Category Archives: cake

chocolate chip pumpkin bars

Happy Halloween! I hope you all are enjoying lots of pumpkin-anything today! I wasn’t expecting to be able to bake anything this week with  hurricane Sandy passing through here and the predicted power outages, but luckily it missed this area! We’ve surprisingly had just a bit of rain and barely any wind. After watching the coverage for the New York City area, we all feel lucky for that.

So to get back on track for baking festive things, I wanted to bake pumpkin bars from a recipe I came across a few days ago. It’s for chocolate chip pumpkin blondies, but I wanted to change it a bit by adding on a layer of chocolate ganache. I never thought I would enjoy the combination of pumpkin and chocolate (as I write this it just seems so silly now) until the other day when I put Nutella on a pumpkin english muffin. It was like, BAM. Why don’t I eat that combination more often? The mixture of the two in baked goods has somewhat of a complex flavor, because for me at least, I taste the chocolate first, and then the spices and the pumpkin linger afterwards. Pumpkin orange is also one of my favorite colors, so the combination of it with dark chocolate ganache just seems very Halloweeny to me.


  • 6 tbsp. butter, softened
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. pumpkin
  • 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Ganache recipe can be found here.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8×8 square dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together. Stir in the egg, vanilla and pumpkin. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, and salt. Pour those into the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spread dough evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake 15-17 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean after being inserted.  Remove from oven and let cool. If you want to stop here, you can just cut and serve them about 10 minutes or so after they come out of the oven while they are still warm. If you want to add the ganache, let the bars cool in the pan completely first. Make the ganache while you are waiting. Once the bars are cool, spread the ganache over the top. Store the bars, covered, in the fridge (so the chocolate doesn’t get too melty).


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Filed under autumn, cake, chocolate, dessert, holidays, recipes, winter

chocolate birthday cake

So this is a few weeks late, but I have to mention my lovely birthday cake and updates to my lovely go-to chocolate cake recipe. Earlier this year, I posted about a chocolate cake recipe I found from a Barefoot Contessa cookbook, and any time I want chocolate cake this is what I use and trust. So for my birthday, I volunteered to bake my own cake (because I do what I want on my birthday!) and decided chocolate cake was the obvious answer. I browsed some new frosting recipes, let my brain daydream about flavor combinations, and eventually got the idea to do a two-layer chocolate cake, WITH peanut buter cream cheese filling, AND chocolate ganache frosting. Oh yes. I was so excited in that moment that I sketched the whole thing out so I wouldn’t forget such a brilliant combination. Peanut butter frosting is always delicious, and so is cream cheese frosting, and I have absolutely no idea why it took me this long to combine the two. And this is the first time I’ve made chocolate ganache. I knew of it, but I was always intimidated because it just sounded fancy. Well, it looks it, but it’s really, really easy. So yeah, I may start celebrating my half-birthday, and quarter-birthday just so I can have an excuse to eat this again.

Find my chocolate cake recipe here.


  • 8 ounces cream cheese (1 brick), at room temperature
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted (add a little more or less to taste)
  • 2/3 c. smooth peanut butter


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. Continue to beat until light and fluffy and smooth. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.


  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips (I used these)


Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Scald the heavy cream in a saucepan. I learned that “scalding” is when you heat the cream (or milk and such) and tiny bubbles start to form around the edges (but it’s NOT boiling). Make sure to stir the cream while it heats to prevent scorching. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 30 seconds. Then slowly whisk together the chocolate and cream until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Let cool to room temperature. It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, but make sure to bring to room temperature before using . I made mine the night before I baked the cake, and then took it out to set on the counter about 4 hours before I needed to use it. When researching how to make chocolate ganache, I came across this site which shows three different variations on using ganache. It’s pretty interesting!


Filed under cake, chocolate, dessert, holidays, recipes

blueberry lemon buttermilk cake

It’s been almost two months since my last recipe post, and that’s kind of ridiculous isn’t it? Well, there are many new things going on, including becoming very busy with freelancing, and it’s been especially hot and humid seeing as how it’s finally summer and I can’t help but get annoyed getting sweaty every time I want to create something in the oven. So, when there are breaks in the heat, I’ve been wanting to bake summery things using summer ingredients, like blueberries for example. The middle of Summer is so lovely for there being so many seasonal foods. We have pounds and pounds of blueberries in the freezer, and any day our garden will explode with veggies. I’m thinking the next few things I bake may include lots and lots of zucchini. So for now, I began with blueberries, and this cake was a simple dessert I wanted to make one Sunday afternoon.

