{Simple Sundays} Corn Muffins

Corn Muffins 1One of the best things about baking is that there are so many ways to make the same things: cookies can be crunchy or chewy, muffins can be dense or light, and brownies can be cakey or fudgy. The thing is everyone is usually in one camp or the other. For me, cookies must be chewy and brownies must be fudgy, but when it comes to muffins, I love both kinds as long as they’re not tough.
Corn Muffins 3A few days ago, I was really craving corn muffins. (Not corn bread, which I think is a different breed.) The last time I had corn muffins was on my trip to Atlanta. We stopped by a Cracker Barrel as a rest stop and had a satisfying meal… satisfying except for the corn muffins. (I call it corn muffin because it was not square but baked in a muffin pan.) Ick! What is that stuff? As I bit into the corn muffin, disappointment filled my mouth in the form of salty, bland and coarse morsels. I need my corn muffins to be sweet and corny. I set out to make my own recipe. When freshly baked, it has a crisp exterior and a light and sweet interior. I wish I had some corn kernels to add to it, but I did not at the moment. I would encourage it if you have some on hand.
Corn Muffins 2Corn Muffins

Ingredients:

1 ½ c. flour
1 ⅓ c. cornmeal (stone ground if possible)
1 c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. kosher salt
¾ c. milk
4 oz. unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 ˚F and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix milk, butter, oil and egg.
  4. Mix milk mixture into the flour mixture and fold batter until just combined.
  5. Scoop batter evenly into the paper lined muffin pan and bake about 13-18 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

Cool and enjoy.

Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

Caramel Apple Monkey Bread 1There are a few things that scream “autumn”. Pumpkins, apples, fall foliage, football and Thanksgiving are at the top of my list. A couple several weeks ago, I went apple picking with a group of friends and came home with a big ol’ bag of apples. Apples are notorious for lasting along time (as long as they are not bruised) and I have plans for the other ones I have in my fridge. But for now, I have this recipe for you.
Caramel Apple Monkey Bread 2 Caramel Apple Monkey Bread 3 Caramel Apple Monkey Bread 4If you’ve never had monkey bread, you’re missing out on some serious yum. If you took cinnamon rolls but made them bite sized and decided to glue them together with some cinnamon sugar, you’ve got monkey bread. Cut up some fresh apple chunks and stuff them in the sweet dough and you have fall in bread form.
Caramel Apple Monkey Bread 5I have to be honest. I’ve made and shot this recipe weeks ago and I started writing the first paragraph last week, but things became hectic and that’s as far as I got. But to be fair, I threw a Star Wars Rebels themed party and that kept me quite busy for a several days. I’m excited to share it with you on my next post!
Caramel Apple Monkey Bread  6Caramel Apple Monkey Bread

Ingredients:

1 ¼ c. milk
2 tsp. instant yeast
4 c. all-purpose flour
5 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small bits
1 ¼ c. firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Instructions:

  1. Generously spray the inside of a 10 in. Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a small bowl, warm your milk, add the yeast and whisk to dissolve. (Do not warm it above 110˚F or you will kill the yeast).
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the flour, 5 tbsp. sugar, egg, and salt until combined.
  4. Slowly add in the milk mixture until combined. Add the 5 tbsp. melted butter and mix until the dough comes together.
  5. Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook attachment. Continue to mix on medium speed until the dough becomes silky and tacky, but not sticky, about 8-10 minutes.
  6. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest in a warm area until the dough has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
  7. Use your clean hands to push down and deflate the dough. Roll out dough in a rough rectangle, ¼ in. thick. Spread 1/3 of apple bits onto half of the rolled out dough. (As pictured above)
  8. Fold dough in half and spread another 1/3 of apple bits on another half of the dough and fold once again in half to form a quarter of its original size. (As pictured above)
  9. Cut dough into 1 to 1 ½ inch pieces and roll the pieces into balls (apple pieces may stick out). Place the balls on the sheet pan.
  10. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Place the melted butter in a separate bowl.
  11. Dip one dough ball in the melted butter. Let the excess butter drip back into the bowl, roll the ball in the brown sugar mixture, and place it in the Bundt pan.
  12. Continue this process with each ball, until halfway where you will scatter the rest of the apple pieces.
  13. Wrap the Bundt pan tightly in plastic wrap and let rise in a warm area until the dough balls have doubled in size.
  14. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  15. Bake until the top layer is deep brown and the caramel coating begins to bubble around the edges, about 30 minutes.
  16. Cool the bread for 5 minutes, then turn it out directly onto a platter and serve warm. If you have any leftovers, reheat them in a 300 degree oven until warm to the touch.

Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting

Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 2Wordy, I know.  This journey of mine started when I was trying to figure out what to post next for the blog.  I have this great caramelized banana bread recipe that I use and was going to blog about that.  But right when I was about to start baking, I realized that banana bread recipes are a dime a dozen on the internet.
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 4Why would I bore you with something that has been done for the umpteenth time?  No, I needed to do something different, maybe even drastic.  That’s when I spotted a bag of caramel bits that I picked up at Target a few months ago and the cogs in my brain started turning.

Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 6It starts with a soft caramelized banana cake.  What makes it “caramelized” banana cake?  Because you caramelize bananas with sugar and melted butter until it starts to smell like banana heaven in your kitchen.  Then you mix your caramel bits into the batter to increase the caramel factor.
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 5Next, the cake layers are sandwiched with cheesecake frosting which is essentially my version of a cream cheese frosting only it is extra thick and tastes very much like cheesecake.  Then the entire cake is surrounded by marshmallow frosting which you toast with your kitchen torch (or in your oven if you don’t have one) and as if you really needed more, you finish it off with a caramel drizzle.
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 1Sweet, gooey, soft, toasty, and slightly chewy (from the caramel bits) this cake is definitely worth making for a celebration… or for no reason because it’s your kitchen and you can bake if you want to. 😉
Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting 3Toasted Marshmallow Caramel Banana Cake with Cheesecake Frosting

Makes one 6 inch 4-layer cake

Caramelized Banana Cake

Ingredients:
2 oz. unsalted butter
¾ c. brown sugar
3 medium brown bananas
½ c. buttermilk
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. cake flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. caramel bits

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F and prepare four 6 inch cake pans by spraying them with non-stick spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a small pot, melt the butter. Once the butter melts, add the brown sugar and bananas and cook for 4 minutes.  Cool mixture for 10 minutes before transferring mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Beat for 2-3 minutes until mixture is cool and combined.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, vegetable oil and eggs until homogeneous.
  4. In another bowl, mix both kinds of flour with baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  5. With the mixer on low, add half the buttermilk mixture followed by half the flour mixture.
  6. Finish the batter by alternating the buttermilk mixture and flour mixture again.
  7. Fold in the caramel bits into the batter.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between 4 pans and bake about 12-15 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Cheesecake Frosting

Ingredients:
10 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1 ½ c. powdered sugar
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 pinch of kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and butter until combined.
  2. Add the powdered sugar slowly, followed by the mascarpone cheese, vanilla extract and kosher salt.  Do not overbeat the mascarpone cheese it will separate if you do.

Marshmallow Frosting

Ingredients:
4 large egg whites
¾ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a metal bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar over a small saucepan with simmering water.
  2. Whisk until sugar is dissolved and whites are slightly foamy and warm to the touch, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Transfer bowl to the standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat starting from low speed and gradually moving to high speed until stiff and glossy.
  4. Mix in the vanilla extract to finish the frosting.

Caramel Drizzle

Ingredients:
3 oz. caramel bits
¼ c. heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt caramel bits with heavy cream until a thick sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick, feel free to add more heavy cream.

Assembly:

  1. Frost each layer of banana cake with cream cheese frosting, ending with a layer of banana cake. Make sure you smooth the sides as well as you can. (As shown above.)
  2. Generously frost the top and sides with marshmallow frosting using your spatula to make swirl patterns along the cake. This will make a more impressive cake when you toast the frosting.
  3. Toast the frosting with a torch (kitchen, butane, or propane your choice) until golden brown.
  4. Drizzle caramel frosting.
  5. Stand back and enjoy your work of art.

Caramelized banana cake adapted from espresso and cream.
Marshmallow frosting adapted from Martha Stewart.

The Krabby Patty (California Roll Burger)

California Roll Burger 6Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?  I discovered Spongebob when I was in middle school many years ago.  It caught my attention from the very first episode, and I was an avid fan for a while.  If you don’t know already, Spongebob works at the Krusty Krab where he makes Krabby Patties as a fry cook.  A Krabby Patty looks like this.  Every time they did a close up shot, my adolescent mind wanted to sink my teeth into one.  Now I wonder if I was the only one that was hankering for a made-up burger…
California Roll Burger 2I saw a recipe for a California roll burger, and my first thought was, this is what a Krabby Patty would taste like!  Perhaps minus the beef, because where would they get it from?  And maybe minus the crab sticks, because wouldn’t that be cannibalism? A Sweeny Todd scenario perhaps?  Let’s stop questioning a fictional burger that has no definite flavor and substance, and get down to the nitty-gritty.
California Roll Burger 1It starts with a beautiful set of hamburger buns.* Followed by a spread of Sriracha mayo, and a stack of the standard lettuce and tomato.  The beef has just a dash of fish sauce for the umami factor and is topped with a light crab stick salad.  It is then followed by a few slices of avocado tossed in lime juice and topped with masago (smelt roe) and nori (dried seaweed).
California Roll Burger 9It’s bursting with flavor and is definitely a king of burgers, worthy of being flipped by Spat (Spongebob’s spatula).
California Roll Burger 7
The Krabby Patty (California Roll Burger)

