Rolling into Thanksgiving!

Is it really November 26? I’m feeling very behind on all holiday things. Anyone else? This past weekend, Carrie and I drove to NC to see a concert put on by Carrie’s broadway idol, Jessica Vosk. It happened to be near Hannah’s place so, as a big bonus, we got to see Han too! It was a great trip! Brunch, wedding venue tour, concert, met Jessica Vosk, hot yoga and avocado toast. Super quick and fun trip! It was a little easier to leave this time because Hannah’s coming home for Thanksgiving! 

Usually, when November 1st hits, I’m knee deep in Pumpkin Roll making. Not this year. I don’t know why but I hadn’t made any until today. Time has definitely snuck away from me and here it is the week of Thanksgiving and I’m cramming in some Pumpkin Rolls.

I told Hannah and Carrie this is their year to learn to make them while Hannah’s home. They’ve always enjoyed the scrumptious treat but never really spent time making these with me. I want them to know how so they can keep this annual tradition alive for years to come.

I learned how to make Pumpkin Roll from my mom and grandma and have always associated it with Thanksgiving because it’s usually part of the dessert line-up. I love it! Pumpkin Roll is delicious and classic and it’s a dessert that can be made weeks or months in advance and stored in the freezer. It’s actually much easier to slice while it’s frozen! It also makes a wonderful gift.

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You don’t need many ingredients but you do need space and dedicated time and patience. Don’t be intimidated by the rolling. I’m going to share some of my tricks with you and you’ll see how easy it is.

Fresh, seasonal ingredients make for a perfect cake. Eggs (these are from Harvest Bell), sugar, vanilla, pumpkin purée, all-purpose flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice.

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Prep your pans! I use jelly roll style pans. I line them with unbleached parchment and give them a quick spray with oil to be sure they don’t stick. It’s not pretty but it gets the job done.IMG_6717

Start by beating the eggs, sugar and vanilla until nice and thick. Can we talk about the color of those eggs for a second? Beautiful!

Add the pumpkin purée (mine is homemade from pie pumpkins I got from Martha’s Farm) then add the dry ingredients.

Pour the batter into prepared pans. I’m making a double batch. One plain and one with pecans. Please add pecans! Just chop them and sprinkle them on top before baking. My sweet Daisy Mae is there to make sure I get it right! 🙂

Pop them in the oven and clean up your mess. You could also have a cup of coffee or glass of wine. Yeah, do that! These only bake until the top springs back when touched. If you bake it too long, there’s a chance it will crack when you roll it.

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Here’s where I have some advice on the rolling. For years, I flipped these things out onto a towel covered with powdered sugar. There was always a dust cloud of sugar and it went EVERYWHERE! Also, the whole process made me nervous–would the cake come out of the pan, would it crack, would I miss the towel??!! Enough of that! I adopted a new technique a few years ago and it much less messy and more calming for the baker!

I get a larger cookie sheet ready by turning it over and covering it with a tea towel. I use my handy dandy powdered sugar sprinkler jar to sprinkle sugar right on top of the pumpkin roll when it comes out of the oven. Then I put the towel and cookie sheet on top and gently invert it. Remove the pumpkin roll pan and parchment and roll up the hot cake. Let it cool completely in the towel on a cooling rack. Cotton tea towels work best.

When the Pumpkin Roll is cool, make the filling which is simply cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla whipped up with a mixer until creamy and fluffy.

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Gently unroll the cake and spread the filling to cover the cake. If your cake cracks, do not panic. These things are very forgiving. Keep spreading the filling and move to the next step.

Roll her back up nice and tight. It’s best to do that right onto a piece of plastic wrap then sprinkle a little more powdered sugar over the roll and wrap the whole thing tightly in the plastic then in foil. Stick it in the fridge or freezer for several hours to set up.

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When you’re ready to serve, simply slice to your desired thickness. I like to slice mine in about 1″ slices. It’s so pretty and always tastes amazing!

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For me, Pumpkin Roll is about the memories I have of Thanksgiving. I miss those big family gatherings. Due to all sorts of family changes, it’s hard to keep everything the same. That’s one of the many things I love about food. It can give all the feels, bring back nice memories and create new experiences.

