Baked Sunday Mornings: Antique Caramel Cake

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I really, really love caramel and I wanted to make this cake, but I wasn’t able to line up a dinner party play date for my family so I didn’t want to make a full cake and have it go to waste. Plus, I was able to get some cute, boy-friendly cupcake decorations that I wanted to try out for my guys, so I opted to make a batch of cupcakes instead.

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The batter was quick and easy to make although I was wondering how caramel-y it would end up tasting.

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It used a bit of vinegar at the end and it made me laugh to realize the brand was “Lady’s Choice”–should I be offended?

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I had lots of help from my little cupcake-loving guys. G “helped” fill the cupcake liners and M helped me make the frosting. I forgot to whisk in the heavy cream at the right time, so I added it at the end. Luckily it didn’t mess anything up. Sometimes it’s hard to focus when baking with 3 little boys running around. I *did* add a tablespoon of vanilla extract to the frosting. I don’t think I’m capable of making a cake (or cupcakes) without vanilla in some form.

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I ended up doing spooky red sparkes/knives for the big boys, rainbow sugar sprinkles for baby G, pink sprinkles for me and crystal salt flakes for my sweet man. I ended up “testing” two before I even frosted them, they made about 17 cupcakes, but I did overfill a few of them so they probably should have made closer to 20.

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I was happy with the way they turned out–very rich and caramel-y without being too sweet. I didn’t add any more caramel on top, but I did sprinkle a bit of kosher salt on them to contrast with the sweet caramel. Everyone in my family also gave them two thumbs up.

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I had to take a work call when I had five minutes left on the timer and forgot all about the cupcakes for about 8 minutes. I yanked them out in a panic, afraid I had ruined them. Even though they were a bit darker on the tops than I would normally allow, the finished cupcake was fine, not dry at all.

I will definitely make these again, both as cupcakes and as a layer cake. Go see how the recipe turned out for my fellow bakers!

Next up: Chocolate Velvet Walnut Fudge with Olive Oil and Fleur de Sel.

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Share the Scoby Love

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With every batch of kombucha that is made, the scoby starts to get a bit thicker. Translucent gummy goodness is a sign that the scoby is having a baby. I hadn’t separated my fused mama/baby scoby until this last batch. I realized that as the holidays approach maybe a little starter kit with a scoby (swimming in the brew it was born in) directions and helpful hints (handwritten for a personal touch) and a bottle of my latest batch may be a fun gift for one of the kombucha lovers in my life.

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I know so many people who enjoy a bottle of store bought kombucha, and most probably don’t enjoy the $4 price tag. Just like anything else, it’s so cheap to make and I achieved success with my very first batch with zero experience or knowledge prior to giving it a shot. I have read a lot of blogs and websites discussing methods and equipment and was able to get a pretty solid working technique down quickly. (although I did use a spicy tea last time without realizing the essential oils may be harmful to my scoby, I guess we’ll see if it is ok by how my current batch pans out)

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Williams-Sonoma sells this kit online for $70 and even though the glass jar is cool, I think it’s a total scam. I don’t think I’ve spent $20 on supplies and I’m on my 5th batch.

I think I have a recipient in mind for my first little kit, if I get a good response I may continue to spread the scoby love around.

What are your favorite DIY gifts to give this time of year?

Baked Sunday Mornings: Good Morning Sunshine Bars

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I was really excited about this recipe, it’s something I knew everyone would love and it was a great quick and easy treat to throw together, even on a busy week night.

I had a friend in town who happened to be vegan so I cut a few pieces for her before I added the milk chocolate. I was feeling lazy so I just melted the chips in a glass bowl and used a teaspoon to Jackson Pollock the top of the bars.

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I have to say, these were perfect. I loved them immediately after they were made and they were amazing in the morning with coffee. They were definitely NOT a morning treat for my boys, they got them in the evening after dinner.

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The bars were a yummy and elegant upgrade from the usual cereal concoction: rice crispy treats. These would be great for one of the many bake sales we have at the boys’ school and I know I’ll be making these again sooner than later!

