Apple Breakfast Cake

A happiest Thanksgiving to you and yours. It’s a great honor and pleasure to share a few words and a recipe with you here each week. As I sit down to write this article, I am near the fireplace watching the flames bounce and pop. One of my children is drawing at the kitchen table, occasionally calling to me to spell out words. I’m sure we’ll be treated to a story at dinner later. The other two are playing with our rambunctious kitten, intermittently squabbling yet remaining together, passing the kitten back and forth lost in their imaginary game. My husband is tending the fire, hopping up to putter around the house, never one to sit for long. Dinner is cooking in the oven, a roast cooked with onions and carrots, lots of garlic and a big glug of red wine. If the meat tastes half as good as the house smells, we’ll be in good shape.

Let me be honest though, my home and life are rarely this idyllic. We have hardships and stress. We worry; sometimes we argue. I think we can all relate that way a little bit. Life can be really hard sometimes. But tonight is a good night, and it seems right on this Thanksgiving holiday to pause a moment in gratitude.

I think even in the chaos and challenging times, when we look around at our surroundings, we can be delighted by the many good things we find. I’m grateful for a warm house and dinner in the oven. For happy children and a family to call my own. For a few moments to jot down a few words, to share the food and connections that bring us to the table over and over again.

And the weekend is just getting started. We have a houseful of guests with a trek up to the mountains planned, football to watch, leftovers to eat and maybe a hike or two to try and balance out all those leftovers.

This week’s recipe is an apple breakfast cake. It’s a quick one-bowl cake that you can swap for any fruit you like. I used Autumn Glory apples, a new varietal growing here in the Yakima Valley. With a firm crunchy texture and a subtle cinnamon flavor, they were the perfect apple to use for this recipe. If you can’t find Autumn Glory apples; honeycrisp, golden delicious or Braeburn all work well too. Perfect for breakfast with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt or a drizzle of Copper Pot Carmel sauce never hurt and takes it from breakfast to dessert.

Apple Breakfast Cake

• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

• 2 teaspoons baking powder

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

• ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

• 1/2 cup granulated sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

• 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

• 1 cup chopped and peeled apple

• 18-20 thinly sliced pieces of apple to top the cake

• Powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter and flour a 10-inch cast iron skillet, if you don’t have one, you can use a cake pan.

In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and butter.  Whisk in the vanilla and almond extract.

Add the buttermilk mixture all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir until just combined and no lumps remain. Fold the chopped apples into the batter. Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Arrange the apple slices on top the cake is a single layer.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool to room temperature before slicing to serve. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Cake will last, well wrapped in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.

Pie Anyone Can Make

With the holidays just around the corner, I thought I would offer a couple of desserts you can easily make for the holidays. I have a little confession to make. I am terrible with pie crust. The ability to form the crust and make it look even halfway decent is seriously out of my wheelhouse. So instead of fighting what seems impossible, I’ve learned to improvise. Instead of a perfectly shaped pie, I make crostatas or galettes which is simply pie dough rolled out, and then piled high with fruit. The edges are folded rustically around the fruit and then baked. No pie dish, no edging. Simple, delicious, and pretty in its own way. The other way I get around pie crust is to make a cookie crust. There’s something special about this pumpkin pie recipe. The crushed gingersnap cookie crust is a lovely compliment to the creamy and sweet pumpkin custard.


Pumpkin Spiced Apple Crostata

• 2 cups flour

• ¼ cup granulated sugar

• ½ teaspoon kosher salt

• 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cubed

• 6 tablespoons ice water (3 ounces)

• 6 cups thinly sliced apples (mix of sweet and tart)

• 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

• 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

• 2/3 cup brown sugar

• Juice of 1 lemon

• ¼ cup pumpkin puree

• Pinch of salt

• 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon water

In the bowl of a food processor with a metal blade combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter to the flour mixture and pulse 12-15 times until the butter is the size of small peas. Do not overmix! You want chunks of butter. Turn the food processor back on and slowly pour the ice water in, stopping the machine as soon as the dough forms. Take the dough out of the food processor and place on a heavily floured cutting board. Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator while you prep the apples. (You can make the dough a day or two in advance. When you’re ready, take the dough from the fridge and allow it to rest on the counter for about 30 minutes until it warms up enough to be workable.) I have long trusted Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame with my pie crust needs. This is her recipe, which I’ve made for years and it’s never failed me.

