Pumpkin Bread

we are all settled in at our new (temporary) home in cleveland! finally, i’ve made time to do a little baking, and started with something seasonal. i had been craving pumpkin bread since the chill in the air hit a few weeks ago, and it seemed that everyone around me was indulging. i have been unable to avoid the sights of people eating their pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin spice lattes, and all other goodies that are a major “no-no” for me.

i took my loaf pan out of the cardboard box it was packed in and got to work.

i was so excited to find a recipe using no nut flour. i am trying to cut down a little on baking with nuts, since they can be inflammatory when heated. coconut flour is so easy to digest, and is really a health-bomb all the way around. i found this beautiful recipe that the lovely coconut mama had conjured up. since i wasn’t about to dig for my smaller loaf pans, i doubled the recipe and made a few adjustments.

i am thrilled to say that this recipe was a total win. this bread is unlike other gluten-free or grain free quick breads. the texture is much more like a wheat based bread than an eggy or crumbly loaf that sometimes results from coconut flour or almond flour. it is simply perfect. i think the amount of sweetener used here is just right, so i would wait until you try it as-is before adjusting the levels of sugar added.

this is my little ramekin tester.

TIPS:

*just follow the instructions. the step using tin foil to cover the loaf is essential, don’t even think about skipping it. you would end up with a hard-as-a-rock top on your bread.

*since i doubled the recipe, i was able to pour a little extra into a medium-sized ramekin. it took 1 hour to bake. i immediately poured whole milk over it and ate the whole thing.

*use parchment paper to line the bottom of your loaf pan. trust me, your loaf will rip in half if you don’t line the pan. i don’t care how much oil you use. coconut flour sticks.

*you may wish to sweeten with something other than coconut sugar. in that case, i would just use cane or turbanado sugar. don’t attempt a liquid sweetener here. it could be fun, however, to experiment with using a few drops of stevia in place of 1/4 of the sugar.

*yes, 14 eggs.

*yes, 315f.

*as always, i would love to encourage comments regarding substitutions, adjustments, failures, and success! this is a give and take blog, so please let the readers know what this bread is really about!

pumpkin bread

(adapted from the coconut mama)

approx 12 servings

ingredients

1 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/4 cup tapioca flour (tapioca starch)

1/4 cup flaxseed meal

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 cup + 2 tbsp coconut sugar

3 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ground ginger

14 eggs, separated

1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup melted coconut oil

1 tbsp vanilla

method: grease up and line a standard loaf pan (8.5 x 3, roughly) with parchment to cover at least the bottom.

preheat oven to 315f.

begin with beating the egg whites in a large, dry bowl, until stiff peaks form. set aside while you complete the next steps.

combine the melted oil with the egg yolks, pumpkin, and vanilla. stir well.

mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

combine the dry with the wet. you will get a paste.

now fold in the egg whites.

pour into your loaf pan, then make a tent out of tinfoil to go over the loaf. this is where you may also wish to pour some batter into a ramekin, or a few muffin cups.

bake covered loaf (and other portion) for 45 minutes. remove ramekin portion, it is likely done.

remove tinfoil from loaf and continue to bake for 15 more minutes.

turn heat off after 15 minutes, and allow loaf to set up in oven, about 20 additional minutes.

loaf may now be cooled on countertop. allow a bit before removing from pan.

i love warm pumpkin bread served with cold milk poured over it. that, or a chunk of melty butter and sometimes a drizzle of maple syrup. this would be such a phenomenal treat with vanilla ice cream, also!

yes, this is a treat. enjoy a slice slowly and occasionally! the carbs, although high, are much less than most snacks are.. heck, lower than a large banana!

here are the facts per 1/12 of the loaf:

calories: 300g

carbs: 32g

protein: 9g

lemon meringue cake

is it just me, or does lemon meringue provoke nostalgia? it always reminds me of the 70′s. it feels like such a retro dessert!

this dreamy cake made its way into my life far too late. tart, cold lemon curd in a sweet, cakey layered sandwich?

of course.

but..

with meringue?

yes, meringue instead of frosting!

why didn’t i think of that? where has this been all of my life? the pillowy swiss-style meringue is honey sweetened, and is more like a lightly sweetened, toasted marshmallow blanketing the cake than a traditional, dry, stiff coating over that lemon meringue pie at the grocery store.

this recipe is a culmination of many put together. while i will reference all of them, i will write out the recipe as i made it.

the guilt-free treat is loaded with protein from the eggs both in the cake and in the filling and topping. don’t forget about the healthy, clean fats, fiber, and its refreshing and light flavors on a hot day. we demolished it during out 90 degree day last weekend at our BBQ, and there were only leftovers because i hid the last slice deep into the refrigerator before friends came back into the kitchen for seconds.

what a crowd pleaser! i could not detect the taste of coconut that people are always anticipating with coconut flour, so don’t be afraid. alternatively, if you love the flavor of coconut, a little coconut butter (1/4 cup or so) would be delicious in this cake if you want to give it some concentrated coconut flavor. the texture is much like a sponge cake, but a little denser. it would make an excellent base for any yellow cake, poke cake, or pound cake.

i halved the recipe, making only one layer, then slicing it through to make a layer cake. i am posting the recipe for one layer, double it if you have a big crowd.

this recipe works best if all of the liquids are at room temperature. it should be made a few hours before, or the day before you put it together with the curd and meringue.

lemon meringue cake

adapted from nourished kitchen’s coconut flour cake

6 eggs

1 cup full fat coconut milk

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup coconut flour, sifted to remove clumps

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

method: preheat oven to 350f, place racks in center of oven. cut a round of parchment to stick to the bottom of an 8″ cake pan. use butter or oil to stick it to the bottom, and grease up the sides of the pan.

beat eggs, honey, vanilla and milk until well combined.

separately, combine all dry ingredients together in a dry bowl.

combine the wet with the dry ingredients, and stir until everything is evenly mixed. allow it to sit for 2 or 3 minutes to let the coconut flour soak up some of the wet ingredients. the batter will be thick, but pourable.

pour the batter into prepped pan. bake for 40 minutes.

allow to cool for half an hour before carefully separating the sides of the cake from the pan, then inverting onto a cooling rack.

cake should cool completely before you cut it in half to layer it. also, the flavor will be most excellent when cold. you may refrigerate it to get it cold before you make the curd.

lemon curd filling

variation of my own recipe

4 egg  yolks at room temperature (save whites for meringue)

2 whole eggs

2/3 cup honey

zest of one organic lemon

1 cup of lemon juice

12 tbsp coconut oil or butter

method: whisk first 3 ingredients in a bowl. transfer to sauce pan and, over low heat, whisk like crazy until it gets a little pale in color. remember, you don’t want to be making scrambled eggs here, so low and slow is the key here.

add coconut oil, whisk for a few seconds until melted, then quickly whisk in lemon juice.

cook over medium heat whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and a few bubbles rise from the mixture.

remove from heat immediately after you see your first few bubbles, and pour through a fine sieve or cheesecloth into a clean bowl, pushing mixture through. discard pulp in sieve.

allow curd to cool at room temp for an hour before pouring it into the center of your cake. once you place it between the layers of cake, refrigerate it for a few hours so it sets up nice and firm without layers slipping around.

swiss meringue

adapted from cook, eat, love

1 tbsp cornstarch (or 2 tbsp arrowroot or tapioca flour)

1/3 cup water

4 egg whites

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 cup honey

method: mix the cornstarch and  honey in a small saucepan, then add the water and bring to a boil over medium heat. using a wire whisk stir briskly and boil for 15 seconds. remove the thick paste from the heat and cover.

in a clean, very dry bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.

add vanilla and cream of tartar to egg whites, and slowly pour in hot honey and cornstarch mixture while continuing to beat. thick white waves will form, and when you continue, stiff white peaks will form.

once stiff white peaks form, stop mixing.

spread all over cooled cake while meringue is still warm. this way, it will really stick to the cake and take a stiff form. you may fire the meringue now, or put it into the refrigerator until ready to serve. use a kitchen torch to fire the meringue until it is dark brown.

store assembled cake in the refrigerator or at room temp. it will keep in the refrigerator for no longer than one full day. meringue, even cooked, will weep slightly over time.

baby shower, cakes, and appreciation

my shower was last weekend! what a blast! we had it in a big old church turned into garden and community center. light shone in through the pastel colored windows, several tables decorated in green table cloths and egg-shaped candies that filled bird’s nests. adorable. my sister knows me too well, and everything i wanted, she executed perfectly! we had a pretty packed house, maybe 40 of my closest ladies were there.

we had food catered from our local middle eastern eatery. -my favorite hummus, a giant greek salad, and so many other goodies. i didn’t get photos of the food because i was busy having a blast, but it was set up in the most beautiful way. description would not do justice.

this baby is already spoiled. jogging stroller, baby magic bullet, high chair, cloth diapers, car seat, christening blanket,.. i can’t name a favorite. all i can say is that my friends and family are amazing and supportive. thank you to all of my pals who love this baby already! from the bottom of my heart, this joy of this whole pregnancy was totally illuminated at my shower.

my sis and i had a blast spending 2 full days in the kitchen, the first day baking 2 layer cakes, and the second filling and frosting the cakes and also making a lemon tart. we also whipped up a few bird’s nests, made from coconut and egg whites, to top the cakes with.

the first cake we made was an almond layer cake, filled with strawberry jam and frosted with fluffy cream cheese frosting.

the second was chocolate layer cake with chocolate filling and chocolate frosting.

they were both delicious, and i’m happy to say the leftovers were gobbled up quickly!

this recipe makes 2 round 8″ layer cakes.

almond layer cake with chocolate frosting

ingredients

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/3 cup room temperature butter

4 cups almond flour

1 cup coconut flour

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp baking powder

8 eggs at room temp

1 cup milk (i used whole)

2 tbsp vanilla

optional 1/4 tsp almond extract

1 cup strawberry preserves

method:

preheat oven to 350f, position racks in center of oven. prep 2 round 8″ cake pans with parchment rounds and nice coating of butter.

begin by creaming butter and sugar with electric mixer. once combined and fluffy, add milk, vanilla, and almond extract (if using it) at a low-speed, until it is all wet and combined. add eggs, a few at a time, and let it slowly mix.

combine all dry ingredients together.

add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. a fragrant, irresistable batter will form, and your fingers will find themselves into the bowl, scraping sugar and almond from the sides, and before you know it, you’re eating the raw batter! stop yourself.

pour violated batter evenly into 2 cake pans, and bake for 35 minutes or so. watch carefully as nuts burn quickly.

let them cool for a bit before loosening edges from pans and inverting onto cooling racks. these cakes are best served the day after, as the lovely flavors meld nicely with time. -like booze does.

i spread (thickly, may i add) some fancy, expensive strawberry preserves between the layers as a filling. i layed it on thick, spread it evenly, and then stuck the un-frosted cake into the refrigerator so the filling would stiffen up a little before icing it.

fluffy cream cheese frosting

3/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup cream cheese at room temp

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

method: whip cream until it is stiff.

in separate bowl, beat cream cheese until it is creamy. blend in sweetener and vanilla.

fold cream into cream cheese gently.

pipe edge around filling to help keep preserves contained in center of cake. place top layer on, use frosting to cover top and sides of cake. place in cool area for a few hours to help set up, then keep at room temperature to serve.

for the chocolate cakes

this recipe makes one layer, so double it if you are doing a 2 chocolate and single vanilla layer cake like i did.

adapted from the wholesome home

1/2 cup butter at room temp

1 cup sugar, minus a few tbsp

5 eggs at room temperature

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

3/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup strong brewed coffee at room temp

method: prep 8″ round cake pans using butter and lining the bottom with parchment round. preheat oven to 350f.

combine coconut flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. set aside.

crack eggs open and put in a bowl with a pouring spout. set aside.

combine milk, vanilla and coffee in cup with pouring spout. set aside.

using stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. yum!

after just a few minutes, turn on low-speed and add one egg at a time to the butter and sugar. plop. plop. until all the eggs are gone and well combined.

next, scoop about a cup of the flour mixture into the batter, then pour 1/4 of the milk mixture into the bowl. continue alternating additions until both are mixed into the batter. stop mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to reincorporate any butter or other stuff that may be sticking to the bowl. mix until evenly combined. pour into prepped pan.

bake for 35 minutes or so. the center will be just set and no longer jiggly. do not over bake. please, for the love of all things good. cool in pan for half an hour or so. use a knife to loosen edges from pan and cool completely on rack.

cocoa frosting

adapted from bon appetit magazine, feb 2011

10 tbsp unsalted butter

1 1/3 cup light or golden brown sugar, packed

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt

method: melt butter over medium heat. stir in sugar, cocoa, and salt. gradually stir in cream. continue to stir over medium heat until mixture is hot and begins to simmer around edges. remove from heat and stir in vanilla. stir off heat for a minute or two. put a lid on it. stick in refrigerator for 1 1/2 hrs, stirring occasionally.

after chilled, let stand at room temp for another hour, again, stirring occasionally.

frost and fill the cake liberally. do not keep cake cold, store at room temp.

it was a total honor to serve desert to all of the guests at the shower. this was a great way to greet everyone individually, which i really don’t think i would have been able to accomplish if i hadn’t served up the cakes myself.

normally, i don’t include many photos of myself in posts. but this is a special occasion, because i look at this as more of a photo of my baby! look at how big that thing is! so i wanted to post a photo of my big tummy in case anyone wanted to tell me what the sex of the baby is based on just looking. i love all of the guesses i’ve been getting, what fun!

mixed berries layered pound cake

oh so messy!

this is probably the best fruit based dessert i have ever made. -at least, it is MY favorite. i made this beautiful and messy layered pound cake for my sister in-law’s shower this past weekend. it was made with the huge mix of berries i had stocked up on from local sources, whether it be from local farm stands or my own back yard. any berry, or fruit for that matter, would work wonderfully here, but i loved the sweet and mellow blueberries playing with the tart, sour raspberries, so a good mix of stuff is best here.

to play up the sweetness and tartness of the berries even more, i used balsamic vinegar to help reduce the berries. it only took a little to give it some real real flavor, and also to help thicken the berry sauce.

i made a sour cream topping that was flavored with the same balsamic reduction. i used the sour cream between the layers as well as a final topping. oh my, was this a great idea or what? it gave the whole thing a “berries ‘n’ cream” feel, without dumbing the fruit down a bit. it may seem like a lot of steps, but it comes together more easily than expected. -especially for a fancy pound cake.

yes, i will probably be making other variations of this, but no time soon. i am still obsessed with the tart blue and black dots that keep falling out of the sky and onto my plate this summer!

the whole idea of this cake was to simply to make a cake packed with summer’s best berries. i wanted the berries in AND on the cake, as much as possible. i wanted that sweet juice to drip into the cake without making it soggy. that’s why i made 2 cakes and layered. the berries IN the cake burst while baking and added lots of moisture to the base, and the berries ON the cake, well the berries on the cake were just ridiculous. for a smaller crowd, sure you could cut the recipe in half. OR you could make the whole thing and share it with friends.

don't skip the sour cream topping!

mixed berries layered pound cake

1 1/2 cups sugar or honey

1 1/3 cups butter, softened

4 cups almond flour, packed

1 cup coconut flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

8 eggs at room temp

1 cup milk + 3 tbsp

2 tbsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (goes in very last)

1/2 cup cleaned berries, will be sprinkled on top

method:

preheat oven to 350f, position racks in center of oven. prep 2 9″ x 9″ cake pans or glass casserole dishes with parchment cut outs in the bottom and nice coating of butter on the sides. if you want a round cake, you may also use 2 8″ x 8″ rounds here.

begin by creaming butter and sugar with electric mixer. once combined and fluffy, add milk, vanilla, and almond extract at a low-speed, until it is all wet and combined. add eggs, a few at a time, and let it slowly mix.

