Tag Archives: cake

Easy Lemon Cheesecake with Blackberry and Ginger Spiced Topping

Easy blackberry cheesecake

There are few desserts as rich and delicious as cheesecake.  Personally, I prefer cookies, but Piyush–who swears he does not like sweets!–is definitely a “cheesecake man.”

In fact, he likes it so much that it’s all he wanted for Christmas.  No presents, just cheesecake.  Heck, that’s easy enough!

I first made this particular cheesecake during the last season of Master Chef.  There was a pressure test where the contestants had to bake a cheesecake in an hour.  I was stunned!  At that point I had never actually baked a homemade cheesecake before, but I knew it had to take longer than an hour!  Continue reading

The Easiest Chocolate Cake Ever (and it’s Vegan)

I have a “thing” for chocolate. I love everything about it.  It’s smell, it’s taste and–most especially (at the risk of sounding like some sort of chocolate obsessed crazy lady who is in clear need of psychological assistance)–it’s ability to “pick me up” when I’m feeling down.

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Dressed up with Dark Chocolate Ganache, Rasberries and Pistachios

The only thing I might love more than chocolate is cake; and if it’s a chocolate cake, then I can promise you that I’m a happy lady!

This cake is magic, and will definitely lift anyone’s mood.  The recipe is fool proof, and the cake comes together quickly and without much effort.  It is also a vegan!  That’s right, there are no eggs or butter–and yet the cake is still deliciously decadent!  Who would have thought?! Continue reading

Brooke's wedding cake!  (Thank you Brooke, for supplying me a picture!)

Cake-tastrophe Averted! “Building” a Wedding Cake

Oops...

Have you ever had such high hopes for something, that you don’t even consider the end result will be anything except for everything you ever imagined?   It happens to me a lot.  Especially when I’m decorating cakes.  I get these fabulous ideas, grandiose even, but sometimes when I start working on them…the ideas just don’t materialize.  It’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing or that I don’t have the skills or technique, but sometimes things just don’t work out.  …At least the way I want them to.

The above cake, for example, came out all busted up when I turned it out of the pan.  I greased the pan with butter, put parchment paper on the bottom and even greased that too.  It didn’t matter.  There was nothing, short of insane amounts of frosting, that would save this cake.  Luckily, the recipe had made enough batter that I had plenty left over for 2 more 6″ cakes…and this small crisis was really no crisis at all.  Instead, I had leftover cake scraps to share with my family and co-workers.  Everyone was happy.

It made me laugh, actually.  Earlier in the day I had been watching an old episode of “The French Chef.”  Julia was making sugar syrup and caramel.  I can’t remember the exact details now, but I do remember she made a mistake.  Instead of freaking out and throwing everything into the garbage she simply looked into the camera and said,

“If you’re not ready to fail, you’re not ready to cook.”

She went on to share tips on how to turn your failures into something that you had not necessarily intended, but were proud of anyway.  This way your guests would have no idea that your failure was not your intention…does that make sense?

Anyway…back to the cake.  This cake was a mini-wedding cake for one of my co-workers.  She wanted a pumpkin cake (recipe) with cinnamon brown sugar buttercream.  The only thing I was told was that it should be simple and incorporate trees and nature.  That left a lot of room for my mind to wander and it was getting a little overwhelming.  I had so many ideas…but no idea if they were the right ones!

I thought about doing pulled sugar leaves…that didn’t work out (pulled sugar is NOT easy!!!  Instead we ended up with giant leaf lollipops).  Then I thought about making gumpaste leaves and flowers, but I wasn’t really feelin’ it.  So the other day when one of my other co-workers stopped by my house to get some Chinese Lanterns to use in the flower arrangements, I asked her if she had any ideas (see her website here).  I told her I wanted to do some sort of a tree topper but wasn’t sure what direction to go in.  We brainstormed a little bit and walked around my yard collecting branches and twigs.  Since she was doing all the flowers for the wedding she said she’d make a topper to go along with all her arrangements.  It turned out incredible!  The wedding is tomorrow and its taking place in a really awesome stone barn that is about 100 years old.  It’s decorated with a fall theme, using all sorts of things found in nature during this time of year.  When I delivered the cake today I just couldn’t get over how beautiful it was!

The cake went together rather quickly and I had no other issues (tutorial coming soon!).  I was glad, mostly because I didn’t have a lot of time to do this cake and was trying to fit it in.  I was only asked about a week ago but I really wanted her to have a beautiful cake…so I made it all work :).

