Gingerbread Loaf

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Christmastime for most of us is filled with traditions. Traditions are a big part of what makes the season so special to me. Many of those traditions revolving around food. When the kids were small, we always baked cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. They are older now but I still bake cookies on Christmas Eve. Christmas candy is something my mama always made, and I have continued that tradition at my house.

My kids decorated a gingerbread house every year when they were younger. Wes stopped doing helping with that in his early teens, but Savannah continued, and we had a gingerbread house in the center of the table every year. That is, until last year. With Savannah’s busy schedule she just could not find the time to decorate one last year. I’m not going to lie. The table looked a little lonely and sad.

This year I have decided to change up the tradition a bit. We will have gingerbread at the house but in a different form. I will be making this delicious gingerbread loaf to snack on during our time together. This loaf fills the house with a wonderful aroma as it bakes. It’s perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee or as a snack, or even for dessert. It also makes a great gift for neighbors and coworkers.

In testing this recipe I used 1/2 cup molasses and 1/4 cup sorghum syrup. Sorghum is not quite as strong as molasses, and therefore a better choice for my family.

Gingerbread Loaf
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ c. granulated sugar
  • ¼ c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ½ c. unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ c. molasses
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Glaze:
  • 1 c. confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tbsp. milk (more if needed)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugars, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice,and cloves.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl whisk together melted butter, molasses, eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Whisk until thoroughly combined. (Mixture may look curdled.)
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. Do not over mix.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the loaf to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and cool completely.
  6. For glaze: Whisk together the milk, sugar, and vanilla until smooth and desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled loaf.
  7. If desired decorate the top with chopped nuts, dried cranberries, or whole fresh cranberries.
Notes
In testing this recipe, I used ½ c. molasses plus ¼ c. sorghum syrup.

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Spiced Applesauce Pound Cake

applesauce-cake

I have always been more of a pound cake baker than a layer cake baker.  I’m not sure exactly why.  Maybe it’s because they are just so darn easy and they tend to get better with time.  My favorite pound cake recipes seem to get moister the longer they sit.

Here’s a wonderfully moist cake that I love making this time of the year.  I prefer to use my homemade applesauce but any applesauce will work.  It is not only delicious but it is lovely when sprinkled with powdered sugar and would be beautiful on a holiday dessert table!

Spiced Applesauce Pound Cake
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2¾ c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 c. light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 c. no-sugar applesauce
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-cup bundt pan well and place it on a large baking pan, set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg in a large bowl.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the applesauce, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix.
  4. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. Place the baking pan/bundt pan onto middle rack in preheated oven. Bake 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely before inverting on a cake plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

 

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Pumpkin Scones

 

 

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Fall decorations are everywhere you turn now. In the little town near where I live there are festively painted round hay bales on every corner, scarecrows, cornstalks, and pumpkins! The first day of fall was almost a month ago, and stores and coffee shops have had their pumpkin flavored goodies available for weeks. I thought it was high time that I share a pumpkin recipe with you. There is something about fall that brings out a craving for all things spicy and pumpkin scones are high on that list of cravings for me.

These scones have the perfect amount of sweetness, spice, and pumpkin. They are delicious for breakfast with a cup of coffee or as an afternoon snack. They are best the day they are baked so surprise a neighbor or coworker with a few of these tasty treats.  They will be a million times better than anything you’ll find at the coffee shop and cheaper too!

