DIY Holiday and Hostess Gifts

Berry & Nut Granola and Mini Pumpkin Breads

Need last minute holiday or hostess gifts?  

Mini pumpkin loaves and granola are easy to make and delicious. Fill mason jars with granola, wrap the loaves in twine, and voila–DIY for the holidays! Click below for links to the recipes.

Pumpkin Bread I have two multi-loaf pans: one for baking four mini loaves and one for baking eight single serving loaves. Multi-loaf pans can be found at the craft store Michael’s. No time to get to a craft or baking store?  Bake pumpkin muffins instead. I used whole wheat flour and less sugar than the recipe calls for.

Homemade Granola  Add whatever seeds, nuts and dried fruit are in the house to the mixture. I purchased mason jars at Michael’s, but any jar, such as a jelly jar, with a mouth that’s not too small will work. I filled tomato sauce jars with larger batches.

Happy Holidays, Hon!

Quick, easy and delicious. Photos courtesy of Cherie.
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Thanksgiving Dinner–Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

For all of the bakers, here’s another great recipe. Happy holiday, hon!

PUMPKIN PIE

Basic Pie Crust:  Single Crust

(to make two pies crusts, see Double Pie Crust measurements in Apple Pie recipe)

1 1/3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/4 cup ice water

Food Processor Directions:  Insert steel blade in food processor. Mix flour and salt, then place the mixture in the food processor. Add shortening and process until mixture resembles cornmeal (about 5 seconds). Slowly pour ice water through feed tube and process until dough forms a ball (about 5 to 10 seconds). Chill dough for easier handling.

Roll out ball of dough into a circle. Line a 9-inch pie dish with crust. Flute the edges.

Shortcut:  If you don’t have time to make your own crust, use store-bought pie crusts.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Filling (for one pie)

2 eggs

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 16 ounce can cooked pumpkin

1 13 ounce can evaporated milk–0R–3 ounces non-dairy creamer

1 egg, beaten (used to brush on top of crust before baking)

Beat 2 eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Add remaining ingredients except extra egg to be brushed on crust and blend thoroughly.  Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell.  Brush egg on edges of crust.  Bake at 425 degrees F for  20 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees F and bake another 35 to 45 minutes.  Pie is done when middle of pie is set.  Tip:  If edges of pie crust are getting medium brown and middle of pie isn’t set yet, gently wrap tin foil around perimeter of crust until it’s done.

*This pie freezes well.  Let pie cool completely before wrapping in aluminum foil and freezing.  A day before you are going to serve it, defrost at room temperature (not in the fridge).

Serving options:

Serve warm–after removing from oven, let cool for 20 minutes.

Serve room temperature–cool completely.

Rewarm frozen pie– warm in a preheated 275 degrees F oven, uncovered.

Thanksgiving Dinner–Apple Pie

Basket Weave Crust on Apple Pie
Basket Weave Crust on Apple Pie

Hon, it’s that time of year, so here’s what I’m baking.

Thanksgiving’s at my house and I love the company and food. Every year, my family can’t eat another bite…and then out comes dessert. (Hon, there’s always room for dessert!) Sure, apple pie isn’t just for Thanksgiving, but here’s my take on a classic. It’s a mash-up of recipes from a very old cookbook and a newer one called Essentials of Baking put out by Williams-Sonoma. Happy baking!

APPLE PIE

Basic Pie Crust:  Double Crust

2 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable shortening

1/3 to 1/2 cup ice water

Food Processor Directions:  Insert steel blade in food processor.  Mix flour and salt, then place the mixture in the food processor.  Add shortening and process until mixture resembles cornmeal (about 5 seconds).  Slowly pour ice water through feed tube and process until dough forms a ball (about 5 to 10 seconds).  Chill dough for easier handling.

Basket Weave:  If you want to form a basket woven crust, make extra dough ahead of time.  Shortcut:  If you don’t have time to make your own crust, use store-bought deep dish pie crusts.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Filling

6 cups apple slices (I use a combination of Granny Smith and other varieties)

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

approximately 1 Tablespoon flour

dash salt

1 egg, beaten (used to brush on top of crust before baking)

Combine apples, sugar, lemon juice, salt and spices.  This mixture will give off a lot of liquid so use a slotted spoon when spooning into pie crust, allowing you to spoon the apple mixture without the excess liquid.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Split dough in half, form two dough balls and roll out each half into a circle.  Line a 9-inch pie dish with the bottom crust.  Spoon apple filling into the crust and smooth apples into an even layer. Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of flour on top of filling mixture.

