My daughter and I made these mini cakes as a birthday surprise for her friend. ❤ Sprinkles=Birthday over here. Using red, white, and blue sprinkles would make these cakes a fun and patriotic Fourth of July treat.
The recipe was adapted from thebittersideofsweet.com. They can be served for breakfast or dessert! 🙂
Yield: 4 mini cakes
For the Mini Bundt Cakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used whole milk Greek yogurt)
1 tablespoon milk (I used whole milk)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles
For the Glaze:
1/2 cup Confectioners’ sugar
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons milk (I used 1 1/2 T whole milk)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
gel food coloring, optional
Preheat the oven to 325° F, preferably on convection. (My pan has a dark, non-stick interior finish. Set the oven to 350° F if using a pan with a light interior finish.)
Spray 4 wells of a mini bundt cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking power, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Set aside.
In medium bowl, whisk together milk, yogurt, and eggs. Stir in melted butter and vanilla and whisk until combined.
Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Slowly stir until just combined.
Fold in sprinkles. Avoid over stirring.
Using a cookie scoop, distribute the batter into the 4 prepared wells of a mini bundt pan.
Bake for 17 minutes in a convection oven, or for 20-25 minutes in a standard oven, or until edges are golden. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
Remove from oven, leave cakes to cool in pan for 5 minutes.
Remove cakes from pan and allow to completely cool on wire rack.
Once cool, make the glaze. In a medium bowl add milk, Confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla. Whisk until smooth. Tint with food coloring, if desired.
My entire family looks forward to my husband’s birthday feast. It typically involves a lot of comfort food like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. 🙂 We always have his favorite Vanilla Bean Cheesecake as our celebratory dessert.
When my food blog friend Jess@Cooking is My Sport posted Cornmeal Sage Chicken Biscuits, I knew that my husband would absolutely love them. My first thought was to serve them on Valentine’s Day but then I realized that they would be perfect for his birthday dinner. Jess is an amazing cook and baker but most of all I must say that she is a complete master of biscuits. I learned many new techniques from her post in order to make biscuits thick enough to create a sandwich. Flaky and amazing! I also loved that she incorporated cornmeal in both the biscuits and the seasoned flour that is used to coat the fried chicken. This recipe also made all of us fans of Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute.
I served these fried chicken biscuits with classic macaroni and cheese and green salad dressed with Icebox Buttermilk Dressing. The chicken biscuit recipe was adapted from CookingisMySport.com. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs, modified the proportions, cut the biscuits into squares, and omitted the topping. My daughter declared it was the best birthday feast ever. 🙂
Yield: Serves 12 to 14
For the Cornmeal & Sage Biscuits:
Yield: approximately 14 2-inch biscuits
5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp coarse salt
2 T baking powder
2 tsp ground sage
1 T savory spice mix (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 to 2 cups buttermilk, plus more if necessary
For the Fried Chicken Thighs:
Yield: about 16 to 18 pieces
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 heaping tsp savory spice mix (I used Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute)
2 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cups buttermilk
8 to 9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds), trimmed, halved crosswise, patted dry
8 cups vegetable oil
hot sauce, for serving, optional (we used Chipotle Cholula)
bread and butter pickles, for serving, optional
To Make the Cornmeal & Sage Biscuits:
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, coarse salt, baking powder, sugar, ground sage and the seasoning mix.
Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients; stir with a fork.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients; add the sour cream. Using a fork, incorporated it into the dry ingredients until it forms thick clumps.
Make another well in the center of the dry ingredients; add the buttermilk. Use a large fork and a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add the additional buttermilk, just until it forms a shaggy dough. (I added 1 3/4 cups of buttermilk.)
Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board, or a clean, smooth countertop with flour. (I used a silpat baking mat.)
Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the biscuits to be tough.)
Use a bench scraper (or a large sharp knife) to divide the dough in half. Roughly shape each half into a square.
Stack one of the halves on top of the other and use a rolling pin to roll it together into one mass. Repeat this process 4-5 more times before patting it into one final rectangle. (This is a process of layering so that the biscuits will bake flaky.) (I formed a 9×7-inch rectangle, about 2-inches thick.)
Tightly wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Preheat oven to 425°. (I set my oven to convection.) Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour and unwrap the biscuit dough out onto it.
Using a bench scraper (or very sharp knife), trim the edges of the rectangle. (I trimmed it to form a 6×8-inch rectangle.)