Cut apples into thin even pieces. No need to peel the skins but go ahead if you would prefer. In a large bowl gently mix the lemon juice with the apples. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, spices, salt and pumpkin. Pour over apples and mix until the apples are evenly coated.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll pie dough out into a ½-inch thick rectangle (don’t worry too much about shape, just get it as close as you can). Place dough on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread the apple mixture evenly over the dough leaving a 1-inch border of dough all around the perimeter. Fold and seal the edges of the dough over the fruit. In a small cup whisk together one egg with a splash of water and brush the edges of the crust with the egg wash. Bake for about 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the apples are cooked through and the sauce is bubbly. Use a toothpick to make sure the apples are soft.

Let the crostata cool on the counter. Serve with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.


Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust with Spiced Whipped Cream

• 8 ounces store bought gingersnap cookies

• 6 tablespoons melted butter

• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

  • 2 eggs

• 1 cup canned pumpkin purée

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 cup heavy cream

• ½ teaspoon cinnamon

• ¼ teaspoon ground cloves

• ½ teaspoon nutmeg

• 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

• Pinch of salt

In a food processor, pulse the gingersnap cookies until they are broken into a fine crumb. With the food processor on, pour in the melted butter until a dough ball starts to form. Sprinkle in pumpkin pie spice and pulse three more times.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray. Press the gingersnap dough evenly into the pan forming a crust. In a large bowl mix the brown sugar, pumpkin and spices together until well-mixed. Stir in heavy cream. Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust. Bake the pie for about 40 minutes, rotating it in the oven halfway through. Use a toothpick to check doneness. When the custard does not wiggle anymore and the toothpick comes out clean, the pie is done.

To make the whipped cream, place 2 cups of cold heavy cream in the bowl of a mixer. Add two tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and ½ teaspoon nutmeg. Turn the mixer on high, mixing for about 5 minutes until peaks form in the cream. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Allow the pie to cool on the counter. Store in the refrigerator covered until ready to serve. Slice pieces and garnish with a dollop of spiced cream.

Pumpkin Muffins

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It just wouldn’t be fall without a batch of pumpkin muffins. I went on not one but two pumpkin patch field trips last week, traversing the corn maze with a group of preschoolers, herding them through the pumpkin patch until they found just the right pumpkin. Two days later, my first grader got his turn and we had a blast riding the tractor, eating lunch with friends and of course, picking out the perfect pumpkin.

We are in the idyllic couple of weeks when everywhere you look is quintessential fall. The Poplar trees I look at out the windows of my house are brilliantly yellow and I find myself stopping to marvel at their beauty several times a day. The apple and pear orchards bordering my house boast deep red and golden orange leaves, waving in the wind, almost as if they’re showing off. The backdrop of blue sky and green grass with the desert hills beyond is breathtaking and a scene I don’t want to take for granted.

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And when fall is this beautiful, it seems not only right but downright necessary to make something pumpkin. I’m the first to roll my eyes at all the pumpkin spice hype. I get it, the saying ‘too much of a good thing,’ is very real. But these pumpkin muffins will bring you right back around again — light and chewy with a crunchy cinnamon-sugar crust along the top — you’ll make batch after batch of these all fall long.

Sometimes I throw a handful of chocolate chips into the batter for my kids and the other week, I skipped the cinnamon and sugar on top and instead sprinkled granola on the muffins. They were delicious! Whatever you decide to do, you can’t go wrong. And if you’re local and can carve out a little time this weekend, go for a walk on the Cowiche trails or along the Greenway and enjoy the beauty of the Valley before it’s blanketed in snow.

Pumpkin Muffins (recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice
  • 1 1/3 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar (if you don’t have any, just use regular granulated sugar)

 

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put liners in 12 standard-sized muffin cups.

Stir or whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spice in medium bowl.

In a larger bowl, whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs and 1 cup sugar. Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined. Divide batter among muffin cups (each about 3/4 full). If you want to add chocolate chips, stir in one cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter before spooning into muffin cups.

Stir together tablespoon of raw sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle over each muffin.

Bake until puffed and golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Pretty Great Pumpkin Bread

I want to call this the best-ever pumpkin bread or maybe easy and perfect pumpkin bread but the reality is there are approximately 27,432 recipes for pumpkin bread out there and I would wager a bet that 90 percent of the recipes you stumble onto are pretty great.

So here’s another pretty great recipe to add to your list when you’re in the mood for something pumpkin and feeling all those fall vibes.

Me? I’m not feeling fall-ish yet, but I’m going for it anyway. I live in a town absolutely enveloped in smoke from wild fires surrounding us on all sides. It’s been hot (brutally hot actually) and the smoke is thick and choking. It makes your throat sore and your eyes burn and sometimes you see ash falling from the sky. The kids can’t go outside for recess and outdoor practices and games have been cancelled going on two weeks.

