Vanilla Cake with Sweet Cream Syrup & Butterscotch Frosting

This is a vanilla cake.  But it’s not just any old regular vanilla cake.  It’s a vanilla cake brushed with a sweet cream syrup, slathered with butterscotch frosting, and covered with nonpareils.  The recipe for this little beauty comes from Cake Magic: Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations, a cookbook that provide so many combinations of cake flavors, syrups, and frostings that you could bake a cake every day for several months and never make the same thing.

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Vanilla Cake with Sweet Cream Syrup & Butterscotch Frosting

Makes one nine-inch, 2-layer cake
(from Cake Magic: Mix & Match Your Way to 100 Amazing Combinations)
My notes are in [  ] below.

Ingredients

Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup full-fat plain yogurt (not Greek yogurt)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, or 1 cup vegetable oil [I prefer butter because it’s provides a richer flavor.]
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature

Sweet Cream Syrup

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Butterscotch Frosting

[I only made half of this frosting recipe.  It was enough frosting for a thin layer between the two layers, and fully frosting the top of the cake. For me it kept the cake from being too sweet.] 
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup malted milk powder [I used dry milk powder, without the malt]
Pinch of salt
4 cups (about 16 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon butterscotch flavor or to taste [I used Frontier Butterscotch Flavor.  You can use 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract if you want to make vanilla frosting]

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter the bottom and the side of two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans [or a 10-inch Bundt cake pan, a 13×9 inch sheet cake pan, ).  Dust with flour to coat, then invert and tap out any excess.   24 cupcakes- use liners, no need for greasing and coating the tins.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
  3. Stir in the yogurt, butter, water, vanilla, and eggs until moistened and no lumps remain (be careful not to overmix).
  4. Divide the batter into the prepared pans.  Bake until the layers are domed and golden brown, and a few moist crumbs cling to a skewer interested in the center of the cake, 30-40 minutes (40-50 minutes for a Bundt, 25-30 minutes for a 13×9-inch cake, and 20-25 minutes for cupcakes).

Sweet Cream Syrup

  1. While the cake is baking, make the sweet cream syrup.
  2. Combine the sugar, cream, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.  Set aside to cool.
  4. Use the syrup warm or let it stand covered, until it reaches room temperature.  Note: Sweet cream syrup will keep, in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week.  Reheat in a small saucepan over low heat before using.
  5. After removing the hot cake layers from the oven, pierce them, while still in their pans, at one-inch intervals with a skewer or a paring knife to create channels for the syrup to seep into the cakes.
  6. Pour or generously brush the syrup over the surface of the hot layers, dividing it between them as evenly as possible.
  7. Transfer the soaked layers (still in their pans) to a wire rack to cool completely (1 to 2 hours).  When they are cooled and no longer wet to touch, carefully turn them out of their pants and frost.

Butterscotch Frosting

  1. Make the frosting while the cake cools.
  2. Combine the butter, milk powder, salt, and two cups of the confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the remaining confectioners’ sugar, and beat on medium speed until the frosting is pale and no longer grainy, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the butterscotch flavor (or vanilla extract), and beat until frosting is very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Note: the frosting will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 1 week.  Before using, bring it back to room temperature and stir vigorously or beat it again for best results.
  5. Frost the cooled cake layers.

Gingerbread Bundt Cake

It’s the middle of the holiday rush, so let’s keep this short and sweet. This gingerbread cake is 100% verified delicious.  It’s easy to make, super flavorful, and tender, and has a slightly crispy top due to the gingerbread glaze.   And you can make it look fancy by baking it in a bundt cake pan (my favorite bundt cake pan makes four mini cakes).  Go bake this!

Gingerbread Bundt Cake

Makes one 9-cup bundt cake or four mini bundt cakes
(from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients

Cake

2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) gingerbread spice; or 2 1/2 teaspoons ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (11 1/4 ounces) brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (6 ounces) molasses
1 cup (8 ounces) water

Glaze

1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) rum or water
1/2 teaspoon gingerbread spice; or 1/4 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease a 10- to 12-cup bundt-style pan or a 9-cup quartet bundt cake pan.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, gingerbread spice, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
  6. Stir in the molasses.
  7. Add the flour mixture in three additions alternately with the water, starting and ending with the flour. Mix just until smooth.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top.
  9. Bake the cake for 55 to 65 minutes if using a 10-12 cup Bundt pan, or 30 minutes if using a quartet Bundt pan, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  10. While the cake is baking, make the glaze.  Whisk together the water, spice, and sugar, and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar melts and the mixture thickens a little. Set aside.
  11. Remove the cake from the oven, cool it in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack.
  12. Brush the cake with the glaze, and allow it to cool completely before serving.

