Category: cake

Food find of the month: Irish apple cake from Kleinworth & Co.

OH WOW. WOW.

This is some good cake.

Irish apple cake!

I found it on Pinterest; I’m not ashamed to say. Irish apple cake is what it’s called. And it’s from a blog called Kleinworth & Co. I had to squeeze it in this month, so let’s extend the “Irish” stuff a while longer. ‘K?

The apple has a lot of history in Ireland:

Did you know that St. Patrick is said to have planted apple trees in Ireland? Apples have been grown in Ireland for at least 3000 years and legend has it that he planted an apple tree in Ulster County at the ancient settlement of Ceanoga near, what is today called, Armagh. While it is a lovely tale, it’s more likely that the Druids, who used apple trees in their rituals, were the ones who first tended apple orchards in Ireland. Prior to English rule, Ireland was governed by a system of law that was codified and administered by the Brehons, who were the successors to the Celtic druids. The Brehons were charged with the preservation and interpretation of laws that had been established by centuries of oral tradition.The Irish took their apple trees seriously. Brehon law stipulated that anyone cutting down an apple tree would be subject to a financial penalty that included the surrender of five cows. I’m not sure what happened to those who had no cows to surrender, but we can be sure they were fined or punished for their transgression. Desserts and beverages made from apples are very popular in Ireland.

-source

Granny Smith apples for Irish apple cake.

So there you have it.

I’ve made Dutch & German apple cakes before, and a hazelnut apple cake that’s much beloved, and the principle is basically the same with this one. But yet altogether different- because the creation is more like a pie crust than a cake.

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Whiskey cake, whiskey cake, I love a whiskey cake.

Whiskey is big in my house.

First of all, I’m part Irish. Jameson has been on my liquor shelf, in the liquor cabinet or on the bar in my grandparent’s basement ever since I can remember. Second of all, my fiancé is quite the bourbon connoisseur. If they make it, he either has it currently or has had it in the past. So pretty much every available surface in my dining room is covered in bottles of various whiskeys & bourbons & ryes.

It’s not a bad problem to have.

Whiskey bundt cake!

‘Cause then when I want to make something like this, I have a lot to choose from. Of course some are off-limits for baking. But the rest are fair game.

For this cake I used a bourbon, actually; Russell’s Reserve 10-year. It specifically says it has vanilla & caramel notes, which I thought was perfect for a cake. Okay I’m lying. Jay said it was perfect for a cake. Whatever.

Whiskey bundt cake.

You should use whatever whiskey or bourbon you like. Be it Jameson, Jack Daniel’s, Colonel Taylor, Russell’s Reserve or Buffalo Trace.

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Gingerbread cake with marshmallow snow & paper trees.

For some reason, as I was writing the title of this post, I thought of the lyrics from Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Odd.

Anyway, gingerbread is one of my favorite holiday treats. I love the cookies, I love it in a spicier form like pfeffernusse and I love gingerbread cake. I don’t make it nearly enough, though, even around the holidays. I have a favorite gingerbread cookie recipe & a favorite Guinness ginger cake recipe, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy trying others. So I thought that this year, I’d make a plain gingerbread cake- no Guinness, no chocolate- and top it with some fluffy white snow.

And trees. Gotta have trees.

Gingerbread cake with a marshmallow "snow" and paper cupcake liner trees. And elves!

For the trees, I got the how-to from The Cake Blog. Pretty self-explanatory, but still. It’s a fun & easy way to make cupcake or cake toppers.

It’s so retro-looking, isn’t it?

Cupcake liner Christmas trees!

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Apple cake, sadness, sickness & Spode.

Apple cake made with hazelnuts. The hazelnuts toast in the oven & the middle layer of apples just melts into the coffee-cake style cake, leaving you with a moist, delicious dessert.

Alliteration at it’s finest, ladies & gentlemen. My 7th & 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Clarey would be proud. Shamefully ‘apple cake’ doesn’t start with an ‘s.’ Anyway, even though I’ve shown you the cake… first let’s tackle the easiest of the four: Spode.

A while back, I told you all about my adventures in thrifting- or, as Xenia says: Tales from the Thrift. I’ve bought some pretty little things since that post & you’ll see some of them today.

Like, right now.

Vintage Spode Cowslip pattern bread & butter plates (+ a recipe for apple cake with hazelnuts).

See? Those plates. They’re Spode “Cowslip” pattern bread & butter dishes, or appetizer dishes. I got them for less than $2.00 a piece (actually closer to a buck a piece) in a thrift store, and according to Replacements.com that’s quite a good deal. I should’ve bought the whole dinnerware set, but they were asking a bit much considering there was quite a lot of it missing. Regardless, I’m happy with my four little plates- dating from December 1950, according to the marks on the bottom (D50). Since the pattern was only started in the 1940′s and discontinued by 1972 that’s pretty cool.

