A Flavor of July: Tomato (Soup) Cupcakes

IMG 4619 Edited A Flavor of July: Tomato (Soup) Cupcakes

Yeah…I don’t even know where to go with this. I have not baked something so ridiculous since the Chocolate Sauerkraut Cupcakes that started off the year. Maybe I baked them because  subconsciously, I thought Christmas in July should lead to New Years in August. And on the eve of August, I’m making some changes…realizing some resolutions.

Tomorrow is my last day of work at a company I have been at for nearly five years. As much as I have appreciated the chance to work where I have worked, I am nearly bursting with excitement at the potential a new opportunity in my life holds. And as much as I am nearly bursting with excitement, I also feel the stress of change. I just keep reminding myself, if I could get thorough a move to a new state to start a new job while simultaneously beginning a master’s degree program, I can get through this.

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I have been after a new work opportunity for quite a while, so to see this resolution realized is such a nice feeling. There are still a few other things I am after, and frankly, I have little to no idea how they are going to come into my life. I do know I put an order in with the universe, so I’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I resolve to stay happy no matter the outcome. And that’s a tall order.

“Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you’re in trouble, because that reason can be taken from you.”- Deepak Chopra

We tend to believe happiness is finite. If so-and-so gets X even though I wanted X, then I can’t be happy. But happiness isn’t finite. I don’t know where I first read or heard that, but it stuck. If you take one thing away from anything you ever read here, please take this: Happiness is not finite. Happiness is infinite.

IMG 4594 Edited A Flavor of July: Tomato (Soup) Cupcakes

On to cupcakes! I don’t know what possessed me to bookmark not only one, but two Tomato Soup Cake recipes. Maybe the better question is, why is this cake recipe popular in cookbooks? Maybe because the bakers/cookbook authors are boys, and sometimes, boys just don’t think. Sometimes they really just don’t think. Moving on.

I opted to go with the recipe from “Baked Explorations” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito rather than the recipe from “United Cakes of America: Recipes Celebrating Every State” by Warren Brown. And while not my favorite cupcakes in the world, the tomato soup cupcakes were not bad. The cake tasted very similar to a spice cake, and with the addition of a few walnuts, the recipe would probably make a decent muffin.

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If you are in the mood for a spice cake, I’d suggest you stick with a traditional spice cake recipe. If you have a need to back something with a weird factor, or perhaps are baking with teenage boys, I think these cupcakes are perfect.

And on a final note, congratulations to Kerri and Kathy for winning the July giveaway! If you did not win this time, there are still plenty of reasons to be happy. One of which could be a new giveaway post coming your way on the 12th of every month. Enjoy!

IMG 4629 Edited A Flavor of July: Tomato (Soup) Cupcakes

Tomato Soup Cupcakes
Serves: 13
  • For the Tomato Soup Cupcakes
  • 1, 10 ¾ ounce can condensed tomato soup
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoons cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • For the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. Place the tomato soup in a small to medium bowl and sprinkle with baking soda. Stir well and set aside.
  2. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Beat butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy, three to four minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined.
  5. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat for a few more seconds to ensure the mixture is fully incorporated.
  6. Turn the mixer to low and, in three parts, begin to add the flour mixture alternating with tomato soup. So it’s flour, tomato soup, flour, tomato soup, and flour.
  7. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again and beat for a few more seconds to ensure the mixture is fully incorporated.
  8. Fill each well of a paper-lined cupcake pan about three-quarters full.
  9. Bake at 325 degrees F for 25-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  11. To make the frosting, place the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and ground cinnamon in mixing bowl and beat until combined.
  12. Slowly add the confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, beating until the frosting is light and fluffy.
The measurements above are halved from the original recipe.


Wedding Weekend: Cinnamon-Spiced Wedding Cookies

IMG 3950 Edited Wedding Weekend: Cinnamon Spiced Wedding Cookies

I feel it necessary to start this post off with a reassurance to my mother: Mom, I have no plans to elope this weekend or any weekend in the near future. The title Wedding Weekend is simply to note a three-day series wedding cookie recipes I plan to share.

June is a popular month for weddings, and my family is no exception. My parents celebrated 42 years of marriage on June 5, my grandparents will celebrate 61 years of marriage tomorrow, and my sister and brother-in-law will celebrate five years of marriage on June 23.

Though I share personal tidbits via this blog for anyone to read, I am actually a very private person. I prefer to observe what takes place around me much more than I prefer to be the object of observation, so the thought of walking down an aisle while everyone looks at me really freaks me out. Yet if you asked me to deliver a presentation to a room full of people, I would not bat an eye.

I am uncertain why public walking makes me quake in fear yet public speaking barely raises my blood pressure. Perhaps because imagining some of the creatures people I have dated waiting for me at the end of an aisle makes my natural fight or flight instinct kick in. If only there were a dessert table at the end of that aisle, things might be different.

IMG 3964 Edited e1339775023695 Wedding Weekend: Cinnamon Spiced Wedding Cookies

The first Wedding Weekend recipe I have to share is for cinnamon-spiced wedding cookies. The cookbook where I found this recipe offered no explanation of the cookies’ relationship to weddings, and I have not seen these cookies at any weddings I have attended. If anyone can shed some light on why cinnamon-spiced wedding cookies are called wedding cookies, I would love to know.

I had never baked a cookie with cornstarch as a main ingredient before. Just like cornstarch feels feathery in my hands it lent a feathery feel to the cookies, and they just sort of melted away after a bite. A note in the recipe suggested forming the cookie dough around a piece of chocolate or candied fruit. I tried making a few cookies with chocolate chips in the middle, but I preferred the plain cinnamon-sugar cookies.

