Are you ready to learn how to make a Spiced Pumpkin + Maple Cream Cheese Layer Cake for my special Thanksgiving edition of Delicious Bites? Hi, it’s me Jillian and around this time last year I spent a few weeks in Quebec and New York, arriving just before Thanksgiving. I found beautiful fall leaves; pumpkins were in abundance at the markets and my hotel served delicious steaming cups of hot apple cider in the lobby. I love all things pumpkin and I love apple cider so I was in heaven. Even though we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in Australia, in my mind’s eye I have visions of a Martha Stewart-style spread complete with gleaming roast turkey followed by fresh-from-the-oven pumpkin pie. I’m sure you already have your own favorite recipe for pumpkin pie so instead I’ve come up with a pumpkin pie inspired layer cake with maple flavored cream cheese icing. Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving dessert?
The cake is based on a classic carrot cake recipe using browned butter and grated pumpkin for flavor and texture. Pumpkin tends to be used for savory dishes in Australia so tinned pumpkin puree can be hard to find. If you like, you can use pumpkin puree instead of the grated pumpkin and although the texture will be different it tastes just as good. Just hold back on the buttermilk though, as pumpkin puree is much more liquid than grated pumpkin.
Pumpkin puree is easy to make if you’d like to make your own. Just take a generous wedge of pumpkin; my favorite kind is Kent which you may know as kabocha and I also like butternut. Remove the seeds from the pumpkin but leave the skin on; wrap the pumpkin in foil and place it on a baking tray. Bake at 400°F/200°C for 45 minutes to an hour until the pumpkin is soft. When the pumpkin is cool, unwrap it from the tin foil and scrape the flesh from the skin and blend it using a stick blender or food processor. This is one of those cakes that takes a while to prepare but is a snap to put together. You combine the dry ingredients with the liquid ingredients, pour into a tin and bake. What could be simpler than that?
Once the cake has cooled and sliced horizontally into 2 even layers it’s time to ice it with some maple flavored cream cheese icing. I kept the decoration simple with this lovely bunting from Paper Boat Press.
Here’s the recipe for you -
1 1/4 cups self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon, ginger & nutmeg
125g (4 oz) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
1/4 cup (40g) brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 cup buttermilk
50g dried dates, roughly chopped
50g pecan nuts, roughly chopped
1 cup peeled, grated pumpkin or pumpkin puree
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Line the base of a 20 cm (8 inch) cake tin with baking paper and then grease and flour the sides. Sift the flour with the bicarbonate of soda and spices into a large bowl and set to one side. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown. Pour the browned butter into a medium size bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes, before mixing in the caster sugar, the brown sugar, the eggs, the vanilla and buttermilk. Stir until well combined. Add the buttermilk mixture, the dates and nuts into the flour mixture and mix well. Add the pumpkin and combine until well mixed. Add a little extra milk if the mixture looks too dry. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake on the centre shelf of the oven at 180°C/350°F (conventional) for 45 minutes. Cook until the centre of cake is firm and the top golden brown. Cool for 10 minutes before turning the cake out onto a wire rack. When completely cool, slice the cake horizontally into 2 layers.
Cream Cheese Icing
125 g (4 oz) unsalted butter
250 g (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 cups icing (confectioners) sugar
1 tsp maple extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a small bowl cream the butter, cream cheese and extracts until thick and creamy. Add the 2 sugars and mix to form a creamy icing.
Assembling the cake
Put one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread 1/2 the icing on the layer. Top with the second layer then ice the top the cake with the remaining icing. Decorate as desired. Refrigerate the cake. Before serving allow the cake to come to room temperature for maximum flavor. Cut into generous slices and enjoy a little taste of Thanksgiving on a plate. Delish!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone! See you all again next month with a special Christmas themed Delicious Bites treat for you! – Jillian
(text/images: jillian leiboff)
Hi, it’s Jillian here with a delicious Country Apple Cake recipe for October’s Delicious Bites column. Have you ever been apple picking? Well I did for the first time this year at a little place not far from the Blue Mountains called Bilpin. I was up bright and early and was the first person at the farm so I could get the best of the apples. I picked some granny smiths, my favorite cooking apple and pink ladies, one of my favorite apples to eat. I merrily munched on the them during the long drive back home to Sydney and marveled at how great freshly picked apples really taste. Will you go apple picking this season? Where is your favorite spot?
I came home with my apples in tow and started to think of all the things that I could do with them. I love baking and thought about an apple pie or an apple crumble but decided to share with you one of my all time favorite apple cake recipes. I’ve been making this cake for years and it’s adapted from a recipe which first appeared long ago in the weekend paper. The end result is a cross between a cake and a pie and its both simple to make and best of all, delicious!
