Lemon Cranberry Cake

Lemon Cranberry Cake

Lemon Cranberry Cake

Lemon Cranberry Cake

Until this cake, I thought I wasn’t a fan of cranberries. However, its festive look captured my eye, and I figured it would be fun to try something other than chocolate cake or cheesecake for the Christmas dessert.

The recipe begins with brown sugar on the bottom of the bundt pan and fresh cranberries piled on top of that. When it cooks, that brown sugar caramelizes with the cranberries as they burst and soften, creating a compote-like topping. The sugar tempers the tartness of the cranberries, too, which then complements the slight tartness of the lemon cake. Top it all off with a lemon sugar glaze and you have one heck of a festive cake, perfect for the holiday season … or any gathering.

LemonCranberryCake

By the way, the sugared cranberries placed around the cake add a decorative touch, and I’ll post that recipe as soon as I finish this one.

Lemon Cranberry Cake 2

Lemon Cranberry Cake

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INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease a bundt pan with butter or shortening.
  3. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the bottom of the bundt pan, then layer the cranberries over the sugar.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. In a large bowl, use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar until it is infused with the lemon fragrance.
  6. Add the butter to the sugar; beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.
  7. Beat in the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.
  8. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine buttermilk and 2 tbsp. lemon juice.
  9. With mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Add 1/2 the buttermilk mixture; mix until just incorporated. Repeat. You should end with the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients.
  10. Spoon batter into the bundt pan over the cranberries, smoothing out as needed.
  11. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until golden brown on top and knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer cake to wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to cool completely.
  12. When cool, carefully transfer cake to serving platter (scooting it onto a cookie sheet works well for the transfer).
  13. For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice; whisk until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cake; let set before slicing.

SOURCE: Annie’s Eats via Williams Sonoma

Red Velvet Berry Trifles

Red Velvet Berry Trifle

Red Velvet Berry Trifle

Ever eaten red velvet cake? Sounds so elegant, doesn’t it? It has a vibrantly rich red color, a subtle chocolate flavor, and a stunningly contrasting and tangy white cream cheese frosting layer. Elegant indeed!

I’ve tried to bake red velvet a few times. No luck. Too dry. Too oily. Too bland.

Then Todd and Diane of the blog White on Rice Couple posted the most lovely rustic-looking layered Red Velvet Berry Cake. I have found their recipes reliably yummy, so I thought I’d give red velvet another attempt.

Score! Their cake has the moistness that has eluded me. And it uses a bit more chocolate flavoring than other recipes I’ve tried, so that deepens the flavor profile.

Rather than make a layered cake, though, I made individual trifles, mainly because I have these adorable trifle cups I bought a few years back and don’t use as often as I’d like to. I baked my batter in a half-sheet pan and froze the baked cake, then used a cookie cutter to cut mini cake rounds to fit into the trifle cups. I took all the leftovers and chopped them up into small bits and also used those for trifles in the tall glasses. You could even make one giant trifle, which would look stunning in a large glass dish.

Anyhow, I made these for a book club meeting, and they received rave reviews. Not too cloyingly sweet, the berries with the cake make a light summer dessert.You can lighten this dessert even more by using the heavy cream and cream cheese frosting from the Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes recipes. I may try that next time I whip these up. (FYI: I made both the cake and frosting ahead of time, freezing the cake after cutting for the trifles and refrigerating the frosting. Wrap cake in plastic wrap, then place in resealable bag. It was a snap, then, to put these together a few hours before I needed them.)

Finally, the red, white, and blue colors of the cake, frosting, and blueberries make this a perfect Fourth of July dessert!

