Red Wine Honey Cake With Plums (Melissa Clark, NYT, 8/23/13)

From It’s a springform….it’s a spatula….it’s SUPERBAKER

Makes 10-12 servings

NOTE:  I didn’t make the plums as Clark describes in her original recipe. Instead I took about 2 cups of Damson plums, a few tablespoons of sugar (amount depends on the ripeness of the plums), a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a little pinch of cloves, and cooked it all over medium heat until the plums broke down and juices thickened a little. Serve the plum compote alongside the cake.

  • Grease or nonstick spray, for the pan
  • 300 grams all-purpose flour (2 1/2 cups), more for the pan
  • 10 grams baking powder (2 teaspoons)
  • 3 grams baking soda (1/2 teaspoon) 3 grams salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 2 grams cinnamon (1 1/2 teaspoons) 2 grams cardamom (1 teaspoon)
  • 2 grams ground ginger (1 teaspoon) 3 large eggs
  • 200 grams granulated sugar (1 cup) 1 1⁄4 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons good quality honey, more to taste
  • 3⁄4 cup dry red wine
  • Plum compote to serve along with the cake (see NOTE above)

Place a rack in the middle of the oven; heat to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan, including center tube.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In another large bowl, whisk eggs well. Whisk in sugar, oil, 1 cup honey, the wine and the fresh ginger until well combined. Whisk in dry ingredients until smooth. (Ok, at this point you will likely get a little alarmed at the color of the batter. Yes, it’s sort of, well, armadillo grey. Don’t worry. I promise it will be gorgeous golden brown when it comes out of the oven. Trust me.)

Pour batter into pan and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes, then unmold the cake and let cool completely.

Recipe note: Measurements for dry ingredients are given by weight for greater accuracy. The equivalent measurements by volume are approximate.

Plum Cake with Lime from Where the day takes you…

Serves 8-10

For the cake:

  • 3/4 cup almond meal (or finely ground almonds)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/4 cup corn meal (medium to fine ground, not stone ground)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz.) butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP sugar
  • Zest and Juice of a large lime (a little less than 1/4 cup juice)

For the fruit:

  • A heaping cup of chopped damson plums, other stone fruit, or berries
  • 2-3 TBSP sugar (depending upon the sweetness of the fruit)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cut a circle of parchment the size of the bottom of a 9″ cake pan or springform pan. Line the pan with the parchment, then spray paper and sides of pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

2014-08-04 14.23.12In a small bowl, toss the chopped plums (quarters is fine, doesn’t have to be finely chopped) with 2-3 TBSP of sugar and the cinnamon. Set aside for at least 20 minutes.

Whisk together the flours, baking soda and powder, salt and lime zest into a medium bowl. In another bowl, beat the eggs, then whisk in the sugar and lime juice. Add to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Pour over the melted butter and mix together until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan. top with the plums and their accumulated juices. You don’t have to create a pattern, random is kind of the point of all of this, right?  Bake 30-40 minutes until a tester in center comes out clean. Let cool completely before removing from pan.

Chocolate Loaf with Chocolate Port Wine Glaze

From Rare Birds and Twizzles

Makes 1 Loaf, about 12-14 slices

For the cake

  • 3 ounces chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
  • 2/3 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup + 2 TBSPP brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pureed cooked beets (I used 1 can of sliced beets, drained)
  • ¾ tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt

For the Glaze

  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ TBSP butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ tsp salt (omit if you are using salted butter)
  • ½ tsp instant espresso powder
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup Ruby Port (you could substitute a fruity red wine if you have no port)

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a loaf pan.

Melt the chopped chocolate and 2 TBSP of the softened butter in the microwave, (30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds) until melted. Stir until smooth. Add the pureed beets and vanilla to the chocolate, and stir until well combined. Set aside. Beat the rest of the softened butter with the brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the chocolate mixture to the sugar, butter and eggs (don’t worry if it looks curdled.)

Whisk together the dry ingredients, and add a little at a time to the wet until thoroughly combined. Pour into loaf pan and smooth tip. Bake 30-35 minutes or until a tester in center comes out clean and the edges start to pull away from sides of pan. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on rack.

