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Individual Strawberry Jam Cakes

Looking for a tasty little treat for a mid-day snack or and end-of-day dessert? These hand-cakes by Martha Stewart will hit the spot. You can easily customize the recipe by switching out the flavor of the filling and using or omitting the citrus.
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Individual Strawberry Jam Cakes

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp finely grated orange zest (I left out the citrus)
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (left out)
1/4 cup milk
6 Tbsp strawberry jam or preserves
1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (I substituted milk and added 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to make a vanilla glaze)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a standard 6-cup muffin tin and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, (and zest) until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolks one at a time until creamy; set aside. Into a small bowl, soft together flour, baking powder, (and salt). Add flour mixture and milk in alternating batches to butter mixture. Set aside.

In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites to soft peaks; fold into batter among muffin cups. Make an indentation in the middle of each; full with 1 Tbsp of jam. Top with remaining batter.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in top cake layer comes out clean, about 30 mins. Untold cakes and transfer them to a wire rack to cool. In a small bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and juice (or milk). Place parchment paper; drizzle cake with glaze.

Notes:
1. When separating batter, crest a thick enough base but conserve enough to cover the jam to reduce or prevent the jam leaning out.

2. When whisking icing, start with powdered sugar and slowly add the juice/milk to desired consistency. Blending all at once results in a thin, runny icing.

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Bangarang Cake

I’ve been reminded for weeks that someone wanted “a rainbow cake with rainbow icing” for his birthday cake. Ok. No problem. My first thought was to use it as an opportunity to try a mirror glaze! Unfortunately, I realized I wouldn’t have the time in the week leading up to the birthday so I went through several other ideas – 6” rounds each of a different color, two 9” rounds with the colors carefully layered – before I settled on a tie-dye 9”x13” and decided to wing it with the design of the buttercream.
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For the cake, I used a boxed white cake mix and the recipe on the box. I substituted milk for water and melted butter for oil. Note that you can either us just egg whites or the entire egg with the box recipes. Since I wasn’t leaving any of the cake white, I used the whole egg. After making the cake batter, I separated it into five individual bowls. I used Betty Crocker gel coloring for each color except for purple, which was a liquid coloring. I realized too late into coloring that my dark colors had gone bad so I was not going to get the typical red, yellow, green, etc. The colors ended up very bright which ended up being perfect! I alternated pouring batter of different colors into the greased 9×13 pan so they sat on top of each other. Half of each bowl would get poured in. After each half, the second half was added to keep the variety going in the layers. When the batter was all in the pan, I realized it looked like the imaginary food the kids had a food fight with in the movie “Hook”! Now I’m calling this bake “Imagination Cake” (imagination pie was referenced in the food fight scene). Take a toothpick and run it up and down the length of the cake or make swirl designs to add additional twists of color. Place in the oven for 30 mins at 325F. When done, let cool.

For the frosting, I went with I Am Baker’s whipped vanilla buttercream.

2 sticks of butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp almond extract
4 cups of confectioner’s sugar, sifted (her recipe goes as high as 8 but I found the minimum to be perfect)
2 Tbsp whole milk (She notes that you can go up to half a cup for a more creamy and loose icing. I found 2 Tbsp to be perfect.)
1 pinch of salt

Beat butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with he whisk attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy – about 3 mins. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Continue to mix.

With mixer on low, slowly add the sugar, milk, and salt, frequently scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. Once incorporated, whip the frosting for at least 3 minutes on medium to high speed. I ran mine for 7 minutes, same as in the recipe.

If the frosting is too thick to spread, gradually beat in the additional milk (up to a half cup, total).

Separate into five different bowls. Add selected food dye to each bowl and stir until combined. Place an open baggie into a small cup with the top of the bag folded over the lip of the cup. Pour frosting from one bowl into one bag. Lift up bag, zip or twist to close, and use scissors to snip a small tip off of one of the bottoms of the bag. Holding the bag over the cooled cake, squeeze the bag to pipe the icing in a straight line longways along the cake. Use a butter knife, rubber spatula, or icing knife, smooth the row of colored frosting across the cake and down the sides. Repeat the bagging and popping steps for your next color. Overlapping color in each row helps with coverage. Repeat until the entire cake is covered. Run a toothpick through the frosting, lengthwise, to give the frosting a little extra flair. I ended up with plenty of leftover frosting but I also didn’t make a thick layer of frosting on the cake. Let sit or place in the fridge to firm up. It’s been so hot here that I popped mine in the fridge overnight. It gave the frosting a nice texture. The frosting also softened up again nicely after sitting out for a bit.

The almond extract works really well with the other flavors and makes this frosting stand out.

 

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Cannoli Dip Cake Experiment

Some days more than one experiment fails. This trial saw two fails in one day! The idea behind this bake was to try my first recipe for my long venture down the road to figuring out my ideal cannoli dip/filling. Unfortunately, the recipe I tried turned out really runny and had way too much almond extract. I hoped the filling would firm up in the fridge but no luck. I still tried to salvage it by scrambling and throwing together a chocolate ganache to maybe lock in the filling, but I ended up only adding half the amount of chocolate necessary so that, too, turned out too runny. Instead of ending up with a tasty cake experiment, I ended up with a few lessons learned. #weKeepItMessy
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Cannoli dip from Cookstr.

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese (I used Polly-O which did not require straining)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp milk or heavy cream
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
Mini chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet)

Combine ingredients and place in the fridge to set.

Chocolate ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz chocolate (I used only 2 oz of semi-sweet chips)

Place chocolate into a heat-safe bowl. Heat cream in a small pan and bring to a boil on medium heat. Pour hot cream directly onto the chocolate. Let sit for 2 mins to let the chocolate melt. Stir until smooth. Pour onto cake.

