Cake rolls are annoying to photograph but undeniably delicious.

this is how I rolllll

Today and tomorrow I’m doing makeup for my elementary school’s play! I looove helping with the play—I’ve attended every year since I was in it myself, and I did makeup last year as well. The kids are adorable and so excited! And Mrs. Noel is hands down the most awesome director. EVER. Who else could wrangle that many children with such grace and humor?! This year, they’re doing Beauty and the Beast, which is awesome, since I was in that one in 5th grade (I was also in Pirates of Penzance in 4th)…. except today I realized as I was doing Gaston’s makeup that most of the kids in this show were born the year I was in the play. EEEEKKKK! Way to make me feel SO OLD.

Okay really, I need to get onto a more regular schedule for this blogging biz… How is it that when I was in school and theoretically “busier” that I had more regular posts?! Whatever… I’ve been crazy busy and having lots of fun, so absolutely no regrets there. However.

//

It’s cake time! It’s been waaay too long. Well, at least since I’ve MADE a cake. No guarantees on what I’ve eaten recently… I’m sure there’s some cake in there somewhere…

I’ve been intrigued lately by interesting flavor combinations, like the curry-chocolate chip cookies. When I was down in San Luis Obispo last weekend visiting friends, I made the curry cookies again, except this time with five spice! It was totally inspired, and sooo good. I think I may like those better than the curried ones, actually. There’s something about the coconut+five spice+chocolate that is really tasty. So, when I got home, I wanted to do something else with those flavors. But I decided, rather than making yet another batch of cookies (though we do know how much I love cookies), I would make a cake! But not any cake, oh no… A cake roll! I’d actually never made one before this, so this was quite the novel experience… not as difficult as anticipated, with just a minor bit of cracking. No big deal, nothing that cleverly placed whipped cream can’t hide, ha. AND, added bonus: this cake is fat free! (the cake bit. Not the whipped cream, obvs,… gotta have a little indulgence in there somewhere!). Five spice is also reputed to have health benefits (though I’m not entirely sure what they are).

mmm… five spice = new favorite flavor!

Five Spice Roll Cake with Coconut-Chocolate Chip Whipped Cream

I adapted the cake recipe only slightly from Cooking Light, and ignored their filling idea in favor of using whipped cream with chocolate chips folded in. The chippies got rave reviews from all tasting parties, since they add texture interest and go well with both five spice and chocolate.

For the cake:

  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar, divided (6 tbsp + 6 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder*
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • largeish pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp coconut rum**
  • 1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
*the blend I used was organic five spice, with cinnamon, star anise, fennel, sichuan pepper, and cloves. Try to find one that doesn’t have any weird additives beyond spices
**the original recipe called for coconut extract, but no way was I going to shell out $6 for a small bottle of imitation coconut flavor, eww. So I did what I do best: improvise! Malibu rum worked exceptionally well instead…
yumyumyum

For the filling:

  • 1 c whipping cream
  • powdered sugar to taste
  • coconut rum, to taste
  • vanilla extract, to taste
  • a good handful of chocolate chips

For the cake! Preheat the oven to 325, and line a 15 by 10 inch jelly-roll pan with waxed paper. No worries if it doesn’t come all the way up the sides.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, 6 tbsp sugar, and five spice powder. In a non-reactive bowl (I like to use the metal bowl from my kitchenaide), beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add in cream of tartar and salt, and beat until soft peaks form. Add remaining 6 tbsp of sugar 2 tbsp at a time, and beat until you see stiff peaks when you pull the beaters out (beating egg whites might be one of my favorite things ever… I love how they change!). Once you have stiff peaks, quickly beat in the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and coconut rum.

egg whites are awesome!

Sift 1/4 c of the flour over the egg whites, and fold in until combined. Repeat until all the flour is incorporated. Spread the batter out into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top. Sprinkle the top with coconut, and bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned. The top should spring back when you touch it lightly.

