Monday, March 01, 2021

Confetti/Funfetti Birthday Cake

One of the first visits at our house with the two boys we are adopting coincided with the birthday week of the older one. I got ingredients for three kid-friendly cakes and let him choose - Funfetti Layer Cake from Sally's Baking Addiction, and two options that looked great from Joy the Baker- Everybody's Birthday Cake, and a Southern-style strawberry cake. (When I don't know what to bake, it's so nice to have some favorite bakers I trust!) He went with funfetti! Who wouldn't? I was a bit nervous making a cake from scratch because sometimes a butter cake gets dry. I would recommend this recipe, and to link back to Sally's Baking Addiction for her tips, tricks, and beautiful photos.

A slice of sprinkle-speckled cake

Funfetti Layer Cake

 

Ingredients

 

Funfetti Cake

  • 3 and 3/4 cups (431g) sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 3 teaspoons (15ml) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (142g) rainbow sprinkles

Vanilla Frosting

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (3 sticks; 345g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6 cups (700g) sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) heavy cream
  • 3 teaspoons (15ml) pure vanilla extract (or use clear imitation vanilla extract for stark white frosting)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • optional: additional sprinkles for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease and lightly flour three 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Make the cake: Whisk the sifted flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 5 full minutes until creamed together fairly well. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 whole egg at a time, beating well after each addition until all 4 whole eggs are mixed in. Set the 2 egg whites aside for now. Beat in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick. Vigorously whisk or beat the 2 additional egg whites until thick, foamy, and soft peaks form- about 3 minutes. Gently fold into the batter. Finally, fold the sprinkles into the batter. Spoon/pour batter evenly into each cake pan.
  4. Bake for around 25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
  5. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy – about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 full minutes. Add more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin, more cream if frosting is too thick, or a pinch more of salt if frosting is way too sweet.
  6. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with frosting. Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with frosting. Finish with the third cake layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. I tinted extra frosting both pink (1 drop pink food coloring) and blue (1 drop blue coloring) and used a Wilton 1M tip to pipe it around the top edges. Decorate top of cake with sprinkles, if desired.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Kid Food: Corn Dog Muffins

Not everyone knows that my husband and I are in the process of adopting two boys, which means I am in the process of learning how to cook for kids, which I haven't ever done! I had bought hot dogs when they were first supposed to start visits, but covid got in the way for a few weeks. So then I had these hot dogs I either had to eat or throw away. Luckily I had seen a recipe for corn muffins with hot dog pieces in them, kind of like a quick corn doggish thing. I still don't know if kids like them, but it was a good idea! I'd give credit for this recipe but it's a combo of a few.

A corn dog muffin split open in front of a whole one. Doggo in background.

Corn Dog Muffins*

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
6 tbsp sour cream
1 stick butter, melted
10ish hot dogs, uncooked, chopped into fourths or thirds.

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Stir dry ingredients together, mix in wet. 
  3. Spray muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. 
  4. Add batter to cup until it just reaches the top.
  5. Poke hot dog pieces into muffins, evenly distributing.*
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until top is not wet.
  7. Serve with mustard, honey mustard, and/or ketchup, whatever you'd eat with corn dogs.

Makes 14-18

*I made half this much and it made 8-9 muffins. I had a few with just 1/4 hot dog and liked those I'd put 2-3 pieces in best. 

Caution: Some consider hot dogs choking hazards for smaller children, so please proceed accordingly.

 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Napa Cabbage Okonomiyaki

I was first exposed to okonomiyaki through a Latin American restaurant in town, ASADA, which offers "Okonomiyaki À La Latin" on their Saturday brunch menu. In their treatment, this Japanese savory pancake was combined with avocado, chipotle, and meats prepared the Latin American way. It was delicious! When the Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club had a pancake challenge from East: 120 Vegan and Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Beijing by Meera Sodha, I was drawn in to the Napa Cabbage Okonomiyaki. I do not know how traditional this okonomiyaki is either, does it usually have this kind of cabbage? Is it usually vegetarian? But since I only had the fusion version to compare it to, I will just have to consider it delicious. This was a fast and easy lunch for two.

Overhead view of an okonomiyaki drizzled with brown and white sauces.

Napa Cabbage Okonomiyaki

Makes 2 pancakes (to serve 2)

For the okonomiyaki

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
[2/3 cup water]
4 cups shredded Napa cabbage*
6 green onions, finely chopped, greens and whites separted
2 tbsp canola oil

For the okonomiyaki sauce

2 1/2 tbsp ketchup
2 1/2 tbsp A1 sauce
2 1/2 tbsp date syrup*

To serve

mayonnaise
crispy fried onions* (storebought, or as Deb suggested, some friend shallots would work)

Whisk the flour, salt, eggs, and 2/3 cup water together with a fork in a mixing bowl until there are no lumps and you have a smooth batter. Add the cabbage and the green onion whites, and mix well to coat all the vegetables. Now make the okonomiyaki sauce: put the ketchup, A1 sauce, and date syrup into a small bowl and mix well.

To cook the okonomiyaki, heat a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan over a medium-high flame.* Add half the batter to the pan and flatten it with a spoon or spatula to help it into a circular pancake around 1-inch deep. Cook the first side for 3-4 minutes. You should see hte scraps of cabbage and batter at the edges of the pancake starting to brown and crisp. If it is browning too fast, turn down the heat a little. When it's ready, turn the okonomiyaki with a spatula for the other side for a further 3 minutes. Turn out onto a plate and repeat with the second half of the batter.

To serve, crisss-cross the surface of the okonomiyaki with the sauce and some mayonnaise, then liberally top with crispy onions and the reserved green onions.

Notes from JennyBakes:

-I added the water to the ingredient list because I'm bound to forget it if it isn't listed.
-4 cups shredded Napa cabbage is probably not even going to be half of one Napa cabbage. It would be a mistake to use more than what is called for because the batter will never cover it. I also ended up wishing I had sliced it a little thinner closer to the root.
-I had date syrup because of my year of Middle Eastern cooking and baking, but you might not. I think molasses or sorghum or honey or maple would all work but all taste a bit different.
-I thought I had crispy onions when I started making these but discovered I was wrong. I do believe this edition would have elevated mine okonomiyaki!
-I found medium-high to be too hot, but I have an electric stovetop.

More cookbook thoughts:

 

-This is going to go on my wishlist! I got it from the library.
-The only recipe I've tried so far is the Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream, which was great sandwiched between crispy chocolate chip cookies.

Other dishes I want to try include:

 -Mushroom Bao
-Onigiri
-Rutabaga Laksa
-Peanut butter and broccolini pad thai
-Winter miso ramen
-Sri Lankan Beet Curry
-Beet & Yogurt Rice
-Winter Pilau
-Egg Tamago Rolls
-Bombay Rolls
-Black Dal
-Milli's Matcha Roll Cake


Speaking of pancakes (since crepes are part pancake) -

Like pancakes? I seem to make them from around the world! Check out the Khobz Al-jbab from the Arabian peninsula,  Finnish pannukakku, Icelandic pönnukökur, Papua New Guinean banana pancakeskauk moto from Myanmar, the Danish ebleskiver, the Hungarian palacsintas, the Kaiserschmarrn or "Emperor's Mess" from Austria, the Swedish pancakes from Alaska, and what we call the German oven apple pancake. Some pancakes seem like they might be from other places, like these Crepes with Roasted Bananas and Barbados Cream. I also made ratio pancakes from Michael Ruhlman's book, which we can call American. I've made several more American pancakes, like the recipe from Rosa Parks held by the National Archives, another variation on lemon ricotta pancakes. Pancakes can also be savory, like scallion pancakes from China (also called cong you bing) or the Onoyomiyaki from Japan.


Monday, February 08, 2021

Marionberry, hazelnut & coconut cake

This is a recipe that started with the Blueberry, pistachio & coconut cake in Simply by Sabrina Ghayour. (This was the January cookbook for the Rainy Day Bites Book Club, but this recipe was an additional one I made on my own.) Honestly, it feels like my recipe now. The USA version of the cookbook clearly made errors in the conversions (1 1/2 cups of butter instead of 1 1/2 sticks? It would be swimming!) and didn't include any salt... all baked goods without salted butter should have a little bit of salt. So this recipe is mine now! (I still wanted to give credit where it is due.)

