Fave Human + Birthday = A Very Extra Cake

Alright alright I’m a few days late and SO delinquent on anything resembling regular posts here but….. better late than never.

Charles’ birthday was this week so you better believe there was CAKE! Birthdays are a great excuse to be very extra and bake a layer cake with six layers (yes. I did) – this is the Fave Human we are talking about, after all. He’s cute. He can stay.

Good news is, since I waited a few days to post, I can relay the comments – everyone who ate it thought it was delicious, so I can safely say this one is a winner. Almond cake, marionberry + blackberry and chocolate ganache filling, and vanilla buttercream. Nothing in here is overly complicated; they just are stellar when put together. This is also one of those that can be made in stages, which is such a boon for a busy week. I ended up making the filling over the weekend, the cake layers monday, and then frosting, ganache and assembly on wednesday, his actual birthday. Besides, freezing cake layers actually makes them easier to slice (at least I think) and helps flatten them out a little.

This is a pretty dense cake so a little goes a long way – this was a 7″ cake to feed 6 at dinner, plus about a fourth of it leftover – obviously, who doesn’t love leftover cake. With six layers it makes for a pretty tall slice. It’s sweeter than my average dessert but hey, birthdays only come around once a year. It IS whole grain, so there’s that. Can’t let my dessert morals slide completely….

As to why I haven’t really had anything resembling regular posts on here… I *have* been baking, but a) I keep making variations on the same galette and I don’t need to be spamming your feeds with endless galette variations and b) camp is literally IMMINENT and I have been eyeballs deep in director stuff since basically… May… so that plus a full time job = not so much free time for blog things. Promise I’m still baking on a regular basis even though it doesn’t always show up here! Headed up to camp on the 15th, and I can’t wait.

The summer fruit right now is outrageously good… my philosophy is to mess with it as little as possible so it can shine as much as possible; hence the endless riffs on berry-stone fruit galettes.

case in point.

Anyway. Next time you need a layer cake for an occasion – or no occasion, maybe just for fun – might I recommend this one? I promise it’s delicious :)

I hope everyone has a lovely holiday weekend – hugs from my kitchen to yours.

Almond Cake with Dark Berry Filling, Chocolate Ganache, and Vanilla Icing

Not too sweet almond cake sandwiched with a marionberry & blackberry filling, dark chocolate ganache, and a vanilla buttercream. A celebration cake at its finest. Yield: 1 7-9″ cake, depending on what pan you use; serves several. This recipe is written slightly differently than usual; less of a list and more akin to suggestions. Most components can be made ahead, making this a good one to make in stages.

For the cake:

I use this cake, as written with the exceptions as follows: reduce sugar to a scant 1c per batch (I used fair trade cane sugar here); sub whole wheat pastry flour (*not straight whole wheat, it’s not fine enough).

For a 7″, 6 layer cake (3 layers, halved), I made 1.5 batches. I tend to make them ahead of time, wrap well in plastic wrap (the ONLY time it is allowed in my kitchen) and freeze them, at least overnight. Thaw in the fridge overnight before using or at room temp. Typically I will top them for flat layers, like I did here, but you don’t technically have to (though if you do, you can eat the scraps and everyone knows that’s the best part).

For the marionberry & blackberry filling:

Honestly, just use jam! It’s delicious, easy and just about the perfect consistency. If you’re feeling fancy, you can make a berry curd, like this:

Take 2 cups, ish, of frozen berries (I used blackberries & marionberries), and toss them in a saucepan. Add 1 tbsp maple syrup, zest and juice of one lemon, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5-6 min, mashing the berries slightly with a spoon, until most of them have burst. Remove from heat, and strain into a heatproof bowl, through a fine mesh strainer, pressing to release as much juice as possible. Discard the seeds, or use them creatively somewhere else (maybe a smoothie or something?) In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water and set aside.

Return strained berry juice to the saucepan, and whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Turn the heat back up to medium and whisk constantly, until the fruit starts to simmer. Reduce heat to low, cook for 1-2 minutes more (you’ll see it visibly thicken), then remove from heat and let cool completely. Chill in the fridge before using. Can be made up to one week ahead; store in an airtight jar in the fridge and stir well before use.

I ended up using a combination of both jam and curd, just for fun and also for flavor. You do you! All jam is completely fine and much faster.

For the frosting:

1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp plain yogurt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp whole milk

This is a very straightforward buttercream – using a hand (or stand) mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add in powdered sugar a bit at a time, beating after each incorporation. Add yogurt, vanilla and whole milk and beat to combine. The frosting should be smooth and spreadable. Can be made ahead and refrigerated; beat before using to fluff it up. I do prefer to make this immediately before using just for ease, but it works just fine ahead of time too.

