Olive Oil Plum Cake

IMG_3775In a recent effort to eat healthier (which may or may not have something to do with having to wear a wedding dress in approximately nine months) I've been looking for alternatives to my beloved butter-filled cakes and pastries. I've always had a bit of a sweet tooth, but love the idea of being able to have a piece of cake that's healthy enough for breakfast too.IMG_3778 This cake swaps most of the usual butter for olive oil and has a healthy dose of whole wheat flour to boot. You could also use turbinado or demerara sugar instead of regular sugar--I didn't have any, but it would give the cake a lovely caramelized taste. If you can find decent plums (we're lucky to still have a few in California) then use that--but I would bet that this cake would be just as delicious with sliced pears or apples (though let's not neglect my favorite apple cake--which is pretty much the ideal thing to bring to a holiday party. I promise.)IMG_3786

Olive Oil Plum Cake (Adapted from The New York Times)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 pound firm plums or pluots, sliced (3-4 medium)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-inch springform pan or cake pan. Line with parchment and lightly butter the parchment. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

Place the butter in a stand mixer and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the olive oil and beat at medium speed for 1 minute, until the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the bowl and beater. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed for 1 minute. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl and beaters between each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extract and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, until the mixture is very light.

Turn the speed to low and slowly add the flour. Beat just until incorporated. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread it out evenly using an offset spatula. Arrange the plums on top in concentric circles, pressing them down into the batter, then sprinkle with additional 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until the edges of the plums are beginning to color and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Remove from oven and let the cake cool for 10 minutes on a rack before releasing the sides of the springform or cake pan. Then let it cool completely before slicing.

Strawberry Cake

IMG_2453Thank goodness for long weekends. Mine was spent at my college reunion (how has it already been five years?) and picnicking in Brooklyn Bridge Park on Monday, with plenty of ice cream and sunburns and (warmish) beer–overall, a perfect kickoff to summer. How was your holiday?IMG_2446 IMG_2438Strawberries aren't quite in season just yet, but I couldn't resist a giant box of them on sale at the grocery store–you know when you bite into a strawberry that summer can't be too far away. I had been wanting to try out this cake recipe for the past few summers but never got around to it, so this (and an extra day off) seemed like the perfect excuse.IMG_2440

marble plate & knife: katy skelton c/o / napkin: h&m (old) / forks: vintage

Strawberry Cake (adapted very slightly from Smitten Kitchen)

6 tablespoons  unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon table salt 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1 large egg 1/2 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared cake pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a rack.



Meyer Lemon-Bay Leaf Pound Cake

_MG_6094 _MG_6085Sorry for the long absence, everyone. I was in Minnesota for a few days at the beginning of the month, and then I was feeling kind of stuck in the winter doldrums. Anyone else feeling like they need a tropical getaway right about now?_MG_6081


Thankfully, this weekend was slightly warmer (almost 60 degrees in NYC!) and after seeing this lovely cake over on 101 Cookbooks, I was feeling inspired. If you've been reading this site for a while, you probably know that I love lemon desserts, and this cake was no exception. Not too sweet, with a hint of herbal flavor that adds depth and compliments the Meyer lemons very nicely. You could easily substitute oranges or regular lemons, depending on your personal preference and what you have on hand._MG_6083


Meyer Lemon-Bay Leaf Pound Cake (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)

6 tablespoons / 3 ounces / 85 g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon butter, for piping

10 fresh or dried bay leaves 1 cup all-purpose flour

2/3 cup whole wheat flour 1 cup  granulated sugar 1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt 3 large eggs, at room temperature 1/2 cup sour cream finely grated zest of 2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Orange Glaze: 1 cup powdered sugar 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 teaspoon orange liquor, such as Grand Mariner or Cointreau (optional)

Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and add 3 of the bay leaves. Let steep for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch loaf pan. Dust with flour and tap out any excess. If possible, line the bottom with parchment paper. Dab one side of the remaining 7 bay leaves with a little bit of butter and place the leaves, evenly spaced, on the bottom of the prepared pan, buttered side down.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, lemon zest, and vanilla until combined. If needed, barely rewarm the butter to liquify it and pluck out the bay leaves. Whisk the butter into the egg mixture.

