Friday, January 27, 2012

In Which I am Well Informed: Maggie Stiefvater's November Cakes

Do you find non-fiction objectionable? Do you loathe and abhor self-help books? Do you find memoirs so depressing you think you may go out and beat your neighbor to make yourself feel better? Well...that's how I feel. If you feel the same, you've found the right place. In my feature IN WHICH I AM WELL INFORMED I will be reading something of a non-fiction nature and I will tell you what I've learned from said item. No worries, this is going to be fun!
**I just want to preface this post by saying that all my thoughts are my own and are only meant in fun and not to be offensive. Sometimes life should be laughed at and not taken so seriously. It's better that way.**
This week on In Which I am Well Informed, I'm going to show you my venture into November Cakes. For all those who don't know exactly what I'm talking about, November Cakes were originally the *fake food* from the Scorpio Races book by Maggie Steifvater. Well, Maggie had the inclination to make a recipe to see if she could do it and so November Cakes are no longer fake. HA! So, I'm going to give you a run down of how I made Maggie's November Cakes using her recipe.

If you want the full recipe, you can click the link above.

Ingredients for the cake:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4+2 TBS Vegetable Oil
1 TBS butter
3.5 cups flour
3 tsp (or one packet) active dry yeast
3 TBS sugar
1.5 tsp salt
2 eggs

1. Microwave milk, water, oil and butter for 2 mintues - Okay, now I only did mine for 1.5 minutes because 2 minutes was too long. The reason the liquid needs to be warm is because it activates the yeast. If your liquid is cold, it won't activate the yeast and your cake/bread won't rise. However, on the flip side, if your liquid is TOO HOT it will only kill the yeast and then your dough won't rise. Hubby (who was a sous chef for years) says the best is for it to be luke warm. This has never failed me when I bake breads, rolls, cakes or whatever has yeast in it.

And besides, as Maggie says in her recipe: "we don't want to kill off our little hard-working yeast, do we? no. we are not killers"

And, before you say it...DO NOT BE AFRAID OF YEAST. Forever, I was super scared to bake anything with yeast. It's not hard at all. At first, it's just kind of scary, although I have no idea just is.

2. Crack eggs into liquid - I didn't actually mix my eggs into the warmed liquid mixture. I just cracked them in and left them.

3. In the mixing bowl of a standing mixer, combine 1.5 cups of flour, the salt, the sugar, and the yeast. Add the liquid and stir thoroughly - It's very important you follow the recipe IN THE ORDER it states. This is because you may screw up your yeast if you don't. SO LISTEN and don't be a killer! :D
This is after I've mixed the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients

4. Add remaining 2 cups of flour ONE CUP AT A TIME, stirring between each addition - This is important because you want the flour mixed evenly and thoroughly and it's all part of the kneading with the mixer.
5. With mixer on low and using the bread paddle or hook, mix dough for 4 minutes. If you don't have a mixer, you can knead by hand for 8 minutes instead - I have a mixer, so I didn't have to knead by hand and in all honesty that would have been difficult because the dough is going to be SUPER gooey. In fact, I've never worked with a dough so gooey. I didn't think it would rise because maybe it needed more flour, but it did and it was so light and fluffy!6. Scrape dough into a greased and floured mixing bowl. Let rise for one hour in a warm place - As you can see in the above photo, the dough was fairly soft after only 2 more cups of flour. I literally had to SCRAPE it with a spatula into my greased and floured bowl. I used butter to grease my bowl as I don't own shortening of any kind. I then tossed a bit of flour in the bowl and moved it around til it coated the entire bowl.

Maggie says she preheats her oven to 100 degrees (Fahrenheit) and then then shuts it off and places her bowl in there COVERED with a towel. I did this and it worked like a charm. I put my bowl on top of a cookie sheet because I was nervous of the oven grill thingy burning my bowl. Do NOT, I repeat, do NOT put the bowl in an oven that is on or too hot. You'll kill your yeast. I didn't even let the oven fully preheat to 100 degrees because it was kinda hot. My dough raised up lovely.

7. After one hour, move the dough to a floured cutting board - I floured my counter top and put it there because there is more room to move. You can use the cutting board or the counter top, but you will need to cut the rolls eventually, so remember that.
That's my hand next to the dough to kinda show you size ratio and that jazz

8. Gently roll it out to a 12 X 20" (ish) rectangle. Spoon the filling (melted butter and orange extract) to cover the rectangle, then roll it up - It's a lot easier to work with after it rises, but make sure it doesn't stick to the cutting board or counter top. If it does, sprinkle more flour. Also, I don't own extract because of the alcohol content (which I told you about last IWIaWI post). I used concentrated Orange Oil instead which was delicious!

Filing Ingredients:
(Maggie's original recipe is a little different. I changed mine because I wanted more filling and moisture)
4 TBS melted butter
1/2 tsp Concentrated Orange Oil
(or orange extract)
1 tsp Vanilla Emulsion (or vanilla extract)
1 TBS Whipping Cream

9. Use a sharp knife to cut the log into 12 rolls - (They should be swirled like cinnamon rolls) - Maggie also says they'll be slimy from the filling (delicious but slimy) so beware of that.
I made little slits on top for measuring purposes. I recommend this because I had to go back and resize the marks when I didn't have quite 12 rolls. Plus, my roll was thicker in the middle (because of how I rolled it out) so my rolls in the middle didn't need to be as long. Also, I found that if you choose NOT to roll the whole thing and instead, cut strips into your rolled rectangular dough and roll each roll separately, that works better.

10. Place each roll cut side up in a greased muffin tin - This was the fun part for me, but I'm a nerd. I had to re roll a couple because the dough was so soft, but re rolling worked like a charm! OR like I said above, you can cut the rectangle into 12 strips and roll each roll separately and it works better.
11. Let cakes rise a little more - Maggie recommends you put the muffin tin back into the oven for another 30 minute rise - remember your warm oven?? This is what she's talking about. DO NOT TURN YOUR OVEN BACK ON. This is just a small rise, though. I made the recipe a second time because I wanted to make them better than before. So, I recommend leaving the rolls out of the oven and letting them rise (uncovered) in the heated kitchen for 10 more minutes. They will rise while cooking. The first time I made these, I let them rise TOO much. When that happens, there aren't enough crevices for the glaze and you want it to soak down into the middle of the cakes layers.
12. Remove the rolls from the oven (ALONG WITH THE TOWEL). Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then bake rolls for 14 minutes - Everyone's oven is different. My oven SUCKS! I had to drop the temp to 350 and cooked them for 7 minutes then flipped them and cooked for another 7 minutes. In my old oven, I may have been able to keep the 400 degree temp and just lowered the minutes slightly. But, being in an apartment doesn't give good ovens. *sigh* So, hopefully you know your oven. If not, CHECK ON YOUR November Cakes while they cook.
These are my rolls strait from the oven

Caramel Honey Glaze:
(again, Maggie's glaze is a little different. I made mine thinner on purpose because I wanted my November Cakes to "ooze honey and butter" as they do in the chapter where Puck signs up for the Scorpio Races)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
8 TBS Butter
2 tsp vanilla extract (I used Butter Vanilla Emulsion - 2 tsp)
1/2 cup honey

13. While the rolls are cooling, prepare caramel glaze - Mix together honey, butter, and sugar in heavy saucepan. Turn on medium-high heat while stirring constantly
Bring the mixture to a rolling boil for 2 minutes (no skimping) while continuing to stir constantly. Add whipping cream and vanilla and mix well, keeping the stirring and heat constant until mixed through. Icing Ingredients:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 TBS Water (OR milk)
1 TBS Melted Butter

14. Spoon glaze over buns and let cool for 5-10 minutes then drizzle on icing in zig zag pattern - The cakes are top heavy, so don't be surprised when the caramel honey glaze doesn't get on the bottom. However, I saturated the tops of mine and the glaze gets all in the nooks and crannies and it's yummy. I actually did all of them once and let it soak in and then went for round 2. For the icing, I added milk instead of water because I've made the icing before and just prefer it, but to each his own. Serve them warm and you are good to go! YUMMY! I think the new glaze "oozes" better. I tipped my rolls onto a pan to drizzle the caramel honey glaze on them. It was better than cleaning it off the counter. It will most likely make a bit of a mess. But a yummy mess nonetheless. Also, if you have any caramel glaze left over (I had a lot left over) you can eat it with apples. It's yummy.

Oh, and Maggie says: "don't get on any strange horse."

They were incredibly delicious and fluffy and moist and amazing all over. I'm definitely making these again! Also, Hubs says they go excellent with his coffee. I don't drink coffee, but they went excellent with my milk! *wink* Bye loves! Hope you all try to make November Cakes. And remember....DON'T BE AFRAID OF YEAST! *hugs*


  1. A nice recipe, thanks! No, I am not afraid of yeast!

    1. LOL! I was for a long time. I started making pizza at home and it taught me not to be afraid. I love yeast now.

  2. Are you kidding me?? This looks DELICIOUS!!! Aaaaand, we just got a KitchenAide for Christmas :) So, November cakes will be made asap.

    1. I LOVE my kitchen aid!! When you made anything dough-y, I recommend the hook. Hubs said it's best for kneading and I agree. I hope you enjoy them, they really are so delicious!

  3. That was ridiculously fun!! I will never make these...just saying...cause Im lazy when it comes to things like flour, rolling pins and cutting out shapes....(I can make cookies though does that count?)

    Great post Jen~ I loved all the pics!

    1. Thanks, Tina! And, You're. Hilarious. Also, feel free to make me cookies because I love them. *drools at thought of cookies* I go through fazes of baking binges. This is my most recent.

    2. Ok this better work, if there is 5 of the same replies Im sorry.....

      Note to shelf: Make cookies this weekend, set aside a dozen for Jen- mail ASAP.....