Place a clean (preferably relatively smooth, not really ribbed) dish towel over a largish cooling rack, and lightly dust with powdered sugar. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 3 minutes, then loosen the sides and invert onto the towel. Peel off the wax paper. Starting from the narrow end of the cake, roll the cake and towel up together in a spiral, and place seam side down on the cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make filling! Using an electric mixer, beat cream until it starts to get a bit more solid. Add in powdered sugar a little at a time, as well as a little vanilla and rum (to taste, as desired! I probably used about 3-4 tsp of powdered sugar, 1/2ish tsp vanilla, and 1 tbsp rum—my measurements were definitely not exact… pour and taste is my preferred method for whipped cream). Beat until the cream is… creamy?! You’ll know when it’s done, just don’t go too long and turn it into butter! Fold in chocolate chips.

When the cake is completely cool, unroll carefully from the towel. If it rips a bit, don’t freak out! Better luck next time, and you can disguise the rip with a bit of whipped cream, or else put the cake on it’s plate rip-side down, haha… and yes, I speak from experience! Spread the whipped cream filling evenly over the inside of the cake, and then carefully roll it back up. Sprinkle the top with a bit of powdered sugar or extra coconut if desired. Eat immediately or chill briefly, but make sure you keep it in the fridge for storage (if it lasts that long, ours didn’t!). Serrated knives work best for slicing and serving.

this looks like some kind of awesome moonscape…

Second Breakfast for the most wonderful of advisors!

at the departmental dinner!

Let me introduce my advisor, Ricardo! We started at WU the same year, which means I was in his very first class, and he was my advisor for my thesis, or my very last class. Full circle, hooray!

He’s awesome, in a totally European and Brazilian kind of way. We get along really well, mostly because we both eat  a lot, I’m sure… Oh right. And a shared love for art history… just a small minor detail. But really, second breakfast (and third, and fourth) is where we really understand each other.

CAKE!

Second breakfast, what a wonderful concept. Why have a snack or lunch when you could have second breakfast?! I’m currently enjoying mine now, though it’s sadly not as spectacular as cake. Cake for second breakfast is… subliminal. Which is why I decided to make Ricardo a cake, in thanks for his help on my thesis! And pretty much for being ridiculously awesome in general… Ricardo, if you’re reading this: Would you please be my advisor for the rest of my life?! I’ll supply  baked goods and second breakfast-material in exchange for a lifetime supply of witty anecdotes and insights!

Because life is better in technicolor!

Anyway, I wanted to thank him for working with me throughout the last four years in the art history department, and I know he loves cake (and all things sweet—no wonder we get along so well!), so cake happened! I’ve already blogged about this Banana Cake with Chocolate Glaze once before, but I wanted to post pictures as this one was a glazing triumph! What a way to celebrate the end of a thesis and a wonderful run completing my Bachelor’s of Arts in Art History. Thank you, Ricardo, for everything! (And no, you can’t get rid of me that easily… I’ll be hanging around to periodically spice up your life :)

He loved it :)
Pretty good, for piping with a ziploc baggie...

 

Chocolate cake pairs wonderfully well with cello sonatas.

So proud!!

Okay so…

I know that generally speaking, you’re not really supposed to brag about how fabulous your cooking is. But that’s too bad, because I’m going to break that rule. Just for right now…

side view :)

Because I am SO PROUD of this cake! I made it for Ian’s Senior Recital on the cello (which was also beyond fantastic, congratulations, Ian! And thanks for playing Beethoven’s cello sonata in A, it’s my favorite :), and I just had to share it with you. Because it’s sort of like my child. That’s how proud I am! Besides, everyone deserves a little horn-tooting of their own every so often. I’ve actually already posted the recipe on this blog, but this version is like a classier cousin of the one I made before. If you want the recipe, it’s here! This is still one of my favorite cakes: malted chocolate cake, with malted buttercream! The stenciled patterns are done with malt powder. The pictures speak for themselves :)

Congratulations, Ian! You were BOMB.
mmm, frostingggg!
three layers of goodness.

