My baby celebrated her 13th birthday last week. I officially have two teenagers in my house!
She requested a yellow-themed celebration. Yellow is indeed her favorite color, but I think that it was also an excuse to have vanilla Oreos and goldfish crackers around to nibble on. 😉 Our decor included yellow mums, yellow balloons, yellow streamers, yellow tablecloths and place settings, and “yellowish” birthday cake popcorn. We also had a yellow cake with yellow (sunflower-themed) cream cheese frosting and pale yellow number cookies, our family birthday tradition. It was a solid theme!
The recipe for the yellow layer cake was adapted from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. I used the vanilla cream cheese frosting with Oreo filling from her 12th birthday cake. There was enough frosting for the layer cake and 12 cupcakes- perfect.
Yield: One 9-inch layer cake, generously frosted
For the Cake:
- 7 oz (1 3/4 cups) plain cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting pans
- 4 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 10 1/2 oz (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
- vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
- Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
- Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans and cover the pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust the cake pans with flour, tapping out the excess.
- Beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork in a 2-cup measuring cup with a spout. Measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat at the lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds.
- With the mixture still running at the lowest speed, add the butter, one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, about 30 to 40 seconds after all the butter is added.
- Add the reserved 1 cup egg mixture and mix at the lowest speed until incorporated, about 5 to 10 seconds.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
- Add the remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in a slow, steady stream, taking about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
- Beat at medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.
- Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans. (about 1 lb plus 2.5 oz per pan) Spread to the sides of the pans and smooth with an offset or rubber spatula.
- Bake until the cake tops are light gold and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 27 minutes. The cakes will mound slightly but will level when cooled.
- Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
- Run a knife around the pan perimeter to loosen. Invert one cake onto a large plate and reinvert onto another wire rack. Repeat for the other layer. Cool completely before frosting.
For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling & Sunflower Design:
- 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 15 mini-Oreos, crushed in a food processor, plus more for the center of the cake sunflower
- yellow and green gel food coloring
- Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
- If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
- Reserve 1/4 cup icing for the green leaves, set aside.
- Tint the remaining icing pale yellow with food coloring, mixing well.
- Remove 1 1/4 cup of icing for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
- Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling icing. Spread on one of the layers.
- Place the second layer on top.
- Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
- Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale yellow icing.
- Tint the remaining icing deeper “sunflower yellow.” Place in a pastry bag fitted with a leaf tip.
- Tint the leaf icing deep green. Place in a pastry bag fitted with a leaf tip and pipe onto 3 areas of the outside of the cake, or as desired.
- Then, starting at the outer edge of the cake, begin piping the dark yellow flower petals. Work in circles moving toward the center of the cake.
- When about 3 rows are complete, place a dollop of the dark yellow icing in the center and form the center of the flower with mini-Oreos. (It seemed easier to start by placing the first Oreo in the center.)
- Fill the gap between the last piped row of petals and the center by piping an additional row of petals.
- Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.
BTW- If you thought that was enough… we had another celebration that required another dessert- this time yellow cupcakes with yellow (also sunflower) frosting. We do love our celebrations and yellow cake over here!
Posted in Baking, Cake, Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Holiday, Recipes
Tags: birthday, cake, cream cheese, cream cheese frosting, cupcakes, dessert, flower, layer cake, oreo, Oreo filling, sunflower, vanilla, yellow
This pie is Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen’s updated Perfect Apple Pie to her “Even More Perfect Apple Pie.” I had to try it because the filling is loaded with an enormous amount of apples. Yum.
She introduced me to a new technique which I was very surprised to have never seen before or thought of myself! She covers the pie with a foil dome to prevent the crust from over-browning. Absolute genius.
This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen.com. The updated pie recipe modifies the baking temperature and cooking time, increases volume of apples (with a link on how to choose pie apples), decreases the thickness of the apple slices, omits the lemon juice and zest, and uses tapioca as the thickener.
The incredible mound of apple filling keeps the finished pie from becoming concave after baking. Beautiful and delicious.
