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Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake

Hi there! It’s Fall, which means that Pumpkin Season is officially upon us! That also means that the time for this Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake HAS ARRIVED!

Pull up with your pumpkin spice tea and your coziest cardigan, Beloved. This one’s quite a read. It also includes a picture tutorial so that we can make it together!

In this Post:

About Pound Cakes

The quintessential American pound cake got its name from its ingredients. A pound of flour, a pound of sugar, a pound of eggs, and a pound of butter. In theory, you should be able to take (roughly) a pound of each of those ingredients, with some milk, maybe a splash of leavening, salt and other accouterments added, and come up with a delightfully dense, rich cake with a tight crumb.

For many Black Americans in the United States, the words “pound cake” evoke powerful memories. To this day, pound cakes appear at weekly Sunday dinners and also at special holiday dinners. Pound cake travels neatly with the beloved family who’s leaving to go home after a wonderful visit. Pound cake can be a vehicle for ice cream, but also does just fine by itself. Pound cake still represents home to those who have moved far away from family.

My first memory of pound cake included me watching my mother use her Cuisinart hand mixer to mix her famous 7-Up cake, while telling me stories about what it was like to grow up in Demopolis, Alabama. She told me stories about her first crush, about growing up as the youngest of seven(!) children, and about how my grandmother was love personified while she mixed that batter. We also had some challenging conversations when she told me–over pound cake–what it was like for her as a young Black girl to come of age in the Deep South during the 1950s and 1960s. And every single one of those stories meant everything to me. They mean even more to me now that she’s not here and I’m raising my own children.

When she was done telling stories, that 7-Up cake would be in the oven and and a beater would be in my hand. I understood my assignment. That was the magic of pound cake for me; it was a connection between me and the family that was very far away. Pound cake, to me, meant connection. That connection endures to this day.

There are innumerable stories about Black people boarding buses and trains from Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, and the entire Southeastern United States, heading north and west to Los Angeles, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and New York during The Great Migration. Those migrants carried with them with bags of homemade rolls, fried chicken, and pound cake. It is a cake that endures even today, connecting generations of families in a special way that many foods cannot.

It is why, when I re-opened my custom bakery (The Gloria Bakery) in fall 2021, pound cakes were prominently and proudly featured on that menu.

About This Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake

This pound cake in particular was really fun to develop. First of all, it involves pumpkin spice, which I’m told is pretty popular in the fall (😂). Also, because pumpkin is full of water (it is about 94% water), it presented an interesting challenge for me to get the texture just right.

I love the tight crumb of a well-executed pound cake. It’s just so…satisfying. Plus, I can walk around the house with a slab of pound cake and not have it crumble all over my clothes. #NoJudgmentZone

To maintain that tight crumb with this pound cake, I ended up using pumpkin puree (not canned pumpkin pie filling) for the bulk of the liquid in this amazing cake. While you can replace canned pumpkin puree with the fresh stuff, it’s difficult to know the water content of a particular pumpkin, and whether that means you’d have to add more butter, or reduce the buttermilk.

The Technique for this Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake

Mise en Place

The cake in this recipe has a lot of dry ingredients, which can make it seem like a much more complicated bake than it really is. But once those dry ingredients are tucked into their bowl and stirred together, the rest is easy peasy!

As usual, Beloveds, the secret is in the mise en place. Any recipe can look complicated before your ingredients are neatly prepared and ready to go.

For this recipe, my mise en place (before sifting my dry ingredients) looks something like this:

For you eagle-eyed readers out there, the final recipe calls for six eggs. 😊

As you can see, my dry ingredients are together in their bowl, and all of my other ingredients are separated and measured as well. At this stage, I’m ready to mix!

In the Mix

Like many standard American pound cake recipes, this one uses the creaming method. The creaming method simply means that you mix room-temperature (70°F) butter and sugar together until the mixture has increased in volume, the the color is lighter, and the texture is much less grainy. You can click here to read more about it.

There’s video too! Click here to learn the stand mixer technique, or here to see how it’s done with a hand mixer.

Proper creaming is absolutely essential for this recipe to succeed. If you’re looking for help to figure out proper creaming technique, I hope that blog post and those videos help you achieve the pumpkin spice pound cake of your dreams!

Here’s what the creamed butter and sugar should look like:

Once the butter has reached this stage (~3-7 minutes on low/medium speed in a stand mixer, or ~5-12 minutes on medium speed with a hand mixer, as long as you’re using room temperature butter), you’re ready to add your eggs. For eggs, add them one at a time and mix each one on medium speed until thoroughly combined. For a recipe with six eggs, I usually scrape the bowl after the third and sixth eggs.

Once all of the eggs are incorporated, your batter should look dreamy and luscious.

Time for your two teaspoons of vanilla and another good mix until incorporated:

After the vanilla, give your bowl a good scraping with that silicone spatula. This is the last time during this mixing session that you’ll be able to mix mix mix to your heart’s content with a machine.

Because now it’s time for that flour mixture. First, add the first half of your flour and mix on lowest speed until just combined. You can even leave a few streaks of flour at this point:

Remember, Friend, that the introduction of flour means the start of gluten development. And too much gluten development will mean a tough cake!

Once you’ve gently mixed your first batch of flour, add all of your pumpkin at one time. Again, mix until just combined. With half of your flour already onboard, you’ll want to reduce the mixing time at this point.

From the “after” picture, above, you can see that the the pumpkin is mostly incorporated, but it’s not completely mixed into the batter. That’s okay! You can stop mixing at this point. Time for your second flour addition:

The mix on the right is where you should stop 🛑 mixing with a machine. It’s at this point that my handy-dandy silicone spatula comes into play.