I like my cakes lightly frosted; if you’re making a cake that is going to be fully frosted with frosting also between the layers, make a double batch of what is listed here. This made exactly enough for me to use a thin layer between the cake layers + frost the whole thing naked cake style, but I only wanted a thin layer so that was exactly what I was after.

For the ganache:

Rough measurements – I used about 1c of dark chocolate + 1 tbsp coconut oil. Stir in a double boiler until melted, then use before it starts to set up again as it cools. Reheat as needed to bring it back to a drippier consistency if desired.

To assemble:

I wanted a 6 layer cake; to do that, I baked three 7″ layers, then topped them to flatten them out, and halved them. A serrated or just very sharp knife works well for this; just go slow.

Spread a thin circle of frosting on your cake stand or plate, just smaller than the cake itself. Plop down the first layer, followed by a layer of frosting, a layer of berry curd/jam, and a layer of ganache, then a layer of cake, then frosting, berry, ganache…. rinse, repeat. Once you have the final cake layer on, use an offset spatula to frost the rest. If you want a naked cake look, smooth it on but let the cake layers show like mine; otherwise, you can do a crumb coat, refrigerate, and then come back for the second frosting layer.

Top with ganache – you can have it drop down the sides, or not (I chose to not) – and fresh berries. Refrigerate before serving if it’ll be longer than a few hours and/or your kitchen is very warm; mine wasn’t so I left it out. It’ll do at room temp for a few hours but refrigerate any leftovers. Serve & enjoy!

Bay swims and blood oranges

First swim of 2022 accomplished! Took me awhile to get back down there but I’m very glad I did. This marks one year of extremely regular bay swimming! My average is probably twice a week – there were a bunch in there where I was very regular with a MWF schedule but lately not so much. It felt COLD to me today but that’s probably because oh right it’s January and also because it’s been a bit since I’ve been in… still in my sleeveless wetsuit though, so that’s something. I think the water temp today was 50? Not sure. Definitely one of my fave ways to start a weekend :)

I have a cake for you today! I think I say this every time but I really don’t make cakes that frequently. Probably because I can cram more fruit into something like a crisp or a galette and that’s always a priority, but I like a good cake now and again for a change.

This one fits the bill perfectly – it’s poppy seedy and almondy, with a moist crumb and a bit of pleasantly dense texture. As it is grain/gluten free, dairy free and refined sugar free, it relies primarily on eggs for its loft and is made only with almond flour. I consider this to be a super simple cake – it doesn’t require a bunch of different flours or a mixer. In fact, it could easily be put together for a brunch the morning of; the blood orange curd (gf but not dairy free) can be made in advance up to a week, so that’s an easy one to knock out a few days ahead.

I love this for dessert with ice cream but it most definitely holds its own in a brunch/breakfast situation, and it’s perfect alongside coffee. The blood orange curd is of course optional but highly recommended (and not intimidating! don’t let it scare you off). Plus, blood orange season isn’t super long – I try to take advantage while I can. They are so beautiful!

In other news, we’ve been having some beautiful sunrises and sunsets in the city of late – here’s a sunrise from earlier this week and a cactus happily doing its cactus thing.

I hope your weekend is full of good things! Maybe cake? I definitely recommend cake :)

Almond Poppy Seed Cake with Blood Orange Curd

Grain and gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free. Kind of paleo, I guess? A riff on this almond cake I made years ago. Lightly sweet and perfectly moist, especially good for midwinter citrus season! The blood orange curd is gluten free and refined sugar free but made with butter; I think a dairy free butter would work here. Yield: one 6-9″ cake (depending on cake pan of choice), serves several.

2 c (packed) almond flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 c poppy seeds
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 c maple syrup
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c coconut oil, melted
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
blood orange curd, for serving (recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease an 8″ springform (or cake pan, or cast iron! I’ve used a deep 7″ cast iron to great effect here; I’ve also used a 6″ springform very successfully for a taller cake) with coconut oil and dust with a bit of almond flour. If I use a springform, I typically set it on a baking sheet lined with parchment to catch any drips.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, soda and salt, and poppy seeds. In a smaller bowl, whisk together beaten eggs (just beat these in the same bowl before adding everything else) maple, almond and vanilla extracts, and melted coconut oil. Whisk in lemon zest and juice. Stir wet ingredients into dry, until combined. Pour batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes (9″ will probably be more like 35; my 6″ springform went for 40) – the top should be golden brown and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let cool on a rack! Ideally give it at least 10 minutes before releasing the springform; if you used a cake pan, I’d suggest letting it cool completely before removing. Serve warm, room temp or chilled (for a nicely solid cake; I love the texture of chilled coconut oil cakes) with a dollop of blood orange curd and a few citrus slices.