combine all dry ingredients together.

add dry ingredients into wet ingredients. quickly stir in apple cider vinegar.

let them mix for a few minutes until well incorporated, stopping a few times to scrape straggly bits from the bottom and sides of the bowl. pour batter evenly into prepped pans.  sprinkle berries evenly on top.

bake for 45 minutes or so. watch them closely, and check with a toothpick to be sure they are cooked in the center.

allow to cool completely. while cooling, make berry filling and sour cream topping.

sour cream topping

16 oz good quality sour cream, very cold

1/4 cup fruity balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup sugar or honey

1 vanilla bean, sliced vertically

method: in small saucepan over medium heat, reduce vinegar and sweetener and vanilla bean, stirring frequently, until it becomes syrupy. remove from heat and allow to cool for just a few minutes. whisk into a large bowl with sour cream until well combined. taste. if it needs a little honey, add a little honey. place into refrigerator until ready for use.

berry filling

4 cups rinsed and dried berries

2 tbsp sugar or honey

3 tbsp fruity balsamic vinegar

1 tsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch

method: in a large saucepan, combine all ingredients except for the arrowroot powder. cook over medium heat. allow mixture to come to a good bubble. quickly whisk in arrowroot powder. cook for a few more minutes, maybe 5 or so. remove from heat and allow to come to room temp.

to assemble cake

remove cooled cakes from pans. place bottom layer onto a nice plate or serving platter. using a toothpick, poke a few holes into cake so the toppings flow in. spread a few tbsp of sour cream mixture onto bottom layer. now pour about half the berries on top of that. place top layer of cake on, and poke holes into it. repeat by spreading some sour cream onto cake. reserve the rest of the sour cream for serving. pour remaining berries onto cake. wrap sides of cake in tinfoil or plastic wrap to contain filling until ready to serve, and refrigerate for at least an hour so everything stiffens up a bit.

when it comes time to serve, remove wrapping and pour the rest of the sour cream on top.

leftovers do great refrigerated!

i had 3 pieces!

chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse filling

peanut butter army

my dad’s 60th surprise party was last weekend.

as i mentioned last week, thoughts of peanut butter tie me to memories of mornings with my dad. the peanut butter and honey toast, the peanut butter and jelly toast, peanut butter and jam crackers for a snack… i even remember dipping carrots into peanut butter as a snack when i was young. an inexpensive and delicious protein source, peanut butter provokes childhood memories for many, i’m sure. it seemed obvious to use peanut butter as a filling for a cake for my father, whom i look up to, and wish a million of the best things in life he has ever wanted!

this was a 3 layer cake, the top and bottom chocolate, and the center was vanilla. filled with peanut butter mousse, frosted with chocolate, and trimmed with salty peanuts, this cake was tall and incredible. thin slices filled us up just right and left us wanting more. -that’s how you know something is great. you want a little more.

i knew i was becoming dissatisfied with my usual chocolate cake recipe. i wanted something much more rich and fully flavored. i knew i wanted to find a recipe that used milk and coffee to bring in rich & bold flavors and a super moist but still cakey crumb. seems the one i found managed to blow my mind. this is my new go-to chocolate cake recipe. no questions asked. the chocolate mousse recipe came from the same gal. i used my usual vanilla cake recipe for the center layer. i found that this vanilla sponge cut the richness of the cake quite well, so don’t skip it. i managed to find a wonderful chocolate frosting recipe in this month’s bon appetit magazine. again, i loved it. -smooth, rich, creamy, and very deep. the brown sugar gave this frosting so much body. i really wish i could have gotten a picture of the sliced cake. it was beautiful and tall, and the cake not too fudgy looking.

i  would like to add that the most important reason for my baking and cooking so often is that i find such beauty in it. i find it to be intimately therapeutic no matter how frustrating the experience. i enjoy being surrounded by the melting chocolate, sizzling butter, the fluffy egg whites, the frying bacon, and i think it is a very important experience to be saturated in. as you can see, this was a very fulfilling cake for me to bake in that respect.

enough talk, let’s bake.

for the chocolate cakes

this recipe makes one layer, so double it if you are doing a 2 layer cake like i did.

adapted from the wholesome home

1/2 cup butter at room temp
1 cup sugar, minus a few tbsp
5 eggs at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup coconut flour, sifted
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee at room temp

method: prep 8″ round cake pans using butter and lining the bottom with parchment round. preheat oven to 350f.

combine coconut flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. set aside.

crack eggs open and put in a bowl with a pouring spout. set aside.

combine milk, vanilla and coffee in cup with pouring spout. set aside.

using stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. yum!

after just a few minutes, turn on low-speed and add one egg at a time to the butter and sugar. plop. plop. until all the eggs are gone and well combined.

next, scoop about a cup of the flour mixture into the batter, then pour 1/4 of the milk mixture into the bowl. continue alternating additions until both are mixed into the batter. stop mixer and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl to reincorporate any butter or other stuff that may be sticking to the bowl. mix until evenly combined. pour into prepped pan.

bake for 35 minutes or so. the center will be just set and no longer jiggly. do not over bake. please, for the love of all things good. cool in pan for half an hour or so. use a knife to loosen edges from pan and cool completely on rack.

now bake center layer!

for the single honey vanilla cake

1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking soda

5 eggs

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

method: prep 1 8″ round cake pan by greasing it and lining the bottom with parchment paper.

preheat oven to 350f.

combine dry ingredients together and set aside.

using mixer, combine wet ingredients until they are really well combined and even a little foamy.

on low-speed, mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. batter will thicken only slightly and will resemble a pancake batter.

pour into prepped pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. cool cake in pan for at least half an hour before

loosening the edges with a knife and cooling completely on rack.

