Plenty Sweet Life

Grandma's Recipes One By One!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everybody!! Stay safe out there!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink

I love Halloween. I always have. I love the old-fashioned black and orange decorations of flying witches, scary pumpkins, and jointed limbed skeletons. I love the costumes, as Lucy says in It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, “in direct contrast to her own personality” to dress up in and hide behind. I love the crispy sound of dry, colored leaves blowing and tumbling along the street. I love the eventual stark and empty tree branches silhouetted against a cloudy and misty sky. I love the fields full of haphazard pumpkins and gourds on their drying, twisting vines. I love the smell of a burning pile of leaves raked up and out of the yard by the family on the golden afternoons in October. I love the kids as they ring the doorbell, so proud to show off their costumes and shout the customary “trick-or-treat!”, running through the neighborhood and ruling the world.

You can see the beginnings of my love for Halloween in this photo from 1963. I started young. I wasn’t quite 2 years old, but totally ready for Halloween and trick or treating at my Grandma and Gramp’s house! By the reach of that hand trying to get the door open, you’d almost think I knew that there was candy inside there! Ha!

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I wish I still had the 101 Dalmatians costume!! That trick-or-treat bag is almost as big as me!

My love of Halloween is equal to my love of pumpkin. The recipe for today is one of those pumpkin recipes that I found when I was sick and on the couch and spending way too much time on Pinterest. There are so many interesting things to make with pumpkin out there now, and as you can tell by my latest posts, I am determined to try as many as possible this fall. I am always on the lookout for a warm beverage to cozy up with and enjoy in the evening, so I don’t like it to be caffeinated and I don’t like it to have too much sugar in it. This one does the trick. I found this delicious Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink on the blog Apple of My Eye, and this was one I had to try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Warm Pumpkin Spice Drink

2 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk or milk of your choice

2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree (I used my frozen pumpkin stash)

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

whipped cream for topping

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This drink really doesn’t have very many ingredients, but man is this good!

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I warmed it (I wouldn’t bring it to a boil) on the stove instead of the microwave.

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You can leave it plain, but I’m always one to gild the lily when I can, so I topped mine with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I suppose if you really wanted to, you could add a splash of your favorite adult beverage to this.

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Kids would love this drink, especially this weekend before Halloween. Maybe this would be nice after a tough evening of trick-or-treating. I think adults would like this delicious drink curled up in front a roaring fire, in your jammies, wrapped in your favorite quilt. Just enjoy the warm deliciousness and drift off to sleepy land. Nothing more cozy than that! How are you going to enjoy this warm cup of coziness?

 

 

 

 

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Buttermilk Donuts

The recipe for today is from my other grandma. She loved to bake all kinds of things, and I remember helping her make donuts from time to time. I don’t know if these are the actual donuts we made together, or if there were several different kinds that she made. Either way, these Buttermilk Donuts are delicious and pretty easy to do. It’s hunting season, and we made donuts for my dad to take deer hunting every year. Inevitably, I get a hankerin’ for donuts in the fall, so it’s time to make the donuts. My sister is an all-pro donut maker and she can whip up a batch of donuts like nobody’s business, but I’m not quite as good at it. Oh well, let’s give these a try . . .

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I had to have my husband take these to work just to get them out of the house or I would have finished them off – not even kidding!

Here is the recipe as I made it (there is an omission on the card, so pay attention to my typing it out instead of following the card):

Buttermilk Donuts

Beat:

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup oil (I used canola)

Mix dry ingredients together:

4 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Add alternately with dry mixture to first mixture:

1 cup buttermilk (this is the part left off of the card)

Beat (I used a wooden spoon).

Roll out on floured board, cut, and fry in 375 degree oil (I used canola oil).

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The dough will seem sticky at first, but if you flour the dough and the rolling-pin, it will work out just fine. If they do stick – and sometimes they do – I just use a metal spatula to get underneath the donuts and get them off the board (or in this case, my countertop).

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I still have an old donut cutter that has the middle cutter that cuts out the hole, but you could also use 2 different sized glasses to cut out the donuts, too.

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What better use for a big cast iron skillet? Keep an eye on the temperature of the oil and try to keep it at 375 degrees. Don’t put too many donuts in at one time – that lowers the temperature. Here’s a hint – keep the oil bottle to put the used oil back into for disposal.