I use the silicone spatula to get a get a good final scraping in my mixing bowl. Going around the sides and bottom of the bowl, I collect all of the loose flour and then do 10-15 good turns around the bowl. The result is always a smooth batter that’s not over-mixed and is ready for the oven. This is a thicker batter, and that’s okay!

Into the Oven!

This next part is not a popular opinion.

But I’m going to tell you anyway.

I don’t prepare my cake pans before I start mixing my cake batter. I know this is not a normal recommendation, so feel free to disregard it.

If you’re still reading, hear me out!

In my experience, butter and flour left in a cake pan for too long can cause an unappetizing crust on the outside of my finished pound cake. And, since the outside of the cake is so prominently featured on a pound cake, who wants that?!

One day, purely by happenstance, I forgot to prep a pan before mixing my cake batter, so I just took four minutes after the batter was done and prepped the pan at that time. I’ve done it that way ever since, using the good old butter/flour combo to make sure that things don’t stick. Before I prep my pan, I also check my cheap-o oven thermometer to make sure that my oven is truly at 325°F. (For my top oven, this means setting it to 350°F.)

You have to work pretty quickly if you choose to prep your pan after your batter! That’s why it’s helpful to take out some extra butter for your pan at the same time that you take out the butter for your recipe.

With all bundt pans, you have to butter them to within an inch of their lives before moving on to the next step. Please, Family, do not fall for the “non-stick” cake pan claims. THEY ARE NOT TRUE. I’m also not a huge fan of cooking sprays, since I find they don’t help produce the caramelization that I like to see on the top of my bundt cakes.

This is what I mean by “butter them to within an inch of their lives”:

After you’ve reached this stage, add flour and maneuver the pan around until you’ve covered all of the buttered surfaces. It’s important to remove any remaining flour when you’re done with this step (I remove extra flour by banging the pan over a countertop or clean sink):

After this step, I gently pour my batter into my prepped pan and gently even out the top with my silicone spatula:

Then it’s onto a baking sheet and into my 325°F oven for 70-80 minutes. The cake is done when a cake tester comes out clean and the top springs back under your finger, OR when an instant-read thermometer reads somewhere between 210°F and 215°F.

At this point, you can place the cake on a cooling rack and place the cake and cooling rack on top of some parchment paper. Allow it to cool for about ten minutes.

After the ten-minute timer goes off, invert the cake on top of the cooling rack, gently put it down atop the parchment paper, and say a very quick prayer (if you pray).

Then, gently lift the pan and wait for release. While there will inevitably be a few tiny crumbs that are left on the pan, as you can see, the beautiful detail from the cake pan is clearly present in the finished cake.

The Game-Changer: Simple Syrup

::Friends, come close::

This next tip is the real difference between home bakers and pros.

Two words: simple syrup.

Simple syrup is equal parts water and sugar boiled together until they achieve a watery-syrup texture. There are innumerable variations on a “simple” simple syrup, but the most common one is the plain one. For bundt cakes, I find that 100 g (.4 c) of sugar and 100 g of water (.4 c) is the perfect amount.

I make the simple syrup by just adding those two ingredients together, bringing them to a boil, then reducing to a simmer just until all of the sugar is dissolved. I do not want simple syrup that has the consistency of corn syrup or maple syrup. I prefer that it be closer to a watery texture, so that it doesn’t grab crumbs from the warm cake when I’m brushing it onto my cake with a pastry brush.

For a great video tutorial on how I use simple syrup on my cakes, check out my YouTube video, entitled “Three Tips for Making Great Cakes”! Specifically, you can jump to 3:15 in the video for the simple syrup technique.

Or you can watch the whole thing because I kinda love it. 😊

I brushed simple syrup on half of the cake and snapped a quick picture so that you can see the difference:

The Final Glaze

This, Friends, is the hardest part of the proceedings. This is the part where you wait.

Once that warm cake is brushed with warm simple syrup, it’s time to leave.

No, really. Go do something else. Because it’s going to be 3-5 hours before you can touch this cake again for the final glaze. It needs to be completely cooled before you do this last step.

To make the glaze, mix the maple syrup, maple extract (not mandatory, but extremely delicious), confectioner’s sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.

Whisk the mixture gently until combined. Don’t worry about lumps! Just keep stirring gently.

You’re done when the mixture has the texture of thick honey.

At this point, you can either use a spouted measuring cup or a plastic squeeze bottle to pour the glaze on your finished, cooled cake.

This has been a go-to for glaze lately.

That’s it! You’re done! Time to enjoy this wonderful taste of fall that was inspired by the humble, amazing pound cake.

You’re ready! I hope you love this pumpkin spice pound cake as much as my family does. If you tried it and love it, tag me on Instagram @beginwithbutter so that I can see your masterpiece!

The Recipe

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Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake

A delightful fall treat that incorporates classic Southern bundt cake techniques with a delicious pumpkin spice blend!

