French Strawberry Cake

A friend shared this wonderful recipe with me knowing that I go strawberry picking every June. I couldn’t wait for my fresh picked berries to make it though. 😉 It was such a crowd pleaser, I will have to make it again with my special berries! It’s a summertime version of French Apple Cake. We ate it for dessert but it would also be fabulous as a coffee cake.

This recipe was adapted from Foodtastic Mom, via The View from the Great Island. I used 3 large eggs instead of jumbo eggs and modified the baking time. The recipe suggests baking the cake in a springform pan or a cast iron skillet. Next time, I’ll have to try the skillet version. Amazing!

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  1. Set oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly spray a 9 or 10 inch springform pan with cooking oil spray. (Alternatively, a 10-inch cast iron skillet can be used.)
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.
  4. Cream the soft butter with 1 cup of granulated sugar in a stand mixer for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl a couple of times.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the vanilla.
  6. Stir the sour cream and buttermilk together, and then add the flour to the mixing bowl alternately with the wet, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until combined, but be careful not to overmix.
  7. Fold in the berries and turn into the prepared pan. Smooth out the top. Sprinkle the surface of the cake liberally with the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the cake no longer jiggles in the center and the top is golden and slightly crackled. This cake is meant to be custardy in the center. The exact cooking time will depend on the pan size you use. You can insert a toothpick in the center to test. (I baked mine for 38 minutes in a 9-inch springform pan.)
  9. Let cool briefly, and then unlatch the spring and remove the outer ring. I like to run a spreading knife along the edge first to loosen any parts of the cake that are sticking to the pan. If using a skillet, serve the cake right out of the pan.
  10. Cool completely on a rack before slicing.

Notes:

  • This version uses half sour cream and half buttermilk, but you can use all sour cream, all buttermilk, half and half, full fat yogurt, or full fat milk for this cake.
  • Other berries or fruit can be substituted for the strawberries.

One Year Ago: Berry Breeze and Blueberry Muffin Tops with Streusel Topping

Two Years Ago: Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins with Orange Streusel

Three Years Ago: Dori Sanders’ Blueberry Cornmeal Muffins

Four Years Ago: Alton Brown’s Berry Muffins

Five Years Ago: Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones

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Easter Carrot Cake

This is the best carrot cake I’ve ever had in my life. My entire family felt the same way. I’ll never be able to try another version.

When my friend gave me this special cookbook, she mentioned that the carrot cake recipe was wonderful and that it incorporated crushed pineapple. I can’t believe I waited so long to make it! The author notes that this is their most popular cake- and that its sales in the bakery double every year. It really was unbelievably delicious.

This 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, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop. I roasted the walnuts, reduced the baking time, and lined the cake pans with parchment paper.

Yield: One 9-inch, 2-layer cake

For the Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups grated carrots (from 5 to 6 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1 cup crushed and drained pineapple
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Roast the walnuts until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, grease paper and dust pans with flour.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  6. In another large bowl, mix sugar and oil.
  7. Beat in eggs with an electric mixer. (I used a hand held mixer.)
  8. Stir in carrots, roasted nuts, and pineapple.
  9. Stir in the flour mixture.
  10. Pour into prepared pans. (I use a scale to ensure that the pans hold an equal amount of batter.)
  11. Bake for 35 minutes on convection, or up to 45 minutes in a standard oven, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Remove pans to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pans.
  13. Let the cakes cool completely before icing.

For the Cream-Cheese Icing and To Finish the Cake:

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
  2. Add vanilla and mix.
  3. Beat in the sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  4. Spread the icing between the 9-inch layers and over the top and sides of the cake.
  5. Chill before serving. (I made the cake a day in advance.)

Note: This cake is very moist and keeps for at least a week in the refrigerator; it also freezes perfectly unfrosted.

One Year Ago: French Apple Cake

Two Years Ago: Carrot-Cake Thumbprint Cookies

Three Years Ago: Outrageous Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Four Years Ago: Jacques Pepin’s Plum Galette and Raspberry Custard Tart

Five Years Ago: Carrot Cupcakes and Cheesecake Brownies

Sticky Banana Toffee Pudding

Happy Mardi Gras! I am making our traditional King Cake today, but I thought that this dessert could also be an appropriate celebratory option. It reminded me of a New Orleans bread pudding with some of the flavors of Bananas Foster, another famous New Orleans dessert.

