Cherry Spice Cake

Hooray! Another “no trip to the store” baking day! Fall baking comes easily when the ingredients in many recipes are already waiting on your pantry shelves, ready for use.   When everything you need to bake up something yummy is at your fingertips, it is much easier to begin!   I browsed through this collection of recipes from “A Taste of the South’s” Fall baking special issue, making note of the 1-2 items I need to buy but those items truly are few, and that is a definite plus for us bakers.  Use what you have when you can!

I appreciate the endless choices offered with Fall baking and the traditional flavors sure to shine in these recipes.   You can bet  your hard-earned dollars that the tastes of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves will be showing up! There are basic batters and crusts using flour, sugar,  baking soda or powder, eggs, and a cup or two of buttermilk. And nuts! You will be using chopped nuts, guaranteed! Today, I chose walnuts for their rich flavor. You should  use whatever tickles your fancy because it’s all about easily preparing something spiced, warm,  and delicious for your family and friends.

The easiest way to make this cake, or any cake, is to gather your ingredients and sort them out, having them ready when you need them. Have it all in place, cut your prep time in half, and you will be so much more efficient in the kitchen. The French  say “mis en place”,  and that is good advice! Read your recipe several times, know where everything fits, fill your measuring cups and small bowls with what you’ll need, and you will have this cake ready for the oven quickly. Do set your butter out early so it is completely softened. And use your stand mixer for both the cake batter and the cream cheese frosting. You can wash everything up while the mixer does its work.

The canned  cherries are a great surprise in this cake; their tart flavor perfectly complements the sweet cream cheese frosting.  Today I used the reserved juice from the cherries for the liquid in the cake frosting. I didn’t want it completely pink, however, so only used 2 T. This cake would also be great with a rich butter cream frosting. Ahhh, more choices! However you slice it, my friends, place it in the refrigerator once frosted until sliced; if you are lucky enough to have leftovers, place it back into the fridge. I set aside a large chunk last night to enjoy with coffee this morning.   Yum, breakfast too!

Cherry Spice Cake


1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1-14-1/2 oz. can pitted tart cherries, drained
1/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

Frosting Ingredients

1-8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
3-3/4 cups powdered sugar
1-2 t. water
2-3 drops red food coloring, optional
Additional chopped pecans or walnuts, chopped, optional

Directions Preheat oven to 350. Line two 9” round baking pans with waxed paper. Grease and flour the pans and paper; set aside.

Using a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. In separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and powder, and the salt then add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Fold in the cherries and pecans.

Transfer batter to prepared pans and bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

For frosting, in large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Add powdered sugar and enough water to achieve spreading consistency. Tint with food coloring if desired. Spread frosting between layers and over top and sides of cake. Garnish with additional chopped nuts. Store in refrigerator, covered.

Apple Caramel Pie

More apples! I am so definitely still in an “apple everything” frame of mind! It’s October, y’all, and there are beautiful Granny Smiths, Gala, Braeburn, and Fuji apples everywhere!  I say, and say again, “Bring them ON!”  Today’s  rich  apple pie recipe is from  a “Taste of Home” magazine’s special Fall baking issue, and it is just in time for our cooler October evenings.  You won’t go wrong investing time in preparing this one for your family.

To be honest, there is a good bit of prep work for this dish, but,  take it one step at a time and you’ll be removing this fragrant pie from the oven in no time. Today, I used both Granny Smith and Gala apples today because I had both on hand. I also used lemon juice instead of the lime juice called for in the recipe. Prepare the apples and toss them with the juice, spices, flour and sugar then get your pie crust made. You will need to follow the instructions and amounts given for the 2-crust pie as listed in the recipe; don’t skimp or you won’t have enough dough for both crusts. The butter in the dough makes for a deliciously tender crust for spiced apples piled high, topped with a second crust and drizzled with a rich caramel sauce.

Baker’s Tip:  Use a box grater and grate the butter for the crust; the photo above is one stick of butter grated; you’ll need one more stick.

Make the topping when the pie has finished baking and slowly pour it over the top crust then bake the pie a few minutes longer. I’m sure you’ve already decided to serve this one still warm, with individual scoops of country-style vanilla ice cream, and you are spot-on with that choice. Nothing’s better on a chilly Fall evening! Enjoy!

Apple Caramel Pie


6 cups sliced peeled tart apples
2 T. lemon or lime juice
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 t. salt
Pastry for a double crust 9” pie (see below)
2 T. butter, chopped

Topping Ingredients

2 T. butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 T. heavy cream
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, toss apples with juice. Combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt; add to apples and toss lightly. Set aside.

Prepare pie dough and line a 9” pie plate with bottom crust and trim even with edges; fill with apple mixture. Dot with butter. Place top crust over filling. Trim, seal, and flute edges, cut slits in top pastry. Brush the top crust with an egg wash (egg yolk and water, beaten).

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and apples are tender. Prepare topping by melting butter in a small saucepan. Stir in brown sugar and cream; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add chopped pecans, and pour mixture over top crust; bake pie for 2-3 minutes longer or until bubbly. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Note: Recipe ingredients for a double crust 9” pie: 2-1/2 cups flour, 1/2 t. salt, 1 cup cold butter, grated, and 2/3 cups ice water

Directions Combine flour and salt and stir to sift. Cut in the cold butter with your fingers, working fast. Add ice water and toss with a fork just until the dough pulls away from sides of the bowl. Separate into two discs, wrap each disc in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Chill your rolling pin also.

Pumpkin Pecan Cobbler

You will love this dish for several reasons, the first being that you likely have everything you need to prepare it already sitting on your pantry shelves. NO extra trip out to the store means you can think it and bake it within an hour’s time! The results are huge, so do get started soon.