Delta Caramel Cake

Sigh… it’s been one of those baking days when nothing seems to turn out how I’d like it too.  I  took advantage of the extra hour from Daylight Savings by baking a super rich, delicious, chocolate stout cake, and the cake was out of the oven and cooling, all before 10am.  But disaster struck when I discovered that the cake was glued to my Bundt cake pan, and in my attempt to turned it out of the pan, it became a pile of crumbled chocolate cake rubble.  Unwilling to submit to cake failure, I turned to my second choice recipe to try, Delta Caramel Cake.  It’s basically a rich, tender yellow cake slathered with a thick caramel icing.  The cake was quick and easy to bake, but the caramel icing was another story.  I like to think of myself as a bit of a caramel making expert so I didn’t hesitate when I read in the recipe introduction that “it’s a labor of love to make”.  Sigh… I think it all started going downhill when I added the caramelized sugar to the evaporated milk mixture and everything got lumpy, no matter how much I stirred and coaxed it to meld together.  Still I forged ahead, unwilling to submit to two cake disasters in one day.  I picked out the especially big chunks of sugar from the icing and half heartedly frosted the cake.  I held my breath as I cut a small slice of cake to test it out (at this point, I wouldn’t have been surprised if this cake tasted terrible given the day’s baking mishaps), but to my relief and delight, this cake is so delicious that it has helped soothe my bruised baking ego.  I’m not posting the caramel icing recipe because I don’t trust it.  BUT this cake recipe makes one of the tastiest yellow cakes I’ve had, so it makes a great base for any of your favorite toppings, icings, frostings, etc.

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Delta Caramel Cake 

Makes one 2-layer 9-inch round cake, serves 12
(from Anne Byrn’s American Cake)

Ingredients

Shortening/butter and flour, or non stick baking spray for prepping the cake pans
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole milk, warmed

Directions

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease and flour the bottom of two 9-inch round or square pans.  I like using a non stick baking spray with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until the mixtures is combined and lightens in color, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the bowl as needed.
  5. Mix in the vanilla extract, and set aside.
  6. In a medium size bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  7. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Blend on low speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute more.
  8. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans.  Smooth out the top of the batter with a spatula.
  9. Bake the cake until it’s golden brown and the top springs back when lightly pressed with a finger, about 25-30 minutes.
  10. Remove the pans from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the pans, and turn out the cakes.  Then flip the cakes one more time so they can cool right side up.
  11. Since I’m not recommending the caramel icing recipe that I used, feel free to frost the cake however you want when the layers have cooled.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This Flourless Chocolate Cake is the overlord of all chocolate cakes.  With a chocolate trifecta of chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and espresso powder in the cake plus a hearty slathering of chocolate ganache on top, this is the richest, most decadent chocolate cake you will ever eat.  There’s no flour in this cake to take up any space from the chocolate, so gluten-free people rejoice!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Makes one 8 inch cake, 8 to 12 servings
(from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients

Cake

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons, 4 ounces) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch-process cocoa preferred

Glaze

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (4 ounces) heavy cream

Directions

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan.
  3. Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.
  4. Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.
  5. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth.
  6. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.  Note: The original recipe recommends inserting a thermometer, but I didn’t do that.  Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
  9. Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

Glaze

  1. Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth.  Or you can melt the chocolate and cream over a double boiler. 
  2. Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake. 

 

Fig and Almond Cake

The summer of 2016 is the summer when I learned to love figs.  Thanks to some friends who have a huge fig tree that produces the sweetest fruits, I’ve been lucky to have an abundance of figs to eat on their own and to use in baked goods. The latest fig-themed dessert to come out of my oven is a Fig and Almond Cake.  This hearty but delicate cake perfumed with almond extract is nutty, tender, and barely sweet.  Figs are scattered on top of the cake batter and sprinkled with a bit of sugar to caramelize in the oven.  The cake is best eaten the day that it’s baked as it tends to get mushy pretty quickly because of the moisture from the figs.

If you want to learn a little more about figs, check out this article on how figs get pollinated.  A bit of a warning though, the details are a bit of a horror movie, and depending on how easily grossed out your are, you may never want to eat a fig again.  So remember, you’ve been warned.

Gorgeous figs from a friend’s treeIMG_6642[1]

The cake comes out looking beautiful with figs scattered over the top of the cake batter [even though I put my figs “wrong side” (cut side down ) up].
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Fig and Almond Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake
(from NYT Cooking)

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus butter for greasing pan
1 cup natural raw almonds (not blanched)
¼ cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon cinnamon
teaspoon salt
3 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon almond extract
12 to 14 ripe figs

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Butter or spray a 9-inch fluted tart pan or pie pan (I used one with a removable bottom, and that helped ensure that the cake stayed intact when I removed the outside of the pan); set aside.
  3. Put almonds and 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor and grind to a coarse powder.  The finer you ground the almonds, the less crunchy the cake will be.
  4. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; pulse to combine.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, melted butter, honey, and almond extract.
  6. Add the dry ingredients (the almond mixture) to the wet ingredients, and stir together until batter is just mixed (don’t overmix).
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Remove the stem from each fig, and cut the fig in half.
  9. Arrange the fig halves cut-side up over the batter. Don’t leave a large space between figs as they will shrink when they bake.  It’s OK if the figs are touching each other.
  10. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the figs.
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the cake is golden outside and dry at center when probed with a cake tester.
  12. Cool before serving.

Note:  This cake is best when eaten on the day that it’s baked.

Norwegian Sour Cream Pound Cake (with butterscotch chips and caramel glaze)

With so many baking options out there, typically I don’t like to make a recipe more than once or twice.  But I make an exception for this Norwegian Sour Cream Pound Cake recipe which holds a permanent place in my baking repertoire.  As a plain pound cake, it has a dense but tender vanillay crumb that is anything but “plain”.  The batter also holds up well to a variety of mix-ins and flavorings.  My favorite combinations are an addition of cake spice for a dash of zing to the flavor and butterscotch chips for a bit of caramel.  And if I’m feeling extra decadent, I’ll pour a homemade caramel sauce over the top.

An overhead view of the cake drenched in a dark caramel sauce.

A side view of all the goodness.  The butterscotch chips create little pockets of caramel flavor in the cake.

Norwegian Sour Cream Pound Cake (with butterscotch chips and caramel glaze)

Makes 1 bundt cake (about 20 servings)
(from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients

1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cake spice or other flavoring like cinnamon (optional)
2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract, to taste (I prefer 3 teaspoons which is equal to 1 tablespoon)
4 cups (17 ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 (12 ounces) cups sour cream
1 package (11-12 ounces) butterscotch chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Lightly grease a full-size (10″) tube pan, bundt-style pan, or angel food pan.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, and cake spice (optional).  Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
  6. Mix in the vanilla extract.
  7. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream to the wet ingredients.  Start  with adding the flour about 1 cup at a time and then the sour cream 1/2 cup at a time. Mix at medium speed between additions, until ingredients are thoroughly combined. The finished batter will be quite stiff/thick.
  8. Stir in the butterscotch chips (optional).
  9. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, leveling it with your wet fingers or a spatula.
  10. Bake the cake for 55 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester, bamboo skewer, or long toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Don’t overbake to ensure that the cake is moist and tender.
  11. Remove the cake from the oven, and gently loosen its edges from the pan.
  12. After 15 minutes, carefully turn the cake out of the pan onto a rack to cool.

Note: The cooled cake can be stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap securely and freeze.

Strawberry Swirled Cream Cheese Pound Cake

After buying a ridiculous amount of strawberries during a recent trip to the Strawberry Festival and making endless jars of strawberry jam, I was still looking for ways to use up all the strawberries.  Enter this Strawberry Swirled Cream Cheese Pound Cake recipe.  It’s a mouthful to say and to eat.  Like pound cakes in general, this one is dense, tender, and buttery, but the strawberry swirl cuts through some of the richness by adding a slightly tart, luscious ribbon of flavor.  Since I had so much strawberry jam, I used that in my cake instead of using the strawberry swirl recipe below.

Jetta (golden retriever/Labrador mix) thinking, “Really?  You’re going to eat ALL of these strawberries?”
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I used my “fancy” bundt cake mold which made the cake kind of resemble something by MC Echer.
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I wish the strawberry swirl was a bit more bright red, but baking darkens the color.
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Strawberry Swirled Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Makes 1 bundt cake
(from Browneyedbaker.com)

Ingredients

Strawberry Swirl (I used homemade strawberry jam instead of making the strawberry swirl)

⅔ cup finely diced fresh strawberries
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Pound Cake

1½ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (the original recipe lists 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, but I like to use a little bit extra, thus the 1 tablespoon listed here)
¼ teaspoon salt

Directions

Strawberry Swirl

  1. Combine the strawberries, sugar, water, and cornstarch in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture becomes very thick.
  2. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature before using.

This is very similar to homemade strawberry jam, which is what I used in my cake.

