Category Archives: cake

happy birthday to you, bloggy mcblogsalot.

ok, so one year ago today i said to myself “hey, i love food blogs, i love to cook, i love pictures of food”. so i decided to start a food blog. then my friend frank said in response, “so, do you have anything to say?”. of course i immediately said “well, of course i do, don’t be ridiculous”, then i went and cried myself to sleep because i was dumb enough to think that  starting a blog was a good idea. then i woke up and started my blog.

and that is how it all started. ever since then, my husband can’t eat until all the pictures are taken, i cook and take pictures during most of my time off, and i take pictures in my jammies when it’s 30 degrees outside because the light is ‘perfect’.

but, i have also given myself the luxury of cooking something as many times as it takes until it is perfect (to me, anyway).

i have reawakened a love for photography not felt since my early twenties (helped immensely by the canon given to me by husband-yes, he’s an enabler).

and i have met and befriended a community of food bloggers and writers in my hometown that mean the world to me.

there are countless people to thank for even a small endeavor such as a food blog. but mostly i need to thank my friends and family for their willingness to taste anything and everything, and my dear friend and photographer extraordinaire, casey, who has helped me grow leaps and bounds over the past year.

rocket and mazzie, my accidental food tasters and floor lickers (i mean floor cleaners).

and this beautiful man, who married me without knowing what was to come, what was to be had for dinner, and when i would allow him to start eating.

**incidentally, and unrelated to this whole first birthday celebration, i found out today that i have been named in the austin chronicle’s top 10 food blogs. happy birthday, little bloggy:**


Filed under cake, desserts

pumpkin cinnamon rolls (yeah, you heard me).

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 1

i’ve had to take a short break and i won’t bother you with the details. but i hope this will make it worth your while. to me, pumpkin can (and should) be adapted to just about any recipe, sweet or savory. i love the idea of it incorporated into a dough. while it imparts only a mild pumpkin flavor, the look and aesthetic are to die for. if you substitute as pumpkin puree for as much of the liquid as possible, you can really pump up the volume on the pumpkin-y-ness (sp? word?)

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 2a

oh, kitchen aid mixer with dough hook attachment, i will name my first born after you. promise.

punpkin cinnamon rolls 3

just look at this gorgeous dough. it just screams FALL!!

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 4

i think this shadow looks like an elephant. anyhoo, brush butter on your rolled out dough rectangle.

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 7

roll ‘er up and place cut rolls in pan. at this point you could stash them in the fridge, do your 2nd rise in the am, then bake. otherwise, you’d be getting up at 4 am to make this for a crowd. the first time i made these, we ate them at 2 in the afternoon, if that’s any indication. not that there’s anything wrong with that.

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 8

pumpkin cinnamon rolls (makes 12)

adapted from king arthur flour


1 cup canned or freshly made pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)

2 eggs

2 tbsp to 1/4 cup lukewarm water*

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour

1/4 cup non-fat dry milk

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

3 tbsp light brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp instant yeast

*adjust amount of water added depending on humidity and baking conditions-a.k.a. add less to begin with, then slowly add more to make a smooth, non-sticky dough.


2 tbsp melted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins, optional (i opted out, adding the same amount of walnuts instead)


1 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/2 tbsp milk, or enough to make a ‘drizzlable’ glaze

*honestly, i had to double the amount of glaze, either it was because i made 12 smaller rolls (instead of the 9 the recipe states it make) or i am just crazy for glaze.

mix and knead all dough ingredients together in a standup mixer fitted with a dough hook. . alternatively, you could do this by hand, but why would you? unless you were amish. my apologies to my amish readership. remember to add the water slowly after you add all the other ingredients, until you get a smooth dough. you can always add more water, but you can’t take it out once it’s been added.

place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow to rise about 1/2 hours, until it doubles size.

turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface and roll into a rectangle about 14″x 22″. it will appear on the this side. brush with a few tablespoons of melted butter.

mix together the filling sugar and cinnamon and spread out over the dough, leaving one short edge with no filling (this will be the end of the roll). top with raisins or nuts, if using.

starting with the short end of rectangle that is covered with filling, begin rolling dough into a log. cut log into 9 (or 12 smaller) rolls. place the rolls in a lightly greased pan that is at least 2 inches deep, to accommodate more rising. set aside, covered, to rise for 1 more hour.

preheat oven to 375 degrees. bake for 25-30 minutes, until lightly browned and rolls appear set in center. cool on a rack for about 15 minutes. while cooling, make glaze. heat butter and milk until butter melts, whisk in sugar until dissolved into mixture and drizzle over pumpkin rolls while they are still warm. if you like a frosting rather than a glaze, apply glaze after rolls are completely cool.

is this enough glaze yet? just barely.

pumpkin cinnamon rolls 1a


Filed under breakfast, cake


banana bread 3

this banana bread is one of the best i’ve ever made. i have been looking for years for a great banana bread recipe: not too dry, but not artificially moist. for some odd reason or another, it has eluded me. this recipe is from bakesale betty, a great little bakery and sandwich shop we were taken to on our last trip cali. it is made with honey, cane sugar, AND brown sugar. but that’s not what made it sweet. this is. i would like for you to make a loaf of this bread and while it cools get yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, whatever you like, and take a few quiet moments to read this story by a fellow blogger. i found it to be a moving account of life’s to-and-fro’s.