Position top crust over the filling and trim and flute the edges.  (Photos and a short crust rolling video will be added to the blog soon.)

Basket Weave:  I was inspired Martha Stewart Living’s November 2012 magazine cover which features a basket woven pie crust.  To form the basket weave, cuts the dough into 8 strips.  First lay 4 strips across the filling.  Secondly, carefully weave remaining strips through the dough strips already laying across the filling.  Then press top and bottom crust edges together and flute edges.

Egg Wash:  Without brushing fluted edges, brush top of pie with beaten egg.  Cut steam vents in the top crust if needed.

Bake the pie at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F  and bake for another 40 – 45 minutes.  Pie is done when top crust is lightly browned, the apple filling is bubbling, and the apples are tender when tested through the slit in the crust with a toothpick.

*This pie freezes well.  Let pie cool completely before wrapping in aluminum foil and freezing.  A day before you are going to serve it, defrost at room temperature (not in the fridge).

Serving options:

Serve warm–after removing from oven, let cool for 20 minutes.

Serve room temperature–cool completely.

Rewarm frozen pie– warm in a preheated 275 degrees F oven, uncovered.

Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Buckle.
Cream butter, sugar and egg.
Add dry ingredient to butter mixture.

 

 

 

 

 

Fold in blueberries.
Sprinkle topping on top, pressing into batter in 3-4 places.

 

 

 

 

Ready for the oven.
Ready to eat.
Two adorable little girls.
Two beautiful teenagers. Friends since 1st grade.

Blueberry Buckle

In lots of my cookbooks, stories accompany recipes. A recipe might be passed down, a family favorite, or bring up a funny memory. This Blueberry Buckle comes with a story, too. I had just turned to the recipe in my daughter’s elementary school cookbook when my daughter’s friend said, “That’s my mom’s recipe!” And so it is. Now, every time I make this not-too-sweet-but-deliciously-tart Buckle, I will think of the two adorable little girls who have grown into beautiful teenagers right before my eyes.

Shout out to Wendy Nubel for the recipe and Linda Eagle for putting the Wyoming Wild Cooks Cookbook together.

Happy baking, hon.

Ingredients Cake:

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature (I used margarine.)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup low-fat (2%) milk (I used almond milk.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed and drained

Ingredients Topping:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/3 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature (I used margarine.)

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch round springform pan or a deep-dish pie pan.

2.  In a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, cream butter, sugar and egg with an electric mixer. Add milk and vanilla, then beat until light yellow and fluffy. Stir in flour mixture, then carefully fold blueberries and spread in pan.

4. In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients with fingers until blended, then sprinkle on top of batter. Press your fingers about half-way down into batter in 3 or 4 places until batter looks bumpy.

5. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist, but not wet, crumbs. It can be served warm right from the pan. Heads up: it took longer to bake, which may be a result of my substitutions.

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Snickerdoodle Cookies
Bakers.
Summer Guests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snickerdoodles Cookies

What’s my go-to indoor activity with kids? Baking, of course! When my friend and her daughters visited recently, this easy recipe was a hit. These Snickerdoodles are cake-y, light, and so yummy, we had to limit ourselves or we could have eaten the whole batch at once!

 Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups (385 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature (the Joy of Cooking recipe calls for 1 cup butter, but we thought it was too much)

1  1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Coating:

1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated white sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

3.  With an electric mixer, beat together butter and sugar until smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Scrape down sides of bowl. Beat in vanilla extract.  Add flour mixture and beat until dough is smooth. If dough is soft, cover and refrigerate until firm enough to roll into balls.

4.  Shape dough into 1-inch (2.54 cm) round balls.

5.  Coating: In a large, shallow bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon.

6. Roll balls of dough in the cinnamon/sugar mixture and place on prepared being sheets, about 2 inches (5 cm) apart.

7. Then, using the bottom of a glass, gently flatten each cookie to about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) thick.

8. Bake cookies for approx. 8 – 10 minutes, or until they are light golden brown around the edges. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.

Yield: About 6 dozen cookies

Store cookies in an airtight container, at room temperature, for about 10-14 days.

Source: www.joyofbaking.com

 

Baked French Toast with Oat Crumble Topping

Baked French Toast with Oat Crumble Topping
Gather ingredients.
Combine custard filling and bread crumbs.

 

 

 

 

Spread diced pears over bread crumb/custard mixture.
Sprinkle topping evenly.
Ready to eat.