  • Total Time: ~5-7 hours
  • Yield: 14 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale

For the cake:

  • 384 g (3 c) all-purpose flour, plus two tablespoons for dusting bundt pan
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 227 g (1 c) butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing bundt pan
  • 500 g (2.5 c) sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 425 g pumpkin puree, fresh or canned (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 63 g (1/4 c) buttermilk

For the Simple Syrup:

  • 100 g (.5 c) granulated sugar
  • 100 g (.4 c) water

For the Maple Cinnamon Glaze:

  • 90 g (1/4 c) maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp maple extract (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 90 g (3/4 c) confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Instructions

For the Cake Batter:

  1. Set your oven to 325°F.  It’s highly recommended to use an oven thermometer for baking, since ovens themselves are often inaccurate when it comes to temperature.
  2. Soft together the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Combine the buttermilk and pumpkin puree in a medium bowl.  Set aside.
  4. Place room temperature butter into a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and mix by itself on medium speed until smooth.
  5. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add sugar to the smooth butter.
  6. Mix on medium speed for 3-10 minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl every 1-2 minutes, until the butter/sugar mixture is light and fluffy.  For more on how to properly cream butter and sugar (one of the most important steps!), click here.
  7. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl after the third egg and the last egg.
  8. Add vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.
  9. With the mixer on low speed, gently add half of the flour mixture.  Mix until almost combined, with a few streaks of flour remaining.
  10. With the mixer off, add all of the pumpkin puree/buttermilk mixture at one time.  Mix until just combined.
  11. Add the rest of the flour, again mixing until combined (or until you see no more streaks of butter in the mixture).  There may be just a few streaks of flour remaining.  (See photo above.)
  12. Remove the mixer from the bowl and finish mixing the recipe by hand by scraping the sides and bottom with a silicone spatula and doing a final mix (about 10-15 turns).  
  13. Prep your 10-cup bundt pan using the reserved, softened butter and flour.  
  14. Put batter into the prepare pan and bake at 325°F for 70-80 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out completely clean.  Alternatively, you can check with an instant-read thermometer.  The cake will be done when the internal temperature reaches 210°F to 215°F.
  15. After removing the cake from the oven, place on top of a cooling rack for ten minutes while you make the simple syrup.

For the Simple Syrup:

  1. Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan.
  2. Heat on medium-high heat until mixture is boiling.  Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat immediately once the sugar is completely dissolved.  Use a pastry brush to brush simple syrup on the whole cake.  Allow to cool completely (3-5 hours).

For the Final Glaze:

  1. Combine maple syrup, maple extract, confectioner’s sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  
  2. Stir gently with a small whisk until smooth.
  3. Using a squeeze bottle or spouted measuring cup, pour the glaze over the inside and outside of the cake.  Some of the glaze will spill over the sides.  
  4. Allow the glaze to set up for 15-20 minutes and enjoy!

 

Notes

  • This is a big, flavorful cake.  You’ll need at least a 10-cup bundt pan to make sure that it doesn’t overspill.  The combination of leavening and the air pockets from your creamed butter and sugar will make it overspill a smaller bundt pan.
  • This can be halved and made into a pumpkin loaf as well!  A 9″x5″ loaf pan is best for this one.
  • It’s especially important to measure the confectioner’s sugar for the final glaze on this cake.  Too much (>100 g) will cause the glaze will develop small holes after setting.  It will still taste delicious, but it’s a disappointing way to end all of your hard work.  
  • To store: This cake needs to be refrigerated once it’s complete.  It can last for up to seven days in the refrigerator.
  • Author: Shani
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes (active)
  • Inactive Time: 3-5 hours
  • Cook Time: 70-80 minutes
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 477
  • Sugar: 55.1 g
  • Sodium: 175.9 mg
  • Fat: 16.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 78.5 g
  • Protein: 6.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 116 mg

I hope you enjoy this little taste of fall from Begin with Butter! If you make it, don’t forget to tag @beginwithbutter on Instagram so I can cheer your success!

-S ❤️


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    Southern Rice Pudding

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    In 2023, the theme of Black History Month is Black Resistance.  Eat the Culture is recognizing the remarkable and underrated resistance of our ancestors in bringing culinary traditions across the Atlantic to shape the vibrance of Black cuisine that we know and love today. They physically and mentally carried African foodways across the deadly Middle Passage to pass down through generations. This year’s Eat the Culture Black History Month Virtual Potluck traces popular dishes of the Diaspora from their West African roots to North America and beyond.  You can grab the full list of recipes from this year’s collaboration on the  Eat the Culture website.
    

    Friends, I am THRILLED to announce that I’ve been selected to participate in the Eat the Culture 2023 Black History Month Potluck event! And, as part of the event, I got to create a Southern Rice Pudding that absolutely knocked my socks off.

    It is the most luscious, decadent, creamy rice pudding that I’ve ever eaten. Topped with my now-famous brandied cherries, this is rice pudding to the nth degree, Honey.

    Let’s talk about it. Because it’s perfectly sweet (without being too sweet), it’s incredibly creamy (thanks to my rice choice and two finishing ingredients), and it’s literally so easy to make.

    The most expensive ingredient is actually…time.

    “Time is an Ingredient”

    One thing that I am so grateful to my mother taught me about our family’s cooking legacy, is that time is an ingredient.

    She counseled me to not cook when I was rushed. She taught me how to properly braise, and roast, and baste, and watch. That rushing to make something won’t ever make it better. That conveniences like a microwave (which we got when I was in high school and which she refused to use) would lead to the downfall of “good food”.

    There are a few recipes on my site that use time as a real ingredient (for example, my Blueberry Cardamom Sauce). Time is necessary to help flavors develop, to soften textures, to get to the objective. You cannot cheat time. And Friend, a microwave is NOT IT.

    This was a central premise of my education. Both as a cook and as a baker later on. But it started with her mother. And her mother’s mother. And generations long before them and thousands of miles away.

    About Southern Rice Pudding

    One of the reasons I was so thrilled to participate in this event, was because we had the opportunity to look at dishes across the African diaspora, and how those dishes have changed over the years and miles.