 

 

now make the frosting!

cocoa frosting

adapted from bon appetit magazine, feb 2011

5 tbsp unsalted butter

2/3 cup light or golden brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp salt

method: melt butter over medium heat. stir in sugar, cocoa, and salt. gradually stir in cream. continue to stir over medium heat until mixture is hot and begins to simmer around edges. remove from heat and stir in vanilla. stir off heat for a minute or two. put a lid on it. stick in refrigerator for 1 1/2 hrs, stirring occasionally.

after chilled, let stand at room temp for another hour, again, stirring occasionally.

while frosting is sitting at room temp, it’s time to:

 

make the peanut butter mousse!

adapted from whisk kid

1 block (8 oz) cream cheese

1 jar (1 1/2 cups) creamy peanut butter, the shelf stable kind

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

method: using hand mixer, whip the cream in a well chilled bowl until it is super fluffy. don’t over do it or you will have butter. set aside.

in a separate bowl, using hand mixer, blend peanut butter with the cream cheese until well combined. add sugar and mix on low-speed until it’s completely blended.

now gently fold about half of the whipped cream into the peanut butter. once it appears almost combined, fold in the other half. careful not to deflate the cream.

now put it all together!

put one of the chocolate cake layers on your serving plate. spread with 1/3 of the peanut butter mousse.

place the honey vanilla cake on top of that, gently pressing down into the filling, and top that with another 1/3 of the mousse.

place the final chocolate cake on top of the vanilla cake, pressing into the filling, and reserve the rest of the mousse to finish the cake with.

scrape the peanut butter mousse from the edges of the cake to be sure the filling is flush with the cake layers.

now gently spread chocolate frosting over the cake, frosting the sides of the cake first. careful not to smear the mousse out of the sides! after entire cake is frosted with chocolate frosting, throw the peanut butter mousse on top and spread.

decorate with peanuts if you wish.

keep cake at room temp. the chocolate will get hard and sticky if you try to keep it cold. the cake keeps for a few days at a cool room temp and serves, like, 35 people. so eat huge slices or have a huge party.

as a side note on this cake, brian and i took a spare slice home with us from my parent’s a few days ago. we went out to dinner that night, and decided not to buy dessert. instead, we ate our cake promptly when we got back to the car. i may have borrowed the restaurant’s fork to do this.

hi, my name is liz, and i have a problem.

flourless chocolate cake

yes, this was made in WEST germany.

 

i have an on-again-off-again relationship with flourless chocolate cake. i am very much into the intense fudgy flavor that this cake provides. i am, however, not in love with a wet cake that could be mistaken for fudge itself. i need a little more texture, and many flourless chocolate cakes i have sampled are a bit muddy. yes, they are cool, wet, and sometimes a little slimy. don’t get me wrong, the flavor is usually wonderful, especially when lightly studded with coffee or booze. but i like my cake more cake-like.

this flourless chocolate cake actually tastes like cake. the top is slightly crisped, like a brownie top. almond flour gives the cake its texture, without overpowering it with almond flavor.

i made a peppermint whipped cream to schmear on the top, which was even more delicious than a candy cane joe joe.

this cake is relatively easy to make, so long as you be sure to use parchment paper to line the bottom, not waxed paper. even if the package says waxed parchment paper, that still means wax. remember, it is a real heart breaker to have to throw an entire cake into the garbage because you didn’t know there was a difference between parchment paper and waxed paper…. my cook prep got into trouble for this one.

this recipe is slightly adapted from bon appetit.

ingredients:

1 cup sugar, divided into thirds

1 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips

1 1/2 cups almond flour

1/2 tsp salt, divided in half

5 large eggs, separated

1 stick butter, melted and cooled to room temp

1 tbsp vanilla ext

method:

preheat oven to 310f. prep 9″ springform by coating with butter and lining with PARCHMENT paper. NOT WAXED. i like to also make a ring out of aluminum foil to cover the outside of the springform. this helps to prevent excessive browning of the sides.

using food processor, grind chocolate with 1/3 cup sugar until fine and dusty. do not over mix or you will have a melty chocolate ball on your hands. remove to a separate mixing bowl.

dump in almond meal and another 1/3 cup sugar. give it a few pulses until it is pretty much evenly mixed, but still dry and dusty. combine almond meal dust with chocolate dust.

in large bowl, combine egg whites and 1/4 tsp salt. beat whites until stiff peaks form. set aside for a few minutes.

in separate large bowl, combine last 1/3 cup sugar and egg yolks. beat until it becomes thick, and sugar dissolves. pour almond and chocolate mixture into beaten yolks, continuing to mix, and adding in butter and vanilla. continue to mix until even. it will stick to the sides of the bowl and beaters and resemble cookie dough.

using rubber spatula, add 1/3 of the whites into the batter, folding until batter is somewhat marbled.

first 1/3 of the egg whites getting folded in.

fold in another 1/3, stirring only briefly, and finally the last of the whites get folded in.

second 1/3 of egg whites getting folded in.

 

pour into prepped pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes or until center is just set.

