Tag Archives: cake

almond fig cake

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On a Thursday a few weeks ago, I came home and took a few pictures of the changing leaves.  Then, I came inside and made a cake.

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Not just a cake; this cake.  Figs are either past their prime or almost past their prime, depending on where you are, but I was able to scoop some up for cheap at my food co-op that day.  Generally I prefer green figs for eating- they’re firmer and not as sticky sweet as their purple or black counterparts.   But a girl in Wisconsin can’t say no to cheap figs, regardless of color, and I was determined to make a mostly-almond gluten-free cake, like a cross between the one I’d seen on Joy The Baker and like the many almond meal cakes on Rachel Eats. {Pssst, this one’s my favorite.}

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This was not my first attempt at an almond fig cake, and the first one was maddening.  Too much liquid up front due to bad math resulted in me whisking in more and more tapioca starch and almond meal in vain.  The cake was good, but it took over an hour to bake and the figs were too heavy for the batter- they sank like stones.  Soggy figs cooked inside a cake are not very good, and I ended up picking around the fruit and just eating the cake.

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Then, that Thursday, I found this pin.  What!  The cake I was looking for… almost.  Of course I couldn’t resist tweaking.  With the lengthening sun filling my kitchen with crisp fall sunlight, I poured a Campari Shandy, pulled out my discount figs, and got to work.  The result is gluten-free, Paleo but for the 1/4 cup sugar, and absolutely perfect if you prefer your cakes dense and flavorful and without a wisp of frosting in sight.

Almond Fig Cake
One 9-inch cake
By David Tanis

4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
140 grams almond meal
35 grams potato, arrowroot, or tapioca starch (I used potato)
1/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1/2 almond extract
8 to 14 ripe figs, depending on the size of your figs and how many you want (I used 9, but the original calls for 12-14)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter a 9-inch tart, pie, or cake pan. In a small saucepan, brown the butter over medium heat.   Once the butter is browned, remove from heat and whisk in the honey.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond meal, starch, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.  In the saucepan, whisk the eggs and almond extract into the butter and honey mixture; then pour into the dry mix and stir until just combined.  Pour batter into the buttered pan.

Carefully wash and dry figs.  Remove the stems and cut the figs in half.  Arrange fig halves cut-side-up over the top of the batter.  Sprinkle the top of the figs and batter with the reserved 2 tablespoons sugar, and bake for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden and a cake tester comes out dry.  Cool before serving, if you can resist.

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Filed under Breads, Clean Eating, Desserts, Fall, Gluten-Free, Summer

strawberry-rhubarb upside downer


I really wanted to tell you about the asparagus risotto I made this week.  It was creamy and subtle and deliciously spring-ish, while comforting enough for the chilly air that settles around us in the evenings.  But I can’t.  It would be irresponsible- nay, reprehensible– to allow you to go on living one more day of your life without hearing about this cake.

There are cakes for celebrations, and then there are cakes like this.  This is an everyday cake, padding around in day-old jeans and a faded t-shirt, perfect for coffee and a bit of freshly whipped cream.   But at the same time, this is a seriously awesome cake.  This is a make-this-when-your-mother-in-law-comes cake.  Even if it’s only in jeans, it’s impressive.  Sweet, sticky, and spicy. What more do you need?!


This is from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours, except she wrote it as a cranberry-nut cake.  She also included in the margins directions for a peach version, but I decided to springify.  I halved the cinnamon from the original recipe and added half a teaspoon of fresh cardamom- and WOW.  If you’ve got cardamom, break that bad boy out for this cake.  I don’t know if there’s anything I like more in spring than the combination of strawberries, rhubarb, and cardamom.

There’s also no salt in this cake.  That may dismay some and cheer others.  I will admit that I cheated and used salted butter for the “topping” and unsalted for the actual batter, because I had some stray salted laying around.  Don’t be afraid to add salt if you  know you like it in your cakes and muffins.


Strawberry-rhubarb upside downer
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: FMHTY

14 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons + 1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup chopped rhubarb
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350.  Put an 8×2 (or 9×2) round cake pan on a baking sheet (you WILL want the baking sheet!).

Melt 6 T of the butter and whisk in 6 T of the sugar. Stirring, bring up to a brief boil, then pour evenly into the bottom of the cake pan.  Sprinkle strawberries and rhubarb on top of the butter-sugar combination and press lightly to flatten.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the remaining 8 T (1/2 cup) of butter for 2-3 minutes until soft and creamy.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cream well for 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each one and scraping the bowl down as needed.  Pour in the vanilla.  Turn the mixer down to low and add in half of the dry ingredients, only mixing until barely incorporated.  Mix in the milk.  Then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Spoon the batter in the pan over the strawberries and rhubarb, and smooth the top down.

Bake on the baking sheet for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  With a knife, loosen the cake from the pan around the edges, but allow to sit for 20-30 minutes to let the cake soak up as much of the juice as it can.  While still warm, carefully turn out the cake onto a plate.

Serve thick slices with fresh whipped cream or ice cream, preferably while still a bit warm (or warmed up for 20 seconds in the microwave.  Enjoy!

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast, Desserts, Spring, Summer

Sourdough Chocolate Cake

I made this cake for my love on our first wedding anniversary.  Not only was it pretty and quite rich and delicious, there was actually a little thought and symbolism behind it.

Because the way I see it, our sourdough starter is a sort of pseudo-first child. We began our starter shortly after we moved into our first house together. And it started with three very basic ingredients- flour, water, and love. (Okay, so it was flour, water, and a nearly-neglected Amish friendship bread bag-o-mush picked out of the office breakroom. Which could be similar to love, to some people.)

