Coconut Pineapple Loaf Cake

I didn’t find this Coconut Pineapple Loaf Cake recipe – it found me.  It knew I needed something with summery flavors.  It knew that I am ready to lose my mind with all of all of the snow we keep getting.  I don’t know what’s worse…how negatively it affects my bus commute (a 20 minute ride taking an hour and a half is just plain maddening) or how dirty and dingy it makes everything look in the city.  Depressing…

But it’s nothing a slice of this heavenly cake can’t help.  I have found that I quite enjoy a loaf cake.  They are frosting-less (yes!), portable, and a no-brainer to slice.

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

I grew up with two kinds of coffee cake…the homemade tube-pan version my mom made and the Drake’s packaged version my grandparents always had in the cabinet, alongside the Devil Dogs and Swiss Cake Rolls.

My mom’s version, sweet and crunchy with nuts, memorably served as my birthday cake one year when I had a pancake breakfast party.  The packaged version (and Nana) consoled me when I had to stay home from school with the chicken pox in kindergarten. 

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Merry Mini Cupcakes

Merry Mini Cupcakes

I am very fortunate have a Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery on the first floor of my work building, for 2 reasons:

  1. Their Coffee Club Card program.  Every year I buy my card, and then it’s good for unlimited coffee, tea, and soda fountain beverages for the rest of the year.  I figure at the rate I drink coffee, it pretty much pays for itself by March.
  2. Their great staff.  Every morning day they make getting coffee an enjoyable experience.  I used to work with hungry people and caffeine crazy people so I know how much fun their job isn’t.  I can honestly tell you I am sad when one of them quits and I didn’t get to say goodbye (I am talking to you Helen, Amanda, and Jess). 

When I learned that one of the managers was about to turn the same age as me, I thought it would be nice to make him something…since I like all the company at this age I can get.

I went with some festive mini cupcakes.  Vanilla cake was topped with vanilla buttercream.  Have I mentioned I don’t like chocolate?

For fun I filled them first with a teeny bit of seedless raspberry jam.

I thought it provided a nice little bit of juicy sweetness in the midst of all that smooth, creamy vanilla sweetness.

The mini red polka dot and gingham (not pictured) wrappers are also awesome, and came from The Bakers Confections on Etsy.  Visit them for all of your cupcake supply needs – they are terrific, and are located in Maine. 

Another point for New England!

I forgot to photograph an ornament with the one cupcake I allowed myself before I ate it (oops), so no ornament today…but I knew I could turn to Etsy for today’s Cup of Cheer.

Make that three cups.  Two for Christmas and one for me.

1.  I love these napkins.  Period.

Screen Printed Organic Cotton Merry Christmas Cloth Napkins from ohlittlerabbit, $20

2.  This vintage card is so hilarious and dated, but I love it, and I love the way the woman’s legs are stretched towards the man.  Speaking volumes with limbs only.  And oh yeah, Merry Christmas.

1930’s Cigarette Christmas Holiday Card from takingshape, $4

3.  I basically want everything for sale at jimboart.  Look at this bear.  He smells cakes and he just wants a little slice.  He is skin and bones! 

Bear Smells Cake Hand Painted Side Plate from jimbobart, $37.50

How’s your holiday shopping coming?  I need to kick mine into some serious high gear.  I haven’t even started my cards.  Maybe tonight will be the night I make THE LIST.  Do you go off a list or buy as you see?  Do you shop online or haul yourself to the stores?  Both?

Help me help you help me!

Thanksgiving Recap

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving – and that you fell into the same food coma I did come Thursday evening.   I had a great time visiting with my family and counting all of my many blessings.

There are a lot of us so we do Thanksgiving “family-style” with all the food set up in one spot…or, as you can see, on every available inch of my mom’s counter.  Covered in copious amounts of tin foil.  Underneath was a turkey, a spiral ham, a pork roast, a tray of stuffed shells, and a tray of veggie lasagna.  Plus sides. 

We are Italian.  The phrase “too much food” doesn’t exist.

My mom and Arthur had me as their guest for 2 nights and took great care of me.  They are terrific.

Arthur used to wake us up on Thanksgiving morning by “making the turkey dance” before it went in the oven.  This consisted of coming into our bedrooms with the turkey like a hand puppet and waving it over our heads while we hid under the covers, shrieking.

Thankfully, he now just sticks to basting and carving.

Our Community Servings pecan and pumpkin pies were both delicious…especially the pecan.  I could have eaten it with just a spoon.  Dangerous.

 

Sadly, one thing I was not thankful for was the batch of Italian Meatball cookies I ruined when I forgot to add the baking powder.  Not a proud moment, but it happens…and I will admit it!

In need of dessert one way or another, I grabbed a lemon cake mix and a brownie mix and doctored them up with the help of some trusty Bundts.

Lemon Pound Cake Bundt:

The side of the cake mix box told me I could turn it into a pound cake by adding a box of instant pudding mix and tweaking the egg, water, and oil extras.  My mom didn’t have lemon pudding so I used vanilla.  I also added vanilla oomph by poking 2 dozen holes in the baked cake with a toothpick and then pouring a vanilla glaze of powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract over the top to drain down into the cake.  A dusting of powdered sugar added class.  I love how powdered sugar accentuates the lines of a good Bundt.

This pan is my mom’s, one of the few styles I don’t have, so it was fun to try it out.

