Category Archives: Cakes

Zucchini-Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Magazine Mondays)

I discovered Cream Puffs in Venice a long long time ago and have always loved the blog. Ivonne at Cream puff hosts Magazine Mondays, where she posts recipes from magazines tackled by bloggers. I love the idea.

That being said, tomorrow is my dad’s birthday, so while I was flipping through the August edition of Bon Appetit I came across this recipe. The article said that this cake is inspired by the classic carrot cake, but of course, with a different vegetable. And I thought, if you can have zucchini bread, why not cake?

Then I thought, this would be a great cake to make for dad since I’ve always considered spice cakes to be more “grown-up,” which I guess is true, since most kids I’ve met don’t go “whooooop, spice cake!” So I made it last night and brought it to today’s barbeque with some family friends.

The cake is not big or elaborate. It’s very humble but boasts a myriad of spices as well as toasted pecans. The tiny strips of zucchini are seen, but not tasted. It’s funny, the cake is light in texture but somehow gives off the feel of a lot of weight. Maybe it’s the ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. It’s an intoxicating combination.

I found that I needed a bit more icing sugar to make the frosting a stiff enough consistency to spread. This is very similar to a carrot cake and will definitely attract carrot cake lovers. Maybe this works for number 10 on my wish list?

I was just saying how kids aren’t wild for spice cakes, curiously though, the few youngsters at the gathering today seemed to like this cake. It’s sturdy enough for them to hold by hand so no fussy fork and plate needed. Spread the frosting thin and this makes a wonderful snack cake.

Zucchini-Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes one 9-in. cake

Cake:
1 ½ c. all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¾ c. olive oil, not extra virgin
1 c. brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. zucchini, grated
3/4 c. toasted pecans, chopped

Frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
¾ c. powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
½ tsp. cinnamon

To make the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease/flour a 9 inch cake pan.
  2. Mix well the oil, eggs, vanilla, and brown sugar in a large bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the spices, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the oil mixture, stir to combine. Blend in the zucchini and pecans, do not over mix. (Note: I didn’t squeeze the moisture out of the zucchini because I figured the cake would benefit from the moisture.)
  5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes. (Mine was done at 30, so check early!)
  6. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before unmolding. Let cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting:

  1. Cream together the butter and cream cheese.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and blend. (I used about 1/2 c. more)
  3. Add the cinnamon and vanilla, mix well.
  4. Spread over the top of the cooled cake.

Er, you might recognize that candle as the same one that perched on top of my brother’s soccer birthday cake. That’s because it is. We forgot to get candles, so candle Eight got reused. But we didn’t end up lighting it anyway because it was so windy today. Hey, my dad can always dream of becoming younger right?

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Birthday Cake

My brother had originally wanted a cake shaped like a giant Oreo cookie, but of course he changed his mind. He loves soccer so he asked for a soccer ball cake. So I altered the original plan, went with the same cake, the Emergency Chocolate Cake. I used a cream cheese frosting, and layered mini Oreo cookies in between the layers.

The cake itself was bake d in a large metal bowl, filled with one and a half times the cake recipe. It took quite a bit of time to bake, because of the deepness of the cake, but it it turned out level enough and did not stick to the bowl.

I split it into three layers, spread frosting and sandwiched it with mini Oreo cookies. Then I frosted the outside and drew in the pattern.

The frosting is great! It’s not overly sweet and is very smooth. It would be perfect for a carrot cake. It paired well with chocolate here too. The whipped topping lightened the texture just a touch and made the frosting extra creamy.

Cream Cheese Frosting
makes enough to frost a 2-layer cake

1/4 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature
3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar, as much as is needed
1 1/2 c. frozen whipped topping, defrosted
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, optional

  1. Beat the butter and cream cheese together until well blended and creamy.
  2. Beat in the sugar one cup at a time, until the frosting is thick and spreadable, adding sugar as needed.
  3. Beat in the vanilla if using.
  4. Fold in the whipped topping.
  5. Frost and refrigerate, but it does stand well enough at room temperature for at least an hour with no ill effects.

