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Chocolate Bundt Cake

29 Jan

Lets talk about this cake for a second.

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Have you ever eaten something so delicious that you go to bed dreaming about it and wake up in the morning desperately searching for any remnants of it?

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It’s birthday week around the DB kitchen so I can justify a reason for eating just about anything right now. A second piece of cake from my all time favorite bakery? Sure! Dessert after breakfast, lunch, and dinner? I don’t see why not!

Don’t worry, I’m balancing it all out with a green smoothie every morning, heart healthy oatmeal mid morning, lean turkey chili for lunch, a well balanced meal at night, and plenty of yoga. And I will go back to my normal routine once birthday week (er, month) is over 🙂

You all know how I feel about boxed cake. And I hate to admit it, but this recipe uses boxed cake mix. But it’s totally worth it. I promise.

Find a reason to make this cake. Valentine’s Day, birthday, anniversary, just because. Just make it! (and share it!)

Chocolate Bundt Cake

1 package Devil’s cake mix
2 cups sour cream (you can use low fat, but don’t use fat free)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup Kahlua
1/4 veg oil
1-12 oz package semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup Heath Bits
Powdered sugar for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.
2. Combine first five ingredients in a medium bowl. Fold in chocolate chips and heat bits.
3. Bake for 50-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, gently loosen the cake from the pan. Invert cake onto cake plate. Dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy 🙂

Whole Wheat Banana Walnut Upside Down Cake

1 Sep

Am I the only person who can’t resist when the grocery store has overly ripened bananas for 1/2 off? I recently was at the grocery store when this particular manager’s special was going on and I found myself unpacking approximately 20 ripe bananas from my grocery bag. Don’t get me wrong, I love having a loaf of High Fiber Banana Bread sitting on the kitchen counter but 7 loaves of it? That might be a bit much. I decided to experiment with making a banana upside down cake.

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I used ATK’s method of creating the caramelized topping for an upside down cake, added walnuts, and swapped in bananas for the pineapple. To me, banana-flavored things need to have a heartier texture to them. I decided to use whole-wheat pastry flour and cracked wheat for the cake. I prepared the whole cake in a cast-iron pan to keep with the rustic feel. While this recipe isn’t necessarily “healthy” you are getting some fiber, potassium and heart-healthy fats from the whole wheat flour, bananas, and walnuts.

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Next time you find yourself with a few (er…20) brown bananas on your counter, give this recipe a whirl.

Whole Wheat Banana Walnut Upside Down Cake

Adapted from Baking Illustrated

I decided to bake this cake in a 10-inch cast iron skillet. You can make this in a 9-inch round cake pan. If you do this, grease the bottom of the pan; melt the butter and sugar in a separate pan; and increase the baking time to 60-65 minutes. 

Topping

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 ounces) light brown sugar

1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts

3 bananas, sliced int o1/2-inch pieces

Cake

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) whole wheat pastry flour

3 tablespoons cracked wheat (this can be omitted if you don’t have any; it just adds to the texture)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 cup (7 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2/3 cup milk (I used skim)

1. For the topping: Melt the butter in a cast iron skillet over medium heat; add the brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is foamy and pale, 3-4 minutes. Add walnuts and stir to combine. Remove pan from the heat. Add banana slices evenly across bottom of the pan; set aside.

2. For the cake: Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk the flour, cracked wheat, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside. Cream the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer at medium speed. Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar; continue beating until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the yolks and vanilla (scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula if necessary); reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients and the milk alternately in 3 or 4 batches, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, until the batter is just smooth.

3. Beat the egg whites at low speed in a large bowl either of a standing mixer or with a hand mixer until frothy. Increase the speed to medium-high; beat to soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; continue to beat to stiff peaks. Fold a quarter of the beaten whites into the batter with a large rubber spatula to lighten. Fold in the remaining whites until no white streaks remain. Gently pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly on top of the banana, being careful not to dislodge the bananas. Bake until the top of the cake is golden and a toothpick or thin skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

4. Rest the cake on a wire rack for 2 minutes. Slide a paring knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a large tray or serving platter over the pan and hold tightly. Invert the cake onto the platter. Carefully remove the cake pan. If any banana slices sticks to the pan bottom, remove and position it on top of the cake.

Old Fashioned Coffee Crumb Cake

23 Jul

My philosophy in life is balance (hence the name of my blog). My go-to breakfast is my healthy Greek Yogurt Breakfast. It is an uber-healthy combination of protein and fiber that keeps me full and energized for hours.

But there are occasional mornings when I’m in the mood for something different; something totally naughty to dig into with a piping hot cup of coffee in the early hours of the morning.

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For those days, I enjoy this coffee crumb cake from America’s Test Kitchen.

It is perfection.

Pair it with some fresh berries, make healthy choices the rest of the day, and enjoy the delicious moment as the coffee washes down the sweet buttery cake…guilt free.

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Old-Fashioned Coffee Crumb Cake

From: Baking Illustrated

1 tablespoon dry bread crumbs

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (7 7/8 ounces) granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup buttermilk or low fat (not nonfat) plain yogurt, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped fine

1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease the bottom and lightly grease the sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan with bread crumbs, then shake lightly to coat. Tap out excess crumbs.

