Happy Sunday! I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend and you’re ending it by winding down in the kitchen with some cake. Actually, I hope you wind down everyday that way, what a dream!
Today I’ve got something a little bit out of my typical recipe style, and it’s really, really effective. I nearly never go for anything other than the traditional creaming method of making cake batter. For the most part, I think it’s easiest, it works really well, and it’s very reliable across many types of recipes.
However, if you’ve seen the recipe I posted for Perfect Pound Cake, it’s a variation of the pound cake recipe in the CSU Fort Collins High Altitude Baking Book, and that’s where this method comes in. It was very interesting to me in the first place, but the results are absolutely too perfect to resist.
Basically, instead of beating together the butter and sugar, then eggs, and then dry ingredients, you start with the dry, including the sugar. Into the dry mix, you’ll beat butter and eggs. At this stage, you have to mix a bit more than you normally would as well- you want to reach a very smooth batter, even though it will be quite thick at this point. Finally, you add in the additional milk, and continue to beat until you have a very silky, ribbony batter that truly bakes up to perfection.
And anyways, I’m not adverse to change when it makes sense guys, and this cake really makes sense. What you end up with is the most reliable, close grained, dense, buttery pound cake you can make at high-altitude. It’s the exact pound cake you’ve always tried to make guys.
And so today I’m adding in the flavors of Chai tea. It creates this warm, spicy cake that brings you all the feels. It’s simple, you don’t need to ice it or top it with crumbs or creams, but instead it’s the perfect breakfast cake, or cake for guests, or cake to simply snack on.
The addition of the Chai tea comes in several forms. First, we’re steeping Chai tea bags into hot milk to really infuse the full traditional flavors. But to make sure the flavors really hit home, we’re also adding additional cinnamon, allspice, and black pepper to the batter directly.
I hope you guys enjoy this one- pound cake has caused me a lot of heartache at high-altitude, so finding recipes that really work here is a wonderful gift! Happy baking!
Chai Spiced Pound Cake
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. allspice
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 4 eggs (plus extra milk, see instructions)
- 3/4 cup softened butter
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 4 bags Chai tea
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and generously grease a 10-cup bundt pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift your cake flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and black pepper. Set aside.
In a measuring cup, crack your 4 eggs, and add enough whole milk to make 1 cup total liquid in the cup. Add the egg mixture and the softened butter to the sifted dry ingredients. Beat with an electric mixer for several minutes. The batter should be thick, but very smooth at this point, which may take several minutes.
Heat the remaining milk in the microwave until very hot. Steep the 4 Chai tea bags in the hot milk for 5-10 minutes, or until the milk has changed in color and has a strong scent of the tea. Let the milk cool until just warm.
Slowly add the milk into the batter and beat for several minutes. The batter should be very silky and should ribbon off the beater when you lift it.
Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15-20 minutes before inverting the cake onto a wire rack to cool. Enjoy!
Hey everyone! Thanksgiving is already upon us, what the heck happen??
Thanksgiving is really the start of the holiday season for us, so we’ve already got Christmas decorations up and shining in our house. I know, I know, it’s too early. But it’s not too early, you guys are all wrong!
BUT, we’re still in pumpkin season, so that’s really the important thing to take away from this. I think many of us skip lunch on Thanksgiving, but it’s nice to have a little something for breakfast on the big day, especially if you’ve got company around.
Enter Maple Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. You guys. It’s the perfect combination of flavors, seriously. A sweet yeast bread, filled with pumpkin and all the spices, and then rolled up with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Top it with the flippin’ best maple cream cheese icing and seriously, it’s a winner.
So when I first started making yeast breads, I kind of thought of it as a huge, all day affair type of thing. It takes so long to rise, and shape, and rise again, I always thought it would take me forever. But when you’re baking at altitude, it really doesn’t always take that long.
In fact, because dough rises a bit faster here, I often can get through an entire recipe (like this one) in about 2 hours start to finish. That’s pretty crazy, and with all the downsides to learning how to bake at high-altitude, this just isn’t one of them!
This is a fairly small batch when it comes to homemade cinnamon rolls- normally you get a batch of somewhere between 12-18. But these make an easy 8 rolls, and I love this smaller-batch form. Hey, I can’t even go through 18 cinnamon rolls, and believe me I’ve come close.
So seriously you guys, if you’re looking for something festive, these are perfect to throw together the evening before Thanksgiving, or maybe just on Tuesday night for snacks throughout the week off!
Maple Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
For the rolls:
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 tbs. butter, melted
- 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. allspice
- 3 1/2-4 cups flour
- 3 tbs. softened butter
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tbs. cinnamon
For the Maple frosting:
- 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tsp. maple extract
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/2-1 tbs. milk
For the rolls:
In a small bowl, stir together the milk, melted butter, pumpkin puree, and sugar. The mixture will be thick. Microwave until the mixture is warm (about 110 degrees on an instant read thermometer). Stir in the active dry yeast, and set aside to bloom.
In a large bowl, stir together the egg and the vanilla extract. Once the yeast mixture has bloomed, it should look a little puffy near the yeast granules, stir the yeast mixture into the egg and vanilla until incorporated.
Add in the salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and 3 cups of flour. Stir together with a sturdy spatula or a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and gently start to knead. You will likely need to add a bit more flour while kneading. You are looking for the dough to still be slightly tacky and soft, but strong enough to hold in a ball shape. It should only take about 5 minutes of kneading in additional flour.
Return the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic for the first rise. You want the dough to grow by just under double in size, as you can see from the photos above. For me, this only takes about 20-30 minutes.
Return the dough to your floured surface, and begin to pat out into a rectangle. Then use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a rectangle about 10x16 inches. It doesn't need to be exact.
Spread the softened butter evenly over the dough, all the way to the edges. It will be a very thin layer of butter. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and cinnamon, and then evenly sprinkle the mixture over the butter, again all the way to the edges. With your rolling pin, gentle press the mixture into the dough. Starting on the longer edge, roll your dough into a spiraled log.
Cut of the edges of the dough, and then cut the dough into 8 even rolls. I use a very sharp knife and a sawing motion here, cutting the dough in half, and then each of those pieces in half, and repeating again to reach 8 total.
Lightly grease an 8 inch cake pan with cooking spray, and place the rolls evenly into the pan. Cover with plastic for the second rise. Preheat your oven to 375 while the dough rises.
For the second rise, the dough will only get slightly puffed. For me, this takes about 15 minutes, or about as long as it takes for my oven to preheat. Then, remove the plastic and bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes, until just slightly golden on top.
For the maple frosting:
In a small bowl, whisk together the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, maple extract, salt, and 1/2 tbs. of milk until smooth. Add more milk if needed to reach your desired consistency, though I like to keep my icing a bit thick.
Frost the rolls in the pan while still hot, and serve warm. Enjoy!
We’re all having a super pleasant Wednesday today, right? Let’s make it even better.
Today I’m sharing another simple, classic recipe with you guys- this time we’re on scones. This is a really easy base recipe for scones, and I’m throwing in vanilla for flavor.
As per usual, you can do a lot with this recipe. I’ve made it in several variations, and you can find some of those recipes here! You can flavor it with anything you’d like- one version I’ve yet to try is espresso with a maple glaze, I mean can you imagine?
So, we’re starting with your dry ingredients for this one- the process is really similar to biscuit making. You stir up flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl, and then you cut in some very cold butter until the mixture is crumbly. Then, you’re adding in your wet ingredients- in this case it’s sour cream, cream, a dash of vinegar, an egg, and vanilla extract. Here’s about what it will look like:
Then, turn it out onto a floured surface, and knead in a little more flour as needed to make things less sticky, but don’t over-work it! Pat it into a circle that is about 1/2 inch-3/4 inch thick, and slice it up!
I like to brush the tops with a little extra cream and then sprinkle coarse sugar over the top for that perfect little crunch in the end. The sour cream makes these moist and tender, and really the perfect pastry to go with your morning coffee.
The best part? You don’t need any special tools, and you can make the whole batch in just a few minutes. In fact, I suggest you DO make it in just a couple minutes so you can keep things cold before they hit the oven.
Seriously though, basic scones are a delight. Now, I’ve never been to the UK, and I hear that their scones are incredible compared to those here in America, but these are pretty good if you ask me. Hope you enjoy and experiment with these!
Classic Vanilla Scones
- 2 1/4 cups flour (plus more as needed for shaping)
- 1 tbs. baking powder
- 1/8 tsp. baking soda
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 6 tbs. cold butter
- 3 tbs. sour cream
- 2/3 cup heavy cream (plus more to brush the tops)
- 2 tsp. white vinegar
- 1 egg, cold
- 1 tbs. vanilla extract
- 1 tbs. coarse sugar
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or clean hands, cut the cold butter into your flour mixture until it has coarse crumbs of butter running throughout.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, heavy cream, vinegar, egg, and vanilla extract until combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and use a spatula to mix until a dough comes together. Turn your dough out onto a floured surface, and gently knead it until it just comes together, adding more flour if needed until the dough is not sticky, but still holds together. Pat the dough into a disc about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. Use a sharp knife to cut it like a pizza into 8 even scones.