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This made a pretty big batch, but I felt that some of the donuts got a bit wonky, but I don’t need them to all look the same. The taste is what’s important.

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You don’t have to roll the donuts in sugar, but that’s the way our family likes them. If you do it when they’re warm, the sugar sticks better.

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There is nothing better than donuts (note that I said donuts, not donut) with a cup of coffee. Ya gotta dunk!

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These donuts are just the best! I love them and you will, too. It’s not as hard as you think – just heat up your oil, mix up the dough, cut out the donuts, and then fry them until they’re golden. Simple dimple.

 

 

 

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Spice Cake

Here we go again – more leaves, more spices, and more deliciousness from the tiny book found at my sister’s house. There are a lot of great, delicious recipes in that little book! This photo of a leaf covered in dewdrops was one I took on a day trip to a Minnesota state park a few years ago. I love fall and I love leaves, so I’m usually overdoing it on the leaf photos. This particular one wasn’t all that colorful, but I love the dewdrops on it.

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I knew I wanted to try this Spice Cake at some point this fall, and one day when I was out walking, I found some leaves that had already fallen off the tree and had a sudden revelation. Why couldn’t I use them as a stencil for the top of the cake? What could I sprinkle on top to make the leaf shape stand out? Cocoa? Nope – I don’t think that would show up very well and I’m not sure how chocolate would go with the spicy cake. I know – powdered sugar! It showed up very well on the cake and I think it turned out pretty cute.

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This is a very delicious cake!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Spice Cake

Mix in order given:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup sour milk (1-2 teaspoons vinegar or lemon juice in a cup of milk)

1 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in the sour milk (careful – this makes it foam up a bit)

1 cup of dates, chopped

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

Add:

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (of course there is not time or temp again here).

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Before and after baking – it puffs up a bit but drops back down after a few minutes.

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I pressed the leaves flat before using them on the cake. It helps make for a nice, crisp leaf design. No – I didn’t wash them or anything. They barely touch the top of the cake and you take them right off of it after you’re done using the powdered sugar. I invoked the 5 second rule for this one!

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I just think this turned out so cute – it’s a shame to cut it! Maybe I should have incorporated the crack in the top of the cake into the design – maybe a stem or something? Naw. It’s perfect just the way it is!

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This is another very quick and easy cake that’s great for afternoon coffee or after coming in from an afternoon of leaf raking or leaf peeping. Go ahead and make this delicious and beautiful cake – you’ve probably earned it! If you haven’t earned it, just do it because it’s Saturday.

 

 

 

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Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

It’s October and we’re heavy into fall right now. This is the time for pumpkin everything. I was perusing Pinterest a few weeks ago when I was under the weather, and I found a lot of interesting pumpkin recipes. I felt like trying a few, and this was one of them. This recipe for a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie was on a blog called Shugary Sweets and you can find the original here. It’s a pretty healthy treat and a great snack. You could even have it for breakfast and add some protein powder if you like (as suggested by the blog where I found this recipe). Let’s give it a try.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt

1 large banana

3 Tablespoons Milk

1 teaspoon agave or honey

1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 ice cubes

1 scoop vanilla protein powder, if desired

Put all ingredients into the blender and blend.

Top with whipped topping and sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg.

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There aren’t a lot of ingredients in this smoothie, but it sure is tasty.

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It all goes into my good old 35 year old blender . . .

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and give it a whiz!

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Oh wow. This smoothie is so pretty, so good, and so good for you! Whip up one of these today and take it outside to enjoy the fall, all of those short-lived colored leaves, and the taste of pumpkin pie!

 

 

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Dark Bread

I remember Grandma telling stories of making bread when she was growing up. They would make all the bread they would need for the week in just one day. It had to last the whole week until the next baking day. She made great homemade bread and so did my mom. This is my mom’s very well used recipe for Dark Bread. Both Grandma and my mom made bread the old-fashioned way – by kneading it. I have a big mixer so I usually just put on the dough hook, crank it up for 10 minutes, and we’re good to go. When I was first married couldn’t yet afford to buy the mixer, I would make bread quite often and do the same thing – knead it by hand. Well, I went old school for this bread and did it by hand – by kneading. It’s a great workout and I was sweating in no time. No wonder the women back in the day had such tiny waists!

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This bread is absolutely delicious!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Dark Bread

Combine:

1 1/2 cups boiling water

2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon shortening (I used butter)

1 cup oatmeal

Let stand until lukewarm.