The recipe was part of a Food and Wine magazine article, contributed by Laura Rege, titled “Ugly Delicious!” The author makes the point that a lot of delicious food isn’t Instagram drool-worthy. I didn’t really think that this dessert was that ugly, but it was delicious! 🙂

Yield: Serves 9

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided, plus more for greasing
 (I used cooking oil spray for greasing)
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 6 ounces pitted dates, chopped (1 cup)
 (I used Medjool dates)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 3/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 medium-size overripe bananas, mashed (1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • unsweetened whipped cream, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350°, preferably on convection. Grease a 9-inch square metal cake pan with butter or cooking oil spray.
  2. In a small heatproof bowl, pour the boiling water over the dates; stir in the baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat 1/4 cup of the butter with 3/4 cup of the brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  6. At low-speed, beat in the flour mixture until just combined.
  7. Add the date mixture and bananas, and beat at low-speed until just combined.
  8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, the remaining 1/4 cup of butter, and the remaining 1 cup of brown sugar. Bring to a gentle boil over moderate heat, and cook until slightly thickened and deep golden, about 3 minutes. Keep warm.
  10. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Using a skewer or toothpick, poke holes all over the cake.
  11. Pour half of the warm sauce over the cake, and let stand until absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  12. Serve warm with the remaining sauce and the whipped cream.

One Year Ago: Pear & Cranberry Pie

Two Years Ago: My Mother-in-Law’s Napoleon Torte

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

11th Birthday Rainbow Sprinkle “Fluffy” the Unicorn Cake

We try to be as fair as possible in our house…

So, while I’m sharing birthday treats, I am going to have to share my daughter’s 11th birthday cake too. Her birthday was in November! (I’m very behind on my posts…)

The bright side of having my daughter turn 11-years old was that she was mature enough to choose going to a Broadway show over having a birthday party. 🙂 We saw Aladdin!

The down side of having my daughter turn 11-years old was that she was mature enough to browse Pinterest for birthday cake ideas. 😉

Her Pinterest search resulted in another Universal Studios inspired birthday dessert. (We actually celebrated her birthday before having my son’s Harry Potter World Butterbeer Cupcakes, so maybe she actually inspired his dessert choice!) It was a very unicorn-themed day, complete with unicorn pajamas, unicorn slippers, and many horn “accessories” for other animals. 🙂

I used the Rainbow Sprinkle Cake recipe that we enjoyed last year on her birthday to create a “Fluffy” the Unicorn cake. It just makes sense that a unicorn cake involve rainbows in some way. For those of you who don’t know, this unicorn is from the Despicable Me and Minions movies. I doubled the recipe to make 2 1-pound loaves of cake for the head and body. I also made 4 cupcakes for the legs using the same batter.

The eyes, ears, and tongue were made using dough from my batch of unicorn and “11” Number Cookies. The horn was made with molded rice krispie treats. I also used rice krispie treats to support the position of the head. Rainbow candy was used for the mane and tail- this was a subtle but fun deviation from the actual unicorn from the movies. Pretty cute! 🙂

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup/220 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), slightly softened, more for pans
  • 3 cups/380 grams all-purpose flour, more for pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 1/3 cups/316 ml whole milk
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups/400 grams sugar
  • 2 whole eggs plus 4 egg whites
  • 2/3 cup rainbow sprinkles (not pastel, or naturally colored)

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 24 ounces cream cheese, slightly softened
  • 1 1/2 cups/330 grams unsalted butter (3 sticks), slightly softened
  • scant 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, more to taste
  • 9 cups/900 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Decorations:

  • sugar cookie eyes, ears, and tongue
  • rice krispie treats (store-bought or homemade)
  • gold sprinkles
  • “air head” rainbow candy
  • red gel food coloring
  • chocolate chips