Pound Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a standard-size Bundt pan.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the cake flour and salt, and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined and soft, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the sugar and continue to beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl once or twice, until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and mix well.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each one is completely incorporated before adding the next.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Reduce the speed to low, gradually add the flour mixture until combined.  Make sure not to overmix the batter.  You can even finish incorporating the flour using a spatula to ensure that you don’t overmix.
  8. Spoon about ⅔ of the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Top evenly with the strawberry filling, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge of the pan (Make sure the strawberry filling doesn’t touch the sides of the bundt pan or it will burn and leave a sticky mess.) Use a thin knife to gently swirl the strawberry filling with the cake batter a few times. Spoon the remainder of the cake batter on top of the filling and gently spread to the edges of the pan, covering the filling.
  9. Bake for 1¼ to 1½ hours, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs attached.
  10. Cool the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before serving.

Note: Leftovers can be wrapped in plastic wrap or placed in an airtight container and stored at room temperature for up to 4 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

When I lived in downtown LA, my dreams of having a cute rooftop herb garden were quickly squelched after seeing a black film of soot on all my plants from all the pollution from traffic and construction.  So, one of the first things I did when we moved to a house was to plant a small backyard garden.  A few months later, my garden is exploding with zucchini, and I’m finding all sorts of creative ways to make use of it.  First up is cake!

Now you can eat your veggies and dessert all in the bite (and it won’t be weird or gross).  This chocolate zucchini cake is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve made.  The pound of shredded zucchini makes the cake super moist and tender, but you can’t taste any bit of veggie.  Instead you may swoon from the intense chocolate flavor from the rich cocoa powder, espresso power, chocolate chips, and chocolate icing.  The cake isn’t too sweet (even with all that chocolate).  It’s easy and quick to make, but it takes a while to cool down after baking.

It’s still early in the season, but the garden is exploding with crops and potential.

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One of my favorite ways to use up zucchini, chocolate cake!
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Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Makes one 9×13 inch pan; about 24 servings
(from King Arthur Flour; I rewrote the directions for the recipe a bit, but the ingredients are the same)

Ingredients

Cake

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons; 4 ounces) butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups (12 1/4 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (4 ounces) sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt (I used sour cream)
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) All-Purpose Flour
3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) All-Purpose Baking Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa
2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional but tasty
3 cups (12-18 ounces) shredded zucchini (about one 10″ zucchini)
1/2 cup (3 ounces) chocolate chips

Icing

1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan.  I used a Pyrex glass pan so I could see when the cake was set.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder (if using), baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter, oil, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Beat in the eggs.
  5. Stir in half of the sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt.  Then stir in half of the flour/cocoa mixture.  Repeat until all of the flour/cocoa mixture has been added.  Mix until smooth, but be careful not to overmix.
  6. Fold in the zucchini and 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  8. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top springs back lightly when touched, and it seems set.
  9. To ice the cake, slide the cake out of the oven, and sprinkle the 1 cup of chocolate chips evenly over the top of the cake.  Return the cake to the oven for 5 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  10. Remove the cake from the oven, and use a cake spatula or rubber spatula to spread the chocolate chips into a smooth glaze. It’s OK if the chocolate icing seems a bit thin.  A little goes a long way.
  11. Cool on a rack.  Since this cake is so moist and tender, it’s best to wait until it’s completely cool before cutting.  Otherwise you might have a bit of a mess on your hands.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

I skipped the traditional Thanksgiving meal this year because I was visiting family in Thailand during the holiday.  I didn’t feel like I missed out on any of the usual Thanksgiving foods, except that I had a craving for cranberries.  So, after taking a break from baking for a few weeks (ovens are not common place among the regular household in Thailand), I promptly baked a Cranberry Upside Down Cake when I returned home.  Like most upside down cakes, this Cranberry Upside Down Cake is fairly straight forward to make.  The only “special” instruction is to whip the egg whites and then fold them into the batter.  The whipped egg whites made the cake light, airy, and tender, but this extra step was more trouble than it’s worth if I wanted to just throw a cake together.  That said, this cake has a nice contrast of flavors with a rich, tender vanilla cake that’s offset by the tart and tangy cranberries immersed in a caramelized brown sugar topping.

Cranberry upside down cake-AWaters1Cranberry upside down cake-AWaters2

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

(from Alice Waters)
Makes one 9-inch cake
My notes are in [   ] below.

