Archive for the ‘Cake and Frosting’ Category

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Vegan Cupcakes from the Flour Cookbook

May 19, 2011

A while ago, my husband had to do a late night/overnight techy thing at work. I immediately decided that I should make some treats for him to share with the other guys who would be there with him. When I found out that one of them is a vegan, I headed right to Michele’s blog to look for vegan treats. When I saw this recipe for Vegan Low-Fat Chocolate Cake, I knew it was the one I wanted to try. The recipe is from the Flour cookbook, which I keep hearing about, and now that I’ve tried this recipe, I’m ready to buy the book.

They baked up beautifully, although please ignore that goofy crumb on top of the cupcake in the front.

They were tender and moist, and if you didn’t know they were vegan, well, I don’t think you’d know they were vegan. Please note that I am holding a mini cupcake…my hands are not that giant.

I also found a vegan frosting recipe right here on Michele’s blog. (The frosting recipe is in a post with yet another vegan chocolate cake, but that’s not the cake that I made.) The frosting was full of chocolate flavor and was sweet, and tasty, although I will admit that it didn’t quite compare to a buttery frosting.

I will absolutely make this cake again, and I won’t wait for a vegan occasion, or even a low-fat occasion – it’s great for any audience!

Vegan Low-Fat Chocolate Cake

Vegan Chocolate Frosting

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Pina Colada Cupcakes

May 14, 2011

I’m going to be doing a lot of baking for an upcoming party, so I’m getting organized and deciding what to make. I need a non-chocolate cupcake recipe, and thought long and hard about making cupcakes with the outstanding recipe for Bill’s Big Carrot Cake. As good as I know that would be, I decided to do a trial run of a recipe for Pina Colada cupcakes. They sounded so festive, and I think the name alone would make them a crowd-pleaser.

The verdict? These are going on the party menu! My husband and I and my parents all thought these were great. The cake is super moist, with some chewiness from the crushed pineapple and coconut. I topped them with cream cheese frosting, which I had on my mind since I was thinking about carrot cake. I added some rum to the cake and the frosting, but they didn’t have much of a rum flavor. I wonder if rum extract would add more flavor, or maybe dark rum (I used white), but these were really good as I made them. I also changed up the recipe by substituting nonfat yogurt for buttermilk. My version of the recipe is below.

Pina Colada Cupcakes

Adapted from 125 Best Cupcake Recipes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup loosely-packed sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon plain nonfat yogurt (if you want to omit the rum, use 1/3 cup yogurt instead)
2 tablespoons rum
1/2 cup crushed pineapple packed in juice, undrained

Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, rum, and egg until smooth. Alternately whisk in flour mixture and yogurt, starting and ending with flour mixture (three additions of flour and two additions of yogurt) until smooth. Stir in pineapple.

Scoop batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven 20-25 minutes, or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on wire rack 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Top with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. I used this recipe, for the frosting but used 1 tablespoon of rum and 1 tablespoon of milk instead of 2 tablespoons of milk.

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Basic Marbled Loaf Cake

May 3, 2011

This week’s recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers is Basic Marbled Loaf Cake, selected by Carol of The Bake More. Mine was a cupcake rather than a loaf cake, and it was more layered than marbled, but all’s well that ends well, right?


What I did: I made half the recipe and baked it as cupcakes, because I didn’t have quite the right size pan for that amount of batter. There are many flavor combinations suggested by Dorie, and I have no doubt that the TWD bakers came up with some of their own creative flavors. I stuck with the Traditional Marble Loaf: half vanilla batter and half chocolate batter, and I used some delicious 60% chocolate that I bought when I visited the Jacques Torres store in New York.  But oh, the cardamom and coffee marble loaf sounds really tempting!

How it went: This was so quick to mix up. I ended up with 7 cupcakes. The batter was really thick, so there wasn’t a lot of marbling going on. I ran a knife through each cupcake, but they still ended up as layered rather than marbled. I baked them for 24 minutes.

How it tasted: I have a cold, and my tastebuds aren’t fully functioning. I could pick up some good chocolate flavor, though. My husband said it was good, but would be better with frosting (I predicted that comment!). He liked it, though, and acknowledged that it’s probably not as bad for you without the frosting. I look forward to trying another one when my tastebuds are back to normal, and I think my husband will be happy to help me finish these off!

