Monday, July 15, 2019

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

It's almost the end of blueberry season where I live, so I wanted to squeeze this recipe in despite the fact that I posted about pancakes last week. Sorry. Pancakes are delicious. This recipe comes from The Bacon Bible, from which I formerly made a delicious sweet-savory bread pudding. But this recipe is the only one without any bacon, thrown in because they make it at their restaurant for people who aren't feeling the bacon. But my husband and I have a funny memory about $16 lemon ricotta pancakes so I always feel drawn to recipes for them.

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup
(from The Bacon Bible)

1 cup maple syrup
1 cup blueberries
4 large eggs, separated
1 1/3 cups ricotta
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 tbsp lemon zest, from about 2 lemons
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar

In a medium saucepan, bring the maple syrup to a boil over high heat. Add the blueberries and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep while you make the pancakes.*

In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, ricotta, butter, and lemon zest and whisk until smooth. In a large bowl, stir together the flour and granulated sugar.

In a separate large bowl, with a clean whisk, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks.

Add the egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined (do not overmix.) Fold in the egg whites until just incorporated.

Heat a griddle or cast-iron pan over medium heat and brush with butter or spray with nonstick spray. Working in batches, pour the batter onto the griddle by 1/4-cup measures and cook the pancakes for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they are golden, brushing the griddle with more of hte melted adidtional butter as necessary.

Serve 2-3 pancakes per person, ladled with the blueberry syrup and dusted with confectioners' sugar. 

Makes 10-12; Serves 4.

Notes from JennyBakes:

I made a different kind of blueberry syrup since I had blueberries that were close to the brink. I used 2 cups, added a little water and sweetener and lemon zest. I sometimes make a sauce like this for ice cream, where I usually add a cinnamon stick, but I didn't want it to overpower the lemon. I let it boil and simmer away while I made the pancakes.

I was trying to make the recipe lower carb, so went with brown sugar splenda and half almond flour, but really there is so little flour I wish I hadn't bothered. This made them harder to turn, although that's also partly because I'm trying to make pancakes in a skillet pan on the stove and really just need a griddle.

Like pancakes? I seem to make them from around the world! Check out the Finnish pannukakku, Icelandic pönnukökur, Papua New Guinean banana pancakes, the Danish ebleskiver, the Hungarian palacsintas, Austrian kaiserschmarm, the Swedish pancakes from Alaska, and what we call the German oven apple pancake. I also made ratio pancakes from Michael Ruhlman's book, which we can call American, but Rosa Parks might be giving Michael a run for his money with her "featherlite" pancakes.

Monday, July 08, 2019

"Featherlite" Pancakes from Rosa Parks

Christy, my work colleague, was recently at the Library of Congress during the American Library Association Conference. She picked up a postcard for me that had a recipe from Rosa Parks for "Featherlite" Pancakes. You know I had to try them! We've been collecting blueberries every day from our two bushes in the yard so I added some of them. And keep reading to find out how a mistake I made in reading the recipe may have created even more deliciousness.

"Featherlite" Pancakes


1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/3 cup peanut butter*
1 tablespoon shortening, melted, or any neutral oil, like canola

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In a separate, medium mixing bowl, combine the egg, whole milk, and peanut butter. Whisk together the wet ingredients until combined.
  2. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. Add the shortening or oil to a skillet and bring to 275° F. Spoon roughly one-fifth of the batter into the pan, into a roughly 4-inch pancake. Cook for about 2 minutes until bubbles form around the edges and the pancakes look dry and airy. Use a thin spatula to gently lift it and flip over to the other side. Cook for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes, until cooked through and golden-brown. Repeat with the rest of the batter and serve warm.

Notes from JennyBakes:

I made a half recipe, but just went with 1/2 cup milk and used the whole egg. I added the oil to the batter and cooked the pancakes in butter but when Food52 played with this recipe and made up instructions, they assumed the oil was for cooking. Rosa doesn't actually say that though.

I mixed the dry ingredients and just dumped the wet ingredients in on top, but you can see the word combine goes after the shortening/oil rather than before. To me this means it's part of the wet ingredients. 

I don't have a griddle so I cooked mine one by one in a pan, which is why they are rather imperfect in shape. 

I also misread the recipe and melted the peanut butter in the microwave, ha! But interestingly the Food52 recipe said it was okay if the peanut butter still showed in the recipe; melting it took care of that.

There is a lot of baking powder in this recipe (capital T = tablespoon; lower t = teaspoon), 2 Tbsp per cup of flour. So the batter is very frotty and stretchy and that is what makes them "featherlite."

Recipe image courtesy of the Library of Congree:
Parks, Rosa. Rosa Parks Papers: Miscellany, -2005; Recipe for featherlite pancakes, undated. - 2005, 1934. Manuscript/Mixed Material.

Speaking of pancakes...

Like pancakes? I seem to make them from around the world! Check out the Finnish pannukakku, Icelandic pönnukökur, Papua New Guinean banana pancakes, the Danish ebleskiver, the Hungarian palacsintas, Austrian kaiserschmarm, the Swedish pancakes from Alaska, and what we call the German oven apple pancake. I also made ratio pancakes from Michael Ruhlman's book, which we can call American, but Rosa might be giving Michael a run for his money.

Thursday, July 04, 2019

London Fog Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream

Earlier this year I made a cake from Tessa Huff in her Icing on the Cake cookbook. Loved it! And I found myself making another cake from an earlier cookbook of Tessa's, a recipe that had lingered on my Birthday Cake Pinterest board for a few years, since I love a good London Fog (the drink, but yeah, also the fog in London.) But since my birthday was on a Monday this year, I knew I'd have to make my own cake (most bakeries being closed Sundays and Mondays!) I was very wishwashy about it and had Instagram decide in a poll. This cake beat out the paradise chiffon cake 76% to 24%. The only change I made in the recipe was to use buttermilk instead of cream because I didn't want to go to the store. Scroll past the pictures and recipe to see what I thought!

