Category Archives: Cakes

Lemon Pound Cake

A dear friend gave me a beautiful cast iron loaf pan meant for a lemon loaf.  What could I do? I had to make a Lemon Pound Cake! Pound Cake is my “go to” dessert in the spring and summer.  Past experience told me that the loaf would brown too much in such a heavy pan, but I attempted it anyway.  As I suspected, it did brown too much to show the beautiful lemon design, but delicious anyway!

Pound cake is great “plain” or cut into slices and grilled on the grill and served with fresh fruit or with ice cream.  Lemon Pound Cake can be adorned with blueberries or strawberries, and as in this case, I soak it with a Lemon Syrup for additional moistness and flavor.  This recipe came from Moosewood Lodge of Ithaca, NY (one of my favorite collections).

1 cup Butter, room temp. 

Add and cream until light and fluffy:
1-1/2 cups Sugar 

Add one at a time:
3 Eggs, room temp. 

Sift together:
2 cups AP Flour
1-1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt 

Add alternately with dry ingredients:
1/2 cup Milk
1 tsp. Lemon Extract
1/4 cup Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Lemon Zest

Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 60 minutes or until it tests done with a toothpick.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Flip the loaf pan over onto a cooling rack after 10 minutes.  Brush liberally with hot syrup.

Combine for syrup and bring to a boil:
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Lemon Juice
1 tsp. Lemon Zest

NY Style Crumb Cake

Here in NY, you can go into practically any convenience store and see Crumb Cake, which is pretty much a small amount of cake with a ton of crumbs on top – and it is extremely popular. I decided to add a bit of streusel in the center of mine to add another dimension, but still have a ton of crumbs on top.  This makes an 8″X8″ pan.  If you use a 9″ pan, you’ll bake for shorter time.  You don’t need any special equipment, just a bowl and whisk!

Whisk into a bowl:
½ cup Sugar
2 Eggs, whole
¾ cup Milk
¼ cup Butter, melted, cooled
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Stir in:
1 ½ cups AP Flour
1 Tabl. Baking Powder
½ tsp. Salt

Pour ½ batter into a greased 8” square pan.   Sprinkle with streusel.  Pour remaining batter over.  Top with crumbs.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 55 -60 min. or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center.

Combine and work together with fork or fingers:
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
3 Tabl. Butter, softened

Combine and work together with fork or fingers:
1 ½ cups AP Flour
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 cup Butter, softened

Cut and serve warm.  Be sure to wrap leftovers tightly with plastic wrap as it tends to dry out.

Chocolate Cake – for those with Dairy Allergies

This chocolate cake recipe has been circulating for years, going  by different names such as, “Wacky cake” and “One Bowl Cake”.  What makes it “wacky” is that there are no eggs or butter in it, and yet it is delicious!  For those with dairy allergies, this dessert may be a “god-send”.

Since we’re talking about healthier desserts this month, one important way to watch what we eat, which we cannot overlook is – PORTION CONTROL!  One way to “have your cake and eat it too” is to make smaller quantities which allow you to indulge – but only once.  This cake won’t leave you with huge leftovers.  This recipe makes a small 8″ X 8″ cake, just enough for your family to have a small piece and it freezes well so you if you do have leftovers, you can save them for another day.

In the mixer bowl measure and mix to combine:
2-1/4 cups AP Flour
1-1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1-1/2 cups Sugar
5 Tabl. Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt


Add to the above bowl and beat for 2 minutes:
1-1/2 cups HOT water (or coffee)
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Pour the batter into a parchment lined 8″X8″ pan and bake in 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until it tests done in the center.  Cool on a rack.  Level the top if  necessary with a long, serrated knife.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan and tip the cake over onto a cake stand or serving plate.  If you have a dairy allergy dust cooled cake with powdered sugar, or ice with your favorite frosting.

I used this Old Fashioned Chocolate Icing: (CONTAINS DAIRY)
Measure in mixing bowl and combine:
2-1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
3 Tabl. Butter, soft
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Salt

While beating, add small amounts of milk at a time to reach a nice creamy, spreadable consistency:
1/4 – 1/2 cup Milk

Reduced-fat Blueberry Coffee Cake

Often you can make a reduced-fat dessert and your family/guests will not know it is reduced-fat unless you tell them.  This recipe is a great example.  The streusel and the fresh blueberries make it moist and delicious and the cinnamon tricks your tastebuds into not noticing the lower sugar content.

