Monday, February 1, 2010

A Melt-in-Your-Mouth Experience

When looking over this blog, it occurred to me that, well, for a specialty baker, there sure wasn’t much by way of baking posted! That prompted some thought on my part about why. What I realized is that I’m just not baking that much anymore. I used to spend at least 8 hours every day baking, now I probably don’t spend that much time baking in a month! Who would I bake for? With Bella off on her own, there are no hungry hoards coming and going, or customers placing orders. DH loves to eat whatever I bake, but he just packs on those pounds making for a continuous battle of the bulge.

Baking is still a pleasure, but what I enjoy most is research and development. It has always my favorite thing to do in the kitchen. To come up with an idea and make it over and over until the finished product is as I envisioned it. When my business was in full swing, I had tasters who would critique a product. Now, I just have DH and anyone who happens to be here when something new is being served. This past weekend it was The Spatherdabs, my book club, who did product testing. They declared this cake to be a delicious melt-in-your-mouth experience.

This is a recipe began several years ago, but I never got it quite right. This last time did the trick. Here are some notes for this recipe. Use a heavy weight Bundt pan or a stoneware Bundt pan. Even if you are using a non-stick pan, always grease and flour your baking pan, as this creates the desired texture on the outside of the cake. Make sure the butter is at room temperature for proper creaming. When alternately adding the flour and buttermilk—always begin and end with the flour. This has to do with creating the proper texture and gluten activation. Use the freshest and highest quality spices possible. I purchase most of my spices from Penzey's. The pumpkin puree used in this recipe is some I put by in the autumn (see my earlier post “First You Select A Pumpkin” for puree how to) and has an exceptional flavor, but commercial will do just fine. This recipe is designed for dried cranberries, but dark or golden raisins can be substituted. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cranberry Bundt Cake
3 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp. ginger
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1 c. sugar
2/3 c. unsalted butter, softened
3 eggs
2 c. pumpkin puree
2/3 c. buttermilk
1-1/2 c. dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour 12 cup Bundt pan.

Measure dry ingredients into a bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.
Place sugars and butter in a bowl and cream using a mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and beat at medium speed to combine. Add pumpkin puree, and beat at medium speed until combined. Still on medium speed, add flour and buttermilk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. On low speed, add the cranberries and mix just until combined.

Scrape batter into prepared pan.
Smooth surface.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until pick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan onto a wire rack and cool completely.

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