Pumpkin Pie Perfection

Pie Pumpkins

It seems everyone is trying to reinvent the pumpkin pie this year, in some attempt to make the Thanksgiving dessert-staple better. Pinterest is rife with cheesecakes, pecan crusts, creme bruleed tops and all sorts of trendy pumpkin madness. Sorry folks. But the recipe from Libby’s canned pumpkin purée is THE best. It is simple, time tested, and the perfect balance of sweet-creamy-spiced pumpkin goodness! Stop trying to reinvent the wheel, people!

Despite giving Libby’s the much-due credit for the perfect pumpkin pie recipe, I think it’s time we all shit-can the can. This year, I decided to do just that! And after my first test round, I wondered why I hadn’t done this a decade ago. If you want to make your pumpkin pie better, start with a real pumpkin.

Do not use that jack o’lantern from Halloween. It is way too big, and I’m sure it’s rotten by now. Look for a small Sugar Pumpkin (also called a Pie Pumpkin). These little guys are made specifically for baking, and have a creamier, less grainy flesh. A 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pound pumpkin should yield enough flesh for one pie. My 4 pumpkins averaged 1 1/2 pounds, and I had just enough for 4 pies. But when in doubt, go a little bigger. It’s better to have a little extra than to not have enough.

Pumpkins scraped

There are numerous ways to process your pumpkin, and get it ready to become pie. The method I chose seemed like the easiest. Start by cutting your pumpkin in half (through the top and bottom). Then you scoop out the seeds and place it cut-side down on a parchment lined baking pan. Don’t stress about the stringy bits around the seeds – this will be much easier to remove after the pumpkin has been cooked. Put it in the oven and roast it for about an hour. Next, pull it out and let it sit, still cut-side down, for about an hour. The steam will help finish the cooking, then it will cool enough to handle. Lastly, scoop it, mash it and use it! A run through the food processor can take care of the mashing, and ensure a nice even consistency.

Pumpkins Roasting

The best part about recipe websites are the comments (of which my blog has few….get to cooking, and share your 2 cents!). It’s great to see people talk about the recipe, what worked for them, changes that they made, and some jewels of info that you don’t always get from a cookbook. Since I didn’t buy canned pumpkin, I didn’t have the recipe! But I had the internet, so problem solved – and I found a jewel too! One of the commentators of the Libby’s recipe pointed out that at some point the recipe changed. That the original recipe called for only 2/3 can of evaporated milk (instead of the full can). Good to know! So use your judgment about the filling consistency, and don’t feel obligated to use that whole can of milk.

Pumpkin Pie

Fresh Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 pie crust, unbaked
  • Sugar pumpkin
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Slice pumpkin(s) in half, remove seeds. Place pumpkin cut-side down on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast at 325F for 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool for an hour. Scoop flesh into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Measure out 1 3/4 cups, and set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine pumpkin, eggs, sugar, spices and salt. Whisk until combined. Slowly whisk in 1/3 can of milk. Continue adding  milk until desired consistency is reached (between 2/3 and whole can).

Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 450 for 15 minutes. reduce head to 350F and bake for 40 more minutes or until set.

Strawberries & Pretzels

Strawberries are on sale this week at my local grocery store – 3 pints for $5! That’s a steal! So of course I bought 3 pints, and needed to brainstorm ways to use them before they spoiled. Blender drinks came to mind, but it was only 8 in the morning (and we are out of rum…). My next thought was pie.

Strawberry Pie

If pie can be healthy, this is a healthy pie. I’m not saying it’s good for you or will aid in whatever diet/weight loss plan you subscribe to. But in a dessert world full of butter, cream, and sugar, this pie is relatively low on all three. So in my humble non-scientific opinion, this pie must be healthy. To start, it has 2 pints of strawberries. They are sliced thin and piled high. You are guaranteed to eat at least 6 strawberries with every slice. Next is the crust – it’s pretzel! Pretzels are considered a “healthy” salty snack, much preferable to potato chips or french fries….and it’s lower in calories and sugar than the traditional go-to for crumb crust – the graham cracker. Finally is the topping. It may look like whip cream, but it’s actually yogurt and sour cream. So there….it’s healthy….for pie.

Strawberry slicer

One quick tip before we get to the recipe. I suggest everyone invest (all of $5) in an egg slicer. It’s this cool contraption with 10 wires used to thinly and evenly slice hard boiled eggs. It can also be used to slice strawberries, kiwi, mushrooms or any other soft (and small, the cutting area is only 2 – 3 inches wide) food. I perfectly sliced 2 pints of strawberries in about 10 minutes (including the hulling part). Not too bad!