In this recipe, I replace the majority of the fat with non-fat yogurt and half of the flour with whole wheat pastry flour. You’ll notice that I often add lemon or orange zest to baked products.  Citrus zest intensifies the flavor and “pops” the product with freshness!   I just love the slight “tang” that yogurt imparts, and knowing the cake is lower in fat helps to enjoy  this coffee cake even more!

Sift together:
1 cup Cake Flour
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
pinch of Cardamon, Optional
1/2 tsp. Salt

Cream in mixer bowl:
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tabl. Butter, room temperature
2 Tabl. Vegetable Oil

Add to the creamed mixture:
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 cup Nonfat Yogurt, plain
1 tsp. Lemon Zest

Add the dry ingredients slowly to the above.  When fully incorporated, stir in 1 pint of fresh Blueberries.

In a sprayed  10″X6″ or 9″ X 9″ pan, spread 1/2 of the batter, sprinkle 1/2 of the streusel and then remaining batter, and top with remaining streusel.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until tests done with toothpick. (Be careful not to over bake reduced-fat products – as they will dry out)

Mix together in small bowl:
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 cup Nuts, chopped
2 Tabl. Butter, soft

Reduced-fat Carrot Cake

Yes, its National Carrot Cake Day  (who knew!) but, we’re on a health “kick” this month.  No problem, there are ways that you can replace a portion of the fat without losing the flavor and texture.  In this recipe I use non-fat plain yogurt as a replacement for 2/3 of the fat.   Also, in order to add healthy fiber, I replace 1/2 of the flour called for with whole wheat pastry flour (NOT bread flour) and the remainder is cake flour.  The cake flour is low in protein so it balances the higher protein in whole wheat flours.  If you used all whole wheat pastry flour you’d have a drier, heavier result.

Because the original oil called for in the recipe would have added moisture and because the whole wheat pastry flour absorbs moisture more than regular flour, you must add the juice in the crushed pineapple to have a moist cake result.

I suggest dusting the finished cake with powdered sugar instead of icing it with a rich, sweet cream cheese icing, I bake it in a 9″X13″ pan.

Using the Whisk attachment, whip for 3 minutes:
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Non-Fat Plain Yogurt
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

Sift onto a parchment paper (this makes adding dry ingredients to the bowl easier):
1-1/2 cups Cake Flour
1-1/2 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (NOT BREAD FLOUR)
1 Tabl. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Salt

Change the mixer attachment to a paddle and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in the bowl.  Mix for 1 minute (mixture will be very thick).

Add to the above mixture:
1-20 oz. can Crushed Pineapple (juice and all)
2 cups Carrots, shredded
1/2 cup Nuts, optional
1/2 cup Golden Raisins, optional

Pour batter into a 9″X13″ pan that has been sprayed with oil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until tests done with a toothpick.  Allow to cool completely and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Wrap tightly with plastic wrap to keep fresh.

* Low-fat baked products do not stay moist as long as traditional products, so must be wrapped well.

Mimosa Celebration Cake

Are you wondering what dessert will make your New Year’s Eve spectacular? This cake screams: CELEBRATION!!!   I take a basic Vanilla cake (You can make your own favorite Vanilla cake or follow my recipe), generously “soak” each layer with champagne, fill and ice with a Grand Marnier Buttercream and garnish with white chocolate shavings.

Whip to soft peak and set aside:
2 Egg Whites

Combine in a small bowl and set aside:
1 tsp. Baking Soda
3/4 cup Buttermilk*

In mixer bowl, Cream:
1/2 cup Butter
2 cups Sugar 

Slowly add to above while mixing:
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 cup Buttermilk
1 tsp. Orange Zest 

Sift and add to the bowl alternately with reserved Buttermilk/Soda:
2 -3/4 cup Cake Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt

Fold in:
Egg Whites

Spread batter in 2-8″ round cake pans which have been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes or until tests done in center.  Cool on racks.

* Buttermilk just add 1 Tabl. Lemon Juice to 1 cup Milk

Buttercream is easy to make but there are important things to remember:

1)  Make sure syrup reaches 240 degrees (this will pasteurize the egg whites)

2)  Make sure the egg white mixture has cooled off before adding the butter.

3)  When you add the butter and the extracts it will at first look like it is “soupy”.  That’s ok, keep adding the butter, and it will stiffen as it continues to beat.

4)  If, after adding the butter and continuing to beat it does not stiffen, place some of the soupy buttercream into a bowl and refrigerate or freeze  for a few minutes. Add the cold solidified buttercream back to the bowl and continue to beat.

5)  If, after adding the butter and continuing to beat, the buttercream is too stiff, just warm the bowl a bit, by placing the bowl in a sink of warm water.  Too stiff just means it’s too cold.

Prepare Buttercream:

In small pan, bring to a boil, continue to boil until 240 degrees registers on candy thermometer:
2-1/2 cups Sugar
1-1/4 cups cold water 

While the above syrup is boiling, in mixer, beat to soft peaks:
9 egg whites

When sugar syrup reaches 240 degrees, carefully pour a steady stream down the side with the mixer running on medium speed.  After adding all of the syrup, continue mixing on high speed until you can place your hand on the bottom of the bowl and it is warm – not hot.

While the mixer is running, slowly add the butter piece by piece:
2 lbs butter (unsalted) softened cut into 1″ pieces 

When all the butter is mixed in and Buttercream is thick and smooth, beat in:
3 Tabl. Grand Marnier
1 Tabl. Orange Zest
1 tsp Vanilla Extract 

To Assemble the Cake:
1)  Place 1 layer of cake on a serving plate
2)  Generously brush the cake with champagne
3)  Fill with buttercream – about 1/2″ of buttercream in between layers
4)  Place 2nd layer of cake on top of buttercream, gently pressing down
5)  Generously brush the cake with champagne
6)  Ice the top and sides of the cake with the Buttercream
7)  Cover top (and sides, if you desire) with White chocolate curls
A Buttercream cake should be stored in the refrigerator, but SERVED at room temperature.  Remove cake from the refrigerator approx. 3 hours before serving.

Seriously Perfect Cheesecake

If, on this Christmas Eve you still haven’t planned your special dessert for tomorrow, this may be it! This perfect cheesecake is smooth and creamy, not dense and dry.  It is baked low and slow in a hot water bath to keep it from cracking and drying out.  I spread some fresh whipped cream on mine and topped it with some fresh strawberries – beautiful and delicious!   Merry Christmas!!

Slowly Beat until soft and creamy:
3 # Cream Cheese, softened

Add and continue to beat until NO LUMPS remain:
1 cup Sugar 

Slowly Add:
5 Eggs, whole, room temp.
2 Egg Yolks 

5 oz. Heavy Cream
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract 

Prepare a parchment lined 10″ round pan with 3″ sides (if you use a smaller pan, you will have batter left – you could make mini cheesecakes in cupcake liners).  Press graham cracker crumbs into bottom only. Pour batter in, filling to 1/4″ from top of pan.

Bake in a 300 degree oven in a HOT WATER BATH* for 1-1/2 hours.  Remove from oven, allow to cool.  Refrigerate overnight to set.  To remove from pan, place over hot burner and  warm bottom. Run a knife around the pan edge, tip it over onto a plate and then back over onto a serving platter.

* Hot-water bath – Place cheesecake in a larger, deep pan and pour REALLY HOT water in the pan around the sides of cheesecake pan, filling to 1/2 way up the sides.

Buche De Noel – Yule Log

Buche de Noel –  Also known as a Yule Log is traditionally French but has also become a traditional Christmas Day dessert  in America.  Classically it is a sponge cake (Genoise) with pastry cream filling, rolled into a log shape (Roulade) and iced with buttercream.  It is not just in the shape of a log, but it is meant to look like a log in a forest, right down to the meringue mushrooms.

Over the years, as happens with traditions, the recipe has been changed and has evolved.  In the bakery, I chose to make a sponge cake, fill it with fresh whipped cream and finish it with a chocolate glaze.  Instead of the meringue mushrooms, I opt for fondant shaped holly leaves because meringue mushrooms are easy to make but not easy to store (besides holly is prettier!).

A sponge cake is a very simple cake to make and it literally only takes minutes to bake because of its thinness.  We sometimes add peppermint or chocolate pieces or cherries to the whipped cream before rolling, though this is certainly not traditional.  Don’t be scared off by the steps involved.  You do have to make 3 components: a cake, a filling and a glaze.  You’ll find that none of the steps take too long and the assembly is really easy as well.

In a mixing bowl, whip to soft peaks:
5 Egg Whites 
Slowly add while beating whites:
4 Tabl. Sugar

Continue to whip egg whites to stiff peak and then transfer to another bowl and set aside.

In the same mixing bowl, beat on high speed for 8-10 minutes:
5 Egg yolks
4 Tabl. Sugar


Remove the bowl from the mixer and by hand with a spatula, fold in:
1/3 cup Cake Flour, sifted
3 Tabl. Cocoa Powder, sifted

Gently fold in the egg whites to the above mixture:

Spread the batter into a parchment lined 1” sided cookie sheet.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10-12 minutes or until it springs back when touched.  Allow the cake to cool completely.


Whip on high speed to stiff peak (Do not overbeat):
2 cups Heavy Cream 
Slowly add:
3 Tabl. Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
Melt slowly in a microwavable bowl:
1 cup of Chocolate Chips
3 Tabl. Butter 
When melted, stir in 1 Tabl. Corn Syrup.  Cool at room temperature until the glaze is spreadable.

NOW HERE’S HOW TO ASSEMBLE –  (Don’t panic – it’s easy 🙂

1)  Remove cake from the pan by running a knife around the edges and then pulling the parchment off pan and on to the counter.  Flip over the cold cake and remove the parchment.

2)  Spread a thin layer of whipped cream over the cake – extending to the edges.

3)  OPTIONAL:  Add peppermint or cherries over the whipped cream.

4)  Roll the long edge of the cake up, rolling as you go, to form a log shape.

5)  Place seam side down on a piece of parchment.

6)  Spread the glaze from the top working around and down the sides (not the edges).

7)  Drag a fork through the chocolate to make it look like bark.

8.)  Allow the glaze to set-up firm.

9)  Cut the ends off on an angle.

10)  Place the ends (really, any way you like) to make it seem like a cut log.  See my pic for an example.

11)  Touch up the glaze on the cut ends.

12)  Transfer the set cake to a serving platter.

13)  Hand cut some green fondant to look like holly and add red M&Ms for the berries.

14)  Refrigerate

Now, wasn’t that pretty painless?  🙂

The Show-stopping Trifle!

Wouldn’t you love to make a fabulous tasting and gorgeous dessert for Christmas dinner?  What if I told you that gorgeous dessert was easy and quick to make and doesn’t require any specific cake decorating skills – would you be interested?  The answer is, a trifle!

A trifle is a dessert that typically consists of cake (optional: cake is brushed with sherry, rum, or brandy) and topped with alternating layers of jam or fruit, custard or pudding, and whipped cream.

To make a trifle you choose the flavor of cake, custard or pudding, fruit or jam and any garnishes your heart desires.  Of course, I make my own cake and pudding but you certainly could purchase pre-made (check out the recipe index!).  A Trifle is out of the ordinary, beautiful and best of all, there is NO WAY you can go wrong!!

Let me give you a couple of suggestions for this show-stopping dessert for your Christmas table:
1)    Start out with the most beautiful glass trifle bowl or vessel you have.
2)    Choose complimentary flavors
3)    “Build” your trifle into beautiful layers 
Here’s how to build a Trifle:
1)  Cut your favorite flavor cake into about 1-1/2″ chunks.
2)  Place the cake pieces into the bottom of a decorative bowl.
3)  Brush the cake thoroughly with liquor of your choice or fruit juice or simple syrup*
4)  Spread the custard/pudding to edges to cover the cake by approx. 1″
5)  Spread or pipe whipped cream on top of previous layer
6)  Spread jam or fruit over whipped cream
7) Repeat as above ending with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, or fruit.

(*simple syrup – Bring to a boil equal amounts of sugar and water. Boil 2 minutes, cool.  Use simple syrup to brush on cake.)

Some of my favorites include:
1)    Chocolate cake (optionally brushed with Kirsch) with custard or chocolate pudding – using cherries and whipped cream.
2)    Lemon cake with lemon curd, fresh raspberries and whipped cream.
3)    Vanilla cake (optionally brushed with brandy) with strawberry jam, custard fresh strawberries and whipped cream. 
The flavor combinations are unending and the resulting fabulous dessert will be talked about for years to come!

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

If you can take one more pumpkin recipe, this one would be perfect for Sunday brunch.  I’m sure you are familiar with the NY Crumb Cake, it is more crumbs than cake, but..oh, so delicious!  This take on the traditional crumb cake is more “timely” and seasonal:

1/2# Butter, softened
3 cups Sugar

Gradually add:
4 Eggs, room temp.

2 cups Solid Pumpkin

Sift together:
4 cups Cake Flour
1 Tabl. and 1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg
1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves
1/2 tsp. Salt

Add alternatly with dry ingredients to above:
1 cup Milk

Pour batter into a greased 9″X13″ pan. Top with crumbs.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until tests done with toothpick.  Serve warm.


Mix with fingers to form crumbs:
2 ½ cups AP Flour
1 cup Brown Sugar
2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 cup Butter, softened
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