Keeps well overnight in the fridge.

Blood Orange Curd

3 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 c blood orange + meyer lemon juice (I used 4 small blood oranges + 1 lemon)
blood orange zest (I just zest as many as I will use for juice)
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp maple syrup
4 tbsp butter, unsalted
1 tsp vanilla

I use a double boiler for this lemon curd, which I highly recommend! You don’t have to, but in my experience it makes for a better cooking process. Heat water in the bottom of the double boiler until it’s at a high simmer. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, citrus zest and juice, sea salt, and maple syrup. Add in the butter one tbsp at a time, whisking continuously, not adding the next tbsp until the first is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens and will coat the back of a spoon (or your whisk leaves tracks) – usually around 5 to 8 minutes. It’s a noticeable change when it happens, so just watch the cooking magic! Remove from heat, and strain through a metal strainer to remove zest and any bits of cooked egg. Store in a glass container in the fridge until ready for use – can be made up to a week ahead.

Camp & Cake

HELLO!

I am back (briefly) from my home away from home in the mountains – as always, camp was a balm for the soul that I didn’t know how much I needed until I felt the afterglow.

There’s something intangible and so special about that place and those people – my camp family will always see me and love me for who I am.

Words aren’t even really sufficient – it’s more of a feeling and less of something that I can properly explain. Even as a director where I’m actually technically ‘working’ while I’m there for the session (albeit fun work), I still come home feeling deeply rested and generally better about the other aspects of my life. Camp magic is a real thing. Something to do with laughing until I cry, sleeping under the stars, smelling campfire in my sweatshirts, and jumping in the lake with a cadre of women who have either watched me grow up or grown up alongside me.

This was year 18 at this magical place – almost at the two decade mark and going strong. I already can’t wait until next year! Even better, we passed our ACA reaccreditation with flying colors, which just clinches an all-around great camp year. Since words don’t really do it justice, I’m leaving a bunch of photos here instead.

the view from my bed…. tents are overrated

I am only back for about a week and a half before C and I leave again – this time to the east coast for some family reunion beach time, hooray! The beach is calling my name. Time for a true vacation.

In the meantime, I baked a thing! Had to squeeze something in so you didn’t wonder what happened to me – this one was thrown together from what I had on hand, since I’m avoiding buying anything else before I leave again.

Enter: the black sesame blueberry cake! Amazingly grey colored and fantastic tasting. It’s super simple to throw together – if you don’t have black sesame, no worries; I’m including a sub in the recipe notes. Great with coffee (what isn’t) or for dessert. It’s lightly sweet and nutty; highly adaptable for any summer fruit you have around. I grabbed a bag of blueberries I’d frozen before I left for camp, which worked perfectly – but anything that resembles a stone fruit or berry will do nicely.

Happy baking! Get after that summer fruit while it’s freshest. Have a great weekend!

Black Sesame and Blueberry Cake

Adapted from Food52, here! I tweaked it a bit for personal preferences and am very happy with the result. I may try it in a slightly smaller pan for a thicker cake, next time I make it. Gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Yield: 1 8 or 9″ cake.

1 c black sesame seeds*
1 1/2 c almond flour
1/4 c oat flour
1/4 c unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 c pure maple syrup
1/4 c unrefined coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 c blueberries, fresh or frozen

*if you don’t have black sesame or don’t want to use them, omit them and increase the almond flour by 1c

Preheat the oven to 350, and line a cake pan (8 or 9″) with parchment paper. A springform would also work well for this I think, though I haven’t tried it.

In a food processor, grind the sesame seeds until fine (just don’t let them go until they start turning into tahini). Once ground, add them to a large bowl. Add in almond and oat flour, coconut, baking powder, and salt and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, maple, coconut oil, and vanilla. Stir the wet into the dry ingredients, until the batter is just combined. Scrape it into the prepared pan, smooth out and top with blueberries. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a tester comes out clean (if your fruit is super juicy, it might go for a few more minutes). Remove and let cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Slice and serve warm or cool. Keeps for several days in the fridge.

Birthday!

Okay so I’m a little off my normal posting schedule (Wednesday?! weird) but I have camp imminently approaching (yay!!) and then some vacation (MORE YAY!), which is going to throw off my normal schedule anyway, so why not.