Red Velvet Berry Trifle

Red Velvet Berry Trifle

 

Red Velvet Berry Trifles

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INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 2 cups (275 g) cake flour (cake flour is lighter than all purpose)
  • 1/4 cup (22 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Penzey’s Dutch-processed Natural Cocoa Powder)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk (or substitute with 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice or white vinegar; let sit for 5-10 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. (30 ml) liquid red food coloring or about 1 tbsp. (15 ml) Americolor #119 Red Red color gel
  • 1 tsp. white or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs

Layers: Frosting & Fruit

  • 2 (8 oz/225 g) pkgs. cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups (270 g) powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • mix of fresh berries (about 1 1/2 lbs./680 g): sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or butter your baking vessels (two 9-inch rounds, a 9×13 inch pan, or a half-sheet pan) (you can also make cupcakes from the batter). If you want to make sure your cake comes out of the pan easily, consider lining with parchment paper. TIP: Grease pan first, then parchment paper will stick to it. Follow by greasing parchment paper, too.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. (I always sift my cocoa powder to break up any lumps.)
  3. In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, red food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla until well blended.
  4. In a large bowl, beat together sugar and butter until creamy, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, to sugar/butter until blended.
  6. Add 1/2 of the dry mixture and 1/2 of the wet mixture; beat until smooth. Repeat with remaining wet and dry mixtures.
  7. Pour the batter into baking vessels. For cake rounds, bake about 25-30 minutes. For half sheet pan, bake about 15-18 minutes. Since I haven’t used 9×13 or cupcake pans for this recipe, start at 15 minutes and check every few minutes for doneness: when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, cake is done.
  8. When finished baking, transfer pans to wire racks to cool cakes.
  9. For frosting, cream together cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. If your frosting seems too loose, chill it in the refrigerator for a few hours; it will thicken. You can make the frosting a day or two ahead of time and just store, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.
  10. To make trifles or layered cake, start with a cake layer, add a frosting layer, then add a fruit layer. Make as many layers as you desire…or that your trifle dish will hold.
  11. You can assemble trifles a few hours in advance and store, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator until ready to serve. If making a layered cake, be careful so plastic wrap won’t squish your lovely creation.

SOURCE: White on Rice Couple

2013’s Most Popular Posts

Hubby and I prefer to stay home for a quiet and calm New Year’s Eve. We celebrate by cooking something special, usually lobster. However, two years ago I saved a recipe for Beef Wellington, and this year I’m finally going to try it. Hence, I’ve spent the entire day in the kitchen prepping. If all goes well tonight, I’ll share the recipe later this week.

Anyway, I decided to rest my weary feet a bit and catch up on some emails. Lo and behold, I received my annual report of the most popular posts for 2013 (all sweet treats, by the way), so I thought I’d quickly share them. A couple of the most-searched posts go back to 2011 and 2012!

Wishing each and every one of you a very healthy, happy, and peaceful 2014.

Most popular posts of 2013:

Kahlua Cheesecake

Kahlua Cheesecake

Kahlua Cheesecake: graham cracker crust, ganache layer, velvety Kahlua-flavored cheescake, sour-cream layer, and drizzled ganache topping. Can you say decadent?

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

Oreo Cheesecake Bites

Oreo Cheesecake Bites (2012): Still popular a year later, and rightfully so. These little babies pack a ton of chocolate-y flavor amidst tangy cheesecake. And oh-so-easy to make, too.

Ho Ho Cake

Ho Ho Cake

Ho Ho Cake: This light and airy layered cake garners a lot of oohs and aahs from its recipients. Very yummilicious cake.

Magic Custard Cake

Magic Custard Cake

Magic Custard Cake: Magic indeed as three layers appear from one batter!

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread

Cinnamon Pull-Apart Bread (2011): Still going strong two years later, this pull-apart bread is simply fun with layers of dough stacked so they pull apart easily after baking. Drizzle with lots of glaze for a glorious treat.

What’s Cooking in My Kitchen (cakes, cookies, cupcakes, mini pies, and ice cream)

With potlucks, work luncheons, and Thanksgiving on the horizon, I thought I had best get busy baking up some goodies ahead of time, most of them stocked in the freezer.

Sweet and Salty Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

Sweet and Salty Butterscotch Pecan Cookies

I have Sweet and Salty Butterscotch Pecan cookie dough in the freezer, ready for baking. These cookies receive the most rave reactions every time I share them.

