Holiday Baking: Part 1

I’ve realized it’s not my laziness that keeps me from posting regularly to the blog; it’s my addiction to Netflix that’s the problem. And that’s just fine with me. But with Christmas baking coming up, I’d better combine two posts now and do another one or two after the holidays.

So we’ll start with the pumpkin roll. Boy loves pumpkin roll. BOY LOVES PUMPKIN ROLL. I cannot stress this enough. He usually starts nagging me to bake one in September and I make him wait until Thanksgiving. I don’t know why, since they’re not hard to make. I guess I just like having that power. Although sometimes I do make one for his birthday in May. They’re pretty good and I love pumpkin but there are just so many other things I’d rather be baking besides a pumpkin roll (anything chocolate). So, he has to wait.

Anyway, I just use Libby’s pumpkin roll recipe. I remember feeling intimidated the first time I made this, what with the parchment paper and dish towel. But I promise it’s really easy.

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I always add a half teaspoon of pumpkin spice, and this time I skipped the cloves because I didn’t have any. It didn’t seem to make any difference.

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Also, I always double the filling. The amount of filling in this recipe just isn’t enough, at least for my family. So I double it and the pumpkin roll comes out weighing no less than 4 pounds. Fine by us.

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I’ve started using a pastry bag to frost cakes. I wish I’d thought to do this a loooong time ago. Cakes can tear and crumble so easily when trying to frost with a spatula, but using a pastry bag prevents this from happening because it never touches the cake. No crumb coat needed! Even if you want to do a crumb coat just to be safe, using a pastry bag for the crumb coat and the frosting is so much easier. It’s also a lot easier to even out the frosting if necessary. If the cake layers are uneven, you just squeeze a little more frosting on that side and tada! Your cake is even. Just spread it out with an off-set spatula and use an icing smoother on the sides. Normally with the pumpkin roll I’d start with a big glob in the middle and spread it out to the edges and of course the filling would be too thin around the sides. So this time I used the pastry bag to put filling around the edges, and as you can see below, the filling is overflowing a little. It was perfect.

I’ve made this pumpkin roll at least once a year for several years, and I think this is the first time the cake didn’t crack. Maybe I over baked it a little in the past and it got kind of dry. I don’t know, but I was pretty excited that it didn’t crack this time when I rolled it up. And Boy loved it, so hopefully I got him off back until at least May.

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Up next are the M&M cupcakes that I made for my work Christmas party. These were originally supposed to be Christmas Light Cupcakes, adapted from this recipe. I thought they were so cute and colorful. And that they’d be really easy to decorate. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and frosting so I wasn’t able to do the black “wires.” But they still turned out pretty cute.

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I used Add a Pinch’s Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever because I’d made it once before and knew it was amazing. For the frosting, I tried a recipe that was new to me. I can’t help it, I LOVE grocery store buttercream and I’ve been trying to replicate it. This recipe for the Perfect Crusting Buttercream comes really, really close. Although, technically, I guess it isn’t buttercream since there isn’t any butter in it. But whatever. It’s soooo good.

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And if you use clear vanilla extract, the frosting actually comes out WHITE! White frosting is so pretty and I can’t wait to use it for a white Christmas cake this weekend.

Not that these cupcakes were bad by any means, but I think this frosting may go best with white cake. Sometimes pairing random recipes doesn’t always work out. Again, these cupcakes were delicious and the cake itself was nice and moist. I just have a feeling the frosting will be even better with white cake.

As a side note, Boy said the frosting was grainy. He said the same thing about the frosting on the Life-Changing Brownies. I’m pretty sure he’s nuts. Frosting is made with powdered sugar and it doesn’t seem possible that it could be grainy. I certainly didn’t think it was grainy (not that it would have stopped me anyway). But I suggest tasting as you mix to make sure you get the consistency you like. Tasting as you mix is never a bad idea.

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(I got the carrier at Target a couple of years ago. Love it!)

P.S. My apologies once again for the terrible photos, some of which are upside down. I kept trying to upload them and they were upside down every time. And I was going to edit them but Netflix is calling to me.

Happy Holidays!

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