Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze

pumpkin scone

I always seem to forget about the fleeting nature of fall. I get used to staring out the window and seeing all those gorgeous colors, then the next day I notice more are gone, taken away by a gust of wind or a heavy rain shower. It’s slightly shocking, every fall I always sort of except the colors
to last forever.

more acorns

It depresses me and inspires me at the same time. Inspires me to take a few more shots of those leaves while their still around, and bake with those flavors while they are seasonal.

this is how i found it

The other night I was craving pumpkin scones terribly, so today I decided to run with it. Carpe Diem and all that! I could put it on the back burner, like I usually do, but a pumpkin scone in January just isn’t the same as one in October.

oh, fall.

Make these today to hold on to these last beautiful days of October!

pumpkin scone

Spiced pumpkin scones
from Seven Spoons

2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
1 cup (1/2 pound, 2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (unsweetened)
2/3 cup 18% (table, coffee) cream, chilled
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk or cream, for egg wash
Granulated or sanding sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Use parchment paper to line a standard baking sheet and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. On the machine's lowest setting, cut in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles course meal. The butter should be in small pieces approximately the size of peas.

Lightly whisk together the eggs, pumpkin purée and cream. With the machine running still on low (or stir), pour the liquids slowly into the flour and butter mixture, stirring until just combined. Small bits of butter should still be visible, but almost all the flour should be incorporated.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Working quickly, gently knead the dough, folding and pressing gently until fairly smooth. Divide the dough into four, and shape each ball of dough into a 4" round about 3/4"-1" thick. Cut each round into six wedges, and place on the prepared baking sheet. (I kneaded, rolled out the dough, and then used a biscuit cutter for round scones) Once finished, brush each scone with the egg wash and sprinkle with granulated or sanding sugar.

Bake in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the the tops are lightly golden and the cut sides look flaky and dry. When fully cooked, they should feel light for their size and sound almost hollow when tapped underneath. Cool on a wire rack for at least 5 minutes. Best served warm.

Makes 24 medium scones.

Spiced Glaze
from Baking and Books

1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of all spice
A pinch ginger
A pinch ground cloves

While the scones are cooling, mix the confectioners sugar, spices and milk together in a small bowl. Drizzle over the scones while they are still warm.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pumpkin Bread with Brown Butter Glaze

cades cove

Hello Blogland! I’ve missed you! I never meant to be gone so long, I had lots of stuff planned for last week, but things went a bit awry.

Last Wednesday my mom, sister, my moms friend, her daughter and I went on a nice little trip to the Smoky Mountains. I had planned on baking several things and blogging about it while I was there, but the internet connection at the cabin wasn’t working! So instead, I decided to just relax and enjoy my short time there.

The Smokies are so beautiful this time of year, mountains look like they are on fire from all those beautiful leaves.



Thursday we headed to Cades Cove, one of my favorite places on earth. It’s a stunningly beautiful, all the little churches and cabins. If you ever have a chance to visit, you should. It’s a little tourist-y, which I usually detest, but you totally forget that other people are around while you’re there.

It was a great time, laughing until our sides hurt, staying up too late, eating a lot of great food. I can’t wait to do it again.

Pumpkin Bread with Brown Butter Glaze

I got back into the swing of things today, by making this amazing Pumpkin Bread with Brown Butter Glaze. It’s probably the best pumpkin bread I’ve ever had, so tender and moist. And because I’m sort of obsessed with brown butter right now, I threw together a frosting-like glaze for the top. The bread is great without it, but I think the glaze adds an unexpected element that really brings it to another level, more cake-like. If you glaze it while it’s still warm the brown butter flavor seeps into the bread, it’s heavenly.

Pumpkin Bread with Brown Butter Glaze

Amazing Pumpkin Bread

2 Loaves

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp ground cloves

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

3 cups granulated sugar

1 cup butter, really soft
3 large eggs

1 16 oz can of pure pumpkin

1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and spray two medium loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, spices, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the wire whisk attached, dump in the sugar. Take the butter and put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds, so that it is half melted. Dump it into the sugar. Add the eggs. Cream these three ingredients together on medium speed for about 2 minutes or until fluffy. Add the pumpkin and combine well.
4. In three batches, add the dry ingredients and mix gently until each batch is just incorporated. Scrape the sides between each batch.
5. Pour half of the batter into a one of the prepared pans. Fold the pecans into the remaining batter and then pour it into the other prepared pan. Bake side-by-side for about one hour or until an inserted knife comes out clean the top is golden.