First make the filling from your favorite cooking apple as it needs time to cool. I spiced my apples with lemon and cinnamon but you can use whatever spices you like. A little bit of flour is needed to thicken the filling to stop the apple running everywhere when you cut it. If you have any pastry fears, put them aside because the pastry is made in a food processor and you don’t even need to roll out the dough. You just pat the dough into the tin.
Don’t be tempted to reduce the baking time even if the top of the cake looks cooked. Speaking from experience you’ll end up with a gooey half cooked base so just cover the top with a layer of baking paper to prevent it over-browning. The pastry firms up as it cools so give it plenty of time before unmoulding the cake. It’s delicious served with either whipped cream or ice cream or both if you prefer.
Here’s the recipe for you for COUNTRY APPLE CAKE – adapted from a recipe by Amanda Grimwade of the Edible Deli at Benalla, published in Good Weekend magazine.
8 large green apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
2, 20 ml tbs lemon juice
1/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar
2, 20 ml tbs flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Place the chopped apples and lemon juice in a pan over a medium heat.
Cover and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until the apples are just tender.
Take the pan off the heat and add the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir to combine then place to one side and allow the filling to cool completely.
2¼ cups self-raising flour
2/3 cup cornflour (corn starch)
1/3 cup caster (superfine) sugar
200 gm (7 oz) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup milk
Extra milk and caster sugar
Icing sugar and cream to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly grease a 23cm/9 inch spring form tin and line the base of the tin with baking paper. Sift the self raising flour with the cornflour. Put the sifted flours, the sugar and the butter into the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. In a small bowl combine the eggs, the vanilla and the milk. With the food processor running, gradually pour in enough of the milk mixture and process until the mixture wraps around the blades. The mixture will be quite soft so using floured hands, press ? of the mixture into the base and up the sides of the tin. Spoon in the apple mixture, which won’t completely fill the tin. Fold over any overhang of pastry from the sides of the tin, then using floured hands, flatten the remaining mixture into a disc and cover the top of the cake. Don’t worry if there are a few holes as they’ll close over as the cake bakes. Brush the top of the cake with milk then sprinkle with a little extra caster sugar.
Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes at 180°C/350°F. If the cake is browning too quickly, cover the top with a piece of grease proof paper. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack before unmoulding. As this is a cross between a cake and a pie, the bottom crust will always be a little soft but the top crust will be lovely and crisp. When cool dust with icing sugar and serve with cream or ice cream.
I hope you enjoy the apple cake! I’ll be back next month with something special for Thanksgiving. See you all again next month! – Jillian
(text/photos: jillian leiboff)
Hello everyone! Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites column for decor8 where I’m going to show you how to make Fig + Raspberry Frangipane Tarts. It’s spring time in Sydney but I know that autumn is coming to the Northern Hemisphere. So for the next few months I’ll be making treats using winter and autumn produce. This month, I decided it was time to make something a little fancier than usual so I combined 2 of my favourite fruits with an almond flavoured filling to make individual fig and raspberry frangipane tarts.
Frangipane is an almond flavoured butter cream and I use it all the time when making fruit tarts. I make different varieties depending on which fruit is in season and use different nuts as well. If figs aren’t in season where you live you can make this with any other kind of berry or soft fruit. Rhubarb, pear or plum frangipane tarts are particularly delicious but if you come up with any other flavour combinations, I’d love to hear them.
I put a layer of jam in the bottom of the tart shell which matches the fruit used to top the tart. I decided to use raspberry jam this time but you could always use fig jam or some other red berry jam. If the thought of making pastry terrifies you, you can always buy pastry from the freezer section of the supermarket and I’ll let you in on a secret, you can make the frangipane tarts without pastry. Just grease and flour some muffin or friand tins and bake the filling in those topped with the fruit and you’ll still end up with a yummy treat. When the tarts come out of the oven I brush the filling with a little jam to make them look glossy.
FIG AND RASPBERRY FRANGIPANE TARTS (makes six 10 cm tarts)
Note: The pastry makes enough to line a 23 cm tart shell so there will be some pastry left over. If you’d like to make this into a 23cm/9 inch tart you’ll need to double the filling.
110 g (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
1/4 cup almond meal
1 3/4 cups plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
75 gm (2 1/2 oz) unsalted butter
75 gm (2 1/2 oz) caster sugar
1 large egg
75 gm almond meal
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon rum or orange juice
1/4 cup raspberry jam
6 – 8 figs (depending on size)
1 punnet raspberries
1/4 cup flaked almonds
Thick cream to serve
Extra raspberry jam
To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor, and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and sufficient cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F.
