Champagne Layer Cake

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}I hope you cherished or survived your Valentine’s Day, depending on where you stand with the so-called holiday. My anniversary with M happens to fall on this overly Hallmarked date and on that Saturday we celebrated six years together. We celebrated with a bike ride given the ridiculous lack of winter but it was a wonderful day nonetheless. M makes dinner (usually Swedish meatballs; yum) and I make a layer cake.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

I’ve made chocolate and raspberry and peanut butter and chocolate, as well as other delicacies not featured on this blog, and all were very delicious. This year, however, I was looking for something different. I perused Pinterest and implored the masses on Facebook, and happened across a scrumptious-sounding champagne cupcake on Sprinkle Bakes. Obviously I was looking to build a layer cake and not cupcakes, but the recipe looked easily adaptable. Just in case, I questioned Heather, the brilliant author of SB. Not only is she a brilliant blogger, but she’s a delightful person and promptly assuaged my very minimal doubts. Next step: buy champagne!

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

I chose a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato Champagne, because I like Barefoot wine and a sweet champagne seemed like a solid plan. As a bonus, the reduced champagne in the frosting tinted it a very pale pink which I felt was appropriate given the occasion. Although it seems like a lot of steps, each part of this cake came together easily and could definitely stand on its own. Together, however, they create a supremely champagne experience without feeling like you’re getting drunk off dessert. (Not that getting drunk off dessert is necessarily a bad thing. Pudding shots, amiright?)

Despite having nearly the entire bottle within the various pieces, it’s still a fairly light cake. The taste of champagne is definitely prominent but not overwhelming, and I felt it was a welcome change to the usual chocolate confections. I think M was a little disappointed it’s not the kind of cake you pair with ice cream, but I promised to make it up to him on his birthday.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

A soft crumb and a custard filling enveloped in a fluffy frosting make for a textural dream in addition to the totally different but amazing flavor. It would be an especially lovely ending for a dinner party if you’re a classy folk but would be great for any special occasion. If you’re looking to switch it up from all the usual flavors, this is the cake for you.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Cake

Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes one 9″ cake

Ingredients

1 cup butter, room temp
2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sour cream
1 cup champagne

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans, lining the bottoms with parchment paper. (Butter and flour the paper as well).
  2. Cream  together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each one. Mix in vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together champagne and sour cream. Mixture will be fizzy.
  6. Starting and ending with the flour, alternate adding it and the sour cream mixture to the stand mixer. Batter will be thick.
  7. Divide evenly between prepared cake pans (about 3.5 cups of batter per pan) and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cake will brown but that’s okay! Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Freeze completely cooled cake layers for 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Cream Filling

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup champagne
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 egg + 2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, champagne, and sugar in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high then remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup heavy cream and cornstarch, then mix in the eggs and egg yolks.
  3. Slowly stream in one third of the hot champagne mixture, whisking constantly so the egg doesn’t cook.
  4. Bring the remaining champagne and heavy cream mixture to a boil again, then stream in the egg mixture, whisking constantly until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Buttercream Frosting

Makes just enough for one 9″ double-layer cake

Ingredients

1 cup champagne

1 cup butter, room temp
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tbsp champagne

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce 1 cup of champagne to 2 tablespoon. Pour into a small bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixture and mix briefly by hand to incorporate the sugar.
  3. Cream together with the whisk attachment until mixture is well combined and fluffy, scraping the bowl once or twice as necessary.
  4. Mix in reduced champagne and additional tablespoon of champagne from the bottle.

Assembly Instructions

Ingredients

2 champagne cake layers
1 batch champagne filling
1 batch champagne buttercream frosting

Directions

  1. Prepare a cake board, trimming if necessary.
  2. Level cake layers. Place a small amount of frosting on the cake board and gently press one cake layer on top.
  3. Evenly spread desired amount of filling on the cake (I used the whole batch), then gently press the second layer on top (cut side down) making sure it’s level. Then use a spatula (or your finger) to ensure the edges are smooth.
  4. Spread and/or pipe the frosting on the cake, and decorate as desired.

