An Olive Tree, An Emerald

Olive Oil, Ricotta, and Almond Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

He called her a melon, a pineapple,
an olive tree, an emerald,
and a fox in the snow all in the space of three seconds;
he did not know whether he had heard her,
tasted her,
seen her,
or all three together.

—Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography

Olive Oil, Ricotta, and Almond Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Do you consider yourself a picky eater?

I’ve never been a picky eater. I do avoid an entire food group because I’m vegetarian, but that’s not because I didn’t like the taste of meat, but rather that I no longer cared to eat animals. (Phew, didn’t mean for that to sound accusatory. I just don’t want plant based eating to be conflated with pickiness!)
When I was a little kid, I didn’t like spicy-stinky kimchi, but that quickly faded, presumably because it would go against my very genetics to turn my nose up at kimchi.
I didn’t love blue cheese, but didn’t encounter it often enough to make a fuss when I did. I always loved beets.
Chewy, bouncy textures (common in Asian desserts) have always entranced me.
Red adzuki beans, broccoli stems, pickled lemons, mushrooms, eggplant, tofu, kale, egg salad: all on my favorites list.

However, I always thought I didn’t like olives. Wouldn’t touch the little buggers, green or black or kalamata.
I knew I already loved olive oil—one of my favorite snacks has always been crusty bread dipped in olive oil with salt—but I had always refused olives as an icky precursor to that pourable gold.
En fait, it wasn’t until college that I tried them, prompted by someone I trusted and an overwhelming desire not to embarrass myself in front of them with an uncultured palate.
I can hardly believe that I once didn’t like olives, since they are now one of my absolute favorite foods.

Olive Oil, Ricotta, and Almond Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

So much dislike and hatred and fear of otherness is due to ignorance and inexposure. How much could be solved by a simple introduction of the unknown by the familiar or the trusted.
I mean, look how guzzl-able a green smoothie is. Add enough banana and a good helping of nut butter and even the most chlorophobic person won’t mind the spinach.
Our inability to see the fallibility of the assumption that if we haven’t directly experienced it—haven’t directly heard or tasted or seen it—that it doesn’t exist, or shouldn’t exist, or couldn’t possibly be good, continues to stun me.
We are all trapped within our own narrow umwelts.

Am I about to try to slop the metaphor of picky eating onto current events? MAYONNAI- MAYBE.
We should look to those whom we elect to be the trusted ones, to introduce us and bring us together rather than tearing us apart. They should vouch for us all, but not at the expense of others outside of our nation, either.
Bigots shouldn’t be allowed to hold office.
Discriminatory palates shouldn’t get to dictate what goes into the melting pot.
Those who wave the bible around to justify themselves would do well to remember that the commandment is to Love Thy Neighbor, not Choose Thy Neighbors Out Of People You Already Like.
The ridiculous fear-mongering over immigrants and POC and the denial of the Everywoman’s lived experience represents the worst of the assumptions we can make about others of backgrounds different than our own.

The (male) GOP candidate for senator in North Dakota said that #MeToo is leading women towards victimization.
The callous lack of empathy that he displays is hard to fathom. He does not deserve to be the representative of any woman or survivor.
Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic incumbent, said,
“‘I think it’s wonderful that his wife has never had an experience, and good for her, and it’s wonderful his mom hasn’t,’ she said. ‘My mom did. And I think it affected my mom her whole life. And it didn’t make her less strong.’
With tears welling in her eyes, Ms. Heitkamp stared intently at a reporter and continued: ‘And I want you to put this in there, it did not make my mom less strong that she was a victim. She got stronger and she made us strong. And to suggest that this movement doesn’t make women strong and stronger is really unfortunate.'”

Here’s the bottom line: today is the last day to register to vote in many states. Are you registered yet?
I urge you to take just a minute to check, or double-check.
No matter from which side of the aisle you will be heard; your voice deserves legitimate space.
Let’s not choose politicians who don’t think everyone’s voice has value, or who talk over others.
The incessant lying isn’t helping to open our minds. We must force ourselves out of our comfort zones: do your research, thoroughly.
Don’t rely on one source for your news. Do your best to empathize.
Try an olive, or two; extend that selfsame branch.

Olive Oil, Ricotta, and Almond Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Back to olive oil, now.
This cake was hailed by some as the best they had ever tried.
When I took my first bite of the slice shown in these pictures, the fork nearly dropped out of my hand.
The cake is outrageously soft and plush, with a moist, even crumb that is almost silly in its unbroken uniformity.
Creamy whole-milk ricotta combines with peppery, lemon-infused olive oil from Pasolivo to create a delightfully subtle flavor profile; almond flour adds softness to the structure, and a glaze made of yet more ricotta and olive oil adds continuity to the taste and a light crunch to the exterior of the cake.

