A cold and dreary Sunday is best spent baking, surrounded by the warmth of cinnamon and sugar and icing. These miniature apple cakes use fresh ginger instead of ground, balanced by the creamy icing.

Ingredients

2 apples, diced
3 tablespoons cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 egg, beaten
8 oz plain full fat or 2% greek yogurt
1 cup unbleached organic flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons of heavy cream

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place 8 mini loaf pans or paper liners on a cookie sheet.

Chop the apple into small pieces and then toss it with the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Set it aside.

In a saucepan, melt the butter with the molasses and brown sugar over low heat. While that’s coming together, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda together. Whisk the butter and sugar and molasses until they are smooth. Stir in the minced ginger. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool a little bit. Then stir in the yogurt.

Combine the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients. Fold the apples into the batter.

Fill the loaf pans 3/4 full with batter. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

Let the cakes cool completely before decorating with icing. To make the icing, combine the powdered sugar and cream with a form or whisk until you achieve the consistency you want.

How They Turned Out

Very moist and flavorful, with a bit of a kick from the ginger and cinnamon.

Apple Cake

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When life gives you a big bag of lemons from Costco, you make lemon cake before they all spoil.

Ingredients

6 lemons, zested and juiced
6 eggs
1 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups unbleached flour
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese
lemon extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup Dickinson’s Lemon Curd

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare cake pans by rubbing with solid coconut oil (like you would with butter) and/or line the muffin tins with paper liners.

This recipe makes four 8 inch layer cakes or 3 dozen cupcakes or a combination of both.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and soda, salt) together in a large bowl. Combine the eggs, oil, and lemon juice in the bowl of a standing mixer. Use a whisk and do this by hand — if you use the mixer it’s very sloshy and messy.

Put the bowl in the mixer, with the paddle attachment.  Add the flour mixture in batches, alternating with the yogurt, mixing at medium-low speed. Once combined, you can turn up the speed to add a little air to the batter so it’s less dense. Just be careful not to overwork the batter.

Fill the cake pans/muffin tins three quarters full.  Bake for 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs.  Let the cakes cool completely.

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To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese and butter (both at room temperature) together until smooth.  Add all the lemon zest plus a few drops of the lemon extract. Beat in the confectioner’s sugar in batches, remembering to turn down the speed of the mixer so you don’t have a giant POOF of sugar.  Continue until you have lots of smooth, fluffy frosting.

To assemble the cake, put one layer upside down on a cake plate. Spread the lemon curd over the top.  It helps if you work the lemon curd with a spatula in a bowl before spreading it on the cake.  Put the second layer on top, right side up.  Using a frosting spatula or other thin, flexible knife, frost the cake.  Decorate with something festive (I used Mike and Ikes). Because of the lemon zest, this frosting is not great in a piping bag (the zest gets stuck in the decorator tip).

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How It Turned Out

I was nervous about the olive oil (I mean, it goes with lemons but does it go with cake?). And the yogurt was because I had no sour cream. Even so. . .

This would win the Great British Bake Off!  The cake is the perfect consistency, neither too dense nor too light.  The taste is a lovely burst of lemon without being too sour or too citrusy.  And I love how the zest shows through in the frosting.

 

 

 

 

I am one of those people who feels compelled to have a bowl of lemons in the kitchen — and then fails to use them all before they go bad.  Today, I decided to zest and juice them all and then make something yummy.  This pound cake is a basic recipe, with a few twists.

First, after throwing out all my baking and cooking sprays (one of my remaining bad habits in the kitchen), I decided to throw caution to the wind and use coconut oil (solid) to grease the pan.  Coconuts go with lemon, right?

Second, I recently read something somewhere (I have no recollection where) about the sweet crunch a cake will get if you sugar the pan instead of flouring it. So I sugared the coconut oiled bundt cake pan instead of flouring it.