Piyush helped me deliver the cake today.  I was really nervous about it because the whole cake is buttercream…and buttercream is temperamental.  It also is very easy to completely wreck the decoration of the cake.  One harsh turn or one quick stop…the cake could be damaged beyond easy repair.  The place we were taking the cake to was about 30 miles away, with curvy roads,  so it was kind of a scary ride.   We made it though!  I didn’t even have to touch anything up!  I packed it in a box with towels around the cake stand to keep it from moving, and then I prayed.  Oh man…did I pray!

I tucked extra frosting and tools in the bottom of the box too.

And here, my friends, is the finished product (there will be some additional flowers tucked in around the base of the cake topper and probably around the cake as well):

How awesome are those stone walls behind the cake?!

Edited to add:

Here is the final cake, I just thought I’d share!

Brooke's wedding cake! (Thank you Brooke, for supplying me a picture!)

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What a Beautiful Baking Day!

I love this crisp weather. It’s absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, the crispness in the air also means that snow will be here sooner than later. That makes me sad. But the snow isn’t here yet, so I’m going to do my best to enjoy autumn as long as I can! I love everything about autumn. I love pumpkins, colored leaves, apples and baking! Man, do I love baking. During the summer I still bake, but I never feel completely inspired.  I just don’t feel like turning on the oven inside when it feels like an oven outside.  Yuck.  But now that the days are in the high 60’s and low 70’s, and since I had to work all weekend long, I thought I’d bake my co-workers a Brown Butter Pumpkin Cake.

This cake is really moist and has a really good flavor.  Some would say it was because of the pumpkin—who doesn’t love pumpkin?—but I would disagree.  I think it’s the browned butter, baby!

To make brown butter you just take regular butter and drop it into a skillet (I prefer my cast iron for this) until it foams up and turns a golden color.

The butter will eventually melt entirely and the foam will subside quite a lot.  Brown butter isn’t just for baking though.  Have you ever made scallops and finished them with a butter bomb?  I recommend it!  Sear them nicely then toss in some butter with a couple sprigs of thyme stuck in it.  Finish the scallops by “poaching” them in the butter.  I don’t know if poaching is the right word, maybe basting would be better?  Anyway, they are delicious!

Back to the cake! This recipe is a keeper, but the only thing I would do differently is to bake it in multiple pans, maybe 2 or 3.  I just used one 9″ x 3″ cake pan and it takes forever to bake this way!  It will bake all the way through but I noticed my layers were a little more “doughy” than I’d like.  Some people love “doughy” though, so do what you want!

I decorated the cake really quickly using a Cinnamon Brown Sugar Buttercream.  This stuff is delish.  I don’t really have a recipe for this but I think I had seen it somewhere.  I just don’t remember!  I just make a regular buttercream, adding some brown sugar and cinnamon.  You have to cream the butter with the sugar though or else the frosting will be really grainy.

Before I left for work I cut a slice off to keep at home for Piyush.  The night before he had been begging me to cut into the cake (before it was even frosted).  He said the house smelled so good he just wanted to eat it!  I told him no, so then he asked me if he could eat the cake scraps?  I told him I didn’t level the cake so there were no cake scraps.  I wish I took a picture of his reaction.  He was so disappointed and tried to talk me into not taking the cake to work and leaving it for him.  For someone that insists he does not like sweets, he sure doesn’t like to share them!

I ate one bite of the cake, the pointy end of Piyush’s triangle piece, and it was indeed amazing.  I sliced the rest of the cake and took it to work.  It was gone in 5 minutes.  I’m not even joking.

Pumpkin Brown Butter Cake

(adapted from Fine Cooking)

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
  • 9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk

Directions:

  • Make the brown butter (see how earlier in the post) and set aside.
  • Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cloves in one bowl.
  • Combine the two sugars and add in the eggs.  Cream together.  Add in the buttermilk and whisk it until its all combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and start mixing.  Slowly drizzle in the brown butter until everything is combined nicely.
  • Pour batter into greased pans that have the bottom lined with parchment paper (this makes it a million times easier to get the cake to slide out of the pan).
  • Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven.  I had to bake mine for over an hour but that was because I poured all the batter into one 9″ x 3″ pan.  Use a couple shallower pans and you should only have to bake it for around 45 minutes.
  • Cool the cake and then frost it with whatever you choose!

I’ve got all sorts of frosting left over…so be prepared to see some pumpkin spiced macrons.  I think those sound amazing!