Using a biscuit cutter or a knife, cut the dough into rounds or squares about 2″ each. You can recut the leftover dough into new biscuits, just try not to handle it too much. (I cut my dough into 12 2-inch squares and reformed the trimmed edges into 2 additional 2-inch squares.)
Place the cut biscuits on the parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheet, placing them close to each other (it will help them rise higher).
Place the tray into the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Spray the top of the biscuits with cooking spray.
Bake until golden brown, 15 to 22 minutes, covering them with foil if they brown too quickly. (I baked mine for 22 minutes total, covering them with foil after 20 minutes.)
To Make the Fried Chicken Thighs:
Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper, foil, or plastic wrap on the bottom; place a wire rack on top.
Line a second rimmed baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels; place a wire rack on top.
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cayenne, spice mix, salt, and black pepper in a bowl.
Pour buttermilk into a separate bowl.
Working with one piece at a time, toss chicken in flour mixture, dip in buttermilk, then toss again in flour mixture. Transfer to the wire rack over the wax paper/foil/plastic wrap-lined baking sheet to allow batter to set, about 2-3 minutes.
Repeat dipping process until all of the chicken is double-coated.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees. (I used a large stainless steel Dutch oven fitted with a thermometer. I found it much easier to control the temperature of the oil in this pot versus using a cast iron skillet as I have in the past.)
Working in batches of no more than 3 or 4 pieces at a time, use tongs to place the chicken in the hot oil. Using a slotted spoon, turn it occasionally and cook until each piece is golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side. (I tried to cook pieces similar in size at the same time.)
Using a slotted spoon or clean tongs, remove chicken to the wire rack over the paper towel-lined sheet pan. At this point, use an instant read thermometer to confirm that the chicken is cooked, having an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
To assemble: Split a biscuit in half (it will have a natural breaking point) and assemble the sandwich with chicken topped with pickles, as desired. Serve with hot sauce to pass at the table, as desired.
Much to my husband’s displeasure, another birthday tradition is to document the many seasonal feathered visitors who arrive to celebrate with us. Like clockwork, the night heron arrived on his birthday morning while I was making pancakes. 🙂
My daughter and I made these cheerful cupcakes together. She is obsessed with sprinkles! 🙂 She wanted to give them to her friends as a little surprise. We put one in each of their mailboxes with a note. ❤
The cupcake recipe is from The Magnolia Bakery Handbook- A Complete Guide for the Home Baker: Baking Made Easy with 150 Foolproof Recipes & Techniques by Bobbie Lloyd. The recipe is adapted from their recipe for “Everyone’s Favorite Vanilla Cake.”
The vanilla frosting recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, via Martha Stewart.com. We used fine sea salt and weighed the ingredients when possible for both the cake and frosting. They were moist and tasty- Fun too!
For the Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes:
Yield: 24 cupcakes
3 cups (345g/12.2oz) cake flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 cup (240g/8.5oz) whole milk (I used 1%)
1/2 cup (115g/4oz) sour cream
1 cup (2 sticks/226g/8oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup (300g/10.6oz) granulated sugar
1 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup (130g/4.6oz) confetti sprinkles, plus more for decoration, if desired (We used rainbow sprinkles)
For the Fluffy Vanilla Frosting:
Yield: frosting for 24 cupcakes (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
confetti or rainbow sprinkles, for decoration, optional
To Make the Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes:
Preheat the oven to 325F. (I set my oven to convection.) Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and sour cream until no lumps remain. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the paddle and the sides and bottom of the bowl.
With the mixer on medium speed, slowly add the egg whites, a little at a time, beating until incorporated before adding more. Once the egg whites have been incorporated, stop the mixer and scrape down the paddle and the sides and bottom of the bowl.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix for about 15 seconds, just until incorporated.
Scrape down the paddle and the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the sprinkles and mix for 20 to 30 seconds, until smooth and combined.
Using a scoop or a 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, evenly ration the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until the tops spring back when touched and a cake tester inserted into the centers comes out clean.
Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack.
To Make the Fluffy Vanilla Frosting & To Decorate the Cupcakes:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium-high. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.
Add salt and vanilla; beat until frosting is smooth. The frosting can be tinted with food coloring, if desired.
To decorate, fill a piping bag with desired tip and pipe onto cupcakes. Top with additional sprinkles, if desired.
Note: If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.