Spode Cowslip plates (& a recipe for apple cake).

I just love me some cute little plates for serving desserts or snacks. Or cake.

Cake! Apple cake!

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Happy Anniversary & other sappiness.

Because you're mine, I walk the line.

Normally, I wouldn’t do this. Not only am I vehemently against public sappiness in all forms & usually abhor all kinds of cutesy shit, but I’m also one of those whacky people who believes anniversaries are personal; like marriages & births/adoptions. They include the parties directly involved, and really only matter to them, and so in my eyes should be personal. Personal meaning private. They’re gravely important things that have immense significance… but outsiders really shouldn’t have anything to do with it. So trust me- I’d normally never ever post something like this. However, today marks my TEN YEAR anniversary with Jay. Ten years! That’s longer than most marriages last, forget about non-married relationships. It’s longer than most TV shows are on the air. It’s basically one third of my life so far. And if we were celebrities, we’d be in the Hall of Fame.

So it’s kinda important. And I just wanna state that today is a big thing. To us. I get that it’s not a big thing to you, you see. But to us it’s a big deal. Like, a big deal involving cake.

A dusting of confectioner's sugar makes everything prettier! Even a zebra bundt cake, which is pretty already.

I first met Jay 13 years ago, when I was a mere 19 years old (and so was he). We were both pretty different people than we are now, in a lot of ways, but especially physically. Not only were we both much younger, but he was far skinnier in that still-a-teenager-way & I was slightly heavier, with longer- and blacker- hair. We did not hit it off right away. We officially “met” a few times before the first time we actually spoke, and the first time we spoke I wasn’t really impressed. It was at a friends party, and I wasn’t having the best time. He called me “white head” (I was wearing a white bandanna on my head… hey look, it was summertime, we were near the water & there was high humidity, & my hair which was in the process of growing out was not behaving) as I walked past and this did not sit well with me. I distinctly remember asking who the hell he was. And the thing that’s especially odd about all of this is that less than a week later, we had clicked so much we spoke every single night via AIM (some of you reading this will have no idea what that is, but at the time it was awesome). I wasn’t looking for anything. Jay just made me laugh & we had a really good rapport with one another, plus he & I were both part of a circle of folks who chatted with one another fairly frequently anyway.

Somewhere along the way, things changed. It’s not something to get into on a public forum; the how’s & why’s & all of that. It’s personal. Maybe it was when he told me he waited all day to come home and talk to me. Maybe it was the 4th of July. Maybe it was when he took me to dinner for my birthday. Maybe it was just the summer. But something definitely changed from friend to more than friend… however, ultimately we parted ways. Over the course of a few years there were times when our “stars collided” and we met once again, and some other people got hurt in the process. But it wasn’t until three whole years after our initial meeting that we actually were in the same place at the same time, and it was the right place at the right time. I knew when I first met him that there was a reason for it, I just didn’t know exactly what it was. It was meant to be, though. People don’t continue to cross your path over & over again without a reason.

A beautiful zebra bundt cake recipe from Baker's Royale.

Ten years later, I cannot imagine the last ten years without him.

He’s up to my down.

Right to my left.

Peanut butter to my jelly.

Ham to my cheese.

Johnny to my June.

You get the idea.

Things with us are very simple. Uncomplicated. We’ve had two, maybe three arguments in 10 years. It’s not forced. We’re not clingy, we let one another do our own thing. We’re each others best friend. We’re supportive but not over the top. We don’t hide anything from each other. We’re honest. We work together, we’re in it together. We’re here because we both want to be, and I can’t speak for him but I have never once wanted out. People say relationships are hard work, but honestly, I can’t agree. For us it just flows. It just works. There’s never any drama or anything. It’s the easiest relationship I’ve ever had- friend or otherwise. And if you think that’s because “[we're] not married yet” or because we have no children; well, then you’ve got either a very poor marriage or a very poor concept of what a relationship is (or could be). Not to mention you must not think very highly of your kids.

So, since we’re not ones to be over-dramatic & crazy, this is our anniversary/engagement (yes, I said engagement!) cake. Equally simple yet wonderful. No drama. No fanfare. Just goodness.

(By the way.. I clearly do a terrible job at cutting cakes)

Zebra bundt cake- recipe from Baker's Royale. Perfect anniversary cake!Cake stand: vintage Fenton milk glass; cake recipe from Baker’s Royale- best zebra bundt cake EVER!

It’s like our relationship: low-key but awesome.

