Maple Butter Cake

Fall is upon us! This is my favorite time of year and definitely my favorite seasonal flavors to bake with. Pumpkin, maple, cinnamon and more! When I came across a recipe for Maple Butter Cake in my Better Homes and Gardens magazine, I knew it was a must try. It was very easy to put together this recipe. The only amendment I made was to bake it in a round tin rather than a square one so I could serve pie slices rather than squares.

Everything about this cake is delicious and the maple flavor comes through with some serious intensity. Definitely give this one a try…if you love maple, you won’t be able to resist adding this to your baking repertoire.

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup cold butter

Batter

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

Optional

  • powdered sugar and/or maple syrup (for serving)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl combine 1 cup flour, 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar, and the cinnamon. Use a pastry blender to cut in the 1/3 cup cold butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs and starts to cling together. Pat into the bottom of a 9-inch square baking pan. Bake 5 minutes or just until set.
  2. In a large bowl beat the 3/4 cup softened butter with a mixer on medium 30 seconds. Add the 3/4 cup granulated sugar and beat until combined. Beat in egg and maple syrup. Add 1 cup flour and half-and-half alternately, beating on low after each addition just until combined (batter may appear slightly curdled). Pour into crust-lined baking pan.
  3. Bake about 35 minutes or until the cake is nearly firm when you gently shake it. Cool in pan on a wire rack. If desired, sift powdered sugar over top and serve with additional maple syrup.

Star Wars Galaxy Cake

I was recently asked by a co-worker to make a cake for his twin daughters’ birthday party. They are obsessed with Star Wars and he wanted something that would fit the theme. I’m not someone who works regularly with fondant or gum paste…so I thought, perhaps a mirror glaze galaxy cake would be the way to go! I showed him a picture of my vision and he agreed!

I started collecting a variety of things that would help make the cake come to life. First, I needed some Star Wars accessories and Amazon didn’t disappoint. There I was able to find edible sugar paper decorations, galaxy lollipops, Pop Rocks and Star Wars silicone molds. 

I made two cakes – one vanilla, one strawberry. I then cut the cakes into thin layers and layered the two flavors with vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam (made fresh by my Mom in Vermont!). You can use any cakes, but if you choose to do buttercream, learn from my mistake: I refrigerated the frosted cake overnight. I should have popped it in the freezer. The buttercream was firm from being refrigerated but it would have come out far better if it had been frozen. So, definitely freeze that cake! You can then store it in the fridge if you are making it the day before an event.

I was a little disappointed that the colors of my glaze weren’t quite as vibrant as the recipe I followed here. However, I do think that it still came out beautifully. I would be more careful next time to make sure that my colors aren’t too dark. I used Chefmaster Liqua-Gel Paste Dye which I definitely recommend for mirror glaze projects. I also grabbed a few edible glitters to amp up the shimmer.

Mirror  Glaze:

  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin (bloomed in 1/4 cup of additional water)
  • gel food coloring (black, blue, pink, and purple)
  • edible glitter

Instructions:

Mix the gelatin in a bowl with 1/4 cup of water, and set aside to let it bloom while you begin the glaze. Over a medium heat, stir together the sugar, 1 cup of water, and sweetened condensed milk. Stir occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble. At this point, pour in the gelatin, and stir until fully dissolved. Then turn off the heat, and gently pour in the white chocolate chips. Stir slowly, until all the white chocolate has melted (I find that the white chocolate chips don’t always fully dissolve…so I usually try to get them as incorporated as I can). Pour through a sieve into a large bowl, then divide the glaze evenly between four bowls. Color the other bowls with whatever colors fit your theme. In my case, I did dark blue, light blue, purple and “flesh tone”. Continue to stir occasionally to stop a skin from forming, until the glaze has reached 85 degrees, or is about room temperature.

Once the glazes have cooled slightly, pour half of the black into the large bowl. Then pour about 2/3 of the purple, blue, and pink glazes on top of the black, in a swirling motion.

Remove the smoothed buttercream cake from the freezer (must be fully frozen!! Freeze for at least 4 hours before glazing), and place on a circular object (I used a pint glass turned upside down) on top of a large baking sheet (to catch the excess glaze). I placed the cake on a cake board that was the same size as the cake, then slowly poured the glaze on the cake.  Once the cake is fully covered, dust with edible glitter over the top. Let it drip for about 10 minutes, then placed the cake in the fridge until about an hour before serving.

For my candies, I used the silicone molds I found on Amazon. In hindsight, I wish I had take the time to temper some chocolate instead of using candy melts so I would have gotten a pretty shine on them, but they served their purpose. I decorated the top of the cake with the galaxy lollipops (i cut the stems off) and some “space rocks” (Pop Rocks). I cut out my edible decorations and places them on the sides of the cake along with some of my chocolate molds and voila – Star Wars Galaxy Cake!

I see plenty of room for improvement, but for my first try – I think this was a hit!

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Gluten-Free Banana Bundt Cake with Chocolate Ganache

Hey y’all! Sorry it’s been awhile. The summer is such a busy time and the last thing anyone wants to do is be stuck in a hot kitchen baking, am-I-right? However, that being said, I have found time to have a little fun and bake some goodies.

My Dad is a major fan of banana. And chocolate. I was reading out a list of recipes I had flagged and as soon as banana and chocolate left my lips…he was like, “I want that, but make it extra banana-y.” Haha, ok Dad. You got it. I have been trying my hand at gluten-free treats as well, so my Mom can enjoy them too. I have found that gluten-free flour (my favorite is King Arthur’s brand as it’s a cup-for-cup substitute) tends to remain very granular until baked. So don’t let the gritty texture of the batter throw you off. It bakes off.

Without further ado, I present Gluten-Free Banana Bundt Cake!


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INGREDIENTS

For the cake:
  • 1½ c sugar
  • ½ c shortening (like Crisco)
  • 3 eggs (room temp)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp banana extract (if you don’t want to amp up the banana flavor, use almond extract instead)
  • 1½ c  gluten free flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 c mini chocolate chips
  • 1½ c bananas, mashed well (about 3 medium bananas)
For the ganache:
  • 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 5 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp water
  • ½ tsp almond extract

INSTRUCTIONS
For the cake:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350* F.
  2. Grease a 12c bundt pan (design of your choice!) Make sure to get into all those nooks and crannies.
  3. Cream together the sugar and shortening. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating until well incorporated. Beat in vanilla and banana extract. Continue to blend in mixer until light.
  4. In a bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Add ⅓ flour mixture to batter, then ½ the bananas, then ⅓ flour, ½ bananas, ⅓ flour, mixing well after each addition. Add mini chocolate chips and stir by hand just until incorporated. Pour into greased bundt pan.
  5. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  6. Drizzle with chocolate ganache and dust with a smattering of confectioners’ sugar if desired.
For the ganache:
  1. In a double boiler (if you don’t have one, a glass bowl over a saucepan filled with 2″ of simmering water will work), stir chocolate chips and butter till melted. Stir in corn syrup until fully incorporated and then stir in the water.
  2. Place a piece of parchment or wax paper in a cookie pan, then place a wire rack inside the cookie pan. Put the cooled cake onto the wire rack.
  3. Pour ganache over cooled cake (too warm and plenty runs off).

S’mores Cupcakes

Nothing screams summer like camping! And what do you want most when you are camping? S’MORES! I wanted to recreate one of my favorite treats, but in cupcake fashion. After mulling over some ideas, I came up with the idea to do a graham cracker crust, an ooey-gooey chocolate cake and a marshmallow buttercream frosting. It was a cupcake to be eaten with a fork, let me tell you…but oh so delicious. I hope you enjoy as well!

S’mores Cupcake Ingredients
Graham Cracker Crust
  • 1 ½ cups finely crushed regular or cinnamon graham crackers (24 squares)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
    (skip the sugar, even if your box of graham cracker crumbs tells you to add it)
Cake
  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute by putting 1 tbsp white vinegar in a cup then filling the rest up with milk; let stand 5 minutes until thickened)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee (or 2 tsp instant coffee in 1 cup boiling water)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Frosting
  • ½ cup butter {room temperature}
  • 1 7 oz. jar Marshmallow Fluff
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • mini-marshmallows (for topper)
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.
  2. Mix together graham cracker crust and melted butter. Place heaping spoonful into the bottom of lined muffin tins and press down.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add room-temp eggs (one at a time), buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla extract and beat until smooth (about 3 minutes). Remove bowl from mixer and stir in hot coffee with a rubber spatula. Batter will be runny. Mix in mini-chocolate chips.
  4. Using a cookie scoop, fill muffin tins until 3/4 full and bake on middle rack of oven for about 35 minutes (it may take a bit longer with the graham cracker crust, so watch carefully if you leave in a tad longer than suggested), until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Cool completely before handling or frosting.
  6. While cupcakes bake, start on your frosting. Beat butter and powdered sugar until fluffy and well mixed.
  7. Mix in fluff and vanilla by hand and mix well.
  8. Add to piping bag and pipe onto cupcakes.
  9. I decided to top with a few little mini-marshmallows and use a torch to get them nice and toasty. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, take a baking tray, cover it with tin foil, spray liberally with Baker’s Joy or Pam and stack up a few marshmallows in several piles (I would suggest four on the bottom, one in the center on top) and place under your oven boiler on low. Watch closely and pull as soon as they begin to get brown. Let cool for a minute, then use a spatula or butter knife (coat with additional baking spray for a less sticky mess) and remove from foil and place on top of the frosted cupcake. YUM.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I had never eaten this treat prior to attempting to bake it. It feels very retro to me, which makes sense, given that I think its heyday was the 1950’s when maraschino cherries were all the rage. However, given that it’s a piece of American nostalgia and a favorite of many, I wanted to give it a try.

After looking at a bunch of recipes, I decided to go with the King Arthur Flour version as it looked super moist and their picture showed that buttery sugary goodness oozing off the platter. YUM.

I think I under-baked my cake just a tad as I was so fearful of the sugar burning. Just follow the instructions and you’ll be fine. Don’t get all antsy like I did! 🙂

TOPPING

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 20-ounce can pineapple rings in juice, drained
  • candied red cherries or maraschino cherries

CAKE

 INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan.
  2. To make the topping: Melt the butter, and mix with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan.
  3. Space the pineapple rings atop the brown sugar mixture. Place a cherry in the center of each ring. 
  4. To make the cake: Beat the butter and sugar until fairly smooth.
  5. Beat in the egg, then the salt, baking powder, vanilla, and coconut flavor.
  6. Add the flour alternately with the milk, mixing at medium speed and beginning and ending with the flour. Once the last of the flour is added, mix briefly, just until smooth.
  7. Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan, spreading it to the edges of the pan. It may not cover the pineapple entirely; that’s OK.
  8. Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven, wait 3 minutes, then turn the pan over onto a serving plate. Wait 30 seconds, then lift the pan off. If anything sticks in the pan, just lift it out and place it back on the cake.
  10. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  11. Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

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Tie Dye Cake with Mirror Glaze

Part of why I blog and share my bakes with people is because I want to share the good with the bad. So many blogs make all these different baking fads look SO easy, when in reality, they aren’t that cut and dry.

I love how this cake LOOKS, but hindsight being 20/20, I would have used a different cake recipe to get the tie dye effect, I would have chosen to go with a different type of cake for the mirror glaze effect and I would have just frosted my bad-ass white cake and mowed down. Ok…let me break it down for ya.

Tie Dye Cake

This is actually not tough. You could, in the spirit of efficiency, simply take a store bought white cake mix and dye it a bunch of colors and just scoop the different batters into a pan. I, of course, wanted to make everything from scratch, so I opted for a white cake recipe that I’ve used in the past. I didn’t stop to think about the fact that the cake gets its super moist consistency by folding in egg whites. When you separate the batter and you add dye…you have to mix the batter EVEN MORE…thus resulting in a denser cake because you have effectively removed all the lovely air you incorporated into the batter by folding in the egg whites. WHOOPS. My mistake.

If you love a great basic white cake, then here is the recipe I usually follow. A couple notes on the recipe. One, it’s not a snow white cake (for that, you have to sub out the butter for shortening). You can make it lighter in color by whipping the butter and sugar a tad longer. Also, be sure you are using clear vanilla extract…otherwise, you are adding additional color to the batter that will make it more ivory in color. Because I was adding dye to the batter anyway…it hardly mattered the color. I just wanted a light batter that would take the dye easily.

After I folded in the egg whites (I only partially folded them in, realizing at this point, I had chosen the WRONG batter for a tie dye cake), I split the batter into four parts. I dyed each one with a different color (hot pink, blue, orange and purple). It’s always best to use gel dyes as they won’t add any additional liquid to your batter, but if you use a liquid dye, just use it sparingly.

After I gave my bundt pan a generous rub down with Crisco, I layered in the different color batters. I didn’t do it neatly as that’s part of the appeal of a tie dye cake. I started with hot pink, then orange, then blue, then purple. After I was done, I took a cake spatula and very gently ran it through the batter a few times to swirl things up. I didn’t want to do it too much and then have a gray batter (a very unappetizing color!).

I baked the bundt cake for about 30 minutes (just until a pick came out clean) and let it cool for about 10 minutes. I turned it over, wrapped it in parchment and saran wrap and popped it into the freezer to cool down (why? because a frozen cake helps the gelatin in the mirror glaze set immediately).

Mirror Glaze

As I mentioned earlier, I would have glazed a different kind of cake. But, for my first time making a glaze, I think the cake came out beautiful. A bundt cake is hard to get the coverage from the glaze (and as I didn’t have a frosting base for it to adhere to, it was more transparent that it might have otherwise been). That being said, I think the cake was quite pretty.

I follow this recipe for the mirror glaze. It was easy to make, but let me tell you…this was one of the messiest projects I have ever undertaken. It requires quite a few dishes…and quite a bit of effort, but the end result is pretty WOW.

I actually strained my glaze twice to make sure it was perfectly smooth. I strained the first time just before it was going into the bowl of white chocolate chips. After the chips were melted and stirred in, I strained a second time to get the waxy bits that didn’t fully incorporate out of the mixture.

I set aside 1 cup of the mixture and I dyed it black (using gel dye – definitely recommend GEL for this recipe). The bulk of the mixture I died hot pink (again, using gel dye. I use all the Wilton paste dyes – you can get them at any local craft store like Michael’s or AC Moore).

I had to get creative with my bundt cake as you need to raise the cake so that the glaze drips off its sides. So I grabbed a glass tumbler from the cupboard and set it in the middle of a sheet pan. I then took my bundt cake and lowered it over the glass tumbler (as it was frozen, it didn’t break the cake) until it was snug, but not tight.

I poured the glaze over the top of the cake slowly. I quickly realized I would need to glaze it twice, so rather than make another mix, I simply moved the cake to a clean sheet, and upended the sheet pan and poured the glaze that had pooled in it back into the bowl. Then I started the process again with a second glaze. After that, I took my black glaze and using a small spoon, I streaked the black glaze across the top of the hot pink. The end result looks pretty awesome, if I do say so myself!

 

Victoria Sponge

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I’ve been catching up on past seasons of my favorite baking competition shows and decided I wanted to try to master some of the recipes found within. You watch these competitions and you think, that looks so easy! But, let me tell you…some of them are harder than they look.

Take for instance, the Victoria Sponge.

I looked at the ingredients, saw the reference picture and I thought, I got this.

Ha.

My first mistake? The recipe called for a cup of butter. I put in one stick. I was scooping it ever-so-carefully into cake tins and realized…it doesn’t look right. Oh yeah. Rookie mistake! One cup of butter does not one stick make. I dumped it all back in the bowl, added another stick of butter and presto-change-o…back in business.

My second mistake? I have never called a cake tin a sandwich tin before. I had to Google it. I didn’t have pans the exact dimensions called for, but I figured, I’ll just watch the time they are in the oven. Combine that with a poor brain for mathematics (clearly, the butter incident should have alluded to this already)…and my calculation of Celsius to Fahrenheit was whack. After 20 minutes in the oven, the sponge was way wobbly. Fine. I’ll turn it up a few degrees. And what happens? Dry sponge. Mary Berry would be ashamed.

See? Even when you think you are a seasoned baker, things go wrong in the kitchen. That’s why you just have to practice, practice, practice and never quit trying. Making a mistake is the best way to learn!

If you want to try your hand at a Victoria Sponge, find the recipe here.

Happy Baking!