London Fog Cake with Earl Grey Buttercream
from Layered by Tessa Huff


Classic Chocolate Cake:
  • butter or nonstick cooking spray, for the pans
  • 2 and 1/2 cups (315 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 1 cup (95 grams) unsweetened non-alkalized cocoa powder
  • 2 and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (150 ml) grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole milk, room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) hot, strong-brewed coffee
Salted Caramel Sauce:
  • 3/4 cup  (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons diced unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Earl Grey Buttercream:
  • 2 cups (4 sticks/450 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (12 grams) loose Earl Grey tea
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (150 ml) large egg whites
  • 1 and 1/4 cup (250 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste 


For the Cake:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Grease and flour three 8-inch (20-cm) cake pans and set aside (*see the note section for tips if you do not own three pans).
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside .
  3. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the oil and sugar on medium speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer on, add the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extract. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
  4. Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on low, stream in the coffee. Mix on medium-low for no more than 3o seconds, or until combined.
  5. Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans. Allow to cool completely.
Prepare the Salted Caramel:
  1. Place the sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy-bottomed small or medium saucepan. Stir to combine.
  2. Heat over high heat, occasionally swirling the pan, until it turns a medium golden amber color, 8 to 10 minutes. The sugar mixture will begin to rapidly boil before slowing down and darkening in color. Remove the saucepan from the heat once the correct color is reached and the bubbles start to subside.
  3. Slowly and very carefully whisk in the room temperature cream. The mixture will foam up and sputter, so stand clear and keep stirring.
  4. Add the butter and continue to stir until melted. Add the salt and vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the caramel into a heat-safe container and let it cool until it reaches the desired consistency or refrigerate it until ready to use. It will thicken as it cools.
  5. The caramel should be room temperature for cake assembly, but any leftover caramel can be stored in an air-tight glass jar in the refrigerator for up t0 10 days.
Earl Grey Buttercream:
  1. Place 1 cup (2 sticks/225 grams) of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes more. Strain the butter through a fine-meshed sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate it until it reaches the same consistency as softened butter, 20 to 30 minutes. Small bits of tea may remain in the butter.
  2. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it reaches 160 F (70 C) on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
  3. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, tea infused butter, and remaining 1 cup (225 grams) butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
Assemble the Cake:
  1. Once the cakes have completely cooled, level them and choose which layer will be the bottom (tip: pick the sturdiest layer). Place it on a cake plate, turning table, or serving dish. Spread on 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat, ending with the third layer (tip: pick a level, attractive layer for the top). Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream and refrigerate it until set, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Pour the caramel onto the top of the cake, letting it drip over the edges. Begin by adding 1/2 cup (120 ml) of caramel to the center of the cake and then smooth it out with an offset spatula. Add more caramel as necessary until desired look is achieved.
  3. The cake will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days; it may also be frozen. Store any remaining caramel sauce separately in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Notes from JennyBakes:

I used Earl Grey Bella Luna Tea from Adagio, and it was very strong and flavorful. I had never steeped tea in butter before, so that was a new experience. I wish I'd let the tea infused butter soften a bit more before making the icing because I ended up with a few chunks (just don't chill it longer than you need to, I'd say.)

I did not like the texture of the cake and I'm willing to assume user error. I substituted the oil type and buttermilk for the cream, and I could tell when dividing the batter that it hadn't really fully combined, so it was uneven. But in the end it was ragged-fluffy instead of moist and dense like I like. And not nearly chocolately enough.

But that didn't really matter in the end because we did not like this cake! I couldn't even finish my one birthday slice and we threw the rest away. I never throw away baking fails unless they are inedible, and I'm sorry to say that this flavor combination just 100% did not work for me. Typically a London Fog drink is a vanilla steamer with an earl grey tea bag steeped in it. I can see the caramel going okay with that, just adding a sweet dessert element. But chocolate is really not a component of that drink and doesn't work here. All three of the strong flavor elements were at huge odds with each other.

I do like the idea of earl grey in a dessert. I know I have another recipe marked to make that is an earl grey tea cake with a rhubarb glaze and I still want to try that one. I also think earl grey would do nicely pre-steeped in the milk/cream for pannacotta, cheesecake, or some other creamy dairy concoction where it could be the primary flavor.

Happy birthday to me!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Abrams Dinner Party - Invitation and Roundup 2018-19

What a fun year I've had, participating in the Abrams Dinner Party! (You can apply to be a member this next season; please see farther down this post.) It was my second and final year (you can see last year's roundup here.) I tried to do a better job this year at capturing the recipes I was interested in, things I tried, recipes in the making, all in my Instagram Stories. I still have many pages marked in these cookbooks of other recipes I want to try - I still need to make pizza from Genuine Pizza (I got sidetracked by the cookie recipe everyone was making), and I need to try more seasons in The Modern Cook's Year. I will post my favorites from the year at the end. But maybe you missed some of these posts, and want to know what I made!

Fall 2018

Matty Matheson: A Cookbook
Chicken cacciatore in Instagram

Korean Home Cooking by Sohui Kim
Tofu and kimchi pancake in Instagram

Home Made Christmas by Yvette van Boven
Vegetable Spiral Tart in JennyBakes
Vegetable Spiral Tart in Instagram
Cauliflower Curry Christmas Pasty with Apricots & Almonds in JennyBakes
Cauliflower Curry Christmas Pasty with Apricots & Almonds in Instagram

Ibiza, Land and Sea by Francoise Pialoux
Mauritius Fish Curry in Instagram 

Cali'Flour Kitchen by Amy Lacey
Spinach Artichoke Dip Pizza in Instagram 

Spring 2019

Pescan by Abbie Cornish and Jacqueline King Schiller
Spicy Buffalo Tofu Fingers in Instagram
Spicy Buffalo Tofu Fingers in JennyBakes
Banana Pancakes with Cardamom Spiced Berries in JennyBakes