Slice-cut view of cake with berries burst along bottom, buttery yellow color of the crumb

The cake would work with any berry except maybe strawberry, which has too much moisture. The dessicated coconut is not required and you could also substitute with shredded coconut, just know that will up the sweetness factor. You can't see the hazelnuts I threw in here but they did add some crunch. I bet pecans or walnuts would work even better and can imagine a blueberry-walnut or blackberry-pecan version of this cake. You may need to bake it just a little longer than the time given - you want the toothpick to come out clean from the middle.

 

Marionberry, hazelnut & coconut cake

3 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted (6 oz)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
generous handful of hazelnuts
1 1/4 cups marionberries (I used frozen)

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Put the eggs, sugar, and vanilla into a large mixing bowl and beat together until well combined. Add the coconut and mix well, then stir in the melted butter until incorporated. Add the flour, baking powder, and milk and mix until smooth. Finally, stir in the hazelnuts and then gently fold in the marionberries.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until cooked through and a skewer or knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Use the parchment to lift cake from pan and let cool. Serve in slices.


Monday, February 01, 2021

Goat Cheese, Greens, and Za'atar Filo Tart

 The second challenge for January's Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club was the Goat Cheese, Vegetable, and Za'atar Filo Tart from Simply: Easy Everyday Dishes by Sabrina Ghayour. It called for eggplant and red pepper, but that didn't sound good to me, so I took the general idea and ran with it. For her recipe you should check out her cookbook! I like the changes I made overall, but think I might try replacing the garlic granules with fresh garlic, and I think all of this would be nice sprinkled with aleppo pepper, since I have so much of that from previous recipes.

Close view of a filo crusted goat cheese tart with visible spinach and za'atar poking through

Goat Cheese, Greens, and Za'atar Filo Tart

Olive oil
1 zucchini, diced
1-2 handfuls baby spinach
2 green onions, sliced on the diagonal
3 1/2 tbsp butter, melted
6 sheets filo pastry (each about 19x10 inches)
7 eggs, 1 beaten for glaze
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp za'atar
1 tsp garlic granules
4 oz goat cheese (or an herbed goat cheese)
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Line a plate with a double layer of paper towels. Place a large saucepan over high heat and pour in enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the diced zucchini and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the zucchini with a slotted spoon. Shake any excess oil off them, then transfer to the lined plate to drain and cool. 

Meanwhile select an ovenproof dish, about 13x9 inches. Brush melted butter over each pastry sheet and place 2 layers lengthwise in the dish with the ends overhanging the short edges of the dish. Take the remaining 4 sheets and set 2 layers side by side widthwise across the dish so that they meet in the center, with the excess overhanging the long edges of the dish. Crumple the overhanging pastry inside the edges of the dish to create a border for your pie, leaving room for the filling. Brush the crumpled pastry with the beaten egg.*

Sprinkle the filo base with the zucchini, green onion, and spinach. Beat the remaining 6 eggs and fold in the cream, za'atar, and garlic granules. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the filo base, scatter with the goat cheese, and bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.

*It might work best to lightly scrunch the edge, put the rest of the pie together, and then brush the pastry with the egg. I also added scrunched pastry on top of the egg mixture to use up more of the roll of filo, and just dipped it in egg or butter. It's pretty forgiving as long as you work quickly. If you scrunch the sides down too soon the egg mixture might rise above the filo and leave a mess!

Monday, January 25, 2021

Salted Halva Blondies from Dessert Person

The January/February baking cookbook for the Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club is Dessert Person by Claire Saffitz. I skipped the first challenge of the blood orange olive oil cake but it certainly looked delicious. The second challenge, which I posted to Instagram on Saturday the 23rd, are the Salted Halva Brownies. I'm copying the recipe from New York Seed + Mill since they had already posted it online.

A tan colored blondie with sesame seeds on top sits on a miniature turquoise cake platter.

