Hazelnut Crunch Pumpkin Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

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Guys, cake!

Yesterday was a day that called for cake…even though I didn’t have any left, I wish I did. It was one of those frustrating, frantic, half-assed days where you’re pulled in different directions and nothing gets accomplished. Days like that deserve something sweet. In my case it was a Reese’s pumpkin eaten over the sink with a gulp of cold coffee between ringing doorbells, barking dogs, a startled baby, and a project I just couldn’t seem to get through. But I wanted it to be a piece of this cake with a side of coffee…that was still warm.

This cake is a moist pumpkin and spice number with little bits of hazelnut suspended in the batter, iced with a brown butter + cream cheese concoction, and sprinkled with crunchy hazelnut candy. It’s got it all: tender-spiced cake, a buttery-tangy frosting, and lots of crunchy-sweet texture. It’s a dream boat and a sure-fire cure for one of those kinda days.

I don’t mean to get all complain-y, but some days are better than others and cake days are definitely the best!

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Hazelnut Crunch Pumpkin Cake

Makes 1, double layer, 6 inch round cake OR 1, 9-inch square cake.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teapoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cups finely chopped, toasted hazelnuts

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, browned*

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

1/4 cup bourbon

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups pure pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease 2 6-inch round cake pans and line with parchment circles (you can also bake this cake in a 9-inch square pan).

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and hazelnuts. In another bowl whisk together the browned butter, brown sugar, bourbon, eggs, and pumpkin puree until combined. Fold the butter-pumpkin mixture into the flour and spice mixture until just combined and there are no longer streaks of flour throughout. Divide the cake batter between the two cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake in the center of the oven for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on wire racks for 15 minutes before turning out the cakes and cooling completely. Cool the cakes completely before frosting—it is even better to wrap the cooled cakes in plastic and place them in the refrigerator to chill before frosting.

Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, browned*

4 ounces softened cream cheese

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

Using a mixer, beat the browned butter with the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the salt and beat in the confectioner’s sugar gradually until smooth and spreadable.

Hazelnut Crunch

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons water

pinch of salt

1 heaping cup toasted hazelnuts

Place a sheet of parchment on a sheet pan and set aside.

Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium high heat until the sugar dissolves and becomes a deep golden amber color—don’t stir it, but you can swirl the pan if you need to. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and hazelnuts. Pour the mixture onto the sheet pan and cool completely. Chop the cooled hazelnut crunch coarsely and store in an airtight container until ready to use.

To assemble the cake:

Place one of the cooled cake layers on a cake stand, spread a heaping scoop of frosting on top of the layer and spread evenly, then sprinkle with a handful of the hazelnut crunch. Place the other cake layer on top, pressing down lightly to adhere to the first layer. Pile several heaping scoops of frosting on top of the cake and spread evenly to the edges of the cake, spread the excess frosting over the sides of the cake, evenly. Scrape any excess frosting off with an off set spatula for a “naked-cake” effect, or spread thickly for a more traditional look.

*To brown the butter, place it in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat, let it melt. It will bubble and foam. Once it begins to foam, whisk it constantly until deep brown bits begin to appear and the butter smells nutty like toffee. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature before using. [/recipe]

 

 

 

 

Blueberry Muffin Skillet

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I turned muffins into a skillet cake.

Not that muffins are the most difficult thing to make, but sometimes we want something even easier…right? That’s where this Blueberry Muffin Skillet comes in. It’s all things we love about blueberry muffins–buttery crumb, bright blueberries, plus a little lemon zest for freshness, a teensy bit of health from some flax and wheat germ, plus crunchy topping–minus the portioning. Just brown some butter, mix, pour, sprinkle, and bake. Even though there’s only one less step, it still feels like sweet freedom. And freedom means more weekend lounging, naps, leisurely walks, and magazine reading.

Happy weekending!!

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Blueberry Muffin Skillet

Adapted from Joy the Baker

If you don’t want to use the flax and wheat germ, reduce the milk to 1/3 cup. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, brown the butter in any saucepan or skillet you have and bake the cake in a greased pie plate or cake tin.

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk

1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

zest of 1 lemon, divided

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons flax seed meal

2 tablespoons wheat germ

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoons salt

2 cups fresh blueberries

Topping:

3 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Place the butter in a 9-10 inch cast iron skillet and heat over medium until the butter browns and becomes fragrant like toffee. Remove from the heat and pour the butter into a dish to cool.

In a large measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk the milk, egg + yolk, and vanilla until combined. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk half of the lemon zest with the flour, flax meal, wheat germ, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk mixture, followed by the browned butter, and fold until just combined–there may be a few spare lumps or streaks of flour, it’s okay. Fold in the blueberries and scrape the mixture into the cast iron skillet you used to brown the butter.

Make the topping by pinching the butter into the flour, remaining lemon zest, and sugar until crumbly. Sprinkle over the top of the batter. Bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center of the muffin cake comes out clean. Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Wrap any leftover pieces tightly in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for a day or two.

[/recipe]

National Doughnut Day

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Whether you prefer doughnut over donut doesn’t really matter (I used both!), because these fried, baked, glazed, filled, sprinkled, and all around glorious treats are amazing no matter what you call them. In honor of National Doughnut Day–which is tomorrow, btw–I’m sharing some favorites from the archives.

So, let’s get our  sweet, sweet carb on!

Strawberry_Buttermilk_Donuts

Strawberry Buttermilk Mini Donuts 

Nutella_Filled_Donuts

Nutella-Filled Donuts (recipe HERE)

Double_Chocolate_Donuts

Double Chocolate Doughnuts

Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Doughnuts

Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Donuts

Raspberry_Donut_Cakes

Raspberry Donut Cakes

Ricotta_Donuts

Ricotta Fritters

Carrot_Cake_Donuts

Carrot Cake Doughnuts (recipe on Betty Crocker)

Blueberry_Lemon_Donuts

Blueberry Doughnuts with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

Rainbow_Donuts

Rainbow Doughnuts