Chocolate Layer Cake

Lets talk about adjusting expectations.

Just because you have managed to do something to the highest degree of awesome once (or even twice!) doesn’t mean you should or have to do it that way again.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

Just because someone does something super awesome in the coolest way doesn’t mean that you need to be that way either.

So much easier said than done.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

While Little isn’t three yet (this birthday is Wednesday) we celebrated his birthday this weekend. The party was not what past parties have been. There was no three layer beautifully decorated cake. The food was simple and easy. The decorations largely commercialized store bought stuff. I felt like the worst mom ever.

And you know what? He loved his party. He woke up the next morning asking if he could have another birthday party.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

I am harder on myself than I should be. Letting go and adjusting my expectations I know would make me a happier person. I’ll get there. It’s just going to be one tiny shift at a time.

One place where I refuse to compromise and adjust expectations is with grain free cooking. I want the grain free food so be as good as the with grain varieties. This cake fits that bill perfectly.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

Beyond impressed.

So while the cake was frosted rather simply and topped with Pixar rather than homemade coolness it WAS absolutely delicious. Even most of the grain eaters who came to the party agreed that it was delicious.

Little clearly loved it.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

One year ago today: Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto

Two years ago today: Buttermilk cake with blackberries

Chocolate Layer Cake (makes 1 two layer 6 in cake)
From Against All Grain

6 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/4 maple syrup
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 almond meal
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 F. Place the eggs, honey, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla in the bowl of your food processor. Process till fully combined. Add the rest of the ingredients and process till smooth. Allow to sit for 10 minutes (for the coconut flour to absorb some of the liquid). Meanwhile grease two 6 inch pans and line the bottom with a parchment round. Once the batter has rested divide it between the two pans. Bake for 28-32 minutes rotating halfway through. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan and frosting. Can be made up to three days ahead.

Chocolate layer cake (grain free)

Yellow Cake Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream

What is a party without cake? I have a go to chocolate cupcake recipe. Seriously could make it in my sleep. However, I do not have a go to yellow or white cake recipe. Yellow Cake Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream As I got ready for the blog party I knew I wanted to make swiss meringue buttercream and flavor it with leftover peach jam. I though a white cake would go beautifully with the delicate buttery frosting. Except I didn’t know white cake is devoid of egg yolks and uses a bazillion eggs whites. Yes a bazillion. I have having leftover yolks or eggs so I avoid it all cost. White cake got scrapped in favor of YELLOW cake. Which uses whole eggs. After much perusing I settled on this recipe and am more than pleased. It was light, easy and delicious. So so so happy to have a go to yellow cake recipe now. Oh and a bazillion cupcakes too. Yellow Cake Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream One year ago today: Chocolate cupcakes with strawberry swiss meringue buttercream Two years ago today: Homemade ricotta Yellow Cake Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream (makes 12-18 cupcakes  and enough frosting for 30+) From Martha Stewart 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled) 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup milk 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature 3/4 cup sugar 2 large eggs 1 recipe of this frosting subbing peach jam for the strawberry Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line the cups of a standard (12-cup) muffin tin with paper or foil liners. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a liquid-measuring cup, mix milk and vanilla; set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add half of dry ingredients, followed by milk-vanilla mixture, then remaining dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups (a 2-ounce or 1/4-cup ice-cream scoop is good for this). Place tin on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes 5 minutes in tin, then remove and cool completely on a rack before frosting. Yellow Cake Cupcakes with Peach Buttercream

Cheesecake with a Chocolate Cookie Crust

Since making this chessecake there has been an incredible amount of self control going on at our house. Sure we inhaled half of it the first day but since then we haven’t touched it. We are expecting friends for dinner tomorrow night so I am actually saving it.

Want a little bit of insight? The real reason it is still around is because I am neurotic. I have a way of needing things to be just so. In the case of this cheesecake we had half left so it made sense to save it all. Because there was half. Rational right?

Cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust

Had there been a third or a quarter or anything less I am sure that we would have continued eating it. My poor sweet husband knowing and understanding my neurosis has not dared to touch it. And I love him for putting up with me.

How bad is this really? It’s bad. I have a set way in my head of thinking of the leftovers- particularly when they are baked goods or sweets.

For example I had nine leftover cupcakes the other day and the fit neatly in three rows of my cupcake pan in my fridge. After an event I added one more to it so there was 10 (I like even numbers more than odd). Nathan thinking it was safe since the 10th one looked like the odd man out asked if he could eat it.

Cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust

No. Sorry love. I am neurotic and now in my mind 10 is better than 9 so you have to leave it.

Living with me comes with cupcakes and cheesecake and one terrible case of the crazies sometimes.

BUT we all get to eat more cheesecake tomorrow and enjoy it.

I am blessed more than you know to have people who put up with me.

Ps. This cheesecake? The best I have ever had. And I am not kidding.

Cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust

One year ago today: Snickerdoodles

Cheesecake with a Chocolate Cookie Crust (serves 10-12 easily)
From Martha Stewart 

One half of a batch of this cookie recipe for the base
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 pounds (six 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Wrap exterior of pan (including base) in a double layer of foil. Pat the cookie dough evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake until crust is set, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides as needed. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and flour. With mixer on low speed, gradually add sugar mixture to cream cheese; mix until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla; mix until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined; do not overmix.

Pour cream cheese filling into prepared pan. Set pan inside a large, shallow roasting pan. Carefully ladle boiling water into roasting pan to reach halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake 45 minutes; reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Continue baking until cake is set but still slightly wobbly in the center, about 30 minutes more. Turn off oven; leave cake in oven with door slightly ajar, 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight. Before unmolding, run a knife around the edge of the cake.

Cheesecake with a chocolate cookie crust

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Are you ready for me to instill some confidence in you about this cake? It baffles me.

Mostly it is delicious but it was definitely one of those things that turned out every which way. Tasty always but annoying.

I made a total of three batches of this cake in rapid succession. It was a cake all around weekend with me helping to make the cupcakes for two toddler birthday parties and having the privilege of making a cake for a baby shower I was hosting.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

The first time I made it I made a double batch but I didn’t come out with enough cupcakes for both parties so another batch ensued. Both batches were delicious but the second was cooked ever so slightly less time and was less dense. Neither was better than the other just different.

The last batch I baked in a bunt pan like the recipe called for. Delicious in the end but I struggled to flour the bunt pan. Yes. You read that right. I struggled with something in the kitchen. So the cake you see here pictured is less than beautiful as it has huge clumps of flour on it.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Maddening I tell you. No one complained. All were met with rave reviews and devoured quickly. And who who can say no to poppyseed and lemon? Certainly not me.

The first batch I skipped the lemon glaze till long after the cake had cooled. It was delicious but I recommend following the directions and putting it on while the cake is hot. Also these are the STRANGEST directions if you ask me. I contemplated ignoring them and making it my own way several times but opted to try it just once. And it works. Who knows why or how it works but it does. So just trust it.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

One year ago today: Spicy whole grain mustard

Lemon Poppyseed Cake (serves 10-12)
From Rose’s Heavenly Cakes

2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sour cream, divided
1 1/4tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (8.7 ounces) superfine sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
5 tsp. loosely packed lemon zest (from 2 large lemons)
1/3 cup poppy seeds
14 Tbsp. (1 3/4 sticks; 7 ounces) unsalted butter, at 65 to 75 degrees
Lemon syrup
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. (4 ounces) sugar
6 Tbsp. lemon juice freshly squeezed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10-cup metal fluted tube pan with butter and then with flour. In a medium bowl, whisk the whole eggs, yolk, 1/4 cup of the sour cream, and the vanilla, just until lightly combined.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest, and poppy seeds on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining sour cream. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and texture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Starting on low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Using a silicone spatula or spoon, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

Shortly before the cake is finished baking, make the lemon syrup. In in a small saucepan over medium heat heat the sugar and lemon juice, stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved. Do not allow it to boil. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a wire rack, poke the cake all over with a thin skewer, and brush it with about one-third of the syrup. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Invert it onto a 10-inch cardboard round or serving plate. Brush the top and sides of the cake with the remaining syrup. Cool completely and wrap airtight.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake

Ice Cream Cake

Last year for my daddy’s birthday I embarked on what was my 100th post. It was the most delicious tiramisu ice cream cake. It took over a week to make. A total showstopper.

See ice cream and my dad are thing. He eats a lot of it. Hey don’t judge. We all have our things. All my vices are drinks- craft cocktails, beer, wine, tea, ridiculously good coffee. Nathan must eat all the chocolate. No matter the quality.

