Chocolate Banana Bread

This bread is not healthy. I repeat, this bread is not healthy. It’s interesting how every time you have a fruit or a vegetable in the title of a recipe, it sounds like a healthier option. (Did you know that carrot cake at the Cheesecake Factory is one of their highest calorie count desserts? I’m telling you.. vegetables/fruits in a dessert is a lie!) Instead it’s an indulgent, rich chocolate bread which is full of chocolate chips and banana flavor. I think the role of the banana here is not so much to provide banana flavor (which it does) but to give it a rich, moist crumb that is not heavy.

I’ve seen a lot of banana breads on Instagram that have the floating bananas on top and always wondered how it is done. And the interesting thing is, no one writes how it is done! Even recipes with the floating bananas don’t mention the bananas on top of the loaf, they just mention putting the batter into the pan and bake. WHY?

Turns out, the bananas do not sink into the bread like I worried. But to keep it from turning color, a light brushing of fresh lemon juice will help it keep its pleasing yellow shade. Sprinkle the top with Sugar In The Raw (aka demerara sugar) and it will glisten with crunchy sugar crystals after it is baked.  It really is one of my favorite banana bread recipes and I think I’ll have a hard time turning back to my older one. On second thought, I might on the days I want to be a little “healthier”… that one uses half whole wheat flour. 🙂

Chocolate Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1 c. all-purpose flour
½ c. Dutch processed cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
3 large brown bananas (1 ½ c. mashed)
¼ c. (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
¼ c. vegetable oil
½ c. packed light brown sugar
1 extra large egg (or large if you don’t have extra large)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ c. chocolate chips
1 banana, ripe but not browned
a squeeze of fresh lemon juice
demerara sugar (sugar in the raw) for sprinkling on top of loaf

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350˚F, grease and line your loaf pan with parchment paper. (I used this gorgeous pan and it is on sale!!)
  2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and kosher salt in a medium bowl and set it aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, add the mashed bananas, melted butter, and oil and mix until combined.
  4. Add in the brown sugar, egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
  5. Turn the mixer to the lowest setting and add in the flour mixture.
  6. While there are traces of flour in the batter, add the chocolate chips and mix just until combined.
  7. Pour batter into your prepared loaf pan.
  8. Slice your banana lengthwise and brush with fresh lemon juice
  9. Place it side by side on top of the batter.
  10. Sprinkle the demerara sugar all over the top and place into the oven.
  11. Bake banana bread for about 50-60 minutes, checking at 50 minutes to make sure you don’t overbake your loaf.
  12. Stick a toothpick in the center of the loaf to check, making sure to check in a few places as skewering a chocolate chip would make you think the batter is undercooked.
  13. Remove pan from the oven and place on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes before removing the bread from the pan.
  14. Let cool and serve.

Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Red Velvet Strawberry Rose Cake

Happy Valentine’s Day! As someone who loves all things pink and feminine, Valentine’s Day décor is right up my alley. This cake was inspired by Ron Ben Israel’s rose cake which I’ve been obsessed with as soon as I laid my eyes on it. It was always on my “to-try” list but I never got the chance to take on the challenge. Recently, there was a blog post by NYC Cake Girl who used to work with Ron Ben Israel with a how-to on the very cake I loved. The amount of work and the detail work was perfection (as always), and I knew I simply didn’t have the time (and possibly even the skill) to recreate the cake. So I created this cake which looks similar and uses real rose petals.
As for the cake itself, I used half of my giant doughnut cake pan instead of baking a round cake and carving it into a dome like the tutorial. A similar effect could be produced with a shallow bundt cake, but I think the smooth exterior of the doughnut pan really makes things easier. The cake flavor is red velvet (because it is THE cake of Valentine ’s Day), and is layered on the inside with fresh strawberries and vanilla frosting. I know I know, I almost felt like it was sacrilege not to use cream cheese frosting, but I didn’t have cream cheese in the fridge so, vanilla it is. Please feel free to use cream cheese frosting if you prefer it.
I picked a bouquet of flowers that varied in shades of pink in hopes of making an ombre effect. However, once the petals were stripped from the flowers, they kind of ended up being the same color. I saved the lightest rose for the center though. Although in hindsight, I think I should’ve just picked the flower that had the least blemishes. You essentially layer the petals one by one in alternating layers around the cake to form a giant rose. It is a bit time consuming and is not completely symmetrical like the fondant petals from the original cake. But, I think it kind of gives it a homemade vibe that people can appreciate.I went a little heavy with the pictures because it was SO STUNNING. Like… the photos can’t do it justice. I loved even how the slices had petals on them fanning out the back, like a very fancy cape or headdress. I can almost guarantee that you will get “wows” and surprised looks when you bring this cake. It won’t disappoint.
I hope all of you got some sort of recognition of love this Valentine’s Day. If not, I baked this cake for you. 😉

