Old fashioned doughnut bundt cake

A point of clarification up front so that you don’t make the same mistake I did.  When I saw the words “old fashioned donut bundt cake” strung together, I made the leap to a cake inspired by the categorical old fashioned donut.  You know, the one that sort of looks like a star, has a sour cream base and is best with the clear glaze (don’t talk to me about chocolate)?

Alas, this is not that recipe.  Instead this is a nod to the temporal old fashioned donut.  As in, old timey.  Both are delicious.  But, sometimes it’s disappointing to think you are about to enjoy one thing when it’s really (per user error) another.

Nutmeg forward and dense, this cake would be a ringer as a Christmas morning treat.  Sub-in egg nog for the buttermilk and you’ve got yourself Christmas dessert.

The original recipe calls for a cinnamon sugar topping,  which is, of course, delightful.  But, I opted for a tender, rich brown butter glaze.

Either way, you’ve got a winner.  Especially if you aren’t confused about your donut varieties.

Old Fashioned Doughnut Bundt Cake

adapted from Erin Jeanne McDowell

Ingredients

for the cake

  • 1 C (225g) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 C (300g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 C (445g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 C (240 ml) buttermilk, room temp

for the icing

  • 6 TBS (85g) unsalted butter
  • XX (350g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 TBS hot water
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Directions

for the cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease (butter or spray) a 10-12 cup bundt pan.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes)
  3. Add eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated, scraping down bowl after each addition.  Beat-in vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine.
  5. Add half of the flour mixture to butter mixture and mix on low until just combined.  Add half of the butter milk and mix to combine.  Repeat.  Scrape down bowl making sure batter is well mixed.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Rap pan on counter a couple of times to remove air pockets.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with only fine crumbs, 45-55 minutes.
  8. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Then invert onto a wire cooling rack and remove from pan.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

For icing

  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Bring up heat and allow to medium and let simmer until it reaches a deep golden brown and smells nutty.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift confectioners sugar and salt.  Whisk-in brown butter, vanilla and corn syrup.  Add hot water up to six tablespoons one tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency (more water for glaze, less for a thicker icing).
  3. Pour icing over cake and allow to cool completely before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

As I’m sure I’ve covered during my written navel gazing a time or two, I put a lot of thought into what gets included in each year’s holiday baking.  My hope is that there is a little something for everyone.  So, always sugar cookies (kids), something fruity, something nutty and something chocolate (that doesn’t also include nuts).

Last year’s chocolate crinkles while popular, were not the wisest choice from a baking perspective.  With oil rather than butter as the fat source, I found myself having to roll and reroll hundreds of chocolate balls again and again (with butter, the dough stiffens up and holds its shape).  And though world peace cookies are a favorite of mine personally,   I’m afraid their simplicity gets lost in all of the other flashier offerings.

So, this year I was on the hunt for a new chocolatey cookie. After trying a few candidates (I know, it’s tough eating all that chocolate), I finally landed on Sarah Kieffer’s double chocolate espresso cookies.  They are simple enough that kids  like them, but fancy and complex enough thanks to the addition of cacao nibs, to be holiday-worthy.

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

Sarah Kieffer

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C (213g) AP flour
  • 1/2 C (50g) Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 tsps ground espresso
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 14 TBS (198g) unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 3/4 C (150g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C (150g) golden brown sugar
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 5 ounces (142g) semisweet chocolate chopped into bite-sized pieces (I like using mini chocolate chips)
  • 2 TBS cacao nibs.  I found mine on Amazon: cacao nibs.

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven, preheat to 350 degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso and baking soda.
  3. Set aside 4 TBS (57g) butter in a medium bowl.
  4. Melt remaining 10 TBS butter (142g) in a medium saucepan.  Brown the butter until it is dark, golden brown and gives off a nutty aroma (2-3 minutes).
  5. Pour browned butter (and any bits) into the bowl with the set aside butter.  Stir until all butter is melted and combined.  Stir in the granulated and brown sugars, vanilla and salt.
  6. Whisk-in the egg and egg yolk until fully combined and the batter is smooth and glossy.  Let the mixture sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk again for another 45 seconds.
  7. Add-in the flour mixture and fold to combine.  Fold-in the chocolate and nibs.
  8. Form the dough into 2 TBS balls (or scoop).  Please 8 balls on each sheet.
  9. Bake cookies, one pan at a time until the centers are puffed, about 8-9 minutes.
  10. Transfer pan to wire rack and allow to cool completely.  Sore in an air-time container.

