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The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 5: Cakes an

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The High Plains Sifter

Part 5: Mile-High Cakes

Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude

by Chris Reynolds

Photography by Chris Reynolds

Copyright 2015 by the author of this book Chris Reynolds. The book author retains sole copyright to his contributions to this book.

Recipe Developer: Chris Reynolds

Writer: Chris Reynolds

Graphic Design: Chris Reynolds

Food Stylist: Chris Reynolds

Photographer: Chris Reynolds

Chris Reynolds is a graduate of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, Ireland and owner of Waiting For Gateau, a full-service culinary studio, specializing in high-altitude recipe development and testing; food styling and food photography.

1000 3rd Ave

Longmont, CO 80501

[email protected]

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,

“said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully, “It’s the same thing,” he said.

- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Contents:

Introduction

Mile High Cakes:

High-Altitude Baking Notes for Cakes

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

Lemon Pound Cake

Orange Pound Cake

Lime Pound Cake

Eggnog Pound Cake

Spiced Cornmeal Pound Cake

Chocolate Pound Cake

Amaretto-Almond Pound Cake

Sauvignon Blanc Pound Cake

Espresso Pound Cake with Cranberries and Pecans

7-Up Pound Cake

Ton-of-Fudge Cake

Grandma’s Tipsy Cake

Whiskey Tipsy Cake

Rum Tipsy Cake

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

Gingerbread Cake

Honey Apple Cake

Honey Pear Cake

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Triple Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Mocha Rum Cake

Harvest Pumpkin Cake

Carrot Spice Cake

Zucchini Spice Cake

Tomato Soup Spice Cake

Pecan-Bourbon Cake

Orange-Cardamom Cake

Orange-Szechuan Pepper Cake

The Old-Fashioned (Rich Yellow Butter Cake with Chocolate or Vanilla Frosting)

The Lemonhead (Lemon Butter Cake with Lemon Curd and Lemon Frosting)

Orange You Sweet (Orange Butter Cake with Marmalade and Orange Frosting)

The Ménage À Trios (Lemon, Orange, and Lime – Together Again)

The Exotica (Orange Cardamom Cake with Mascarpone and Ganache)

The Snickerdoodle (Vanilla Cinnamon Butter Cake)

The Maltball (Malted Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Frosting)

The Elephant’s Delight (Moist Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Frosting)

Cupcakes

The Boulder Blackout (Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Chocolate or Vanilla Frosting)

The Humongous Ho-Ho (Cream-Filled Cake with Chocolate Ganache)

The Sylvania (Cherry-Filled Cake with Chocolate-Cherry Ganache)

The China Star (Chocolate Toffee Filling and Asian Spices)

The Dolce Diablo (Spicy Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting)

The Madras (Sweet Curry Spices and Coconut Filling)

The Chat Nior (Warm Black Pepper Spice and Earthy Almonds)

The Paprikash (Earthy Paprika Spice and Hazelnuts)

Peter’s Desire (Chocolate Ganache Cake)

Cupcakes

The Embassy Row (Almond Cake with Raspberry-Almond Filling)

The White Knight (White Chocolate Cake)

The Green Monster (Pistachio Cake)

Life’s A Beach (Coconut Cake with Toffee-Macadamia Filling)

Muscle Beach (Coconut Pecan Cake with Toffee-Pecan Filling)

The Southern Charmer (Caramel Pecan Cake with Praline Filling)

The Yankee Charmer (Walnut Cake with Toffee-Walnut Filling)

The Monkey’s Uncle (Banana Walnut Cake with Toffee-Walnut Filling)

The Summer Picnic (Golden Yellow Cake with Strawberries and Cream)

The Garden Party (Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Frosting)

Garden Party Cupcakes

Queen Victoria Cake

Boston Cream “Pie”

The Twink Cake

Guinness Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Raspberry Almond Cakes (Friands)

Olive Oil Polenta Cake

Raspberry Polenta Cake

Blueberry Polenta Cake

Blackberry Polenta Cake

New England Applesauce Cake

Shoofly Cake

Sticky Toffee Cake

Mississippi Mud Cake

Maple Walnut Snack Cake

Sour Cream Coffeecake

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffeecake

Cranberry Sour Cream Crumble

Jam Sour Cream Crumble

Pear Almond Cake

Apple Cardamom Coffeecake

Fresh Peach Coffeecake

Blueberry Diner Coffeecake

Espresso-Walnut Coffeecake

Crumb Cake

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Peach Upside-Down Cake

Peach-Almond Upside-Down Cake

Plum Upside-Down Cake

Cherry Clafouti

Apple-Walnut Clafouti

Strawberry Shortcakes

Blueberry Shortcakes

Peach Raspberry Shortcakes

Lemon-Blueberry Loaf Cake

Blueberry-Cream Cheese Loaf Cake

Pecan Torte

Hazelnut Panforte

Panforte Bites

Almond Panforte

Thousand Layer Cake (Crepe Cake)

Yule Log with Espresso-Mascarpone Filling

Yule Log with Vanilla Cream Filling

Classic Cheesecake

Chocolate Cheesecake

Truffle Cheesecake

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Egg Nog Cheesecake

Cappuccino Cheesecake

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Cheater’s No-Bake Cheesecake

Cheater’s Holiday Peppermint Cheesecake

Cheater’s Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

Cheater’s Nutella Cheesecake

Tidewater Savory Crab Cheesecake

Green Chile Cheesecake

Salmon Cheesecake

Roquefort-Pecan Cheesecake

Frostings and Fillings…

American Vanilla Buttercream

American Lemon Buttercream

American Orange Buttercream

American Vanilla-Almond Buttercream

American Coconut Buttercream

American Peanut Butter Buttercream

American Chocolate Buttercream

Light American Chocolate Buttercream

Milk Chocolate Buttercream

Mocha Buttercream

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buttercream

Chinese Five Spice Chocolate Buttercream

Cherry Chocolate Buttercream

Mint Chocolate Buttercream

Chocolate Orange Buttercream

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Chinese Five-Spice Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Cherry Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Mint Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Mocha Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Chocolate Orange Ganache Frosting

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

Chinese Five-Spice Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”

Cherry Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”

Mint Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”

Mocha Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”

Milk Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Berry Cream Cheese Frosting

Simple Cream Glaze

Royal Icing

Whipped Cream Filling

Lemon Curd

Lime Curd

Grapefruit Curd

Espresso-Mascarpone Filling

Orange-Mascarpone Filling

Coconut-Cashew Filling

Chocolate-Hazelnut Filling

 

Introduction (For the entire series)

From The Slopes To The Shore…

Are you tired? Are you tired of fancy (or not so fancy) baking books by fancy chefs with even fancier recipes that just don’t measure up to all that hype? Are you tired of recipe failures while on a ski holiday or just because you live above 3000 feet? Are you tired of passion fruit foams and green tea cookies when all you want is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that will work every single time? Do you need a pie for the long summer weekend; or a quick, yummy after school treat; or a simple cake with effortless style to make your neighbors jealous; or a truffle that will awaken the mad passionate desires of your lover and make them beg for more? Psssst, do you want a chocolate chip cookie now? No, I mean a really good chocolate chip cookie? Well, let’s make that chocolate chip cookie together. It’s easy and I can show you how.

Family Recipes From My Home To Yours…

Come with me on a family journey through baking where the luck of the Irish gives way to solid science and produces a collection of family baking favorites that your family will cherish for years to come. This debut collection from Irish-trained chef, Chris Reynolds, celebrates the landscape of his family’s baking tradition and contains 323 “master” recipes and 582 recipe variations. This cookbook is a wide-ranging, comprehensive collection chock-full of beloved classics like chewy gingerbread cookies, triple-chocolate brownies, jalapeno cheddar corn bread, shoofly pie, sour cream coffeecake, fresh peach ice cream, crunchy granola, and the best pizza crust ever. This is an inspired collection of classics and contemporary twists where we tease traditional flavours and let you know you’ve just had something special. Classics with attitude and altitude.

High-Altitude Baking that Really Works…

You’ll learn that it’s possible to serve a from-scratch comfort food classic like buttermilk biscuits on a weeknight when time is tight or a high-altitude cake on your skiing holiday that won’t fall flat. In addition to foolproof recipes, all the recipes were tested at high-altitude by the author, himself. Each high-altitude adjustment is precise to give success at 5200ft (Denver, Colorado). In addition, each chapter introduction gives insights into high-altitude baking and tips on adjusting your own recipes.

Retro-Modern???

Chris Reynolds is a professional baker trained at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland by the famed cooking teachers Darina and Rachel Allen. While he embraces an artisan philosophy, emphasizing the freshest organic ingredients, sound techniques, and from-scratch baking; he’s also well aware that stirring a caramel on the stove for 90 minutes is a drag. “I wanted recipes that people would embrace, enjoy and actually make. No one, not even me, is going make a cookie that requires me to stand at the stove for 90 minutes. That’s just not practical in our modern world.” This book embraces a “retro-modern” approach. Old-fashioned recipes are updated for modern life. That could mean streamlining the steps, using modern flavour combinations, using different techniques to give fool-proof results, or even scaling a recipe to feed a family of four.

A Photo of Every Recipe…

If the easy, care-free recipes don’t grab you, then the stunning full-colour photos of every recipe surely will. This book is a delight for the eyes as well as the palate. This is homey, doable baking at its best – a lively, in-depth portrait of a family who loves to bake. Pass me another truffle!

High-Altitude Baking Notes for Cakes:

This is where the fun really happens.

Cakes, especially layer cakes, are notoriously troublesome at high altitude. They fall in the oven forming a giant crater. They form thick sugary crusts. Sometimes, they become a greasy mess and literally fry in the oven. Not good. But, with a little practice, you can solve all of your high-altitude cake problems.

One of the main problems with cakes is the baking powder and baking soda. Because of the lower atmospheric pressure, the gas that they produce literally escapes from the cake because the batter hasn’t set enough to trap the gas inside – which makes your cakes rise in the oven. This is why we reduce the baking powder/soda in cakes at altitude so that just the right amount of gas is produced.

Find Your Magic Ratio…

Find your "magic ratio". Take a day and make a simple yellow cake and see how your altitude affects it. If your cake falls, make the cake again but reduce the baking powder by the amount listed in the chart below that most closely corresponds to your altitude. It may take a couple tries to find the formula that works best for you. For me, I reduce the baking soda by 25% since I'm at 5,200ft. When I make a new cake recipe, this is my "magic ratio" and is my starting point for making adjustments.

Possible adjustments:

When trying a new recipe written for sea-level, I always follow the directions as written and then evaluate the results. As you gain confidence and experience, you will be able to detect the “trouble spots” in each recipe and make some basic changes ahead of time.

Different types of baked goods need different adjustments and each recipe is unique. Sometimes, a recipe might only need one of these adjustments, sometimes, they will need them all. Always keep high-altitude notes in the margin of each recipe and you will begin to see patterns and tendencies.

All of the photographs in the book were baked and photographed at my home in Longmont, Colorado. If the recipes work in my high-altitude home, they should work in yours too.

Baking Powder / Baking Soda (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven):

Decrease each teaspoon by: 0 to 1/8 teaspoon (3,000ft); 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon (5,000ft); 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (7,000ft); 1/2 to 2/3 teaspoon (10,000ft).

Flour (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven):

Increase each cup by: 0 to 1 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 to 2 tablespoons (5,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft). (I find this to be a rare adjustment in cookies unless they are very cakey, such as whoopee pies.)

Eggs (for when your recipe ‘falls’ in the oven or seems dry):

I’ve found that adding one extra egg to many recipes is a great help. The egg helps the batter to set by adding protein and they add a little more moisture. (This is a rare adjustment in cookies, brownies, or pies, but it is a great help in cakes and quick breads.)

Sugar (for when your recipe seems too sweet or forms a sugary crust):

Decrease each cup by: 0 to 1 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 to 2 tablespoons (5,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Liquid (for when your recipe seems unusually dry):

Increase each cup by: 0 to 2 tablespoons (3,000ft); 2 to 4 tablespoons (5,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (7,000ft); 3 to 4 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Fats (for when your recipe seems unusually greasy):

Decrease each cup by: 0 tablespoon (3,000ft); 1 tablespoon (5,000ft); 1 1/2 tablespoons (7,000ft); 2 tablespoons (10,000ft).

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

These recipes for “cold-oven” cakes became popular with the introduction of gas ovens. Since you didn’t need to preheat the oven, you saved on fuel cost. Still appropriate today. Don’t skip the glaze, that extra boost of flavour really sets this cake apart.

3 cups cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

6 large eggs, room temperature

Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position. Do not preheat the oven. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan or two 9×5-inch loaf pans.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together the sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl until the sour cream is completely smooth.

In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until they are thoroughly incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times.

Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with 2 portions of the sour cream. Give the batter a final mix for 15-20 seconds until it’s smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth over the top.

Put the cake in the cold oven and turn the oven on to 325° F.

Bake for 65-75 minutes until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Cool the cake on a cooling rack for 45 minutes before turning it out. The pan should be just barely warm to the touch.

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

After you invert the cake, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

Place the cake and cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Brush the glaze all over the warm cake with a pastry brush. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone. Cool completely on the wire rack.

Makes 12-18 servings

High Altitude (5200 ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 6 tablespoons; add 2 tablespoons milk along with the sour cream; reduce the sugar by 5 tablespoons.

Variations:

Lemon Pound Cake (Pictured): Add the grated zest of 4 small (or 2 large) lemons, 1 tablespoon lemon extract, and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Proceed as directed. After you invert the cake, make a glaze with 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup lemon juice. Brush the glaze all over the warm cake. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone.

Orange Pound Cake: Add the grated zest of 2 oranges, 1 tablespoon orange extract, and 1/4 cup orange juice. Proceed as directed. After you invert the cake, make a glaze with 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/3 cup orange juice. Brush the glaze all over the warm cake. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone.

Lime Pound Cake: Add the grated zest of 6 limes and 1/4 cup lime juice. Proceed as directed. After you invert the cake, make a glaze with 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/3 cup lime juice and the zest of 1 lime. Brush the glaze all over the warm cake. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone.

Eggnog Pound Cake: Reduce the sugar to 1 1/2 cups. Replace the sour cream with 1 cup dairy eggnog (not canned). Add 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg with the flour. Add 2 teaspoons rum extract with the vanilla. Proceed as directed.

Spiced Cornmeal Pound Cake: Reduce the flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves along with the flour. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Pound Cake: Reduce the flour to 2 1/2 cups. Add 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark) along with the flour. Proceed as directed.

Amaretto-Almond Pound Cake: Add 2 teaspoons of almond extract along with the vanilla. After you invert the cake, make a glaze by stirring together 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur. Brush the glaze all over the warm cake. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone. Proceed as directed.

Sauvignon Blanc Pound Cake: Reduce the sour cream to 2/3 cup and add 1/3 cup sauvignon blanc wine. After you invert the cake, make a glaze by stirring together 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/4 cup sauvignon blanc wine. Brush the glaze all over the warm cake. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone. Proceed as directed.

Espresso Pound Cake with Cranberries and Pecans: Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom along with the flour. Stir 2 tablespoon of instant coffee into the sour cream along with the vanilla. Fold 1 cup toasted, chopped pecans and 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries into the batter before pouring the batter into the pan. Proceed as directed.

“7-Up” Pound Cake: Add the grated zest of 2 lemons and 3 limes along with the sugar. Reduce the sour cream to 1/3 cup and add 2/3 cup 7-Up or Sprite. After you invert the cake, make a glaze by stirring together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 cup 7-Up or Sprite, and the grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime. Brush the glaze all over the warm cake. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone. Proceed as directed.

Ton-of-Fudge Cake

This has been my birthday cake since I was 8 or 9 years old. The original recipe used a box frosting mix, which was discontinued many years ago. This “from scratch” version is every bit as delicious as the original. The “tunnel” through the cake is normal. This cake is best made the day before you plan to serve it to allow the “fudge” to fully set.

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups (18 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

5 large eggs

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a large metal bowl set over simmering water. Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Whisk in the sugar, eggs, instant coffee and vanilla. Add the flour, salt, and nuts and stir until the flour is incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the pan and bake for 50 minutes. (There is no test for doneness for this cake – you just have to trust it.)

Cool the pan on a rack for 1 hour; at that point the pan should be just barely warm.

Invert the cake onto a plate and refrigerate until cold. Dust with powdered sugar or with a simple glaze and serve.

Makes 12 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Grandma’s Tipsy Cake

My grandma always seemed to have 2-3 of these cakes stashed away in the freezer just in case company stopped by. She was a bit of a teetotaler but if there was a chance to drown a cake in booze, she took it. Way to go, Grandma!

2 1/2 cups cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup real mayonnaise

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup cream sherry (be careful not to use “dry” sherry)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, mayonnaise, and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

Place the sour cream in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the sherry; set aside.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two portions of the sherry mixture. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for one minute until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Sherry Soaking Syrup:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup cream sherry

Meanwhile, whisk together the soaking syrup ingredients. When the cake is done, place the pan on a cooling rack and poke deep holes all over the bottom of the cake with a wooden skewer while the cake is still hot. Pour the soaking syrup all over the top of the cake.

Cool the cake for at least one hour before unmolding on to a wire rack. (The cake pan should be just barely warm to the touch.)

Sherry Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup cream sherry

After you invert the cake, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.

Place the cake and cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Brush the glaze all over the warm cake with a pastry brush. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone. Cool completely on the wire rack.

Makes 12-18 servings

High Altitude (5200 ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 1/4 cup; increase the large eggs to 5; reduce the baking powder to 2 1/4 teaspoons.

Variations:

Whiskey Tipsy Cake: Substitute whiskey for the sherry in the cake and glazes.

Rum Tipsy Cake: Substitute rum for the sherry in the cake and glazes.

Blueberry Buttermilk Cake

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, just mix 1 cup whole milk with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Let the milk sit for 10 minutes to thicken and you’re ready to go.

3 cups cake flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 2/3 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

grated zest of one small lemon

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk, room temperature

2 cups frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs (one at a time), grated lemon zest, and vanilla until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for one minute until the batter is smooth. Gently, fold in the blueberries by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake for at least one hour before unmolding. (The cake pan should be just barely warm to the touch.) Note: The cake may settle a bit while cooling. It’s all good, that’s just the blueberries shrinking.

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

5 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

After you invert the cake, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Place the cake and cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Brush the glaze all over the warm cake with a pastry brush. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone.

Cool completely on the wire rack.

Makes 12-18 servings

High Altitude (5200 ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour; reduce the baking powder to 2 1/2 teaspoons; Increase the large eggs to 4.

Gingerbread Cake

This cake was a Christmas tradition for many years. The heady scent of ginger and cloves always makes me think of Santa and snow.

2 1/2 cups cake flour

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup molasses

1 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup water

3 large eggs

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

Combine all the cake ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix on low speed for 1-2 minutes, until a smooth batter forms.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, prepare the soaking syrup.

Once you remove the cake from the oven, prick it deeply with a fork or wooden skewer every inch.

Carefully pour the soaking syrup over the hot cake while it’s still in the pan.

Cool on a wire rack for at least one hour before unmolding. (The cake pan should be just barely warm to the touch.) Cool the cake completely and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Soaking Syrup:

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 cup unsalted butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the syrup ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and combined.

Makes 12-18 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour.

Honey Apple Cake

I tend to dislike heavy glazes on bundt cakes. By putting a thin glaze on the warm cake, the glaze soaks into the cake. It adds flavour and helps to keep the cake fresher.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 cup honey

1 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup sour cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

2 cups peeled, chopped golden delicious apples (about 2 apples)

1 cup chopped, toasted pecans

2 tablespoons flour

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

Combine all the cake ingredients (except for the apples and nuts) in a mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until the batter is just moistened. Increase the mixer to medium and mix for 1-2 minutes until the batter is smooth.

Toss the apples and pecans with 2 tablespoons flour in a bowl. Stir in the apples, nuts, and residual flour by hand.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes before unmolding. (The cake pan should be just barely warm to the touch.)

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup apple cider

After you invert the cake, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Place the cake and cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Brush the glaze all over the warm cake with a pastry brush. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone.

Cool completely on the wire rack.

Makes 12-18 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Honey-Pear Cake: Substitute 2 cups chopped, peeled pears for the apples. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

Good cake doesn’t need frosting but it always needs whipped cream. Enough said.

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 teaspoon instant coffee

3/4 cup boiling water

1 cup sour cream; room temperature

1 3/4 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

5 large eggs, room temperature

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

Combine the cocoa powder chocolate chips, coffee powder and boiling water in a medium bowl. Whisk the chocolate mixture until smooth; let cool for 15 minutes. Whisk the sour cream into the cooled chocolate mixture until smooth.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs (one at a time), mixing well after each addition; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the chocolate/sour cream in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake for at least 30 before unmolding. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes 12-18 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 2 tablespoons; increase the large eggs to 6.