We brought the cake to church and shared it with his friends. Franklin loved his cake! Happy Birthday!

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Sunday Cake (Strawberry Bread)

This was interesting. Before, the only way I’ve incorporated strawberries in baking was in a strawberry almond cake I used to make a long time ago. That recipe had chopped strawberries layered in the middle of the batter.

That wasn’t the way here. I call this a bread simply because the recipe had called it a bread, but personally, I thought the texture was fine enough to be a cake. It was slightly dense, but very very soft, and moist enough the next day. I guess the secret is the crushed strawberries.

So instead of smooshed bananas, you have smooshed strawberries. And it definitely smelled like it too. Simply wonderful.

I used brown sugar instead of the white, as called for in the The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook, to preserve its moisture better since it wasn’t going to be served the same day it was baked. I think it brought out the lovely scent of the strawberries more.

This recipe is great for those not-up-to-par-left-forgotten-in-the-fridge berries, or frozen berries. I used some leftover frozen berries and added a touch of milk. It was well received by the church congregation.

Oh, I used my jelly moulds again. And they didn’t fail me. Even browning and easy release, I love those pans!

Strawberry Bread
adapted from The Best Bake Sale Ever Cookbook
makes one 9×5 loaf

2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 c. crushed strawberries, fresh or frozen, just use a fork
2 Tbsp. milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder, set aside.
  3. Crush the strawberries and add the milk.
  4. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla.
  5. Add alternately the flour mixture and the crushed strawberries to the creamed ingredients, ending with flour.
  6. Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spoon.
  7. Bake 55 to 60 minutes, or until the top is browned and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Great as a light, tender, and fragrant accompaniment to tea!

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Emergency Chocolate Cake (Sunday Cake)

Must. Have. Cake. Now.

The title of this cake reminds me of one of those commercials from Chef Boyardee called “Tame the Beast.” Have you ever seen it? In the commercial a monster rips apart the kitchen looking for food and takes out the container of ravioli. Within bites, the monster turns into a ravenous child. This commercial just screams “emergency.”

Imagine a chocolate cake craving like that.

Now imagine having that cake in 20 minutes. How’s that?

The reason this is called the Emergency Chocolate Cake is that it can literally be made for emergencies, be it a last minute bakesale request or a massively demanding craving. It takes 5 minutes to mix and 40 minutes to bake in a square pan, or if you must have it NOW, make cupcakes and bake for 15 minutes. I made it in a 8 by 8 pan and produced a staggering, sink-your-teeth-into-it cake.

And oh yeah, this cake has a secret ingredient. And no eggs. And the crumb is so light. And the color is a beautifully reddish brown. And the chocolate flavour shines through because it isn’t overly sweet.

How’s that?

Don’t save this cake for emergencies, whip it together now and have your cake in half an hour.

Emergency Chocolate Cake
adapted from The America’s Kitchen Family Baking Cookbook
makes enough cake to satisfy

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa (this gives the beautiful reddish brown)
1 cup water
1 cup mayonnaise (secret ingredient!)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8 by 8, 9 by 9, or hell, 9 by 13 pan (note the time adjustments). Or line two 12 cup muffin pans with paper liners.

Whisk all dry ingredients together. Here comes the fun part: dump all wet ingredients in the bowl and mix all together. Mix! Do it until the streaks of mayonnaise disappears and batter is smooth. Pour into prepared pan(s). You will get all this done before your oven is done preheating.

Bake 40 minutes for 8 by 8 pan, 30 minutes for 9 by 9 pan, 25 minutes for 9 by 13 pan, 15 minutes for cupcakes. Be sure to check a few minutes early. If a toothpick inserted into the middle of the pan comes out clean, it’s time for cake.

Pour some milk and cut big slices. Guaranteed to make children happy.

