Wait… no citrus?!

IMG_0103

Hold the phone. NOT CITRUS?!

Surely you must be joking.

IMG_0084

Don’t worry, my love affair with all things citrus hasn’t ended, it’s just taking a week off so I can give apples some love. Apples haven’t really featured heavily in my desserts of late, so this is a nice change. Besides, apples, honey and almonds all pair so nicely together.

IMG_0088

This cake is a riff on the honey cake with blackberries & hazelnuts I made back in the fall, and this one once again reminds me of something you’d eat in the Shire – skillet and all, it’s very Tolkeinesque. Which of course appeals to my extraordinarily nerdy nature…

IMG_0071

Besides that, it’s light, delicious and comes together in a snap. I used a combination of apples since I love the tartness of Granny Smith but wanted a more complex flavor – Fujis are in here too.

IMG_0092

Excellent for dessert with some ice cream, and of course for breakfast alongside eggs & kale. Cake for breakfast? Sure, why not – it’s a great source of Vitamin E and healthy fats, plus it’s grain free, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free so everyone wins.

IMG_0086

Besides cake, a few snaps of what’s been occupying my time lately:

More SF series, of course.

IMG_0050

IMG_0066

No filter on this next one — I couldn’t believe how bright it was!

IMG_0100

IMG_0101

Enjoy your cake! It tastes best in good company :)

FullSizeRender 6

Apple Honey Cake with Blackberries and Maple Almonds

Gluten free, grain free, refined sugar free, dairy free, paleo depending on your definition. Light almond honey cake studded with apples and topped with blackberries (mo’ fruit!) and mapled almonds. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake; serves 2-8. Recipe is a riff on the honey cake with hazelnuts & blackberries, here. Note: I’ve adapted this recipe over time to fit my 8″ cast iron skillet perfectly, hence the odd measurements. Feel free to make this in a 9″ cake pan or skillet, just keep in mind the bake time will be less & you’ll have a slightly shorter cake.

IMG_0094

For the cake:

  • 1.5 c almond flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 c honey (I use raw usually) – runny and thick honey are both fine
  • 1/8 + 1/16 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped into 1/2″ pieces (I used a mix of Fuji & Granny Smith)
  • 1 apple for topping, sliced into 1/4″ thick wedges + 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • Cinnamon for topping

Peel, core and chop 2 apples, and set aside. Lightly grease your skillet or pan of choice with coconut oil and set aside. Preheat oven to 325.

In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Add in eggs, honey, coconut oil, and vanilla extract, and stir until all ingredients are just incorporated. Stir in 2 chopped apples. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and set aside momentarily. Cut up the last apple, slicing it into 1/4″ wedges and toss it with the tbsp of melted coconut oil. Fan these out across the top (this is totally optional of course), and sprinkle a little cinnamon on them. Bake for 60-65 minutes (if you left the apples off the very top of the cake, your bake time will be slightly less – check at 45), 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 15 minutes of baking if the cake is browning too fast. Remove and let cool before topping & serving.

For the maple almonds

  • 1 c slivered almonds
  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt

Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

For serving: top cake with blackberries and maple almonds! Slice and serve, especially good with vanilla ice cream. Store any leftovers covered, in the fridge for a few days.

IMG_0069

IMG_0082

2017: the tale of demanding, reincarnating bananas

img_5417

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping 2017 treats everyone a little better than last year – 2016 was a rough one for many. But as they say, onward and upward! Preferably with cake, which is where I come in.

img_5419

The dead bananas are calling! I had a plethora lurking around my kitchen this weekend and they put me on notice that they really wanted to reincarnate into something amazing… not banana bread again, if you please (my bananas can get a little demanding sometimes…). That being said, I had a hankering for banana cake (fundamentally different from banana bread, you see), so THIS happened!

img_5418

Happily so. Have you ever had sautéed dates? No? Get into the kitchen immediately and make them! I love dates anyway, but they are mindblowingly good when given a little bath in some olive oil and sea salt. I’ve always been a salt monster, so salty-sweet desserts are absolutely my jam, and these little powerhouses deliver. Besides that, they’re full of good nutrients (dates are high in vit A & K, plus potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium & zinc. woohoo!).

img_5422

This cake is actually full of good things – you have healthy fats from almond flour, hazelnuts, and coconut, and all the good stuff in dates. And besides that, most critically: it’s delicious, which is good for your soul.

Let’s see, what else? Jessie says hello (this is her way of chatting me up during breakfast, adorable cat)

img_5397

More drawings, of course! New year, same series! This is the Havens Mansion, built 1884 on S. Van Ness in SF.

img_5388

My first activity of 2017! Shocked? Nope.

img_5382

More beautiful sky!

img_5386

Show your new and improved 2017 self some love with some sautéed dates atop your cake, and revel in all the possibilities of a new year. Onward!

img_5423

Banana Date Skillet Cake with Coconut Frosting, Maple Hazelnuts, and Sautéed Dates

