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!!

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My family has gluten free, vegetarian, and just plain picky eaters among its members, so I’m always looking for things that will please more than one — if not all — my folks. I think this one hits the mark. The key is to use really good chocolate. Too bad we can’t eat chocolate cake all the time.

Ingredients:

4 oz Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9 inch springform pan with Baker’s Secret or other baking spray.

In a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate chips. Stir periodically as they melt to ensure you get a smooth mixture.

Remove the top bowl and place it on a heat resistant surface or trivet.  Stir the chocolate to make sure it’s completely melted. Stir in the sugar, mixing until combined.  Stir in the eggs one at a time, making sure they are mixed in (be careful not to beat them in, just stir).  Stir in the cocoa powder until blended into the batter. Pour the batter into the springform pan, spreading evenly in the pan.

Bake in the center of the oven, with the springform pan on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 25 minutes or until set and a cake tester comes away clean. Let cool in the pan.

When you are ready to serve the cake, remove the springform pan sides and place on a cake plate. (You can leave it on the bottom of the pan, or carefully remove it from the bottom with a large thin knife and then place it on the cake plate.)  You can dust it with powdered sugar and/or serve it with whipped cream or ice cream or chocolate sauce or other garnish.  It can be as plain or fancy as you want.

How It Turned Out:

So rich, you can only eat a little piece, Maybe two. . .

Chocolate Cake

My Alaska family is made up of multiple households, one of which has a vibrant and energetic four year old. Coordinating the Santa Claus visit and hurricane of gift unwrapping at one house and the adult libations and conversation at another is an exercise in diplomacy and logistics. We settled on morning brunch with the munchkin and soup supper and dessert with the grownups. This Apple Spice Cake will make an appearance at our Christmas brunch.

Ingredients:

2 organic Gala apples, cored and sliced (peel optional)
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

6 tbs unsalted butter
3 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup honey vanilla greek yogurt

2 tbs unsalted butter, melted

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with Baker’s Secret or other baking spray with flour.

In a large Ziploc bag, combine the apple slices, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Zip up the bag and toss to coat the apples. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger.  In a standing mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, and 3/4 cup of sugar together until fluffy. With the mixer on medium, add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the yogurt.  Turn the mixer off, then scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and ensure that there are no lumps or unmixed ingredients.

Spoon the cake batter, which will be thick, into the prepared baking dish.  Top with apple slices, making a pretty design.  Brush the 2 tablespoons melted butter over the apple slices.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

If you are making it ahead, let it cool and then wrap it up tightly in plastic wrap to keep it fresh.  Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

How It Came Out:

Lovely looking and tasting!

Apple Spice Cake

Photo courtesy of Thomas A. Chard II.

This is a basic chocolate cake, garnished with Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup. Simple to make, yummy to eat.

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup Truvia baking blend
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 cup Ghirardelli 100% unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup plain lowfat greek yogurt
1 can Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Prepare a bundt pan with Baker’s Secret or other baking spray with flour.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, sifting it all together with a fork.  Combine the milk and yogurt together in a separate bowl.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and Truvia together until fluffy. Scrape the sides with a rubber spatula to make sure you don’t have lumps. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each.  Add the vanilla.  Then add the flour mixture and milk mixture in three batches, alternating between the two (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry-wet).  Scrape the sides, making sure everything is mixed in. The result is a thick batter.

Fill the bundt pan with batter, smoothing out the top/bottom.  Bake on the center rack of the oven for 50 minutes or until your tester comes out clean but for a few crumbs.

Let the cake cool in the pan. When you’re ready to plate it, loosen the sides and center with a thin flexible knife. Turn the cake out onto a cake plate.  Spoon the chocolate syrup over the top — you can drizzle or drench, however you like.

How It Turned Out:

Chocolate Cake

This is not a super sweet cake, nor is it super moist.  It is, however, very chocolatey and stands up well to whipped cream, ice cream, and drizzles of extra chocolate sauce (or maybe some Bailey’s Irish Cream).

Photo courtesy of Thomas A. Chard II.