This is the pan I used, from Nordic Ware. I think it’s just gorgeous, with all its dramatic swooping swirls.
Additionally, it’s about half the size of a standard bundt pan, which means I can fit it in my cram-jam packed pantry and it bakes up much more quickly than a 10-cup bundt cake.
Just make sure, as with any bundt pan, to grease the edges, corners, and hidden nooks very well!

Olive Oil, Ricotta, and Almond Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Bundt Cakes, previously:
Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
Dairy-Free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake
Chocolate Sour Cream Cake
Chocolate and Matcha Mochi Bundt
Classic Banana Cake with Speculoos Glaze
Perfect Banana Bundt
Twice-Glazed Citrus Honey Pound Cake

Olive Oil, Ricotta, and Almond Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Disclaimer: I was provided with a product in this post for free, in exchange for my honest and fair review. All opinions are my own.
Thanks to Pasolivo for the delicious olive oil. Bisous!

Olive Oil, Ricotta, and Almond Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Olive Oil, Ricotta, and Almond Pound Cake
makes 1 mini-bundt, or one 8- or 9-inch round cake

ingredients:
for the cake:
150 grams (2/3 cup) lemon-infused olive oil (such as Pasolivo Lemon Olive Oil)
300 grams (1 1/2 cups) sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
375 grams (1 1/2 cups) whole-milk ricotta
180 grams (1 1/2 cups) flour
75 grams (3/4 cup) almond meal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

for the glaze:
2 teaspoons lemon-infused olive oil (such as Pasolivo Lemon Olive Oil)
2 teaspoons ricotta
115 grams (1 cup) powdered sugar
generous pinch salt
milk, as needed

directions:
Make the cake: grease and flour a 6-cup capacity pan; use a mini bundt, or an 8 x 3-inch or 9 x 2-inch pan.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk olive oil, sugar and salt together in a large bowl until fully incorporated.
Whisk the eggs in, one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Add the ricotta and stir until it is halfway incorporated.
Add the flour, almond meal, baking powder, and baking soda on top of the batter, and stir to fully incorporate the dry ingredients and the ricotta.
Pour into prepared pan and smooth top.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour for a mini bundt, and 35 minutes to 45 minutes for a round pan.
A tester should come out with a few moist crumbs and the internal temperature should register at 210 degrees F (begin checking at 45 minutes for a bundt, and 35 minutes for a round pan).
Allow cake to cool.
Make glaze: whisk olive oil into ricotta until smooth.
Whisk in powdered sugar and salt; it will be thick.
Thin the glaze until it is of pourable consistency using 1/2 teaspoon of milk at a time.
Place cake on a wire rack with parchment paper beneath it.
Pour glaze over the cake, then collect drippings (if desired) and pour over cake a second time.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a product in this post for free, in exchange for my honest and fair review. All opinions are my own. Bisous!

Auspicium

Chocolate and Candied Kumquat Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

And now we welcome the new year.
Full of things that have never been.

—Rainer Maria Rilke

Chocolate and Candied Kumquat Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Happy 2016!
I’m a cool seven days late, but no worries—that means we only have 51 weeks left of this year.
That’s not me being eagerly pessimistic, people.

It’s just a f-a-c-t.

Chocolate and Candied Kumquat Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Impossibly, it seems, I’m back at school.
Finishing up my first week of classes, actually.
From the outset—and let’s pray for the sake of my sanity and the number of delicious things I manage to make and photograph for the blog—it seems like this quarter will be less busy.

Of course, as I have probably stipulated before, this often has no correlation with how relaxed I feel.
The brain is a wondrous thing, isn’t it?!
…says the neuro major…

Chocolate and Candied Kumquat Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Starting the year off with chocolate all but guarantees a pleasant January, which can be an altogether bleak and dreary month (it’s already abnormally slushy here in Chicago).

Today, I’m sharing a dark, moist sour cream chocolate bundt cake: it’s one bowl, it comes out of the pan looking simply magnificent and just as tender as a steamed pudding.
It stays soft and has a tight crumb, even over the course of a few days.
A few light lashings of vanilla cream glaze offset the chocolate nicely, although I could definitely see this paired with an equally chocolaty ganache.
Finally, the cake is topped with a golden crown of candied kumquat flowers, an auspicious, chewy, bitter, sweet, sour, and traditional treat for the Lunar New Year, which I have appropriated for this (Western) New Year cake.
Kumquat trees are a sign of prosperity and good luck in Chinese and Vietnamese New Year celebrations, and it couldn’t hurt to have some more of that in 2016, right?
Find more in depth (and a very detailed recipe) at the Kitchn.  I halved the recipe (I only made a couple handfuls of kumquats) and followed the instructions to a T and they were delightful.