Yield: Serves 8 to 12
For the Filling:
- 1/2 cup (95 grams) light or dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp coarse salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnnamon
- freshly grated nutmeg, to taste, or about 1/4 teaspoon ground
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 pounds baking apples (I used a combination of several types of apples)
- 3 T tapioca flour or starch (I used minute tapioca)
For the Crust:
- 2 1/2 cups (315 grams) flour
- 1 T (15 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 2 sticks (8 ounces, 225 grams tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold
- 1 egg, lightly beaten, optional
- coarse or raw sugar for sprinkling, optional
- vanilla ice cream, optional
Make the Filling:
- Combine sugars, salt, and spices in your absolutely largest bowl.
- Peel, halve, and core your apples and cut them into thin (scant 1/4-inch) slices, adding them right to the big bowl.
- Toss to coat the slices as much as possible. Set aside for 1 to 4 hours at room temperature.
Make the Crust:
- Gather your ingredients: Fill a one cup liquid measuring cup with water, and drop in a few ice cubes; set it aside.
- In a large, very wide bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.
- Dice two sticks (8 ounces or 1 cup) of very cold unsalted butter into 1/2-inch pieces. (If the butter becomes slightly warm, re-refrigerate until very cold.)
- Sprinkle the butter cubes over the flour and begin working them in with a pastry blender, using it to scoop and redistribute the mixture as needed so all parts are worked evenly.
- When all of the butter pieces are the size of tiny peas — this won’t take long — stop- even if it looks uneven.
- Start by drizzling 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the ice-cold water (but not the cubes, if there are any left!) over the butter and flour mixture. Using a rubber or silicon spatula, gather the dough together.
- Add an additional 1/4 cup (60 ml) of cold water to bring it together, one tablespoon as a time. Once you’re pulling large clumps with the spatula, take it out and use your hands to gather the damp clumps together into one mound, kneading them gently together.
- Divide the dough in half, and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. I like to use the sides to pull in the dough and shape it into a disk.
- Let the dough chill in the fridge for one hour, but preferably at least two, before rolling it out. (I make my dough a day in advance.)
- Once the dough is chilled and ready to go, roll out the first half on a well-floured counter into a 14-inch circle and transfer it to 9-inch standard (not deep-dish) pie plate.
- With scissors or kitchen shears, trim overhang to one inch all around. Refrigerate dish and dough until needed.
- For a regular pie lid, roll out the second dough half into the same sized circle, transfer it to a large parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. For a lattice or woven pie lid, you can use the same sized circle, or you can just roll it into a rectangle at least 14″ in one direction, and then as long or wide you can get it in the other. Transfer it to a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill this as well until needed. (I made a 10-piece lattice top.)
Do ahead: Dough will keep in the refrigerator for about a week, and in the freezer longer. If not using it that day, wrap it in additional layers of plastic wrap to protect it from fridge/freezer smells. To defrost your dough, move it to the fridge for one day before using it.
To Make the Pie:
- Heat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
- Stir tapioca starch into the apple pie filling.
- Pour filling into prepared bottom crust and use your hands to pack and heap those softened apples as mounded as you can get them, then add a few more.
- Pour any juices that have accumulated carefully over apples; do not leave any behind.
- Either place your second pie dough round over the filling or cut it into strips to lattice the top.
- Trim the top crust or lattice strips to the edge of the pie dish. Fold the overhang from the lower crust over to form a thick rim, and crimp it together with your fingers or a fork to seal it.
- Brush top crust with egg, then sprinkle with sugar if desired. If your top crust is in one piece, cut a few vents in it with a sharp knife.
- Place a sheet of parchment paper on the large baking sheet for easier cleanup, then transfer your prepared pie onto it.
- Bake for 75 minutes, turning once or twice for even color. If your pie is browning too fast, take a large square of foil, mold it over the back of a large bowl into a convex dome, then use that to cover the pie in the oven for the remaining baking time so it doesn’t brown much further. The pie is done when juices are bubbling visibly through the vents or lattice, or when the internal temperature reads 195°F. A tester inserted into the pie shouldn’t hit any overtly crunchy apple pieces. (I added an additional 10 minutes to the baking time t achieve the 195°F internal temperature.)
