Recipe: Perfect Summer Strawberry Shortcake

Baking in the summer is hard for me. I don't have AC, so deciding to turn the oven on is a struggle. Add to that making frosting, which I actually really dislike doing in the first place, in a hot house and it's just never a magical experience. But we're pushing through today, because this cake is easy-peasy and comes together without much effort or cake decorating ability. And it's perfect to throw together for a summer bbq or just feed a lot of people. 

It's also perfect for eating for breakfast, which is something I always look for in desserts. This cake is totally breakfast acceptable.

What I do with this cake is make it the night before (when it's less hot in the house), let it cool on a rack, wrap it up overnight, and assemble in the morning in time for festivities. Need to make something red, white, and blue for a summer gathering? Throw some blueberries in this and DONE. This cake is a crowd pleaser.

Strawberry Shortcake

Yields 8-12 slices

1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 9-inch round cake pans by coating in butter and a thin layer of flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt to remove any lumps and combine ingredients. Mix in half of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, then mix in the buttermilk and vanilla. Add the other half of the dry ingredients, mixing just enough to combined. Scrape down the bowl.

Split the batter evenly between the two 9-inch cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a cooling rack.

Whipped Cream

Yields enough for two-layer cake

2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 containers of strawberries 

Place your metal mixing bowl and wire attachment in your fridge 10 minutes before you begin whisking. Add heavy cream and sugar to the bowl of the mixer. Begin whisking on low, and then gradually increase the speed until medium-high until you have siff peaks (about 5-7 minutes).

To assemble the cake, place one cake on the center of a cake stand or large plate. Using a rubber spatula, spoon half the whipped cream into the center of the cake and spread towards the outside. Cutting as many strawberries as you need, slice them vertically and place in an even layer on the whipped cream. For presentation purposes, you want to them to be all the way to the edge of the cake so you can see them once you assemble the rest of the cake. Place the other cake on top, add the rest of the whipped cream, slice more strawberries to cover and then add whole strawberries, pressing them down slightly to get them to stay in place. Because this is a "naked" cake, you'll want to eat the same day as the exposed cake will dry out faster.

To get the more naked cake look, use your finger to press some powdered sugar into the sides of the cake. This helps hide imperfections and look a little more naked.

Recipe: Gingerbread Cake

Hi! How are you? How was your Thanksgiving? Are you still in a food coma and eating leftover turkey sandwiches? Are you wondering how you went months without really buying anything and then bought everything on Black Friday? Oh, just me? Hmmm...

ANYWAY. Thanksgiving has come and gone and we're gearing up for Christmas and New Years, which honestly feels nice to me. I'm ready for 2016 because 2015 was HARD. So lets talk about something easy today, shall we? Let's talk about cake instead.

As someone who isn't a big cake person, spice cakes have to be my ultimate favorite (evident by nutmeg donuts, chai tea cupcakes, snickerdoodle cupcakes, applesauce cupcakes, and these baked pumpkin donuts). So we are diving into the holiday season head on and making a gingerbread cake. And like every good spice cake, we're topping it with a cream cheese frosting and maybe a little toasted coconut for good measure. Nothing fancy but still pretty dang good.

Gingerbread Cake 

Yields 8 slices

1 1/2 sticks of butter, room temperature (I used salted)
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prep two 9 inch cake pans by coating in butter and a thin layer of flour.

In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar for 5 minutes until fluffy and light yellow. Add in each egg and beat until just combined. 

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg until everything is mixed together. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, then add the buttermilk, then another third of dry ingredients, then the molasses and vanilla, and finally the last bit of dry ingredients, mixing just enough to combine each time.

Split the batter evenly between the two 9 inch cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in their pans for 10 minutes, then finish cooling on a cooling rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes enough for entire cake

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
2 cups of powdered sugar
2-3 tablespoons of milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
toasted coconut for topping (optional)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese until completely combined and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Stop halfway through and scrape down the bowl. Add powdered sugar slowly and beat until combined. Add vanilla and 2 tablespoons of milk and mix. Add an additional tablespoon of milk if the frosting is still too thick. 

To assemble the cake, place one cake on the platter which you plan to serve the cake. Using a rubber or offset spatula, spread about a 1/2 inch thickness of frosting on the top of the cake. Place a pile of frosting in the center of the cake, and spread outward. Place your second cake on top and repeat that process on the top of the cake. To do the sides, use an offset spatula to work your way around the cake, making sure all the cake is covered. Once the entire cake is covered in frosting, use your offset spatula to smooth out the sides and top. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and enjoy!

