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Monday, November 10, 2014

Pumpkin Manchego Beer Bread

I am in the midst of a very important project. Forget school, forget work. I'm currently fortifying myself for winter.

I, like my furrier friends, am filling my freezer and filling out my waistline in the hopes that I will survive the colder months. Just last night, in fact, my flatmates and I burrowed into the icy depths of our freezer to retrieve a few slices of Pumpkin Manchego Beer Bread I made last week.

The colder it gets, the lazier I get, so having food on hand saves me from ordering takeout every night. It might surprise you, but I don't cook nearly as often as I should. Most of my time in the kitchen is dedicated to boiling the kettle.

While it is probably more prudent to make a big batch of stew or soup that you can pull out in a dire dinnertime situation, might I suggest this quickbread instead? It's great with a pat of salted butter alongside a bowl of chilli or crumbled into a savory bread pudding. Or simply eaten straight out of the pan.

Pumpkin Manchego Beer Bread
Makes one loaf
Adapted from Spoon Fork Bacon

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1 large egg, slightly beaten
8 ounces beer
1 1/2 cups grated Manchego cheese
Pumpkin seeds, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and spices. In a small bowl, whisk together pumpkin, butter, and egg. Make a well in dry ingredients and pour in pumpkin mixture and beer. Stir to combine. Fold in grated Manchego, careful not to over-mix. Spread batter into prepared baking pan. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds over top. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden and firm to the touch and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool slightly on a wire rack. Serve with salted butter.

More Beer Bread
Fruity Walnut Beer Bread
Caramel Apple Beer Bread
Spiced Octoberfest Beer Bread

Monday, September 8, 2014

Almond Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is the favorite season of Basic Bitches across the world. The turn of seasons allows every self-respecting Basic Bitch to proclaim that she "doesn't know why, but something about the autumn leaves makes her want to curl up in a cozy sweater with a good book and a mug of tea." After suffering through the long summer months, it is finally time for her to shed her Nasty Gal crop top and don her favorite 'Lulu' leggings and Uggs.

But lest we forget the most important part of the BBC (the Basic Bitch's Credo, not the British Broadcasting Corporation). The pillar upon which every Vera Bradley-wielding, Fifty Shades of Grey-reading girl has built her altar to Autumn. The Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Once Labor Day has come and gone, the inundation of snapchats, Instagrams, and tweets about their "favorite time of year ;)" begins. And I begin to bundle up. Not to brace myself against the dipping mercury, but rather to drown out all of the basic. I need something to get me through, and these are my answer. These muffins are the Pumpkin Spice Latte of the Basic Bitch's wilder cousin, the Bad Bitch.

Almond Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 12 

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup caster sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 14-ounce can canned pumpkin
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup flaked almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 12-inch muffin pan with paper muffin cups. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together canned pumpkin, coconut oil, eggs, and almond extract. Gently fold in dry ingredients until just incorporated. Divide evenly between muffin cups. In a small bowl, stir together 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over top of batter. Sprinkle flaked almonds on top. Bake for 30 minutes, until fragrant and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

More Pumpkin Recipes

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Earl Grey Tea Cake

No matter what else is going on in my life, there is one constant. I may be transitioning. I may have a lot on my plate. But I always have a cup of tea.
The season and my mood dictate the type I reach for. And my schedule may lead me to choose a bag of tea over a nicer loose leaf. No matter the variety, I can't actually remember the last day I went without a mug of tea. Or a cuppa, as the Brits call it.

Because I've been going pretty non-stop for the past few months, my body is run down. Travel, work, and settling into a new life in a new city have left me tired and a bit lackluster, so my usual cup a day has turned into mug after mug. I'll stop into the tea parlor down the road for a match a latte, having just downed a thermos full of Darjeeling at home.

I know it's not a cure-all, but it is comforting. And whatever else I put my poor body through (I am well aware that eating out and going out are not exactly easy on my system), I feel that tea helps me detoxify and decompress. And while I'm more than happy with a simple Genmaicha or Oolong, it is nice to have some accompaniment every now and again. And what goes better with tea than tea cake?

Earl Grey Tea Cake
Adapted from Paris Pastry Club
Makes 1 loaf

For the cake:
1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest from two clementines
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Beans from one vanilla pod
2/3 cup creme fraiche
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

For the clementine confit:
4 clementines, thinly sliced
1/2 cup water
1 cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Beans from one vanilla pod

To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter one loaf pan and line with parchment paper. Butter parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and zest. In a large bowl, rub caster sugar and tea leaves together until it is a fine meal and fragrant. Add eggs and beans from vanilla pod and whisk until light in color, about 4 minutes. Gradually fold in flour mixture, careful not to overbeat. Fold in creme fraiche and butter. Pour into prepared baking pan and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.

To make the clementine confit: Place clementines, water, caster sugar, cornstarch, and vanilla beans in a medium-sized pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes until clementines are soft and syrupy. Serve clementine confit over cooled, sliced tea cake.

More Tea Cakes