Tag Archive: cake

  1. Full

    41 Comments

    We’re scraping together some semblances of rhythm and routine around these parts. Week to week, there is almost nothing that resembles our old life in San Diego let alone the day we cut a check for the new lease. I just rolled the dice in June and haven’t stopped throwing them up to the sky since. There have been a few Sunday mornings reading the Times, cutting out articles that inspire over a hearty breakfast and a few cups of coffee, but haven’t exactly found that same sort of grounding consistency of days past that puts our souls at ease. No complaints, none at all. Just an observation. All summer long we’ve bounced around the country and this new place rounding up jobs and memories. Not busy, just full. I might be maxing out on stimulation here, the months of activity and new-ness since our move is starting to catch up with me I think. I feel it in my knees. I see it under my eyes. I anticipate (I hope) that when Autumn arrives at the end of the month we will have found or created some balance for our weeks.

    There was time for a bit of cake this weekend. Oh, and a glacier. That was nice.

    And so were your comments from the last post. Boy, just floating on all that love and good energy. Thanks guys.


    Almond Bundt

    • 2 cups Gluten Free or AP Flour
    • 1 cup Almond Meal
    • 3 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • pinch of salt
    • 6 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cups sucunat sugar
    • 1 cup melted, lukewarm coconut oil
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp almond extract
    • 1 cup canned light coconut milk
    • 2 baskets green figs

    Frosting(s) 

    • 2 cups cream cheese
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • juice of 2-3 lemons

    dairy free option 

    • 2 cups soaked cashews
    • 1/2 + cup coconut milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 drop almond extract
    • 1/2 cup brown rice syrup or Grade B maple syrup
    • juice of one lemon
    Directions

    Preheat oven to 350′ F. In a medium bowl combine flour, almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, a salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, lightly beat 6 eggs until just broken up. Add sugar, coconut oil, vanilla, almond extract, and coconut milk one item at a time, mixing lightly between each addition, until combined. Fold in flour mixture to liquid one cup at a time, stirring lightly until just blended. Grease bundt pan with coconut oil or butter, dusting with flour to coat and prevent sticking. Pour in batter slowly and distribute evenly. Bake for 45-55 minutes until it passes the toothpick test. Let the cake cool for 30 minutes before trying to remove. TRUST.

    Cut fresh figs in quarters or halves, toss with sugar. Set aside.

    For the cream cheese frosting, beat blocks of cream cheese in a stand mixer for 2-3 minutes. As it begins to smooth out, add powdered sugar (I make my own in my blender using turbinado sugar), vanilla, and lemon juice. Beat together. Taste. Does it need more lemon? More sugar? Adjust to taste. If you’d like to achieve the drippy look on the bundt cake, add a bit of coconut milk or water to thin.

    Cashew frosting: use this technique, but add vanilla, almond extract, maple syrup while blending or after straining.

    Pour frosting into a piping bag, or, as I did, into a large ziploc bag with a hole cut in the corner. Drizzle generously over the bundt. Top with sugared figs.

  2. Spiced Apple Molasses Cake

    29 Comments

    Muscle memory. By definition it’s synonymous with motor learning, a form of procedural memory that involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. The idea is when a movement or thought process is repeated over time, a “long-term muscle memory” is created so that with practice that task can be performed without a conscious effort. It’s a concept that’s been on my mind lately. With the end of another semester upon me, I’ve begun to feel the usual stresses that accompany it.

    With three and a half years practice, the muscle memory is pretty reliable by now. My mind and body quickly get with the program, summoning my emotion, faculty, and willpower to engage at full speed. In some ways this is great. Things get done. Books get read. Term papers get written. But what trappings have my conditioned mind led me into again? Unnecessary stress? Check. Anxiety? Check. Emotional highs and lows? Check. Silly stuff in the big picture.

    I think the whole muscle memory concept is amazing when you step back and look at how it works in so many aspects of our lives. On the physiological level, a person can teach her legs, her heart, and her lungs to run, jump, skip, swim — and with time she can be active without a conscious effort. In the same way I think there is a sort of psychological muscle memory that exists too. We can program our thoughts and responses to variety of situations through repeated practice to a point where these things too can be performed without conscious effort. Over time instead of stopping and thinking, our brains skip thinking and our muscles just “do,” or react. In some ways, this can be incredibly powerful. We can condition positivity, optimism, and non-judgment to inherently color our intentions and actions. On the flip side, it also means we fall into traps of repeated emotions and behaviors that we’ve been programmed for so long to experience the condition in a certain way.

