slightly from Joy the Baker and The Joy of Cooking)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. Baking Powder (I use the aluminum free stuff)
  • A couple dashes of Sea Salt
  • A few good cranks of Cracked Pepper (I love pepper, so I go crazy)
  • 1 tsp. and a few sprinkles of Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Smoky Paprika-this gives an amazing color!
  • 4 oz. Cream Cheese COLD (Philadelphia is good, I also use Organic Valley or the Organic Valley Neufchatel)
  • 5 tbsp. Butter (I use Cabot) COLD
  • 3/4 cup to 1 cup (depending on how your dough blends) Goat Milk- it’s what I had on hand-feel free to substitute with buttermilk or whole milk.

The Process:

Place rack in center of oven. Preheat to 450.

Combine your dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Cut cream cheese into chunks, add to dry ingredients.

Grate butter into dry ingredients (I use a cheese grater. I know this sounds crazy, but it works so well! I am a true convert.)

This was the first attempt... notice my DECEMBER SCALLIONS!!!

Begin to cut the dough (I use a dough blender-as seen in this picture. You can also use a knife) until you get pea-sized crumbs.

I love this. I use it alllll the time. (I still have some work to do at this point).

Once your dough is starting to crumb, add in your milk. I used goat milk *which you can find at your local health food store/co-op.* It adds a nice creamy flavor-similar to buttermilk.  You can also you use heavy cream, whole milk or buttermilk, whatever floats your little boat!

I started out adding 3/4 cup. Using a fork, mix your wet and dry ingredients until the dough is moist-not sticky-and completely combined. I found that I needed to add a little more milk to it, do it slowly.

Once this step is completed, put a little flour on your hands and dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Press it/knead it out until it’s about 1/2″-3/4″ thick.

Use a biscuit cutter (or something else round-I used my walnut chopper-another super handy tool that I use ALL THE TIME! You can also use a drinking glass), cut the biscuits and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

You have no idea how excited I was at this point.

Combine and re-knead scraps, cutting until no scraps remain.

*Neat trick-Dip your cutter into flour and press down firmly, once, when cutting the biscuits, this will keep them from sticking and will keep them from getting too overworked. *

Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve hot. Biscuits will last in a sealed Zip-lock/Tupperware for about 3 or 4 days. Makes about 16 biscuits.

Boom. Done. Eat 'em up.

Again, these will be great with a variety of spices. Just use what you have on hand and have fun with it.

Enjoy!