I wish that all of you could have or would have the love I have. Of all the things in life that really matter, that’s one of the most important, and it doesn’t matter who you love- whether it’s someone of the opposite sex, another man, another woman, more than one man or more than one woman or a variety. Relationships & love can’t be defined or restricted by anyone else’s ideals. It doesn’t matter if it’s family love, friend love or romantic love. It just matters that you love them, and they love you.

But for me for us, there’s more to celebrate this year than just those 10 happy years of being together…

Because this big ol’ hunk of over 1 full carat of diamonds, in the form of a stunning heirloom engagement ring (pictured here in the original ring box, both of which belonged to my grandmother), is sitting on my left ring finger as I type. Because when the man you love uses trickery & espionage (as well as gets your parents involved in that trickery) in order to get your beloved grandmother’s ring to propose to you with, and then asks you to marry him in one of your favorite places on earth… it’s real love. This ring has meant a lot to me for many reasons, and now it means even more.

I guess the ring-shaped cake above makes sense to you all now.

My grandmother's vintage 1940's engagement ring. Which is now mine!

So yup. Here I am, officially affianced. Not a bad way to celebrate our tenth year together, huh?

See… here’s my deal: the materialism of “weddings” nowadays is a turn off for me. Not because I’m against people making or spending money- quite the opposite, I love to do both. It’s a turn-off, mainly because people (mostly women) have forgotten the real meaning of why they’re getting married. It’s an excuse to soak a guy for a big rock, then show it off to other women with the secret, silent hope that they’re jealous, and then go & blow all of daddy’s money on ONE day that no one even remembers. It’s a reason to shop at Kleinfeld’s & maybe be on TLC. It’s a reason to show off.

And all of that has nothing to do with love or marriage. But that’s another post for another day!

He liked it so he put a ring on it (I know, I'm horrible).And my wedding band will be custom made using diamonds from my grandmother’s other ring.

My heirloom ring is not only gorgeous, but it has immense meaning. Not just because it’s my engagement ring, but because of it’s history (which is very interesting- it was stolen & recovered by the NYPD!) & because it was a gift from my grandpa to my nana. It has over 75 years of history & love in it… here’s to over 75 more.

*P.S. if you’d like to follow me on my anti-bridal journey (or you’re just nosy) feel free to take a peek at my Pinterest board. And in case you’re wondering, as far as love songs go, we really are more Johnny & June than Whitney or Mariah. And if you’re thinking of ‘Walk the Line’ … well, that isn’t the best Johnny Cash song to suit us; we’re more like this one.

Eating this True Blood cake did not suck.

This Sunday, June 16th, at 9 o’clock p.m. EST on HBO, season 6 of True Blood will premiere. I know all you “Trubies” are going bananas. As they say, “waiting sucks.” And I absolutely agree: it does totally suck to have to wait so long for a new season. But …while you all were waiting patiently (or not so) for the new season, I had this baby to keep me company. The True Blood cookbook! 

True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps

It’s a delicious book- filled with beautiful photographs of scenes from the show and more. There are gorgeous shots of Gran’s kitchen & the outside of both her house & Bill’s house, as well as pictures of Merlotte’s and Fangtasia. The attention to detail is awesome; the picture of Gran’s kitchen makes you feel like you’re right there. Big, glossy, clear photos.

The food photography in and of itself is beautiful. Almost every recipe has an accompanying photo. And it’s not just food, or baked goods that are featured. There are cocktails & non-alcoholic drink recipes too…

An excerpt from True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps

An excerpt from True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps

A cake from the cookbook True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps

So to celebrate the return of this beloved show, and all my favorite characters (Eric & Pam! Eric & Pam!)… I made me a True Blood Naked Cake. Also known (in the book) as “Totally Surprised Birthday Cake,” which is the stunning cake on the cover (and as seen above). My version of the cake is a “naked” cake; meaning it’s not fully frosted. The majority of the frosting is combined with the filling and put on top to create a naked effect.

A layer cake filled with lemon filling, vanilla frosting & a mixed berry topping inspired by and adapted from the True Blood cookbook.

In the book, the cake is fully frosted. But I wanted to make a naked cake for three reasons: one, I hate frosting cakes, two, it’s pretty. And three… ‘naked’ is kinda appropriate for True Blood. Lotsa people gettin’ all kinds of naked on that show!

A cake inspired by the cookbook True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps.

This cake is comprised of two cake layers, a lemon filling, a frosting similar to a 7-minute frosting or an Italian meringue buttercream and a rich berry topping; made of macerated raspberries & strawberries. It’s decadent, it’s drippy, it’s smooshy. It’s complex. It’s amazing. And you know what? I’m just gonna say it- it’s sexy. Kind of like the TV show itself. There’s so much going on you’re afraid you’ll miss something, but it all comes together perfectly.