    Here’s the awesome part: we can totally reprogram our muscle memory. It takes one conscious second to check yourself and say, “Hey, experience X, so we’ve been here before, how has my programmed response been working out? What if we tried this a little differently?” With enough practice (and a bit of patience and self-love) we can rewire our responses to certain experiences and situations to better serve us. There will be slips. We’ll fall back into those old habits and thoughts. It’s okay. We’re human. But in time those yucky, dark spots that we find ourselves falling into in certain situations will be obsolete.

    I’m practicing, in oh so many ways. Final exam preparations included. It’s working. Start with a piece of Spiced Apple Molasses Cake.

    Spiced Apple Molasses Cake 

    Slightly adapted from Real Simple 

    • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
    • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
    • 5 apples (I used fuji) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks

    Heat oven to 350° F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the oil, molasses, brown sugar, egg, ginger, vanilla and ½ cup boiling water. Slowly stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Add the apples last, folding generously to disperse evenly throughout the mixture. Pour batter into an oiled and floured cake pan, or cast iron skillet. Bake for 45 minutes (closer to 55 with the cast iron) until it passes the toothpick test. Let cool for at least 10 minutes. Enjoy as a dessert or breakfast cake with a cup of french pressed coffee.

  3. Birthday Wishes

    18 Comments

    Today is my little brother’s birthday.

    He is twenty years old today, twenty years of laughing, learning, growing, and thriving with every curve-ball thrown his way. He’s more than my blood, he’s my lifelong friend. It hasn’t always been easy, in fact sometimes it was downright hard. I was bossy. He was stubborn. We’ve both grown up a lot since the days of our backseat bickering, and our relationship has been in constant evolution to become something I cherish with all my heart.

    Austin, I love you so much! Your visit this past weekend was a much needed tonic.

    These are my birthday wishes for you this year:

    Trust your intuition. When everything is a mess, get quiet, and just listen. You know what to do. Take chances on love. Girls are confusing. They have no idea what they want. We’re all trying to figure this thing out. Love ‘em anyway. Choose Joy. Rugby. Trivia Night. Whatever. Life is short, keep doing the things that make you happy. Take a ginger or turmeric supplement. Okay, I’m trying to sneak this in here. They help with inflammation. For your back, (cough) rugby. Spend more time at the ocean. The cure to everything is salt water. This is coming from someone who spent four months on a boat. Trust me. Buy a journal. And use it. Write stuff down, get it out, no erasing. Trust the process. Invest in an ice cream maker. Seriously. Your friends will love you. Screw the system. You’re more than just a number. Get out there and experiment. Ask for help. Find a mentor. There are people who want to capitalize on your potential. Pray. Call it what you want, God, The Universe, Nature, Hayden, Hare Krishna, I don’t  care. They’re waiting. Ready to listen. Plan an adventure. Hit the road. explore. Go alone. Pack a Clif Bar. Don’t stop dreaming the big dreams. Remember underwater roller-coasters?  Let your mind wander and keep dreaming. Keep loving. “Intense love does not measure, it just gives.” You rock at this. Keep loving. Keep giving.

    August Birthdays call for something light and fresh. Alice recommends that leftovers be toasted the next day.

    Alice Waters’ Angel Food Cake with Fresh Whipped Cream and Orange Zest 

    • 1 cup cake flour
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 12 egg whites, at room temperature
    • 1 tablespoon water
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar
    • 3/4 cup sugar

    Preheat the oven to 350 F.

    Sift together the flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt.

    In a medium bowl or in a stand mixer with the whip attachment, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Whisk in the water, lemon juice, and cream of tartar. Keep whisking until the foam is very soft, holds a slight shape, and has increased 4 to 5 times in volume. Whisk in the final 3/4 cup of sugar. Continue whisking until the mixture forms glossy, soft peaks. The mixture should not be stiff or dry. Sift a fine layer of the dry ingredients over the whites, and fold them in with a rubber spatula, gently and quickly. This is easier with four hands. Call a neighbor! Continue sifting and folding until all the dry ingredients are incorporated.

    Pour the batter into an ungreased 10- by 4-inch tube pan with a removable bottom. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. When done the cake should spring back when touched gently. Invert the pan to keep the cake from sticking or deflating. (If the cake pan has legs, turn it over onto them, otherwise invert the tube pan onto the neck of a beer bottle.) Let cool.

