Tag Archives: Cakes and Cookies

29 Cakes For 29 Years (A Birthday Cake Tradition)

February 2013

There is something about a celebration that calls for layers of cake, and there’s something about me that thought my own birthday called for a mini, layer cake for each year of life! I’m not old by any means, but that is a fair bit of cake! However, this layer cake tradition of mine continued (as did my twenties for a little bit longer).

29th-Birthday-Cake-Tradition

That last candle was a bugger! If you’re curious why I called upon a garden gnome for candle-blowing-out assistance, this should explain it. Recipe to follow in a subsequent post.

Time Flies When You’re Having Galette!

January 21, 2013

On Friday, a coworker gave me an early birthday surprise in the form of a Galette des Rois from La Gourmandine. The surprise of the cake warmed my heart, but the cake itself made me so [unreasonably?] happy. I was beaming, and people were noticing. First of all, this is what I call the almond croissant of cake, and everyone knows how obsessive I am about almond croissants. Secondly, my memories of France are flavored with this cake.

Galette and Lessons

As I strolled down my almond flavored memory lane, it finally dawned on me how much time had passed since I lived in France, and admittedly, I felt a little bleu.

Galette and Figurine

However, my Special One quickly assured me I most definitely have more French adventures in store. Furthermore, I can’t complain about six years that have been filled with friends, family and adventures to other parts of the world. Even furthermore, my birthday is starting with a slice of my favorite cake, a mug of French pressed coffee and an attempt to make my brain think en français again! January is all about daily French diligence (on one very big sheet of paper)!

Galette French Lessons

Additionally, this year’s galette bestowed upon me a little female baking partner for the little baker from last year. Allow me a moment of musing, and I propose these figurines are a sign! My next French adventure will be with my Special One, and it will be better than a birthday slice of galette (ie: most amaaaaaaaaazing!).

Galette Open Slice

I hope you all have a cake that makes you this happy, and I hope someone surprises you with that cake!

Happy Birthday To Me!

Ushering in the New Year with Donuts (Part II)!

January 2013

One of my first jobs was working as a game attendant for Harvest Days at Merrymead Farm. I was later promoted to face painter, which was a major accomplishment in my fifth-grade world (I was a working artist)! When my mind wanders back to those days, I am filled with the sounds of crying kids (as it turns out, it’s often the parents who want the kids to have their faces painted more than the kids), the sounds of tractors pulling hayrides, the sneezy breathing of the corn maze and hay “bounce,” the taste of pulled pork sandwiches, the warmth of hot cider and the accompanying cider donuts. Ever since I scored my donut maker at Goodwill, I have been wanting to make a cider donut. New Year’s Day was finally the time!

Cider Donuts

Does this version of a cider donut immediately transport me to the days  of my face painting “career?” Yes, but I did rewrite my history a bit. These little donuts have a more complex flavor in their sugar coating due to a kick of nutmeg and the more intense molasses flavor of brown sugar.

Cider Donuts
makes approximately 24 baby donuts 

Dry Ingredients

1 cup almond flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Wet Ingredients

1 egg (local/free-range)
2/3 cup organic light brown sugar
1/2 cup local apple butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup wildflower honey
1/3 cup local apple cider
1/3 cup organic sour cream
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus a little extra for greasing your donut pan)

For the Donuts

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.

In another large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient mixture and whisk until just incorporated, being careful not to overmix.

Preheat and grease (I used melted butter) your donut maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions.

Sugar Coating

Ingredients

Organic, unsalted butter, melted
Organic brown sugar
Nutmeg
Cinnamon

For the Sugar Coating

Note: This is a game of approximating because you’ll probably have to refill your sugar dipping bowl a few times.

Combine brown sugar and spices in a bowl (to taste). Roll each donut in melted butter and then the sugar mixture.

Cider Donut

Enjoy the donuts and your own memories, wherever they may take you!

Pumpkin Without Chocolate is Just Pumpkin

November 2012

There are some bakers and eaters and general complainers who begin to grumble early in November and say, “I am over pumpkin!” To which I reply, “but what about pumpkin and CHOCOLATE?!?!” By that point, I am too consumed by the thought of pumpkin and chocolate to listen to the complainers anymore. I’m a baking super heroine with a chocolate force field!

Pumpkin without chocolate is just pumpkin, BUT pumpkin WITH chocolate is…

Whip The Kraken Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons Kraken Rum

Directions

Chill the heavy cream in a bowl in the freezer until it just starts to freeze.

Remove from the freezer. Add the maple syrup and vanilla.

Use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat until peaks begin to form.

Release the Kraken, and add the rum. Mix until combined.

Keep chilled until ready to serve.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Cake

Ingredients

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for greasing
2 cups organic raw sugar
4 eggs (local/free-range)
1 can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons instant espresso powder

Directions

Makes approximately one 9-inch cake for taking to a friend’s and extra cupcakes for you to keep!

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Oil the springform pan, and line cupcake pan with parchment liners (about 6-12 cupcakes, depending on size).

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, vanilla and espresso powder.

Whisk flour mixture into pumpkin mixture until well combined then transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.

Set aside to let cool then cut into squares and dust with powdered sugar, if you like.

… divine!

Butternut Brownies & Window Views

October 2012

How does the window delight in the season?

The winter window tries to protect our needs for sleep and nestling and hibernation. The winter window offers a curtain of darkness to keep us in a slumber, but the world forces us to push beyond the curtain to face the day. As the light emerges, we may catch quiet views in slow motion- a creek slowly flowing or neighbors slowly trudging.

Before long, spring breezes against the window, and it opens. The window stretches and awakens, perhaps creaking as it moves. The changes are not immediate but rather like a song filled with anticipation in its chords. The spring window shows more light, shows the neighbors as they too stretch and emerge from the more dormant months. The window sings with the birds and the bicycles and the children who play until the evening light slips away.

The window boasts in summer! The summer window is a full expression. Hot breezes, humming fans, active streets, and the rattling glass of an electrified sky.

Those warm breezes grow colder and begin to carry leaves until the window must close. The window grows quiet, but there is still pride in the dampening view it frames. The window is a hushed pause. It is a painting of bright hues in stark contrast with an interior darkness. The window is a temporary collector of condensation, the effect of cooling fall flavors…

Chocolate Butternut Squash Brownies

Ingredients

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
8 oz. Ghirardelli 70% cacao chocolate, chopped

4 large eggs (local/free-range)
1 1/2 cups organic raw sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 cups almond flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/4 cup local butternut squash puree
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 F and spray a 9″x9″ cake pan with nonstick spray.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the chocolate and remove from heat. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir until smooth.

In a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla for 3-4 minutes, until thick and pale yellow.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt

Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and beat until just combined.

Put one third of the batter into another bowl. Stir in the squash puree, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

Stir the chocolate mixture into the remaining batter and spread a little more than half of it into the prepared pan.

Top with the pumpkin mixture, then drop large spoonfuls of the remaining chocolate mixture on top. Swirl a knife through both to create a swirled effect.

Bake for 40 minutes, until just set and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan.

An Ode To A Cabin In Autumn: Cookie Cups & Cartwheels

September 2012

When is the last time you really went outside and played?

When is the last time you flew through the trees?

When is the last time you ran like a fool? When is the last time you did a cartwheel?

There’s something about being at the special cabin in the woods that simplifies fun. Maybe it’s because we’re removed from typical routines or because no one is watching, or maybe because we’re just plain weird [magical]? Whatever the impetus, there we were playing outside, laughing and seeing the world from all angles. It took me back to a time when fitness was just an afternoon spent outside with friends.

Perhaps it was all the play that incited my craving for cookies. Perhaps I was transported to the time when I’d run inside with numb fingers and find a kitchen table covered in warm, fresh, gooey, chocolate-chip cookies.

One of the advantages of being a baking adult is I can make cookies when the craving hits. This time I was inspired by the ol’ cupcake form. Another advantage of being a baking adult is I can also be inspired by bourbon!

Bourbon, Cranberry & Pecan Cookie Cups
Makes 20 cookie cups

Ingredients

3/4 cup raw cane sugar
3/4 cup organic packed brown sugar
dash of nutmeg
1 cup organic, unsalted butter, browned
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 Tablespoons bourbon
1 egg (local/free-range)

2 1/4 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped (leaving a handful whole for garnishing)
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (2 cups)
1/2 cup organic dried cranberries

Directions

Heat oven to 375ºF. Line a cupcake pan with natural parchment liners.

Mix sugars, nutmeg, butter, extracts, bourbon and egg in large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the egg mixture.

Stir in nuts, cranberries and chocolate chips.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls into lined cupcake pan.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until light brown.

Cool on wire rack, and go play!

weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Ushering in Autumn: Chocolate Chip Kuri Squash Cake

September 2012

Behold the Cucurbita maxima!

Aliases: Japanese SquashOrange Hokkaido SquashBaby Red Hubbard Squash, Uchiki Kuri Squash or simply Red Kuri Squash (I like the “Hubbard” option because it makes me think Old Mother Hubbard lived in a squash).

This brightly colored squash boasts a bold, sweet, nutty flavor. Unlike its more famed Jack-o-Lantern relation, which requires an arsenal of spices to accent its flavor, you can take a delicious bite of red kuri squash right after roasting (with a smidgeon of butter of course). With such a strong flavor, red kuri squash makes a great addition to autumnal recipes at both the sweet and savory ends of the spectrum.   Since my tooth swings sweet, my first kuri squash recipe of the season happened to be a cake for the sake of brunch. Since I could eat maple syrup everyday and have an affinity for bourbon, those elements conveniently found their way into the recipe as well.

Note: This cake will not last long! Even when my sole mission was to take a picture of the cake, I found myself slicing a piece and enjoying it with a cup of tea.

Chocolate Chip Kuri Cake
w/ Maple Glaze & Bourbon Whipped Cream

Ingredients

2 cups organic whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup organic brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger

2 cups organic kuri squash, roasted and puréed
3 eggs (local/free-range)
2 Tablespoons organic molasses
1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup pecans, chopped
3/4 cup organic chocolate chips

For the Cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Oil the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan (or use a similar sized square or round pan).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.

In a large bowl, mix squash, eggs, olive oil, and molasses until well blended. Add the dry ingredients and mix just until thoroughly combined.

Stir in the pecans and chocolate chips.

Transfer the batter into prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before using a knife to loosen the sides of the pan, then removing it.

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Maple Glaze

Ingredients

1 cup pure maple syrup

Directions

While the cake is cooling, cook 1 cup maple syrup over heat for 7-8 minutes, or until it thickens/reduces slightly. Let it cool slightly, then drizzle over the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature (the maple glaze will harden as it cools).

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Bourbon Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup organic heavy cream
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
2-3 Tablespoons bourbon

For the Whipped Cream

Combine all the ingredients except the bourbon in a chilled bowl. Use an electric mixer to whip until peaks form. Add the bourbon and mix to incorporate. Keep chilled until ready to serve.