To make the glaze:

Melt the chocolate, butter, salt and espresso powder together over a double boiler until smooth. Once melted, add the powdered sugar and whisk until smooth. While the chocolate is melting, bring the wine up to a boil in a small saucepan. When the chocolate mixture is smooth, remove from the heat, add in the port and stir until fully incorporated. Let the glaze cool until slightly thickened (about 10+ minutes) and a rubber spatula leaves a trail when stirring.

When the loaf is cool and the glaze is ready, invert onto a plate so that the bottom is now the top. Drizzle the glaze over the loaf, heavily in the middle first, then along the edges so that it drizzles over the sides, covering the edges almost completely.  Let sit at room temperature for 2-3 hours (if you can keep your hands off it) until the glaze is set.

photoPut on something fabulous, pour something sparkly, and twizzle to your heart’s content!  Calories: approximately 300/slice (14 slices), 340/slice (12 slices).


Gianduia Torte (Bon Appétit, December 1997)

From Move over, Donald…

  • 7 oz. (1 ½ cups) hazelnuts, toasted, husked, plus a few extra whole or half nuts for decorating
  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 oz. (10 TBSP) salted butter
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 9.5 oz. (3/4 cup) sugar

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

  • ½ cup cream
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8-inch-diameter spring form pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper. Butter parchment. Wrap outside of pan with foil. Finely grind hazelnuts in processor. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Cool chocolate mixture to room temperature.

Using electric mixer, beat yolks and sugar in large bowl until thick and pale yellow, about 5 minutes. Fold in cooled chocolate mixture, then 2014-01-26 14.09.39hazelnuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Smooth top.

Bake until cake is set and appears dry but tester comes out with very moist crumbs attached, about 35-45 minutes. Transfer to rack. Lightly press down any raised edges of cake. Cool completely. Run small knife around sides of pan to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto platter. Remove pan bottom. Peel off parchment. Slide waxed paper strips under cake to protect platter.

To make the ganache glaze:  Heat the cream until just before boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Pour onto the cooled torte, and spread out to overflow the sides. Smooth top and sides. Decorate the top of the torte with whole or half toasted hazelnuts. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate.)

2014-01-26 16.08.56To serve: Slice in thin wedges, and serve at room temperature. This is a very rich cake, so an 8-inch torte will serve 12.

Variations: This cake can be made into individual small cakes in a muffin tin. Butter paper muffin liners, and fill ¾ of the way full with the batter. Bake about 20 minutes, testing for doneness at about 15 minutes. Let cool completely before removing the paper cups. Glaze with chocolate ganache and decorate with whole or half hazelnuts.

Butter Kuchen

From I Love It, Like Buttah

From The Loaves and Fishes Party Cookbook by Anna and Sybille Pump (Harper & Row, 1990)

Makes one 18 x 12-inch sided baking sheet full, for 16-20 servings

  • 14 TBSP butter (1 ¾ sticks)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 ½ tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 ½ cups warm milk
  • 1 ½ TBSP active dry yeast (2 packages)
  • 4 cups plus 2 TBSP unbleached white flour
  • ¾ cup raisins

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream 8 TBSP of butter, ½ cup sugar, and the salt until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and grated lemon zest and beat well to blend. Add the warm milk and yeast, and set aside for 5 minutes until the yeast softens.

Add 2 cups of flour and beat at low speed for 5 minutes. Beat in another 2 cups flour (the dough will be very sticky.)

In a small bowl, toss the raisins with 2 TBSP flour and mix into the dough mixture. Cover the bowl with a clean towel and let rise in a warm spot for 1 hour.

After the dough has risen, spread out into an 18 x 12 inch buttered baking sheet. Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and press lightly into the dough, making butter filled dimples all along the top of the cake. Sprinkle the remaining sugar evenly over the top. Let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Place the kuchen in a cold oven. Turn oven on to 350°F and bake 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.  Calories: 250 – 300 calories per serving (depending upon 16 or 20 servings).

Summer Peach Cake (Pfirsiche Torte)

From Alis Volat Propriis

Makes two 9” cakes

For the peaches:

  • 4 lbs peaches, halved, and each half cut into 4 pieces (total 8 slices per peach)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch salt

Cut up the peaches and toss in the cinnamon sugar. Let sit for up to 30 minutes while you make the dough

For the dough (muerbeteig)

  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • ½ cup crushed amaretti cookies or other almond cookie

Preheat oven to 350°F.

