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]

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Donuts

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I’ve had the idea for these donuts rolling around in my brain for days, ya’ll. And I JUST got to making them yesterday and jeeeeez…what took me so long?! These donuts are the baked variety making them a touch less indulgent than their fried brothers, but also a little easier to execute. BONUS. They are soft and spiced and laced with delicious brown butter and the subtle-sweet maltiness of malted milk powder.

I’ve smashed pumpkin with brown butter and malt before (with these amazeballs cookies) and let me tell you, it’s a winning combination. Brown butter goes into the batter AND gets brushed onto theses babies…which makes the perfect glue for a glittering of spiced sugar. And, not to get all braggy on you, but that picture of those butter drenched donuts above makes my heart melt…donut swoon! So, basically, I urge you to make these and honor pumpkin season with donuts. It’s only the logical thing to do.

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Pumpkin Brown Butter Malt Donuts

Adapted from Take A Megabite

Makes 4-5 dozen minis

These donuts can be baked in a standard size donut pan as well, or even a mini muffin tin. When shopping for the malt powder, I usually find it near the hot cocoa mixes or near the powdered and evaporated milk. I find it easier to brown the butter for the donuts seperately from the butter for the coating. Don’t bother to use a different skillet, just brown the butter for coating in the same skillet while the donuts bake.

1 cup all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons malted milk powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned

For the Spiced Sugar + Brown Butter Coating:

2/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned

Preheat the oven to 325˚F and spray a mini donut pan lightly with cooking spray.

Brown the butter for the donuts in a skillet over medium heat until the butter separates and the solids become a deep, toffee brown and smell nutty and fragrant. Pour the browned butter into a ramekin and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl combine the flour, malt powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Whisk to blend. In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin puree, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Add the pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture, followed by the brown butter, fold until just combined. Either spoon or pipe the batter about halfway up the donut pan molds and bake in the center of the oven for 6-7 minutes. Donuts are done when the tops are dry and spring back to the touch. Remove from oven and cool on a rack slightly before turning out. Repeat the process with the remaining batter. Brown the butter for coating while the donuts bake.

In a wide dish whisk together the sugar and spices for the coating, brush the baked donuts with browned butter and roll in the spiced sugar to coat completely. [/recipe]

Gingerbread Cake with Lemon-Ginger Cloud Frosting

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What can I say about this cake?

It’s a pretty, delicious, mess.

See, the heady spices of the ginger go so amazingly well with the super-light lemon-ginger frosting. But, slicing it is a test of patience for sure. This cake don’t slice pretty, it just is what it is. It’s one of those cakes that leans toward the rustic with it’s appearance and slice-ablility. The flavors are magic–I mean, citrus and spice is so magical! The cake is full of warm and fragrant spice–it’s sturdy and totally holiday appropriate. The frosting is like eating a lemony, gingered, tangy cloud. It just melts on the tongue and the tarteness of the curd cuts through the rich spice of the cake. The flavors are all the best parts of the season and I could totally see this cake as part of a holiday spread, in all its messy glory.

Gingerbread Cake

Makes 1, 8inch round cake. 

Adapted from this recipe. 

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

1/2 cup molasses

1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger

2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground, dried ginger

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350*F, grease an 8inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment. Set aside.

Melt butter–in a saucepan or microwave. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl whisk together the buttermilk  eggs, molasses, sugar, vanilla, and ginger. Whisk in the cooled butter, mix well to combine.

In large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt ginger, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, and allspice. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined and there are no longer any dry streaks of flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool one a rack for 10 minutes before turning out and cooling completely. Can be stored wrapped well in plastic for 3 days.

Lemon-Ginger Curd

adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours

1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 1/4 cups sugar

6 egg yolks

1 egg

pinch of salt

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine everything in a saucepan and whisk to break up eggs. Whisk over medium-low heat, until butter is melted and everything is well combined. Continue to whisk over med-low heat until the curd has thickened and coats the back of a spoon. Curd will thicken a bit as it cools. Scrape the curd into a mesh sieve over a bowl, press the curd through the sieve. Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the curd. Cool to room temperature and then cool in the refrigerator until ready to use. Can be stored, covered well in the refrigerator, for about 1 week.

Seven Minute Frosting

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

This frosting is best the day it is made. 

2 large egg whites

2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 Tablespoons corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a heatproof mixing or mixer bowl, set over a pan of simmering water and whisk quickly and continuously until the mixture begins to get light in color, foamy, no longer has any sugar granules when rubbed between two fingers, and is just hot to the touch. Remove the bowl from the pan of water and beat with an electric mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment for about 6-7 minutes or until the frosting is bright white, light, and holds a stiff peak.

To Assemble:

For the Lemon-Ginger Cloud Frosting, take about 1/3 of the Seven Minute Frosting and whisk it with 4 Tablespoons of lemon curd. Fold the frosting/curd mixture into the remaining Seven Minute Frosting.

When I next make this cake, I will definitely not cut it into layers. Cut your cake into layers, if desired, and create a dam using the Lemon Cloud Frosting about 1/4 inch from the edge of the cake using a piping bag. Fill the center with lemon curd. Top with second layer, chill to set up. Since, I am not going to do this layer thing again, I would do the same thing with the frosting dam and curd, but on top of the cake. Then, cover the top with the remaining Lemon-Ginger Cloud Frosting. It’s pretty messy, but this cake is best at room temperature. It would be nice to frost it just before serving.