Makes 8 large burgers

Ingredients
2 lbs. ground beef
1 tsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. Sriracha
3 tbsp. mayo
½ lb. crab sticks
2-4 tbsp. mayo
2 avocados, sliced
1 lime, juiced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
butter lettuce, washed
tomato, sliced
masago (smelt roe)
nori (dried seaweed)
8 large burger buns

Instructions:

  1. Mix 1 tbsp. Sriracha and 3 tbsp. mayo in a small bowl to make Sriracha mayo.
  2. Shred crab sticks and mix in 2-4 tbsp. of mayo to make the crab salad.
  3. Mix ground beef, fish sauce, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Form into 8 large patties.
  4. In a large skillet over medium high heat, cook patties about 3 minutes per side or to desired doneness.
  5. While the patties are cooking, slice avocados and toss in lime juice.
  6. When the burgers are ready, layer the components in the following order: Sriracha mayo, lettuce, tomato, beef patty, crab salad, avocado, masago, and nori.

*I made mine from scratch, but you are welcome to use store bought.  These buns deserve a post of their own, and will be featured in the future.
** Recipe adapted from use real butter.

Pretzel Hot Dogs

Pretzel Hot Dogs 5Every single time I go to the mall, I have an inner battle with myself.  Do I get a soft pretzel or not?  I try not to have one because frankly it’s just a chunk of carbs and I always feel a little guilty after I eat it.  I suppose the real question is: is it worth feeling guilty about?
Pretzel Hot Dogs 2I would say that the chance of me caving in is about 50/50.  I have a good idea of what it is that I want (plain salted pretzel with lots of golden mustard) until I get to the window and see a glistening pretzel hot dog.  How do they get it so shiny and golden?  Why do you wink at me so in the fluorescent mall light?  Why am I personifying you?
Pretzel Hot Dogs 3I sit there frazzled until it’s my turn and at this point, I blank out and whatever word comes out of my mouth first is what I get.  Sometimes it’s the hot dog, sometimes it’s the pretzel.  All I know is that either way I have buttery, carb-y goodness in my mouth.  I win.
Pretzel Hot Dogs 4Sometimes, you don’t want to go to the mall.  Sometimes, the drive isn’t worth it and the battle of the parking spot is tiring and stressful.  This is for those days, a little reward without the battle.
Pretzel Hot Dog 1Pretzel Hot Dogs

Ingredients:
4 ½ to 5 c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ c. 110°F-115°F water
½ c. milk
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted plus more for brushing
kosher sea salt/ pretzel salt/ Maldon salt
10 c. water
⅔ c. baking soda
1 egg
16 Hot dogs

Instructions:

  1. In a microwave safe cup, warm 1½ c. water until 110°F-115°F or lukewarm.  Stir in sugar until dissolved. Stir in dry yeast and let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes).
  2. While the yeast is proofing, mix 4½ c. flour, milk, salt, and the melted butter into a bowl of a stand mixer.
  3. Add the water mixture into the flour mixture and stir until a loose dough forms.
  4. Let stand for 8 minutes to hydrate flour.
  5. With the dough hook attachment, knead the dough on speed 2 for about 8 minutes.  If you see that the dough is still loose and sticks to the bowl, add the remaining half cup of flour and knead until the dough does not stick to the bowl.
  6. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until double its size.
  7. Once the dough has risen, preheat oven to 450˚F and line two sheet pans with either parchment paper or silicone mats.
  8.  In a large pot, boil 10 c. of water and baking soda.
  9. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces, and form into a long rope. Carefully wrap each piece around a hot dog, pinch the ends together to seal the dough.
  10. Boil the pretzel hot dogs, one at a time about 15 seconds on each side.  Remove from the water and drain thoroughly with a slotted spoon.
  11. Mix 1 egg with 1 tbsp. water to form an egg wash.
  12. Place onto the sheet pan and brush bread thoroughly with the egg wash and sprinkle with your choice of salt.
  13. Bake until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.  Brush generously with melted butter.
  14. Let Cool. Eat with a lot of mustard.

Pretzel recipe adapted from Jo Cooks.