Technique Tips for the Best Pound Cakes (& Big News!)

Friends, it’s time.

The holidays are peeking around the corner, and it’s time for us bakers to shine.

Bundt pans…activated.
Photo Credit: Ashleigh Bing Photography

Whether you’re planning to spend time with extended family, or you’re having an intimate gathering for two, there’s always room for dessert, am I right?

If you’ve been reading BwB for a while, you’re ready! It’s just a matter of gathering the ingredients and using your newfound baking confidence to execute some amazing pound cake recipes!

But where are the recipes, You ask?

Well, Beloved, that’s the fun part. The recipes are arriving on Black Friday in a BIG WAY!

Okay…Here’s the News!

Beginning on Black Friday, Begin with Butter is going to be the exclusive home of the Twelve Days of Pound Cake Holiday Event!

That’s right. TWELVE. Twelve different pound cakes, with concise step-by-step directions that will help you execute them perfectly for all of your holiday events. Twelve different recipe posts. Twelve consecutive days.

I am still a firm believer that you don’t need a specific recipe to be successful. But so many of you asked for recipes and I’m happy to share.

So share I will! Starting on November 26th, I’m going to share all of the pound cake recipes you’ll ever want for the holidays. It’s my hope that these recipes become staples on your holiday and Sunday dinner tables.

Beginners Start Here

If you’re new to Begin with Butter…WELCOME! This is a super fun community of people from all over the world, and on behalf of everyone here, I’d like to welcome you with open arms.

If you’re brand new to baking, and you need some background before you begin, here are a few BwB resources that will get you off to a great start:

Of course, learning about ingredients can never hurt, so here’s a link to the Equipment and Ingredients section of the site. This is a great resource for your pound cakes and everything else you want to bake!

These resources aren’t mandatory to make great cakes, but doing a little bit of homework beforehand can help new bakers avoid common pitfalls in the kitchen. That’s how bakers build kitchen confidence!

Pound Cake Tips

Before we even start the Twelve Days of Pound Cake, there are a few great tips that will help you be successful with any pound cake:

Start with Room Temperature Ingredients.

Room temperature ingredients mix quickly and incorporate easily. This is a great way to avoid over-mixing your pound cake batter! It’s also a great way to avoid taxing your hand mixer or your stand mixer and sending it to its demise.

Invest in a Food Scale.

I can’t drive this point home enough. An inexpensive food scale is your best friend in the kitchen because it ensures consistency and prevents heavy-handedness with ingredients. With 10-cup pound cakes, the last thing you want in your batter is unintended extra flour!

You can find my faves here and here.

Properly Cream Butter and Sugar Before Adding Eggs and Other Ingredients.

Friends, this will change your baking immensely. I believe in this technique so much that I devoted a whole post to it! You can check it out here. There’s videos and photos so that you can see with your own eyes what “creamed” butter and sugar should look like! Since the rise in a pound cake relies very heavily on this step, I wanted to make sure you had everything that you needed to be successful.

Use a Light Touch with Leavening.

My pound cakes have a characteristic tight crumb. I always joke that I like the tight crumb because it allows me to walk around the house with a piece of cake in my hand and not get crumbs everywhere. #NotReallyJoking.

This tight crumb has a lot to do with the fact that pound cakes traditionally don’t need a lot of leavening to be successful (and some don’t need any leavening at all!). Some use as little as a quarter of a teaspoon and they come out beautifully every time! The best advice is to follow the recipe and use a level scoop! You can learn much more about leavening here.

Please Grease Your Pans.

You might have already heard of the mythical “non-stick” bundt pan. This is, in fact, a myth! While manufacturers like Nordic Ware do market their bundt pans as “non-stick”, even Nordic Ware will tell you to grease your pans. That’s because Nordic Ware made its non-stick pans so that they would be easier to clean, not easier to remove cake.

To grease my pans, I use softened butter and flour, and I use a pastry brush to get the butter into those deep crevices that just love to trap cake.

Use an Oven Thermometer.

My pound cakes really rely on accurate baking temps. If the oven temperature is too low, you can expect the cake to overflow its baking pan because the cake won’t set before it rises. If the oven temperature is too high, the outside will burn and the inside will be raw. Both of these are sad events.

These events can be avoided with an oven thermometer, which you can find for less than ten dollars right here.

Give Yourself Enough Time.

