Lemon Blueberry Snack Cakes

I don’t have enough space in my kitchen to store all of my baking supplies so I keep them nicely organized on a shelving until in my basement. Not long ago while grabbing my Bundt pan to make a pound cake I thought it was about time I use my snack cake pans again. I’ve only used them once to make these Chocolate Snack Cakes. So, the wheels started turning to come up with a flavor. Initially I was thinking of making a Raspberry Cake with a Lime Curd Filling, then, it became a Raspberry Cake with a Lemon Curd Filling, next, a Lemon Raspberry Cake with a Pastry Cream filling, but, since blueberries were on sale the week I decided to make them it ended up being a Lemon Blueberry Snack Cake. Maybe another day will try out one of those other flavors. Oh, and in case you are wondering what a snack cake pan is, it’s essentially a pan that will make cakes that look like Twinkies. I have this one from Fat Daddio, which I believe isn’t available anymore, but, Wilton makes a similar one.

I tweaked the recipe that I used to make this Lemon Cake a few years back and then gently folded in blueberries that I dredged in flour (a little trick to ensure the blueberries won’t sink to the bottom of the batter while baking). I then divvied the batter among my snack cake pans and baked them in the oven. If you don’t have snack cake pans, you can use the batter to make cupcakes. They are delicious on their own, but, it you opt to make the cupcakes top them with cream cheese frosting and decorate with lemon zest and a few more blueberries for a little extra wow.

 

Lemon Blueberry Snack Cakes

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

5 oz. buttermilk*

3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup blueberries, dredged in flour

 

*I made my own buttermilk by stirring together 4 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar and 1 cup whole milk and let it sit for 10-15 minutes until it curdled. You can refrigerate the leftovers.

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a snack cake pan with baking spray. If making cupcakes, line a cupcake tin with liners.

Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda & salt) and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light & fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with the buttermilk and beat until just combined. Add in the lemon zest and vanilla extract.

Fold in the blueberries and pour batter into the pan. For the snack cake pan use about 3 tablespoons of batter per cavity, for cupcakes 1/4 cup of batter.

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Zebra Cake

It’s one thing when a cake is appealing to the eye on the outside, but, when you cut into a cake and reveal a hidden surprise on the inside your eyes widen in wonder and delight. That’s the excitement behind a Piñata Cake. Who wouldn’t want to cut a slice of cake to only have sprinkles and candy come cascading out? A smile (and squeals from little one’s) is sure to follow. The same can be had when the cake itself reveals a pattern or design. Think of a Checkerboard Cake (Sorry for the pictures in both of those posts – Nighttime baking is not a blogger’s friend when it comes to taking pictures.)

I recently made a cake to celebrate a friend’s daughters (aka my nieces) dance recital performance – it was their first. Since I was making a cake for one of their birthdays the day before I didn’t want to make another chocolate cake for their recital celebration. And since I was making a themed cake for that birthday I also didn’t want to make a cake that I would have to heavily decorate – I was actually able to find doll-sized versions of their dancing shoes to top the cake with so I figured that was perfect enough decoration. So, I figured I should do something special with the inside. After a little thought I decided to make a zebra cake with a Nutella mousse filling since they both like the hazelnut spread.

To make things super easy I went with box cake mix – a yellow cake mix and a chocolate cake mix. I prepared both per the box directions. Whenever I use cake mix I normally use Duncan Hines. One of the reasons, and it will sound silly, is because it has a Wilton approved emblem on it. Truth be told though, Duncan Hines is perfect for making a zebra cake because they do not have pudding in the mix which can make the cake batter thick and not ideal for making this cake.

Once my batters were prepared, I poured a ¼ cup of the yellow cake batter in the center of two 8-inch cake pans that I sprayed with baking spray. Next, I poured a ¼ cup of the chocolate cake batter in the center of the yellow cake batter, and then a ¼ cup of the chocolate cake mix in the center of the previously poured yellow cake mix. I continued in this pattern until the pan was about 2/3 full. You won’t use all of the batters, but, just about.