Pretty freaking amazing, if I do say so! Lightly sweet banana cake with jewel-like date pieces, coconut frosting and OMG sautéed dates, please make them immediately. Serve with a bit of ice cream or non-dairy biz if that’s your jam! Can’t miss either way. Refined sugar free, grain free, gluten free, dairy free, pretty much paleo. Yield: 1 8″ skillet cake, enough frosting to frost the top (cake is served straight out of the skillet); extra hazelnuts because you’ll definitely want extras… and the amount of dates is up to you (make extra!). Skillet cake adapted from Confessions of a Confectionista, here!

img_5421

For the cake:

  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 eggs
  • heaping 1/8 c coconut oil, melted
  • 1.5 tbsp raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • heaping 1.25 c almond flour
  • 1.5 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 medjool dates, chopped

For the maple hazelnuts (make ahead, if desired):

  • 1 c roasted hazelnuts
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • pinch of sea salt
  • splash of vanilla

For the sautéed dates:

  • 1-2 tbsp good olive oil
  • 7-8 medjool dates, halved & pitted
  • pinch of sea salt

For the coconut frosting:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, chilled upside-down overnight in the fridge
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

I usually make the hazelnuts ahead and store them in a jar until needed. Remove most of the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them together; it doesn’t matter if there are skins left, but I try to get rid of the majority. Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

To make the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and grease an 8″ cast iron skillet with coconut oil. In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then add eggs, melted coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. In a smaller bowl, whisk together almond flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder and soda, and salt. Pour dry into wet, and use an electric mixer to beat until combined. Stir in the chopped dates, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the top springs back when touched. The cake will brown because of the honey – if you feel it’s browning too fast, feel free to cover it with foil. Let cool completely before serving.

While the cake is cooling, make the sautéed dates! (good luck not eating them all straight out of the pan). In a small sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is warm, add the dates and sauté, stirring frequently, until they caramelize and are heated through, just about 2-3 minutes (the edges will start to get a little crispy). Watch them carefully, as they burn easily. When done, move them to a bowl to cool and sprinkle with sea salt (be sure to get all of the good oil out of the pan for drizzling!).

Also while the cake is cooling, make the coconut frosting. Open the can of coconut milk rightside up, and scrape out the cream that has solidified at the top, leaving the coconut water at the bottom (save it and use it later!). Scoop the cream out into a bowl, add vanilla and coconut sugar, and use an electric mixer to beat into the consistency of whipped cream. Use immediately, or chill for later use.

For serving: Frost the cake with the coconut whip (make sure to frost the cake once it’s completely cool! otherwise a melty mess will ensue); top with sautéed dates and maple hazelnuts. Indulge responsibly (i.e., have another piece)!

img_5398

Happy Solstice! I’m sure the druids ate carrot cake to celebrate too…

img_5339Happy Solstice! Time to really get into it now with the holiday shenanigans — I can’t believe Christmas is Sunday! Sneaky little sucker.

img_5304

img_5326

It’s been below freezing in the mornings here, which is definitely considered a cold snap around these parts! As if I needed an excuse to run the oven and bake for extra kitchen warmth… I took advantage of the cold to not only bake carrot cake but also to re-season all of my cast iron skillets! They’re all shiny and beautiful now, as they should be.

img_5312

img_5318

img_5319

Other new things…

Holiday fun in the city! My Christmas isn’t complete without seeing the SF Ballet’s Nutcracker.

img_5299

img_5300

More architecture and drawing, obviously.

img_5308

img_5302

What better way to celebrate the solstice than with carrot cake?!

img_5322

I’ve been jonesing for it lately, and thankfully I had a seconded favorable opinion, so… it happened! Lightly sweet, carrot-y, and full of nuts just like carrot cake should be. Carrot cake isn’t carrot cake without walnuts! No way. Aside from that, I was tired of the usual cashew-creme frosting, so I got cray with some macadamia nuts to see what would happen, and luckily it was a favorable outcome. Hooray for new things!

Enjoy your Solstice-day with those you love! Indulge yourself in a little healthier carrot cake, you deserve it.

img_5316

Skillet Carrot Cake with Coconut Maple Macadamia Frosting and Maple Walnuts

To me, this is pretty much the perfect carrot cake. Carrot cake and walnuts are a match made in heaven, which is why they’re in this twice! Paleo-ish, refined sugar free, dairy free, gluten free, grain free! Cake adapted from Texanerin Baking – only lightly adapted because this cake is damn perfect as is! Frosting is a Wait are those Cookies original.

For the cake:

  • 1.25 c almond flour
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • scant 1/3 c melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 c runny honey
  • scant 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c grated carrots
  • 1/3 c chopped walnuts

For the frosting:

  • 1 c macadamia nuts, soaked for at least an hour
  • juice of 1 meyer lemon
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • large pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the maple walnuts:

  • 1 c raw walnuts
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • large pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

img_5314

I tend to make the walnuts in advance so that they have time to cool completely. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat until warm, then add maple (it will fizz a bit). Add in walnuts and sea salt, and cook for a few minutes, stirring regularly and scraping up the caramel forming on the bottom, until the maple syrup has mostly reduced and caramelized – about 3 minutes. Turn off heat, stir in vanilla, and pour the walnuts out onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool completely. Store in an airtight jar until needed.

I soaked the macadamia nuts for the frosting about an hour, which meant that I put them to soak, made the cake, then made the frosting, which was a great timeline. The cake can easily be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge overnight.

