I made that!

One more apple cake before spring

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on March 26, 2012

I know it’s spring. I know that rhubarb is popping up around town and the last thing you want to hear about is apples. But I’ve got to get this one out before it completely slips away, because this is the cake I want to eat every day. The original recipe came from Dorie Greenspan and took a few tweaks to get to the place I really wanted it to be. We served it at our apple harvest dinner in November, but it took me until the final night of the dinner before it was just right. And by just right I mean the cake I’ve had in my mind for years now, with the hopes of one day discovering (thank you Dorie, for getting me so close). It has a crispy, caramelized crust and a custardy, pancake-like inside that’s held together by giant chunks of sweet apples. We had it on the menu at Delancey for a month or so, with a dark vanilla bean caramel and a healthy sprinkling of Maldon salt, and it was a bit dangerous having it around all the time. It wasn’t our biggest seller, I’m assuming because it shared the menu with some of my more popular citrus desserts. But that secretly made me so happy, since it meant there was commonly a slice left over for me at the end of the night. And now that we’re switching over to rhubarb shortcakes, I miss that little cake. But the good news is that it’s a batter that can literally be whipped together in under 15 minutes.

It bakes for a while though, about an hour to develop that crust and slightly dry out the custardy interior.

Probably the hardest part is waiting for it to cool, since it has this habit of falling completely apart if you un-mold it too soon.

APPLE CUSTARD CAKE:

3.75 oz AP flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1 lb 2 oz chopped apples

2 large eggs, room temperature

6 oz sugar

1/2 vanilla bean

3 TBSP apple cider

4 oz unsalted butter, melted

unrefined sugar for sprinkling

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter an 8-inch springform cake pan and line it with parchment paper. Sprinkle unrefined sugar on the sides of the pan and tap it around.

- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.

- In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Rub the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar and add to the eggs. Whisk until well blended. Whisk in the apple cider. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so that it’s even. Sprinkle the top of the cake with unrefined sugar.

- Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 30 minutes.

- Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

- Eat with a generous dusting of Maldon sea salt. And caramel and whipped cream if you’ve got it.

On being boring.

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on December 11, 2011

Ummm… hi?

So yeah, it happened. I fell into the hole that is now The Pantry. What can I say besides that I’m sorry? You see, the thing is, I LOVE my new hole. I obsess. I make spreadsheets. I organize. I reorganize my spreadsheets. Owning a business has been amazing (how did I ever have a boss?), but I think it is fair to say that I am getting my butt kicked. In a masochistic kind of way. In fact, if we’re being honest, the only reason I am here, writing this very post, is because I’m fighting off a cold that is forcing me to remain horizontal, wrapped up in a down comforter, watching episode after episode of Glee, with a sprinkling of a good documentary to break up all that nauseatingly addictive singing (did you know that the Mormon church bankrolled Prop. 8? And that becoming a Green Beret is quite torturous?) Anyhoo, either way, here I am. Oh yeah, and I got this comment on my blog a week or two ago:

“I aM DELETING YOU FROM MY FAVORTIES. u r BORING AND DO NOT POST ON YOUR BLOG. YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE A BLOG!!!!!”

While I admit that this one had me chuckling for a few hours (boring? really?), it did remind me that I have been sorely neglecting my blog. I thought about posting an apology, including an adorable picture of Bean to make you all forget my negligence.

But that didn’t feel right. Not there’s anything wrong with cute cat pictures, I just promised myself when I started this whole blogging hobby that I wouldn’t post unless I had something that I’m really proud of. There has been some great cooking, but unfortunately no time to document. I’ve always felt this to be a blog more about technique than recipes, so I didn’t want to just throw a recipe at you without really digging in. But I can see now that those days of spending many hours meticulously collecting photos of every step of super-elaborate recipes are getting fewer and farther between.

So I’m here with a compromise. I’m short on process photos, but I’m making up for it with a recipe that I firmly believe will knock your socks off. It’s a maple walnut trifle, and I seriously think about it nonstop. Think toasted walnut cake, cut into bite-sized cubes. A creamy and intense maple fluff. Crunchy candied walnuts and Maldon sea salt. It is my personal bowl of heaven. I developed it, along with Stephanie, my pastry chef in training, for the dessert menu at Delancey. We hosted a dinner for Sam Mogannam to celebrate his new book, and we served it family-style in giant trifle dishes (I later found out that Sam is allergic to walnuts and yes, I cried a little on the inside). I suspect that I will be serving it at Christmas dinner this year. It is that good.

