Carrot Cake Muffins with Maple Icing + 5 Muffin Recipes for Spring!

Tess had just finished feeding her cat when a familiar face appeared in the window of the old wooden door that had kept her safe inside her home and the world safely outside for so many decades.  The face was framed by the molding on the door her father installed when she was a child, and backlit by the sun, making it hard for Tess to discern who was outside looking in.  Dark eyes, thick, unkempt eyebrows, long, messy hair pulled away from a woman’s face was all she could make out.

The face watched her. Tess hated being observed by anyone, especially by someone she couldn’t place in time, though certainly, this familiar face had existed in one moment or more, in one place or many, together they had gazed at each other briefly or for many hours. Tess now forgot.  She hated the forgetting that came with age, and even more, she detested unannounced visits.

A worried face, much like her own, and yet, she couldn’t place it. Was she hallucinating…again? And if she was? Good, Tess thought.  It was time for this miserable process of dying to get on with it.  The waiting had become unbearable, leaving her restless and angry.  Angry with cancer that took its time eating away at her; angry with her dead husband, envious of fast-moving cancer that took him away many years ago leaving her to deal with this alone, and angry with her remaining family for their visits and calls.  Their concern felt half-hearted, as she knew, as the almost dead do, the living just want you to go.  They are waiting, anticipating the tsunami of grief.  And like Tess, they wanted to get on with it.

If Tess were a dog, she would have walked to the woods that surrounded the back of her property, curled up on a pile of dead brown leaves under the black maple tree and stare at the bluebird sky.  Alone, free, ready.  Why is it so damn hard to die?  Tess thought as she reached for the doorknob.  She figured she would let the face in, see what she wanted.

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, Mom! I’m freezing out here.”

“Come in, come in.  Watch out for the cat.” Tess said.

“It’s time to put that cat down, Mom.”

“Like, hell.  When I’m gone, do what you want with it.”

Her daughter was back again, this time with muffins.  Carrot muffins.  Muffins Tess would thank her for, but not eat because eating did not make much sense anymore.  She never cared much for carrot muffins anyway.  Tess would keep this to herself.  The last thing she wanted was for daughter to feel useless.  And she certainly didn’t want another visit from the hospice nurse, poking at her or asking her stupid questions.  How are you feeling today? Are you in pain? On a scale of 1 to 10, one being no pain and ten being the worst pain where do say you are?  Assholes.  All of them.  I’m dying and I just want to forget it.  

Tess moved slowly to her favorite chair and sat down, grateful to be off her feet.  The walk to the door felt like a mile.  Her daughter sat in the chair next to her and grimaced when the matted cat jumped into Tess’ lap.

“I know he is pretty sad lookin’,”  Tess said.

Her daughter smiled, let out a small laugh.  Tess had forgotten her face at the door, misplaced it in time, let it dissipate from her memory in just a matter of days.  It must be part of the dying process, Tess thought.  How could she leave while still holding on so tightly?  Damn near impossible.  Tess loved her daughter’s smile, knowing laugh, dark eyes.  She was a good girl, always had been.  She would miss her.  Tess couldn’t say that about many people.

Tess’ eyes felt heavy.  “I’m so tired.”

“Rest, Mom.  I’ll stay for a while.  I need to pick up the kids in a couple of hours.”

As Tess dozed off, she watched her daughter holding on tightly to her little computer, tapping away a message to the outside world, a message to the rest of Tess’ family.  Soon Tess would be gone and maybe before she left, Tess would take a bite of the muffin.

Carrot Cake Muffins with Maple Icing

recipe adapted from My Recipes

makes 12 muffins

Ingredients for muffins:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

2 egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon maple extract

3 medium rainbow carrots or regular carrots, finely grated, about 2 cups

1/2 cup of golden raisins optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.  Lightly coat muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt.   Make a well in the center of the dry mixture.  In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, egg whites, extracts and grated carrots.  Add wet mixture to dry mixture.  Stir until just combined. Do not overmix!

Spoon batter into baking cups, about 3/4 of the way full.  Bake until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 22 to 25 minutes.  Be sure to check the muffins at 22 minutes.  You do not want to over bake them.