Hello!

Happy midweek, if there is such a thing. At least there is a three day weekend coming up!

Also, Fave BoyHuman had a birthday yesterday! So of COURSE there was a baked thing.

and a tiny Yoda of course

He requested chocolate and blueberries, so I ended up making a dark chocolate torte with mascarpone cream and blueberry chia jam. Soooo yum. It’s been a minute since I’ve made a cake, and this one did NOT disappoint. Adapted it from a friend/the local baker behind Bojon Gourmet – her stuff is seriously amazing.

Plus, I only dropped one version of this cake. HA. I was overdue for a kitchen mishap I think… much cursing ensued, but I think it actually did me a favor, since I was able to tweak the flavors and the baking time a slight bit on the second go round, and eat some cake scraps (obviously. I not above eating them off my floor, or the bottom of my oven).

This cake sounds intimidating maybe but I promise it’s really not! Most labor intensive thing in here is beating the egg whites, which in my mind is just fun – I love watching egg white alchemy take place. It’s also gluten and grain free, plus refined sugar free depending on the chocolate you use.

There’s been other baking happening too that hasn’t really made it on here – last weekend I made what is approximately my 1,000,000th galette (I love them, what can I say) – it was delicious and so simple. This one was cherries and apricots – they are very much in season right now so I’m taking full advantage. Probably should invest in a cherry pitter though…

You can use any of the galette recipes on here (like this one) – just swap in enough cherries and sliced apricots until you have a large enough pile to fill your dough.

Let’s see, what else.

In other news, working too much. Can’t wait for camp, and then also vacation. Wheee!

I think that’s pretty much it…. tired after what has been a crazy start to the week. Time for the cake recipe! I hope the rest of your week goes by quickly and that it’s a smooth slide into the holiday weekend.

Dark Chocolate Torte with Mascarpone Cream and Blueberry Chia Jam

Gluten and grain free; refined sugar free depending on the type of chocolate you use. I suggest Hu or Raaka if you need or want it to be strictly refined sugar free. I used a blend of what I had on hand, which wasn’t STRICTLY refined sugar free, but close enough :) Yield: 1 6″ cake, serves several with small slices or two with a lot of leftovers for breakfast!

for the cake:

Cake recipe gratefully adapted from The Bojon Gourmet, here! Her recipes are so well written, I’m not going to mess with rewriting! Her blog is beautiful, just go take a look. My notes are below for my adaptation.

  • I used a blend of 67 and 85% dark chocolate plus a chunk of unsweetened (100% cacao) to get to 6oz and it was delicious
  • Used 2tbsp cassava flour to keep it grain free
  • Replaced the sugar with 1/4 maple into the chocolate batter and 3 tbsp coconut sugar in the egg whites
  • Added 1 tbsp vanilla
  • Used a 6″ springform for 3/4 of the batter, 3″ springform for the rest (optional, of course – the batter fits into an 8 or 9″ pan perfectly) – the 6″ went for 20 min

for the cream:

1/2 c mascarpone
1 c heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp maple syrup

Whip everything together until it holds its shape with soft peaks (for softer cream) or stiffer peaks if you want more body. Chill until needed.

for the blueberry chia jam:

2 c blueberries (I used 1 c fresh, 1 c frozen wild)
juice of one lemon
2 tbsp maple
1 tbsp chia seeds

Bring berries, lemon juice and maple to a simmer over medium high, then lower heat. Cook until the juices are bubbling and juice is reduced, 10-15 min. Stir in 1 tbsp chia seeds; mash slightly to squash berries, remove and let cool; chill in the fridge overnight if you make it in advance (keeps for at least a week in the fridge).

Serve this however you like! I chose to frost mine but that’s totally optional – it would also be excellent served in wedges with cream and blueberry jam dolloped over the top. It keeps very well in the fridge – I frosted it a few hours before serving, and served it cold. You can also let it warm up slightly on the counter a bit before serving. Store it covered in the fridge for a day or two after if you have leftovers.

Spring = Rhubarb

The first of the rhubarb!

I had to work a little to track some down – my usual market didn’t have any, but luckily I found some when I was out and about in a different neighborhood. Which also meant that I was that person walking down the street with a bunch of rhubarb clutched in my fist – but I am definitely okay being that person.

This cake is another variation on the grapefruit one I posted a few weeks ago – it’s a perfect snack or breakfast cake, as it isn’t all that sweet. It’s lightly spicy from the five spice, and the top gets jammy from the softened rhubarb + the actual jam involved. I use a jam that is fruit-sweetened only, which keeps this guy refined sugar free, but use whatever you have!