Strawberry Pie

  • 2 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water
  • 1 package (.3 ounce) sugar-free strawberry gelatin
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 pretzel crumb crust
  • 2 C. yogurt topping

In a medium saucepan, combine  cornstarch and water. Bring to a boil and whisk for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and add strawberry gelatin and sugar. Whisk until dissolved. Add in strawberries then pour into cooled crust. Allow pie to cool then refrigerate for 2 hours. Top with yogurt topping and serve.

Pretzel Crumb Crust

  • 1 1/2 C. pretzel crumbs*
  • 6 T. butter, melted
  • 1 T. honey

Combine all ingredients. Press into a lightly greased pie pan. Bake at 350 for 15 – 20 minutes or until starting to brown. Allow crust to cool before adding in the strawberry filling.

*This is an estimate

Yogurt Topping

  • 1 C. French vanilla yogurt
  • 1 C. sour cream
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate until needed.

Strawberry Pie recipe modified from Taste of Home.

Luscious Lemon Cake

If The Man is heading to the grocery store on his own accord, it’s always to get wine and cookies. Ok, that’s not being fair…sometimes it’s for wine and cake. Lemon Cake to be exact. But sadly last week, they were out of his favorite dessert! So Little Miss and I decided to whip up a special treat for him while he was off at work.

Lemon Cake Ingredients

You are getting a free pass on the cake portion of this Luscious Lemon Cake – I’m starting with a box mix. Duncan Hines makes a super moist box cake, and with a few adjustments no one will ever know you didn’t bake it from scratch.

Lemon Squeezer

Instead of using oil, I like to add vanilla Greek yogurt. It’s thick, creamy, and alot healthier. I am also replacing some of the water with lemon juice – it is a lemon cake after all. Aside from that, we’ll follow the directions on the box for mixing and baking.

Cooling Cakes

Now here comes the real work – the filling and icing. Let’s start with the Lemon Curd filling. Lemon curd kind of sounds gross (who wants to eat curds…) but it’s really silky and delicious. The strong (yet sweet) lemon flavor will compliment the delicate cake and the mild lemon flavor of the billowy icing. Yes, I said billowy….and I mean billowy! 

Lemon Curd

Ina Garten (AKA Barefoot Contessa) has a super simple Lemon Curd recipe. I halved the recipe (and still had a little left over). I think she wants you to use a food processor and your mixer…but I wasn’t in the mood to dirty anymore dishes (or wash more dishes….we’ll need the mixer later for the icing). So just do everything in the food processor – it works out fine. When it comes to cooking the curd, use medium heat and make sure you stir regularly (especially once it starts to bubble). And while waiting for it to thicken, keep in mind that it will thicken some more as it cools.

Lemon Curd Filling

Isn’t it pretty? After the curd has cooled, spread a layer onto your cake. I left a 1/2 inch rim, to prevent the curd from oozing out.

Lemon simple Syrup

Onto the billowy icing. Lemon-Vanilla Whipped Cream Icing is composed of 3 parts (I know, I know…but they are all totally worth it!) – Lemon simple syrup, stabilized whip cream, and vanilla cream cheese. Now – you could choose to leave out either the whip cream or the cream cheese element. Either makes a nice icing on their own….but for this cake, I wanted the fluffiness of the whip cream combined with the flavor and weight of the cream cheese. The results are perfect for this cake – lightly lemony, a hint of vanilla, and a melt in your mouth texture.

Cream Cheese and Whipped Cream Icing

After your butter and cream cheese are beat together and your whip cream and simple-syrup is thoroughly whipped (no, you didn’t miss anything, I’ll give you more details in the recipe portion at the bottom) gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese. I did this in 3 portions, and carefully beat until everything was combined. Then with a butter knife, spread a thick layer over your cake.

Luscious Lemon Cake

Luscious Lemon Cake

Cake Batter

  • 1 box lemon cake mix (Duncan Hines)
  • 1 1/4 C. water
  • 1 C. vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 3 eggs
  • juice of one lemon

Combine all ingredients. Follow package directions for two 9 or 8 inch round pans. Allow cake to cool completely.