I had baked with tahini before (tahini cookies, buckwheat tahini orange chocolate cookies, and tahini chocolate chip cookies) but had not used halva as an ingredient to add to things. I ordered a vanilla flavored halva and chopped it up. You can't see it in the picture but it adds a distinct flavor and chewy texture which made these very delicious.

Salted Halva Blondies

INGREDIENTS

1 ¼  c flour
1 tsp kosher salt 
½ tsp baking powder
6 oz (170g) white chocolate (chopped)
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter 
½ c light brown sugar 

1 large egg 
2 large egg yolks 
1 tbs vanilla extract 
2 tbs sesame seeds
Flaky sea salt (for sprinkling the top) 


STEPS
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8 x 8” pan with 2 sheets of foil, crossing one over the other. Butter the foil generously and set aside.  
2. Mix the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Gently melt the white chocolate in a double boiler (i.e. in a bowl that is placed over a pot of simmering water). Add the butter and tahini to the white chocolate and stir gently to combine until smooth. Remove the mixture from the heat. 
3. Whisk the brown sugar into the white chocolate. It may start to look grainy and separate (which is normal). Add the egg and egg yolks and vanilla to the white chocolate mixture and whisk vigorously until smooth and glossy. 
4. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate mix and use a flexible spatula to combine. Final step is to add the crumbled (or chunked halva) trying not to over mix at this point and break up the halva too much. 
5. Scrape batter into the buttered pan, sprinkle with sesame seeds, flaky sea salt and bake for 20-25 mins (or until blondies are golden brown on the top). Allow to cool in the pan, remove and slice into squares. They should be chewy on the inside and puffed on the top!

Makes 16 blondies. 
You can make these and freeze for up to 2 months.

 



Monday, January 18, 2021

Heljdopita - Buckwheat Crepe Cake

Every year I focus on a different region of the world for one of my reading goals, and find myself cooking and baking dishes from those countries as well. I recently read the first book for my Europe 2021 goal, a book from a little country called Montenegro. I did a bit of research on recipes from Montenegro, and found a few tourism/travel videos. Many of the dishes are also known in Serbia, of course, since they used to be the same country. It is only very recently that the language of Montenegrin has started to grow more distinct from Serbian as they start to declare their identity. One recipe that came up was what looked like a crepe cake, but the description of it was savory - heljdopita.

I consulted several cooks on the internet. One person made buckwheat crepes and stacked them in a pan to bake, another used a buckwheat type pastry (translated to "buckwheat bark"), and another made more of a dough than a batter, and rolled each piece out separately. I knew I didn't want to have to roll anything out "thin enough" because I never get there. The second person made a lasagna shaped buckwheat pie (referred to as "Perfect and Adorable Buckwheat Pie") but added spinach between the layers, which I liked. So I adapted the first person's recipe, brought in elements for the filling from other recipes, and added spinach between every other layer when I put it together. The recipe videos were all in Serbian and some ingredients are not quite the same, or maybe even measurements, so I did my best!

Heljdopita (aka Adorable Buckwheat Pie)

Ingredients for crepes:

150 g buckwheat flour (I used 1 cup + 2 tbsp)
250 g whole wheat flour (I used 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, but 1 1/2 may have been better)
3 eggs
One and a half deciliters of milk (I used 5 oz)
Three and a half deciliters of sparkling water (I used 11.75 oz, or 1 cup + scant 1/2 cup)

Filling:

200 g cheese (I used 8 oz feta, they use feta or another sharp crumbly cheese)
200 g cream cheese (I used sour cream since others did, I think the "cream cheese" references is really farmers' cheese, or some other mild soft cheese)
2 eggs
100 ml plain greek-style yogurt (1/3 cup)

Whisk eggs, stir in milk and water. Stir in buckwheat flour; stir in whole wheat flour half at a time. Make crepe like pancakes (medium heat, ladle in just enough to cover bottom, flip when edges start to curl, cook just a few seconds on the other side.)

Mash cheese, stir in sour cream (or cream cheese), eggs, and yogurt. Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a springform or dutch oven, layer a crepe with a spoon or so of filling, enough to spread around but does not need to fully cover. Add spinach if so desired, fresh baby leaves fine.

Bake at 400 F for 20-25 minutes.