Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mini Apple Cider Donuts

I'm sure I've talked about it many times before but I LOVE fall. I love everything about it. Here are 5 things I'm loving about this month:

1. Taking walks at ANY time of the day, not just when it gets dark because that's the only time you can go outside without melting.
2. LEAVES! The leaves are just starting to change down here in Salt Lake but if you drive up any canyon, the leaves are all sorts of Fall colors! And in just a couple of weeks, I'll be heading "home" to upstate New York where the leaves are practically legendary. Seriously, Utah wins weather-wise for every other season, but it's got nothing on New York in the fall.
3. Fall weather fashion: tights, boots, sweaters (which means I can eat more cake like this because I'm wearing sweaters like this).

4. A lot of wonderful things happen in October. This year (today, actually), my parents' 29th wedding anniversary (awww), Halloween--which I've always loved--and, my birthday. Which I don't love due to the whole getting older thing, but usually get to spend with my wonderful friends, and that is something to be thankful for.
5. Fall flavors. As much as I'm going to miss all of the fresh berries and other produce of summer, there's something about the crispness of the air that makes me crave all things spiced. Which brings me to this recipe for mini apple cider donuts:

These donuts have all of the wonderful flavors of fall (try to find fresh apple cider if you can get it locally!) in a tiny and adorable little bite. Bonus: they're easy peasy to make and can be made vegan super easily. So welcome Fall, with a handful of the sticky and sweet little donuts.

Mini Apple Cider Donuts
makes about 4 dozen mini donuts or 1 dozen standard donuts

1/3 cup butter, melted (or coconut oil if you want them to be vegan)
1 cup sugar
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/4 cup apple cider

1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease 48 mini muffin molds or 12 standard ones.

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together all donut ingredients until fully combined. Portion batter into prepared donut pans (this is most easily done by piping it through a bag), filling each mold about 2/3 full. Bake about 10-12 minutes (or about 20 for larger donuts), until the donuts spring back when poked. Remove from oven, waiting about 5 minutes before glazing.

For the glaze, bring apple cider to a boil over high heat in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and cook until cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and whisk in powdered sugar. Allow it to cool before glazing the donuts.

To glaze the donuts, place donuts on a cooling rack over a pan and pour glaze over them, coating them well. Allow glaze to set before serving.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

'Tis the Season for Weddings and Disasters

When you get to be a certain age, it seems Summer brings a wedding, bridal shower, baby shower, etc. every other week. And sometimes weddings 2 weekends in a row. And, if you're me, you have awesome friends who have way more faith in your cake-transporting abilities than they should.

A few weeks ago, my friends Cat and Levi got married on a lovely day in Salt Lake City, surrounded by friends, family, and community. And as well-loved as Cat and Levi are, many people close to them made food for the reception. In addition to a lot of bread and even more macaroni and cheese (so SO much macaroni and cheese), I was honored enough to make the cakes. 

As glamorous as it may seem to make the cake for the most important day in 2 people's lives, making and transporting items as delicate as cake is not as easy as one would think. I should have known. Because cakes are so delicate, it is best to put boards between each layer, put pillars in the tiers, and stack the tiers when you get to the location. I only did about 1/3 of these things. And about halfway through the drive to the location, the shit, as they say, hit the fan. The main cake had crumbled to pieces. And I fought to keep it together.
Instagram photo taken the day of and then the day after, after it fell apart and then was demolished by hungry guests
As soon as I went and told the bride what happened, she was so wrapped up in wedding day joy, it didn't even matter. Some wonderful guests came to the rescue and went to the store to get a few sheet cakes to supplement, and there were still a few smaller cakes to cut for the ceremony.

photo of the cakes that stayed together by the very talented and generous Amy Beckler
The rest of the photos can be seen on Amy's blog
So, all was well. Cat and Levi were married and I had learned a thing or two about cake transportation . . . . and this awesome lemon cake with this buttercream frosting didn't completely go to waste: about 10 or so wedding guests scooped the crumbled pieces out of the back of my car to enjoy. God bless them.

Thankfully, the next weekend when Charlie and Liz got married, I was smarter and the cake turned out well. And even better, they also chose lemon cake (people LOVE lemon!) and, as a special addition, I made this fantastic lemon curd to go between the layers. It also makes a wonderful pie filling, is delicious sandwiched between a couple of butter cookies or can be eaten guiltily alone by the spoonful. Enjoy!

Lemon Curd 
Makes about 4 cups

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
the peel from 1 lemon
2/3 cup lemon juice
10 egg yolks
1/2 cup butter

In a medium saucepan, place 2/3 cup water, lemon juice, and lemon peel and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Remove peel.

Stir together cornstarch and sugar in a separate bowl and then stir into the water-lemon mixture. Stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly.

Whisk the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl. Remove half of the lemon mixture from the pan and quickly whisk into the egg yolks. Return to the lemon mixture and whisk over medium heat until mixture boils. Cook and stir two minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in butter.

Remove curd to a separate bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cool in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Scones

I spent the first 23 years of my life hating scones. To me, scones were just a less moist version of muffins and a less buttery version of a biscuit. But in an attempt to like all well-loved baked goods in the Universe, I worked hard to create a scone that I'd actually enjoy.

My first attempt was . . . well . . . gross. I wanted them to be moist but they turned out mushy and soggy. And they turned a weird color because I used mixed berries. So, this time, I decided to tweak these wonderful biscuits to be more muffin-like, and added the extra dazzle of the lemon-poppyseed flavor combination. And you know what? Now I like scones.

Lemon Poppyseed Scones
Makes about 15

2 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (containing xanthan gum)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons poppyseeds
6 tablespoons cold butter
3/4 cup buttermilk
juice from one large lemon
zest from 1/2 lemon
lemon glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Stir together first 5 ingredients. Cut butter into small cubes and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingers. Work in until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in buttermilk, lemon juice, and zest by hand.

Dust clean surface with rice flour and pat dough into a rectangle that's about 4 inches by 12 inches. Sprinkle with a bit more flour. Cut into about 15 triangles and arrange on a baking sheet. Bake 12-14 minutes, until scones are puffed in the middle and can be picked up without bending or breaking. Cool slightly.

To make the glaze, whisk together 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, and zest from 1/2 lemon. Dip the the scones upside down into the glaze and allow to set before eating. Consume within 2 days.

About Me

My photo
Salt Lake City, Utah
As a pastry chef by trade and by hobby, being diagnosed with Celiac Disease has not been easy. But through some experimental baking and a whole lot of faith, I'm living a full(er) life.