I gently tapped the pans down and then baked them in a preheated 350 F oven for about 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle came out clean. I let the cakes cool in the pans for about 15 minutes and then inverted them on cooling racks to cool completely.

One cooled, I torte the cakes to remove the dome that formed on both. The zebra pattern was instantly visible and I was quite excited that it worked.

The pattern was even more visible once the cake was layered and cut into.

You could really customize this cake. Use a white cake mix and tint it colors to show your team spirit, someone’s favorite colors or even a gender reveal cake.

And here’s a pic of the birthday cake I made the same weekend – An Elena of Avalor themed cake.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I recently made a Pineapple Upside Down Cake for a birthday celebration. Secretly I was happy to make it because it meant I wouldn’t have to make frosting to decorate the cake and I could final try a Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Yes, I have never had it before. Not really sure why… I like pineapples and obviously I like cake, but, it never crossed my mind to make one.  Well, as they say, there’s no time like the present.

This cake is super simple to make, especially if you use a box yellow cake mix. After preheating my oven to 350 F, I melted a stick of unsalted butter directly in a 9×13 inch pan in the oven. I checked on the butter every so often to make sure it didn’t burn and also to tilt the pan so the butter wouldn’t melt in one spot. Once the butter had melted I removed the pan from the oven and sprinkled 1 cup of light brown sugar over the butter. Next, I arranged 12 pineapple slices – I used pineapple slices in pineapple juice and I reserved the juice to make the cake – and then place a maraschino cherry inside of each pineapple.

Next, I prepared the cake mix per the box directions. The cake mix called for 1 cup of water and I opted to use ½ cup of the reserved pineapple juice and ½ of water. You could also use an entire cup of pineapple juice. Since this was my first time make the cake I didn’t want to go overboard with the pineapple flavor, next time though – yes, there will be a next time for this cake – I will use the entire cup. Once the batter was ready I poured it over the pineapples and cherries in my prepared pan. I was concerned that the cake might end up sticking to the sides of the pan, but, once I added the batter to the pan some of the melted butter rose up to the sides so I didn’t have to worry about that. I spread the batter a little to even it out and then baked it for about 40 minutes – until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake came out clean.

I let the cake cool for a few minutes in the pan and then inverted it onto a cake board and platter. I was initially just going to use the cake board, but, was concerned that the syrup that was created by the butter and sugar would spill over so I went with the platter as well. After inverting it, I let the pan rest on the cake for a few minutes to make sure that all of yumminess had dripped down. I easily removed the pan and a few pineapple stuck to the pan, I removed them and placed them on the cake.

I can’t wait to make this cake again. It only took about an hour from start to finish and while I was concerned that it would be overly sweet and that the cake would be very thin, the outcome couldn’t have been farther from the truth. The cake was just the right height and was fluffy and light and the sweetness was right on point with the cake, pineapples and light brown sugar. One other thing that’s nice, thanks to the pineapples it’s so easy to cut this cake into 12 equal portions!

 

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup light brown sugar

12 pineapple slices in pineapple juice, reserve the juice*

12 maraschino cherries

1 box yellow cake mix, plus ingredients listed on box to make cake**

 

*I used a 20 oz. can & an 8 oz. can. The 20 oz. can had 10 slices and the 8 oz. had 4.

**Substitute the water with the pineapple juice

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Place the stick of butter in a 9×13 inch pan and place in the oven to melt. This will take a few minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter. Arrange the pineapple slices over the sugar and then place a cherry in the center of each pineapple slice. Set aside.

Prepare the cake mix per the box instructions and then pour over the pineapple slices. You can tap the pan down or use a spatula to even out the batter.

Place in the oven and bake 35 – 45 minutes, until the cake has browned and pulled away from the sides of the pan.

Let the cake cool for a few minutes and then invert on a platter. Let the pan sit on top of the cake for a few additional minutes so all of the syrup can drain out and then remove the pan. If any pineapples or cherries remain on the pain just remove them and place them on the cake.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Crumbles are great for the warmer months. They can be made with pretty much any fruit, are super simple and pair well with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Summer is an ideal time for cherry pie, blueberry pie and strawberry rhubarb pie… How about making one of those into a crumble? Today, I am bringing you just that… A Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble.

A little backstory on Rhubarb… You may think that rhubarb is related to celery because it pretty much just looks like red celery and that it is a fruit because it’s primarily used in dessert, but, both accounts are wrong. Rhubarb and celery while they may look alike are not part of the same family, and based on the theory that fruits have seeds, rhubarb is not a fruit. Rhubarb is used in baking because its tart flavor will not become overly sweet when added with sugar and other sweeteners. To me rhubarb tastes like an unripen apple. If you’re keen on tart flavors then raw rhubarb may be perfect for you, but, avoid eating its leaves as they contain high levels of oxalic acid which can cause kidney damage, granted, you would have to eat a pretty hefty amount, but even a small amount can make you sick so why take the chance. Anyhoo, back to the crumble.

I began by making the topping… I mixed flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, light brown sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. I then added in melted butter and stirred all of the ingredients together until it formed into clumps and then refrigerated it for 10 minutes.

In another bowl I made the filling by tossing together chopped rhubarb, quartered strawberries, lemon juice, granulated sugar, salt and to thicken the filling, cornstarch. I transferred this to a 9-inch deep dish pie plate and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Once everything had sat for its designated time I covered the fruit with the crumb topping…

And baked it in a 375 preheated oven for about 45 minutes. Until the filling was bubbly.

I let the crumble rest for a bit and then enjoyed some with what else, a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

If you’re looking for some more easy summer cakes to make check out the Dump Cakes I posted about a few years ago or the Apple Streusel Dump Cake I made for Thanksgiving last year.

And, if you happen to buy too much rhubarb and need another recipe to try out, check out these Rhubarb Cupcakes.

Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Ingredients:

For the Topping:

1 1/3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Grated zest of 1 lemon

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:

1 1/2 cups 1-inch pieced chopped rhubarb (about 3 stalks)

1 quart strawberries hulled and quartered (about 4 cups)

Juice of lemon

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

Pinch of salt

Vanilla ice cream for serving

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Make the topping: In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, both sugars and the lemon zest. Add the melted butter and stir the mixture until it forms small and large clumps. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Make the filling: In a large bowl combine the rhubarb, strawberries, lemon juice, sugar, salt and cornstarch. Let rest for 10 minutes and then transfer to a 9-inch deep dish pie plate or a 9-inch square baking dish.

Top the filling evenly with the topping mixture and place the dish on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Let the crumble rest for at least 15 minutes before enjoying.

Serve warm and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Food Network

Russian Decorating Tips

If you’ve been perusing decorated cakes on Instagram or Pinterest lately you may have noticed an influx of cakes decorated with some fancy and elaborate looking flowers. You may have thought to yourself that they require some advanced skill in cake decorating to create, but, the truth is, they only require specific types of decorating tips, a little patience and the right frosting consistency to replicate.

When I first started seeing them I did a little research and discovered that the flowers were being created with decorating tips known as “Russian Decorating Tips.” After a little more research I discovered that these tips have nothing to do with Russia. So, how did they get their name? Per another blogger, I Am Baker, they got their name because they were being sold by a company called Ali Express and they named them “Russian Tips.” At the time I didn’t feel like ordering a set over the internet, but, not too long ago I discovered that my local AC Moore began selling a set of 8 (along with an extra-large coupler to use with them) for less than $10. Truth be told, you don’t need the coupler. You can just cut your decorator bag and drop the tip in. I would suggest using a 16-inch decorator bag with these tips as opposed to a 12-inch one.