Starting a cake (or any baked good) too late is a recipe for an unhappy and stressful day. The pound cakes on my Twelve Days of Pound Cakes list are show-stopping to be sure, BUT they are a time commitment. None of them are going to take you less than 3-5 hours to complete. And my carrot cake recipe? You might as well start that one a day or two in advance.

They’ll be more than worth it though. I promise. 😊

The best way to figure out if you have enough time to execute a cake is to read the whole recipe from start to finish before you take out your first bowl or whisk. That way, you’ll be assured that your cake will be ready to present to your guests as soon as the dinner plates are cleared.

Conclusion.

These are some quick and easy pound cake tips that you can practice as you prepare for your Sundays and holidays. I am extremely excited to bring these twelve pound cakes to you all, and I hope you find something on the list to absolutely astound your friends and family this season.

Until next time!


Don’t forget to subscribe while you’re here so that you can get each pound cake recipe delivered directly to your inbox!

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Introducing My Kids to Apple Fritters! (Updated with Recipe!)

Home » Featured Recipes » baking with kids

We are a donut family.

Doughnut. Donut. Does not matter. We love fried yeast donuts in this house. Especially the ones with a good sticky glaze that adheres to our fingers and faces.

My children ask for donuts almost every weekend, but I constantly avoid making them because they’re always gone in sixty seconds when I do make them. My mom guilt won’t allow me to make them on a regular basis.

This past Sunday, I decided to surprise them with donuts.

But not just any donuts.

I made my absolute-favorite-donut-of-all-time, the glorious apple fritter. I found this great recipe from Seasons and Suppers, adapted it, and got to work in the wee hours of the morning so that I could surprise my kiddos when they woke up.

This apple fritter is a spiced donut with a hardened glaze and a yummy, chunky, sugary apple filling. It’s rustic and messy and delicious. If you’re up for cheat day, and you want to make it absolutely worth it (but then get right back to it, of course), then an apple fritter is it. It is IT!

Want to see how mine turned out? Keep reading!

In This Post:

The Prep

This recipe starts with a basic enriched dough. Family, an enriched dough is simply a yeast dough that contains fat. In this enriched dough, the fat comes from eggs and shortening. The shortening gives these donuts the delicious, light but chewy texture that makes this donut worth the cheat.

As you can see from the beautiful, bubbly brown mess in my measuring cup, above, I started by proofing my yeast before starting a recipe. It’s one simple step at the beginning of a recipe that can help you avoid unrecoverable disaster after your first rise.

You see, if you’re working with dead yeast, and you dump it in with your dry ingredients without first activating it in warm liquid, you likely won’t know that it’s dead until you remove the tea towel after the first rise an hour later. I’d hate to see that happen to you, so I always recommend taking 8-10 minutes to proof yeast before you do anything else, regardless of what kind of yeast you’re using.

Cheat code: you can proof yeast while you double check all of your equipment and ingredients!

Not sure how to prep for a great bake? Check my mise en place post here!

By the time you have everything else gathered, you’ll know whether you’re working with viable yeast or not.

You’re welcome!

In the Mix

I started these apple fritters by adding the yeast mixture, egg and shortening to my stand mixer and mixing it together with my paddle attachment on low speed for about thirty seconds.

Next, I added about half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and mixed on low speed, just until the flour was absorbed by the liquid.

As you can see, it’s a shaggy, lumpy mess. But that’s okay! It’s supposed to look like that!

Time for the dough hook and the rest of the flour! I mixed the rest of the flour and let my mixer go on low speed (never exceeding level 2 on my mixer) for about four minutes.

I don’t add additional flour until I’ve mixed with the dough hook for at least 2-3 minutes, because I’ve found that the longer the dough hook works, the more that gluten bonds form on their own, and the less flour I ultimately have to add.

Beloveds, the kneading process is what causes flour, water, salt and yeast to become bread. You’ll be surprised at how much it will come together on its own, without extra flour. Your patience will pay off!

If you begin adding flour too soon during the kneading process, the dough gets over-floured in a hurry and you’ll have to do that “add some liquid, now add some flour, now add some liquid” dance that is…not my favorite.

In the video, below, I hadn’t added any flour other than what the recipe called for. You can see that, after about four minutes of mixing, it is already clearing the sides of the bowl.

At this point, I began adding flour one tablespoon at a time and letting it mix for at least 30-45 seconds. After another three tablespoons, it was ready to go! The dough was smooth and tacky, but not sticky to the touch.