Also on the menu was a Thanksgiving edition of Brownie Bundts – this time with sprinkles:

I used a Ghiradelli brownie mix (the best of the mixes) and made a quick glaze using a little melted butter, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and milk.  Some autumn sprinkles made them holiday-ready!

And of course, I couldn’t forget to include these 3 boys from my visit.  They are very clean.

My favorite Thanksgiving Day treat was a new appetizer my sister Courtney made.  I will be sharing that recipe next, so stay tuned!

Chocolate Chip Castle Cake

I wanted to make a cake for a coworker’s birthday, and a chocolate chip cake just seemed appropriately fun.  And since I was going for fun, I also decided to go with my much-neglected castle Bundt pan. 

Bundts have so much to offer visually, before you even get to the taste.

You don’t cover these babies with frosting.  You glaze.  You ganache.  You dust.

And then, if your cake is a castle, you add some flair. 

Would you enjoy entering your office and being greeted by THIS on your birthday?

Chuck was! 

The almond extract in this recipe is absolutely noticeable (heads up, non-almond lovers) and lends a grownup flavor to what is otherwise a very simple, dense, and delicious yellow cake, studded with chocolate chips.

Covering the cake with the chocolate glaze adds polish and texture, and the dusting of powdered sugar covers up any blemishes – like the crack I accidentally put in mine when I tipped it out of the pan improperly.  The cake basically wore a girdle of plastic wrap overnight to keep it together…but you’d never know that, would you you?

You know…unless I told you?

Oh well.  This is a place of honesty.

Happy Birthday, Chuck!

Click for the full recipe

Apple Streusel Bundt Cake

It wouldn’t be fall without apples, and since fall is now in its final month I figured I had better get moving on my apple baking! 

For apple picking this year I went to a familiar orchard, but with a new face.  Jessica O. was in need of her first apple picking experience, which kind of blows my mind because she is from West Virginia, meaning she participated in 4-H and knows how to knit, sew, and make a mean batch of pepperoni rolls.  It seems like apple picking would have fallen in there somewhere.

Determined to correct this, we hit up Russell Orchards in Ipswitch for the following reasons:

Hot and greasy Cider Donuts at $4 for a half dozen.

The Biting Pig…click on his picture with caution.  I warned you.

Gorgeous leaves and apples…including the 2010 “Twilight Apple”.

Lovely Jessica.

We had a great time, but onto the Bundt cake!

As you may know, I love Bundts.  My mom gave me the official Bundt Classics cookbook from Nordic Ware for my birthday last summer and I finally cracked the spine with this recipe. 

I actually made 2 of these this weekend.  John and I went to a birthday party Friday night, and then to a pre-wedding celebration for Greg and Courtney last night.  I enjoyed the cake so much the first time that I wanted to make another one, and since I knew we’d be seeing Greg and Courtney and they just bought their first home a few months ago, I thought it could double as a housewarming offering.

Greg and Courtney are getting married next month.  Greg and John lived next door to each other growing up, and he is one of Greg’s groomsmen.  They are one of those couples that just makes you happy – the second you meet them you feel right at home.  It was so much fun seeing them last night and meeting their extended wedding party – I can’t wait for their big day! 

Awesome, right?  They totally are.

And so is this cake!  The alternating layers of golden cake, sliced apples, and streusel crumbs is seriously delicious, and would go great with your morning coffee.  Or anytime, really…  It’s also incredible easy.

The one thing that’s tough about a cake is that you can’t cut it open for a picture before you give it away without people noticing, so you have to take a picture of your slice with your (amazing) new phone’s camera.

Then you eat the whole thing. 

Click for the full recipe

Lemon Squeezers

I have been busy lately with work and studying for (and passing!) my PHR exam, but I did manage to find some time to make a Bundt cake…using my Chrysanthemum mold for the first time.

Reactions consisted mostly of “Wow!  Is it a pineapple?”  Maybe that’s because I did a glazed lemon cake and it was yellow…but it looked and tasted lovely.  Special gratitude to my mother for cleaning the pan for me while I was asleep (I made it at her house…normally I don’t have elves cleaning my dirty pans).

While making the cake I got to use my mother’s lemon squeezer.  It worked so perfectly I asked her where she got it and she said it came with her from our old house and that she thought she sent away for it in the mail “years ago”.  This prompted me to look for her model online, and sure enough, it was made by Sunkist.  I tracked down a photo of it.

This is all you need (but check out some of those other crazy things in that photo…what is that…a lemon spigot!?).  Citrus is a big component of the cakes I make and I have just been squeezing my fruits into bowls and then picking out the seeds.  Not very smart when there are a vast array of lemon squeezers out there.

The oldest known lemon squeezers were found in Turkey and date back to the early 1700’s.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists over 200 patents for lemon squeezers, the majority of which were registered between 1880 and 1910, which I will now refer to as The Golden Years of Lemon Squeezing Ease.  The are pretty simple things.  You push down on a lemon to force the juice and pulp from the rind; and the juice passes through the sieve.  You can then obtain the maximum amount of juice the lemon has to offer for your baking, and the rind is still fine for zesting.  Because the lemon juice is very acidic, the squeezer can only be made of acid-resistant materials.  Lemons are jerks like that, but that’s what makes them lemons.

Like my first car, a 1990 Toyota Corolla named Doris that ruined me for all cars since.