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Sunday Cake – Sour Cream Pound Cake

I’m trying to establish a tradition. I recently read Melissa Gray’s All Cakes Considered. In it she describes how she brings in a cake for her co-workers every Monday morning. I thought it was a nice and thoughtful thing to do, so I’ve been bringing cakes to church on Sunday. Last Sunday was a spice cake with walnuts. The recipe was taken from All Cakes Considered. The cookbook itself is worth reading, if not only for Ms. Gray’s witty charm and wise cracks. I enjoyed her humour. The recipes I cannot attest for because I haven’t made all that many from it. But this week’s cake is from her book. And it was good.

I love pound cakes. That being said, I’m not too terribly fond of cakes. I find most frostings tooth-achingly sweet and the combination of the frosting with the cake is almost too much. I guess when it comes to cakes, to me at least, simpleness prevails. I do like making cakes for others to enjoy. I like decorating the cakes and seeing other people eat my work.

But most of all, I love butter. I love the smell and taste of butter in cakes. I love the texture it gives. It’s irreplaceable.

So nothing beats a good pound cake. I remember this one restaurant I’d eaten at for my birthday earlier this year. Lovely, innovative place. They gave us a mini loaf of pound cake to enjoy at home. It was, simply put, amazing.

Pure, unadulterated butter.

Good butter too. The texture was slightly crumbly, incredibly moist, and melted in my mouth. This sour cream pound cake was not life changing. But it was good. Tight crumb, moist, a hint of lemon, a strong dose of butter. The sour cream lends tenderness. This recipe is easy, and the cake batter is very gorgeous. I think I would wear a dress that colour and possibly texture. Like the batter in dress form, if you can imagine. So by all means try this cake!

Sour Cream Pound Cake
adapted from All Cakes Considered
(makes one 10-inch tube cake)

3 cups flour
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter, unsalted and room temperature
2 cups sugar (I reduced it from the original 3 cups because I do not like extremely sweet cakes and I wanted the sour cream to show through some more)
4 eggs (reduced from 5, it was fine) room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. lemon extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease and flour a tube pan. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In another large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until very fluffy. Then beat in eggs one at a time. Make sure to beat well after each addition. Now add alternately the flour mixture and the sour cream. This means adding 1/3 of the flour, mix in, then 1/2 cup of sour cream, mix in, and repeat, ending with flour. Beat in extracts. Then beat for an additional 2 minutes until the batter is silky smooth and you want to wear it on your skin. Maybe not. Just kidding.

Pour into the prepared pan. Place in the centre of your oven and bake for 90 minutes. Check 10-15 minutes ahead of time though for the browning and done-ness. If a toothpick comes out clean when you insert it into the cake. It’s done. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Then take a knife and run it around the sides of the cake, don’t forget the inner ring. Place a plate on top of the pan and invert to release cake from pan. Let cool completely and slice.

Enjoy with coffee.

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Strawberry Jelly Roll

I made this cake before I went to New Jersey. Completely by hand. No machines involved. If you know something about jelly rolls, is that the first step is beating the living day lights out of the eggs. It’s a sponge. Which always translates into beating the living day lights out of somebody – er…something. Be it aggressively whisking that flour to aerate it, or whipping the egg whites till some kind of peak forms, to aerate it, or beating the eggs till ribbons form, once again, to aerate it. The whole point of the batter is to aerate. You want to beat a lot of air into that batter. So that it can become nice and light and fluffy.

Now please, close your eyes and imagine with me for a second. Yes, I know you can’t read the words if your eyes are closed. Just do  your best. 😀 Five eggs, one whisk, one pair of arms, one me. One sore-armed me. But see the ribbons? Look at them!

After beating your eggs with your sugar until the mixture falls from the beaters (or whisk) into the bowl nice and slowly. You gently fold in the flour mixture until no streaks of flour remains. The keyword here is gently, no need to undo what you spend the last 25 minutes painfully doing.

Take my advice: make your cake and eat it too, but do use some sort of machinery to assist you.

Jelly Roll Cake
adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
5 eggs
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. jam of your choice, I used strawberry, be sure to stir it ahead of time

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Measure your dry ingredients, except for the sugar, into a bowl, and whisk whisk whisk. I didn’t bother to sift it so I made sure to whisk it well. It’s fine. Now plug in that piece of machinery and start beating your eggs. Beat until just starting to get foamy, then gradually add your sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, and beat. Do this until the eggs are pale and the mixture is thick. And forms ribbons when it falls. It will be lemony in color, and beginning to look like mayonnaise, although not that thick.