Notes

This was barely enough frosting to spread on the cake. If you intend to do any piping or you like a lot of frosting, I recommend making 1.5 batches.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies

Hello friends, hope you’ve successfully made the switch to February. Bozeman leaped right passed it into April as we continue to have weather in the 50’s. As someone who actually enjoys winter, and skiing, and cold-weather running, I find this very depressing. I also am hoping this does not mean we have a hellish summer ahead of us or I think I’ll move back to Alaska for July.

In any case, cookies. With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, Pinterest and the rest of the internet has been overrun with pink and chocolate. I decided to ignore all of these things and make something completely different this weekend.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

These cookies are soft and have a wonderful brown sugar flavor spiced with cinnamon. Kind of a cross between snickerdoodles and gingersnaps, they are a simple pleasure and a delightful treat for any time of year. They do require a couple hours of chilling, but I expect I’ll be making these pretty often in spite of that. Bonus: for those of you without a stand mixer, these cookies are mixed by hand – no electricity required.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

The original recipe called for dark brown sugar but I only had light on hand. They are delicious regardless but I imagine they’d be extra flavorful if you’ve got the dark option lying around.

As a fall or winter refreshment these go great with coffee or hot chocolate. If you’re looking to cool them down for summer activities, they are awesome as ice cream cookie sandwiches. Just put a scoop of softened ice cream on a cookie, and press another cookie on top until the ice cream is spread out to the side. Serve immediately or store in the freezer, but pull them out a few minutes early before serving. Yum!

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies {{Baking Bytes}}

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes about 22 cookies

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon (I used a whole tsp)
1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg, room temp
2 tsp vanilla

2 Tbsp white sugar

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a small-medium bowl, whisk together melted butter and brown sugar until completely combined. Add eggs and vanilla and whisk thoroughly.
  3. Add wet mixture to dry and use a rubber spatula to stir until completely mixed. Dough will be wet and soft but should be thick. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
  4. Pour 2 Tbsp sugar into a bowl or deep plate. After dough has chilled, roll 2 Tbsp dough into a ball, then roll in the sugar to coat. Repeat with remaining dough.
  5. Return dough balls to the refrigerator, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, and line baking sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.
  6. Bake cookies for 12-16 minutes. They will look soft and puffy but should not look super wet in the cracks. For extra soft cookies, use the lower end of the range; for a slight crunch on the outside, use the upper end.
  7. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
  8. Cookies stay soft for several days in an airtight container on the counter…assuming you haven’t eaten them all already.

Notes

To quickly bring an egg to room temperature, place it in a cup of warm water for 5-10 minutes.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Apple Cinnamon Muffins {{Baking Bytes}}Hello hello. Hope your year is going splendidly. So far January has been pretty good and I’m looking forward to February. Hopefully winter will come back as our ski area could definitely use some more snow. But it’s open so I’m not complaining too much. Last week I ran in shorts which is a little strange for January in Montana, so I wouldn’t mind if it cooled down a bit.

Apple cinnamon muffins with crumb topping

Apple cinnamon muffins with crumb topping

In any case, I’ve been in an apple mood the last couple weeks and while I was deciding what to make I recalled the muffins I made during a semester abroad in Scotland. All I could remember is that the recipe was on allrecipes.com and there was a crazy amount of apple in it. And it took forever to chop it all by hand. After some dedicated searching, some slight modifications, and two batches of muffins, I have the recipe here to share.

Apple cinnamon muffins with raw sugar topping

Apple cinnamon muffins with raw sugar topping

These muffins are moist and bursting with apples. A sweet topping (if you want) and the addition of cinnamon make these a lovely treat or breakfast for any time of the year. Chopping the apples will be very quick if you employ the use of a corer/peeler contraption, but even by hand it’s definitely worth the effort.

Apple cinnamon muffins sans topping.

Apple cinnamon muffins sans topping.