With a spatula, gently stir the egg mixture into the dry mixture, just until the batter is smooth. Do not over mix. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, being careful not to disturb the leaves (alternately, top the cake with any remaining leaves). Put the remaining 1 tablespoon of softened butter into a plastic bag, snip off a corner, then draw a straight line of the butter down the center of the cake. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. It's better to slightly under bake, than over bake this cake.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the cake and then tip out onto a cooling rack, remove leaves, and let cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and orange liquor (if using). Stir until smooth, then spread the glaze over the cooled cake, allowing it to drip down the sides and harden.

Makes one 9-inch cake.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

_MG_5452I know, I know. No posts during the week of Thanksgiving, which is probably the single most important holiday for food bloggers – or, as I overheard a woman telling her mother in the grocery store last Wednesday night, "This is the Black Friday of grocery store shopping". But the fact is, I didn't make anything for Thanksgiving this year, and so I didn't have anything to share. We went to a friend's house, and brought pie (and it was store-bought! But only because it had a croissant (!) crust and was from the best bakery in Brooklyn.)_MG_5469 _MG_5459

If you're not on a post-Thanksgiving cleanse (and let's be honest, I'm not) then you should definitely make this cake. It was my birthday last weekend and, not being content with store-bought cake (blasphemy) I decided to try out a couple of new recipes. I combined this banana cake recipe (the two-layer recipe makes about 20 cupcakes + one mini cake) from Smitten Kitchen with the best cream cheese frosting recipe I have ever found (the secret: use cream cheese and mascarpone for icing that's not too sweet or tart). These would also make great cupcakes to bring to a party should you find yourself tired of Christmas cookies._MG_5472

Happy belated Thanksgiving to you all, and hope you're all enjoying this happiest of seasons.

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting (Makes about 24 cupcakes, or one 2-layer cake)

Cake (modified from Smitten Kitchen):

3 1/2 cups cake flour 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 3/4 teaspoon salt 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature 1 cup  sugar 1 cup packed golden brown sugar 4 large eggs 2 cups mashed or pureed very ripe bananas (5 to 6 large) 6 tablespoons sour cream or (weight will vary) plain yogurt 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper, then coat the paper and sides of pans with butter and flour, or a nonstick spray OR line 2 12-cup muffin tins with muffin cups.

Whisk cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl and set aside. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until blended. Beat in eggs one at a time, then bananas, sour cream, and vanilla. Beat in dry ingredients in two additions just until combined. Divide batter among two pans; you’ll want approximately 5 cups of batter per pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center of each layer comes out clean, about 40 to 45 minutes. [Muffin cups should bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Please watch them carefully.] Cool each layer in its pan for 15 minutes before flipping out onto a rack to cool the rest of the way.

Frosting (modified from Food & Wine):

8 ounces mascarpone, at room temperature 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted 1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the mascarpone and cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. Cover and refrigerate the frosting until it is firm enough to spread, about 1 hour.

Lemon Cornmeal Bundt Cake

_MG_3954I really love bread. There, I said it. I think the hardest diet for me would be to cut out carbohydrates, since, let's be honest -- they are the best. Bread, cake, crackers, even fruit, all have carbs. But in an effort to be slightly healthier (and I have been reading a lot about the rise of gluten allergies and intolerance in recent years), A. and I have been trying to cut back a little on our gluten intake. This cake (another one found on Pinterest! I guess I'm kind of obsessed) was an effort to make one of my favorite desserts (lemon bundt cake) a little bit better for you. It's not exactly low in fat, but there's no gluten, so it's a nice one if you have friends who are gluten intolerant. _MG_3953 To be honest, I had kind of a hard time with this recipe -- perhaps because I am still learning the ins and outs of baking without regular flour. But I thought I would post it anyways to see if any of you have some different ideas on how to make it better -- or if you have had more luck with certain kinds of gluten-free flours. I think if I make it again, I would use almond flour rather than ground almonds, cut back on the cornmeal, and maybe use some marzipan to make it  just a tad sweeter. I think I would also cut back on the lemon zest and use it only in the cake itself, rather than the glaze and the syrup -- for me it just made the glaze a little too bitter. Let me know if you make it and how it turns out!_MG_3941_MG_3951

