Take the Cake

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Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by carrot cake.

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Carrot cakes are (generally) overly sweet and fatty.
Cloying sugar covers up the rich earthy undertones of the carrots.
Oil is added until the batter is slick and shiny, and when baked, greasy.

On top of this, a thick, sugared crust of cream cheese frosting, which is literally just fat and pounds of icing sugar.

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Too much sugar and too much fat—not that anyone is really under the impression that traditional carrot cake is intended to be healthy, but there is such a thing as too much of a yummy thing.

Carrot cakes have all the potential in the world, and too often they fall painfully short of delicious.

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Carrots, after sugar beets, have the most natural sugar of any vegetable.  As root vegetables, this sweetness is accompanied by a rich, round earthiness and, when cooked, a pleasant chewiness.

A whole pound of them form the base of this cake, shredded into tiny threads that all but disappear, leaving a moist, coarse crumb.

Carrots are accompanied by nutty rye flour, sweet, buttery pecans, round coconut oil and peppery olive oil, and shredded coconut that melts into the finished cake.

I reduced the sugar and oil in this recipe, replacing the standard canola oil with olive and coconut and taking the sugar down by 1/4.
Both are supplanted by a mashed up banana, which gives body and sweetness in a more wholesome way.

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This adds up to a carrot cake full of textures and flavors, without the slick of oil and heaps of sugar.
It’s carrot cake, but better.
It’s a touch more healthy, but that’s not the point—the point is to make this cake more respectable, more complex.

Take back carrot cake, people.

IMG_1375_01After reducing the amount of sugar and fat in the cake itself, I made a batch of cream cheese frosting that was on the smaller side, and much less sweet than the standard.
In order to be able to not add 1 1/4 POUNDS of powdered sugar to the frosting, I add in powdered milk, which adds body and extra flavor without the cloying sweetness.

This gets spread in a thin layer all over the cake, making it look a little naked but still pretty, IMHO.  Most of the frosting is saved for the top, and it doesn’t crust over with sugar, but remains creamy.

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Words have escaped me when I sit down to write, lately.
I don’t have much to complain about say.
I suppose I don’t feel much inspired by my life of late—not that it’s boring, but it is rather relaxed and quiet—and it leads me to be quite quiet on the blog.
I realize that many of you don’t come for the words, so I am deciding that whether they flow or not, I shall share the recipes and photos that I have in my (long) backlog.

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Maybe my next post will have more words.  Maybe not.
xx

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Rye Carrot Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan
makes 1 4×8 or 3×9 inch layer cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup rye flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 scant pound carrots
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup desiccated coconut (sub shredded coconut)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 medium banana, mashed
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons maple syrup

for the cream cheese frosting:
12 ounces (1 1/2 packages) cream cheese, softened
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks, 12 tablespoons) butter, softened
pinch kosher salt
1 cup dry milk powder
1 1/2-2 cups confectioner’s sugar

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour 4 8-inch round baking pans.
Stir flours, baking powder and baking soda together.
In a food processor with the finest shredder attachment disk or with a cheese grater, shred the carrots as finely as you can; set aside.
Whisk sugar, salt, oils, and banana together very briskly, until completely combined and smooth.
Beat in each of the eggs and the maple syrup; whisk until completely smooth.
Add in the dry ingredients and carrots and stir to combine; when almost combined, add in the pecans, coconut, and raisins.
Scoop even amounts of the batter into the pans and smooth out with a spatula or butter knife.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean and the tops of the cakes are springy to the touch.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes; turn out of pans and allow to cool completely.
Make the frosting: beat butter on high speed until softened and almost white, about 5 minutes.
Add in the cream cheese and salt and beat for 3 more minutes, until completely homogeneous.
Sift the powdered milk and powdered sugar over the mixture in 4 parts, beating on high speed for 1 minute between each addition.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute; taste for sweetness.
To assemble the cake, spread 1/3 cup frosting between each layer and thinly frost the sides; use the remaining frosting to coat the top in a thick layer.
Serve at room temperature.

Slump, Grunt, Buckle

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Snorfle, sniffle, slurp.

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Can we take a moment to appreciate the ridiculous names bestowed upon cobblers, crisps, and the like?

Betty, buckle, cobbler, crisp, crumble, grunt, pandowdy, slump, zonker(????).

whaaaaaaaaa why why why why

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Despite their stupid names, these kind of desserts are delicious, and what’s more, crazy easy and fast.
Perfect when you need a quick fix of warm, cozy dessert. (Which, in my case, is 24/7.)

Chop up seasonal, fresh fruit (it can even be a little underripe.  We don’t judge here.) and toss it with some sugar, salt and flour/cornstarch.
No need to measure, just go with your heart by taste.
Top it off with buttery cookie crumbs (I wish my whole life were topped with buttery cookie crumbs) and bake it.
SO EASY GUYS WHY AREN’T WE ALL DOING IT?!

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This is the best crisp I have ever tasted. Ever.
I’ve made it a few times, in a few different forms.
The first time, about 3 years ago (is 2011 really 3 years ago?! Have mercy.), I baked it in a big heavy dish, and served it with vanilla ice cream.  I was blown away.
In fact, I was so impressed that I then made it into a crumble pie (think dutch apple pie).  The pie was good, but, can I be honest, people?  It was more work.  And the best part was the filling and topping anyways.  So I do not advocate the pie version.  It’s fussier and not worth it.  Keep it simple, stooopid.
And now, I’ve made it into tiny little individual crisps, so you don’t have to think twice about eating four.

For once in my life, I’m not exaggerating.  Seriously. Best crisp I have EVER. HAD.
Sweet and juicy from the pears, tart and punchy from the cranberries, and spicy and rich from the buttery gingersnaps.  
I’ll never look at plain pear crisps the same way.  There’s no going back once you try this combo.
Read: try this combination.  For your own sake.

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Okay, time for an explanation about these mini crisps/crumbles/whatever you want to call them.

Other than being delicious, they are dead simple.

I didn’t use a recipe.  Here’s what I did:

peel, core, and dice a couple d’anjou pears
toss ’em with lemon juice, a couple tablespoons of sugar and flour, and some fresh cranberries
throw a bunch of gingersnaps into my food processor and grind them into crumbs
add a hefty pinch of pepper, ginger, brown sugar, and salt
melt some butter and pour it in until the crumbs get clumpy
dump the fruit into serving vessels, top with a shit ton of gingersnap crumb stuff
bake until bubbling and burbling
eat
eat
eat.

If you want more solidified measurements and directions, check out Deb’s (AWESOME) recipe.  Seriously thankyouthankyou Deb for leading me to this delicious flavor combination.  Heaven.

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Peppy Pip

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“That morning Pippi was busy making pepparkakor–a kind of Swedish cookie. She had made an enormous amount of dough and rolled it out on the kitchen floor.
Because, said Pippi to her little monkey, what earthly use is a baking board when one plans to make at least five hundred cookies?

-Astrid Lindgren

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I feel as if I’ve made five hundred cookies, y’all.
It’s more like 200 or so. (Good god.)

This beautifully written post describes how I feel.  Hilarious and insightful.

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This is the fourth part of our updated cookie platter.  Forget what the other parts were?  I’ve got you covered.

Part I: nutmeg, maple, and rye sugar cookies
Part II: Linzer cookies
Part III: chocolate and peppermint macarons
Part IV: pepparkakor!

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Pepparkakor are Swedish ginger cookies, kin to gingersnaps.
They’re traditional Christmas cookies, and are actually popular all over northern Europe.

They’re crispy, crunchy, and lightly spiced.
Made with sweet, sticky golden syrup, plenty of ginger and cloves, a touch of black pepper, and heaps of butter.

The ideal Christmas cookie!
Here, I’ve decorated them with lemony royal icing in a variety of patterns.
The traditional shapes for pepparkakor are pigs, hearts, and men and women (little gingerbread men!).
Unfortunately, of these I only had hearts.  (And two donkeys?!? Didn’t think that was quite appropriate…)

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These are perfect for fika.
A little treat to be served alongside tea or coffee.
Shared with friends and loved ones.
Lingered over.
Laughed over.
Enjoyed.