Remove muffins from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.  Spoon icing over muffins and serve.  Muffins taste best slightly warm the day they are made but will taste great for breakfast the next day as well.  Store at room temperature in an air-tight container.  Enjoy!

Maple Icing

Ingredients:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 or 2 tablespoons of milk, any kind

Directions:

Whisk together confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup.  Add 1 tablespoon of milk and whisk.  Add more milk to reach desired consistency.  Spoon icing over muffins.  Enjoy!

5 Spring Muffin Links

If you love berries in your muffins check out Baker’s Royale strawberry muffins recipe and Diethood’s raspberry muffins recipe.

Looking for a gluten-free muffin option for your next spring brunch?  Head to Dolly + Oatmeal for Lindsay’s strawberry, oat, cacao muffin recipe.

Chocolate muffins are always a good idea. Head to A Brown Table for a sea salt chocolate muffin recipe that is sure to make you smile.

Do you remember the department store, Jordan Marsh?  Me too.  I spent many weekends tagging along with my grandmother to Jordan Marsh, but I never did try their blueberry muffins.  NYT Cooking has the recipe for you.  Check it out!

Simple White Cake With Whipped Strawberry Frosting + 5 Spring Party Cake Links!

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I have been away from this space for far too long.  After a long winter of constant illness, including the flu, I’m finally regaining some energy.  I’m back and ready to bake, cook, write and share all of this with you.

So where do we begin?  We begin with a simple white cake with whipped strawberry frosting.  This cake is light and fresh, reminiscent of spring and brighter days.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

See you soon with more stories and recipes to share.

Simple White Cake with Whipped Strawberry Frosting

recipe adapted from Bake from Scratch

Makes 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients for cake:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 + 1/2 cups granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 + 1/4 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature

4 large egg whites, at room temperature

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter and flour two 9 inch cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Grab a medium bowl and sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.  Add vanilla and almond extract.  Lower the speed on the mixer and add the flour mixture alternating with the milk.  You should begin and end this process with the flour mixture.  Beat until just combined.  Transfer batter to a large bowl and set aside.

Next, beat the egg whites at medium speed until stiff peaks form.  Be sure to use a clean bowl when beating the egg whites!  Fold half of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining egg whites.  Divide batter evenly between pans.

Bake until the cake tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 25-20 minutes.  Cool in pans for 10 minutes.  Remove from pans and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Next, make the whipped strawberry frosting.

Whipped Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients:

1/3 cup freeze-dried strawberries

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped fresh strawberries

1 + 1/4 cups whipping cream, chilled

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Directions:

Place freeze-dried strawberries in your food processor and pulse until they turn into a powder.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, 1/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar and salt.  Add fresh chopped strawberries and the strawberry powder and beat until combined.  Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Clean the bowl of the stand mixer and attach the whisk attachment.  Beat cream and orange juice on medium speed.  Slowly, add the confectioners’ sugar.  Continue to beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold half of the cream mixture into the cream cheese strawberry mix.  Next, add the remaining cream.  Use the whipped frosting immediately, decorating cake layers as desired.

Refrigerate the cake until ready to use.  Bring to room temperature before serving.  The cake tastes best the day it is made.  Refrigerate any leftovers in an air-tight container.  Enjoy!

5 Spring Cake Links

Love lemon cakes? Check out Spoon Fork Bacon’s unique twist on a classic lemon cake.

I love this beautiful watercolor buttercream cake from Sweetpolita.  It is so pretty I’m not sure I could eat it!

Strawberry season and sunny days are just around the corner. Embrace this time of year and make Hungry Rabbit’s strawberry banana milkshake cake or make my strawberry buttermilk birthday cake.

