Dorie Greenspan’s Pumpkin Muffins

Dorie-V1I had a great experience at IFBC2013 yesterday. I met my favourite cookbook author, Dorie Greenspan.

Dorie gave the keynote speaker address and for 45 minutes she had the entire room charmed. Her message was one of collaboration and building community.

Dorie spoke of her 11 cookbooks and her experiences working with other great chefs like Julia Child and Paul Hermes.

She spoke of her long career trying to make her life as a secretary, a teacher, a grant writer, a wife, a mother, a writer and a TV producer. The road to her wonderful life in Paris was filled with hard work and sometimes, very little pay. She was tenacious in building her dream and she always said yes to projects.

Her words inspired us, her honesty touched us and her charm was infectious.

Dorie left us with a few words of wisdom: “Say yes and follow your dream”.

I made these muffins from Dorie’s book Baking From My Home to Yours before coming to the conference.  As always, her recipes are accurate and the results are delicious.

Pumpkin-Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

Makes 12 medium sized muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground allspice
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
¼ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree
¼ cup buttermilk
½ cup moist, plump golden raisins
½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts
½ cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds for topping

Directions:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Butter or spry 12 molds in  regular-sized muffin pan or fit molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until soft. Add both of the sugars and continue to beat until light a smooth.

One by one, add the eggs beating for one minute after the eggs are incorporated, then beat in the vanilla. Lower the mixer speed and mix in the pumpkin and buttermilk. Continuing at low speed, add the dry ingredients in a steady stream, mixing only until they disappear. Turn off the mixer and stir in the raisins and nuts using a rubber spatula.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups and sprinkle each muffin with a few sunflowers seeds.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a thin knife into the centre of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan and cool muffins for 5 minutes. Carefully remove the muffins from the molds and finish cooling on a rack.

Serve the muffins warm or at room temperature.

Cooks Note: If you want to kick these muffins up a notch, cut a small hole through the centre of the muffins from the top down and insert a squirt of cream cheese frosting using a pastry bag.

Recipe from Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Pumpkin-muffins-styled-2

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Wonderful Fall Fig Cake

I stayed in last night and watched Julie and Julia on TV for the eighth time. I know that sounds sad and pathetic but that movie is so entertaining. Every time I see Meryl Streep as Julia Child I have to smile. I think she brings an honesty to her role that many actors would not have dared to try. Her acting ability is amazing and I have enjoyed her in any of her various roles.

I can really relate to the Julie Powell’s character played by Amy Adams. I understand her love of cooking, her passion for blogging and her willingness to push herself to become a better cook and a better writer. I also understand doing all of that while working full-time, running a business part-time and trying to keep relationships balanced.

Life is a journey and sometimes a juggling act. I am convinced that it is all worth it if you bring your best efforts to everything that you do.

Fall is passing quickly and I wanted to get some great harvest recipes out to you before it ends. Since I have discovered the great taste of fresh figs I am constantly looking for new and interesting recipes that highlight their unique flavour.

This fig cake is rich and dense and is best served warm.

Enjoy!

Fig Cake

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

¾ cup ruby port
1 cup honey
2 thin slices lemon
16-20 fresh figs, stemmed and halved
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¼ cup sugar
Grated zest of ½ lemon
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, at room temperature
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Stir the port and ½ cup honey together in a small saucepan. Toss in the lemon slices and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat, add the figs, cover the pan and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the figs are soft but not falling apart. Using a slotted spoon, transfer figs to a bowl. Raise the heart just a little and cook the poaching liquid for another 10 to 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened; the syrup should coat a metal spoon. Remove the pan from the heat and set the sauce aside.

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust inside of the pan with flour, tapping out the excess. Put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Put the sugar and grated zest in the bowl of a stand mixer or another large bowl, rub them together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist, grainy and aromatic. Toss in the butter. With the paddle or whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Pour in the remaining ½ cup honey, add the vanilla extract and beat for another 2 minutes. The mixture may look curdled and not so pretty-keep mixing. It will get better soon. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. The batter will be fairly thick.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a few times to even the batter, then scatter poached figs over the top.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the cake is puffed and golden brown and a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before running a blunt knife around the edges and releasing the sides of the pan.