For the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and grease an 8″ cast iron skillet. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a smaller bowl, whisk together eggs, melted coconut oil, honey, and vanilla. Stir wet into dry, add in grated carrots and chopped walnuts, and stir until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet, and bake for 28-30 minutes (mine was perfect at 30); the top should be lightly browned and firm to the touch, and a tester should come out clean. Let cool completely before frosting and serving.

For the frosting: add soaked macadamia nuts to a high-power blender or food processor (I used a vitamix), and blend until smooth. You’ll have to stop and scrape the sides repeatedly, but it’s worth it! Patience is a virtue, ha. Once the nuts resemble nut butter, add in lemon juice, vanilla, salt, maple syrup, coconut butter and cinnamon. These can be adjusted to taste! I usually just taste as I go, until I’m satisfied. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge until needed; any extra will keep for about two weeks.

To serve: I like to serve the cake straight out of the skillet, so I frost and top with walnuts as is. This cake is excellent with vanilla ice cream (what isn’t) — enjoy accordingly! Store any leftovers in the fridge — covering the skillet with foil works nicely, as does moving the cake to a tupperware.

img_5317

Tolkienesque Cake for Dessert and Elevenses!

img_5043

Welcome to the Shire!

img_5034

Happy circumstances dictated that a Tolkeinesque dessert was in the offing (sometimes, you just need themed desserts)… as such, this one was directly inspired by the Hobbit: besides Beorn’s honey cake being mentioned in the Hobbit itself, blackberries and hazelnuts just seem like they’d be something you’d stash in your knapsack during your travels, right? And hobbits seem like the type to have cast iron skillets. So there you go. ALSO this cake is not only dessert but also does double duty for Elevenses (I can attest. I actually ate it for elevenses / brunch / breakfast / lunch, as part of a very complete, Hobbity spread).

img_5028

In other news, I went to the opera on a random Tuesday the other week because, why not?

img_5008

img_4996

More drawing!

img_5014

img_5020

And more cake.

img_5030

It’s rainy and drizzly today and as such is perfect cake and indoor fun weather; I highly recommend this one. It’s somewhat like a light variation on pound cake, and the blackberries / hazelnuts make for a great textural pairing. Plus ice cream. Obviously. They may not have had ice cream in the Shire, but let’s face it: everything is better with a bit of cream, right?

img_5026

Yes, the blackberries in the pictures are frozen — they were subsequently thawed and honeyed and drizzled and got all juicy and delicious, but for ease of transportation, that happened after the photos.

fullsizerender-7

So! Cake! And a nice revisit to the land of the Shire; I was a little overdue. Be warned, the maple hazelnuts are supremely addictive…. don’t say I didn’t warn you ;)

img_5035

Honey Almond Cake with Honeyed Blackberries and Maple Glazed Hazelnuts

Lightly sweet cake that is somewhat akin to a lighter pound cake, topped with tart-sweet blackberries and crunchy hazelnuts. Hobbit-y dessert perfection that also happens to be gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free, and arguably paleo (depends on what sweeteners are on your okay list). The cake is adapted from Cookie and Kate, here! One confession: I’m a crazy baking person and for Hobbit authenticity and size preferences I wanted to make this in my 8″ cast iron skillet, which meant that I made a 3/4 recipe of a a full 9″ pan. I will be posting my altered measurements here; if you bake it in a 9″, it will just be a slightly shorter cake (apologies for some of the funky measurements!)

img_5034

For the cake:

  • 1.5 c almond flour (not meal), firmly packed
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 + 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • scant 1/2 c runny honey
  • 1/8 + 1/16 c melted coconut oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease cast iron skillet or pan of choice with coconut oil. Toss a little almond flour in the bottom to finely coat. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together beaten eggs, honey, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry, and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan, and bake on the center rack of the oven for about 38-40 minutes. I checked mine at 30 and put it back in for 8; it was perfect at 38. The top should be golden brown and firm to the touch, and the center shouldn’t jiggle when lightly shaken. Remove from the oven and let cool before topping and serving.

For the honeyed blackberries:

  • 1 bag frozen blackberries, or fresh if they’re in season
  • 1 tbsp runny honey

Thaw blackberries, if frozen, and toss with the honey…. and that’s it! Let sit for a few hours if you have time — they get extra juicy that way.

Maple Glazed Hazelnuts:

  • 1/4 c pure maple syrup
  • 1 c roasted hazelnuts
  • sprinkle of sea salt

Remove most of the skins from the hazelnuts by rubbing them together; it doesn’t matter if there are skins left, but I try to get rid of the majority. Heat an empty saute pan (not nonstick) over medium heat; once heated, add maple (it will bubble and fizz) and hazelnuts. Cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously until the maple has caramelized. The nuts will feel a little soft, which is fine. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet, pour out the nuts and spread them out a bit. They will harden as they cool. Store in an airtight jar at room temp for as long as they last which is realistically about five minutes.

For serving: Top cake with honeyed blackberries & glazed hazelnuts, and preferably ice cream.

