Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Toasted Walnut Honey Cake

Welcome Back!!

It's Fall! And Fall means it's time to bake delicious treats. I love, love, love baking in the cooler months. Everything tastes a little better and...well...I'm not sweating my a$$ off in my tiny little kitchen with poor ventilation. 

My first Fall recipe is this delicious, dense cake. It's spicy, nutty and perfect with a cup of coffee for breakfast or dessert. I used brown sugar so the cake isn't overly sweet but I went all out with the cream cheese frosting for a bit of sweet satisfaction. Best of all...it's actually pretty easy. Because, let's get real, we have stuff to do....there are movies to watch, video games to play, children to warp....it's a lot. So, get your whisk ready and ratchet up that self-control because you will want to shove all of this in your face when it comes out of the oven!


For the Cake:

1 Cup Butter (softened)
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Honey (warmed)
4 Large Eggs (beaten)
3 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Toasted Crushed Walnuts

For the Icing:

8 oz. Cream Cheese (softened)
3 Cups Confectioners Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
4-5 Tbs Milk

Pre-Heat Oven to 350º and butter (or spray with cooking spray) a 9x5 loaf pan and line the bottom with wax paper.

Step One: TOAST YOUR NUTS! Using medium-sized skillet, heat your crushed nuts over medium heat until they become fragrant, (about 10-15 minutes) and set aside. DO NOT wait for them to change color, you just want to bring out the oils and flavor of the nuts, not burn them. Burned nuts are funky, so be careful.

Step Two: Sift together flour, baking powder, ground nutmeg and ground cinnamon and set aside.

Step Three: With an electric mixer (or a whole lotta arm-power) mix together the brown sugar and butter until it forms a creamy, fluffy concoction that makes you want to eat it with a spoon. But don't. Trust me.

Step Four: Warm your honey! I don't have a picture, so just imagine what 1/3 cup of honey looks like in the microwave for about 20 seconds. You just want the honey to warm to the point where it's liquid, less thick, easier to work with. Don't COOK it; WARM it.

Step Five: Mix the honey in with your butter/brown sugar until nice and smooth. It should actually be kind of runny.

Step Six: Beat in your eggs! And beat them WELL! Gradually add your eggs to the mixture and beat thoroughly. Eggs want to separate and glob together, especially the whites. Be prepared to spend a good amount of time on this step. 

*TIP It helps to beat the eggs separately before adding them to the mix. 

Step Seven: Using a spatula or a wooden spoon, gradually add the flour mixture and toasted nuts to the egg/butter mixture and stir until a sticky dough forms.

Step Eight: Scoop the dough into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

Step Nine: Bake for 50-60 minutes. Cover with foil for the first 20 minutes (this will prevent the top from getting too brown). The cake is done when you can test it with a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Set the cake (in the pan) on a wire rack and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Use a knife and run it along the sides of the cake to ensure it is not stuck to the pan and then turn the cake out on the wire rack. Peel the wax paper from the bottom and let the cake cool completely.

Cream together all the ingredients for the frosting until smooth and slather your cake with it! Slice and serve!

When you store this cake, let the frosting set up and wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate to keep it from drying out.  Chances are good it will only last a couple of days anyway. Enjoy!

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for all the latest 8-Bit Cook news!

Check in next time for easy home-made flour tortillas!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ichabod's Buttermilk Doughnut Holes

Welcome back! 

I know it's been a minute since my last post and I am sorry, dear readers, for being so neglectful. But I think today's recipe may well put me on the path to forgiveness!  

Let me preface this post by telling you that I am a Sleepyhead. What is a Sleepyhead, you ask? No, I am not referring to some form of Narcolepsy, but I am completely, utterly obsessed with the Fox series Sleepy Hollow. It's a modern adaptation of Washington Irving's  classic tale about a headless horseman and the town he terrorizes. Ichabod Crane, played by the charming and handsome Tom Mison, is brilliant and sardonic as he battles his way through the modern era with "Leftenant" Abbie Mills at his side. I'm not going to babble on for too long, so just take my word and watch it if you haven't seen it. 

The following recipe was inspired by the episode from season one called Blood Moon. Ichabod experiences doughnut holes for the first time and falls in love...and is then promptly disgusted by the 10% levy (tax).  I used buttermilk for a more dense and satisfying doughnut hole along with a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg for a little extra flavor.

So, here you go, my fellow Sleepyheads....and future Sleepyheads! Enjoy! And don't forget to serve them up in a brown paper bag with a cup of coffee on the side!


For the Doughnut Holes

5 Cups Vegetable Oil for Frying
2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3 Tablespoons Sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Cup Buttermilk
2 Eggs
1/4 Cup Unsalted Sweet Cream Butter (melted)

For the Glaze

1 3/4 Cups Powdered Sugar
5 Tablespoons Whole Milk
2 teaspoons Vanilla (or Almond) Extract


1) Whisk together all the ingredients for the glaze and set aside. If you're feeling sassy, soften up some cream cheese and throw it in for funsies (be sure to compensate with a little extra milk). It didn't occur to me until after I made this batch that it would have really been delicious.

2) Mix together well all dry ingredients for the doughnuts and in a separate bowl, whisk the buttermilk and the eggs until completely smooth (no obvious whites or yolk floating around).

 I know, guys...lots of whisking...we'll get to the fun stuff soon, I promise. In the mean time, let's take a moment to appreciate Tom Mison...so dreamy...

Ahem...where was I? Oh, yeah! Doughnut holes!

3) Combine the buttermilk/egg mixture with the dry ingredients and work until a soft dough forms using a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon. You'll end up with something that looks like this:

4) Add melted butter to the dough and work together well until you have a nice, soft, sticky dough like this:

 5) Pre-heat oil in a deep pan to 350º. If you don't fry very often, use a thermometer to keep track of the rising temperature. Hot oil is nothing to mess around with. For the pan, my favorite thing to use is a Lodge Cast Iron Chicken Fryer. Lodge makes amazing cast iron skillets. They last forever and I use them for everything. Being from the Texas, we fry everything in cast iron...that's how my grandma did it and that's how I do it. 

6) Using your hands, form the dough into small balls no larger than 2 inches or so. Remember, as soon as the dough hits the hot oil, the baking powder will kick in and those suckers will get bigger. At this point, the dough is not very firm. And that's okay! Form the balls as you cook them. If you do them all at once and set a bunch of them aside, they will turn into blobby messes. So form about 5 balls at a time, pop them in the oil, let them cook, remove and repeat.

** Be sure to use a metal spoon to transfer your doughnut holes to the oil! DO NOT use your fingers because you WILL burn yourself! Safety first, kids!

7)  Fry each batch for about 5 minutes, flipping the ball over in the oil halfway through to cook both sides. As I said above, work in small batches, usually no more than 5 to avoid overcrowding the oil. Remove when the doughnut holes are golden brown and set aside on a paper towel to drain the oil. Move to a wire rack, drizzle with the glaze and serve em up warm for that season 2 Sleepy Hollow premiere!

So, there you have it...one of my favorite new recipes and one I will be making in the years to come. Enjoy the season premiere! I know I'll be watching!

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