Monday, October 31, 2011

Haunted House Cake II

A cake for Bayler, who turned 6. My second haunted house cake (the first one is here)- the birthday boy wanted something similar, only he wanted a blue house. The bottom part of the house is vanilla cake with chocolate filling and the top is banana cake with vanilla filling. My favorite banana cake recipe is below.
Happy Halloween!!

Mr Banana Legs
adapted from CakeLove by Warren Brown

One 12-cup bundt cake, two 9-inch-round cakes



  • Unbleached all-purpose flour, 10 ounces (2 cups)
  • Salt, ½ teaspoon
  • Baking soda, ¼ teaspoon
  • nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon


  • Very ripe peeled bananas, 6 ounces (3 bananas), mashed
  • Whole milk, ¾ cup
  • Vanilla extract, 1½ teaspoons


  • Unsalted butter, at room temperature, 6 ounces (1½ sticks)
  • granulated sugar, 21 ounces (2¾ cups),
  • Eggs (large), 4
  • Egg yolks (large), 3
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set rack in the middle of the oven. Butter and line pans with parchment.
Sift the flour into a bowl. Measure the other dry ingredients into a separate mixing bowl, add the flour, and whisk for 10 seconds to blend. Set aside.
Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside. 
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on the lowest speed for 2 to 3 minutes. The mixture should look white, fluffy, and aerated.
With the mixer still on the lowest speed, add the eggs one at a time followed by the yolks, fully incorporating after each addition. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl.
Add the dry ingredient mixture alternately with the liquid mixture in 3 to 5 additions each, beginning and ending with the dry mixture. Move swiftly through this step to avoid overworking the batter. Don’t wait for the dry or liquid mixtures to be fully incorporated before adding the next.
Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl all the way down. Don’t miss the clumps of ingredients hiding on the bottom of the bowl. Mix on medium speed for 15 to 20 seconds to develop the batter’s structure.
Spread in prepared pans and bake 30 minutes until golden and cake tester comes out clean.
Cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes, before removing from the pan. Use a small offset spatula to loosen the cake from the rim of the pan. Carefully invert each pan onto a flat surface to remove the layers. Remove the parchment from the bottom of each cake and wrap the cake tightly in plastic. Assembling a layer cake is easier if the cake is cold, so refrigerate the layers overnight or for up to 5 days before frosting.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spiderweb Cupcakes

We carved pumpkins last week and for our treat, I made spiderweb cupcakes. I just used a box cake mix (gasp!) but, as  I usually do, I substituted butter for oil, milk for water, and added 1/2 c sour cream. I also tried a new whipped buttercream frosting recipe from my new favorite cookbook.
To make a spiderweb pattern, you pipe three or more concentric circles. Using a toothpick, draw a line from the center to the outer edge through the circles. Repeat three or four times to achieve desired effect.
Perfect Cupcake Frosting and Filling
recipe by
3 T Flour
1/2 C milk
1/2 C real butter
1/2 C sugar
1 t vanilla extract (I used almond)
Whisk together the flour and the milk. Heat in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Whisk continuously until it starts to thicken. 
Let it cook, while stirring, until it looks like pudding (you should be able to see the bottom of the pan when you stir it). Even though it's thick, you can still it through a mesh strainer (just whisk the mixture in the strainer to push the thick stuff through) and then let it cool completely to room temp. or chill it in the fridge. It needs to be cooled completely. If you don't let it cool completely, it will melt the butter and you'll have runny frosting.
It an electric stand mixer, beat the butter and the sugar for a minute or two until well combined and fluffy. You'll want to use the whisk attachment on a stand mixer, not the flat paddle. Then while beating, add in the thickened milk mixture and the vanilla. Beat on the highest speed you can get to without it spraying all over the place for 7 minutes. Yes, 7 whole minutes, maybe even 8 or 9. 
Use it to fill cupcakes or other pastries, or as a frosting on top.
One batch makes enough to frost 12 cupcakes

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Bars

Did I mention that I love pumpkin? I mean, really love it. And anything with cream cheese frosting. A few days ago, I posted my favorite pumpkin cake recipe. This recipe for pumpkin bars is similar, but more dense and since it's made in a cookie sheet-sized pan, thinner and makes significantly more servings. But same moist, pumpkin flavor- the perfect fall treat for a crowd (or, a week-long treat for a family of 5! :) )!
Pumpkin Bars
adapted from BHG
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin
1 1/2 cups sugar
cup cooking oil
Cream Cheese Frosting

In a medium bowl stir together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat together eggs, pumpkin, sugar, and oil. Add the flour mixture; beat until well combined. Stir in chopped pecans, if desired.