Store leftover cake in the fridge; covered with foil in the original pan is just fine. I’m here to attest that this cake is fabulous the next morning for breakfast!

fullsizerender-3

Fig season is upon us!

img_4910

It’s fig season!!! Another reason to love fall, as if I didn’t have enough already.

img_4888

As much as I start missing the fresh summer berries, it’s so refreshing when the seasons start changing (ish. Emphasis on ish. It’s been in the upper 90s over here for the last few days…um okay I get it! We’re making up for lost time?! But seriously, enough). Figs are so fun with their little tiny seeds. I used to not be such a fig fan, but they’ve won their way into my heart. Especially when they hang out with goat cheese and hazelnuts and honey. But really, I’ll eat them in any form.

fullsizerender-2

Especially when rice pudding is involved… I never ever say no to rice pudding. EVER.

img_4914

This version is baked into a cake/tart type thing, and is sliceable and delicious and fantastic for breakfast as well as dessert. I could wax rhapsodic about this dessert but you really should just make one and thank me later. It’s delicious! It doesn’t use much sweetener either, which is a giant plus in my book and also makes it doubly acceptable for breakfast (also it’s excellent with coconut gelato… just looking out for you!)

fullsizerender-4

fullsizerender-6

Handily enough, it also comes together quickly and doesn’t require any wildly unusual pantry ingredients.

img_4913

I’m reminded of the Italian cake Torta di Riso (I did one years ago and it’s somewhere on the blog… I used blood oranges for that one) — basically a rice custard that is baked into a sliceable cake. This one is a little denser than the Italian version (definitely NOT a bad thing), and is infinitely adaptable to whatever fruit is in season (though I highly recommend figs).

img_4912

I’ve also had some time to draw again lately, which I love. Baking + drawing = happy days.

img_4871

img_4885

Enjoy fig season in all its glory and bask in some rice pudding. Happy Equinox!

fullsizerender-7

Baked Coconut Rice Pudding Cake with Honeyed Figs

Gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free! Densely textured, lightly sweet cake perfect for dessert and breakfast. If you love rice pudding, this cake is for you. Yield: 1 9″ pie pan (mine is the deep variety, about 2″ deep). Recipe lightly adapted from A Fork and a Pencil, here!

  • 1 c arborio rice, rinsed
  • 1 c water
  • 1 1/3 c light coconut milk, divided (should be exactly one standard 13.5 fl oz can)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 4 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2.5 tbsp coconut sugar
  • figs to your heart’s content (I used 4), halved
  • enough small dollops of honey to drop into each fig half

In a saucepan, combine rice, water, and 2/3 c coconut milk. Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until it just barely boils. Cover, Reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice has absorbed the liquid, no more than 10 minutes. Once rice is cooked (it should still have some chewy bite to it) and the liquid is absorbed, remove from heat and let cool briefly while assembling everything else.

Lightly grease your pie plate with coconut oil and preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together, add vanilla, sea salt, maple, and coconut sugar. Pour the cooked and cooled rice into this bowl, and stir to combine. Pour the whole thing into the prepared pie dish (don’t freak if there’s some leftover liquid on the top of the dish, it will be fine! Promise). Halve the figs and press them into the rice, dropping small dollops of honey into the center of each fig half.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, until the top is firm when touched and the surface is golden brown. Mine came out perfectly at an hour. Let cool for a bit before slicing. I like it cold, so I refrigerated mine for a few hours before eating, but that’s your call! Store any leftovers covered in the fridge (foil over the pie plate works just fine). Enjoy for dessert with your fave ice cream or gelato (coconut is marvelous) or for breakfast alongside your eggs and kale!

fullsizerender-5

Ode to Cake

Happy Eater! I mean… Easter.

IMG_4035

IMG_4033

And yes. I have absolutely no excuse for the dearth of posts, minus the fact that grad school owns my life for another 10 weeks (how is it possible that I graduate in 10 weeks… can someone explain this?!). At which point I will hopefully get back to posting on a semi-regular basis… Until then…. we’ll just see. But I’ve missed my invisible internet friends! I hope you’re all doing just wonderfully.

IMG_4030

To tide us over, here is an ode to cake. This is the same whole wheat banana cake with dark chocolate ganache that I’ve made umpteen billion times because it’s basically the most perfect banana cake I know. It’s not vegan, or grain free or even gluten free, but for what it is, I love it. It’s also large enough to feed a crowd, which was called for in this particular sitch.

IMG_4032

IMG_4036

IMG_4038

I’ve made this for birthdays of loved ones, thank you-s for advisors, and welcome home presents for besties. It’s a winner: silky chocolate ganache surrounding soft, not too sweet, not too dense but just dense enough banana cake. This particular iteration is refined sugar free, sweetened with a combination of date sugar and coconut sugar. Perfect for a mid afternoon Easter treat, no post-cake nap necessary. The link to the original post is here.

IMG_4037

In other news…

Sunbathing adorable Jessie.

IMG_3999

Flowers.

IMG_4024

Perfect avo.

IMG_3942

It’s good to be back! Enjoy the rest of your weekend — I hope it has a treat in it somewhere!

IMG_4031

IMG_4034

Lousy weeks = Angel Food Cake (Science. Obviously)

IMG_3068

Sooo…. Hi! It’s been awhile.