Browned Butter Frosting

1/2 c. butter
2 c. powdered sugar
1-3 Tbsp. milk

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, and let it cook till it’s a delicate brown color. Remove from heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, combine powdered sugar with browned butter. Add 1 Tbsp. milk. Add more milk as needed to reach spreading consistency.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

my autumn in pictures

tea & honey

rainy day breakfast


So far my autumn has consisted of beautiful leaves, collecting acorns and lots of honey. I'm not sure why I crave honey in the fall, it's just so comforting. I'd love to keep bees some day, to have my very own honey right in my backyard. I love this quote from Emily Dickinson:

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, anytime, to him
Is aristocracy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Brown Butter Toffee Blondies

brown butter toffee blondies

Let’s discuss these blondies. First, brown butter. Have you made brown butter? It’s like heaven. The smell, oh the smell. It’ll knock you over. It’s nutty, caramel-y, so, so good. The taste is even better.

Second, Toffee. Toffee is seriously underrated, sure it’ll pull out your teeth and make your dentist cry, but it’s so worth it.

toffee brown butter blondies

To sum it up, these blondies are amazing. It's essentially lots of brown sugar and butter barely being held together by flour. Not for those on a diet, for sure.

I took these to a bible study tonight and came home with an empty plate. Those ladies ate them up. I’m going to have to make more.

brown butter toffee blondies

Toffee Brown Butter Blondies
From Martha Stewart

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup toffee bits

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; butter and flour parchment paper.
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown; remove from heat, and let cool. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine browned butter and both sugars; stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Attach bowl to mixer; add eggs. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, and beat to combine. Add flour mixture, and toffee bits. Mix until thoroughly combined, and pour into prepared pan.
4. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes (do not overbake). Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before turning out of pan onto a cutting board. Peel off parchment paper; cut blondies into 3-inch squares. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Just a few tips: when you’re browning your butter, be sure to watch it as it can burn and turn into black butter. Which you don’t want. Also, when you take these out of the oven, they are going to be so gooey, and not really look done on the inside. They will set up while you let them cool, so don’t stick them back in the oven!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Fern Book

a fern book

Late last week I went into an antique store looking for plates, silverware, that sort of thing. I love vintage plates, but just didn’t find anything I liked this time.

a fern book

But I did find this. It’s a lovely book on ferns, printed in 1889. Of course, it’s about british ferns, so it’s not going to help me much, but I don’t mind. It has these charming
illustrations of the ferns of Britain, printed in the loveliest shades of green.

a fern book

Inside there are several hand written notes, and this leaf was pressed between the pages.

a fern book

I love this little book, I’m so glad I happened upon it.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Pear Pie! with No Roll Crust!

pear pie for still life with.

I didn’t have high hopes for this pie. Actually, my hopes were about a low as you can get them.

As I’ve mentioned before, pie crust and I are mortal enemies. We do not get along, I haven’t been able to find a fool proof recipe that I can actually make without completely screwing it up.

bosc pears.

Until now, thanks to Joy the Baker. Joy, you are my hero with this pie crust. It’s SO easy to put together. You just throw it into the pie plate, squish it down and you’re good to go.

When I took a bite, I swear I heard the hallelujah chorus from above. It’s good. Very good.

bosc pears, peeled

And so is the rest of this pie! Which I kind of just threw together, to be honest. I knew I wasn’t going to have a top crust, but since I wanted a picture for Still Life With (which you should check out!) I need something for the top. And I think it’s pretty well known on this blog how much I love crumbly toppings.

The pie filling is a combination of two recipes, one from Food and Wine, the other from All Recipes. It’s cinnamon-y, but the pear taste really shines through.

So if you, like me, are afraid of pie crust, you should try this out! You’ll be surprised by how good AND easy it is!

pear pie

No Roll Pie Crust
From Joy the baker (check her out for step by step pictures! they are so helpful.)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup (4 Tablespoon) frozen butter that has been grated on a cheese grater
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used safflower oil, it was all I had.)
1 Tablespoon cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons cold milk

In a medium sized bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar. Whisk together.
Add frozen butter that has been grated on a cheese grater and tablespoon of cream cheese. With your fingers, work the cream cheese and butter into the flour mixture, breaking the butter and cream cheese up until they’re in well incorporated into the flour. Some butter bits will be tiny, other the size of small peddles. The dough may even begin to some together in a rough, sandy kind of way.

Combine the milk and oil. Whisk together. Add all at once to the flour and butter mixture. With a fork, begin to combine the ingredients, making sure that all of the flour mixture is introduced to the liquid. The mixture does not need to come together into a ball. Leave it a bit shaggy and dump the dough into a clean 9-inch pie plate. With your fingers, press the dough evenly into the bottom of the pie plate and up the sides. Try to get the dough as even as possible, but don’t worry too much about finger indentations. You can’t fight that.

