food amongst family and friends

Best Cake Ever – Browned Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake October 12, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Cakes,Desserts,Make Ahead,Uncategorized,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 2:08 pm
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I have a whole list of healthy, easy weeknight dinners to post, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Some of them are from the Fine Cooking Cooking Fresh magazine I bought, where they snuck this cake in along with all of the other healthy ways to eat your vegetables. I’ve made this twice now (in the last 2 weeks; I think I might have a problem) and every adult who has tasted it, has taken one bite, stopped, looked at me and said “What is this!?!” around a mouthful of deliciousness (the kids have approached it with their usual “Sugar? White flour? I’m in!” attitude. I think the subtleties may be wasted on them). It’s stop you in your tracks good. Browned butter takes a classic pumpkin/spice/cream cheese combo and makes it something extraordinary. It’s Friday, make a cake, you won’t regret it.

P.S. Don’t skip the topping; it’s amazing. In fact, be like me and make extra so you can keep a little bag of it in the car for grown up snacking emergencies!

Pumpkin Puree

2 tsp canola oil

1 medium-large Sugar Pie pumpkin, cut in half and seeded

Preheat oven to 350, brush a 9×13 glass dish with oil and place pumpkin in cut side down. Roast about 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool, then peel the pumpkin and puree the flesh in a food processor.

Alternatively, go to the store and buy a can of pumpkin puree. Open with a can opener. Proceed. Seriously though, I made the puree, it was easy and it made a difference in the cake, but I wouldn’t say it’s a make or break thing. Do what you will.

The Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter

2 cups/9 oz unbleached flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp table salt

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 1/2 cups sugar

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter 2 9 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment and flour the pans. (I skipped the parchment the first time and regretted it. This is a VERY moist cake)

2. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Cook until the foaming and sizzling stop and butter turns a deep brown, but not until the bits on the bottom are black. Once the sizzling stops, watch it closely as it goes from perfect to burnt pretty quickly. Pour butter into a small bowl and let stand until cool, but not set.

3.  In a medium bowl mix together flour thru cloves. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar thru buttermilk plus 1 1/2 cups of your pumpkin puree (leftover puree can be portioned and frozen) until well blended. Fold in dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined, then gently whisk in the browned butter until completely incorporated.

4. Divide the batter evenly between pans (a kitchen scale helps with this). Bake the cakes until set in the middle and a toothpick comes out clean, about 28 minutes (the temperature outside dropped drastically the day before I made this the second time and I had to cook a few minutes longer, so use your discretion).

5.  Let cakes cool in pans on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out and removing the parchment. Let cool completely before assembling the cake.

The Topping

1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2/3 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1/2 cup raw, unsalted pepitas

2 Tbsp firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped candied ginger

Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy bottomed skillet. Add the pecans and pepitas and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pepitas start to pop. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar dissolves completely and a glaze is formed. Stir in the ginger and remove from the heat. Let cool in the skillet.

The Icing

1/2 cup unsalted butter

8 oz cream cheese at room temp

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/4 cups icing sugar

1. Brown the butter as you did for the cake. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until settled, 3-4 minutes, then place in the freezer until set, about 20 minutes (it may take a little more or a little less depending on your freezer, but make sure you don’t let it get too hard)

2. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter out of the bowl, leaving behind the browned solids on the bottom. In a large bowl and using a hand mixer (the stand mixer didn’t work as well, I ended up with chunks of browned butter that wouldn’t incorporate into the icing) beat the butter until smooth, then add in the cream cheese and brown sugar. Beat until fluffy.

3. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until fluffy.
Assembling Your Cake

Place one cake on a platter (this is what you are serving it on). Spread about 1/2 cup of icing evenly on top, then sprinkle with 1/2 of the topping. Place the second cake on top and ice the top and sides with remaining icing. Decorate with remaining topping. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days – this stayed beautifully in the fridge.





Classic Coffee Cake January 20, 2012

Filed under: Baking,Breakfast,Cakes,Desserts,Quick and easy,Thrifty — blisteringlydrunk @ 10:56 pm
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This is what my work-from-home day looked like this week: hiding from the freezing outdoors (-32C!) with my laptop, a cappuccino and a slice of coffee cake. Winter has its perks.

The coffee cake comes from Meagan. It’s quick to throw together and you likely have all of these things in your house right now. Be sure to try this one – it’s a keeper.


2 T sugar
1 t cinnamon

3/4 c cold butter
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c whole wheat or spelt flour
1 1/2 c dark brown sugar, packed
1 t baking soda
1 egg
1 c sour cream or plain yogurt

  1. Using a pastry cutter, combine the butter, flours and brown sugar until crumbly and well combined. Transfer half of this mixture into a greased or sprayed 9×13 baking dish, pressing it into the bottom of the pan to form a crust of sorts.
  2. Give the egg a quick beat with a fork, then add it to the flour mixture along with the sour cream and baking soda. Stir it all together with a wooden spoon until it resembles a muffin batter. Add it to the pan on top of your crust and level it as best you can.
  3. Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle evenly over the cake.
  4. Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes (mine took 27), until it springs back to a light touch.

Two Cakes October 28, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cakes,Desserts,Make Ahead,Vegetarian — blisteringlydrunk @ 7:53 pm
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Two cakes for two seasons: a rhubarb ice box cake for Spring and a pumpkin cake for Fall. They both made my “repeat this recipe soon” list and I’m late posting both of them, so they’re here together!

The ice box cake is delightful in the Spring or Summer, but I think I will make it anytime I have rhubarb kicking around. I had big plans to make a few of these and leave a constant supply in my freezer, but luckily my freezer is small and will not allow for such gluttonous behaviour. I found the recipe in the August Bon Appetit and I made it word-for-word, so I will just link to the recipe here. The ginger snap crust is filled with tart, rhubarb ice cream and topped with a mixture of whipped cream and creme fraiche. The creamy top has very little sugar and is exactly how you imagine frozen whipped cream to taste – heaven.

The pumpkin cake is another score from Bon Appetit and I have already made it twice since Thanksgiving. I modified the recipe as I’m not a fan of raisins and excessive chunks in my cake. I also up the booze and zest content in any recipe as a general rule, so I applied that here as well. I tried making this as both a 2-layer and 4-layer cake. While a 4-layer cake always looks impressive, the 2-layer version tasted better in this cake. The frosting overpowers the cake when you get into too many layers and this cake has a lovely flavour of its own. Save yourself the hassle of constructing 4 layers and let it be a floppy, 2-layer mess. J’s sister told me that the messy 2 layers looked artistic. Thanks Lan – I will bring dessert to your house anytime.


Spicy Zesty Pumpkin Layer Cake, serves 10

3 cups flour
2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 T cinnamon
2 t ginger
1 3/4 t allspice
1 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup packed golden brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 T vanilla extract
1 heaped T orange zest

1 8-ounce package light cream cheese
10 T unsalted butter
2 T spiced rum
2 t vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two cake pans, line bottom with parchment paper, then dust pans with flour.

2. Sift together flour thru nutmeg.

3. Beat both sugars and oil in large bowl until it looks grainy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each. Add pumpkin, vanilla and zest, beating until well blended.

4. Add flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. Pour batter into the 2 pans and smooth the tops.

5. Bake for about 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake springs back when lightly pressed. Cool in pans then invert cakes onto cooling racks and remove parchment paper. Turn cakes over and trim the rounded tops to make them level.

6. Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth, then mix in the rum and vanilla. Beat in the sugar 1 cup at a time and stop adding sugar when the frosting is stiff enough to spread and not slide off the cake. You should use 4-4.5 cups of sugar.

7. When the cake has cooled, assemble as follows: 1 layer of cake, 1/2 the icing, second layer of cake, 1/2 the icing. Easy peasy!


Ky’s Birthday Cake September 19, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cakes,Desserts,Make Ahead — blisteringlydrunk @ 5:18 pm
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I’ve been such a slacker about posting and I have a massive backlog of summer recipes waiting for their day in spotlight. I took a look back and realized that 90% of my favourite summer recipes are desserts. Good? Bad? Probably best not to over-think it.

I made this cake for Ky’s birthday because it’s pretty and summery and, well, I needed to try something other than my fave chocolate cake (which I still haven’t posted, oddly enough). This was an easy cake – heavy like a pound cake with a light blackberry top and a tangy kick, thanks to the lemon zest. I borrowed the recipe from Bon Appetit and I highly recommend serving it with this bourbon ice cream. Make it tonight!


3/4 cup butter, room temperature, plus more for pan and parchment
2 1/3 cups cake flour (sifted, then measured) – I make my own with these directions
2 1/2 cups (or more) fresh blackberries
1/4 cup plus 1 1/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
3 eggs, room temperature
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 – 2 t orange or lemon zest
1 cup buttermilk (shake it up!)
Powdered sugar (for dusting)

Use a 9″-10″-diameter springform pan

  1. Butter pan; line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter and flour the parchment and sides of pan.
  2. Lay berries in bottom of pan and sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  4. Cream butter and remaining 1 1/3 cups sugar with a hand mixer until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well. Then beat in vanilla and zest.
  5. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated.
  6. Pour batter over berries in pan and smooth the top.
  7. Bake at 350F until golden brown and cake bounces back when pressed gently with fingertip – about 1 hour 25 minutes for a 9″ pan and about 1 hour for a 10″ pan.
  8. Cool in pan 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Invert cake onto rack or plate and remove pan bottom, then peel off parchment.
  9. Dust top generously with powdered sugar and let cool completely.


Goat Cheese Cheesecake in a Jar August 27, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cakes,Canning,Desserts,Make Ahead — blisteringlydrunk @ 1:51 pm
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No matter what way I attempt to start this post, I feel like I am in confession. “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been two weeks since my last post . . . ” I will try and do better, but I promise this recipe was worth the wait. This was very much an experiment, and a mix mash of a few recipes (here and here were the main inspiration). The idea for the granola topping came from a visit to the Boxwood Cafe here in Calgary, but the granola recipe came from ELS, followed almost exactly (I left out the raisins and chopped the almonds; best granola ever, I especially love it with dried tart cherries mixed in) and the berry topping was simply taken out of a jar of these canned blueberries. That said, not to toot my horn, but the whole was way more than the sum of the parts. This was really lovely; creamy and sweet, but slightly tart, beautifully contrasted by the crunch of the granola and all tied together with a thin layer of treaty amaretto blueberries. Yummy. And, honestly, not that difficult. The cheesecake portion only took 20 minutes to put together (not including cooking and cooling time) and then you could use whatever fresh or canned berries you have kicking around and same goes for the granola. The presentation is fun and we actually all layered up our own; I just set the jars of granola and berries on the table so everyone could dress it up the way they wanted.

1, 8 oz package of cream cheese

10 oz chevre

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

zest of 1/2 a lemon (or an orange)

I tripled the recipe and had to use my turkey roaster to fit them all in.

1. Preheat oven to 325. Find 6 clean 250 ml jars and arrange them in a roasting pan.

2. Using an electric or stand mixer, beat together cream cheese, chevre, and sugar until well combined and smooth.

3. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing very well in between each addition, then add in vanilla and zest, mixing one more time to combine.

4. Divide the mixture evenly between the jars. Add boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about 3/4 of the way up the side of the jars.

5. Bake for 25 minutes or until set at the edges, but still slightly wobbly in middle when shaken. Turn off the oven and open the door, allowing the cheesecake to come to room temperature (an hour or so) before putting the lids on and placing in the fridge. Let set at least an hour in the fridge, but overnight is best. Top with granola and berries and serve.