You can thank grad school for that (and for being a royal pain in my butt). My stomach was being a real winner today too, rude. On the bright side, one of the things it seems to tolerate with a minimum of fuss is this cake! Probably because angel food is basically egg whites and air and fluff, in the best possible combination. I’ve always loved angel food — I asked for it for a birthday cake at some point when I was a kid, and I’ve always thought it was delicious.

IMG_3060

It’s fun to make, too! Egg whites are my favorite piece of kitchen chemistry. I love watching them go from foamy… to glossy… to peaks! I never get tired of it. And besides, even though I am the one who hardly ever uses a mixer unless I really have to, angel food gives me the chance to get out my beautiful red kitchenaide stand mixer! Wheeeeee! It looked so happy to see me. And don’t tell me inanimate objects don’t have feelings… KITCHEN APPLIANCES totally do. They feel neglected and sad when you just leave them to languish in the pantry… which is also why I love my pegboard so much. It means that my pots and pans and whatnot can hang out and watch the action from their corner (and egg me on. It’s like “use me!!! I am so great for making eggs!!! … constant ruckus from the peanut gallery).

IMG_3061

But actually.

IMG_3066

I will stop anthropomorphizing my appliances for the time being in order to get back to the cake. But admit it… if you love to cook and bake, your favorite pans and appliances become your friends. Don’t try to deny it, I know you. You know where they stick, how they heat, if they affect the consistency of whatever you’re baking… they’re like friends!

But also, in other news…

Mother Nature puts on some pretty amazing shows:

IMG_3051

Day 4 of the Drawing Challenge! Favorite Place… this one was easy :)

IMG_3008

And E and I had a fun date night at the British pub Fox and Goose, in the historic R district of Sacto. Fun fun!

IMG_3018

But. Back to the regularly scheduled programming…

THIS CAKE! IS AMAZING!

Yep. still obsessed with this app.

Yep. still obsessed with this app.

And is gluten free, refined sugar free, and beyond delicious. When I made this, I actually ended up with a much denser consistency than angel food usually has (I have reason to suspect my oven; firstly, it is wee. It’s like half the size of a normal oven, so consequently all of my sheet pans are quarter sized. I feel like a Barbie. But also I do believe it runs hot and heats unevenly. Further research is required; until then it’s an interesting challenge) — but I don’t care, because it is AMAZING! It’s almost… custardy. But also kind of fluffy?! If you can possibly have custard and fluff at the same time, this is it. Mine got a tad overdone on the top half, and I actually pulled it out far sooner than it was supposed to go (hence the suspicion  that my oven runs hot), since it was done and browning quickly. It didn’t rise as much as they normally do, but it has that custardy wonderfulness so E and I definitely don’t care. Add to that, it’s tummy friendly and lower in sugar than most angel food cakes, so it just wins all around.

IMG_3055

That all being said, I highly recommend making it on a Friday afternoon when your week has been rather wretched and you just need some cake. Not that I speak from experience or anything. Nope. Not me..

IMG_3064

Grain Free Maple Angel Food Cake

Made of arrowroot starch, this cake is tummy friendly for IBS, gluten-free, grain free, and paleo. It’s also refined sugar free and lower in sugar than most angel food cakes, which is a bonus in my book for sure. Recipe from Deliciously Organic, here! I didn’t change a thing, as it was perfect as is. Yield: 1 cake (standard angel food pan).

  • 12 egg whites (I used 1 carton = to 10 whites + 2 whites from whole eggs for convenience)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.25 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c maple sugar, divided
  • 1 c arrowroot starch
  • whatever toppings float your boat for serving — I made a simple raspberry compote and topped it with a little shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350, and get out your *un-greased* angel food tube pan. You might want to put a cookie sheet down below the cake pan in the oven to account for any leakage — my tube pan tends to leak just a bit out of the bottom. Adjust the rack for the cake to be in the middle of the oven.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice on medium high until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla, and continue beating on medium high until soft peaks form, about 1 to 2 minutes.

With the mixer running on medium, slowly add 1/2 c of the maple sugar, a spoonful at a time. Sift the remaining maple sugar and arrowroot starch into a small bowl, and, with the mixer still running, slowly add this to the mixer bowl. Once it’s all added, whip on medium high until completely incorporated (you may need to scrape the sides of the mixer bowl, I did). Pour the batter into your tube pan, and bake for 35-45 minutes*, until the top is golden brown and the cake is puffed.

*Normal ovens are probably done at a minimum of 40 minutes. Mine was excessively brown at 35, and done, though not as puffy as it could be.

Remove the cake from the oven, and immediately invert over the neck of a wine bottle to cool completely — about 1 to 1.5 hours. Cooling it upside-down helps maximize loft! Once the cake is completely cooled, run a knife around the inside of the pans to loosen the sides, and pull the cake + the removable bottom out of the pan. Run a knife along the bottom between the pan and the cake to loosen it fully, then lift off to the serving plate. Decorate at will!

Angel food cake keeps well at room temp for a day or two if it’s not too hot or humid where you are. I’m keeping mine in the fridge and it’s totally fine — cover it with an inverted bowl and it will stay good for several days in the fridge.

