Category Archives: Cakes & Breads

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This season is so transient, its left my head spinning as to how we’ve already reached December. This time last year I was experiencing New York City during the holidays for the first time. I remember stopping to marvel over the ornate Christmas window displays outside the Macy’s at Herald Square, on my way to my internship one day. Louisa and I kept trying to plan an ice skating date but the one night we finally got it together, it went and rained on us. I perused some of the holiday markets and found myself getting trapped in the maze of the one at Union Square. I loved the smell of Frasier firs for sale on so many sidewalks and witnessing NYC blanketed with snow (real snow, like more than two inches).

We spent Thanksgiving in New York, outside the city in Jay’s aunt and uncle’s house in the woods on China Pond. It’s beautiful there, though we hardly ventured outside (it was cold)! Plus we had a full house of people to talk to, games to play, food to eat and things to read. I drank an entire bottle of cider and we played Cards Against Humanity. It was awesome. I flew up a few days before to have some city time. I got to visit almost all of my regular old haunts, plus some new ones. I visited Shea at The Blue Stove, visited my favorite bookstore (McNally Jackson), as well as my favorite card shop (Greenwich Letterpress) and my favorite vintage/thrift shops. The weather was fiercely cold, rainy and windy just about the whole time I was there. And I lost/had my wallet stolen on the 3 headed downtown, but I still managed to have a good time. It was good just to be there. I also got to see one of my favorite people in the world, John Cariani. We never call him John, always John Cariani. I became buddies with him through Jay, who has collaborated with him on some of the plays he’s written. He’s one of the easiest people to be around; excited, funny, curious and genuine. We met at our favorite Polish joint in Greenpoint (full of kitschy decor, like mounted deer heads and year-round Christmas lighots), for some delicious Polish food to warm our bellies.

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IMG_4057John with his “Oh my God, I love this dessert!” expression. The waiter who is also the owner was kind enough to let us enjoy the desserts I brought for us to share (we did ask for permission first). Only us would do such a thing. John shares my affinity for baked goods and visiting all the best bakeries we can possibly get to. I brought us chocolate macaroons (pictured) from Bklyn Larder (one of my favorite places, which happens to smell AMAZING all the time), a killer sweet potato doughnut with marshmallow filling, and a chocolate rose (both from Zucker Bakery)—a lovely little nook in the East Village. You can see some of the unabashed doughnut porn on their website. Also not pictured, was a delectable salted caramel apple galette from Bakeri (a.k.a. the tiniest, most adorable bakery I’ve ever seen).

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A beautiful cortado and an apple cider cake that I got from Bluebird Coffee, in the East Village. It’s one of my new favorite discoveries. The staff was friendly, they serve Counter Culture coffee, the baked goods were awesome and plentiful, and they had a homemade tomato soup  and 1/2 grilled cheese that rescued me from the rainy blues.

IMG_4048I ducked in from the rain while wondering around Williamsburg one afternoon and had breakfast for lunch at Cafe Mogador. I had these poached eggs over grilled haloumi cheese, with salad and za’atar pita and it also saved me from the rainy blues. Yes it was as good as it looks.
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Jay made me a delicious malt birthday cake with chocolate icing for my birthday and I was serenaded by his wonderful family. We then went into the city the actual day of my birthday and the weather was cold but beautiful. I took Jay to the Flea/Smorgasburg which had just move into it’s new indoor location in Williamsburg—in an old parking garage! Such a cool space. I was in heaven and Jay loved it. We were starving so Jay got a chicken parm from Sunday Gravy and a malt ball milkshake from Milk Truck, and I got a hot dog from Asia Dog (which was probably the best hot dog I’ve ever eaten), and an “all in one” cookie from S’mores Bakery, which was fantastic—chewy but with crisp, caramelized edges, which I love.

We surprised my former vendor neighbor Cornelius at his booth and it filled my heart to the brim getting to see him after a year, and to introduce him to Jay. He is such a beautiful soul.

