Posts Tagged ‘cake’

Cherry Cake

I don’t really have anything funny, cute or silly to say about this cake.  Just that it’s yummy, tasty, and delicious and I was pleased at how it turned out.  I’m usually very skeptical about trying a new recipe to bring to a party without making a “test batch” to taste first.  But alas, I did the unimaginable, and made a cake that I’d never tried before.  And hallelujah, it was lovely.  As I said to Scott, “this is a re-make cake”, meaning, this cake is good enough to make again. Soon.  Ahhh, I love the on-set of summer!

Cherry Cake barely adapted from The Provence Cookbook by Patricia Wells

I often make cakes a day ahead, wrap them tightly in plastic and keep them on the counter to be eaten the next day.  I find that a lot of cakes become more moist this way, and this was certainly the case with this cake.  Also, Scott suggested that it’d be fun to brush the top with a little kirsch or cherry brandy.  Perhaps I’ll try that next time when there aren’t a bunch of 1-year-olds partaking in the “adult” desserts!  I did, however substitute cherry brandy for the vanilla that she calls for.  In addition, I think this cake would be wonderful with a 1/2 teaspoon or so of ground cardamom- but you know me!!

Also, I used a 10-inch spring-form pan, rather than a 9-inch, as is called for in the recipe.  It worked beautifully- I simply baked the cake a few minutes less.

  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2/3 cups white sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon cherry brandy or kirsch
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 pound fresh red cherries, rinsed, stemmed and pitted, divided

Place oven rack in the center-most position and preheat oven to 425º.  Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.  Set aside.

Prepare the cherries and cut 3/4 of them in half.  Leave the remaining 1/4 whole.

In the bowl of a kitchen-aid fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on high-speed until they become thick and lemon-colored, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the speed to low and add the melted butter, olive oil, milk and cherry brandy.  Mix just to blend.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the lemon and orange zests and stir to coat.  Spoon the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined.  Do not over mix.  Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquids.  Stir the halved cherries into the batter and pour the batter into the prepared pan, using a spatula to smooth out the top.

Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle the remaining whole cherries on the top of the cake and continue baking for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Place on a cooling rack to cool for about 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the sides of the pan to help it release and then remove the side of the springform pan.  Leave the cake on the pan base until it is completely cool.



Read Full Post »

For a first-birthday celebration, I found myself making 48 cupcakes.  I made 24 chocolate, and 24 vanilla.  For the chocolate, I used this recipe, doubling it.  And for the vanilla, I used this recipe, doubling it, and baking for about 5 minutes less.  Ever searching for new and fun frostings, I came across two wildly successful ones in Smitten Kitchen’s recipe list.  Here they are:

Fudge Frosting barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen
yeilds 4 cups

This frosting is fairly sweet, even though it calls for unsweetened chocolate.  Next time I may try using a little less sugar.  Also, Deb uses 3 sticks of butter (12 ounces) and no creme fraiche…a good alternative!

  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
  • 4-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 ounces creme fraiche or sour cream at room temperature
  • 6 Tablespoons whole milk at room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water.  Allow to cool slightly.  Place everything in the bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth.  Frost away!

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting from Smitten Kitchen
yields about 4 cups

I used Grade A Maple Syrup, which has a more “pure” flavor.  But I tend to think that a Grade B syrup might be better, as the flavor is a little stronger and won’t be so overpowered by the cream cheese. Also, I’ve tried using an artisinal cream cheese and it was an utter failure!! The resulting frosting was too thin, and curdy.  I think good ol’ Philadelphia is the way to go.

update 11/2010: I tried using Grade B syrup and the flavor of the icing was great, however it was a little looser because Grade B maple syrup is a little thinner… so really, the choice is yours!

  • 2 packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter until perfectly smooth.  Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar and maple syrup.  Mix until smooth.  Depending upon how thin your resulting frosting is, you may find that chilling it for about an hour helps it to thicken for easier frostibility.

Read Full Post »

One thing I’ve learned about being pregnant…

Everybody likes to give their opinion…

…about labor…

…about eating right…

…about gaining weight…

…about what I should and shouldn’t lift…

And I find it a little funny.  For the most part, I don’t really mind.  But the other day, one of my co-workers was having a conversation with Scott about the diet and cravings of a pregnant woman.  And he adamantly told Scott that a pregnant woman should just eat what she craves, not worrying about “proper nutrition” since “the body knows best”.  And to that I’d like to point out that one of my most common (unresolved) cravings is for a gin martini.  Dirty.  Extra olives… sooo, umm, what d’ya say to that- huh?!

In other news, it seems that I have a hankerin’ for cake and frosting.  Now don’t worry.  I realize that it likely appears that I’ve been eating nothing but sugary sweets and gin martinis.  But fear no more.  This facade of a blog through which you see me doesn’t paint the whole picture!  My days have been filled with hummus, avocados, kiwis, salmon and whole grains.  But you see, those things just don’t look very cute with piped-frosting hearts and squiggles.  Alas…

I present to you my new standard in chocolate cuppy-cakes (as I like to call them).  I still can’t get over just how tender the crumb is.  And how moist.  And really, I think you’ll find yourself filled with glee to eat them.  Especially if you happen to be eating them while watching the scene in Mama Mia where all the women dance through the village singing Dancing Queen.…(just a suggestion).

Chocolate Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing barely adapted from A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
yields 12 cupcakes

Molly uses plain, whole milk yogurt instead of buttermilk, which I’ve used with great success in many cake recipes.  I simply didn’t have any on hand!  Also, Molly states that this recipe can be baked into an 8″ or 9″ cake pan, greased and lined with parchment.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.

Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup hot brewed coffee
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • rounded 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place an oven rack in the center-most position and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Line a standard-sized muffin pan with muffin papers and set aside.

Pour the semisweet chocolate into the hot coffee and let it sit, stirring every once in a while until dissolved.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk to combine.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment,  beat the egg until frothy.  Add the canola oil, buttermilk and vanilla extract.  With the mixer running, add the coffee/chocolate mixture.  Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix until just combined.  Turn off the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom to be sure that there aren’t any unmixed parts left.

Pour the batter into the lined muffin pan, taking care to distribute the batter evenly.  Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 20 minutes to cool.  Gently remove the cooled cupcakes from the pan (you may want to use a palette knife or butter knife to assist you), and place on the cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • tiny pinch of salt

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until completely smooth.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the butter and salt.  Beat again for about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl again, and add the sugar.  Again, beat until smooth, scraping down the bowl as necessary.  Load into a pastry bag fitted with a fluted pastry tip and decorate!*

*Did you know that you can use a zip-top bag as a substitute pastry bag?  Simply load up the bag with the frosting, then cut one of the corners of the bag off.  A small cut will give you a small “pastry tip” and a larger cut will give you a larger “pastry tip”-ta da!

Read Full Post »

I would like to take this moment to say “yum”.  YUM!

…and this is why…

I made this cake this morning.  And yes, I had a piece for lunch.  Well pre-lunch, really.  But it was after noon.  Not that cake before noon and alcohol before noon have the same connotation.  Because they don’t.  Unless you’re referring to the addictive tendencies of those who partake in such substances before noon.  And in that case, I’ll plead guilty.  Without will-power.  But for the next 5 months, I’ll just go ahead and plead pregnant. That works, right? Umm…

Anyhoo.  I just felt like making a cake.  I don’t know why.  There’s no rhyme or reason to it.  I have nothing more to say on the subject.  Except that I highly recommend that if you ever find yourself wanting to make a fabulously moist, extra-super delicious butter cake, this here is the one to try.  The recipe has been dog-eared in one of my favorite cookbooks for ages.  And on a whim, I just decided to take the plunge (into heaven).

Butter Cake with Milk-Chocolate Ganache Frosting barely adapted from The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook
This recipe yields one 9-inch layer cake.  You may double it to make two layers.

As with all recipes with few ingredients, it’s especially important to use the best ingredients you can find…so shell out the money for some really great butter- after all this is a butter cake!

For the Butter Cake

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • rounded 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 pound (one stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with a circle of parchment.  There is no need to butter and flour the pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir to mix well and aerate.

Place the room-temperature butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the butter is lighter in color- about 45 seconds.  With the mixer still on medium speed, add the sugar in a steady stream.  Once all the sugar has been incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue to mix on medium speed until the mixture is very light in color and texture- 4 to 5 minutes.

Slowly pour in the eggs, about 1 Tablespoon at a time,  allowing each addition to be fully incorporated before adding more.  The whole process should take at least 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine the vanilla and milk in a small bowl or measuring cup.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in four doses, alternating with the milk in three doses.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl in between additions.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and place in the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Invert onto a plate and remove the parchment paper.  then put the parchment back on the cake, with the sticky side up.  Re-invert the whole thing back on to a rack until fully cooled.

To use the next day, simply wrap tightly in plastic.  To be frozen, wrap tightly in plastic and then wrap again in foil- freeze for 2 weeks.  OR ice it and eat now!

Milk-Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Yields about 3 cups of icing.

You’ll get a little more frosting than you’ll need for this cake, however, it’s delicious dolloped into your morning coffee!  This icing turned out great and I loved it, but next time I’d like to try a different ratio using a little less cream and a little more chocolate for a slightly denser result.  Also, you’ll need to start this frosting at least 4-6 hours before you’re ready to use it.  I recommend melting the cream and chocolate together the day before so that’s it’s ready to whip when you are.

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6-1/2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.  Heat the cream in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan until bubbles begin to appear around the edges.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is fully dissolved.  Cool completely and chill for at least 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.

Just before using, pour the mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed until the mixture holds stiff peaks and is spreadable.  Use immediately.

Read Full Post »

Roasted plum cakes

PA050034PA050044Don’t you just love it when the little something that you’ve just baked turns out every-bit as delicious as you hoped it would?  And every-bit as cute too?  These little plum cakes have been calling to me for years now, and when asked to bring dessert to a friendly little gathering last night, I jumped at the chance to bring these.  Plums, afterall, will be going out of season soon, and I just couldn’t let it go another year.

They consist of a regular-ol’ butter cake batter with a plum-half pressed into the center.  The cake batter rises around the plum, cradling it.  If I were to tinker with the recipe next time (because I can’t help tinkering), I might try peeling the plums first (blanching them very quickly in boiling water, and then shocking them in an ice-bath).  This is because, when eating the cake, the plum separated somewhat from the cake itself, as the plum’s skin created a bit of a barrier between the two.  Aside from that though, they were lovely.  Also, I served them lightly warmed and plain, but I’m sure they’d be just great with some lightly-sweetened whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice-cream right on top…

Roasted Plum Cakes adapted from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
yields 6 little cakes

The original recipe called for using 8-oz ramekins, but I found that the 4-oz ramekins work just fine.

  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly whisked just to break up the yolk and white
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • 3 small-medium sized ripe plums, halved and pitted
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter for coating the ramekins

Place an oven rack in the center-most position and turn the oven to 350 degrees.  Coat 6 4-ounce ramekins lightly with the melted butter and set them on a cookie sheet or baking tray.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer using the paddle attachement, cream together the 4 Tablespoons butter, 1 Tablespoon of brown sugar, and the white sugar on medium speed until light in color, about 2-3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 2 minutes more on medium speed, until the sugar has dissolved into the butter.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and add half of the egg.  Turn the mixer to high and beat until the egg is incorporated.  Scrape again, and add the remaining egg, beating on high speed, until it’s incorporated.  Scrape, add the orange zest and vanilla, and mix until incorporated.

In a separate small bowl, gently stir together the flour and baking soda.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour to the creamed butter mixture and mix for about 15 seconds.  Add the buttermilk and mix for another 15-20 seconds.  Finish the last few stirs by hand.

Divide the batter equally among the 6 ramekins (about 2-1/2 Tablespoons batter each).  Place a plum-half, cut-side-up, in the center of each ramekin, pushing down lightly.  Sprinkle the plums with the remaining brown sugar.

Place the baking sheet containing the filled ramekins in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick instered into the cake comes out clean.

Allow the cakes to cool in their ramekins for about 10 minutes.  To remove them from the ramekins, run a butter knife around the edge of the ramekin.  Using a kitchen towel, hold the ramekin at an angle and genltly work the knife underneath the cake, coaxing it out and onto the plate.  If you’ve made them in advance to be served later, re-heat the cakes in a 375 oven for about 5 minutes.  They will warm-through just enough to release from their ramekins.

Read Full Post »

Edna Lewis’ busy day cake


I first discovered this cake a while ago on Molly’s blog, Orangette.  I don’t own the Edna Lewis book that it came from, but I do own a different Edna Lewis book that I’ve been paging through, looking for okra recipes.  (Good thing only one of my okra plants survived- I’d never be able to eat it all!)  And I fell in love with Edna Lewis all over again.

Anyway, I remembered having seen this recipe and thought it would be an appropriate conclusion to our gumbo feast.  My folks were due to come over in less than an hour and I hadn’t even started this cake.  True to it’s name, it really can be thrown together quickly.  It has the faintest whisper of nutmeg as a seasoning which is just lovely, and I was truly surprised at how moist it was.  And by golly, it’s still moist, three days later!

Edna Lewis’ Busy Day Cake found on Orangette which was adapted from The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1-1/3 cups white sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups unbleached all- purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 healthy pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature

Preheat your oven to 375 and place the oven rack in the center position.  Lightly grease a 9″ springform pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg, whisking to combine.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, alowing each egg to be fully incorporated before adding the next.  Then add the vanilla.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

With the mixture on low speed, add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, giving it a few seconds to incorporate.  Then add about 1/3 of the milk.  Continue adding the flour mixture and milk in alternate batches until both have been fully incorporated.  Do not over- mix.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl one more time, and use your rubber spatula to give the whole mixture one last stir.

Scrape the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and place it in the oven to bake for 30-35 minutes.  (I needed to cover the top with foil after about 25 minutes to prevent it from browning too much.)  Use a toothpick, inserted in the center of the cake to determine doneness.

We served it alongside Tomatero Farm golden raspberries, and it was truly lovely.

Read Full Post »

p4130061Oh, the possibilities of rhubarb!  I’m hoping to keep nursing this crown into a big, healthy plant so that I can have rhubarb accessible whenever I want it.  It’s a perennial and will stick around for a number of years.  I’m trying to figure out exactly where, in the garden, it should go.  The leaves will get huge- about 1 foot wide, and are really beautiful contrasted against the red stems.

The recipe I always think of when rhubarb comes in to season, is my grama’s rhubarb cake.  I’ll have to ask her where it came from, but I know that my dad loved it as a kid, so the recipe has been around for quite a while.

It’s the simplest cake to make, and really doesn’t need icing.  In fact, the cake is so moist that the addition of frosting is almost overboard!  Though a dollop of lightly-sweetened whipped cream is awfully good with it.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have been known to bake it in 2 round cake pans to make a layered cake, frosting and all, but it doesn’t really need all that work to make it good. This is the kind of cake that’s nice eaten with a cup of tea mid-morning because it isn’t overly sweet, and it has those little bits of tart rhubarb in it to balance it all out.  Also, the cake just gets moister the next day so long as it’s covered tightly, so you can have it with your tea over and over again!

Rhubarb Cake
yields  one 9×13 pan, two- 9” rounds, or four- 6” rounds

This cake also works beautifully with strawberries cut in to similarly sized pieces.

  • 1-½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup shortening (I use Spectrum organic shortening, which is made using palm oil)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk with 1 tsp baking soda stirred into it
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-½ cups raw rhubarb cut into ¼” pieces
  • Topping: ½ Tablespoon cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons sugar, stirred together

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour pan. Cream the sugar and shortening. Add the egg and mix to combine. Separately, combine the buttermilk, baking soda and vanilla. Separately, combine the flour and salt. In alternate doses,  mix the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture into the creamed mixture. Just before the last bit of flour is fully absorbed, stir in the rhubarb. Don’t over-mix. Pour batter into baking vessel and spread to the edges using a spatula.  Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top and bake for approximately 40 minutes if you’re using the 9×13 glass dish. For smaller pans, you may need to decrease the baking time.

Read Full Post »