Once the dough was done, I shaped it into a ball and let it rest for an hour.

Fill ‘Er Up

While the dough did its first rest, I prepped the apple filling. The ingredients are SO EASY:

I know the granny smith is the “It” apple for baking, y’all, but my sweet tooth demands that it be mixed with something just s touch less tart. So I threw a honeycrisp in there to shake things up.

Anyway, onto the filling! It’s a cooked filling, so I got to work immediately after the dough started its first rest period by peeling and dicing the apples. Once this step was done, I added the apples, sugar, and a pinch of salt to a saucepan and and cooked until absolutely no liquid remained. I removed the mix from the heat because I didn’t want the filling to be too hot when I put it on the dough.

Once the dough finished resting, I rolled it into a “rough” square.

Fam, don’t make fun of my square. I did my best and it was very early!

I added the apple filling to the bottom half of the rolled dough, then sprinkled cinnamon and more flour on top. The flour helps absorb any remaining moisture that might remain after cooking. Fruit can be tricky like that.

Taking Shape

A quick foldover and the apples, cinnamon and flour disappeared under the second half of the dough.

Poof

Then I got to slicing…

And dicing…

And roughly shaping into something resembling a log. I know it looks a mess. You don’t have to tell me.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t kind of worried at this point. But I pressed on, determined to have this batch ready in time for my children’s arrival downstairs.

No really. I literally cut the log into what I thought were 12 pieces and pressed each one between my palms. It…was eleven pieces.

The Make

The “shaped” fritters rested for another 40 minutes while I heated vegetable oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit in my deepest cast iron pan and made the final glaze. My oil got a little hot so the first one got a little burnt. #ItHappens

Family, I love you, so I’m going to ask that you never ever leave your kitchen while you have oil on the stove. Hot oil can quickly become a fiery menace and can cause irreparable harm to a kitchen. Also, when deep frying, you want a heavy, deep pot. I love fried dough, but I love kitchen safety even more.

I cooked each fritter for about a minute and fifteen seconds per side, then flipped to the other side. You’re looking for a deep, deep golden brown. It’s the color right before burnt.

I ate the burnt one though. It wasn’t that bad.

The Fritters

Once the fritters are out of the oil, they quickly go into the glaze. Like, as soon as you’re comfortable touching them, they should be glazed and set on a cooling rack so that the glaze can harden.

I might have slightly scorched my fingers during this process.

Et voilà!

My son took one look at these fritters and started to run for the hills. But then, his angel of a sister said she’d try one bite. This story ends with me snatching the tray of still-warm fritters from them before they each took a third one!

As usual, the fritters slowly dwindled during the day when I wasn’t watching, and there were loud complaints when I took two of them next door. TWO. I’ve added these adapted fritters to my family’s donut menu and I am looking forward to making them again!

With the recipe below, now you can make them too!

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The Best Apple Fritters EVER


  • Author: Shani
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Rise Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Description

Fall calls for slower mornings, hot coffee, and these fritters that I adapted from Seasons and Suppers!  


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the Dough:

  • 1 tbsp yeast (active dry or fast-acting)
  • 125 g warm water (110°F-115°F)
  • 1 tsp sugar (I prefer Sugar in the Raw for this step, but granulated is fine)
  • 256 g bread flour, plus more for kneading
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp shortening
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

For the Apple Mixture:

  • 3 medium sweet-tart apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/4 inch pieces (see very important note)
  • 50 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp salt

To Fill the Pastry:

  • 1 tbsp bread flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

For the Final Glaze:

  • 300 g confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp maple extract (not mandatory, but really, really good)
  • 80 g whole milk or heavy cream, plus more if needed

Vegetable oil for deep frying


Instructions

Make the Dough with a Stand Mixer:

  • Combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 tsp of sugar in a 2-cup measuring cup and stir with a 9″ whisk until thoroughly combined.  Set aside for 8-10 minutes, or until yeast has bloomed.  (See note.)
  • Combine the bread flour, sugar, nutmeg, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • After the yeast has bloomed, add yeast mixture, shortening, egg and vanilla to the bowl of your stand mixer.  
  • Using the paddle attachment, mix on lowest speed for about 20-30 seconds, or until the shortening is broken into smaller pieces.
  • Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook.  Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl and knead with the dough hook until the flour is fully incorporated.
  • Add the second half of the flour mixture and knead with the dough hook for at least five minutes before adding additional flour.
  • If the dough is still sticky after five minutes of kneading, add flour in 1-tablespoon increments.  Only add more flour after the prior addition is fully incorporated.
  • The dough is complete when it is smooth and tacky, but not sticky to the touch.  It might not fully clear the bottom of the bowl.  Mine usually does not.
  • Spray your clean hands and a large clean bowl with cooking spray.  Gather dough into a ball and place into the clean bowl.  Cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap (do not seal the sides) in an area that is free of drafts until dough is roughly doubled in size, about an hour.

Make the Dough by Hand:

  • Combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 tsp of sugar in a 2-cup measuring cup and stir with a 9″ whisk until thoroughly combined.  Set aside for 8-10 minutes, or until yeast has bloomed.  (See note.)
  • Combine the bread flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • After the yeast has bloomed, add yeast mixture, shortening, egg and vanilla to a large mixing bowl.  
  • Using a 9” whisk, break up the shortening and stir the mixture for about a minute, or until the shortening is broken into small, uniform pieces.
  • Add half of the flour to the bowl and stir with a large wooden spoon or Danish dough hook until the flour is completely incorporated.  (1 minute)
  • Add the second half of the flour to the bowl and continue to stir until it is too difficult to use the tool.  (1-2 minutes)
  • If the dough is very sticky, use clean hands to add one tablespoon at a time and knead the dough inside the bowl until the dough is less lumpy and begins to come together in a rough ball.  (1-3 minutes)
  • Lightly flour a clean countertop and roll the dough out on the counter.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour onto the surface of the dough and knead until the flour is completely combined and the dough gets too sticky to handle.  Add flour, one tablespoon at a time, and repeat until the dough is smooth and tacky, but not sticky to the touch. (5-15 minutes.)
  • Spray your hands and a large clean bowl with cooking spray.  Gather dough into a ball and place into the clean bowl.  Cover with a clean tea towel or plastic wrap (do not seal the sides) until dough is roughly doubled in size, about an hour.

Make the Apple Filling:

  • While the dough rises, make the apples.
  • Place diced apples, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat.
  • Cook apples, stirring frequently, until all of the liquid has disappeared. (5-10 minutes)
  • Remove apples from heat and place into a clean bowl.  Set aside until completely cooled.  If using a metal or tempered glass bowl, you can set the bowl in the refrigerator to assist with cooling.

Shape the Fritters:

  • After the dough has doubled in size, lightly flour a countertop or silicone baking mat.
  • Turn out the dough onto the work surface and lightly flour the top of the dough.  Roll the dough into a roughly 12”x10” rectangle.  (See photo above.)
  • Pour apples onto the bottom half of the dough, leaving 1/2” border.  (See photo above.)
  • Sprinkle the flour evenly over the apple mixture.  Repeat with cinnamon. (See photo above.)
  • Fold the empty dough half over the half with the apples.  Gently pinch the seam shut.  The seam might not fully seal but that’s okay.  
  • Cut the dough lengthwise into 1” strips.  (See photo above.). Repeat widthwise. (See photo above.)
  • Shape the dough into a 12” log on the work surface and cut the log into 12 pieces.  
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place each of the pieces, flat side down, on the parchment paper.
  • Cover with loose plastic wrap and allow the shaped fritters to rise for 45 minutes, or until the shaped fritters have doubled in size.
  • Twenty minutes into the second rise time, place 3” of vegetable oil in a dutch oven or very deep cast iron skillet.  Place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat. 

Make the Glaze:

  • As the fritters are rising, add the confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, salt, vanilla extract, maple extract, and heavy cream or whole milk in a medium-sized bowl. 
  • Mix with a whisk until completely combined, adding one teaspoon of heavy cream or milk at a time if the glaze is too thick.  The completed glaze should have the consistency of very thick honey.