One of my favorite baking blogs, Hummingbird High, now has a recipe for my favorite cake/frosting combination with a slight twist: classic yellow cake with chocolate creme fraiche frosting. My mouth is watering!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key Lime Pie + 5 Pie Free Key Lime Links

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I wish I had a story for you, a perfect snippet that makes you feel great, big wonderful things.  But, writing is a slog even in the best of circumstances.  So on this cold, rain-swept June day (damn you New England!) I’ll share a bright, tasty key lime pie recipe with you.  And hope.  Hope the rain clouds move elsewhere (literally, move anywhere else) my mind clears (sleep come back to me!), my chest feels less heavy (the weight of just too much + a cough) and remember this bit of wisdom from T.S. Elliot’s East Coker:

“I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

 

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Key Lime Pie     

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

serves 6-8

Ingredients for the crust:

1 + 1/2 cups of finely ground graham cracker crumbs  (takes about 10 graham cracker sheets)

3 tablespoons sugar

a good pinch of kosher salt

a good pinch of ground ginger

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, browned

Ingredients for key lime filling:

4 large egg yolks

1 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice

Ingredients for topping:

3/4 cup heavy cream, cold

2 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

zest of two limes

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Make the graham cracker crust.  To make the graham cracker crust, use a food processor fitted with a blade attachment and pulse the graham crackers until fine.  Add the sugar, salt, ginger and melted browned butter.  Pulse several times until the crumbs resemble wet sand.  Pour the crumbs into a 9 inch pie pan and press firmly but evenly across the bottom and up the sides.  Bake until light brown, about 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

Next, make the filling.  Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks until pale and thick, about 5 minutes or so.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and beat until combined and thick.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and whisk in the key lime juice until well combined.  Pour filling into cooled crust.  Bake for 10 minutes or until filling is set but not brown.  Allow the pie to cool completely on a wire rack before adding the whipped cream.

While the pie cools, beat the cold cream, sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form.  Do not over beat!  Spread whipped cream evenly over the pie.  Add lime zest decoratively.   Chill for a couple of hours before serving.  Enjoy!

**Pie will last for a week in the refrigerator.**

5 Pie Free Key Lime Links

Looking for a quick and easy key lime recipe?  Head to Cake Whiz for Abeer’s key lime cookie recipe.

Key lime pie in bar form with a twist: a pistachio graham cracker crust.  Yes, please! Head to Hummingbird High for the recipe.

Craving chocolate?  Check out Sally’s Baking Addiction’s dark chocolate key lime truffles.

Every home baker should try making a magic cake.  A little bit science, a bit of magic and you end up with three layers of cake: sponge, custard and fudge coming together in one subtly sweet bite.  Curious?  Head to Foodness Gracious for key lime pie magic cake recipe that is sure to surprise your taste buds.

For all of the vegans out there I found a vegan key lime pie recipe at Minimalist Baker. Check it out!

Chocolate Cake Pan Cake + 5 Lovely Cake Links for Mother’s Day

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I think of her most often when the lilac bushes bloom in May.  I inhale their sweet floral scent deeply and see her as she was: short, dark curly hair framing her square face, beautiful brown eyes shining below thick eyebrows; strong hips sitting wide, above long skinny legs.  Her easy smile.

I kneel on the damp ground, searching for a four-leaf clover while blades of grass, small stones and drying mud stamp petrified impressions on my bony knees.  Looking haphazardly for luck, searching, minute after minute, for a clover windfall.  She walks by, the white rubber soles of her navy Keds grass-stained, her khaki chino shorts a bit stained with the morning’s bacon grease spatters and long tan arms brushing past her hips as she moves towards the grape vines and lilac bushes.  She pops a grape into her mouth, smiles. She pulls a pair of shears out of her back pocket and cuts a few clusters of lilacs, gathering them in her tanned, slightly wrinkled hands.  I love her absolutely, as only a child is able to love.  She is the great love of my life.

“What are you looking for, Kel?”

“A lucky clover.”

“You won’t find any luck around here.”  She says with a quick laugh and a half hearted smile.  [Decades later I will understand the multiple meanings of that one powerful sentence.]

Thirty years later, hip to hip, we inch across the driveway to my father’s car.  I carefully hold her twiggy arms.  Veins, tendons, bones now evident underneath her bruised paper-thin skin.  The weight of her body leaning against mine is barely felt.

[Time passes.  Time is an unsparing critic.]  

I want a chocolate cake for my birthday,” she says out of the blue.  I kiss her on the cheek and breathe in her powdery scent, hoping some of her smell will latch onto my shirt.  

