Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cake + 5 Must Read 2020 Baking Books

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Starlings in Winter by Mary Oliver

Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.

 

Anne looked for Tess in the everyday.  At first, it was the strong breeze at Tess’ funeral on an otherwise calm day.  How beautiful the cherry blossoms rained on them.  The grievers, the grief-stricken, the heart-broken, the lost.  Cherry blossoms floating, flying through the air, landing on their jackets, settling in their hair.

Are you the tenacious breeze Tess?  You made yourself known again.  It was a beautiful display of your all-encompassing presence. Bursts of lightning and hail at Red Rocks while Grace and Anne watched the Avett Brothers sing holding out hope the storm would pass.  And then it did pass.  You pushed out the weather and revealed the stars.  We sang and danced.

Months later an enormous dragonfly landed on Anne’s mailbox, her tiny head facing the house as if ignoring the world. She refused to leave.  Anne poked at it. Nothing but a slight movement in the wing.

What’s wrong with it, Mama? 

I’m not sure.  How do you explain a living thing desiring to stay when it knows it would be best to leave?  You don’t.  Some things are unexplainable.

Fall came and so did the dead bird.  The bird lay on the stone steps outside of Anne’s house, wings to the ground, its underbelly exposed to the sky, bright white, her tail feathers ombre shades of pale blue.  A single leaf-covered her head as if she were part of a crime scene.  Anne stared at it for a few seconds before the kids came out of the house, backpacks in hand ready to go to school.

Mama, what happened?

Gross!

Can we have a funeral for it? 

Not now.  Get in the car. We are late.  

Later that day they did have a funeral for the bird.  Not really.  The kids lost interest and just wanted Anne to get rid of it.  Except for her older son.  He handed Anne the shovel after a failed attempt at digging a hole into the semi-frozen ground.  Anne forced the shovel through the frosted ground, raising the handle above her head and coming down as hard as she could breaking through the ground.  Over and over again.  Anne’s heart pumped hard.  She could feel it.  Tears welled but never spilled over.  Anne gently placed the bird in the ground and covered her with the earth.

I’m glad we planted her there, Mama.  He walked into the house and closed the door.  If only we could plant the things we love and loose and eventually they come back in the spring blooming once again.

The last visitor was a ladybug.  She landed on Anne’s hand at some point without Anne noticing.  It wasn’t until Anne lifted the toilet brush out of the now clean toilet that Anne spotted her.  How strange.  Anne walked down the creaky old stairs.  The ladybug was still sitting on her hand.  She opened the front door and blew as if blowing out birthday candles.  She flew away.

Did you make a wish?

I forgot.

Anne didn’t forget.  She wished for peace.  Not world peace.  That won’t happen.  But peace in her crippled heart.  Peace in the heart she felt beating, once again, after a long silence, when she buried the bird.

 

Chocolate Orange Olive Oil Cake

Serves 8

Recipe adapted from Simple Cakes by Odette Williams

Ingredients:

1 + ½ cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1 tablespoon of baking powder

½ teaspoon of kosher salt

½ teaspoon espresso powder

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 + 1/3 cups of sugar

¾ cup of mild extra virgin olive oil

½ cup of whole milk

½ cup of buttermilk

¼ cup of freshly squeezed orange juice

1 tablespoon of orange zest

Ingredients for glaze:

2 cups confectioners’ sugar,

1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons of boiling water,

½ teaspoon of vanilla

Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Butter, flour, and line with parchment paper 1 8×3 inch cake pan.  Set aside.

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

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed until very pale, about 3-5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Next, add the oil, buttermilk, milk, orange juice, zest.  Beat on low speed until frothy, about 1 minute.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake until the cake springs back when touched or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove cake from pan and allow to cool completely.  While the cake is cooling, make the vanilla glaze.

 

Directions for the glaze:

Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium-size bowl.  Add the softened butter.  Pour boiling water over butter.  Whisk until the butter melts and the sugar and water come together to make a glaze.  Add vanilla and a pinch of salt.