Red Velvet Strawberry Rose Cake

You will need:

1 batch red velvet cake, baked in a dome shape (recipe below)
1 batch vanilla frosting (recipe below)
About ½ pint strawberries, sliced horizontally (enough to cover the area of the cake twice)
1 dozen roses (pesticide-free)

Instructions:

  1. Slice the red velvet cake in half (horizontally), and smooth a thin layer of vanilla frosting.
  2. Layer it with fresh strawberry slices and repeat layer with vanilla frosting and fresh strawberries using frosting to fill in any gaps. (shown in picture #2)
  3. Place the top half of the cake onto the frosting layer and crumb coat the entire cake with a thin layer of frosting. (shown in picture #3)
  4. Put cake in freezer for about 10-15 minutes until the frosting is set and then remove from fridge and give it a full coating. (shown in picture #4)
  5. Pick the flower you will be using as your center flower. Trim and place it in the center of the cake. (shown in picture #5)
  6. Get a few petals and fill in the gaps around the hole. (shown in picture #6)
  7. Now start layering the bottom part of the cake by pressing the petals into the frosting of the cake. Try to press the bottom edge of the petal only. (shown in picture #7)
  8. Try to use the largest petals you have for the bottom layer and go all around the cake. (shown in picture #8)
  9. Layer the next row of petals around the cake. (shown in picture #9)
  10. Try to alternate the position of the petals. As in, try to place the petal of the next layer between two petals of the bottom layer. (shown in picture #10)
  11. Repeat until you get to the center of the cake, try to use smaller petals as you get to the top of the cake. I had to replace some of the lighter petals because the lower petals turned out to be too pink to get a more seamless look. (shown in picture #11)
  12. Get ready to stun the room. 😉

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ tsp. salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ (1 ½ sticks) cup butter, at room temperature
2 ¼ cups granulated white sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ounce bottle of red food coloring (2 Tablespoons)
1 ¼ cups buttermilk
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons vinegar

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, spray either your bundt pan or the top half of your giant doughnut cake pan with nonstick spray. (I highly suggest using either pam for baking or baker’s joy for extra insurance of “nonstickage”.)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds.
  4. Add sugar and vanilla, and beat until combined.
  5. Add eggs one at a time on medium speed.
  6. Lower speed to low and add in food coloring.
  7. Add ⅓ of flour mixture to the egg mixture on low and add ½ of the buttermilk.
  8. Repeat with ⅓ flour mix and the rest of the buttermilk.
  9. Finish mixing with the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
  10. Stir together baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl. Add to cake batter and beat just until combined.
  11. Fill cake pan until ⅔ full, bake 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  12. Cool pan on rack for about 15-20 minutes. Try to use a small spatula around the edges to ensure a clean removal. Remove cake from pan.
  13. Let cool completely.

Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:

1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add vanilla extract and mix until combined.

 

2016: A Year Recap

This was my #1 post this year.
This was my #1 post this year.

I’m not sorry to see 2016 go. I kind of felt like it could be salvaged until Carrie Fisher died. That kind of gave it the nail in the coffin. It was as if 2016 was saying, “Sayonara, sucker!” while waving a rude gesture. I’m not quite looking forward to 2017 either, the exception being that I am looking forward to creating more projects for you and sharing this and that about my life (hopefully good news, and not bad). By the way, I did finish the holiday cake I was raving about in my last post. Unfortunately, I came down with a severe case of sinusitis and I couldn’t work on the actual post. I think I will save it for 2017. (Side note: I hope unicorns are still relevant by this point next year.)

top posts 2016

Here are the top 10 posts from this year:

  1. Lucky Charms Cake (featured in beginning of post)
  2. Blueberry Cruffins (Croissant + Muffin)
  3. Paw Patrol Cake
  4. Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf with Brown Sugar Ketchup Glaze
  5. Red Velvet Rose Pavlova
  6. Strawberry Ombre Cake
  7. Conversation Heart Macarons with Vanilla Elderflower Frosting
  8. Croquembouche with Vanilla Orange Blossom Pastry Cream
  9. Star Wars Mini Doughnuts – Part 1 & 2
  10. Calcifer Meringues

As always, thank you for sticking with me. I mean every word of it.

Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge CookiesIt seems like Friendsgiving is kind of a big deal this year, which makes me kind of wish I thought of hosting one. I used to have a Thanksgiving potluck with my church members after Thanksgiving and it was always such a great time. And giving thanks for what we have…twice? It makes you appreciate it even more. Even if you aren’t going to a Friendsgiving, holiday potlucks/parties are just around the corner and these cookies fit the bill.
Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge CookiesI know these cookies aren’t much in terms of looks. But I’m telling you, every single time I’ve made these cookies (for home or for other people to bring to potlucks) they always get a hit review. Super fudgy with a crisp edge and the sweetness is toned down by the tart dried cranberries, which makes it a perfect holiday cookie. Oh, and you can make it in one bowl for easy clean up.
Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge CookiesCan’t believe Thanksgiving is in a few days! Uh… I still haven’t done my shopping yet (except for my two 12 pound turkeys). I’ll probably do the rest today. Wish me luck!

Cranberry White Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Makes about 24 large cookies

Ingredients:
8 oz. (two sticks) butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 egg, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
⅓ c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
⅓ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 c. white chocolate chips (or chunks)
1 ½ c. dried cranberries

Instructions:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar until lighter in color and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla on medium speed and mix until glossy.
  3. Add cocoa and mix until homogeneous.
  4. Change the speed to low and add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in white chocolate and cranberries.
  6. Preheat oven to 350˚F and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Dose 1 tablespoon of cookie dough onto parchment paper. Spacing each ball 2 inches from each other.
  8. Bake about 9 minutes, until the edges just set. (Rotating the baking sheet halfway if your oven heats unevenly.)
  9. Let cool and enjoy.

Gold Pineapple Cake with (Real) Pineapple Buttercream

gold pineappleThis year of blogging seems to be a year of making things that are out of my comfort zone, like the blueberry cruffins or the croquembouche. I used to steer away from projects that looked too difficult or time consuming, but this year I feel like the challenge just spurs me on. When I first saw this gold pineapple cake from adorn cakes, I thought it would be just something I would bookmark and never look back on. But when someone special to you loves pineapples, you make the prettiest pineapple cake that you can. (Seriously, he loves pineapples. One of the first things he ever said to me was, ” I love pineapples.” Kinda strange, I know.)
gold gum paste leavespineapple leavesI would gladly sit here and name off all the steps on the how-to on making this cake, but Aleta already did such a great job, that I’m just going to share the links with you.
YouTube link on how to build the outside of the cake.
Facebook link on how she made the top of the pineapple.gold leavestiny cakeHere are some things I’ve noted while making this cake:

  1. It is time consuming. You need at least two days for this project. You will need one full day to shape, cut, wire, dry out and paint the leaves. It is probably a safe bet to bake the cake the day before too.
  2. Aleta uses modeling chocolate for her cake and so I ordered some. I’ve never worked with modeling chocolate before, and now I understand that it is a very soft medium. If I were to ever tackle this project again, I would use 50% (maybe even 25%) modeling chocolate and the rest fondant.
  3. I made a very small cake. A cake size that I usually use to make smash cakes and I nearly used the entire 2 g. jar of gold powder.
  4. A manicure scissor is really useful for cutting the tiny triangles on the cake.
  5. If you don’t have the green molding tool that is used on the video, just take your bladed molding tool and make three small lines in each pineapple diamond. It will mimic the effect pretty well

modeling chocolate cakegolden pineappleYes, the outside of the cake is important but what about the inside? I couldn’t have a pineapple cake that didn’t have a pineapple filling, so I filled it with a pineapple frosting. I’m a firm believer in using real fruit in all of my fruit flavored frosting so, the pineapple was a challenge. As you know, pineapples are juicy and I could not risk a runny frosting for a cake that required a lot of time sitting at room temperature. So, I solved my problem by using freeze dried pineapples.
golden pineapple cakegold pineappleFreeze dried fruit is an ingenious way to incorporate real fruit into your frosting without increasing the liquid content. I ordered my bag off of amazon and used the whole thing for the 4 inch cake. The resulting frosting had a pineapple tang and complemented the vanilla cake well. It was an expensive cake to make with the modeling chocolate, pineapples, gumpaste, and some extra tools I needed to buy, but well worth the effort. I mean look at it, it’s SO. GOLD.
gold pineapple fondant cakeReal Pineapple Buttercream
For a 4-in. cake

Ingredients:

¼ c. sugar
1 large egg white
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1.5 oz. freeze dried pineapple

Instructions:

  1. Put dried pineapple chunks into a dry blender, and blend until a very fine powder forms. Set aside.
  2. Bring a small pot filled with about 1 inch of water to a simmer.
  3. Whisk egg white and sugar together in the bowl of your standing mixer.
  4. Place the bowl on top of the small pot and continue whisking the egg whites until you cannot feel the granules between your fingers.
  5. Move the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whip until the mixture becomes fluffy and doubles in size.
  6. Add the butter and continue whipping until a smooth buttercream forms.
  7. Add in ¾ of the pineapple powder and mix until well combined.
  8. Taste and add the rest of the powder if desired.