Almost wishing this had come out with the rhubarb slightly less soft – I may play around with it a little and see if I can make that happen.

Another insanely busy week here – I would like to stop working on the weekends please (insert eyeroll)…. this week should be less crazy though so I’m hoping for some downtime. At least I was able to swim most days this week; it is definitely preserving my sanity. Took today off since I know the humidity is supposed to drop next week which will trigger some autoimmune stuff – which means I’ll also be spending most days in the water, if at all possible.

Today was also a day of a food-photography mishap… I definitely broke the cake when I moved it from cooling rack to plate. Whatever, nothing some well-placed coconut won’t hide, and we’re going to eat it anyway so who cares. Not everything needs to be perfect.

I hope it is springy and nice where you are! I’m still hoping for some spring rains (CA needs it, but also I just love it.) Happy weekend :)

Rhubarb & Five Spice Upside Down Cake

Gluten free, dairy free & refined sugar free. Lightly sweet, slightly spicy, and perfect for spring. A Wait are those Cookies original. Yield: 1 8″ cake, serves several.

1.5 c almond flour
1/3 c cornmeal
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp five spice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c maple syrup
1/3 c coconut oil, melted
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 stalks of rhubarb, thinly sliced
2 tbsp apricot jam (mine is fruit sweetened only)
2 tsp coconut sugar

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease an 8″ cake pan with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment paper – I flip it over, trace the outline & then cut, to get a perfectly sized circle. Spread the apricot jam evenly over the parchment, then drop the rhubarb slices into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle with coconut sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt & five spice. Add in eggs, honey, coconut oil, vanilla & almond extract, and stir until all ingredients are just incorporated. Drop the batter into the prepared pan – it’s thick! That’s normal – just even out the top with a spatula. Bake for 35-38 minutes, until the top of the cake is lightly browned, firm, and a tester in the center comes out clean. You can cover the cake with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking if the cake is browning too fast – though mine was done at 35 minutes, and I didn’t need the foil trick. Remove and let cool for a few minutes in the pan before flipping it out onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing and serving. Stores well overnight in the fridge, and is arguably even better for breakfast.

Cake for breakfast

Cake!

It feels like I hardly ever make cake anymore, but boy am I glad I broke that streak.

I was intrigued by the idea of an upside-down cake, but I’ve never liked them that much since they are always SO full of sugar and way overly sweet. I liked the idea in theory but I was curious to see if I could pull it off with just a bit of fruit-only jam & coconut sugar. Turns out, it works marvelously! This guy is gluten & dairy free + refined sugar free; could probably be pretty easily vegan too with an egg replacement.

It’s citrusy and sunny with a satisfying crunch from the poppyseeds; the texture is great with a combination of almond flour & cornmeal. It’s not really dense exactly, but more like a cake/quick bread hybrid.

We both love poppyseed anything, so it was an easy sell. Both of us really enjoyed the cake aspect of it too, so I might put cake back in the rotation more frequently. This one is arguably best for breakfast; we ate it both for dessert and for breakfast per usual, but it reminds me quite a bit of a muffin (in a good way.)

Took a nice long walk on the beach at Fort Funston today; it’s been dry out here and my autoimmune stuff HATES low humidity so I’ve been in the bay or next to the ocean literally every day – and sometimes both.

March already, almost! That’s hard to believe. Definitely wishing I had another day of weekend. Hopefully yours were full of outside time and good food! :)

Grapefruit Poppyseed Upside-down Cake

Free of gluten, dairy and refined sugar. MUCH less sweet than a standard upside-down cake, which always contain scary amounts of sugar. This one makes an amazing breakfast cake, so highly recommend saving a bit for the next morning. Yield: 1 8″ cake, serves several. A Wait are those Cookies original.

1.5 c almond flour
1/3 c cornmeal
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 c maple syrup
1/3 c coconut oil, melted
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
zest of 2 grapefruits
juice of 1 lemon
Two grapefruits, peeled & sliced
1 tbsp apricot jam (mine is fruit sweetened only)
2 tsp coconut sugar

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly grease an 8″ cake pan with coconut oil and line the bottom with parchment paper – I flip it over, trace the outline & then cut, to get a perfectly sized circle. Spread the apricot jam evenly over the parchment, then drop the grapefruit slices into the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle with coconut sugar.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt & poppy seeds. Add in eggs, honey, coconut oil, vanilla & almond extract extract, grapefruit zest and lemon juice, and stir until all ingredients are just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan – it’s thick batter! That’s normal – just even out the top with a spatula. Bake for 35-38 minutes, until the top of the cake is lightly browned, firm, and a tester in the center comes out clean. You can cover the cake with foil during the last 10 minutes of baking if the cake is browning too fast – though mine was done at 37 minutes, and I didn’t need the foil trick. Remove and let cool for a few minutes in the pan before flipping it out onto a cooling rack. Let cool completely before slicing and serving. Stores well overnight in the fridge, and is arguably even better for breakfast.