Cook the Fritters:

  • When the temperature of your oil is between 370°F (minimum) and 380°F (maximum), place a test fritter in the oil.  If the oil bubbles aggressively, remove the fritter immediately and reduce the temperature.  
  • If the oil bubbles are uniform, cook the fritter for about 1 minute and 15 seconds on each side.  The fritter should be very dark, but not burnt on each side.  
  • Remove the fritter to a baking sheet that has a cooling rack over paper towels. 
  • Repeat with the remaining fritters, careful to make only 2-3 (preferably 2) at a time.  If there are too many fritters in the oil, the temperature will drop and the fritters won’t cook thoroughly.
  • Allow the fritters to cool for about a minute before dipping them in the glaze.  If they are too hot to handle after one minute, please wait until you are able to touch them without burning yourself!  They should be warm to go into the glaze but it’s not worth risking your fingertips.
  • Return the fritters to the cooling rack to allow the glaze to set up (harden).  These are best enjoyed warm, but they taste delicious when they are cool as well.

Notes

  • For the apples, I usually use a mixture of Honeycrisp, Fuji, and Granny Smith.  Also, when I say “medium” apples, I mean ~180 grams before peeling and dicing.
  • If you’re unsure what your yeast should look like after 8-10 minutes, this BwB resource on yeast basics is a huge help!  And this BwB resource will help you troubleshoot yeast problems.
  • Category: Breakfast

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Finished pumpkin spice pound cake with glaze.

Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake (With Recipe!)

Hi there! It’s Fall, which means that Pumpkin Season is officially upon us!

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, leavening, salt and other accoutrements 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-open my custom bakery (The Gloria Bakery) this fall, those pound cakes will be prominently and proudly featured on that menu.

About This 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 (even the canned stuff!), 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 replacing all of the liquid with semi-solid pumpkin puree. While you can replace canned pumpkin puree with the fresh stuff, the additional water could lead to inconsistency in the cake texture. No worries though! If you love fresh pumpkin, just place your fresh pumpkin puree over a bit of cheesecloth, set in a deep bowl. A couple of hours later, you’ll find that a lot of the water has drained!

The Technique

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 looks like this:

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 cake recipes, this one uses the creaming method. The creaming method simply means that you mix room-temperature 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 for this recipe:

Once the butter has reached this stage (~5-7 minutes on low/medium speed in a stand mixer, or ~11-13 minutes on medium speed with a hand mixer), 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 one teaspoon 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 gentle turns around the bowl. The result is always a smooth batter that’s not over-mixed and is ready for the oven.

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 cake. One day, purely by happenstance, I forgot to prep a pan before mixing my cake batter, so I just took two minutes after the batter was done and prepped the pan at that time. I’ve done it that way ever since. 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 335°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 55-75 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 to cool for 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 1/3 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water is a perfect amount.

I make the simple syrup by just adding those two ingredients together, bringing them to a boil, then reducing to a simmer 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 syrup 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.

To make the glaze, mix the maple syrup, maple extract (not mandatory, but extremely delicious), butter, 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 honey.

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

I’ve used this method a lot…
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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Finished pumpkin spice pound cake with glaze.

Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake


  • Author: Shani
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes (active)
  • Inactive Time: 3-5 hours
  • Cook Time: 55-75 minutes
  • Total Time: ~5-7 hours
  • Yield: 14 servings 1x

Description

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


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the cake:

  • 3 cups (384 g) all-purpose flour, plus two tablespoons for dusting bundt pan
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup (230 g) butter, room temperature, plus more for greasing bundt pan
  • 3 cups (600 g) sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 425 g pumpkin puree, fresh or canned (not pumpkin pie filling)

For the Simple Syrup:

  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water

For the Maple Cinnamon Glaze:

  • 1/3 c maple syrup
  • 1 tsp butter, melted (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp maple extract (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 c (90 g) confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  • 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.
  • Combine the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.
  • Place room temperature butter into a large bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) and mix on medium speed until smooth.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add sugar in two separate batches.
  • Mix on medium speed for 5-10 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.
  • Add eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl after the third egg and the last egg.
  • Add vanilla and mix until combined.
  • With the mixer on low speed, gently add half of the flour mixture.  Mix until almost combined, with a few streaks of flour remaining.
  • With the mixer off, add all of the pumpkin puree at one time.  Mix only until just combined.
  • Add the rest of the flour, again mixing until almost combined.  There should be just a few streaks of flour remaining.  (See photo above.)
  • 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).  
  • Prep your 10-cup bundt pan using the reserved, softened butter and flour.  
  • Put batter into the prepare pan and bake at 325°F for 55-75 minutes, or until a skewer comes out 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.
  • 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:

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

For the Final Glaze:

  • Combine maple syrup, maple extract, butter, confectioner’s sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl.  
  • Stir gently with a small whisk until smooth.
  • Using a squeeze bottle, spouted measuring cup, or a spoon, pour the glaze over the inside and outside of the cake.  Some of the glaze will spill over the sides.  
  • 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.  
  • Category: Dessert
  • Cuisine: American

I hope you enjoy this little taste of fall from Begin with Butter! I love this cake with my whole pumpkin spiced heart and I can’t wait to see you all make it!

-S ❤️


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Five Technique Tips for Holiday Baking

Beloveds…IT’S GO TIME. Fall has officially entered the chat, which means one thing:

The. Holidays. Starting with Halloween and going through New Year’s Day, we will be in a consistent baking bonanza.

Cookies. Cakes. Breads. All the cinnamon rolls.

With so much available yumminess, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by it all. Fear not, Friends. Today, I have simple simple tips to help you be a calm, cool baking boss during the holidays.

Ready? Me too! Let’s Go.

In this Post:

Start Practicing Early

The Holidays are a baker’s Game 7, so I’m going to give it to you straight: the day of your holiday meal is not the time to “try” that Outrageous Coconut-Creme Meringue Cake from Fine Cooking for the first time.

Friends, even for experienced bakers, the day of the holiday isn’t the day to make that dessert. Because that baby…is a handful. A stunning centerpiece, for sure, but most definitely not something to make the same day that you’re serving it.

In general, it’s best to practice your holiday baking dishes at least once or twice before serving them on the big day. I typically start holiday baking practice early in the fall (around early October…but I’m weird) so that I can plan for each holiday, test my recipes, and tinker if necessary.

My recipe book. ❤️ Quick tip: I write all of my recipes in pencil.

Holiday baking will still be plenty stressful, but I can use the lessons learned from those practice runs in October to benefit the cookies, pastries, cakes and bread that I make in November, December and January.

Avoid Improvising During the Final Bake!

I know that I literally just said that I tinker with baking recipes. However, what you won’t catch me doing during the final bake is improvising. Friends, by the final bake, the time for playing around has come and gone. That’s when my recipe is locked into that blue recipe book, I’m double-checking ingredient amounts, and I’m baking to the letter of that tested recipe.

The end goal is to make something that tastes utterly delicious. And, by the time it’s time to bake the holiday goodies, I’ve tinkered and tested and come up with something you truly believe in. At that point, it’s just time to execute what you know and make that utterly delicious thing.

Don’t Overcommit Yourself

Once you get the reputation as the “best baker in the family”, you’ll start getting requests during the holidays for your Greatest Hits. Literally all of them. Literally for every holiday. I say this from experience, Friends: if you don’t plan your holiday menu, you will quickly get overwhelmed by your baking responsibilities.

That defies the spirit of the holidays and that is not fun.

To avoid overwhelm as I’m practicing recipes for the holidays, I typically match a recipe with a specific holiday. To stay more focused and efficient, during my October planning phase I might even create a table that looks something like this:

RecipeHolidayBake DateNotes
Carrot CakeChristmas12/23/21Needs refrigeration. Make sure there’s space!
Apple PieThanksgiving11/25/21Make dough and filling on 11/24/21 so I just have to build and bake the pie on Thanksgiving Day.
Easy peasy.

You don’t have to create this chart, but it can help you visualize how much work you’re committing yourself to for specific holidays. And, it can help you tell Aunt Janice that no, you won’t be making her favorite carrot cake for Thanksgiving, but she will see it on Christmas Day. She’ll have apple pie on Thanksgiving though!

Aunt Janice doesn’t want you to overextend yourself either.

Get Ingredients and Equipment Early

Certain ingredients become a whole nightmare to find around the holidays. Red food coloring? Vanilla? BUTTER? Asking your local grocer for these ingredients in the days before a major holiday can get you this response:

Please, Family, avoid real tears in the grocery store and stock your ingredients early. Even if you start stockpiling gathering your ingredients in September and October, most baking staples can be stored safely until you need them in November, December and January.

And, PSA, you can freeze butter to help it last longer. (Thanks Spruce Eats!)

This same philosophy works for new equipment. Fall is the time of year that many new bakers like to get started on their new baking journeys. It melts my heart to think of all of the people who are joining this wonderfully warm baking community this fall. It’s highly recommended to get all of the baking equipment that you need early in the fall, so that you’re not fighting with latecomers on. The only one that wins in that scenario is Amazon Prime.