Buttercream recipe adapted from smitten kitchen.

Raspberry Rosé Macarons

Raspberry Rosé MacaronSummer is quickly nearing its end and I felt like I had to make something “summer” before it became too late. When I look back on the summer of 2016, I would have to say that it was the summer of rosé. The internet has been buzzing with things from made from rosé such as frozé (frozen, slushy like rosé) and rosé gummy bears with thousands of people on their wait list. It is the prettiest out of all the wines and (for this wine newb) the tastiest.
Rosé MacaronSo I set out to make the prettiest macarons I could dream of. The pinks in the macaron shells are inspired by the many pink hues of rosé and the filling is a raspberry rosé frosting. To get it to taste like rosé, I used sparkling wine flavoring and also boiled down one cup of rosé to a mere 1/4 cup. (The process goes quick because of the alcohol content.)
Raspberry Rosé MacaronsRosés tend to have a fruity note so I wanted to add a raspberry flavoring. The raspberry flavor comes from powdered freeze dried raspberries (I got mine from Trader Joe’s.). As much as I love fresh fruit in my frosting, I knew I was adding more liquid with the rosé so this was a great way to decrease the liquid content without compromising the flavor. The raspberries have seeds in them so if you do not want seeds in your frosting, use a fine mesh strainer to sort them out.
Raspberry MacaronsThe end result is a definite raspberry flavor with a hint of rosé that grows stronger at the end. I think the way you perceive rosé is different for each person. My sister said she barely tasted it while other people said they could definitely taste it. Either way it is not straight up raspberry, there is something different about it.

Raspberry Rosé Macarons

For the macaron shells:

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
edible silver stars
edible pink shimmer powder
light pink gel food coloring
pink gel food coloring

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. Separate the almond flour mixture into two bowls (253 g. each). Mix one bowl with light pink gel food coloring and the other with pink food coloring.
  5. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  7. Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  8. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks
  9. Mix a ⅙ of the egg white mix to the light pink almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅙ of the egg white mixture twice until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula. Repeat with the pink almond mixture.
  10. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, paint stripes in the inside of the pastry bag with the pink gel food coloring.
  11. Fill half of the pastry bag with the light pink and the other half with the pink batter. Pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  12. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two. Sprinkle the top of the macaron batter with tiny silver stars. Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  13. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
  14. Once you place the macarons in the oven, reduce the heat to 275˚F. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The macarons are done when you slightly wiggle them and they start to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  15. Once you remove the macarons, reheat the oven to 350˚F for ten minutes before baking another pan of macarons at 275˚F.
  16. Let cool and dust the tops with pink shimmer dust. Fill with frosting.

Raspberry Rosé Frosting

Ingredients:
1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
a pinch of salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
1 ½ tsp. sparkling wine flavor
1 c. rosé wine
3 tbsp. powdered freeze dried raspberries

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, boil 1 c. of wine until ¼ c. remains. Let cool and set aside.
  2. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  3. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  4. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  5. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  6. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  8. Add the rosé, freeze dried raspberries, sparkling wine flavoring and mix until combined.

Strawberry Pretzel Squares (AKA Strawberry Pretzel Salad)

Strawberry Pretzel Squares The English language is a funny thing. I never understood why some dishes that are sweet are called “salads”. It’s off-putting. It’s in the name. If you hear “strawberry pretzel salad”, what do you picture? I imagine a bowl of salad greens with strawberries and pretzels. No, thank you. Other examples of such salads are Jello salad, snickers salad, cookie salad and the list goes on and on.
Strawberry Pretzel Squares Strawberry Pretzel SaladBut after reading numerous blogs all featuring the same recipe and all with glowing reviews of how they grew up with this particular dish and how it’s everyone’s favorite at their family gathering, I broke down and had to try it. And after trying it myself, I can see why people would like it, especially with fresh strawberries. The pretzel crust is salty and crunchy, the cheesecake layer is smooth and creamy and the strawberry jello layer is fruity and refreshing. You pretty much hit every flavor profile. The best part? It’s super easy and the ingredient list is very short. Oh! Also, you only have to bake the pretzel crust for 10 minutes so your kitchen doesn’t get too hot. It’s a serious win-win-win situation.
Strawberry Pretzel SaladStrawberry Pretzel Squares (AKA Strawberry Pretzel Salad)

Ingredients:

2 c. finely crushed pretzels
1 cup and 3 tbsp. sugar, divided
¾ c. salted butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
8 oz. cool whip, defrosted
2 c. boiling water
1 – six ounce package strawberry jello
1 ½ c. cold water
4 c. hulled and sliced strawberries

