Inadvertent Tuesday Baking Spaz

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blackberry Yogurt Cake

Adapted from here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now Panic and Eat Cake!

The caking continues!

and cards!

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

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

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

yummmm.

Orange Cake with Dark Chocolate and Orange Glaze

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

What you need for the cake:

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

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

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

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

Stir in the orange rind and vanilla. Set aside.

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

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

Dark Chocolate Glaze with Orange

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

What you need:

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

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

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

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

In conclusion…

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

Not a lush, I promise!

Keep Calm and Cake On!

old picture, from Wurstfest. But cute! Roomiesss!

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

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

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

adorable small cake

Fabulous Buh-naah-na Cake

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

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

Whatcha need:

For the cake:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Calm… and Sprinkle On? I think so.

Chocolate Glaze

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

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

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

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

AND THEN.

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

Kitchenaide, you are my new pet!

It’s not easy being green…

that's right. GREEN PANCAKES.

Ok.

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

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

So.

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

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

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

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

down at pancake level

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

Hugely adapted from Marion Cunningham’s Breakfast Book

Do the pancake shtick! Mix dry:

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

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

Mix wet in a separate bowl:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do it.

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

Perfect thirds!