We had birthday cocktails at The Manhattan Inn and then dinner at Five Leaves. It’s our favorite place and we always go there for breakfast when we’re in Brooklyn and when Jay used to visit me there, but neither one of us had been there for dinner. It’s always bustling in there, as it’s the heart of the neighborhood. Inside it’s warm and nautical and there’s always a good record spinning. It seemed perfect on my birthday and perfect it was. We shared the chopped black kale salad with spicy anchovy dressing, toasted hazelnuts and finely shaved aged gouda, the mussels with saffron-coconut broth, chilies and grilled sourdough (phenomenal), and the beetroot and ricotta ravioli with sage-brown butter sauce. We had Sticky Toffee Pudding (my favorite) with some vanilla gelato from Il Laboratorio del gelato (best gelato ever) for dessert, and it really couldn’t have been any better than that.

Before the real Thanksgiving, we had our annual “Turkey Before Turkey” (a.k.a. “Friendsgiving”) and it was exhausting but a blast, as usual. We had 20 something people in our house, babies, kids, dogs. Lots of food. Jay and I love nothing more than a full house of fun and food with people we love, and we love entertaining. I made brussels sprouts for the first time—I caramelized them in a skillet with some olive oil and a little brown sugar and bacon. I made a bourbon chocolate pecan pie with bourbon whipped cream and a sweet potato cheesecake with bourbon caramel. I just couldn’t help myself with the bourbon. It always seems to make its way in my desserts. The cheesecake in particular was quite the hit, so it’s only fitting I post the recipe.

Bourbon Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Bourbon Caramel and Pecans adapted from Bon Appetit

Roast Sweet Potatoes:

Preheat the oven to 400. With a fork, pierce little holes all over two medium-sized sweet potatoes. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 45 minutes or until they are both tender. Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes or so. Cut the potatoes open and scoop the flesh out of the skin and into a food processor. Puree until smooth. Remove from the food processor and set aside.

For the Crust (this is my mom’s recipe and is my favorite. I prefer it hands down to any Graham cracker crust):

  • 1 bag of Pepperidge Farm Bordeaux Cookies
  • 1  cup pecans plus 1/4 cup for decorating
  • 3 TBS melted unsalted butter
  • pinch of salt

Turn the oven down to 350. Toast the pecans on a baking sheet for about 10-15 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup for decorating the cheesecake. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a food processor until well blended. Add the melted butter, pulsing to combine. Dump the crust mixture into the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan, making sure the bottom is flat and even and the crust is pushed up all the way up the sides of the pan. (You can use the bottom of a measuring cup and your hands to to this). Bake for about 10-12 minutes.

For the Cheesecake Filling:

  • 4 8-ounce packages (full-fat) cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup (full-fat) sour cream
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (add more to taste depending on how spicy you’d like it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (add more to taste if desired)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2-3 Tablespoons bourbon (this can also be done to taste, depending on how strong you want it to be)

In a mixer with a paddle attachment (or using an electric mixer in a large bowl), beat the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes), scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula. Beat in the sweet potato puree. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides. Add the flour, spices and salt and beat just until blended. Add the bourbon and beat just until combined.

Pour the filling on top of the cooled crust, being sure to fill as much of the pan as you can without it overflowing (you may have some left over, if so, you can make another, smaller cheesecake if you’d like). Place the cheesecake on the middle rack in the oven and put a baking sheet on the rack below (in case any overflows later on). Bake for about 1 hour and 20-30 minutes or until the edges are starting to crack and the filling is set in the center. (It should jiggle a little when you shake the pan).

Cool on a wired rack for at least an hour before refrigerating overnight. Don’t be upset if the cheesecake has cracked on the top and it looks like an earthquake hit. You are going to cover the top with luscious caramel. No one will be the wiser! *Note: This can be done a day ahead*

For the Bourbon Caramel (I like Ashley Christensen’s recipe, which I’ve copied below)

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons bourbon, divided
  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, use a wooden spoon to stir the sugar, 1 Tablespoon of bourbon, corn syrup, and 1 Tablespoon of water until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to a boil, without stirring, occasionally shaking the pan and brushing down the sides with a wet pastry brush. Cook until the sugar has turned a deep amber color (about 6-10 minutes)—watch it like a hawk because it can burn fast. Remove the caramel from heat and whisk in the cream, butter and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Let cool for about 5 minutes; whisk in the 1/2 Tablespoon of bourbon (I may have used a tad more than that) ; ) and the vanilla. Let the caramel cool slightly.

To assemble:

Drizzle the caramel over the top of the cheesecake (however you’d like). Top with the reserved 1/4 cup of toasted pecans (arranging and decorating to your preference).

If all goes well, it should look a little somethin’ like this…

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Elderflower-Grapefruit Baby Bundts

One of my favorite cocktails is one made of gin, elderflower, grapefruit juice and a splash of tonic or club soda. Quite frankly, I’m a sucker for anything with gin or grapefruit or elderflower. Awhile back I came across this recipe for Elderflower Cake and thought it would be fun to experiment with, keeping my beloved cocktail in mind. So I made some tweaks and hoped for the best and these little beauties came out tender, with a happy balance of sweet and zesty.  They’d pair well with a little vanilla ice cream but they also hold their own.  The glaze I think is essential. It has a tinge of peachy-pink to it, making them feminine and springy and I imagine they’d be an excellent offering at a bridal shower or tea party.

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Elderflower and Grapefruit Baby Bundts

makes six baby bundts (in a 5 cup capacity pan) and possibly a few cupcakes

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup elderflower liqueur

1/2 tbsp grapefruit zest

 

Cream butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes on a stand mixer. Add in eggs one at a time.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl.

 

Combine the buttermilk, elderflower liqueur and grapefruit zest in a separate bowl.

Add in the dry and wet mixes, alternating to the butter-sugar mixture and be careful not to overmix.

 

Butter/grease a baby bundt cake pan. Pour batter in. Depending on the size and capacity of your pan, you may have enough batter left for a few cupcakes.

 

Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes of until golden and toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool completely and carefully un-mold from pan, then drizzle with glaze.

 

For the Glaze:

about 1 ½ cups powdered sugar

1 Tbsp Elderflower liqueur

1 Tbsp fresh grapefruit juice

1 tsp grapefruit zest

Add all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit more juice and/or liqueur; if it’s too thin, add more sugar. Drizzle over the bundts.

 

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Heart Beets

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All week I’ve been dreaming up a perfectly pink (non artificially colored) dessert for Valentine’s Day. Normally I would do something in the vein of decorated heart-shaped cookies or cutesy cupcakes but I wanted to do something different and more challenging. I was inspired by a beet tart that we did at Scratch recently —(chocolate crust with a filling made of beats poached in vanilla bean and cream). It was absolutely a lovely sight but I wanted to do something else to make it my own. I also didn’t want too much of a pronounced beet flavor, all the while, still getting that gorgeous fuchsia color. Believe it or not, this was my first time working with beets and I was a little apprehensive about incorporating them into a dessert (even though it’s certainly been done before and Joy the Baker has a delicious looking recipe for a chocolate beet cake that she swears by and well, I trust Joy the Baker). I feared the earthy flavor of the beets would be overpowering or slightly off-putting in a dessert. Well, much to my elation and surprise, I found that they weren’t. When mixed with cream cheese, goat cheese (which is brilliant in a cheesecake), and sour cream, they yielded just the right balance of beet (just enough so you know it’s there), giving the cheesecake a rich purply-pink hue and contrasting beautifully with the chocolate crust.

This recipe is definitely a keeper and one I’m proud of and the perfect treat to enjoy on Valentine’s Day. So it just goes to show you never know if you don’t try. Now I’m eager to get my hands on other beet recipes, like these ravioli  with poppy seed butter which looks like an exact replica of a dish I had at Al Di La in NYC awhile back, which was phenomenal. I also want to try this DIY cheek stain! How cool is that?! No more spending $30 at the Benefit counter! I had to make a red velvet cake tonight for an event and I used some of the beet water that I saved from boiling the beets for the cheesecake for the coloring and it was perfect! I doubt I’ll use artificial food coloring again.

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Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Beet and Goat Cheese Cheesecake Tarts with Chocolate Crust

*This recipe can either make three 4-inch tarts, two 8-inch tarts and one 9 or 10-inch tart; two 9/10-inch tarts (you may have enough dough and filling leftover to make one or two minis); OR one 9-inch springform cheesecake.

Chocolate Tart Dough by Martha Stewart

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Place flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add yolks, cream, and vanilla; process until mixture comes together.
  • Turn out dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and flatten into a disk. Wrap well; refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until ready to use, up to 2 days.
  • Crumble bits of dough into the tart pans (make sure you use ones with removable bottoms), using your fingers to flatten the dough and push it up along the sides, making sure it’s even. Pierce with a fork. Pre-bake at 325 for about 10-12 minutes.

Cheesecake Filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese (at room temp)
  • 4 oz. goat cheese (at room temp)
  • 8 oz. sour cream (at room temp)
  • *1/2 cup of cooked  puréed (about 1/2 lb.),puréed with 1 TBS heavy cream
  • 2 eggs (at room temp)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions:

  • Whip the cream cheese, goat cheese and sour cream in a mixer (on medium) until well blended (about three minutes). Add the sugar. Then add the eggs (one at a time), scraping with a spatula after each addition. Add the vanilla and then the beet purée, mixing just a minute or two more. Make sure everything is smooth and incorporated. If you’d like a more muted color, just add 1/4 or 1/8 cup of beet purée.
  • Pour into tart pan (s), allowing some of the crust to still show (make sure you don’t fill it to the brink of overflowing).
  • Bake at 300 for about 20 minutes. Let cool on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.
  • Chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

*To make the beet purée, peel the beets and cook in boiling water until tender. Blend in a food processor with 1 TBS of heavy cream until smooth and well-blended.

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Plum Tired

Things I am loving right now…

The fact that it’s cool (finally) and rainy, which makes me very cozy and lethargic and in the mood to bake, apparently.   (Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies the other night and Marian Burros’ famous plum torte – today)

How not only I am in bed in a room that smells like beautiful fall air combined with the way my bed smells but I am also wearing a sweatshirt and dunking oreos in milk.

Giada De Laurentiis’ chicken milanese with fennel and tomato sauce

This blog, because I just stumbled across it this morning and Stephanie’s photos are stunning, because I love the name of her blog and because I am dying to make that ooey gooey caramel apple blackout cake as soon as humanly possible.

The idea of having (and making) soup.  Preferably something with a lot of beans like cannelloni and lentil, with sausage or kielbasa of some kind and lot’s of vegetables and probably kale.

This coat because I’m pretty much in love with it and feel as though it is essential that I have it.

“The Bagman’s Gambit,” by The Decemberists, off the Picaresque album.  Listening to this album during rainy weather is somehow very satisfying.  Over the past couple days, I’ve become increasingly infatuated with this song, since for the first time, I actually stopped to listen to the lyrics.  Colin Meloy is such an oddball lyricist and I can’t think of anyone like him.  I love how his songs (and this one in particular) tell stories.  I guess that’s just the old actress in me…guess she’s still in there somewhere.

So this morning I braved the rain to attain some eggs so I could make the plum torte and see what all the fuss was about.  I’ve never been one to gravitate toward plums – in fact, I rarely ever pay them any mind and sort of feel indifferent about them.   Lately though, I’ve been curious to try the unknown in the kitchen.  There’s a laundry list of new and different things I want to make.

I used red plums instead of Italian and I was skeptical at first because there didn’t seem to be much batter.  But I situated the plum halves overtop the batter and much to my surprise, they sunk down and cozied into the blanket of batter, which then rose up to meet them.  In turn, the house smelled of cinnamon and sugar, which is ever so comforting on a rainy day and the plums bled into the cake with their vibrant rosy shade of purple.  The cake yielded a crumb and a taste very similar to that of a sour cream coffee cake (although there was no sour cream in it).  It was light and simple and the cinnamon sugar helped tame the slightly sour tang of the plums.  I don’t quite understand all the hype, despite the cake’s gorgeousness, but it will make for a fine breakfast with a glass of cold milk tomorrow morning.

In other news, my pie didn’t make the contest but it was one out of six that got made and was chosen as an “editor’s pick!”  Not only that but Merrill Stubbs actually made my pie and had this to say about it:

The crust is like the best cheese straw you’ve ever had—my whole apartment smelled incredible while the pie was baking. The pear and apple combo is great and I also loved the spice and vanilla in the filling. This pie is a savory-tangy-sweet flavor explosion. – Merrill

Needless to say, I was elated.  Tomorrow, I will enter the contest “Best Bag Lunch” but I will not tell you the recipe until after!  I’m having a lot of fun with this and love how the concept Merrill and Amanda have successfully executed is so inspiring.  For the first time, I’m undertaking the challenge of developing my own recipes and it’s not an easy task but I’m finding myself growing more and more creative and fixated on the process of drawing from all different sorts of inspiration, altering and adding and tweaking and subtracting so I can create something to call mine.  And it’s fun.

Good Rain Songs:

  • “Raincoat Song” – The Decemberists
  • “Record Year” – The Decemberists
  • “Raining in Baltimore” – The Counting Crows
  • “Buckets of Rain” – (M. Ward and Beth Orton’s cover)
  • “Row” – Jon Brion


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Stiff Peaks

I just made cupcakes.  Exquisite cupcakes.  Probably the best cupcakes I’ve ever made kind of cupcakes…and I’ve made plenty of cupcakes.  They’re so yummy, they’re just begging to be written about, so I’m getting on that, right now – I haven’t even iced all of them yet.  Nor have I started to clean the kitchen, which looks like it got hit with a hurricane of flour and granulated sugar.

And I’m wearing an apron.  A cute little 1950’s 1/2 apron with flowers and red ric rac outlining the two front pockets, that my granny sent me.  Do you know what ric rac is?  I didn’t.  Pretty nifty.  I’m convinced it helps my baking.

I’ve been in search of the perfect yellow cake or buttermilk cake recipe for awhile now and the last time I made yellow cupcakes, they were pretty disappointing, dry and crumbly.  Not what you want when you’re making cupcakes.  One of the places on my “must visit” list for NYC was Butter Lane – an adorable and favorable cupcake shop in the East Village.  I wanted to try their Swiss Meringue buttercream.  However, much to my dismay, they were closed when I tracked them down (due to a sidewalk parking violation or some nonsense).  So, for the last week or so following my trip, I’ve been wanting to try & make this buttercream with my own to hands.  I scoured the Internet for some Butter Lane cupcake recipes and found one for their chocolate cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Swiss Meringue buttercream.  I decided if I can’t come to Butter Lane, Butter Lane can come to me.

I attempted to make Swiss Meringue buttercream (of French buttercream) for the first time, the other night (using the Butter Lane recipe I found), but I failed.  I was anxiously dying to remake the icing (but do chocolate instead).  See, I don’t own a Kitchen Aid mixer.  I wish I did and I intend to amend this problem as soon as I can, but in the mean time, I am visiting my parents and taking advantage of their kitchen aid mixer.

The reason why my vanilla bean swiss meringue icing was a failure is because I lacked a whisk attachment for my mixer and the icing that I patiently whipped for about 15 minutes was runny and stubborn and decided not to form stiff peaks.  My boyfriend and our friend Mark enjoyed laughing at me every time I said “stiff peaks.”  I made them eat my mediocre cupcakes.

So, going against my typical method for recipe finding, I typed  “chocolate cake” into the Google Image search and found a temptress of a cupcake.  The icing was from Cooks Illustrated and it looked perfect.  Wanting to pair it with a yellow cake, I sifted through my giant recipe binder (also known as “the Bible”), and looked for a suitable recipe.  I decided on Deb’s “best birthday cake” from Smitten Kitchen, and made cupcakes instead of a layer cake.  I made this cake about a year ago, for my grandma’s birthday and it was a big hit, but I remember not being too crazy about the icing.  I remember liking the cake, so I thought I’d try it again.

…And the search for the perfect yellow cake/buttermilk cake recipe has ended, folks!  Deb, you win.

Let me tell you.  This is the kind of cake batter you can’t stop licking from the bowl.  It’s incredibly moist and has the perfect flour and sugar ratio.  It’s also easy to make and has one of my most favorite ingredients ever in it.  (Buttermilk).  Just think, you have buttermilk fried chicken, buttermilk in pancakes, buttermilk biscuits, and buttermilk cake.  Buttermilk makes everything better.  I really love it.  These little babies were beautiful.  Rich, moist, bursting with buttermilk flavor with the slightest hint of tangy, incredibly fluffy and most importantly, not dry or crumbly.  These are much better in cupcake form.

As for the icing, it is the fluffiest, lightest, most spreadable icing I’ve ever had and is not that difficult to make (when you have a whisk attachment, of course).  It’s silky and shiny and has enough butter in it to choke a horse.  It’s deceiving though, because it’s so light, you can’t even tell – it has the consistency of chocolate mousse.  If you’re old-fashioned and prefer a more traditional kind of icing (no egg whites, and powdered sugar instead of granulated), this not might be your cup of tea, though I can’t fathom anyone not liking it especially for its flavor.  I like icing so sugary it’s a bit grainy, just as much as the next person, but I think this is even better.

Do yourself a favor and make these, now!  Now if you’ll excuse me, I must tend to the naked cupcakes I’ve abandoned on the kitchen counter.  They need their French buttercream.

For the Cake (as seen on Smitten Kitchen)

*Again, I followed this to a t, except I made cupcakes instead of a layer cake, and it made closer to 30 cupcakes*.

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake (I have yet to audition the cupcakes, shame on me)

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

For the Icing (From Cook’s Illustrated *seen on The Recipe Fairy*)

Creamy Chocolate Frosting:

Makes about 2 1/4 cups

1/3 cup (2 ½ oz) granulated sugar
2 large egg whites
pinch table salt
12 tbsp. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1-tbsp. pieces
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to 85-100F.
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Combine sugar, egg whites, and salt in bowl of stand mixer; place bowl over pan of simmering water. Whisking gently but constantly, heat mixture until slightly thickened, foamy, and registers 150F on instant-read thermometer, 2-3 minutes. Place bowl in stand mixer
fitted with whisk attachment. Beat mixture on medium speed until consistency of shaving cream and slightly cooled, 1-2 minutes. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, until smooth and creamy. Once all butter is added, add cooled melted chocolate and vanilla, mix until combined. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light, fluffy, and thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds, scraping beater and sides of bowl with rubber spatula as necessary.

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Give me Cinnamon

I’m an odd one, people.  I don’t care for bananas, in fact, I loathe even the smell of them, yet I love banana pudding, banana cream pie and banana bread.  Don’t ask me why, I told you (I’m odd).  Now, I can say I love Molly Wizenberg’s banana bread with chocolate and cinnamon too.  So much in fact, I had to blog about it right after making it – I couldn’t resist.  The house still smells heavenly.

Let me tell you, I was impressed from the start.  I was in the mood to bake something, was dying to finally try a recipe of Molly’s (technically this is not her recipe, she adapted it after finding it somewhere else, but I found it on her blog, so that’s close enough for me), and I wanted something easy.  To say this was easy would be an understatement.  This was one of the most effortless tasks I’ve ever pursued in the kitchen.  It requires no whisk, no mixer, no separation of dry and wet ingredients.  The most amazing thing, is that all of the magic happened in the confines of a single mixing bowl – that’s it!  Not to mention, one can’t allow themselves to feel guilty over eating this treat, because it only has 2 eggs, no butter or other fats, and a reasonable amount of sugar.  And, there are three bananas, so you are getting your fruit ; )

As I was mashing the bananas, I couldn’t help but wrinkle up my nose in distaste over the smell (since as I said before, I loathe the smell of them).  However, once the blissful fusion of cinnamon, chocolate and bananas began wafting from the oven and over to the computer, where I was sitting, I knew I was in for an extraordinary treat.  My olfactory senses were tantalized and that beautiful, warm smelling cinnamon was more than enough to compensate for the less than favorable banana stench earlier.

Alas, upon opening the oven after precisely 35 minutes, the bread had boastfully risen, evenly, yielding a soft and fluffy cake-like bread with a nice crunch from the cracked sugar and cinnamon topping.  It was quite beautiful.  (Ignore the random white spots of sugar in my photo – it dispersed much better than it looks).


Banana Bread with Chocolate and Cinnamon Sugar

(Adapted by Molly Wizenberg)

3 very ripe bananas (the size doesn’t much matter; medium to large works)
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For topping:
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter or spray an 8-inch square pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas well with a fork or potato masher. Add the eggs, and stir well to combine. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and vanilla, and stir to mix. Add ¾ cup of the chocolate chips, and stir briefly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the topping ingredients. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the batter in the pan, and top with the remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

*copied from Molly Wizenberg’s blog, Orangette*

 

 

I could imagine this tasting wonderful cold as well, on a summer’s afternoon, as Molly describes, but I think I prefer it warm, exploding chocolate chips and fragrantly warm cinnamon.  Mmmmm…this is enough to dream about.

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