These soft sugar cookie bars were one of the most popular recipes this week on The New York Times’ website. They described them as “worth the hype” and, with their cheerful frosting and sprinkles, as “happiness in a 9-by-13 pan.” 🙂
This recipe was adapted from American Girl Cookies, via The New York Times, contributed by Margaux Laskey. I baked the dough in a rimmed sheet pan and used Meyer lemon juice in the frosting. I love bar desserts! They would be a crowd-pleaser served for Valentine’s Day, a birthday, or just as a special treat.
Yield: 20 cookies
For the Cookie Base:
1cup/225 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
2 3/4cups/350 grams all-purpose flour
1/2teaspoon fine sea salt
1(8 ounce/225 gram) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2cups/300 grams granulated sugar
2teaspoons vanilla extract
lemon zest, optional (or Meyer lemon zest)
For the Frosting:
6tablespoons/85 grams unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
2cups/245 grams confectioners’ sugar
1tablespoon milk or heavy cream, plus more as needed (I used whole milk)
1teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed (I used Meyer lemon juice)
1teaspoon vanilla extract, plus more as needed
1/8 to 1/4teaspoon fine sea salt
a drop or two of gel food coloring, optional
assorted sprinkles, for decorating, optional
To Make the Cookie Base:
Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
Lightly butter (or coat with cooking oil spray) a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or rimmed sheet pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, running it up the two long sides of the pan and letting it extend past the rim by about 2 inches.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until well blended, about 1 minute.
Add the granulated sugar and beat until smooth, about 1 minute.
Add the egg, vanilla, and lemon zest, if using, and beat on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing on low speed just until blended, about 1 minute.
Using a spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared baking pan. Using damp fingers or a greased offset spatula, spread the dough into an even layer.
Bake just until the edges are starting to turn light golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle has moist crumbs, 20 to 25 minutes. (Do not overbake! The bars should be quite moist, and almost slightly underbaked in the middle.)
Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Let cool completely. When fully cooled, remove the bars from the pan using the overhanging parchment paper.
To Make the Frosting:
Place the 6 tablespoons of softened butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
Add 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, beating on low speed until fully combined, then repeat with remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar.
Add the 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, the vanilla, salt and food coloring, if using, and beat on medium speed until the frosting is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides halfway through, about 4 minutes. Add more milk if needed to thin out the mixture. Add lemon juice and vanilla to taste.
Using a spatula, spread the frosting on top, then decorate with sprinkles, if using. Cut into 20 bars and serve.
Note: I stored the leftover cookies in the refrigerator and we actually preferred them chilled.
This maple variation of the “All-Occasion Downy Yellow Butter Cake” from the famed Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum may quite possibly be the best cake I’ve ever made. My son chose it to celebrate his 16th birthday. 🙂 His favorite flavor profile usually incorporates vanilla and/or cream soda so this maple cake was a definitely a good choice.
I adapted the recipe to bake the cake in 8-inch cake pans. I also used fine sea salt and substituted vanilla extract for maple extract. It was very moist and rich. Fabulous.
Yield: One 8-inch layer cake, about 12 to 14 servings
For the Cake: (all ingredients at room temperature)
6 large egg yolks (3.5 fl oz/4 oz/112 g)
1 liquid cup (8.5 oz/242 g) milk (I used 2% milk)
2 1/4 tsp (9 g) pure vanilla extract (can substitute 3/4 tsp vanilla extract + 1 tsp maple extract)
300 g (3 cups/10.5 oz) cake flour, sifted
300 g (2 cups/10.5 oz) maple sugar, sifted (from Whole Foods)
19.5 g (1 T + 1 tsp) baking powder
5 g (3/4 tsp) fine sea salt
12 T (6 oz/170 g) unsalted butter, softened
Butter two 8-inch (2-in deep) cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper. Dust bottom and sides with flour, tap out excess. Set aside. (The layers can alternatively be baked in 9-inch cake pans that are 1 1/2-in deep.)
Position an oven rack in the center position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
In a medium bowl, lightly combine the yolks, 1/4 cup of the milk, and vanilla. (I used a 2 cup measuring cup.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low-speed for 30 seconds to blend.
Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low-speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides.
Gradually add the egg-milk mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides.
Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans. (I weigh them to distribute the batter evenly.) The pans should be about 1/2 full.
Bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. (I baked mine for 27 minutes.) *The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes.
Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up. Let cool completely before frosting or storing.
Note: The unfrosted layers can be wrapped tightly and stored for 2 days at room temperature, 5 days refrigerated, and 2 months frozen. The frosted cake should be stored in the refrigerator.
For the Neoclassic Maple-Vanilla Buttercream: (all ingredients at room temperature)
Yield: 4 cups, enough to fill and frost two 8-inch layers
6 large egg yolks (3.5 fl oz/4 oz/112 g)
150 g (3/4 cup/5.25 oz) granulated sugar
164 g (1/2 liquid cup/5.75 oz) pure maple syrup
1 pound (4 sticks/2 cups/454 g) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoons
2 tsp pure vanilla extract or maple extract
Grease a 1-cup heatproof measuring cup. Set aside.
Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. (I used a stainless steel bowl.) Using a hand mixer, beat the egg yolks until light in color.
Combine the sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a full rolling boil. (The entire surface will be covered with large bubbles- see note.) Immediately transfer the syrup to the prepared glass measuring cup to stop the cooking.
Using a hand mixer, beat the syrup into the egg yolks in a steady stream. Don’t allow the syrup to fall on the beaters. Use a rubber scraper to remove any syrup remaining in the measuring cup.
Continue beating until the mixture is completely cool.
Gradually beat in the butter. (I incorporated 1 stick at a time.)
Beat in the vanilla extract.
Use immediately, or store in an airtight bowl in the refrigerator. (If stored, bring to room temperature before using.)
Note: The syrup must come to a rolling boil or the finished buttercream will be too thin.
One of the few things that my daughter loves as much as her birthday is the beach. That being said, she naturally chose a “wave” theme for her celebratory 14th birthday cake this year. 🙂
The cake recipe was adapted from Kathleen’s Bake Shop Cookbook: The Best Recipes from Southampton’s Favorite Bakery for Homestyle Cookies, Cakes, Pies, Muffins, and Breads by Kathleen King. The vanilla cream cheese frosting recipe was adapted from various sources. It was incredibly moist and absolutely delicious.
Similar to my husband, my daughter requests a similar birthday dinner annually, calzones. 🙂 This year we started the day with pumpkin doughnut muffins instead of crumb cake though! Her traditional birthday number cookies were orange inspired by monarch butterflies- another love.
For the Yellow Cake:
Yield: Makes one 9-inch 2-layer cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (245g/8.6 oz) sour cream
vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper and grease the parchment. Dust with flour and shake out the excess.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Beat in vanilla.
Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, ending with the dry ingredients.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff.
Fold egg whites into cake batter, and pour into the prepared pans. (I weigh the pans to evenly distribute the batter.)
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove pans to a wire rack. Cool 10 minutes before removing cake from pans; finish cooling on a rack (parchment paper side down).
For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
7 vanilla Oreos, crushed in a food processor, plus more for the decorative “sand”
blue 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.
Meanwhile, place one of the cake layers on a serving platter or cake stand.
Remove 1 1/4 cup of frosting for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling icing. Spread over the top of the first layer of cake.
Place the second layer, inverted, on top.
Tint the remaining frosting pale blue with food coloring, mixing well.
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 blue frosting. (I used a relatively thin coat.) Reserve 1/4 cup of the pale blue frosting if needed for touchups.
Tint the remaining frosting deeper “ocean blue.” Place in a pastry bag fitted with an open star piping tip.
Then, starting at the bottom of the cake, pipe “waves” of varying sizes. Fill in beneath the upper border.
Pipe “waves” of varying sizes on the top of the cake. Fill in beneath the upper border.
Crush additional vanilla Oreos in a food processor. Sprinkle in the center of the cake and around the outer edge of the serving platter for the decorative “sand.”
Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.
Inspired by my husband’s (seemingly) week long birthday celebration, my daughter had a few requests for her “week” of birthday meals. 🙂
The first meal included her favorite penne alla vodka with blondies for dessert. We had plans to incorporate Oreos into her birthday cake, so it seemed natural to make Oreo blondies!
This recipe was adapted from Delish.com via TogetherasaFamily.com. I used mini Oreos and added a little bit more to sprinkle over the top prior to baking. They had the perfect balance of a crispy top and soft center.
Yield: 16 to 20 blondies
2 cups plus 2 tablespoonsall-purpose flour
1/2teaspoon coarse salt
1/2teaspoon baking soda
1cupbutter,melted & slightly cooled
1 1/2cups light brown sugar
1tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cupschopped Oreo cookies, divided (I used mini Oreos, cut in half)