Eat Clean, Play Dirty by Danielle Dubois and Whitney Tingle
Roasted Radish and Turmeric-Ginger Bowl in Instagram stories

The Modern Cook's Year by Anna Jones
Whole-wheat spelt, date, and molasses scones in Instagram
Whole-wheat spelt, date, and molasses scones in JennyBakes

Cauliflower rice with fried eggs and green chutney in Instagram

The Power of Sprinkles by Amireh Kassem
Sprinkle Cake Experiment in JennyBakes

The Bacon Bible by Peter Sherman and Stephanie Banyas
Bread Pudding French Toast with Bacon and Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup in Instagram
Bread Pudding French Toast with Bacon and Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup in JennyBakes

BBQ&A with Myron Mixon
Banana Pudding in Instagram
Banana Pudding in JennyBakes

Icing on the Cake by Tessa Huff
Orange Honey Cake in Instagram
Orange Honey Cake in JennyBakes

Genuine Pizza by Michael Schwartz
Chocolate Chunk Cookies in Instagram
Chocolate Chunk Cookies in JennyBakes

I enjoyed cooking and baking from all of these cookbooks, but these are my top four! The Modern Cook's Year is innovative, seasonal, vegetarian food with some formula based recipes (I still haven't tried that curry chart and really want to.) Icing on the Cake has complex yet doable recipes with good photography and very clear instructions. Home Made Christmas
is homey and full of cheer, and enjoyable to flip through.  Korean Home Cooking simplifies a cuisine I can't access very easily locally but of which I am a huge fan, so I remain excited to keep this on hand for experimentation. How else could I have fish cakes and rice cakes in my freezer and gochujang in my fridge?

I also enjoyed getting to know the other members of the Abrams' Dinner Party, who would post triumphs and challenges and cheer each other on. And I so appreciate Mamie VanLangen, who kept us organized and excited.

You can also apply to participate in the ABRAMS Dinner Party for 2019-20! I've seen some good looking cookbooks in their upcoming season. The application is here, and is due July 22.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Beaten Biscuits from Gone with the Wind

"She dropped her eyes to her plate and nibbled daintily on a beaten biscuit with an elegance and an utter lack of appetite that would have won Mammy's approval."
I co-hosted a joint readalong of Gone with the Wind this summer with Chris Wolak and Emily Fine of the Book Cougars podcast. The discussion episode posts tomorrow, June 18th.

There are several memorable passages in Gone with the Wind, but nothing more than Scarlett when she decides:
"As God is my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again!"
What we often forget is what came right before that - finding radishes in the ground at Tara, her family's plantation, and really only having that to live on.
"A spicy, sharp-tasting radish was exactly what her stomach craved."
I decided to make a meal in tribute to Gone with the Wind. I knew it had to have beaten biscuits and radishes. When we discussed the book, Emily mentioned eating baguettes with radishes and butter, and it reminded me of a time I made radish butter when I was trying to grow vegetables in my backyard. I decided to do something similar, and also to cook radish and turnip greens, since Scarlett would have had those available too.

Beaten biscuits were a whole other exploration. They traditionally were made by beating a dough for an hour or so, keeping down the gluten and turning them into something more like a cracker. It's no mistake these were served in wealthy southern homes, as it is definitely a by product of slave labor (and a lack of baking powder.) 

I tried making the best decisions from a bunch of historical recipes and I'm not sure I chose right, so instead of a recipe in this post, I'll link you to the various places on the internet I consulted. Maybe you will have better luck. Traditionally, beaten biscuits are considered the perfect vehicle for country ham, but of course during Reconstruction it is highly unlikely it would have been available!

Mine turned out pretty much like giant oyster crackers. I'm not sure it's wrong, but some pictures in these recipes look more bready. It's definitely more of a food of survival than of deliciousness, but I still wanted to try it.

Recipes consulted:

"The Art of the Beaten Biscuit" from Garden and Gun (a magazine similar to Southern Living, believe it or not) - this is the recipe I used more or less, but the baking time was puzzling. It said 325 F for an hour, or until cooked through. But mine were cooked through at 20 and tough at 25. I'm willing to entertain other points of user error. It was also interesting how it said you could beat the dough for 45 to 90 minutes, or for 2 minutes in the food processor. I also had found in both Cook's Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen that the plastic dough blade in a food processor is not needed, and you can just use the standard metal blade. So I did that, set the timer for 2 minutes, and held on to the food processor once I realized it was making entire rotations on the counter. I could tell the motor was trying hard too. This recipe doesn't have you rest the dough while others do, but it did look similar to the texture I thought I was going for.

Beaten Biscuits from White Lily Flour - this recipe had a completely different mixing time (15 minutes in the food processor? this would have destroyed my machine) and a completely different cooking temp/time (450 for 8-10 minutes)... and the picture shows them with jam. I dunno. It didn't seem as historical in nature so I let it go, but the temp/time differences definitely gave me pause.

Beaten Biscuits from Atlanta Magazine - this has a similar cooking time to what I did, but much more resting of the dough, after processing, and in the oven after baking.. after looking at so many this may be the best for the contemporary kitchen.

I also watched an entire 45 minute video on YouTube about Maryland beaten biscuits, using traditional equipment. It was fascinating but the state is pretty far north, and I'm just not sure - they ended up in large pillow shapes. I also found several historical recipes for other states in the south, but using plantation amounts or instructions. As it was I made half the recipe I settled on.

There are a lot of other recipes on the internet that call themselves beaten biscuits but are actually more accurately called drop biscuits, misnamed because, well, you beat the batter. Go southern for this if you try it at all!

Monday, June 10, 2019

Chocolate Sheet Cake with Whipped Salted Caramel Ganache Frosting

I've started experimenting with potential birthday cake recipes since next month is my birthday month. I even keep a group in Pinterest marked "Birthday Cake" for potentials as I encounter them, then of course I have shelves of cookbooks that also hold potential. Hopefully I'll try a mix. First up is a recipe from the internet - Chocolate Sheet Cake with Whipped Salted Caramel Ganache Frosting.

This recipe comes from Edd Kimber, aka The Boy who Bakes. I guess he won the first season of The Great British Bake Off but we didn't start watching until Season 2, so I first encountered him in one of the many baking Instagram accounts I follow (@theboywhobakes.) He also posted a video about making this cake that shows how quick and straight-forward of a recipe it is. The flavor mirrors the infamous Martha Stewart salted caramel chocolate layer cake that everyone made a few years back, that was messy and divine. I would say this recipe is similar in flavor but much simpler to assemble, so that's a win/win. See more notes from my attempt after the recipe!

Chocolate Sheet Cake with Whipped Salted Caramel Ganache Frosting
(recipe from Edd Kimber, not sure if recipe copyrights are different in UK, trying to give all credit where credit is due since it's available online!)

Chocolate Sheet Cake
Makes a 9x13 cake that serves 12-18 people

250g plain flour
75g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
300g light brown sugar
2 large eggs
100ml oil (you can use something neutral tasting or olive oil)
225g sour cream
225ml hot coffee

Whipped Salted Caramel Milk Chocolate Ganache

200g milk chocolate, finely chopped
400ml double cream
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tsp flaked sea salt
50g unsalted butter

salted peanut and cocoa nibs, for garnish 

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C/160C fan and lightly grease a 9x13 inch brownie pan, lining with a strip of parchment paper. The excess parchment should hang over the sides of the pan which will make removing the cake a lot easier later.

Make the ganache first as it needs a couple hours to chill before whipping. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl and set near the stove. Place the cream into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Place the sugar into medium sized saucepan and place over medium heat and cook until melted and caramelised to the colour of a rusty penny. Once caramelised add the butter and salt and stir to combine. Add the cream in two additions, being careful as it will bubble up viciously. Once the bubbling has subsided you should have a smooth caramel, if the cream wasn’t hot enough you may have a couple lumps which will melt if you just pop it back over low heat and stir for a couple minutes. Stir in the vanilla and then pour the hot caramel over the chocolate, set aside for a couple minutes before stirring together to form a smooth ganache. Pop the bowl in the fridge for a couple hours or until thickened. Make sure you don’t leave the ganache in the fridge for too long as it will become too firm to whip, it still needs to be spreadable.

For the cake sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and brown sugar into a large bowl and use a whisk to combine so everything is evenly combined. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in the remaining ingredients and whisk together until a smooth cake batter is formed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until the cake springs back to a light touch and it is slightly pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Notes from JennyBakes:

What I love about this recipe is that it is pretty forgiving. I was too lazy to use my scale so I searched online for ounce/cup equivalencies for the ingredients and may not have gotten them exact. The cake still worked. All of my 9x13 pans were occupied so I divided it into 2 9" square pans. The cake still worked. I had a few clumps in the caramel that refused to melt back in despite his reassurances, and then the milk chocolate didn't melt as smoothly as I would have liked (it was harder to find milk chocolate bars for baking as I usually use dark, so I bought Cadbury dairy milk bars and they are probably more intended for eating) so you can seem chocolate and/or caramel bits in the frosting but the cake still worked. I didn't use his recommended cake toppings since I was birthdayfying it and also am trying to get rid of these sprinkles that I keep using on everything, and the cake still worked. It is probably more sophisticated with the cocoa nibs and nuts, so I'd still recommend doing that.

Also I don't have a way to transport a 9x13 cake outside of its original pan so part of my cake division strategy was purely so I could take half to work!

Monday, June 03, 2019

Chocolate Chunk Cookies from Genuine Pizza

This is my last official post as a member of the Abrams Dinner Party. Part of the behind the scenes happenings that you can't see is that all the members have a private online group where we can share recipe experiments, ask questions, etc. Well when we first got Genuine Pizza, other people started raving about this cookie recipe - best ever, makes a ton, multiple batches, etc. I was determined to make pizza from a pizza cookbook but then I had a leftover half stick of butter sitting around from the cake I posted last weekend that I decided to make a quarter recipe. They are amazing!

At some point I will return to Genuine Pizza and make, oh I don't know, pizza, particularly the one with porcini cream that I have my eye on, but for now please understand that these cookies demand to be shared.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

2 sticks (1 cup/225 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (175 g) granulated sugar
generous 3/4 cup (175 g) packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, cold
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups (405 g) all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
12 (1-oz/30 g) chocolate chunks or 84 chocolate feves (7 per cookie)
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon

Preheat oven to 350 F (175 F).

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Pause the mixer motor to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Add the vanilla and mix to incorporate.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda until combined.

Add the flour mixture to the butter-egg mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix.

Using a large cookie scoop (2 oz/55 g), scoop out the dough and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Press a chocolate chunk or 7 chocolate feves into each of the cookie dough balls and wrap the dough around the chocolate so it's completely encased and the dough balls are round. Return the cookie balls to the parchment-lined baking sheet, flatten the cookies so they're a bit squat, and sprinkle each with some flaky salt.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown and about 1/2 inch thick. Remove from the oven and transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Let cool completely, then transfer to a container with a lid and store the cookies at room temperature for up to 1 week.*

Notes from JennyBakes: I had some small chocolate truffles leftover from the holidays (the type that are dark chocolate ganache rolled in cocoa powder) and this is what I chopped up to stuff inside the cookie. It worked great but didn't take much! I also didn't realize it called for cold butter and used room temperature, and used regular brown sugar instead of dark. Guess I'll have to make them again, oh darn.

* It is impossible for them to last this long because you will eat them, obviously.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Orange Honey Cake

This is my penultimate post as part of the 2018-19 Abrams Dinner Party, but I'm not done with these cookbooks. I will keep cooking and baking from my favorites moving forward. The cake this recipe comes from is one of those that will serve as an endless source of inspiration.