Lemon Curd

  • 1 1/2 lemons
  • 3/4 C. sugar
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 eggs

With a vegetable peeler, remove peel (yellow only, avoid white pith) from lemons. Cut lemons in half. Squeeze to juice, and reserve for later. Add zest and sugar to a food processor. Pulse until peel is finely ground and incorporated into sugar. Add in butter. Pulse until butter and sugar are creamed together. Add in each egg one at a time, and pulse until just combined. Pour in reserved lemon juice and pulse until combined.

Pour mixture into a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until bubbly and thickened (about 10 minutes). Pour lemon curd into a bowl, cover and refrigerate until cool.

Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten

Assembly

Place first cake round onto a plate. Spread lemon curd onto cake, leaving a 1/2 inch rim around the edge. Top with second round. Starting with the sides, spread a thick layer of icing on sides and top of cake. Refrigerate for an hour before serving. Keep cake covered and refrigerated.

Lemon-Vanilla Whipped Cream Icing

Lemon Simple Syrup

  • 1 C. water
  • 1 C. sugar
  • 2 lemons, halved (use left over lemons from lemon curd)

Combine all ingredients into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Strain syrup into a bowl. Refrigerate until cool.

Stabilized Lemon Whip cream

  • 1/2 C. lemon simple syrup
  • 1 tsp. gelatin (unflavored, powder)
  • 1 C. whipping cream

In a glass bowl or measuring cup, pour gelatin into cold simple syrup, allow to “bloom” for 10 minutes. Hold cup over a low burner until gelatin melts – do not let syrup boil. Allow syrup to cool, but not set up.

In the bowl of a mixer, whip cream until soft peaks form. While on medium speed, slowly pour in simple syrup. Continue to whip until stiff peaks.

Vanilla Cream Cheese

  • 3 T. butter, softened
  • 6 Oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Beat butter and cream cheese until combined and creamy. While mixing on low, slowly pour in sugar. Add in vanilla and beat until combined.

Icing

  • Vanilla cream cheese
  • Lemon stabilized whip cream

Fold 1/3 of whip cream into cream cheese mixture. Continue adding whip cream in thirds, until incorporated. Whip by hand until thoroughly combined.

Helpers are Rewarded

Easiest Chocolate Mousse Ever!

Alton Brown knows what he’s talking about. Take for example, his Chocolate Mousse recipe. Not only is it light, fluffy and awesome, but the recipe is super simple and easy to follow. And in case you didn’t realize, today is Valentine’s Day – so make some silky mousse for your sweetheart!

Easiest Chocolate Mousse Ever

Chocolate Mousse

  • 1 3/4 cups whipping cream
  • 12 ounces quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 ounces espresso or strong coffee
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon flavorless, granulated gelatin

Chill 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in refrigerator. Chill metal mixing bowl and mixer beaters in freezer.

In top of a double boiler, combine chocolate chips, coffee, rum and butter. Melt over barely simmering water, stirring constantly. Remove from heat while a couple of chunks are still visible. Cool, stirring occasionally to just above body temperature.

Pour remaining 1/4 cup whipping cream into a metal measuring cup and sprinkle in the gelatin. Allow gelatin to “bloom” for 10 minutes. Then carefully heat by swirling the measuring cup over a low gas flame or candle. Do not boil or gelatin will be damaged. Stir mixture into the cooled chocolate and set aside.

In the chilled mixing bowl, beat cream to medium peaks. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in the remaining whipped cream in two doses. There may be streaks of whipped cream in the chocolate and that is fine. Do not over work the mousse.

Spoon into bowls or martini glasses and chill for at least 1 hour. Garnish with fruit and serve.

(If mousses are to be refrigerated overnight, chill for one hour and then cover each with plastic wrap)

Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

Bananas Foster Pudding Pie

Bananas Foster Pudding Pie

Bananas Foster is a flambé dessert that was created at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans in 1951. It’s a brown sugar and butter sauce, with lightly cooked bananas, drenched in liquor and delivered to your table on fire! It’s typically served over ice cream and makes for a very impressive dessert!

Pie Filling

But there is a drawback to this flaming favorite – it’s hard to serve a crowd. You typically don’t make more than a serving or two at a time – and no one wants to be stuck in the kitchen over a fiery pan, whipping up a dozen batches of Bananas Foster, while their guests are enjoying dessert and cocktails. Another downside to the traditional Bananas Foster? On the next day, when your mouth is watering, thinking about last night’s dessert, there is nothing left-over to satiate the craving – Bananas Foster just doesn’t keep.

Foster Sauce

So how do you feel about a Bananas Foster Pudding Pie? I feel pretty good about it! This pie combines all the flavors and fabulousness of the traditional dessert, with the ease of serving a piece of pie. Now – there is a little more work on the front end. But the resulting pie will feed a crowd and last for days in the fridge (yea right, good luck with that….)

Bananas and Sauce

Bananas Foster Pudding Pie

  • Graham cracker crust
  • 4 bananas, sliced
  • Foster sauce
  • 1 package instant Vanilla pudding
  • 1 1/2 C. cold milk
  • Stabilized whip cream

Bake graham cracker crust at 350, for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Combine milk and pudding in a medium bowl. Beat for 2 minutes, or until smooth. Gently fold stabilized whip cream into pudding.

Arrange sliced bananas into graham cracker crust – they should slightly overlap. Slowly pour Foster sauce over bananas, making sure to coat them evenly. Spoon pudding mixture over top. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Stabilized Whip Cream

  • 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 4 tsp. cold water
  • 1 C. heavy cream
  • 1/4 C. sugar

In a small sauce pan, combine gelatin and water. Stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves. Remove from heat and allow to cool (but not set).

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip cream on high until starting to thicken. Lower speed to medium and slowly add sugar. Once combined, slowly pour in cooled gelatin. Continue to whip until cream is stiff.

Stabilized Whip Cream

Foster Sauce

  • 4 T. butter
  • 1 C. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 C. banana liqueur
  • 1/4 C. dark rum

Combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon in a flambé pan or skillet. Place the pan over low heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the banana liqueur, and carefully add the rum. Continue to cook the sauce until the rum is hot and bubbly, then tip the pan slightly to ignite the rum*. Remove from the stove and allow flames to burn out.

*setting the rum on fire is not required – this is really for show. If you do not want to ignite the rum, just allow the sauce to cook for a few minutes longer.

Recipes courtesy of Wilton and Brennan’s Restaurant 

Praline Pecan Sandies

In Louisiana it’s pronounced “prah-lean”. Here in Savannah they say “pray-lean”. But the yum factor is universal. If you aren’t familiar with pralines, they are pecans cooked in a caramel-like syrup. The mixture is scooped out into mounds and left to cool and harden. The result is a super sweet pile of chewy nutty yumminess.

Praline Pecan Sandies2

It’s hard to do a week on Louisiana inspired desserts and not mention pecans. But here’s my problem – The Man does NOT do pecans. And his big sweet tooth would be severely disappointed if I put a piece of Bourbon pecan pie in front of him (I know, it’s crazy…). But despite his aversion to the innocuous pecan, The Man can’t deny a cookie….and he does like pecan sandies….So let’s jazz up a batch of sandies with some praline pecans!

When brainstorming over this recipe, I had considered driving to the Candy Kitchen and picking up some pralines to use. Making pralines is sticky business, and I wasn’t sure I was up for it. But picking them up at the store had two major drawbacks – first, it would make this difficult for anyone who didn’t live near a praline store. Second, an actual praline has too much of the candy around the pecans – I really just want the flavor and the pecans….too much caramel candy would affect the cookie texture.

Praline Pecan Morsels

So I found a Paula Deen recipe for Praline Pecan Morsels. Perfect – baked in the oven, lightly coated pecans, only three ingredients, and no candy thermometers required! After 20 minutes in the oven, 20 minutes of cooling, and 5 minutes of chopping (I had to get them fine enough so as not to offend The Man!) I was ready for cookie making.

Creamed Butter and Sugars

While looking into cookie recipes, I noticed that they were all pretty similar. The only big difference among recipes was the sugar – brown, granulated, powdered, or a combination of 2 were all used. So which would make a good Praline Pecan Sandie? I went with a combo of brown and powdered. The brown sugar to compliment the flavors of the praline, and the powdered to keep a light texture in the cookie.

Crumbly Batter

Once you get your cookie dough combined, you’ll think you must have missed something – this is the crumbliest cookie dough I’ve ever seen. But with a little pressure and the warmth of your hand, these cookies actually rolled together pretty easily.

Scooped Cookies

Rolled cookies

I use a small ice cream scoop to dish out even portions. Then roll them into balls. These cookies don’t spread much, so an inch apart is plenty.

Pressed Sandies

To press or not to press? I say press. But some recipes left their dough in balls. The choice is yours. If you want to flatten them into disks, use the bottom of a glass to press slightly (you don’t want them pressed thin). I greased the bottom of my glass. Martha Stewart said to use water. I’ll leave that up to you :)

Praline Pecan Sandies

And in case anyone is wondering – The Man LOVES these cookies. We are having a few people over to watch the Super Bowl, and he has already hid them in the back of the fridge….

UPDATE! So Mr. I-Hate-Pecans devoured the first batch of cookies in a matter of days. Then he practically begged me to make a second batch! This time around I made a few changes. First, I used granulated as opposed to powdered sugar. I also made the cookies much bigger (I got 24 this time, instead of the 34 I got originally). And finally, I used the food processor to chop up the praline pecans. I was happy with the results of all these changes. The cookies were slightly softer/chewier. And the food processor saved me about 5 minutes of hand chopping. If I make these again (who am I kidding, I will definitely be making them again!) I will go with the bigger cookie!

Praline Pecan Sandies 

  • 2  C. flour
  • 1/4  tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1/2  C.  powdered sugar
  • 1/2  C.  brown sugar
  • 1  tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1  c. Praline Pecans, finely chopped

In a bowl, whisk together flour and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in vanilla. Reduce speed of mixer to low, add in flour. Mix until just combined. Dough will be crumbly. Fold in pecans.

Roll heaping tablespoons of dough into balls and place on parchment paper 1 inch apart. Lightly press balls to flatten into disks. Bake cookies at 350°F for 18 to 20 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges.

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Praline Pecans

  • 1 C. whole pecans
  • 1/4 C. packed brown sugar
  • 2 T. heavy cream

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Line a baking dish with parchment paper, and pour the pecan mixture out into a single layer. Bake for 20 minutes at 350F until coating is dry and slightly crystallized. Stir after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Recipe courtesy of Paula Deen

What’s on the Plate This Week? 2/3/2013

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and I should probably be posting about chicken wings, hot dips, and general football fare. But I vaguely remember doing that 2 weeks ago (did you miss my Lighter Side of Football Fare post? Check it out if you need some ideas for the big game!). So I’m looking to the future – Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras! In honor of the decadent dessert holiday and the state of my birth, I’m dedicating this week to Louisiana inspired desserts. And hopefully these recipes will inspire you to bake something sweet for your sweetie!

Buttermilk Cake with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Buttermilk Cake is a slightly tangy, coarse crumb cake that is fairly easy to make. When topped with a creamy caramel buttercream, it makes a decadent dessert, ideal for any Sunday dinner table. It may not be the traditional Caramel Cake – but in my opinion it’s just a little bit better :)

Buttermilk Cake2

My only advice for successful cake baking – follow ALL directions. I know, this sounds like a no brainer. But if you read enough from-scratch cake recipes, you will encounter numerous steps that seem to be tedious (Do I really have to sift the flour? Yes!), superfluous (Do I really need to grease, flour AND line my pans with parchment? Yes!), or just plain inconsequential (My eggs don’t really need to be room temperature, do they? Yes, they do!). Trust me (I’ve made enough sub-par cakes…) if the recipe says to do it, then do it.

Butter Temp

The first important instruction for this cake – make sure all ingredients are at room temperature. In Christopher Kimball’s The Dessert Bible, he addresses what can go wrong with this cake – the most common mistake is using cold butter and eggs. Butter needs to be between 60 and 65F. Did she just stick a thermometer in the butter!? Yep, she did.

Along with following the directions, also try not to mix your cake too much. Mixing sugar, butter and eggs is fine. But once you start to incorporate the flour and leavening agents, keep the mixing to a minimum.

Another important factor to making a great cake is great frosting. No sense in going to the trouble of making a from- scratch cake if you don’t have something awesome to top it with.

I’ve searched high and low for the right frosting for this cake. I started with a traditional caramel icing – which literally pours off the cake. This is not what I want when I’m eating cake. I want fluffy and smooth….not caramel poured over top. I’ve tried cream cheese frosting (which is my go-to on most cakes) and I felt the flavors contradicted each other too much. Well I had this leftover buttermilk from making fish the other day, and I knew a buttermilk cake was in my future. So I set out to find a good recipe. I lucked out and found a GREAT recipe. Both easy to make and excellent taste. Easy Caramel Buttercream from Freutcake.com.

Caramel

Has anyone else notice that Salted Caramel is all the rage right now in food? Pinterest, Southern Living, Food Network…everybody is putting salt in their caramel. Ok, I admit, I do love a sweet-salty combo (French fries dipped in a milk shake, anyone? Oh, just me? Well ya’ll are missing out….) but I have shied away from the salted caramel trend. Probably because everybody else is doing it, and I like to go against the flow. But if everybody else IS doing it, then they must be onto something….and I should probably step aside from my ego and delve into the sweet saltiness!

Ready to Frost

A few notes about the frosting. First, maybe I cooked mine too long – because it got way too thick. Like, when I went to “whisk until smooth” it formed a crumbly ball. I just added a few Tablespoons of cream, and it smoothed right out. I also made it about an hour before I was ready to make to buttercream. The cranky, convalescing 3 year old was finally having her first nap in three days…I just didn’t want to risk waking her with the kitchen noises. The caramel firmed up some, but I just put it over a low burner for a few minutes. In no time it was smooth and ready to use again.

Buttermilk Cake

Buttermilk Cake

  • 2 1/3 C. Cake Flour (All purpose flour can be used, but the result will be slightly chewier)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 12 T. Butter
  • 1 1/3 C. Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1 C. Buttermilk

Have ALL ingredients at room temperature (around 65F). Grease two 9-inch cake pans and cover the bottom of each with parchment paper.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Continue beating and slowly add sugar. Once sugar is all added, beat until light and fluffy (2 – 3 minutes). Add in eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each. Scrape down sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add 1/3 of buttermilk and 1/3 of flour mixture. Beat on low until just incorporated. Add in vanilla and another 1/3 of buttermilk and flour. Beat until just incorporated. Add in last 1/3 of buttermilk and flour. Stir by hand until just combined.

Divide the batter between the two baking pans. Smooth out the tops with a spatula. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Rotate pans 180 degrees after 15 minutes.

Allow cakes to cool in pans on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert cakes and remove pans. Allow to completely cool on a rack before frosting (about 1 1/2 hours).

Cake recipe uses The Joy of Cooking measurements with The Dessert Bible‘s cooking method

Easy Salted Caramel Buttercream

Caramel

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of kosher salt

In a medium sauce pan, mix sugar, cream and butter. Bring to a boil over medium high heat stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and sea salt. (Be careful, it will bubble!) Cool to room temperature. Beat with a wire whisk until smooth.

Buttercream

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Cream butter in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and creamy.With mixer on low, slowly add powdered sugar. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract & salt, beat for 3 minutes. With mixer on low, slowly add cooled caramel. Beat until all is incorporated.

Frosting recipe courtesy of Freutcake.

Meyer Lemon Pillow Cheesecake

Thanks to my good friend Myles, I have a big bag of home grown Meyer lemons! I can rarely find them at my grocery store, so I never get the chance to use them. The meyer lemon is a hybrid citrus fruit – a lemon mixed with an orange. It has the flavor of a lemon, with hints of sweet orangeness – I am excited to put them to good use!

meyer lemon cheesecake

I found this Pillow Cheesecake recipe on Pinterest a few months back. This is by far the BEST cheesecake filling recipe I have found. Whipped egg whites make the texture is so light and fluffy…it’s the ideal cheesecake. So it seems a great starting point for my Meyer lemon cheesecake. If you have some time, definitely read her post – she has some good tips for making cheesecake.

Crust

  • 1 1/2 Cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 6 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients in a fork. Pour into a 9″ spring-form pan, and use a glass to pat the crumbs down evenly. Refrigerate for an hour. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool.

crumbscrust

Filling

  • 1 Cup sugar
  • Zest of one Meyer lemon
  • 2 Pounds cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/4 Cup sour cream
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 2 Tablespoons corn starch, sifted

Combine sugar and zest in a food processor. Pulse until fine and combined.

zest lemon sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix cream cheese, butter, sour cream, lemon sugar, and corn starch. Beat until just combined. Add the egg yolks one at a time, making sure each is completely incorporated and smooth.

In a clean bowl, whip room temperature egg whites until stiff. Gently fold egg whites into batter.

Pour the batter into the spring form pan and wrap the bottom in tin foil. Place the pan into a roasting dish, and add enough hot water to cover half of the pan.

water bath

Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. When finished, crack open the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool (in the oven) for half an hour. Remove and continue to cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate and serve cold.

I served my cake with a quick lemon-vanilla sauce. Use the juice of your zested Meyer lemon, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and powdered sugar.