“Ok, I’ll make you a chocolate cake.” I say as I ease her into the passenger seat pulling the seat belt across her concave chest, buckling her in like I do with own my children.  She smiles, turns away from me and stares straight ahead through the bug splattered windshield.  I know she is moving away from me, letting go.  She knows I understand this.  And yet, come August, with some luck, I’ll make her a chocolate cake.

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Chocolate Cake Pan Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache Frosting

cake recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour’s Original Cake Pan Cake

whipped ganache recipe barely adapted from allrecipes.com

serves 8-10

Cake Ingredients:

1 + 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

3/4 cup vanilla sugar

1/4 unsweetened natural cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup milk ( I used 2%)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease an 8 inch square pan and set aside.  (You may also use a 9 inch round pan.)

Place dry ingredients in a medium size bowl and whisk together.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla extract, vinegar, oil and milk.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  Pour the  batter into your prepared pan.

Bake the cake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few moist crumbs.  Begin checking the cake around 22 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan sitting on a wire rack.

While the cake cools make the whipped chocolate ganache frosting.

Fluffy Whipped Ganache Ingredients:

9 ounces of semisweet  chocolate, chopped or use chips

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon dark rum

Directions:

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.  Heat the heavy cream in a sauce over medium heat until it just begins to boil.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes.  Add the rum and whisk until completely smooth and shiny.  Cool the ganache until thick.  (I let it sit on our counter at room temperature for a couple of hours.)  Once cool whip the ganache using a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment until very light and fluffy.  Spread evenly over cake.  Slice the cake and serve with a cold glass of milk.  Enjoy!  (Cake will last up to two days stored in air-tight container at room temperature.)

5 Lovely Cake Links for Mother’s Day

Treat your crazy mom to a crazy cake: strawberry pazzo cake with herbed creme fraiche. Pazzo means crazy in Italian which describes this cake well; balsamic vinegar drizzled over a sweet strawberry cake.  I’m intrigued!

Speaking of strawberries, check out my recipe for a cold oven strawberry pound cake mom is sure to love.  Or head to My Name Is Yeh for Molly’s cardamom vanilla cake with strawberry filling and cream cheese frosting.  I’m drooling.

Looking for a simple yet delicious cake recipe?  Head to Food 52 for their olive oil cake recipe.

Don’t feel like baking? Check out Baker’s Royale lemon ice box cake.  Yum!

Baked Strawberry French Toast with Oat Crumble Topping + 5 Can’t Miss French Toast links!

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“I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us…” Mary Oliver

I sat on the cold hardwood floor in my office furiously sifting through a box of photos as if my life depended on finding this one particular image taken so many years ago.

Photographs.

My husband’s  worry-free face 14 years ago [oh how I miss you!], my girl, maybe three? curled up so small sifting through wet sand, weddings, sunsets, Fenway, misty beach mornings, graduations, forced smiles and genuine ones, baby boy 1, big chocolate-brown eyes [ you haven’t changed yet…] baby boy 2 smooth cheeks, a big under-bite, almond blue eyes [ a compilation of many generations all present in your sweet, chubby face], drunken fun with best friends, worry, innocence, love, in love and love past, Christmas, Mama [happy?] surrounded by her 3 ducklings circa 1989, Dad in the old orange rocking chair, beer in hand, absent yet physically present, school pictures of my littles…I sink momentarily into these memories, my heart full, blessed, nostalgic and then I let them go and take a giant, slow breath.  I had stopped breathing.

I didn’t find the picture I was looking for, nor is it relevant I tell you about the photograph, or the people captured in it.  It is gone just like the moments captured thousands of hours ago, the photos now scattered on the creaky wooden floor in our tiny home office.  I sat and stared at the mess of memories, grateful for almost all of them. And yet.  I carelessly tossed them back into a nondescript, beige box because that is where they belong.

Hours later I wash the kitchen floor, scrubbing away at the faint paw prints, yogurt droplets and strawberry stains left marking the events of another day.  One pound of fresh strawberries gone, consumed by my hungry little monsters before dinner.  Another pound still in the refrigerator.  I’ll need to hide them.