When I first went through Icing on the Cake by Tessa Huff, I had marked the pink lemonade cake to try. But then I ran out of strawberries, and then I ran out of butter. And then I didn't pay enough attention to the strawberry mixture and burned it, and that was the last of them. So I had to put the ideas aside for a week. But I kept thinking about this cake that had salted honey and orange together and it just seemed so perfect for spring, and when a co-worker announced her resignation I knew it would be a good one to bring for the goodbye break.

As laid out in the cookbook, this cake would have three 6-inch layers, a salted honey custard, an orange cake, and a honey buttercream. I think I've said before that I don't have three 6-inch cake pans, nor would I have a cake holder that would fit a cake that high if I did. So I was adapting this recipe to two 9-inch layers. This mean I wasn't sure it was worth making the salted honey custard for just one layer, but I do think it would have been a nice textural and taste contrast to the other two parts. I also didn't do the flower petal icing technique on the outside that she shows, choosing instead to borrow the side technique from the cake I originally intended to make, and use the rest of the remnants of that to just put a few things on top. I will only include the parts below that I used.

I was worried about the sweetness of the buttercream, which seemed very sweet when I first made it. But I made this cake two days before the party, and the buttercream the night before, and apart from two separate 15-minute periods where I put the cake in the fridge to set it, I left it out at room temperature. By the time I tasted the final product around lunchtime the next day, it all was lovely and mellow, but you could still taste the honey and orange. This may be the perfect tea party cake, or Easter, or baby or bridal shower. I know I will be making it again.

Orange Honey Cake
(adapted from the Orange Salted Honey Cake in Icing on the Cake)

For the Orange Butter Cake:
2 1/4 cups (295 g) cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
2 tbsp finely grated orange zest from about 2 large oranges
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh orange juice
2/3 cup (160 ml) buttermilk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs

For the Honey Buttercream:
4 large egg whites
2/3 cup (160 ml) honey
2/3 cup (135 g) granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups (4 sticks/450 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Make the Orange Butter Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C). Grease and flour three 6-inch (15-cm) cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, rub the orange zest and granulated sugar together between your fingertips until fragrant. In a separate bowl, stir together the orange juice and buttermilk.

In the bowl of a stand mixture with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugar-zest mixture and mix on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Turn the mixer to medium-low and add the vanilla. Add the eggs one a t time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. After the last streaks of the flour mixture are incorporated, mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds.

Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 25-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before removing from the pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely, right-side up, on the wire rack before removing the parchment. Level the tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife as needed.

Make the Honey Buttercream
Put the egg whites, honey, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Gently whisk them by hand until just combined. In a medium saucepan, bring an inch or two (2.5 to 5 cm) of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler (be sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Whisking intermittently, heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 160 F (70 C) on a candy thermometer.

Carefully affix the mixer bowl to the stand mixture (it may be hot) and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg white mixture on high for 8-10 minutes, or until it holds medium-stiff peaks and the outside of the bowl has returned to room temperature.

Turn the mixer down to low and add the vanilla. Add the butter a couple of tablespoons at a time, mixing until each is incorporated before adding the next. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.

Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

(Please see cookbook for assembly directions since I went rogue!)

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. 

Icing on the Cake came out April 2, 2019. 

Inside you will find recipes for beautiful and decadent cakes, cupcakes, pies, tarts, and even two styles of macarons. When I have some days off I plan to come back to this one and maybe try macarons again. So far they have eluded me but her directions are so clear!

Monday, May 20, 2019

Banana Pudding

Growing up in the northwest, we would have "a barbecue" and that might mean a picnic or gathering or potluck, whether it included meat or fire or not. Here where I live in the south, we would never use the word barbecue that way, and barbecue is serious business. In my state of South Carolina alone, there are four different bbq regions (with different sauces) and even a BBQ Trail Map. One of my coworkers has been trained as an official bbq judge. Only in the last few years have I even eaten meat, so I'm still learning about the difference in meat styles. But up to that point (and part of me may still believe this now) I thought that bbq was like Thanksgiving - it's important that the meat centerpiece is good but that people are more interested in the sides.

One side you see everywhere in the south is banana pudding, from seafood shacks to the finest dining establishments downtown (ten years ago I made Soby's White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie for friends visiting from Oregon, and I think that was intended as an elevated banana pudding.) But just like macaroni and cheese, a side-dish I also made from this same cookbook, you never eat the same pudding twice. Everyone has their own take, their own technique. This recipe has you assemble the pudding and bananas and cookies at the last minute, where many southerners would have had you put the pudding and cookies together overnight so everything is soft. Maybe we all find our own way.

Banana Pudding(from BBQ&A with Myron Mixon)

Makes 6 servings


5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
Dash of kosher salt
2 cups whole milk (do not use skim)
2 tbsp unsalted cold butter
2 tsp vanilla extract*
18 Nilla wafer cookies, coarsely crushed
3 ripe bananas, thinly sliced*

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the cornstarch, sugar, and salt. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, gradually bring the milk to a boil. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg yolk mixture until smooth. Transfer the pudding mixture (back) to the saucepan. Cook over moderate heat, whisking, until the pudding is thick, about 3 minutes. Scrape the pudding into a bowl and whisk in the cold butter and vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When you are ready to serve the pudding: spoon the pudding into 6 bowls. Garnish with the thinly sliced bananas and sprinkle all over with the crushed Nilla wafers. Serve cold, right away.

Note: You can serve the cookies without crushing them - just allow 3 per bowl. You can also add a couple tbsp of banana or almond liqueur (or a combination of both) into the pudding mixture right after you transfer it to the saucepan.