My mother and my grandmother would never think of making a muerbeteig in a food processor, and instead would mix the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, then pour out onto a board and mix in the other ingredients until a dough comes together. Since I have no problem doing this all in the food processor (and I’m guessing neither would you), here’s the process:

Add the flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to combine. Toss in the chilled butter cubes and pulse about a minutes until the butter is about the size of peas. Beat the egg, then add into the food processor while running. Add the lemon juice and run processor until the dough just starts to come together. If it needs more moisture, add a little water, a teaspoon at a time. It shouldn’t be a ball, just hold together when you pinch it. You don’t want to over mix it.

Divide the dough between two cake pans and press out firmly to fill pan. Sprinkle cookie crumbs over the dough, then lay out the peaches “snazzily” (that is how the recipe is written, I swear) in concentric circles in the round cake pans.

Bake for 25 minutes to start, then keep checking the peaches every 5 minutes – when they are soft, the tart is done.

If you want to do a quick glaze over the finished tart, use ¼-1/2 cup apricot jam heated with a little water, strained. Brush over warm cake.

Calories: approximately 250 per slice.


Mom’s ‘Generic’ Fruit Buckle

From Fare Thee Well, Nora and Andy

Serves 8-10

This cake works equally well on the breakfast table or served with a little whipped cream or ice cream on the side for dessert any time. The fruit is up to you — hence mom’s GENERIC buckle. I use whatever is ripe and available, and have had it with blueberries or peaches in the summer, apples or pears in the fall, and even frozen berries in the winter. This time around I decided I’d give fresh sweet cherries a try, and added in some chopped pecans to the crumb.

For the cake:

  • 4 TBSP butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 2 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

For the crumb:

  • 4 TBSP cold butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • A pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter and flour a 10” spring form with center tube, (or a spring form with an empty can in the middle to make the “tube”.) You could also use a 9”x9”x2” square pan, or 9” round pan.

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg and almond extract and beat well. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl. Add the zest to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Add the dry ingredients and milk to batter, alternating dry and wet, beginning and ending with dry. Fold in the fruit, transfer batter to prepared pan and spread evenly.

In a separate bowl, mix all the crumb ingredients together except the butter. With a fork or your fingers (fingers work better), mix in the butter to make smallish crumbs. Spread the crumbs evenly across the batter to cover.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a tester in the middle comes out clean.  Cool on a rack.  Best served the day it’s made, this cake freezes very well too, so if there actually are any leftovers, wrap them well in cling film and freeze in a freezer bag for up to a month. Calories: about 320-400 per slice.

Martha’s Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake

From A meeting of the Board

Martha mentioned she got the original recipe from the Internet, but since she didn’t remember which site and revised it to her tastes, this will now be known as Martha’s Lemon Ricotta Cheesecake in my book. The night I had it she left off the glaze and I don’t think any of us missed it, but if you’d like to add it, I bet it’s great too.

Ricotta Cake

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 15 ounces whole milk ricotta (I prefer Trader Joe’s ricotta– it is a bit drier.  I also let the ricotta drain in a colander lined with a paper towel for a few hours in the refrigerator.)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Lemon Glaze

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 TBS fresh lemon juice

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a 10” spring form pan. Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until well combined.  Add the ricotta and blend until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, incorporating well.  Add the vanilla, lemon juice/zest and mix until fully combined.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda & salt.  Add the dry ingredients in 2 increments, mixing until just incorporated.  Pour into the prepared pan and smooth out as needed. Batter will be very thick.  Bake 35-40 min, or until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for at least 15 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

To make the glaze: Whisk together the powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Drizzle the lemon glaze over the top of cake and serve.

Fresh strawberries or other berries would be a great addition to this cake.

Heart Attack Cheesecake Makes one 10” cake

From The medicinal properties of a hot fudge sundae

  • 1 lb 3 oz cream cheese – room temp
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 TBSP flour
  • 1 pint of sour cream
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest
  • 6 eggs separated
  • 3-4 TBSP melted butter
  • ¾- 1 cup finely ground cookie crumbs (graham crackers, ginger, almond, chocolate or orange cookies all work nicely)

Cream cheese in mixer. Add the next 5 ingredients and mix well. Separate the eggs, add yolks to mixture and beat.  In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites until a soft meringue. Fold into cream cheese mixture.