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Leave some for Santa; you’re sure to get extra pressies.

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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Classic Pepparkakor
adapted from Cottage in the Oaks
ingredients:
3/4 cup (6 ounces) butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch allspice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (6 ounces) golden syrup
2 cups bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

directions:
Cream butter for 2 minutes to soften.
Add in the spices and sugar and cream for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the egg and vanilla and cream for 2 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the golden syrup.
Beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
Scrape the bowl and add the flours.
Mix on low speed until a dough forms.
Knead once or twice, then wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a well-floured surface and cut shapes as desired.
Place on baking sheets and refrigerate for 15 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes, depending on desired level of crispness.
Let cool, then ice with lemon royal icing, recipe below.

Lemon Royal Icing
adapted from Bridget of Bake at 350
ingredients:
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons cold water
4 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon corn syrup
12 ounces (3/4 pound) powdered sugar

directions:
Place lemon juice, water, and meringue powder in the bowl of a stand mixer; whip on high until stiff peaks form.
Add the corn syrup and beat until incorporated.
Sift the powdered sugar over the meringue and beat until a uniform frosting forms.
Add water a teaspoon at a time to thin to desired piping/flooding consistency.

Let It Snow

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Delicately blue light streams in through the windows as snowflakes fall, soft and silent, to nestle in with their brothers and sisters blanketing the earth.

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Fragrant pine fills the house, as the scent of sweet spices wafts about, luring passerby into the kitchen.
The ornaments jingle as they are lifted onto the tree, one by one, until it is full up with a motley myriad of memories in the form of handmade popsicle stick and Elmer’s creations and childhood photos, as well as jewel toned orbs and sparkling glass shapes.

It’s the most wonderful time of year…

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Cheery holiday music blasts through my speakers.
Mittens, hats, scarves, and boots are donned to brave the cold.

That is, when one ventures out of the delicious warmth of a cozy bed.
There’s nothing better than sleeping in a soft, pillowy bed in a cold room, snuggled deep into goose-down comforters and blankets.
There’s nothing worse than stepping out of said bed in the pale, wintery morning light onto freezing cold hardwood floors.
Wool socks, please.

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I love winter.  I love the holiday season.  I’m home home home for three full weeks.  I’m delirious with happiness.
Sleeping in my own warm bed, showering with water pressure, yadda yadda yadda all that stuff I mentioned during Thanksgiving.
Only, this time, I get to enjoy it thoroughly, not rushed and harried.

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I have so many ideas floating through my head of what to bake; it’s all consuming.

Cakes, pastries, and so, so many cookies.
So much holiday cheer to bake into little yummies, so little time!

Of course, that’s most of what I’ll be gifting this year!  Everyone loves cookies… And I love making them.  I promise you many recipes to come.

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However, since everyone and their mother have been making gingersnaps lately, I made gingerbread.

Soft, spicy gingerbread.  Sandwiched with tart cranberry compote and bright, tangy lemon curd.  Covered in a thick blanket of creamy mascarpone frosting, and decorated with a few sparkling cranberry ornaments.

This would be a beautiful and jaw-dropping addition to a Christmas party/dinner/celebration.

Happy winter!  Keep your ovens turned on, y’all.

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Gingerbread Cake
makes a 2 layer 6-inch cake
cake portion adapted from Joy of Baking

ingredients:
for the cake:
2 cups (260 grams) flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
big pinch ground cloves
pinch cardamom
pinch coriander
pinch ground pepper
pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup (115 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (105 grams) brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (120 grams) molasses
1/2 cup (120 grams) kefir (substitute yogurt or buttermilk)

for the cranberry compote:
3/4 cup cranberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider

for the lemon curd:
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon (50 grams) lemon curd
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon butter

for the whipped mascarpone frosting:
2 cups (450 grams) mascarpone
1 cup (110 grams) powdered sugar
2-4 tablespoons (30-60 grams) heavy cream

for the sugared cranberries:
1 cup (240 grams) water
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1 cup cranberries
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar for dusting

directions:
Make the sugared cranberries:
Heat the water and first measure of sugar together in a sauce pot until sugar is dissolved.
Allow to cool and then place the cranberries into the sugar syrup.
Allow to sit overnight, or at least 5 hours.
Drain the cranberries and allow them to sit for 10 minutes to become slightly tacky.
Place the second measure of sugar in a bowl and place the cranberries in the bowl.
Shake around so that all of the cranberries are covered in sugar.