The Siren Song of Dead Bananas

mmm, buttercream!

Hmmp. Tis the season, indeed.

FOR CAKE! Ha. Prepare yourself. This is only cake one of two. For now, anyway. One never can tell in this household. Wait. Let’s be real. It’s ALWAYS the season for cake! But I have more of an excuse now, hooray! Hehe.

Anyway. This cake was supposed to be the dessert for company, but I decided to make it early, because hey, why have one cake when I can have two?! So there you have it. Cake greed and several dead-ish looking bananas won out. Totally not my fault—those bananas were singing their siren song from the counter, looking all dejected and spotty. Like, “Come over and eeeeeaaaat meeeeeeee, I am tastyyyyyyy and fermentedddd!” Well actually, if a banana said that to me, I would a) run screaming out of the house, and b)…yeah. Run screaming. Anyway, these particular bananas didn’t speak to me, thankfully, but notified me via their spottiness that they would prefer to hang with some buttercream in a cake.  Of course they would want to go in a cake! I mean, I could have made banana bread, but psshhh really? Why make banana bread when the holiday season gives me the excuse to cover everything that comes out of my oven in buttercream?

omnomnom

See? Cake.

This particular one was delicious to the max. Banana cardamom for the cake (I love banana cake already, so it wasn’t exactly a hard sell), with browned butter buttercream. WHaaaaattt. Browned butter makes everything so much better. Because there were only three of us, I decided to make a baby cake! I made half the batch, and then used a glass to cut out three layers from the 9″ cake pan… which of course left cake scraps to be eaten, yesssss! It was adorable, if I do say so. AND delicious. AND I’m on cake-making duty this Wednesday, which is excellent as this one is tragically gone.The more, the merrier!

Banana Cardamom Cake with Browned Butter Buttercream

Adapted from here! I’m including the full recipe; however, if you want a baby, halvsies cake, make half the cake and half the frosting. I had more than enough to frost the cute little three layer cake, plus the leftover cake pieces.

Cake!

  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I might play with adding more, next time—I felt the flavor could have been more pronounced)
  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
  • scant 1/2 c brown sugar, loose (not packed)
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c greek yogurt (I used nonfat)
  • 2 c mashed ripe bananas, about 5ish, depending on the size
  • toasted cashews, for garnish (or, if you like nuts in your cake, you can add them to the batter… I don’t, so I left them out)

Frostinggggg!

  • 3/4 c unsalted butter
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4-6 tbsp milk (I used 1%)
baby cake!

Preheat your oven to 350. Grease and flour your pans of choice, (it would be two 8 or 9″ for a two layer, full recipe), and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and cardamom. In a large bowl, cream butter until smooth. Beat in sugars until light in color and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla, then yogurt, and then mashed bananas. Without throwing flour everywhere, add in dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between your prepared pans, and bake for 25-35 minutes. Mine was done more around the 35 minute mark, as it’s dense cake. It wasn’t dry at all though—just perfectly done just shy of 35. Let cool in the pan for 10ish minutes, and then turn out onto cooling racks.

While the cake is cooling, brown the butter in a medium saucepan. You’ll know it’s browning, as it starts to turn to an amber color, and smells FANTASTIC. When it’s finished, pour it into the bowl you’re using for frosting—this keeps it from cooking too much more and burning. Whisk in sugar, vanilla, and 3 tbsp of milk, until smooth. Gradually beat in enough milk to take it to a buttercream texture (you’ll know when it gets there—it’s lots thicker and spreadable). Frost cake when its completely cool. Garnish with toasted cashews and enjoy indulging :) Tis the season!

Umpteen zillion ripe pears, and what to do about it.

Before I start, I just want to share this:

sad.