I empty the bucket of dirty water into the sink.  A small spider, no bigger than my pinkie nail scurries to the lip of the sink and willingly crawls in, brave yet unaware of the possibilities.  The spider explores for a bit, his movements becoming more cautious each second.  I turn on the faucet, pull out the hose and aim it right at him.  The current sweeps him off his minuscule legs, pushing him towards the drain.  I turn off the faucet. He fights, finds his sea legs, tries to avoid the impossible.  With a half jealous smile, I turn on the water.  One final flush and he is gone.

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Baked Strawberry French Toast with Oat Crumble

Recipe adapted from NYT Cooking

Serves 12

Ingredients:

9 cups good quality French bread cut into 1 inch cubes (challah or brioche will also work)

Cooking spray or butter for baking dish

8 large eggs

2 cups whole milk

1/3 cup honey

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon ginger

½ teaspoon cloves

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound strawberries, cored and halved

Ingredients for topping:

½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup old fashion rolled oats

1/3 cup light brown sugar

2 teaspoons ginger

1 teaspoon cloves

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup or 1 stick cold unsalted butter cut into cubes

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450F.  Cut bread into 1 inch cubes and spread out on a baking sheet.  Toast the bread for about 12 minutes.  Cool and set aside.

Spray or generously butter a 9×13 baking dish.  Add bread cubes to baking dish.

Next make the custard.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, honey, vanilla, ginger, cloves and salt until smooth and well combined.  Pour custard over bread.  Toss with your hands until all the bread is wet.  Press down gently on the bread so it forms an even layer.  Spread strawberries over the top.  Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to 48 hours.  Overnight is best!

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Prepare oat crumble.  Grab a large bowl.  Add the flour, oats, brown sugar, ginger, cloves and salt and stir together.  Add the butter.  Work the butter into the flour mixture using your fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand and is crumbly.  (Topping can be made 48 hours in advance.  Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.)

Sprinkle topping over the strawberries/bread.  Bake until golden brown about 40-45 minutes.  Turn on the broiler for the last two minutes for crunchier crust.  Serve warm with real maple syrup.  Enjoy!

5 Can’t Miss French Toast Links!

Traditional French toast dipped a subtly sweet Panko breadcrumb mixture, fried to perfection and topped with lots of butter and syrup sounds like a bit of heaven to me. Head to Pioneer Woman for her crunchy French Toast recipe.

French toast in sandwich form? Yes it exists.  Head to Handmade Charlotte for Sarah Kieffer’s French toast sandwiches with peaches and mozzarella.

Lemon French toast topped with in season strawberries screams spring.  Head to Simply Delicious for the recipe.  Yum!

Want to wow your brunch guests?  Make Smitten Kitchen’s morning bread pudding with salted caramel.  This is on my must make immediately list.

If you a more of a savory than sweet person, head to Food 52 and check out their recipe for crispy salt and pepper French toast.

Pina Colada Cake + 5 Boozy Cake Links!

 

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Not bad, she thought, regarding her reflection in the full length mirror of a small hotel room she shared with her husband and three children.   The navy blue, white polka dot, full piece bathing suit fresh off the rack from Macy’s hugged her hips and small breasts, her smooth, pale Nordic skin almost pearlescent in the bright, Bahamian light.  As she turned to grab her ten dollar, drugstore sunglasses and scratchy hotel towel, she noticed her profile, pronounced in the warm light. She tenderly rubbed the soft space between her hip bones, a slight bulge, her body forever three months pregnant, abdominal muscles long gone; this space was once the home of her three children.

[Babies too large for her small frame and yet she willed herself to carry them.  And when they tore her apart, departing her body and entering the world, she felt nothing but relief.  Love would come…later.]

The family trip to the Grand Bahama was her idea.  He, her half present husband, the worst kind, acquiesced.  Anything to stop her nagging.  Anything to keep her questions at bay.  His soul’s sin would be revealed many years later.  An affair: yes.  But his real sin: insecurity.

[ A soul with a hole so cavernous no drink or woman could fill.]

So, when she found herself at the poolside bar, admiring the bartender’s dark brown eyes, golden skin, silvery hair and stainless white teeth, was she appalled by her desire for him?  No.  Like driving a car with a low tire, the air slowly, but surely escaping, something was amiss in her marriage.  This she she felt in her milky skin, her blue veins, her raging claret blood…her bones. 