To Serve: Cool pie for at least one hour at room temperature before cutting into it. However, your filling will not fully thicken until it has fully cooled, ideally in the fridge for a couple hours. You can rewarm slices as you serve them, if desired. Leftovers keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days, and in the fridge for 1 week. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
Posted in Baking, Fruit Desserts, Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Holiday, Recipes, Thanksgiving
Tags: apple pie, apples, butter, cinnamon, cloves, dessert, Fuji, ginger, Granny Smith, honey crisp, nutmeg, pie crust, raw sugar, Smitten Kitchen, snapdragon, Thanksgiving, turbinado sugar
Happy Halloween! Halloween is my daughter’s favorite holiday. It’s just fun to dress up… and candy is involved. 🙂
She had two friends over for a Halloween themed “dinner party” a couple of weeks ago. I made these moist and delicious cupcakes for dessert. I was very pleased when she announced that they were the best cupcakes she’s ever had! ❤
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. It is part of a list named BA’s Best, a collection of essential recipes. I halved the cupcake recipe and doubled the frosting ratio.
We decorated them with candy eyes and sprinkles to make them festive for the occasion. They decorated caramel apples in the same fashion. Fun and tasty.
Yield: 12 frosted cupcakes
For the Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups plus 2 1/2 T cake flour, sifted
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2 T pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 T vegetable oil
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1/2 T vanilla extract
- Arrange rack in the center of the oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection. (If doubling the recipe, arrange the racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.)
- Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Add butter, buttermilk, and oil and beat on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl, until smooth.
- Whisk egg yolks, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Add egg mixture to flour mixture in 2 additions, beating well between additions.
- Continue to beat on medium speed until mixture is homogenous and very thick, about 2 minutes.
- Using a scoop, divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling two-thirds full (a level ⅓ cup batter per cupcake).
- Bake 5 minutes in the preheated 400° oven, then reduce oven temperature to 350°.
- Continue baking, rotating pans halfway through, until cupcakes have domed and spring back when touched in the center, 14 (on convection for 12 cupcakes) or up to 20-25 minutes in a standard oven.
- Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
Note: If doubling the cupcake recipe, use 7 egg yolks plus 1 large egg.
Do Ahead: Cupcakes can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature (unfrosted) or in the refrigerator (frosted).
For the Creamy Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pinch of kosher salt
2 cups powdered sugar
1 T vanilla extract
- Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat cream cheese, butter, and salt in a large bowl until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until incorporated, then increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Scrape down sides of bowl, then beat in vanilla.
- Pipe the frosting on cupcakes.
Note: The frosting recipe can be halved if it’s going to be spread instead of piped onto the cupcakes.
Posted in Baking, Cupcakes, Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Holiday, Recipes
Tags: birthday, buttermilk, cake flour, cream cheese, cream cheese frosting, cupcakes, dessert, halloween, vanilla, yellow cupcakes
To say that this wonderful summer cake was moist would be the understatement. 😉 What a fabulous use for zucchini! Everyone has an extra zucchini and ultra-ripe bananas this time of year too.
This recipe was adapted from Nancy-c.com. I incorporated light brown sugar and whole wheat pastry flour and decreased the nutmeg. I also added salt and vanilla to the frosting. This cake was even better the next day. Fabulous.
Yield: one 9×13 cake, about 12 to 16 servings
For the Cake:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 large or extra-large egg
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 medium)
- 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium)
- Preheat oven to 350˚F, preferably on convection.
- Grease a 9 x 13″ pan, line with parchment paper, grease again. (I used cooking oil spray.) Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.
- Add in egg and vanilla, then stir in mashed bananas and blend everything well.
- In medium bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together.
- Add flour mixture to butter-sugar-banana mixture. Blend until combined.
- Fold in zucchini and mix until incorporated.
- Pour batter into prepared 9 x 13″ pan and bake at 350˚F for 25 minutes, or until edges brown and pull from sides.
- Let bars cool completely, then frost with cream cheese frosting (recipe below).
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened at room temperature
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- pinch coarse salt
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or medium bowl, blend softened cream cheese and softened butter.
- Mix in salt and vanilla until well combined.
- Add in powdered sugar a cup at a time, blending well after each addition, scraping down the sides, as needed.
- Spread evenly over completely cooled bars, then cut and serve.
Note: If serving later, keep in refrigerator until ready to serve. Refrigerate any leftover cake.
Posted in Cake, Cupcakes, Good Sweets, Good Eats (Desserts), Recipes
Tags: banana, cake, cream cheese frosting, dessert, easy, nutmeg, sheet cake, snack, snack cake, summer, whole wheat, whole wheat pastry flour, zucchini