*Notes from JennyBakes - I substitute banana liqueur for the vanilla because I've always thought it was strange that the only banana in banana pudding is the bananas! I wouldn't cut the bananas until right before serving, OR put them in a dish and smother with the pudding to chill, and top with the Nilla wafers so they get a little soft... this seems more standard for southern pudding. This recipes leaves the Nilla wafers pretty crunchy.

BBQ&A with Myron Mixon came out May 7, 2019, from ABRAMS Books, and has a lot of practical how-to information, diagrams too, that should be an asset to anyone wanting to up their barbecue game.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Bread Pudding French Toast with Bacon and Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup

Peter Sherman is the founder of BarBacon in NYC, a restaurant centered around bacon. His new cookbook, The Bacon Bible (by Peter Sherman with Stephanie Banyas,) came out April 23rd. It has a lot of what you might expect but also some surprises. I'm relatively new to eating meat again but of course one of the great pleasures of a meat eating life is bacon. BLTs! Cobb salad!  I wanted this bacon to be special so I bought local, from the Swamp Rabbit Butchery

I found I had marked a bunch but I kept coming back to this sweet and savory brunch recipe and decided to give it a try. Since not everyone in my household eats bacon, I made a half recipe by cutting everything in half and just using 4 eggs, and cutting back on cooking times a bit (20-25 minutes with the foil, 15 without) and it worked perfectly. The bacon is present but not overpowering, and overall the dish is not too sweet and has a lot of balance (don't skip the orange rosemary syrup which helps with this.)

Bread Pudding French Toast with Bacon and Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup

1 loaf semolina-golden raisin bread, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes*
7 large eggs
2 cups (400 g) sugar
2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 thin slices bacon, cooked until crisp, finely chopped

Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup (recipe below)
Confectioners' Sugar for serving (optional)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until a pale golden blond color, turning once, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Increase the oven temperature to 350 F.

Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter and nonstick spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Add the milk, cream, orange zest, and vanilla, and whisk until smooth. Stir in the bacon. Add the bread to the custard mixture and stir well to combine. Let the mixture sit, stirring a few more times, for 20 minutes, or until the bread has absorbed all the liquid.

Transfer the bread mixture to the prepared pan, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until puffed and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes longer.  Cut into squares and serve with the Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup and a sprinkle of confectioner's sugar.

Rosemary-Orange Maple Syrup

1 cup pure maple syrup, preferably grade B
Zest of one large navel orange
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

In a small saucepan, combine the syrup, zest, and rosemary, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep for thirty minutes. Remove the zest and rosemary and reheat before serving, if needed. Makes 1 cup.

*If you prefer your french toast made with brioche or challah, feel free to use either, just add 1/3 cup golden raisins and 1/4 tsp fennel seeds to the egg mixture. (Or if you're like me, just wing it... I found a challah with regular raisins and called it close enough.)

I had a few pieces of bacon leftover so I made chocolate covered bacon from the candy section of the cookbook.

Other recipes I've marked to try include:

Bacon Ramen
BarBacon Cobb
Skillet Pasta Carbonara
Peanut Butter and Bacon Bars

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Mexican Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

By the time you see this cake, it will be 364 days until the next Cinco de Mayo, so write it down and come back. Or make it sometime this summer, whatever the reason. It is super moist, not too sweet, and refreshing. I made a half recipe and baked in a 9x9 pan for 30 minutes and that worked out great!

Mexican Chocolate Tres Leches Cake

Yields 9x13" cake

    For the cake:
  • 1 cup hot coffee
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

  • For the milk mixture:
  • 1 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup chocolate milk

  • For the whipped cream topping:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease 9x13" baking pan with butter or cooking spray.
  3. Combine hot coffee and butter in medium bowl, stirring until butter is melted. If the butter doesn't melt all the way, microwave for 30 seconds.
  4. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, and sugar, stirring until well combined.
  5. In a medium bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring until well combined.
  6. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring until about halfway combined, then add coffee mixture, stirring until well combined.
  7. Stir in chopped chocolate.
  8. Pour batter into the pan.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick comes out with some loose crumbs on it.
  10. Let the cake cool completely.
  11. Once cake is cooled, combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and chocolate milk and stir well to combine.
  12. Poke lots of holes in the cake with a toothpick or a fork - the more the better, so it soaks up all the milks!
  13. Pour the milk mixture over the cake.
  14. Refrigerate at least an hour.
  15. Make whipped topping by combining heavy cream, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and whipping until stiff peaks form. I use my electric mixer for this but if you want a good arm workout - use a whisk and your arm!
  16. Spread whipped topping over chilled cake.
  17. Dust with powdered sugar, cinnamon, and a sprinkle of more cayenne, if desired!
  18. Slice and enjoy!
Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Power of Sprinkles Cake Experiment

I have had this cake cookbook on my pile for a while to try and finally pulled all the pieces together! Amirah Kassem is the personality, baker, and cake decorator behind the sprinkle explosion cakes at Flour Shop. Her new book, The Power of Sprinkles, shows the method behind making the cake. Really The Power of Sprinkles is more of a decorating book, because it only contains one cake and one frosting recipe, but then goes on to demonstrate a bunch of variations, from the unicorn cakes to the sushi cakes to the cakes that look like other things (pizza, pancakes, etc.) Because of the one recipe issue, I am not including it in this post; please take a look at the cookbook!

It felt to me like sprinkles were the important thing, so I decided to make a small explosion cake. I had ordered fancy sprinkles already! I used the basic suggestions for the sushi roll cakes, which divided one cake recipe into two 9x13 pans (two colors) and used a half recipe of the icing. Amirah has very clear directions in her book, with pictures for each step. This is how I remembered to put holes in my cakes but not the top layer, and to remember to fill the cake with sprinkles before putting that top layer on! She also has helpful recommendations for timing, scaling up or down, or other variations.

I had been poking around the cake decorating part of the internet (a huge rabbit hole) and decided to try out the watercolor technique on the outside. 