I am a lover of soft cookies, so a little ball of crunchy dough, no matter how sweet, does not immediately catch my interest. But these cinnamon-spiced wedding cookies grew on me. I found them to be the perfect accompaniment to a morning cup of coffee or an evening cup of tea. Until tomorrow, enjoy.

IMG 3951 Edited Wedding Weekend: Cinnamon Spiced Wedding Cookies

Cinnamon-Spiced Wedding Cookies
Recipe type: dessert
Serves: about 2 dozen
  • 1 cup butter
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla extract.
  2. Slowly add the flour and cornstarch and mix until combined.
  3. Form the mixture into small balls and place on lightly greased baking sheets.
  4. Bake at 325 degrees F until golden, about 30 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool slightly, then toss or roll the warm (not hot!) cookies in a mixture of confectioners’ and cinnamon.
I found the balls came together best with about two teaspoons of dough.


Sweet Cinnamon Bun Pie for a Sweet Lady

IMG 2571 Edited Sweet Cinnamon Bun Pie for a Sweet Lady

I struggled with knowing what to write for this post for weeks. You see, today is my grandmother’s birthday, but what could I bake to honor someone who has cooked thousands upon thousands of meals for a large family?

When I turned to my recipe box for inspiration and found it littered with index cards that include “like Gma M” in the title. I have Potatoes – Like Gma M, Hot Fudge Sauce – Like Gma M, Chocolate Chip Cookies – Like Gma M, and on and on.  My uncle and I agree she makes the best pecan pie in the world (or at least in Ohio), and at Christmas the most popular gifts are bags of her caramel popcorn.

After much thought, I decided on a coffee-flavored dessert. I probably had my first cup of coffee with Grandma. When I was quite young, she used to pour me a mug to drink with her . I think she got a kick out of me liking coffee. And I really did like it – it wasn’t something I drank to pretend I was a grown up.

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To this day, I take my coffee with a lot of cream, just like Grandma. The coffee in her mug is always a light tan, rather than deep brown, from all the cream. Though I heeded my Grandpa’s warning that eating bread crusts would put hair on my chest, I took a chance that Grandma warning coffee would stunt my growth was false. At 5′ 7″, my growth seems to have been relatively unaffected.

So coffee it was. But the thought of cinnamon buns kept tugging at the back of my mind because my mom loves Grandma’s cinnamon rolls.  I didn’t want to make cinnamon rolls because I knew they would pale in comparison to Grandma’s, but then I found a recipe in my inbox for Cinnamon Bun Pie, and that’s all she wrote.

If I had any question that Cinnamon Bun Pie was the right choice, it was obliterated by the date on the email: November 5, 2010. Not only is a recipe I’ve had for over a year long overdue for baking, but November 5 is my mom’s birthday. This was a coincidence (or was it?) that I simply could not ignore.

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So I present to you a Cinnamon Bun Pie for Grandma M. The recipe can be easily halved to make one pie rather than two, or a whole recipe can be baked in a 9 x 13 dish for cinnamon bun bars. I used a my stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to knead the dough, but I did a few kneads by hand to really pull the dough together. A well-floured surface goes a long way to alleviate the stickiness of working with this dough. I also found it easier to work with the dough in two parts – rolling out two rectangles and cutting the rolls accordingly.

Though intrigued by something as enticing as Cinnamon Bun Pie, this dish is really just cinnamon buns baked in a pie dish. Kind of disappointing, but delicious none the less. and if anything, it’s a unique presentation on a standard dish. Please beware that cutting into the center of a roll may result in a piece of pie that falls apart. It is best to cut along the seams of where the rolls come together at the outer edge of the crust.

As for the taste, I really liked how some of the brown sugar and butter that melted to the bottom of the pie pan created a toffee-like layer on the rolls once cooled. And of course the cream cheese frosting is ooey-gooey deliciousness. For an extra kick of flavor, sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar and cinnamon on top of the pie. Though tasty at room temperature, the cinnamon buns are best enjoyed warm – either fresh out of the oven or after a quick reheat in the microwave. On second thought, Cinnamon Bun Pie is better when it is warm, but it is best enjoyed while sipping a mug of coffee with Grandma.

 Happy Birthday Grandma!

IMG 2614 Edited Sweet Cinnamon Bun Pie for a Sweet Lady

Cinnamon Bun Pie
Recipe type: Dessert for Breakfast
  • For the Dough
  • 2½ teaspoons (1 package) dry active yeast
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 1½ cup warm milk
  • 6 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • For the Filling
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • For the Frosting
  • 1½ cups cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and milk.
  2. Use a stand-mixer fitted with the dough hook or your hands to knead the dry ingredients (for the dough) into the wet ingredients.
  3. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 minutes.
  4. After 45 minutes, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface into a rectangle.
  5. Spread the butter over the dough’s surface, then sprinkle it with the light brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
  6. Roll the rectangle into a long cylinder, then cut it into 14, 2-inch pieces.
  7. Place the rolls in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan or two 10-inch pie pans.
  8. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and allow to rise for another 45 minutes.
  9. After the second 45-minutes, bake at 375° F for18-22 minutes.
  10. While the cinnamon buns bake, prepare the frosting by mixing the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract and salt until thoroughly combined.
  11. Spread the frosting over the cinnamon buns while still warm.
  12. Most delicious when served warmed.