Coconut Lime Bundt Cake

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You know me and my bundt cakes.

No layers to mess with, no teetering heights, no great expectations. (And I'm sure I don't have to tell you that expectations are everything. Keep them low--or at least realistic--and life is much happier.)

I read recently that another secret to happiness is visiting the library. Some researcher determined that library visits deliver as much happiness as a pay raise! If you're me, you must pay your massive fine first and take yourself out for a consolation drink afterward. Only then will you enjoy your visits. Loretta will readily tell you how big it was. I won't.

This time, I checked out One Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti. My branch is small, so there is very little choice, and this is a mercy. Whatever is on the new book shelf is what I take. I've made three delicious things from it, but wanted to let you in on this bundt cake first.

I made it for a meeting at church and had enough leftover to bring to clients the next day. (Another Bundt Cake Plus: they can be cut into at least 12 pieces.) Besides cake flour (which I used and reccomend you do, too) I had everything for it in my pantry. And that makes me over-the-moon happy.

Coconut Lime Bundt Cake
I followed Yvonne's recipe almost exactly except I wanted a little tang. So I added lime juice and zest, but you can take that out if you want pure coconut. And I prefer my coconut toasted, but she doesn't call for that either.

Cake Batter
20 Tb. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the pan
1 3/4 c. plus 2 Tb. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 1/4 c. full fat coconut milk
1 c. shredded sweetened coconut
1 Tb. vanilla
2 1/2 c. cake flour, plus more for dusting
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder

Glaze
1 c. sifted powdered sugar
2 Tb. full fat coconut milk
Juice and zest from one medium lime
1/3 c. shredded sweetened coconut, toasted in the oven for 4-5 minutes if you wish

Preheat oven to 350 and butter and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, and salt until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time. Beat in the coconut milk, shredded coconut, and vanilla. Remove bowl from mixer and stir the flour and baking powder in by hand until just incorporated.

Spoon the batter into the pan and bake until golden, just firm, and a toothpick comes out clean, 40-45 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes, then remove from the pan to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze, stir the sugar, coconut milk, and lime juice together in a bowl until smooth. Spoon over the top of the cooled cake. Mix the coconut with the lime zest and sprinkle mixture over the top so it sticks to the glaze.

Go-To Cake

Save the day cake

"*&%$! I forgot that I said I'd bring dessert!"

Seven-year-old Loretta has taken it upon herself to be the Bad Word Police. She thinks "crap" is a bad word, so I guess it could be worse. My friend Emily says she swears more when she's excited. She's excited about her new role at work (which happens to be a church) and finds herself swearing about it all the time. Hilarious. I guess that's true with me, too--the Bad Word Police can issue tickets when excitement or frustration ensues. Abby,who's here every Monday night for our big family dinner, says she can't get a word in edgewise around here. Even the most inconsquencial subjects are blown up into an excitable mess. Loretta, of course, lives for this. Many citations to issue.

%&*#$! If I've forgotten to pay the water bill and come home to a sputtering faucet, that's one thing. (I did that last summer and actually went around to the neighbors asking if they were having problems with their water. My neighbor Lori said, "Have you paid your bill?" Mortification.)

But if I've forgotten about bringing dessert, that's an easy fix. Molly Wizenberg saves the day again. Easy, quick, chocolately depths. Add a little bit of lightly sweetned whipped cream or some strawberries. Or some reduced balsamic syrup and a sprinkiling of flaked salt. Or just plain. The expletives will diminish. Actually, scratch that. They will just be uttered in a more contented way.

Save-the-Day Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake

Gingerbread Pear Bundt Cake

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What is up with me and my baked goods lately? So much for kale and brown rice. It's Christmastime.

Like I've said before, I love the "cut and come again" nature of a bundt cake. Leave it sitting on the counter, have a little sliver with tea in the afternoon, have some more with coffee tomorrow morning.

Emily and John are here for the weekend, and I like to spoil them. I was happy there were lots of slivers snuck through the afternoon.

Gingerbread Pear Bundt Cake
There are so many superlatives floating around food blogs these days that I hesitate to add to the mayhem. But this cake is GOOD. You'll wake up in the morning wanting a piece.

For cake:
2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 Tb. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
2 Tb. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1 1/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. water
2 Tb. grated fresh ginger
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1/2 c. molasses
2 large Bosc pears, peeled and very thinly sliced

For glaze:
3 Tb. butter
4 tsp. milk
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour a bundt pan.

