Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider Donuts

Light and fluffy apple cider donuts, gently spiked with fall flavors, and coated in spiced sugar.

Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider Donuts

It’s been a hell of a week (I feel like half my posts start off like this). GT’s having a rough time at work, I’m still job hunting, it was the one month mark since my grandpa died, and we had a nasty surprise yesterday with a family emergency. Can 2016 be over already? I’m so ready for good things to start happening soon. Whenever life sucks, and lately it’s been hard to stay positive and smiley with so much crap that’s been thrown our way, I find myself in the kitchen. You might remember me saying that pie baking is how I deal with stress. Well, donuts are how I deal with life’s shitty moments. Especially pumpkin spice apple cider donuts. Hold on to your hats, we’re getting super white girl basic.

Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider Donuts 2

It’s November, which is the gateway into the holiday season, and that means I’m 100% in baking, presents, and decorating mode. Fall and winter baking are my favorite thing about the holiday season, so I incorporate the flavors into everything I make, regardless of temperature (did I mention it’s like 75 in southern Wisconsin here today?). When it comes to fall pastries, the only choice is apple cider donuts. I’m such a sucker for apple cider, and you through it in a pocket of deep fried, sugar coated dough, and hello, I’m yours. These pumpkin spice apple cider donuts were supposed to be gluten free, but we’re broke and I ran out of gluten free flour making waffles last weekend. If you want to make these gluten free, just substitute in the same amount of flour plus 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum.

Pumpkin Spiced Apple Cider Donuts 3

Happy frying!

Pumpkin Spice Apple Cider Donuts

(Adapted very slightly from Tasty Videos)

Makes 12-14 doughnuts

2 ½ cups apple cider, (reduced down to ½ cup)
¼ cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¾ cup sour cream
4 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 teaspoons pumpkin spice

Canola oil for frying
Pumpkin spice sugar for coating

Directions

Bring apple cider to a boil over medium-high heat and reduce down to ½ cup (takes about 20-25 minutes). Pour into a large glass measuring cup.

Add butter to hot cider and stir to melt. Set aside, cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs with white and brown sugar. Add cooled cider/butter mixture, sour cream, and vanilla extract.

In a large bowl or in a fine mesh strainer set over the wet ingredients, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

Using a wooden spoon, mix dry ingredients into the wet until just incorporated. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

On a very well-floured surface, roll out the cooled dough to about ¾-inch thickness and cut into donut shapes using cookie cutters or a donut cutter. Chill cut donuts 10 minutes more if necessary.

Heat oil to 350˚F, or until a scrap of dough that’s dropped in fries golden brown in one minute.

Fry donuts, 3-4 at a time, flipping occasionally until golden on both sides, about 2 minutes.

Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain. Roll in pumpkin spice sugar while still warm.

On Octobers and Superman

Grandpa

It’s been almost four months since the last time I posted anything. That’s a hell of a hiatus. I wish I could come back and tell you that I’ve been gone because life has been perfect, and I’ve just been too perfectly busy to put anything out; that my happily-ever-after is just too good for me to break away from to put anything out into my little corner of the internet. We all know that life doesn’t work that way.

October has been the best and the worst month of my life. I got to marry the love of my life, my best friend, after seven years of dating. It was a beautiful day, and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. But four days before we got married, my grandfather died suddenly and unexpectedly. There are no words for this kind of grief. I am not the writer in my family; my lovely cousin is a journalist and could write a much better tribute than I, but I will do what I can, because it is tragic not to celebrate the life of such an incredible man.

My grandpa Tom was larger than life. Truly, he was. There are certain kinds of people who get a party going when they walk in, and then there are the people who are the party. My grandpa was one of those. People were just attracted to him. He had an incredible way of making you feel welcomed, appreciated, and valued, even if he’d only known you for about 2 minutes. He took the Bible’s command of “love thy neighbor” quite literally and loved everyone he met, and they loved him right back. As a little girl, I’d eager run up the sidewalk to Grandma and Grandpa’s house into the garage, which was my grandfather’s make-shift woodshop, where I’d hear “hey, peanut!” and be swooped up into strong, loving arms. Grandpa Tom gave the best hugs and continued to do so, up until the day he passed away. And he never stopped calling me Peanut, something I will treasure and miss for the rest of my life.