Cool the cake slightly warm or to room temperature before serving it with the sauce. Cake slices can be topped with whipped cream, if desired.

Recipe from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

 

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

SUNDAY SWEETS

I am in love with Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table”. Every time I open this cookbook I remember my trips to France and the wonderful food that can be found in that glorious country. From the patisseries in Paris, to the fields of Provence and the seaside villages of the southern coast; France is filled with culinary delights and extraordinary experiences. There is a reason that France has been a world leader in fine cuisine for centuries. The art of cooking and enjoying great food is in the hearts and souls of her people.

For my next baking adventure I really wanted to make Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake from Dorie’s book. This is a recipe that Dorie wrote after watching her friend bake this amazing cake without a recipe. I think it will soon be called Dorie’s Apple Cake since it has turned into a modern day classic.

This cake is so delicious and easy to bake. The abundance of apples and hint of rum add a burst of flavour to its coffee cake like texture. I did not have an 8 inch springform pan so I used my 9.5 inch springform pan. Mine turned out a little shorter and wider than Dorie’s but nonetheless, it was delicious.

I will definitely add this one to my favourite recipe collection and bake it often.

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

Ingredients

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp. dark rum
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1 to 2 inch chunks.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and spread evenly.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-Hélène’s served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.

Recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Honey-Spiced Madeleines

SUNDAY SWEETS


I am still working may way through my cookbooks and have been also trying to improve my baking skills. I am one of those people who loves to cook, but I am not a great baker. I think it is because baking requires such precision and exact measurement. So if you can get beyond wanting to add a little of this or that, or taking out ingredients that you don’t think work, you will have good results and maybe even impress a few friends. In order to improve, I will need to keep at it. So, I am going to post a baking recipe every other Sunday to share this journey with all of you.

I started off this journey by deciding to make Madeleines last week. I found a recipe from a very old cookbook for a traditional madeleines. I pulled out an old metal madeleine pan that I found at a garage sale, I had the ingredients and I thought it would be easy. Well, the batter was lumpy and the end result was not very tasty. So I decided to try again. After all, I will never learn to bake well if I don’t keep trying.

I went out and splurged on a nonstick madeleine pan. Then I found this Honey-Spiced Madeleine recipe in my new cookbook Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. The instructions are much more precise than the first ones and when I followed them carefully, the result was very nice. These madeleines are fine served traditionally with tea, but are even better served slightly warm, with coffee, with a latte or even with ice cream. I just love the shape and the spicy, rich, moist texture.

Honey-Spiced Madeleines

Ingredients

¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 c. sugar
Zest of ½ orange, finely grated
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Directions

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, spices, salt and pepper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl, rub the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Fit the stand mixer with a whisk attachment or use a hand mixer or a whisk. Add the eggs to the bowl and beat until the mixture is light coloured, fluffy and thickened, about 2 minutes. Beat in the honey, then the vanilla. Switch to a rubber spatula and very gently fold the dry ingredients, followed by the melted butter.

Chill the batter for at least 3 hours.

When you are ready to bake, centre a rack in the oven and preheat to oven to 400 degrees F. Butter 12 regular madeleine molds (or 36 mini molds), dust them with flour, and tap out the excess.  (If you have a nonstick madeleine pan, butter and flour or give it a light coating of vegetable cooking spray. If your pan is silicone, you can leave it as is or, give it a light butter and flour coating). Place the pan on a baking sheet and spoon the batter into the molds filling each one to the top.

Bake large madeleines for 11 to 13 minutes, minis for 8 to 10 minutes, or until they are golden and the tops spring back when pressed gently. Remove the pan from the oven and release the madeleines from the mold by rapping the edge of the pan against the counter. Gently pry any reluctant madeleines from the pan using fingers or a butter knife. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool to just warm room temperature.

Just before serving, dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan