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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, my dislike of sweet potatoes has peppered any remarks around holiday recipes/meal planning. So this year I decided to set aside the distaste and give it another chance. I mean I eat broccoli now, and no one saw that one coming. Tastes change, right? Supposedly? Maybe? Okay, maybe not in this case. The cupcakes are good, but I’m still not a huge fan. My taste testers really enjoyed them. Oh well, at least I tried right?
- 1 cup cooked sweet potato
- 1 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
- 1/3 cup bourbon
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 4oz cream cheese (softened)
- 1 tbsp vanilla paste or extract
- 3/4 cups powdered sugar
- 1-4 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup toasted chopped pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Cream together sweet potato, brown sugar and butter until smooth.
- Mix in the eggs one at a time.
- Add bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.
- Sift together flour and baking powder.
- Add milk and flour mixture alternating until everything is incorporated.
- Pour batter into cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
- While cake bakes, brown butter in a pan and set aside to cool.
- Cream together cooled brown butter and cream cheese, then add vanilla.
- Add powdered sugar a cup at a time until the desired consistency.
- Thin frosting with cream if it becomes to stiff.
- Frost cooled cupcakes, top with toasted pecans and enjoy!
Note: Now something I feel like needs to be said is that these are not your traditional light fluffy cupcake, they are a bit more dense. Still good, but more of a “one with a cup of tea” and less “holy crap, how did I already eat three of these”.
My birthday is still a week away, but I got a bit of a surprise start this weekend. I received a huge package in the mail from my mother on Saturday. I opened the box and on top of the stack of gifts was a card. The card contained $20 and instructions for me to open one gift a day for a week, and to use the money to get myself a cake, cupcakes, or the stuff to make a cake or cupcakes. Attached to the card were tiny little Totoro cake toppers, and as soon as I saw the one holding a strawberry, I knew I was making a batch of strawberry cupcakes the very next day. Whoo hoo for birthday week!!!
The Strawberry Puree
- Quart of Strawberries
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- Watch and cut strawberries.
- Combine strawberries and sugar in a sauce pan. Over medium heat bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and puree mixture with an immersion blender (or in a traditional blender until smooth).
- Allow mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes. * I ended up with roughly 2 cups of liquid.
- Pillsbury Classic White Cake Mix
- 3 eggs
- 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 cup of cooled strawberry puree
- Combine ingredients, beat until uniform, and bake per instructions on the back of the box.
This recipe is an adaptation of the vanilla frosting recipe featured here.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup strawberry puree
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 sticks unsalted butter (cut into small cubes, softened but cool)
- Whisk together sugar, flour, cream and puree in a medium sauce pan. Bring to boil over medium heat whisking occasionally, until the mixture reaches the consistency of a light pudding (approximately 10 minutes).
- Transfer mixture to a stand mixer. Beat mixture on high for 7-9 minutes until it has cooled. Reduce the speed to low and start adding the butter pieces a couple of pieces at a time ever 20-30 seconds, while the mixer is continually running. When the butter is fully incorporated, turn the speed up to med-high and mix until it becomes light and fluffy (1-2 minutes). Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy.
Not a bad way to kick things off, huh?
I do quite a bit of baking, as those of you who have followed this blog for any amount of time well know. To be completely honest, things don’t always go the way they should. Sometimes the recipe is to blame, and sometimes it’s completely on me. This time however, I have no idea where the fault lies. It all starts with this recipe for Spiced Carrot Cake by Twigg Studios. I’ve used some of their recipes before, and they can produce some serious toe curling treats, so I was really unprepared for how badly things went. Before we get into that though, here is the recipe I used.
Recipe for Cake:
2 carrots grated (approx 1 cup)
3 cups self raising flour
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
1 and 3/4 cup butter
1 cup soft brown sugar
3/4 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp honey
3/4 cup walnuts
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup candied ginger
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
2 tsp vanilla extract
- preheat the oven to 350f 180c or 160c for fan ovens and grease and line two 12cm tins.
- add the butter into a mixer with the sugar beat until soft, then add the eggs one at a time making sure to stop between each one and wipe down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- sift in the flour and fold in, add salt, vanilla and spices and fold in.
- add the crushed pineapple, carrots, chopped walnuts, pumpkin seeds, coconut and honey and fold in
- add the milk to loosen the batter then spoon into the two tins and bake for about 45 minutes.
- let cool
- slice some pineapple into thin strips then sprinkle with some brown sugar and grill until soft and starting to colour
Recipe for Frosting
500ml double cream
1 and 1/4 cup mascapone
4 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
- whip all the ingredients together until stiff
- level out cakes then spoon on some cream then add the grilled pineapple, and the second layer of cake and then add some more cream and use a pallet knife to smooth it around cake.
- decorate with coconut, walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
Now I’ll admit: I deviated from the base recipe in a couple of ways. One, I made cupcakes; two, I used pecans instead of walnuts, and three, I skipped the grilled pineapple because these were going to work with Andy, and I didn’t think they’d travel well. None of these things made any difference in the cake. The cake was flawless; without a doubt, it’s one of the best carrot cakes I have ever tried. Like, slap your momma good. The problem came when I tried (and I do mean tried) to make the frosting.
With no other directions besides “whip all the ingredients together until stiff”, I did exactly that. I dumped in the cheese and sugar and set my mixer on high. HUGE mistake: a couple of rotations in the double cream and the mascarpone released about 2 cups of liquid, and it started to splash out of the mixer. I quickly turned the dial down and put the splash guard on, but after five minutes, it was still chunks of cream and cheese swirling around in this soupy white liquid. I turned the mixer off and drained out as much of the liquid as I could and then turned it back on. It finally started to come together, but the frosting was really wet and oozed out of the piping bag. I could have added more sugar, but it already tasted crazy sweet, so I just gave up. I tossed the whole thing and made a quick cream cheese frosting for the cupcakes, but I felt so defeated. I may try this recipe again, but I think I might put the cream and the mascarpone in cheese cloth the night before to drain out all that extra liquid. It’s probably not a bad thing that I occasionally get a smack down from the baking gods to keep me humble and remind me that I still have so very much to learn. Probably.
Before my mom headed out earlier this week, she offered to help me whip up one more cupcake recipe for my checklist. In honor of Andy’s favorite Christmas treat, the chocolate orange, we selected this recipe for Chocolate Olive Oil & Blood Orange Cupcakes by Love & Olive Oil.
Yield: 12 cupcakes
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup pure olive oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon blood orange zest, finely grated
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon almond meal
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
- 2-3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons blood orange juice
- 1 teaspoon blood orange zest, finely grated
- 1-2 tablespoons soy creamer or heavy cream (as needed)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with paper liners.
- Whisk together the coconut milk, sugar, oil, vanilla extract, and zest until incorporated. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, almond meal, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in coconut milk mixture. Stir until just smooth (do not overmix).
- Pour into liners, filling each with 3 tablespoons of batter (cups should be no more than 2/3 full). Bake 18-20 minutes (or 10-12 for minis), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
- For frosting, cream butter until smooth and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Mix in orange juice, zest, and vanilla. Continue adding sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition (depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need more or less sugar or added cream to achieve the proper consistency). Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
Read more at http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2010/01/chocolate-olive-oil-and-blood-orange-cupcakes.html
- The taste tester results on this one were definitely love or hate, but in all fairness, the ones who didn’t like it admitted they don’t like chocolate orange candy so…….yeah.
- I feel squarely into the former category. The cake was a-mazing! Rich yet light, the perfect texture, and the slight tang of the blood orange really added depth to the chocolate flavor.
- The frosting was meh, but then again, it was only a slight modification of the standard butter cream, which, if the last half dozen recipes have taught us anything, I don’t seem to like. However, one of my wonderful taste testers called it “life changing” so if you like orange and buttercream you should probably go ahead and give it a try.
- How cool is it that the cake is vegan and that the frosting can be vegan if you want? I really like when recipes are adaptable for people with dietary restrictions.
- I am considering making the cake again, but in a loaf pan and making a blood orange glaze to go on top. Then I can eat it for breakfast.
Part of my 28 before 29 was trying 12 new cake recipes; this was a way to force myself into doing more baking. Baking, I discovered a couple of years ago, is an excellent stress reliever for me; unfortunately it was very hard on mine and Andy’s waistlines. I stopped for a while, but I really missed it. To me, there is something so sweet (pun intended) about creating something that can be shared with others. So I reconfigured the baking plan, while I (and I’m sure Andy) will try everything I make, the people at Andy’s office have graciously offered to be my culinary guinea pigs, so theoretically my waistline is safe. For recipe #1 tried Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting by How Sweet It Is.
Brown Sugar Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring to mix. Set aside. Line a cupcake tin with liners.
In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and egg until smooth. Add in vanilla extract and milk, again mixing until combined. Slowly pour in melted butter, continuing to whisk. Add in the flour, soda and salt, mixing with a large spoon until batter is smooth.
Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to liners. Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until tops are puffy and golden, and don’t jiggle when touched. Let cool completely.
Peanut Butter Brown Sugar Frosting
6 ounces cold cream cheese
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
raw turbinado sugar for topping, if desired
Add cream cheese to the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat until smooth, then add peanut butter and vanilla extract, mixing until combined. Add in brown and powdered sugars gradually, with the mixture on low speed. Once everything has been added, turn to medium-high speed and mix for 4-5 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides. If you’d like the frosting a bit sturdier, add additional powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time, mixing like before. Frost cupcakes!
The Cake: I really wanted to love this recipe, but to be completely honest it was just “okay”. The cake needed more sweetness, the flavor was good, but it wasn’t quite right. If I make these again I’ll be increasing the amount of sugar at least by a 1/4 cup. Plus the flavor of the frosting completely overpowered subtle richness added to the cake by the brown sugar. I will be making this again, but with some modifications.
The Frosting: I’ve made peanut butter frosting before, and I think I’ll stick with my own recipe. This one was very cream-cheesy, which is not how I like my peanut butter frosting to taste. It should taste like peanut butter. You couldn’t even taste the brown sugar, and the consistency was strange. I had to add an additional 2 cups of powdered sugar because it was so gooey I couldn’t keep it on the spatula. Probably won’t make this again.
Okay, that is 1 down only 11 to go!
Image from here.