Variations:

Spice It Up: Add any one of these spices to the batter with the flour.

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons ancho chili powder

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Triple-Chocolate Sour Cream Cake: Toss 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips with 1 tablespoon of flour and stir them into the finished batter. Proceed as directed.

Mocha-Rum Cake: Increase the instant coffee to 1 tablespoon; reduce the boiling water to 1/2 cup. Whisk 1/4 cup dark rum into the chocolate-sour cream mixture. Proceed as directed.

Harvest Pumpkin Cake

This would be a perfect treat after a day picking Halloween pumpkins or even Thanksgiving dessert. 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin is about 1 15-ounce can.

2 3/4 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

1/2 cup brandy (or water)

1 cup chopped, toasted pecans; tossed with 2 tablespoons flour

1 cup raisins, tossed with 2 tablespoons flour

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

Whisk the flour, allspice, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

In an electric mixer, combine the oil and sugar and mix on medium speed until combined. Add the pumpkin and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the brandy in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth. Stir in the pecans and raisins by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 55-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake for at least one hour before unmolding. (The cake pan should be just barely warm to the touch.)

Brandy Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup brandy

After you invert the cake, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Place the cake and cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Brush the glaze all over the warm cake with a pastry brush. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone.

Cool completely on the wire rack.

Makes 12-18 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour.

Carrot Spice Cake

This is a carrot cake that’s perfect to take on a picnic…no messy frosting. I never understood carrot cakes with pineapple in them. This is a pineapple-free zone.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

1/2 cup water

2 1/4 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

2 cups grated organic carrots (about 2-3 medium carrots)

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

Combine the sugar, oil, eggs, water, cake flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a mixing bowl and mix on low speed until a smooth batter forms.

In another bowl combine the grated carrot, coconut, raisins, and pecans with 3 tablespoons of flour and toss to coat everything. Stir the carrot mixture into the batter and mix by hand until well combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for at least one hour before unmolding. (The cake pan should be just barely warm to the touch.)

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup water

After you invert the cake, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Place the cake and cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Brush the glaze all over the warm cake with a pastry brush. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone.

Cool completely on the wire rack.

Makes 12-18 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour.

Variation:

Zucchini Spice Cake: Replace the grated carrot with grated zucchini; squeezed dry between sheets of paper towels. Proceed as directed.

Tomato Soup Spice Cake

This is about as retro as it gets. You will never taste the soup. You will only taste a fruity sweetness and the best spice cake you ever had.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground allspice

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 (10-ounce) can condensed tomato soup

1 cup vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

With an electric mixer on low speed, mix all the ingredients except for the nuts, raisins, and glaze for 1-2 minutes until a smooth batter forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Stir in the walnuts and raisins by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 45 minutes until the pan is just barely warm to the touch. Turn out the cake onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.

Maple Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons milk or cream

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Stir together the powdered sugar and syrup in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and allow it to set for 30 minutes.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the large eggs to 3; increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons; reduce the baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon; reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Pecan-Bourbon Cake

As you can tell, my family loves bundt cakes. My mom was never a big celebration-cake kinda lady. But, she was very quick to make a bundt. I’m so glad she did. They are my favorite too. Must be genetic. Yes, we like bundts with booze too.

Pecan Filling:

1 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 tablespoon bourbon

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside.

3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup bourbon

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup real mayonnaise

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

3 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

Whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl; set aside.

Stir together the sour cream, molasses, bourbon, and vanilla extract in a small bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, mayonnaise, and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream mixture in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Scrape 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with the pecan filling. Scrape the remaining batter evenly over the nuts and smooth the top.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 45 minutes until the pan is just barely warm to the touch. Turn out the cake onto a wire rack and brush it with the glaze.

Bourbon Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup bourbon

After you invert the cake, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Place the cake and cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Brush the glaze all over the warm cake with a pastry brush. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone.

Cool completely on the wire rack.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the large eggs to 4; increase the flour by 1/4 cup.

Orange-Cardamom Cake

This is an exotic adventure on a plate. I know cardamom is expensive, but don’t skip it. The cake just won’t taste the same.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup finely crushed graham cracker crumbs

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/4 cup real mayonnaise

1 cup orange juice

3 large eggs

1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

With an electric mixer on medium speed, mix all the ingredients except for the nuts, for 2-3 minutes until the batter is smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time. Stir in the walnuts by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 45 minutes until the pan is just barely warm to the touch. Turn out the cake onto a wire rack and brush the glaze.

Orange Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup orange juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

After you invert the cake, mix the glaze ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Place the cake and cooling rack over a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Brush the glaze all over the warm cake with a pastry brush. The cake will absorb the glaze so be sure to keep brushing it on until all the glaze is gone.

Cool completely on the wire rack.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons; reduce the brown sugar by 3 tablespoons; increase the oven temperature to 365°F.

Variation:

Orange-Szechuan Pepper Cake: Substitute toasted, ground szechuan pepper for the cardamom in the cake and the glaze. Place the whole Szechuan peppercorns in a dry sauté pan and toast them over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes until they are fragrant. Grind the toasted peppercorns in a coffee grinder until it’s a fine powder. Proceed as directed.

The Old-Fashioned

(Rich Yellow Cake with Chocolate or Vanilla Buttercream)

This is one cake recipe that everyone should have in their arsenal. With its versatility, there is a recipe for every taste and every occasion.

3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup real mayonnaise

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

one recipe American Chocolate Buttercream or American Vanilla Buttercream

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together the milk and sour cream in a small bowl until smooth; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, mayonnaise, and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Fill and frost the cake with American Chocolate Buttercream or American Vanilla Buttercream.

Makes one 9-inch layer cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the butter by 2 tablespoons; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking powder to 2 1/4 teaspoons.

Variations:

The Lemonhead: Add 1 tablespoon lemon extract and the grated zest of 2 lemons along with the eggs. Proceed as directed. Fill the cake with 1 cup Lemon Curd and frost the top and sides with American Lemon Buttercream.

Orange You Sweet: Add 1 tablespoon orange extract and the grated zest of 2 oranges along with the eggs. Proceed as directed. Fill the cake with 1 cup orange marmalade and frost the top and sides with American Orange Buttercream.

The Ménage À Trios: Omit the lemon extract. Add the grated zest of 3 lemons. 3 oranges, and 5 limes along with the eggs. Proceed as directed. Frost with American Vanilla Buttercream.

The Exotica: Add 1 teaspoons orange extract and the grated zest of 2 oranges along with the eggs. Add 2 teaspoons ground cardamom to the flour mixture. Proceed as directed. Fill the cake with one recipe Orange-Mascarpone Filling (or orange marmalade) and frost the top and sides with Chinese Five-Spice Chocolate Ganache “Glaze” .

The Snickerdoodle: Add 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon along with the flour mixture. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of cinnamon-sugar per pan on top of the batter before baking. Proceed as directed.

The Maltball: Wisk 1 cup malted milk powder into the milk/sour cream mixture. Proceed as directed. Frost with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting and decorate with crushed malt balls.

The Elephant’s Delight: Reduce the butter to 3/4 cup and add 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter along with the butter. Proceed as directed. Frost with American Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Cupcakes: Place 1/3 cup of batter into each standard muffin cup. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pans for 10 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 24 standard cupcakes.

The Boulder Blackout

(Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake with Chocolate or Vanilla Buttercream)

While mayonnaise cake recipes date earlier than the 1930’s. This was a popular Depression Era recipe that, originally, did not need eggs or milk. Regardless, it’s the best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Special Dark)

1 teaspoon instant coffee

1 1/3 cups boiling water

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups real mayonnaise (“light” mayonnaise is fine)

one recipe American Chocolate Buttercream or American Vanilla Buttercream

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, instant coffee, and boiling water in a bowl and stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth; set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, eggs, and vanilla on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. On low speed, add the mayonnaise and mix well.

On low speed, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the chocolate mixture in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Frost the cake with American Chocolate Buttercream or American Vanilla Buttercream.

Makes one 9-inch layer cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon; reduce the baking powder to 1/4 teaspoon; increase the large eggs to 4.

Variations:

The Humongous Ho-Ho: Fill the center of the cake with Whipped Cream Filling. Frost the top and sides with Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”.

The Sylvania: Add 2 teaspoons rum extract and 2 teaspoons almond extract along with the vanilla. Fold in 1 cup chopped dried cherries mixed with 1 tablespoon flour into the finished batter. Bake as directed. Fill the center of the cake with 1 cup cherry preserves. Frost the top and sides with Cherry Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”.

The China Star: Add 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder to the flour mixture. Fill the center of the cake with Chocolate Toffee Filling (1 cup reserved frosting plus 1/2 cup toffee bits plus 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder). Frost the top and sides with Light Chocolate Buttercream. Garnish the top and sides with 2 cups toffee bits, lightly pressed into the frosting.

The Dolce Diablo: Increase the instant coffee to 1 tablespoon. Add 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder to the flour mixture. Fill the center of the cake with 1 cup Espresso-Mascarpone Filling and frost the top and sides with Mocha Buttercream.

The Madras: Add 1 tablespoon “sweet” curry powder with the flour mixture. Fill the center of the cake with Coconut-Cashew Filling and frost the top and sides with Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”. Garnish the top and sides with 2 cups toasted coconut, lightly pressed into the frosting.

The Chat Nior: Add 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper with the flour mixture. Fill the center of the cake with 2 cups American Vanilla Almond Buttercream and frost the top and sides with Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”. Garnish the top and sides with 2 cups toasted slivered almonds, lightly pressed into the frosting.

The Paprikash: Add 1 tablespoon “sweet” Hungarian paprika with the flour mixture. Fill the center of the cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Filling and frost the top and sides with Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”. Garnish the top and sides with 2 cups toasted chopped hazelnuts, lightly pressed into the frosting.

Peter’s Desire (Chocolate Ganache Cake): Bake the cake as directed. Fill and frost the cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting. Use 1 1/2 cups of frosting for the filling between the two layers. Use an offset spatula to make the frosting as smooth as possible.

Cupcakes: Place 1/3 cup of batter into each standard muffin cup. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pans for 10 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 24 standard cupcakes.

The Embassy Row

(White Almond Cake with Raspberry-Almond Filling and Vanilla Buttercream)

Even just a little mayonnaise in the batter makes for a very moist cake. You’ll never taste it.