Baked French Toast with Oat Crumble Topping

Breakfast in our house is usually a quick bowl of cereal or a smoothie, so when I made this recipe, it was for dinner. And why not? Breakfast for dinner has been a staple in our house ever since the triplets were little. Sometimes, the best meals are served with warm Vermont Maple Syrup.

Happy baking, hon.

Ingredients for the French Toast:

9 cups (455 grams) challah, brioche or other soft bread cut in 1-inch cubes, preferably day old (from a large, 1-pound loaf)

butter, for the baking dish

8 large eggs

1 1/2 cups (355 milliliters) whole milk

1/2 cup (118 milliliters) heavy cream or creme fraiche

1/4 cup (60 milliliters) honey

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

Ingredients for the Topping:

1/2 cup (63 grams) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (30 grams) rolled oats (or use chopped nuts or sliced almonds)

1/3 cup (67 grams) light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup (114 grams) cold, unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into cubes

1 large or 2 small pears, peeled or unpeeled as desired, cored and diced into 1/4-inch pieces

Ingredients for the Honey-Vanilla Syrup (Optional):

1/2 cup (118 milliliters) honey

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

Directions:

1.  Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Spread bread crumbs out and toast until lightly golden, 7 to 15 minutes. Let cool. (Tip-err on less time since oven is so hot.)

2.  Generously butter a 2-quart casserole or 9 by 13-inch baking dish and fill with bread crumbs.

3.  In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, cream, honey, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom and salt until smooth. Pour over bread, tossing well. Press down on bread so it forms an even layer that is mostly submerged in custard. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight (or up to 48 hours ahead).

4.  Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

5.  Prepare the topping: In a large bowl, stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. You can also pulse the topping ingredients together in a food processor if you’d rather. (The topping can be prepared up to 48 hours in advance; store covered in the refrigerator until needed.)

6. Spread diced pears, if using, evenly over the top of the bread, then cover with crumble mixture. Bake until golden and firm, 40 to 50 minutes. If you’d like a crunchier crust, broil for the final 1 to 2 minutes. Or leave the topping softer; it’s good both ways.

7. Meanwhile, prepare the syrup, if desired. In a small saucepan, combine honey and 1 to 2 tablespoons water, depending on how thick you want the syrup to be. Using a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add seeds to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat and let the vanilla infuse for at least 10 minutes. (Syrup can be made up to 1 week ahead.) Serve the French toast warm with the honey-vanilla syrup, or maple syrup.

Yield: 12 servings

Source: Melissa Clark for The New York Times

 

 

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

Cinnamon Streusel Coffeecake
Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake
Gather dry ingredients.
Gather dry ingredients.
Beat butter and sugar
Beat butter and sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add dry ingredients and sour cream a little at a time.
Add dry ingredients and sour cream to wet ingredients a little at a time.
Mix streusel ingredients.
Mix streusel ingredients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pour half the batter into a bundt pan and cover with half the streusel mixture.
Pour half the batter into a bundt pan and cover with half the streusel mixture.
Cut a slice and enjoy!
Slice and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

I found this recipe in my Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook. It was so easy to follow, I made it twice in the same day! One coffee cake stayed at home and lots of mini coffee cakes were given out.

Happy baking, hon.

For the Streusel Filling:

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz/75 g) firmly packed brown sugar

3/4 cup (3 oz/90 g) chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

 For the Batter:

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz/390 g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup (6 oz/185 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups (10 oz/315 g) granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (12 oz/375 g) sour cream

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10-inch (25 cm) tube pan or Bundt pan.

2.  To make the streusel filling, in a small bowl, combine butter, flour, brown sugar, nuts, and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender or fork, mix until crumbly. Set streusel aside.

3.  Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

4.  In a large bowl, with a mixer, beat together butter and granulated sugar on medium-low speed until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla. Add dry ingredients in 3 batches alternately with sour cream and mix on low speed just until batter is blended and almost smooth.

5.  Pour half of the batter into prepared pan and smooth surface with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle evenly with half the streusel filling. Cover with remaining batter and sprinkle with remaining streusel.

6. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. (Cook less time if you make smaller coffee cakes. The small cakes I made were done in about 25 minutes.) Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out of pan and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Tip:  For cakes, butter and eggs should be room temperature. They can be taken out about 2 hours before baking. If you cut the butter into small chunks it will warm up faster. To bring eggs to room temp more quickly, place them in a bowl of warm water.

Related Post: Cinnamon Chocolate Coffee Cake

I added mini chocolate chips to the mini coffee cakes because why not?
I added mini chocolate chips to the mini coffee cakes because why not?