I mean, come on. Look at this cake. It kinda makes you wanna do bad things.

A "naked" cake celebrating the return of True Blood season 6! Inspired by the True Blood cookbook, it's a two-layer vanilla cake filled with a lemon filling & vanilla frosting, then topped with more frosting & a mixed berry macerated topping.

Thick, creamy frosting.

Sunny, bright, slightly sticky lemon filling.

Moist & light vanilla cake.

And a bunch of juicy berries in sugar.

True Blood "naked" cake; vanilla cake filled with lemon filling, thick vanilla frosting & topped with a macerated raspberry & strawberry topping. From the True Blood cookbook!

Thick vanilla frosting, tart lemon filling & sweet macerated berries come together with vanilla cake to create this True Blood "Naked" cake; inspired by & taken from the True Blood cookbook!

Cake inspired by the True Blood cookbook!

Beautiful.

It’s the perfect cake to crack open a Tru Blood with, before you get down with some vampire action on those hot, humid summertime Sunday nights. And right about now you’re wondering where the recipe is. Well, I hate to do this to you… but…

If you want the recipe- you’re gonna have to buy the book!

 

I know, I know, I suck (pun intended!). You can buy True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. And be sure to watch the True Blood season 6 premiere on HBO this Sunday night, June 16th, at 9 p.m.

A vanilla layer cake filled with a bright, tart lemon filling, a thick vanilla frosting & topped with macerated raspberries & strawberries. Inspired by & adapted from the True Blood cookbook!

Don’t forget the cake! And remember, friends don’t let friends eat friends.

 

True Blood: Eats, Drinks & Bites from Bon Temps

“Sittin’ down to eat with the people you love, or even just like, life don’t get any better than that. Least not here in Bon Temps.”

- Sookie Stackhouse

(Pssst… I received absolutely no compensation for this post. I purchased the book myself, and any & all opinions are my own. I do not claim ownership of the True Blood logo, name or television show, nor do I claim to have any rights to any recipes in the book or anything to do with Charlaine Harris’ book series. For other desserts & eats that are True Blood inspired or could be used in relation to True Blood, check out my True Blood velvet cupcakes, blood spatter cupcakes, and True Blood orange cupcakes. Enjoy responsibly & keep your fangs in.)

Blackberry breakfast whatever you wanna call it.

Whoa! Today is the last day of April! Holy balls. Where the hell has the time gone? I really don’t know, because I swear on a Weck canning jar it seems as though only last week I was making pumpkin everything. And now it’s practically May. Unbelievable. This past year has flown by for me, and I have no idea why. It just seems like once last August hit, the time just whooshed past me until all of a sudden I stopped & looked at the calendar & it was April 30th, 2013. Sheesh. Maybe it’s because I’ve had so much going on… maybe it’s just that when you reach a certain age time just starts to go by faster. Not sure. Either way, it seems to have snuck up on me.

Blackberry oat breakfast bake! Also known as a WHATEVERYOUWANNACALLIT!

And I’ve been having a bit of a rough time lately. *insert long, dramatic sigh* I feel a little lost, truthfully, and to add insult to injury this past weekend ended on a completely shitty note. Add to all of that the fact that I have a severe lack of inspiration. Food isn’t exciting me right now- and I can’t really grasp why. I’ve always been a comfort eater, and yet recently I’m kind of lackadaisical about food in general. No new recipes are calling to me, my mind is blank. I have to change that. I have to get back on my track.

Anyway, when I’m having a rough time of things, I find it’s best to do something that doesn’t require a lot of thought but provides business. And I don’t mean business, but “busy-ness.” Emphasis on the ‘y’ sound. Make your hands busy & your mind will follow, instead of harping on things you can’t change or control. So I throw a few things together to make something just to get my mind off whatever it is that’s getting me down. And every now and then I come up with something a bit… un-label-able (that is definitely NOT a word).

Black berry breakfast whateveryouwannacallit; call it a cake, call it a cobbler, call it a whatever... it's delicious & easy.

And I do that type of thing a lot; I make things that aren’t really any one thing. But it seems to get worse when I’m frustrated, or sad, or baking to busy myself. Ugh, how can I explain all of this better? Hmm. Well, for example… this isn’t a cake. Not really. And it’s not a bread- it’s too moist. It’s not a cobbler; there’s too much “dough”… and because it isn’t dense or chewy, it really can’t be described as “bars” or cookie bars. It’s just a thing. A blackberry thing, that’s excellent for breakfast. I don’t know. I did the same thing with that ginger stout cake. I STILL don’t really know what that was, I just called it a cake!

But this particular little baked item is even more puzzling.

I could just label it as a cake.

But I won’t.