There is a disturbing lack of food in here… particularly veggies. Except the emptiness kind of makes me giggle… and makes me proud! No wasted food over the vacation to be found here. This, however, has been semi-rectified, and the Nerdaerie fridge looks a tad happier now. By the way, Nerdaerie is Kira’s and my nickname for our apartment… get it? We’re nerdy. We live on the second floor, like an nest or aerie of smarty eagles. Because eagles are smart. And we’re smart. And nerdy. And awesome :)

Whilst I was home, I of course had to do something besides bake pumpkin biscuits. Besides, what else was I going to do with umpteen fifty-zillion over-ripeish pears, and a new convection oven?! How can you resist? Answer: you can’t. I had to break the oven in somehow, right? Right. And the holidays = baking. Well, really anytime = baking, but that’s just a small technicality I’m willing to overlook.

mmmm, umpteen ripe pears!

So. I ended up using the remaining bits of flour (just enough, but I was SO NOT going to brave the madness that is Whole Foods at any time during the holidays. No cart roller derby for me, thanks… I really don’t prefer having to throw an elbow just to get to the broccoli) to make a cake! With pears. And chocolate. And things we already had lying around the house. Because THEN, Mutti, Vati and I could sit around and eat cake and watch the Civil War (Are YOU Duck enough?!). Because, as Vati so rightly said, all bets are off on game-day. One slice of cake per quarter? Done. And oops. We ate half the cake in one sitting. Whoopsie! Good thing it has fruit and is therefore good for me.

This cake is delicious. It’s not too sweet, with just the right balance of chocolate, fruit, and lightly sweet batter. Oh yeah. It goes perfectly with that leftover Fra Angelico spiked whipped cream you have sitting in the fridge. Because everyone knows that pear and hazelnut are a match made in heaven. Add in chocolate, and you can forget about eating anything else the rest of the day. Unless of course you’re Vati, in which case apparently beer is a nice accompaniment. But you’ll have to ask him about that one…Maybe I should have made him some beer spiked cream! Ew. No. We’re not even going to try to go there!

ANYwayyy, back to the cake!

Pear Cake with Dark and Semi-Sweet Chocolate

Adapted from The Pastry Affair, here!

  • 1 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tbsp (half a stick) of unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c turbinado sugar
  • 4 or 5 smallish pears, diced, skin on
  • 3/4 chocolate pieces (I used about 1/2 semisweet choc chippies and 1/2 70% dark chocolate bar, chopped)

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9″ or 10″ springform pan (mine was 10″).

Combine flour and baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.

Begin by browning your butter. Over low heat, melt the butter until it begins to foam up. Scrape the little bits off the bottom of the pan as you go. Watch it closely, since it burns quickly. When it’s finished, pour into a separate bowl to keep it from cooking.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs using an electric mixer. Beat until light, foamy and thick, about 8 minutes. Add sugar, and keep beating for a few minutes. Turn the mixer to low, and add about a third of the dry ingredients. Then add half the butter, then another third flour, then the rest of the butter. Add the last third of flour, and then the applesauce. Continue beating until incorporated, but avoid overworking the eggs, and stop when things are just mixed.

Pour batter into the pan, and top with diced pears and chocolate. The batter will creep up as it bakes. Bake for 40-50 minutes (mine was perfectly done at 40, but it was also thinner in a larger pan), or until a tester comes out clean.

Scarf, whilst watching the ducks do a dance on the beavers. buahahhha. Live green, yell o! (and yes, I do go to Willamette, but Oregon will always be my adopted school)

oops. Half of it mysteriously disappeared somewhere...

 

Inadvertent Tuesday Baking Spaz

Six point five inch cake pans are probably the best invention in the cooking world.

Seriously! I had no idea how much I was missing out until they came into my life… I make EVERYTHING in them! They’re perfect for two people (because really, even I think a 3 layer, 9 inch cake for two is a wee bit excessive), and it means that Kira and I can try even more things, since we don’t have to forage our way through a huuuge amount of food. Perfect.