Enjoy your perfect bits of cake fluff!

IMG_3058

Sanctioned Birthday Indulgences (ie. Vati’s Annual Cake Nirvana)

IMG_2988

Happy Birthday, Vacuum Vati!

12017647_147408362274286_1447584896946449137_o

His birthday was actually Sunday, but since my classes started again last week, I’m back on grad school time which means that all fun, personal things occur at least a day after I actually want them to, if not a few days or a week. Ha. Because grad school is just rude like that sometimes…

IMG_2991

A few days late, but I never want to miss out on a cake opportunity around here. Because, CAKE! Cake is awesome. Especially for birthdays (because then indulgences are sanctioned).

IMG_2986

Since we went chocolate-dark on the cake last year, Vati requested a lighter bourbon cake this year — sort of “dirty south” flavored, with bourbon, vanilla, and pecans. I lifted the cake recipe nearly intact from the Food Network, which is rare, but it was almost exactly what we had in mind, so why mess with a good thing?! I did, of course, make it whole wheat and reduced the sugar (though not quite on par with my usual reductions — it is a birthday, after all!), but then I put my spin on the glaze and candied the pecans (why use just toasted ones when you could candy them?!… Exactly).

IMG_2984

And since I actually made this on Sunday, Vati has been enjoying it since then with a verdict as such: delicious flavor combo, but the cake itself is ever so slightly dry. Solved by means of ice cream liberally spooned over the top, or an extra splash of bourbon poured over to hydrate it… because neither of those things is a bad thing when it comes to this cake.

Happy Birthday Vati!!! I know this year is going to be fantastic and I am thrilled you loved your cake :)

IMG_2990

Bourbon Vanilla Cake with Candied Pecans and Bourbon Glaze

Bourbony vanilla cake that has a lighter texture than a pound cake but is still fairly dense, complimented by a bourbon glaze and candied pecans. The whole wheat flour and addition of coconut sugar takes the sweetness down a notch, but this cake is definitely an occasion cake! And don’t feed it to the children (unless they have a taste for bourbon?!). Recipe adapted from the Food Network, here. Yield: 1 bundt cake + glaze + pecans for extremely liberal garnish.

Ps. This recipe isn’t complicated. But it will basically contrive to dirty every single bowl in your kitchen. Just saying. BUT. It’s worth it!

IMG_2992

For the cake!

  • 2 2/3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2.25 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 c bourbon
  • 1/2 c milk bev (mine was 1% milk, as that’s what was on hand)
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) of salted butter
  • 1/2 c melted coconut oil
  • scant 1.25 c sugar (mine was about a 1/2 c coconut sugar, the rest white; use whatever blend suits you) + 1/4 c white sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

For the pecans:

  • 1 c raw pecans, chopped
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar

For the glaze:

  • roughly 1 c confectioner’s sugar
  • liberal 1/4 c bourbon
  • 2 tbsp salted butter, soft
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the pecans (I like to do them first, or even on another day, so that they’re cool when I need them). In a saucepan over medium heat, toast the pecans until fragrant, just a few minutes. Add butter and coconut sugar and toss to combine, stirring frequently until the pecans are evenly coated, the butter is completely melted and the sugar is incorporated. Take off the heat, remove from the pan and let cool in a heatproof container until needed or stored.

For the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and liberally grease a bundt pan with coconut oil or butter. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, sea salt and cinnamon, and set aside. In a liquid measuring cup for easy pouring later, measure out the bourbon, milk, and vanilla and whisk together. It will look like it gets a little clumpy, but that’s okay! Set that aside too. In a large bowl using an electric mixer, cream together butter and coconut oil until fluffy. Add 1.25 c of the sugar (whatever blend you choose is fine), and beat to incorporate until fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the liquids, in four batches starting and ending with the dry.

In a non reactive bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form, then dump in the remaining 1/4 c of sugar, and whip until you get stiff peaks, about five minutes more. Fold the egg whites into the batter in thirds. Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan, and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes. This crust makes a great “crust” which forms down at the bottom (when you flip it right-side-up) of the bundt pan — that was my favorite part! Let cool until you can turn it out without burning yourself, then let it cool completely before glazing.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze! Combine powdered sugar, bourbon, melted butter and vanilla in a smallish bowl and whisk vigorously until it’s all combined and delicious. Adjust to your personal taste, but I prefer it heavily bourbony!

Once the cake is cooled, go to town with the drizzle factor and liberally garnish it with candied pecans. And then eat it in rapture because isn’t that what cake is all about?

IMG_2985

IMG_2993

My cakes are a little bit nuts, just like me!

IMG_1691

IMG_1657

Happy Holidays!!

And Happy Birthday, Elliott!!! Yayyyyy for boyfriend birthday because excessive CAKE! I had super fun making this huge shenanigan of a cake and surprising him with it. Birthdays are an excuse for excess (like I needed an excuse but shhhhhh), so thank you for making an appearance on this charming blue sphere! Not only do I get to make you cake, but I also get to be in your life!! And that is absolutely the best part :)

IMG_1665

I loooove this time of year. With extra o’s I love it so much. [Side note. I do NOT like grocery shopping this time of year. And as anyone who knows me will attest, I happily can spend forever wandering around the store usually… but not this time of year. No way. I don’t like throwing elbows to get to the last can of pumpkin, thank you].

IMG_1655

Also I LOVE that it is insanely pouring over here in California. We need it like I need almond butter. AND it’s snowing in the mountains and we know what that means! I get to get out my K2 babies again for the first time in far too long. Ahhh. Skiing.

IMG_1676

But first….

Christmas!!!

And lights! And cookies! And family! Raaaaiiiinnnn. Tinsel (or not. Jessie would eat it), cozy fires, blankets, human snuggles, cat snuggles, ginger things, an excess of tea, giving, sharing, loving.

IMG_1682

IMG_1684

AND! Elliott’s birthday :) Oh heyyyy, December baby! The birthday boy requested a turtle theme for his dessert… so of course I obliged and then some. Because I really don’t do things by halves. Rich chocolate bourbon cake (mostly chocolatey, with just a touch of bourbon to give it depth) with caramel buttercream topped with salted coconut caramel drizzle+candied pecans. If that isn’t a fitting birthday treat, I don’t know what is… OH and obviously we ate it with Strauss vanilla ice cream because HELLO cake+ice cream = match made in heaven annnnnd really why not?!

Happy Birthday, E! I love you :)

IMG_1661

IMG_1690

Chocolate Bourbon cake with Caramel Buttercream, Caramel Drizzle and Candied Pecans

This cake is really just a wonderful confluence of tastes and textures. It’s not hard to put together, despite having multiple parts… I candied the pecans the day before I baked the cake and made the caramel, and then I made buttercream and assembled it all the next day (Due to travel constraints). Everything turned out perfectly! Everything is refined sugar free (uses maple and coconut sugar), and the cake is whole wheat. And butter is just good for your soul. Store it covered in the fridge after it’s frosted, and eat it with good quality vanilla ice cream. Obviously. You’re already eating cake, why not add a little ice cream?! Life is short.

IMG_1687

Chocolate Bourbon Cake

I adapted mine from the one I made for my dad’s birthday, since that one was so good with whiskey. This one is chocolatey and dense, with bourbon adding a depth of flavor. Original is here.

  • 1.5 c coconut sugar
  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 c lowfat buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c avocado oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c warm water
  • 1/4 (or closer to 1/3… I went heavy handed) c good quality bourbon
  • 1/2 c extra dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350, and grease the living daylights out of two standard 9″ cake pans {I use coconut oil for greasing}. Combine 1 tbsp flour+1 tbsp cocoa powder, and flour the inside of the pans, tapping out all the excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, sifted cocoa, baking powder+soda, salt, and five spice until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, avocado oil, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry, and use an electric mixer to beat until just combined. Add water and bourbon, and continue mixing until just barely incorporated (don’t over mix, puhhleeez). Stir in the chocolate chips, and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack in the pans until cool enough to handle, then flip out and cool completely (the cake, not you. I know the cake is fabby but don’t flip out. You can eat it… soon!!).

IMG_7019

Salted Coconut Caramel Drizzle

Makes more than enough to drizzle over cake while frosting, plus more for drizzle purposes just prior to eating. AND has enough for leftovers later. Win win win. The yield is somewhere around 2.5 cups of caramel. You’ll use at least 1/2 of a generous cup for the buttercream, and then at least another 1/2 cup for drizzle. Originally from this cake, here!

  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 c pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 c coconut sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • scant 1 tsp fine sea salt

In a saucepan over medium high heat, combine coconut milk, maple, and coconut sugar. Let it boil, then turn it down so it’s just barely boiling, with the bubbles just breaking the surface. Whisking continuously, cook for 15-20 minutes, until the caramel has thickened slightly (though it will still be a runny caramel, that’s fine), the liquid has reduced, and the color is darker. I cooked mine for a bit over 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, butter, and sea salt, and whisk until smooth. Let cool completely in the pan, then store in a sealed jar in the fridge [because we know I store everything in jars anyway].

IMG_1654

Caramel Buttercream

Yields enough to frost the top and and between layers of a 9″, two layer cake with a little leftover. If you decide you want to frost the sides, make a double batch of buttercream. Be aware that this cake tends to pull up into the frosting, so a crumb coat would definitely be necessary if you’re into neat-looking cakes (I do not fall into this category. I want my cakes rustic, messy and delicious. And kind of nuts, just like me). Originally from my Banana Caramel Cake, here.

  • 1/2 c grass fed, unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c caramel sauce (recipe above)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 c powdered sugar

In a largeish bowl, use a hand mixer to beat together butter, caramel sauce, vanilla, and sea salt until mostly incorporated and smooth(don’t worry if at first it looks a little grainy, mine smoothed right out after I beat in the sugar). Pour in powdered sugar, and beat until a silky frosting forms. The texture is a little different than standard buttercream, with the addition of the caramel,  but it is silky and delicious. Chill in the fridge for a few minutes before frosting if you want it a little firmer.

Candied Pecans

  • 1.5 c raw pecans
  • 3 tbsp salted butter
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar

In a saucepan, toast pecans over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add butter, swirling pecans and butter chunk around until everything is nice and foamy and melty. Toss in coconut sugar, and keep stirring so nothing burns for about 4-5 more minutes. The sugar should start to get sticky, like it’s turning into caramel. Remove from heat and put the pecans into a heat proof container to cool completely before storage or use.

