caramel apple cake with cream cheese frosting

Confession time: I’m not lifting a finger this Thanksgiving! Not even a toe. There will be no cooking, no bird basting, no celery chopping, just the sweet sound of Broadway tunes from the parade on the TV. And then I’ll be waddling down to the beach. That’s it! I’m so excited. I can’t take credit for this idea, it’s all the brainchild of my mom’s side of the family who has been organizing an epic Thanksgiving weekend Florida family reunion that I have been looking forward to for months. 

My dream is that I’ll somehow be able to acquire a turkey and cranberry on rye on the beach, and I’m loosely tempted to bring boxes of pre-made stuffing for all of my relatives to hydrate in their hotel coffee pots. (Certainly weirder things have been done, no?) But if my options are poolside chicken fingers and fries with honey mustard, I won’t be mad. Because 1) we already had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner during filming for the Girl Meets Farm Thanksgiving episode, and 2) I’ll be with my awesome cool fam for the first time since cousin Ellie’s Bat Mitzvah! And that’s really what Thanksgiving is all about, right??? Being with your loved ones?? WOW, this got mushy fast. 

The one main kitchen thing that I will really miss this year is watching Eggboy make his pumpkin pie. He really hit his stride last year and, I don’t know, there is something so warm and fuzzy about seeing someone who you love so much getting excited about a thing that you love so much. Eggboy in the kitchen is truly somethin rad. Maybe he’ll make his pie for Chrismukkah…

Our plans to go to Florida reminded me of one of the last times I spent Thanksgiving in Florida, in my college days. For a few good years in a row, we all got together and cooked a feast at my cousin Jamie’s house. It was always a super solid classic Thanksgiving meal and for dessert there were definitely a few pies, but there was also this caramel apple loaf cake that looked pretty ugly but, oh goodness, it was soo good. It had a deeply caramelized flavor and it was wildly dense, but it was broken up by big chunks of crisp tart apples. It was the kind of cake that you just couldn’t walk by without shaving off *one* more sliver. A hot contender for winning the honor of Ending Bite, indeed.

This cake is inspired by that cake, which holds a place in our family cookbook. I’ve swapped in some whole wheat flour to add nuttiness and given it a not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting that adds the correct amount of tang and creaminess. Also, I screwed something up so that you don’t have to: I tried making this with the gala apples from our trees and honeycrisp apples from the store. They were both too moist and the batter, as thick as it was when it went into the pan, just didn’t reach the right consistency during baking. So use Granny smiths because they are super starchy and firm and they won’t add too much moisture to the batter. But past that, this cake is very unfussy and can totally be made a day in advance. If you, like me, are not lifting a finger this Thanksgiving, or maybe you’ve got your pie lineup set in stone already, keep this cake on hand for later in the season because its warmth and coziness is perfect for any winter occasion. 

And I am using Our Family ingredients in this cake! I find I use Our Family products even more during the holidays, when time is usually tight to buy a lot of groceries for all of my holiday parties and I just need easy to find, inexpensive, very reliable ingredients. They are the perfect party planning helpers! Thanks for sponsoring this post, Our Family


caramel apple cake with cream cheese frosting

makes one loaf

Ingredients

2 1/4 c (292g) all-purpose flour

3/4 c (98g) whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking soda 

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

A pinch of ground cardamom

1 c (200g) brown sugar

1 c (200g) sugar

3/4 c (150g) flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 large granny smith apples, chopped into 1/4”-1/2” pieces (4 c (368g) chopped)

Cream cheese frosting:

8 oz (226g) Our Family cream cheese, softened

1 c (120g) powdered sugar

1/4 c heavy cream

A pinch of kosher salt

Caramel:

15 storebought caramels

3 tb whole milk

a big pinch of salt

Flaky salt

clues

Preheat the oven to 350ºf. Grease and line a Pullman Loaf pan (8 1/2” X 4”, or similar) with parchment paper, allowing 1” wings to come up on two of the sides.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars and oil until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each, and then add the vanilla. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and then fold in the apples. It will be very thick! Pour the mixture into the loaf pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, begin checking for doneness after an hour, but it could take up to 1 hour 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan and then transfer to a serving plate. (You can totally bake this a day in advance and let it cool overnight, uncovered.)