Everything is better with chocolate. Including pumpkin! This recipe uses organic pumpkin pie filling to get the rich pumpkiny taste and the perfect amount of spice.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of unbleached all-purpose flour Pumpkin Pie Mix
1 cup of Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa Powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 cups organic pumpkin pie filling
3/4 cup of organic lowfat vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 1/4 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup Stevia baking blend
1 1/2 cups of dark brown sugar
5 large eggs

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two loaf pans with baking spray.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter and Stevia until fluffy.  Add the brown sugar and beat to combine.  Add the eggs one at a time, thoroughly combining in between.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.  In another bowl, combine the pumpkin, yogurt, and vanilla.

When the butter mixture is done, add the flour mixture and pumpkin mixture in batches, alternating between the two.  You will have a dark chocolate brown batter when you’re done.

Fill the loaf pans 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs.

Serve warm with ice cream or at room temperature like pumpkin bread.

How It Turned Out:

Delicious!  Rich without being overpowering, this is great as dessert or a coffee break treat.

This weekend dawned cold and rainy, so of course a bright and cheerful cake was in order for breakfast. I figure that the blueberries, yogurt, and lemon juice more than make up for the fact that I’m having cake for breakfast.

Ingredients:

1 stick (1/2 cup) of butter, softened
1/2 cup of Truvia baking blend
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups of cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup of low fat plain or vanilla greek yogurt
zest of 3 lemons
1 cup frozen blueberries (use frozen, not thawed)
juice of 3 lemons, reserved
1/4 cup confectioners sugar

How I Made It:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a bundt pan with baking spray. Use a paper towel to make sure all the channels in the pan are greased.

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Beat the butter and truvia together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely combined in between. Add the vanilla.  Scrape the sides and continue to beat until there are no lumps or bumps.

Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the yogurt, until everything is well combined. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl and beat until completely combined. Add the lemon zest and a little less than 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and give it a quick mix.

The batter will be thick and sticky (I’m noticing this is a recent trend with my yogurt cakes — I wonder if it’s a chemistry thing).

Spread half of the batter into the bundt pan. Top evenly with the blueberries, and then gently spread the remaining batter over the top.

Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean.

Let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges with a knife before turning over on to a cooling rack. Let it sit another 15 minutes. While it’s cooling, whisk the confectioner’s sugar with lemon juice to make an icing. Add the lemon juice a tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you want. Save the remaining lemon juice for future use.

Drizzle the icing over the top of the cake. You can serve the cake warm or at room temperature.

How It Turned Out:

While it was baking, the entire house was full of the smell of vanilla and lemon, so I was expecting a super-lemony cake. It is super lemony, and very tasty. It’s also super dense, which means it’s not really pretty enough for company. Much like the carrot bread turned out. This is not typical for my yogurt substitution recipes . . . even so, I’m going to try each of these again with buttermilk instead and see if that makes for a better result.

Lemon BB Bundt

Makes 8 servings (9 WW points per serving).

Coca-Cola Cake is a Southern favorite, a dense chocolate cake that pairs perfectly with chocolate butter cream frosting. My version uses dark chocolate cocoa instead of unsweetened cocoa, and I omit the traditional marshmallows and pecans.

CocaCola Cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
1 /2 cup vegetable oil
3 tbs Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder
1 cup Coca-Cola
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

How I Made Them:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a cupcake tin with festive cupcake wrappers.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottom saucepan.  Add the oil, cocoa, and Coca-Cola and whisk together.  Turn up the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.

In a large heat-proof mixing bowl, sift together the sugar and flour.  In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk.

Pour the hot liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and mix together with a rubber spatula. Add the buttermilk mixture, then the eggs, then the vanilla, stirring to mix into the batter in between each ingredient.

Fill each cupcake tin about 3/4 full.  Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes away clean. Let the cupcakes cool completely.

Frost the cupcakes with a simple chocolate buttercream frosting: beat together 3 tbs dark chocolate cocoa, 1 stick of butter, 3 tbs half and half, and confectioner’s sugar (about 3 cups, depending on the consistency you want).

Makes 20 cupcakes (I don’t know why it makes an odd number).

How They Turned Out:

Make sure you have plenty of ice cold milk! These are amazing!!