VT Conference

For more baking tips, check out

Like to cook and bake? Check out my tips on Twitter @KitchenNut
Applesauce-Chunk Cake

This moist, apple-y cake is delicious as an afternoon snack or for breakfast, toasted and slathered with cream cheese. Dried cranberries make a fine substitute for the raisins.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 cup packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 Granny Smith apples , peeled, cored, and diced medium (2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat an 8-inch-square cake pan with vegetable oil spray. Whisk the flour, baking powder, spices, and salt together in a large bowl and set aside.

2. Beat the brown sugar and butter together in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed. Beat in the applesauce and lemon zest.

3. Whisk the flour mixture into the egg mixture until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in the apples and raisins (if using).

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with a few crumbs attached, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

5. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours, before serving.

Coconut-Oatmeal Cake

1 cup quick-cooking oats
3/4 cup water , room temperature
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Broiled Icing
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled
3 tablespoons milk
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) pecans , chopped [I omitted for the cake]

1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8- by 8-inch metal baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Combine oats and water in medium bowl and let sit until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.

3. In bowl of standing mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until combined and mixture has consistency of damp sand, 2 to 4 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula halfway through mixing. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined, about 30 seconds. Add flour mixture in 2 additions and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add soaked oats and mix until combined, about 15 seconds.

4. Give batter final stir with rubber spatula to make sure thoroughly combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and lightly tap against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles; smooth surface with spatula. Bake cake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let cake cool slightly in pan, at least 10 minutes.

5. FOR THE BROILED ICING: While cake cools, adjust oven rack about 9 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. In medium bowl, whisk brown sugar, melted butter, and milk together; stir in coconut and pecans. Spread mixture evenly over warm cake. Broil until topping is bubbling and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Let cake cool in pan 1 hour.

Banana-Chocolate Chip Cake

2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 very large, ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350º. Grease an 8″-square pan. Whisk flour, b-powder and salt in medium bowl.

In large bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Bea in eggs, one at a time, until well-combined. Beat in bananas, milk and vanilla until well-mixed.

Whisk in flour mix to banana mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon into pan, smoothing top. Bake until toothpick is inserted/removed with no crumbs (about 40-50 minutes). Let cake cool completely in pan.


Mulled Cider

Makes about 2 quarts

Use a meat mallet or heavy saucepan to break the cinnamon stick into several pieces.

1 cinnamon stick , broken into pieces
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
2 quarts apple cider
4 strips orange zest (each about 2 inches long)
1 – 3 tablespoons light brown sugar or dark brown sugar (to taste)

Toast spices in large saucepan over medium heat, shaking pan occasionally, until fragrant, 1 to 3 minutes. Add cider, orange zest, and sugar and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, using wide, shallow spoon to skim away foam that rises to surface. Pour cider through fine-mesh strainer lined with coffee filter and discard spices and orange zest. Serve. (Mulled cider can be refrigerated in airtight container for up to one week. )