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home : news : news
October 20, 2021

9/24/2021 11:00:00 AM
Fall 101: Pumpkins and apples
by JEFF NORTON


OK, OK, OK, enough beating around the bush. The highlight of everyone’s fall is apple and pumpkin recipes, right?

I know fall pumpkin recipes have almost become cliche at this point. Pumpkin  spice this and pumpkin caramel that has overtaken the lexicon of America in September and October and leading to the holiday season.

But here’s the thing, I’m not a fraud! Pumpkin pie was absolutely the number one thing I looked forward to as a kid during Thanksgiving gatherings.  More than turkey or mashed potatoes or green bean casserole.  My grand-ma’s homemade pumpkin pie with her homemade whipped cream is lights out.

As I’ve grown, the pie may not be the thing I look forward to most on Thanksgiving, but I think that’s probably because pumpkin flavored stuff is more widely available. I’ve already taken down a few Pumpkin Spice coffees from the local shops!

+ + + +

We’ll start with the first meal of the day, breakfast! I love French toast, and this recipe is sooo good on an early weekend morning. The smells in the house from the spice and puree just get the senses going and let you know it’s going to be a great fall weekend.

PUMPKIN FRENCH TOAST
French Toast
4 large eggs, beaten
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Kosher salt
1 loaf brioche, sliced into 1-inch thick slices
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided

Pumpkin Butter
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 tbsp. pumpkin puree
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Kosher salt
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Maple syrup, for drizzling

In a shallow baking dish, whisk eggs, milk, pumpkin puree, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and a pinch of salt. Place bread slices into pumpkin mixture and let soak about 30 seconds per side.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat, melt one tablespoon butter. Cook two slices bread at a time until golden, three to four minutes per side. Repeat to cook all slices.

Make pumpkin butter: In a medium bowl, whip softened butter with pumpkin, maple syrup, pumpkin spice, and a pinch of salt until light and fluffy.

Top French toast with pumpkin butter, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and drizzle with maple syrup.

Pro tip for French toast that maybe everyone knows but I didn’t for some time: Make sure you use thick bread. Brioche bread is GREAT for French toast, as is a nice loaf of French bread cut into thick slices. Growing up, my parents just used regular ol’ thin slices white bread, which tastes just fine, but a thick, sweet bread takes any French toast up to a whole different level.

+ + + +

I had a reader reach out last weekend looking for my best apple cake recipe. I harp on it plenty, but cinnamon is one of my favorite sweets, so of course, my best bread is an apple cinnamon variety. Here it is, and thank you for reading my column and for the feedback

APPLE CINNAMON CAKE
Apple Cake
1-1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. red apple, peeled and roughly chopped (approximately one apple)
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. Greek yogurt

Cinnamon Topping
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. butter, melted

Sugar Glaze
1/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1–2 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8 or 9 inch round cake tin with baking or parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, add flour, baking powder, baking soda and sugar. Add chopped apple and stir briefly to combine.

In a separate bowl, add eggs, vanilla, oil and yoghurt. Whisk briefly just to break up the egg yolks.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and gently mix with a wooden spoon until combined – but be careful not to over mix. Spoon batter into prepared tin.

To make cinnamon topping, combine cinnamon, sugar and butter. Mix together until lumpy and wet. Sprinkle over cake batter.

Bake cake for approximately 30-35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Transfer cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the glaze, mix together sugar and one tablespoon of milk. Stir until smooth. If the glaze is too thick, add an extra tablespoon of milk. Drizzle glaze all over the cake.

+ + + +

This recipe takes two of my favorite things ever — pumpkin pie and cheesecake — and melds them together. I haven’t made it yet this year, but rest assured it will be soon in the Norton household.

PUMPKIN 
CHEESECAKE
Crust
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs (from about 12 whole graham crackers)
6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) melted, unsalted butter
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Cheesecake
3 (8-oz each) pkgs. cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
15 oz. canned pumpkin pie mix
4 large eggs
1/4 c. sour cream
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. real vanilla extract

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until fine crumbs form.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon and six tbsp. melted butter. Transfer into a nine-inch springform pan with three inch tall walls and use a large spoon to press crumbs into the bottom of your springform pan, and going about 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for eight minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temp.

In the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the three packages of softened cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar on med speed until light and fluffy and without lumps (five minutes), scraping down the bowl once to make sure you don’t have chunks of cream cheese.

In the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the 3 packages of softened cream cheese and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar on med speed until light and fluffy and without lumps (five minutes), scraping down the bowl once to make sure you don’t have chunks of cream cheese.

Transfer filling into pre-baked crust and bake on the middle rack at 350 for one hour. Turn off heat, prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon and let cheesecake sit in the oven another 45 minutes. Then remove from the oven and let cool to room temp before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating. Serve when fully chilled (at least four hours in the refrigerator, or overnight).

Before serving, carefully remove cheesecake from springform pan by running a blunt knife along the sides of the cheesecake to release from the springform mold.

TFD: “Autumn leaves don't fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.” - Where the Crawdads Sing



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