Happy Halloween & Brown Sugar Cupcakes

SAM 4024 Edited Happy Halloween & Brown Sugar Cupcakes

Trick or Treat?

How does a recipe for the best Brown Sugar cupcakes in the world sound?

SAM 4048 Edited Happy Halloween & Brown Sugar Cupcakes

SAM 4036 Edited e1319933320702 Happy Halloween & Brown Sugar Cupcakes

SAM 4044 Edited Happy Halloween & Brown Sugar Cupcakes

SAM 4019 Edited Happy Halloween & Brown Sugar Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!


Brown Sugar Cupcakes
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 13
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 heaping teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 scant teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 11 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together and set aside.
  2. Cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg, yogurt and vanilla.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  5. Fill each well of a paper-lined muffin tin about ¾ full.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.
It is not necessary to pack the brown sugar when measuring. One cup of milk can be substituted for the yogurt.

A Little Slice of History: Shaker Lemon Pie

SAM 3524 Edited A Little Slice of History: Shaker Lemon Pie

Things I like to bake: cookies and cakes.  Things I do not like to bake: pies. I can’t explain what makes me partial to cookies and cakes more so than other recipes, but maybe it’s because I’m more familiar and therefore more comfortable with baking cookies and cakes.  Or maybe it’s because I like to eat cookies and cakes much more so than other types of desserts.  Place a menu with a cookie, cake and pie in front of me, and I will always choose something other than the pie.

When I think of pie, the first thing that comes to mind is my grandmother’s love of lemon meringue pie. Much to grandma’s despair, I never much cared for lemon meringue  pie.  (I’m sure the despair was feigned because none for me meant more for her!)

When I saw a recipe for Shaker Lemon Pie in Country Living magazine last spring,  I was intrigued by the use of the entire lemon in the pie. “This might be a lemon pie I could get on board with,” I thought to myself.  When I learned the pie had Ohio roots, I was sold.

Growing up in northwest Ohio, I had never before heard of southwestern Ohio’s Shaker Lemon Pie.  From what I understand, the Shakers (who practiced a religion similar to that of the Quakers’, which leads me straight down the path to a Shake and Bake/Quake comment) settled in southwest Ohio in the early 1800s. Lemons were fairly easy to come by as they were shipped up the Mississippi River from New Orleans, then over to Cincinnati via way of the Ohio River.  The Shakers were a frugal bunch who wasted as little as possible, hence they used entire lemons in their pies. (Lemon Pie is a Slice of Ohio History by Lisa Abraham of The Akron Beacon Journal).

SAM 3530 Edited A Little Slice of History: Shaker Lemon Pie

It took me so long to try baking this pie because I was dreading making the pie crust.  It wasn’t until I found a recipe for Fifty Eight Cent Pie Crust (that did not require the use of a rolling pin!), that I was ready to take a shot at the recipe.

Pinching the dough together in the pie pan was going along just great until I realized I also had to top the pie with a crust.  There was no way to take the crumbly dough I was pinching together and form it into a smooth blanket of dough for the top of the pie.  I remembered seeing circles of pie crust layered onto the top of a pie in the past (perhaps from a Food Network episode of Down Home with the Neelys), so that’s what I did here.  I pinched the dough together on a floured work surface, then used a round cookie cutter to create a circle of dough to place on the pie.

Please note – in addition to two pie crusts, the recipe takes two days to complete as the lemons must macerate in the sugar overnight.  It is also very important for the lemons to be sliced as thin as possible.  If you own a mandolin, now is the time to use it. I do not own a mandolin and was able to slice my lemons thin enough, but keep in mind, the thicker the rind, the chewier the pie.  In this case, chewy pie is not a good thing.

After all was baked and done, the pie was just the right mix of sweet and tart.  It was a great first pie!

SAM 3551 Edited A Little Slice of History: Shaker Lemon Pie

4.0 from 1 reviews

Shaker Lemon Pie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 8
  • For one pie crust:
  • 1½ cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • For the pie filling:
  • 2 lemons, sliced paper thin
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 eggs
  1. To make the crust, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir together the milk and vegetable oil.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
  5. Mix just enough to moisten the ingredients, then place into a pie pan.
  6. Press the dough into place and set aside.
  7. To make the pie filling: place the lemons and sugar in a bowl and allow to sit overnight.
  8. The following day, lightly beat the eggs and add them to the lemon and sugar mixture.
  9. Pour the mixture into the pie crust.
  10. Make a second pie crust and place over the top of the pie filling.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately one hour. The crust should be browned and the filling should be set.
The pie crust ingredients listed above will make only one pie crust. Please double the ingredients should you wish to make two pie crusts at one time. The lemons and the sugar for the pie filling must sit overnight before baking.


Daring Bakers’ Challenge – Povitica

SAM 4013 Edited Daring Bakers Challenge   PoviticaWhen was the last time you found yourself wondering, “What have I gotten myself into?” For me, it was this past Tuesday evening while taking a crack at my first Daring Bakers’ challenge.

The Daring Bakers’ October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

Povitica (pronounced po-va-teet-sa) is an Eastern European dessert bread. Povitica also masquerades as Nutroll, Potica, Kalachi, and Strudia.  The recipe involves four main components:

1) a yeast dough

2)  rolling the dough so thin you could read a newspaper thorough it

3) a filling

4) more rolling

SAM 4009 Edited e1319581260170 Daring Bakers Challenge   Povitica

After mixing the dough and giving it time to rise, I got to rolling.  I really, really, really do not like to use my rolling pin. I mentally prepared for this step while the dough was rising.  When I started, the dough stuck, but I used a little love and flour (seriously, I sent loving thoughts to the dough and floured my work surface) to lift it.  The dough tore, but I used a lot more love and a little more flour to pinch it back together. I was eventually able to roll the dough to a satisfactorily thin sheet that tore only at the edges.

Then I cheated on the filling.  The traditional filling for Povitica is an English walnut filling. The challenge instructions specifically requested the bakers make at least one loaf with a traditional walnut filling, but I substituted Nutella for the ground walnuts.  I plead my case by saying I did not want to buy a nut grinder.  I am not a fan of one-trick ponies.  And given my baking habits, I saw no immediate need to purchase a nut grinder.

Why not use a food processor? Because I do not own one. I wasn’t about to grind the amount of required walnuts in my coffee bean grinder, which is what I typically do when I need to create a fine crumb of something. So I cheated did what I needed to do to survive the Daring Bakers’ challenge, and I used Nutella.

SAM 4000 Edited Daring Bakers Challenge   Povitica

To avoid burning the bottom of the loaf, which I find is a common problem for my little oven, I placed the loaf pan on a baking sheet to give the bread a chance to bake evenly. I was cautiously optimistic when I took the loaf out of the oven.

When cool, I turned the Povitica upside down, as is the recommended way to slice, and I held my breath. Lo and behold, it looked loopy and swirly and pretty, just like I had hoped.

SAM 4003 Edited e1319581184652 Daring Bakers Challenge   Povitica

I made only one Povitica loaf, but the recipe posted below is for two loaves.  I hesitated to make more than one loaf because I was uncertain of the process, but I highly recommend baking two loaves as the recipe and process provides very little difficulty.  Other common filling ideas for an additional loaf include apple-cinnamon, apricot preserves and cream cheese.

Like any bread, the Povitica tasted best fresh out of the oven.  However, I enjoyed a slice for breakfast yesterday and today too.  With this particular filling, the Povitica tastes very similar to a cinnamon roll.

As much as a I loathe using a rolling pin, I will make this again.  Povitica is traditionally served during the holiday season, and with the holidays coming up, I think it would make a wonderful gift for a hostess.  Challenge yourself to bake this lovely bread for someone!