Combine first 8 (dry) ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine next 8 ingredients in a separate bowl (brown sugar, baking soda, water, fresh ginger, white sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, molasses). Add dry ingredients to wet, stirring just to combine, then add sliced pears.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn out on a plate. Let cool for an hour before icing.

To prepare glaze, combine butter, brown sugar and milk in a saucepan over low heat until just melted. Take off heat and cool a bit, then add powdered sugar. If it's too thick, thin a tiny bit until it's pourable. Pour over cooled cake.

Pecan Sour Cream Coffeecake

sour cream coffee cake

Rich, Mary, and family came up last weekend. It's the first time we've been together in Bellingham since we moved. At our 800 square foot house in Seattle, all 9 of us in one place would have been physically impossible without a tent in the yard. It's hard to describe how wonderful it felt to host THEM, for once. The kids ran around willy nilly and we very loosely kept an eye on them while we drank coffee all day and caught up on months of news and musings.

Rich and Mary are one of my most appreciative cooking audiences. They swoon over everything and don't complain about the carnage I leave in my wake. I'm really, really speedy in the kitchen. As Yancey will tell you, that's partly because "Clean as you go!" is not a mantra of mine. (But I'm getting better. We've had the serious conversation where I say, "If it's important to you, it's important to me." That's marriage in a nutshell.) So Mary (cheerfully) did a lot of dishes. But with the walls we knocked down, it doesn't matter! We are still all together. Thank you, Universe, for this house and all the people it's hosted already. The fact that it's only half done hasn't stopped us at all.

I always joke that I'm not a brunch fan. Who would ever want to combine two meals into one?! Let's eat all three, at LEAST. But a weekend with friends is why brunch was invented--no one is paying attention to the clock, there's no pressure or plans, and it meant we could go out for "dinner" at 4:30 with all the kids. (Fiamma Burger, of course.)

I'll bet your mother or your aunt used to make a coffee cake like this--tons of sour cream, a layer of nut struesel in the middle. Nigella Lawson has a cake she calls, "Cut and Come Again." Cut some big wedges for brunch, leave the rest on the counter, and find a plate of crumbs at the end of the day.

Pecan Sour Cream Coffeecake
Adapted from Ina Garten. I used one cup of sour cream and one cup of nonfat Greek yogurt because that's what I had in the fridge. If you used all Greek yogurt, I'd recommend that at least half of it be the whole milk kind. And you could sub walnuts or almonds for the pecans.

For cake:
12 Tb. unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 c. sour cream (or 1 c. sour cream and 1 c. Greek plain yogurt)
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt 

For struesel:
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. pecans, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

For icing:
3/4 c. powdered sugar
3 Tb. real maple syrup 

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes. Add eggs one at at a time, then add vanilla and sour cream. 

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to make sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the struesel, combine nuts, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle the struesel topping over and top with the rest of the batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.

Let cool for at least 30 minutes, then turn out on a plate. Stir powdered sugar and maple syrup together. Mixture will be quite thick. Spread it on, and a bit will start to run down the sides. Cut and come again.

Chocolate Orange Walnut Loaf Cake

Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake
I feel like singing a little tune. That's how easy and scrumptious this tender-crumbed cake is.

Another baby has been born in our family's world, and the kids and I delivered dinner this afternoon. I wrapped up only three quarters of this loaf for them. We had to sample it first. Quality Control.  Melissa Clark's recipe. Again! I love her style--conversational, practical, inventive. This cake involves just a bowl and a spoon, and ingredients I always have around--plain yogurt, eggs, chocolate chips, nuts. I subbed walnuts for her pecans because they were on hand, and added orange zest to the batter and an orange glaze while it was still piping hot. I love how the glaze settles in, getting sticky and shiny, running down around the sides.

Loretta and I had a rare morning together. She stirred the cake batter, and we made valentines while it baked. There were various preschooler demands later in the afternoon (More snack! I don't want to have a rest time!), but our 90 minutes of baking and crafting were divine. I listened again to John Kabat-Zinn recently, who says that children are like little zen masters, parachuted into our lives to push all our buttons and see how we'll respond. It's funny--I just came back from a work trip, and what I missed was all those buttons being pushed. In my better moments, I can stand back and say,"This craziness means my life is full. I am choosing the uncertainty, the ambiguity, the loose ends, and I'd be lost without them."

valentines

My valentine

Chocolate Orange Walnut Loaf Cake

1 c. sugar
2/3 c. plain yogurt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2/3 c. (10 Tb.) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. toasted walnuts or pecans
finely grated zest of one orange

For glaze:
Juice and zest of one orange
3/4 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan.

