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.

Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches + 5 Ice Cream Sandwich Links

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Summer is holding on in New England despite the days inevitably growing shorter.  I’m grateful for the warm breeze and sunshine.  It will all change soon enough.  Tomorrow marks the first day of fall.  Fall feels like a time of reflection.  I am not quite ready to reflect on all the year, so far, has brought my way.  I have trouble letting go. For just a bit longer I will savor summer and eat an ice cream sandwich or two.   I hope you enjoy these as much as I did.  More stories and recipes to come soon.

Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches

Cookie recipe adapted from Baker’s Royale

Vanilla ice cream recipe adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Ingredients for ice cream:

1 cup whole milk

A good pinch of salt

¾ cup of sugar

3 teaspoons of vanilla

2 cups heavy cream

5 large egg yolks

Directions:

First, pour the cream into a metal bowl set inside a larger bowl filled with ice water.  Set aside.

Using a medium saucepan, heat the milk, salt, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved and just comes to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Using a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.  Slowly pour a little of the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly.  Add the egg yolks to the saucepan with the remaining milk.  Cook the custard over low heat, stirring and scraping the bottom of the saucepan with a heat-proof spatula until the custard thickens.  The custard is ready when it covers the back of a spoon or spatula.

Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the custard into the heavy cream.  Stir until cool to the touch.  Next, stir in the vanilla extract.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Churn the custard according to your ice cream manufacturer’s instructions.  Store in an air-tight container in your freezer.  This recipe makes 1 quart.  Enjoy!

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Makes 2 dozen

Recipe adapted from Baker’s Royale

Ingredients for cookies:

2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon + 1 tablespoon of cinnamon for sugar/cinnamon mixture

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ginger

1 ¾ cups sugar, divided

½ cup of vegetable shortening

1 stick + 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.  Grab two baking sheets and cover with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Using a medium bowl whisk together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.  Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, shortening, and 1 + ½ cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice.  Add the eggs, one at a time until thoroughly combined.  Next, add the vanilla.  Reduce the speed to low and add dry ingredients.  Add the milk and mix until just combined.

Mix together 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and ¼ of sugar in a small bowl.

Using a cookie scoop, make round cookies balls.  Roll the dough in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until well coated and place on a prepared baking sheet.  Space the cookies two inches apart.  Place the baking sheet in the fridge.  Allow the cookies to chill for 20 minutes before baking.

Bake cookies until lightly golden brown, about 8-10 minutes.  Cool on pan for two minutes then remove and place on a wire rack to cool completely.  Store cookies in an air-tight container at room temperature until ready to make the ice cream sandwiches.

Ice cream sandwich assembly

Working quickly, add a rounded scoop of vanilla ice cream to one cookie.  Place another cookie on top.  Push down on the cookie top gently and evenly until the ice cream is evenly distributed.  Wrap in plastic wrap, place in a freezer bag, and freeze for 4 to 6 hours.  Create an assembly line to make this process go faster!  Enjoy!

5 Must Check Out Ice Cream Sandwich Links

The cherry season may be over but don’t let that stop you from making Brown Butter Blondie’s dark cherry ice cream sandwiches.  I love the combination of fruit and chocolate, especially in ice cream.  Yum!

Samoas are by far my favorite girl scout cookie.  In high school I could easily eat an entire box on my own then truly wonder why I had a bellyache.  Broma Baker’s recipe for samoas ice cream sandwich cookies makes me want to make myself sick all over again.  Check them out!

Coffee ice cream fans head to Zoe Bakes for her no-churn coffee ice cream sandwiches.  They look like the perfect treat to whip up this weekend!

Rum raisin ice cream reminds me of my grandmother.  She loved it.  Head to The Candid Appetite for an oatmeal rum raisin ice cream sandwich that is sure to turn any non-believer into a believer.

It is officially fall and time to embrace all things pumpkin and gingerbread.  Head to Canelle et Vanille for a pumpkin and gingerbread ice cream sandwich recipe that is sure to satisfy your pumpkin craving.