Make the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour 2 6-inch round pans.
Whisk flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together for 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
Scrape the bowl and add the molasses and eggs; cream until the mixture is homogeneous (will be liquid).
Add in the kefir and stir to mix.
Add the dry ingredients and stir to mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, until center is springy and cake is fragrant.

Make the cranberry compote:
Place all ingredients in a deep pot and bring to a boil.
Allow to boil until all of the cranberries have burst and the sauce has thickened considerably.
Cool completely before using.

Make the lemon curd:
Place the lemon juice in a small sauce pot and heat until simmering.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together well while the lemon juice heats up.
Once the juice is simmering, quickly whisk in the yolk/sugar mixture and continue to whisk and heat until the curd has thickened enough to leave a trail on the back of a spatula.
Allow to cool completely before using.

Make the mascarpone frosting:
Whip the mascarpone until very fluffy and light.
Sift in the powdered sugar and beat while streaming in 2 tablespoons of cream.
If the frosting is too thick, add 2 more tablespoons of cream, or as needed.

Assemble the cake:
Carefully split each of the layers of cake into two.
Place a dot of frosting on your cake stand or board and place the first layer onto the frosting.
Spread 1/3-1/2 of the cranberry compote onto the first layer.
Place the second layer of cake onto the first and spread with almost all of the lemon curd.
Place the third layer and spread on almost all of the remaining cranberry compote.
Top with the fourth layer and frost with the mascarpone frosting as desired.
To smooth the frosting, run a slightly hot knife over the surface of the cake.
Decorate with sugared cranberries and chopped pistachios.

감사합니다

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I’m thankful for home.

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I’m grateful to be surrounded by love and warmth and family.

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This brief respite has been much needed, and much appreciated.

It saddens me to leave (tomorrow), but I am comforted with the knowledge that I will be back in just a few short weeks.

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I love my home: my house, my friends, my family, my town.

I love this place.

I was dearly missing this place.

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I thought I’d share some snapshots of home with you; the first photo is of my beloved bed, where I haven’t been spending enough time this break. (Too many things to do!  People to see!  Places to go!)

You get a preview of our holiday cards (blech) and some cute photos of my kitten and pup.

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Also, THANKS GUYS, for being awesome and reading these stupid posts of mine on this silly little blog.

You rock.  Thanks for that.  I sure do appreciate you.

Now, food.

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Thanksgiving Menu 2013:

Roasted roots: herbed sweet potatoes, parsnips, and carrots with honey mustard aioli (GF)

Roasted brown butter and maple Brussels sprouts (GF)

Honey glazed turkey with giblet gravy (GF)

Maple and apple cranberry sauce (GF)

Cornbread stuffing with spiced sausages, pecans, sage, and celery (GF)

Goat cheese, buttermilk, and olive oil mashed potatoes (GF)

Whole wheat butternut squash mac and cheese

Mixed green salad with pomegranates, walnuts, shaved fennel, apples, and Parmesan with pomegranate dressing (GF)

Butterscotch and thyme apple pie (GF)

Maple kefir brûlée tart (GF)

Pumpkin roll with Frangelico and mascarpone whipped cream, brown butter glaze, chopped pecans (GF)

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Yes, I made all of that myself.  Boy, was it a marathon.  A very, very, very, long and delicious haul.

My photos were all very rushed and poorly lit; I had hoped to show you pictures of all the gluten free goodies I made, but no such luck.

At least I got a picture of the pumpkin roll cake… So I can torture you with yet another pumpkin recipe!

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This will be the last pumpkin recipe of the year.

It’s one to remember: light, fluffy pumpkin sponge cake rolled around mascarpone and maple whipped cream, topped with brown butter and Frangelico glaze and chopped pecans.

You might just be inspired to pull out one last can of pumpkin.

Happy Thanksgiving (weekend), y’all.

Thanksgiving (scaled)

 Pumpkin Roll Cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
powdered sugar, for sprinkling on towel
90 grams (3/4 cup) flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, pepper, coriander
pinch salt
3 large eggs
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
for the filling:
1 cup whipped cream
1 cup mascarpone
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
pinch salt

for the glaze:
4 tablespoons butter, browned
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup powdered milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons Frangelico (optional)

For garnish:
Chopped pecans

Directions:
For the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour a sheet pan very well; line with parchment paper.
Sprinkle a dishtowel with powdered sugar.
Whisk the flour, leaveners, spices, and salt together.
Beat the yolks and ¼ cup of the sugar very well, then stir in pumpkin.
Sift the flour mixture over the yolks and fold in gently.
Whip the egg whites and remaining sugar to stiff peaks.
Fold into the pumpkin mixture, then spread the batter out onto your prepared pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, until set.
Flip over onto towel and let cool for 5 minutes.
Gently roll up the cake and set aside to cool completely.
For the filling, beat the whipped cream to soft peaks, then gently beat in the other ingredients.
Spread onto the cooled, unrolled cake, then reroll the cake.
For the glaze, mix everything together until no lumps remain; drizzle over the rolled cake.
Garnish with chopped pecans.

More Than Meets the Eye

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The chocolate in these cookies is just the tip of the iceberg.

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These are the kind of cookies best enjoyed with a cold, creamy glass of milk.  They’re deeply chocolaty, but not singularly or overwhelmingly so.
The cinnamon adds a layer of depth and warmth which is pleasantly unexpected.
The candied ginger punctuates the richness with characteristic sharp and spicy kicks.
The entire cookie dough is heavily salted, to play off the richness and sweetness.
Other than caramel (and maybe even more so than caramel), chocolate is my favorite flavor to pair with lots of salt.
Something is truly magical about salt and baked goods.  It can really make or break a dessert.

I’m studying rite na.  Actually, I’m procrastinating. (what’s new?!)
All I want is one of these cookies.  The most difficult part about college has been eating dining hall food, day in and day out.

Yesterday, I made my own *real* food and now I’m craving home-cooked meals.
I made roasted butternut squash with cinnamon, rosemary, and coconut oil with roasted chickpeas and sautéed kale, all served with lemon and Greek yogurt.  It was heavenly.
Of course, I’m already planning my Thanksgiving menu, something which I’m sure you’ll hear all about in the months to come.
I pre-ordered the bird for my family from Shelterbelt farm, in Caroline, NY, 15 minutes from my home.
They go really quickly.  The farm also has amazing honey!

(If you live in the area, check them out!!)

The only thing I want more than a fresh baked cookie right now is maple-roasted, garlicky brussels sprouts with cranberries.
As my friends all now say, I’m a goat.
Sorry bout it!
Have a cookie.

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Salted Cinnamon and Ginger Double Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Beth of the kick-ass Local Milk
makes 15 large cookies

ingredients:
195 grams (1 1/2 cups) AP flour
110 grams (1 cup) cocoa powder
10 grams (2 teaspoons) kosher salt
4 grams (3/4 teaspoon) baking powder
4 grams (3/4 teaspoon) baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
218 grams (1 cup packed) light brown sugar
150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
165 grams (3/4 cup) butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup chopped candied ginger (I used candied ginger that my chem TA made for the class!!)

directions:
Whisk flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and soda, and cinnamon together.  Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, place the butter.
Beat butter until softened, about 1 minute, then stream in sugars all at once.
Increase speed to medium and beat for 3 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and beat for 3 more minutes on medium-high speed.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the dry ingredients all at once.
Stir the batter together on low speed, then stir in the chocolate and ginger.
Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator, and up to overnight. (You will have to let it warm up a bit the next day if you refrigerate it all night.)
When ready to bake, line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Scoop out large portions of dough with a large cookie/ice cream scoop (about 1/3 cup), and roll into balls.
Place 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
Bake for 4 minutes, then pull them out of the oven and flatten to about 1/3 inch height with a flat spatula.  (This will give soft centers and nice craggy outsides.)
Return to the oven and bake for approximately 6 more minutes, until the tops are cracked but the centers are still soft.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly; enjoy warm with a glass of milk!

Clean Chakra, Good Karma

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“Let’s trade in our judging for appreciation.  Let’s lay down our righteousness and just be together.”
-Ram Dass
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As some of you may know, yoga plays a huge role in my life.
I practice 5-7 days a week.  You could say I’m addicted.
Yoga has shown me a part of myself that doesn’t need competition to thrive.
Normally, I live for competing and comparison.
In yoga, I am given the opportunity to learn to appreciate and grow with the people around me who are also sharing in the experience.
Another beautiful part of yoga is the idea of self-study, which allows you to be both the teacher and the student, which is a unique and eye-opening experience.

Leaving Ithaca meant leaving a studio which I had grown to not only love, but feel at home in.
Mighty Yoga is not a yoga studio.  It is a yogic community based on pure love; they welcome new students in with open arms and keep a place for returning students.
I miss my Mighty Yogis something fierce.  All of the teachers there are amazing and bring a different and new sense of wonder to the practice.
I try to hold the sense of community and love that I received/receive from Mighty Yoga in my heart and mind as I try to set down roots in a new studio, which is a different community and a different vibe.
Not bad, or worse, just different.

I made these hand-painted, chai-spiced and rosewater-frosted cookies as a goodbye gift for all the yogis at the studio.
Buttery sugar cookies are dosed with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger, and the royal frosting is tinged with rosewater.
They are delightfully crisp and equally buttery.
I painted each with one of the seven chakras.

Namaste.

P.S. Yes that’s me in the above photo… The pose is eka pada rajakapotasana II.

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Chai-Spiced Butter Cookies with Rosewater Royal Icing

for the cookies:
ingredients:
3 cups flour
2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
pinch each cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger
1 egg
2 scant teaspoons kosher salt
3 splashes vanilla

directions:
Beat butter and sugar together until softened and pale yellow.
Add in the egg and beat until super fluffy and shiny and not gritty, about 3 minutes.
Add in the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 20 seconds.
Add in all the flour and stir slowly, mixing until a homogeneous dough forms.
It should not be overly sticky, nor should it be very crumbly.
Roll it out to 1/4 inch thickness and cut it into shapes.
Refrigerate or, even better, freeze, for at least 30 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, until golden and easily lifted from the sheet.for the frosting:
use this kick ass recipe from Bake at 350, replacing rosewater for the extracts

I Cannot Lie

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… I like big bundts and I cannot lie…

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I just hate photographing them.  In fact, I gave up photographing both of these cakes, both primarily because I kind of hate the shape of my bundt pan.

It’s great for making a dramatic cake without needing layers, but I can’t get the knack of photographing them.

They’re so… large and in charge.  Sometimes I feel awkward taking photos of them.

Like that maple bacon cake above and below?  I couldn’t get a single photo to not look lurid, so I threw in the towel, put in on a plain white floordrop, and took 3 photos of it.  Screw it. It’s not very attractive anyways.

The ginger-peach-lemon cake, I had 5 minutes to take photos of before needing to go to yoga.  It was still steaming, but the light was fading and I didn’t have my new (!!!!) lighting setup just yet.

So, I put it on a wood board next to a window and took 5 photos of it.  Screw it.

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 Bundt cakes are meh fun.  They’re quick and easy, and if made correctly, they’re quite delicious.

However, I have had (and made) many a dense, rock-like bundt cake.

The peach-ginger-lemon bundt cake was quite the opposite.  It was fluffy, moist, and flavorful.

However, now that peaches are out of season, I’m going to instead share the recipe for the maple-bacon-brown butter bundt cake that I Jackson-Pollacked for my brother’s birthday.