from No Tea After 12


  • 2 1/2 c. plain flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 c.  sugar, plus 2 tbsp. for sprinkling
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 10 tbsp. butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 c. fresh blueberries
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter and flour an 8″x8″  pan.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder, and add the sugar and nutmeg. In a separate medium bowl, whisk the eggs until fluffy. Add the buttermilk, butter, lemon zest, and lemon juice and mix well until incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Spread the mixture into the pan and sprinkle the blueberries over the top and sprinkle with the 2 tbsp. of sugar. (I accidentally began adding some blueberries into the mixture before I realized while reading the original recipe that they were only to go on top. I actually thought it was quite nice in the end having some blueberries in the cake as well as on the top). Bake for 25 minutes until the top is just golden , or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Filed under cake, dessert, fruit, recipes, summer

banana cake

so i was going through some old cookbook recipes again, and i came across an old-fashioned banana cake recipe that sounded perfect for Easter. it just seemed so cozy and classic and hopeful of spring. there are plenty of variations online, but this cake recipe comes from a clipping from an old newspaper that looks to be from the 1950’s by it’s yellowness. the only thing i updated was the frosting by using a cream cheese brown sugar recipe. in my mind that was just the perfect final cozy touch.

with cream cheese brown sugar frosting.

paper clipping recipe from a “mrs. burgess”

ingredients: (2 layer cake) 

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup mashed ripe bananas ( 2 or 3 bananas)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

cream cheese brown sugar filling/frosting:

  • 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup), room temperature
  • 1 8oz. brick of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 c.  toasted chopped walnuts


preheat oven to 350°F. cream shortening and sugar. add eggs and beat until fluffy. sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt; add to first mixture and mix for two minutes with electric mixer or 200 strokes by hand. add mashed bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla and mix. pour into two buttered and floured layer pans and bake 30-35 minutes. let cake cool completely before adding filling.

make filling/frosting by creaming together the butter and cream cheese. then beat in the powdered sugar and brown sugar and vanilla. sprinkle in a small handful of walnuts, and gently stir to mix.

place 3 or 4 squares of parchment or wax paper on the plate or display stand that you will serve your cake on. you can slide them from the cake when you are done frosting and ready to take pretty pictures of the finished cake. start by placing the bottom layer on the parchment paper, and frost a somewhat thin layer on it. then place the top layer over that. frost the top and sides of the whole cake. use your hands to press the rest of the walnut pieces against the sides of the cake, all the way around. store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Filed under cake, dessert, fruit, holidays, recipes, spring, summer

sour cream coffee cake

it seems that i have disappeared for awhile! march has gone by fast and i’ve been busy with many things such as freelance design projects, portfolio website (slowly) finishing, super early warm weather, and the hunger games. have you read that book and/or seen the movie? if not, stop reading this and go do that now. this coffee cake will be here when you’re done. if you are like me and have already obsessed over that story, you know what i mean.

to welcome myself back to my blog, i wanted to bake a recipe that included a few things i’ve been wanting to use for awhile now. these would be a really nice bundt pan i totally forgot i had, cake flour (which i invested in after spending way too much time staring at pretty cupcake pictures and recipes), and sour cream which was leftover from another recipe (because i hate wasting food!). when i think of bundt pans, i think of retro cakes that i might find in magazines and cookbooks from a few decades ago. i just don’t feel like i see them anymore that often. but i like retro and vintage things. and the new episode of mad men is on tonight, so this cake makes me even more excited for that. my photos got instagrammed for this special occasion too.

recipe from ina garten and food network


  • 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 2 1/2 c. cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
for streusel:
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

for glaze:

  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. milk


preheat the oven to 350° F. grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan. cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with a handheld mixer or by hand with a spoon, until light. add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream. in a separate medium size bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. slowly add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

for the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and use a pastry cutter to cut everything together until it forms a crumble. you can also use two butter knives or your fingers.

spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top. bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. let cool in pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. run a knife along cake edges to loosen. place a serving plate on top of pan and carefully flip over, and then gently remove the pan. make the glaze by whisking the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and milk together to make the glaze runny. drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or by placing the mixture in a small plastic bag and cutting a small corner off.

