Saturday, March 14, 2015

Cooking Cove: November Cakes

One of my favorite reads, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater, included a most delicious sounding treat called November cakes. Maggie had me drooling over the description and much to my joy she included a recipe in the back of the book. Well boy howdy, you bet yer biscuits I got right to making them! My friend NaLonda and I made a 40 by 40 list a few years ago (40 Things To Do By 40) and though many have been crossed off, cooking with yeast had not. Until now.


1 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast

- Microwave milk, water, oil and butter for two minutes (90-100 degrees). Add eggs. 

- In mixing bowl (use KitchenAid if you have one) add 1 1/2 cups of flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the liquid from previous step and stir thoroughly. Add remaining 2 cups of flour, one cup at a time, stirring in between. 

- With the mixer on low speed and using a bread paddle or hook, mix dough for 4 minutes. (If you do not have a stand mixer, knead by hand for 8 minutes). Scrape dough into greased an floured bowl. Let rise for one hour in a warm place. Maggie recommends preheating the over to 100 then turning it off before putting inside. And cover bowl with a towel. After one hour, remove dough and place on floured cutting board. Roll out to a 12 x 20 inch rectangle. 

3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon orange extract

- Combine ingredients and spoon filling to cover the dough. Roll up and slice into 12 rolls. Place each roll, cut side up, into a greased muffin tin and let rise for 30 minutes, covered with a towel. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then bake for 14 minutes. Cool for a few minutes then tip out onto a large plate.

1/2 cup honey
8 tablespoons butter
3.4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

-While rolls cool, mix honey, butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan over medium-high. Stir constantly. Bring mixture to a rolling boil for 2 minutes while stirring. Add whipping cream and vanilla. Stir util well combined. Spoon glaze over the rolls. 

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon water

- Combine powdered sugar, butter, and water. Drizzle icing over rolls. 

The yeast adds a richness to the bread and imparts such a fluffy old world bakery flavor I just have never tasted from my usual cake like desserts. Sweet rivulets of glaze, frosting and filling do not overwhelm since the bread is not sweet at all and the texture is so light and airy. My only change would be to cut the cakes in half and make 24 instead of 12 (I had no idea how much these guys would poof up- plus they are huge).

Have you ever cooked with yeast? Will you share a yeasty cod piece, I mean yeasty recipe with us? (Channeling Jack Sparrow for a moment)

Oh. And DO make these!!! While reading The Scorpio Races of course.


  1. ooooo yum!! I haven't read that book yet, but I'll put it on the list!
    I don't think I've ever put yeast in something without giving it a kick start in a bowl with some sugar and warm water. we love to make copy cat auntie Anne's pretzels. I worked at one in high school so I got the skillz & secrets ;)

    1. Please do! I have a feeling you will love this book! It is about a little island off the UK in maybe the 50's? With water horses. Very cool story! I was very nervous about using the yeast, and expected the sugar water thing but this recipe took a different turn but it still worked! Mmmmm Auntie Anne's! You do have mad skillz.

  2. Those look so yummy.

    I rarely bake anything from scratch these days, so no yeast here...except what goes to treat the septic system. LOL Although, now that I think about it, back in high school we learned to make some cinnamon muffin thing and had to use yeast. I used to them make them a lot back then. I think I still have that recipe. I should make some again. Hmm.


    1. They were! I have plans to make them for Easter.

      I still make things from boxes or mixes too. It tends to be quicker and fool proof. Adam uses yeast in our septic too so we usually have some on hand. I am interested in hearing more about these cinnamon buns and squeezing the recipe out of you!!! Pretty please!

    2. I dug through my recipe box and did not see the one I'm thinking of. I did find the apple crisp recipe that I still have from that same class. Maybe that's what I was thinking of. I also dug through the drawer that has all of my neglected cookbooks, and didn't find it in there either. I did find two of my grandma's well worn and well scribbled cookbooks though. It's so cool to see which things were made often in her home. I bet there are some yeasty recipes in there!


    3. Grandma's cookbooks!!!!! Swoon! I love seeing that kind of thing too. Her handwriting, secret additions and old timey tastes and methods. I want to read it with you!

  3. Yummy! They look so delicious! I want one right now, LOL!! I need to try this recipe sometime & you're right, Maggie's descriptions in the book had me craving them! So glad you loved this book & so glad your November Cakes turned out so well!

    I've never used yeast, but Craig has. He rarely gets in the kitchen, but he wanted to try to replicate some yummy rolls his aunt & grandmother used to make. The recipe called for yeast. After a couple trials, he's got it down well & now he has to make them for the holiday meals -- sooooo good!! :-)

    1. Thank YOU for recommending the book and mostly importantly... Gifting me a signed copy!!!!! Xoxoxo

      Craig's yeast rolls sound divine. Does he have the recipe written out or all in his head? I would love to try making yeast rolls too.

    2. I think it's printed out somewhere. I'll find it & make you a copy! I think he can do it from memory now. :-)

    3. And you're welcome! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book!! :-)

    4. Thank you! I am always in awe of people who can bake things from memory.

  4. My tongue is about to slap my forehead! Haha! These tasted amazing and I want more. :) I really would love to eat these again after reading the book. I feel that I would appreciate them much more while savoring each bite. I would close my eyes and imagine Puck sitting on the cliff watching the capaill uisce training for the races while describing her sticky fingers. Ahhhh... I got attached to this one :)

    1. Lol!!! Glad you liked them. Come over Easter after church for round 2! You paint that scene so well with your words!! The capaill uisce!! So savage yet breath taking! Yes. Time for more November Cakes.

  5. These look SO incredible! I will be over in 5 hours (or days, LOL) so have some freshly baked for me! I will make spaghetti dinner in return!! :P :P

    1. Lol!!! Come over Easter! I will be baking them then ;-) and I would LOVE your spaghetti in return. Mmmmmmmzzzzz!