Ingredients

Topping

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup brown sugar
9 ounces (2 2/3 cups) fresh cranberries [this is less than one package, and I was tempted to use the whole package, but I’m glad I didn’t because the cake probably would have overflowed the pan I was using)
¼ cup fresh orange juice

Cake

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs, separated
½ cup whole milk [I used equal parts heavy cream and 2% milk]
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Topping

  1. Put the butter and brown sugar in a 9-inch round cake pan, and put it in the oven.
  2. As the sugar dissolves, stir to distribute the mixture evenly over the pan. [Make sure to watch the pan carefully because the sugar starts to cook very quickly after a certain point and can burn easily.]
  3. When the sugar starts to caramelize, remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool. [I interpreted this instruction as when the sugar has melted and starts to thicken up a little, then it’s ready to be removed from the oven.]
  4. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries and orange juice. Toss to coat the berries well.
  5. Spread the berries evenly in the pan, and sprinkle with any juice remaining in bowl. Set the pan aside, and prepare the cake batter.

Cake

  1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter with sugar until pale, light, and fluffy.
  3. Add the vanilla, and beat in the egg yolks one at a time, scraping the bowl once or twice.
  4. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, ending with the dry ingredients. Set the batter aside.
  5. Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar just until the whites are stiff enough to hold a slight peak.
  6. Fold the egg whites into the batter, 1/3 at a time.
  7. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, and spread it evenly over the cranberries.
  8. Bake until the top is browned and the cake pulls away slightly from edges of pan, 25 to 35 minutes. [This was not nearly enough time for my cake to be completely baked, and my oven tends to run hot.  It took about 40 minutes or maybe even a few minutes more before my center was set.  Make sure to test the cake with a toothpick or cake tester.  The center should not be loose/jiggly.]
  9. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before turning it onto a cake plate.
  10. Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream, flavored, if desired, with orange liqueur. [I served my cake plain, and it was delicious.]

 

 

 

Pumpkin Streusel Coffeecake

This recipe for Pumpkin Streusel Coffeecake is the perfect recipe to piggyback onto the Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl I made last week.  The recipe for the Pumpkin Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl only used up half of a 15 ounce can of pureed pumpkin, and this recipe for Pumpkin Streusel Coffeecake makes very efficient and delicious use of the other half of pumpkin puree.  A cinnamon sugar swirl weaves its way through the tender, moist, and cinnamony pumpkin cake, and the crunchy streusel that sits atop provides a nice textural contrast.

Up until now, I’ve had bad luck with streusel.  Sometimes it’s too clumpy, sometimes it doesn’t bake up crispy enough, sometimes it’s not very flavorful, etc.  This recipe for the streusel is the best I’ve come across so far.  It bakes up crunchy and has just the right amount of sweetness.  I’ll definitely use this streusel for other recipes.  Pumpkin Streusel Coffeecake-KAF1

This looks just like how coffeecake should look with the clearly defined layers.  I’m officially announcing this as my first successful coffeecake (I’ve made at least 3 different coffeecakes in the past that were never quite “right”.).Pumpkin Streusel Coffeecake-KAF2

Pumpkin Streusel Coffeecake

(from King Arthur Flour)
Makes one 8 inch square or 9 inch round pan
My notes are in [  ].

Ingredients

Streusel Topping

2/3 cup (4 5/8 ounces) granulated sugar
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (3 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (1 ounce) chopped pecans, optional [I left out the nuts in mine.]
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) melted butter

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, optional [I added this, and it didn’t make my filling taste chocolatey at all.  Plus, I liked the visual contrast of the dark filling against the lighter pumpkin cake.]

Pumpkin Cake

1/3 cup (2 3/8 ounces) vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup (8 ounces) pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin) [I used half a can, 7.5 ounces, that I had leftover from making another recipe.]
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon plus 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ square pan or 9″ round pan.

Streusel Topping

  1. Whisk together the sugar, salt, flour, spice, and nuts [if you’re using nuts].
  2. Add the melted butter, stirring just until well combined. Set the topping aside.

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  1. Mix together the brown sugar, spice, and cocoa powder. Note that the cocoa powder is used strictly for color, not flavor; leave it out if you like. [The chocolate flavor is not discernible when everything is baked up.] Set it aside.

Pumpkin Cake

  1. Beat together the oil, eggs, sugar, and pumpkin.
  2. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, spices, salt, and baking powder.
  3. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir just until smooth.
  4. Pour/spread half the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it all the way to the edges. If you have a scale, half the batter is about 13 1/2 ounces.
  5. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar filling evenly atop the batter.
  6. Spread the remaining batter atop the filling. Use a table knife to gently swirl the filling into the batter, as though you were making a marble cake. Don’t combine filling and batter thoroughly; just swirl the filling through the batter.
  7. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the batter in the pan.
  8. Bake the cake until it’s light brown on top, and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven, and allow it to cool for 20 minutes before cutting and serving. Serve the cake right from the pan.