2 1/2 cups cake flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup real mayonnaise

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

6 large egg whites, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons almond extract

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

one recipe American Vanilla Buttercream

1/2 cup toasted, chopped almonds

1/3 cup red raspberry jam

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, mayonnaise, and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg whites, one at a time, vanilla, and almond extracts and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Fill the center of the cake with Almond Filling (1/2 cup reserved frosting plus 1/2 cup toasted, chopped almonds) and cover this filling with a thin layer of raspberry jam. Frost the top and sides with the remaining American Vanilla Buttercream.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the butter by 2 tablespoons; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking powder to 3 teaspoons; increase the egg whites to 7.

Variation:

The White Knight: Omit the almond extract. Fold in 5 ounces of finely chopped white chocolate into the finished batter. Bake as directed. Frost the cake with the frosting flavor of your choice.

The Green Monster: Omit the almond extract, almonds, and raspberry jam. Toss 1 1/2 cups chopped pistachios with 2 tablespoons of flour and fold them into the batter before baking. Bake as directed. Frost the cake with the frosting flavor of your choice.

Life’s a Beach

(Coconut Cake with Toffee-Macadamia Filling and Coconut Buttercream)

This is a tropical paradise on a plate. Look for cream of coconut in the drinks isle next to the cocktail mixers.

3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 1/4 cups (15 ounce can) cream of coconut (such as Coco Lopez)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 tablespoon coconut extract

14 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 5 egg whites, room temperature

1 1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut tossed with 2 tablespoons flour

one recipe American Coconut Buttercream

1/2 cup toffee bits (the kind without chocolate)

1/2 cup finely chopped, roasted macadamia nuts

2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut, toasted (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together the milk, cream of coconut, vanilla extract, and coconut extract in a small bowl until combined; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, a little at a time, and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth. Stir in the 1 1/2 cup shredded coconut.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Fill the center of the cake with Toffee-Macadamia Nut Filling (1 cup reserved coconut buttercream plus 1/2 cup toffee bits plus 1/2 cup finely chopped roasted macadamia nuts) and frost the top and sides with American Coconut Buttercream. Gently press 2 cups toasted coconut onto the sides of the cake.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking powder to 2 1/2 teaspoons; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 1/4 cup; increase the large eggs to 2.

Variation:

Muscle Beach: Add 1 cup chopped, toasted pecans along with the coconut. Bake as directed. Substitute chopped, toasted pecans for the macadamia nuts in the filling.

The Southern Charmer

(Pecan Cake with Praline Filling and Vanilla Buttercream)

This cake was inspired by my teacher, Rachel Allen. She taught us how to made an amazing walnut cake. I played around with the recipe and added some American twists. Going to culinary school in Europe, it was very interesting to me how some ingredients, like pecans, are very American.

3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup real mayonnaise

1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed

4 large eggs; room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans; tossed with 2 tablespoons flour

one recipe American Vanilla Buttercream

1 cup toasted pecan halves (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Whisk the milk and sour cream together in a bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, mayonnaise, and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk mixture in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth. Stir in the pecans by hand.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Fill the center of the cake with Praline Filling (1 cup reserved vanilla buttercream plus 1/2 cup finely chopped pralines (or 1/2 cup toffee bits) plus 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans) and frost the top and the sides with American Vanilla Buttercream. Gently press whole pecan halves around the top of the cake.

Makes one 9-inch layer cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the large eggs to 5; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking powder to 2 1/4 teaspoons.

Variations:

The Yankee Charmer (Walnut Cake): Replace the pecans with 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts in the cake. Garnish with whole walnut halves.

The Monkey’s Uncle (Banana Walnut Cake): Add two medium, very ripe mashed bananas (about 1 1/2 cups) along with the eggs. Replace the pecans with 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted walnuts in the cake. Replace the pecans in the filling with 1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted walnuts. This is great with cream cheese frosting too.

The Summer Picnic

(Golden Yellow Cake with Strawberries and Cream)

This is strawberry shortcake in layer cake form. Don’t forget to refrigerate the cake after you fill it with the whipped cream. The cake will be more stable when you frost the outside.

3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup real mayonnaise

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup strawberry jam

1 pound fresh strawberries, washed, stemmed, and sliced 1/4” thick

one recipe Whipped Cream Filling

one recipe American Vanilla Buttercream

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together the milk and sour cream in a small bowl until smooth.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, mayonnaise, and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, the vanilla and mayonnaise and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk/sour cream in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Spread the strawberry jam on top of the first layer. Cover the surface with the strawberry slices. Gently spread the Whipped Cream Filling over the strawberries. Place the second layer on top and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the filling to set up a bit. Frost the outside of the cake with American Vanilla Buttercream.

Makes one 9-inch layer cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the butter by 2 tablespoons; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 2 tablespoons; reduce the baking powder to 2 1/4 teaspoons.

The Garden Party

(Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting)

My sister loves carrot cake. This one is for her.

2 cups granulated sugar

2 1/4 cups cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup raisins

3 cups grated carrot (3-4 medium carrots)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

one recipe White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

With an electric mixer, combine the sugar, cake flour, baking powder, salt, spices, oil, water, eggs, and vanilla, in a mixing bowl and mix on low speed until a smooth batter forms.

In another bowl combine the pecans, coconut, raisins, and grated carrot with 1/4 cup flour and toss to coat everything. Stir the carrot mixture into the batter and mix by hand until well combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Fill and frost with White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Frosting.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 2 tablespoons; Increase the large eggs to 5; reduce the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons; reduce the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon.

Variation:

Cupcakes: Place 1/3 cup of batter into each standard muffin cup. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the pans for 10 minutes before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 24 standard cupcakes.

Queen Victoria Cake

This cake recipe makes two layers but you only need one for this cake. The other layer can be frozen for up to 3 months or use it to make the Twink Cake or Boston Cream Pie.

3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 recipe “Baker’s” Mayonnaise (recipe below) or 1 cup real mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup raspberry jam

powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together the milk and sour cream in a small bowl until smooth.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until pale and thick. Add the vanilla and the mayonnaise and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk/sour cream in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Set one cake aside and save it for another use. Split the other cake into two layers. Carefully spread the raspberry jam over the bottom layer. Replace the top layer of cake and dust it liberally with powdered sugar.

Makes one 9-inch layer cake (8-12 servings)

“Baker’s Mayonnaise”: In the bowl of a food processor (a small one works best), process 2 large egg yolks, 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon salt until combined. With the motor running, very slowly pour 3/4 cup vegetable oil down the ‘feed tube’ in a steady stream until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture is light and thick. Set aside until ready to use.

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the butter by 2 tablespoons; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 2 tablespoons; reduce the baking powder to 2 1/4 teaspoons.

Variation:

Boston Cream Pie: Omit the raspberry jam. Split one layer of the cake and set the “top” off to the side. Whisk together 3.4-oz package (the small box) of vanilla instant pudding and pie filling and 1 2/3 cups half-and-half. Let the filling thicken for 5 minutes. Spread the custard over the bottom layer of the cake. Gently place the top layer on the custard and chill the cake for 2 hours. Meanwhile, prepare 1/2 recipe of Chocolate Ganache Glaze. Pour the slightly thickened glaze over the top of the chilled cake and smooth it with an offset spatula. Keep refrigerated.

The Twink Cake

This cake recipe makes two layers but you only need one for this cake. The other layer can be frozen for up to 3 months or use it to make the Queen Victoria Cake.

3 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

3/4 cup sour cream, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

1 recipe “Baker’s Mayonnaise” or 1 cup real mayonnaise

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together the milk and sour cream in a small bowl until smooth.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until pale and thick. Add the vanilla and the mayonnaise and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk/sour cream in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Set one cake aside and save it for another use. Split the other cake into two layers.

Cream Filling:

1 vanilla bean

1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 cups marshmallow cream

Split the vanilla pod lengthwise with a sharp knife. Scrape the interior of the pod with the back of the knife to remove the pulp and seeds. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Carefully spread the cream filling over the bottom layer. Replace the top layer of cake and dust it liberally with powdered sugar.

“Baker’s Mayonnaise”: In the bowl of a food processor (a small one works best), process 2 large egg yolks, , 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/8 teaspoon salt until combined. With the motor running, very slowly pour 3/4 cup vegetable oil down the ‘feed tube’ in a steady stream until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture is light and thick. Set aside until ready to use.

Makes one 9-inch layer cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the butter by 2 tablespoons; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 2 tablespoons; reduce the baking powder to 2 1/4 teaspoons.

Guinness Chocolate Cake

Beer and chocolate. I’m in heaven. You can’t really taste the beer but it does add a magical depth of flavour.

1 1/2 cups Guinness stout beer

1 cup unsalted butter

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon instant coffee

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups granulated sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Combine the Guinness, butter, oil, cocoa powder, vanilla, and instant coffee in a saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sour cream until smooth. Add the cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until a smooth batter forms.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 35-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cakes onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Fill and frost as desired.

Makes one 9-inch layer cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the flour by 1/3 cup; reduce the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons; reduce the butter by 2 tablespoons; increase the large eggs to 4.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

My mother often requests this for her birthday. Refrigerating the cake overnight is essential for the cake to set up properly. It will fall a bit as it cools but that’s the nature of the beast.

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 cup unsalted butter, diced

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

8 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

powdered sugar; for dusting

Do not preheat the oven. Line the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper and lightly spray the paper an sides with vegetable cooking spray.

Melt the two chocolates, butter, vanilla, salt, and coffee powder in a large heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir the mixture once or twice until smooth. Allow the chocolate to cool for 15 minutes.

With an electric mixer, whip the eggs and sugar on high speed for 5 minutes, until the volume doubles and it becomes thick.

Fold 1/3 of the egg mixture into the chocolate with a rubber spatula until only a few streaks of egg are visible. Fold in the remaining eggs until no streaks of egg are visible.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and place it on a sheet pan.

Place it in the oven and then turn the oven on to 325° F for a dark-coloured pan and 350° F for a light-coloured pan and bake for 25-35 minutes until the cake has risen slightly, the edges are beginning to set and the internal temperature is 140° F. The center of the cake should jiggle just a bit (like a cheesecake).

Gently, run a pairing knife between the cake and the pan.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack until it’s room temperature.

Cover and refrigerate the cake overnight.

Before serving, remove the spring form pan sides and slide the cake onto a platter. Dust with powdered sugar, and serve with sweetened whipped cream or berries, if desired.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Raspberry-Almond Cakes (Friands)

Ground almonds (almond flour) can be found with other specialty flours in the baking aisle of the grocery store.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup ground almonds

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 large eggs plus 2 large egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup red raspberries

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup, standard muffin pan.