All the change, all at once. Why not?!

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Internet friends!

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Hello! It feels like it’s been forever. I started my new job last week – though I had two first days, one in Dallas for the marketing group and then one in SF at my actual office – and I signed the lease on an adorable little apartment today! I can’t wait to live in the same city in which I work, AND the apartment building is a 1920s original. The architecture nerd in me is doing the biggest happy dance. Not to mention that it has an incredible renovated kitchen and I can’t wait to bake in it!

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My walk to work is also substantially awesome:

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Minus the fact that I move the day before camp starts (somewhere, the universe is laughing at me), I am SO excited for all of these changes. I already love my new job!

Dallas was a great trip too – I got to see some incredible sunrise skies and the Thanks-Giving chapel’s amazing ceiling – photos were too good not to share!

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C also has a birthday coming up! We celebrated early since he’ll be off on a cycling trip (wheee!) for his actual birthday but it’s me and of course I couldn’t let it go unmarked – had to provide baked goods! Obviously.

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I have to say, this cake makes an awesome breakfast. It’s kind of like cornbread? Only lightly sweet and super delicious. C and I are only mildly obsessed with fennel right now, so stay tuned for more fennel-y things, as soon as the utter insanity of my life calms down. There might be one or two things before I leave for camp, but no promises.

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I actually made two cakes from one batch – one in an 8″ pan, and the leftover batter in a 5″. It’s a really adaptable cake; you can use an 8″ springform, a 9″ cake pan, 8″ cake pan + a smaller one (cupcake tins would probably work also)… you do you!

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Happy Monday! I hope the rest of your week goes swimmingly :)

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Apple & Fennel Ricotta Polenta Cake

Gluten free and refined sugar free! The fennel and apple balance each other perfectly for a lightly sweet dessert that has a dense crumb. I love it with ice cream, but it’s great on its own as well. Yield: 1 8″ or 9″ cake, serves several. A Wait are those Cookies original!

6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c maple syrup, divided
zest of 2 meyer lemons
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1.25 c almond flour
3/4 c fine polenta
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1.25 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1/2 granny smith apple, diced
1 bulb of fennel, grated
1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/3 cup slivered almonds, optional for garnish
a sprinkle of coconut sugar

Preheat the oven to 325, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 8″ cake pan, well greased and lined with two strips of parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily (the leftover batter went into a 5″ pan; two cakes for the price of one!)

Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) , beat butter, half the maple, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and beat until combined, another minute-ish. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, and sea salt. Add the dry ingredients into the larger bowl, add ricotta, and stir to combine.

In a separate, non-reactive bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (preferably with your hand mixer or stand mixer so that your arm doesn’t fall off) – drizzle in the rest of the maple while mixing.

Fold the egg whites into the batter in two batches, then fold in chopped apples and grated fennel. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and top with sliced apples and almonds, if using. Sprinkle with a bit of coconut sugar. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean (mine was done closer to 50 min). Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving; also delicious cold if you want to stick it in the fridge for an hour or two.

Excellent with a bit of vanilla ice cream (really, what isn’t) for dessert or eat it alongside eggs for breakfast. Keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge or stored in an airtight glass container.

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Cake for breakfast? Sign me up.

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Hello! December is progressing at a ridiculously fast clip, as it always seems to….

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I’ve been enjoying all the holiday things – spent yesterday at the Dickens Fair to see friends and fave human do some performing; and happened to come upon these hilarious dead rat gingerbread (clearly I need some new cookie cutters…)

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C and I loved this cake! I riffed on my last ricotta cake to see if I could get it to be more like a cheesecake – this one is definitely that. It reminds me most of cornbread crossed with cheesecake, which sounds weird but I swear it’s amazing. It’s light but dense at the same time, but in a way that isn’t heavy. As per usual it’s not very sweet – the chopped apples in the batter bring just the right amount of sweetness.

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Aside from the extra bowl required to beat the egg whites (which I find super fun – it’s my favorite bit of kitchen alchemy), the cake comes together super quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Arguably could be made in the morning for brunch, but it also keeps excellently in the fridge overnight and is almost better cold, in my opinion, making it a great candidate to be made the night before.

