It’s that time of year when holiday cake recipes are cooking, baking, and taste of the holidays making in the Places In The Home test kitchen.
Grandmother’s Tennessee Pound Cake with Nutmeg is tradition on a cake plate, and Wilshire Walnut and Spice Cake is a newly developed recipe worthy of center stage on the holiday dessert table.
The warm and inviting colors, textures, and patterns found in this house of the year kitchen by Susan Burns Designs offers holiday cake recipes baking inspiration.
Reflecting on holidays past brings back memories of recipes baked with love and taste traditions.
Crammed between the pages of a beloved cookbook inherited from an aunt is a collection of handwritten recipes cooked, baked, tested, and penned in the kitchen of my paternal grandmother.
Truth in baking disclosure:
The cupboard was bare of mace, and most importantly, what is mace?
Mace is a spice native to Indonesia. The flavor is sweet and woody reminiscent of nutmeg, however, not quite as sweet. Some describe the taste of mace as a blend of cinnamon and pepper.
Nutmeg stands as the spice I have plenty of, and so 2 teaspoons found its way into the batter.
Grandmother’s Tennessee Pound Cake with Nutmeg
3 cups granulated sugar
3 sticks salted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour; sifted
2 teaspoons nutmeg or to taste
Preheat oven to 300° F. Using a mixer, cream butter and granulated sugar together until mixture reaches a fluffy texture. Add eggs one at a time to creamed butter and sugar.
Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add sifted all-purpose flour and nutmeg to wet ingredients.
Using a wooden spoon or cake spatula, spoon batter into greased and floured tube pan.
Bake at 300° F for 1 hour or until knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove cake from tube pan and transfer to cake stand or platter of choice.
Building upon a traditional holiday recipe, this next cake highlights the spices, fruits, and nuts associated with the taste of the holidays.
Wilshire Walnut and Spice Cake
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 cups fresh apples, peeled and chopped
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup golden raisins
1 Tablespoon candied lemon peel
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Grease and flour Bundt pan.
Peel and chop apples; sprinkle with lemon juice.
Mix together sugar and oil; add eggs one at a time and beat until creamy.
Using a whisk, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves together.
Add dry ingredients in small amounts to sugar and oil mixture.
Next, add chopped apples, walnuts, candied lemon peels, coconut, and golden raisins.
Stir until incorporated.
Using a wooden spoon, evenly spoon mixture into a greased and floured Bundt pan.
Bake in 350° F oven for approximately 1 hour 10 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Meyer lemons are pucker power packed with bright flavor that complements two of my favorite fall spices– nutmeg and cloves.
Candied Lemon Peels
6 cups cold water, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2½ cups sugar
Peel lemons by taking off long thick strips. In a medium saucepan, combine 4 cups water, ½ teaspoon salt, and lemon peels. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat, strain mixture and reserve liquid.
Return liquid and lemon peels to pan. Add in ½ teaspoon salt and bring mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat, strain mixture, and reserve lemon peels.
Add 2 cups water and sugar to pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low. Add lemon peels. Gently simmer for 45 minutes being careful not do let the sugar caramelize. Remove from heat and drain.
Place lemon peels onto a piece of parchment paper that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Allow candied lemon peels to dry for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Store candied peels in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 1 week.
You can substitute homemade pumpkin puree for any recipe that calls for canned pumpkin.
With that fall baking fact in mind, let’s check out how to make homemade pumpkin puree.
Here we will be using a sugar pumpkin (also called a pie pumpkin), the best for cooking and baking.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Carefully cut off the top of the pumpkin. Using a large metal spoon, scoop out the seeds and the “strings”.
Cut the pumpkin in half.
Line a baking sheet with foil and place the pumpkin halves cut side down onto the baking sheet.
Generously rub the outer skin of each pumpkin half with olive oil.
Place in a 375°F preheated oven and roast for 45-60 minutes or until a fork easily inserts into each pumpkin half.
Allow to cool for twenty minutes or until cool enough to handle without risk of burning your hands.
Using a large metal spoon, scoop out the softened pulp. Place the pulp into in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
Pumpkin Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons
2 Sugar Pie pumpkins (each about 2 lb.)
Substitution: 4 cups of canned pumpkin puree
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing and drizzling
6 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 shallots, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme, plus whole sprigs for garnish
¼ cup Marsala
5 cups vegetable broth, plus more as needed
3 Tbs. maple syrup
1 cup half-and-half
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the grilled cheese croutons:
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 slices artisan white bread or sourdough bread
1 ½ cups grated Gruyére cheese
To make the soup, using a sharp knife, carefully cut off the top of each pumpkin to remove the stem, then halve each pumpkin vertically.
Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and any stringy fibers and discard.
Brush the flesh of the pumpkins generously with olive oil, then place them, cut sides down, on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the pumpkins are very tender when pricked with a fork, about 50 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then scoop the flesh from the peel into a bowl; discard the peels.
You should have about 4 cups of pumpkin. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 Tbs. of the butter.
Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.
Add the Marsala and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the pumpkin and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add the broth and maple syrup.
Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Stir in the half-and-half.
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth. (Alternatively, working in batches, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into the pot.)
Stir in more vegetable broth, if desired, to achieve the desired consistency. Keep warm over low heat while you make the grilled cheese croutons.
To make grilled cheese croutons, spread the butter on one side of each slice of bread, dividing it evenly.
Heat a large fry pan over medium heat.
Place 3 slices of the bread, butter side down, in the fry pan. Divide the cheese evenly between the 3 slices in the pan, then top with remaining bread slices, butter side up.
Cook until the bottom of bread is golden brown, then carefully flip each sandwich and continue to cook until the cheese is melted, about 5 minutes, turning down the heat if the bread is browning too quickly.
Transfer the grilled cheese sandwiches to a cutting board and let cool slightly while you ladle the warm soup into 6 individual bowls.
Drizzle each serving of soup lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a few grinds of pepper. Cut the grilled cheese sandwiches into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes and divide them evenly among the bowls of soup.
Garnish with thyme sprigs and serve immediately. Serves 6.
“I try to greet my friends with a drink in my hand, a warm smile on my face, and great music in the background, because that’s what gets a dinner party off to a fun start.”
Charcuterie | shahr-ku-tuh-ree refers to the art of preparing and assembling cured meats.
Charcuterie boards feature an array of dried meats, cheeses, fruits and nuts, crackers, breads, jams, preserves, marmalades, olives, pickles, and the like.
A recent conversation on the topic included a rundown of charcuterie board essentials.
Great entertaining minds think alike, and we all agreed a gathering of friends or/and family on a crisp fall late afternoon into evening is an excellent entertaining opportunity to bring on a fall cheese or charcuterie board.
There’s no wrong way to do a cheese or charcuterie board. I put together a small with fall in mind cheese board this afternoon.
It’s meatless, so it doesn’t officially qualify to be referred to as a charcuterie board.
Crisp apples, fresh dates, red grapes, assorted nuts, blue cheese, white cheddar, cream cheese with fig preserves, and dried cranberries fill the board.
A quick walk around the yard later I had fresh rosemary sprigs and mint leaves to use as garnish and filler.
The aroma is spectacular.
What’s in the little vintage creamer?
Honey drizzled over a slice of cheese topped with an apple is the taste of fall.
I love these carved wooden spoons for spooning up preserves and marmalades.
Dave and I stood on the front porch for a few minutes Friday night listening to the high school bands playing during the local football Jamboree.
Humidity and mosquitoes crashed our party, making me wish for fall even more.
Hope springs or falls eternal, and I can testify to sure signs of wishfall thinking- shorter days, a changing sun that casts a bright white light through the windows, and wind chimes that play a North wind lullaby.
The first gumbo feast of fall is soon to be cooking in the big blue pot.
I couldn’t wait until the official arrival of fall for a gumbo feast.
No respectable Louisiana cook can talk about gumbo and not break out the big blue pot, make some roux, chop up the Cajun trinity, and whip up a pot of chicken and sausage gumbo.
C’est si bon!
The hunt is on for Sportsman’s Paradise activities to do.
Fall festivals of pecan, tamale, meat pie, and funktoberfest are on our fall calendar of events.
A new to me vintage mixing bowl is ready for fall recipe duty.
Gathered in regional reverence, devout worshipers of the dining divine keep time to culinary tradition-nourishing the soul as well as the body.
Taking a meal at the Southern dinner table is a multi-layered celebration weaving through generations, tradition and culture.
A sudden wave of news copy on the popularity, rediscovery, and dare I say it, appreciation of Southern foods, has not only resonated with my taste buds, but my memories of times spent gathered around the Southern dinner table.