Grandpa was not only the biggest personality you ever met; he’d also been bitten by the travel bug and was a globetrotter. When I say this, I mean it. He’d been to every state multiple times, to nearly every country in Europe, to Australia, Fiji, Russia, Egypt. He’d gone on a solo African safari in his late sixties and traveled all over south Africa, coming back with wild tales of how a hyena stole his tent’s shower bucket and they found it chewed up on the savannah later that day. His final trip, a solo venture to Jerusalem and the rest of the Holy Land, was the crown jewel in his adventures. My grandfather’s faith was rock solid and he reaffirmed this by being re-baptized in the Jordan river, just like John the Baptist baptized Jesus. When my grandfather got sick a few years ago, he jokingly started looking at dialysis cruises so that he could go on yet another adventure. His wild adventures always had me bragging to my friends about my grandpa Tom, the real-life Indiana Jones; something I still proudly bring up if the topic is right.

One of the greatest gift my grandfather had, other than being an incredibly loving person with a penchant for puns and history, was his gift of baking. From the time I was tiny, I would stand on a stool in my grandmother’s kitchen and help my grandpa knead and shape bread. When he took early retirement, Grandpa Tom looked for hobbies, and he found an interest in bread baking. He loved the intrigue of bread starters and the peace of it all; I loved that I got to get messy and play around with my grandpa, who was an even bigger goof than I was. As I grew older, I began baking bread on my own, and soon I got close to being on his level when it came to loaves and rolls. I’ll never make sourdough as well as he did, but my life’s mission is to try. Every loaf of bread I ever make is a gift from my grandfather, and every time I knead a batch of dough, I think of him.

My grandpa was my Superman. To me, he could do anything, and I adored him with every fiber of my being. I’ll never forget that he came to all of my high school plays; how he preened at my first prom Grand March, and forced GT to take a $20 because he wanted to make sure I had a good time; how every time I called him, the last thing he did was tell me how much he loved me and how proud of me he was. From the time I was tiny, up until the last time I saw him, my grandfather loved and encouraged me. He taught me early on that women could be anything; pushed me to keep on with my school work when I would call crying and tell him how much I hated my college program; sent me newspaper clippings with possible networking connections because he wanted to do something to help; and always complimented my baking, even when the frosting work was subpar. He was the one person who could out-pun me, and never for a second put himself before anyone else. He taught me strength, unwavering faith, how to bake bread, and my love of history. I will miss him every second for the rest of my life, but I know that he is with me, and watches over me every day.

Grandpa Tom passed away four days before my wedding to GT, but it was so incredibly obvious that he was with me the whole day. On my bouquet, I pinned the pendant that he brought me back from Jerusalem, of a holy cross, and carried it with me the whole day. My grandfather had a wicked sense of humor, and couldn’t help playing one last joke on me to make me smile. My mother-in-law had arranged for a small town car to bring me and GT to our hotel for the evening. When we went outside, what showed up was the biggest white Hummer stretch limo either of us had ever seen. I could’ve sworn that I heard my grandpa laughing; it’s exactly the kind of thing he would’ve done.

Grandpa, I love you so much. It was an honor and a privilege to have had you as my grandfather for almost 22 years. You’re off on your biggest adventure yet, and I know you’re having the time of your life. It’s not goodbye: it’s just see you later. It will be a while before I see you again, but that just means you’re going to have a damn funny joke for me when I get there. 

I love you forever and always,

Peanut

Cheese adventures

Riverwalk

Hi guys!

I know it’s been a while really since I’ve posted, and since I’ve updated you on what I’ve been up to! Life has been completely crazy, and I have had no time to blog or do anything other than run around in circles like a crazy person. I have been working for an amazing cheese company called Roth Cheese, which is currently the winner of the best cheese in the world for 2016 (first time since the 1980s an American company has held that honor). We spent 17 days in Texas during June on a PR tour, giving out blue cheese guacamole and cheese quesadillas to get our name out there. My favorite city in Texas was San Antonio. The River Walk was gorgeous, and I got to cross a few restaurants off my bucket list, like Hot Joy.

Crab fat caramel wings

I got back, had a few days in Madison, then it was off to Milwaukee for the Tour of America’s Dairyland cycling races!

July has been completely crazy, too. GT and I officially moved up our wedding, so we have less than 100 days until we tie the knot in October. We’re both really excited and a little terrified. Since I’m in active denial that I have too much to do, I’m going to leave you with a list of my favorite things in Texas and a couple cool pictures.

gordough's donut

My favorite restaurants in Texas

We ate a LOT of great food while in Texas. Our team visited Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. Here are my favorite places, and the menu recommendations.

  1.  Barbaro, San Antonio. Amazing pizza and phosphates (old fashioned sodas). Get the carbonara and the kale/taleggio pizza with honey.
  2.  Hot Joy. Easily my most favorite restaurant on the whole trip. This San Antonio restaurant was featured in Bon Appetit for their crab fat caramel wings (pictured above) which were amazing, but also order the tater tot chaat, and the brisket dan dan noodles. Everything is good here. Drinks are also solid. The drink with the plum wine and scotch went down super smooth. 
  3. Rhea’s Ice Cream. This is in San Marcos, but I highly recommend you visit San Marcos anyway to go tubing on the river. They have a bunch of amazing ice creams but my favorite was the burnt caramel.
  4. Gordough’s Big Fat Doughnut Trailer. These Austin doughnuts (donuts?) are legendary. I got the Heavenly Hash, which has marshmallow, chocolate frosting, and brownie bits. Make no mistake: these doughnuts are the size of your head (pictured above). Bring a small army to share with.
  5. East Side King in Austin was amazing. Order one of the bento boxes to sample everything. The bao (steamed buns), brussels sprout salad, and karaage chicken are all mind-blowing, and the outdoor patio is super chill.
  6. Salt Lick BBQ. For real deal pit barbecue in Austin, Salt Lick is the only place to go. It’s a really cool, sprawling place, and the vineyards are gorgeous. Go, bring some beer, listen to the band, and stay a while.

That’s it for now. I’m off to Iowa next for a cheese conference (how cool is this job??)! Until next time!

-Kara

Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

I am so excited to bring this recipe to you guys! My friend Kate Carley and I have teamed up to bring you this chocolate cake recipe, born right out of the pages of her new novel, Challenged. Kate is not only a phenomenal writer, she’s also a good friend, so when she came to me with the idea of an old-fashioned chocolate cake, I promised to deliver.

cakes in pan

Challenged takes place in the fictional town of Krysset, Minnesota, and follows two people, Sophie and Jackson. Sophie is a social worker who finds out her estranged grandfather has died and left her a resort in Krysset. She meets Jackson, her grandfather’s heir-apparent, who is non-too-thrilled that Sophie has showed up after years out of the picture. Without giving away anything else, it’s an excellent summer read, and I highly suggest you check out Kate’s book. What I can tell you is that in Krysset, there is a small bakery called Annie’s Bakery, known for their chocolate cake. That’s where this guy comes from.

Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake

Coincidentally, my great-grandmother was named Annie and is known in the family for being an amazing baker. My grandmother and mother taught me how to bake and passed on the love of pastry and frosting to me. This chocolate cake is tender, oh-so-chocolatey, and too easy to eat. When I sent GT back with some of this cake, his roommates told him that he needed to marry me for this cake!

Old-fashioned Chocolate Cake 2

Make sure you check out Kate’s post over on Jonel’s website!

Old-fashioned chocolate cake 3

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Special equipment needed: 8 inch by 2 inch round cake pans

Adapted from Ina Garten

  • 1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cup white sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup very hot fresh coffee
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of your pans with parchment paper and spray generously with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine your flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt together and whisk until very well combined.
  2. In a second bowl, beat together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and oil, then add it to the dry ingredients. Pour the coffee over the batter and allow to sit for 15-30 seconds, then stir, scraping the bottom of the bowl well. The ending batter will be very thin.
  3. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool on a wire rack completely before removing from the pan. Frost and serve.