 

cool at room temp. this cake is amazing after the flavors settle overnight. serve with peppermint whipped cream!

buche de noel

 

to those who do not quite know what a buche de noel is, but might hear the words thrown around quite a bit around the holidays, i have been explaining that this is a dessert that has in the past been known to be a home cook’s magnum opus. so far as i am aware, a buche de noel, or yule log, is just as it seems and sounds: a yule log simply made of edibles created by the french to celebrate christmas. traditionally, the cake is chocolate and the filling is made of whipped cream. the top and sides are then decorated with powdered sugar to simulate snow. candies made from almond paste in the shape of woodland objects lay atop and around the buche de noel for visual effect and also to munch on sneakily.

i want to get back to the magnum opus part briefly. in the early days of my baking (like 5 years ago), i imagined this as being something i wouldn’t ponder to tackle. i have not had much interest in christmas cakes in the past, and am of the school that pies are for holidays and cakes are for birthdays. aside from that, this cake has been whispered to cause great grief and frusteration due to its being “complicated” and “labor intensive”. i stress to impress when making desert, so the stress from this cake was not one i tended to desire. this year, i stepped outside of the box. “a buche de noel?” i laughed… “i can do that. and a turkey. yeah, i’ll make BOTH things i have never made before and tend not to care much for”… why did i say that? what was i thinking? 2 years ago, i would have left well enough alone and let the magnum opus pass me by. i guess all of the baking i have been doing since then has been great practice for me and the buche de noel.

now i need a new magnum opus.

this was not as difficult to tackle as i had thought it would be. poor timing on my part? yes. i should have gotten up an hour (or 2) earlier that day to throw it all together. the pieces getting done one day at a time, however, was brilliantly planned.

i made the almond paste acorns and mushrooms on a thursday, i made the sponge on friday, the filling and swiss meringue on saturday, and put it all together that same saturday.

my only wish for this cake was that it wouldn’t be so darned fudgy. it was super tasty, but all too rich. my challenge really lied in a few dietary factors pressed from myself and 2 others. these were the following limitations:

*the cake could in no way contain dairy, which limited my options for a cream or mousse filling.

*the cake could, however, contain eggs.

*the cake had to be vegetarian, limiting my options on gelatin, which would have come in handy for the filling.

*the cake could have no grains.

i chose a chocolate flourless sponge base, peppermint whipped ganache filling, and marshmallow swiss meringue icing. i knew this particular cake would be very candy like. that’s ok. we each ate half a slice or so and called it a meal. it was super tasty, but next time i hope to be a little less limited in what to use as a filling.

i stole the cake recipe from carol at simply gluten free. she is up to some pretty tasty stuff, so be sure to stop by her blog.

though, needless to say, the cake turned out pretty good lookin’, if i may say so myself. i decided, after much (MUCH) deliberation, to fire the meringue. i was a little scared that i would ruin the cake somehow with this final step, but it was what made the cake. -no pun intended. the only thing i can think of that i could have done to make this cake look better would be coating some fresh cranberries in sugar to give a fruity pink sparkle to the display. i recommend making the buche de noel and assembling it as i listed above. a 3 day process. make the candy one day, the sponge base another, then filling and meringue icing. you just have to respect that some things take a few days to put together.

also, i decided to sprinkle coconut around the cake to further simulate an outdoor experience. i think coconut is beautiful.

almond paste mushrooms and acorns

ingredients:

1 roll almond paste

1/4 cup chocolate chips

3 tbsp coconut oil

smallish paint brush

method:

*please note that the more you handle almond paste, the more oils will get extracted from it, making it very dry and crumbly to work with.

working quickly and without handling too much, shape almond paste into desired forest objects. acorns and mushrooms are what i made, but walnuts, buckeyes, and anything else that strikes your fancy works. i made the mushrooms in 2 separate pieces, smooshing them together when i was satisfied with their indivdual shapes. set on a wire rack to stiffen up a little bit before decorating.

using double boiler method or whichever you are most comfortable with, melt chocolate.

to paint the gills of the mushrooms and top hats on the acorns, i simply painted them with half of the melted chocolate and let cool completely on the rack before i painted the rest of the object with the lighter brown.

to make the lighter brown color for the body of the acorns, i threw the coconut oil into the melted chocolate to thin out the color. stir stir stir. gently paint desired areas with this concoction. careful not to touch the previously painted parts, or they will get melty and drippy.

again, set aside to cool, best for a few days while you continue your cake journey.

chocolate cake sponge base:

cooling cake

8 eggs, separated

2/3 cup sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder, sifted

method:

preheat oven to 350f. grease a jellyroll pan, mine is 13″x15″, and stick parchment to the bottom.

beat the crap out of the egg whites, until soft peaks form.

separately, beat yolks with sugar until they are pale and pasty. be sure sugar is dissolved before you continue to the next step.

put cocoa powder into yolk and sugar, combine well.

take a big spoon of whites and carefully fold with the yolk mixture until slightly marbled. finish up with the remaining egg whites and yolks until mostly combined, without deflating the whites.

spread onto prepped sheet and bake on middle rack for 20 minutes, or until set.

let cool for a few hours on sheet. once cooled, you may place another piece of parchment over the top of the cake and gently roll it into a log. let it sit like this for a day or so.

for the filling, i recommend using a cream cheese icing recipe and subtracting some of the sugar content from the ingredients, or using a chocolate mousse. as i said, i used a whipped ganache recipe and added a few drops of peppermint extract, but this rendered a fudge like cake.

spread filling over cooled cake and gently roll it back up. slice (on the diagonal) a bit off and stick it up against the side of the cake for a more “log” appearance. time for the topping!

swiss meringue

*this recipe makes enough for a big load of meringue cookies as well as icing for the cake. you may halve it if you feel you need to, but little crisp cookies are so fun.

ingredients:

meringue before firing

1 cup water

1 1/3 cups sugar

6 egg whites (room temp)

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

2 extra tbsp sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

method: combine water and sugar in large pot over medium heat. brush sides of the pot down occasionally as the sugar will bubble up and stick. the mixture will slightly darken and bubble. the temperature must reach 275f at some point, so this may take a little time. meanwhile, prep the egg whites.

beat egg whites, 2 tbsp sugar, and cream of tartar in big mixing bowl. i like to use my kitchen aid bowl and hand mixer for this. beat until soft peaks form.

once heated sugar is at 275, in a slow and steady stream, add to egg whites continuing to beat.

add vanilla and beat for 3 minutes or so more.

frost cake immediately. you will probably only use half the mixture. use spatula to make “bark” with soft strokes. the frosting will stiffen a little bit pretty quickly, so move briskly. (make treats with the rest of the meringue. i like to follow the baking directions given here.)

using kitchen torch, fire the meringue carefully. you want to brown it, not blacken it. use the texture of “bark” you made with spatula. set almond paste candies around cake and serve.

 

merry christmas!

progress notes

everything is on everything! swiss meringue is everywhere!

caramel is burnt onto my stove top. i got a little egg white on my sock. the floors are impossibly sticky. the welding kit is still sitting out, in pieces, from browning the frosting, and i lost the igniter somewhere under a place mat or something. i got some cocoa powder in my eye. or maybe it is salt.

but let me tell you what, that buche de noel is lookin like a mighty fine tree.

almond coconut cake

i put myself in charge of making a birthday cake for my friend, jack. he was turning 30 and his lovely girlfriend, kady, wanted to throw him a surprise birthday party. she's so cute. jack is less than a fan of dairy, so i had to get rid of the usual pound and a half of butter and cup of whole milk i typically put into a birthday cake.i made my favorite cake recipe, but subbed in coconut butter for the dairy butter, and used coconut milk to replace the cow's milk. the results? maybe better than the dairy based cake. the almond flavor came through very clean and uninhibited by the usual butter flavor. the cake came out quite a bit less brown than usual. coconut butter doesn't have as high a smoke point as animal butter, so the cake stayed very blond. coconut butter is also pretty neutral in flavor when you bake with it, so the flavor didn't come through so strongly, which i feared it would take over the whole cake. jack is also somewhat of a nature appreciator, going on mountain hikes and so forth. -so i made a nice outdoor scene, going against my ideas of making a raunchy, rudely decorated cake. -and believe me, i had some real nasty ideas.i used my collection of plastic cake decorations to create the outdoor scene. i made rocks (or deer poops, as brian calls them) out of almonds that i rolled in melted chocolate, then in cocoa and sea salt. i ate about 15 of them as i was waiting for them to cool, so i had to make more.., otherwise, this would have been a fast (and tasty) confection. i created snow with coconut, very creative, i know.

this cake would make a wonderful contribution to a holiday table, given that none of your guests are allergic to nuts. in that case, they would probably be offended that you are trying to kill them. you could always make this grain free chocolate cake with peanut butter ridiculous, that contains no nuts, unless you sneak them in to see just HOW allergic your guests are to nuts….. don’t do that. but do remember to begin the argument that peanuts are NOT nuts. holidays are great.

this recipe makes a 2 layer cake.

for the cake

ingredients:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/3 cup room temperature coconut oil

4 cups almond flour

1 cup coconut flour

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp baking powder

8 eggs at room temp

1 cup coconut milk

2 tbsp vanilla

optional 1/4 tsp almond extract

method:

preheat oven to 350f, position racks in center of oven. prep 2 round 8″ cake pans with parchment rounds and nice coating of oil.

begin by creaming coconut oil and sugar with electric mixer. once combined and fluffy, add coconut milk, vanilla, and almond extract (if using it) at a low-speed, until it is all wet and combined. add eggs, a few at a time, and let it slowly mix.

combine all dry ingredients together.

add dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

scrape batter from the sides of the bowl and continue to mix.

pour batter evenly into 2 cake pans, and bake for 35 minutes or so. watch carefully as nuts burn quickly.

let them cool for a bit before loosening edges from pans and inverting onto cooling racks. these cakes are best served the day after baking. time to dress up the cakes!

for the frosting

ingredients:

1 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup olive oil

2 tbsp honey (or agave nectar)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

pinch of salt

method:

slowly melt olive oil and chocolate in pot or mixing bowl over very low heat. i like to use my deep kitchen aid bowl for this.

stir, stir, stir.

when chips are melted, add honey, vanilla, and salt. once smooth and well combined, remove from heat.

stick bowl into freezer for 15 minutes. if it still looks shiny and drizzly and runny, stick it back into freezer for 10 minute increments until it no longer looks glossy. it should look dull and somewhat firm, but not hard. *if it gets hard, let it sit at room temp for a few minutes before you continue.

with mixer (hand blender works best here), fluff it. yes, it will turn into frosting, just have faith. it took a good 15 minutes or so of whipping with the hand mixer for this to turn into frosting for me. if it has been 15 minutes and the mixture is turning warm, stick into the freezer for a few minutes and try again.

layer frosting onto one of the cakes. place other cake on top, and continue to cover cake in frosting. it is easiest to frost this cake on the warm side of room temp. the frosting will stiffen up quite a bit if your kitchen is particularly cold. i like to spread it when it is soft and whippy.

throw some coconut and pretty decorations on top. light a candle.

happy birthday, jack! don’t fall down and break any of your old bones!

pumpkin roll

 

lemme see that pumpkin roll!

