Archive for the 'Cake + Cupcake' Category

Sqirl’s Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

Well, that was fun sharing a bit about The Suburban Years. Now, back to my favorite subject: dessert. This Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake from Jessica Koslow and the fine folks at Sqirl gets the honor of being the first cake to break in our new oven. Thankfully, the oven was calibrated properly and the cake turned out perfectly—gooey, caramel-y, and in short, everything I want to eat.

For cake

  • 14 tablespoons/200 grams unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks), at room temperature, more for the pan
  • 8 ounces/225 grams pitted dates, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup/80 grams dried currants
  • 1 cup/130 grams whole­wheat flour
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons/80 grams all ­purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¾ cup/165 grams packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

For sticky toffee

  • ½ cup/170 grams agave nectar
  • ½ cup/110 grams packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons/28 grams unsalted
  • Butter
  • Fleur de sel

Make the cake

Heat oven to 325 degrees and butter an 8-inch square or 9-inch round cake pan.

Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

In a small pot, combine dates, lemon juice and 3/4 cup/180 milliliters water. Bring mixture to a boil, then simmer gently until dates soften and start to fall apart, about 6 minutes. Add currants to the pot and set aside to cool completely.
While date mixture cools, stir together whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and salt.

Sticky Toffee Whole-Wheat Date Cake

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in vanilla and cooled date mixture, followed by flour mixture.

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Blueberry Sour Cream Cardamom Muffins

Blueberry Sour Cream Cardamom Muffins

One of my proudest accomplishments while on maternity leave was managing to whip up moderately complicated recipes when June was napping. While I usually find cooking under pressure a little stressful, I loved how these kitchen challenges kept me on my toes and put my organizational skills to the test (Hello, mise-en-place!). Or maybe I was too sleep deprived to think clearly…

One of the most delectable baking-while-the-baby’s-napping creations were these Blueberry Sour Cream Cardamom Muffins. The original recipe by Eugenia Bone for Food & Wine magazine calls for cinnamon in the streusel topping and lemon zest in the batter; however, I swapped both out in favor of the warm, sweet scent of cardamom. The spice pairs beautifully with blueberries and makes streusel sing.

I didn’t manage to capture my usual step-by-step photos (that would’ve been too ambitious an endeavor), but this muffin doesn’t require much hand-holding. “Dry” ingredients are combined with “wet” ones (some lumps are a good thing), streusel is prepared and sprinkled on top, and everything is baked until done. Eat ’em warm from the oven, or if you’re in a similar boat, while the baby’s down for a nap.

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Chocolate Sheet Cake with Boiled Chocolate Icing

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing

Is it too soon to decide June’s first birthday cake? Even though we’re still six-plus months away, I can’t resist dreaming up confections that our little sweetie will have a ball “smashing” on her big day.

This Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting has been a Chaplin family favorite since The Astronomer’s father’s post-doc days. The recipe originated from a colleague of his named Katy, a gal who clearly had a penchant for unabashedly sweet sweets.

While The Astronomer preferred frosting-less bundt cakes for his birthdays growing up, his brother Daniel and sister Rosalind adored this simple sheet cake. And though I’m 33 years late to the “Katy’s Chocolate Cake” party, I love it all the same.

The batter of the matter, seriously moist and cinnamon-kissed, is finished with a classic, Southern-style boiled chocolate icing. Eaten together, it’s an unstoppable avalanche of buttery, chocolatey, sugary, sprinkle-y goodness!

If June’s palate is anything like her mother’s, this cake will get mauled to pieces in 60 seconds flat. I can’t wait.

For cake

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For icing

  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Prepare cake

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, sift together sugar and flour and set aside.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Icing

In a saucepan, combine butter, oil, cocoa powder, and water. Bring to a boil and pour over sugar and flour mixture. Add in buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla.

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St. John’s Rhubarb Crumble Cake

Fergus Henderson's Rhubarb Crumble Cake

The Astronomer and I celebrated another year of marriage this past April, and I’ve been meaning to crank out this post since then. Life can feel hectic these days both on the personal and professional fronts, but there’s always time for cakes and milestones—Always!

Since it’s tradition to bestow fruit upon one’s beloved in honor of the fourth wedding anniversary, I baked my guy a Rhubarb Crumble Cake. He can’t resist tart rhubarb paired with a good streusel topping, and I’m always up for a culinary challenge.

This cake, which is seasonally served at Chef Fergus Henderson’s super-fabulous St. John Restaurant in London, is a triple threat. The bottom-most layer, moist and buttery cake, gives way to a generous layer of tangy fruit kissed with orange zest. Finally, a nutty topping that’s crunchy and wholly complementary ties all the layers together. This is certainly “a kind of British cooking” that I can get behind.

For fruit mixture

  • 3 large stalks of rhubarb
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup Turbinado sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
    NOTE: You could also use apples, apricots, cooked quinces, nectarines, gooseberries, pears and ginger, or plums

For cake mix

  • 1/2 cup soft unsalted butter
  • Scant 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/3 cups self-rising flour, sifted
  • Scant 1/4 cup full-fat milk

For crumble mix

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 ouces unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 Turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • A pinch of salt

Fergus Henderson's Rhubarb Crumble Cake

First top and tail the rhubarb, give it a good wash and cut it into slices about 3/4 inch thick. Mix it with the sugars and the orange zest and set aside for 30 minutes.

Fergus Henderson's Rhubarb Crumble Cake

For the cake mix, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs, bit by bit to prevent curdling. Then fold in the sifted flour, and last of all mix in the milk. Put to one side.

For the crumble mix, sift the flour into a bowl, add the butter and rub them together with your fingertips until they look like large breadcrumbs. Stir in the Turbinado sugar, ground almonds, sliced almonds and salt.  Continue reading ‘St. John’s Rhubarb Crumble Cake’

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