Go over and see what everyone else thought!!

Next up: Antique Caramel Cake!! I’ve wanted to try this one and there are two good things about it–1. It uses ingredients I almost always have on hand 2. It’s only two layers so I shouldn’t have a lot leftover. I’m going to try and plan making this around dinner plans, Baked cakes are always perfect for sharing with friends!

Portable Breakfast: Whole Wheat Toaster Pastries

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I’ve been wanting to make toaster pastries for a while. My boys bug me sometimes for Pop Tarts and I never buy them–I want them to have healthy breakfast choices–but portable foods really come in handy. It takes us about 20 minutes to get to school each morning and we usually all choose sleep over sitting groggily at the kitchen table. Things like smoothies, breakfast tacos, eggs in pita pockets are usually the way to go, but I wanted to give DIY Pop Tarts a shot.

I found this recipe and decided to make these at the same time as I made my sweet puppy girl some doggie treats.

I made half with pumpkin butter and half blueberry preserves and sprinkled the tops with cinnamon sugar before baking. I was worried that it would be to crust-y/dense and not fruity enough. The first morning my boys grabbed a pumpkin one and were.not.impressed. Day two was a blueberry morning and they tore them up. I’m going to make another batch and make some changes to make them still healthy but more interesting for the guys.

What are your healthy breakfast on the go recipes?

Kombucha Files: Batch 3

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So far so good with my kombucha! The latest batch is currently fermenting and I think it’s going to be a good one. Batch one and two were made with organic honeycrisp apple juice and ginger. The last batch had a far more pronounced ginger flavor because I used peeled and sliced ginger instead of just a chunk of peeled ginger.

The second batch used organic black tea bags and organic hibiscus/mint tea bags, this new batch I used organic herbal spice tea and black tea. I plan on adding a lot of ginger to this batch as well, because I really like the flavor and the tummy benefits. I decided to branch out with the juice as well and use organic pear instead of apple.

The glass jar I have been using for the second ferment is not at all right. I love that it has a spigot but the top does not allow for proper carbonation to build up. I really need screw top jars for that to happen, so I’ve been saving bottles to use for this third batch. I have the two apple juice jars and a few store-bought kombucha bottles.

I really want to go to the local homebrew supply store to get these awesome bottles. One case of 12 would be perfect for ongoing batches of kombucha. My whole family loves it and the bottles are really ideal for individual servings. Of course I also fantasize about getting snazzy labels and coming up with some sort of snappy name for my brew. Not to sell, the Austin kombucha market is getting pretty saturated–mostly just because I like the idea of sipping my kombucha out of cute personalized bottles.

Have you made kombucha yet?

Pumpkin Wrap-Up: Peanut Butter & Pumpkin Dog Treats

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I don’t often buy store-bought dog treats, but the recent rash of recalls has me not buying any at all. I know my Martha-Pie gets a little tired of her normal dog food and stolen table snacks so I was inspired to whip her up a batch of seasonally-appropriate yumminess after reading this post over at Stitch in the Sea.

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Martha has never been all that motivated to bother to learn to sit and I have been pretty lazy about teaching her, but she loves these snacks so much that she will do pretty much anything I ask to earn one. When I walk anywhere near my baking area she races over to look up at me hopefully, begging for one.

Baby G has had fun giving them to her and he even personally sampled one or two. I used the leftover pumpkin butter that I had hanging around–turns out I don’t eat enough toast to polish it off on my own and my boys haven’t been as into pumpkin as I have been this season, so I needed to use it up while it was still good.

It was fun to look through all my cookie cutters to choose the right one for my doggie girl. In the end I went with cats and bats. She hates cats more than anything and I thought she’d enjoy chowing down on these elegant kitties. The bats are kind of an Austin thing and the perfect size for these treats. Next time I’d probably go all bats, just because I’d be able to make a lot more using a smaller cutter, even though I love the way the cats looked.

What are you waiting for? Go bake up some for YOUR sweet pooch!