Tuesday’s random baking occurrence happened to involve some blackberries, nicely donated by Kira’s lovely Mutti. What better use for slightly-tart blackberries than in CAKE?! And what better excuse for breakfast than a whole wheat cake with fruit?! Or midmorning snacking. Or mid afternoon. Or whenever.

I really love snack-type cakes. You know, like the type that isn’t very sweet, usually made in an 8 inch pan. They take me back to my childhood, when my wonderful Mutti would make crazy chocolate cake, and I would come home and power down a fourth of the cake (no, I’m not joking) for an after-school snack. No milk, either—milk is for sissies! I’ll chase my cake with a shot of ice cream, thank you! I would (and maybe still do, *ahem*) eat it by excavating the cake from underneath, to preserve the glazed bit on the top and on the sides, to be eaten last and with great relish. Corner pieces are my favorite–all the glaze puddles in the corners! I’ve been known to scrape the glaze off of Vati’s cake, when he was distractedly looking the other way, teehee! Not that I do that anymore, psshhh…

Anyway. This random baking spaz involved, like I said, blackberries. Lots of antioxidants in those cute little seedy characters. This cake was significantly less sweet than most cakes, which Kira and I really liked. We reduced the sugar a bit, but it has a nice crust of crunchy turbinado, which provides a bit more sweetness. This cake got a definite two thumbs, waaaay up. It really would be perfect for a light ending to a brunch, and I’m sure it goes well with ice cream (what doesn’t?!).

Not the most aesthetic, but WHATEVER. It was delicious, and we wanted cake sooner rather than later.

Blackberry Yogurt Cake

Adapted from here!

Though we made it in 6.5″ pans, I’ll post the full recipe :). We made a few adaptations—I’ll note them in the recipe.

Preheat yo’ oven! 350, pleeease. Lightly grease your pan of choice (originally a 9″ round cake pan).

  • 1 egg
  • 1.25 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1/4 c butter (we used unsalted), softened (or microwaved, if you’re lazy like me)
  • 1/2 c sugar*
  • 1.5 tsp sugar for sprinkling on the top, for crusty deliciousness!
  • 1/2 c plain yogurt, thinned with a bit of milk**
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • blackberries, as many as you deem appropriate

*As you know, I have a penchant for reducing the amount of sugar in recipes. This one originally called for 2/3 c for the entire cake. Since we halved it, I used 1/4 c brown sugar. Kira and I both like it—if you want it sweeter, feel free to up the sugar. If I made the full batch, I’d probably use a scant 1/2 c.

**The original recipe called for buttermilk. We have it, but it’s currently in a bit of a frozen state for preservational purposes… as we (rightly) thought we’d not use it right away. Since plain yogurt is a buttermilk substitute, we used that instead, and thinned it out with a bit of milk. It worked perfectly! I would totally do it again.

Whisk the dry ingredients in a medium-type bowl: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar with your trusty handheld mixer that you inherited from your grandmutti, until light and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla.

Mix in the flour, being careful not to spray it everywhere with the electric power of the beaters. I do NOT speak from experience this time… well, rather I speak from experience in that it DIDN’T happen this time, so there! Alternate the flour and the buttermilk until you have a batter. It’ll be rather thick.

Spoon the batter into the pan, and place the berries into the cake, pressing them down into the batter. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top (make sure you don’t skip this—it’s excellent!). We used turbinado, and it creates a super tasty crunchy crust.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown. For a half recipe, it was probably somewhere around 25-20 minutes (just keep checking after 15 until a tester comes out clean).

Indulge your gastronomical gremlins’ snack attacks any time of day… they’ll love you for the change from muffins to cake (because they’re fickle like that). Besides, it has fruit and a serving of whole grains, AND reduced sugar. I’m thinking this makes it a nicely balanced snackie, which should appease both you and your gremlins :)

Now Panic and Eat Cake!

The caking continues!

and cards!