Third, I didn’t have plain yogurt or enough sour cream for the recipe.  What I did have was 4 ounces of sour cream and a container of Noosa Raspberry Yogurt.  (I am addicted to Noosa yogurt — even the pumpkin flavor is good!)  Raspberries go with lemon, right?

Ingredients

2 tbs organic coconut oil
2 sticks of unsalted organic butter, softened
3 cups of sugar (I use Zulka Morena, a minimally processed sugar)
3 tbs lemon zest (this was about 4-5 medium sized lemons)
3 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
juice from one medium lemon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
6 eggs (preferably not straight from the fridge)
4 ounces sour cream
8 ounces Noosa raspberry yogurt (or other Greek or Australian yogurt)

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with coconut oil and sprinkle sugar evenly in the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Sift together with a fork.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until well-combined. Turn the speed down to medium and add the lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing each into the mixture before adding another. Once the eggs are all combined, add the lemon juice.

Turn the mixer down to low. Add one third of the flour mixture, then the sour cream. Add another third of the flour and half the yogurt.  Add the last of the flour and the last of the yogurt. Turn up the speed for just about 30 seconds to be sure it’s all combined.

Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and give the batter a few good stirs. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. You might have extra, which you can bake as cupcakes (just halve the baking time).

Bake for 60-65 minutes, until a cake tester comes away clean. Let the cake cool in the pan. Loosen the sides with a slim knife, and turn it out onto a cake plate.

How It Turned Out

Lemon Pound Cake (2)

The sugar trick worked on the sides but not the top (maybe that’s because of the pan?).  Otherwise, it’s an oh so summery cake to share.

P.S. What did I do with the juice from all those lemons I zested? I juiced them straight into an ice tray. When it’s done freezing, I’ll have little cubes of fresh lemon juice for whenever I need a couple of tablespoons for a recipe.

 

The Stupendous Six Year (my favorite munchkin) is a fan of Minions. And bananas. And cake. Mostly he’s a fan of cake. So for Family Night Dinner, I made a banana bundt cake for dessert.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
5 eggs
3 bananas, mashed
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tbs maple cinnamon toast sprinkle
5 oz plain greek yogurt

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a bundt pan with baking spray or butter with a bit of flour.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and sugars together.  While that goes, sift together — in a separate bowl — the flour, baking powder, salt, and toast sprinkle.

When the butter and sugars are combined, add the bananas and continue to mix on medium speed. After that’s combined, add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each.  Add the vanilla.

Slow the mixer to low and add 1/3 of the flour mixture. After that is mostly combined, spoon 1/3 of the yogurt in. Continue alternating the flour and yogurt until everything is in the bowl. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and finish mixing the batter. It will be thick.

Transfer the batter to the bundt pan, spreading evenly in the pan.  Bake in the center of the oven for 45-55 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs.

Let the cake cool before turning it out of the pan.  Serve with whipped cream or a little vanilla icing.

How It Turned Out

A dense, moist cake with super banana flavor. The pile of homemade whipped cream was a lovely complement.

 

Banana Cake (2)

Banana Cake 2 (2)

My favorite munchkin is going through a Space Phase. Rockets, Planets, Robots — we are enjoying discovering them all. For his sixth birthday, I attempted a rocket ship themed cake (not my best creation):

Rocket Fail

So when I found a cool space ship cake pan, I had to get it and try again. This time, I used a moist dark chocolate cake and decorated it with whipped cream and berries instead of frosting.

One note: This is my first time baking with Zulka Morena Sugar, a not-to-sweet unrefined sugar from sugar cane grown with no GMOs on small farms that use sustainable farming practices. I was very pleased with the result.

Ingredients:

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large brown cage-free eggs
4 tablespoons Hershey’s Dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 ounces (1 container) of plain 2% greek yogurt
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup very hot water
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups very cold heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
assorted berries, washed and sliced

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and prepare two cake pans with baking spray. (This recipe filled the rocket pan and a small loaf pan.)

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and 2 cups of sugar together on medium speed until combined. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl.

Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, and then the vanilla, beating to combine.  Add the cocoa powder one tablespoon at a time, mixing at a medium-low speed (otherwise it will POOF and make a mess).

Mix in the yogurt at medium-low speed.  Slow the mixer and then add the dry ingredients in three batches (be careful of the dreaded POOF). You’ll have a thick batter.

Turn the mixer off before slowly pouring the hot water into the batter. Turn it on the lowest speed so the hot water doesn’t slosh out. You can speed it up a bit as it combines. Now you’ll have a thin, watery batter.  Add the chocolate chips as the last step.

Pour the batter into the cake pans. Bake them in the center of the oven for 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool completely before decorating.

Don’t make the whipped cream until right before you want to decorate and serve the cake. Chill the mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for 30 minutes prior to making the whipped cream.  Assemble the bowl and whisk on the mixer, and then pour the whipping cream into the mixing bowl. Whip the cream on high speed until it starts to peak. Sprinkle the cream with the two tablespoons of sugar and continue to whip it until it reaches a thick consistency.  Be careful not go too far or you’ll end up with butter.

Top the cake with whipped cream and decorate with the berries.

How It Turned Out:

Out of this world!

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Okay — really it’s just a yummy chocolate cake with sweet fruit and cream. Getting to share it with such a bright star is what made it special.

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I have a friend who only eats food from the four basic food groups — pizza, hamburgers, cashew chicken, and chocolate cake. So for his birthday we went for pizza and I made this great cake.

It’s a basic, no-fail chocolate cake recipe with an accidental twist. The ganache turned out to be a “chocolate chip ganache” because I let it harden too much before whipping, which resulted in little crunchy bits of chocolate throughout the creamy frosting.

Ingredients:

Cake

1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
2 cups organic granulated sugar
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbs instant espresso dissolved in 1 cup very hot water

Ganache

12 ounces Guittard chocolate chips
1 cup of heavy cream

How I  Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare two 9 inch cake pans with baker’s spray and/or parchment.

In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  While that’s going, put all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, sifting with a fork to combine thoroughly.

When the butter is light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Then add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk. When that’s all combined, turn the mixer to low speed and slowly pour in the hot coffee. The bowl of the mixer will be full, so be careful not to splash yourself with hot cake batter. (I speak from experience.)

Transfer the batter to the cake pans, filling each 3/4 full. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, or until a cake tester comes away clean but for a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool about 10 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack to come to room temperature.

To make the ganache, put the chocolate chips in a large heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a glass bowl in the microwave in 15 second bursts until it is very hot but not boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit a minute or two before whisking the chocolate smooth. Chill the ganache in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or more if you want to recreate my accidental chippiness).

With a rubber spatula, transfer the ganache to the standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. On medium-high speed, whip the ganache into lovely frosting.

To assemble the cake, carefully level the top of one of the layers with a long serrated knife. That is the bottom layer. Spread 1/2 of the whipped ganache on the bottom layer. Put the top layer on and frost with the rest of the ganache.  Decorate as you please.

How It Turned Out:

Brians Cake

Yummy! Not too dense, not too crumby, and not too sweet. Just wonderful chocolate goodness. (It is probably even better with vanilla ice cream.)

This is a take on a traditional Italian cake. It is a relatively easy cake to make, and oh so delicious.

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups of sugar
8 ounces part skim ricotta
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
zest of 2 large lemons
1 1/2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

How I Made It

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a bundt cake pan with bakers’ spray.

In a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. While that is going, in a separate bowl sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

Add the ricotta cheese to the butter and sugar and mix completely.  Then add the eggs one at a time, mixing completely in between each.  Add the lemon zest and the extracts.

Slow the mixer and add the dry ingredients in three batches, mixing completely in between.  The resulting cake batter is more doughy than most batters.

Transfer the cake batter to the bundt pan and spread it evenly with a spatula.  Bake the cake in the center of the oven for 38 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.

How It Turned Out

Lemon Cake

You can serve this lovely cake with a basic lemon glaze, or with berries and whipped cream, or both!!