Chocolate and Candied Kumquat Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Stars when you shine, you know how I feel
Scent of the pine, you know how I feel
Yeah, freedom is mine, and I know how I feel..
It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me
And I’m feelin’ good.

—Nina Simone

Chocolate and Candied Kumquat Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake
cake portion adapted from Food52; kumquats from the Kitchn
makes 1 10-cup bundt

ingredients:
for the cake:
400 grams (2 cups) sugar
210 grams (1 3/4 cups) flour
90 grams (3/4 cup) cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
240 grams (1 cup) sour cream
240 grams (1 cup) black coffee
112 grams (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the glaze:
2 tablespoons cream
225 grams (2 cups) powdered sugar
pinch salt
drop of vanilla extract

directions:
Make the cake: spray a 10-cup bundt pan with baker’s spray and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
Make a well in the center and add in the eggs, the coffee, the sour cream, the vegetable oil, and the vanilla extract.
Carefully stir to incorporate the wet ingredients, then whisk vigorously a few times to ensure homogeneity.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester comes out with a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan before turning out and allowing to cool completely.
To make the glaze, whisk all ingredients together until no lumps remain and pour over the cooled cake.
Decorate with candied kumquats or orange rind.

An Occasion

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“In his blue gardens,
men and girls came and went like moths
among the whisperings
and the champagne
and the stars.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 3

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

“Every Friday
five crates of oranges and lemons
arrived from a fruiterer in New York—
every Monday
these same oranges and lemons
left his back door in a pyramid of pulpless halves.”

—F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Ch. 3

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Gosh, it seems like ages ago now, but Valentine’s day was only a month ago.
(I know, I know, we’re already gearing up for the next holiday, but this cake is from February, so deal with it.)

It’s warm here, and the shiverings of winter seem far away, now that we’re enjoying balmy 50 degree weather.
50 degrees!  Hallelujah.

You can see (dead) grass and hopeful little snow drops poking their dainty white petals out of the grey brown earth.
I heard a bird the other day singing its heart out, beak wide open and chest puffed up (exactly how I look while singing in the shower).  Shocking how we take birdsong for granted.

My daddy just visited me and brightened the gray skies.
We had dinner at Sunda (amazing! really amazing! those brussels sprouts… omg…) on Friday, Indian takeout from a Nepalese/Indian place on Saturday (having those leftovers for lunch today, yum.  Naan. Naaaan.), and an absolutely exquisite meal on Sunday at the Green Zebra, which is hands down one of Chicago’s best restaurants.  
We agreed that we have never had a bad dish from Green Zebra, in all the times we’ve been.
In fact, the food has only gotten better. (Cannot highly recommend enough! Get there if you can!)

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

In two weeks time, I’ll be in Mexico with my mama.
I am so excited! We’re going to have lots of mother-daughter time on the beach and spa (hint. hint.) and possibly hike a bit!  We are going to read ALL THE BOOKS.

I’m thinking of buying a GoPro for the trip/just to have (read: cute sorority videos!)—I’ve been looking at the (discontinued) Hero 3+ Black edition, but it’s pricy ($300-$400 with a monopod and SD card added).
Have any of you loved your experiences with GoPros?
Have you found them worth the money?
Heeeellllppp. I really really really really want one, but I want to feel like my purchase is justified.

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

So why did I start this post with Great Gatsby and champagne and Valentine’s day?

Because at the end of Valentine’s day, after having split a bottle of very, very nice champagne, N and I fell asleep and I awoke to find I had an oxymoron come true mournfully sitting on my counter—leftover champagne.
I needed to do something delicious with the leftover Veuve other than letting it sadly fizzle out before pouring it down the drain, so I made a cake that N could partake in, too.

Dairy-free lemon and champagne pound cake, with a dense, tight crumb delightfully laced with bright lemon and fruity champagne.
This cake had the best pound cake texture I have ever tasted or seen or cut in my life.  So smooth and dense.
It’s topped with a boozy champagne and lemon glaze, as well as a thick, drippy vanilla glaze that’s sweet and salty all at once.

It’s quick and easy to make, and makes for perfect afternoon slices with tea.  It’s a cake made for noshing—thin slice after thin slice.
The glazes are finger-licking good, and there’s nothing quite like the mouthfeel of a good pound cake, toothsome and dense.