We fed and watered our sourdough. We let it bubble and breathe. We stirred it gently with a wooden stick. We baked some of it every weekend, more and more excited as it became sourer and sourer.

And as we adopted a cat, tore down a garage, built a new garage, adopted a second cat, bought new furniture from a real furniture store (not a thrift store) for the first time… we nurtured our sourdough. It brought us closer together.  Really. It did.

Hence the cake. It was really delicious. And topped with love. And ganache.

Sourdough Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Sourdough Jack’s Cookery, via Orangette

1 c. thick sourdough starter
3/4 c. white sugar
1/4 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 c. milk at room temperature
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. coffee liqueur
1 t. ground cinnamon
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 t. salt
1-1/2 t. baking soda
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

Leave a cup of starter out overnight (this is called proofing).

Preheat oven to 350 (or 330 with convection). Cream the sugars and butter until fluffy, then beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in starter, milk, vanilla, liqueur, cinnamon, and melted chocolate. Beat with an electric mixer or a muscled arm for two minutes.  Sprinkle the salt and baking soda over the top of the batter and then fold in gently. Fold in flour until batter is smooth. Pour into buttered and floured pan. (I used an 8-inch round springform; Mollie used a Bundt pan.)

Bake until cake springs back when pressed lightly and a cake tester comes out clean, 35-60 minutes, depending on the type of pan you use. Cool; frost or sprinkle with powdered sugar; serve to your love; savor the moments.

Basic chocolate ganache
Be sure your cake is cool to the touch before frosting with ganache, as it’s very sticky and can crumb up easily if the cake is warm.

8 oz. semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
3/4 c. heavy cream
2 T. butter
1 T. coffee or chocolate liqueur

Roughly chop the chocolate into small pieces, and place them into a medium glass bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a saucepan just until it begins to boil on the edges. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk carefully until all of the chocolate is melted. Whisk in the liqueur. Allow the ganache to sit for a few minutes before frosting.

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Filed under Desserts, Marriage

home + easy apple cake

Home.  It took awhile, but finally the place where I live feels more like home than any other “home” I’ve had.

My parents, brother, and I moved into their current house when I was about 14. We were old enough that there are no childhood memories of playing make-believe with my brother or hearing Santa on Christmas Eve in that house.  Still, until recently, I felt most “at home” snuggled up in a quilt on my parents’ living room floor, with N and my brother and mom and dad in front of the TV.

It took awhile for N and I to make our first house feel less like a storage unit. But slowly, the little things– knickknacks that find their windowsills; smells that become familiar and welcoming; my cats sleeping on my lap; and most importantly, my husband beside me– make me feel like I’m at home.

This apple cake did the same thing.

Quick Apple Cake
from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax

Serves 8 (or fewer!)

The reason the piece in the picture looks so wonky is because we suddenly were eating the last two pieces and I realized I hadn’t yet taken a picture!

The recipe calls for thin slices of apple, but I cut my slices slightly thicker with a shorter rectangle shape, and we loved the definite commitment to apple vs. cake.

3 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored and chopped into bite-sized (about 3 cups)
1 t. lemon juice
3/4 c. plus 3 tablespoons sugar
2 t. cinnamon
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 t. good vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1 c. sifted all-purpose flour (sift in salt)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a pie or cake pan. Toss the apples in the pan with the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the cinnamon. Spread apples evenly in the bottom of the pan

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Watch carefully and stir to avoid burning. Pour the clear, browned butter into a medium bowl, leaving any sediment or foam in the pan.

Stir the 3/4 cup sugar into the butter with a spatula or spoon (not a whisk). Gently stir in the eggs and vanilla; stir in the salt and flour until blended. Spoon the batter evenly over the apples and spread into a layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until lightly golden and crusty, 35 to 45 minutes.

The recipe suggests serving with vanilla ice cream, but eating a warm slice with fresh softly-whipped cream made me go all melty on the inside.

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Desserts, Fall

Car Bomb Cupcakes

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Named after the [inflammatory] drink, the Irish Car Bomb. The drink consists of a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Creme dropped (yes, the shot glass is literally DROPPED) into a half-pint of Guinness. This is one of the very last drinks I had on Spanish soil, and one of the first drinks I legally enjoyed in the U.S. Believe the rumors- it really DOES taste like grown-up chocolate milk, but better. :)

filled and waiting for frosting

I adapted this from Annie’s recipe, who adapted it from Smitten Kitchen. I did use Bailey’s in the ganache, but would love to do half whiskey and half Irish creme in the frosting and ganache both.

*Update: I did another half-batch with whiskey in the original ganache recipe, and it’s TOO rich for us. N and I both prefer the below ganache recipe, with Bailey’s.*

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes
Yield: 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the Guinness chocolate cupcakes:
2/3 cup stout (Guinness)
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 white and 1/2 wheat)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup sour cream or plain yogurt (I used yogurt)

For the Bailey’s ganache filling:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. Bailey’s Irish cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar

For the Bailey’s buttercream frosting:
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
~2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
4 tbsp. Bailey’s Irish cream

Directions:
To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the beer and butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool 5-10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. Add the stout-butter mixture and beat to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer out of pan to cool completely.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a glass bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate; whisk until smooth. The butter ought to be completed melted…. keep stirring! Add the butter and Bailey’s, and then the confectioner’s sugar, and stir until combined. Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped. (I used the freezer to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 5 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.)

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Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake. I used a small paring knife  and small melon-shaped 1/4 tsp. spoon to scoop out some middle, while ensuring cupcake remains on the bottom of the hole. Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag, and fill the cupcakes.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated. Mix in the Bailey’s until smooth. Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading. Frost the cupcakes. Eat and be amazed.

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Filed under Desserts