The spices in the cobbler whisper October’s name: cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves. You know how good this will be just thinking about that combo, right? Finding yourself smack in the middle of Fall usually means one thing in the kitchen, and that is pumpkin! There’s enough pumpkin purée in the dish to provide that special autumnal flavor and the spices are a nod themselves to our cooler temperatures.

I was a little leery of the recipe’s instructions for pouring hot water over the topping before baking but was totally delighted with the results. As the water incorporates into the batter while baking, a rich creamy caramel sauce results, perfect for spooning over each serving.  That saucy caramel is one of the best things about the dish.

The second reason I love this recipe (and many thanks to friend Micki Welsh for finding it and knowing that I would enjoy it!) is that it is a snap to make. You will need three bowls for the dry, wet, and topping ingredients but there is no need even for your hand mixer. Simply combine wet with dry ingredients then sprinkle over the topping; add the hot water, and into the oven it goes.

Do try this one when cooler weather rolls around. If you are a pumpkin person (and I know many), you will be delighted by this cobbler. You will also find that a scoop of rich country-style vanilla ice cream is the only accompaniment you’ll want. Add friends and family and it’s Pumpkin Heaven, y’all!

Pumpkin Pecan Cobbler


1 cup plus 3 T. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ground cloves
1/2 cup pumpkin purée
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1-1/2 t. vanilla

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and spices in a large bowl and stir to combine. In a smaller bowl, combine pumpkin, milk, butter, and vanilla. Combine wet ingredients with dry and stir to blend all thoroughly, forming a thick batter. Scrape into an 8” baking dish with high sides.

Topping Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1-1/2 cups very hot water

Directions. In small bowl, combine the sugars and the pecans. Sprinkle on top of the batter in the baking dish. Slowly add the hot water, do not stir. Bake for 40 minutes or until the middle of cake is set. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with vanilla ice cream and additional pecans, chopped coarsely.



Fresh Corn & Potato Chowder


When October finally rolls around and that old chill appears n the air then I know you’re going to be thinking of chowder just like I was this week!  This recipe, from Southern Living Magazine, luckily popped up perfectly timed for my chowder craving ways recently.   I did tinker with the recipe somewhat, using heavy cream instead of half-n-half and adding pieces of sliced ham for extra flavor. The original Southern Living recipe list below is so easy to adjust for ingredients that you have on hand, or you can try it “as is”.  Either way you won’t be disappointed.

If you are adding ham, cook it with the corn when you first begin.  The potatoes and broth need only 10 minutes of simmering with the reserved corn cobs.; adding them to the broth produces that extra savory flavor which makes this dish so special. Pureeing some of the chowder  in your blender and adding it back to the pot also supplies texture before finishing with cream poured over and stirred in.  It’s a multi-layered fusion of flavor in just one pot.  Delicious!

It will definitely be worth an hour of your time to prepare the vegetables and start right in on this hearty chowder. Don’t make it early or let it sit too long; it is best served up while still warm without reheating.  Heat any leftovers slowly, adding cream, as needed.  Today it was good with the croutons I used but my guess is that a skillet full of cornbread is the best side dish for hungry appetites.   I feel sure that whatever you serve with it, or however you follow the recipe, this chowder will leave you and your friends and family satisfied and smiling!  Added bonus?  A chilly Fall evening will be immediately warmed, and welcomed! =)

Fresh Corn & Potato Chowder


4 T. butter
5 cups fresh corn kernels, reserve 2 cobs
3 fresh thyme springs or 1-1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 large sweet onion, diced
1-1/2 tsp. sea salt
4 cups chicken both
1 large Yukon gold potato, diced
3/4 cup half-n-half
1 cup chopped ham, optional

Directions Melt butter in a 4-qt. sauce pot over medium heat. Add corn kernels, thyme, diced onion and salt. If using chopped ham, add now. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes or until corn is tender but not browned. Stir in broth, potato, and corn cobs. Increase heat to high, bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Discard cobs.

Process 1 cup of corn mixture in a blender until smooth. Return this mixture to stockpot and stir in half-n-half, and remove from heat. Serve while still very warm.

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

Yesterday’s abundance of sour cream and several cups of frozen summer blueberries in the fridge and the freezer led me to this great recipe on the “allrecipes” web site. The cake did an on-point job in meeting my needs: enough to serve eight after eating two pieces after supper and saving a 3-slice hunk of it for breakfast the next day. I knew when I sliced the cake tonight that it would be even better the next day, after the streusel mixture set. Normally I don’t have any luck with streusel toppings but it helped that this streusel swirls into the middle and the top layers of batter. An overnight rest made for a fabulously chewable streusel cake with coffee yesterday

I used my stand mixture up to the point of folding in the berries. My berries were flash-frozen from the summer so I sprinkled them with a T. of flour before adding to the batter to prevent dreaded ‘purple stain batter’ syndrome! Other than that, make strictly as is. Don’t over bake; an hour and 2 minutes was perfect. I covered it lightly with a dish towel and inverted it onto my serving plate after 45 minutes.  The only thing to really watch, other than having everything in place before you begin, is to allow your butter to soften to just the right texture before beginning.  As soon as the cold is off of it is just right.

The powdered sugar goes on in a fine mist. Combined with the snowflakes on the serving plate and the powdered sugar, it almost felt winterish in the kitchen on blueberry streusel day. It’s definitely worth a trip to your freezer to see if you have summer berries lurking there!

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake


1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
1-5/8 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a 9-inch Bundt pan.

In a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the batter just until blended. Fold in blueberries.

Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan. In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Sprinkle half of this mixture over the batter in the pan. Spoon remaining batter over the top, and then sprinkle the remaining pecan mixture over. Use a knife or thin spatula to swirl the streusel layers into the cake.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted into the crown of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Invert onto a serving plate, and tap firmly to remove from the pan. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.