Maybe next year Hannah and Carrie will make this for me! Until then, I’m ready to get going on preparing one of my favorite meals of the year. I have much to be thankful for! Safe travels if you’re traveling and enjoy time with all those you’re with. Happy Thanksgiving!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Pumpkin Roll
Ingredients
Cake
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pure pumpkin puree
Choppped pecans, if desired (highly encouraged!)

Filling
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
6 TBSP butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat eggs, vanilla and sugar until thick. Add in pumpkin and mix to combine. Stir in flour mixture. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. If adding pecans, sprinkle those on top.
3. Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. Immediately loosen then sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and invert cake onto a larger cookie sheet covered with a tea towel. Carefully peel off paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with narrow end. Cool completely on wire rack.
4. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla until smooth. Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Roll cake as tightly as possible. Wrap in plastic wrap then foil and refrigerate at least one hour.

Store prepared Pumpkin Roll in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also store in the freezer for up to one month. Remove frozen Pumpkin Roll and slice in 1″ slices and serve at room temperature.

If you want to double the recipe, it’s about 3 cups of batter per pan.

Pumpkin Cranberry Scones

I wish I had a fun memory or story to share about these scones. The truth is, I never made scones before this. I modified this Pumpkin Cranberry Scone recipe from a magazine my mother-in-law sent me a couple weeks ago. I flipped through the magazine and saw these and thought, I don’t know why I’ve never made scones. They’re one of my favorite things to eat and when I have one, it feels like an indulgence.

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We had our first snow for the season here in NE Ohio this week. I want to be upset about that (not a fan of winter!) but I’ve decided to embrace all the wonderful things about a snowy day (you can remind me of these in February). Unlimited cups of warm, freshly brewed coffee and tea, a cute hat and scarf, my coziest socks and big, thick sweatshirts. One of the challenges with this November snow is it makes me think of Christmas instead of Thanksgiving. I’m a full blown Thanksgiving person. I give it all the attention and don’t bust out a single Christmas decoration until the day after Thanksgiving. These Pumpkin Cranberry Scones taste like November and look a little like Christmas. It’s pretty cool these little darlings can accomplish that amazing feat!

Simple ingredients are all you need. My trusty Mud Run Farm pastry flour made the scones light and tender.

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You’ll also need: salt, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar, cranberries, pumpkin, eggs, butter and half and half.

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Start with the dry ingredients then add the wet and combine. These couldn’t be easier to put together and if you have all the ingredients measured, making what feels like a fancy breakfast is a breeze.

Gently knead the dough then roll or pat into a circle and cut into wedges.

Place the wedges on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the tops with an egg wash and into the oven they go! That’s it! See all the chunks of butter? That’s your fluffy, flaky, fabulous factor!

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While they’re doing their thing in the oven, whip up a quick citrus glaze just to take them over the top. Powdered sugar, orange zest and juice, butter and a little cream.

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When the scones are finished baking, let them cool for a few minutes then get that glaze on them! The combination of flavors is so good and these truly are a fusion of all things November and December! I don’t have to feel guilty about eating something that kind of reminds me of Christmas because it totally still screams Thanksgiving! Brilliant! Also, I’d never feel guilty about eating a freshly baked scone. These are not super sweet and are the perfect texture for dunking.

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I added some raw pepitas and more dried cranberries to the top to make them extra festive. I think they’re beautiful and all the colors make them fun and not too fancy!

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Don’t wait for a special occasion to indulge! You can have these ready for breakfast or brunch in no time. Put on your cute scarf, puffy sweatshirt and cozy socks and meet your friend, spouse or significant other for afternoon coffee. Bring these glorious treats along to enjoy together. Eating scones together is the best kind of day!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Pumpkin Cranberry Scones
Ingredients
2 ½ cups pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup butter, cut up
½ cup dried cranberries
2 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup half-and-half, light cream, or milk
½ cup canned pumpkin
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 TBSP water

Glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
1 TBSP butter, melted
2 tsp orange zest
2 TBSP orange juice
Add cream or milk as needed to thin

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees °F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the 1/2 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add cranberries and toss well. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside.