Using a whisk, whisk together the sugar and  yogurt. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk until completely combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture into the wet and mix until just combined. Using a spatula, fold in the melted butter a little at a time. Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts, and orange zest.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make glaze. Using a whisk, combine orange juice, zest, and powdered sugar.

When cake is done, poke several holes in a it with a toothpick or skewer. Immediately pour glaze over the top and allow it to saturate the cake. It will pool up a bit at the edges--brush it back over the top with a pastry brush. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool to room temp before cutting it.

Comfort Me with Cake

Apple Bundt
If hours in the kitchen are an ebb and flow, it's ebb time around here. Burritos, rice, tuna melts, an apple distractedly cut and distributed, groceries ordered online at midnight. Thankfully, miraculously, I'm busy with work. When I'm not doing it, I'm thinking or dreaming about it.

Or taking a cake-baking break . Baked this for a fundraiser last weekend, and it was sold in minutes. (Horn-tooting! My own horn!) Then I came home and regretted not having any for myself. So I made this version, kid-friendly, without nuts or chai or those meddlesome dried fruits. Now I'm working in the library, dropping crumbs all over my keyboard, scheming about getting back to the kitchen. It comforts me just to think about it.

Apple Bundt Cake with Cinnamon Glaze
Fall in a slice. Gone in a flash.

For cake:
3 c. flour
1 ts. baking soda
1/2 ts. salt
1 ts. cinnamon
1 ts. ground ginger

1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
4 Tb. brandy or dark rum
3 large or 4 medium apples, cut into 1/4″ dice

For glaze:
1 c. sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tb. milk or cream (+ a little more if needed)


Preheat oven to 350.  If you have a convection oven (I do.  How I adore it.), bundt cakes are good things to use them on so the outside doesn’t get a lot more done than the inside.  If you don’t have convection, just watch it carefully.

Butter and flour a bundt pan.

Mix flour, soda, salt, and cinnamon together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, mix sugars, vegetable oil, eggs, and brandy.  Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Add apples and stir until just combined.

Spoon into bundt pan and bake for about 60 minutes (maybe longer, depending on your oven), or until an inserted skewer comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.  Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a plate.

For glaze, whisk powdered sugar and milk together, adding a little more if needed. You want it so it's just barely pourable. Spoon over cake after cake has cooled.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

slice-of-heaven

We are still friends if this is what you're thinking right now: "*&#$! I have a real life. I don't have time to stand at my stovetop slaving over caramel sauce or hunt down fleur de sel from God knows where. Who does this girl think she is?!" I understand. That's me, half the time.

My parents were on their way from Leavenworth to Bellingham, and I said I'd make a birthday dinner for my Dad. My Mom offered to buy a cake from Macrina. I thought about taking her up on it, but I wanted to make something. That's how it goes with me--every once in awhile, I crave something a little more technical, something I can brag about on Facebook and give myself a big ol' pat on the back about. In spite of a very busy Saturday and Yancey being on shift, I managed to pull it off. Priorites, I guess. My kids can watch cartoons all day, and I'll be in the kitchen with my candy thermometer, cursing under my breath and hoping my investment in expensive salt and chocolate pays off. Put another $20 in their therapy fund.

I'm pleased to report that all the cursing and parental neglect payed off. My parents closed their eyes in rapture at first bite, and my Dad pronounced it the best chocolate cake he's ever eaten. And this is a man decidedly not prone to any kind of hyperbole. My Mom and I have that territory covered. How wonderful, to sit around the kitchen table, dying over my cake, Loretta's constant chatter as the backdrop and full from cioppino (recipe soon). Happy Birthday, Papa. I love you.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake
This is from my Baked cookbook, which Jordan gave me for my birthday last year. I'm directing you to my friend Dana's recipe, since she has done all the work of transcribing it already. (Can I call you my friend, Dana? We have yet to meet.) Follow all her warnings. And this warning from me: make sure your frosting is completley cooled before you start beating in the butter!! Mine was a little warm still (impatience is my biggest flaw, in cooking and in life), and my ganache ended up being much runnier than I would have liked. Thankfully, I was able to remedy the issue by putting it in the fridge for 30 minutes, stirring it every 10 minutes so it didn't harden too much. AND I found my cake did much better being refrigereated before cutting. Good luck! Tell me all about it.