Dairy-free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake | La Pêche Fraîche

Dairy-Free Lemon and Champagne Pound Cake
makes 1 10-cup bundt cake

for the cake:
225 grams (16 tablespoons) Earth Balance buttery sticks or other dairy-free margarine
400 grams (2 cups) sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
5 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
zest of 2 lemons
juice of 1 lemon (about 45 mL=3 tablespoons)
360 grams (3 cups) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup champagne (I used Veuve Cliquot, but the quality is not of great importance here)

for the lemon-champagne glaze:
juice of 1 lemon (45 mL=3 tablespoons)
30 mL (2 tablespoons) champagne
tiny pinch salt
125 grams (1 cup) (or as needed) powdered sugar, sifted

for the vanilla icing:
3-4 tablespoons almond milk or coconut cream (or heavy cream, if not dairy-free)
125 grams (1 cup) (or as needed) powdered sugar, sifted
pinch salt
splash vanilla extract

directions:
Make the cake: grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan very well and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat margarine on high speed for 3 minutes until very fluffy.
Add the sugar and salt and beat for another full 3 minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add in the eggs one at a time while the mixer is running; after all are added, increase speed and beat for 5 full minutes.
Add in the vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest and mix slightly.
Dump the flour on top of the batter and the baking powder and baking soda on top of the flour.
Begin to mix slowly; after the flour is halfway worked in, begin adding the champagne in a steady stream.
Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds, or until just homogeneous.
Scrape the bowl and mix for 15 more seconds.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
To make the lemon-champagne glaze, whisk lemon juice, champagne, and salt together, then sift the powdered sugar over while whisking vigorously to prevent lumps.
Add more powdered sugar if the glaze is too thin, then pour over the cake, being sure to cover the entire surface.
To make the vanilla glaze, whisk milk/cream, vanilla, and salt together, then sift the powdered sugar over.
If the glaze is too thin, again add more powdered sugar (and maybe a small pinch of salt).
Spread/pour the vanilla glaze over the lemon/champagne glaze and allow to set before cutting cake.

Better Late

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

“Your problem is you are too busy holding onto your unworthiness.”

Ram Dass

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

It must seem as if I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, or dived to the depths of the sweet, cold ocean only to resurface, gurgling and apologetic, every fortnight.

Autumn has blown right past this blog.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner, WHAT!?
It’s not that I don’t have things to complain about, good lord you know it’s not, but that I don’t have time to type up my complaints.

Far easier to light a few million candles and wallow about when given a moment of free time.
Actually, most of my free time is spent doing more work. (Note: this definition of “free time” only applies to UChicago students.)
Yes. Yes indeed, I’m ready for Thanksgiving, people.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

Sometimes I feel guilty for setting certain things aside while my life continues on its hectic hurricane path.
Plenty of people juggle it all, balancing this or that on all ten fingers and their nose, too. (see: This poor puppy.)

But I’m not them. And for me, trying to stay on top of things in one part of my life means sacrificing in other places.
I promise this space will never be my sacrificial lamb.
I will always come back.
I promise to bring good food and real talk and always, always love.

As life changes, so does my relationship with my family, my friends, my readership.
But they are always constants.  I know that.

Big hugs and kisses!  Thank you for reading my blog.  Thank you for your appreciation for this space.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

Big bundt!
I’m jumping back on the pumpkin bandwagon.
It’s been far too long, and I’ve been eating pumpkin pancakes too often to not share a treat here of the same nature.

This is a great cake for the hollydaze.
It’s easy easy easy, and saves marvelously.
It’s chockfull of spices, reminiscent of gingerbread, with a punchy lemon glaze to awaken your tastebuds from the sugar- and fat-overload that is soon to come.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

The cake itself is moist, spicy, and perfect for nibbling on with a cup of tea.
Lemon and gingerbread are one of my favorite combinations.
Lemon and anything, but you know that already!

P.S. it has been snowing here.
Winter is coming.

(What, that’s not an appropriately cheery way to sign off?)

