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Entries in cakes (60)

Tuesday
Jul272010

Chess Pieces: Yellow Chess Cake Recipe

Is it just me, or does the phrase "light summer dessert" seem like a fancy way of saying "low fat, dull suffering"?

Luckily, there's an antidode: Aimee's Chess Cake, a recipe I found in The Cake Mix Doctor Returns . Similar to that St. Louis specialty called Gooey Butter Cake, this dessert is decadently, deliciously, delightfully, thick as a brick.

The recipe I adapted suggests cutting "into small bars because it's so rich"--but my vote goes for big, fat slices. Topped with candied nuts. Take that, low-fat dessert!

Yellow Chess Cake

Adapted from Aimee's Chess Cake from The Cake Mix Doctor Returns

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for the pan
  • Flour, for dusting the pan
  • 1 package plain yellow cake mix
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup candied walnuts (I used these ones ) --these are optional but I like the texture and flavor they add

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour one 9 x 13 inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl mix together cake mix, butter and 1 egg. Pat batter into greased 9x13 inch pan.
  3. In a medium size mixing bowl mix together cream cheese, 2 eggs and sugar. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the cake mix batter. Sprinkle the nuts on top.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown on the edges (the middle will still be soft but will set to a solid but gooey consistency as the cake cools).

CakeSpy Note: Like this cake? You might also enjoy Houdini Bars.

Monday
Jun142010

Whiskey Me Away: Chocolate Whiskey Cake from Columbia City Bakery

It's always five o'clock somewhere, but really, any hour that you devour the chocolate whiskey cake from Columbia City Bakery is a happy hour indeed.

This loaf cake is actually pretty simple: it starts with a dark as night, exceedingly dense and rich chocolate cake, which is then topped with a crowning glory of sweet-but-with-a-bite whiskey-espresso icing glaze.

Something happens when these flavors come together: the chocolate, the whiskey, the sugary glaze with a buzz of espresso: it might just make you tipsy with pleasure overload.

Oh, is this ever a happy cake.

Chocolate Whiskey cake from Columbia City Bakery, 4865 Rainier Ave. South, Seattle; also frequently available at the Broadway Farmer's Market; find out more online at columbiacitybakery.com.

Wednesday
May262010

Great Pear-ing: Brown Sugar Ginger Cream Cake with Five Spice Pecans and Caramelized Pears

With my first attempt at baking from the new book Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison, I managed to do something rather unlikely: I made a dessert which contained absolutely no fruit, seasonal or otherwise.

What I did, of course, was I flipped right to the back of the book where there is a section entitled "cakes to go with fruit"--and I chose the most rich and delicious-sounding one, the Brown Sugar-Ginger Cream Cake, which was described as having a "poundcake-like personality". Sold! I baked it up, using part almond flour for fun (it made the texture slightly more coarse, I think, but not in such a bad way), and it came out beautifully.

But how to top it? Flipping to another section of the book, I came across a recipe for Candied Five-Spice Pecans, suggested as a great accompaniment to ripe pears; they sounded good, so I made a batch and put them on top of the cake, completely ignoring that pesky and vaguely healthy-sounding pear part. And oh, are they divine on top of the buttery, rich cake.

But ultimately I realized it wouldn't necessarily be honoring the book's, ah, entire mission, to not include fruit, so I sliced up a ripe Washington pear in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, stirring frequently over medium heat until the liquid had reduced and the pear had been battered into sweet, buttery submission.

And you know what? The fruit made it even better, and made me feel a whole lot better about eating it for breakfast (It has fruit! And nuts! It's practically health food!)

Here's how you do it at home. 

Brown Sugar Ginger Cream Cake with Five Spice Pecans and Caramelized Pears

For the cake

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (you could use cake or all purpose flour here instead, the original recipe called for 3/4 cup each AP and cake flour, respectively)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the five spice pecans

  • 1 cup pecan halves or pieces
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspon five-spice powder

For the caramelized pears 

  • 1 large ripe pear, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

Procedure 

  1. Butter and flour a loaf pan. Line the bottom and ends with parchment paper (it will make your life so much easier). Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the flours, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; whisk together. Make a well in the middle.
  3. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, beat the eggs till foamy, then add the cream, sugar, and flavorings. Beat until you have what resembles a soft whipped cream. Pour the mixture into the center of the flour mixture and whisk together just until well combined and lump-free. Scrape batter into the pan and even it out.
  4. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 40-50 minutes (original recipe called for 50-60 minutes, but I think using the almond flour might have altered the baking time).
  5. Let cool for about half an hour in the pan before loosening the sides with a knife and turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
  6. Prepare the candied five-spice pecans. Adjust the oven to 300 F. Toast pecans until they are fragrant, about 15-20 minutes. Turn them at about 10 minutes to ensure that they brown evenly.
  7. Heat your butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add your pecans, and sprinkle the sugar on top. Stir and cook until the sugar melts and covers the nuts. Remove them to a bowl and toss with the five-spice powder. Gently put them on top of the cake (it's ok if the cake is still warm); they will crisp up a bit as they cool.
  8. Go ahead and use the same skillet and melt some more butter over medium heat; add your slivered pear pieces, and once you've turned the slices once or twice and they're a bit wilty around the edges, add the sugar. Continue to heat until the juices have begun to reduce and the mixture is thick and caramel-y. Serve on top of cake slices.
Wednesday
Mar032010

Up, Up, and Away: 7-Up Cake for Serious Eats

Up is a sweet film of dreams realized: by tying thousands of balloon to his home, main character Carl Fredricksen sets out to fulfill his lifelong desire to see the great wide world. But when it comes to a cake inspired by the movie, you're going to want all of the charm but none of that floating away business.

While this 7-Up Cake may be infused with the buoyant lemon-lime soda bubbles, it's far from light-as-air. This is actually a rich, decadent pound cake made with five sticks of butter.

Coloring the cake a gentle sky blue and topping it with a fluffy, cloud-like coating of rich coconut frosting lends an air of drama when it's sliced into, and a garnish of lollipops (the "balloons") add a bit of whimsy. So good, it'll disappear into thin air.

For the full entry and recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Wednesday
Feb032010

Holy Guacamole: Chocolate Avocado Cake With Avocado Buttercream Recipe

Yes, you heard me. Chocolate avocado cake. With avocado buttercream. Trust me, I too had my doubts about this vaguely healthy-sounding, bright green-topped confection. But after reading Joy The Baker, who raved "It actually worked! It was honest-to-goodness delicious!" I felt that it was worth a try. 

Plus, with the Super Bowl—only the biggest avocado consumption day of the year—just around the corner, chances are you might have an extra avocado or two lying around. Why not make use of it by making a sweet treat full of good fat?

For the full entry, plus more pictures and the recipe, visit Serious Eats!

Monday
Jan182010

Holey Yum: Doughnut Upside Down Cake for Serious Eats

Trying to improve a classic can be tricky business.

However, when it comes to Pineapple Upside Down Cake, I believe I may have actually done it--by adapting it into a Doughnut Upside Down Cake.

How did I attain this magic? Not through complicated chemistry or advanced algorithms. I simply looked through a classic recipe and replaced every instance of "pineapple" with "doughnut" and replaced shortening and milk with butter and heavy cream, respectively.

The result, scientifically speaking? Holey yum.

For the full entry and recipe, check out Serious Eats!

Thursday
Dec032009

Instant Pleasure: Pumpkin Cake in a Mug from Coffee Mug Cake Cookbook

Coffee Mug Cake
I know what you're thinking after looking at this picture. "CakeSpy," you're thinking, shaking your head sympathetically, "has been hitting the vanilla extract a bit hard".
Well, maybe sometimes. But not this time--this cake, which might be a little ugly but is actually surprisingly tasty--was baked in the microwave, in a mug.
It was a sample recipe from the self-released book Coffee Mug Cake Cookbook which immediately intrigued me--after all--cake? Baked in the microwave? In a mug? I had to give this a try.
The recipe was very easy to follow; the cake itself came out with an unusual but not unpleasant texture, more like a sort of thick flan or custardy cake. To try and make it ever-so-slightly cuter I topped it with some confectioners' sugar quickly whisked with cream and a mellowcreme pumpkin. I am not going to forsake the oven, but in a pinch, this is definitely a sweet option for a quick sweet fix.

Curious about the book? It can be purchased here. Want to try the recipe? Here it is:

Pumpkin Cake in a Mug

  • 7 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of ginger, ground cloves and nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 tablespoons chopped pecans (optional) - I used walnuts

MixedIn the Microwave
  1. Mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, ground cloves and nutmeg. Add egg, milk and vanilla. Mix well, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the mug. Stir in the pumpkin and pecans.

    Just out of the MicrowaveFlipped

  2. Cook for 3 minutes on high on a microwavable plate, followed by 2 minutes at 50% power. Turn the mug upside down to release the cake onto the plate.

Coffee Mug Cake
Notes: 

1. CAUTION: MUG WILL BE HOT.
2. Make sure to use a microwaveable mug that is at least 15 ounces large (about 4.5 inches in height and 3 inches in
diameter). If you opt for something smaller, be prepared for massive spillage.
3. Coat the inside of the mug with a no-stick spray to ensure easy release.
4. Unless you have a mini whisk, forks work just as effectively.
5. The outside may be a bit “gooey-er” than the inside. The cook times listed are optimal for a 700-watt microwave and are the best for ensuring the cake is not too dry on the inside.

Thursday
Nov262009

Just a Speck: The Birnen Speck Cake

Pear and Bacon Cake
This photo is credited to Einwanger, Klaus-Maria on Kuechengoetter.com.

As a dessert detective agency, it is the official duty of CakeSpy to report on the birnen speck cake.

What's a birnen speck cake? Well, birnen means pear; speck roughly translates as bacon; and cake...well, you know that one.
Birnen Speck Cake
Yup: Pear Bacon Cake. I was tipped off about this cake by Criminal Crafts, and finally hunted down a recipe and tutorial online on the site kuechengoetter.de. Basically this cake is made by laying bacon in a loaf pan, nestling pared pears on top, and then smothering it all in cake batter before baking it. The result? A confection which yields a strangely pretty slice, with pear shards surrounded by buttery cake, all surrounded by pink-red-and-white bacon. Ready to give it a try? While an effort to directly translate may not be easy, the recipe can be found here.

Wednesday
Sep162009

Royal Sweet: Princess Cake from Svedala Bakery, Seattle

Princess Cake from Svedala Bakery, Seattle
When Kristina of Svedala Bakery sent a message saying she'd recently made a batch of Princess cake and invited me to try some, the response was swift and without hesitation: Y.E.S.

And so a sojourn was made to Svedala's small location in the Pike Place Market (in the same corridor as Daily Dozen Donut Co.) and she gave us two pieces to-go.

The first thing you'll notice about Svedala's Princess Cake is that it's pink, as opposed to the more frequently seen green (remember how it became a CakeSpy obsession a while back?). Why so? Well, it's actually a green reason: since they color and flavor all of their baked goods naturally, they've found that the color they can get from beet juice is much more appetizing than natural green dyes, which tend more toward a drab green.

But you're not going to want to linger on the color for long. At this point, you're going to want to get this cake in your mouth.
Princess Cake from Svedala Bakery, Seattle
Svedala's princess cake is--how else to put it--transcendent. It's a beautiful balance, with lighter layers of sponge cake and a rich whipped cream which is somehow light at the same time that it coats your mouth with a creamy flavor, anchored by more substantial vanilla bean pastry cream and fresh jam layers, and it's all held together by a rich, almondy marzipan. Once slices are cut, the marzipan layer all but melts into the cake, which makes for a perfect marriage of flavors, especially along the edge of the cake. While I had initially expressed a concern that the marzipan layer might be too thin for safe transport, I have been assured that the cake does transport better as a whole cake, and that the baker has been considering some different options to help the cake maintain form better.

If you are in Seattle, this one is a must-try. Since the Princess Cake is not available every day, please do call ahead for availability.

 


If you are not in Seattle, don't despair: you can find more Princess cake lore here, and a recipe for an American variation on the Princess cake here.

 

Thursday
Nov012007

Things That Make You Go Hum: The Hummingbird Cake of Baker Boys and More

Hummingbird cake. Perhaps the easiest way to describe it is like carrot cake, but instead of carrots, it has banana and tiny bits of pineapple and nuts. Originally from the Deep South, the origin of the name is a bit of a mystery; some say that it's because it's so good it makes you "hum with happiness".

However, we prefer another explanation, that its sweetness causes people to hover around it, like hummingbirds around sweet nectar. Indeed, this is exactly what happened when we first encountered the Hummingbird cake at Baker Boys of Ocean Grove, NJ, a bakery opened earlier this year by the charming Russell Lewis (who cites Billy's Bakery and the Buttercup Bakeshop as inspirations). With dense, moist, subtly spiced banana cake layers and thick, buttery frosting, it was one of those cake slices that is pretty much impossible to stop eating until it's gone--and that will leave you aching for more. We've heard that crack has this effect too, but we digress.

And while the store employee told us that Red Velvet was the most popular flavor, we at Cakespy believe that another cake is going to cause a stir--er, make that a hum, once word gets around.

The Baker Boys is located at 69 Main Ave., Ocean Grove, NJ. 

Cakespy Note: Not in NJ? We feel your pain, so we tried out a Hummingbird cake recipe ourselves, from Whole Foods (we've generally been happy with their recipes). We opted to make it into cupcakes instead; here's the recipe, with a picture of our results.

Hummingbird Cake (from the Whole Foods Website)
  • 3 cups all-purpose, unbleached organic white flour
  • 1 3/4 cups organic evaporated cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large organic eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple with its own juice, (do not drain)
  • 2 cups toasted pecans, chopped
  • 2 cups organic bananas, chopped (about 4 medium)

  • Glaze
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, (use organic if available)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3–4 tablespoons organic low fat milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Lightly spray or oil a 9x13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Combine flour with sugar, salt, soda, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, beat the eggs with the applesauce, oil, vanilla, and pineapple until well combined. Add this egg mixture to the dry ingredients, incorporating all ingredients well. Add the pecans and bananas, mixing well, until all ingredients are combined. Spoon the batter into prepared baking dish. Bake the cake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until done when tested in the center with a toothpick. Allow the cake to cool completely.

Make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar with the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the vanilla and the milk, stirring with a wire whisk. The glaze should spread easily. Pour the glaze over the cake and using a rubber spatula, spread evenly across the entire top of the cake. As the glaze sets it hardens a bit.

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