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carrot cake

spice cakes are some of my most favorite desserts of all time. i love bold, warm, cozy flavors. like chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, nutmeg and so on. i do like fruit in dessert, but not as much as things like that. and i realized i actually like vegetables in my dessert more than i do fruit. for example, sweet potato pie, pumpkin scones, zucchini cake/bread, and carrot cake. when i think of things like this, i get the warm fuzzies inside.

based on paula deen’s recipe

  • butter for greasing cake pan
  • 1 c. wheat flour
  • 1 c. all purpose flour, plus more for dusting cake pan
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 3 c. grated carrots (about 4-5 carrots)
  • 1 1/2 c. chopped nuts, optional
cream cheese frosting ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. butter (1 stick), softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla, add more to taste


preheat oven to 350° F. butter and flour a 9×13 cake pan. in a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. add eggs and vegetable oil. blend until combined. add carrots and nuts, if you are using them. pour into cake pan. bake for about 40 minutes. at this point, insert a toothpick in the center to test if it’s done. if the toothpick doesn’t come out clean, bake for another 8-10 minutes. remove from oven and cool for 5 minutes. allow to cool completely before frosting.

to make the frosting:

cream together the butter and cream cheese. add in the powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until all combined and fluffy.

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Filed under cake, dessert, recipes, vegetable

just a chocolate cake

yes, that’s right. just your simple, unfancy one layer chocolate cake. sometimes that is all you need to be happy. and sometimes you just want to eat chocolate. this is one of those times. there was no special occasion. no birthdays, no holidays, no large group of people to share a cake with. it was just a day where we thought, “hey, how about a chocolate cake?” okay, sure.

most of the time in the past my family would just pick up a boxed cake mix at the grocery store if we ever had one of these cravings. but lately i’ve managed to guilt everyone in my family to making most baked things from scratch. i don’t mean to be so snobby about it. but i just explain that i have a food blog to maintain, and then it’s okay. homemade things do come across as intimidating at first i must admit too. sometimes i also get carried away thinking about all of the processed stuff that is probably in those mixes when i’m on a health kick (i like how i use the phrase health kick when i’m here talking about baking cakes…). but besides there being processed things found in packaged mixes, homemade food almost always tastes better. especially cakes. you really can’t compare store bought cakes and mixes to the reward of making a cake all by yourself from the very beginning. or if you receive a homemade cake for your birthday or whatever other holiday. it’s so special. i’m pushing homemade here because this cake was not at all complicated. i’m also sharing it because this is the first time i’ve made this recipe, and it was one of those where after the first bite you say “oh yeah we’ve got to save this one.”

it’s a really dark looking cake, but not too dark-chocolatey. the secret ingredient is coffee and i think that is what makes the chocolate taste so uh-mazing. i’ve always wanted to write that. to make the cake all pretty, we made homemade buttercream vanilla frosting to contrast with the almost black cake. and to be very unfancy, we used just a 9×13 sized cake pan to keep it one layered and simple. according to the ina garten’s recipe, this will make enough if you want be fancy and make a two layer round cake. by the way, i want to mention that ina garten is one of my most favorite food personalities, along with the handsome jamie oliver.

an extra note: i learned how to make a substitute for buttermilk when making this cake. a lot of homemade chocolate cake recipes call for buttermilk and i almost never have it on hand to just use whenever. i usually buy it when i  have a specific recipe in mind. and even then, i almost always have some left that ends up going bad before i find another use for it. this time we didn’t have it so we stopped by the local grocery store, but they were fresh out on the saturday evening that we wanted cake. i’ll give up on buttermilk before i give up on chocolate cake. below the recipe is the how-to.

adapted from Barefoot Contessa At Home

cake ingredients:

  • butter for greasing the pans
  • 1 and 3/4 c. all purpose flour, plus more for the pans
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk**
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 c. freshly brewed hot coffee

**buttermilk subsitute: place a tablespoon of white vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the 1-cup line. then pour this mixture into a small bowl, so that the vinegar gets tossed in to the milk a bit. let stand for 5 minutes. then simply use in place of the buttermilk in the recipe.


preheat the oven to 350° F. brew some coffee if you haven’t already. butter and flour a 9×13 cake pan, or two 8-inch round cake pans. whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a big bowl. in another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. then, slowly stir in the hot coffee. stir until just combined. pour the batter into the prepared pans, scraping the edges with a rubber spatula. bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. remove the cake and cool in the pan on a wirerack. meanwhile, prepare the frosting.

buttercream frosting ingredients:

  • 3  3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened or at room temperature
  • 4 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

buttercream frosting directions:

beat together the powdered sugar and the butter in a medium bowl. you can use a stand mixer, hand mixer or just a spoon. mix until it’s an even consistency. stir in the milk and vanilla extract until everything is evenly incorporated. wait until the cake is completely cooled to frost. don’t be afraid to make it look slightly messy and fully homemade.


Filed under cake, dessert, recipes