Hello everybody! This is Kira, Hayley’s recently-arrived roomie. You might remember me from the banana cake issue preceding this. As the newest occupant of the Nerd-aerie (aka our apartment) I feel it is my solemn duty to make an appearance here in order to introduce myself, since I’ll be sharing in many of the cooking adventures to be featured in the coming posts. And what better occasion than the baking of a cake in celebration of my roomie/partner-in-crime’s 21st birthday? None, I say!

Let me just start off by saying that, while I do love me some good foods, and making them too, I have never been much of what you would call an instinctive or experimental cook. As a rule I find me a recipe and follow it! But living with Hayley (and reading her blog!) is challenging me to get a bit more creative, so for my first project I gave myself a little creative license and even improvised a bit.

I came across a recipe (in one of Hayley’s cookbooks) for orange cake, which sounded perfect, since we even had a lone orange that was lurking around the kitchen just waiting to be used (and the theme of this blog is cooking with what you have!), and since I wanted to make something a little different than just your typical chocolate birthday cake.

yummmm.

Orange Cake with Dark Chocolate and Orange Glaze

I found the original recipe in Hayley’s Moosewood Cookbook. That one calls for an orange glaze, but I thought that was much too boring, especially for a birthday cake. A birthday cake should have at least some chocolate! Plus the idea of orange with dark chocolate has been on my brain ever since a potluck I went to a few weeks ago where someone had brought candied orange rinds dipped in dark chocolate– heavenly! (And something on my list of future experiments)

What you need for the cake:

butter for the pan
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp grated orange rind (I upped this slightly, as I wanted it to be really orangey)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbs baking soda
Whisked together:
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain yoghurt
1/2 cup orange juice

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 10-inch tube or bundt pan (I halved this recipe on account of not having enough butter, not having a bundt pan, and not having 12-16 people to share it with! The halved recipe still makes a respectably-sized cake that fits great in a 9×9 in. cake pan).

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.

Stir in the orange rind and vanilla. Set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add this to the butter mixture
alternately with the combined yoghurt and orange juice, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix by hand after each addition–just enough to combine well.

Turn into the prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted all the way down comes out clean. (*Note: if you make a half recipe, like I did, definitely set it for 50 minutes first and make sure to check it–60 min would have gotten me a burnt cake for sure!) Cool for about 15 minutes, then invert onto a plate (if you’re using a bundt pan, otherwise ignore). Allow to cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Glaze with Orange

Okay, so this is where I got creative. The recipe calls for an orange glaze, but I’m going to give you my chocolate one instead, as I think it was superior.

What you need:

1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbs butter
small amount boiling water
grated orange rind

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a small saucepan, then add the boiling water until you get the consistency you want–pourable but preferably not watery. Add orange rind to taste. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Pour the hot glaze onto the cooled cake and garnish with sliced orange peels. Let stand at least 10 minutes before slicing.

*Note: these are the glaze proportions I used for my half-recipe cake. If you go whole hog (in a manner of speaking) you might need to double this, depending on how much chocolatey goodness you want on your cake.

Also, food for thought–you could try adding 2-3 Tbs orange liqueur to the glaze mix as well! It would have been exceptionally fitting in Hayley’s 21st birthday cake, but sadly I had none to hand at the time.

In conclusion…

The cake was a delicious success, not too sweet and excellent with vanilla ice cream and fresh-picked blackberries, or (in the spirit of the thing) Kahlua!

Not a lush, I promise!

Keep Calm and Cake On!

old picture, from Wurstfest. But cute! Roomiesss!

The Roomie has landed! Our apartment is now officially EPIC. And the fridge is fully stocked with deliciousness, hooray! Be prepared to read about lots of shenanigans that will most likely ensue, in the kitchen and otherwise. Or, if you’d like to witness it yourself, you can come stay in the closet/guest room. Yep. We have a guest room sized closet, be jealous.You can be like Harry Potter, in his cupboard! Except more awesome,  since we’re WAY cooler than the Dursleys.