She ordered a pina colada.  The bartender smiled, got to work.  She watched him: tan, capable hands adding ice, fresh pineapple, pineapple juice, coconut cream and rum to a blender; a bit of sweat twinkled on his brow and above his hairless lip in the mid-day sun.  

[Briefly, she thought of his lips on hers. This fantasy quickly dissipated when she noticed a gorgeous, buxom, blonde saddling up to the bar. She is who he wants.  Or, so she thought.]  

When he handed her the pina colda, complete now with a fresh pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry, he also gave her his number on a white cocktail napkin.  Ha!  Cheeks flush and gitty with surprise, she paid him.  After taking a long drink, she smiled, stood, turned and walked away. The cocktail napkin remained on the bar where he placed it, her sweating pina colada sitting directly on top of the scribbled numbers.  Nothing said, no door left ajar.  Condensation from glass would make the numbers bleed into each other.  And this memory of being seen again, fresh, would bleed into other memories of unexplored men handing her a drink.

She found her family sitting by the pool, her handsome husband with a beer in has hand chatting with their strawberry-haired, freckled faced boy.  His favorite, his only.  The girls, both husky, pretty tomboys, were huddled together on a chaise lounge, dripping pool water.  The older girl had found forty dollars in the hot-tub.  Such luck, she thought!  As the girl held the wet twenties overhead, victorious, her sister decided since they were a family who shared, they should share everything, including this serendipitous loot.  They laughed, not yet knowing, too much and not enough would be shared in the decades to come.

Pina Colada Cake

A moist cake studded with fresh pineapple and covered in a sweet rum glaze

recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

serves 8

Ingredients for cake:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces of coconut oil, at room temperature

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup cream of coconut (This is not coconut milk.  I found it in the Mexican food section of our local grocery store.) Shake well before measuring.

1/2 cup finely chopped pineapple, strained, juice reserved (from a can in juice not syrup)

Ingredients to brush over cake:

2 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice

Ingredients for glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon dark rum

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F.  Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line with a circle of parchment paper.  Lightly butter and flour parchment paper.  Tap  out excess flour.  Set aside.

Grab a medium bowl and whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat butter and coconut oil at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.  Add rum.  Next, add cream of coconut.  The batter will look curdled.  Don’t worry! It will come back together once you add the flour.

Add half of dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl with a spatula, before adding the other half.  Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in chopped pineapple.

The batter will be thick.  Spread it evenly into your prepared pan.  Bake until golden brown or when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, 35-40 minutes.  Cool in pan, on wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto the wire rack.  Remove parchment paper.

While the cake is still hot, brush it with reserved pineapple juice.

While cake is cooling, make glaze.  Grab a small bowl and add powdered sugar and salt.  Stir in milk and rum.  Stir until completely smooth.  Pour glaze into middle of cake and spread to the edges with an offset spatula or butter knife.  Serve immediately or refrigerate for 20 minutes until glaze is set.  Cake is best the day it is made.  Leftovers, stored in an air-tight container, at room temperature, will last for 2 days.  Enjoy!

5 Boozy Cake Links!

Still feel the winter chill in your neck of the woods? Warm yourself up with Food & Wine’s Maple-Bourbon Banana Pudding Cake.  I’m guessing it will hit the spot.

I love a good mojito.  Olive’s mojito cake is on my must make immediately list.  Yum!

Don’t wait until next St. Patty’s day to make Spoon Fork Bacon’s spicy chocolate stout cake with simple peanut butter frosting.  This combo sounds delicious!

Bubba loves a good margarita and never turns down a piece of cake.  I think it’s time to make him Pastry Affair’s boozy margarita cake.

My mom loves all things coconut so this Mother’s Day I may just make her Beth Cake’s triple coconut rum cake.  Coconut + rum equals a tropical vacation in a bite!

 

Angel Food Cake Delight + 5 Retro Cakes for Spring!