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It goes superbly with ice cream for dessert, but is equally amazing sliced in simple wedges for breakfast. Of course we at it alongside eggs & kale – it would be really perfect to feed a holiday morning crowd!

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I am so very tempted to make this again, and soon – it’s definitely a favorite of mine. Luckily, I’m out of ricotta at the moment, so I’ll settle for brunch with a friend. Happy holidays!! Hug your loved ones and bake them things, I promise they’ll be happy!

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Ricotta Polenta Cake with Apples and Pomegranate

I LOVE this cake. Only lightly sweet, it’s somewhere closer to being a cornbread crossed with a cheesecake. The apples bring just the right amount of natural sweetness – it’s perfect for breakfast. Yield: 1 9″ cake. Adapted from my last ricotta cake, here.

6 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 c maple syrup, divided
zest of 2 meyer lemons
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs, separated
1.25 c almond flour
3/4 c fine polenta
scant 1/2 tsp sea salt
1.25 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
1 granny smith apple, diced
1/2 granny smith apple, thinly sliced, for garnish
1/3 cup slivered almonds, optional for garnish
a sprinkle of coconut sugar
thinly sliced apples & pomegranate arils for garnish
a bit of chopped crystalized ginger, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 325, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 9″ cake pan, well greased and lined with two strips of parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily.

Using a hand mixer (or a stand mixer) , beat butter, half the maple, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add in egg yolks and beat until combined, another minute-ish. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, polenta, and sea salt. Add the dry ingredients into the larger bowl, add ricotta, and stir to combine.

In a separate, non-reactive bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (preferably with your hand mixer or stand mixer so that your arm doesn’t fall off) – drizzle in the rest of the maple while mixing.

Fold the egg whites into the batter in two batches, then fold in chopped apples. Pour the batter into the cake pan, and top with sliced apples and almonds, if using. Sprinkle with a bit of coconut sugar. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean (mine was done closer to 50 min). Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving; also delicious cold if you want to stick it in the fridge for an hour or two.

Garnish with pomegranate arils before serving! Excellent with a bit of vanilla ice cream (really, what isn’t) for dessert or eat it alongside eggs for breakfast. Keeps well for several days, covered in the fridge or stored in an airtight glass container.

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Strawberry Season!

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Happy Weekend!

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The strawberries are perfect over here right now – so, so perfect! I picked up a carton over the weekend and knew I needed to do something with them, besides just eat them over my sink.

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I love the idea of olive oil cakes – olive oil is one of my favorite things anyway, and putting it in cake just makes it that much better. Obviously all of my desserts trend not-so-sweet, and this one is no exception: the strawberries provide the necessary sweetness against the more mellow, lightly fruity cake.

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We decided that the cake itself is somewhat of a cornbread – shortbread hybrid (not so much in texture but in taste) – especially when eaten with ice cream and strawberries; we both go bonkers for cornmeal & polenta over here so it’s a win all around.

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Besides that, it’s a very easy cake that comes together in a snap and doesn’t require any overly unusual ingredients. We ate it for dessert and also (because it’s us!) for breakfast yesterday morning – no photos since it was a hurried morning, but never fear – it was eaten alongside the usual eggs, kale and coffee!

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Still loving the photos from last week’s hike to Twin Peaks – here is another of my favorites. This looks like it could be the Elysian Fields or something of that nature!

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Anyway – seize the moment of perfect strawberries, and put them on cake! Happy weekend!

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Olive Oil Polenta Cake with Strawberries

Fruity, very lightly sweet cake that is something of a cross between cornbread and a shortcake – we really noticed the comparison to shortcake with eaten with ice cream and strawberries, but it is also great for breakfast of course, with a little extra olive oil and strawberries. Gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free. A Wait are Those Cookies original! Yield: 1 8″ cake.

1/2 c olive oil
1.5 c almond flour
1/2 c cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 c maple
4 eggs
zest of one meyer lemon
3 tbsp meyer lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
strawberries for serving

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8″ cake pan – if not using a springform, cut large strips of parchment paper to go underneath the cake with their edges hanging over the pan edge to make for easy removal.

Whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt.

Using an electric mixer, beat eggs until pale yellow in color. Beat in olive oil, maple, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in batches, beating until just incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until the top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with crumbs attached, 35-40 minutes. Cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then cool on a wire rack completely for about an hour before serving.

I cut up strawberries a few hours before serving and tossed them with a drizzle of olive oil and meyer lemon juice – I let them sit until serving and they were DELICIOUS. Highly recommended.

Serve with strawberries and ice cream and maybe an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Cake keeps really well covered in foil on the counter overnight & is excellent for breakfast – I’d eat it within three days for maximal freshness.

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Can’t stop, won’t stop with the citrus!

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Can you tell we love citrus over here? I think the last… 3? or 5? (I think it’s five…) desserts have featured those beautiful hued little guys…

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I’d have to say it’s a three-way tie for my favorite citrus between grapefruit, meyer lemon and blood oranges…luckily, this cake covers two out of three!

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Once again, it’s a dessert that easily does double duty for breakfast – just add some ice cream for dessert and you’re good to go. I love lemon curd on anything, so this is an easy sell for me. We loved it both ways – it’s almost scone-like when eaten alongside eggs & kale! (and coffee. let’s not leave that out)

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I’ve never used mace in my baking prior to this – apparently, it’s a relative of nutmeg, which I never knew. It plays really well against citrus, both grapefruit and meyer lemon, and adds a really interesting flavor profile. I love olive oil in cakes like this – it brings a rich fruitiness that isn’t otherwise found in butter or coconut oil.

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In other news, same ‘ol on the health issues front – I am still looking for answers and still frustrated. As I’ve said before, I try to keep it light in this space, but I have to admit this wasn’t a banner week for me. A little therapeutic baking and some quality time with fave human went a long way towards making the week seem not so overwhelming.

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Meyer lemons are perfect right now – and if anything is therapeutic, it is the scent of meyers! I love making curd with them – in fact, I had made and frozen a few batched not that long ago. Down to one now… which will probably get consumed next week, knowing how we roll around here.

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Happy almost-April! Go make yourself some citrusy goodness.

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Grapefruit Polenta Cake with Meyer Lemon Curd

Gluten free and refined sugar free. Light, springtime dessert – or breakfast – this cake is fruity from the olive oil and grapefruit, and goes perfectly alongside a huge dollop of lemon curd or some ice cream, or better yet, both. We loved it both for dessert and breakfast – it’s almost reminiscent of a scone, so works well alongside eggs and kale. Yield: 1 9″ cake, serves 2-8. Cake adapted from Saveur magazine, here. Be careful with the bake time on this one – I was going by the recipe and it ended up slightly on the dry side b/c I didn’t pull it soon enough. I updated my bake times below to reflect that – otherwise, the flavor is stellar! And a large drizzle of lemon curd solves the dryness issue just fine ;)

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For the curd – my favorite recipe to date:

2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
1/3 c meyer lemon juice
zest of 4 meyer lemons
pinch of sea salt
2.5 tbsp maple syrup
3.5 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

I used a double boiler for this lemon curd, which literally is a game changer. Highly recommended! Heat water in the bottom of the double boiler until it’s at a high simmer. In the top of the double boiler, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, lemon zest and juice, sea salt, and maple syrup. Add in the butter one tbsp at a time, whisking continuously, not adding the next tbsp until the first is completely melted. Whisk in vanilla. Cook, stirring constantly, until the lemon curd thickens and coats the back of a spoon (or your whisk leaves tracks) – usually around 5 to 8 minutes. It’s a noticeable change when it happens, so just watch the cooking magic! Remove from heat and store in a glass container in the fridge until ready for use.

For the cake:

scant 1/4 c maple syrup
1/4 c grapefruit juice
zest of 2 grapefruits
2⁄3 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
1⁄3 cup olive oil
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2⁄3 cup brown rice flour
1⁄3 cup almond flour
1⁄3 cup coarsely ground yellow cornmeal, preferably Bob’s Red Mill
3 tbsp arrowroot starch
3 tbsp. tapioca starch
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground mace
1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
1⁄4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350, and either use an 8″ springform pan OR do like I did and use a 9″ cake pan, well greased and lined with two thick strips of parchment paper so that you can lift the cake out onto a cooling rack easily.

Whisk maple, zest and juices, plus yogurt, oil, and egg in a bowl until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk rice and almond flours, cornmeal, arrowroot and tapioca starches, baking powder, mace, and salt until combined; make a well in the center. Whisk in yogurt mixture until a smooth batter forms. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake until cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 30-40 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack to cool completely, removing parchment from underneath if you used it. Let cool completely before serving.

Store any leftovers covered on the counter – this is a cake that dries out quickly, so I’d recommend eating it within a day or two of baking.

Serve with meyer lemon curd, more sliced grapefruit & ice cream for dessert, or just with lemon curd for breakfast!

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