To make the frosting, use an electric mixer to beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the heavy cream and salt until combined. Spread it over the cake.

To make caramel, melt ingredients together over low heat in a saucepan while stirring (or in a microwave), and let cool slightly.

Just before serving, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with flaky salt. Enjoy!


-yeh!

thank you, our family, for sponsoring this post

photos by chantell and brett quernemoen

cozy braised chickpeas with squash

Blogging on a Saturday night?? It’s like I’m back in college again! Only this time as soon as I post this I am entering a pillow fort and only resurfacing when it's time to go to brunch tomorrow, not going uptown to drink boozes at Kyle and Sam’s house and then coming back downtown and eating Gray’s Papaya hot dogs, ketchup and kraut please, Brian do you want my papaya juice?

The truth is I’ve been in recovery mode from summer camp all week, and on Wednesday when I meant to post about braised chickpeas I had a big long flight and got distracted by watching I Feel Pretty.

Summer camp was off the hook!!! We put as many foods on walls as possible and used a record amount of sprinkles. We served cinnamon rolls with tahini frosting, bougie bug juice (watermelon, mint, a.c.v., salt, fizzy water), pan pizzas, breakfast sandwiches, and vats of late night beer cheese. And I had my annual summer camp Uncrustable and it was still a little frozen but totally perfect. I also led a 90s themed cookie cake making workshop and was tasked to make marzipan boobs. A first for me! But I think I did ok?? Out of all the boobs in the world surely they looked like some of them.

Now I’m racing to the finish line of 5778 and planning my Rosh Hashanah menu. Our apple trees are looking good, the potatoes are ready to be dug up, and the squash miiiight be there?? My current menu draft is this but it will probably change because that’s just how I operate:

Potato challah
Matzo ball soup
Grilled honey chicken
Some charred corn situation
A green thing
Apple and marzipan crumble

But I want to also share with you these braised chickpeas that we’ve been enjoying on these newly cooler nights and that would make a delightful vegan main course for your new year's feasts. The concept is simple: make the same braising liquid you’d make to braise a brisket but instead of using brisket, use chickpeas and squash. Hence the name I originally gave this: Brisket Braised Chickpeas! It's like how chicken fried steak doesn't actually have chicken in it. We are braising chickpeas à la brisket, with red wine, fresh rosemary, delicious home smells, and all. Ultimately, having "brisket" in the name of a vegan dish sounded confusing. But never mind that. Potatoes or parsnips in this would also be good. And this is best enjoyed out of a bowl with a large hunk of bread, torn from the loaf, and I believe it would ring in the coziest of new years!

Shana Tovah, friends!!!


cozy braised chickpeas with squash

serves 6

1/4 c olive oil 

1 large onion, chopped

2 large or 4 small carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cayenne

Black pepper

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 c dry red wine

1 small butternut squash, cubed

1 (14 oz) can tomatoes

2 c veggie broth

2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed

2 sprigs rosemary

2 bay leaves

chopped fresh parsley, for serving

hunks of bread, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350ºf.

In an oven-safe dutch oven or cocotte, heat olive oil over medium, until shimmering. Add the chopped onion, carrots, celery, and a pinch of salt and cook until soft, 10 to 12 minutes. (Alternatively, you can work in a non-oven safe pot and transfer your mixture to an oven-safe dish when it's time to move to the oven.)

Add the cayenne, a few turns of pepper, and the garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant.

Add the red wine and cook until it's reduced by half. Add the remaining ingredients, give everything a stir, and cover.

Transfer to the oven and braise for 2 to 3 hours, until the chickpeas are soft. Discard the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs, top with parsley, serve with bread, and enjoy!


hawaij apple pie with cardamom whipped cream

it's a video!! 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼 (and turn the sound on, it's my pops playin!) 