Quick note: Sheet gelatin can be tricky to find, but it’s available online. I dramatically prefer it to powdered gelatin.

Maple Walnut Trifle

Toasted Walnut Cake:

4 ounces walnuts

4 ounces brown sugar

1/2 vanilla bean

4 ounces cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs, room temperature

- Preheat the oven to 350º. Butter an 8″ cake pan and line with parchment. Set aside.

- Spread the walnuts on a sheet tray and bake until lightly toasted. Cool completely.

- In a small bowl, rub the seeds from the vanilla bean into the brown sugar. Set aside.

- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift and set aside.

- In a small bowl whisk together canola oil, maple syrup and milk. Set aside.

- Place the cooled, toasted walnuts in a food processor and grind until they are the size of bread crumbs. Do not pulse them into a paste.

- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the brown sugar. Cream the mixture on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next and scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat for another minute. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the ground walnuts.

- With the mixer running on low, add a third of the flour mixture. Mix until just combined and then add half of the milk mixture. Repeat with another third of the flour, then with the rest of the milk mixture, ending with the rest of the flour mixture.

- Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until done. The baked surface will spring back slightly when touched in the center and the sides will begin to contract from the pan. Remove the cake from the oven, and let cool before removing from the pan.

Maple Mousse:

14 ounces grade B maple syrup

5 1/2 gelatin sheets

16 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups heavy cream

- In a medium saucepan, reduce the maple syrup by 25% over med-high heat for 5-7 minutes (it will bubble a lot). The resulting weight should be approximately 11 ounces. Set aside to cool.

- Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a simmer.

- Place the sheet gelatin in cold water until it is completely squishy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the water and shake off the excess liquid. Set aside.

- Whisk together the cooled maple syrup, salt and egg yolks in a metal bowl. Cook over the pot of simmering water, whisking constantly until the mixture registers 165º F. Remove the bowl from simmering water and stir in the drained, bloomed gelatin sheets. Pour the mixture through a fine mash strainer, into a clean medium bowl. Set aside to cool, whisking every few minutes. You can either place the mixture over an ice bath, or pop it in the fridge. It is very important to check in with a stir every few minutes, to keep the edges from setting to quickly. The goal is to have the mixture set to being equal in stiffness to whipped cream.

- Beat the cream to stiff peaks. Fold in a third of the cream into the cooled maple mixture, to lighten it. Gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream until just barely mixed. Pour into a container and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Assembling the Trifle:

- Cut the cake into large cubes and fill the bottom of a trifle dish. Just before serving, pour on the maple mousse.

- Top with candied walnuts, a drizzle of maple syrup and some maldon sea salt. Enjoy.

Introducing the Strawberry Cake

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake!, Southernness by brandi on September 26, 2011

There’s no getting around the fact that strawberries make things pink, which given my obsession with all things strawberry flavored, inherently makes me a sucker for pink food. But there’s one pink food that totally beats all the other pink food out there: strawberry cake. It’s a southern staple, a cake I hunt for every time I’m in Alabama. I’ve been perfecting my recipe for several years, but was waiting to share it until after teaching it in my Southern Cakes class at The Pantry (so much fun!). And it was hard keeping it to myself. Especially after a certain magazine that shall remain nameless (shame on you!) printed a particularly icky version (strawberry extract? gross!). But the truth is, like most southern cakes, this cake comes from a humble place. Try finding a great recipe online and it’s easy to be turned off by the miles of recipes calling for yellow cake mix and strawberry jello. Hence the several years… But alas! I can now have my pink cake and eat it too.

It starts with a bright batter flecked with puréed strawberries.

And ends with layers of perfect strawberry cream cheese frosting.

Now go find yourself an 8 year old girl’s birthday party, while there’s still one more week of strawberries at the market!

SOUTHERN STRAWBERRY CAKE:

Yield: 1 three layer 8″ cake

10 ounces (2 1/2 cups) cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 vanilla bean

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

1 cup pureed strawberries

1 teaspoon lemon zest

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8” cake pans and line with rounds of parchment. Set aside.

- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

- In another medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, and almond extract. Set aside.

- Split and scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean. Rub the seeds into the sugar. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and vanilla sugar with the paddle attachment until it forms a paste. Add the eggs in a slow stream, beating well after each addition. Beat for 1 minute at medium speed. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture and beat for 1 minute at medium speed.

- Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in the pureed strawberries and the lemon zest.

- Spoon into the prepared cake pans and bake until the cakes spring back when touched lightly in the center. Cool before removing from the pan.

STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature

6 ounces unsalted butter

1 cup powdered sugar

6 tablespoons strawberry jam

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons∑ lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.

- Sift in the powdered sugar, and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add the strawberry jam, vanilla, lemon juice and salt, and beat well to incorporate. If the frosting is lumpy from the sugar, bump the speed up to medium-high continue beating until smooth.

Happy Birthday Carrot Cake

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on February 14, 2011

I will admit that I haven’t spent much time on this post. Things are busy (are you as tired as I am of hearing me say that?), but there’s always time for a birthday cake. (Happy Birthday Katie!) This is a cake recipe I’ve been dying to post, mostly for the selfish reason that I want it available to me online whenever a cake emergency arises. So here you are, with completely unspectacular photos, a spectacular carrot cake. This cake recipe comes from Molly, who I am realizing has quite good taste in cakes. This one might possibly be the most perfect carrot cake. Moist, tender, not at all too sweet as they sometimes are. And a complete cinch to throw together.

For the frosting I tweaked Molly’s recipe a bit, because I wanted something a bit more tart and sour. So being the obvious person that I am, I added sour cream. And lots more lemon juice. This particular cake I made for my friend Katie to take to a dinner, so I didn’t even get to eat a slice. That was hard, and I will probably have to make another one all for myself.

CARROT CAKE WITH LEMONY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

yield: 1 (8-inch) 3 layer cake

Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

¾ tsp ground ginger

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

3 cups finely grated peeled carrots

1 cup pecans, chopped

- Position racks in the top and bottom third of the oven, and preheat to 325°F. Lightly grease 3 (8-inch) round pans with butter. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.

- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Whisk well to blend.

- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each addition. Add the applesauce, beating to mix. Add the flour mixture, and beat to incorporate, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if needed. Add the carrots and the pecans, and beat briefly.

- Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Slide the pans into the oven and bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35-45 minutes. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 15 minutes; then turn them out onto the rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 lb cream cheese, RT

5oz butter, RT

1 cup sour cream

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 TBSP lemon juice

1/8 tsp salt

- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar, and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add the sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and salt, and beat well to incorporate. If the frosting is lumpy from the sugar, bump the speed up to medium-high and beat the crap out of it.

Lemon Fluff for Miles

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on September 8, 2010

Disclaimer: These photos blow. The recipe however, quite spectacular. After weeks of thinking the photos too ugly for the blog, I relented, after requests were made for the recipe. Because seriously, this cake is worth sharing, ugly photos and all.

The cake I speak of is the Lemon Icebox Cake. In some circles (like my grandmother’s) it’s a classic that makes people get all misty-eyed. In my circle, it’s more of a novelty, as in “What’s an icebox?”, “Is the cake made of ice?”, that sort of thing.

Meredith, my friend of many months in Seattle, was leaving us. After a year of lawyering it up in the soggy Pacific Northwest, she had a job back in San Francisco waiting for her. I was sad, as she got me through many a rainy day while we were still learning our way around. It’s the rare person that is up for anything (hike? bike ride? lake swimming? bike ride to a hike that ends in lake swimming?). But mostly I just fed her. So for her last meal I wanted something special.

She’s mildly obsessed with lemons, so I considered recreating one of my first desserts at Delancey: Meyer lemon budino with anise caramel syrup, candied pistachios and shortbread. It made sense to end an era with the dessert that started it. But then I remembered this article in Fine Cooking magazine. It was one of those articles where two chefs classically recreate or reinvent a recipe. This had Rose Levy Beranbaum recreating a classic lemon icebox cake. It literally had me drooling. And it looked long and complex, two words that occasionally make my ears perk up in a recipe. So it was decided. Meredith’s last meal (with me) in Seattle would end with a lemon icebox cake.

There were a lot of eggs involved.

First I made an angel food cake, another food item I’ve been hoping to scratch off my list. I’ve heard stories that they were difficult, that the cakes sunk into nothing. I do love a good cake challenge. I started with a fluffy white meringue.

Into that I folded the tiniest amount of flour possible. I spread the batter into an angel food pan (courtesy of Molly, because I have limits to my cake pan collection).

It baked until it was golden and splitting. I pulled it from the oven and hung it upside down to cool. I know. Upside down. I suspect this is what keeps it from sinking, since it’s pretty well adhered to the pan.