So naturally when his birthday rolled around this year it was time for another ice cream. Life is, to put it mildly, a tad overwhelming these days. It’s just a chapter. It will pass. But in the meantime I don’t have copious amounts of extra brain power.

Ice cream cake

I knew making an ice cream cake was simple. Despite my lack of processing capacity in my brain I poured over recipes (I think it was an escape really). There just wasn’t anything that seemed right and I waffled back and forth so many times.

Till all of a sudden it was the day before his birthday and I had no cake. Not that I hadn’t been thinking about it every.single.day. I just hadn’t decided what I was doing.

So, in a rare screw it all moment, I did something I have never done before with a cake- I winged it. Well not entirely because the cake itself is a tried and true recipe but I had absolutely no idea how it would do frozen and or how this whole mess would turn out.

This is how it went down. I made the cake, froze it, let some ice cream soften on the counter, smeared it on the frozen cake, topped with second frozen layer, refroze the whole things, then “frosted” with whipped cream and add sprinkles.

And then I forgot to photography if before we cut in to it. Because it was that good. A simple cake but oh so delicious. This will be happening again sometime soon. I promise.

Ice cream cake

One year ago today: Brown Butter Rosemary Cornbread

Ice Cream Cake (serves 12 easily)
Mine

2 pints of your favorite ice cream ( I used Trader Joes chocolate chip mint)
2 layers of your favorite chocolate cake (I made this one and froze the extra third layer)
1/2 pint whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Freeze your layers of chocolate cake. Thirty minutes before assembly place your ice cream on the counter to soften. Place one cake layer on your board or plate. Make a collar for the cake extending up 2-3 inches out of wax paper. Secure around the bottom later with tape. Spoon in and spread around the softened ice cream. Top with the second layer and press down firmly (this will help spread the ice cream). Put back in the freezer for 2-3 hours. Whip the whipping cream with the sugar and vanilla till firm. Remove the cake from the freezer and frost quickly. Add any decorations or sprinkle you want. Put back in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Enjoy.

Ice cream cake

Chocolate Roulade

When it has come to this family’s foray into cake baking it has largely been my task.

Except for roulades. Nathan got a wild hair years ago and churned out a couple of these with varying degrees of success. Well success as far presentation was concerned. Taste wise they were absolute winners each and every time.

chocolate roulade

He even went so far as to actually ensure we had a great jelly roll pan just for making roulades. Then they ceased. Loss of interest? Moved on to other baking ventures? I can’t remember why but we haven’t had one in the house for years.

In planning a birthday cake for my lovely friend Bev, Nathan suggested making a roulade again. I wasn’t convinced. I hummed and hawed about it and finally decided to give it a shot. It’s just the idea of rolling a cake was stressing me out.

chocolate roulade

I knew there was a recipe in my Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook and what finally sold me on the idea that I COULD roll a cake was her technique. You roll the cake in a towel while still hot. You read that right- the cake comes out of the oven straight onto a cocoa powder dusted towel and rolled. It is then cooled completely wrapped up.

I am not going to lie and say that then filling the roulade wasn’t stressful but it was easier than I had anticipated. I would recommend liberally dusting the towel with the cocoa powder. It stuck in a couple of places because I was stingy.  Eh… it wasn’t that bad but perfectionist me was annoyed.

chocolate roulade

Also I didn’t have the time or patience that day to make the fancy chocolate mouse filling and opted instead to fill it is a kahlua spiked whipped cream. It was a stroke of brilliance really because the desert ended up being light and perfect. A cake you could easily eat half of and not realize it.

And eat it we did. The whole thing was put away at Tuesday night pizza and beer with no protests from anyone.

chocolate roulade

One year ago today: Granola Clusters and Easy Veggie Curry

Chocolate Roulade (serves 10-12)
From Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1/4 all purpose flour
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
6 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325F. Coat a 12 x 17 inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; line with parchment. Coat lining with cooking spray. Dust with cocoa; tap out excess. Sift cocoa, flour into a bowl. Set aside. Dissolve coffee into hot water. Set aside. Separate eggs. Beat egg yolks until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites frothy. Then add the sugar and beat on medium high heat until soft peaks form. Gently fold in egg whites to egg yolk mixture. Carefully then add the coffee and flour mixtures. Pour batter into pan and smooth out carefully. Bake until cake pulls away from sides of pan and is springy to the touch. About 10-12 minutes. Run a thin knife around cake. Invert onto a clean kitchen towel dusted generously with cocoa; peel off parchment. Starting from one short end, roll cake, using towel to guide into a log (you are rolling the towel INTO the cake). Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Meanwhile beat the whipping cream, kahlua, and sugar in a bowl till set.

When cooled, unroll cake. Spread with whipped cream, leaving a small border. Roll up again, removing the kitchen towel as you go. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate. Dust generously with cocoa powder. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

chocolate roulade

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Do you ever have a moment when you SWEAR you share a brain with someone?

How about over cake? Yeah. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a common occurrence.

I make a lot of birthday cakes. I have my own favorite kinds of cake and I would just make the same cake over and over again if I didn’t ask the honoree what they like. Hence why I made a peanut butter pie of sorts when I don’t even like peanut butter and chocolate.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

My lovely friend Jenny was out of town giving ski lessons in Vail on her birthday. She just recently moved back to Eugene for her MBA (we met in undergrad- marching band to be precise). I sent her a happy birthday text along with a what kind of cake do you want request. I had just been gifted a new cake cookbook and was perusing recipes. The angel food cake recipe caught my eye as I had leftover egg white lurking in my freezer from copious cream pies I made over the holiday.

Chocolate angel food cake came the reply. Um. What? That was the exact recipe I had been reading when I got her message.

I couldn’t wait. A cake I sooooo wanted to make and a birthday girl who was so excited to get it. Win win win win.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

And the cake was a breeze. Mostly because I didn’t crack a.single.egg. That’s right. Not one. I simply pulled the egg whites out of the freezer and set them in the fridge the day before. Yeah. There were that many egg whites in my freezer. Moral of the story- freeze your egg whites. Mercifully this recipe gave he egg whites as a volume measurement so I didn’t even have to try and guess at how many I had.

However I did have to grate chocolate which was a bear. But I think it was worth it.

Because what a delicious cake it was. Not overly sweet Perfectly fluffy. Decadently speckled with bitter unsweetened chocolate.

I love me some angel food cake and can’t recall the last time I had a homemade one. Now I know it is totally worth the effort. Too bad it wasn’t June and we didn’t have sun warmed strawberries to put on it. Sigh. I might just have to make the cake again. Bummer.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

One year ago today: Nutter Butters

Chocolate Angel Food Cake (serves 8-12)
From Rose’s Heavenly Cakes

1 1/2 cups, divided superfine sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, lightly spooned and leveled off
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 large egg whites, at room temperature, or 2 cups
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 oz fine-quality unsweetened chocolate, chilled, finely grated, refrigerated

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, whisk together half the sugar, the flour, and salt until evenly combined. Sift the remaining sugar onto a piece of wax paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. With the mixer off, add the cream of tartar. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the sifted sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until very stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly. Beat in the vanilla until combined.

Dust (lightly sprinkle) the flour mixture over the beaten whites, 1/4 cup at a time. With a large balloon whisk fold in the flour mixture quickly but gently. It is not necessary to incorporate every speck until the last addition. Fold in the grated chocolate until evenly incorporated. Using a long narrow spatula or silicone spatula, spread a thin layer of batter onto the sides of the 10 inch two-piece metal tube pan to ensure smooth sides. Empty the rest of the batter into the pan. It will be 1/2-inch from the top of the rim. Run a small metal spatula or knife through the batter to prevent air pockets and smooth the surface evenly.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown, a wire cake tester inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean, and the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center. (A wooden toothpick will still have a few moist crumbs clinging to it.) During baking, the center will rise about 2 inches above the pan, but it will sink to almost level with the pan when done. The surface will have deep cracks, like a souffle. Invert the pan immediately, placing the tube opening over the neck of a wine bottle to suspend it well above the countertop. Cool completely in the pan, about 1 1/2 hours.

Loosen the sides of the pan with a long narrow spatula and remove the center core of the pan. Dislodge the cake from the bottom and center core with a metal spatula or thin sharp knife. Invert the cake onto a flat plate. Allow the cake to sit for 1 hour, or until the top is no longer tacky. Then cover it with a cake dome or wrap it airtight. It keeps for 3 days at room temperature and for 10 days refrigerated.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Cookie Dough Frosting (or filling)

Yes another cake!

I am so incredibly blessed to be included in so many birthday celebrations. So. Many.

 Cookie dough frosting (of filling)

My lovely, sweet, beautiful friend Jenifer moved across the country a few years back and I don’t get to see her enough.

Thanksgiving weekend coincided with her birthday AND a trip back here to Oregon. I cannot get enough of her when she is back here. I was so lucky this time to get to have her over for dinner one night and then be asked to host her birthday party.

And birthdays mean cake. I am not going to even bother linking to all the birthday treats and cakes on here. There are so very, very many.

Cookie dough frosting (of filling)

This is actually attempt 2.0 at this frosting/filling recipe. It made its first appearance at my sister’s birthday at the beginning of the month. Total crowd pleaser.

When chatting with Jenifer about what kind of cake she wanted she suggested Funfetti. Um… I have feelings on that. Instead I offered her a chocolate on chocolate cake filled with cookie dough. Funfetti was quickly forgotten. Mercifully.

Cookie dough frosting (of filling)

My chocolate cake recipe is my standard go to. I can’t help myself. It is consistent and delicious. Light and moist — utterly perfect.

The cookie dough frosting (or filling as it was in this case) has no eggs so there is no concern about salmonella or the like. It doesn’t fare particularly well out in the air for long so I would recommend only using it if you are frosting cupcakes then immediately serving. Otherwise do as I did and fill a chocolate cake with it.

So much win.

Oh and this is going in my back pocket to make and serve at sleepovers when Little gets bigger. Cause I am a cool mom like that.

Cookie dough frosting (of filling)

One year ago today: Turkey (or chicken) biscuit pot pie

Cookie Dough Frosting (or filling) (makes enough to fill one layer of a cake or frost about 18 cupcakes)
From the Girl Who Ate Everything

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temp
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons milk
1 cup mini chocolate chips

With a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar at medium speed. Add the vanilla and beat well. Add the flour and salt and mix until combined. Add the milk gradually until desired consistency is reached and beat until fluffy. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Frost cooled cupcakes. I like mine thick so I kind of spoon is on. Store in refrigerator.

For the rest of the cake I used this chocolate cake poured in two 9 inch pans and baked for 30-35 min and this chocolate frosting doubled.

Cookie dough frosting (of filling)

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese

Do you enjoy reading?

I do. So very much so. When Little was first born I read through more books than I can remember while nursing with one arm and reading on my Kindle with the other.

I have fallen out of the habit. Since Little became more mobile I have seemingly lost my ability to concentrate for more than 10 minutes at a time. Even when he is bed I struggle to stay focused on a book however engaging.

Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting

Till this past week.

I have a sweet dear friend whom I love to pieces. She is beautiful outside and in and so very very ambitious. Do you know what she did? SHE WROTE A BOOK. An honest to goodness novel. And a spectacular one at that.

I tore through the book. For someone with little to no down time finishing a book in under a week is kinda a big deal. I think it took me 5 days. Once you hit chapter 25/26 you are toast till the end. I am warning you.

Brooke is like family to me. She is so terribly talented in to many arenas. She and her husband had a lovely sweet baby girl about four months before we had Little. Truly my kindred spirit.

Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting

We often joke that we need to be sisterwives. Half the time I am not joking. Half the time I am sure she isn’t either. Maybe more.

This weekend I was honored to make this lovely cake for her book release party. Did I mention she WROTE A NOVEL? And what a lovely evening it was. She made the most tempting appetizers and delicious dinner. We all got to mingle and talk about how amazingly awesome she is and how awesome her book is.

Which is all so very very true.

Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting

The book is titled Marked by Glory and is the  tale of Amy Masters. Born of noble blood and completely unaware of the fact, she is swiftly thrust into the world of the supernatural when a pair of late night intruders forcibly tattoo her birthright on her. It is a story of love, loss, battle, and destiny. A wickedly good read.

So you know what? I want you to read her book. Partly because I am beyond proud of her and partly because it is just so good.

Shameless promotion but you can buy it here on Amazon or here on Barnes and Noble.

I am offering you the chance to WIN a copy. I should preface that it is currently in ebook format so I will send it to your Kindle or Nook (you can get an app for free if you have a smart phone). If you are technologically challenged and patient and you want a physical copy and you win we can wait till it is in print in about a month and I will mail you a copy.

So… comment on this post and tell me what your favorite book is. All comments made by midnight Nov 21st, 2013 will be entered into a drawing for a copy of this fabulous book. One entry per person for commenting. You can get a second entry if you share this post on facebook and then come back here AND comment that you shared the post.

And yes. I made a cake. It was delicious. And pretty.

But seriously just go read the book.

Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting

One year ago today:Pumpkin Crème Candies

Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese
From Key Ingredient

Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 cup cream cheese
3/4 cup butter
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
6 cups powdered sugar

Chocolate Buttercream
1/2 cup butter (4 ounces)
3/4 cups cocoa powder
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup + 1-2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat three 8-inch cake pans butter. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla, and mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Stir in the boiling water; the batter will be very thin.

Divide the batter evenly among the prepared cake pans (a scale works great for this). Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out clean. Cool the layers in the pans for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wrap each layer in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Make the cream cheese filling and chocolate buttercream (see recipes below). When you’re ready to assemble the cake, remove the layers from the refrigerator. If needed, level each layer with a serrated knife or cake leveler.

Place the bottom layer on a cake plate. Evenly spread about 3/4 cup of the cream cheese filling over the cake, leaving about 1/2 inch margin around the edges. Top with the second layer and repeat. Finally, top with the third layer. Apply a thin layer of chocolate buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. This is only a crumb coat, so it doesn’t need to be perfect. Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and apply a final layer of chocolate buttercream, as well as any desired embellishments.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer at medium speed for about one minute. Add the vanilla and beat one minute more. Reduce the mixing speed to low, and add the powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time. Once the sugar is completely incorporated, beat at medium speed for about two minutes or until fluffy.

Chocolate Buttercream
In a large bowl, combine the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Beat the butter with an electric mixer at medium speed for about one minute. Reduce the mixing speed to low, and add the sugar/cocoa mixture about 1/2 cup at a time. Halfway through this process, add the milk and vanilla. Once all of the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated, beat at medium speed for about two minutes or until fluffy.

Chocolate cake with a cream cheese frosting

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake

My thoughts and feeling on gluten free baking are generally meh.

I do not have an allergy or sensitivity not does anyone in my family. In my mama tribe though there is quite a bit of gluten avoidance. I love them so I try.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake (Gluten Free)

But I just cannot wrap my mind around all those flours. I have used a gluten free flour mix once and it was ok. The real problem lies in apathy. I really don’t want to buy all these little bags of random flours in the bulk section of the grocery store. I don’t want to test my recipes as gluten free. I like them the way that they are honestly.

But I love my mama friends. So when I stumble on recipes, like this one, that are incidentally gluten free I rejoice. I always have a stash of almond meal on hand for making macaroons so, other than the ricotta, I had all these ingredients in my house already.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake (Gluten Free)

Win. Win. Win.

This cake made a stunning appearance at a baby shower for a mama I love dearly. What a wonderful time we had celebrating her as she prepares to welcome her second daughter earthside.

A mama who happens to be gluten free and was thrilled she could enjoy her cake.

I am stashing this recipe along with the flourless chocolate cake away in my repertoire for any other gluten free celebrations I might be honored to be part of.

And please please please tell me I am not the only baker out there completely terrified of gluten free baking.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake (Gluten Free)

One year ago today: Blueberry Pancakes and Saffron Chicken Veggie Soup

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake (serves 10-12)
From Cakelets and Doilies

(Note: This recipe was written in grams so I did it as such. Measurements are for reference)

120 grams (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
275 grams (1 1/3 cups) caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/4 cup lemon zest
4 eggs, separated and at room temperature
240 grams (2 1/2 cups) almond meal
300 grams (10 1/2 oz) ricotta
Sliced almonds, to decorated
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat oven to 350 F. Line the base and sides of a 10 in round spring form pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Place the butter, 165 grams sugar, vanilla seeds and lemon zest in an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes or until pale and creamy. Scrap down the sides of the bowl, then gradually add the egg yolks, one at a time, continuing to beat until fully combined. Add the almond meal and beat to combine. Fold ricotta through the almond meal mixture.

Beat the egg whites in a clean bowl with a hand-held electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining sugar to the egg whites mixture and whisk until stiff peaks form. Gently fold a third of the egg whites into the cake mixture. Repeat with the rest of the egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin, smooth the tops with a palette knife and bake for 40-45 minutes or until cooked and firm to touch. Allow to cool completely in the pan. Dust with slivered almonds and powdered sugar to serve.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake (Gluten Free)