    It is so grounding to think of a dish that you’ve consumed all of your life, and think about how your family and ancestors ate that dish thousands of miles away and hundreds of years ago. And how they continue to consume that dish to this day.

    This Southern Rice Pudding is one such dish. What we know as “rice pudding” is based on a West African dish called Thiakry. The preparation is much the same, except that the original dish uses millet instead of rice.

    Making this recipe was such a full-circle moment for me. You see, my parents were born and raised in the South (LUCKY!), but I was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. That meant that my parents had the Herculean task of teaching me everything that there was to know about Southern cuisine. And helping me understand how the cuisines that we were eating in the 1980s was derived from African cultures.

    My parents were up to the task and they approached it zealously. 😊

    Southern Rice Pudding Ingredients

    Arborio Rice: Yes. Arborio. Not Jasmine. Not Basmati. Arborio. The starches in arborio rice make this rice pudding impossibly creamy. I tested this rice pudding almost two dozen times, Friends. You want arborio rice.

    Whole Milk: Whole milk adds to the luxuriousness of this particular rice pudding. It helps make the egg custard just….delicious.

    Eggs: In this recipe, as with many recipes, eggs are a multi-tool. The fatty yolk adds…you guessed it…luxuriousness, while the protein-rich egg whites help the custard (and ultimately the pudding) thicken.

    Kosher Salt: Salt is very important in any dessert; it balances the sugar and keeps the dessert from becoming cloyingly sweet. If using table salt for this recipe, cut the amount in half.

    Granulated Sugar: The granulated sugar in this dessert adds sweetness! But we don’t want it too sweet, so we have some balancing ingredients. Too much granulated sugar will make this dessert cloyingly sweet, and nobody wants that.

    Pure Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract gives this rice pudding a warmth that cannot be beat. We add vanilla extract after cooking so that we don’t lose the potency of the vanilla extract.

    Greek Yogurt: One of the absolute stars of the show. Thiakry is traditionally known for being not overly sweet, and even a little bit tangy. I absolutely wanted that element in this rice pudding, and I found that rice pudding added the tang without adding too much additional fat (because, with whole milk, butter, and eggs, we don’t need much more fat). It was just perfect.

    Butter: Butter goes in at the end with the Greek yogurt. Friend, there is no way to describe how creamy that 1-2 punch at the end gives to this rice pudding. It must be tried to be believed.

    Toppings: Traditionally, rice pudding can be topped with coconut, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, or really any spice that complements this tangy, sweet dessert. I chose to pair it with one of my favorite toppers of all time: my brandied cherries. Because OMG WHY NOT.

    To Make this Southern Rice Pudding

    This Southern Rice Pudding is actually quite simple to make! You need some time to make it, but once it’s complete, it’s so worth it.

    Start by adding the whole milk, granulated sugar, eggs, and salt to a 2.5-quart saucepan. Use a balloon whisk and whisk to combine them. Keep in mind that the mixture will NOT completely combine at this point because of the egg yolks:

    Next, put on a stove over medium-low heat. Whisk occasionally for the next 30-45 minutes. The mixture will gradually transform, and the egg yolks will just…disappear.

    You are ready to move on when the custard looks like the last picture. There should be absolutely no egg yolk visible in the custard, and it should be slightly thicker than it was when you started. Don’t skimp on this step!

    Next, add your cooked arborio rice. Friend, I tried this recipe with just about every type of rice that’s commercially available on the market. Please trust me and use arborio. And please trust me when I say that uncooked rice is not your friend in this recipe.

    Oh. And please rinse your rice before cooking.

    Anyway…

    Add the rice and continue cooking on medium-low heat until the pudding has a creamy, loose texture. Like this!

    Okay Once you get to this point, add your greek yogurt, pure vanilla extract and butter and allow them to melt into the rice pudding before stirring.

    That’s it! You’re done! You’ve made the most amazing rice pudding of your life!

    Top with raisins, coconut, cinnamon, or my amazing brandied cherries for a delicious treat.

    Important Tools Used in this Rice Pudding

    Below, you’ll find some tools that I used for this rice pudding. These are the tools that I use all the time in my own kitchen.

    **I get paid a small commission if you purchase directly from these links, but they are truly amazing products that you’ll find in my kitchen.**

    2.5-Quart Saucepan

    Balloon Whisk

    Wooden Spoon

    Heat-Proof Bowl

    I am so grateful for the opportunity to participate in Eat the Culture’s Black History Month potluck event! Any time I get to spend time thinking about my Mommy in the kitchen, it’s a good thing.

    I hope you LOVE this recipe!

    Print
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    Southern Rice Pudding

    This Southern Rice Pudding must be experienced to be believed.  It is impossibly creamy, decadent, and rich!  Pair with coconut, cinnamon, or, my favorite, brandied cherries for the ultimate in decadence!

    • Total Time: 70-80 minutes
    • Yield: 8 servings 1x

    Ingredients

    Units Scale

    For the Rice Pudding:

    • 316 g (2 c) arborio rice, cooked
    • 1000 g (4 c) milk
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 300 g (1.5 c) granulated sugar
    • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 113 g (1/2 c) greek yogurt
    • 113 g (1/2 c) butter

    For the Brandied Cherries:

    • 700 g (5 cups) pitted cherries, fresh or frozen
    • 200 g granulated sugar
    • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp cornstarch
    • 125 g plus (1/2 c) cold water
    • 125 g (1/2 c) brandy

    Instructions

    To Make the Rice Pudding:

    1. Cook arborio rice according to package directions.  After fluffing with a fork, spoon rice into measuring cups to measure the rice.  Place in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.
    2. Add milk, eggs, salt, and sugar to a medium saucepan.  Whisk until yolks are broken up.  
    3. Heat mixture over medium-low heat (do not boil!), whisking occasionally, until the mixture is warmed all the way through, there are no more bubbles in the mixture, and the egg yolks are fully absorbed into the milk.  This takes patience (and 30-45 minutes)!  If you warm the mixture too quickly, the eggs will curdle and scramble and you don’t want that.
    4. Once the mixture is fully combined and warm, add the 2 cups of cooked rice.  Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to combine.  
    5. Continue cooking over medium-low heat until the rice pudding has a creamy, loose texture.  The rice granules should be very visible, but the mixture should look very creamy and smooth.
    6. Remove from heat and add greek yogurt, butter, and vanilla extract.  Allow the butter to melt a bit, then stir to combine.  
    7. Place in a heat-proof bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours.  Pudding will thicken upon standing.

    To Make the Brandied Cherries:

    1. Add the cherries, granulated sugar, and fresh lemon juice to a 2.5-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir to combine.  
    2. Once the mixture begins to bubble, stir again and reduce heat to medium-low.  Allow to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until the cherries are softened (but not mush).  
    3. Combine the water and cornstarch in a small prep bowl.  Add to the cherry mixture.  Increase heat to medium-high for one minute.
    4. Remove mixture from heat.  Add brandy to the mixture.  Use a camp lighter to CAREFULLY light the brandy.  Allow the brandy to burn off completely before stirring.
    5. Place cherries in a heat-proof container and allow them to cool completely before using.
    6. Spoon cherries over the top of the rice pudding for an extra treat.  Or, you can actually make a parfait-style rice pudding with the brandied cherries for ultimate decadence!

    Notes

    • Arborio rice is a must for this recipe.  Other types of rice don’t give you the creaminess that arborio rice does, and it’s such a disappointment!
    • Author: Shani
    • Prep Time: 10 minutes
    • Cook Time: 60-70 minutes
    • Category: Dessert

    Professional Tips for Incredible Baking

    Hello, Friend! Happy New Year! I’m here today to share a bit of a secret with you. And that secret is: if you want to be an amazing baker by September, you want to start working on your baking skills now.

    You heard me right. There’s no magic that separates the professionals from the home bakers. There are a few techniques that they’ve mastered by practicing.

    Read on for four of the tips that professionals use!

    Bake All Year

    The best way to become an incredible baker is to practice. Consistently. Just like with any other skill, if you don’t do it regularly, you get rusty! And while everyone will choke down that dry Thanksgiving cake from a rusty baker, nobody really wants that dry Thanksgiving cake from a rusty baker.

    The Champagne Pound Cake-Cover image

    The biggest difference between a rookie and a professional isn’t some magical skill or a “baking gene”. It’s practice.

    Yup. Practice. If you practice the hard things in January and February, you’ll be more confident and consistent than ever by September.

    Pick 1-2 Baking Gurus and Stick With Them!

    The advent of the internet has brought an EXPLOSION of baking content. And that’s good and bad.

    Because every baking guru has their own philosophies and taste levels, and everything they create is tailored to those taste levels.

    Even me. 😊

    While there are many universal truths in the baking world, there are also many subjective factors that recipe developers/baking mentors use. If you’re following a dozen baking mentors, you’re bound to end up confused when their philosophies differ. And your own baking will suffer.

    One perfect example is the age-old question: “how many grams are in a cup of all-purpose flour?” According to King Arthur Baking’s ingredient weight chart, one cup of all-purpose flour weighs 120 grams. Another resource (Omnivores Cookbook) measures one cup of all-purpose flour as high as 150 grams! That is an immense difference that would lead to two very different cakes!

    What do I consider to be a cup of flour? I thought you’d never ask! ❤️

    For my taste, I consider one cup of all-purpose flour to be 128 grams. I came to that number after years of experimentation. 128 grams gets me to the texture that I’m looking for. It suits my taste.

    This is but one example of the ways that recipe developers differ. If you’re trying to learn how to become a better baker by following a dozen bakers online, I strongly recommend that you choose 1-2 mentors whose taste levels are similar to yours. Make them your home base! Even better, jump into baking textbooks! That’s where I got my real start with baking and I don’t regret it at all!

    Check Your Leavening (And Use the Right One!)

    I get it. Leavening (baking powder, baking soda, yeast) is usually one of the smallest measurements in a recipe. Because of this, it’s very easy to overlook its importance to the recipe.

    Not to be dramatic, but YOUR LEAVENING COULD SINK YOUR RECIPE. Put the soup spoon down. It’s not the right tool for this job.

    Okay. That was dramatic. But it was also very true. Those tiny amounts of these ingredients could make a huge difference when it comes to the success or failure of your recipe.

    You always, always, always need to check your leavening before you bake. This is especially true if it’s been a while since you used it.

    Also, you always, always, always need to use the correct leavening for your recipe. The names might sound similar, but they work in vastly different ways.

    Not sure how to check your leavening? Check here for baking powder and baking soda, and click here for yeast!

    Metric Measurement > Imperial Measurement

    This is my hill, Friend. This is it.

    I started my foray into baking, thinking that Imperial measurement (using measuring cups for measurement) “was the way my Mommy baked, so it will be the way I bake.”

    Friend, Imperial measurement isn’t for everyone. And it’s consistent for NO ONE.

    There are people who can turn out consistently delicious cakes and cookies and breads with Imperial measurement. They are unicorns. I am no unicorn, so I’m firmly on the Metric measurement train.

    Like, I bought an annual pass on that train. And I renew it every year. Got my own seat on that train with my own butt print in it. I will never, ever leave that train.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…if you want to improve your consistency and confidence in ONE BAKING SESSION, use a digital kitchen scale and metric measurement. Because, in baking, the ability to recreate a recipe in a consistently delicious manner is THE FLEX. It’s the only flex.

    Bonus: Join Me in January for the start of the Baking 101 Series!

    Friends, I am serious about getting you to your baking goals this year. So, I’m hosting a live Baking 101 class on January 21st at 11 a.m. ET! In that class, I’ll show you some of the foundational techniques that professionals use to create the most delicious baked goods!

    I’ve decided to make the Baking 101 Masterclasses an actual series, and to say that I’m excited about this would be a complete understatement! On January 21st, we’ll focus on the fundamental techniques that are important for cookies and cakes!

    This class costs $97, but the first 50 people will get it for 50% off!

    This class will set you up for a whole year of baking success. Want to know when registration opens? Click here to sign up for my email list and join the waitlist!

    Happy New Year, Friend! The energy around 2023 feels very different and very good. I can’t wait to bake with you!

    Seven Quick Tips for Holiday Baking

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    Hello My Friends! Holiday Baking is here! This is our Super Bowl and I’m here for it!

    Listen. I know you don’t have a ton of time today. So I’m putting together a quick and dirty holiday guide for you to be your MOST successful with your holiday baking! Let’s get to it!

    1. Test New Recipes

    Friend, I know that some of my recipes are a bit…involved. With that said, I would never recommend making a new recipe and taking it to a holiday or family gathering without making it first.

    From start to finish. And TESTING IT. Because Friend, the stigma of “Brenda brought that disastrous Jell-O mold last Christmas” will never leave you.

    2. Use a Digital Kitchen Scale and Metric Measurement for Baking

    Friend, a $9.00 digital kitchen scale will change your baking for the better. It will improve your consistency, and in turn your confidence!

    Using metric measurement is key to professional results. For more on this, take a look at this article!

    3. Properly Cream Butter and Sugar, Friends!

    Perfecting this one step will immediately improve the quality of your baked goods; properly creamed butter and sugar give lightness to your baked goods that you simply cannot achieve with any other technique. You can learn how to do it here!

    4. Temperature Matters!

    There are two thermometers that will get you to baking greatness: an oven thermometer and an instant-read thermometer.

    The oven thermometer will tell you the actual temperature of your oven. Because 350°F on the oven dial and an actual 350°F can be two very different things. My top oven? It’s cold by a whopping TWENTY FIVE DEGREES. #rude

    An instant-read thermometer is one of the most valuable tools in your baking arsenal for cakes. Again, it’s the consistency factor. But there’s also the fact that if you properly bake a cake to the correct internal temperature, you will never ever have to worry about dry cake ever again.

    NBD.

    5. Test Your Yeast First. Always.

    Friend, I understand the love of a quick yeast recipe. I get it. The temptation to dump all of your ingredients into a stand mixer and watch them work is great. I GET IT.

    But you should always test your yeast before baking to make sure it is alive. Because there are few things more sad than pulling the cover off of a bread dough and seeing…nothing.

    Like no rise at all. And there’s no recovering from that. It’s a whole do-over.

    Want to know more? Check out this post about yeast!

    6. More on Leavening…Make Sure You Use the Right One!

    If a recipe calls for baking soda…please use it! Subbing baking powder for baking soda (or vice versa) can completely upset the apple cart when it comes to a recipe.

    Leavening impacts taste, caramelization, texture…and much more. There’s a lot of power in that supercharged ingredient!

    If you don’t have what you need, a trip to the store is in order. (sorry)

    Want to learn more about leavening? Check out this post!

    7. Check out the BwB Home Baking Academy!

    Friends, the best way to improve your baking knowledge is to study and practice! For me, I found that finding a “baking mentor” (a textbook) and sticking with that reference helped me make great strides.

    On that note, I have great news for you! The BwB Home Baking Academy is an amazing resource for you, where you can learn how to improve your baking skills in one place, from one instructor (me!) and have fun in the process!

    Check out our classes to see what we have to offer!

    I love y’all. This has been a truly amazing year, and you have been a huge part of that! Thank you for supporting Begin with Butter, and for being a part of this incredible community. ❤️

    (Some of) My Holiday Brunch Favorites!

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    I’m saying it here, Friends: I’m embracing the pot luck holiday brunch!

    Because Friends, we are not carrying the tradition of one person doing it all into the holidays this year. We can distribute the labor and make it great, and everyone can enjoy themselves.

    This advice is for me too. 😂 Because I am usually the one doing all of it on Christmas morning, afternoon and evening. And I’m doing away with that this year.

    So, this year, everyone can bring a dish to pass for holiday brunch. Here are some of the recipes that I’m considering for my special contribution!

    And no, I will not be featuring butter boards at my holiday brunch. Those…are not for me.

    Special Occasion Cinnamon Roll

    This is the one. My absolute favorite cinnamon roll of all time. It begins with an amazing sponge, which adds a beautiful texture and flavor to this cinny that cannot be beat. This is the first thing that I’ll be bringing to brunch over the holidays.

    My Classic Sandwich Bread

    If there’s a cold cut tray at the brunch, then I’m pre-slicing my Classic Sandwich Bread and serving it up. This bread is so soft and fluffy and so much better than anything store-bought.

    Shoot. Whether it’s cold cuts or leftover turkey, beef tenderloin, or ham, this is the bread that I’m bringing to the brunch. It comes together quickly and makes a big impact on the table.