      :D PS- do baked goods do well in travel???Hmmmmmmm

    3. Yes! I know from experience if they are in a box they travel well. You don't really have to make any, LOL!

  4. *Wipes off drool* OMG, they look amazing! I'm so craving for those rolls now. This was an awesome post! Hope you enjoyed your dessert!

    1. I did, thank you! I'm just depressed they're finished. LOL! They were SO good!

  5. Oh my. Look at those! I can't believe you posted these pictures Jen. What were you thinking? Now I'm all craving the light fluffy deliciousness covered in sugary goodness. DAMN YOU WOMAN! *runs to kitchen to each chocolate and satisfy craving for sugar*

    1. Jenny, I may or may not have licked the screen when I saw those last three pictures in an effort to satisfy my craving for gooey yumminess.

      Isn't Jen so cruel?!

    2. I keep trying to figure out how to send them to Texas (and Ohio). I think I'd have to overnight them so they don't perish in travel. I think that second batch really did the trick. I think I'm going to try to gooify the glaze more. LOL! Thanks for listening to me blabber about frosting and glaze. Now I need to make them again. *sigh*

    3. Ha! Don't worry about sending anything here. I'll happy walk over to you if I have to just to try one. :)

    4. That's a long walk. I'll expect to see you next month.

    5. Um Missie- if someone didnt know better that comment sounded kinda dirty....


    6. She probably meant it dirty. You know how her mind works! :)

  6. I want to swim in that Caramel Honey Glaze! Seriously, I do.

    Oh Jen. I read your step by step instructions and damn! They are so overwhelming. How will I ever be able to make these when I can't even boil an egg? I know your apt is already crowded, but please let me move in. I'll be like Z from BDB and only sleep on a thin mat on the floor, hopefully by the kitchen.

    1. You could probably fit on a mat between the girls! I sleep there sometimes. It's not so bad...and very close to the kitchen. :D LOL!

    2. Yay! I have an in!

      I actually think it might be easier for me to make the sandwich that Morgan and Merit make in Some Girls Bite. The one with chips in it. I couldn't possibly mess that up, right. LOL

    3. We should SO have a sandwich party. I love love sandwiches....I dig chips on my sandwiches. It's a win win situation. Just, remember no ham for me. But, I could do like 5 different cheeses. Mmmmmm cheese!

  7. Replies
    1. They are! But, I digress...

      I'm on an insane baking kick. I'm going to gain like thirty pounds! LOL!

  8. First... your fear of yeast reminds me of a joke I have in rubberstamp format:
    When life gives you lemons... make lemonade. When life gives you a yeast infection.... make bread! LOL

    Second... I'm SO moving in with you and your cooking skills. You should make some of those recipes in the Demons at Deadnight one. I was thinking about doing that, but I have no skills.

    Pass me the November Cakes... will ya? YUM!

    1. Weirdly enough, that's what yeast infections always remind me of. LOL! I wish they didn't call them that, but that's just because my mind wanders. Hahaha!

      Also, check back the second week of February. I did make one of the Demons at Deadnight recipes. I'm going to make those triple chocolate ones next. I just keep debating on the chocolate. :D And, you can totally move in. You can sleep on a mattress next to Missie in the Kitchen. :D

  9. Oh dear... That looks and sounds like a crap ton of work... You know they make handy little can already Pre-made? ;) love you!!!!

    1. LOL! Dude, it kind of was at first. But, the second batch went better. And the pre-made stuff never tastes as good. These were like heaven in my mouth. If you are ever near, I'll make you some.

  10. I LOVE The Scorpio Races!
    They look amazing *mouth waters* despite my adversion to honey :Q I wonder if they would work without it? I had a go at Maggie's famous chocolate brownies before christmas. You can check out the results here!
    Now if someone had a go at making Maggie's head sized beownies, we would have the full set!

    1. I also used to have an aversion to honey! I feel ya. It will work without it, but you need to find something to replace it. I was thinking you could probably use dark karo syrup OR I would actually try Blue Agave first. Do you like Blue Agave? It's delicious, but a lot more expensive then honey. But, it has less sugar and it's healthier. It's from a cactus. I'm rambling. But, try it and you can substitute it strait over, so 1/2 cup Blue Agave instead of honey!

  11. Yummy Jen...they look like cinammon rolls but with orange flavoring? They look delicious. I wish I was still living in Chandler I would be beating at your door to get a taste.

    1. They reminded me a ton of orange rolls. Have you ever had them?? My second batch I actually added a bit of cinnamon sugar to the filling and they were even more so like orange rolls. But, the glaze on top gives it a different feel. If you ever make them, I REALLY recommend the thinner sauce. The other one dried too fast and didn't ooze and I just think these rolls should OOZE! :D

  12. Yum, those look so good! Except for the orange part. That sounds kind of gross to me, but I am very picky about mixing fruit flavors in certain foods (to me, there is nothing quite as barf-inducing as those raspberry jelly rings). I like your oozing sauce!

    I love these posts, btw :)

  13. I just read over the instructions again. I don't think I can do it!! *sobs*


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XOXO Jen the Bibliophile

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