Because I was SUPER EXCITED that the Roomie (otherwise known as Kira, just so we’re all on a first name basis here…) was arriving, I decided to make… a CAKE! Of course. What else?!  The only problem was that I made it Saturday… and she wasn’t arriving until Sunday night… which meant that I spent all of the time between wanting to eat it. Oops. But I didn’t! Willpower wins, so there! Take that gremlins! Be satisfied with your muffins and stop bothering me.

Also, in the interest of my quest to utilize everything and not waste anything, I had my eye on some dangerously ripe buhhhnahhnnas (say it with a drawl or an accent, it’s much more fun!). Because why would you make anything else when you could make banana cake?! Besides, it’s only the BEST BANANA CAKE EVER, and who needs an excuse for that?! I certainly don’t. In fact, one of the besties at home (Michellleeee!!!) can vouch that this cake is epic. AND the Roomie like it. A lot. So YAY! Cake wins all around. Moral of the story: Make cake whenever possible. Or as the British government wisely said, Keep Calm and Carry On. Or, rather… in my case… Keep calm and cake on. Always!

adorable small cake

Fabulous Buh-naah-na Cake

Adapted from The Pastry Affair (a really fab blog!), here

This cake is delicious. It’s simple, requires mostly what you have on hand in the pantry, and comes together in snap. Not only that, but it’s surprisingly light—a nap is not obligatory after finishing a slice :) The banana and chocolate flavors come together perfectly, and there is a perfect banana to chocolate ratio. It’s excellent with vanilla ice cream, of course (what isn’t ?!), but also stands divinely on its own. I always refrigerate it, so the glaze stays hard, but it’s really good out of the fridge, so everyone wins.

Whatcha need:

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (or microwaved until soft. I’m always too impatient)
1/2 cup white sugar (or less. I always use less—maybe more like 1/3 c)*
3/4 cup brown sugar (also less. Like maybe 1/2 c. Depends on your preference for sweet)*
2 large eggs
3 overripe bananas, mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

*I’ve also successfully made this cake in a half batch, with 1/2 c coconut sugar in place of the brown+white. I LOVE it this way, but up to you!

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease two 8 or 9″ cake pans (alternatively, make half the recipe, like I did for Kira, and use two 6.5″ pans. Perfect for two roomies!)

Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon,  and salt.

Using a hand mixer, cream the sugars and softened butter together until fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla and mashed buhnahnas. Mix again.

Add in buttermilk and flour, alternating between the two, and starting and ending with flour. You can use your mixer for this too, which is obviously nice. Pour your batter into pans, and inhale the lovely banana aroma. Bake until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. (It’ll be less for the 6.5″ pans–unfortunately I’m not sure how long mine took. I set the timer for 20, and watched them carefully from there. I’m thinking about 25 total). Let cool in pans for at least 10 minutes, and then let cool completely before frosting.

Keep Calm… and Sprinkle On? I think so.

Chocolate Glaze

In a double boiler, melt together 1/2 c of butter, and 2 c of chocolate chips. For a 6.5″ cake, I used a little more than half of this amount. I also threw in a little vanilla—it’s a nice addition. Let this cool a bit before frosting, otherwise it’s extremely runny. Which is kind of fun, but not exactly aesthetic…

Top with sprinkles! Of course. What else?! This is why my gremlins are technicolor.

Enjoy with a fab roomie, who you are super excited to live with, after a really civilized picnic-style dinner of good cheese, crusty bread, fresh basil, and fresh veggies. YUM.

din din!
I look like I’m about to fling the cake on the floor, oops!

AND THEN.

Do a happy dance because your lovely parents bought you a surprise for your 21st birthday on Friday! A RED Kitchenaide STANDMIXER! Happy, happy, HAPPY! Danke schoen, Mutti and Vati, you are quite possibly the BEST EVER!

Kitchenaide, you are my new pet!

It’s not easy being green…

that's right. GREEN PANCAKES.

Ok.

I just have to say, in my defense… I don’t normally make green food.

I mean… I EAT green food. You know, like that color produced by chlorophyll. Like plants. Mmmmm, plants. I do love them. Especially the green ones! Like broccoli, bok choy, celery, lettuces. Um. I could go on, but in the interest of holding your attention.. *ahem* Let’s move ahead!

So.

Since I’m currently roomie-less (but NOT FOR LONG, YAYYYY!!!), I’m purchasing and consuming for one stomach (and its resident gremlins). I’m discovering this to be an exceptionally fun challenge, not only to eat all the stuff in the fridge before it goes traveling southward, but also to eat a varied, balanced, and nutritionally sound diet. BUT. This diet also has to be interesting. Why would I EVER eat boring food? Boring food is, well…BORING. Life is too short and my stomach is too small (sadly I’m not a cow with five stomachs, why weren’t humans invented like that, I ask you?!) to eat lame food.

Right. Sorry, that was rather tangential. ANYway. As I was saying, before I so rudely interrupted myself about boring food… In my travels through the recesses of my fridge, I happened upon some spinach. I knew it was in there, of course, but I wasn’t exactly sure how I wanted to use it. I also have three lonely mushrooms, just in case anyone cares. And NO, they are NOT going into pancakes, ewwy ew ew.

As I was staring down the spinach, I had  a BRILLIANT PLAN! (Because anything involving your adorable and tiny *PURPLE* food processor is a brilliant idea) I decided to make spinach puree and… wait… ADD IT TO PANCAKES! Can you say nutritional value, all in one tidy little yummy package? Because I can. And there’s more, ooohhhh yes. They were DELICIOUS! Spinach is so totally going into my pancakes from now on (except with a certain Pancake Friday buddy–you know who you are!)

So. Without any further babble, here is the recipe! You’ve seen it before in other forms, although the base for this is the most basic.

down at pancake level

Spinach-Oat-Buttermilk Pancakes (Serves one with a cow stomach, or one normal human plus leftover breakfast!)

Hugely adapted from Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Book

Do the pancake shtick! Mix dry:

  • 3/4 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • very scant 1/2 tsp salt

*Tasty add-in: I chucked in about 1/4-1/3 c rolled oats. I highly recommend this! It gives them a bit more body and lovely chewiness.

Mix wet in a separate bowl:

  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • some melted something (I used Earth Balance… the original recipe calls for 3 tbsp, I usually put in a spoonful or so… or not. Sometimes I leave it out. Butter or olive oil are fine too)

*To the wet ingredient bowl: ADD YOUR SPINACH! I’m not sure how much I actually used, probably about 2 c? I had about 2/3 or so of a bag left, and I used mostly all of it. It’s not very exact, but however much you want is probably fine.

You see? Healthy and delicious.
BABY PURPLE FOOD PROCESSOR!!

Mix wet into dry! I threw in a finely chopped banana, as per usual, which I also highly recommend. I may have even added a few frozen huckleberries and choc chippies to one or two but shhhhh don’t tell!

Pour. Cook. Drool. Photograph. Discover, whilst on the phone with a bestie, that you have GREEN SPRINKLES that match your pancakes. Freak out just a little bit and pour them on a wee bit over enthusiastically… then find out that the sprinkles have soaked into the pancakes while photographing, and that you now have sprinkles on your dinner. Secretly do a happy dance for sprinkles.

Watch Voyager. Eat and LOVE your green food. And NO, it did NOT come out of a replicator (though I wish it had!).

“At ease, Ensign Kim, before you sprain something” -Kathryn Janeway.

Do it.

oh. and ps: I just wanted to share this too!! I tested out my personal cake pans (size 6.5″) by making a half batch of Crazy Chocolate cake! It was EXCELLENT. I just made a few changes to the posted recipe, namely brown sugar instead of white or turbinado. Yummy! And sooo cute.

Perfect thirds!