Whisk the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together the milk and sour cream in a small bowl until smooth.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs (one at a time), vanilla, and almond extract and mix on medium-low speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared muffin cups. Press 2-3 raspberries (depending on their size) into the top of each cake.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding. Place the cakes upright onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes 12 ‘cupcakes’

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking powder to 1 1/8 teaspoons.

Olive Oil Polenta Cake

Don’t be afraid to use a strong-tasting olive oil here. I enjoy the heady, fruitiness it lends to this moist cake.

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoons salt

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

whipped cream and berries, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour one 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, olive oil, and granulated sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix just for 30 seconds just until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes before unmolding. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-10 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking powder to1 teaspoon; reduce the oil by 2 tablespoons.

Variations:

Raspberry Polenta Cake: Fold 1 cup fresh raspberries into the batter before baking. Proceed as directed.

Blueberry Polenta Cake: Fold 1 cup fresh blueberries into the batter before baking. Proceed as directed.

Blackberry Polenta Cake: Fold 1 cup fresh blackberries into the batter before baking. Proceed as directed.

New England Applesauce Cake

This is about as old-fashioned as it gets. It’s the perfect after-school treat.

2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 1/2 cups chunky applesauce

1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour one 9-inch round cake pan. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pan and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat until well mixed; scraping down the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture alternating with the applesauce until the batter is smooth, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the raisins by hand.

Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the large eggs to 2; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 2 tablespoons; reduce the baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon.

Shoofly Cake

This truly tastes like shoofly pie but it’s much easier to make. It’s a perfect sheetcake to take on a summer picnic.

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/3 cups dark brown sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups boiling water

1 cup molasses

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour one 9×13-inch cake pan.

Dice the butter into small pieces.

With an electric mixer, mix the flour, sugar, salt, and butter on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until it looks like coarse meal. Remove 1 1/2 cups of the crumbs and set aside for the topping.

In a medium bowl, stir together the boiling water, molasses, baking soda, and vanilla extract.

Add the molasses mixture to the remaining crumb mixture and mix on medium-low speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top with the reserved 1 1/2 cups crumbs.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Makes one 9×13-inch cake (12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the flour by 1/3 cup; decrease the brown sugar by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking soda to 1 1/4 teaspoons.

Sticky Toffee Cake

This is a classic English dessert that you will love. It’s a moist date cake smothered in toffee sauce. You can also make this as cupcakes or mini-bundt cakes. Start testing the smaller cakes with a toothpick after 25 minutes.

Toffee Sauce:

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup corn syrup

2 tablespoons molasses

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the butter, brown sugar, sugar, corn syrup, and molasses in a sauce pan and melt gently over low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the cream and vanilla. Return the pot to the heat and stir for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is smooth.

Sticky Date Cake:

1 1/3 cups chopped dates

1 1/4 cups hot black tea

2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour one 9-inch round spring form pan. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Soak the dates in the hot tea for 15 minutes.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and instant coffee and beat until well mixed; scraping down the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in the dates and tea by hand.

Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 60-70 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack and pokes holes about every inch with a wooden skewer. Pour 1 cup of the toffee sauce over the cake and let it soak in. Cool the cake for about an hour before removing the sides of the pan. Serve the cake with the remaining toffee sauce.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the large eggs to 4; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons.

Mississippi Mud Cake

This recipe is adapted from the Martha White Flour Company. It is rich and decadent. The thing that intrigued me the most is that the icing has evaporated milk. I had never seen that before but it works like a charm.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans*

3 cups miniature marshmallows

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Whisk the flour, cocoa powder and salt together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 4-6 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the pecans by hand.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and level it with a spatula and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the marshmallows evenly over the cake. Bake an additional 10 minutes until the marshmallows are melted.

Cool the cake on a wire rack. The cake will sink a bit as it cool, that’s the way it’s supposed to look.

Crazy Chocolate Frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)

1/2 cup evaporated milk

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar

1 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans*

Beat the butter and cocoa powder in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed.

Beat in the evaporated milk, instant coffee and vanilla then gradually add the powdered sugar. Stir in the pecans.

Spread the icing smoothly over the cake. The frosting will harden slightly as it sits.

*To toast the pecans, place them on a sheet pan and bake at 325° F for 12-15 minutes.

Makes 24 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): Increase the large eggs to 5.

Maple-Walnut Snack Cake

I often make this simple cake on the first snowfall of the year. – sometimes as early as September here in Colorado.

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup maple syrup

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons maple extract

1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour one 9-inch round cake pan. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pans and lightly spray them with vegetable oil spray.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together the milk and sour cream in a small bowl until smooth.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and mix well. Add the eggs, one at a time, vanilla and maple extract and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. (The mixture may looked curdled, but everything will be okay.)

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk/sour cream in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes before unmolding. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Maple Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk, or cream

2 tablespoons maple syrup

In a small bowl, stir all the glaze ingredients together until smooth. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake allowing it to drip down the sides. Allow the cake to sit until the glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 2 tablespoons; reduce the baking powder to 1 teaspoon; reduce the baking soda to 1/4 teaspoon.

Sour Cream Coffeecake

Shouldn’t coffeecake be the breakfast of champions? This sour cream cake is super moist. If you don’t have a bundt pan, you can use a tube pan.

Streusel:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans

Mix all the streusel ingredients in a small bowl until thoroughly combined; set aside.

Cake:

1 2/3 cups cake flour

1 cup granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs; room temperature

1 1/8 cups sour cream

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

9 tablespoons cubed unsalted butter, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together the eggs, sour cream, and vanilla in a small bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, combine the flour mixture and the butter and beat on low speed until the mixture looks like sandy crumbs. On low speed, add the egg mixture in three additions, scraping down the bowl between each one, until the batter is smooth.

Spoon one-third of the batter into the prepared pan followed by half the streusel; spoon another third of the batter topped with the remaining streusel. Finish with the remaining batter.

Bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes before unmolding. (The cake pan should be just barely warm to the touch.)

Makes one 9-inch cake; 12 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): Substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour.

Variations:

Blueberry Sour Cream Coffee Cake: Sprinkle 1/2 cup frozen blueberries over the bottom layer and another 1/2 cup over the middle layer of cake batter before sprinkling with streusel.

Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffeecake: Sprinkle 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips over the bottom layer and another 1/4 cup over the middle layer of cake batter before sprinkling with streusel.

Cranberry Sour Cream Crumble

This is a very pretty little cake. The garnet layer just invites you to dig right in. Any jam can be used in the filling. I’ve made this with blueberry preserves and it was spectacular.

Topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup chopped, toasted almonds

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Stir all the topping ingredients together in a medium bowl until crumbly; set aside.

Cake:

2 cups cake flour

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 large eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup chopped, toasted almonds

1 1/4 cup whole cranberry sauce (homemade is best)

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a 9-inch spring form pan with vegetable cooking spray.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until well mixed; scraping down the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture alternating with the sour cream until the batter is smooth, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the almonds by hand.

Spoon 2/3 of the batter into the prepared pan. Spoon the cranberry sauce over the batter and spoon the remaining batter on top of the cranberry sauce. Sprinkle the topping over the batter.

Bake for 70-80 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool 30 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Serve warm or cool.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the large eggs to 3; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 2 tablespoons; reduce the baking powder to 3/4 teaspoon.

Variations:

Jam Sour Cream Crumble: Replace the cranberry sauce with 1 cup of your favorite jam or preserves. Proceed as directed.

Pear-Almond Cake: Omit the cranberry sauce. Add 3 medium, firm pears; peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick. Place the pear sliced in between the layers of batter. Bake as directed. (Alternatively, you can simply dice the pears and fold it into the batter and bake as directed.)

Apple-Cardamom Coffee Cake

I used Granny Smith apples in this cake. If you prefer a less-tart variety, Golden Delicious apples would be a great choice.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

3/4 cup whole milk

3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped

3/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts

powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour one 9×13-inch cake pan.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices together in a bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream the oil, cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until well mixed; scraping down the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture alternating with milk until the batter is smooth, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the apples and walnuts by hand.

Pour the batter in the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool 20 minutes before unmolding. Carefully invert the cake and place it upright on a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Reduce the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons. Proceed as directed.

Variation:

Peach Coffeecake: Substitute 3 large, ripe peaches for the apples. Proceed as directed.

Blueberry Diner Coffee Cake

This recipe was adapted from an old diner recipe from Massachusetts.

Streusel Topping:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Stir all the topping ingredients together in a medium bowl until crumbly; set aside.

Blueberry Cake:

2 cups cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

2 cups fresh blueberries, tossed with 2 tablespoons flour

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice in a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk the milk and sour cream together until smooth.

With an electric mixer, beat the oil, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until well blended. Add the egg and beat until well mixed.

On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture alternating with the milk mixture until the batter is smooth, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the blueberries by hand.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the topping over the batter.

Bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool 30 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Serve warm or cool.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the large eggs to 2; substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour and increase the flour by 2 tablespoons; reduce the baking powder to 2 teaspoons.

Espresso-Walnut Coffee Cake

Coffee in your coffeecake? Genius!

Streusel Topping:

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

Stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside.

Espresso-Walnut Cake:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

3/4 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Add the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until a smooth batter forms.

Spread 1/2 the batter in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the 1/2 the topping over the batter. Carefully spread the remaining batter over the streusel and sprinkle the top with the remaining brown sugar mixture.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Tent the cake loosely with foil after 20 minutes.

Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool 30 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Serve warm or cool.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the large eggs to 3; increase the flour by 3 tablespoons; reduce the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon.

Crumb Cake

A New York classic. Super moist with lots of sour cream and tons, I mean TONS, of crumb topping. That’s the best part, right?

Crumb Topping:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

With an electric mixer, combine all the ingredients on low speed until large moist crumbs form. (Alternatively, you can do this by hand with a pastry blender.) Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and set it aside.

Cake:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture, vanilla, and sour cream. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter. Bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking soda to 3/4 teaspoon; reduce the baking powder to 3/4 teaspoon; reduce the sugar by 2 tablespoons.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

It’s not just retro, it’s fabulous!

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

7 canned pineapple rings

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour one 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and allspice. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

Drain the pineapple and blot the rings dry with a paper towel. Arrange 1 slice in the center of the pan and the remaining 6 in a circle.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon together in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together the sour cream, pineapple juice, and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream mixture in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Spoon the batter evenly over the pineapple rings and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a large plate or cake stand. (Be careful, the sauce will be very HOT.)