In a small bowl stir together the 2 eggs, half-and-half, and pumpkin. Add pumpkin mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until combined.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it for 10 to 12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Pat or lightly roll dough into an 8-inch circle. Cut circle into eight wedges.

Place wedges 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. In a small bowl combine the 1 egg with the 1 tablespoon water. Brush wedges lightly with egg mixture. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden. Remove scones from baking sheet. Let cool for 5 minutes before spreading with glaze.

For glaze, in a small bowl stir together powdered sugar, the 1 tablespoon butter, the 2 teaspoons orange zest and juice until well combined.

Spoon glaze over warm scones, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with dried cranberries and/or raw pepitas if desired.

Recipe modified from: Better Homes & Gardens

Sweet Potato Casserole

The biggest food day of the year is quickly approaching! Hello, Thanksgiving! The best holiday because it’s all about food, family and friends. For some, there’s also football but I’m in it for the food. Some people get stressed out about making “the meal” but I truly enjoy it! It’s the one time of year, I can make some of my family’s favorite dishes and eat all day long.

For the past several years, I’ve been getting as many local ingredients as possible from Countryside. Turkeys, herbs, eggs, flour, veggies, apple cider, breads, cheese–all the Thanksgiving necessities. That’s pretty normal for me all year long but it feels even more meaningful to support our farmers this time of year, as the colder months move in. It feels like one way to show how grateful we are for their hard work and dedication to our food system.

Sweet Potato Casserole is one of my oldest recipes. It’s mostly loved by my daughter, Hannah. I’ve been making this her entire life and it’s her thing at Thanksgiving. I often wonder if she wants to see me on Thanksgiving or just the Sweet Potato Casserole! Hey, a mama’s gotta do whatever she can to bribe, I mean encourage, her kids to come home!

When the big meal is over, Hannah and I have been known to have a serving of this casserole later in the evening just to top off our overly stuffed feeling! I usually make a batch for Thanksgiving and divide additional batches among smaller pans to send home with her.

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It’s really simple and delicious! What makes it super perfect is that it CAN BE MADE AHEAD OF TIME AND STUCK IN THE FREEZER! If you’ve ever made the full Thanksgiving meal, you’re doing a happy dance right now! Seriously, it freezes well and all you have to do on Thanksgiving Day is pop it in the oven! You’re welcome!

This casserole is a sweet potato filling with a pecan brown sugar topping. Start with sweet potatoes, eggs, unsalted butter, vanilla, brown sugar, flour and pecans.

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I’m making a few batches of this so you probably won’t need this many sweet potatoes! A normal recipe calls for about 6 large sweet potatoes. Bake the sweet potatoes until nice and soft and let them cool.

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While they’re baking, make the topping. Combine the brown sugar and flour in a bowl then add the butter and use a pastry cutter to combine.

Chop the pecans. Yes, you can buy chopped pecans or use a food processor to chop pecan halves but I just like the whole process so I go old school and chop pecan halves with a knife. I enjoy it and I want to have nice big pieces! As usual, Daisy Mae had to see what was going on in my photo studio!

Add the chopped pecans to the flour, brown sugar, butter mixture and stir. The good news is that you can make this topping whenever you have time and just keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

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When the sweet potatoes are cool, simply remove the skins and put the orange part in a mixer bowl. Add butter, eggs and a splash of vanilla. Mix it all up until smooth.

Put the whipped mixture into a baking dish. I always use the same white oval dish because it’s the Sweet Potato Casserole dish! As I was filling it up, it dawned on me that I want to freeze this for Thanksgiving but I also want to show you a picture of the final baked casserole.

Enter my white ramekins! I’ve never thought about using these for this casserole but how fun would that be? Especially, for a Friendsgiving! I love how personal and special these make this dish feel! I’m giving an old recipe an update! Woo hoo! That’s the kinda stuff I do!