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface (I use greaseproof paper) and roll out thinly with a rolling pin. Grease six 10 cm loose bottom fluted tartlet tins. Line the six tins with the pastry and trim the edges of the tart tins with a sharp knife. Lightly prick the pastry surface with the tines of a fork and return to the fridge for another 30 minutes. Line the tart shells with muffin liners and fill with pastry weights or uncooked rice. Bake for 10 minutes and then remove paper and weights. Bake for a further 5 minutes or until the shells are golden. Cool the pastry shells on a wire rack. While the tartlet shells are cooling, make the frangipane filling.
Place butter and caster sugar in a food processor and whiz to combine. Add the egg, the almond meal, the flour and the rum or orange juice, then pulse to combine. Spoon 1 – 2 teaspoons of the raspberry jam over the base of the cooled tart shells. Evenly divide the frangipane filling between the tarts and gently spoon over the jam. Place 2 or 3 fig halves cut side up into the frangipane filling. Tuck in a few of the raspberries and sprinkle a few flaked almonds over the tarts.
Place the 6 tartlets onto a baking sheet and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake at 190°C/375°F for 30-40 minutes until the frangipane filling has slightly puffed and is golden brown. Baking time will depend on your oven so start checking the tarts after 20 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and cool the tartlets on a wire rack. Gently remove the tarts from the tins and serve with cream and remaining raspberries. If you like you can glaze the cooked figs and raspberries with some warmed, strained raspberry jam.
I love individual tarts but if you’d like to make one 23cm/9 inch tart, the pastry recipe is enough to line a 23 cm tart shell. You’ll need to make a double batch of the frangipane mixture and you may need to adjust the baking time a little.
I hope you enjoy the tarts. See you all again next month! – Jillian
(images: jillian lieboff)
Hi everyone! It’s Jillian here with this month’s Delicious Bites recipe. Last week we held a cake stall at work and as I didn’t have much time to bake, I made cupcakes. As it’s passion fruit season in Sydney I decided to make passion fruit cupcakes with passion fruit cream cheese icing (or frosting for my North American friends).
I grew up in Queensland where everyone seemed to have a passion fruit vine growing over the back fence. It’s one of my favourite fruits and if I had the choice, I’d put it on everything. Passion fruit flowers are the prettiest things I’ve ever seen even if the fruit itself is a bit less attractive. As with many things in life, it’s what’s on the inside that counts as the intense passion fruit flavour is contained in the brightly coloured pulp. I realise not all of you can get passion fruit easily but the pulp freezes beautifully so whenever they’re on special I buy up big and store the pulp in a container in my freezer. If you can’t track down passion fruit, I’d use grated lemon rind and lemon juice as an alternative. There really isn’t a successful substitute for passion fruit so I’d choose lemon over the canned pulp as it really doesn’t taste much like the fresh product.
Now as well as my passion fruit addiction I have to confess to a cream cheese icing addiction. I swear I make twice as much as I need because I eat half the batch every time! The passion fruit icing is what elevates the cupcakes to something a little bit special. I hope you agree.
Here’s the recipe for you.
PASSION FRUIT CUPCAKES (makes 12)
125 gm (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups self raising flour
¼ cup strained passion fruit juice (4-5 passion fruit)
1/3 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F (regular oven). Place 12 cupcake liners into a 12 hole muffin tin. Sift the flour into a small bowl and set to one side.
In a medium size bowl, cream together the softened butter and the caster sugar until the mixture becomes light and creamy. Gradually beat in the egg mixture. If the mixture starts to look a bit curdled, add a tablespoon or so of the flour mixture. Gradually add the flour to the mix, alternating with the passion fruit juice and the buttermilk. The mixture should be quite soft, so you may need to add a bit more buttermilk.
Carefully spoon the mixture into the cupcake liners.
Bake the cupcakes on the middle rack in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the tops of the cakes are golden. Remove the muffin tray from the oven and cool the cupcakes on a wire rack. Allow the cakes to cool, then top with the passion fruit icing.
PASSION FRUIT ICING
30 gm (1 oz) unsalted butter, softened
60 gm (2 oz) cream cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon rind
1¼ cups sifted icing sugar
The pulp of 1 passion fruit
In a small bowl cream the butter, cream cheese and the grated lemon rind until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Mix in the icing sugar and sufficient passion fruit pulp to make a soft icing. Ice the cakes generously with the icing and serve.
By the way, my work is thinking of holding bake sales on a semi regular basis since the last one we had was a success. I need a few ideas so if you’ve got any sure fire bake sale hits I’d love to hear from you so please comment below. See you all again next month with another Delicious Bites column. – Jillian
(images/text: jillian leiboff.)