Dissolve in 3/4 cup warm water:

1 package dry yeast

Add to yeast mixture:

1/4 cup molasses (she says to add a little more – I just emptied the bottle – maybe 1-2 more tablespoons)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup flour

Beat until smooth.

Combine with:

oatmeal mixture

4 cups flour

Mix well and knead until smooth (I kneaded it about 10 minutes).

Place dough in warm, greased bowl to rise about 2 hours.

Divide dough into 2 parts and knead slightly.

Cover completely and let rest 30 minutes.

Shape into loaves and let rise 1 hour.

Bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes.

Makes 2 loaves.

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It seems like a lot of steps, but it’s really not that bad, and it’s SO worth it in the end.

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After dissolving the yeast in warm water, next mix in all the goodies and add it to the oatmeal mixture.

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After adding the first flour addition, start mixing in the rest of the flour  – you’ll need to use some muscle at this point.

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This is just kneading the dough together and getting the flour all mixed in. Next is what it looks like after 10 minutes of kneading (and sweating, in my case).

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Put it into the warm, greased bowl. 2 hours later and this is what it looks like.

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I didn’t divide it until after it rested under the bowl for 30 minutes.

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I got one decent sized loaf and one smaller loaf because I made two tiny loaves to bring to mom and mother-in-law. It’s amazing how it rises and then even a little more after baking.

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Here is the beautiful final product!

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This bread has a nice crispy crust on the outside, while the inside is just so soft and delicious.

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This is a great recipe. It takes a little time, but it’s so amazingly good. Go ahead and get your workout at home today – knead yourself some bread dough. Then you can have an extra piece. That’s how I look at it, anyway.

 

 

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Healthy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins – Sort Of

After the 6th day of the worst head cold known to man, making a permanent indentation on my couch, and pinning an incredible number of great ideas on Pinterest, I was going stir-crazy and it was time to get off the couch and make something. If that something happens to be good for me and is a great accompaniment to my daily gallon of tea or other warm beverage for my throat, all the better.

Have you noticed that people are obsessed with the pumpkin spice thing? I decided to try a recipe of my own. Well, using one that I already have, of course. A very good one. I reinvented the Oatmeal Muffin recipe of Grandma’s (one of my all-time favorites) using some of the huge stash of frozen pumpkin puree that I still have in my freezer. I just added pumpkin instead of butter in the muffins, and added the obligatory pumpkin pie spice. These Healthy Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins didn’t turn out too bad, if I do say so myself. Oh yeah, and I’m calling them healthy, sort of, because of the lack of butter. There’s still plenty of sugar and sour cream in these. That’s why they’re only sort of healthy.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal Muffins

2 cups oatmeal (plus extra for the top of the muffins)

2 cups sour cream

2/3 cup pumpkin puree

4 eggs

2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Combine oats and sour cream.

Stir in pumpkin, egg, and brown sugar until well mixed.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.

Stir into oat mixture just until blended.

You can add 1/2 to 1 cup raisins to these – for a little added healthiness.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

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The pumpkin puree is a great substitute for butter. You really can’t tell the difference.

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I like to add the raisins, but you don’t have to.

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I don’t know why I had these gigantic cupcake papers, but they worked just fine. When I filled them, I used a 1/4 cup measure. A sprinkle of oats on top and they’re ready for the oven.

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They’re delicious and smell amazing!

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You can see by the color that they’ve got pumpkin and spice in them. The oats add a little extra crunch on top.

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Yes – these muffins are really good and go well with tea or any other warm beverage you like. I have to say they turned out pretty well – they’re really good and really tasty. Make a batch of these and join in the pumpkin spice trend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lemon Chicken with Croutons

We’re talking about Sunday dinners today. Grandma came from a large family and I can imagine the Sunday dinners that they had, all seated around the round dining room table that I still have in my kitchen today. I love these photos – one of all the girls, including their mother, and one of all the boys, including their father. I think these were taken sometime around the late 1920s or early 1930s. I absolutely love the haircuts on the girls, and the boys all have on a shirt and tie (their mother sewed ALL their clothes back then).