Oh, the topping! You just sprinkle some on top and, if you’re like me and can’t get enough pecans, add a few more just to make it nice and crunchy and nutty.  All that’s left is to do is bake it! Stick your dish or ramekins in the oven. If the top starts to get too brown, cover with foil.

When you dig into it, the filling is all fluffy and the brown sugar, butter and pecans have caramelized on top. It’s divine! It goes so well with all the other Thanksgiving dishes. I don’t want to play favorites but… it’s the prettiest of them all!

As I said before, I make extra to freeze and send off with Hannah or keep a little for myself to heat up on a cold January night.

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Sweet Potato Casserole is not a new, trendy recipe but it’s one of my family’s most loved traditions for our Thanksgiving feast. I hope you’ll try it and include it in your celebration. Serve it in ramekins or a big baking dish. Either way, your guests will gobble it up and be grateful!

From the heart,
Shannon

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Sweet Potato Casserole
Ingredients
Filling:
6 to 8 large sweet potatoes (baked)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Topping:
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup butter, diced
1 cup chopped pecans

Instructions
Bake sweet potatoes until tender, let them cool then scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl.

Add butter, eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Pour into a buttered baking dish or ramekins.

Combine flour and brown sugar in a bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or your hands.

Stir in chopped pecans and sprinkle on top of the filling.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour (larger dish) and 45 minutes for ramekins. Serve warm. It reheats like a dream!

To make ahead and freeze: Do everything except bake it. Once it’s topped, cover your dish with foil and stick it in the freezer.  Allow it to sit in the fridge overnight before you bake it.  Put the dish in the oven while preheating if it’s cold so it doesn’t crack when placed in a hot oven. If the top starts to get too brown, simply cover it with foil while baking. You want the top to be nice and crisp but not burnt! 

Sweet Thanks

Hello friends!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  November flew by for me and I can’t believe tomorrow marks the start of December!  I filled many orders on Wednesday and spent Thursday morning at the Aurora Turkey Trot.  Casey and Carrie participated in the Mashed Potato Mile and many others turned out for the 4 mile run.  It was a beautiful, snowy morning and I was thrilled to have an opportunity to sell goodies at the event!

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This time last year, we were just settling into our house after a challenging move from Cincinnati to NE Ohio.  I didn’t know which end of me was up!  A year later, I’m happy to share this has been Floured Apron’s highest sales month ever!  Woo hoo!  I am touched by the tremendous support of people who have trusted me with their baking needs and many who have opened doors of opportunity.  Thank you doesn’t seem like enough to express my gratitude.

Honestly, I have considered giving up on this business many times, especially, since we moved.  It has been challenging to start over and build a customer base in an area that was completely new to me.  There have been many tears, confusion, frustration and several agonizing moments over business decisions.  What keeps me going on this business venture?  I think it’s a combination of meeting new people, making great friends and fulfilling my passion for baking.  Countless supporters push me to be better and try harder.  Thanks to them, the difficult moments pass and I get to keep doing what I truly love!

Motivation comes in many forms.  For me, it’s receiving phone calls or emails sharing positive feedback.  It’s a wonderful feeling to know I’ve brought a little joy to someone’s life because that’s what sharing food is all about to me.  It’s rewarding and fulfilling on so many levels!  This year, I’ve been fortunate to be part of baby showers, bridal showers, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, rehearsals, shopping events, small business events, baking classes, 4th of July festivities, Halloween parties, office parties, races and Thanksgiving.  Countless pumpkin rolls, pies and cupcakes consumed my November and I couldn’t be happier!

Pumpkin Roll    Apple Pie Nov 2014    Pumpkin Single 2

Thank you SO MUCH!  I hope your support continues because we have amazing plans for Spring and I can’t wait to share all the details!  I’m taking the pursuit of my dreams to the next level and I want all of you to be part of it.  You’re going to LOVE what’s next!  In the meantime, bring on December!  I’m excited to spend time with my daughters baking our favorite holiday treats, decorating the house and simply hanging out!  Enjoy this magical time of year with friends and family and thank you for all you do to make Floured Apron the best it can be!

From the heart, Shannon