Not sure what you need to get started? I’ve got your back! Click here for a FREE copy of my Buying Guide for Beginning Bakers!

Work in Your Wheelhouse

The holidays are the best time to showcase your Greatest Hits. While it can be really fun and extremely rewarding to present your family and friends with something spectacular that you improvised the day before the major event, it can also backfire spectacularly. It’s also super stressful to pull off something like that!

And aren’t the holidays stressful enough?

Most. Definitely. Stressful.

While it is true that with great risk can come great reward, great risk carries great risk too.

If you’ve spent the entire year perfecting layer cakes, it’s probably best to let the resident sourdough queen bring the bread to the holiday event. If everyone works in their gift, then everyone wins.

Conclusion

Holiday baking can be some of the most fun and rewarding baking that you do for the entire year. I hope these quick tips help you as you prepare for your holiday gatherings, big and small, this season!

See you next time!


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Sunday Session #5: My Fave All-In-One Vanilla Cupcakes!

Home » Featured Recipes » baking with kids

Sometimes you just want a good, quick vanilla cupcake.

Welcome to this week’s installment of BwB Sunday Sessions! Since our science-y lesson this week was about bowls, I wanted to showcase a basic, all-in-one cupcake that new bakers could use to help build their kitchen confidence!

I…was also short on time. #MomLife

The recipe that I used is the Moist Vanilla Cupcakes recipe from one of my favorite baking blogs, Life Love and Sugar. This recipe comes together incredibly quickly and feeds a crowd (it yields 24-26 cupcakes). I highly recommend it for anyone learning to bake. It’s a true confidence builder!

In this post:

The Prep

Before I even started pulling ingredients, I set my oven for 350° and made sure that my oven thermometer was nice and cozy on the baking rack. Turning on my oven first meant that I wouldn’t have to wait for my oven to heat once my cupcakes were ready to bake. I also lined a cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Photo Credit: Begin with Butter

Onto the ingredients!

The ingredients in this recipe are really easy, and are probably something that you have at home. As usual, I always recommend prepping your ingredients beforehand. That way, you’ll be ready to add ingredients at the appropriate time:

Photo Credit: Begin with Butter

The good news is that a well-stocked savory kitchen will have most, if not all of these ingredients.

The Technique

This batter uses an all-in-one technique, which simply means that the wet ingredients and dry ingredients are mixed together.

No mixer needed.

While you can use your mixer (and the original recipe actually calls for you to use your mixer), for those of you without a mixer, you can confidently make this recipe without one, and nobody will ever know the difference.

For those of you with a mixer who are just feeling plumb lazy that day, this technique works too.

As you can see in the photo above, the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar are already together in one large bowl. I just gave them a quick stir with my whisk to combine them and set them aside.

Next, I simply put the egg, oil, milk and vanilla (the water comes later) in a medium bowl and mixed with a whisk until all four were fully combined.

Once the wet ingredients and dry ingredients were separately combined, I added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mixed until smooth. My whisk did a great job with this.

Finally, I added the water in three different pours, combining the water completely between each addition. The batter was very watery when I finished, but that’s how it’s supposed to be!

Seriously. This recipe rocks.

The Bake

Before I put the batter into the cupcake liners, I checked my oven again to make sure that the temperature was correct. Once that’s done, I got busy filling cupcake liners! I filled them to about the halfway mark, trying to stay as consistent as possible so that they would bake evenly.

These cupcakes baked for about 22 minutes in a 350° oven. I removed the cupcakes from the oven and let them cool on a cooling rack for five minutes, then removed the cupcakes from the cupcake pan and put them directly onto the cooling rack to cool completely.

I made my tried and true vanilla buttercream and went crazy with sprinkles, but you can frost the cupcakes with buttercream or your favorite whipped cream topping. The sky is the limit for this great cupcake!

The Finish

These cupcakes come together in two bowls. One with wet ingredients and one with dry ingredients. This is the cupcake I make when my kids need cupcakes for a school event and they tell me the morning of the event. This recipe makes plenty of cupcakes and they can be done in an hour.

But I should really talk to my kids about telling me about stuff at the last minute…

Anyway, here they are!

I hope you enjoyed this Sunday Session! If you loved reading this as much as I loved writing it, be sure to subscribe so that you can get the weekly update so that you can be the first to know everything BwB!

Until next time!

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