  1. Make the cake: Heat oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, and place a rack in the center.
  2. Butter and line the bottoms of two 1-pound loaf pans with parchment paper. Butter the parchment. Flour the pans, coating the bottom and sides, then tap out any excess flour. Coat 4 muffin pan wells with cooking oil spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together milk and vanilla.
  5. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add egg and whites and beat until smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  7. Add half the flour mixture, then the milk mixture, then the remaining flour mixture, beating to blend after each addition.
  8. Scrape down bowl and blend once more.
  9. Remove bowl and use a spatula or spoon to fold in sprinkles by hand.
  10. Fill the 4 prepared muffin pan wells about 2/3 full. Bake until the a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 16 minutes.
  11. Divide remaining batter evenly between the pans (approximately 1190 g per pan), and bake until the tops are just dry to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through baking.
  12. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let cool completely, at least 2 to 4 hours, before turning out.
  13. Make the frosting: In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese, butter and salt together at medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 minutes.
  14. Reduce speed to low and, with mixer running, slowly add sugar and beat until smooth.
  15. Beat in vanilla just until incorporated.
  16. Taste frosting; you should be able to taste the cream cheese and a little bit of saltiness, as well as the sweetness. If desired, add more salt or sugar. Keep refrigerated.
  17. Turn cooled cakes out of pans.
  18. Slice loaves in half and spread icing between the layers.
  19. Place cakes on a platter positioned as a head and body. (I made a support ramp with rice krispie treats.)
  20. Using an offset spatula, frost the top surface as a crumb coat.
  21. Form the horn with one rice krispie treat, ice and cover with gold sprinkles. (I microwaved the rice krispie treat for 10 seconds to make it easier to mold. I also coated my hands with cooking spray!)
  22. Refrigerate until firm.
  23. Using a pastry bag and a star tip, place remaining frosting all over the cake.
  24. Color remaining frosting pink and ice the cupcake legs/feet. Top the cupcakes with sugar cookie and place on the cake.
  25. Decorate with cookie eyes, ears, and tongue.
  26. Pipe the pink decorative stripe on the snout.
  27. Using melted chocolate, pipe the nostrils.
  28. Using a star pastry tip, fill in the “fluffy” fur with the frosting over the head and body.
  29. Use either remaining pink frosting or rainbow candy, form the mane and tail.
  30. Refrigerate cake 30 minutes or longer to set. Serve cool.

One Year Ago: Rainbow Sprinkle Cake & a Festive “Candy Shop” Themed Birthday Party

Two Years Ago: Pig Party!

Three Years Ago: Birthday Red Velvet “Owl” Cupcakes

Four Years Ago: The Best Birthday Cupcakes  &  Apple Layer Cake with Maple-Cream Cheese Frosting

Five Years Ago: Birthday Cake Gallery

Snickerdoodle Crumb Bars

I am drawn to cinnamon-sugary desserts in the fall. Especially if streusel is involved. 🙂 I wanted to bake this snickerdoodle-coffee cake hybrid dessert the second I saw the recipe. I was not disappointed! These cookie bars are not only delicious, they are versatile as well. They could be served for a special breakfast, snack, or dessert.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. We ate them for dessert. They were extra-fabulous served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For the Streusel:

  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 stick cold unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), cut into pieces

For the Topping:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For the Bars:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for dish
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

  1. Make the Streusel: Whisk together flour, brown sugar, and salt. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, cut in butter until small to medium clumps form. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Make the Topping: Stir together cinnamon and granulated sugar; set aside.
  3. Make the Bars: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking dish and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides. Butter parchment. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  4. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, both sugars, and eggs. Add flour mixture; stir to combine.
  6. Spread half of batter into bottom of dish.
  7. Sprinkle with half of cinnamon sugar.
  8. Dollop remaining batter on top; spread evenly with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
  9. Sprinkle evenly with streusel, then remaining cinnamon sugar.
  10. Bake until a tester inserted in middle comes out clean, 25 to 28 minutes in a convection oven, or 30 to 35 minutes in a standard oven.
  11. Let cool completely. (In order to keep the layers intact, the cake must be completely cool before cutting it into bars.)
  12. Transfer to a cutting board using parchment overhang and cut into bars to serve, or store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

One Year Ago:

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Five Years Ago:

Easy Baked Cake Doughnuts

We seem to have less and less time to enjoy special breakfasts in my house. 😦 Overscheduled and overbooked, I’m afraid… Thankfully, we’ve made time to enjoy these baked doughnuts on a few occasions. Eating cake for breakfast makes up for less frequent indulgences!