As a note–I like to refrigerate the dough balls over night to develop the flavor and texture.  If you do as well, just add on a minute extra to bake the cold dough.

 

 

The holy grail of butter crunch

Like the rest of 2020, the holidays this year have been and will continue to be different.  I know, call me Captain Obvious.  At this writing, the Misanthropic Hostess’s 2020 holiday baking is in the books.  The scope was greatly reduced–I only made about 60% of what I usually make.  I also spent a lot of time worrying about how to include as many people as I could while under a stay at home order.  As a result, there were no baking analytics and very little in the way of social media engagement along the way.

Even so, I did find a couple of new great additions I wanted to share.   This year’s almond butter crunch is one of them.

When people learn that baking is my jam (in addition to making bad puns), they often ask what my specialty is.  The truth is that I don’t have one.  I like to bake because for me, its about trying new things and improving my skills.  I’m always on the lookout for the next best method or technique.  So, I’m always on the search for the “better” recipe.  It’s an important part of the fun for me.

I can’t tell you how many toffee/ butter crunch recipes I’ve tried over the years in search of the perfect texture and flavor.  To me, it’s about a deep, almost burnt caramel flavor that starts out hard but quickly melts and crumbles at the bite.

Well, I think I’ve found my holy grail of butter crunch.  At least for now.  Ingredients are important.  But, so is technique.  As such, the recipe below is heavily annotated with my own bits and pieces on what I think make for a superlative butter crunch.

Almond (though use whatever nuts you want) Butter Crunch

adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

  • 16 TBS (227g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1 /2 C (298g) sugar
  • 3 TBS  (43g) water
  • 1 TBS (21g) light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 C (227g) toasted nuts (chopped, sliced or slivered)
  • 2 2/3 C (454g) semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In large, deep saucepan (3 quart), melt butter over low heat.  Stir in water, corn syrup and salt to combine.  Then stir-in sugar.  Insert candy thermometer.
  2. Bring mixture to boil over medium to medium lowish heat.  It will take longer at lower hear but this way but also reduces the chance that your candy will burn.
  3. Line 9X13 inch pan with parchment paper.  Sprinkle half the nuts and half the chocolate evenly throughout the pan.
  4. Allow mixture to reach 290 degrees.  Do no stir!  If caramel begins to brown unevenly, gently swirl pan.
  5. Once the mixture get to 290 degrees, pull from heat and gently stir-in vanilla with a wooden spoon.  Then stir in baking soda.  Caramel will become momentarily angry and puff up.  This is good.
  6. Pour caramel mixture into prepared pan, gently coaxing the last bits out with a heat-proof spatula.
  7. Sprinkle remaining chocolate across hot caramel.  Let sit for 5 minutes and then spread evenly across top.  Sprinkle on remaining nuts, then gently push the nuts into the chocolate.
  8. Allow toffee/caramel and chocolate to set/cool completely.  Break into pieces and store in an air tight bag or container.
  9. The butter crunch will become more tender in the next 24 hours and should keep for at least a month.

 

 

 

Holiday Baking 2019 Recipes

And just like that, the 2019 holiday baking odyssey has come to an end.  As always, it was a hoot and even though in the 11th hour I swore I’d never do it again, I’m already dreaming about what to do for next year.

If you followed along with the 2019 Holiday Baking Analytics, you already know the stats.  I used nearly 80 pounds of sugar, 36 pounds of flour, 29 pounds of butter and 45 pounds of fruits, nuts and other add-ins.  I made nine types of cookies this year yielding 3,761 units.  We mailed 22 boxes and delivered another 30 or so in person.  Folks, my work here is done.

But, just in case you’d like to make your own, I’ve included links to each of the recipes below.

Cheers and happy holidays to all!

Sugar Stars

Rum Butter Nuts

Peanut Butter Balls

or as we call them in our house, Schweddy Balls

Triple Gingersnaps

Candied Orange Peel

Almond Butter Crunch

Confettidoodles

Brown Butter Coconut Caramel Crispies

Chocolate Crinkles

Our house looked like a tornado hit it for a day or two.

There was no theme, but I did have a lot of fun with colored duct tape (seriously–get some, it’s a good time).

And a new company for labels, Paper Culture.

I promised we stuffed as much as we could into each box.

Pre-purchasing labels from USPS is the way to go.

As an added bonus, each and every box (and most of the tissue paper) was checked for safety and construction by our quality control crew.

 

Ye Old Chocolate Crinkles

Traditional chocolate crinkle cookies were the second freshman cookie this year.  I wanted something simple and chocolatey to replace the World Peace cookies that have been in rotation for many years.  After searching through what seemed like hundreds of chocolate cookie recipes, the road lead me to this holiday favorite.

As I researched across recipes for the optimal chocolate crinkle, I learned that like rugelach, there really is only one recipe with slight variations.  Nearly all I saw use vegetable oil instead of butter and unsweetened cocoa instead of chocolate.

Again, never to leave well enough alone, my version has the subtle addition of espresso powder.  Because, as I’ve said before, why be normal.

Chocolate Crinkles

Ingredients

  • 1 C (90 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 C (325 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C vegetable oil (I like grapeseed)
  • 4 eggs at room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 C (300 grams) all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 TBS espresso powder (optional)
  • 1/2 C confectioners/powdered sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil.
  2. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, espresso powder and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture.
  4. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  6. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll dough into one inch balls.
  8. Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Brown Butter Coconut Caramel Cripsies

Because leaving well enough alone is boring, I like to rotate a couple of the cookie selections each year for holiday baking.  This year, one of the new kids is a deeply browned butter, lacy coconut and caramel crispy concoction.

This should not come as a surprise considering my current obsession with caramelized rice crispies.  As you might recall, I employed them in various and delicious ways including a Cracker Jack inspired bar, an extra chocolate chip cookie and some meta rice cripsie (or is it Krispy…or Krispie) treats.

And then there is my absolute favorite cookie discovery of 2019: Browned Butter Coconut Cookies.

I know.  You know.  Where I’m going.

These take some time; the butter needs to brown and cool in advance and the caramel crispies need to be made separately.  BUT, if these flavors are your jam, it’s totally worth it.

Brown Butter Caramel Crispies

For the Caramelized Crispy Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 C crispy rice cereal (have had good results with both regular and brown rice versions)
  • 3 TBS water
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan add sugar.  Then add water and mix until sugar dissolves.  This is the last time you are going to want to touch the mixture until you take it off the heat the first time.
  3. Bring mixture to a boil (don’t stir) and allow to simmer until the syrup just starts to brown.
  4. Remove from heat and mix in cereal (I find a rubber spatula works the best). Gently mix cereal until ever last piece is covered in syrup.  By the time you there, everything will have dried and look like its dusted in snow (and now we know how they make Frosted Flakes).
  5. Return to heat over a medium burned and fold constantly.  The sugar will start to melt and caramelize.  Keep folding until you reach desired depth of caramelization.  I know the version I like is done when the sugar starts to smoke.
  6. Spread cereal on parchment lined baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
  7. From here you can store in an airtight container in big hunks.

For the cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 C (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 TBS water
  • 1/2 C plus 2 TBS (125 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 C (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 C plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Slightly heaped 1/2 tsp flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 C (180 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips
  • 1/2 batch caramelized crispy rice (so feel free to eat the other half)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do.  Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup.
  2. Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy.
  4. Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips in two parts as well.
  6. Fold-in caramelized rice crispies.
  7. Scoop dough into 1 inch balls, flatten each slightly and arrange all onto a baking sheet (separating layers with parchment paper).  Refrigerate for an hour up to over night.
  8. When you are ready to bake, heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
  9. Arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on the baking sheets.  Bake cookies until golden brown all over, about 10 minutes (rotate halfway through cooking).  Repeat to bake all cookies.
  10. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more.

Amish Friendship Bread (Cinnamon Bread)

I’m not very good at predicting what people will eat (because it’s there) versus what people will love.

So, when I made this non-yeasted take on the Amish friendship bread, I wasn’t prepared for the number of recipe requests.

Cinnamony and satisfyingly rich, this quick bread evokes crisp fall mornings.  It is also so simple that I’d be willing to be money that you have all of the ingredients already on-hand.

I happened to have some cinnamon chips on hand and threw in a scant cup.

But you really don’t need them.

One of the very best parts of this bread is the sweet, crunchy crust that forms around the entire loaf–so, it’s best served the day it’s made.  However (and I tested this because I am a dedicated researcher), it’s still pretty stellar the next day.

Amish Cinnamon Bread

Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Baking

Ingredients

Cinnamon Sugar 

  • 1/2 C (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil (grape seed)

Bread

  • 3 3/4 C (18 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3 C (21 ounces) sugar
  • 1 TBS ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 C milk
  • 1 1/3 C vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 ounces cinnamon chips (optional)

Directions

  1. For the cinnamon sugar: combine sugar and cinnamon in bowl.  Brush two 8 1/2X 4 1/2 inch loaf pans evenly with oil.  Add 2 TBS cinnamon sugar mixture to each prepared pan and shake and tilt pans until bottoms and sides are evenly coated.  Set aside remaining 1/4 C cinnamon sugar mixture.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk milk, oil, eggs and vanilla.
  5. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture until. just combined.  Gently fold-in cinnamon chips if using.
  6. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.  Sprinkle remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on tops of each loaf.
  7. Bake until paring knife inserted in centers of loaves comes out clean (65-75 minutes).
  8. Let bread cool in pans on wire rack for 1 hour.  Run paring knife around edges of pans to thoroughly loosen loaves.  Tilt pan and gently remove bread.  Serve warm or at room temp.

Posession with intent to distribute

Sometimes I feel like a drug dealer when I deliver baked goods to friends and colleagues.  And, that’s not just because I like to lurk in dark alleyways and whisper, “hey kid, you wanna smoke some drugs?” out of the side of my mouth.

It’s also not the whole sugar is a drug thing (Yes, I know it is.  No, I’m not going to stop baking).

Maybe it’s because my hobby yields something people generally seem to want to consume. Then there is that part where people enjoy and then talk about why they shouldn’t have.  It may also have something to do with my ties to the Salamancas Family.   Anyhow on to the biggest baking drug deal of the year: 2018 Holiday Baking!

My analytics weren’t super awesome this year.  I just didn’t have time to work on data visualization. In their place,  I offer a summary:

  • 35 pounds of butter
  • 75 pounds of sugar
  • 25 pounds of fruits and nuts
  • 25 pounds of chocolate
  • 3500 units

And some old fashioned visuals.  You’ll find a  list of everything I baked with links at the bottom.

 

Holiday Baking 2018: The List

Candied Orange Peel

Candied Ginger

Triple Gingersnaps

World Peace Cookies

Sugar Cookies

Royal Icing (Sweet Sugarbelle)

Rum Butter Nuts

Peanut butter (schweddy) balls

Almond Butter Crunch

Cranberry White Chocolate Doodles (recipe isn’t quite ready for prime time)

 

 

Holiday 2017

As I walked into our student store the other day (I work on a college campus), I was  blasted simultaneously by air conditioning (yes!) and Christmas music (whaaat?). Turns out they were having a Christmas in July sale.

If you can believe it, I’ve already begun the pre-planning (otherwise known as daydreaming) phase of my holiday baking.

Which has reminded me that I have a blog.

That hasn’t been updated since December of last year.

I don’t really have an explanation.

But I do have a nice little back log of posts at the ready.

For this post, I present an array of marginally mediocre snaps from our 2017 holidays.

Amazing effort on your first post of 2018 you say.  I don’t disagree.  But anyhow.  Holidays 2017:

There was baking.

And candy making.

And packaging.

And boxing.

About the time all that was done, my family arrived.

So there was more baking.

And some holiday decorations.

And butter trees.

Then there’s this. That’s TD.  In our as-yet-to-be-landscaped side yard. In a cougar ski mask, holiday appropriate t-shirt and thermo BBQing gloves.

Rest assured, he was the only one of us wearing a costume.

 

 

Puttin’ suckers in fear

Photo circa 2014.

Don’t call it a comeback (but it really is)
I’ve been here for years (just haven’t had a kitchen)
I’m rocking my peers (with baked goods that is)
Puttin’ suckers in fear (literally, no sugar source is safe)

Song credit: Mama Said Knock You Out, L.L. Cool J.

On Saturday, October 14, 2017, after a three year hiatus, I officially kicked off my 2017 holiday baking.  If you follow me on Instagram (@tmhostess), you’ve already been harassed by the crappy instastories and mediocre ‘grams. I’ve even got a hashtag going: #misanthropichostessholidaybaking2017. #worsthashtagever.

While I plan to keep most of the visuals on Instagram, I thought it would be fun to include Holiday Baking 2017 analytics.  And of course, a contest.

First the analytics.  I’ve created a separate page on this site with a live feed of my baking analytics.  That’s right, real time baking data on:

  • Running total of units in-production and completed
  • Running total, pounds of butter used
  • Running total, pounds of sugar used
  • Running total, pounds of chocolate used
  • Running total, pounds of nuts used

To follow along at home, go here:

2017 Holiday Baking Analytics

Each Tuesday I’ll upload some photos and remind you of where to go to see the latest stats (because I’m a data pimp).

A box (or extra box) of goodies goes to the person who can get closest to the sum below without going over:

  • Total pounds (lbs) of: butter + sugar + nuts + chocolate

If you want to play along, cast your vote via comment to this post no later than midnight, November 9th.

Here we go, here we go, here we go again…