banana bread closeup2

banana bread with cinnamon crumble topping (makes 1 loaf)

adapted from sweet amandine/bakesale betty/bon appetit

to toast walnuts, place in a single layer on baking sheet in a 350 degree oven. check and stir every 1-2 minutes. if you don’t set a timer, they will most likely burn. no matter how you try to tell yourself you will remember, you will not.

for the bread:

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar (i use organic evaporated cane juice sugar)

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 medium)

2 large eggs

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup toasted walnuts (optional, but not optional for me)

for the topping:

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 1/2 tbsp golden brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon


preheat oven to 350F. butter and flour a 9x5x3  inch loaf pan. mix together topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

in a medium bowl, mix togther flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, baking soda and salt. in a large bowl, whisk together the banana, eggs, vegetable oil, honey and water until smooth. add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in 2-3  increments and stir until just combined. do not overmix. add nuts, if using. pour into prepared loaf pan. spoon cinnamon topping over batter.

bake for about 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean (a good rule of thumb is to start checking every 5 minutes after the first 45-50 minutes). cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack, being careful not to dislodge too much of the topping.

p.s. and just so you know, she is alive and well and recovering at home, and even twittering about it. i know there was a collective sigh of relief with that first tweet.


Filed under breakfast, cake, desserts

nectarine and mascarpone tart

nectarine tart 1

this summer i’m participating in summer fest 2009, wherein culinary ideas and inspiration about summer produce are traded by a group of food lovers and bloggers. a group, you say? but she never joins ‘groups’.  i think she hates groups, in fact! yes, i have a rep. i come from a long line of non group-joiners. what that is, i don’t know. it’s like a bad habit. i’m trying to be more aware of some of my not-so-good habits, diversify, break out of the same old rut, say yes when i would reflexively say no. always a good thing, ya know, to stretch those rigid muscles?

anyway, if you’re so inclined, you should check out some of the blogs from these summer fest party hosts: mattbites, steamy kitchen, white on rice couple, and a way to garden.

nectarine tart 2

i found distributing the crust evenly in the pan to be very zen-like. it sort of reminded me of sandcastle-building.

nectarine tart 3

i did my best to keep the filling-eating within normal limits. i was not successful. somehow i still had enough to fill the tart pan so no one would know.

nectarine tart 4

nectarine tart 5

nectarine and mascarpone tart (serves 8-10)

adapted from bon appetit

mascarpone cheese is  like an italian cream cheese, but it is extremely luxurious. it is a little pricey,but since the whole dessert is not very expensive to make,  resist the urge to use all cream cheese. there is some chilling time needed, so plan accordingly. we ate the leftovers the next day, and it still appeared and tasted very fresh.


25 gingersnaps, coarsely broken up

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted pure butter, melted


1-8 ounce container mascarpone cheese

6 ounce cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp grated lemon peel (about 2 lemons)

1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger (i skipped this-i wanted a silky smooth texture to the filling)


3-4 small nectarines, halved, pitted, cut into thin slices (a squeeze of fresh lemon juice will discourage browning)

1/4 cup peach jam, warmed 

2 tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger


preheat oven to 350. process gingersnaps in a food processor into a fine grind. add melted butter and pulse until combined.  press mixture into botton and sides of a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. bake crust until darkens, about 8 minutes. set aside and cool completely.

beat all ingredients for filling, except crystallized ginger , in a medium bowl or stand mixer until smooth. add ginger, if using, and mix with a spoon. spread gently into prepared crust. cover loosely and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 1 day.

after chilling, arrange nectarine slices in an overlapping pattern on top of filling. brush with jam. sprinkle with chopped crystallized ginger. serve, or refrigerate up to 6 hours. 

next time i think i’ll leave off the jam glaze. it doesn’t need it. it was perfect with just the clean and fresh taste of the fruit alone (see below). this would be perfect with plums, figs, or even fresh berries.


nectarine tart 6


Filed under cake, cheese, desserts, fruit

irish car bomb cupcakes


          yes, you read that right. perhaps you’ve ordered one of these drinks at your fave irish pub. perhaps someone else ordered one for you against your will. but you drank it anyway. and it was so good. let’s see, a shot glass full of irish whiskey and bailey’s irish cream dropped into a pint of stout. what’s not to like? when i first encountered this recipe, i thought it so brilliant that i had gathered all the required ingredients and had them made with in hours. the booziness made me swoon!


first make the cupcake batter. traditionally, if you can call anything about this ‘traditional’,  this drink is made with an irish stout, like guinness. i used st. arnold winter stout. it is a bit sweeter than irish stout and works well in this recipe (unfortunately, it is only available in texas for now). it seems counter intuitive, but add butter and stout to a pan and melt:



then add your cocoa powder:


stir until smooth and remove from heat. allow to cool slightly.


then beat the sour cream and eggs in a large bowl. i prefer crema mexicana rather than sour cream. it is more like creme fraiche, a little thicker and richer than sour cream. you can find this in the supermarket if you live in an area with a large hispanic population. i thank the heavens everyday that i do.


then add your stout mixture after it has cooled a bit:



 add the flour 1/3 at a time. mix on low to prevent flour from flying all over kitchen:


after you bake the cupcakes, you will need to scoop out the centers to add your whiskey ganache. you could use a apple corer or grapefruit spoon. i used my melon baller like this:




then make your whiskey ganache and pipe (or spoon) in!



you may notice that the ganache is no longer shiny–i filled the cupcakes the day before frosting. i was glad i did because it made it a lot easier to frost. you can pipe or spread your frosting. i like the homemade, sweet look of hand spreading. i topped it with some turbinado (coarse grain, raw) sugar.




irish car bomb cupcakes (adapted from smitten kitchen)

for the cupcakes:

1 cup stout (such as st. arnold (or stout from your own local micro brew) or guinness)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably dutch-process)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream (i prefer crema mexicana)

preheat oven to 350°F. line 24-28 cupcake cups with liners. bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. cool a bit off the heat.

whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. using an electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl until blended. add cooled stout mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. add flour mixture about 1/3 at a time and beat briefly on slow speed. using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. try not to overmix. divide batter among cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 of the way. bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, rotating them once front to back about half way through, about 17 minutes. cool cupcakes on a rack completely.


8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons irish whiskey (i used bushmill’s)

chop the chocolate and transfer it to a heatproof bowl. heat the cream until simmering and pour it over the chocolate. let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. if mixture is not completely smooth after stirring, 10-20 seconds in the microwave, watching carefully, will help.  add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (or spooned in). meanwhile, using your melon baller or an apple corer, cut the centers out of the cooled cupcakes. you want to go most of the way down the cupcake but not cut through the bottom — aim for 2/3 of the way. you can eat the centers while you are working to give you energy to finish up! put the ganache into a piping bag–or just use a spoon (no one will see the top of the ganache. it will be covered by frosting)–and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.


3 to 4 cups confections sugar
2 sticks (1 cup or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperatue
3 to 4 tablespoons baileys irish cream (or milk or heavy cream)

*this is a double batch of frosting. be careful–this stuff is pretty rich!

whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes–you want to get it very light and fluffy. slowly add the powdered sugar, a few tablespoons at a time. i only ended up using 2 cups of the powdered sugar using this method! then add your bailey’s or cream. spread or pipe frosting and enjoy!

houston found the rest of the stout:



Filed under cake

be mine, bubba


i get all girly this time of year. suddenly pink and red are my favorite colors again, i heart hearts, and i make cupcakes. love is in the air. i’m not referring to the commercial-boxed candy-outrageously expensive flowers kind of love. but the sweet, homemade, and special kind that can only come from time spent making someone feel loved (see above photo, which really needs no explaining). this not only made me and everyone else who drove by smile, but i bet bubba felt pretty good about it, too.


i think it’s time to make some cupcakes, don’t you? i decided to try my hand at those perfectly retro beauties, red velvets. after you see how much food coloring is in them, you might cringe. but then, like me, you’ll probably eat them anyway. so bad yet….so good. i made them, then gave them away to everyone i knew. give ’em a try and spread the love.

red velvet cupcakes (adapted from “the confetti cakes cookbook” by elisa strauss)

try these with a glass of sparkling from these folks–it’s all good!

3½ cups cake flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1½ teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring*
1½ teaspoons  real vanilla extract
1¼ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2½ teaspoons white vinegar.

1. preheat oven to 350 degrees. place cupcake liners in muffin pans.

2. whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. beat in eggs one at a time. with machine on low, VERY slowly add red food coloring. (take care: it may splash.) add vanilla. add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. beat for 10 seconds. this is super fun science-experiment cooking stuff!

5. fill cupcake liners about 1/2-1/3 full, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 18 to 25 minutes. rotate pans 1/2 way through cooking (this is a good habit to get into while baking anything–it allows for anyone’s oven to provide even heat and doneness). let cool in pans for a few minutes. then remove from pans and cool completely before frosting.

* yes–it is a shocking amount of food coloring. i started to read the ingredients on the food color label, then decided not to so i could enjoy them. i have heard of other methods of getting the red hue (beets, strawberries) but i believe none are as effective.

yield: 30-35 cupcakes (or 3 cake layers).


cream cheese frosting

1 stick unsalted butter (12 TBSP), room temperature

1 block cream cheese (8ounces), room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2-3 cups powdered sugar

beat cream cheese and butter in a bowl with a hand mixer until fully combined, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl as needed. add vanilla. slowly add powdered sugar, about 1/2 at a time until desired sweetness. i highly recommend that you do NOT dump all the sugar in at once–it becomes too sweet (yes, there such a thing) fast. this is the cool thing about making your own food–you can control the quality of your ingredients and season or sweeten how you like! i ended up using about 2  1/2 cups to mine.

pre-baking (yes–they really are that red!):


and post-baking:



Filed under cake, desserts