This recipe was adapted from King Arthur Flour. My pans made smaller doughnuts, so I adapted the cooking time. I made the vanilla glazed and powdered sugar-coated versions but included recipes for cinnamon-sugar coated, as well as for chocolate and apple cider glazes. I won’t stop until I’ve tried them all. 🙂 Such a treat!

Yield: 20 doughnuts

For the Doughnuts:

  • 4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 T vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 11. 25 oz (319 g or 2 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1 percent)
  • cinnamon-sugar, Confectioners’ sugar, or assorted glazes
  • sprinkles, toasted coconut, or chopped nuts, for topping, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F, preferably on convection. Lightly grease two doughnut pans with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl or stand mixer, beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth.
  3. Add the eggs, beating to combine.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
  6. Spoon the batter into the lightly greased doughnut pans, filling the wells to about 1/4″ shy of the rim. (I filled each well with 2 small cookie scoops of batter.)
  7. Bake the doughnuts for 7 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 minutes before turning them out of the pans onto a rack.
  8. Finish with desired coating, glaze, and/or topping, as desired.
  9. For frosted doughnuts, see the three easy doughnut glazes (recipe below). Sprinkle the glazed doughnuts with sprinkles, toasted coconut, or chopped nuts, if desired.

For Cinnamon Sugar-Coated Doughnuts:

  1. For cinnamon doughnuts, shake warm doughnuts in a plastic bag with about 1/4 to 1/3 cup cinnamon-sugar.
Three Easy Doughnut Glazes: 
Yield: about 1/2 cup glaze each

For the Vanilla Glaze:

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Stir the ingredients together, adding extra liquid or confectioners’ sugar to adjust the consistency as needed.
  2. Dip top of doughnuts in glaze, or drizzle glaze over doughnuts.

For the Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Melt the ingredients together over low heat or in the microwave, stirring often. Add extra corn syrup if needed to make a smooth, shiny glaze.
  2. Dip top of doughnuts in glaze, or drizzle glaze over doughnuts.

For the Apple Cider Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons bottled boiled cider
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 cup Confectioners’ or glazing sugar
  1. Stir all of the ingredients together, adding additional sugar or cream if needed to make the glaze the consistency of molasses.
  2. Dip top of doughnuts in glaze, or drizzle glaze over doughnuts.

One Year Ago:

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Five Years Ago:

Skillet Graham Cake with Peaches & Blueberries

I have been looking for an excuse to make this skillet cake since last summer. Graham crackers… peaches and blueberries… streusel topping… and baked in a cast iron skillet? Irresistible. I finally had to make it after having too many ripe peaches on the counter. 😉 What an excuse!

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Chicago chef Stephanie Izard. (I have loved her since she won Top Chef.) The cake is baked on the grill in the original recipe. Delicious!

Yield: Serves 10 to 12

For the Streusel:

Make the Streusel:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat all of the ingredients together at medium speed until crumbs form.
  2. Press together to form a large mass.
  3. Transfer to 
a bowl and break into clumps.
  4. Refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
Prepare the Fruit:
  1. Preheat an oven to  300° F, preferably on convection.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the peaches with the blueberries, sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch.
  3. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat.
  4. Scrape the fruit and any juices into the skillet.
Make the Cake:
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk both flours with the graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with both sugars and the honey at medium speed until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
  4. Scrape down the side of the bowl and beat in the dry ingredients until just smooth.
  5. Spread the batter in the skillet in an even layer.
  6. Scatter the streusel evenly on top.
  7. Place the skillet on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until 
a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. (The cake is cooked off of the heat in a grill for the same amount of time in the original recipe.)
  8. Let the cake cool for 1 hour. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.

I’m bringing my special skillet cake to share at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #184, co-hosted by Jhuls @The Not so Creative Cook and Petra @ Food Eat Love. Enjoy!

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