Spread batter in an ungreased 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake in a 350 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting. Cut into squares. Store in refrigerator. Makes 24 bars.

Cream Cheese Frosting: 
one 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla until fluffy.
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Beat together all ingredients except sugar until smooth. Gradually add powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Review- Love at First Bark

Love at First Bark by Julie Klam is 3 stories about "how saving a dog can sometimes help you save yourself." After reading the book, however, I failed to see how exactly the people involved were changed by each experience.
The first story is about how she and her husband find a dog abandoned on the street and their efforts to find a home for it. Because the dog was a pit bull, Klam had a difficult time finding a temporary place for it. The story, while amusing, did not exactly show how the pit bull was the “couple’s therapist” the title claimed him to be. There is a little part at the end of the story where Klam reminisces about the good ol’ days with her husband, but it seems like an afterthought, rather than the main point of the story.
The book is entertaining and I really like Klam’s narrative. She’s funny and real and her voice in the stories shows a real love and compassion for canines. I was really expecting something more from the book judging from the title and book description.
Join the discussion of the book at BlogHer and read what other bloggers thought about the book!
This was a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own

Monday, October 17, 2011

Peach Cobbler

A few months back, I won a cookbook from Chef Pandita. Awesome, right? It was Abby Dodge's Desserts 4 Today, a collection of dessert recipes with only 4 ingredients. There are some great recipes in there, and one that I wanted to try was her Peach Cobbler. This easy, quick recipe uses phyllo dough instead of making a traditional cobbler topping. This was a perfect late summer dessert, and could be used with any stone fruit- apricots, plums, nectarines.
Peach Cobbler with Phyllo Topping
adapted from Abby Dodge's Desserts 4 Today
1/4c + 1 1/2T cinnamon sugar
8 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
6 ripe peaches
2T all purpose flour

Arrange 1 sheet of phyllo dough on surface and lightly spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with about 1/2t cinnamon sugar. Repeat for the rest of the layers of phyllo.
Starting at the short side, roll up the layers jelly-roll style. Using a sharp knife, cut roll into 1-inch slices. Put slices in a medium bowl and gently toss until the strips are separated and loose.
Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut peaches into quarters. Put peaches, remaining 1/4c cinnamon sugar and flour in an 8" baking dish. Toss well. Spread phyllo strips over the fruit and bake until phyllo is golden and peaches are tender, about 30-35 minutes. Cool on rack 15 minutes before serving. Top with ice cream.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Pumpkin Cake

Ok, so it's 80 degrees here, but I'm really in the mood for fall. And my favorite thing EVER in the fall is anything pumpkin. I made pumpkin bars for the first time a few weeks ago, but I've been craving pumpkin cake. 
This recipe is seriously the best- moist and warm, topped with creamy cream cheese frosting. A great way to welcome fall!
Pumpkin Cake
makes 9"x13" or 2x 8" rounds
2 cups all purpose flour
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t cloves
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 c vegetable oil
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a glass 9"x13" baking dish, or 2x 8" rounds.
In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients and mix well. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix oil, sugar and eggs until well blended. Gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Add pumpkin and mix until blended.
Pour in prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, until cake tester comes out with a few crumbs. Cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hello Kitty Cake #3

This cake was for Kylie, who turned 6. She wanted Hello Kitty and Sleeping Beauty, but I couldn't figure out how to incorporate both. The cake was vanilla chocolate marble with vanilla filling.
This is my last cake before baby #4, set to come this Friday. Ahh!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chocolate Almond Ice Cream

This is so three months ago, but I'm trying to catch up. For my hubs birthday, I made an almond cake and chocolate almond ice cream. This ice cream is his mom's recipe, and his favorite in the world. It's easy and quick- no cooking or eggs involved. Just mix everything together and throw it in the ice cream maker!

Chocolate Almond Ice Cream
makes 1 pint
1 c granulated sugar
1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 c evaporated milk
2 c half & half
1 1/3 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 t almond extract

Combine all ingredients and stir well until combined. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions.