Category Archives: Food

Roll Disaster.

So I have to admit, I have been stuck recently.  I had several of the saddest baking experiences of my life within mere days of each other and have been feeling too disheartened to blog about them – I get attached to my baked goods! In short: first I killed the sourdough starter that my friend gave me, then I tried to make rolls (which has historically not been a difficult task) and FAILED, miserably. Then to redeem myself, I made more rolls , only to fail a second time. With Thanksgiving right around the corner (a month is right around the corner to a food and hospitality obsessed person such as myself) this kind of thing just will not do. So…anyone have a knock-out roll recipe? I’m looking for soft, buttery, pull-apart rolls. I’ve made them before but have never recreated them and have now lost the recipe…

My most recent cooking experience, while good, was of course not documented.   After the string of dissspointments I decided to just cook my heart out one night and I did…Roast chicken with spicy kale, gravy and rolls with orange scented strawberry shortcake and honey cream for dessert. Oh, divine. Anyhow, I promise I will be back soon with something delicious and documented for your enjoyment, until then, enjoy the fall!



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Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese and Caramel Frosting

Pumpkin Cake

This cake, adapted from Bon Apetit magazine, is perfection – except for one thing, the frosting is incurably runny – it is barely sweet and moist pumpkin heaven inside and sweet, creamy caramel cream cheese bliss on the outside.  Speaking of – how have I never combined cream cheese and caramel? Genius. Two great flavors: even better together…

Pumpkin Cake:

3 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 cups pumpkin puree (1 15oz can)

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/4 cups vegetable oil

4 large eggs

– Preheat oven to 350°F.

– Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans.  Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices together in a bowl.  Beat pumpkin, sugar, and oil in another large bowl. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to incorporate between additions.  Add flour mixture; beat just to blend. Divide batter between prepared pans.

– Bake cakes about 33 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Invert onto rack, then turn top side up and cool completely.

Pumpkin Cake BatterFresh baked pumpkin cake

Cream Cheese Caramel Frosting:

1 1-pound box powdered sugar, divided

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

– Sprinkle 1/2 cup powdered sugar over bottom of small nonstick skillet. Cook over medium heat until sugar melts (do not stir). Continue cooking until sugar turns deep amber, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Carefully stir in 1/2 cup cream, vanilla, and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously). Stir until any caramel bits dissolve. Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon cream. Strain into small bowl. Cool caramel to room temperature.

– Sift remaining powdered sugar into medium bowl. Preferably using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in cooled caramel. Cover and chill frosting until firm enough to spread, about 2 hours (it may take longer, mine never really set up how I would have liked it to…but it may have also been a problem with my caramel consistency…).

– Trim rounded tops from cakes. Place 1 cake layer on cake plate, cut side up. Spread 3/4 cup frosting over. Place second cake layer, cut side down, on top of frosting. Cover top and sides of cake with remaining frosting, creating smooth surface. Cover with cake dome or large bowl and chill. Let stand at room temperature before serving.


Frosting the first layer

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Brownies for a cause


This weekend I helped out The CAIR Project in my very favorite way: baking! The event I made these brownies for raised almost $5000 so I would say it was well worth my investment of flour, eggs and butter!

The brownie recipe itself is great on it’s own and is certainly my favorite – as an extra bonus it can be made in just one bowl.  For this event I decided to jazz it up a bit with different flavored glazes and by making it in mini-cupcake pans so that the final result would be cocktail party appropriate and easy to pass around.


adapted from the Baker’s One Bowl recipe

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour

– preheat oven to 350ºf

– Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler or microwave in a large microwave bowl on high for 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

– Stir sugar into chocolate. Mix in eggs and vanilla until well blended. Stir in flour and nuts. Spread in greased 13 x 9 inch pan, or cupcake or in my case, mini-cupcake tins.

– Bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. for a large pan, about 20 minutes for cupcake tins or about 13-15 minutes for mini-cupcake tins.   Cool in pan.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Glaze:

Approximately 1/3 peanut butter, 2/3 chocolate of choice

-Melt chocolate

-Stir in Peanut butter

-Spread over brownies while still warm, you may need to freeze brownies to harden glaze.

Mint Glaze:

Mint Chocolate

-Melt chocolate and spread over chocolate.

Brownies pre-bake

Peanut Butter and Mint Brownies

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A day about food

Holy cow, I can’t believe it’s been a whole week since I posted – in the interim there have been 2 cakes, a tart, 2 pies, a delicious curry, canned peaches and more made and photographed in our humble abode so expect backlogged posting starting now:

Last weekend was spent canning just about the last of our peaches, shopping for fresh veggies at the farmer’s market and eating our hearts out in the International District (Seattle’s Chinatown).   Can’t say there are really any insightful recipes to share (except maybe canned peaches). But pictures abound – all those fresh veggies are awfully inspiring…

Peach halves

Canned Peach Halves

Soup and shortribs


Torpedo Onions



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Here we go, I’m about to talk religion on a food blog…just briefly,  I would like to mention that it is High Holiday season in the Jewish year, and I am a mutt when it comes to religion so consequently some of my favorite holidays are coming up/have just gone by.  Rosh Hashanah was on Saturday filled with promises of a sweet new year: secured by honey, apples, challah and other sweet delicious treats.  Yom Kippur is coming up on Monday with a day of fasting and reflection followed usually by a potluck feast with friends.   I haven’t made plans for Yom Kippur yet – although I do generally fast – but Rosh Hashanah was delicious and here’s why:


*Recipe coming soon!*

Happy Yeast

Eggs and oil

Before 1st Rise

After 1st Rise

Punched down

Braiding Challah

Challah knot pre-baking

Round Challah

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Chocolate Peanut Butter (oh mah gawd) Cake.

On my way home from work on Thursday the call of the baking muses just kept getting stronger so I caved. gave in. gave up. relented. I bought peanut butter, sour cream, cream cheese and milk. and then I made this absurd, amazing, delicious thing – which is hopefully just the first in a long line of birthday cakes for no reason (although we did throw a fake-surprise fake-birthday party for my dear unsuspecting beau as he was the last one home, not to mention he loves chocolate and peanut butter):

lightly adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes (which, for some dumb reason, I haven’t purchased yet)

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake

**note: Mine is a 9″ double layer cake with enough batter leftover for 6 cupcakes that completely didn’t work because I couldn’t get them out of the pans, if you want to make cupcakes out of this recipe – use cupcake papers/foils!**

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 c. melted buter

1/2 c. oil (such as canola or other neutral tasting vegetable oil)
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (for topping at the very last minute)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cakepans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend (here your batter will look like a grainy, thick mess). Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. And WATCH OUT these cakes are so so tender it can be very difficult to remove them from the pans especially if a. you are impatient and b. you failed to listen to the parchment paper recommendation. After removing them you will find it much easier to frost them if you freeze them for 20-30 minutes (thanks smittenkitchen for the tip!)

Now, while they’re freezing, you can make the frosting:

– 10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
– 1 stick (1/2 c.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
– 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (if, like me, you are too lazy to do this step, you will find yourself whisking until your arm is numb to smooth the frosting – if you have a kitchenaid then I probably wouldn’t bother sifting as it will do the extra work for you)
– 2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably the most bad for you standard JIF/Peter Pan/Whatever is cheapest you can find because it’s creamiest (oil separation is NOT your friend here)

1. Beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat until light and fluffy.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Ok, time to put this thing together:

1. Place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

2. Put the whole shebang in the fridge (or freezer if you like) while you make the chocolate glaze. This will allow the cake to firm up before it has hot liquid poured all over it.

So, without further ado, let’s make that chocolate glaze:

8 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (I skipped this)
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half (and used sour cream instead of this – you already have sour cream from the cake batter and why buy more ingredients than you need to? If you already have half and half, go for it; the sour cream will give it a distinct taste which I kind of liked with the cake, and you may not)

1. combine the chocolate, corn syrup and peanut butter if you’re using it in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between rounds, until smooth and melty. (you can also do this in a double boiler if you like doing dishes more than I do)

2. Take out of the microwave and stir in sour cream/half and half until consistency is like a thick pancake batter.

annd finally, the finishing touches:

1. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving (or as long as you can stand, I had some straight out of the fridge for breakfast this morning and it was fudgy and delicious).

2. Sprinkle chopped Peanut Brittle on top.


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Peach Upside Down Cake

Peach Cake

There are now 2 cases of peaches on my kitchen floor, once I am down to one they will fit in the fridge and I will be able to slow down the preservation process but for now it’s in full swing.  Regardless of the fact that I made a pie last night and there is still a bit less than half of it sitting on the counter I stubbornly decided to make yet another baked good this morning. One of my favorite fruit desserts to make, a thousand times easier and easily as impressive as pie is the upside down cake. This cake is generally made with apples – in fact, I had never tried it with anything but – but the peaches were calling and I figured I’d try it.  The main concerns I have after making the switch are sweetness and structure.  The peaches are much sweeter and mushier than apples so some of the steps have been modified a bit.  I can’t wait to share my very favorite apple cake a bit later on this fall!

Peach Upside Down Cake:

3 large peaches

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 stick (1/4c. ) unsalted butter

1 t. cinnamon

2/3 c. water

– Preheat the oven to 350°F.

– Butter and sugar a 9″ cake pan.

– Place sliced peaches (no need to skin if you don’t want to) in a decorative pattern in the bottom, you should have two layers of peach slices.

A happy sight

-Melt the butter in a pan then stir in sugar, cinnamon, and water.  Cook down into a caramel sauce (soft ball stage, or, when it looks good and if relatively thick).

– Pour sauce evenly over peaches in cake pan.

Caramel and peaches

For the batter:

1 c. flour

1 t. baking powder

1/2 t. salt

2 whole eggs

3 egg yolks

1 c. sugar

1 stick (1/2 c.) melted butter

– whisk dry ingredients together in a small bowl

– whisk eggs, yolks and sugar together, gradually mix in dry ingredients.

– Gently stir melted butter into batter and mix together well.Batter

– pour batter over peaches in pan and bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes but check often as I have found cooking time can really vary with this cake.

Pouring the batter

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