Ready to try your own spin on this basic marbled loaf/cupcake? Open your copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours to page 230, or click here to get the recipe from Carol.

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Nutty Swirly Chocolatey Sour Cream Bundt Cake

January 25, 2011

The name is a mouthful and the cake itself is a mouthful of the most delicious kind. This week, thanks go to Jennifer of Cooking for Comfort for selecting this recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers. Jennifer is one of my best blogging buddies, so I was excited to make her selection this month. Do you know why she’s a great baker? Because she’s so sweet! We joined TWD at about the same time, so I’ve been getting to know her over the past two years. I’m so disappointed that she lives halfway across the country, but through the magic of blogs, email, and Facebook, we can stay in touch.

Not the most attractive, but oh so tasty!
The name covers the high points of this cake: the base cake is pound cake-ish and it has a swirl of sugar, nuts (I used walnuts), chocolate (I used mini chocolate chips), and cinnamon. My swirl became somewhat of a topping or, well, a bottoming, since the top of a bundt cake becomes the bottom when you turn it out of the pan.  

What I did:

  • I made half the recipe and baked it in a mini-bundt pan.
  • Proportions can be hard with minis. My pan makes six minis and I got four out of the half recipe. They were pretty full, so maybe I should have gone for five smaller cakes.
  • I omitted the raisins and forgot the nutmeg in the swirl. Raisins would be awesome in this, but not everyone loves them as much as I do.
  • I used light sour cream in the cake.

How it went: Mixing the batter and the swirl was easy. Deciding how much batter to put into each bundt was tricky. Making an indent in the batter, adding the rest of the swirl ingredients, and trying to cover them up with batter was nearly impossible. The batter was thick and hard to work with, and I didn’t have much batter or much room to cover up the second layer of swirl. Rather than make a big mess out of it, I put it in the oven with most of the swirl exposed.

How it tasted: I needn’t have been concerned about the swirl mixture that I couldn’t cover up with cake batter; it became a chewy, tasty crust on the bottom of the cake.  The cake was tender and fluffy and reminded me of a doughnut. When I mentioned that to my husband he said “it almost tastes fried.” Our neighbor stopped by so I wrapped up a cake for him along with a bag of cinnamon almonds. He must have eaten the cake as soon as he got home, because it wasn’t long before he called to say that he was enjoying it. He said that it was not too sweet and had a nice flavor, and signed off with “keep up the good cooking!” Thumbs up from all of us!

You can find the recipe on page 182 of Baking: From My Home to Yours, or Jennifer will have the recipe published today.
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Tuesdays with Dorie: Cardamom Crumb Cake (My pick!!!!)

December 21, 2010

This week the Tuesdays with Dorie (TWD) bakers made Cardamom Crumb Cake. I’ve been baking with the group for over two years, and this is the most exciting week yet. Why? Because I selected the recipe! I love cardamom, so when I saw this in the book, I decided it was the recipe for me. Well, for me and for the other bakers who are baking along with me this week.

It was a piece of cake to make this!

Any other week, I probably would have cut the recipe in half, lightened it by replacing some of the butter with yogurt, and baked it as muffins instead of a cake. But this week, I made the recipe exactly as stated. It was easy to put together, I baked it for 30 minutes, and it was delicious. I couldn’t have asked for more. Cardamom’s mysterious spiciness paired wonderfully with the orange zest. This would be a great cake to serve at a holiday brunch; it’s a welcome twist on the expected gingerbread or cinnamon and nutmeg. I selected this for my tastes, and wasn’t sure how it would go over with my husband. I’m happy to report that he enjoyed it! He appreciated that the cardamom wasn’t overwhelming and he declared the crumbly top to be perfect.

You can find the recipe on page 38 of Baking: From My Home to Yours, or scroll down to see the recipe right here.  Thank you to everyone who baked with me this week!

Crumbs before mixing in the butter

The crumbs

Dry ingredients

Orange zest and sugar, looking pretty groovy

Ready to bake

Hot out of the oven!

Before you start, note that you’ll need melted and cooled butter, more butter at room temperature, and some cooled strong coffee (I put a note on my coffee maker so that I’d remember to save a little of my morning java!)

Cardamom Crumb Cake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

For the crumbs:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces, at room temperature

For the cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup strong coffee, cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the butter in a bowl and toss them together with a spatula just to blend. Add the butter and, using your fingers or the spatula, mix everything together until you’ve got crumbs of different sizes. It’s nice to have a few big pieces, so don’t overdo it. Set the crumbs aside. (The crumbs can be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated.)

To make the cake: Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and espresso powder in a large bowl. Turn the dry ingredients out onto a sheet of wax paper, and put the sugar and zest in the bowl. Rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange strong, then return the dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk to blend.

Put the remaining ingredients in another bowl and whisk them to blend. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and stir – don’t beat – to mix. Stir only until you’ve got an evenly moistened batter. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and top with a thick, even layer of the crumbs. Pat the crumbs ever so gently into the batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cake has risen (it will crown), the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool in the pan before serving warm or at room temperature.

You can unmold the cake if you want to, but you’ll lose some of the crumbs when you turn it over. I prefer to cut the cake in the pan, taking care not to nick the surface of the pan with my knife. (This is a good job for a plastic or silicone pie server.)

Makes 8 servings

Serving: Cut the cake into squares and serve warm or at room temperature.

Storing: This cake is best served the day it is made. It can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; once it defrosts, it benefits from a quick warm-up in a 350-degree-F oven.

Playing Around: I often make just the crumbs and use them to top ice cream and desserts like Chocolate Pudding (page 383), Coffee Caramel Pots de Crème (page 389) or Lemon Cup Custard (page 387). Make the crumbs as directed and refrigerate them for 2 hours. Crumble up the mixture, spread the crumbs out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat and bake in a 350-degree-F oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden and baked through. Let cool. The crumbs can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake

July 20, 2010

This week’s recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers is Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake, selected by Kimberly of Only Creative Opportunities. I went the tropical route and used toasted coconut and dark rum, along with a rum syrup. Maybe I should call mine Banana Colada cake?

Topped with a candle for a friend celebrating a birthday!

What I did: I made 1/2 recipe and baked it in one 9″ round cake pan. There are lots-of-ways to make this cake. I used…

  • The brown sugar/granulated sugar combination.
  • Light coconut milk.
  • Dark rum.
  • Toasted sweetened coconut.
  • Rum syrup.

How it went: Since I was making 1/2 recipe, I used my hand mixer instead of my stand mixer. My single layer baked quickly – no more than 35 minutes and it was deep golden brown and done in the center. I made 1/2 batch of the rum syrup from the Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes recipe but used only about half of that on the cake (the rest was tasty mixed with some soda!). I topped it with more toasted coconut to dress it up a bit.

How it tasted: Some friends invited us for dinner and I brought this cake for dessert. Everyone gave it a thumbs up! One friend was happy that it didn’t have a strong alcohol taste. I actually thought it could have used a little more rum flavor (um, maybe I shouldn’t have turned the rest of the rum syrup into a mixed drink!).  We all liked the texture of the toasted coconut inside and on top of the cake. My husband declared it “super-charged banana bread.” This was a great dessert to share with friends on a warm summer day.

If you would like the recipe, including all of the variations, look on page 204 of Baking: From My Home to Yours, or head over to Kimberly’s blog; she’ll have the recipe published today.

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cake

June 29, 2010

Let’s hear it for Wendy from Pink Stripes; it was finally her turn to pick a recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers, and she picked one with the words “rum-drenched” in the title.  That works for me, and for those who prefer not to use rum, there are non-alcoholic versions of the recipe.


This is a vanilla pound cake with some dark rum in the batter. After baking, the cake is soaked in a sugar, water, and dark rum syrup. When I made the Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake, some people commented that they couldn’t tell how big it was. I baked this in the same mini-loaf pan, so here’s a photo with my hand as a point of reference.


What I did:

  • I pulled out my mad math skillz and made 1/6 of the recipe, which I baked in a 5.75″ x 3″ mini-loaf pan.
  • I used vanilla bean paste, which I thing is a happy medium between real vanilla beans and extract.

How it went: This was so easy to make! No long and involved mixing process, no problems. When I pulled this out of the oven and it looked like a cake, I patted myself on the back for my excellent calculations!

How it tasted: I followed Dorie’s suggestion and waited until the next day to eat it. Was it worth the wait? Yes! The rum flavor was so smooth; I thought it was just the right amount for good flavor without overdoing it. My husband liked it a lot and thought it would be a good afternoon treat, like a snack cake.  We liked it as-is, but I bet it would be good with some embellishments, like ice cream, a fruit sauce, or whipped cream.

If you want the recipe, Wendy will have it posted today, or you can open your copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours to page 226.

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Magnolia Bakery’s Chocolate Cupcakes and Chocolate Buttercream

June 25, 2010

Last month, my husband and I went to New York City for a long weekend. One of our stops was Magnolia Bakery, where we sampled some of their famous cupcakes. I knew that Magnolia Bakery had a cookbook and was thrilled to get a copy through my library system. Actually, they have several cookbooks, but the one that I used is called The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook: Recipes from the World-Famous Bakery and Allysa Torey’s Home Kitchen. I whipped up a batch of Magnolia’s Chocolate Cupcakes and topped them with Chocolate Buttercream.

Since I didn’t get to compare mine side-by-side with the real thing, I don’t know how close they were in taste, but I do know that they were very good. I took most of them to work, sent a few to work with my husband, and kept a few for us at home, and there were a lot of comments from happy people.

Here’s the chocolate buttercream before adding the sugar. I don’t know how I managed to get any of this on the cupcakes, because I’d happily eat this straight from the bowl!

If you are making something for chocolate lovers, give these a try. I enjoyed paging through the book, but you can also find these recipes and more on Google Books: Magnolia’s Chocolate Cupcakes and Chocolate Buttercream.

Notes:

  • I got 24 standard size cupcakes and 8 minis from the recipe.
  • The chocolate buttercream makes a generous amount of frosting (which is good, because it calls for 3 sticks of butter!). I had approximately 3/4 cup left over after frosting all of the cupcakes. If you don’t want so much, you could scale the recipe down to 2/3 of the amount.
  • Michele made Magnolia’s Vanilla Birthday Cake topped with chocolate buttercream. Stop by her blog to take a look – It looks fantastic!
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Tuesdays with Dorie: Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake

June 22, 2010

This week, the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers made Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake, selected by Amy Ruth of Amy Ruth Bakes.


What makes this chocolate loaf cake dressy? Well, this three-layer dense chocolate cake is spread with raspberry jam, and the cake is frosted with a mixture of semisweet chocolate and sour cream. That’s kind of dressy, don’t you think?

What I did: I made the full recipe with no changes to the ingredients. I baked it in three mini-loaf pans instead of one large pan. It worked out great, because I kept one cake for us and gave the other two away.

How it went: This was an easy cake to make. The texture is pretty dense, so it was also an easy cake to slice into three layers – a major bonus, because I’m not the best cake-layer-slicer.

How it tasted: My husband and I were not in agreement on this one. I liked the texture of the cake, the chocolate flavor with the bit of raspberry, and I really liked the frosting. The bottom line for my husband was that it wasn’t sweet enough. He liked the texture of the cake but wasn’t digging the frosting’s taste or texture. It was still in the “I’d eat this” category, but definitely not a favorite for him. Being such a sweet guy, I think he requires large amounts of sugar! My dad did not like this cake, but my neighbor did, so it gets a 50% success rate.

If this sounds like it’s up your alley, Amy Ruth will have the recipe posted today, or look on page 286 of Baking: From My Home to Yours.

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Tuesdays with Dorie: Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake

April 6, 2010

This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie recipe is Mocha-Walnut Marbled Bundt Cake. This was a darn good cake. I thought the ground walnuts were a fabulous element in the cake – they added a wonderful texture and flavor. Although I’ve been known to say that “marble cake should make up its mind,” I actually liked the two flavors. I did, however, try not to over-swirl it because I wanted to taste each part separately. It looks kind of cool, doesn’t it?

I made the whole recipe without any major alterations. We ate a little bit of it and split the rest between my office and my husband’s office. This is an easy-to-transport, tasty cake! I thought it was great as-is, but I bet a lot of the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers jazzed it up with glaze, frosting, and/or ice cream. If you want the recipe, look on page 180 of Baking: From My Home to Yours, or head over to When in doubt…leave it at 350, where Erin will have the recipe posted.

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