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400˚F and prep a 9×13 inch baking dish by spraying the inside with nonstick spray.
  2. In a bowl, stir the pretzel crumbs and 3 tablespoons of sugar until well mixed.
  3. Pour the melted butter over the pretzel mixture and stir until evenly coated.
  4. Press the pretzel crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking dish, pressing it down with a spatula to form an even layer.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown and cool completely.
  6. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese and 1 cup of sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Fold in the cool whip and spread evenly over the cooled pretzel crust. (Wipe off any cream cheese mix you get along the sides of the glass pan for a clean presentation later on.)
  7. Refrigerate crust while you prep the strawberry layer.
  8. In a large bowl, mix the strawberry jello mix with the boiling water. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir in cold water and refrigerate for about 1½ hours. (At this point, the mixture should have the consistency of egg whites.)
  9. Stir in fresh strawberries into the jello mixture and carefully pour over the prepared cream cheese layer and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or until the strawberry layer is set. If you wiped the sides clean as suggested in step 6, the strawberry layer should set to a glass-like finish.

Recipe adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.

Blueberry Cruffins (Crossiant + Muffins)

blueberry cruffinHybrid food seems to be the trend these days and they usually involve a doughnut.  Doughnut ice cream sandwiches, cronuts (doughnut + croissant), macaron doughnuts, and doughnut bagels are all examples that have popped up on our social media feeds. I freaking love doughnuts and I think they’re perfect as they are so I’m moving onto the cruffin. A cruffin is a croissant + muffin. Insanely crisp and flaky on the outside and fluffy, buttery and moist on the inside, it’s the perfect combo of both worlds. Oh, and because Mr. H loves jam filled doughnuts, I filled mine with my favorite blueberry jam (seriously, my favorite for years! I used for my blueberry pie cookies and blueberry pie doughnuts too) and dusted it off with powdered sugar.
blueberry cruffinCruffins have become popular in the U.S. by Mr. Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco.  In fact, they are so desired that someone broke into the bakery to steal the recipe in 2015. The thief didn’t steal anything else, not even the cash. In a way it sounds like a ridiculous reason to risk going to jail, but it also shows how awesome a cruffin is. You know how they say there is no such thing as love at first sight but there is lust at first sight? When I first saw the photos of the cruffin from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, I fell in deep lust. I needed to have this cruffin, like now. But San Francisco is on the other side of the continent, what can I do? The only other way was to bake it on my own.
blueberry cruffinThere is a very popular cruffin recipe that is on Pinterest by Lady & Pups. They’re ridiculously cute and have tons of layers, but they weren’t tall like the cruffins I was looking for. Enter the popover pan. It’s twice as tall as a muffin pan and perfect for the recipe. Am I telling you to buy a popover pan just for this cruffin? Heck yes. Before this recipe, I’ve even settled for making popovers in muffin pans but there is just no other way around it. I think if you make these in a muffin pan, there isn’t enough surface area for the fluffy interior and the ratio of the crisp to chewy would be off.
irish butter cruffin layersSo how difficult is this recipe? If I’m being completely honest with you, it’s not easy. It is labor intensive and the yield is very small. Only 6 cruffins. But the6 cruffins are worth it. It’s like asking someone would you rather eat one fresh-off-the-conveyor-belt Krispy Kreme doughnut or a dozen stale supermarket ones? If you are the type of person who would go for the dozen stale ones, this recipe is not for you. But if you, like me, would rather have that one delicious doughnut, then dust out your pasta roller. Yes, you need a pasta roller. I’m going to say it is impossible to roll out the dough this thin with a rolling pin. Also, I recommend using a kitchen scale to weigh out your ingredients.
blueberry cruffin blueberry cruffinThe ingredient list is short so you want to use the best ingredients on hand. I love King Arthur flour and I used the best butter I could get my hands on which was Kerrygold’s Irish butter. Irish butter is much more flavorful and rich than American butter and every penny was worth buying it for this recipe. I changed my technique just slightly from Lady & Pups. Her post has beautiful photos of how she did it, and I recommend looking through the photos if you have a difficult time understanding how to put this together. It does look a little intimidating, but don’t get scared because once you get the hang of it, it becomes a rhythmic process, kind of like knitting.
how to make a cruffin

I promise you, it’s worth it. 🙂 blueberry cruffin

Blueberry Cruffins
makes 6 tall cruffins

Ingredients:

150 grams (1 cup + 1 tbsp) bread flour
150 grams (1 cup + 1 tbsp) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp (6 grams) instant dry yeast
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
160 grams (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp) luke-warm filted water (not tap)
50 grams (3 1/2 tbsp) salted butter, soften and cubed
165 grams (11 1/2 tbsp) salted butter, room-temperature
blueberry jam
powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl of a standing mixer attached with a dough hook, mix bread flour, all-purpose flour, yeast, and sugar.
  2. Once mixed, add in your water and knead on low speed until a shaggy dough forms, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add in the 50 grams of softened and cubed butter and knead for 5 minutes on low speed until the butter is incorporated and then raise your speed to medium and knead for about 10-15 minutes until a smooth ball of dough forms.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about 45 minutes, the dough will puff up and be larger in size.
  5. Prepare your popover pan by lightly greasing the inside with shortening and dusting it with flour. DO NOT skip this step. It would be very sad if the cuffins do not come out of the pan as one whole piece.
  6. Move dough to a lightly floured surface, and divide into 6 equal portions. (as shown in the above picture # 1). Take one portion out and cover the remaining under plastic wrap so the dough does not dry out.
  7. Flatten the dough with your hands to about ½ inch thick and with your pasta roller on the widest setting (or the lowest number), work the dough through your pasta roller.
  8. After you move the pasta through the widest setting once, fold the dough in thirds and then move it through the widest setting again. Repeat this step once more before moving onto the next step.
  9. Once the dough has been moved through three times on the widest setting, cut the dough in half.
  10. Lightly dust both sides of one half of the dough and move it through your pasta roller from the widest to the thinnest setting or as thin as you can get it without the dough tearing. (My pasta machine goes from 0-9, 9 was too delicate of a dough to work with so I only went to 8. It was still tissue thin and that is what you are looking for.)
  11. Set the first half of the dough aside and work the second half of the dough in the same way until the same thinness is reached. (as shown in the above picture #2)
  12. With an offset spatula, lightly butter one side of each half of the dough with the 165 grams of the room temperature butter (not all at once, divide the 165 grams for all the flattened dough). Be careful not to tear the dough and to completely cover each side with butter. (as shown in the above picture #3)
  13. Roll up one half of the dough, kind of like a fruit roll-up. (as shown in the above picture #4)
  14. Take the rolled up dough and place it on one end of the second buttered dough. (as shown in the above picture #5)
  15. Roll up the dough in the same way as the first dough to make one fat roll of dough. (as shown in the above picture #6)
  16. With a very sharp knife, cut the rolled up dough in half lengthwise. (as shown in the above picture #7)
  17. Place both halves of the dough into one cup of the popover pan with the layers (cut-side) facing outwards. You want to curl the first half of the dough in on the bottom, and then layer the second half of the dough on top of that one. Do not squish the dough into the pan, because it needs room to rise. (as shown in the above picture #8).
  18. Repeat steps 7-17 until you are done with all 6 pieces of the original dough.
  19. Loosely place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the popover pan and let the dough rise at room temperature for 2-3 hours or until the dough is fully doubled in size. (as shown in the above picture #9)
  20. Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Place a sheet pan underneath the popover pan (to catch the butter drippings) and bake until golden brown and puffed up, about 20-30 minutes.
  21. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing it to a wire rack.
  22. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium star tip with blueberry jam.
  23. Find a divot on top of a completely cool cruffin and wedge the tip into the cruffin.
  24. Squeeze the piping bag to fill the cruffin with jam until you feel resistance.
  25. Repeat with the other cruffins.
  26. Lightly dust the top of each cruffins with powdered sugar.

Recipe adapted from Lady & Pups.

Giant Peeps Doughnut Cake (Meyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut Cake)

Giant Peeps Doughnut CakeThis Lent season I gave up online shopping. I used to think that online shopping was for people who were too lazy to go to the mall and try on clothing, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve seen the light. With a click of a button, you can see what is available to you in your size instead of rifling through all the different sizes in the stores. What I really like is that the clothes come looking pristine and new (even though I’m pretty sure someone else has tried it on before me). You know what I mean though right? You go through piles of clothing in a store trying to find that perfect dress on sale and when you find it, it has a lipstick or deodorant mark on it and sometimes, a strange stain that may or may not come out in the wash. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the mall and I believe that retail therapy is sometimes best done in stores. It’s just that now I’m in love with two forms of shopping.
Giant Peeps Doughnut CakeWhat I’ve learned is that online shopping is really hard to avoid. It follows you through email, social media, and even through paper catalogs. I’ve become so used to the thrill of finding a “good” deal that many times I perused through websites just to see what was available without the intention of buying anything. And then when I found something really great, it was very hard for me to not purchase it. Like an alcoholic that goes into a liquor store just to see what is available, I was just torturing myself for no reason.
Meyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut CakeWhy even go through it if it was so difficult? Because it gave me time to reflect on my lifestyle, and on my faith. At the times where I caught myself window shopping (online), I would close the window and spend some time in prayer and meditation. I’ve come to appreciate the things I already have in my life and realize the abundance of needs that are already met despite the lack of the perfect lace up suede flats. I am so thankful and am writing this with an overwhelmingly grateful heart.
Giant Peeps Doughnut CakeMeyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut CakeWhen Easter rolls around, seasonal bunny, egg and chick themed candy appear and I think Peeps is the most iconic Easter candy of them all. I know they come in different shapes and colors, (they even have peeps flavored milk these days) but I think the OG is the yellow chick peep. Super bright in color with a squishy marshmallow interior, it makes me feel like it should be lemon flavored. This is where I got my inspiration from.  As for the doughnut shape, well anything doughnut is superior to plain cake. No?
Meyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut CakeMeyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut CakeI happened to have a giant doughnut cake pan set from Williams Sonoma, which they don’t sell anymore but this cake can be made with two 8” cake pans if desired. Or, you can carve a hole in the middle and make yourself a makeshift doughnut cake too.
Giant Peeps Doughnut CakeMeyer lemons are popping up everywhere this season, so this cake is filled with all things lemon. It’s a lemon cake, filled with lemon curd and topped with a lemon glaze. As for the marshmallow component, it’s filled with my favorite marshmallow frosting and also topped with a toasted marshmallow frosting that when you put the chicks in, the browned top kind of looks like a nest. I decorated mine with a few Cadbury min eggs (the best chocolate egg candy IMHO) to give that nest feel a little more oomph.  Seasonal in flavor and themed, it’s the perfect baking project for this weekend. 🙂
Meyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut CakeHere are other Easter themed blog posts from the past:

Easy Peanut Butter Eggs
Easter Bunny Surprise Cake
White Chocolate Tiramisu Eggs
Bunny Cake Pops

Giant Peeps Doughnut Cake (Meyer Lemon Marshmallow Doughnut Cake)

You will need:

1 batch of meyer lemon cake (recipe below)
1 batch meyer lemon curd (recipe below)
1 batch meyer lemon glaze (recipe below)
1 batch marshmallow frosting (recipe below)
Cadbury mini eggs
yellow marshmallow chick Peeps

Instructions:

  1. Carve a small ditch around each half of the doughnut cake, making a tunnel for the filling.
  2. On the bottom half of the doughnut, fill the cavity with the lemon curd.
  3. On the top half of the doughnut, fill the cavity with marshmallow frosting.
  4. Sandwich the bottom and half together and set the cake on top of a wire cooling rack and pour the lemon glaze over the top, letting it dribble down the sides.
  5. Fill a piping bag with a large open star frosting tip (the one with a lot of teeth, not the one with 5 teeth) with the rest of the frosting.
  6. Make a swirl pattern all over the top of the cake.
  7. Use a kitchen torch to toast the tops of the marshmallow frosting.
  8. Place a marshmallow Peep all around the cake.
  9. Decorate the empty spaces with the mini eggs.

Meyer Lemon Doughnut Cake

Ingredients:

8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 ¾ c. granulated sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
¼ c. grated meyer lemon zest (3-4 meyer lemons)
3 c. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ c. meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
¾ c. buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp.  pure vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Grease and flour the two doughnut pans. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. (The cake pan I used is discontinued but this product is similar.)
  2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl, mix lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream sugar and butter together until light and fluffy.
  5. Add eggs one at a time until blended and then the zest.
  6. Add the flour and buttermilk mixture alternatively to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans, smoothing the tops.
  8. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan onto a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

Meyer Lemon Curd

Ingredients:

2 tsp. meyer lemon zest
½ c. meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed
½ c. sugar
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Instructions:

  1. Simmer about an inch of water in a small pot.
  2. In a medium metal mixing bowl, whisk together the zest, juice, sugar, eggs and salt.
  3. Add the butter to the mixing bowl and set the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk mixture continuously until mixture thickens and reaches 160˚F, about 5 minutes.
  4. Strain the curd through a fine meshed sieve and refrigerate to thicken completely.

Meyer Lemon Glaze

Ingredients:

2 c. confectioners’ sugar
¼ c. meyer lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together sugar and meyer lemon juice until smooth.

Marshmallow Frosting

Ingredients:

3 large egg whites
¾ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Simmer about an inch of water in a small pot.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar.
  3. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved, 3-4 minutes.
  4. Transfer the bowl to the standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk on high speed until white glossy, stiff peaks form.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Meyer lemon cake and glaze recipe adapted from Ina Garten.
Meyer lemon curd adapted from Epicurious.
Marshmallow frosting adapted from Martha Stewart.

 

Strawberry Ombré Cake

Strawberry Ombré Cake The first day of spring came with snow in Jersey this week. I feel like I should be surprised, but I’m really not. The weather has been pretty off-kilter this year. Remember when it was 60 degrees during Christmas? This cake reminds me of springtime with its bold strawberries and fresh mint leaves. Decorated with tiny white fondant and frosting flowers and a few pink pearls, it is feminine and floral too.
Strawberry Mint Cake The secret to amazing strawberry frosting is to use fresh strawberries and cook it down until it becomes thickened. It is similar to making jam, except you are boiling down just strawberries, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of water. Add this mixture to your standard frosting, and you’ll have the freshest, strawberry-est tasting frosting ever.
Strawberry Ombré Cake When I make a strawberry layer cake, I tend to add a layer of fresh strawberries to up the fruit flavor. You just need to remember to slice your strawberries thinly to keep the cake layers intact. If you don’t, it might compromise the structural integrity of the cake and the layers might slide off of one another.

Strawberry Ombré Cake
Makes one 6-inch cake

You will need:

1 batch of vanilla buttermilk cake (recipe below)
1 batch of strawberry frosting (recipe below)
½ pint fresh strawberries, divided (7 small strawberries left whole, the rest sliced thinly)
1 batch swiss meringue buttercream (recipe below)
pink gel food coloring
fresh mint leaves
pink edible pearls
white mini fondant flowers

Instructions:

  1. Frost the top of one layer of vanilla cake with strawberry frosting.
  2. Put one layer of sliced strawberries on top of the strawberry frosting.
  3. Repeat with the remaining layers of vanilla cake.
  4. Use the remaining strawberry frosting to crumb coat the entire cake.
  5. Let cake set in freezer for 5-10 minutes. Until the crumb coat is set.
  6. Reserve three tablespoons of swiss meringue buttercream in a bow.
  7. Evenly divide the rest of swiss meringue buttercream into 4 bowls.
  8. Leave one batch white and color the other 3 batches in different shades of pink.
  9. Fill an icing bag fitted with a very large round tip with the white swiss meringue buttercream.
  10. Remove the cake from the freezer.
  11. Ice the cake from the top with the white swiss meringue buttercream, moving slowly down.
  12. Once the white frosting runs out, add the light pink swiss meringue buttercream to the same bag and continue moving downwards.
  13. Once the light pink frosting runs out, add the darker pink swiss meringue buttercream to the same bag and continue frost down the cake until you get to the bottom of the cake. (The cake will look bulky and messy. This is normal.)
  14. Using a flat spatula, start going around the cake and smoothing out the sides.
  15. As you move around the cake and start removing frosting, an ombré pattern will appear.
  16. Once the cake is relatively smooth, take a small offset spatula and using a light pressure, start moving the offset spatula in a circular pattern around the cake to create soft ridges.
  17. Top the cake with the whole strawberries with the leaves removed. Do not cut the strawberries. They will release their juices if they are cut.
  18. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small closed star tip with the reserved 3 tablespoons of buttercream frosting.
  19. Fill any gaps between the strawberries with the frosting.
  20. Take the mint leaves and arrange it around the strawberries as desired.
  21. Make tiny buttercream flowers with the closed star tip by squeezing the bag and releasing it in one spot. Place one pear at the center of these flowers.
  22. Fill the rest of the gaps with tiny white fondant flowers.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Ingredients:

2 c. cake flour
1⅓ c. sugar
¾ tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
¾ c. buttermilk, divided
6 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ egg yolks
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line four 6-inch cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. On low speed, add ½ c. buttermilk and butter and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolks, ¼ c. buttermilk, and vanilla extract until homogeneous.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.
  6. Increase speed to medium, and mix until combined.
  7. Evenly divide cake batter into the four cake pans.
  8. Bake about 20-25 minutes until cake is done or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then move onto a cooling rack until completely cool.

Strawberry Frosting (for the filling)

Ingredients:
1 c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
8 oz. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c. sugar
strawberry puree (recipe below)

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add ¾ of the strawberry puree and mix until combined. Taste and see if it needs the rest.
  8. If it needs more strawberry flavor, add in the rest of the strawberry puree and mix until combined.

Strawberry Puree

Ingredients:
¾ pint of strawberries, hulled and cut in halves
2-3 tsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp. water

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries, lemon juice and water on medium heat.
  2. Use a potato smasher to smash the strawberries while cooking to get an even consistency.
  3. Cook strawberries for 5-10 minutes until thickened.
  4. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (for the outside)

Ingredients:

1 c. sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Simmer an inch of water in a medium pot.
  2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk egg whites and sugar together.
  3. Place the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk the egg white and sugar mixture continuously until the mixture becomes lighter and no longer grainy.
  4. Remove the bowl from the pot and transfer the bowl into the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment.
  5. Mix on high until mixture becomes white and fluffy, and cool (check for this by seeing if the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch).
  6. Add in vanilla extract and butter one stick at a time until a silky smooth frosting forms.