Blackberry oat breakfast bake! Also known as a blackberry breakfast whateveryouwannacallit!

BLACKBERRY BREAKFAST WHATEVERYOUWANNACALLIT

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus 3/4 cup
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled & cut into 1/2″ pieces, plus more for pan
  • zest of one organic lemon
  • 1/2 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 10 oz. fresh blackberries
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350º F & grease an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with butter. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the eggs & sour cream together in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, 3/4 flour and pinch of salt, and mix well. Gently stir in blackberries. Pour mixture into baking dish.
  3. Mix together the 3/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, lemon zest & butter in the bowl of a stand mixer -with the paddle attachment- until it’s crumbly & “sandy” in texture. You can also use a food processor for this, or a pastry cutter.
  4. Combine crumb mixture with oats. Sprinkle mixture on top of blackberry mixture. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until lightly browned.
  5. Let cool for 1 hour. Serve with whipped cream, because hey… why not.

Blackberry oat breakfast bake/whateveryouwannacallit. Can go from breakfast to dessert in 5 seconds; just add yogurt, vanilla ice cream or whipped cream on top.

I used an 8″ x 8″ Le Creuset stoneware baking dish to make this. Pyrex also works, and I’m sure a regular metal one would work. The baking time might change a little bit, but that’s easy enough to monitor. As a matter of fact, it took a while longer to bake in my stoneware than it probably would have in a regular Pyrex or metal baking dish. Also, you can double this recipe and use a 9″ x 13″ pan, if that suits you better, however the baking time would definitely change in that case.

Blackberry & oat breakfast bake.

The whipped cream is a really mildly sweet one, which makes it perfect for breakfast… however, if you just can’t get down that way, yogurt works too. Alternately, vanilla ice cream is great when it’s being served for a dessert.

 Sources & credits: Le Creuset stoneware baker in Cassis.

A literal “coffee cake.”

Really, I’m not sure if there’s a more literal interpretation of “coffee cake” than this one… except for maybe a cake made with coffee. Seriously. You see a lot of coffee cakes, and they’re all meant to be served with coffee, hence the name… but this one is truly a coffee cake. Or rather a coffee can cake.

 

It’s a coffee cake baked in a coffee can.

How cool is that? Pretty friggin’ cool.

I saw this during my travels on the inter webs & I thought, “That’s so cute!” Yes, I had heard of bread or fruitcake being baked in coffee cans before, and my mom used to do it. But I thought making a coffee cake in a coffee can was super adorable. And interesting. Something I’d never done before.

Only problem is: I don’t have any coffee cans. I have a Keurig, and when I do buy coffee it’s bagged. The only can I have is one from Cafe Du Monde & I’m not using that for baking. So I had to enlist my father to see if he had any of his trusty Chock-Full-O-Nuts cans laying around, which thankfully he did, and tons of them at that (although I’m still not sure why). Unfortunately, your average coffee cans have gotten smaller lately… from one pound to 11.3 ounces. It doesn’t really make much of a difference to this recipe, however, so if you’ve only got 11-ounce coffee cans, don’t freak. It worked out just fine for me! Yeah, there was some overflow. But not enough to really matter.

If you’ve got one of those really big coffee cans, maybe you can make the entire recipe in one can? Not sure, but I don’t see why not, as long as the large can is at least double the size of a regular one.

CARDAMOM COFFEE CAN CAKE (adapted from iVillage)

Ingredients:

  • 2 coffee cans (1 pound size is preferable, I had to use 11.3 oz. cans)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons soft unsalted butter (for coating the cans)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cool but not chilled, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (*OPTIONAL)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1.  Soak the coffee cans in hot soapy water to clean them and remove any labels and/or glue. Please do not attempt to make these with the labels still on the cans. Dry the cans thoroughly in a warm oven. Heavily coat the interior of the cans with the soft butter (3 tablespoons) once they have cooled.
  2. To make the dough, combine the buttermilk and butter slices (1/2 cup or 1 stick) in a small saucepan over medium heat and warm the mixture until the butter slices start to melt. Set the pan aside. Combine the warm water, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, and yeast in a 4-cup liquid measure and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set the mixture aside.
  3. Put the flour and the cardamom (1/4 teaspoon) in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade or the steel chopping blade. Pulse the machine on and off three times. Add the brown sugar, salt, eggs, and yeast mixture to the flour mixture and process for 1 full minute. With the machine still running, slowly pour the buttermilk mixture through the feed tube, then immediately turn off the processor. Scrape down the sides of the work bowl and add the raisins. Pulse the processor on and off several times or until the raisins are distributed throughout the dough. Divide the batter between the two prepared coffee cans.
  4. Cover the cans with a tea towel and set them in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 45 minutes, or until the dough has risen to within 1 inch of the can tops. When the dough has finished rising, remove all but the lowest rack from the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.
  5. To make the topping, melt the 1/3 cup of butter and brush it over the top of each coffee cake. Combine the granulated sugar (5 tablespoons) and spices (1 teaspoon cardamom and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon) and liberally sprinkle each cake with half of the mixture.
  6. Bake the cakes in their cans for 35 minutes, or until the tops are a dark golden brown. Thump the tops as you would a melon and listen for a hollow sound, like a ripe melon. If you do not hear a hollow sound, bake the cakes for another 8 minutes and test again. Cool the cans for 1 hour on a rack, then unmold them.

