Cake for a birthday!

IMG_0676

Birthdays call for cake and candles!! Besides, I haven’t made a layer cake in forever.

IMG_0669

IMG_0690

I’ve also discovered that you can make frosting out of sweet potatoes and dark chocolate – day MADE! It’s literally incredible. You’d never know there were sweet potatoes in there unless I told you – it has the same texture and satisfaction factor as its sugar-laden cousins! Win win win.

IMG_0680

As any of you know who interact with me regularly, sweet potatoes and dark chocolate make up their own food groups in my personal food pyramid, so this is a dream come true. Besides that, I’ve fallen out of love with buttercream – it’s just SO sweet. No can do.

IMG_0687

But birthdays mean cake, and I happened to be baking this one for a nearest and dearest who (like me) thinks sugar is pretty much the devil… sooooo…. a healthified cake! Whole grains, healthier fats, greek yogurt (another food group), extra dark chocolate, and sweet potatoes.

IMG_0665

It’s basically a health food. Oh, and there’s coffee. So it’s not just a health food, but a balanced breakfast ;)

IMG_0692

In fact, we may or may not have eaten it as part of a balanced breakfast… eggs + kale + corn + chocolate cake with coffee: pretty much the most perfect breakfast I’ve ever eaten.

IMG_0675

Aaannndddd if you serve it with ice cream, you’ve got a calcium serving… hahah I kid, this isn’t health food, but it IS delicious cake that isn’t full of garbage!

IMG_0679

Let’s see, what else is new. OH! It’s not 100+ anymore so I was able to enjoy the baking of this at a normal hour (6 am is a normal hour for baking, right?! … Don’t look at me like that) – and not feel like I’ve been slapped in the face by the heat every time I go out. This is much better!

IMG_0672

IMG_0693

More progress on the SF series:

IMG_0662

And more cake. Because birthdays and loved ones need cake!

IMG_0677

Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Mocha Frosting, Toffee, Raspberries and Coconut Coffee Drizzle

Birthday cake! For those in your life who love the chocolate – coffee – toffee – caramel situation. Chocolate-y, coffee-y but not too sweet – a healthier indulgence! The cake itself is refined sugar free and whole grain, and the frosting is dairy free, vegan, refined sugar free, and made of sweet potatoes! But you’d never know ;) Yield: one 6″ cake, 2 layers (double the entire recipe to fit two 9″ cake pans); sorry for some of the awkward measurements. Cake adapted from Epicurious, here; the frosting was inspired by the many versions of sweet potato frosting floating around the interwebs.

For the cake:

  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 c whole grain spelt flour
  • 1/4 c + 1/8 c cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • heaping 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • heaping 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 c dark maple syrup (grade B is good)
  • 1/2 c full fat greek yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 c avocado oil (or other neutral oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c extra dark chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate

Lightly grease two 6″ cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl, sift together whole wheat and spelt flour, cacao powder, baking soda and powder and sea salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together maple, greek yogurt, egg, avo oil, and vanilla until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into dry, and use a whisk to beat until the batter is fully combined, smooth and thick, about 1 minute (your dominant bicep will thank you). Distribute batter evenly into both cake pans, and bake for 23-25 minutes (30-35 for 9″) – the tops should spring back when lightly touched and a tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pans for about 7-10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks (remove parchment paper) and cool completely before frosting.

IMG_0663

For the frosting:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 10 oz extra dark chocolate (I like 70% and above but you do you; chips are fine)
  • 1.5-2 tsp finely ground coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt

Bake the sweet potato (either in the oven for 45 – 1 hour @425 or in the microwave for about 4-5 minutes), slice open and let cool for about ten minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin (save for a snack later!!), drop the beautiful orange insides into the food processor, and pulse until smooth. Add in chopped dark chocolate and pulse until combined and smooth – the heat from the sweet potato should melt the chocolate (if it doesn’t, you can take the whole big mess out of the food processor, put it in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 15 seconds; then stick it back in the processor). Process until smooth, then add ground coffee, vanilla, and sea salt and pulse a few times to combine.

Store at room temp for an hour or so if you’re not using immediately, but refrigerate after that – microwave it for 10-20 seconds to get it back to spreadable consistency, as it’ll solidify in the fridge.

For the drizzle:

  • ~1/3 c full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 2 tsp finely ground coffee
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool completely and store in an airtight jar in the fridge until ready to use.

To assemble:

  • toffee shards
  • raspberries
  • unsweetened shredded coconut

I opted for a naked cake look this time – there is frosting between the layers, on top and just a bit on the sides, but you do you! The frosting recipe should make enough to cover a full 6″ cake. Decorate with toffee and raspberries to you heart’s content! The coconut coffee drizzle is separate – pour over each slice after serving.

Keeps well covered on the counter overnight; excellent for breakfast the next morning. It’s really whole wheat and sweet potatoes and coffee so that’s all part of a balanced breakfast…

If storing longer than overnight, I’d probably stick it in the fridge, but I like cold cake. The counter is probably fine too, provided it gets eaten within a couple of days!

IMG_0678

Any excuse for a cake

IMG_2588

So! Fourth of July! Always fun in the dessert department, because who doesn’t love an excuse for a celebration-type of dessert. And hold the phone, is it possible that I put something up here that isn’t a bar?! …. *pin drops* No. can’t be.

But it is!

IMG_2587

Shocking.

A CAKE! And a layered one at that, because really, if you’re going to make a cake, why not go big?

IMG_2582

And despite it giving me much grief in the assembly (hot weather and butter-based icing are not really the best of friends), it did turn out rather pretty— Props to E’s mom Jana for the cute little flags! This is a pretty simple cake to put together as well, as the lemon curd can be made ahead of time, and the buttercream comes together in about five seconds.

IMG_2580

IMG_2579

This is the first time I’ve made a fun dessert in quite a while… as I mentioned before a few posts back, I’ve been having quite the run of stomach issues lately, and have been attempting to figure out why my digestive system seems to hate me so much of late. Rude. Still no concrete answers, sigh… but one day at a time. I’ve been experimenting with reduced / no gluten,  though the jury is still out on that one. Well actually, jury is still out, period. So, cake. Because I don’t seem to feel much worse when I do eat it, and it was the Fourth! Celebrations should ensue.

IMG_2578

Apologies for the huge gaps between my posts these days… life has been crazy the last few months and isn’t really getting much calmer (in fact, I start grad school in less than a month, so I don’t expect to be able to keep regular posts coming. We’ll see how things shake out!) E and I move in to our apartment the first week of September, so maybe after that things will get a little more normal. We’ll see, nothing is ever normal around here (because normal = boring. ha)

IMG_2585

Whole Wheat Lemon Cake with Lemon Curd and Vanilla Buttercream

Whole grains, healthy fats, and CAKE. Winner, winner. A lightly sweet, lightly lemony cake is complemented by a rich but not too decadent vanilla buttercream, and tart homemade lemon curd. The cake itself is refined sugar free, but there is powdered sugar in the frosting. If you have the time, definitely make homemade lemon curd. It is eons better than the stuff you can buy in the store, and about ten zillion times cheaper. Yield: a 2 layer, 9″ cake + enough buttercream for the filling and the top. I preferred a naked cake look for this one, as it was hot and nobody really wants a mega glut of frosting when it’s over 90 outside… the cake is light but very satisfying, and doesn’t make you feel like you need a nap afterwards! Cake adapted from I Bake, He Shoots, here!

IMG_2576

For the cake:

  • 2.5 c + 4 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 c coconut sugar, divided
  • 1 c avocado oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 c buttermilk
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • zest of two medium/good-sized lemons

For the frosting:

  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • 2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp lemon curd

Lemon curd is the same recipe I used about three years ago (but with regular lemons instead of meyer this time); my recipe is here. Yield is about 1-1.5 c. You won’t use it all for the cake, unless you use the extra to top the individual slices. I used some in the buttercream, and some on the top. I suggest making it the day before, and just letting it hang out in a jar in the fridge overnight.

Raspberries, for garnish.

For the cake: preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease+flour two 9″ cake pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.

In a smaller bowl, mash together the lemon zest and 2 tbsp coconut sugar, until fragrant. Set aside. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine remaining sugar, avocado oil, and eggs. Beat until lighter (though because of the coconut sugar, it won’t significantly lighten) and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add in lemon zest + sugar mixture. Combine buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon juice (I like using a liquid measure for easy pouring). Alternating dry ingredients and wet, add them to the larger bowl with the sugar/oil/eggs, starting and ending with flour. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, and bake for 30-35 minutes—the tops should spring back when touched lightly, and a tester should come out clean.

Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the buttercream:

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat softened butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add in 2 tbsp of lemon curd, and beat briefly to combine.

Frost the cooled cake as desired — I did a layer of buttercream/curd in the center, and topped the cake with the majority of the buttercream + another layer of lemon curd. Be careful of the cake sliding — my kitchen was hot so I ended up skewering the cake for transport, and letting it set up in the fridge for several hours prior to serving. Garnish with raspberries or another berry of your choice! Serve with extra lemon curd, because it’s basically the food of the gods..

Store covered cake in the fridge, assuming you have any leftovers!

IMG_2581

Sometimes you just gotta go big

IMG_0575

You know those times.

IMG_6494

For when there’s a dinner party with besties+boys and you’re bringing dessert (because um obviously, why would I bring anything else?!) and really… dinner party desserts = epic. Because on a random week day cookies or a simple sheet cake are all well and good, but a layer cake? I wish. I mean, I could but a) unfortunately don’t have time for that and b) I would be a zillion pounds if I baked like this all the time.

IMG_6501

IMG_6497

BUT. For a dinner party? Absolutely. Keep that in mind, all y’all who want my desserts… invite me to your next din din shenanigans! Ha. I totally break the silly rule allllll the time that says you’re not supposed to try out new recipes on guests (or I suppose hosts) but HELLO if I did that I would never make anything new, so too bad. Luckily enough not only was this not an unmitigated disaster, but it was freaking fantastic. Like maybe the best cake I’ve made and eaten in…. months. At least.

IMG_6504

Mutti said it was the best cake I’d ever made… and I went home with one slice out of an entire two layer, 9″ cake. Hmm… I think I’m picking up on something here… this cake was DAMN good. I know I know, you’re not supposed to say your own food is good but I can’t help it because I want this all over again and it’s gone and what whyyyy?!

IMG_0578

I may have to make this again. Really really really soon. Someone have a dinner party!! Extra points if it’s themed and there’s a costume element… just mentioning…

Don’t wait till your next dinner party to make this. Do yourself a favor, and then have cake for breakfast. Because we all know that’s what you get to do when you’re an adult.

IMG_0576

Banana Caramel Cake with Salted Coconut Caramel and Caramel Buttercream

Besides that this is utterly DELICIOUS, it also happens to be refined sugar free! The caramel is paleo (though the cake isn’t), and the cake is made with whole wheat flour so you get a bit of good fiber and whole grains with your decadence. Cake and buttercream recipes are slightly adapted from the Kitchn, here, and the caramel comes from An Edible Mosaic, here! Makes one two layer, 9″ cake, enough buttercream to fill and top cake, and a generous amount of caramel because OF COURSE you want some left over for drizzle purposes later. I recommend making the caramel a day early, so you can just do cake+buttercream the day you’re eating all the goodness.

IMG_6492

Salted Coconut Caramel

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 1.5 generous cups for the cake+buttercream, and then at least another 1/2 cup for drizzle.

  • 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 runnier 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_0577

 

Banana Caramel Cake

  • 3/4 c grass-fed, unsalted butter, softened to room temp for an hour
  • 3/4 c coconut sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1.5 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 c mashed, ripe bananas (about 4-5 bananas)
  • heaping 1 c of coconut caramel (recipe above)

Preheat the oven to 325, and grease two 9″ baking pans with coconut oil/butter.

in a large bowl, cream together the softened butter and coconut sugar (I used a hand mixer), until fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition until the batter becomes silky looking and slightly lighter in color.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Thoroughly mash bananas in a small bowl, then whisk them together with the almond milk and vanilla. Begin adding flour mixture and banana mix into the butter+eggs bowl, beating after each addition and alternating dry-wet-dry-wet-dry until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pans. Pour a heaping 1/2 cup of caramel over each pan, and use a knife to swirl the liquid into the cake batter (it’s best if it isn’t completely incorporated, leave some caramelly pockets).

Bake for 45-50 minutes, when a tester should come out clean. Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn them out onto cooling racks. Let cool completely before frosting.

IMG_6487

Caramel Buttercream

  • 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.

Once cake is completely cool, flip the bottom layer carefully onto your cake plate of choice, frost the middle, then flip the other layer on top. Frost that, using as much buttercream as humanly possible. Be a little careful, as this frosting tends to slip a little bit (don’t make any radical maneuvers with your cake whilst transporting or anything). Top with more drizzled caramel (obvi), and some unsweetened shredded coconut+chopped pecans if that floats your boat (it very much floated mine and my dinner companions). It’s also especially awesome with good vanilla ice cream…

Store the cake in the fridge prior to serving, as well as any leftovers (ha, I dare you).

IMG_6496

IMG_0570

Happy Peep-Eating Day!

IMG_6339

Happy Chocolate-Bunny Eating Day!

Or something.

IMG_6352

My dad and his brother started the day off by sending each other peep-eating photos. I guess that would make it Happy Peep-Eating-Day?! Or maybe it was a Peep-Off. Apparently my cousin was also photographed eating them, perhaps it’s a family affair? Whatever. The peep-eating trend obviously stops with me…sorry about that. Given that I absolutely abhor those nasty little piles of sugar-coated marshmallowy goop (nothing personal to the peep eaters out there, vacuum vati notwithstanding), I made this instead! Happy cake eating day to me! Because Easter=chocolate. Because…chocolate. Why do you even need a reason??

IMG_6343

And then you add dates and bananas and coconut and more chocolate and mmmmm.

AND you omit the refined sugar and all that gunk. So really, I’m doing vacuum vati a favor by providing some balance to offset his peep-eating ways. Not that a peep (or ten) once a year is a bad thing…. just don’t blame me when you discover your insides are technicolor. Just sayin’.

IMG_6344

And really. It’s Eater (I mean Easter, whoops. See??) so that means brunch and eggs benedict and cake and chocolate. Preferably chocolate before breakfast or chocolate ganache eaten with a finger spatula (don’t look at me like that. I know you’ve done it). Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, my Easter has included none of these things except a finger spatula (I did make cake, after all).

MY Easter started off at 5 am with toast… and then a sunrise service…and then shadow yoga studies at nine… and then a ravenous stuffing of basil-y and mushroom-y eggs into my face at 11:30 because I was ravenous after yoga and breakfast at 5; before which I had thrown a two layer cake together in twenty minutes. That is winning, that is. Oh. And I recently ate a truffle (salted caramel dark chocolate), courtesy of my mom who knows me SO well and put only intensely dark chocolate things and raw cocoa nibs in my Easter basket. Thanks mom!

IMG_0346

Ramble ramble ramble…

CAKE!

Let’s move on.

Happy eater Easter! Enjoy your chocolate or cake or family or whatever it is that you happen to be doing. Whatever you do, please do yourself a favor and eat something delicious!

Also, one lasty little thingy…. happy 200th posts to me on my bloglet! You go, little bloglet. You’re so cute. I do rather adore you. Consider this a happy 200th-post cake celebration, hooray!

IMG_6347

 

It's Easter. You get a flower!
It’s Easter. You get a flower!

Banana Date Layer Cake

This cake is not for the sweet-loving at heart, given that it is naturally sweetened and naturally not very sweet! But it IS good, so I would recommend it for those of you who either can’t or don’t eat refined sugar. It makes a dense, lightly sweet cake with a rich chocolate ganache. Despite being lightly sweet, it went over quite well for a mixed audience. I think it would be FAB with ice cream…It can be gluten free, if you choose, and it’s refined sugar free. Sub in maple for the honey in the ganache, and it becomes vegan. It’s also fairly easy to whip together, which is always nice. Recipe lightly adapted from Green Spirit Adventures, here! Serves… a lot. I fed this to a big family Easter dinner and we still have a few slices left over for Vacuum Vati’s breakfast.

IMG_6340

Banana Layer

  • 3 super-ripe bananas (the nastier looking, the better)
  • 3 dates (soaked if needed)
  • 6 tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

Cocoa-Date Layer

  • 1.5 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 8 dates (Soaked if needed)
  • 6 tbsp unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Ganache

  • 200 g dark chocolate (I used two 100 g bars of 73%), broken into smallish pieces
  • 1 c unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3.5 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tsp raw honey
  • a hefty pinch of sea salt

Garnish

  • unsweetened coconut
  • roughly chopped walnuts and pistachios
  • extra dark chocolate chips

IMG_6338

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease two round 9″ cake pans. Bake the cakes at the same time for ease of everything…

For the banana layer. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Whiz everything else (bananas, dates, coconut oil, almond milk, vanilla extract) together in a food processor until mostly smooth. Toss wet into dry, and stir until just combined. The batter should be really thick—spread it evenly into the prepared pan rather than pouring it (good luck, it won’t pour..). Smooth the top and set aside until you finish the other layer.

For the cocoa date layer: Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and powder, and salt. Wash out your food processor, and whiz everything else together again (told you this was easy): almond milk, dates, coconut oil, almond and vanilla extracts. Wet into dry again, stir to combine again—this will also be a really thick batter, so spread it in evenly.

Bake both cakes at the same time for about 30 minutes (until a tester comes out clean)—my banana layer went for 30 and my cocoa layer for 35. Let cool until you can handle the cake pans, then turn them out to cool completely on a rack.

For frosting purposes, combine almond milk, almond extract, vanilla extract and tahini in a small saucepan over low heat. Once it’s warmed through, add the chocolate pieces and stir until completely melted (I turned off the heat after a few minutes but kept stirring). Stir in honey and salt.

Once all is said and done, find a cake plate… pick your bottom layer, then slap on a good layer of ganache on top of it. Pour a boatload of shredded coconut and chocolate chips into the middle, then slap on the second layer. Drizzle/pour/gratuitously indulge in being messy the rest of the ganache over the top and sides. The goal here is RUSTICATED! Top with chopped nuts, more chippies and coconut.

Glory in its beauty… then slice and eat. Happy Eater!!

IMG_0347

Happy Birthday, Vaccuum Vati!!

Happy Birthday, Vaccuum Vati!

Whaat. October already?! Sheeesh.

Time to bust out the pumpkin, ahhh yeahhh. Because as we know, I am the Queen of Orange.

But before we do that (and because of this ridiculous Indian Summer we’ve got going here: a hundred degrees in October?! Excuse me?! We know I loathe hot weather. Can’t it just be fall already?? I can’t quite do pumpkin until it’s at least a little cold-ish)… I bring you the end of Birthday Month!! Slightly belatedly, but hey–better late than never. So with that in mind, here’s this little bit of deliciousness: Vaccuum Vati’s birthday cake!!

mmm

As per request, things got a leeeetle spiiiicayyy up in hurrr since Vati wanted cayenne pepper in some form of dessertness. I thought about brownies for a split second but nahhh, why make brownies when you can make cake?! Pssh. Brownies. It’s a birthday, after all.

I’ve never baked with cayenne before, though I’ve had desserts where it was sneakily present.

hehhe.. edge on!

I think I’ve decided I like it, at least in this cake—the pepper sneaks in subtly, rather than punching you in the face going “I’M SPICY! EAT ME AND CLEAR YOUR SINUSES, PITIFUL HUMAN!” Or at least that’s what a lot of those less subtle desserts feel like to me… sort of like the sea salt and vinegar Kettle Chips. But I digress. This cake is super hydrated (remember, we don’t like the m-word), rich, chocolately and spicy. Just sweet enough (though I didn’t cut the sugar on this one as per request as well, as SOMEONE has an (inherited, I’m sure) sweet tooth the size of Texas). And the frosting?! Oh yes. The frosting. Hooooly crap. I had to save myself from cleaning the bowl out with my face, it is that good. Maybe if you make this,  double the frosting and save the second bowl for something creative. I don’t know, like eating with a spoon or something, with a token graham cracker so you pretend you’re using it as “dip”. Haha. Yeah right. I’m sure you’ll think of something, you’re a creative bunch.

The first word that comes to mind is… craggy. Um. No comment.

Anyway. Go in the kitchen, get out a bowl. It’s simple. Spicy chocolate cake, you know you want it… you’ll thank me later!

mmm.

Spicy Chocolate Cake with Cinnamon Mascarpone Frosting

Slightly adapted from Baked Bree, here! I made a half recipe in 6″ cake pans, so I’ll include those measurements here.

For the cake:

  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 + 3/8 c whole wheat pastry flour (sorry for the awkward measurements…)
  • 1/2 + 1/8 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c packed brown sugar
  • 4.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c milk bev (I used 1% milk)
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4.5 tsp Bourbon vanilla

This couldn’t be simpler… in fact, it’s pretty close to instant cake gratification. Lezzz dooo eeeet!

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease two 6″ cake pans, line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper, and then lightly grease that (coconut oil is fab for this). In a largeish bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: cocoa through salt. In a smaller bowl, whisk together milk, oil, applesauce, egg, vinegar and vanilla until combined. Pour wet into dry (see? EASY.). Chuck batter into prepared cake pans (ideally the top is evenish, if not.. oops oh well, you get to do trimming, which means there are cake scraps to be eaten), and bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean (For full-size cakes, increase bake time to 45 minutes). Let cool in the pans for a few minutes, then upend onto a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Subliminal messaging eeeeaattt meeee!!!

While the cake is baking: make the frostinggg (Keep your fingers away from the bowl, please) (as if). I made half the recipe. Don’t kid yourself, make extra. My measurements below are for half but really… what else would you do with that leftover mascarpone?!

  • half of 1 tub (8 oz) of mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Bourbon vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c heavy cream

Whip yo’ cream (and yo’ hair) until stiff peaks form. Once cream is whipppp-ed, set aside. In a bowl, “whisk” (and by whisk, I mean sort of stir) mascarpone, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and powdered sugar. Fold cream into the mascarpone mixture, and try not to eat it all at once. Some is supposed to go on the cake, you know…

With half the recipe, I had enough to put a layer between the two cake layers, and frost the whole thing.

Drool. Eat. Love!

Vaccuum VATI! (Loves his ducks)

Wait… has it been a YEAR…of cookies?!

Happy Birthdayyyyy to my BLOG! Thanks, Vati, for donating your fingers… 

Okay. Confession time.

Ready?

I missed my blog’s first birthday!! Sheeesh. I feel like a bad parent. BUT. I baked it a cake! And an adorable one (okay, two), at that. I had to celebrate somehow, and besides everyone wins when there’s cake around. But really, I thought wordpress might give me a heads up like, “oh hey, you’ve had a blog for a year, yeahhhh!” or something. Anything. BUT NO. So all of a sudden I realized it was July… and I had, in fact, started  blogging last June. Fail. Oh well! Absolved. By cake.

Candles smell like birthdays….

Besides… I’m quite proud of having stuck with this! A year(ish) ago, I set a goal to start a food blog. I didn’t really have any parameters regarding said goal, just that since I was moving into my own apartment for my senior year at Willamette, I wanted a way to keep my diet interesting and a push to try new things. Besides, I’d kind of wanted to start one ever since I had started reading blogs to begin with! Sooo… Wait are those…Cookies was born! In the summer, natch, so I could iron out any kinks before the crazy of school started. (And figure out creative things to do with mega boatloads of zucchini… heads up, zucchini season is almost upon us in the garden out back… consider yourself  appropriately warned).

AND it’s neon pink. For those who know me… this is an obvious no brainer.

Since I started posting mid June last year, I’ve posted 85 times (pretty good, considering the 92 page thesis beast that I cranked out spring semester), and had an even 4500 hits from across the world (who knew I was internationally interesting?! I certainly didn’t. Maybe it’s the irreverence)! Pretty good, for a blog that got started on a whim (and considering that I don’t really follow a regular schedule for this biz… I only post when the muses move me. Ha.). Anyway… throughout all this ridiculousness, I’ve learned lots of interesting tidbits… How to make lemon curd. And go through a jar of pb a week (oh wait. That is probably innate… never mind). And that you can bake cookies on your dashboard (personal fave). AND that goat cheese, while undeniably delicious, when paired with creme fraiche and tucked into a tart shell, is probably enough to put you and your roomie into an extended food coma for about a week. Whatever. Worth it.

even the aliens off to the right enjoy my cake! Ha. Beaming in?

So. I went from being an incoming undergraduate senior mildly concerned about thesis writing to a fully matriculated real person with a  BA in art history and the best job ever. Yoga benefits + active wear alll the time = too perfect for words. Thanks, not-so-baby food blog (you’re ONE year old!!), for feeding me through my misadventures in the kitchen and in life. Enjoy your cake :)

in profile.

Lemon Chiffon Cake with Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream Frosting

I made a half recipe in a 9 by 9 pan, and then cut rounds out for two baby, two layer cakes. The full recipe makes two 8″ or 9″ round cake layers. These can be sliced in half for a total of 4, if you like. I’ll include the full recipe here—halve if you want smaller cakes like mine. Don’t try to stack them too high though—I found the lemon curd to be mega slippery and one of my cakes was less than structurally sound. oops. I frosted mine with whipped cream, because it’s delicious. And pretty. Cake and lemon curd slightly adapted from Whole Living, here!

This cake is also decently not horrible for you: the cake (minus cream) is cholesterol free with skim milk, and has heart-healthy canola oil + lemons (ridiculously high in Vit. C and antioxidants). YAYY! A wonderfully summery cake, when you don’t want something heavy. It’s just sweet enough to satisfy without putting you in a coma…

lemon currrrrd

Putz around in your kitchen until you’ve acquired the following:

For the cake!

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour, sifted*
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 c milk (whatever you have is fine, I used 1%. Non dairy I’m sure is okay too)
  • 1/3 c canola oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 egg whites

*use the spoon and level method to measure: spoon flour into measuring cup, then scrape off the excess with the flat of a knife. Since this is a sponge cake, you want maximum lightness/airiness. Too much flour= heavy cake!

Frosting: 1 pint of whipped cream (or 2 pints for a full-sized cake), plus powdered sugar and vanilla (to taste)

For the curd*:

I’ll include the recipe for the curd I used for this cake, but I really prefer the curd I made before, even though it’s slightly less good for you. If you’re avoiding butter, use the one below, if not, I highly recommend this one!! If you don’t have Meyer lemons, that’s fine: just use regular.

  • 4 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 and 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • zest of half a lemon
  • 1/2 c fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons, depending on size) + 1.5 c water
  • 1/3 c cornstarch (organic, if you please!)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
I recommend making the curd earlier in the day before the cakes, so that it has time to chill. (Or you can be like me and do it the morning a water main explodes at the top of your street, meaning no water for you! That was interesting…). Lightly beat egg yolks in a heatproof bowl, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, lemon zest, cornstarch, and salt, and whisk to combine. Add in lemon juice and water, whisk until sugar and cornstarch have dissolved. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Cook two minutes. Reduce heat to low, gradually whisk a ladle-full of the lemon mixture into the egg yolks, then pour this mixture back into the pan (still constantly whisking!). Cook over medium heat for about 2.5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Let cool in a bowl with plastic wrap on the surface to prevent a skin; when cool enough, put it in the fridge to chill (at least an hour).
//

For the cake: preheat the oven to 350, and lightly grease your desired pan. Cut parchment paper to line the bottom, and then grease that.

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4 c sugar, milk, oil, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice. In a smaller bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Put egg whites into a non reactive bowl (I like to use the bowl of my Kitchenaide, plus a handheld electric mixer), and beat on medium speed until foamy. Raise speed to medium-high and gradually add remaining 1/4 c sugar + 2 tbsp, continuously beating until stiff peaks form.

Add half the flour mixture to the milk mix; whisk until smooth. Fold in remaining flour in three batches, alternating with the beaten egg whites (Try not to over-fold the batter; since the idea here is a light cake! But neither do we want pockets of flour… fold with purpose!). Pour the batter into the prepared pans, and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Mine came out perfectly at 18 (my gas oven runs *very* efficiently). Let cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack. Remove parchment paper, and invert again (so the cake is right-side up). Let cool completely.

While cake is cooling, whip yo’ cream! In that same non reactive bowl (hopefully cleaned of egg white reside, thanks), beat cream until it starts to hold shape… then add a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar and a glug of vanilla. Beat until it holds stiff peaks (not too far, no one wants butter!). It can chill for a bit in the fridge before frosting, but not necessary.

Stack with layers with lemon curd in between (beware slippage!), and frost with whipped cream. Can be stored in the fridge for a few hours, but try to eat as promptly as possible (whipped cream frosting looks prettiest when eaten sooner rather than later).

Eat. Love. BLOG!

heh heh

 

 

The Siren Song of Dead Bananas

mmm, buttercream!

Hmmp. Tis the season, indeed.

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

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

omnomnom

See? Cake.

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

Banana Cardamom Cake with Browned Butter Buttercream

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

Cake!

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

Frostinggggg!

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

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

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

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