It doesn’t particularly feel like fall where I live but doesn’t feel like summer either…or any season really. Obviously all of this pales in comparison to very real tragedies and natural disasters happening all over the country/world in the last little bit. I was texting with my mother-in-law today and as she was telling me about a school shooting that happened today in the town I grew up in, we both agreed we feel helpless and defeated by so much hurt all around us. It’s a heavy, worrying, hard hard time for so many.

And pumpkin bread won’t change any of that terrible hurt but it might put a smile on your kid’s faces when they come home from a hard day at school. Or you could double this recipe and drop a loaf off for a friend as a surprise. And you could absolutely slice it thick and slather it in butter and enjoy it slowly with a cup of coffee and maybe those five minutes will recharge you in some small way.


This is one of those easy one-bowl recipes that are great for little people to jump in and ‘help’ with. The other great thing is that the recipe calls for one whole can of pumpkin, which is perfect since I hate wasting the last bit of pumpkin out of the can but I also never have any ideas how to use it up except to make more treats. One can. One loaf. Done.


Pretty Great Pumpkin Bread (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin pie spice mix
  • Two pinches of ground cloves
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a LARGE loaf pan, grease with butter and flour or a piece of parchment paper. 

In the bowl of a large mixing bowl beat pumpkin, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla and sugar until well-combined with no lumps. Using a wooden spoon or spatula stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and all spices. When batter is just combined, scoop into loaf pan. 

In a small bowl combine one tablespoon raw sugar (regular white sugar is fine too) with one teaspoon cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the bread. Bake for approximately one hour or until a toothpick  poked in the center of the bread comes out clean.

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

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When all else fails in my garden, I can count on my zucchini plant to stick with me. I only plant one little plant each year and it never ceases to surprise me the way it grows into a giant zucchini producing machine by the end of the summer. I grate zucchini and keep it in a sealed container in my refrigerator to add to everything from scrambled eggs to pasta dishes to loaves of zucchini bread or cake. I make loaves and loaves of zucchini-based goodies all summer long, storing the extras in the freezer for a little taste of summer all winter long.

If you don’t happen to have a zucchini plant growing in your yard, just ask around, I’m sure someone in your life is looking to unload a few vegetables. If not, the fruit stands around town have them three for a dollar and just about as cheap at the grocery store.

This bundt cake is super simple and quick to put together. My 4-year-old daughter was my special helper in the kitchen this week and she loved doing everything from measuring the sugar to grating the zucchini. My 7-year-old and 8-year-old sons were all too happy to taste test our little project and gave a whole-hearted two thumbs up.

I ended up making this cake a couple different times to get it just how I liked it and for one batch I added an 1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves. I didn’t include it for the official recipe because I wanted a summery light cake but adding the cloves gave the cake a hint of spicy warmth and something I’ll add once fall comes around.

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Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

  • 3 room temperature eggs
  • 1 cup canola or coconut oil
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (about ½ a bag)
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a bundt cake pan or two loaf pans. Set aside. Using a mixer, beat eggs and oil for 2-3 minutes until creamy. Add in sugar and continue to mix until well-combined, about 2 more minutes. Mix in zucchini and vanilla. In a separate bowl, using a wood spoon, stir together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. With the mixer on low, slowly mix the dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just combined. Using a wood spoon, stir in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes. Flip the cake out of the pan onto a cake platter. In a small bowl, melt the remaining chocolate chips in a microwave, heating for 30 seconds at a time, stirring well before putting back into the microwave for another 30 seconds (this shouldn’t take more than 1 full-minute, but it’s important to stir the chocolate every 30 seconds). When the chocolate is completely melted, use a spoon to drizzle over the cake. Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.

Grandma’s Potato Salad

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My grandma was famous for her potato salad. It’s a simple recipe, but something about the way she made it was special. She had a giant vintage white bowl dedicated specifically for this salad and anytime my dad would walk through the back door of her house and see it sitting out on the counter, he would cheer in delight. If he happened to walk through the back door and it wasn’t on the counter, he would rummage through the refrigerator checking for it. If potato salad wasn’t on the menu that night, well I think you can imagine the (good-natured) teasing and pouting that my grandma had to deal with from her grown son and whoever else happened to be invited to dinner.

My grandma made potato salad for family and friends well into her eighties, always a double or triple batch served from her special bowl. My parents have the big white bowl at their house now and my mom makes the recipe a few times each summer. In the last couple years, I’ve tried my hand at making the salad.

This recipe is completely from memory and taste; as so many of the most special recipes usually are. I don’t think my grandma ever wrote her recipes down. She was an intuitive home cook, with zero training but an arsenal of recipes her family and friends loved and requested time and time again.

My dad always has a few pointers based on what he remembers and whenever I make the salad for him, I try and do it exactly the way my grandma made it. But when I make a batch to take to a barbecue or just for my little family, I tweak it slightly by adding more fresh herbs to make it my own. The only real secret to this very simple recipe is patience and high-quality ingredients. Let your potatoes and hard-boiled eggs cool completely. Don’t rush this step or the texture won’t be the same. Also, use the best quality mayonnaise you can.

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Grandma’s Potato Salad

  • 3 pounds baby red and yellow potatoes, washed and quartered
  • 5 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons, finely chopped dill
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

In a large pot, boil washed and cut potatoes for about 10 to 15 minutes until they are fork tender but still firm. Drain completely and set aside to cool. Hard-boil eggs. I put room temperature eggs into a pot of cold water and cover with a lid. Using my gas stove, I turn the heat to high and boil the eggs for exactly 11 minutes (set a timer). When the timer goes off, remove from heat and drain the water from the eggs. Set the hard-boiled eggs aside to cool. When the potatoes and eggs have cooled completely, you are ready to assemble your salad.

Start by chopping the celery, herbs and eggs. My grandma always diced the eggs and celery in smaller pieces than the potatoes. In a large bowl, mix together potatoes, eggs, celery, green onions and herbs setting aside a teaspoon of chopped dill. Using a spatula, gently mix the mayonnaise with the vegetables. Salt and pepper liberally and taste to make sure the ratios are how you like it. Add a little more mayonnaise or salt and pepper if needed. Garnish with the last teaspoon of dill. Cover and refrigerate if you aren’t going to serve immediately.

Vanilla Rhubarb Cake with Strawberries

Starting today, you can catch the Salt and Stone in the Yakima Herald every Friday in their food and entertainment section. Each week is an original recipe with a few words. My goal is the same there as it is here: to share recipes that are accessible, made with local ingredients whenever possible and most importantly brings you and your family and friends to the table together. Happy weekend friends. Buy some rhubarb at the Farmer’s Market this weekend and make one of these yummy treats for the people you love.

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Ever since I was a little girl, my favorite treat has always been cake. I don’t find I need much of a reason to justify cake and I certainly never turn down a slice when it’s offered to me. A friend just had a new baby? Make a cake. A birthday, anniversary, baby shower, brunch or just because you feel like it? All good reasons to make a cake. Let me be clear though, I’m not talking three layers of decadence with a homemade frosting that takes two days to make.

I mean a simple one-bowl cake with the option to mix fresh fruit into the batter. It’s the kind of cake you can dress up for company or enjoy straight from the pan on any old day. Just because you feel like it. A friend gifted me a giant bunch of rhubarb from her garden the other day and it was the perfect excuse to make a cake.

My oldest son, Jackson, who happened to walk past the kitchen as I was getting the mixer out asked ‘can I help?’ I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Just finishing up second grade, the pull of the basketball hoop in the driveway or the newest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book seems to entice him more than baking with mom most days.

I diced rhubarb while Jackson cracked eggs and ran the mixer. It was a quick project, maybe 15 minutes, but it was the perfect break in our day to chat and catch up, work on something together. This recipe makes a one-layer cake. Similar to a coffee cake with a crumbly texture and a light vanilla flavor that compliments the tangy rhubarb. Stirring raspberries into the batter would have been delicious (and made the cake slightly sweeter) With blueberry season just around the corner, I know I’ll make this cake again. We topped ours with fresh strawberries and a dollop of whip cream. I might have had a little slice for breakfast with my morning coffee.

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Rhubarb Vanilla Cake

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 ½ cups rhubarb, sliced thinly into ¼ inch pieces (about 3 stalks)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sugar (optional)
  • Sliced strawberries (optional)
  • Whipped cream or vanilla ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a nine-inch baking pan with butter OR cooking spray. Slice rhubarb into pieces and combine with 1 tablespoon sugar. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars and beat for 3 minutes until the butter is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add eggs and vanilla, mixing again until well combined. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the egg and butter mixture until just combined. The batter will be a bit lumpy and that’s ok. Using a spatula, fold the rhubarb (and its juices) into the batter and then transfer to prepared cake pan. Sprinkle with raw sugar and bake until the cake is golden on top and a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Top the cake with sliced strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.