Lemon Cornmeal Bundt Cake (only slightly adapted from topwithcinnamon.com)

2 1/3 cups (5 oz) ground almonds
1/2 cup (2.7 oz) coarse cornmeal
2/3 cup (2.7 oz) fine cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter
1 cup (8 oz) sugar
3 eggs
juice and zest of 3 lemons
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F . Generously butter and flour (I used Cup4Cup flour to keep it gluten-free) a bundt pan.
In a medium bowl, stir together the first 5 ingredients and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add in the eggs and stir until combined.
Put the lemon juice, lemon zest and dry ingredients into the large bowl. Mix well.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for  60 - 70 minutes, depending on the size of tin, until springy to the touch and golden brown around the edges. Let the cake sit for 15 minutes in their tins before turning it out onto a wire rack placed over newspaper.
For the Syrup:
About 10 minutes before the cakes are done, simmer the lemon juice and zest with the sugar in a small saucepan until it reduces down to a thick syrup. Use a long skewer to poke holes all over the surface of the warm cake. Brush the warm syrup all over the cakes with a pastry brush.
For the icing:
Put the powdered sugar into a small bowl and add lemon juice little by little, stirring between additions, until you get a pourable consistency (you may also add some water if you run out of lemon juice). Spoon the icing over the cooled cakes and leave to set.
Store the cakes wrapped in cling-film or in an airtight container in the fridge (this is the type of cake that gets better the next day).

Peach Buttermilk Cake

Even though it's after Labor Day, I'm not quite ready to let go of summer. Though I love fall, and the thought of wearing boots and scarves again sends a little thrill up my spine, I'm still holding on to peaches, berries, and eating outside for as long as I can. I know that soon, the farmer's market will be filled with apples and squash for months, so I'm happy to enjoy the last summer fruit for as long as I can. This cake could also be made with plums or any kind of berries (as Deb does on Smitten Kicthen) -- I think that the buttermilk and lemon zest pair wonderfully with them all.  

Peach Buttermilk Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened 2/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, divided 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract Zest of one lemon (optional) 1 large egg 1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk 2 large peaches, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla and zest, if using. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in three batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter peach slices evenly over top and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate.

Orange-Olive Oil Cake

Another cake post, I know. For some reason I have been on kind of a baking spree lately. Perhaps it's the crazy weather, 70 one day and 50 and raining the next. Perhaps it's waiting for spring produce to arrive. Or maybe I've just been craving sugar. Either way, this cake is not very sweet and could possibly be called somewhat healthy, due to all of the olive oil (healthy calories!) and orange juice. Or at least that's what I tell myself after my second slice. So far I have resisted eating it for breakfast, but it's been close. Throw a dollop of yogurt on there and some (unsweetened) berries, and you are basically eating a yogurt parfait. With cake, but that's beside the point. Orange-Olive Oil Cake (adapted from Food & Wine)

3 cups cake flour

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup olive oil

1 cup milk

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons grated orange zest

Juice of 1 orange (about 1/3 cup)

1/4 cup Grand Marnier

For strawberries:

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced

2 tablepoons sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

2 tablespoons Grand Marnier

Plain greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan, then line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk olive oil, milk, eggs, orange juice, zest, and Grand Marnier. Add dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Run a knife around the edge and invert cake onto rack, letting cool for at least two hours.

Meanwhile, mix strawberries, zest, sugar, and Grand Marnier in a medium bowl. Let sit for about half a hour, until juice begins to form.

Slice cake, and top with a spoonful of greek yogurt, strawberries, and more orange zest.