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I turned to Betty Crocker for inspiration this week.  Every so often I find myself leafing through my Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, the cookbook my grandmother gave me after Bubba and I married.  “You’ll need this, it has everything.” she promised.  At first glance, I judged the cookbook for its lack of “healthy” recipes, horrible food photography and sexist illustrations of family life.  I tucked it away in our bookcase with the plan of donating it.  Years passed, but Betty remained on our book shelf.  I couldn’t part with her.  This dated, meant for “home-makers” cookbook gave me a glimpse of a time before social media, mommy wars, barre and kale smoothies, quinoa and hemp seeds.  As much as the Mad Men era illustrations of mom in heels baking a cake with 2 kids underfoot and Dad in a suit sampling her hard work with a smug look on his face enraged me, I couldn’t help but notice the common ground across generations.  Women ministering to their loved ones by making delicious food.  Homemaker or not, food is love, it was then and it still is today.

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Angel Food Cake Delight     

Light and airy angel food cake filled with honey whipped cream and fresh berries        

Serves 10-12

Recipe barely adapted from Baking Illustrated and inspired by Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook

Ingredients for Angel Food Cake:

1 cup sifted cake flour

1 1/2 cups sifted sugar

12 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Directions for Cake:

Move an oven rack to the lower-middle position and pre-heat your oven to 325F.  Set aside an ungreased large tube pan with a removable bottom.  ( If you can’t remove the bottom, line it with parchment paper.)

Whisk together the flour and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a small bowl.  Place the other 3/4 cup of sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on low-speed until they break up and begin to froth.  Add the cream of tartar and salt.  Turn the speed up to medium and beat until the whites form soft mounds.   Beat in remaining 3/4 cup sugar, just 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar is added and the whites form soft peaks and are shiny.  Next add vanilla and lemon juice and beat until just combined.

Turn off the mixer and sift third of the flour/sugar mixture over the whites.  Using a rubber spatula, gently fold them in.  Sift the remaining flour/sugar mixture of the whites and gently fold.  Scrape the batter into your pan.  Smooth the top with a spatula.  Gently bang the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake until the cake is golden brown and the top springs back when you touch it with your finger, about 50-60 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven and invert it onto the prongs of the pan or use the neck of a glass bottle.  Allow the cake to cool for 2 to 3 hours before removing it from the pan.

Once cool, run a knife around the edges of the pan.  Slice the cake out the pan and carefully slice off the removable bottom.   Set the cake golden brown side up on a cake platter or stand.

Using a serrated knife cut 1 inch the top of the cake off.  Set aside.  Carefully cut down into the cake, leaving a 1 inch border from the middle hole and cake “wall” and 1 inch base.  Scope out the inside of the cake and set aside. (Keep the scraps for nibbling!)

Fill the hollowed area of the cake with your honey whipped cream/berry mixture.   Place cake top on and press gently.  Cover the rest of the cake with the remaining whipped cream.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to over-night.  The cake, refrigerated, will last up to 2 days, but I doubt you will have leftovers.  Enjoy!

Honey Whipped Cream  + Fresh Berry Mixture

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook

Ingredients:

3 cups heavy cream

5-6 tablespoons of honey  (light flavored)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries

1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced in quarters

Directions:

Start with a chilled bowl and beater.  Add cold heavy cream to the bowl and beat until the cream thickens.  Add honey and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream creates stiff peaks.  Be careful not to overbeat!   Remove less than half of the whipped cream and place in a small bowl.  (Set aside remaining whipped cream.)  Using a rubber spatula fold in the berries.  Use the berry mixture to fill the cake and use the remaining whip cream to cover the entire cake.

**You can make the whipped cream (without the berries) ahead of time.  Be sure to store it in an air-tight container in the fridge.  It will stay fresh for up to 10 hours.  Whisk for about 10 minutes before using and then proceed with the recipe.**

5 Retro Cake Links for Spring

Love upside down cakes? Try Sally’s Baking Addictions Pineapple Upside-Down Cake made from scratch!

For the coconut lovers in your life make Coconut Queen Party Cake with Marshmallow Frosting.  Head to Mid-Century Menu for the recipe.

I just discovered the Lady Baltimore Cake today and apparently it is Martha Stewart’s’ favorite.  Check it out here.

If you need a simple, old fashion cake make Betty’s Banana Layer Cake.  I love all things banana so this is going on my must make list.

My grandmother use to make this delightful and tasty chocolate cake roll all the time.  Thanks for reminding me Smitten Kitchen!