 

 

holiday baking is here! i love this part of the year. hanging with the family and breaking bread. etc. etc.

so far, this pumpkin roll has been my seasonal (and grain free) contribution.

i’ll start by saying that this is DELICIOUS. -i have to call the kettle black, though, and say it is a little ugly.

i guess there really isn’t much you can say about a pumpkin roll’s appearance, accept that it is, in fact, a roll.

i made this less-than-attractive pumpkin roll for an event for the library. it was quite delicious (though i’ll use a little more sweetener next time.) let me quickly explain the extraordinary ugliness of this specific pumpkin roll: i broke it. it shot out of the freezer at me, crumbling under its own weight, rendering it flat. not to fear: it was still wrapped, thus protecting it from ickyness, but not from ugliness.

pumpkin rolls and jelly rolls are not as difficult a task as one might assume. simply put, it is a thin sponge cake baked flat, cooled, rolled, cooled again, unrolled, frosted, and re-rolled.

to ease your mind, i have included a brief list of tips at the bottom of this page.

the use of maple syrup to sweeten the sponge keeps this tasting fall-ish. the cream cheese frosting is sweetened with brown sugar, and thank god for it. the frosting recipe includes enough to frost the inside and out. don’t skimp. a sprinkling of toasted pecans or walnuts atop this would be a real special treat.

or you could keep it simple.

that’s how i roll.

on with the recipe. it serves 12-16.

pumpkin roll

for the sponge:

wet ingredients:

2 15oz. cans pumpkin puree

1 1/2 cups maple syrup

8 eggs

1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, melted

2 tsp vanilla extract

dry ingredients:

2/3 cup coconut flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice blend

method:

preheat oven to 325f.

prep a 12″x17″ jelly roll pan by spreading butter across the bottom and sides, then sticking parchment paper to it, allowing some paper to hang over the sides slightly.

combine all wet ingredients in a huge bowl. i use the bowl of my kitchen aid stand mixer.

separately, combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, sifting the coconut flour and baking soda & baking powder.

dump dry ingredients into wet ingredients and mix well. taste it and add spices or more sweetener if you wish.

dump onto jelly roll pan, spreading batter evenly.

bake for 15 minutes, turn, and bake for another 15 minutes or so. this cake will remain very moist, so don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not done.

let it cool at room temp, in the pan, for 30 minutes.

after 30 minutes throw a clean lint-free kitchen towel on top. carefully turn the pan upside down, inverting the sponge onto the towel. gently remove the parchment paper and discard. VERY very carefully and slowly, paying attention to potential cracking, roll the sponge, keeping the towel on the cake to separate the “layers”.

transfer the towel-wrapped roll back to jelly roll pan and stick in the fridge for at least a few hours, even over night. if you are Type A personality and can’t wait, like me, this is where the freezer comes in. you can put this in the freezer for one hour to speed through the cooling process.

time to make the frosting!

ingredients:

16 oz cream cheese (2 blocks), room temp

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temp

1 1/4 cup brown sugar

method:

using a mixer (i used my hand mixer), whip cream cheese and butter together until well combined. dump in brown sugar and whip until fluffy. that’s it!

time to put it all together!

remove cooled roll from freezer or refrigerator. place it (still in the towel) onto the surface that you plan to serve it on. gently remove the towel. sponge will unroll slightly. support it so it doesn’t crack. using an icing spatula to reach into the deep crevices of the roll, spread frosting over the entire surface of the sponge. lay it on thick. slowly roll it back up as you frost. use about 3/4 of the frosting for this.

roll it back up.

frost the outside of the roll with the remaining frosting.

~liz’s tips, tricks, and failings:

this can be made a day ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator. serve with pretty stuff on top. eat many, many slices, feeling all cool that you made your own pumpkin roll.

1. be sure to use parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan. don’t even bother trying this without.

2. be sure to let it cool for the appropriate amount of time, but not too long. you want it just a hair warm when you roll it to hold shape without cracking. you may cheat by cooling it in the freezer, but be sure you clear a spot in the freezer first so you don’t set it on top of that mountain of ice cubes and frozen peas. the roll deserves a flat spot.

3. once you have it rolled up in a towel to cool and hold it’s shape, don’t drop it on the floor. be careful when you open the freezer door: it will come flying out at you and onto the floor at 10:00pm when there is less than no time to make a new pumpkin roll.

4. if you do drop the pumpkin roll onto the floor and it is still wrapped in a towel protecting it from cat hair and other floor germs, you may glue the cake back together with frosting. no biggie. it’ll make a fun story.

5. adorn pumpkin roll with seasonal decoration, such as silk leaves, acorns, sticks, etc. the addition of these items will elevate it’s beauty-queen status only slightly, but every effort is noticed.