Tag Archives: Baking

Back to November

November, the gateway into the holiday season, is a special time for many. November is also a reminder that physical time is passing quickly and that the turn of a new year is swiftly approaching. The leaves falling to the ground in order for new ones to grow externalizes the changes in our bodies and lives in order to start anew. I just love how that works.

November also holds personal significance for me, a spring to the winter of my life’s journey. Six years ago on a cool, autumn morning in Santa Monica, CA I married my husband. What felt like years in the making was only the inception of a love and life that has brought us literally around the world and back again to be together. Exactly one year later, to the day, my dad passed away suddenly. His passing, furthermore on my one-year wedding anniversary, has been much of the inspiration of my introspection to find significance, not sorrow. I have to say, I never felt robbed by the fact that the two events would eventually be remembered as one, November 7. It’s no wonder to me that the Lord allowed my two favorite men, my past and my future, to be remembered on one special day. And when the year gets long, my heart gets heavy and my memories begin to fade, time always takes me back to November again.


Succulent-Pumpkin Wreath

This time of year is my favorite for DIY projects. It’s also a great time to forage pieces of nature that have fallen to the ground to use for projects. Also, a great use for some of your leftover Halloween pumpkins. Here’s what’s going on around the house this week.

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Apple Cinnamon Layer Cake with Buttermilk Icing

This is the ultimate fall dessert. It’s a perfect alternative to traditional holiday pies or a great bake-ahead to bring to a party. The longer it sits, the better it gets.

For the cake:

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup butter, room temperature (save wrappers to prep the cake pans)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs, room temperature

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups flour

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (my husband was helping me and accidentally used baking soda…the cake came out fine)

1 cup milk, room temperature

2 apples (I used honey crisp) peeled, chopped

For the buttercream:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar

1 to 3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

For the buttermilk caramel icing:

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans by greasing the pans with butter wrappers.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside. Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. In another bowl, sift flour and baking powder. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture by hand. Add milk into batter until smooth.
Mentally divide your batter into fourths. Each pan will use two layers (each layer will be 1/4 total batter). Pour 1/4 of batter into each pan, reserving half of the batter in the bowl. Add 1/4 apples and 1/4 brown sugar mixture to each pan and gently pat into the batter. Then, add another layer of batter, apples and brown sugar mixture.Bake 30 to 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. While cakes are baking make butter cream and buttermilk caramel icing. For buttercream combine butter, vanilla, cinnamon and powdered sugar and one tablespoon cream with a mixer on high for one minute. If mixture seems too thick add another tablespoon cream until spreadable. 

Place strips of parchment paper on cake stand. Assemble the cake by placing the bottom layer of cake on top of parchment paper. Spread buttercream on top of bottom player and top with other layer of cake. Let sit while making the buttermilk caramel icing. In a cold non-stick saucepan, add sugar, buttermilk, butter, corn syrup, baking soda and vanilla. Combine and bring to a slow boil at medium-high heat. No need to stir while bubbling. The icing will turn to a light caramel in 5 to 7 minutes. The caramel should be sticky and pourable, not firm. Allow the icing to cool for 3 minutes and pour slowly over the cake. The cake is amazing while warm, but only gets better with time. 


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Red, White and Don’t Be Blue

I’ve had the fortune over the years of spending Independence Day in different cities across America: Birmingham, Alabama, New York City, Jackson, Mississippi, Central Pennsylvania, Palm Springs, California to name a few. On July 4, 2012 the already nostalgic holiday took on additional significance when my uncle (my father’s brother) passed away in a tragic accident. We spent the next few years celebrating the 4th differently, without fireworks and barbeque. A passing is always a cause for reflection but a passing on a holiday leaves the quandary of how to move forward recognizing both events in the years to come. For me, my soul heals itself by creating something beautiful. So, in the spirit of Uncle Chris and all things red, white and blue this is what’s going on in the garden and in the kitchen this week.


Red, White-ish and Blue Succulent Pot

This succulent project was inspired by the big, beautiful Echeveria ‘Blue Sky’ I found a few weeks ago on it’s last leg at a home improvement store. It took time to nurse it back to health and now it’s the centerpiece of this project.

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Blueberry and Strawberry Buttermilk Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze

I can’t say that in July I make our food resemble actual flags but I do like to be festive the week of Independence Day. I love using blueberries and strawberries in recipes this time of year. This buttermilk cake isn’t overly sweet and is the perfect light ending to any picnic or summer meal.

For the cake:

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing pan

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/14 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups blueberries

4 to 6 large strawberries, diced, underripe ok

For the glaze:

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

1 lemon, juiced and zested

Dash of vanilla

2 to 5 tablespoons milk                                                                  IMG_0508Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 12- cup Bundt pan with 1 tablespoon softened butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt. In a larger bowl, beat remaining butter, granulated sugar and vegetable oil on medium-high speed until fluffy, at least five minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Once fluffy, beat in one egg at a time on low speed. Then beat in vanilla. Turn off mixer and add one-third flour and half the buttermilk, beat until incorporated. Add another one-third of flour and the remaining buttermilk, beat until just combined. Add remaining flour mixture and beat 30 seconds, scraping down sides. Finish incorporating mixture with rubber spatula, avoid over mixing.  IMG_0512

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Toss blueberries and strawberries, separately, in remaining 2 tablespoons flour. This will cause the fruit to suspend in the batter rather than sinking while baking.

 

 

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Spoon one-third of batter evenly into prepared pan. Place half of blueberries and strawberries onto batter then top with another one-third of the batter. Scatter the remaining fruit on top and cover with the rest of the batter.

IMG_0522IMG_0511IMG_0518IMG_0519Bake until the cake is golden brown, in the warmer months 1 hour, in the colder months 1 hour, 10 minutes. Test cake at 55 minutes with toothpick, if it comes back perfectly clean, cake is done. Transfer to a rack to cool for 30 minutes. Run a sharp knife along the edge of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert onto rack to cool completely before glazing, at least two hours. IMG_0521IMG_0520After cake has cooled and just before serving, make the glaze. Whisk confectioners’ sugar, butter, vanilla and lemon juice together. Whisk in one tablespoon of milk at a time until a thick glaze consistency is achieved. Pour glaze over cake, allowing it to drip over sides. Slice thick portions.
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We live in the land of the free because of the brave. Be safe celebrating!

xo, rootedinmoss

My International Love Affair

A text message ‘I love you’ appears from an unknown number. It must be him… He calls me in the middle of the night to tell me he’ll be on a plane and then a bus. I don’t know how many hours will pass until I hear from him again. My heart awaits the sound of his voice… I receive an email, it’s my travel itinerary. But wait, my name is misspelled. Will I be going undercover for this trip? There’s never a dull moment in this affair…Did I mention this affair is with my husband!? And my name misspelled on the travel documents that will inevitably get me called aside in immigration is a result of miscommunication between me and the third party international travel agent. And those unknown numbers are the result of cell towers many time zones away. It may not be an affair but sometimes it sure feels like one!

My husband has traveled far and wide the past few years for his career. The traveling and time apart have made for an exciting longing to be with each other somewhere, anywhere. For the times we aren’t together, I’ve mastered the art of carefully composing care packages and concealing baked goods to be shipped far away. Or at least I thought I was artfully concealing baked goods and snacks until FedEx called me to tell me my package was being confiscated by Mexico’s Department of Flora and Fauna for the transportation of “exotic animals” detected in a canine search. Hmm, surely they were surprised when they opened the package and found coffee cake, peanut butter fudge and Snickers, not lizards. Go figure.

Long night chats, handwritten notes or gifts arriving at my door are all fun but it’s the journey to see each other again that puts the romance in this affair. Certain trips I may take from start to finish several forms of transportation to get to him and that’s what elevates the desire in a wanderluster.  It’s all about the ‘if I make it through this it’ll make for a good story’ kind of trip. I’ve been at a border crossing, summoned out of my transportation, sniffed by a German Shepard and looked sideways by a federal agent and still manage to smile inside. It’s all part of the game, a player in this affair.

I’m waiting to see the sunset together again. The bittersweet joy of the best part of the day that lasts only moments. I’ve been watching the shuffle of people in and out of the terminals..I’m in an empty airport now. The sun sets. One day into this trip already gone, used on my journey here. Then I feel a hand on my shoulder. I can’t help but smile. I look behind me at someone so familiar yet still a bit curious. My heart laughs a little. In the backseat of the taxi we look at each other and in unison say, ‘You’d never believe what I went through to get here.’ He grabs my hand and smiles. Oh yes I do, I think. But we ride silently. We’ll story tell tomorrow. Right now, the night is ours…

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

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Of all the treats I’ve packed and shipped I’ve got to say this has to be the oddest one. How does one pack cheesecake in their checked luggage you ask? Cut it into bars, place the bars in cling wrap between ice packs and dry-fit workout clothes. Anything for my man.

For the graham cracker crust:

Butter, softened for greasing
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 graham crackers
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 lemons, zested and juiced (zest and juice a third lemon if desired)
About 3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
Powdered sugar, for dusting

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Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

For my photos featured in this recipe I doubled the recipe and used my cute heart dish. A single batch of this recipe is best made in a 9 by 9-inch glass baking pan. Grease the bottom of the baking pan with butter. Then place parchment paper over the top, pressing down at the corners. In a food processor, pulse sugar, cinnamon and graham crackers to a fine bread crumb texture. Add the melted butter and pulse a couple of times to fully incorporate. Taste, and sprinkle in extra sugar or cinnamon until desired taste is achieved. Pour into the lined baking pan and gently pat down with the base of a glass making sure that corners are pressed down firmly. Bake in the oven for 12 minutes until golden. When done set aside to cool while making filing. 

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Add cream cheese, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar to the food processor and mix until well combined. I like my filing very lemony so I usually add a third lemon if the lemons are small or not very juicy. The filing should have a smooth consistency. Pour onto the cooled base and then cover with blueberries. You can create a cute pattern with the berries or scatter them randomly. They will sink but still be exposed and will burst a bit in the cooking process.

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Bake in the oven for 35 minutes or until the center only slightly jiggles, top will get golden in some spots. Remove from the oven and cool completely before refrigerating for at least 3 hours to overnight. Once set, remove from pan and peel away the parchment lining to reveal the beautiful crust and filling. If using a shaped pan like I did, remove the entire cake and place on cake stand for presentation then dust with powdered sugar.

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