2. Whisk the flour, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl until blended. Add the butter and cut in with the whisk until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Remove 1 cups of the flour mixture to a separate bowl and set aside.

3. Whisk the baking powder and baking soda into the flour mixture remaining in the mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla; whisk vigorously until the batter is thick, smooth, fluffy , and frosting-like, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

4. Add the nuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon to the reserved crumbs of flour, sugar, and butter; toss with a fork or your hands until blended. Sprinkle the crumbs over the batter, pressing lightly so that they adhere. Bake the cake until the center is firm and a cake tester comes out clean, 50-55 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire rack; remove the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool completely, about 2 hours, before serving. When completely cooled, the cake can be slid off the bottom onto a serving plate.

Caramel Cake

14 Apr

As I mentioned earlier this week, my dad, brother, and grandma all have the same birthday. That beautiful day is April 8th. In honor of their birthdays, I have decided to create a dessert that reminds me of each of them this month. So here we go with birthday dessert number one, the most delicious caramel cake…ever. Well, almost ever.

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This was inspired by a caramel cake that my dad LOVES from a bakery in Tennessee. We would visit friends in Knoxville when I was growing up and they would always have an Eva’s caramel cake waiting for my dad when we got there. Within hours, the entire cake would be devoured. We don’t visit Tennessee as much anymore so I have been in search of a caramel cake just as delicious as Eva’s in Knoxville. I think I came pretty darn close with this one.

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The actual cake itself isn’t caramel flavored. It has an amazing caramel icing in between layers and is covered in a yummy caramel frosting. Do you guys know Shauna Sever? She’s my blogging and baking inspiration! When I am in the mood to get down n’ dirty in the kitchen I look in one of two places for inspiration…Baking Illustrated from America’s Test Kitchen or I dial up www.shaunasever.com. She’s genius. This entire recipe is inspired from her caramel cupcake recipe. I recommend having all of the ingredients for the icing and frosting ready to go once you are ready to assemble the cake. The caramel icing hardens quickly so have the frosting ready to go. I combined the butter, cream cheese, and first 2 cups of powdered sugar before I started making the caramel icing. Enjoy 🙂

Cake

4 eggs

2 egg yolks

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup butter milk, at room temperature

3 cups cake flour

2 cups sugar

4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubs, at room temperature

Place an oven rack to the center position and preheat the it to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Line bottom with parchment paper.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together, the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,  combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt with the mixer on low. With the mixer running, gradually drop in the butter pieces and mix until the texture is uniform and the butter isn’t discernible, about 2 minutes. With the mixer still on low, begin slowly pouring in the wet ingredients. When all the wet ingredients have been added, increase the speed to medium and mix until the batter is light and fluffy, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges to loosen from pan. Remove cake from pan and onto wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Filling

2 cups dark brown sugar

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into a few chunks

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk (I used skim)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

Combine the dark brown sugar, butter and salt in a medium saucepan. Melt together over medium heat, stirring often. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the milk and vanilla. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Dump in the confectioners’ sugar all at once and beat with a wooden spoon until the icing is thickened and smooth. Reserve 1 cup of the caramel icing. To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake upside down on a cake stand. Pour the remaining caramel icing in the center and spread to the edges. You may have some icing left over. It’s ok if some of the icing runs down the sides of the cake. Place the other layer on top.

Caramel Frosting

1 cup of the caramel icing

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

8 oz low-fat cream cheese

4-5 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together until smooth and creamy. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and beat to combine. Pour in 1 cup of the reserved caramel icing. Beat at medium speed to combine. Add additional powdered sugar until frosting reaches desired consistency. Cover the cake with frosting.

Boxed Cake!

6 Mar

We ended up celebrating my husband’s birthday twice. Obviously, this meant two birthday cakes! If you read the Mocha Brownie Cake post, you know that I spent an afternoon making a delicious dreamy decadent chocolate cake. It was a huge success and we enjoyed our fair share of it. As we were enjoying a piece of cake, this conversation took place:

Nate: “This cake is really good and I know how much you love baking but my all time favorite cake is Funfetti cake”

Me: Mouth full of cake. Speechless.

Nate: “I really do love this chocolate cake but I’m just telling you that my favorite cake has always been Funfetti cake”.

Initially, I cringed at the thought of making a box cake for celebration number two. Then I got to thinking how Nate rarely asks for anything. He didn’t even ask for any birthday presents! How could I not make him his favorite cake for his birthday? The next morning, I went to the store and wheeled my cart to the boxed cake mix section of the baking aisle. I wanted to put my sunglasses on and wrap a scarf around my face. I usually proudly walk past this section thinking “why would anybody make a boxed cake?! Making it from scratch is SO much better”. I grabbed a box of Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix and a container of Pillsbury Funfetti icing and hurried through the checkout line (self-scan, of course, to reduce the risk of anybody seeing me put these colorful containers into my bag!) 😉

I came home and followed the simple instructions of adding water, oil, and eggs and poured the batter into cupcake tins. Once they were in the oven, I found myself uncontrollably licking the leftover batter. It took all my self-control to put soapy water in the bowl to stop myself. I had forgotten how good the silky batter was and how much fun it was to see the colored sprinkles scattered throughout. I was getting so excited for the cupcakes to come out of the oven and for Nate to get home so we could eat them! How could anybody not smile while making Funfetti cake? The word FUN is in the name!
While I still prefer to make things from scratch, once in a while, you can’t beat the simplicity and reminiscent taste of Funfetti cake from a box. I’ll be back to scratch baking tomorrow. After all, isn’t life all about balance?

The happy birthday boy with his Funfetti!

The happy birthday boy with his Funfetti!

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I forgot to take a picture before. A few days later, this is what was left :)

I forgot to take a picture before. A few days later, this is what was left 🙂

Mocha Brownie Cake

2 Mar
Baking with Julia

Baking with Julia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A combination of reading Julia Child’s biography, Dearie,  and receiving a copy of Baking with Julia from my manager has finally prompted me to start my blog. A long time lover of spending time creating delicious food in the kitchen, I have always felt, deep down, that I relate to Julia Child. As I am reading her biography I find myself uncontrollably excited with each turn of the page. About a week ago, my manager gave me her copy of Baking with Julia. To say I was a little ecstatic beyond belief is an understatement. While she knows that I have a fondness for good food and the people who make it, I don’t think she had any idea how deep my devotion goes for all things Juila! From the time that book was laid on my desk, I have been beyond excited to get my apron on in the kitchen. With my husband’s birthday just around the corner, what better way to start. I spent my Friday off work concocting a meal suit to my husband’s taste to celebrate his birthday. With spare ribs in the slow cooker, potatoes scrubbed for roasting, and coleslaw marinating in the fridge, I found myself with a few hours to spare. I thumbed through my new treasure and found a recipe for Mocha Brownie Cake…the perfect dessert for my other half who loves chocolate even more than I do!

It was perfect. This cake is ideal for a small crowd requiring only one 9 inch layer which is then sliced into three and layered with a silky smooth mocha ganache. This was my first experience with ganache and it definitely won’t be my last. It comes together so easily and the end result tastes like something out of a gourmet bakery. Image

Mocha Brownie Cake

From Baking with Julia. Contributing Baker: Marcel Desaulniers

Serves 12

The Cake:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghiradelli chips)

2 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghiradelli bar)

3/4 stick (3 ounces) unsalted butter

5 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons sour cream

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and dust with flour, tapping out the excess; set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and reserve.

Heat an inch of water in the bottom of a double boiler. Put the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates and the butter in the top of the double boiler, and heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is fully blended and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat.

Put the eggs, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer, and whip on high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the eggs are slightly thickened and doubled in volume. Add the melted chocolate and mix and medium speed for 15 seconds. Don’t worry if the chocolate is not fully incorporated — it will blend in as you add the other ingredients. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, working with a rubber spatula, gently but thoroughly fold in the dry ingredients. Give the sour cream a vigorous turn or two with a whisk to loosen it, and fold it into the batter. The batter will be quite thick.

Pour the batter into the pan and, with a spatula, smooth and level the batter. Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a cardboard cake round (or the round from a tart pan with a removable bottom) and refrigerate, uncovered, for 1 hour.

The Ganache:

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons sugar

12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghiradelli chips)

1/4 cut hot strong brewed coffee

Heat the heavy cream, butter, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches the boil. Put the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour in the boiling cream and the hot coffee. Set the mixture aside for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. The ganache must cool thoroughly. you can leave it to cool at room temperature — which could take an hour or so — or you can refrigerate it. The ganache thickens as it cools. You want to use it when it just begins to thicken and can be poured rather than spread over the cake.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator and invert it onto a clean, dry work surface. Working with a long sharp knife, cut the cake into 3 even layers. Place the top layer of the cake, cut side down, in a 9-inch spring-form pan; check that the sides of the pan are closed. Pour 1 cup fo the ganache over the layer, spreading it evenly to the edges with a rubber spatula; refrigerate, uncovered, until set, about 15 minutes. Top with the center layer, pressing it gently into place, and pour over another cup of ganache, again taking care to get the filling out to the edges; refrigerate until set. (If at any point the ganache has thickened and is no longer pourable, heat it over the lowest heat, stirring constantly, until it returns to its proper consistency.) Place the last layer, cut side down in the pan, and press down firmly but carefully to position it. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour before applying the icing. Cover the remaining ganache with plastic wrap and keep it at room temperature.

To finish, run a knife around the inside edges of the cake pan; release the sides of the springform. pour over the remaining ganache and use a long icing spatula to smooth the ganache over the top and around the sides. Allow the icing to set in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

To get a clean cut, heat the blade of a serrated knife under hot running water and wipe the blade dry before each cut. Place the slices on plates and, if cold, allow them to sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

Once the ganache has set, the cake can be covered and kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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