Add about a third of the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Gently FOLD, bring the spatula up towards you in a rotational motion in the bowl. Fold until the mixture is even. Do not stir!!! Repeat twice more with the folding, once again, gently, and do not stir.

Now, take a jelly roll pan, 15 x 10, and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease the sides. Pour the batter into the pan. Smooth the top and pop it in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly browned and the top looks just about dry. It’s difficult to judge when the cake is done, and you do not want to risk over baking, which results in dry and crackly cakes. Makes your life harder when you’re rolling. So my suggestion is to never leave its side while baking it. Take it out and touch the middle with your finger tip when you think it’s done. If it springs back, it is.

While it is warm, DO NOT WAIT UNTIL IT HAS COOLED, flip the cake onto a piece of parchment paper. Peel off the parchment on the cake. Roll the cake along the short side, WITH the parchment beneath it. It’s important to do this while the cake is warm because you don’t want it to crack on you later. It’s sort of like giving it a dress rehearsal, with paper, not jam.

Let cool 15 minutes. Unroll. It will probably resist as you do it. That’s okay. You’ll still be able to spread the jam over it. Re-roll the cake in the same way, leaving out the parchment. It’s time for the big show. 😀 You will want to roll it up tightly and place on serving plate seam-side down. Trim the ends if you’re serving to company. Dust with confectioner’s sugar if you’d like.

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Happy Canada Day!!!

Did I mention that I’m a Canadian? I live in Boston right now but I’d like to think that I’m a Canadian at heart…and on my Passport. Of course, here in Boston, you would hardly find parades or fireworks in celebration, those would wait another couple days. I love Canada. I love the fact that there are only 33 million people, last I checked anyways. I love that people are so friendly there. I love their bacon, okay it’s just ham. I like ham. I love their national anthem, it used to put me to sleep Monday mornings while I went to school there, but I do love it. I love that we didn’t lock our doors. I love the feet and feet of snow. I love the coldness, well, better than the heat anyways. I love the way the word “Ca-Na-Da” rolls off your tongue. You can’t do that with “The United States of America” now can you? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be celebrating the Fourth of July as well. I do live here after all.

But to me, home would always be Canada.

So….in celebration, I decided to make cake. Except I didn’t make it. I cheated, all the way. I’m sorry. I ought to be ashamed of myself…but I’ve been so lazy. I really should do something about it. Maybe as a lesson, my cheating cake turned out hideous. It has tumors and a rash, and part of it melted right off. You can see for yourself how ugly it is.

Next time I’ll do what I’m supposed to do, like a good girl, and make my own cake. No cheating allowed. So you’ll forgive me this once right? I said I was sorry.

This morning, my cursor accidentally rolled over on the little clock that tells you the time, on the bottom right of the screen. It told me that today was July 1st. My mind clicked. I was chatting with my boyfriend online at the time. So I wished him a happy Canada Day, feeling kind of proud. A second later, he tells me “Happy 7th month anniversary!” I was blindsided. Has it really been seven months?! (No, we haven’t hit the one year mark yet, so we’re marking the monthlies…and now you know how long we’ve been dating…hehe) And the fact that I didn’t associate the date with our special date was a bit embarrassing. But I did figure out that it’s Canada Day. What can I tell ya? I love my country.

No don’t worry, I love you too sweetie, happy 7th! 😛

And to the rest of you, happy Canada Day!

Now take a look at my pound cake plus Cool Whip plus strawberries. It endured quite a few hardships. First it started to melt, so I put it in the freezer, where it melted anyways. Then it got bombarded by the ice cream container that my mom put on it, claiming that she didn’t see it. -_- How can you not see an 8 by 5 layered cake in the shape of the Canadian flag?? (before everything succumbed to gravity) I rest my case. Oh wells, it was ugly to begin with. What is ugly to hideous anyways?

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