May 16, 2014

Sunken Berry Cake (and mother's day)

This past weekend was Mother’s Day. I hope you all called your momma’s if you couldn't give her a big hug. I got to see my mom, my grandma and one of my aunties. Triple whammy. Plus my awesome cousin (and her dad, my dad and her boyfriend, lots of family!) We were having a big potluck lunch and I was asked to bring dessert. So I turned to one of the best cakes I know.

This cake is a standby, I make it all the time. It is my husband’s favorite cake and it is simple and foolproof. It’s great for simple dinner parties and family gatherings. Its what I call “an everyday cake” not too sweet or complicated, but still yummy and special.

I use what ever fruit is in season. The original recipe was written for grapes, but I have never made it with grapes. This weekend was a mix frozen marrion- and blueberries, but I've made it with persimmons, cranberries and rhubarb. All of them are amazing.

This recipe was originally written with All-purpose flour but I make it gluten free more often than not. I don’t bother to add xanthan gum when using GF flour and there are not ill-effects.

2 sticks butter, at room temp
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 Eggs, at room temp
zest from one lemon (or part of an orange, depending on the fruit you use)
1 tsp almond extract (I hardly ever have this on hand, I usually use vanilla, although I was out of even that this weekend and left it out entirely and it was fine)
1 Cup GF baking mix or AP flour
1 cup almond meal or finely ground toasted almonds (see note)
2 tsp baking powder
1-2 cups berries or seasonal fruit.
Powdered sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter/spray and flour (make sure to use GF if you are using it in the cake) a 9 inch spring form pan. (I didn't have a spring form for a long time and would make this in just a regular cake pan and it was fine.)
2. Cream together butter and sugar. Let the mixer go for 3-5 minutes so it gets nice and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix in between each. Add zest and almond extract.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together almonds, flour and baking powder. Add to the butter, sugar, egg mixture, stir until just combined.
4. Spread into the pan, use a rubber scraper to smooth the top. Then distribute the fruit in an even layer over the top, pressing down just slightly.
5. Bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes, then unmold from the pan to cool completely. Dust the top with powdered sugar, serve warm or at room temperature. Keep covered on the counter for 2-3 days (if it lasts that long) but tastes best on the day it is made.

Note on fruit: Any kind of berry is delicious in this and can go into the cake raw. When I have done rhubarb in the past I cooked it a little first, but it might be fine to just go in raw if it is cut up small and you don’t mind a little crunch. I’ve never done apple or pear but I imagine they are fine to go in raw. Persimmon needs some prep,(peel and mash two persimmons and mix with 1/2 tsp baking soda, let sit for 5 minute before adding to cake, decrease baking powder to 1 1/2 tsp) but is totally worth it when they are in season. Depending on the kind of fruit you use, orange zest might complement better, I do orange zest when I put cranberries in it, but it’s up to you.

Note on Almond meal: I use the Trader Joe’s “Just Almond Meal” because it is easy and cheap. If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s or you have a bunch of almonds you want to get rid of, grind them in the food processor until the biggest pieces are about 1/4 inch and everything else is much smaller. The cake will be a little rougher, but still yummy.

Happy baking!

May 6, 2014

I made a dutch baby

Note: I wrote this back in May and had it scheduled to post, but apparently Blogger didn't cooperate, so you are getting it now, but the mention of the weather is not accurate. 

Need a special and super easy breakfast? Make a dutch baby. This was the first one I made, but they will definitely become part of our regular weekend breakfast rotation. 

I used this recipe from the Kitchn. The great thing about a dutch baby is that all the ingredients get blended up and then have to sit for half an hour before it is baked. Which was just enough time to take my cup of coffee and walk up to the store to pick up powdered sugar, a lemon and raspberries for topping it. The walk was lovely, sprinkling but not raining and when I was at the store there was a little boy who was absolutely delighted by the automatic door. It was quite amusing to watch while waiting in the check out line. 
This was really yummy. The recipe says it serves 4-6, but I ended up eating nearly the whole thing my self and was still hungry. I will make this again, but I'll need to serve it with something else to make it a complete meal. Also, the raspberries where good, but they aren't quite in season. I can't wait until they are!

May 5, 2014


I had some dear friends (and former roommates) get married this past weekend. Their wedding was a group effort and my friend Megan and I helped out by making the cupcakes. This was a big project. They needed 120 cupcakes and wanted red velvet. I did some internet research and decided to go with Smitten Kitchen's recipe.
The bride picked up all the ingredients at Costco and I stopped at The Decorette Shop to get cupcake liners, boxes and piping tips.
We quadrupled the recipe, which meant that we had a lot of ingredients.

That is the biggest bag of powdered sugar I have ever seen. 
We knew we needed to quadruple the recipe to get the total number of cupcakes we needed, but because I don't have a commercial kitchen, we doubled the recipe first and did two batches. We were working with four cupcake pans and had to bake two batches for each doubled recipe.

The lovely Megan, measuring 4.5 cups of sugar
Dry ingredients, all mixed up
The wet ingredients look like bad halloween decorations
Me, all ready to add dry to wet.
I wasn't sure everything would fit in the kitchen aid, but it did, just barely
Ready for the oven!
Into the oven!
I was worried about baking so many at a time and having them come out uneven, but we were on such a time crunch that we didn't really have a choice. They came out fine. I also didn't notice much of a difference between the first batch and the second, even though we left it out and the leavening had started working. 

I didn't get a picture of the naked cupcakes all lined up on my dining room table, or the frosting process. At that point I just wanted to be done, and my hands were too sticky to hold the camera.  But here is the picture that I texted to the bride to assure her that she would have cupcakes for her wedding:
We ended up running out of liners and since it was 11 o'clock at night we couldn't run out to the store, we ended up making a cake as well. 

Here is what they looked like all set up at the wedding:
We made some paper decorations for the cakes, and the bride had some gold painted baskets for the cake table.
Megan and I with our handiwork (and in our wedding finery)