Life is Ina-ful!

“I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind, that I put down in words
How wonderful life is, now you’re in the world!”

Yes, this is how strongly I feel about Ina Garten – so Jeffrey move out of the way! I’m a little crazy right now, but who can blame me? Three weeks of no real kitchen time, a dreary, never-ending wave of study, sleep (seldom), study, eat, study – with only a handful of happy moments (i.e. Cafe Venezia and Market Hall, Piggy, Kari, someone) to punctuate the monotony. Apparently I have been “over-exerting” myself; too little sleep, prematurely balding, too much caffeine, and not enough vitamins and protein. And I did manage to get a lot of sleep for part of this weekend. Friday night I was up until about 3:30 am making Ina’s Carrot Cake Cupcakes for friends’ birthdays. I got up at 6am for work, finished by 10:30am, baked Ina’s Coffee Cake and frosted the cupcakes before rushing to school to teach. It takes a lot out of you to command the interest of restless teenagers, and I was exhausted by the end of the day – so much for taking it easy. But I collapsed Saturday, and got more sleep in one night than I usually get in one week (12 hours!). But yes, it has been an Ina-ful weekend, and these recipes I’m sure you’ll love too!

Ina’s Carrot Cake Cupcake

I made two batches of these this weekend. The first time, Friday night (Saturday morning?), I added way too much applesauce (on other viewer’s recomendation) and the cake was too wet even after prolonged baking times. Despite the failure, I frosted them and sprinkled carrot shavings on top, then hauled them to school anyway, where they were welcomed by the not-too-picky students and teachers. But I wasn’t happy with the outcome so I made another batch Saturday night with a few adjustments. These were so beautiful, they brought tears to me eyes! Things to watch out for – the baking time is weird, so I suggest reading {the notes} as well as what other users thought of the recipe on Food Network. Also, the original recipe wasn’t carrot-cake-y, so I attempted to increase oomph by adding more spices. Next time I will play around with cloves and cardamom too. Try for yourself and let me know!

originally from FoodNetwork

2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil {1 c. oil & 1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce}
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 extra-large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon {additional 1/2 tsp. nutmeg}
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups grated carrots (less than 1 lb)
1 cup raisins {I skipped these}
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting: {I halved this and it was still plenty to frost 24 cupcakes}
3/4 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the sugar, oil, and vanilla together in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the eggs, 1 at a time. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add 1/2 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Add the grated carrots, raisins, and walnuts to the remaining flour, mix well, and add to the batter. Mix until just combined.

Line muffin pans with paper liners. Scoop the batter into 22 muffin cups until each is 3/4 full. {These do not rise much, so fill to about 5-10mm from the top} Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for a further 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. {It is easier to bake these at 350F for 22-27 min. Keep a vigilant watch after the 20 mins., then toothpick test every 2 mins.} Cool on a rack.
For the frosting, cream the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.
When the cupcakes are completely cool, frost them generously and serve.

Ina’s Coffee Cake
In the last month, I have made 4 of these cakes. Amazing! And VERY forgiving – I accidentally added an extra half stick of butter and it still turned out fab. The cake flour/cornstarch note is trial and error for me, but I usually add about 4 generous tbs. or so. I have also tried this with extra flavor by adding in a couple teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa to the streusel topping, giving it this very subtle aftertaste of richness. It should be done baking within 55 mins., even if your toothpick comes out a little wet, it will finish baking while the cake cools. If your toothpick does come out dry, then you have over baked it, and it will be a little dry and dense after cooling. But another no-fail Ina recipe. See why I love her now?

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising) {1 cup cake flour use 7/8 cup all-purpose flour + 1.5ish tablespoons cornstarch, total 4}
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the streusel:
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional

For the glaze:
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate. Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.

So there has been quite a bit of activity on the blog these days, with a growing staff and numerous review entries and lots of upcoming food facts/trivia and recipes. Our staff is working very hard to crank entries, and if you would like to contribute, get in touch with me! The more the merrier. As for me personally, the next few weeks will be focusing on more cake recipes and techniques. I have shifted away from cookies/bars and am now ready to dive into the world of cakes. Also, an entry on paninis will be up soon, as I have recently becoming addicted to homemade hot sandwiches (Italian Pesto, Pomodoro e Mozzarella for example), a very easy and very college friendly technique to break the tedious pizza and take out spell. Also, a newly discovered college pantry must-have: tortillas! You’d be surprised by how versatile it is. But that is for next time, so until soon my fair readers!


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13 Responses to Life is Ina-ful!

  1. Char says:

    ohmyfreaking goodness, anhi.
    i would kill for that coffee cake.
    my spring break is last week of march.
    same as yours, i think? 🙂

  2. Jen says:

    jeebus, come up to davis and feeeed me. hahaha i need some ATP before finals ❤

  3. Belugawhale says:

    yum yum yum. Tan-E-YAH and i ate them all while you were gone.

  4. someoneyouknow says:

    so i forgot to mention that the coffee cake was delish!

  5. Armed Sirenitania says:

    I ate like three of these last night and one today before I sprinted off to class. They were absolutely VONDERFUL… yes, you read correctly, VONDERFUL. They were really moist and yummy… I like raisins but not on my carrot cake so that was another plus. The icing was not too sweet and very rich. I think from all your baked goodies I’ve had so far this may have been my favorite!

  6. Maxine says:

    Ina is my FAVORITE too!!! Isn’t she just the best??? All of her recipes are amazing, but her baking is absolutely superb. I totally understand your obsession, especially since the final products looks so delicious! 🙂

  7. brilynn says:

    I think I need more Ina in my life, those look amazing!

  8. Deborah says:

    These sound wonderful! I am liking Ina more and more every day!

  9. michelle says:

    i love ina. and i love jeffrey. i love them both. i want them to be my adoptive aunt and uncle, and i want to live at the house in the hamptons and eat coq au vin and pastries all day long.

  10. Mandy says:

    I love Ina’s recipes. They always come out right and memorable. The carrot cupcakes and sour cream coffee cake are no exception. 🙂

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