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-10 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking powder to1 teaspoon.

Variations:

Peach Upside-Down Cake: Substitute 4 ripe medium peaches, peeled and cut into 6 wedges, for the pineapple; substitute peach juice for the pineapple juice. Arrange the peach slices in a snug, even layer on the bottom of the pan. Proceed as directed.

Peach-Almond Upside-Down Cake: Substitute 4 ripe medium peaches; peeled, pitter, and cut into 6 wedges; for the pineapple; substitute peach juice for the pineapple juice. Arrange the peach slices in a snug, even layer on the bottom of the pan. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped, slivered almonds into the batter before pouring it over the peaches. Proceed as directed.

Plum Upside-Down Cake: Substitute 10-12 ripe pitted plums, cut into 6 wedges, for the pineapple; substitute orange juice for the pineapple juice. Arrange the plum slices in a snug, even layer on the bottom of the pan. Proceed as directed.

Cherry Clafouti

The clafouti originates from the Limousine region of France. It has a very soft, almost custard-like interior and is traditionally made with cherries.

3 cups fresh pitted cherries

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 large eggs, beaten lightly

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup slivered almonds

powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 400° F. Butter and line a 9 round cake pan with parchment paper.

Toss the cherries gently with the lemon juice and spread them out evenly in the bottom of the cake pan.

In a blender, add the milk, 6 tablespoons of the butter, eggs, and vanilla and blend the mixture until it is smooth.

In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Stir in the milk mixture, stirring until the batter is combined well.

Pour the batter over the cherries, drizzle it with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and sprinkle it with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and almonds.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and set in the center. Dust liberally with powdered sugar while still hot. Let it cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variation:

Apple-Walnut Clafouti: Replace the cherries with 4 golden delicious apples; peeled, cored and diced. Replace the almonds with chopped, toasted walnuts. Add 2 tablespoons bourbon with the milk. Proceed as directed.

Strawberry Shortcakes

It wouldn’t be the 4th of July without strawberry shortcake. This is a great dessert to bring to a cookout since everyone can assemble their own. Extra whipped cream on mine, please.

2 quarts fresh strawberries

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for the counter

6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled

2/3 cup half-and-half

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

2 tablespoons half-and-half, for brushing

whipped cream, for serving

Prepare the berries by cutting off the stem end and slicing them 1/4-inch thick. Place the sliced berries in a bowl and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar. Toss to combine; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425° F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Place the flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until combined. Add the butter and pulse 10-12 times until it resembles coarse meal and no large clumps of butter remain.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the half-and-half, vanilla, and egg until the dough starts to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a couple of times until the dough comes together. Pat the dough with your hands until it’s 1-inch thick.

Cut the dough with a 2 3/4-inch round biscuit cutter and place the rounds on the prepared pan. Brush the tops with half-and-half and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on the sheet pan for 10 minutes.

To assemble the dessert, split each biscuit in half, placing the bottoms on individual plates. Spoon some strawberries on the shortcake, top with whipped cream and then the shortcake top.

Makes 6-8 servings

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Blueberry Shortcakes: Replace the strawberries with 4 cups blueberries. Proceed as directed.

Raspberry-Peach Shortcakes: Replace the strawberries with 4 cups peeled, sliced peaches and 1/2 cup raspberries. Proceed as directed.

Lemon-Blueberry Loaf Cake

This is the perfect summer cake. Stash the second loaf in the freezer for when you need a dessert for an impromptu bbq.

2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup sour cream

grated zest of 2 lemons

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease and flour two 9×5-inch loaf pans.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl; set aside. Whisk together the sour cream, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium speed until they are fully incorporated; scraping down the sides of the bowl a couple of times.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream mixture in two additions. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix for 30 seconds until the batter is smooth.

Toss the blueberries with 2 tablespoons of flour and gently fold them into the batter with a rubber spatula.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for 50-60 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes two 9×5-inch loaf cakes (16 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the flour by 1/4 cup; reduce the baking powder to1/2 teaspoon; increase the large eggs to 3.

Variation:

Blueberry-Cream Cheese Loaf Cake: Whisk together 1 cup softened cream cheese, 1 large egg yolk, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/4 cup powdered sugar in a bowl. Proceed as directed. Dive half of the cake batter between the two pans. Level the batter with a spoon. Carefully divide the cream cheese mixture between the two pans and spread it to an even layer. Fill the pans with the remaining batter and bake as directed.

Pecan Torte

This is a lovely and light pecan meringue cake. Serve it warm with a little whipped cream spiked with bourbon. The cake will “shrink” when you take it out of the oven. Don’t worry – this is normal.

1 1/4 cups toasted pecan

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs, separated, room temperature

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325° F. Butter and flour one 9-inch springform cake pan. Place a parchment paper round in the bottom of the pan and lightly spray with vegetable oil spray.

In a food processor, process the pecans, flour, and salt until they are finely ground, set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, 1/3 cup of granulated sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes until they are thick and pale. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pecan mixture and transfer it to a large bowl.

Thoroughly wash and dry the mixer bowl. With an electric mixer, whip the egg whites on medium-high speed until they begin to foam. With the mixer running, gradually add the remaining granulated sugar. Whip the egg whites until they increase in volume and form soft peaks.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the pecan mixture until only a few streaks of egg white remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack and allow to cool 20 minutes before unmolding.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the flour by 3 tablespoons. Proceed as directed.

Hazelnut Panforte

I make this Tuscan treat every Christmas as gifts for my friends. I always joke that it’s fruitcake they will actually want to eat. As I was perfecting the recipe for this book, it occurred to me that this would be an amazing, all-natural energy bar – perfect for hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. Now, it’s the fruitcake you’ll want to eat all year-round.

1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped*

1 cup toasted pecan halves, coarsely chopped*

3/4 cup chopped dates

1/2 cup chopped candied orange peel

1/2 cup dried cranberries (craisins)

1/4 cup raisins (dark or golden)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

grated zest of one orange

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

3/4 cup clover honey

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 300° F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Butter the paper.

Combine the first 16 ingredients (hazelnuts through white pepper) in a large bowl and mix thoroughly to separate the dried fruit.

Bring the honey, sugar, and butter to a boil in a small sauce pan, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and place a candy thermometer in the mixture. Cook until the thermometer registers 242° F to 248° F, stirring occasionally.

Pour the syrup over the fruit mixture and stir to combine. Immediately transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Press the mixture to cover the entire pan. Smooth the top with a lightly oiled spatula.

Place the pan on a sheet pan (to catch any drips) and bake for 55 minutes. The cake will bubble at the edges an the top will appear dry. Cool the pan completely on a wire rack.

Cover the cake pan with aluminum foil and let it stand overnight at room temperature. Release the sides of the pan and remove the paper from the sides and bottom of the cake. Place the cake on a clean sheet of parchment paper. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. The cake will keep for 3 weeks in an airtight container.

*To toast the nuts, place them on a sheet pan and bake at 325° F for 12-15 minutes until fragrant and light golden brown.

Makes one 9-inch “cake” (serves 12-18)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Panforte Bites (Pictured): Cook the cake in a parchment-lined 8-inch square pan. After the cake has completely cooled, cut it into 1-inch squares. Lightly toss each square in powdered sugar to completely coat.

Almond Panforte: Substitute toasted, chopped almonds for the hazelnuts. Proceed as directed.

(Pan Forte Bites)

Thousand Layer Cake (Crepe Cake)

You can make this cake with as many, or few, layers as you wish. If you want a substantial cake, you will need to make a second batch of crepes.

2 large eggs

3/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup water

1 cup all-purpose flour

3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

2 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla.

3.4 oz package of vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

1 2/3 cups half-and-half

one recipe Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”

Combine the eggs, milk, water, flour, melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in a blender and pulse for 10 seconds. Place the crepe batter in the refrigerator for 1 hour to rest.

Heat an 8-10 inch non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Lightly spray the pan with vegetable oil spray. Pour 1/4-1/3 cup of batter into the center of the pan and swirl the pan to spread the batter evenly over the entire bottom of the pan. (Yes, you cook them one at a time – sorry about that.)

Cook for 1 1/2 minutes and then flip and cook for an additional 30 seconds. (The crepes should be very pale with spots of golden brown.) Remove to a cutting board or large platter and lay them out flat so they can cool. Repeat until all batter is gone. (You may need to make a second batch of batter to get the 15-18 crepes you will need to make the cake.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the vanilla pudding and the half-and-half. Let the pudding thicken in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.

To assemble the cake, find the 12-18 nicest crepes. Using an 8-inch plate as a guide, cut each crepe into a perfect circle. Lay one crepe on your serving plate or cardboard round and place 2 tablespoons pastry cream in the center. Spread the cream out into a very thin layer over the entire crepe using an offset spatula. Repeat until you have the height cake you desire and top with a plain crepe.

Glaze the top and sides of the cake with the chocolate ganache glaze. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200 ft): No change.

Yule Log

We make one of these just about every Christmas. Don’t worry if the cake cracks when you roll it around the filling since it will be covered with frosting.

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 recipe Espresso-Mascarpone Filling

1 recipe Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”

Prepare the Espresso-Mascarpone Filling and Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”; set aside.

Preheat oven to 400° F. Spray a 18×12-inch rimmed sheet pan with vegetable oil spray, cover the pan bottom with parchment paper and spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray; dust the baking sheet with flour and tap out the excess.

Combine chocolate chips, butter, and water in small heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Heat the mixture until the butter is almost completely melted and the chocolate pieces are glossy. Remove the bowl from heat and slowly stir until the mixture is smooth and glossy; set aside.

Whisk the cocoa powder, flour, and salt together in a small bowl; set aside.

With an electric mixer, whip the eggs and sugar on high speed for 5-8 minutes until the mixture is pale yellow and falls in thick ribbon when beaters are lifted. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Carefully fold chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Sprinkle dry ingredients over egg and chocolate mixture and fold in quickly but gently.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan; smooth surface and spread batter into pan corners and bake until center of cake springs back when lightly touched with finger, 10-12 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on wire rack for 5 minutes.

While the cake is cooling, lay a clean kitchen towel over the work surface and sift 3-4 tablespoons of cocoa powder over the towel. Rub the cocoa powder into the towel with your hands. Run a small knife around the edge of the sheet pan to loosen the cake. Invert the cake onto the towel and peel off the parchment paper. Dust the top of the sheet cake with powdered sugar.

Starting at the long side, roll the cake and towel together around a rolling pin or cardboard tube. Cool the cake for 20-30 minutes, then unroll the cake and the towel.

Leaving a 1 1/2-inch border on the long side closest to you, use an offset spatula to spread the Espresso-Mascarpone Filling evenly over the surface of the rest of the cake. Reroll the cake gently but snugly around the filling. Place the cake seam-side down on a parchment-lined sheet pan or piece of cardboard. (Don’t worry if the cake cracks a little – or a lot. We will cover that with frosting.)

Refrigerate the cake until the filling is set, about 2 hours.

Trim both ends of the cake on a diagonal. When the frosting has cooled to a thick, spreadable consistency, place a dollop of frosting on the cake and secure one of the end pieces of the trimmed cake to resemble a branch on a log (see photo). Spread the Chocolate Ganache Glaze over the cake with a small off-set spatula and use a fork to make wood-grain marks on the surface of ganache before it has set. Refrigerate the cake, uncovered, on the pan until the ganache is set, about 2 hours.

When ready to serve, carefully slide 2 wide metal spatulas under cake and transfer it to a serving platter. Dust the Yule log with powdered sugar to resemble snow.

Makes 1 cake (serves 8-12)

High Altitude (5200 ft): Increase the flour by 2 tablespoons; increase the cold water by 1 tablespoon.

Variation:

Yule Log With Vanilla Crème Filling: Fill the yule log with marshmallow cream filling.

Cream Filling:

1 vanilla bean

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons very hot water

2 cups (one 7-ounce jar) marshmallow fluff

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup powdered sugar

Split the vanilla pod lengthwise with a sharp knife. Scrape the interior of the pod with the back of the knife to remove the pulp and seeds. Dissolve the salt in the hot water. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 2-3 minutes until light and fluffy.

Classic Cheesecake

I used a light-coloured aluminum pan. If you are using a dark-coloured spring form pan, reduce the oven temperature to 275° F. Don’t be tempted to whip the filling. That can incorporate air which can lead to cracks. We don’t want cracks, right?

Cookie Crust:

1 cup graham cracker crumbs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

4 tablespoons granulated sugar

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with vegetable oil spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and line the sides with a “collar” of parchment. Lightly spray the parchment paper with vegetable oil spray.

Combine the cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar in a bowl and stir them until they are thoroughly combined. Sprinkle the mixture into the pan. Using a small, flat-bottom glass, press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes until it looks set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, turn the oven off.

Cheesecake:

4 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese; room temperature

1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on low speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add the sweetened condensed milk and mix on low speed until combined. Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and flour and mix on low speed until smooth, scraping down the bowl several times.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and turn on the oven to 300° F. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the outer edge is set and the center jiggles ever so slightly. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 3 hours.

Refrigerate the cake for 6-8 hours until completely chilled and firm. Remove the cake from the pan and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Chocolate Cheesecake: Add 1 cup chocolate chips (white, milk, or semisweet), melted, with the condensed milk. Proceed as directed.

Truffle Cheesecake: Add 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, melted, with the condensed milk. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake: Stir in 1 cup mini chocolate chips tossed with 2 tablespoons flour before baking. Proceed as directed.

Egg Nog Cheesecake: Add 2 additional large egg yolks. Add 2 teaspoons rum extract, 2 teaspoons brandy extract, and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg. Proceed as directed.

Cappuccino Cheesecake: Add 1 tablespoon instant coffee and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon with the condensed milk. Proceed as directed.

Cookies and Cream Cheesecake: Stir in 12 crushed cream-filled chocolate cookies just before baking. Proceed as directed.

Cheater’s No-Bake Cheesecake

This recipe may seem very déclassé and it totally is. However, every time we make this for a potluck dinner, everyone asks for the recipe. The best bit is that when I tell them how it’s made, they don’t believe me.

Cookie Crust:

1 cup crushed cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with vegetable oil spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and line the sides with a “collar” of parchment. Lightly spray the parchment paper with vegetable oil spray.

Combine the cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar in a bowl and stir them until they are thoroughly combined. Sprinkle the mixture into the pan.

Using a small, flat-bottom glass, press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes until it looks set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

4 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese; room temperature

1 (16 ounce) can ready prepared frosting (any flavor you like)

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add the frosting, salt, and vanilla and mix on medium speed until smooth.

Gently, fold in 1/3 of the whipped cream until just a few streaks of white remain. Fold in the remaining whipped cream until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Chill the “cake” in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours until set. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and serve.

Makes one 9-inch cake (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Cheater’s Holiday Peppermint Cheesecake: Use vanilla frosting. Add 2 teaspoon peppermint extract along with the vanilla. Fold in 1 cup finely crushed round hard peppermint candies or candy canes. Proceed as directed.

Cheater’s Cookies and Cream Cheesecake: Use vanilla frosting. Fold in 1 1/2 cups crushed cream-filled chocolate cookies. Proceed as directed.

Cheater’s Nutella Cheesecake: Substitute Nutella plus 1/4 cup powdered sugar for the canned frosting. Proceed as directed.

Tidewater Savory Crab Cheesecake

This is the perfect party appetizer. I keep one in the freezer and just slice off a piece when people are coming around. One good slice surrounded by good crackers will keep your guests very happy. It’s so much better than a boring old cheese ball.

I used a light-coloured aluminum pan. If you are using a dark-coloured spring form pan, reduce the oven temperature to 275° F. Don’t be tempted to whip the filling. That can incorporate air which can lead to cracks. We don’t want cracks, right?

Parmesan Crust:

1 cup Italian-style dry bread crumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly spray the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with vegetable oil spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper and line the sides with a “collar” of parchment. Lightly spray the parchment paper with vegetable oil spray.

Combine the bread crumbs, cheese, and melted butter in a bowl and stir them until they are thoroughly combined. Sprinkle the mixture into the pan. Using a small, flat-bottom glass, press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes until it looks set. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, turn the oven off.

Cheesecake:

3 (8-ounce) packages of cream cheese; room temperature

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sour cream

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup finely chopped chives

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard

1 tablespoon cocktail sauce

3 large eggs

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

12 ounces lump crabmeat

With an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and flour on low speed for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add the sour cream and spices and mix on low speed until combined. Add the eggs and mix on low speed until smooth, scraping down the bowl several times.

Stir in the shredded cheese and crabmeat.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and turn on the oven to 300° F. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until the outer edge is set and the center jiggles ever so slightly. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 3 hours.

Refrigerate the cake for 6-8 hours until completely chilled and firm. Remove the cake from the pan and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Or wrap it in plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 6 months.

Makes one 9-inch “cake” (8-12 servings)

High Altitude (5200ft): No change.

Variations:

Green Chile Cheesecake: Omit the Old Bay Seasoning, mustard, cocktail sauce, Swiss cheese and crabmeat. Add 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 2 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 cup shredded Pepper Jack cheese. Proceed as directed.

Salmon Cheesecake: Substitute 6 ounces of finely chopped cured salmon (lox) for the crabmeat. Reduce the chives to 2 tablespoons. Add 2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill. Proceed as directed.

Roquefort-Pecan Cheesecake: Omit the Old Bay Seasoning, mustard, cocktail sauce, Swiss cheese and crabmeat. Reduce the cream cheese to 2 8-ounce packages. Add 6 ounces crumbled Roquefort cheese along with the cream cheese. Stir in 3/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans just before baking. Proceed as directed.

Frostings and Fillings…

American Vanilla Buttercream

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/3 cup vegetable shortening

4 cups powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/4 to 1/2 cup light corn syrup

In an electric mixer, mix the butter and shortening on medium speed until combined.

On low speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time and the salt until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium, add the vanilla and gradually add the corn syrup, and beat until the desired consistency is reached. (Note: if you feel the frosting is too thick to spread, ‘soften’ it with 1 tablespoon of warm water.)

After you frost your cake, chill it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours so the frosting can set.

Makes enough to frost a 9” two-layer cake

Variations:

American Lemon Buttercream: Add 2 teaspoons lemon extract and the grated zest of 2 lemons with the vanilla extract. Proceed as directed.

American Orange Buttercream: Add 2 teaspoons orange extract and the grated zest of 2 oranges with the vanilla extract. Proceed as directed.

American Vanilla-Almond Buttercream: Add 1 teaspoons almond extract with the vanilla extract. Proceed as directed.

American Coconut Buttercream: Add 2 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract with the vanilla extract. Proceed as directed.

American Peanut Butter Buttercream: Reduce the butter to 1/2 cup and add 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter. Proceed as directed.

American Chocolate Buttercream

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon instant coffee

1 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature

3 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup dark cocoa powder

3/4 cups light corn syrup

Place the chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and melt over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring often until melted and smooth. Remove the chocolate from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature – about 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the vanilla, salt, and instant coffee and stir to dissolve.

With an electric mixer, combine the butter and shortening and beat on low speed until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and beat on medium speed until the sugar has dissolved and they form a thick paste. Add the vanilla mixture and mix to combine.

Add the cooled chocolate and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer running, add the corn syrup and beat for 1 minute until smooth and creamy. (Note: if you feel the frosting is too thick to spread, ‘soften’ it with 1 tablespoon of warm water.)

Makes enough to frost a 9” two-layer cake

Variations:

Light American Chocolate Buttercream: Reduce the chocolate chips to 1/2 cup; reduce the cocoa powder to 2 tablespoons. Proceed as directed.

Milk Chocolate Buttercream: Omit the semisweet chocolate chips and cocoa powder; use 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips; increase the powdered sugar to 3 1/2 cups. Proceed as directed.

Mocha Buttercream: Increase the instant coffee to 1 tablespoon. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buttercream: Reduce the butter to 1/2 cup and add 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter. Proceed as directed.

Chinese Five-Spice Chocolate Buttercream: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder along with the powdered sugar. Proceed as directed.

Cherry Chocolate Buttercream: Omit the instant coffee. Stir in 1/2 teaspoons rum extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract into the vanilla mixture. Proceed as directed.

Mint Chocolate Buttercream: Omit the instant coffee. Add in 1 teaspoon peppermint extract along with the vanilla. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Orange Buttercream: Omit the instant coffee. Add 2 teaspoons orange extract along with the vanilla. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

2 cups heavy cream

2 2/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons brandy

2 tablespoons light corn syrup or honey

Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan.

Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and pour the boiling cream mixture over them. Let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk the chocolate mixture until smooth. Whisk in the salt, vanilla, brandy and corn syrup.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it cool at room temperature for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally, until it’s a thick “frosting” consistency.

Makes enough to frost a 9” two-layer cake

Variations:

Chinese Five-Spice Chocolate Ganache Frosting: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder to the cream, then heat as directed. Proceed as directed.

Cherry Chocolate Ganache Frosting: Stir in 1/2 teaspoons rum extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract into the warm chocolate mixture. Proceed as directed.

Mint Chocolate Ganache Frosting: Stir in 1 teaspoon peppermint extract into the warm chocolate mixture. Proceed as directed.

Mocha Chocolate Ganache Frosting: Stir in 1 teaspoon instant coffee into the warm chocolate mixture. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Orange Ganache Frosting: Stir in 2 teaspoons orange extract into the warm chocolate mixture. Proceed as directed.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon brandy

2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

Bring the cream and corn syrup to a boil in a small saucepan.

Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and pour the boiling cream mixture over them. Let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk the chocolate mixture until smooth. Stir in the brandy, vanilla and salt.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it cool at room temperature for 4-6 hours, stirring once in a while, until it’s a thick “frosting” consistency.

For a ‘glaze’ effect, cool the mixture to room temperature to the point where it is still smooth and pourable. The mixture can be poured over a chilled cake and smoothed with an offset spatula.

Makes enough to frost the top and sides of a 9” two-layer cake in a thin layer.

Variations:

Chinese Five-Spice Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”: Add 1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder to the cream, then heat as directed. Proceed as directed.

Cherry Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”: Stir in 1/2 teaspoons rum extract and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract into the warm chocolate mixture. Proceed as directed.

Mint Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”: Stir in 1 teaspoon peppermint extract into the warm chocolate mixture. Proceed as directed.

Mocha Chocolate Ganache “Glaze”: Stir in 1 teaspoon instant coffee into the warm chocolate mixture. Proceed as directed.

Milk Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 – 2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup, if needed

Melt together chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes, or until close to room temperature. Stir in the sour cream, salt and vanilla extract.

With an electric mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. (If the frosting seems too stiff, mix in the corn syrup to loosen it to a spreadable consistency.)

Makes enough to frost a 9” two-layer cake

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounces) package of cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup, if needed

With an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth and combined; scraping down the bowl a few times. Mix in the vanilla extract.

On low speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. (If the frosting seems too stiff, mix in the corn syrup to loosen it to a smooth spreadable consistency.)

Makes enough to frost a 9” two-layer cake

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8-ounces) package of cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup, if needed

With an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese, butter and cocoa powder on medium speed until smooth and combined; scraping down the bowl a few times. Mix in the vanilla extract.

On low speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. (If the frosting seems too stiff, mix in the corn syrup to loosen it to a smooth spreadable consistency.)

Makes enough to frost a 9” two-layer cake

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

6 ounces white chocolate (the bar kind, not chips)

1 (8-ounces) package of cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup, if needed

Place the chocolate in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir until it’s melted and smooth; allow to cool to cool temperature.

With an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined; scraping down the bowl a few times. Mix in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate.

On low speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. (If the frosting seems too stiff, mix in the corn syrup to loosen it.)

Makes enough to frost a 9” two-layer cake

Berry Cream Cheese Frosting

2-4 tablespoons berry preserves (raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, etc)

1 (8-ounces) package of cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup, if needed

Pulse the preserves in a food processor or mash with a fork to make it smooth. Strain the preserves through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any pulp or seeds. Set aside.

In an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until combined; scraping down the bowl a few times. Mix in the vanilla extract and melted chocolate.

On low speed, add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Add the preserves and increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. (If the frosting seems too stiff, mix in the corn syrup to loosen it.)

Makes enough to frost a 9” two-layer cake

Simple Cream Glaze

2 cups powdered sugar

3-4 tablespoons heavy cream (or milk)

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and stir until a smooth white icing forms. (Do not whisk, as it will create air bubbles in the glaze and will crack.) Pour or spoon the glaze over the cake.

Makes enough to glaze the top of a single layer cake or a 9-inch tube cake.

Royal Icing

3 cups powdered sugar

2 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

In a medium bowl, stir all the ingredients together to form a smooth white icing. Cover the icing with plastic wrap until ready to use.

This is a rather thick icing suitable for assembling and decorating a gingerbread house. You may need more or less icing depending on the size of your house and the amount of decorations. If the icing gets too thick, mix in a teaspoon of water.

Note: If you prefer, 2 tablespoons of meringue powder mixed with 3 tablespoons water may be substituted for the raw egg whites.

Whipped Cream Filling

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 cups heavy cream, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together in a small saucepan and slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of the cream. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let it cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl, whip the remaining 1 1/2 cups cream and the vanilla extract together with an electric mixer on low speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium and continue to whip the cream until it looks thickened, about 30 seconds. Slowly add the cooled cornstarch mixture and continue to whip until the cream forms soft peaks, about 2-3 minutes.

Cakes filled with this cream must be refrigerated.

Makes enough to fill two 9” two-layer cakes

Lemon Curd

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

grated zest of one lemon

In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter on high powder for 30-40 seconds until melted. Allow the butter to cool slightly while you proceed.

Whisk the sugar and eggs in a large microwave-safe bowl until smooth. Slowly, whisk in the lemon juice, melted butter, salt and zest.

Cook in the microwave on full power for 30-seconds. Stir the mixture and repeat the process 2-6 times (depending on your microwave) until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon.

Strain the curd into a bowl or covered container. Cover the surface of the curd directly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Makes about 1 cup

Variations:

Lime Curd: Substitute lime juice and zest for the lemon. Proceed as directed.

Grapefruit Curd: Substitute grapefruit juice and zest for the lemon. Proceed as directed.

Espresso-Mascarpone Filling

2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 teaspoons instant coffee

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups (16 ounces) mascarpone cheese (or Neufchatel cheese), room temperature

Dissolve the instant coffee in the cream. With an electric mixer, beat all the ingredients together on medium speed until blended. Note: Cakes filled with this must be refrigerated.

Makes about 2 cups

Orange-Mascarpone Filling

2 tablespoons heavy cream

grated zest of one orange

2/3 cup powdered sugar

1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese (or Neufchatel cheese), room temperature

With an electric mixer, beat all the ingredients together on medium speed until blended. Note: Cakes filled with this must be refrigerated.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Coconut-Cashew Filling

4 large egg yolks

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 1/3 cups sweetened, shredded coconut

1 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (optional)

1 1/2 cups finely chopped, toasted cashews

Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sauce pan and then gradually whisk in the cream. Add the sugar, brown sugar, butter and salt and cook over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture is boiling and slightly thickened.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl and whisk in the vanilla then stir in the coconut and chocolate until the chocolate has melted and been incorporated. Refrigerate the mixture for two hours; until cool and slightly firm.

Stir in the cashews just before filling the cake.

Makes about 3 cups

Chocolate-Hazelnut Filling

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon brandy

2 cups toasted, chopped hazelnuts

Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Place the chocolate chips in a medium bowl and pour the boiling cream mixture over them.

Let stand for 5 minutes, then whisk the chocolate mixture until it’s smooth. Whisk in the butter and brandy.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it cool at room temperature for 2-3 hours, stirring once in a while, until it’s a thick frosting consistency. Stir in the hazelnuts.

Makes about 3 cups

The End

 


The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 5: Cakes an

Introduction (For the entire series) From The Slopes To The Shore… Are you tired? Are you tired of fancy (or not so fancy) baking books by fancy chefs with even fancier recipes that just don't measure up to all that hype? Are you tired of recipe failures while on a ski holiday or just because you live above 3000 feet? Are you tired of passion fruit foams and green tea cookies when all you want is a chocolate chip cookie recipe that will work every single time? Do you need a pie for the long summer weekend; or a quick, yummy after school treat; or a simple cake with effortless style to make your neighbors jealous; or a truffle that will awaken the mad passionate desires of your lover and make them beg for more? Psssst, do you want a chocolate chip cookie now? No, I mean a really good chocolate chip cookie? Well, let's make that chocolate chip cookie together. It's easy and I can show you how. Family Recipes From My Home To Yours… Come with me on a family journey through baking where the luck of the Irish gives way to solid science and produces a collection of family baking favorites that your family will cherish for years to come. This debut collection from Irish-trained chef, Chris Reynolds, celebrates the landscape of his family's baking tradition and contains 323 "master" recipes and 582 recipe variations. This cookbook is a wide-ranging, comprehensive collection chock-full of beloved classics like chewy gingerbread cookies, triple-chocolate brownies, jalapeno cheddar corn bread, shoofly pie, sour cream coffeecake, fresh peach ice cream, crunchy granola, and the best pizza crust ever. This is an inspired collection of classics and contemporary twists where we tease traditional flavours and let you know you've just had something special. Classics with attitude and altitude. High-Altitude Baking that Really Works… You'll learn that it's possible to serve a from-scratch comfort food classic like buttermilk biscuits on a weeknight when time is tight or a high-altitude cake on your skiing holiday that won't fall flat. In addition to foolproof recipes, all the recipes were tested at high-altitude by the author, himself. Each high-altitude adjustment is precise to give success at 5200ft (Denver, Colorado). In addition, each chapter introduction gives insights into high-altitude baking and tips on adjusting your own recipes. Retro-Modern??? Chris Reynolds is a professional baker trained at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland by the famed cooking teachers Darina and Rachel Allen. While he embraces an artisan philosophy, emphasizing the freshest organic ingredients, sound techniques, and from-scratch baking; he's also well aware that stirring a caramel on the stove for 90 minutes is a drag. "I wanted recipes that people would embrace, enjoy and actually make. No one, not even me, is going make a cookie that requires me to stand at the stove for 90 minutes. That's just not practical in our modern world." This book embraces a "retro-modern" approach. Old-fashioned recipes are updated for modern life. That could mean streamlining the steps, using modern flavour combinations, using different techniques to give fool-proof results, or even scaling a recipe to feed a family of four. A Photo of Every Recipe… If the easy, care-free recipes don't grab you, then the stunning full-colour photos of every recipe surely will. This book is a delight for the eyes as well as the palate. This is homey, doable baking at its best - a lively, in-depth portrait of a family who loves to bake. Pass me another truffle!

  • Author: Chris Reynolds
  • Published: 2017-03-25 18:06:06
  • Words: 23438
The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 5: Cakes an The High Plains Sifter: Retro-Modern Baking for Every Altitude (Part 5: Cakes an