Fudge Frosting

Adapted from Sweetapolita

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 ounces melted semisweet chocolate

Directions

  1. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 6 minutes.
  2. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder. Reduce to speed to low, and add the confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, water, sour cream, vanilla, and salt and beat until incorporated, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 more minutes.
  3. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Once the frosting looks whipped, it’s ready to use. This frosting works best at room temperature, but must be kept refrigerated, so don’t forget to put your cake and frosting in the fridge when you’re done decorating!

Madison, Houston, and Galveston

kona shave ice

Hey y’all! It’s been a while, huh? I’ve been off playing cheese intern on a truck and figuring out how to live in Wisconsin. For the next two weeks, I’m with the rest of the intern squad down in Texas, driving the truck around to give away samples. I’m so happy to be back cooking in a commercial kitchen and developing recipes. This whole post is basically going to be a photo blast. I’ve gotten to do everything from feed over 1500 people at a food truck festival in Madison, to take a cheesemaking course, to eat goat tacos in Houston. We’re heading to San Antonio and Austin next week, and I can’t wait to see what happens. Until then, enjoy these pictures!

grand cru

cheesemaking

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goat tacos

houston mural

It’s adventure time!

Minnehaha

Hey guys! You might have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in a while. Life has been really busy the last few weeks, and it’s about to get even busier. GT just graduated from college and is getting ready to move. I’m moving to Wisconsin to start my internship with an amazing cheese company (henceforth known in my posts as “The Big Cheese” company) in just a few days. Between it all, it’s been stripping my childhood bedroom, finishing my finals, saying goodbye to friends and family, and cramming in every last second errand that I can fit into my schedule. It’s unfortunate, but blogging has taken a back seat for the last few weeks.

There is however, good news! While I am going not going to be able to post a lot of recipes this summer, I will be doing some travel posts, since my internship will be taking me to food events (like the Food and Wine festival in Aspen, Colorado!!!!) all over the country. I’ll be writing about all my adventures aboard the food truck I’m working in, and, of course, the different foods I get to experience. Once I’m back home in September, recipes will start showing up again. Make sure to pop in and check out my adventures!

Love,

-Kara

Favorite Friday Things

Sushi burrito

It’s been a crazy week! GT and I signed on our first apartment, and I bought my wedding dress! It’s also pre-finals week, so I’ve been studying like crazy to get ready for my last finals ever. There hasn’t been time to make anything and post it, but I did have time to put up this week’s Friday things post! Check out what the rest of the internet has been up to!

Sarah made Japanese dirty tater tots! OMG, do these look good, or what?

Michelle put matcha in her egg creams.

Adrianna swirled together some buttery potato roses.

Sarah made these awesome 15 minute lazy Asian noodles, which is pretty much my go-to lunch when I’m starving and there’s nothing in the fridge.

Erica took inspiration from Turkey and made Cilbir (Turkish eggs), also known as the only way to get me to eat yogurt.

Outside of food, this BB-8 car charger is so dang cute! I’d love to have a little co-pilot with me when I drive.

Who doesn’t need a sushi shirt?

Happy Friday!

-Kara

 

Favorite Friday Things

Winona

GT and I are off doing adult-y things this weekend like apartment hunting and looking at the new town where we’re going to be living! It doesn’t feel real yet. It’s been a whirlwind, and I haven’t had too much time to post, but I did have a couple minutes to whip this post together. Take a peek at what other bloggers were up to this week!

I hate kale, but Jessica’s kale Caesar salad on pizza crust looks amazing!

Steph made tiny California sushi cones, and they are adorable!

Linda took some gorgeous flowering broccoli rabe and turned it into crostini with bagna cauda and burrata.

Heather created this gorgeous explosion of a birthday cake to celebrate the release of Tessa’s new book!

Deb made a batch of the perfect garlic bread and my carb-loving heart wants to try this ASAP.

Megan made a stunning hibiscus, lime, and mint spritzer that is perfect for spring/early summer.

Michelle also jumped in to help celebrate Tessa’s book with this beautiful chocolate earl grey london fog cake!

Outside of food, Minnesota has lost a legendary musician, and all of Minneapolis came out to mourn on Thursday night on First Ave. Even if you didn’t like his music, if you’re Minnesotan, you still grew up as a Prince fan. When I was driving down to Winona, all the radios were paying tribute to Prince by playing his music.

Currently obsessed with these tiny dessert pins from Urban Outfitters. So cute.

This bowtie is shaped like a taco! My brother G would die for this.

Happy Friday!

-Kara

 

Favorite Friday Things

IMG_4713

It’s been a crazy week, and I have about five minutes to put this up so I’m going to say: check out these awesome posts from this week!

One of my first drinks was an amaretto sour, and Jessica’s amaretto bourbon punch sounds amazing.

Sarah made these glorious passionfruit cheesecake malasadas and since I can’t to go to Hawaii, these are the next best thing.

Rosie made a gorgeous chocolate glam rock cake and has fueled my late-in-life sprinkle obsession.

Danielle got her hands on some ramps and made pickled ramps with ramp butter and aleppo to celebrate spring.

Jen took inari and stuffed it with spicy ahi tuna and it’s everything that I’ve ever wanted in sushi.

Thalia baked some chocolate chip espresso kiss cookies with homemade chocolate kisses!!!

Michelle made a passionfruit curd pie that is beautiful and sunny.

Outside of food, Vans just came out with a Late Night Crew line and I want to buy the donut pair so bad!

I’m just starting to get into makeup (I bought myself the Naked 2 palette as a birthday present) and several of my friends have talked about how great this Smashbox primer oil is.

Back at it again with the Modcloth, but here is the world’s punniest lunch bag.

Happy Friday!

-Kara

PB&J Pullapart Bread (GF)

PB&J Pullapart bread

It’s the little things that count right now; the peace in the chaos that I can find at random moments. April has been a really busy month, and my life just got infinitely more crazed. GT just got a job, and that means that I will not be moving home after my internship. So, I’m in the process of packing to move for my internship, and packing away my childhood bedroom, on top of finishing all my homework and beginning to study for finals. Free time doesn’t really happen any more. There’s packing to do, homework to finish, wedding planning to worry about, and errands to run. I had an hour today, one blissful hour of free time where I didn’t have any obligations. So I baked. It is one of the last times I’ll get the chance to roll dough out in my mother’s kitchen; to use her green marble rolling pin. To bake for my brother and hear his excitement over something I whipped up. It’s bittersweet.

pb & j

G has always loved peanut butter and jelly, ever since he was little. When he was diagnosed with fructose malabsorption, it meant that all of his beloved jellies and jams had to go away, since the sugar and pectin were making him sick. My family has never been one to can things, but I starting making quick jams after his diagnosis. Just fruit, a little cane sugar, some lemon juice. Squash the berries and simmer until jammy and dribbling off the spoon. Let it cool, and smear on toast or fill a cake. It helped make up for the loss of so many things. This peanut butter and jelly pullapart bread might not be able to make up for me leaving, but it’s at least a start. 

PB&J Pullapart Bread 2

PB&J Pullapart Bread 3

PB& J Pullapart Bread

For the dough

2 cups all purpose gluten free flour (I used Pillsbury)

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes, very cold

¾ cup + 2 Tbsp buttermilk, ice cold, plus more for brushing

For the jam

1 pint fresh blackberries

½ cup natural cane sugar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp sea salt

Splash of vanilla

For assembly

Biscuit dough

Jam

Smooth peanut butter

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.  For the dough, in a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Using a food processor or pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the mix resembles cornmeal. Pour in the milk and mix until a shaggy dough forms. Roll the dough out in between two sheets of floured parchment paper. Cut the dough into even squares.
  2. For the jam, combine all ingredients together in a heavy bottomed saucepan, and turn on medium heat. Squash the berries with your spoon. Cook until thick and jammy. Let cool before using.
  3. To assemble, alternate dolloping about a tablespoon of peanut butter and jam on each square, then stack horizontally in a parchment paper-lined loaf pan. Brush with a tablespoon or two of buttermilk. Bake at 375° F for 35-45 minutes until lightly brown.