Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Temptation Tuesday - Fall Baking

Donna Alward is back this Tuesday with a mouthwatering post about Fall Baking...get your mixing bowls out!

I don't bake often. If there is baking in the house it's gone in record time...as I think anyone with kids and a cookie jar can attest. Plus I shouldn't be eating a lot of sweets, but I do love to bake and occasionally I indulge and most often with an extra few pairs of hands at my elbow.

Fall seems to really bring out the baker in me. Whether it's my fall-hibernation-nesting thing or what, I don't know. But I love the smell of baking coming out of the oven. I love doubling up recipes so I can freeze muffins or cookies or pies.

One of my faves is taking advantage of seasonal fruit and making "Crisps" or as some call it, "Crumbles". I love apple crisp, but I'm not adverse to playing with it a little. I make straight apple, apple with walnuts and dried cranberries, apples with blackberries, and sometimes even throw some raisins in if I don't have cranberries. I also make rhubarb crisp earlier in summer. Crisps are so easy. I'd give you a recipe but I don't have one. I sprinkle sugar on the fruit, usually a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg, and make a topping out of butter, brown sugar, rolled oats, and flour. Bake it until it's brown and the fruit is bubbling a little and serve it with vanilla frozen yogurt.
I also bake a lot with pumpkin - pies, muffins, cakes. I love pumpkin and add in walnuts or raisins - and it's VERY good with chocolate chips. Warm pumpkin bread with hot tea is DELISH.

Here's my favourite recipe for Pumpkin Bread.

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin (without spice) or fresh stewed pumpkin
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ginger
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time and mix in pumpkin.

In another bowl combine all the dry ingredients. Mix with the wet and pour into a loaf pan. Bake at 350 (180 C) for one hour until it tests done. Let sit for 10 minutes, then turn it out on a cooling rack.

As you can see, I'm a big fan of nuts and spices and fruit. So now I'm going to share my kids' favourite cookies ever...and mine too. I love them. Wonderful with coffee, tea, or milk. They freeze well and you can also make them with whole wheat flour if you like. If it weren't for the nut issue at school, the kids would take them in their lunches...as it is, they are a perfect after school treat.

Hermit Cookies

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped dates
2/3 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Cream together butter and sugar, beat in eggs one at a time and add vanilla. Measure in remaining ingredients and mix well. Drop onto greased baking sheet by heaping teaspoonfuls. Bake at 375 (190C) for six to eight minutes. Makes 4 1/2 dozen.

And by now I would imagine you are all saying, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHOCOLATE?????

Never fear. I'm going to share my late Grandmother's recipe for Million Dollar Chocolate Cake. It has a bit of an unorthodox ingredient that truly makes all the difference in the world...I guarantee it. If you think my directions are scant - believe it or not they are more detailed than Gram's!

The beautiful thing about chocolate cake is you can create so many things from it. You can ice it with chocolate frosting, or if you are my sister in law, the most delectable Peanut Butter Icing. If you're my OTHER sister in law, you make a boiled icing (which I can NEVER make without it going sugary and yucky). I'm more apt to make a "German" chocolate cake with the cooked coconut topping. And if you're my mum - you make a mock Black Forest Cake with cherry pie filling in the middle and whipped cream on the outside. Or her latest thing - whipped cream topped with crushed up chocolate bars like Skor or Crispy Crunch.

Here you go...now I'm going to make dinner as writing this post suddenly has me very hungry!

Million Dollar Chocolate Cake

Sift together:
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
4 tbsp cocoa
1 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
1 egg
1 cup cold water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Beat it all together with beaters, and bake at 350 (180C) until knife comes out clean.

Donna's next book is released in hardback in a few days! And what do you know...there's cooking in THAT one too! Mrs. Polcyk is ALWAYS making treats...from apple pie to cherry strudel to her secret coleslaw. THE RANCHER'S RUNAWAY PRINCESS is out in hardback in November, available on eharlequin's and Mills and Boon's sites in December, and in paperback in January.


  1. Mmm, all those recipes sound delicious. But something has always puzzled me about American recipes. This cup thing. Is that a tea cup, or a mug or a special measure or just any old type of cup. Do you have like a kg or a lbs and oz equivalent? So I can translate it.

  2. LOL Heidi, and I have a problem with the weight thing. 2 oz of flour isn't the same as 2 oz of butter. Weighing everything would drive me NUTS.

    The closest I can come to is 1 cup is 250 ml. Here you just have measuring cups that have measurements marked in ml on one side and cups on the other. 1 tsp is 5 ml and a tbsp is 15 ml.

    Anyone out there know a good conversion method? How do you determine how much 250 ml weighs when some things are heavier than others?

  3. I found one - I put in all purpose flour, then did 1 cup to grams and it came out as 125. COOL!

    This is the link - you can put in all your measurements after you find the item.



  4. I make doughs for cookies and then freeze the dough. In the retirement home I worked at we would have to make this apple cake that served 80 so we would make all these batches of dough ahead of time and freeze it.
    My stepmother bought a really cool item at a church Christmas bizarre, jars that had all dry ingredients for a recipe. Then a square piece of wrapping paper is secuered to cover lid with a copy of recipe attatched

  5. Christa - I love those. I used to buy them all the time...usually for some neat kind of square or fancy bread!

  6. I am sooo going to make that pumpkin bread... and the hermit biscuits...

    And that million dollar chocolate cake sounds like... a million dollars. Does anyone know if we get Miracle Whip salad dressing in Australia?

    Thanks for these, Donna! Yeah, it's warming up in Oz but baking is such fun.

  7. lol Or even what Miracle Whip salad dressing is??????

    I solved the cup thing, Heidi. I bought a set of cups. Next time you go on one of your road trips to the States ... Mind, I still prefer weighing everything! ggg

  8. Well...Miracle Whip is kind of like mayonnaise. I know. Mayonnaise in cake. But it eliminates the need for eggs or oil, and makes the moistest cake EVER.

    Natasha, have I got a recipe for you...gonna forward it RIGHT NOW...

  9. Mayonnaise? Well... I'm game, I'll give it a go.

    Thanks, Donna.

    PS What's this recipe for Natasha - does it have chocolate in it? I think you should share :-)