Strawberry Shortcake on a Genoise Sponge June 17, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cakes,Desserts — blisteringlydrunk @ 11:18 am
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As you can see, I am not afraid of whipping cream. This was a request from my oldest daughter for her preschool graduation celebration, along with hot dogs and corn on the cob, but we don’t really need a recipe for that. She loves strawberry shortcake and I often make it on homemade biscuits, but I decided to go out on a limb this time and attempt some sponge cake. It was actually not nearly as difficult as I thought. This recipe comes from the Autralian Women’s Weekly Great Cooking Classics cookbook – basically the cookbook that really taught me how to cook, so I have a soft spot for it. It has recipes for the classic dishes of about 15 or so different countries, from appetizers through desserts and is covered in food stains and sticky notes – never have I used a cookbook more than this one. And this spongecake recipe was a great reminder of why I love this book so much – made from scratch, yet easy to follow directions, and not a million explanations of what could go wrong, so you aren’t intimidated before you even start. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

4 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

2/3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled (actual measurement is 60g, but if you don’t have a kitchen scale, 1/4 cup is pretty bang on)

For the topping:

500 ml whipping cream

1 -2 Tbsp icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 pounds strawberries, thinly sliced

1 tsp sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a deep 9 inch round cake pan (or be like me and make this in mini heart shaped cake pans)

2. Set a pot of water on to simmer and find a heat proof (glass or metal) bowl that can fit on top of it, making sure that the bottom of the bowl is NOT touching the water. Combine eggs and sugar in the bowl and beat with an electric mixer for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and creamy. I timed myself, and I’m glad I did, or I think I would have stopped long before I should have, as this went through several thickening stages before really coming into it’s own; I think 10 minutes was pretty bang on.

3. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat for another 5 minutes or so, until it has returned to room temperature. The mixture will get fairly glossy, like a meringue does.

4. Sift half the flour over the egg mixture and carefully fold in. Repeat with the rest of the flour. Quickly and carefully fold in cooled melted butter and then pour into prepared cake pan(s).

5. Bake for about 20 minutes for a full sized cake or for 8-10 minutes for the mini cakes (I used 10 mini cake pans). You will know it is done when you touch the top and it springs back (like a muffin). Turn immediately onto a wire rack to cool.

6. Stir together strawberries and sugar to macerate (every time I so much as think the word macerate my brain goes off on some sketch comedy trip about how macerating is a way to get the juices flowing and it sounds surprisingly similar to another m word with similar results – sorry, I’m trying to keep this pg – anyway, I have yet to come up with anything really funny, but there I am, giggling to myself anyway).

7. Whip the cream with icing sugar and vanilla, then decorate as you please. The book suggests the cake be cut in half horizontally and stuffed with the whipping cream and strawberries, then dust icing sugar on top. Their picture looks gorgeous, but I am perfectly happy with the piling on top method; do what you feel is best.





Aunt Patty’s Rhubarb Coffee Cake June 16, 2011

Filed under: Baking,Cakes,Quick and easy — blisteringlydrunk @ 7:35 pm
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Aahhhhhh. I love this cake. If you need a reason to grow rhubarb, here it is. The recipe is simple, process is quick, results are divine. Do yourself a favour and make three – one for you and two to give to your new best friends.


PS – Sorry for the awful photo, but it’s a good excuse for me to make this again soon.

1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 cups chopped rhubarb

1. Cream butter and sugar.

2. Mix baking soda into sour cream, then whisk with egg and vanilla and add everything into the creamed butter. Stir.

3. Stir in the flour, then fire in the rhubarb (it will be stiff).

4. Spread batter into a greased 9×13 pan.

1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 T butter, room temperature
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Combine in a small bowl, then dollop over the batter. Use a butter knife to spread the topping around and cut in into the batter a bit.

Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes.