12 November 11 • MAV

It’s here! The new issue of Baker’s Notes came out yesterday and I’m pretty excited about it. My creative outfit directs and designs this publication in collaboration with and for the good folks at Scratch Baking Co.

It’s a dream project for us, let me tell you. You may remember that from Issue No. 1 I made my own bagels. That was one of my biggest triumphs of 2011. I still think about those bagels. Might be time to make them again! And of course who can forget the Peanut Butter Cookie recipe that Scratch was so kind to give us? Have you made these cookies yet? You should. Make sure to put the redskin peanuts and chocolate chunks in them. They’re dreamy!

The new issue of Baker’s Notes is called SWEET. It’s full of sweet bakery goodness. I mean, there is a whole section on cakes! Check out the opening spread …

… and the story goes on for 10 more pages after that including the recipe for the cover cake which is Deep South Coconut Cream Cake. Come on now!

My relationship with “sweet” has always been a rocky one. I can’t have too much sugar or I go insane. Bring on crazy MAV! Moody, grumpy, impatient, on edge. Um … it’s just not good. So I have my sugar in small doses and I usually doctor recipes that have a lot of sugar to include less. I love that it has become special to me to have sugar. It feels right for me. And it’s actually why I love this issue of Baker’s Notes so much. These are recipes that I will use when I do have that special occasion calling. Hot Fudge and Butterscotch Sauce anyone? Those recipes are in this issue as well (along with the piece on Sundaes which was photographed at my flat); so fun! Bring on the sweet parties. I’m ready.

When I asked Sonja, one of the owners/bakers at Scratch (and the very talented photographer behind Baker’s Notes), to share a recipe on 3191 we talked right away about the Honey Cake. I had had a few pieces some weeks ago and have been thinking about them ever since. This is such a nice cake. Perfect with coffee and a little lightly whipped cream. I love the toasted almonds that end up being on top of the cake. Sonja was kind enough to cut the sugar in half for me for the recipe you see here. The cake is not quite as moist but it’s still just as wonderful. Just be sure not to over-bake it. If you want the full sugar version leave out the 3/4 C. natural cane sugar and the 1 T molasses and add instead 1 C white sugar and 1/2 C brown sugar instead. Go for it!

Sonja’s Honey Cake For MAV
makes one bundt cake

3-1/2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
4 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
1 C warm coffee
3/4 C orange juice
1 C oil
1 C honey
3/4 C natural cane sugar
1 T molasses
3 eggs
2 C sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Sift dry ingredients together; set aside. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients (including sugar) together. Add dry to wet and combine until smooth. Sprinkle sliced almonds in the bottom of your greased bundt pan. Add the cake batter on top of the almonds and bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if you like or you can leave it plain. It’s gorgeous either way.

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If you’re in the Portland, Maine area you can visit Scratch Bakery at 416 Preble Street just over the bridge in South Portland. My advice … head into Scratch early (things sell out like mad), grab a bag full of goodies and head over to Willard Beach on foot for a nice stroll. You won’t regret it, I’m telling you.

12 November 11 • SCB

I have a real weakness for the salty/sweet/crunchy combo, and if you look through our archives, you’ll find all manner of sweet and savory nuts, seeds, granola and bars that I’ve shared. Let me add caramel corn to the list, because it makes a pretty awesome autumn treat.

I have been making different versions of caramel corn since college with all manner of sweeteners, including maple and rice syrups. The recipe I am sharing here is not free of refined sugar, but it is my favorite. Honey and brown sugar create a really rich caramel flavor without being too sweet. Do make sure you use real honey.

I pop my corn in an air-popper, because it is so easy, but oil-popped popcorn is probably even better. The addition of peanuts makes for a real Crackerjack-like experience, but the corn is great with all kinds of nuts. Happy snacking.

Honey Caramel Corn

10-12 cups popped popcorn (about 1/2 cup kernels)
1 cup roasted unsalted peanuts (or nuts of your choice)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla (I use vanilla paste, extract is fine)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
sea salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Melt butter, sugar and honey over medium heat in a saucepan large enough to avoid boil-over (a mistake I made with this batch). When mixture reaches a boil, reduce heat and simmer for three minutes. Take off heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda (the mixture will foam up a bit with the addition of the baking soda, so be prepared). In a large bowl, toss popcorn, nuts and caramel mixture to thoroughly coat. Spread popcorn on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in oven for 45 minutes, stirring at halfway point. Allow to cool, break apart and store in an air-tight container.