Cranberry Buttermilk Cake

This cake was gorgeous.  It just might be the perfect treat for Christmas morning.  The cranberries are bright bursts of tart juice, the batter is full of sweet orange flavor, and the cake is light and fluffy.  With the cranberries, this isn’t a very sweet cake, so it’s great for brunch or tea.  This is a great winter spin on the Blueberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake I made for Mother’s day in the spring.  If this seems like too much cake for you, you can halve the recipe and bake it in an 8×8″ square pan.

Cranberry Buttermilk CakeCranberry Buttermilk Cake (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12-16

Adapted from Alexandra Cooks

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large orange, zested
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 cups fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9×13″ pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.

Cream butter with orange zest and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time and then add the vanilla, beating well after each addition.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add flour mixture to the batter a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk.  Leave a couple of Tbsp of flour to toss the cranberries in (this keeps the berries from sinking to the bottom), then fold the cranberries into the batter.

Scoop batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Chocolate Chunk Eggnog Cookies

These are one of the cookies I made last week for Carroll Cafe.  Now I have to confess that I don’t like eggnog.  But every year Sister likes to get a carton of eggnog for the season, and usually cuts it with milk because it’s too rich on its own.  So there’s typically at least half a carton left.  Now I finally have a recipe to help use up the rest of the eggnog!

These cookies are a bit cake like, and even remind me of a muffin-top…a little crispy on the edges, but soft and doughy in the middle.  The eggnog flavor is pretty subtle, but definitely noticeable with it’s faint spiced flavor.  And obviously you can’t go wrong adding in some chocolate chunks.  These are quite the seasonal treat, so put out a plate for Santa and enjoy.

Chocolate Chunk Eggnog CookiesChocolate Chunk Eggnog Cookies (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 18 Tbsp (2 sticks + 2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup eggnog
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
  • cinnamon for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 300°F.  Line baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with cooking spray and set aside.

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate large bowl, beat butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add in eggnog, egg yolk, and vanilla, beating until completely combined.  Slowly add in the flour, mixing until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chunks.

Scoop the batter onto prepared baking sheet, then sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon.  Bake for about 22-28 minutes, or until golden around the edges and set.  Let cool on a wire rack.  If you don’t need to bake them all immediately, I recommend scooping the batter, freezing it and storing it in a ziploc freezer bag with baking instructions written on it to save them for later, or for when unexpected company arrives during the holidays.

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are simple, yet exquisite.  The brown sugar tastes caramelized, giving a rich toffee flavor and nice chewy texture that goes well with the oats.  These are definitely going to be one of my go-to cookies.  It’s especially good for anyone who isn’t that into chocolate.  While obviously cookies are always best when eaten hot from the oven, these maintain their chewiness once cooled too.  I doubled the recipe and got nervous that I’d have too many leftovers, but these are definitely a favorite, so I’m glad to have extras in the freezer!

Brown Sugar Oatmeal CookiesBrown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 4 dozen (using a 2oz scoop)

Adapted from Pioneer Woman

  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups dark brown sugar (light would be fine too if that’s what you have)
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 6 cups old fashioned oats

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla, then add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda, then add into the creamed butter mixture in 3 batches, mixing until just combined.  Fold in the oats.

Scoop batter onto lightly greased, or parchment paper covered baking sheet.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until beginning to brown on the edges and center is golden and set.  Let cool slightly, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely (I find this is easier to do if the cookies are on parchment paper and then you can just slide the paper onto a wire rack to cool).

Cranberry Upside Down Pumpkin Cake

This was a fantastic cake.  It was the first thing to sell out at Carroll Cafe on Friday, and I have to say that it is a great recipe.  The orange zest adds a fresh note that pairs wonderfully with the cranberries, the pumpkin keeps the cake moist and tender.  The fresh cranberries are tart and juicy, surrounded by a sweet sugar topping.  I just might have to say that this is the perfect fall cake.

And incase you’re intimidated by making an upside down cake, this was my first attempt at one.  It was surprisingly easy and even though some of the cranberries stuck to the bottom of the pan they were easy to scoop off and put back on the top of the cake and once it was sliced you couldn’t even tell.  So give it whirl, you won’t be disappointed.

Cranberry Upside Down Pumpkin CakeCranberry Upside Down Pumpkin Cake (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12-18

Adapted from Bakeaholic Mama

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 (15oz) can pumpkin puree
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp orange zest (about the zest of 2 oranges)
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, browned

Cranberry Topping:

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until it becomes golden and nutty smelling, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool while preparing the dry ingredients.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.Cranberry Upside Down Pumpkin Cake slice (A Seat at the Table)

In a separate bowl, mix sugars, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest together.  Fold dry ingredients into the wet until just incorporated.

Slowly mix in cooled brown butter.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 9×13″ pan with 4 Tbsp unsalted butter.  Arrange cranberries in an even layer in the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle sugar on in an even layer.  Pour cake batter over the cranberries.  Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center and comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool for about 20-30 minutes, then flip cake out onto a serving platter.

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes and November’s Carroll Cafe Menu

Carroll Cafe will be this Friday, November 8th.  There will be a fantastic line-up of treats once again!  The menu includes:

Fresh Apple Bundt Cake
King Arthur Brownies
Cranberry Upside Down Pumpkin Cake
Monster Cookies (gluten-free)
Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies

Hope to see you there!

And just in time for the next Carroll Cafe, here’s the last recipe from last month’s concert.

These cupcakes are pretty fantastic.  They’re definitely decadent and have the best of both worlds:  dense, custard-y pumpkin pie flavor, and sweet, rich yet slightly tangy, cream cheese frosting.  There’s just the perfect hint of cinnamon.  You can’t go wrong with these, they’re the perfect fall treat, and would also be a huge hit at any Thanksgiving if you’re looking for something a little different than pie.

Pumpkin Pie CupcakesPumpkin Pie Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (A Seat at the Table)

Makes 12 cupcakes

Adapted from Pioneer Woman

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, frozen and grated
  • 2 heaping cups pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Grease 1 muffin tin and set aside.

In a large bowl, sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.  Cut in (or grate frozen) butter into dry ingredients until fully incorporated.

In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Pour pumpkin mixture into flour mixture and fold gently until just incorporated.

Scoop into muffin tins, filling almost to the top (they don’t rise very much).  Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool 15 minutes before removing from the pan.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 2 pkgs (16oz) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (or more to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese until smooth, then beat in the butter.  Add powdered sugar and cinnamon, then add in the vanilla extract.

Oreo Cheesecake Bars

I’m not really a fan of Oreos, but when picking recipes for Carroll Cafe I like to pick things that I wouldn’t normally make myself.  However, these bars might just turn me into an Oreo fan!  These are rich and decadent treats.  The cheesecake is creamy, the Oreos add a nice crunch (although they soften up by the second day), the cookie crumb crust adds extra chocolate.  They’re pretty incredible, even if you think you don’t like Oreos.

Oreo Cheesecake BarsOreo Cheesecake Bars (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 16-20

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker


  • 9oz box chocolate wafers
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted


  • 24oz (3 pkgs) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 8oz sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 package)

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Line a 9×13″ baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and set aside.

To make the crust, process the chocolate wafers in a food processor until crumbs.  Pour in the melted butter and pulse several times until butter is well distributed.  Pour crumbs into the prepared pan and press into an even layer.  Bake for 9 minutes, remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.  Leave the oven on.

For the cheesecake, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth.  Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well mixed.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down the sides and then beat in the sour cream and vanilla.

Gently fold in the chopped Oreos, then pour batter over the prepared crust, smoothing into an even layer.  Bake until set, about 55-60 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 2 hours, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 24 hours, before serving.  To serve, pull cheesecake out of pan using the foil or parchment paper, then cut into bars.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Zucchini Cake

So this is one of the desserts I made for Friday night’s Carroll Cafe.  I had made a Cinnamon Sugar Zucchini Cake, and as I was slicing it to serve I sampled a piece and was HORRIFIED by how it turned out!  It was gummy and weird and totally not cake-like.  I’m not sure what went wrong, but I had about 2 hours to come up with a different zucchini cake.  So of course, it was trusty Grandma Helland’s recipe that saved the day.  I adapted Grandma’s Apple Cake recipe and it was a crowd pleaser, as always.

This is a tender, moist flavorful cake that’s prefect for fall.  It’s a nice treat but isn’t too sweet, so it’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.  It’s great for a fall treat and is definitely a last minute crowd pleaser.

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Zucchini CakeCinnamon Sugar Apple Zucchini Cake (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12-16

  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1 small zucchini, grated (can sub two more apples)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9×13″ pan with nonstick foil or grease with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix ingredients in order given.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  At about 30 minutes you may need to cover with foil to keep top from browning too quickly.    When cake is done sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar (a mix of about 1/4 cup sugar with 3/4 tsp cinnamon works well, sprinkle to taste).  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Apple Crisp Muffins

These were delicious.  The perfect taste of fall flavors.  Dad said they were the best muffins he’s ever had.  My only complaint is that the recipe only made 10!  Next time I’ll definitely be (at least) doubling the recipe!

