Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Apple Cake...Williams-Sonoma Style...

Aaaaahhhhhh fall.....

The weather has taken a huge turn for the better, the kids are back in school, and guess what? The apples are back!!! Oh, how I love the apples.

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Everyone, meet Apple Cake. Apple Cake, this is everyone.

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This was a perfect fall treat. Delicious with tea, but then again, I eat all desserts with tea.

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A little apple, a little walnuts, and everyone can use a little cream cheese frosting every once in a while, right? This was very reminiscent of spice cake with little pieces of sweet apple mixed in there. It was delicious. A definite keeper.

I have another apple cake recipe up my stay tuned for Apple Cake Round 2!!!

Apple Cake
adapted from Williams-Sonoma Baking Essentials

2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (6 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups peeled and diced apples (I used Granny Smith, about 1 and 1/2 apples did the trick. I diced my apples pretty small, which required fairly thin slices.)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

for frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter
1 8oz package of cream cheese
1 pound confectioners sugar
(next time I make this icing, I will probably use half of all 3 ingredients. I always have extra, and there is always way too much icing on the cake, if you ask me.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x13x2 inch cake pan.

This is the point when I usually make my buttermilk. I measure out almost the amount of buttermilk that the recipe calls for in whole milk, and then top it off with a little white vinegar. By the time you are ready to add the buttermilk to the recipe, it will be ready to go. I believe the rule of thumb is 1 cup of milk to a tablespoon or so of vinegar.

Measure flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves into a bowl. Mix with a fork until well combined.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and mix until just combined. Once you've finished adding the eggs it's time to add the dry ingredients. Add the flour/spice mixture in 3 batches, starting with the flour and alternating with the buttermilk. ***Be very careful not to overmix.*** When you add the third and final round of flour, throw the apples and walnuts in there too, and remove the batter from the mixer. At this point, I mixed the apples, walnuts and remaining batter til combined by hand. Warning: If you overmix the batter, you will perhaps get a heavier and not so light cake.

Once batter, apples and walnuts are all evenly combined, spread batter in cake pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until it passes the toothpick test. Let cool for 20 minutes and then ice with frosting and eat!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies

Do you love peanut butter as much as I love peanut butter?

I really like peanut butter... so much so, that I don't allow myself to eat it normally. It starts out with just a spoonful, and then I'm eating it on apples, and bananas, and before you know it I've eaten half a box of cheez-its and carefully spread peanut butter on each little cracker before consuming it. It all ends badly, and with a new wardrobe as well, unfortunately. But I'm babbling.....

Let me tell you about the one way that I do allow myself to indulge in my love for the stuff....

peanut butter cookies. Just like your mom used to make, but better. Or maybe it's just that my mom always used a box mix... who knows.

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Trust me.

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These are good.

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My sous chef helped me with this particular batch and wanted to know if he had to make the cross hatch pattern on the top of the cookies.

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I told him that they weren't peanut butter cookies unless you do that thingy with the fork on the top. And then I fired him. And then I was stuck pressing the fork into 3 dozen of the suckers all by myself. I shall have to come up with a better and more fool-proof strategy next time around.

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Peanut Butter Cookies
from The Grand Central Baking Book

3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup peanut butter, at room temp (I like to use chunky...the peanuts really add something if you ask me)
2 eggs, at room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Add flour, baking soda, and salt into a bowl and mix to combine.

In a stand mixer, (or with a handheld) beat butter and both sugars on medium speed for about 5 minutes until well combined as well as fluffy and light in color. Add the peanut butter and mix for another minute or so until well combined.

Crack the eggs into the mixer one at a time and mix until combined. Then add the vanilla. Now you're ready to gradually add the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer in 2 to 3 batches, mixing until just combined.

Use your cookie scoop or other scooping method and dole out mix onto cookie sheet. Press lightly with fork to make required pb cookie pattern on top.

Bake for 10-13 minutes until golden and then eat them for heavens sake!