IMG_1652

Assembly!

Pop the first cake layer on a plate of choice. Smear buttercream goodness all over the top, drizzle with some caramel and maybe a few candied pecans, then top all that with the next layer and more buttercream+caramel+pecans. I opted for a naked cake this time since I like the way the layers look, but feel free to frost the sides if that’s your jam (though you’ll need to make extra buttercream). I topped mine excessively with extra caramel drizzle and candied pecans because BIRTHDAY! Store covered in the fridge and eat within a few days for best cakeness (can dry out if not eaten expediently, but it’s so good I doubt that will be a problem).

IMG_1685

IMG_1689

Peat bogs and holey cakes

Ohhhh I know…

IMG_6911

It’s a CAKE!

IMG_6897

[There’s a hole in this cake…]

IMG_6900

IMG_6906

But… I fixed it!

IMG_6912

There is now a hole in this cake and alcohol as well. Because… why not?? Also because… Happy Belated, Vacuum Vati! He has this penchant for drinking scotch out of these special glasses (and I can tell what he’s had because it’s either scotch or graham crackers with milk. That’s random, you say…. but actually there is a method to his madness. The wide mouthed glasses let the scotch breathe properly and also are the appropriate width for graham cracker dippage). Actually it’s really fun to just tell him I know exactly what he’s been drinking and have him be slightly baffled as to how I know. Muahhaha. Exemplary powers of observation, that’s what that is. And mildly hilarious to watch him drink scotch and carefully put a coaster over the top of the aforementioned wide mouth glass to discourage escaping peat-boggishness. Because my mom rightfully dislikes the peat bog smell that emanates from certain bottles of superior scotch. He has a special peat-bog-discouraging coaster. It’s hilarious and I love it.

IMG_6904

And actually I essayed a teeny sip of scotch today and it was DISGUSTING. I coughed for days. It burns all the way down. BUT. Then you put it in chocolate cake. With coconut sugar. And chocolate. And five spice. And CARAMEL and ohmygod is it actually delicious. I mean really, how is cake NOT delicious. But this one is especially good.

IMG_6899

Many happy returns, Vacuum Vati! So pleased you like your peat-bog-chocoalte-caramel decadence. Because everyone deserves a little indulgence on their birthday!

Also ps: I was in Texas visiting fam for the last several weeks and I will put up some pictures eventually probably if they’ll ever load. So cake first, vacay second. I’m sure you’re just sitting on the edge of your chair waiting with bated breath…

IMG_6905

Chocolate Scotch Cake with Whiskey Caramel Glaze

Recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil, here! Recipe yields a normal sized bundt cake. Refined sugar free (though it IS sweet, as per VV’s request), whole wheat, and healthy fats from the avocado oil. So it’s good for you! Uh. No. But indulge accordingly, because that’s what birthdays are for! Don’t worry–it’s not overly scotch-y, either. I like it quite a bit and I don’t even like scotch. It’s like chocolate cake that is deeper and richer than your average fair.

IMG_6894

Let’s get our cake on:

  • 1.5 c coconut sugar
  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp five spice
  • 1 c lowfat buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c avocado oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c warm water
  • 1/4 (or closer to 1/3… I went heavy handed) c good quality Scotch whiskey [preferably one that smells less like a peat bog]
  • 1/2 c extra dark chocolate chips

For the caramel:

  • 1 c coconut sugar
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2/3 c heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 2 tbsp Scotch whiskey

IMG_6910

Get yo’ cake on:

Preheat the oven to 350, and grease the living daylights out of a bundt pan. Standard bundt size is fine {I use coconut oil for greasing}. Combine 1 tbsp flour+1 tbsp cocoa powder, and flour the inside of the pan, tapping out all the excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, sifted cocoa, baking powder+soda, salt, and five spice until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, avocado oil, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry, and use an electric mixer to beat until just combined. Add water and scotch, and continue mixing until just barely incorporated (don’t over mix, puhhleeez). Stir in the chocolate chips, and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a tester inserted into the fat part of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack in the pan until cool enough to handle, then flip out and cool completely (the cake, not you. I know the cake is fabby but don’t flip out. You can eat it… soon!!).

While the cake is baking, make the caramel! In a high-sided sauce pan over medium-high heat, add sugar and cream of tartar. Pour water around the edges and bring to a boil, then cover and let sit for 2 minutes (the steam melts the sugar evenly). Uncover, and boil for a few minutes more, until frothy. It should NOT smell burnt, just delicious. Remove from heat, whisk in cream and butter until the lumps are gone (carefully, it can splatter). Return to heat and whisk a few minutes more until smooth. Remove from heat again, and cool in a heat proof container until ready to use, preferably an hour or two to let it thicken.

Pour about half the glaze over the cooled cake once you’re ready to serve! Then slice away and drizzle mooooore caramel over the individual slices because why not?? Because caramel, that’s why. Eat immediately. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for longer cake preservation… if you’re crazy enough to have leftovers.

IMG_6902