Next time I would make a streusel for the topping, instead of what’s given in the recipe. It tasted good, but it didn’t look that great. I just think it’s better suited to a chunky, spicy, sugary streusel instead. Oh, if only. Hindsight is 20/20! I also didn’t use the raisins. I just don’t like raisins. But if you do, then throw those suckers in.

See? Not a very… well… flattering photo.

By the way- speaking of what I didn’t use… I didn’t use a food processor, I used my stand mixer with the dough hook, and it worked out just fine. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a food processor and vice versa. And you might have some trouble getting the cake out of the cans. I had some trouble myself, but I just finagled it by cutting the tops off first, then taking the rest out. Then I just sliced them all up right away for serving. But eating them right out of the can with a couple of forks isn’t the worst thing to ever happen, is it?

And of course, they’re served with COFFEE. And it’d be perfect with some of that Swedish style homemade flavored milk.

(If you want to give them as a hostess gift, iVillage says to do the following: wash and dry the interiors of the cans. Roll each cooled coffee cake in a strip of parchment paper and put the cakes back in the cans once the cans are dry. The finished cakes should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap until you are ready to assemble and deliver the gift. You can also tie ribbons around the cans if you like.)

In need of something stout & hearty.

Argh. I know I’ve been repeatedly saying this, over & over again. But let me reiterate: it’s f*!%ing cold.

Early Sunday Morning on Orchard Street, by Vivienne Gucwa

Pardon my French, but really. It’s freezing. And one of those eerie signs of a cold day in New York? A white sky. When it’s just stark white or a very pale milky grey, my grandma used to say it was a sky full of snow. When it looks like that, I have no desire to do anything other than stay under the duvet in a warm, dark room, playing around on my MacBook listening to music while the wind whistles outside & frost patterns form on the windows. Screw interacting with society. I’m better off indoors, warm, with my four-legged companion(s) and my kitchen. There goes that Lisbeth Salander tendency again- good thing I got rid of the mohawk.

And good thing I love New York, & I was born here… or else this shit would get really old, really quick. I’m used to it… but that doesn’t make a 19° degree temperature any less shocking.

Anyway, this cake is warming. And really easy- which means I don’t have to be out of bed for very long to make it.

The best part? It’s made with beer.

Guinness stout, actually. It’s a delicious… cake. Bread. It’s more like… I don’t really know. It teeters between a bread and a cake, and just when you think it’s one thing, it’s another. Just when you’re thinking it’s a great dessert it jumps up and slaps you right in the face, saying: “I’d be excellent for breakfast, too.” And if you’re thinking that a cake with beer in it wouldn’t work for breakfast? Well then you’re not Irish/Polish/German and you’ve also never had this cake. It isn’t sweet, it isn’t savory. It’s an enigma. It’s like gingerbread, just not as sweet. And it’s like a brown bread, but moister and not as savory. And when I say moist? I mean it. It’s not something you can gorge on- one small slice at a time is plenty. You can add some diced candied ginger to the batter, or you can add a little fresh grated ginger, just to up the gingerbread-y-ness of it… or you just can top it with some whipped cream & then put some candied ginger on top. Speaking of whipped cream? I think if you put a whiskey whipped cream or a bourbon whipped cream on it, you’d knock your guests right out of the chairs. On the other hand- it would be good toasted (or baked twice) into an almost biscotti-like texture and paired with a soup that borders on the sweet side, like a creamy chestnut soup. It would even be good toasted, with butter, but you just can’t imagine how good it is plain, at room temperature, with just a bit of mildly sweet, homemade whipped cream.

But then again, everything is better with whipped cream, no?

I know, it doesn’t look like an enigma, does it? But it is. It’s a cake-bread. A bread-cake.

Anyway. It is what it is. You make it & figure it out.

All I know is that it’s spectacular with a simple whipped cream and a smidgen- just a sprinkling- of confectioner’s sugar, accompanied by a hot cup of Irish coffee made with Bailey’s Irish Cream.