    Red Wine Black Forest Pound Cake

    This Red Wine Black Forest Pound Cake was the final cake of the Twelve Days of Pound Cake 2022, and for good reason. It’s so special and so delicious that it deserves to be on all of your holiday tables this year.

    Snickerdoodle Pound Cake

    This Snickerdoodle Pound Cake is the cake that put Begin with Butter on the map. To this day, it is the #1 recipe on my whole site, and it’s perfectly spicy and decadent for the holidays. This is a statement cake.

    THE BwB Snickerdoodle Cookie

    We are serious snickerdoodle connoisseurs around here. 😂 Whether it’s the cake or the cookies, anything snickerdoodle is gone in sixty seconds flat. And THE BwB Snickerdoodle Cookie is the rule.

    Goat Cheese Skillet Focaccia

    This is one of my favorite things to eat all year, Friends. But there is something just so special about seeing this amazing Goat Cheese Skillet Focaccia on a holiday table.

    Gingerbread Pound Cake

    It’s not the holidays without a gingerbread something on the table. And this Gingerbread Pound Cake creates the ultimate sense of anticipation…as soon as you open the box, people will be clamoring for a slice!

    Limoncello Layer Cake

    This Limoncello Layer Cake is such a humble brag. It’s the cake you put on the holiday brunch table when you’re making a play for the center spot on the dessert table. IYKYK.

    Perfect Sunday Dinner Rolls

    These Perfect Sunday Dinner Rolls are the bread that’s most requested by the young and the seasoned in my home.

    I am among the seasoned. And I still love this bread. This is the one that’s just nostalgic enough to remind me of all of the amazing dinner rolls of my youth. My mother was magic with bread.

    Blueberry Cardamom Sauce

    This Blueberry Cardamom Sauce instantly improves anything it touches. It works equally well with frozen blueberries and fresh blueberries, so you’ll want to have some of this on hand for those brunch pancakes and waffles.

    Y’all, I’m just getting started with my holiday brunch menu, but I wanted to share some of the frontrunners! I hope you all get some good ideas from this mini round-up!

    Happy Holidays, Baking Besties! Let me know in the comments, below, which of the BwB recipes you’ll be serving this holiday season!

    ❤️

    Special Occasion Cinnamon Roll

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    Early morning and late-night bakers, unite! We might not agree on when we should be in the kitchen, but we can all agree that this Special Occasion Cinnamon Roll is the bake that we’ll happily get up/stay up for. 😊

    It’s probably unhealthy to say that I have a serious crush on a food. But I have a serious crush on this cinnamon roll. And I am not sorry.

    About this Special Occasion Cinnamon Roll

    This cinnamon roll uses a pre-fermentation sponge. Friend. That is just a fancy way of saying that it takes an extra step to make these cinnamon rolls. It’s not onerous or difficult. It’s just…extra.

    And for as amazingly delightful as these Special Occasion Cinnamon Rolls turn out, that teensy extra step is beyond worth it. The sponge makes these cinnies lighter than air, yet stronger than a typical cinnamon roll dough without becoming tough. There’s also an incredible depth of flavor that you get from the simple sponge that lets you know that this is a special event.

    These Special Occasion Cinnamon Rolls will melt right in your mouth and that is just the most incredible thing ever.

    Special Occasion Cinnamon Roll — Dough Ingredients

    All-Purpose Flour: I tested this recipe with both bread flour and all-purpose flour. I found that the bread flour gave the cinnamon rolls a much tougher texture, and that wasn’t what I was trying to achieve. The lower protein content of all-purpose flour was perfect for this task!

    Granulated Sugar: This enriched dough uses very little granulated sugar. I chose granulated sugar in this particular dough because I wanted beautiful caramelization and a kiss of sweetness. Mission accomplished. 😊

    Kosher Salt: Salt is very important in any pastry; it balances the sugar and keeps the pastry from becoming cloyingly sweet. If using table salt for this recipe, cut the amount in half.

    Whole Milk: Whole milk adds richness to this beautiful dough. You’ll use all of it in the initial sponge phase, but don’t be scared!

    Eggs: This dough uses four whole eggs and two egg yolks. The protein in the egg whites adds a hint of liquid and structure to the cinnamon rolls, while the fatty yolks add incredibly delicious flavor. I mean, the color of the dough says it all:

    Unsalted Butter: This is a recipe for that special butter you’ve been holding onto all year. This dough is actually a brioche, and the quality of the brioche can directly be impacted by the quality of the butter. You’ll want the good stuff here.

    Instant Yeast: I used SAF Instant Yeast for this recipe, as I do for most bread recipes. If you’d prefer to use active dry yeast, just increase the rising and proving times by 10-15 minutes (and keep an eye on your dough!).

    Beginners Start Here

    If you’re new to baking, or if you want to become more consistent with bread in general, here are a couple of super helpful articles from the BwB site that will help you get set up for success with these Special Occasion Cinnamon Rolls.

    These resources are super helpful to help you build consistency and confidence on your baking journey. Happy Reading!

    Important Tools Used in these Special Occasion Cinnamon Rolls

    Below, you’ll find some tools that I used for these Special Occasion Cinnamon Rolls. These are the tools that I use all the time in my own kitchen.

    **I get paid a small commission if you purchase directly from these links, but they are truly amazing products that you’ll find in my kitchen.**

    If you have them already, great! Think of this as a checklist to help you build the confidence that you’ll need to execute this recipe!