Place the prepared crust in the freezer while you preheat the oven and prepare your filling. If you’re going to pre-bake your crust, heat the oven to 350 degrees F and line the chilled pie crust with foil, weigh down with beans and bake for 10 minutes covered. Remove the foil and beans and bake for 4-6 minutes uncovered until golden brown.

If you need an unbaked pie crust, simply remove the crust from the freezer once your filling is made, fill your pie and place in a preheated oven. Bake according to your particular recipe.

Crumb Topping
Makes 2 cups

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
In a bowl, mix 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup light-brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and cinnamon.
Cut 1 1/2 sticks chilled unsalted butter into pieces. With your hands, work in butter pieces, until large clumps form. Place in refrigerator until you need it.

Pear Pie Filling

3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
5 cups peeled and sliced pears
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Combine sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, and lemon rind in mixing bowl.

Arrange pears in layers in a 9 inch crust lined pan, sprinkling sugar mixture over each layer. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Top with Crumb topping.

Bake at 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and bake for an additional 35 to 40 minutes.

Just a word of advice: cut your pears smaller than I did! Not all of mine were as soft as I would have liked.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Michelle Branch

pumpkin cupcakes

My family is kind of crazy. Our life is essentially one giant musical, we are constantly singing. Any word or phrase can set us off. You say close your eyes? We start singing The Bangles “Close your eyes...give me your hand, darling!” Down South? Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Headed down south to the land of the pines...”



Another one in rotation is Michelle Branch’s Breathe. It’s perfect for a real life musical, it just slips off the tongue. “If I just breaaatthhheee, let it fill the space between...” It’s a fun song.

cupcake batter

Yesterday night I noticed that I was gaining a lot of followers on twitter, and lots of hits on my blog. I checked my site meter to see where they were coming from. Twitter, twitter, twitter, and then Michelle Branch? Seriously? I thought I was mistaken, it was Michelle B. Ranch or something. Then I clicked on the link, Michelle Branch had tweeted about me. She said my blog was one of her favorites. Um, what? That’s crazy.

pumpkin cupcakes

Although it’s great to hear a famous person likes my blog, I have to say I appreciate every comment, tweet, and email I receive from you guys, famous or not. That’s part of the reason I love doing this, knowing someone out there enjoys it. So thank you for stopping by.

In celebration of life’s unexpected joys I bring you Pumpkin Cupcakes. These are really lovely, fluffy and light. I’m not crazy about the frosting though, the consistency didn’t seem right. You might want to experiment with something else. I topped mine with maple sugar that Brien Maple Syrup sent me a while back, but pumpkin spice would probably do the trick.

it was good!

Pumpkin Cupcakes With Maple–Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from David Leite via Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 17 to 18 cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing pans

1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin


Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Make the cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 350° (175°C). Line a cupcake pan with 18 liners.

2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl.

3. Add the eggs 1 at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely.

Make the frosting:

In a stand mixer beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Tortilla Soup!

tortilla soup

It's cooled down considerably in the last couple of days, making the evenings too cool for open windows, officially making it soup season, which I love. There's nothing like a big bowl of steaming yumminess to warm you up.

avocado & lime

Tortilla soup is one of my favorites, and this one is excellent. Everyone in my house loved it, my dad was scraping his bowl. Make it for dinner!

tortilla soup

Tortilla Soup
from simply recipes

6 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas, preferably a little old and dried out
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped (1/2 cup (I used more like a whole cup))
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium jalapeño chile, seeded (leave a few seeds for spice), veins removed, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt)
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken ( I used more like 2-2 1/2 cups)
1 ripe medium avocado
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (2 oz) (or other mild, melting cheese)
Chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, cut into wedges

If you are starting with somewhat old, dried out tortillas, great. If not and you are starting with relatively fresh tortillas, put them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven at 200°F for 10-15 minutes to dry them out a bit. It is best to start with tortillas that don't have a lot of moisture in them. Cut tortillas in half; cut halves into 1/4-inch strips. In 3-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Fry strips in oil, 1/3 at a time, until light brown and crisp. Remove from pan; drain on paper towels. Reserve.
Heat oil remaining in saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion in oil 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and chile; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in broth, tomatoes and salt. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add chicken; heat until hot.
To serve, peel and pit the avocado. Cut into 1-inch slices. Divide half of tortilla strips among 4 individual serving bowls; ladle in soup. Top with avocado and cheese; garnish with remaining tortilla strips and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
Serves 4.

tortilla soup

Thursday, October 01, 2009


autumn shoes.


oh caroline.

"Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel."