Posts Tagged ‘cake’

Playing Vegetable

In a time of sugar, sugar, and more sugar, I give you a relatively healthy indulgence.  These zucchini carrot bars carry their own weight, needing no frosting or other adornments.  They’re sweet enough to rest nicely among your taste buds and delicious enough to want seconds and thirds.  Don’t worry, though, I have some real sweet treats in the works for you.

Carrot and Zucchini Bars

2 eggs
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups shredded carrot
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, honey, and vanilla.  Stir in the carrot and zucchini.
In another bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, and cinnamon.  Whisk to blend together.  Stir in walnuts.
Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture. Stir until just combined. Spread batter into a lightly greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
Bake about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from Real Mom Kitchen.


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I admit that I’m way behind on my posts.  There are things that I’ve been making that Lee tells me DEFINITELY need to go on the blog but then I go and forget to take a picture of them.  Not cool.

I did, however, make sure to take some pictures of a more recent baked construct for one of my best friends (in the whole wide world).  Mostly I remembered because there were plenty of sparkly things on it that kept catching my eye.

I think that maybe he liked his cake, don’t you?  Even though it turned out a little lopsided because I didn’t use 10″ pans like a good girl but instead overfilled my 9″ cake pans.  Whatever.  It was still absolutely heavenly.

Bestie Birthday Cake

1/2 cup good quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease 2 10″ round cake pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Avocado Buttercream

4 ounces of avocado meat, about 1 small to medium, very ripe avocado
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 pound powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peel and pit the soft avocado.  If the avocado has brown spots in the meat, avoid those spots when you scoop the meat into the bowl.

Place the avocado meat into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment.  Add lemon juice and whisk the avocado on medium speed, until slightly lightened in color and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and beat.  Add vanilla extract until combined.  If not using right away, store in the refrigerator.

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

3 sticks of softened, unsalted butter
6 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk

Beat butter until smooth and creamy.  Slowly add powdered sugar until fully incorporated.  Add vanilla and milk and mix.  If mixture is too dense, add more milk to receive desired consistency.

To Assemble Cake:

Spread avocado buttercream between cake layers.  Spread vanilla buttercream frosting up and over top and sides of cake. Cover and chill. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

Chocolate cake recipe found from Slow Like Honey.

Avocado buttercream recipe found from Joy the Baker.

Inspiration for cake decoration from Sprinkle Bakes.

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There are those weekends where I want to feel a real comfort, a comfort of memories and smells.  Those are the weekends where I break from bagels and cream cheese for breakfast and make some lovin’ from the oven.

I really love making coffee cakes because they’re relatively easy and don’t require any elaborate presentation.  They’re hearty and rustic and wonderfully satisfying.  The recipe below isn’t one of my FAVORITES but I’m certainly glad that I tried it.  I hope you do, too!

Coffee Coffee Cake

1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon fine instant espresso powder
1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/3 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon fine instant espresso powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9” springform pan.

For the streusel, combine all the ingredients and set aside.

For the cake, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add vanilla and mix. Scrape down the bowl. Add eggs and yolk one at a time and continue to beat until mixture is light and creamy. Lower the speed and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with yogurt in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Spread half the cake batter evenly in the prepared springform pan. Sprinkle with about 2/3 of streusel mixture, leaving a clean 1/2” border of cake batter around the edges. Top with remaining batter, smoothing it out to the edges. Finish with the remaining streusel, pressing gently into the surface.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 34 – 38 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe adapted from pastry studio.

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Grape Escape

You know, you really don’t see a lot of baked goods with grapes as an ingredient.  I’ve never baked with them before and had never really put much thought into baking with them, and I wondered why.  Other fresh fruits are mainstays in baking, so why not grapes?  Is it their taste, their texture, their water content, their direct link to raisins?  Maybe all of the above?  I still don’t know.  Whatever the reason, I decided to up my baked goods tally by one and experiment with this pretty normal food.  The result was a fantastically different cake, one which Lee was more than happy to eat and swoon over.

Grape Cake

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup fat free ricotta cheese

2 cups black seedless grapes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon flour

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with canola oil.  Line the outside bottom of the pan with tin foil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Mix in the honey. Add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.  Stir in the ricotta cheese.

Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes. During this time prepare the fruit, toss the grapes with 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 tablespoon of flour. Once the 15 minutes are done pour the fruit on top of the cake and distribute evenly, pressing down gently on the grapes. Bake for and additional 25 to 30 minutes.

Recipe comes from I’ll Have What She’s Having.

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The older I get, the more cynical I get over these grandiose displays that go on around the city.  I find the crowds that gather for things like fireworks and festivals to be almost unbearable and the thought of having to shuffle my way out of such events makes me cringe.  I still like to celebrate and have fun, though!  I just prefer gathering with friends for a nice little bbq and drinks and desserts.  And if I see some fireworks over the highway on the way home?  Well, that would be pretty perfect.

But what’s the fourth of July without a red, white, and blue-themed dessert?  A day off?  For many people, yes, but for those that have to work AND don’t get any patriotic cake?  It’s a sad, sad world.

That’s why I’ve got this one covered.  I didn’t want to get too crazy with my cake (at least not this year) so I decided to keep it  deliciously simple with a wonderful berry vanilla cake.  Yum!

Berry Vanilla Cake

2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 cup (nonfat) plain Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup milk
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (heaping) blueberries
1/2 cup (heaping) raspberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch bundt pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and the sugar until light. Beat in egg and egg white. Stir in yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract.
Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until everything is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour about 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan, then fold the raspberries and blueberries into the remaining batter carefully. Spread berry batter evenly over the plain batter in the cake pan.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed.
Cool cake for 15 minutes in the pan then turn it out onto a serving plate before frosting.
Spread an even layer of cream cheese frosting over the cake and garnish with fresh berries (or with an enormous amount of colored sanding sugar to create an abstract American flag).

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
3 tablespoons milk or cream
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 to 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Cream together cream cheese, butter, milk and vanilla until smooth. Gradually blend in confectioners’ sugar until frosting is thick and creamy.

Slightly adapted from Baking Bites.

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It’s been awhile since I last posted and I feel kind of guilty about it.  I haven’t been baking a lot or even cooking a lot and I’m not sure why.  I’m trying to muster up some motivation but this being healthy thing (or TRYING to be healthy) seems to take a lot of energy!

I managed to drag myself into the kitchen this past Father’s Day, though, as I was baking my presents this year.  There were two cakes to be prepared since I celebrate both my father and stepfather and all that they’ve done for me!

Picking what kind of cakes to make was pretty much a no-brainer for me.  My step-dad loves pistachios so a fresh pistachio cake was the obvious choice.  The second cake choice was made because it was a cake recipe that my dad and I used when I was little — bringing back the nostalgia.  I wasn’t able to taste either cake due to time constraints but I’m told that both were very delicious and seconds were had.

But without further ado…THE CAKES!  The first is adapted from Three Many Cooks.

Fresh Pistachio Cake

3/4 cup shelled pistachios (plus 1/4 cup for decorating)
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 package instant pistachio pudding mix
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white, at room temperature
3/4 cup ice cold water
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

Honey Vanilla Buttercream:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tablespoons honey

Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Generously butter two 9-inch round cake pans.

In the bowl of food processor, pulse the pistachios until they are coarsely chopped. Transfer about 2 tablespoons’ worth of the coarse pistachios to a large bowl. Continue to process the rest of the pistachios until they resemble a fine crumb.  Stir the chopped pistachios into the reserved coarse pistachios and then combine with the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Whisk to combine.

Beat the butter and shortening until creamy and light. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, add the whole egg, and beat until just combined.

Add the flour mixture to the bowl in three parts, alternating with the ice water, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and make sure everything is incorporated.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg white and cream of tartar until soft peaks form (You can do this by hand and it should only take 2 to 3 minutes). Do not overbeat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 20-30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let cool completely.

To make the frosting, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add milk and cream and cook over medium heat whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl and beat on high speed until cool (this takes at least 7 to 9 minutes of mixing) then add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the vanilla and honey and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is proper consistency.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a serving platter. If the top is uneven, trim to create a flat surface then evenly spread about 1/4 to 1/2 cup frosting on top. Add the top layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for bout 15 minutes to firm up. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Garnish the cake with crushed pistachios and refrigerate it for 15 minutes to it firm up before serving.

Let the cake sit a room temperature for at least 2 hours before serving.

And the next cake!

Espresso Cake

3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup brewed, cooled coffee
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable shortening
4 eggs
1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Generously grease a fluted cake pan with removable bottom.  Place a sheet of tinfoil around the bottom of the cake pan to avoid any leakage.  In a medium bowl whisk flour, espresso powder, baking powder, and baking soda then set aside.  In a small bowl, mix the milk and coffee together.  In a large bowl cream the vegetable shortening and sugar together.  Add eggs, egg white, and vanilla to the creamed mixture and stir to combine.  Add the flour mixture to the bowl in three parts, alternating with the coffee/milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for approximately 90 minutes.  Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Let cool in pan for about 20 minutes and then remove outer pan to cool completely.  Feel free to dust with powdered sugar for a little added touch!

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Pear are you going?

Okay, I’ve been keeping it from you.  I’m leaving for Florida this week.  I’M SORRY.  I do want to give you some baked goodies while I’m away but I’m also not sure if that will happen.  I mean, there’s going to be all that sun and the sun and, did I mention, the sun?  Oh, and Disney World, too.

That being said, I’m trying to get rid of the arsenal of food that might spoil or over-ripen while I’m away.  You might think that some of the things that I’ve been making would be more suited to the fall season but all fruit beckons to me in the spring/summertime.  Especially when it goes on sale.

I’ve always liked pears.  They kind of seem like the underdog of the fruit world.  You don’t often find them in baked goods, which is why I really liked making this bread.  Eating it was even better.

After a long, long walk, Lee and I sat our butts down and each ate a big piece of this bread.  We both mmmm’d our way through eating and then we both thought about what a second piece would taste like.  The health nut in us struggled with the fat kid in us and, surprisingly, the health nut won.  This time.

Almond Pear Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 to 4 firm, ripe pears (2 cups total)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Heat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl, and whisk to mix everything together. If using nuts, scoop out 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and combine in a small bowl with the chopped pecans, stirring and tossing to coat the nuts with the flour.

In a medium bowl, combine the butter, oil, eggs, applesauce, sugars, and extracts.  Mix until combined.  Grate the pears and add to the wet ingredients, along with the nuts.  Stir together.  Scrape the pear mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moistened.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 70 to 75 minutes, or until the bread is browned and firm on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate or a wire rack to cool completely, top side up. Serve it as is or sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

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