SAM 4010 Edited Daring Bakers Challenge   Povitica

5.0 from 1 reviews

Recipe type: Bread
Serves: 2 loaves
  • To activate the Yeast:
  • 1 Teaspoon (5 ml/4 ½ gm) Sugar
  • Teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) All-Purpose (Plain) Flour
  • Cup (60 ml) Warm Water
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml/7 gm/¼ oz/1 sachet) Dry Yeast
  • Dough:
  • 1 Cup (240 ml) Whole Milk
  • 6 Tablespoons (90 ml/85 gm/3 oz) Sugar
  • 1½ Teaspoons (7½ ml/9 gm/1/3 oz) Table Salt
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • Cup (60 ml/60 gm/½ stick/2 oz) Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 4 cups (960 ml/560 gm/19¾ oz/1¼ lb) All-Purpose Flour, measure first then sift, divided
  • Topping:
  • Cup (60 ml) Cold STRONG Coffee
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml/14 gm/½ oz) Granulated Sugar
  • Melted Butter
  • Half Batch Filling Ingredients (enough filling for the two loaves(
  • 3½ Cups (840 ml/560 gm/1¼ lb/20 oz) Ground English Walnuts
  • Cup (120 ml) Whole Milk
  • Cup (120 ml/115 gm/1 stick/4 oz) Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Whole Egg, Beaten
  • Teaspoon (2½ ml) Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup (240 ml/225 gm/8 oz) Sugar
  • Teaspoon (2½ ml/2 gm) Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • Teaspoon (2½ ml/1½ gm) Cinnamon
  1. To Activate Yeast: In a small bowl, stir 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 teaspoon flour, and the yeast into ½ cup warm water and cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Allow to stand for 5 minutes
  3. To Make the Dough: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk up to just below boiling (about 180°F/82°C), stirring constantly so that a film does not form on the top of the milk. You want it hot enough to scald you, but not boiling. Allow to cool slightly, until it is about 110°F/43°C.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the scalded milk, ¾ cup (180 gm/170 gm/6 oz) sugar, and the salt until combined.
  5. Add the beaten eggs, yeast mixture, melted butter, and 2 cups (480 ml/280 gm/10 oz) of flour.
  6. Blend thoroughly and slowly add remaining flour, mixing well until the dough starts to clean the bowl.
  7. Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead, gradually adding flour a little at a time, until smooth and does not stick. Note: I did not use all 8 cups of flour
  8. Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces (they will each weight about 1.25 pounds/565 grams)
  9. Place dough in 4 lightly oiled bowls, cover loosely with a layer of plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and let rise an hour and a half in a warm place, until doubled in size.
  10. To Make the Filling: In a large bowl mix together the ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.
  11. Heat the milk and butter to boiling.
  12. Pour the liquid over the nut/sugar mixture.
  13. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
  14. Allow to stand at room temperature until ready to be spread on the dough.
  15. If the mixture thickens, add a small amount of warm milk.
  16. To Roll and Assemble the Dough: Spread a clean sheet or cloth over your entire table so that it is covered.
  17. Sprinkle with a couple of tablespoons to a handful of flour (use flour sparingly)
  18. Place the dough on the sheet and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, starting in the middle and working your way out, until it measures roughly 10-12 inches (25½ cm by 30½ cm) in diameter.
  19. Spoon 1 to 1.5 teaspoons (5ml to 7 ½ ml/4 gm to 7 gm) of melted butter on top.
  20. Using the tops of your hands, stretch dough out from the center until the dough is thin and uniformly opaque. You can also use your rolling pin, if you prefer.
  21. As you work, continually pick up the dough from the table, not only to help in stretching it out, but also to make sure that it isn’t sticking.
  22. When you think it the dough is thin enough, try to get it a little thinner. It should be so thin that you can see the color and perhaps the pattern of the sheet underneath.
  23. Spoon filling (see below for recipe) evenly over dough until covered.
  24. Lift the edge of the cloth and gently roll the dough like a jelly roll.
  25. Once the dough is rolled up into a rope, gently lift it up and place it into a greased loaf pan in the shape of a “U”, with the ends meeting in the middle. You want to coil the dough around itself, as this will give the dough its characteristic look when sliced.
  26. Repeat with remaining loaf, coiling each rope of dough in its own loaf pan.
  27. Brush the top of each loaf with a mixture of ½ cup (120 ml) of cold STRONG coffee and 2 tablespoons (30ml/28 gm/1 oz) of sugar. If you prefer, you can also use egg whites in place of this.
  28. Cover pans lightly will plastic wrap and allow to rest for approximately 15 minutes.
  29. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4.
  30. Remove plastic wrap from dough and place into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes.
  31. Turn down the oven temperature to slow 300°F/150°C/gas mark 2 and bake for an additional 45 minutes, or until done.
  32. Remove bread from oven and brush with melted butter.
  33. Check the bread at 30 minutes to ensure that the bread is not getting too brown. You may cover the loaves with a sheet of aluminum foil if you need to.
  34. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes, still in the bread pan. Remember, the bread weighs about 2.5 and it needs to be able to hold its own weight, which is difficult when still warm and fresh out of the oven. Allowing it to cool in the pan helps the loaf to hold its shape.
  35. It is recommended that the best way to cut Povitica loaves into slices is by turning the loaf upside down and slicing with a serrated knife.
The instructions were written for a four-loaf batch, so some measurements may disagree with the ingredients list. The ingredients list was written for a two-loaf batch. Storage: • The Povitica will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature. • The Povitica will keep fresh for 2 weeks if refrigerated. • The Povitica can be frozen for up to three months when wrapped a layer of wax paper followed by a layer of aluminum foil. It is recommended to not freeze Povitica with cream cheese fillings as it doesn’t hold up to being thawed really well – it crumbles. If cheating with Nutella, omit the walnuts, sugar, and cocoa powder from the filling ingredients.