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Pumpkin Scones
 
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Ingredients
  • Scones:
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. ground cloves
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen, and grated with a cheese grater
  • ½ c. pumpkin puree
  • ½ c. whipping cream
  • 1 lg. egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Glaze:
  • 1 c. confectioners' sugar
  • ¼ c. whipping cream
  • Spiced Glaze:
  • 1 c. confectioners' sugar
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp. ground ginger
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 3 tbsp. whipping cream
Instructions
  1. For the scones:
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Place the butter in the freezer for about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from freezer and shred, using a cheese grater. Return the shredded butter to the freezer until you are ready to use.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, whipping cream, egg, and vanilla.
  7. Add the frozen shredded butter to the flour mixture and toss with fingers to coat with flour.
  8. Stir in the pumpkin mixture just to combine. Transfer dough to a well-floured board and dust top with additional flour. Working quickly, knead the dough a few times. Flatten, using your fingers, and roughly shape into a 9-inch x 4-inch rectangle.
  9. Cut crosswise in the middle, then again in the middle of each piece. Cut each piece diagonally into two triangles. Place on prepared pan.
  10. Bake 10 to 12 minutes in preheated oven. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.
  11. In the meantime mix up the glaze mixtures. Brush the first "plain" glaze onto each scone using a pastry brush. Cool for a few minutes.
  12. Spoon spiced glaze into a ziptop bag. Snip off a small section of the corner of the bag. Pipe the spiced glaze on top of the glazed scones.
  13. Allow glaze to air dry at room temperature then serve.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hot Cider

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It’s officially fall!  I love everything fall…leaves, pumpkins, smells, turkey, bonfires, football and apples!  I’ve already made one trip to North Georgia for apples.  It was a yearly tradition when I was growing up and I’ve continued it as an adult.  Because I made an early trip, and my favorite apples were not ripe, I’ll gladly make a second trip later in the season.  I love my trips to the apple houses.  The beautiful changing leaves, the samples of cider, a delicious fried apple pie, and of course, bags of apples to bring home.

I made this amazing hot cider after our trip.  It has a nice balance of flavors.  The candied ginger adds slight heat that will leave your guest wondering what it is.  The sweet rim is a nice touch if you want to treat yourself or if you are serving guest.  This is a small recipe for four, but double or triple the recipe for a crowd and keep it warm in a crock pot.

 

Hot Cider
 
Author:
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 qt. apple cider
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp. candied ginger, chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 4 tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • Sweet Rim (optional), recipe follows
Instructions
  1. Remove zest for the orange and the lemon. Squeeze the juice from both orange and lemon.
  2. Combine the apple cider, zest, orange juice, lemon juice, brown sugar, and spices in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Ladle into mugs. Garnish, if desired, with orange slices, candied ginger and cinnamon sticks.

Sweet Rim
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp. demerara or raw sugar
  • ⅛ tsp. apple pie spice
  • 1 tbsp. caramel sauce or honey
Instructions
  1. Combine sugar and spice in a container big enough for the rim of cup to fit into. Set aside.
  2. With your finger, rub the rim of the mug with caramel sauce or honey. Dip the mug into sugar mixture and turn until the rim of the mug is covered.
  3. Ladle cider into mug.

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Vanilla Chai Tea Mix

I love this time of year!  Cooler nights & mornings bring the promise of sweater weather in the not to distant future.  I start to think about and plan for the holidays.  I made homemade chicken broth last week to put into the freezer for my Thanksgiving dressing.  Greg’s grandmother always told me that dressing is better made ahead and frozen so the flavors meld together.  So, I’ll be pulling my chicken broth out of the freezer to make dressing in the next week or so.  Although I may buy a Christmas gift or two throughout the year, this is the time of year I seriously start thinking about it.  In fact, I’ve bought several things over the past couple of weeks.

My menu changes when fall is in the air too.  I cook chili & soups, I start to make lattes and spiced cider.  I found this recipe for Vanilla Chai Mix on Christy Jordan’s blog, Southern Plate.  I love it hot, but you can also serve it over ice.  I’m thinking that you could package this really cute for a great Christmas gift!

 

Vanilla Chai Tea Mix
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1 c. powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 1 c. sugar free French Vanilla powdered non-dairy creamer
  • 2½ c. sugar or Splenda
  • 1½ c. unsweetened instant tea
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. cardamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • ¼ tsp. white pepper
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor or large blender. Blend until the mixture is consistency of fine powder. Store in airtight container.
  2. To make Vanilla Chai tea, add 2 heaping tbsp. of the mix to 8 oz. of hot water.
  3. Makes about 6 cups of mix.
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