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt | La Pêche Fraîche

Dairy Free Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Lemon Glaze
cake portion adapted from Taste of Home
makes 1 10-cup bundt plus 3-4 muffins

ingredients:
for the cake:
170 grams (1 1/2 sticks, 6 ounces) Earth Balance butter
60 grams (1/4 cup) coconut oil
500 grams (2 1/2 cups) sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3 eggs
420 grams (15 ounces,1 standard can) pureed pumpkin
360 grams (3 cups) flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

for the glaze:
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon (~3 tablespoons of juice)
tiny pinch salt (1/16 of a teaspoon)
1-2 cups confectioner’s sugar, or as needed

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan very well (you may want to have some muffin liners in a muffin tin as well, for extra batter).
Place Earth Balance and coconut oil in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high for 3 minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add sugar, salt, molasses, and spices.
Beat for a full 5 minutes on high speed.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the eggs.
Beat for 3 more minutes, until very fluffy, light colored, and smooth and shiny.
Stir in the pumpkin part-way (leave some unmixed).
Place the flour on top of the batter, then the baking soda on top of the flour; mix on low speed to combine.
Scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure the batter is homogeneous, then mix for 1 more minute.
Pour into prepared pan, scooping extra batter into the muffin tin.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, until a tester comes out completely clean (the muffins will be done in 18-20 minutes, so check on them early).
Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out of its pan onto a cooling rack.
Meanwhile, make the glaze.
Zest a lemon into a bowl, then get all the juice out of it that you can.
Add the salt and begin adding the powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, while whisking to prevent lumps.
The glaze should have a thick consistency, similar to honey or molasses.
Add powdered sugar as necessary to reach this consistency (if you go too far, add 1 tablespoon very hot water and whisk), then use a spoon to pour over the barely-warm cake.
Allow cake to fully cool and glaze to set.
Serve at room temperature.

Wait For Me

IMG_3948

Wait for me and I’ll come back,
Dodging every fate!
What a bit of luck! they’ll say,
Those that would not  wait.
They will never understand
How amidst the strife,
By your waiting for me, dear,
You had saved my life.
Only you and I will know
How you got me through.
Simply—you knew how to wait—
No one else but you.

—Konstantin Simonov, 1941, to Valentina Serova

IMG_3904

I refuse to accept the fact that it is nearly November.
I mean, if it is, then
where are the Halloween spooks haunting my blog?
And where are the many festive fall recipes that surely I’ve shared on this page?

And why aren’t there cakes like this (bloody amazing, if I do say so myself) one or this (OCD-tic-inducing) one, or non-pumpkin treats like these cookies or even pumpkin treats, for God’s sake, because even a cliché is better than utter silence and the cold shoulder, isn’t it?!

Where in the world have I been?
Well, this last week I had 2 p-sets, a double lab report, 2 midterms, and a paper due.
Twice this week I have gotten 3 hours of sleep because there is simply too much organic chemistry and cell biology to learn.
Far, far too much. 

IMG_3943

I’m humbled by this year.

I haven’t quite bitten off more than I can chew, but my mouth is certainly full.

I know the blog has been sadly neglected, but it’s not just because I’m busy.  I promise I haven’t forgotten, either.
The developer I hired has fixed the Pinterest issue, I think, and if that’s true, I’ll be unreasonably happy and grateful.
I have a bunch of new, delicious cakes to share with you, and one of them is (ya, Alexa, this is your shoutout) this gal’s birthday cake.

For now, I’ve brought something comforting and cozy and warm.
Something buttery, full of warm spice, and covered in crackling glaze.  Brown butter and banana and speculoos.

This is a classic banana cake, made with a combination of butter and coconut oil along with greek yogurt to keep it moist and tender, with four wizened old bananas to give it the most concentrated banana flavor.
It’s a go-to.

The glaze is bananas… Unbelievably addicting.
You will spoon it straight into your mouth, unless you have a remarkably ascetic type of willpower.  Ahem.
Butter is browned until it’s fragrant, then showered with lots of fat flaky sea salt shards.  A few spoonfuls of cookie butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon are whisked in; next comes milk (or cream, you minx) and a pile of powdered sugar.
The whole shebang is glossy, shiny, and sexy.
It’s thick and pourable and cools into a shattering glaze that perfectly complements the soft banana cake underneath.
You must use all of it.  It seems like a lot.
You must persevere, friends.

Happy Halloween! Let’s eat some cake.