    These are the cinnamon rolls that will welcome my family downstairs on Christmas morning. They’re a special occasion treat that I only make a few times a year, and I look forward to that early morning, when everyone is asleep and I can enjoy the wonders of the quiet before the Christmas storm, and I’m in my zone making this wonderful treat.

    Enjoy the recipe, Friends!

    Print
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    Special Occasion Cinnamon Rolls

    Whether you’re a late-night baker or an early-morning baker, these Special Occasion Cinnamon Rolls are a special treat for you to give to the ones you love!

    • Total Time: ~3.5 hours
    • Yield: 12 rolls 1x

    Ingredients

    Units Scale

    For the Sponge: 

    • 115 g (.9 c) all-purpose flour
    • 115 g (.46 c) whole milk
    • 1 tbsp yeast

    For the Dough:

    • 352 g (2.75 c) AP flour (See note about flour!)
    • 1 tbsp salt
    • 2 tbsp sugar
    • 2 egg yolks
    • 4 large eggs
    • 114 g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

    For the Cinnamon Sugar Filing:

    • 113 g (1/2 c) butter, melted and cooled (but still liquid)
    • 200 g (~1 cup) dark brown sugar
    • 1.5 tbsp cinnamon
    • 1/8 tsp (pinch) salt

    For the Final Glaze:

    • 165 g (1.5 c) confectioner’s sugar
    • 60 g (1/4 c) cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1 tbsp whole milk
    • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt

    Instructions

    To Make the Sponge:

    1. Warm milk to 85°F-90°F.  Add to the bowl of your stand mixer.  Add yeast and stir with a rubber spatula to combine.
    2. Add all-purpose flour and stir completely with a rubber spatula to combine.
    3. Cover and allow to rise for 30-60 minutes, or until the sponge is full of holes/bubbles and is one solid piece.

    To Make the Dough:

    1. Cut the butter into 1 tbsp cubes and set aside.  You won’t need them until the rest of the dough has come together, but you want them to be a soft room temperature before they’re added to the dough.
    2. Add granulated sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and about 2 cups of the all-purpose flour to the sponge.  Stir the ingredients with the flat beater of your stand mixer until combined, and the ingredients are starting to stick together.
    3. Switch to the dough hook of your stand mixer, and begin kneading with the dough hook.  Slowly add additional flour, about 1/8 of a cup at a time, until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.  You might not need all of the flour that the recipe calls for.
    4. When the dough comes away from the sides of the mixing bowl, add flour, 1 tbsp at a time, still kneading for at least a minute between additions.  The goal is to have a slightly tacky dough that does come away from the sides of the bowl.
    5. If you use all of the flour in the recipe, you should not need more than 3-4 more tablespoons of flour total.  At this point, the dough is “finished” when it is ever-so-slightly tacky to the touch, but not sticky.  It should also pass the windowpane test at this point, before you incorporate the butter.
    6. Once the dough passes the windowpane test (the first time), begin adding the butter, one tablespoon at a time.  This is the longest part of the dough-making process, so pack your patience!  Allow the dough to fully incorporate each tablespoon of butter before adding the next one.  The bowl will likely get a buttery coating during this process.  That is normal!
    7. When all of the butter is incorporated, allow the dough to knead for another 5-7 minutes on low speed.  The dough is complete when it easily passes the windowpane test (again!) and is very pliable.
    8. Spray the mixing bowl with a light coating of cooking spray, and allow the dough to rise, covered with plastic wrap (with a small hole to vent gases), for 45 minutes to an hour, or until doubled in size.  You can also use the finger poke test so that you can decide whether it needs a few more minutes.
    9. Gently de-gas the dough by pressing down on it in the mixing bowl.  Use your fingers to shape the dough into a rough rectangle on your work surface, with the long side of the rectangle facing you.
    10. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to about 1/2” thickness.  
    11. Brush melted butter onto the dough.  Do not be shy with the butter!  But leave butter off of the top 1.5” of the rectangle.  This helps the dough stick to itself when you’re sealing it!
    12. Sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon filling over the top of the buttered part of the dough.  Use all of it!  You want that ooey gooey goodness in your cinnamon rolls!  Press down on the cinnamon/sugar filling once it’s sprinkled over the top of the dough.
    13. Starting with the long side of the rectangle that is facing you, tightly roll the cinnamon roll.  It probably won’t be even, but that’s okay!  Work slowly and make sure that the roll is as tight as you can possibly make it.
    14. Trim the edges to make the roll an 18-inch log.  Cut the log into 1.5” rolls, and place them in a lightly greased 9”x13” baking pan.  
    15. Cover the baking pan with plastic wrap and allow the cinnamon rolls to proof for about 45 minutes.  While the cinnamon rolls are rising, heat your oven to a true 350°F.
    16. Bake the cinnamon rolls in a 350°F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 200°F in the center.
    17. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, make the glaze by first adding the room-temperature cream cheese to a medium bowl and mixing with a hand mixer until the cream cheese is totally smooth.  Add the confectioner’s sugar, fine sea salt, vanilla extract, and whole milk and mix until the mixture is smooth and creamy.  Add to the cinnamon rolls immediately after taking them out of the oven.
    18. Enjoy!

    Notes

    • This recipe absolutely works best with a digital food scale.  Using imperial measurement (measuring cups) to measure your flour for this recipe could end up being quite troublesome.  You don’t want an over-floured brioche!
    • It’s possible that you might not need all of the flour that the recipe calls for.  Use the windowpane test to let you know when to stop!  The dough will still be slightly tacky when it’s complete, so the windowpane test will be most helpful!
    • Author: Shani
    • Prep Time: 1 hour (active)
    • Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
    • Category: Breakfast
    • Cuisine: American