Category: cakes

Vanilla cake with a twist of lime.

Vanilla cake with a twist of lime.

So I get married, Jay goes to Europe, and I get the urge to make a cake.

I never, ever make cakes. Mainly because I’m impatient, an you have to wait for cakes to cool before you take them out of the pans, then cool enough to frost them, etc. It’s a pain in the ass. I am not a cake person. Cupcakes, yes! Those are fun. And they cool fast. But cakes? No. Especially layer cakes. OH MY GOD HOW ANNOYING ARE LAYER CAKES?!

So I cheated with this one, and made it one layer. And added lime zest. And candied limes.

Zesting limes!

I had a lot of limes.

About three/four weeks before the wedding I got sick. Really sick. Bronchitis and sore-throat-like-swallowing-knives-sick. I was sick for well over a week, and my stubborn ass wouldn’t go to the doctor. Then, four days before the wedding, Jay got sick.  FOUR DAYS. He (thankfully) went and got super antibiotics and by the day of he felt fine. Then, the day of the wedding, my dad was sick. Two days after, my mother got sick. What the what? I’m telling you- people are dropping like flies around here. Stupid early spring sickness.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.