IMG_3929

Classic Banana Cake with Speculoos Glaze
cake portion adapted from Hummingbird High

makes 1 bundt cake
ingredients:
for the cake:
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) butter
4 ounces coconut oil
2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 blackened bananas
1 cup greek yogurt

for the glaze:
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (Maldon)
3 tablespoons cookie butter (speculoos, biscoff)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup milk
~1 cup powdered sugar, or as needed

directions:
Make the cake: preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour a bundt or tube pan very well.
Place butter and coconut oil in the bowl of a stand mixer; beat for 3 full minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl, add the sugar and salt and beat for 3 more minutes.
Add in the eggs and beat for 5 full minutes, until mixture is fluffy, shiny, and pale white—it shouldn’t be gritty.
Mash the bananas with the yogurt and vanilla extract, then add them into the bowl (don’t mix yet).
Place the flour and baking soda on top of the bananas, then gently stir to combine everything, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.
Pour batter into pan and bake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick comes out completely clean; allow to cool.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: brown the butter in a sauce pot, then add in the salt and speculoos and whisk vigorously to melt the speculoos.
Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and milk; whisk in powdered sugar until no lumps remain (you may want to sift it in).
While cake is just barely warm, pour the warm glaze all over it.
Allow to cool to room temperature, then cut into fat wedges and serve with milk and tea.

Pas de Cadeaux

IMG_3145

Ceci n’est pas un cadeau.

Oh, the treachery of cake.

IMG_3207

I must tell you, at once, of a miracle that has been flying well under anyone’s radar for some time:
my petite Korean grandmother has ceased aging.

People! Pay attention!
It seems the antidote for age is simply refusing, in a classic Chang woman manner, to acknowledge your birthday.
Like so:
when anyone asks you what you want for said day, explain, only mildly peeved, that material goods are, in so many words, worthless and, additionally, take up too much space, do not buy me anything I do not want it;
when anyone asks you what kind of cake you want, respond, as if it is the most logical answer in the world, that you want whatever cake they want to make (bonus points if your granddaughter is a food blogger, because then you can reason that you want her to be able to document the cake).
An elegant and difficult solution—yes, that seems about right.

IMG_3152

My mama urged me to write a blog post for September 8th.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the photos for this post by then, but I didn’t expect it to be SO LATE coming.

If you’re shaking your head at the screen because of my ridiculously long absence, I understand.

But don’t leave just yet. I have cake, fwiendz. I have cake.

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Sitting down to finish writing this post has been one of my very first moments of leisure in the last few crazy weeks.

I have officially moved to Chicago, into a very large and very beautiful apartment with three of my very best and very closest friends.
I have built an outrageous amount of Ikea furniture and scrubbed and mopped and organized until I can do no more.
As of right now, we have 3 bookshelves that need 1 more coat of paint, and we’re fiiiinally done done done.
It’s a great feeling to finally begin to make a place your home.
(Of course, as soon as I feel settled and cozy here, classes will start and then living in the library will start and I will be thrown into the real world at an uncomfortably high speed.)

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I don’t have gas in my apartment yet (tomorrow is the big day!), so I haven’t been able to bake or cook while here.
Alexa (of popcorn cake fame) is not happy about the lack of cake being produced in the apartment; she asks once a day (even though she is also living sans cooking gas) when the heck I’m going to start feeding her yummy things again.
*eye roll*
People have even come up to me and asked me to please please post again, which is a bad sign for me.
Bad blogger, bad.

This is one of the last posts I have photographed from while I was still at home, but don’t worry. The lighting in our apartment is fab and a half and as soon as we get cooking gas, I’ll bake something yummy and share it with you (and Alexa, I suppose…) promptly.

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This was the cake I made for September 8th, a completely innocuous and otherwise boring day.

I knew it couldn’t be too sweet, and something with an intriguing flavor or texture, even better.
It couldn’t be too fancy, but couldn’t be jejune either.
A bundt cake seemed to fit the bill, and the jar of green tea powder was calling my name.
(As it often does… I do adore matcha!)

The end result is a half matcha, half chocolate bundt cake, hiding a bright green surprise within it’s simple exterior; the cake is made with sweet rice (glutinous rice) flour, so it benefits from the same thick, chewy texture of traditional mochi.
It’s not too sweet, rather allowing the two flavors to really sing; the chocolate is dark and a touch fruity, while the matcha is bitter and a tiny bit floral.
The texture is something special; super dense and chewy, just right for taking tiny slivers of all day. (I do believe this is called noshing, according to the lovely Molly.)

It’s an extra-special everyday cake; it doesn’t take a lot of effort or time but produces quite the stunner.
And that’s exactly the type of recipe I can get behind after making this crazy cake.

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Anyways, happy birth— September 8th, Grandma.
I love you, and I hope your day was special.

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Chocolate and Matcha Mochi Bundt
adapted from Sara Yoo
makes 1 bundt

ingredients:
1 cup (16 tablespoons) butter, melted
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 box (16 ounces, 1 pound) sweet (glutinous) rice flour (Mochiko brand comes in 16 ounce boxes)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup extra dark cocoa powder
1/4 cup matcha powder

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a bundt pan very well.
Whisk together butter, sugar, salt, evaporated milk, and vanilla until homogeneous.
Whisk in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Add in the rice flour and baking powder and whisk to combine.
Add half of the batter into another bowl and stir in the cocoa powder.
Stir the matcha into the other half of the batter.
Pour the chocolate batter into the pan, evenly covering the bottom.
Gently pour/scoop the matcha batter on top, smoothing the top.
Bake for 45-55 minutes; a toothpick should come out completely clean.
Allow to cool slightly in the pan; turn it out onto a serving platter or cooling rack while still warm to prevent sticking.
Serve with powdered sugar.

Blink

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Yonder see the morning blink:
The sun is up, and up must I,
To wash and dress and eat and drink
And look at things and talk and think
And work, and God knows why.

Oh often have I washed and dressed
And what’s to show for all my pain?
Let me lie abed and rest:
Ten thousand times I’ve done my best
And all’s to do again.

–A.E. Housman

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Hi friends!  This is a quick update/reassurance for today.
I’ve got a few great things coming your way, they just need extra time, work, and love, all of which are in short short supply right now.  Things are a little hectic/crazy/busy in my life at the moment, but it will all settle down shortly.
One of these days, I’ll get the chance to sleep for a full 8 hours.  One of these days.

For now, here is the most delicious pound cake I have ever tasted in my entire life.

Buttery, soft, tender pound cake with piles of citrus zest–lime, lemon, and orange– is brushed with a honey lime glaze and topped with a decadent vanilla honey cream icing.

The edges are ever so slightly crispy and crunchy, thanks to the unique shape and surface area of a bundt pan, and all these exterior nooks and crannies are saturated with salty-sweet honey glaze and icing; the interior is moist with delicate citrus flavor and pure buttery texture heaven.

The bright citrus zests add to the gorgeous yellow color– just like the daffodils that have cheerily sprung up around campus!

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Twice-Glazed Citrus Honey Pound Cake
cake portion adapted from Bon Appétit

ingredients:
for the cake:
1 cup (16 tablespoons) butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
zest from 2 lemons
zest from 2 oranges
zest from 1 lime
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder

for the lime glaze:
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1 lime
juice from 1 lemon
pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 cups powdered sugar, as needed

for the vanilla honey cream icing:
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey
big pinch kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, as needed

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan very well.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the butter and salt.
Beat for 4 minutes, until softened and very fluffy.
Scrape the bowl and add the sugar and citrus zests, stirring slowly at first, then increasing the speed up to high; beat for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the eggs; beat for 3 more minutes.
Stir the milk and apple cider vinegar together; stir the flour and baking powder together in another bowl.
At the same time, going very slowly, add the milk and flour mixtures, alternating if need be but largely adding them simultaneously to the egg mixture with the mixer running.
Once all the flour and milk has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for a minute longer to ensure homogeneity.
Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make your glazes: whisk the ingredients for each glaze together in separate bowls until no lumps remain.
Add 1 cup of powdered sugar first; if the glazes are still too runny, just add more powdered sugar.
When the cake comes out of the oven, allow it to cool for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a serving plate.
Cover the cake in as many layers of lime glaze as you can, then allow it to cool for 10 more minutes.
Whisk the vanilla honey icing together to ensure that it is pourable, then spread it over the top of the still-warm cake.
Icing will drip and melt down the sides of the cake.
Allow to cool completely, then slice and serve!

Nanners

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Hellooooo buttermilk-cream cheese glaze, I want to bathe in you omg.

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“Best thing I’ve ever eaten.” -#JonS

“Favorite thing you’ve made.” -Tom

“Oh my god.” -D. Frankel

“Mmmffm” -CJ

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It’s pretty hard to go wrong with bananas, brown butter, chocolate, buttermilk, and cream cheese.

Impossible, actually.  You could probably smush them all up and stick them in the microwave and it would taste good.
(Ugh. Banana mug cake?!?!?)

But more on that later: let’s talk technology!

Talk tech to me…

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Remember how I admitted to having a bad case of lens lust?

How all I wanted all I needed all I ever desired ever was a new lens?

Something shiny, big, and full of glass?

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I bought myself one!
After the horrors of 7th week (1 paper, 2 midterms, 3 p-sets and no sleep) I decided I was deserving.  Ahem.

But, y’all, let me tell you: I am bad at ebay.  I do not do ebay good.

I lost 4 (four!) auctions for various 17-55 mm f2.8 USM Canon lenses.

I had fallen into a pit of despair (FWP), when suddenly, I noticed a new BUY IT NOW lens and I jumped out of my seat and my pants and bought the damn thing.

I promptly put my pants back on and sat down
but nevertheless, my excitement was not dampered.

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The lens came super quickly (it only took the weekend to arrive!) and I was stunned.

It’s really a beaut; there is so much glass!  I’m unused to that, and I find it truly gorgeous.

It makes my camera look gigantic, yes, but ooooo mami that depth of field will getcha!
Compared to my lil’ eensy kit lens (which I still and will always love.  It’s got sentimental value, okay?  Sentimental value and no lens cap.  Oops.), this thing is a giant monster princess who will be treated with love and care and kept safe.

Very safe.  (She says as she smudges glaze all over it.)

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Obviously, I was very excited to bake something and take photos of it with my new toy.
Obviously, knowing me, I was going to choose something I hate photographing.

Whyyyyy am I so stubborn and ridiculous?

I hate bundt cakes.  Wait, no, I hate photographing bundt cakes.  We’ve been through this.  I’m bad at it.
And yet, I baked a bundt cake. Hmph.

This cake, doe.
It is a never fail.  I have made it so many different ways, and have yet to be displeased.
This is my favorite adaptation.

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First, I brown half the butter.  Half is creamed until light and fluffy, and then its nutty, flavorful, melted partner gets poured in.
The result?  All of the benefits of the brown butter with an accompanying light and fluffy crumb due to the aeration from creaming, which cannot be done with solely melted butter.
The cake would be much denser if all the butter were to be browned.

Next: I freeze my bananas.  Solid.  Then I melt them in the microwave and discard most of the banana water.  It will make your cake too wet and dense.  You concentrate the flavor of the bananas a bit with the heat of the microwave, then you get rid of the excess liquid: boom.
Bigger, bolder banana flavor.

Brown sugar makes up the majority of the added sweeteners here, and it gives depth and warmth thanks to the molasses.

Buttermilk keeps the crumb tender and soft; we only need a touch, as too much would make the cake soggy and crumbly.

Finally, a smattering of chocolate chips, because chocolate.

To top the cake, buttermilk, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and milk powder get whizzed together to make a thick glaze that is not too sweet and has just the right amount of tang.

‘Tis a beautiful bundt.  There.  I said it.  The interior makes up for the photos exterior.

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Perfect Banana Bundt
makes 1 bundt cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

ingredients:
225 grams (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons) butter, divided in two
150 grams (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
250 grams (1 1/4 cup) brown sugar
2 eggs
splash vanilla extract
4 medium bananas, frozen solid
120 grams (1/2 cup) buttermilk
big pinch salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
360 grams (3 cups) flour
200 grams (heaping 1 cup) chocolate chips, if desired

directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease and flour a bundt pan very thoroughly.
In a small saucepan, melt half the butter; keep cooking it until there are little brown pieces and it smells nutty; remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
Cream the other half of the butter with the sugars for at least 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.
Stream in the browned butter and beat until combined.
Beat in both of the eggs and the vanilla and beat for at least 3 more minutes, until the mixture is pale, fluffy, and very smooth.
Meanwhile, place your bananas in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds, or until the peels are just starting to soften; peel the bananas and return them to the bowl.
Microwave for about 1 1/2 minutes in 15-30 second bursts.
The bananas should be melty and should have let off a bit of liquid.
Using your hands to hold the bananas in the bowl, press and pour as much of the liquid out of the bananas as possible, without losing any banana pieces.
Pour the bananas into the creamed butter and sugar and beat until homogeneous; the mixture will look very curdled.
Pour in the buttermilk and beat to combine; the batter will still look curdled.
Dump the flour on top of the batter, then add the salt and baking soda to the top of the flour mound.
Mix on low until the batter is homogeneous and smooth; stir in the chocolate chips, if desired.
Spread the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a tester comes out completely clean; the top will be firm and dark brown, but due to a bundt pan’s shape, the interior might not be done.
Check in multiple places to ensure a completely cooked cake.
Allow the cake to cool for at least 15 minutes in the pan before inverting it onto a serving platter and glazing.

Buttermilk and Cream Cheese Glaze

ingredients:
120 grams (1/2 cup) buttermilk
140 grams (5 ounces) cream cheese, softened
200 grams (approximately 2 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
30 grams (approximately 1/3 cup) milk powder

directions:
In a food processor or with an immersion blender, process the cream cheese and buttermilk.
Add in the dry ingredients and process until a smooth glaze forms.

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.