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I’d like to think that this was a Sunday afternoon, after they had their dinner all together. It may have not been as raucous around the table as my family is today, since Grandma once told my middle child (who really never stopped talking when she was little) that sitting around the table was for eating, not for talking. I’m sure she told her that because she wanted her to just stop talking, not that it was really important to be silent at the table. Maybe, with all of those people around the table in Grandma’s family, they needed to keep everybody calm and told them that they couldn’t talk at the table, who knows? My family tries to have Sunday dinner together every week, and it can get loud when we all get together. We know we’re lucky to be able to do it, and we’re going to enjoy it as long as we can.

Today’s recipe for Lemon Chicken with Croutons comes from Ina Garten’s Barefoot in Paris cookbook. This has become one of my family’s favorite and most requested dishes, and we have it often for Sunday dinner. Because it comes from Ina, it’s so easy and SO GOOD!

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Lemon Chicken with Croutons

1 (4-5 pound) roasting chicken

1 large yellow onion, sliced

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 lemons, quartered

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

6 cups (3/4 inch) bread cubes (she says to use 1 baguette or round boule – I used a multigrain loaf)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Take giblets out of chicken and wash it inside and out.

Remove any excess fat and pin feathers.

Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan (I use a cake pan).

Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper.

Place the lemons inside the chicken.

Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Tie the legs together with kitchen string (I didn’t do this as I made two chickens at the same time) and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh.

Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes (the onions may burn, but the flavor is good).

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 Tablespoons of olive oil until very hot.

Lower heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8-10 minutes.

Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the croutons on a serving platter.

Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons (I just put the whole chicken on the croutons and sliced it at the table).

Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

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Here they are, all stuffed with lemon and ready for the oven.

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It’s important to make sure the croutons are good and crispy so they will readily soak up all of the delicious juice.

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Out of the oven and these little beauties just need to rest a bit before we dig in.

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This little chicken is resting on top of the crispy croutons. There was A LOT of pan juices from these 2 chickens. I also squeeze the juice from the lemons before removing the chickens from the pan. It makes a lot more tasty juice that way. The onions didn’t burn in the pan this time, but if they do, it’s just tastier!

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All we needed to add for dinner were some green beans from our garden.

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This is the most delicious and moist chicken. The lemon just makes that pan juice so amazing. Try this dish and your family will be requesting this as much as my family does. Maybe at your next Sunday dinner?!

 

 

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Pumpkin Bundt Cake

I can’t believe it’s October. That means it’s time for colored leaves, apples, wool scarves, and pumpkins. Speaking of colored leaves, this is a photo of the colored leaves of New Hampshire from last October. My husband and I were on the way home from our trip to Massachusetts. I actually stuck the camera out of the sunroof of the car with occasional warm ups back inside. It was a cool, wet day in the mountains. We had the heat cranked in the car until my husband finally said, “how about enjoying the color without looking through the lens?” It was – and I don’t use this word lightly – AMAZING!!! The leaves were so colorful, they looked photo-shopped! I swear – I haven’t touched this photo! I know! It was unbelievable!!

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If seeing the fall color in New England isn’t on your Bucket List, it should be. I highly recommend it!

Cooked or carved, pumpkins ARE October. The recipe for today comes from my mom. She can’t remember where she got it, but man, I’m glad she got it. It’s a good one. Oh my gosh – the smell of this cake baking in the oven – heaven! It made the perfect fall scent that totally filled the house – a great air-freshener. This Pumpkin Bundt Cake is ideal for this time of year and all of the special occasions coming up from September through November. It’s very moist, is absolutely delicious, and smells so spicy and pumpkin-y and butterscotch-y.

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This is a very tasty cake.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Combine:

1 package (18 1/2 oz) yellow cake mix

1 package (3.4 oz) Instant butterscotch pudding

4 eggs

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup oil (I used canola)

1 cup canned pumpkin

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Beat on low speed for 30 seconds.

Beat on medium speed for 4 minutes.

Pour into greased and floured bundt pan (I used butter and sugar instead of flour).

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.

Cool in pan 15 minutes.

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I used butter to grease the pan and dusted it with sugar instead of flour.

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Bundt pans are just the best! They’re festive and pretty and so great for baking. Plus they’re made in Minnesota! Check out Nordic Ware here.

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The cake came out perfectly with a nice light sugary crust on the outside from dusting it with the sugar!

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This is a perfect fall cake, especially with a bit of whipped cream. It would also be great with a drizzle of icing. Bake a couple of these and put one in the freezer for last-minute guests. Better yet, bake it when your guests come and take advantage of the built-in air-freshener! They may never leave.

 

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