I have some personal news… I make pie now. 

Which is awkward since my whole life is basically a display of loyalty to #teamcake. I even wrote a whole thing in my book about kondo-punting homemade pie dough out of my life and didn’t even feel bad. 

But now here I am in 5778 and I not only make pies but I also post near daily pictures of Sven, a cat. Which is weird because I come from a long line of dog people and so genetically I am a dog person. I just can’t help it with the fluffy ball of glee that is Sven and with the pies, well, I suddenly just can’t get enough of them. (What’s next? You think I’ll eat a banana?) I think this pie thing actually started when Erin posted a few pie videos last year. That is when the crimping thing suddenly made sense and seemed like something that would actually be fun and not miserable to do. I had just gotten home from my book/#teamcake pride tour where a bunch of you urged me to just give pie making another chance, one of you even brought me a jar of lard about it, and from there I slowly started ruling out the idea of never making a homemade pie crust again. 

I also couldn’t really stop thinking about a few bites of peach and apple pie that Sarah fed me like two years ago while she was testing recipes for her book and grew this desire to not have to drive all the way down to the cities anytime I wanted a Sarah-quality pie. 

So I took a seat in back, reached across the aisle to #teampie, and began my research. I sat with a stack of all of my favorite baking books and flipped to the very shiny, untouched pages with the pies. It felt like going down an unexplored aisle of the grocery store but I was ready to just rip the band-aid off. Here were some takeaways:

1. At first I resented the fact that when the pie comes out of the oven you can’t level off the top and have a few scrap snacks, as you would a cake. But then! I learned the satisfaction of egg washing the pie dough scraps, salting the bejeezus out of them, and then baking them into little crackers. I even made some cat shapes. 

2. I have become such a rabid pie maker that I won’t even turn the heat on in our house for fear that the crust will get too warm. Have you any long underwear recommendations?

3. You can really pile those apples into the crust since they bake down quite a bit. But, as I learned in Stella’s book, it’s important not to over-bake them, lest they get mushy and prevent you from getting a clean slice. Baking until the apples are 195ºf is what Stella recommends and that ensures that the apples are fully cooked but still retain their structure. 

4. All-butter pie crust (Pâte Brisée) recipes are all pretty much the same and consist of 1 1/4 c flour, a bit of salt and sugar, 1/2 c butter, and 3-4 tb water. There are a lot of small variations out there, like adding an egg or some dairy. I found that I prefer subbing a tablespoon of the water for a tablespoon of vinegar, as vinegar helps prevent the development of gluten, which will result in an even flakier crust. I also like using Land O Lakes® European Style Unsalted Butter here which has a fat content that is 3% higher than American butter and more fat = more flavor. 

5. A good pie has a thick golden crisp crust and innards that sing with flavor. It’s important that when you’re rolling out the dough you don’t make it too big and that when you’re trimming the edges you don’t trim off too much because you want that crust to be as thick as possible. Sarah suggests baking on a pizza stone to help the bottom crust get crispy, which is great because I like letting my pizza stone live in my oven. And as for the innards, I like amping up the apple flavor with a bottle of boiled cider that’s been in my cabinet for forever and Hawaij, which as we discussed a few falls ago, is what happens when pumpkin spice goes swimming in cardamom. It is so very good. (You can order boiled cider here but if you just can’t wait, omitting it will not be the end of the world. And you can make Hawaij with this quick lil recipe.) This baby is topped with cardamom whipped cream which only makes the Hawaij more… Hawaij-y and the whole situation more celebratory. 


6. I’m sorry, I am not sure what kind of apples are growing on our trees out back (they might be McIntosh??) but they are not too sweet, pretty crisp, and great for baking since they hold up and taste good. Here’s some literature on apple pie apples in case you don’t have a tree in your yard

Ok I can’t actually get over how satisfying pie making is and I have a feeling that I’m about to start making up for lost time as a cake snob. Molding pie crust is just so soothing. Let the crispy fall air roll in, put on the Sufjan, and omg, let me crimp the edges. That’s my favorite part. And can we just take a moment to enjoy giving it that little hug at the end to make sure his crust stays on the pie pan rims?? I don’t plan on getting into all of those fancy pie crust art productions that I see around the internet but I do plan on latticing through the winter and beyond. 