I surely don’t believe nor make the claim that the South holds the patent on dinner table philosophies, but sitting down to the Southern dinner table is an intended event.
It doesn’t matter if the table is set for cornbread, red beans and rice, or chicken fried anything with all the fixings, eating is far from simply a practice in sustenance.
Culinary tastes, rituals and traditions of cooking and dining vary from state to state, dining table to dining table across the South, but the core principles of preparing and sharing good food is uncomplicated, simple and basic.
If you cook, bake, fry, roast, barbecue, boil, grill, can, preserve or pickle it, they will come.
The differences between the ways of my Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana relatives always seemed to warrant a they don’t do it like this in whichever two states you were not breaking bread in.
The shared commonality between the Texas, Tennessee, and Louisiana masses boil down to simple dining vocabulary.
Dinner is the meal eaten in the middle of the day.
Supper is the meal eaten in the evening.
Breaking bread with the Texas family came with rituals and a throwback vibe all its own.
The dining room table was for the adults, and the kitchen table was for the kids.
Soft white bread on a porcelain bread and butter plate was as close to a bread basket as you were gonna get.
My Aunt Sis was as full of sass as she was wit, and lightening quick with an answer and a serving spoon.
This firecracker’s table came equipped with its own GPS system.
Grease was the answer for everything, a pressed glass compote dish filled with homemade pear preserves never left the center of the table, and salt was not an acquired taste.
It was a required taste.
The ladies of both my Texas and Louisiana family subscribed to the take down the china, fill the crystal to the rim, and put a hint of silver on the situation school of thought.
When questioned why a middle of the week dinner called for a fine lace tablecloth and a china pattern worthy of royalty, Aunt Sis would shoot back with a, “Well, hon, what’s the use of having the stuff if you don’t use it?”
I knew there was wisdom in her words, and they resonate with me to this day each time I open the doors to the china cabinet.
Life is too short not to use the good china, crystal and table linens every day.
Good morning, afternoon or evening! I hope everyone had a lovely Easter. For those of you beginning your spring break week enjoy your well deserved holiday. For those of us beginning the work week let’s pretend we’re one of the ones beginning our spring break week. Dave the Builder’s brother sent me a video he filmed while he and his family were having lunch at one of their favorite restaurants last week. Floridians with their ocean liner afternoons way of life need not rub it in.
My Easter weekend went from cooking, baking and casual entertaining to full blown extravaganza somewhere around late Saturday afternoon. That’s what happens when two family members tell two family members and they tell two family members. Get where I’m going with this?
Let me tell you something about going into full-on double and triple the recipes, come up with another dessert mode – it’s not exactly my kind of bunny hop. Grabbing the April issue of Better Homes and Gardens and turning to the dog-eared page I somehow knew I would need this holiday, inspiration stared me in the face.
Over the summer months I’ll periodically be featuring a summer recipe series, Delicacies, Dishes and Desserts. This Malted Buttercream frosting recipe kicks it off because it’s a summer is coming share worthy favorite. With summer comes get togethers of the family reunion, 4th of July and dinner on the grounds kind. Delicacies, dishes and desserts come to the buffet table not only to celebrate, but to comfort and to impress. This particular frosting, complete with a generous measure of malt shop goodness, has the flavor of summer whipped all over it. The coconut nest and malted milk eggs topped off the Easter theme, but I topped a second cake I prepared for our neighbors with fresh strawberry and lemon slices. How’s that for a preview of summer delights to come? I didn’t get a picture of that cake, but I’m sure it won’t be long before I have a reason to make another one.
Malted Buttercream Frosting
2 cup (4 sticks) butter, softened
6 cups powdered sugar
1 cup vanilla-flavored malted milk powder
4 tablespoons evaporated milk or milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
In a very large mixing bowl beat the butter on medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in 6 cups of the powdered sugar and the malted milk powder. Increase speed to medium and add 4 tablespoons of the milk, the vanilla, and salt. Beat for 2 minutes or until smooth. Add enough of the remaining powdered sugar or milk to make a frosting that is spreadable.
Frost top and sides with frosting. Decorate as desired with cotton candy and Easter egg candies just before serving.
Some may be thinking and asking, “six cups powdered sugar?” The malted milk powder keeps this frosting from being overly sweet. Into everyone’s life a little sugar will fall, and realizing that fact is why I don’t shy from posting and developing dessert recipes. From the measurement of an ingredient to the measurement of interior decorating and design, balance is key.