The original recipe calls for a sugar crumb topping which is excellent, but the muffins are also great with just a dusting of raw sugar or just plain. I imagine they’d also be great with some regular cinnamon and sugar on top although I haven’t tried this. I promise to do so next time.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins {{Baking Bytes}}

Whatever weather has graced your corner of the world, these muffins will be a delicious addition to your day.

Note: This is not a recipe to use up old apples. The apple is VERY prominent so make sure you pick good ones that you’d be fine eating plain.

Cinnamon Apple Muffins

Adapted from AllRecipes
Makes 12-15 muffins

Ingredients

Muffins:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 egg

2 apples

Topping:
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Liberally grease a muffin pan or line with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together wet ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
  4. Peel, core, and chop the apples into small pieces. Set aside.
  5. If desired, mix the topping ingredients with a pastry blender or your hands until the mixture comes together. It should be well mixed but crumbly.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and gently mix with a spatula until moistened. Batter will be thick.
  7. Gently stir in the apples until they are evenly distributed. Apple to batter ratio will look very high, but this is normal.
  8. Fill muffin wells 2/3 – 3/4 full and sprinkle with topping mix, raw sugar, or leave plain.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Notes

I used jazz apples because that’s what I had on hand, but any green or pinkish variety should be great.

Overnight Baked French Toast & Blueberry Sauce

Hello hello! It’s 2015! Fun fact, the year 2030 is now closer than the year 1999. Crazy.

I was originally intending to start off the year with a savory dish to contrast the sugar overload that is December, but I changed my mind. If you want savory, I suggest you look at last year’s post.

Overnight Baked French Toast & Blueberry Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

I was lucky enough to be able to take two weeks off work over the holidays, so I spent Christmas at home in Alaska. Unfortunately, Alaska forgot it was winter and didn’t have any snow, so no skiing for me, but I did run over 20 miles that week, my highest mileage week of the year. And I’ve got lots of skiing in since returning to Montana.

Prior to this trip, I’d been eyeing this recipe for well over a month but never had a good reason to make it. I sneakily offered to make breakfast for Christmas Day, and I don’t think anyone minded. I made a substantially less sweet version than the original and I thought it was the perfect amount of sweetness, especially if you’re planning to serve it with regular pancake syrup. I made a quick blueberry sauce as a topping and I’m pretty sure I’ll never eat it any other way. Well, maybe a different fruit. I bet blackberry would be awesome too.

Overnight Baked French Toast & Blueberry Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

In any case, this is a great meal for the holidays as it doesn’t require much time in the morning, but it would be equally great any time of the year. Just make sure you leave enough time in the morning for it to bake to your desired consistency. and you’re good to go. (You can always put it in the oven and go back to bed for an hour, I won’t judge.) We had it with a side of scrambled eggs and bacon for a well-rounded meal.

Oh yeah: Blueberry sauce. This stuff is super easy and super delicious, so you should definitely make a batch while the French toast is baking.

Overnight Baked French Toast & Blueberry Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

Also: The French toast reheats decently well, but if you don’t have enough people to eat a 9×13 baking dish you can certainly halve the recipe. Or you can split the full recipe between two 8×8 pans and put one of them in the freezer after they’ve refrigerated overnight. Just let it thaw in the fridge the night before and bake as normal (although perhaps a little bit longer depending on how cold your fridge is.) The 8×8 pans bake for roughly the same amount of time as the 9×13 pans.

If you’re looking to please a crowd with very minimal effort, this is definitely the recipe for you! Or if you’re just looking to please yourself, even better. Just try not to eat the whole pan at once.

Overnight Baked French Toast

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 8-12

Ingredients

1.5 lbs sourdough bread
8 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  1. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Tear or cut bread into bite-sized pieces and spread evenly into the pan.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk remaining ingredients until completely combined. Pour liquid gently and evenly over the bread.
  4. Cover dish tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Retrieve dish from the fridge and use a large spoon to gently stir the mixture, so as to put the wetter pieces on top and the drier ones toward the bottom.2
  7. Bake 45-75 minutes (shorter time for closer to the texture of bread pudding, longer for a crispier texture.)3
  8. Serve immediately with toppings of choice.