I definitely used too much food coloring in the watercolor stage, but liked how this technique required less icing (I was worried I shouldn't have halved the batch!) and lets you use up all the dregs in the watercolor process, which is basically random blops that get smoothed to a vaguely abstract look (or in my case - almost smoothed. I really need a cake turner!)

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. 

The Power of Sprinkles came out April 9, 2019.

You can use the book for a whole host of ideas for seasonal parties or fun themes, or even just as a jumping off point for your own creative ventures. The cake I made is not exactly pictured, but I pulled inspiration from some of her versions and used her primary cake and frosting recipes.

Check out her website and Instagram too, which may be the two most colorful places on the internet!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Double Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins

I follow a bunch of bakers and other foodie types in Instagram, and one of my favorite is the Table for Two account. Her daily espresso stir into milk is mesmerizing (watch her stories, you'll see what I mean.) I saw these muffins come up the other day, was home for the day, and totally craving chocolate. I also had a lone wonky banana that wasn't going to make it to the weekend. These muffins start with a trick that makes a big difference - high heat to lift the height of the muffins. Please visit the Table for Two blog for answers to FAQ about this recipe, detailed picture instructions, and all her other content. (This is not a paid advertisement by the way, I just like this account a lot.)

Double Dark Chocolate Banana Muffins
(from Julie Wampler at the Table for Two blog)

3 ripe bananas, mashed
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt, room temperature
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips, more for topping


Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a muffin pan with muffin liners and lightly spray them with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together bananas, maple syrup, vanilla extract, egg, coconut oil, and greek yogurt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt.

Carefully pour in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated and no flour is left at the bottom.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Using a large cookie scoop (or ice cream scoop), fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and add additional chocolate chips on top, if desired. Repeat until all the batter is used up. You may get more than a dozen, that's okay.

Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit then turn down the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and finish baking for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool in the muffin pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Notes from JennyBakes:

Julie at the Table for Two blog is pretty adamant that you can use a neutral oil like avocado or grapeseed instead of coconut, but says not to use olive or canola or vegetable. I didn't want to wait for my other cold ingredients to warm to room temperature (necessary when working with coconut oil, otherwise it resolidifies) - I used vegetable oil, and thought it was fine.

I used regular flour instead of whole wheat.

I used sour cream instead of yogurt.

I made 1/3 of the recipe because I had 1 banana!

Monday, April 15, 2019

Whole-wheat spelt, date, and molasses scones

I served these scones as an accompaniment to another recipe from A Modern Cook's Year: More than 250 Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes to Get You Through the Seasons, which I will discuss below. It was a good decision because these are not very sweet, but add a nice contrast to the dish I prepared. I didn't have quite a full cup of spelt flour so I used a little bit of all-purpose in the same amount, and it worked just fine. You can actually substitute all-purpose flour entirely, but the texture will be a bit denser.

Whole-wheat spelt, date, and molasses scones

Makes 6

1 cup (125 g) pitted dates
5 fluid oz (150 ml) freshly brewed strong black or earl grey tea
1 cup (125 g) whole-wheat spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp flaky sea salt
2 tbsp (30 g) cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbsp molasses
1/3 cup (75 g) buttermilk or thin natural yogurt

For the glaze:

1 organic or free range egg
1 tbsp milk
a pinch of sea salt
a handful of rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 395 F (200 C.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Soak the dates in the hot tea for 15 minutes, until the tea has cooled a little. Mix together the flour, baking powder, allspice, and sea salt with your fingertips, then add the butter until the mix looks like bread crumbs. You could also do this by pulsing it in a food processor.

Drain, then roughly chop the dates and add them to the mix, along with the molasses and buttermilk. Mix slowly and lightly until the mixture forms a soft but not too sticky dough. Shape into a rough round ball, place on a prepared baking sheet, and use a knife to score across the top, to mark out six portions, stopping before the knife reaches the baking sheet. It should look a bit like a loaf of soda bread.

Mix the egg and milk for the glaze with a pinch of salt and brush it over the top, then sprinkle with the oats, pressing them into the dough lightly to stick them down.

Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the baking sheet and reduce the heat to 360 F (180 C) and continue to bake for about 10 more minutes, until the top is a dark golden brown and when you turn the scone over and tap it, it sounds hollow. Serve warm from the oven and break up as required.

I served this scone loaf with Cauliflower rice with eggs and green chutney from the same cookbook. As skeptical as I have been about cauliflower pretending to be other things, this treatment of it was delicious and we will have it again!

A Modern Cook's Year: More than 250 Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes to Get You Through the Seasons by Anna Jones is one of the books from ABRAMS that I've been procrastinating on because it has so many recipes I want to make! As a former vegetarian still married to one, I know the suffering of most vegetarian options at restaurants and even the offerings in vegetarian cookbooks - so many pastas, and so many portabella "steaks."

This cookbook comes from a different philosophy. First of all it is very seasonal, but it is also British in all the best ways. The recipes feel like they come from a country garden with rotating seasonal produce but also influenced by current eating trends and international cuisines. Sometimes Anna Jones provides a recipe, but other times she provides a formula. There are two pages of curry formulas that I can't wait to try, and the springtime dishes have me searching for ramps already. This is definitely going on my permanent shelf for endless inspiration.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Banana Pancakes with Cardamom Spiced Berries from Pescan

I made Spicy Buffalo Tofu Fingers from the Pescan Cookbook last month, but I had a few more pages marked to try. One morning we had berries in the fridge and bananas that were past their prime, and I remembered this recipe.

Banana Pancakes with Cardamom Spiced Berries

Spiced Berries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup raspberries
1 tbsp filtered water
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

2 ripe bananas
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup old-fashioned or gluten-free rolled oats
1/2 cup almond meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp kosher sea salt
2 tbsp chia seeds or 1 large egg
2 tsp coconut oil

Make the spiced berries. Place the blackberries, raspberries, and water in an 8-inch pan. Cook the berries over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the raspberries begin to break down, about 3 minutes. Stir in the maple syrup and cardamom, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for about 3 minutes more, until the raspberries have broken down into a sauce. The blackberries may stay intact depending on how firm they are. The sauce will continue to thicken as it sits.

Make the pancakes. In a blender, combine the bananas, milk, water, oats, almond meal, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and chia seeds or egg. Blend, starting on low, then bringing it up to medium-high speed, until smooth, 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat, add 1 tsp of the coconut oil, and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. When the pan is hot, after about 1 minute, make 2 pancakes using half of the batter (about 1/2 cup each), spreading the batter out with the back of a tablespoon. Cook until set on the bottom and a few bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook on the second side until lightly browned on the bottom, about another 2 minutes. Transfer the pancakes to a plate. Swirl the remaining teaspoon oil into the pan and repeat with the remaining batter.

Meanwhile, reheat the berry sauce over medium-low heat. Transfer the pancakes from the pan onto individual serving plates and top each with one quarter of the berry sauce. Reheat the first two pancakes in the pan over medium heat for 30 seconds per side, then transfer to serving plates and top with the rest of the berry sauce. Finish with a bit of softened coconut butter on top.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. 
Pescan is available March 26, 2019.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Funfetti Cookie Dough Cake from Cake Confidence

I received a review copy of this cookbook  - Cake Confidence by Mandy Merriman - from the publisher through Edelweiss. I was excited to look through it because I have followed the baker in Instagram for a while now (@bakingwithblondie) where you can watch videos of her perfect cake decorating. My cake decorating is not so perfect, and I didn't have all the supplies on hand that she uses, but I still made a delicious cake to celebrate a staff member's pending new job at another library. I picked this for her because she wears a lot of vibrant colors and although she is an adult, she is younger than the rest of us, so cookie dough and sprinkles made sense to me. I added a bunch of notes to the end of this post about the changes I made. Pictures are of my cake; definitely check out the more perfect and taller version in the cookbook itself!

Funfetti Cookie Dough Cake

Funfetti Cake
3/4 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 egg whites
1 Tbsp. Mexican vanilla
1 box Duncan Hines white cake mix
1/2 cup rainbow jimmies

Eggless Cookie Dough
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup rainbow jimmies

White Chocolate Ganache
1 cup "Very white" Wilton or Guittard white chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream

Vanilla Buttercream
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. Mexican vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
5-7 cups powdered sugar, sifted

cookie dough balls
rainbow jimmies

Sara and her cake (photo by Libby Young)

Funfetti Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prep 6-inch cake rounds with a wipe of shortening and dust of flour.
  2. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, vegetable oil, egg whites, and vanilla until combined. Sift in white cake mix and sprinkles and stir until just combined. Don't overmix!
  3. Bake for 25-27 minutes until center is baked through - don't overbake! Remove from oven, let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then flip out onto a cooling rack until room temperature.
Eggless Cookie Dough
  1. After the cake is finished baking, clean out the pans you used for the cake rounds, and press two layers of plastic wrap in an "x" in two of the pans, remembering to press the plastic wrap into the corners, and leaving about a few inches of overhang on all sides. Set aside. This will help you shape the cookie dough layer into the same size round as your cake.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, which should take about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the milk and vanilla and mix for about 30 seconds.  
  4. Add in the flour, salt, chocolate chips, and jimmies. The dough will be slightly sticky. Add in flour by the tablespoon as needed.
  5. Roll the dough into tiny balls (think marbles or a tad larger) for the top decor of your cake. Store those in a plastic bag or small Tupperware with lid. Set aside.
  6. Divide the remaining dough into two separate balls and press one ball in the two prepared cake pans. Using the bottom of a 1 cup measuring cup or the bottom of a drinking glass helps a lot! The dough should be 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Wrap the overhang over the dough and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.

White Chocolate Ganache
  1. In a small glass bowl, add in chocolate melts and heavy cream. Microwave for 30 seconds, then stir with a small whisk until smooth. Add to a squeeze bottle for ganache drip on the side of the cake.

Vanilla Buttercream
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whip up butter for about a minute until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Add the salt, vanilla, and heavy cream until combined. Slowly add in powdered sugar, about a half cup at a time. Add in more heavy cream if needed for a thinner consistency. 
  3. Add in pink coloring if desired. Whip on high for 1 minute to create a soft buttercream.
  1. On a cake turntable, tape a 6-inch cardboard round on top of an 8-inch cardboard round. Top with a small amount of buttercream and spread it around to act like "glue" for holding the cake onto the board. 
  2. Place on first cake round and carefully top with the first cookie dough layer. Add on about a cup of buttercream, spread it flat with an offset cake spatula. Add on next layer of cake, and repeat with remaining two layers.
  3. Crumb coat the cake, place in the fridge to set for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add sprinkle rim on the bottom, freeze for a minute or so to set, then add on ganache drip.
  5. Place the cake in the freezer for 5 minutes to allow the ganache to firm before adding on the buttercream decor and topping them off with cookie dough balls.
Notes from JennyBakes:
  1. I don't have 6" cake rounds. I baked this cake in 2 9" cake rounds and made only one cookie dough layer. I made my tiny balls too big so almost didn't have enough for that layer.
  2. Because of time, even though I had the ingredients, I skipped the white chocolate ganache step.
  3. I had ordered a set of Fancy Sprinkles, so had to separate them out a bit before using them in this recipe. I tried to keep the tiny balls and jimmies for the cake batter and cookie dough and used the larger pieces on the outside and top. 
  4. I do not like this buttercream and if I made this cake again would use one of my old standbyes that have a more silky texture. Once you go Italian/Swiss buttercream there is just no use for powdered sugar buttercreams in my opinion.
  5. Even with all my modifications and less than perfect execution, this was hugely popular among my co-workers, who called it a unicorn cake and princess cake. The cookie dough inside really is a treat.