Melt butter and liberally brush the sides and bottom of spring form pan, coating thoroughly. Dump crumbs into well-buttered pan and shake pan to distribute so that the bottom and sides of pan are covered in crumbs. ** (**Many, if not most spring form pans can leak a little when liquids are poured in. That’s why I always wrap my pan in aluminum foil – burned cheesecake on the bottom of my oven is counter-indicative to maximum healing properties…)

Carefully pour in the cream cheese mixture, and bake 325 º F for 1 hour. Turn off oven and leave cake in to cool for one more hour. Calories: Do your other prescriptions have calorie counts on them? 

Woo Cakes

From Dear Mr. Clooney

These are basically a version of whoopee pie (quite appropriate, don’t you think), but instead of a butter cream filling, there’s caramel truffle with a hint of sea salt.  If you wanted, you could make the cake part from scratch with your chocolate cake recipe. Me? I have better things to do if I’m going to be ready for the event, (like getting a mani/pedi, and definitely shopping for the right pair of proposal heels.) So I use my favorite fudgy chocolate cake box mix and save a step. The real star of the show is the caramel truffle ganache filling anyway.

This recipe makes about 12 3” cakes, or more if you want smaller ones. You control the amount of woo you need to seal the deal.

For the cakes:

  • 1 box of your favorite chocolate cake mix ,or your favorite chocolate cake recipe (my devil’s food cupcake recipe from 9 toes over the edge is a good one, and there are dozens of others available on I like to doctor up a box mix a little with the following additions:
    • ¼ tsp cayenne, chipotle or your favorite chili powder
    • ¼ tsp cinnamon
    • ½ vanilla
    • ½ tsp instant espresso powder

For the truffle ganache filling:

  • 1 3.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate
  • 1.25 ounces sugar (approximately half of a 1/3 cup measure)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp flakey sea salt (I prefer fleur du sel or Malden sea salt)
  • 1 TBSP water

Preheat oven to 350ºF and line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Prepare the cake batter according to the package directions, adding in the chili, cinnamon, espresso powder and vanilla. Drop the batter by 2 TBSP portions (for 3-inch cakes) onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bake 14-16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove cakes to cooling rack, and cool completely.

Prepare the ganache:

Melt the chocolate either over a double boiler or in the microwave at 30-second intervals until smooth. Set aside while you make the caramel. *

*[A note about making caramel:  A lot of cooks are spooked by the prospect of this, but be brave and patient. And never leave the sugar unattended while you are boiling it. Whenever I’m playing with molten sugar, I keep a small bowl of ice water right next to the stove. That way if some of it does happen to get on me, I can immediately plunge that part into the icy bath. I’ve never had to yet, but it does make me feel better to know it’s there. Also, caramel is, well, caramel colored. Really nice rich amber is what you are going for. Patience and a little courage get you there. And if you let it goes too far? It’s just sugar, so try again. You’ll get the hang of it.]

Combine sugar and 1-tablespoon water in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, occasionally brushing sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve and sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan. When the sugar is completely dissolved, increase heat; boil until syrup is deep amber color, brushing down sides and swirling pan occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Stir over very low heat until caramel is smooth. Mix caramel and 1/4-teaspoon fleur de sel into melted chocolate. Chill 10-15 minutes on the counter until the ganache firms up just a bit.

To assemble the woo cakes you need:

  • the cakes
  • truffle ganache
  • some flakey sea salt

Take one of the cooled cakes and put a little more than a teaspoon of the truffle filling on the flat side (you are building a sandwich with the flat sides together). Top with another cake, flat side down and press together so the filling spreads to fill the inside. Place on a tray to set. Repeat with all of the other cakes. Take about ½ tsp of the remaining filling and put a dollop on top of each cake. Carefully sprinkle a few flakes of the sea salt on top.

Chill the finished cakes in the fridge until the ganache has firmed up. Let them sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature before serving. Calories: if they say yes, you’ll work it off later. If not, you don’t really want to know anyway…

Mom’s Linzer torte

From Dear Santa

Makes one 1/2 sheet pan full, or two tart pans (one 10″, one 8″)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 sticks (1/2 lb) butter, softened
  • 1 egg
  • 1 generous shot glass Kirshwasser
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ lb ground almonds, ground hazelnuts, or a combination of both (you can use almond meal here too if you have it)
  • ½ a jar of raspberry preserves mixed with ½ a jar of currant jelly**
  • Confectioner sugar for sprinkling on top

(** A note about the jam. My mom would mix raspberry with currant to get a tarter flavor, since American jams were much sweeter than the kind you could find in Germany. Today more imported jam is available, so if you can’t find currant jelly, use Hero brand raspberry jam or another imported from Europe.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a large (1/2 sheet-sized) sided cookie sheet, or one 10” and one 8” tart pan with removable bottoms. (You could use nonstick cookie sheet and tart pans if you have them).

Beat the softened butter with the sugar until it’s fluffy. Add the egg and mix until well incorporated. Add the vanilla and almond extract and the shot of Kirshwasser and mix well.

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cloves into the butter mixture. Beat until well together. Add in the ground almonds and mix until dough forms.

Take 2/3 of the dough and pat into the prepared pan(s), making sure to go up the sides a little too. Spread the jam evenly over the dough.

Roll out the remaining dough to a thickness of a little less than ¼ of an inch. If you are using the tart pans, cut strips (about ½ to ¾ inch wide) and lay 3-4 strips across in one direction, and the same number in the other direction to make a lattice-looking top. This dough is too fragile to make a true lattice so don’t make yourself crazy. If a strip breaks, just piece it back together. Everything gets covered in powdered sugar once it’s baked.

If you are using the 1/2 sheet pan, use a 2” biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out circles, then cut the circles in half to make half moons. Lay them across the sheet pan on a diagonal with ends touching.

Bake for 45 minutes (if the edges start to become too brown, just cover them with foil.) Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and cool on a rack. This is a very rich torte, so cut it into small pieces. Linzer Torte is one of those things that get better over time, so it’s the perfect dessert to make ahead. It’s best if you don’t cover it, but if you have to, use a piece of waxed paper loosely on top. Calories: It’s Christmas, ho ho ho…

Oma’s Lemon Lady Finger Cake

The recipe makes more that enough to fill a large 12” spring form cake and can serve over 12 easily. Any leftover ladyfingers and filling can be easily made into individual cakes using 1-cup ramekins or bowls. Don’t worry if you don’t have a 12″ pan. I’ve done this in a 10” and had enough to do a small 8” too.

  • 4-5 packages soft ladyfingers (Do NOT use the hard ones you would use for a tiramisu. You need the sponge ladyfingers, often kept in the bakery department in the supermarket. If you don’t see them, just ask.)
  • 3 packages MY-T-Fine lemon pudding mix and the ingredients to make 3 packages worth pudding:
    • 3/4 cups water, plus 4 ½ cups water
    • 6 eggs
  • 3 ½ pints heavy cream

Make the pudding according to package directions, using the 1-½ cups of water instead of the 2 cups listed on the box. Let cool completely. Whip the cream over a bowl of ice to keep the dish cool. Fold the whipped cream into the cooled lemon pudding.

Line the bottom of the spring form with the ladyfingers, making sure to wedge in tightly so they cover completely (cut them if you need too – the bottom ones don’t show). Then line the sides neatly, flat side facing in, so they stand up nicely like a picket fence. These will show when you take the spring form ring off. Add a generous layer of the lemon cream to cover the bottom, then top with another layer of ladyfingers, cutting them to fill all the spaces.

Continue with layers of lemon cream and ladyfingers until you’ve filled the pan, finishing with a prettily arranged layer of ladyfingers on top (this layer will show). Cover with cling wrap and put in refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours and overnight if you like. You want the ladyfingers to absorb moisture from the lemon cream, forming a solid cake that can be cut into wedges. When you are ready to serve, remove the outer ring of the spring form and dust the top with powdered sugar. If you felt like gilding the lily (and what drag queen doesn’t), you could pipe some whipped cream on top, or decorate with thin lemon slices. The cake should be kept refrigerated until ready to serve. It also freezes beautifully, and I have made two smaller versions, one to serve and one to freeze for another day.Calories: Oma wouldn’t care, so neither do I.

The NEW Emily’s Applesauce Cake

From The ‘New’ Age

You can make this in one large pan (9”x13”) or do what I do, and make it in two 8”x8” square pans. It freezes beautifully, so if you are making it in two  pans, you can eat one cake and freeze the other for another time.

Makes 18 squares

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ¾ cups brown sugar
  • ½ cup oil
  • 1½ cups soused applesauce (or any kind you like)
  • 1 apple, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ TBSP lemon zest
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries, dried orange cranberries or golden raisins.
  • Confectioners sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan, or two 8×8 square pans with non-stick spray.

Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Add lemon zest and mix well. In a large bowl or mixer, add sugar, oil, and ½ cup applesauce and beat on medium speed until incorporated. With the mixer running, add in eggs one at a time, then the vanilla. Add in the dry ingredients and beat for 2-3 minutes until smooth. (Do not over beat) Mix together the remaining 1 cup of applesauce with the chopped apple, then add to the batter and mix on low or by hand until just incorporated. Fold in walnuts and cranberries by hand until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan(s) and bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick or cake tester in center come out clean. (Note– if the edges get brown before the middle, cover them with foil.) If you are making this in two pans, the timing will be closer to 35 minutes, and longer if you make in one larger pan.

Cook in pans on rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely.  Sprinkle with confectioners sugar and enjoy. Calories: 265 per square.

Red Velvet Birthday Cake with Chocolate Guts

From 9 toes over the edge

(Both the recipe for the cake and cupcakes were adapted from ones I found on and — terrific online resource for recipes and ideas. I used a variation on B.Smith’s red velvet cake recipe for this one.)

My niece was born on Halloween. So naturally there has always been a theme readily available for her birthday parties. I made a red velvet cake for her “Spooky 16” party a few years ago, since the cake would have the highly appropriate color of blood (ooooo…spooky). Problem was, she lives in Wyoming where the altitude starts at 5,000 feet. Being a “sea-leveler” I wasn’t accustomed to baking at high altitudes and the acrobatics of rising and subsequent falling that occurs. So when I took the cakes out of the oven they had HUGE craters in their middles. I was getting ready to scrap the mess when my brother came up with a BRILLIANT structural idea (did I mention he is a world-class architect?) He took a few of the chocolate cupcakes I made earlier, crumbled them up a bit, and filled the craters. The red velvet cake with chocolate guts was created and maniacal laughter ensued (BWA HA HA HA HAH!!)

You can make this recipe into a ‘normal’ red velvet cake, or if you are not too terrified, give ceremonial red velvet disembowelment and subsequent cupcake transplant a try. I’ve included the devil’s food cupcake recipe I made, but you could easily use the cabernet cupcake recipe from my post What you wish you could say…, your favorite chocolate cupcake recipe, or a box mix. Happy Birthday!!

[TIMING NOTE: You can do all of this in one day, but the cake and cupcakes are actually better the longer they sit. This is a perfect make ahead recipe, and once iced can sit in the fridge for a day or two. Just take out an hour before serving.]

Red Velvet Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 TBSP red food coloring
  • 1 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4-5 devil’s food cupcakes (recipe below)
  • Cream cheese frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients in 4 additions alternately with buttermilk mixture in 3 additions.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 27 minutes. Cool in pans on racks 10 minutes. Turn cakes out onto racks; cool completely.

**Frosting (**prepare the frosting just before you are ready to assembly the cake)

  • 2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes – use 4 or so for the guts, and I trust you will find something to do with the rest.

  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 TSP vanilla
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 TSP baking soda
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 1 sticks (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP cups packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with paper holders, or spray pan with baking spray. Whisk together boiling water and cocoa powder in a bowl until smooth, then whisk in milk and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in another bowl.

Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in flour and cocoa mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture (batter may look curdled).

Divide batter among muffin tins, filling 2/3 of the way full. Bake until a tester comes out clean about 20 to 25 minutes total. Cool cupcakes in pans on racks 10 minutes, remove and cool completely.

To create the ‘chocolate guts’

Once the cakes and cupcakes have cooled completely, place 1 cake layer flat side up on work surface. If you aren’t lucky enough to have a naturally formed crater (poor dear), create one by taking your fingers and pulling out the crumb about an inch and a half from the edge and half way down the height of the layer. Save the cake crumbs in an airtight container. Crumble up 2 cupcakes and fill the crater, pressing down a little so the final surface is even. Do the same thing with the flat side of the other layer. Wrap the layers well with cling wrap and let them sit for a few hours (overnight is fine)– they don’t have to go in the fridge at this point.

To assemble the final cake :

Make the frosting, and spread 1 cup evenly over the bottom layer. Carefully turn the top layer over and place on the iced bottom layer. You are trying not to have all the chocolate cupcake fall out. If it does, just mound it up in the middle of bottom layer, align the crater of the top one, and place on top. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake.You can leave the sides with just frosting, or if you want to decorate it a little, use the leftover red velvet cake crumbs and gently press into the icing on the sides of the frosted cake. Or, you could sprinkle them on some vanilla ice cream….or you could brew up a nice cup of coffee and just eat them. :-)

Put finished cake in the fridge and let sit for a few hours or overnight (it can go a day or two really – it gets getter as it sits.) Calories: There aren’t any silly — it’sMY birthday cake!

Orange olive oil cake (from Florence Fabricant)

Serves 10

I usually make this in a 10”springform pan, but it also works well in a 13” x 9” baking pan and cut into 16 squares for a picnic dessert. It only gets better over time so it’s a good make-ahead recipe.

  • 1 tsp. butter for pan
  • 1 ½ cups flour, plus flour for pan
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges (2/3 cup juice)
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Confectioner’s sugar

Preheat over to 375° degrees. Butter and flour a 10-inch spring-form pan.

Whisk flour with baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. Beat eggs, then gradually beat in sugar and continue beating until thick. Mix orange zest, juice and olive oil together. Add to egg mixture in thirds, alternating and ending with flour mixture.

Spread batter in pan and bake about 50 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Cool on rack 15 minutes and remove sides of pan. Continue cooling, then dust with confectioners’ sugar. Calories: 380/slice

Chocolate Cabernet cupcakes Makes 18 full-sized cupcakes

From What you really wish you could say (and probably shouldn’t)

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP salt
  • ½ to 1 TSP cinnamon (depending on how much you like)
  • ½ TSP instant espresso powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup Cabernet Sauvignon (plus a glass for the cook…I mean, the bottle IS open…)
  • ½ cup roughly chopped dried cherries, (I soak these in a ¼ cup of port – feel free if you have it handy and if not, no worries)
  • Chocolate ganache icing (optional, but really, is chocolate EVER just optional?)

Soak the chopped dried cherries in a little port to cover (if using) and set aside. Preheat oven to 350° F and line muffin pans with paper liners (or spray with cooking or baking spray). Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon, espresso powder & cocoa powder into a large bowl or he bowl of your electric mixer). Add in the eggs, oil, vanilla and wine.

Beat with at low-speed for 30 seconds. Turn speed up to high and continue beating for 3 minutes, scraping side occasionally. Remove the bowl from mixer, drain the cherries (if soaking) and stir to the batter. Pour batter into prepared muffin pans, filling no more than 2/3 of the way full (avoid the urge to overfill them – they rise up and cupcakes should be flat on top, not domed like a muffin.)

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the center of the cupcake. Remove from pans and cool completely on rack before icing.

Chocolate ganache icing

NOTE: Recipe makes more ganache than you will need for this recipe. Ganache freezes well – I put in a ziploc sealed well to remove as much air as possible, and when I want to use it for another recipe (or to dip strawberries!) just warm gently over a water bath again and stir well.

  • 1/3 cup plus 1 TBSP heavy cream
  • 1/2 TSP instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules
  • small pinch of salt
  • 1/2 TSP of unsalted butter
  • 6 oz (about 1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Heat all ingredients except the butter together in a double boiler or heat-proof bowl over simmering water until the chocolate is melted. Stir the mixture together until smooth. Add in the butter and stir vigorously until completely incorporated (this will give the ganache a nice shine).

To Assemble: Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into warm ganache and set on a rack to cool and firm up. And if you want to get a little fancy, sprinkle just a few grains of a good sea salt like maldon or fleur de sel on the top of each cupcake. Crazy you say? Well if you do, you won’t be disappointed. (I’ll have more crazy combinations in a later post…)

Chill cupcakes until the ganache has set. You should keep in a cool place or the fridge until about 15-20 minutes before serving. They also freeze well in an airtight container.

Yields/Calories: Makes 18 full-sized cupcakes: 185 calories each plain (yeah, right..) or 290 each with ganache.

NOTE: If you want to make mini cupcakes, the baking time is 9-10 minutes and the calories are about half of the full-sized one…so you can eat two! 🙂


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