 

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Runny cannoli filling between two slabs of yellow cake.
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Chocolate Pear Cake

Some family was recently traveling in Italy and started sending my photos of some goods in the local bakeries. They’re returning back this weekend and asked about two different cakes. After some Googling and talking with some fellow bakers, we determined that one was a chocolate pear cake and the other was an Italian apple cake. Today I tried the chocolate pear cake using a recipe by An Italian in my kitchen.

It smelled delicious while it baked and looks very tasty now that it’s done. Looking forward to everyone tasting it tomorrow.
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Chocolate Pear Cake

2 large pears either William, Anjou, or Bartlett – I used Bartlett
1 1/4 cups + 2 Tbsp cake flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup mini chocolate chips, dark chocolate (I chopped up some full-sized morsels instead)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Grease and flour or parchment a 9” cake pan. I used a spring-form pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and milk until combined. Set aside.

Peel, core, and slice the pears.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, vanilla, and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 mins). Then, slowly add the vegetable oil and beat until combined (about 1 min). Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the yogurt mixture. Beat until combined (about 1 min).

Pour batter into the prepared pan. Top with pear slices, sliced side down. Sprinkle with mini dark chocolate chips.

Bake for approximately 45 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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New York Style Crumb Cake

One of my favorite breakfast treats is Entenmann’s crumb coffee cake. It never lasts long in our house since I simply cannot control myself around it. I knew it was only a matter of time until I tried making one from scratch. For my first try, I went with Brown Eyed Baker’s recipe. It’s very straight forward and easy to put together.

Of course, there’s always the chance you’ll misread the ingredients during your prep and melt 1 3/4 cups of butter instead of 1/2 cup. Looks like I’ll be baking cookies later this week to use up the extra butter.
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New York Style Crumb Cake

Crumb topping:
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (66 grams) dark brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp table salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, melted and still warm
1 3/4 cups (198 grams) cake flour

Whisk the sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough. Set aside to cool to room temperature – about 10-15 mins.

Cake:
1 1/4 cups (142 grams) cake flour
1/2 cup (99 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp table salt
6 Tbsp (85 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk
Powdered sugar for dusting

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325F. Spray 8-inch square pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper, allowing excess to hang over the sides.

Using an electric mixer on low speed, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt to combine. With mixer continuing to run at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continuing to beat until mixture resembles moist crumbs with no visible butter chunks visible – 1-2 mins. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 min, scraping once if necessary.

Transfer batter to baking pan using rubber spatula, spread the batter into an even layer. Break apart the crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread in an even layer over the batter, beginning with the edges and then working toward the center. Be sure not to push the crumbs into the batter, just sprinkle on top. Bake until the crumbs are golden and a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean – 35-40 mins.

Cool on wire rack at least 30 mins. Lift out of pan using parchment overhang. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

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Angel Food Cake with Three Berry Compote

It has been a long time since I’ve made an angel food cake and I’ve had a recipe with a three berry compote earmarked from Food & Wine for a long time. Today just seemed to be the right day to give it a go. The recipe is straight forward and was very easy to execute.
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Angel Food Cake with Three Berry Compote

Cake
10 large egg whites at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup cake flour
3/4 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until firm-peaks form. Add 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar, 2 Tbsp at a time, beating for 10 secs before adding more. Beat in the vanilla. Once the 3/4 cup of sugar has been added, best the whites at high speed until stiff, about 4 mins.

In a medium bowl, whisk the cake flour with the confectioner’s sugar and salt. Sift the dry ingredients over the beaten whites in 3 batches, folding gently with a large spatula until incorporated.

Spoon the batter into an un-greased 10 inch angel food cake pan (do not use non-stick). Bake for 40 mins, until the cake is risen and golden. Invert the cake in the pan and let cool.

Compote
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 pints (16 oz) strawberries, sliced
2 pints (16 oz) raspberries
1 pint (8 oz) blackberries
3 Tbsp lemon juice

In a large saucepan, simmer the berries with the 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and the lemon juice until the juices are released, 10 mins. Cool slightly.

Using a knife, loosen the cake from the pan and remove the side of the pan. Loosen the cake from the pan bottom and tube. Transfer the cake to a plate. Slice the cake and serve with the warm compote.

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Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake

If you’re looking for a non-chocolate treat, check out this Cinnamon Toast Crunch cake recipe. This recipe from Sugar Geek Show can easily be modified and played with to make whatever type of cake you need.

For this bake, I kept my 8” rounds separate for smaller servings and frosted each with a basic icing sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. The site also had a suggestion of crumbling up Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and sprinkling on top.
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Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake

12 oz all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
12 oz sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
4 large eggs at room temperature
8 oz milk at room temperature

To get ingredients to room temperature, let them sit out on the counter for about an hour before use.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 8” rounds.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter for 20 seconds until smooth. Sprinkle in the sugar and whip on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy. About 8-10 minutes. Scrape the bowl halfway through mixing.

Bring mixer down to low speed and add eggs in one at a time. Let egg mix in fully for one minute before adding the next egg. The mixture should look smooth, not broken or lumpy. If it is, your eggs may have been too cold.

Add the vanilla extract to the milk.

Add the flour mixture in four parts, alternating with the milk. Start with flour, mix until just incorporated, then add 1/3 of the milk. Repeat. After you add the last bit of flour, STOP.

Take out about 1/3 of your batter and mix in your cinnamon. Finish the other batter by hand by mixing with a rubber spatula until everything is combined – about 3-4 strokes.

Spoon your batter into two pans, alternating between vanilla and cinnamon to get a nice swirl.

Bake for 25-30 mins or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Do not over bake or your cake will shrink and your sides will not be straight