Hello, #teampie!!!! 
 

it's another vid!! 👆🏼👆🏼👆🏼👆🏼👆🏼


hawaij apple pie with cardamom whipped cream

makes one 9-inch pie

Ingredients

Filling

8 apples (1000g), washed and dried
Juice of 1 lemon
1 c (200g) dark brown sugar
2 tsp Hawaij
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tb cornstarch
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tb boiled cider 

Crust

1 tb apple cider vinegar
6 tb water
2 1/2 c (318g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tb sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 c Land O Lakes® European Style Super Premium Unsalted Butter, cold and cubed

Assembly

2 tb Land O Lakes® European Style Super Premium Unsalted Butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tb turbinado sugar
Flaky salt, optional

Cardamom Whip

1 c Land O Lakes® Heavy Whipping Cream
1/4 c powdered sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
 

Clues

Chop the apples into 1/4” slices, place them in a large bowl, and toss with the lemon juice. Add the brown sugar, hawaij, cinnamon, cornstarch, and salt and mix to combine. Mix in the vanilla and boiled cider. Cover the mixture and let it sit at room temperature for an hour or so (while you make the pie dough). 

To make the dough, combine the cider vinegar and water in a measuring cup and stick it in the fridge (or the freezer even) to get really cold. In a large bowl or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and either use your hands to toss it with the flour and pinch the butter into flat sheets or pulse in the food processor, incorporating the butter so that about 75% of the mixture is mealy. The rest of the mixture should have some slightly larger, pea-sized bits of butter. Drizzle in the vinegar and water and mix with your hands or continue to pulse in the food processor just until the mixture comes together to form a dough. If it seems dry or is having a hard time coming together, add a bit more water a few drops at a time until it comes together. Turn it out onto a clean surface, using your hands to press on any stray crumbs, and divide the dough in half. Pat the halves into discs, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

Adjust a rack to the lower third of the oven (with a pizza stone if you have one) and preheat the oven to 400ºf. On a floured surface roll out one of the discs to a circle just larger than 12 inches. Place it in a 9” pie plate and refrigerate it for 15 minutes. Meanwhile you can roll out your top crust. For a basic top crust roll out the remaining dough disc on a floured surface until it’s a little larger than 10”. For a lattice crust, divide the remaining dough disc into two and roll out two 10” circles. Cut the circles into 2” strips. 

Fill the pie crust with the apples (it will seem like a lot but they bake down!) and pour the juices over it. Chop the 2 tablespoons of butter into small pats and distribute it all over the top. For a basic crust, place the top crust over the pie, pinch the edges to seal, trim any stray bits with kitchen sheers and then fold the edges over and crimp. Cut 4 slits in the top. For a lattice crust, refer to the video above for how to assemble. Pinch the edges to seal, trim, fold the edges over, and crimp. Give the edges a little hug to make sure they are sitting snuggly on the rim of the pie pan otherwise they could fall off in the oven. 

Freeze the pie for 15 minutes. Brush it with egg wash, sprinkle with turbinado sugar and flaky salt, if desired, and then place it on a baking sheet and bake until the internal temperature reaches 195ºf. Begin checking for doneness at 45 minutes. Let it cool slightly.

To make the cardamom whip, combine the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and cardamom in a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat on medium high to stiff peaks. 

Serve pie with a large dollop of cardamom whip and enjoy! 


Thank you so much to Land O’Lakes for providing me with the butter and heavy cream for all of my pie baking adventures and for sponsoring this post. Their European style butter is so gosh darn good and rich and perfect for pie crust.

Additional thanks to Eggboy for his videography and to pops, Jim Stephenson, Patrick Godon, and Cedille Records for the soundtrack on that first vid!

maple tahini cupcakes with labneh frosting

I’ve just gotten home from the most delightful weekend bop over to Chicago for the wedding of one of my oldest homies, Stefani! We used to play a lot of marimba together and then at one point we overlapped in New York where we’d pull all nighters and party like crazy ladies. And by all nighters, I mean one time we stayed out all night long until the Lower East Side Doughnut Plant opened at 6:30am and then got one of each doughnut and it was the best and I’m never gonna forget that. (omg i just realized i blogged about it eight years ago, i'm so embarrassed.)  

Now she is all wifed up and I had the honor of making* the wedding cake!! The bottom tier was pumpkin with vanilla buttercream and the top tier was the hazelnut horse cake from motr. I did a test run of the birch cake decor a few weeks ago and I'm very glad I did because it turns out that there is a very fine line between birch cake and poop stain cake.

*baking, freezing, sticking in a cooler, checking on a plane, and decorating at mum’s house. It was my second time doing that this year and it was way less stressful than flying with a wedding cake sounds! 

Also this weekend I got to see my family, eat some blinchiki at Russian Tea Time, and noodle around up near the Wisconsin border since mum just moved there and that area is so great! Especially with all of the fall leaves. We went to the Mars Cheese Castle. If you don’t know what that is, just imagine the type of place that *would* be called the Mars Cheese Castle and there you have it. I got a bunch of smoked cheese and fancy string cheese that is going to be my dinner because Eggboy is still harvesting up a storm.

Now I’m back with no travel plans until Thanksgiving and I could not be more excited to hibernate to the tune of Hallmark movies and UND hockey games. Winter, get @ me!!!! Also!! I start Hebrew lessons this week!!!!!! A Rabbi has moved to town and I jumped at the opportunity to take Hebrew. Right now I know: ken, lo, boker tov, bamba, and… gal gadot. I’m so excited. 

These cupcakes are the recipe for another wedding cake that I made for this weekend (it was a two-cake weekend)! Asha, the co-founder of Cake in a Crate, and Andy, the other founder and one of my former college classmates, got hitched in Vermont and I mailed them a very Vermonty cake that was filled with maple and tahini and covered with marzipan! I loved making this cake for them because it obviously had my two greatest food loves in life and also because I got to develop this new recipe for it. I don’t think I’ve ever put maple with tahini before but it turns out it’s a wonderful cozy warm combination. For Asha and Andy’s cake, we brightened up the warmth with a layer of raspberry jam before layering on the marzipan, but for this cupcake version I’ve added labneh. It makes for a topping that’s lighter than cream cheese frosting but heavier and tangier than whipped cream. There’s not much to it at all, it almost feels silly to call it a frosting since it’s literally just sweetened labneh. But with a zest of a lemon and a luxurious swoop, you’ve got yourself a lovely little cake. And the poppy seeds are like a minimalist sprinkle as well as a nod to the buckwheat labneh cake at tandem coffee, which inspired me to get hip to labneh frosting!


maple tahini cupcakes with labneh frosting

makes 16 cupcakes

ingredients

cupcakes:

1 c + 2 tb (142g) flour
3/4 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 large egg
6 tb (120g) maple syrup
1/2 c (100g) sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp maple extract
1/2 c (120g) buttermilk
1/4 c (50g) flavorless oil
1/4 c (60g) water
1/2 c (100g) tahini

frosting:

1 2/3 c (400g) labneh
1/4 c (30g) powdered sugar
a pinch of kosher salt
zest of 1/2 a lemon

poppy seeds and lemon zest, for decorating

clues

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350ºf and distribute 16 muffin liners evenly between two muffin tins. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the egg, maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, maple extract, buttermilk, oil, water, and tahini. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to combine. Fill the muffin liners equally and then bake until as toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean; begin checking for doneness at 15 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, mix together the labneh, powdered sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Taste and adjust as desired. 

Spread the frosting onto the cupcakes, sprinkle with poppy seeds and lemon zest and enjoy! These are best the day of. 


-yeh!