Notes

You must use sourdough or some other kind of very dense bread.
This is not strictly necessary, but I found the texture to be more even throughout the dish after stirring.
I baked mine for just over an hour to avoid it being wet in the middle, although it was still quite soft. I will likely plan for 70 minutes in the future. If you think it’s getting too crispy on top, you can cover the pan with tinfoil for the last 20 minutes or so, but I haven’t found this necessary.

Blueberry Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

Blueberry Sauce

Borrowed from My Baking Addiction
Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

2 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water

1/2 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Combine blueberries, 1/2 cup water, sugar, and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture comes to a low boil.
  2. Mix cornstarch and 2 Tbsp cold water until completely combined. Slowly stream into the blueberries, stirring constantly but gently, and simmer until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. (Cook less if you prefer a thinner sauce).
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla and zest.
  4. Serve on your favorite French toast, pancakes, waffles, ice cream, or whatever needs some blueberry-fication.
  5. Store leftovers in the fridge and reheat leftovers as necessary.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Hi everyone, hope you’ve had an awesome last couple weeks! My mom came to visit which was awesome not only because it’s great to hang out with my mom, but we repainted my bathroom. It has transformed from a gross lemon yellow into a delightful warm light-medium brown. HUGE difference. No longer do I look kind of sickly when I look in the mirror. No longer do I cringe every time I walk by. No longer do I stare at the walls wondering why someone would pick that color and why they did such a crap job of painting it. It’s magical. I’d post a picture but my bathroom is pretty small and it’s hard to get a reasonable one.

In any case, November has flown by and I can’t believe next week is already December. While pretty soon I’ll be making batches of almond roca and heading back to Alaska for Christmas, right now I’m still in full on fall flavor mode: apple and pumpkin. I’ll be making a pumpkin cheesecake for Thanksgiving but this weekend I was feeling apple-y.Baked Apple Cider Donuts {{Baking Bytes}}

I actually came across this recipe a few months ago when it was crazy hot outside, so I filed it away to use at a later date. Fortunately, it comes together very quickly assuming you have all the ingredients on hand which makes it great for making on a whim.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts {{Baking Bytes}}

These donuts are not overwhelmingly apple flavored but it’s definitely there along with the spices. A cinnamon sugar coating pairs nicely for a cozy experience – kick it up a notch by having some hot cider on the side. They are denser than a fried donut, as the bake variety tends to be, but they are definitely lighter than a typical cake. If you don’t have a donut pan, you can bake them in a mini muffin tin as knockoff donut holes.

Run that Thanksgiving 5k (or go for a walk, or whatever) then come home and make a batch of these donuts while you’re prepping for dinner. It’ll be a great snack and won’t take up too much precious oven time. Just make sure you have a few people to help you eat them all.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts {{Baking Bytes}}

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Makes12+ donuts

Ingredients

1 cup apple cider

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt

1 egg (room temp)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)

1/2 cup buttermilk (room temp)
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup sugar
ground cinnamon, to taste

Directions

  1. Reduce the cider by pouring it into a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Measure out 1/2 cup and let it cool in the fridge while you mix the rest of the batter.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a donut pan (or two) or spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick spray and set aside.
  3. Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda, cloves, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and sugars until completely combined. Mixture will be grainy but consistent in color. Whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, and reduced 1/2 cup of cider.
  5. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix gently until just combined. Mixture should still be a bit lumpy – don’t over mix!
  6. For donuts: Scoop batter into a large Ziploc bag, snip the tip, and pipe the donut wells 2/3 – 3/4 full. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. For donut holes: Fill mini muffin wells 3/4 full and bake for 9-11 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let donuts cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack.
  9. Mix together sugar and ground cinnamon to your preference. One at a time, dip still-warm donuts into the sugar and coat completely.
  10. Serve the same day if possible, but store any leftovers in an airtight container on the counter.

Notes

Put the egg in warm water for a few minutes to quickly bring it to room temperature. You can do the same with buttermilk by pouring it into a sealed container first.