It might very well have been dense… I couldn’t exactly slice into it and eat a piece before shipping it down to D.C. for his birfday.  That’s bad form.
To be honest, I also think it’s ugly.  So let’s pray that it tasted good…

The recipe came from Martha, though, and lord knows I trust her.

Here goes:

IMG_3065Maple Brown Butter Bacon Bundt
adapted from Martha Stewart
ingredients:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons butter, browned
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a bundt pan.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.
Whisk the butter, brown sugar, eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla together.
Whisk the flour and buttermilk into the maple syrup mixture, alternating between dry and wet.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Top with glaze and glazed bacon.

for the glazed bacon:
ingredients:
4 ounces bacon, cut into little lardons
1 tablespoon brown sugar
directions:
Cook bacon until crispy.
Drain fat and reserve for use in the glaze.
Return bacon to pan and add in the brown sugar.
Heat just until sugar melts, then spread out onto a piece of wax or parchment paper and allow to cool completely.

for the glaze:
ingredients:
6 tablespoons butter
fat rendered from 4 ounces of bacon (sub 1 1/2 tablespoons butter)
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk powder
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, or as needed
directions:
Brown butter in a saucepan.
Once brown, dump in the sugar and bacon fat and whisk, creating what I like to call a “sugar roux”.
Once a creamy paste has formed, add in the maple syrup and powdered milk and stir.
Stir in extra maple syrup, as needed, to create a pourable but thick glaze.

Handle With Care

Here I was, thinking it was almost spring. 
I got bold, even walking my dog without a coat, exclaiming to passerby, “feels like spring!”
I thought greedy thoughts, about fresh strawberries and rhubarb, about green grass and flowers.
It’s been snowing intermittently for the past three days.
It’s cold and grey, once again.
And to be honest, not a one of my town’s inhabitants is surprised.
This weather is all too typical.
Our spring is fragile, tender.
Tonight, we may even have an ice storm.  I look outside right now and see flakes pouring down , whirling in strong gusts of wind.
But what is there to do but to enjoy the brief spans while we can? 
 Snow comes, melts, flowers spring forth, life begins again. 
 I’m patiently waiting.
In like a lion, out like a lamb.
These cookies are as fragile as Ithaca’s first sign of spring.
They’re crispy on the outside, and filled with a gloriously honey-laden curd.
They’re a relatively healthy little treat, one that is so light that it melts on the tongue.
 
I’ll enjoy these little snow caps for now, as I wait for those outside my window to melt.
Honey-Ginger Grapefruit Curd
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
ingredients:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg yolk
1 egg
big pinch sea salt
juice of 1/2 a lemon
juice from a 1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated and pressed through a strainer
directions:
Reduce the grapefruit juice by half in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer and allow to reduce.  Juice will still be thin- don’t worry.  Allow to cool for 2 minutes.
In another saucepan, whisk the eggs, butter, salt, and honey together.  
Slowly drizzle in grapefruit juice while constantly whisking, until all is incorporated.  
Stir in lemon and ginger juice.
Heat over low heat, whisking all the while, until curd has thickened (enough that when you drag a spatula across the bottom of the pan, the track stays clear for at least 3 seconds), butter has melted and incorporated, and the whole shebang looks very shiny and thick.
Remove from heat and press through a strainer. Discard any bits.
Chill until thickened. 
Enjoy spread between cookies, in yogurt, or by the spoonful!
 
Simplest Meringue Cookies:
ingredients:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar, pulsed in food processor for 30 seconds to make superfine sugar, or 1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
directions:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Combine your egg whites and cream of tartar in a very clean bowl and begin to whip.  
Once they are foamy, slowly add about a tablespoon of sugar.  
Continue to add in the sugar very gradually until all the sugar is gone and the meringue has reached stiff peaks.
Place the meringue in a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe small stars, or use two teaspoons to portion out little mounds.  
Bake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, rotating regularly to prevent overcooking in any one place.
Turn off the oven.
Once done, the meringues should still be white and should easily release from the parchment paper. 
Allow to cool in the oven; prop the door open with a wooden spoon.  
Allow to fully cool, then sandwich some curd between two and enjoy!