Pecan Tassies

Pecan Tassies (mini pecan pies)

Pecan Tassies, bite-sized pecan pies, will grace a potluck at the gym. These freeze well in an airtight container, but that means I can easily sneak a tassie or two each night. I hope they last until the potluck later this week!! By the way, this time I added about 5 chocolate chips to the bottom of each crust before adding the filling. Extra yum!

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake with Caramel Icing

A scrumptious Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake with Caramel Icing, sans icing but tightly enveloped in plastic wrap and housed in the freezer, awaits Thanksgiving festivities, returning for a repeat performance after its highly successful debut last year.

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

I baked Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes recently, falling in love with their espresso and pumpkin combo. Truth be told, it’s the frosting that stole my heart. I knew these would grace the table at the next salad club lunch at work, taking place this week.

Although these aren’t stocked in the freezer, I just have to share about these Apple Fritters I made recently for a book club meeting. Oh my goodness, this recipe makes the heavens sing. Check out Nicole’s post at Galley Gourmet for pics and recipe. I modified her recipe slightly, using grated apples rather than diced. I made it both ways, actually, and prefer the grated version. These are best eaten shortly after frying.

Finally, I tried my hand yet again at caramels, only to add another tale to my list of caramel woes. However, this time the caramels almost set properly. They are a bit too soft and every time I cut them, they morph back into one large blob after a few minutes. Sigh…

Since the Apple Cider Caramels still tasted yummy despite their blobby status, I decided to give the Browned Butter Caramel Stuffed Cookies a try and rescue the caramel. Failure. Sort of. I must have made the cookie balls too small and/or the caramel pieces too big; the caramel simply oozed out the bottoms of the cookies. Bummer because the browned butter cookies bake up outta-this-world-crazy-divinely-delicious and the apple cider caramel pairs perfectly with it.

As I held the tray of ruined cookies in my hand, about to toss them into the trash bin, I had a rescue idea flash into my brain: crumble the cookies and toss them into a batch of vanilla ice cream. So I did. Truthfully, I think it’s just a so-so combo, but my hubby loves it.

Vanilla Caramel Cookie Ice Cream

Vanilla Caramel Cookie Ice Cream

I tried another vanilla ice cream recipe for this, though, that hubby claims is better than his beloved Hagen Daaz. At Galley Gourmet, Nicole used the French Vanilla Ice Cream from David Liebovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop, but she modified it by adding some corn syrup and vodka. It certainly does create a soft, creamy, rich, and easy-to-scoop ice cream.

Oh, and if you ever have a ruined cake, you can try a trifle for a rescue mission. I had to do that with a burnt chocolate bundt cake a couple years ago, but I successfully turned that disaster into Chocolate Berry Trifles. I got the idea from Michelle at Brown-Eyed Baker and her carrot cake disaster rescue: Carrot Cake Trifle.

Chocolate Berry Trifle

Chocolate Berry Trifle

With all this baking, I can hardly wait for Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite of the holidays because it’s all about family, friends, and food. And I look forward to making Turkey Tetrazzini again from the broth I’ll make from the leftover carcass and all the meat I’ll get from those bones. It ranks as one of the most delicious savory recipes, I think, to come out of my oven.

Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini

What’s your favorite food at Thanksgiving? Try asking that at the dinner table. Not one person said turkey the year someone posed that question! My favorite: my mom’s sauerkraut. Or maybe Ladera’s stuffing.

Okay, only 11 more days until Turkey Day!! Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday filled with gratitude.

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Chocolate Bundt Cake

Chocolate Bundt Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting

My friend Sara of My Imperfect Kitchen, who I met at Camp Blogaway, asked me to guest post on her blog. I absolutely love Sara’s enthusiastic approach to life. Not only could I see this when I met her in person, but her blog posts ooze excitement and energy and a zest for life. Of course, I happily agreed to guest post for her.

She asked me to share one of my favorite recipes. Now that just left the choices too wide open for me! I have so many favorites. My mind whirled for days, but it kept returning to chocolate–chocolate cupcakes with chocolate fudge frosting in particular, a recipe shared with me by my husband’s stepmom. However, I didn’t want to write about something I’d already posted on my blog.

But chocolate thoughts kept saturating my brain. Then I had the opportunity to make dessert for a summer visit, so I made this chocolate bundt cake I had bookmarked to bake. Perfect choice for both the visit and to share with Sara’s readers. So my dear readers, if you want to find the recipe, which is well worth the baking, head on over to Sara’s blog.

Zucchini Recipe Roundup

Zucchini Recipe Roundup

My garden has three stunted squash plants. Since May. They grew about 8 inches high and refused to grow anymore. Nor have they succumbed to perishing. I don’t get it. Last year’s zucchini plant grew for months and months and months. I even tried a second round of plants this year and same situation: stunted growth.

Hence, we’ve had no zucchini dishes this season. However, since I had quite the abundance the past couple of years and tried numerous recipes and since squash season is in full bloom and since I’ve had quite a few people subscribe to the blog (welcome all!), I thought I’d share my collection. Just click the link below the photos to view the posts/recipes.

How do you like to cook zucchini?

Zucchini Recipe Roundup

Pesto Zucchini Lasagna

Pesto Zucchini Lasagna

Pesto and Roasted Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Frittata

Zucchini Frittata

Zucchini Frittata

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (unbelievably moist and delicious)

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Muffins

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Muffins

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Muffins

Zucchini & Carrot Slaw with Asian Dressing

Zucchini & Carrot Slaw with Asian Dressing

Zucchini and Carrot Slaw with Asian Dressing

Zucchini Cheese Bread

Zucchini Cheese Bread

Zucchini Cheese Bread

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Zucchini Melt

Zucchini Melt

Zucchini Melt

Zucchini Fries

Zucchini Fries

Zucchini Fries

Ho Ho Cake

HoHoCake

Have you ever eaten Ho Ho’s, the cream-filled cylindrical pinwheel cakes coated in chocolate? Chocolate and cream. Oh my. I remember eating the Little Debbie version in my childhood. I loved to unroll it and savor every sugary bite. For some reason, unrolling it seemed to me to stretch out the amount of sweet goodness.

image from google.com

The ho ho cylindrical treat; image from google.com

Well, now you can recreate the flavor in pan form for a much easier and tastier version. Loaded with chocolate and layered with a cream-filled middle, this will make your eaters oooh and aaah, as my eaters did on Christmas day.

P.S. The cream filling sounds a bit strange since it’s made with flour and shortening in the ingredients, but trust me, it tastes great!

P.S.S. I found this cake to taste even better the following day…don’t know why but it did.

Ho Ho Cake

INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • use either a boxed chocolate cake mix (18.25 ounces)

or Make a Chocolate Cake from Scratch (adapted from Hershey’s Chocolate Cake):

  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. (7.45 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp.Hershey’s cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 tsp. espresso powder (optional, but it helps deepen the chocolate flavor)

Cream Filling

  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 5 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

Icing

  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tbsp. whole milk
  • 2 tbsp. hot water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. To make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 9 x 13-inch brownie pan (mine is 9 x 13 x 1.5 inches). If using boxed cake mix, use a larger jellyroll pan, 10 x 15 inches. If you have the larger jellyroll pan and make the cake from scratch, use the full Hershey’s cake recipe, so check the original link to Hershey’s. I altered it to fit the smaller pan.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla; beat on medium speed with mixer for 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in boiling water. Batter will be thin. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  5. Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake before adding other layers.
  6. To make cream filling: Combine the milk and flour in a small saucepan; cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding, 5-8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
  7. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream together the sugar, butter, and shortening until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  8. Add the cooled flour/milk mixture; beat on high for 7 minutes.
  9. Spread onto the cooled cake. Refrigerate until set. (I didn’t alter the ingredient measurements to fit the smaller 9 x 13 cake, so you’ll end up with some extra cream.)
  10. To make icing: Melt chocolate using the double boiler method by placing a heatproof bowl over a pan filled with water that reaches just below the bowl and heat the water to a simmer, not a boil. Alternatively, melt in the microwave by heating in 15-30 second increments, stirring between each increment, until melted. Cool slightly.
  11. In a large bowl, use electric mixer on medium-high speed to mix together powdered sugar, melted/cooled butter, melted/cooled chocolate, milk, hot water, and vanilla extract until smooth and creamy.
  12. Spread icing over cream filling.
  13. Serve either at room temperature or cold, from refrigerator. (I prefer room temperature.)

SOURCE: adapted from Brown-Eyed Baker

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake with Caramel Icing

This cake looked so lovely when I first saw a picture of it on Chris’s The Cafe Sucre Farine blog (a delightful blog, by the way). I immediately saved it and knew I would make it for one of the Salad Club lunches at work (we have a salad club lunch every three weeks and everyone brings something; I always sign up for dessert so I can tackle my mega list of desserts-to-make).

Today I shared the cake with my coworkers…and they received it well–not a slice was left! I just might make it again for Thanksgiving or maybe Christmas…

I’ve always loved pound cake–so dense and moist and buttery. Add some pumpkin and it takes it to a festive level for the holidays. Even better, pour some caramel icing and you have now taken it to a heavenly level. Festive and heavenly–quite a winning combo.

Pumpkin Buttermilk Pound Cake with Caramel Icing

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INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 4 ounces (1/2 cup or 1 stick) butter, unsalted & softened
  • 13.5 ounces (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • optional but flavorful: 3 tbsp. bourbon, cognac, or rum
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (add an additional 1/2 tsp. if skipping the alcohol)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature (let sit in warm water for 10 minutes to bring to room temp)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • optional: 4 ounces (1 cup) pecan halves, toasted and chopped

Note: I recommend mixing up extra of the ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove spices and increasing the amount in the recipe. It calls for 4 5/8 tsp. total, but I would increase that by at least half to intensify the spicy, pumpkin flavor in the cake. I found it to be rather subtle.

Caramel Icing

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 ounces (1/2 cups or 1 stick) butter
  • 5 tbsp. milk
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS

Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Generously spray a 10-12 cup tube pan with baking spray. Rub allover with a paper towel, then spray lightly one more time. (I used shortening and then dusted lightly with flour.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves.
  4. In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, bourbon, and vanilla.
  5. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for 5 minutes.
  6. Gradually add the oil, beating until combined.
  7. Add the brown sugar. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well on medium-high speed after each addition.
  9. Reduce speed to low and add the pumpkin (if you add it while on high speed, the batter will splatter all over the kitchen counter, walls, floor, and yourself!).
  10. Slowly pour in the buttermilk mixture and mix until combined.
  11. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the batter, mixing just until combined.
  12. If using pecans, use a rubber spatula to fold them in at this point.
  13. Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth the top, and tap the pan on the counter a couple of times to settle the batter.
  14. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it, about 45-55 minutes.
  15. Cook the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack, removing the pan, and cool completely, at least 3 hours.

Caramel Icing (see finecooking.com for a slightly different glaze)

  1. Combine the sugar, butter, milk, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat; add vanilla extract. (At this point, the icing will be the consistency of thick syrup.)
  3. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute.
  4. Add powdered sugar and beat again until smooth. If needed, add more milk to make an icing that can easily be drizzled.
  5. Set the cake on a wire rack over a rimmed, foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle icing over completely cooled cake, allowing to drip down the sides.

Notes:

  • Sprinkle icing with toasted walnuts or pecans, if desired. Or try the sugared, roasted nuts on the finecooking.com link below.
  • For best flavor and texture, the cake should be baked at least one day before serving. Store, un-iced, at room temperature for up to two days–just wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.
  • The cake can also be frozen, iced or un-iced, for 3-4 weeks. Flash freeze first (freeze, unwrapped, for 1-2 hours), then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil. Return to freezer.

SOURCE: adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine who adapted from Fine Cooking

Applesauce Cake

Many of the recipes I try are found from me just surfing around the food blogosphere. That’s how I came across this applesauce cake recipe. Several months ago, it piqued my interest since I had one jar of seckel pear jam (more like pear sauce)  and one jar of plum sauce (recipe below), so I thought I’d use them up by replacing the applesauce with them in this recipe. If you use unsweetened applesauce, this tasty cake contains no sugar. And it’s gluten free. Yay!

Surprisingly, this unassuming little cake packed a huge punch in both flavor and simplicity. Graced with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, this dessert combo had me looking forward to dessert nightly until, sadly, it was all gone. Boo hoo. Luckily, I can easily whip up more.

Applesauce Cake

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INGREDIENTS

Cake

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce (I used one cup pear sauce and one cup plum sauce)
  • 2 cups oat flour (You can purchase oat flour, but it’s easy to make: blend oats in my high-powered blender or food processor until it turns to flour)
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 3/4 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Frosting (optional)

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter either one 9” x 13” pan or two 8” x 8” pans.
  2. Cream together butter and maple syrup. Add eggs and applesauce and beat until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in three batches, thoroughly combining after each addition.
  5. Fold in raisins and nuts if you are using them.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  7. For the smaller pans, bake just 30 minutes. If using a single, larger pan, bake for 45-50 minutes.
  8. For frosting, combine butter and cream cheese in a medium bowl and beat with a hand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla; beat to incorporate. Spread evenly on top of the cooled cake.

SOURCE: Food in Jars

Plum Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 plums, peeled and chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then pulse in food processor to break up the plum pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Delicious to drizzle over ice cream, pancakes, or even pork loin roast.

Source: inspired by allrecipes.com

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Our zucchini plant starting sprouting big giant gorgeous yellow flowers, almost tropical looking. We’ve been growing squash every season for about 4-5 years now, and it wasn’t until this year that I noticed those flowers are the beginnings of the actual squash.

I mean, I had noticed them wilting on the ends of the regular-sized squash and realized the flower was part of the veggie, but I just noticed this year how teensy tiny the zukes are on the other end of these enormous flowers. I also noticed that many blossoms are waiting their turn to burst into bloom–and burst is certainly how these flowers look. I love walking out to check on the garden in the early morning light right before I head off to work and finding those gorgeous flowers smiling at me.

Last week I picked our first zucchini. I chopped it up and tossed it into our salad. I aimed for the healthy route.

This week I picked our second zucchini and decided to make one heck of a yummy dessert recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

Yes, you read that right. Zucchini in a cake. And it actually tastes pretty darn good. You can’t even tell veggies are hiding out in there. They help keep the cake super moist and tender.

I was skeptical when a friend first shared the recipe with me, claiming its fame. “Uh huh, right,” I thought. But this is someone whose opinion I trust, so I tried it. And I liked it. Actually, I loved it. The cake, like I said, is tender and moist. The chocolate chips on top along with the walnuts add extra sweetness and crunch.

I usually bake this in a 9×13 pan, but this time I baked half the recipe in a round cake pan and the rest in cupcake form. Happy to report that it works in all forms and looks more elegant in round form for party serving while the cupcakes make a handy-dandy portable size–perfect for the lunch box.

So, if you like chocolate, try this recipe.

If you have squash galore growing in your garden, try this.

If you want to be adventurous and experience something different, try this.

I dare you to not like this Chocolate Zucchini Cake!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup margarine or unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (substitute options: 1 cup milk + 1 tbsp. lemon juice, vinegar, or cream of tartar, then let stand for 10 minutes; will have similar sour/acid content of buttermilk but not as thick)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups peeled and grated zucchini (I don’t peel mine)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cream together butter, oil, and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat well.
  3. Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; add to butter mixture.
  4. Stir in grated zucchini.
  5. Pour into 9”x13” pan; top with nuts and chips. Pat those chips and nuts down into the batter a bit or else they come loose when the cake is done baking.
  6. Bake at 325 degrees F for 40-45 minutes (30-35 min. if baking in cake pan; 20-25 min. for cupcake pan).

Cake freezes well…just wrap in plastic wrap and then foil.

SOURCE: Ann R., family friend

P.S. If you need more zucchini recipes to help you work through your garden’s abundant production of squash, check out these, which helped me use up last year’s harvest:

Zucchini and Carrot Slaw with Asian Dressing

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Stuffed Zucchini in Tomato Sauce

Zucchini Melt

Lemon Rosemary Zucchini Muffins

Zucchini Cheese Bread

Savory Zucchini Fries