Assembly:

Pour the glaze over the cooled cake, spreading gently with an offset spatula if necessary.  Decorate with sanding sugar or sprinkles if desired.  The cake can be stored at room temperature in an air-tight container until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

5 Baking Books to Check Out in 2020

Midwest Made by Shauna Sever is on all the lists right now.  Her recipes come straight from the heart of America.  You can get your copy here.

Weeknight Baking by Michelle Lopez, the author of the blog Hummingbird High, is a must-read for any home baker with easy and delicious recipes, as well as, suggestions for riffs to make it your own.

Looking to try something new this year or up your pastry skills?  Check out Pastry School by Le Cordon Bleu.  This baking book is a step by step baking guide for beginners, as well as, professionals.  Check it out!

Joanne Chang is by far one of my favorite bakers.  Her latest book Pastry Love is on my must-purchase list.

New to baking?  Buy a copy of Beginner’s Baking Bible by Heather Perine you will become an expert in no time…or at least more capable in the world of butter, flour, and sugar.

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Buttermilk Birthday Cake + 5 Unique Birthday Cake Links

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Wilson May didn’t care much for birthdays.  And yet he acquiesced, celebrating with family, [family he didn’t care much to see], at the request of his pushy daughter, year after year, cake after cake.

Why the hell does my daughter need to mark every goddamn birthday? He thought while his phone vibrated in his pocket.  It was her.  [Who else would it be?]  Calling to remind him about his birthday celebration later in the day.

As if Wilson needed a reminder that yet another year had passed.

He silenced the vibrating phone in his pocket [God damn phone.] just as the nurse he dreaded seeing pushed open the door to the long, stark hallway he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to walk down.

Wilson May?  Wilson May?  the nurse said, her squirrel like eyes darting around the waiting room.  [Did her nose wiggle too? Is she sniffing me out?]

Wilson removed his cheap, cockeyed reading glasses placing them in the 3 button placket of his pink polo shirt, adjusted his now wrinkled pants and debated leaving.  In 20 minutes he could be home.  Alone.  A beer in hand and sitting in the sun on a large wooden deck only one rocking chair occupied, where he’d have more time to think about what was next for his tottery body, his tired soul. [If the pain dissipated? Golf everyday. Gone entirely? Travel, fucking, drinking.  Wilson as he imagined himself 25 years ago.]

And yet, Wilson’s inner thoughts never matched his outer life.  For the past sixty-six years he had lived and loved two very different lives.  The life the outside world saw, a life well-lived [to others], consisted of obligations, dependability…sometimes love varied immensely from the impractical, reckless and solitary life Wilson imagined daily.

[At times becoming so engrossed in the romanticized version of his life, Wilson was unreachable. Lost to his castle in the air, his black coffee growing cold in his large, hairy hands, the local paper left unread.  His now ex-wife called them staring spells.  Wilson knew better.]

Wilson May…Wilson…?  He sensed a bit of hostility in the squirrel nurse.  He had aggravated her now and in turn she would likely be less gentle with him.  Tit for tat, like so many relationships he once knew.

Squirrel nurse surveyed the room one last time before giving up on Wilson.  The beige door gradually closed behind her, as if allowing chance to take over.

Wilson stared straight ahead, unmoving.  No decisions would be made today.

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Strawberry Buttermilk Birthday Cake

Cake and frosting recipe adapted from Sweetapolita

Italian pastry cream recipe adapted from An Italian in My Kitchen

makes 1, 3 layer, 8-inch round cake

Serves 10-12

Ingredients for cake:

4 eggs at room temperature

2 egg yolks at room temperature

1 + 1/4 cups buttermilk, well shaken

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

3 cups cake flour, sifted

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup or 2 sticks, unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

Ingredients for strawberry compote:

2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced

1/4 cup sugar (a bit more if strawberries are not sweet)

1 tablespoon orange juice

pinch of kosher salt

Ingredients for Italian pastry cream:

1 cup + 1/2 cup whole milk

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier

2 + 1/2 tablespoons flour

Ingredients for whipped vanilla frosting:

1/4 cup whole milk

3 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

good pinch of kosher salt

few drops of food coloring if desired

Directions for cake:

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Grab 3, 8 inch round cake pans and butter the bottoms and sides of each pan.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper and dust with flour.  Tap out an excess flour.  Set aside

Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, 1/4 cup of buttermilk and vanilla in a large measuring cup or small bowl.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Reduce the speed to low and add the cold, cubed butter, one piece at a time, leaving a few second in between each addition.  Continue to mix on low until butter  is well blended and looks like wet sand or cornmeal.

Next add the remaining buttermilk (1 cup) and mix on medium speed for about 4-5 minutes.  Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to make sure everything is well incorporated.  On low-speed, slowly add the egg mixture.  Increase speed to medium and beat for about 1 minute.  Stop the mixer and fold the batter once or twice.

Divide the batter evenly among the three pans.  Bake two of the pans until the cake is golden and springs back gently when  touched in the middle or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a couple of crumbs, about 25-28 minutes.  Cool cakes on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan to cool completely.   Next, bake the last pan for 25-28 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling completely.

Directions for strawberry compote:

Combine 1 cup of strawberries, sugar, orange juice, vanilla and salt in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often until the berries start to break down, about 10 minutes.

Lower the heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  The compote is ready when it covers  the back of a spoon.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Using a handheld masher,  mash the strawberries until juicy.  Add remaining fresh strawberries.  Store in an air-tight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

**The compote can be made up to 3 days ahead of time!**

Directions for Italian pastry cream:

Heat milk in medium sauce pan over low heat.  Do not boil.  Remove from heat.  Using another sauce pan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until combined.  Next add the vanilla and flour.  Slowly pour in warm milk and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 10 minutes.  Cool slightly and stir in the Grand Marnier.  Pour into glass bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

**Pastry cream can be made several days in advance.  Store in air-tight container with plastic wrap covering the surface of the cream and refrigerate.**

Directions for whipped vanilla frosting

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until very pale and creamy, about 8 minutes.  Add sifted confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt and milk.  Mix on low-speed for about a minute.  Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5-6 minutes.  Add food coloring, if desired.  Frosting will be very light and creamy.

Assembly Time!!!

Place first cake layer on cake stand, face up.  Using a pastry bag, filled with the Italian pastry cream, pipe a two-inch circle around the perimeter of the cake layer.  This will keep the compote from leaking out.  Add a few spoonfuls of the strawberry compote to the center of the cake layer.  Spread the compote just to the pastry cream.  Add your next cake layer, pressing gently in place.  Again, pipe a two inch circle around the perimeter of the cake layer.  Add the remaining strawberry compote to the center of the cake layer.  Spread the compote just to the pastry cream.  Next, add the final cake layer, pressing gently into place.  Cover the entire cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Once the cake is chilled add the whipped vanilla frosting  to the entire cake, decorating however you wish.   Flowers, sprinkles anything goes!  Serve at room temperature.  Enjoy!

**Cake can be made 2 days in advance.  Be sure to keep it refrigerated.**   

5 Unique Birthday Cake Links

Looking for a special gluten-free cake for the chocolate lover in your life?  Head to the Tartelette blog for Helene’s flourless chocolate cake with salted butter caramel sauce.

Take advantage of fresh summer berries and make Camille Styles’ summer berry ice cream cake.

My husband loves chocolate chip cookies so I may need to make him Pastry Affair’s cookie dough cake for his next birthday.  Check it out!

Key lime pie in birthday cake form?  Yes it exists.  Head to Bakerella for the recipe.

My birthday was last week.  I’m thinking I’ll take some me time and celebrate a new year alone with a fork and this angel food cake.

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!

Cold Oven Strawberry Pound Cake + 5 Can’t Miss Pound Cake Links

 

This cake tastes like love Mama!  I think I know what you mean sweet girl, although its been awhile since I tasted love.  Lucky you.  Your first taste, something you will chase and I’m pretty sure find again.

I remember the first time I tasted love.  A hot dog encased in a buttery, toasted bun.  Papa made it for me.  [Do you remember him?  It’s OK.  You were so small, months from your fourth birthday.  You sat next to him on his hospital bed, old westerns playing on TV, though no one was watching. So brave of you!  He didn’t look like himself: pale, listless. Blue, really.  His hands looked like wax; incoherent with morphine.  I’m glad you don’t remember.]

Just shy of 8, on a humid summer day I spent the morning swimming in my grandparent’s pool, like most summer mornings many decades ago; only slightly tired after hours of play, but always famished.

[Can you picture me love?  Full of energy?  Playful?  Try. We are, we will be, more similar than you hope.]

I walked into the kitchen, a towel clumsily wrapped around me, a puddle of water forming around my feet.  Papa stood at the counter, khaki pants, navy t-shirt, sweat puddling above his giant, caterpillar eyebrows.  Eating, barely chewing a hot dog and taking long swigs of a cold Budweiser in between each colossal bite.  He smelled like gas and grass clippings.  [Some days I smell both.  Inhale deeply.  Think of him and feel nothing but gratitude.  A familiar smell may do the same to you someday.  Enjoy it, be thankful for it.]

Hungry? How about a hot dog Kel-bel?” [I wore hunger in my eyes just like you.]  I settled at their small, wooden kitchen table, still in my bathing suit and watched as he got to work. He placed a large dollop of butter into an old, greasy Teflon frying pan.  While the butter melted, he made 3 small slices in the hot dog and grabbed a bun.  Carefully he placed both in the pan while the butter crackled and danced around them.

[The smell of butter still comforting to me.  What will comfort you, goose?]

Minutes later the hot dog was ready, plated and decorated with a long, squiggly strip of ketchup.  I devoured it.  As I drank a glass of cold milk, I heard the the sizzle and sputter of butter in the frying pan, the smell of another hot dog frying to golden perfection.  Smart man.

[That’s the thing with love my one and only girl; once you taste it, you have a hankering for it.  Feast on it. Chase it. And, if you are very lucky, you will find love many times over.]

Cold-Oven Strawberry Pound Cake

A moist pound cake baked with fresh strawberry puree and topped with a slightly sweet strawberry icing

recipe adapted from Food 52 Baking

Serves 10-12

Ingredients:

1 cup or 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened and cubed

1/2 solid shortening

3 cups of sugar

5 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup  low-fat milk

3 cups of unbleached, all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 cup fresh, pureed strawberries

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Butter (really butter) and flour your Bundt pan and set aside.

Measure out your flour and add a teaspoon of salt.  Whisk to combine and set aside.

Hull and slice strawberries and puree in a blender.  You will need about 1 cup of pureed strawberries.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat the butter, shortening and sugar on medium speed until light in color and fluffy.  Add the eggs and beat until well combined.  Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and then continue beating for another minute.

Add the vanilla to the cup of milk and then pour about 1/3 of the milk into the sugar mix.  Next, add a cup of flour and beat until just incorporated.  Repeat the process two more times: milk then the flour, beating until just combined each time.  Pour half of the batter into your prepared pan.  Pour 2/3 cup of pureed strawberries over the batter and swirl gently with a butter knife.  Add the remaining batter and smooth the top with a spatula.  Place Bundt pan in cold oven.  Turn the oven on to 300F and bake for 45 minutes.  Increase the temperature to 325F and bake for an additional 45-50 minutes.  The cake is ready when it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place pan on a wire rack and allow to cool for about 20 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge and invert it onto a serving plate.

Using a small bowl add 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons of the remaining strawberry puree.  Stir until smooth.  If the icing is too thick, add a little more of the puree until you achieve the consistency you desire.  Drizzle over the cake.  Serve as is or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

**The cake will last stored in an air-tight container, at room temperature, for several days.**

 5 Can’t Miss Pound Cake Links!

Cherry season is here so why not throw some into a buttery marzipan covered pound cake? Check out 1 Big Bite’s cherry and marzipan pound cake recipe.

Looking for a low-fat pound cake recipe? Bakers Royale has a recipe for you.

Summer berries are abundant now and perfect in a pound cake.  Head to Orangette for a raspberry-blueberry pound cake that sounds divine!

Dark Chocolate Chunk Coconut Key Lime Pound Cake.  Yes it exists.  Head to Baker by Nature for the recipe.

Lottie + Doof’s  salted caramel pound cake is on my must make list.  I’m drooling.

 

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!

 

Grapefruit Crinkle Cookies + Strawberry Summer Cake

“I give you this to take with you: Nothing remains as it was. If you know this, you can begin again, with pure joy in the uprooting.” Judith Minty, Letters to My Daughters

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We spent the weekend packing. It is odd how quickly a home can change when everything that defined the house is placed in a box. Suddenly, something so familiar and comforting becomes stark and cold. You see the house with different eyes. You separate yourself from it because you know it is easier to let go of it and what it meant to you than to carry it with you. Once all the stuff is packed you realize it is just that: stuff, replaceable crap. It is not so much the walls you will miss but the life, the moments, that place in time you cannot get back. It is accepting that “nothing remains as it was.”

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Though not planned, it seems fitting that our best friends, the couple that introduced us to this house and this town 6 years ago came over for our last dinner with friends. I was newly pregnant with Charlotte when they mentioned the condo above them was for sale. Bubba and I took a look and 3 months later we left Boston for the burbs. We spent 5 years living in the same multi-family above two of our favorite people. It was like living with family who respected boundaries. It was built in social time for new parents who were a little shocked by how much a baby had changed everything.   Babies were born, jobs changed, friends and family married and divorced, a loved one passed, kids grew and we aged too. It sounds corny but the passage of time is so dam beautiful and heart-breaking all at the same time.

Surrounded by boxes and bubble wrap we spent our last Saturday night at the table chatting, laughing and drinking beer. It is what we do best when we are together.  I made 2 desserts; desserts that are perfect to share with friends.

Grapefruit Crinkle Cookies

Adapted from White on Rice Couple’s Meyer Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup packed light brown  sugar

1/2 cup sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 Tablespoon of Grapefruit zest

2 Tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice

1/4 cup  confectioners sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda for a minute and set aside.

Zest the grapefruit so you have 1 Tablespoon of zest. In a small bowl add grapefruit zest to the 1/2 cup of sugar and blend together with your fingers.  This will make the sugar very fragrant and you will end up with a tastier cookie.

In a mixer, with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and grapefruit sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract, egg and grapefruit juice until well combined.  After two or three minutes scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for several minutes to make sure everything is well incorporated.

Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to get all of the flour mixed into the dough.

Sift the confectioners sugar on a large plate. Make the dough into 1 inch sized balls. (A small cookie scoop works great here.) Roll the balls in the confectioners sugar then place a couple of inches apart on the lined cookie sheets.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies just begin to turn golden and the tops of the cookies no longer look wet. Remove the cookies from the oven and allow to cool for about five minutes before transferring to a wire rack.

Strawberry Summer Cake

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for 9 or 10 spring-form pan

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of oat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

7/8 cup of granulated sugar (1 cup of sugar minus two tablespoons)

1 large egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound  strawberries, hulled and halved

2 Tablespoons Turbinado Sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9 or 10 inch springform pan. ( A nine or ten inch deep dish pie pan will also work. A standard pie plate will not work here because the batter will overflow.)

Whisk  flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.  In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and 7/8 cup of sugar until pale and fluffy with about 3 minutes. Beat in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Slowly, add dry mixture mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. You may need to overlap them to get all of them on the batter. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of turbinado sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes at 350°F then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown or until a tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Wet strawberries on the tester are ok.) Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into wedges and serve with whipped cream.

Cake can be stored, loosely covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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