Place your scones onto your prepared baking sheet spaced evenly. Brush the tops generously with cream, and sprinkle with the coarse sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the scones are golden on top. Cool and enjoy!
Some of you guys might have noticed that I’m really leaning into simple baking and easy recipes lately. There’s a couple of reasons for this, not the least of which is that we’ve got a 2-month-old baby taking up much of our time now.
But I also think it’s really important to build up simple recipes. These are the things that I started baking with when I was younger, and I think for most people, these are the kinds of things that actually get made and eaten. Sure, maybe we want to bake 10 layer stunning cakes sometimes, but in reality, simple baking is at the heart of why we all like to bake. Maybe that’s just me- ha!
I also know that baking at high-altitude is tough. If there is one thing that made it easier for me, it was making the simple recipes work first. Then you’ve got reliable pieces that you can whip up anytime, and you can build from these recipes into other flavors and desserts.
So, I’ve decided to make this a series. You’ll see the individual recipes coming around as usual of course, and then here I’ll collect them all for easy access and to help you build your recipe box. Btw, do you guys still use recipe boxes? Cause I love them. I own an unreasonable amount of recipe boxes, it’s silly honestly.
Alright, here we go, here’s the collection so far, I hope you guys find some great stuff here!
- Perfect Yellow Cake – You can use this recipe for just about anything. Feel free to flavor it as you see fit, double and triple it, make cupcakes and crumb cakes and whatever you feel like with it!
- Perfect Chocolate Cake – Chocolate cake is a toughie you guys, especially at high-altitude. Don’t mess around, just get it right on the first try.
- Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting – Another classic, this is a combo of my yellow cake (turned cupcakes) and a sweet chocolatey frosting.
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes – Chocolate and peanut butter, you know the drill. These cupcakes are not shy about piling that fluffy peanut butter frosting on top.
- Vanilla Sponge Cake – Sponge cake is really simple, and kind of magic. It’s easy to whip up, and it can stand alone, or you can throw fruit or frosting or chocolate on top.
- Butter Shortbread Cookies – These are super light and buttery, plus you can use the dough as crust for bars too!
- Peanut Butter Brownies – Brownies are another tough thing to get right- these are swirled with crunchy peanut butter to bring in the win, and they’ve got that papery top layer that we all love.
- Vegan Pound Cake – This is your classic pound cake, adapted both for high-altitude and for vegan diets. It’s easy, and it’s just as satisfying as the classic!
- High-Altitude Sandwich Bread – This is a super simple white-bread recipe that will work on it’s own, or as a base for other recipes!
Baking cake from scratch at a high-altitude is tough stuff, some of the hardest really when it comes to high-altitude baking. But the great thing is, once you find a recipe that works, you can use it for a million other things, and you can dress it up any which way.
This cake is really simple actually, and the texture is perfect once baked. For the classic version, of course we’re flavoring it with vanilla extract, and otherwise just letting the butter flavor shine through. That’s what you really want in a yellow cake.
Think of this as your base for everything. I use this recipe, or some variation of this recipe, for about a million other cakes. Here’s some fun ideas:
You can use any extracts that you prefer here. You can also replace the milk with other liquids, like citrus juice, coffee, or even alcohol to make a cocktail flavored cake. Top with crumbs, fill it with chocolate chips, layer it between frosting, do just about anything with this simple, easy to whip up cake. Seriously.
I topped mine with a simple chocolate ganache for this post, but you can throw any kind of buttercream on top, or just dust it with powdered sugar. The options are endless, sorry I keep mentioning more!
This is the best yellow cake recipe if you live at a high-altitude. I hope this relieves all your cake woes, it definitely has fixed many of my own! Enjoy!
Perfect Yellow Cake
This recipe makes one 8-inch round cake. You can double or even triple it very easily for larger projects, and it adapts well to cupcakes also!
- 1/2 cup softened butter
- 1/2 cup sugar, heaping
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tbs. milk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and grease an 8-inch round or square cake pan. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, eggs, and sour cream until combined- the mixture will be lumpy. Then, add in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and beat until combined. Add in the milk, and beat for an additional 1-2 minutes, or until the mixture is very smooth.
The batter will be thick. Pour into your prepared pan, and spread it evenly. Bake for 25-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely, and top or use as desired!