A tiny tip: If you don't want to get frosting all over your cake stand, take strips of wax paper and slide them underneath the bottom cake so the cake stand is covered. Once you are done frosting, slide the wax paper out and throw it away, leaving a clean base to display the cake.

Recipe: Apple Galette

It's the time of year when everyone goes pumpkin crazy. I'm honestly surprised they don't have a pumpkin aisle in Trader Joe's because they must have released 45 pumpkin flavored things this year. Don't get me wrong, I like pumpkin, but that's like whoa. Not kidding that I saw pumpkin spice chicken sausage at the supermarket this week. THAT SOUNDS SO BAD. We've taken it too far. Let's just save the pumpkin for baked goods and coffee, okay? Can we be decent and do that?

With pumpkin getting all the Fall hype lately, what about the apple? There was a time when Fall also meant celebrating the apple. Apple pie, Carmel apples, Jewish apple cake, just simply picking your own apples. But this weekend, there's no time to sit and make a whole pie. So we're making the quirky, fancier-than-it-really-is stepcousin, an apple galette! Easy to throw together. Impress your friends. Top it with ice cream and enjoy it with some pumpkin coffee.

Apple Galette

Yields 6-8 slices

  • 1 store-bought pie crust
  • 2 apples (1 granny smith, and 1 honey crisp)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons of maple syrup (or make an egg wash)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel, core, and slice your apples in thin slices. 

In a large bowl, mix sugar, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and mix to combine. Add apples, add lemon juice, and toss until the apples are covered in the mixture. 

Roll out a pie crust onto a very lightly greased baking sheet. Arrange the apples in a circular pattern, starting from the center and working your way around. Leave 2 inches of crust around the outside for folding in the next step.

Fold the sides inward, working your way around the galette and overlapping slightly. Cut the tablespoons of butter into smaller chunks and sprinkle them around the tops of the apples. Brush the crust with maple syrup (or egg wash) and sprinkle a little sugar. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm!

Recipe: Pumpkin Creme Brûlée

I know, I know. It's after Thanksgiving and I'm fashionably late on the pumpkin dessert bandwagon. But let me tell you a little secret... You can serve pumpkin desserts after Thanksgiving. Actually, I encourage it.

And for me, creme brûlée is a all-time favorite dessert. So adding pumpkin and cinnamon was a no brainer. It's also extremely easy to make, you can make it ahead of time, and it impresses people. Go impress your friends and family. It will work, I promise. Thank me later.

Pumpkin Creme Brûlée 

Makes 6-8 small ramekins

  • 3 egg yolks

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 oz canned pumpkin
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until combined. Add in pumpkin and spices, mixing until combined, then add in heavy cream and vanilla and again, whisk until combined. Transfer mixture into something with a spout, like a measuring cup.

Place ramekins in a baking dish with a lip so they aren't touching. Fill each ramekin with custard mixture about 3/4 ways full. Bake the creme brûlées in a water bath by filling the baking dish with water so that it comes halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 40-45 minutes, though time will depend on how large or small your ramekins are. The centers should be set, but it will still be jiggly. Allow to cool before covering and storing in the fridge.

When you are ready to serve them, top each custard with a thin layer of sugar and use a kitchen torch to brûlée the tops. You can also place them in the broiler for a few minutes, but be sure to keep an eye on them!

Because of the addition of the pumpkin, this custard isn't as light as some creme brûlées but it's still pretty freaking great. Just saying.

Recipe: Snickerdoodles

Snickerdoodles are my favorite cookie, hands down. (Well, besides these Funfetti Cookies...) and it's been bothering me that the photos in my original recipe post were so...bad. Even though I've only had this blog for 2 years, I've learned a ton about photography, photo composition, and what works best for me. And those photos weren't cutting it anymore. So I've updated the photos, but the recipe remains the same. 

Snickerdoodle Cookies

Yields about 36 large cookies or tons of smaller ones

  • 1 1/2 sticks softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until combined. Chill the dough in the mixing bowl for 5-10 minutes in the refrigerator. Mix together the 3 tablespoons of both sugar and cinnamon in a small dish. Remove the dough from chilling and begin rolling into balls, then coating them in cinnamon sugar.

For smaller and softer cookies, roll 1-inch balls and place 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10 minutes or until slightly golden brown around the bottom edges. For larger and crispier cookies, roll 2-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 15-18 minutes or until slightly golden brown. Cool cookies on a cooling rack, but I think they're served best still slightly warm.

Store cookies in an airtight container or plastic bag. My goal is to try not to eat all of them in 2 days.