Category: cakes

Irish soda cakes: this time, in little loaves!

Beautiful ranunculus. Hello, spring.

Wow, so St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow. Time flies. I can’t believe in less than a month I’ll be a Mrs. And springtime isn’t far away! Just a few days!

I think this is, like, the third or fourth time I’m posting this recipe. Each time I put a new little spin on it. Sometimes I add raisins that have been soaked in Jameson and make them into muffins. Other times, I make it the traditional way my mother always has. And then other times I want to do something else. Like little baby loaves.

Irish soda cake loaves.

Irish soda cake. You read that right.

These are not Irish soda bread loaves. No. These are a variation on Irish soda bread that we call ‘cake’ because of the sugar content and the texture. Like a thing you’d have with tea, not with soup and a Guinness. Let me explain.

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Donegal oatcakes.

Donegal oatcakes.

I grew up my whole life thinking that my Irish family was from Sligo. That’s it. Just Sligo. I never grew up hearing about anywhere else. My one Irish ancestor who came direct from the Emerald Isle that I heard the most stories from/about passed away in 1936, she was my great-great-grandmother Winifred Macken (Mackin) née Mahon. She was poor, and came here and worked as a maid. Never learned to read or write. She was very secretive and didn’t like to talk about the past- this only adds to the air of mystery surrounding her in my mind. Including the fact that she was married twice and nobody was 100% sure of the names of either man. Anyway, it’s very possible that she was indeed from Sligo (I can’t find a trace of her anywhere either way), but the other Irish side that came here around the same time, the Kieran/Rooney’s, hailed directly from Louth. We have plenty of info on them, including the house that Jane Rooney (née Kieran) was born in, which is still standing.

Sufficient to say, however: I have no family (that I know of) from Donegal.

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Baby bundts.

A gift! (side note: look at the baby whisk!)

 

This post has nothing to do with babies. Not human ones. It has to do with another kind of baby: bundt cakes.

Did I mention I was getting married? Yep. No, no… really. Seriously. I’m actually actively planning a wedding. CRAZY, right? For someone who never wanted or thought she’d get married and who’s been engaged for almost two years it seems strange. But it’s true. And when you announce this fact, similar to when you announce the engagement, you end up with a few surprises showing up at your door, gift wrapped very sweetly from gorgeous houseware stores. The other day I got another one of these beautiful boxes, and I almost hated to even open it. Almost.

Pistachio mini bundt cakes.

Inside were a set of bakeware from Williams-Sonoma, and two Silpats. Right off of our registry. From my lovely Matron of Honor & her husband. So sweet! We’re spoiled. One of the baking pans was a Nordic-Ware mini bundt pan, which I had wanted forever. No really. ForEVER.

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Olive oil cake with orange zest, rum & pistachios.

Yeah, I know. I know. It’s the beginning of June, and “who wants to be baking in a hot house?” I get it. I really do, no one knows better than I do about how horrid it is to bake a big complicated cake or bread in 90° weather.

But… this is OLIVE OIL CAKE. It’s easy. It’s refreshing, citrus-y, it travels well and it has rum in it. It’s like the perfect summer cake.

Believe me.

Olive oil cake with orange, rum & pistachios.

The citrus flavor & olive oil are very Mediterranean in taste, the rum adds a kind of pirate-y note and the pistachios add a mildly salty crunch. All in all it’s the best cake to serve at a summer party or picnic- and you can make it into muffins, a two-layer cake with mascarpone or ricotta frosting, or leave it as is.

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Cherry “surprise” coffee cake (the surprise is cream cheese!).

Indy, my baking buddy.

Indy and I are best buds. When Jay leaves for work at night, it’s just us. We watch TV, cook (okay, I cook), read, or cuddle in bed, sometimes blogging. He usually naps during those activities. However when I get up he follows me around relentlessly. Even waiting outside the bathroom for me. I call him my shadow. My 100-lb. shadow… & bodyguard.

Consequently, Indy is also my baking buddy.

He sits (quite adorably) on the rug in front of the sink as I mix & whisk & scoop. He leans his right side against the cabinets, hind legs off to the left side, his head turned & nose just barely reaching right over the counter, sniffing to see what exactly it is I’m doing today. I talk to him as I recite the recipes, or experiment with ingredients. Sometimes he looks up at me intently, as if he’s genuinely listening; or more so, actually absorbing what I’m saying. Other times he lays down on that rug ignoring me, but ever so close to me at the same time. Usually with a paw just touching my foot. And then once it’s in the oven he scoots forward to see. And again, as I move from room to room or from sink to dishwasher he follows me, tail wagging, possibly in hopes that whenever whatever it is I baked comes out of the oven, I have sympathy – or empathy- and ultimately give him a slice.

It hasn’t happened yet.

But even as I take my photos, he tries. Respectfully.

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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).

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.)