Then I made some lemon “fluff”. That involved making a lemon curd that I then folded with whipped cream, that I then folded with gelatin laced meringue.

By the time that was ready my cake had cooled and was ready to be de-panned. I trimmed off the top and sliced it into four discs.

Then back into the angel food cake pan they went, layered with the lemon fluff. From there it was 12 hours of chilling in the fridge while I nervously fretted about how the hell I was going to get it out.

Somehow, it came out. That somehow involved propping it on a wine bottle and flipping everything onto a serving tray. It was a bit theatrical. But it was worth it for sure. Walking out to the table in the backyard carrying this gigantic jiggling mound of yellow fluff I felt like some kind of cake goddess. And it only took me about 16 hours.

LEMON ICEBOX CAKE RECIPE:

here.

The only change I made was to not grease the pan before baking the angel food cake. Multiple sources confirmed that greasing the pan was a no-no.

Tessa’s Birthday Banoffee Cake

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on October 12, 2009

Saturday was my friend Tessa’s birthday and she was in for quite a surprise. She was in Santa Cruz for the weekend and was repeatly shocked to see her friends popping up throughout the day to be with her. The whole day ended with everyone at the restaurant Oswald for a big celebration dinner. Of course I was in charge of the birthday cake, and I had IDEAS. I had been mulling it over for weeks – what a Tessa cake would be like. I knew she liked fruit, so I started there. Then I remembered that I had some homemade dulce de leche in fridge, left over from the failed Twix experiment. And thus the banoffee cake was born.

First I made a simple buttercream that I whipped the dulce de leche into.

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Then I found a fantastic banana cake recipe. I wanted something that was rich and sweet, because I wanted it to taste and feel like cake, not banana bread. Thank you Flo Braker, you are proving yourself to be my official “go to” for cake recipes.

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I baked 3 layers of the yummy banana cake.

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And then started layering on the dulce de leche buttercream, followed by fresh slices of bananas.

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I topped it with some toasted pecans and spent 20 minutes going “Crap, it’s so tall. How am I going to get it to Santa Cruz?”

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We eventually found a box to transport it in, and picked up our friends and began the drive down. Once we got there, I was dismayed to see that it had totally melted. Duh – we don’t have air conditioning in our much loved Volvo. The buttercream had softened and the top layers had slid off to the side. Thankfully the prep cooks at Oswald were nice enough to let me pop the cake in the walk-in for 20 minutes and then attempt to put it back together. It was never as pretty as it started out, but I don’t think anyone else noticed. Tessa was still surprised when it was brought out, and there wasn’t a bite left. Happy Birthday Tessa!

RECIPE (adapted rom Flo Braker):

1 cup sifted cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 large) mashed ripe banana

1 tablespoon sour cream

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8″ pan with butter and lay down parchment.

- Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine the mashed banana, sour cream and lemon zest in a small bowl.

- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter until it is smooth and lighter in color. Add the sugar and scrape the mixture clinging to the sides into the center of the bowl. Continue to cream until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is quite fluffy. Add half of the flour mixture until blended. Then add the banana mixture, blending well. Add the remaining flour mixture, blending until smooth.

- Scoop the thick batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for 30 -35 minutes, or until the cake is light golden brown, the sides are beginning to contract from the metal, and the cake springs back when lightly touched in the center.

- Remove the pan from the oven. Using a thinbladed knife, gently release any portion of the cake sticking to the long sides of the pan. Cool for 30 minutes, then remove from pan.

Courtney’s Birthday Cupcakes!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on September 25, 2009

It’s my friend Courtney’s birthday and she put in a request weeks ago for a Lemon Ginger flavored cupcake. I’ve been so excited about this flavor combo!

First things first, I needed some lemon curd, which would form the base for my lemon frosting. I started by rubbing some lemon zest into sugar until it was all bright and fragrant.

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I mixed that with some egg yolks and lemon juice and cooked them over a pan of simmering water until the eggs pasteurized.

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And then I had beautiful, glossy lemon curd.

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I found this delicious ginger cake recipe by Flo Braker that I was itching to try out. It calls for 3 types of ginger: ground, fresh and candied.

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While all my cakes were baking away I made a buttercream that I flavored with the lemon curd.

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There were 4 dozen cakes, I got a little carried away.

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I cut a hole in the center and stuffed them with the lemon curd.

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I piped on some of the lemon buttercream.

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And topped them off with some candied ginger pieces…yum, yum, yum. I think Courtney’s gonna be pretty happy.

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UPDATE: After trying one of these, I am officially moving them up into my top 3 cupcakes of all time (that I’ve made anyways). This ginger cake recipe is killer.

RECIPE (adapted from Flo Braker):

2 2/3 cups AP flour

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 cup (12 oz) unsulphured molasses

1 cup water

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced (or grated)

4 oz butter

1 cup (7 oz) sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 oz candied ginger, minced to make 1/4 cup

1/2 tsp lemon zest

- Preheat oven to 350.

- Sift flour, leaveners, salt & spices.

- In small bowl, combine molasses, water, oil and fresh ginger.

- In mixer bowl, beat butter for 30 seconds. add sugar in stream, scraping down bowl. Beat for 3 minutes.

- Add eggs in stream. Beat for 1 minute.

- Alternate adding dries and liquids, scraping down bowl.

- Fold in crystalized ginger and lemon zest.

- Pour into cupcake liners and bake until done, about 20 minutes.

Honey Cupcakes with Salted Honey Buttercream!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on September 7, 2009

Wedding cupcakes!

batter

Honey Cake!

baked

140 of them!

140

With salted honey buttercream on top!

frosted

With chunky sea salt on top! Yum yum yum…

closeup

I discovered honey cake when I lived in Tel-Aviv several years ago. I’ve tried many recipes, and this is by far my favorite one. While honey cake is traditionally served as a loaf or sheet cake that is drizzled with honey and almonds, it makes a fabulous cupcake.

Honey Cake Recipe (from Marcy Goldman)

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup honey

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup warm coffee

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup whisky

- Preheat the oven to 350°F.

- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice, and rye or whisky.

- Using a strong wire whisk or an electric mixer on slow speed, combine the ingredients well tot make a thick batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom of the bowl.

- Spoon the batter into prepared pan(s) and bake until the cake springs back when you touch it gently in the center.

- Let the cake stand for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Chocolate and Mint Happiness

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on September 1, 2009

My friends Carmen and Alex are getting married this weekend (congrats!) and they’ve asked me to make the cupcakes! Today I’m testing options for the groom’s cake, and he requested a chocolate and mint combination. I’m super excited, since I’ve never experimented with mint before. I also wanted to test out a different chocolate cake recipe than the one I normally use. Tonight is my weekly dinner and trashy TV (90210 is away for the moment, so we distract ourselves with True Blood), so I have a captive audience to taste my experiments.

So here goes…

I started by melting some chocolate.

meltingchocolate

Once the chocolate was melted, I added butter and stirred it around until it melted into the mixture.

meltingbutter

Once it was all smooth I mixed in sugar.

sugar

Then I whipped it for a few minutes.

whipchocolate

And then slowly whipped in some eggs.

whipeggs

I folded in flour, salt and baking powder and then piped the batter into cupcake liners.

batter

They baked for about 24 minutes and came out looking like brownies… yummmm.

baked

While they cooled I made a swiss meringue buttercream that I flavored with peppermint oil.

mintbuttercream

And then I started having second thoughts, because sometimes mint can just taste like medicine. So I whipped melted chocolate into half of the buttercream. At tonight’s tasting I’ll get the final say on which is yummier!

chocbuttercream

Time to assemble those little suckers. I used a fluted tip to poke a hole into the middle of the cupcakes.

hole

And filled the holes with a chocolate mint ganache!

filled

And then topped half with mint buttercream, and half with the chocolate buttercream. So tonight it’s a taste-off! Chocolate Mint vs. Chocolate Chocolate Mint!

together

Stay tuned for a winner…

Whoopie Pies!

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake! by brandi on August 13, 2009

I’m back! With whoopie pies!

It’s my friend Bronson’s birthday and I volunteered for cupcake duty. He’s throwing a hobo themed party, and for some reason whoopie pies made sense. I know he loves chocolate, so chocolate cake it was. I needed to make about 60 cakes, so there was a lot of batter.

batter

I baked them 6 at a time, and it was…time consuming. Luckily Pantea, Courtney and Zoey came over to help out and entertain.

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They baked into adorable little cookie shapes.

baked

I had a quart of raspberry puree in the freezer that I had made out of half a flat of raspberries a couple of months ago. I used them to make a raspberry buttercream.

buttercream

And then we had whoopie pies!

pie

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