These are super moist due to the combination of butter, oil and applesauce.  The fresh apple pieces get tender (but not mushy) and the oatmeal crisp topping adds a little extra sweetness and the perfect amount of chewy crunchiness.  You’ll definitely want to make these this fall.  They’re great fresh from the oven or at room temperature.  But if you think they’re going to last more than a couple of days, make sure you refrigerate them in a ziploc bag, since they’re so moist they won’t last long on the counter.

Apple Crisp MuffinsApple Crisp Muffins (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 20 muffins

Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (2 snack pack applesauces)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups peeled and chopped apple (about 4)

Crisp topping:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

In a large bowl, mix together butter, oil, applesauce, and sugars until well mixed (the mixture might look curdled).  Add egg and vanilla and beat to combine.

In a separate bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add half the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until just combined.  Add half of the remaining flour and mix again until just combined.  Toss the apple pieces with the remaining flour, then carefully fold the apples into the batter.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 muffin trays with muffin cup papers or grease muffin tin generously with cooking spray.

Reusing the dry ingredient bowl, mix crisp topping ingredients together until well mixed and crumbly (I find using my hands is easiest).

Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins, should be about 3/4 full (a 4oz cookie scoop is the perfect size).  Top with about 1 Tbsp of crisp topping, then bake for about 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Let muffins cool in tin for about 10 minutes before removing and letting cool completely on a wire rack.

Fresh Blackberry-Plum Crisp

This is a recipe for all those people that don’t like cooked fruit.  A dear friend of mine doesn’t like the texture of baked fruit, which is just a tragedy when you think of all the delicious crumbles and crisps she’s missing out on!  So when I stumbled upon this recipe I thought it was a little like cheating to not bake the whole crisp, but then I realized how perfect it would be for people that don’t want to bake their fruit.  This takes full advantage of the delicious fresh flavors of summer fruit, and yet adds a great little extra crunch to make your favorite summer produce just a bit more special.  The crisp topping smells like oatmeal cookies while it’s baking, and this recipe comes together really quickly.  Perfect for a low-key summer dessert.  The combination of blackberries and plums is really good, and creates a dark purple sauce that blends wonderfully with vanilla ice cream.  Feel free to use whatever fruit looks good to you, this topping will be good on anything!

Fresh Blackberry-Plum CrispFresh Blackberry-Plum Crisp (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 4

Adapted from Bon Appetit (July 2013)

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • pinch of salt

In a rimmed pan, combine all ingredients and mix with clean fingers to form clumps.  Should kind of look like a sandy beach when it’s all blended together.  Pop pan in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350°F and bake topping for about 15-20 minutes, or until golden.

  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) blackberries, lightly crushed
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 plums, thinly sliced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced (about 2 tsp)

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine all the filling ingredients.

Once topping is done baking, assemble your crisp.  Layer fruit, then ice cream, more fruit and then top it off with the crumbly oat mixture.

Peach and Blueberry Crisp

Oh summertime, how delectable your fruits are.  Peach season is in full swing in these parts and I may have gotten a bit carried away when picking last week and ended up with way more peaches than I knew what to do with.  That’s a lie, I totally knew what to do:  devour them!  They were fantastic!  While I haven’t done much cooking with peaches before, I did try making this delicious crisp.  This was a wonderful combination of in-season fruit.  Everything about it is delicious.  The crisp, is sweet and chewy, the peaches get buttery soft, the blueberries are little bursts of flavor.  There’s just a hint of cinnamon which adds a great warm taste, but isn’t overwhelming.  It’s really fantastic, and with a dollop of Greek yogurt it totally counts as a breakfast food.  Or be traditional and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Just make sure you enjoy the fruits of the season!

Peach and Blueberry CrispPeach and Blueberry Crisp (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

  • 2 lbs (about 8-9) fresh peaches, peeled, pitted and cut into wedges
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 heaping cup blueberries

Toss the peaches with sugar and set in a colander over a bowl to collect the juice.  Let sit for about 30 minutes, while you make the topping.  In a small bowl, whisk together about 1/4 cup drained peach juice, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt.  In a bowl, mix together the peach slices, juice mixture and blueberries.  Pour into a 2-quart baking dish (9×13 would probably be sufficient).

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Topping:Peach Blueberry Crisp (A Seat at the Table)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cut in pieces

Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Add vanilla and butter and use a pastry cutter or your clean hands to blend in the flour mixture until crumbly.  Spread mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly browned and firm to the touch.  Then lower the oven rack and increase oven temperature to 375°F.

Carefully transfer the toasted topping to the peach-blueberry mixture, spreading in an even layer and pressing down slightly.  Sprinkle with sugar and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly.  Cool for about 15 minutes on a wire rack before serving.