GUINNESS GINGER CAKE (adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup Guinness Irish stout*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan, and set aside.
  2. Over medium heat, bring the Guinness to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir occasionally. Take off the heat and add the baking soda (mixture will froth). When the foaming subsides, stir in both sugars & molasses until dissolved. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients. In another large bowl, pour the Guinness mixture. Then whisk in eggs & oil until thoroughly combined.
  4. Whisk the wet mixture into the dry mixture in thirds, stirring until completely smooth between each addition. DO NOT OVERMIX/OVERBEAT: less is more.
  5. Transfer batter to the prepared pan and gently tap it on your counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top of the cake is just firm and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours. Cut into squares and serve.

*If you haven’t got Guinness, any stout will do. Samuel Adams cream stout would work wonders too, I imagine.

I repeat: it is NOT a sweet cake. It’s not a chocolate fudge caramel drizzle cake that’s going to make your teeth ache just looking at it. And it’s NOT a full-on bread, because it’s too sweet to be. It is nothing like a beer bread at all, and it’s not like any cake you’ve ever had before. Seriously. Maybe if you use a more chocolatey stout, or maybe Samuel Adams Merry Mischief stout, it’d be a bit sweeter (and also stronger! That Merry Mischief stuff packs a wollop!)… but that’s up to you to experiment with, if you so choose.

I’m secretly giggling at that little peak that formed in the whipped cream… (!) It almost looks like a middle finger, doesn’t it?

Yeah. You’re welcome.

Now I’m crawling back into my warm bed, with a full plate & hot mug of Irish coffee, of course.

Sources & credits: Bailey’s mugs; vintage, silverware; vintage.

To Autumn.

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Autumn hasn’t always been my favorite time of year. When I was a child, I didn’t like it because it meant summer was over and school was starting. No more sleeping late and floating in the pool all day, no more beach days, no more “fun.” As I got older, fall started to be my favorite season. I started to appreciate more the absolute beauty of it; the changing leaves, the pretty colored skies. I love sweaters and boots and knubby socks. I still despise the winter though, and all it’s grey-ness, snow and ice. That won’t ever change. If I could live somewhere that gave me the definite changing of the seasons but just skipped over the snow & -12°F temperatures we tend to get in the deep winter? Hell, I’d move there today. However the beauty of fall? That’s something I can’t deny. Summer is lovely.. slow, warm, soft and hazy. Summer is fans, porch swings and lemonade. Fall is crisp, golden, hurried. Fall is apple cider, pumpkins, the crunch of leaves under your feet and scarves. And most of all, fall is Halloween, which is my most favoritest holiday ever. So that means I’ve grown to love fall, and the clothing that comes with it. So I’m really, really, really going to miss summer, especially this year, for a lot of reasons. Most of which are sentimental and personal, which I’m not going to get in to here. And despite the weather, as of 6 days ago it’s official: summer is over & it’s completely autumn.

So in honor of that, today I present you with a delicious pound cake, loaded with flavor, moist and delicious, with a lovely sugary “crust” on top, and of course, served with whipped cream and some halved plums I canned in syrup.

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Plums are around from May through October, the peak time for them being August. But to me, they’re strictly a late-summer fruit.

A few days ago, I posted the spiked chocolate plum jam, with beautiful photos of the jewel-like deep purple plums in a bowl and the resulting beautiful, purply-red jam. But I didn’t tell you that I only used half of the plums in that jam. The other half? Well three were eaten right off the bat, and the rest were halved and canned in syrup. In terms of “whole fruits”, not jams or preserves, I had only ever canned peach slices, clementine slices & whole strawberries in syrup before, so I thought it was time I did something bigger. Canning whole fruit kinda scares me- I mean, how the hell do you fit a ton of whole nectarines into a JAR? Weird. It can only be explained by magic.

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Anyway, I halved the plums so I could fit more into one pint jar. If you want to make more than one jar, or you’re using quart jars, then double/triple/quadruple/etc, the following recipe to suit you.

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1 PINT of PLUMS IN SYRUP

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 – 1 lb. plums (purple or prune plums, Damson plums or Greengage plums work best)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Sterilize your jar, and pop the lid into a bowl of hot water. Keep the jar hot. Combine the water & sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
  2. Wash the fruit. If you’re halving the plums like I did, cut them in half and remove the pits. If you’re canning them whole, poke 3-4 holes in the skin of each plum to avoid “bursting” in the jar.
  3. Pack the plums tightly in your jar. Squeeze them in as best as you can without bruising or squashing them, they shrink up once they “cook” in the syrup.
  4. Pour the hot syrup over the plums, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Gently remove air bubbles with a knife or thin spatula. Adjust headspace if needed by adding more syrup.
  5. Wipe rim, place lid and screw band on to fingertip tight. Process in a boiling water canner for 20 minutes.

Because my pint jar is the Collection Elite jar, it’s a different size and shape than the conventional pint jars. If you use a regular one, you might need a little extra fruit to fill yours (or maybe less, depending on the size of the plums you’re using).

And when you’ve got such a beautiful looking jar of plums, you need something to serve them with. And for that reason, there’s pound cake.

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Last summer I made a pound cake that was so incredibly delicious, so amazing, so perfect… that it was world-renowned. Maybe not world-renowned, but at the very least it was the talk of the family. It was almost obnoxious how “adults” almost killed one another to grab a slice. But I understood, because it was that good. I served it with a rhubarb-ginger jam the first night, after that it was eaten a variety of ways: with ice cream, plain, with fresh fruit, etc. Basically I’m using a lot of words to say this: it was amazing. I didn’t really think that any other pound cake could top it, actually, until I found one at the King Arthur Flour website that sounded equally delicious, but was slightly smaller in a lot of ways (except that whole five eggs thing). I didn’t want to make the other one again, because I was just making it to serve with the plums for a simple little dessert, and that’s quite a large cake. So I made this one.

And I figured best case scenario, I get rave reviews about the plums, the whipped cream and the cake itself. And on the other hand, at the very least it would just be the vehicle that transported the plum halves and piles of homemade whipped cream into people’s mouths.

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But I needn’t have worried. Jesus Christ on a cracker, this was some good shit. Was it as good as that other pound cake? Yes, however if I’m being honest, the other one was just a smiiiidge better. But more importantly- this makes a smaller cake. So if you have no use for a massive 10″ bundt-shaped pound cake but you still want a moist & delicious one, this one’s for you. If you’re feeding a lot of people, or you’re making it for a party or a bake sale, and you want a top-notch pound cake, then by all means make this one.

GOLDEN VANILLA POUND CAKE (taken & adapted extremely minimally from the King Arthur Flour website)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (1/2 teaspoon if you use salted butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Topping:

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ x 5″ x 2 3/4″ loaf pan, or a 12″ x 4″ x 4″ tea loaf pan. To avoid overflow, be SURE to use the correct size pan!
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, cream cheese, salt, sugar, baking powder & vanilla extract until well combined.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; the mixture may look slightly curdled/grainy. After you’ve added the final egg, beat at high speed for 3 minutes. Once all the eggs are added, stir in the milk.
  4. Sprinkle in the flour gradually, with the mixer going at low speed. Mix just until combined. The batter will be smooth and thick, but still pourable. Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  5. To make the topping, combine the sugar, vanilla, and water. Stir until the mixture is syrupy. At first it’ll seem very stiff, but will become “drizzle-able” as you stir. Set the topping aside.
  6. Set the cake on a baking sheet, for easiest handling and as a precaution against potential overflow (which shouldn’t happen if you use the correct size pan). Bake it for 55 minutes (for either size pan).
  7. Remove the cake from the oven, and brush/drizzle with the sugar mixture. Return the cake to the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, and set it on a rack. Insert a toothpick into the center; it should come out clean. If you use an instant-read thermometer, the center should register about 200°F to 205°F. The very top, right under the crust, will still be kind of soggy; don’t worry about it.
  8. After 5 minutes loosen the cake’s edges and turn it out of the pan to cool completely on a rack.

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I was shocked when this cake came out so perfect. Usually I have a terrible time with loaf cakes; for some reason almost every time they overflow like crazy. I have no idea why. It’s as if all my loaf pans are magically from another planet. I measure them every time to make sure they’re the right size, yet almost every time I get overflow. But not this time! It just came out like… well… a piece of cake. The whipped cream is the always intriguing “whipped cream in a jar.” It’s very simply made by combining heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar & pure vanilla extract in a jar. Then you just shake it! For people like me who never have whipped cream in the house, but who usually have heavy cream, it’s an easy and fun way of making your own without whipping (no pun intended) your mixer out.

WHIPPED CREAM IN A JAR (adapted a bit from The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons confectioner’s sugar
  • 2-4 drops vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Put all three ingredients in an 8-ounce jar. Close lid.
  2. Shake jar vigorously for about 3-5 minutes or until it becomes whipped cream (you’ll be able to feel when it no longer “sloshes” and it gets thick). Eat!
  3. Store in the fridge for a day or two tops, but best when eaten as soon as it’s made.

Who can turn down pound cake & homemade whipped cream? And the plums were the highlight, for sure. Who knew such a simple pairing, the components of which are all so incredibly easy, could make such an impressive dessert when put together?

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What a lovely way to welcome fall. See you all in October.

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Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

“To Autumn”, John Keats (1795 – 1821)