    To remove the cake from the pan, run a knife around the inside of the pan and around the center tube. Gently push up the bottom, using the knife to help guide the cake out, if necessary. Use a sharp serrated knife into water between cuts to help keep the cake from sticking.

    Whipped Cream

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1 tsp almond extract
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • orange zest (for the end)

    With an eclectic mixer, combine heavy cream, vanilla, almond extract, and sugar on low. Increase speed to high and whip the mixture until it thickens to 2-3 times it’s size and is no longer a liquid. Top cooled cake with cream, strawberries, and zest of one orange.

     

  4. It’s Good to Be Three

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    During times of inordinate stress, pressure, or change, I find that more than any amount of yoga or breathing, the best meditative practice is simply the act of remembering. Remembering is an act of the heart. It gathers the images and energy of the people we associate with the past experience, and we cannot help to feel a pang of gratitude that we were there to share that specific moment in time together. It’s a practice we can do anywhere, anytime. Driving home from work, checking out books from the library, making the bed… you get the idea. We bring these memories into focus and suddenly the many worries and preoccupations of our day fade to the background. The wisdom of friends, family, and strangers who occupy these memories should remind us that the love and admiration we feel for them is reciprocal – they love and believe in us just the same.

    Some of the most powerful memories we can access, especially during times of self-doubt or criticism, are the ones of our younger and enthusiastic selves. As children, we were not buried deep in worry, restraint, or stress. Our full time jobs were to explore a world in its limitless intricacies. We were constantly seeking, questioning, creating, laughing, and enjoying.

    When I think of myself at three or four years old I see a little girl who was uninhibited, and free. She beamed with light and exuberance, and felt blissfully content to be who she was. The words “you can’t” were not in her vocabulary yet and she was assured that the entire world was at her fingertips.

    I remember that girl. She was amazing. I remember her smile, her confidence, and certainty. But then I realize… hey, that girl is me! That same spirit and lightheartedness still lives inside of me. I can still be free like her; and so can you. We should remember the energy and lightness of our childhood and give ourselves permission to cultivate it in our seemingly constrained lives. Conjuring the memory of such a lightness and warmth can even be enough to push you up the hill on a hard day.

    Carrot cake is a dessert that brings together the best memories of my both my childhood and of my mother. All twenty-one of my birthdays  (which is actually in December) have been celebrated with an original carrot cake recipe that she has saved from the 80s. When I emailed her asking for the recipe last week I think she was probably expecting me to completely transform it into a fat-free sugar-free relative. But I couldn’t – memories associated with this keepsake are of an auspicious nature, and I needed to (mostly) maintain its integrity if for no ones sake but my own. A few tweaks to the icing and oils, but otherwise pretty darn accurate. For me, carrot cake celebrates life, love, remembrance, and the many more memories to be made in the future. May it bring you a moment of lightness and tenderness in the way it did for me this weekend.

    For the cake:

    • 3/4 cups turbinado sugar
    • 2 cups pastry flour (gluten free optional)
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 2/3 cup melted coconut oil
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 2 1/2 heaping cups grated carrots
    • 1 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1 1/2 heaping cups crushed pineapple, strained
    • (optional) 1 cup of raisins

    glaze: (adapted from Roost blog)

    cream cheese frosting (like mom made it)

    • 2 cups cream cheese
    • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    • juice of 2 lemons
    • 1 tsp vanilla

    Preheat the oven to 350′. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a larger bowl, beat the eggs and add the sugar. Slowly beat in the coconut oil, vanilla, and pineapple. Add the flower mixture and stir gently with a rubber spatula until just incorporated. Finally, stir in the carrots and walnuts. I decided to make these in mini loaf molds, but it would also work in large loaf or round pans. Depending on your preference, grease your pan(s) and fill to 3/4 full with cake batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes.Remove from oven and let cool before drizzling with coconut glaze

    For the cream cheese frosting, beat together ingredients in a stand mixer until completely combined. Test for taste. You might prefer it sweeter or with more acid, add sugar and lemon and vanilla accordingly.

Let's get in Touch

I wish I could make coffee dates with you all. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say Hi. I like that. There is nothing more uplifting than an email from a a fresh contact or kindred spirit.

I can be reached through this contact form and at happyolks [at] gmail [dot] com.