Recipe

Zucchini Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

cake for karl

There is nothing dramatic about this cake. A simple 9 inch round, one bowl to mix it in, getting crazy with a little cinnamon in the traditional cream cheese frosting. In other words, my kind of dessert.

golden round

The sort to make for a weeknight dinner guest. Our longtime friend Karl is leaving Seattle by way of a 'round the world trip. Of course he's endured his fair share of Eat, Pray, Love jokes, but he's in a different category, I assure you. The category of working to get through grad school, getting a job helping homeless folks find housing, and now risking like crazy to leave all that. We are going to miss him, and nothing says, "Don't forget about us!" like food. He requested puttanesca for dinner and this cake was (surprise!) concocted based on my produce drawer. (By the way, if you're interested in a spot-on commentary on the whole Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon--i.e. "How was that trip funded?!"--click here. I love it when the author says that most of us need to have our epiphanies in the middle of everyday life. Or in the middle of sheer survival.)

For Karl, on his grand adventure. May he, with joy, be thrown into the highs and lows, the sights and smells, the loneliness and companionship that such a trip can bring. And for the rest of us, on our grand adventures. Maybe it's making a cake for the first time. Maybe it's saying "no" to something we've always wanted to refuse. Maybe it's settling into the very UNadventurous reality of our own lives and--miracle of miracles--being content there.

frosting

Zucchini Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
I love that this cake uses olive oil instead of vegetable oil to moisten it. Like the recipe says, don't use extra virgin. I usually have some milder stuff around for uses like this. I love the very slightest hint of depth it gives the cake. If you don't have a mild olive oil in your pantry, I'd sub vegetable oil before you throw in an expensive extra virgin variety. And I didn't have a 9" pan with 2" sides, so used a 9" springform instead. It worked beautifully.

Recipe

Breakfast Crumb Cake

crumb cake

I've got some really healthy and seasonal things waiting in the wings. And then there's this. Sour-Cream-Heart-Attack-Crunchy-Streusel Special. I've had this issue of Bon Appetit sitting in the bathroom for a couple months, so by now I have practically memorized all the recipes. One of the features was from the Brooklyn Baked boys, and this coffee cake has been haunting me. (Seven-year-old Wyatt is very thankful for things like coffee cake specters.)

I've been doing lots of reading on nutrition and health lately, so I'm fully aware that this won't make the cut on any of those lists. But here's the thing--I'm not tempted by baked goods lying around the house. I have a small piece for breakfast and find ways to give most of it away. (Guacamole is another story.) If you're in the can't-leave-it-alone camp, my advice is not to make this. It's a temptingly tender cake, piled high with thick streusel, and the very definition of comfort food. My mom (and probably your mom, too) had a similar version of sour cream coffee cake. I remember she'd make it for special occasion brunches or if we had overnight guests. Honestly, this whole summer has felt like a special occasion around here. I've been having so much fun with my kids, discovering new things about them and yes, cooking for them. Wyatt looked at me adoringly after his first bite of this. Who can resist that?

Breakfast Crumb Cake
This is lifted exactly from Bon Appetit. If you wanted to mix it up a little, I think some very thinly sliced pear and a little cardamom would be delicious in it.

Topping:
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 Tb. cinnamon
1/2 ts. salt

1 c. unsalted butter, melted, warm
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour

Cake:
2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/3 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla

For topping: 
Mix both sugars, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl and whisk to blend. Add warm melted butter and stir to blend. Add flour and toss with fork until moist clumps form (topping mixture will look slightly wet). Set aside.

For cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat room-temperature butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla extract and beat just until blended. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, beating just until incorporated after each addition. Transfer cake batter to prepared baking dish; spread batter evenly with rubber spatula or offset spatula. Squeeze small handfuls of topping together to form small clumps. Drop topping clumps evenly over cake batter, covering completely (topping will be thick).

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and topping is deep golden brown and slightly crisp, about 1 hour. Cool cake in dish on rack at least 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

Cut cake into squares and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.