Acorn Cakelets

I LOVE Nordic Ware cake pans! They are so well made and come in a multitude of different designs. My favourites are the Fall Harvest collection as they are designed for people who love Autumn!

Acorn cakelet pan

I’ve found them in Homesense and of course, on Amazon and I’ve collected a few of them over the years. The only trouble I have, (perfectionist that I am), is the little holes you get when you bake the cakes, spoiling the detail. I have experimented with various recipes, starting with the one that comes with the pan, meticulously brushing all the little nooks with butter, banging tins before they go into the oven but still seeing those annoying little holes!

Acorn cakelet pan1

As far as preparing the tin goes, I have buttered, buttered and floured and used cake release spray and can honestly say the best result came from using none of them! I really do think you have to have faith in the non-stick. I definitely have less holes when I don’t use anything. I think the butter can gather in the little crevices and then when the cakes bake, the butter creates steam and you can get little holes.

I also pipe the mixture in, that way you can really make sure the batter fills the little details from the bottom up.

As you will see from these photos, there are still some troublesome holes present, but mostly, they have come out smooth. I am still working on the perfect, hole-free recipe!

Acorn Cakelet collection

Below are three different flavours, all based on the same original recipe and each one is enough to fill the pan twice. Chocolate, Maple Spice and Spiced Pumpkin. My family liked the chocolate ones the best.

They are the perfect little snack and can be decorated with a glaze, sprinkles, or sandwiched together with a spiced buttercream.

Acorn Cakelets

Chocolate Acorn Cakelets

Ingredients:
125g plain/all-purpose flour
65g cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1.5tsp cinnamon
0.5tsp ground cloves
0.5tsp ground ginger
120ml whole milk
85g pure maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp coffee extract
115g butter at room temperature
75g caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Combine the milk, maple syrup, vanilla and coffee extract in a small bowl and stir together.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. I use my stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and then with the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and alternate with the liquid mixture until everything is combined.

If you add the milk mixture straight to the eggs, it will curdle horribly. However, it will come back when you add the flour, so don’t worry. Mix on low speed until the mixture is smooth, but don’t over-mix as the cakelets will become tough.

Pile the batter into a piping bag. I use disposable ones and just cut a little hole in the bottom. Pipe around a tablespoon of mixture into each hole so that it is around ¾ full. Pipe the batter so the holes are filled from the bottom up to try and avoid holes in your little acorns.

Give the pan a rap on the worktop – I don’t know if this really helps expel air but every little helps!

Bake for around 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cakes cool for 10 minutes or until you can see them springing back from the cavities. Turn out onto a cooling rack to fully cool if you are decorating, or you can serve them warm with coffee.

Chocolate acorn cakelet

Maple Spice Acorn Cakelets

Ingredients:
190g plain/all-purpose flour
0.5tsp baking powder
0.5tsp salt
2tsp cinnamon
0.5tsp ground cloves
0.5tsp ground ginger
120ml whole milk
85g pure maple syrup
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp maple extract
115g butter at room temperature
50g soft brown sugar
20g dark brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Combine the milk, maple syrup, vanilla and maple extract in a small bowl and stir together.

Beat the butter and sugars together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and then with the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and alternate with the liquid mixture until everything is combined.

Pile the batter into a piping bag and just cut a little hole in the bottom. Pipe around a tablespoon of mixture into each hole so that it is around ¾ full and bang the pan to level the batter and expel any air.

Bake for around 12 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cakes cool for 10 minutes or until you can see them springing back from the cavities. Turn out onto a cooling rack.

Maple acorn cakelet

Spiced Pumpkin Acorn Cakelets

Ingredients:
200g plain/all-purpose flour
200g pumpkin puree
0.5tsp baking powder
0.5tsp salt
2tsp cinnamon
0.5tsp ground cloves
0.5tsp ground ginger
0.25tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1tsp vanilla extract
115g butter at room temperature
80g soft brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Method:
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F

Sieve the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl.

Beat the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time and then beat in the pumpkin.

With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients until everything is combined.

Pipe around a tablespoon of mixture into each hole so that it is around ¾ full and bang the pan to level the batter and expel any air.

Bake for around 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. I found the pumpkin ones took a little longer than the others to be fully baked.

Let cakes cool for 10 minutes or until you can see them springing back from the cavities. Turn out onto a cooling rack.

Pumpkin acorn cakelet

Autumn Spiced Pumpkin Friands

These seasonal little tea cakes are made with pumpkin, spice and topped with a crunchy oatmeal streusel and a little maple glaze. They are full of autumn spices and the perfect addition to an autumn picnic, afternoon tea, or an after school snack. I also like to pop them into lunchboxes.

Pumpkin friands

Friands are so easy to make and there are so many variations to try and I think I will add a few raisins to these next time.

Ingredients:
6 large egg whites
250g icing sugar
125g ground almonds
100g plain flour
Zest of half an orange
1tbs pumpkin pie spice
160g melted butter, plus a little extra for brushing the friand tin
½ cup unsweetened pumpkin puree

Streusel:
1tbsp butter
2tbsp plain flour
tbsp rolled oats
1tbsp soft brown sugar
½tsp cinnamon

Maple Glaze:
½ cup sieved icing sugar
2-3tbs maple syrup – enough to thin

Pumpkin Friand1

Method:
Preheat the oven to 180°C/approx 350°F and brush the friand tin with a little melted butter.

I make my friands in a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, but they can be made just as easily by hand or using a hand mixer.

Briefly whisk the egg whites, breaking them up until they are frothy.

Add the ground almonds, pumpkin puree, zest, butter, icing sugar and then fold in the flour until just combined.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, leaving a little room for the streusel.

Pumpkin Friand

Scatter a little of the streusel over each one and bake for 25-30 minutes, until they have risen, turned golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Pumpkin Friand slice

Leave to rest for 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire cooling rack. Leave to cool completely before adding a little glaze.

Baked Pumpkin French Toast

This is full of warm autumnal spices, brown sugar and pumpkin. The inside is soft, fluffy and smooth – all topped with a crisp, brown sugar and pecan streusel.

Pumpkin bake2

I think this is the perfect weekend breakfast or brunch dish to make you feel warm and cozy on a chilly autumn day with the family.

It’s super easy to prepare and is actually better if it is prepared the night before you want to bake it. Just whisk the custard ingredients together, pour over the bread cubes and refrigerate. The streusel topping should be scattered over the casserole just before baking.

Pumpkin bake1

Ingredients:
Butter for greasing the dish
1 large loaf of brioche or challah, cut into cubes
8 large eggs
1 ½ cup/360ml of whole milk
1 ½ cup/360ml of double/heavy cream
Zest of one orange
1tbs vanilla extract
½ cup brown sugar – lightly packed
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (about half a can)
2tsp pumpkin pie spice
1tsp cinnamon
½ cup raisins
Pinch of salt

Streusel topping:
2/3 cups/80g plain/all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed soft brown sugar
Small handful of pecans, roughly broken into pieces
1tsp cinnamon
113g/4oz/1 stick of cold butter cut into dice

Warm maple syrup for serving

Method:
Butter the casserole dish

Streusel:
Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment fitted. Add the butter and mix until the topping resembles rough breadcrumbs. Stir in the pecans and set aside. This step can easily be done by hand by rubbing in the butter. Set aside while you make the pumpkin custard.

Pumpkin bake3.5

Method:
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, pumpkin, vanilla, spices, zest and sugar in a large bowl until fully incorporated and smooth.

Pile the bread cubes into the casserole dish, scattering a few raisins throughout. Pour over the custard, making sure all the cubes are soaked. Cover and refrigerate for a couple of hours, or overnight if this going to be baked for breakfast.

When you are ready to bake the casserole, pre-heat the oven to 180°C/360°F and scatter over the streusel. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and then bake for a further 30 minutes or until the custard is set and the top is crunchy, browned and caramelised.

Pumpkin bake4

Serve hot with warmed maple syrup and good hot coffee for a perfect Autumnal weekend or holiday breakfast.