 

Unlike traditional decorating tips from Wilton & Ateco, these tips do not have numbers on them. The tips have a laser cut design on the end that allows the frosting to be piped through and form the different flowers. I will say that some of the tips are easier to use than others. Some of the designs, especially those that have detailed centers meant to emulate the stamen & stigma part of the flower, take a little more practice to master. One other thing that is different is the way you pipe them. With your usual tips you sometimes have to add a little wrist twist to get the flower design, or, you have to hold the bag at a 45 degree angle. But, with these tips you hold the bag at a 90 degree angle about an inch or so from your cake (or cupcake) and squeeze for a few seconds to form the flower. Before piping the next flower I would suggest wiping the tip clean to get a nice flower for the next pipe.

Like I mentioned earlier I purchased a set of these tips from my local AC Moore store. I can’t remember how I knew they carried them; I probably saw something on their Instagram feed. I decided to hold off on using them until I made my Mother’s Day cake. I did test them out using store bought vanilla frosting and as I had suspected and had read a little bit about, the frosting was too thin to get a well-formed flower. All of my test flowers looked like little blobs of frosting as opposed to a flower.

So, using my go-to Fluffy Vanilla Frosting that I then tinted in 4 different colors I began decorating the top of my cake. I was soon a bit frustrated with some of the tips. The flowers weren’t piping well and even though the frosting was a stiffer consistency the centers of the flowers weren’t looking nice. So, I decided to switch the tips I had chosen to use. Soon enough I got the hang of it and ended up with a flower topped cake I was content with. It wasn’t until I added in leaves (using a Wilton 352 tip) that I piped around the cake and in between the flowers to fill in the gaps that I was truly happy with the outcome.

  

 

 

 

 

Lemon Pudding Cakes

It’s the first day of spring and unfortunately the temperatures aren’t spring-like and there’s snow in the forecast for tomorrow. Too bad the weather doesn’t automatically switch with the seasons – of course people would only enjoy that for the warmer months. Not many people would be too keen on frigid temps and snow the first day of winter, although it would make for a white Christmas! I’m welcoming spring today with a lemon treat. I’m not all that sure that lemon is synonymous with spring – I think it more of a summer flavored dessert – but, when I Googled Spring desserts a bunch of lemon ones were the first to come up. So, the lemon treat I settled on was Lemon Pudding Cakes.

I started by making the lemon base of the cakes by mixing together egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice and zest. Once those ingredients were well combined, I sifted in flour, sugar and salt and mixed these ingredients until combined.

Next I beat the egg whites until stiff peaks formed. Now, we all have those kitchen tasks we’re not fond of doing. I used to dislike having to mince garlic until I purchased a garlic mincer. Another task I dislike, beating egg whites into stiff peaks, well by accident, well not really accident, I finally realized what I was doing wrong… I was using the wrong bowl. I would normally beat them in a wide stainless bowl and I guess it would take long because of the larger surface of the bowl. I didn’t feel like grabbing that bowl when making these pudding cakes so I grabbed a smaller stainless bowl instead and my egg white were ready in half the time. I apologize to those of you who are like “Duh.” Sometimes we get so used to doing things a certain way we don’t stop to think of a more efficient way to do it.

After the egg white were ready I folded them – a small amount at a time- into the lemon mixture. I then divvied up the batter among 4 ramekins and baked them in a water bath. After letting them cool, I inverted them on a dish and topped them with fresh strawberries and confectioners’ sugar.  I knew these were going to be delicious, but, I was surprised by just how good they are. The cake texture was reminiscent of a ricotta cheesecake and there was a nice layer of lemon pudding on top… Hence, a Lemon Pudding Cake. This was a quick dessert if you are looking for a nice dessert for a small get together or, you just want a dessert that will remind you of the warmer temps that are sure to come.

 

Happy Spring!!!

 

Lemon Pudding Cakes

Ingredients:

2/3 cup superfine sugar, plus more for dusting

2 eggs, separated

2/3 cup reduced fat buttermilk

2 tablespoons lemon juice*

1 tablespoon lemon zest*

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

 

Topping

Fresh berries

Confectioners’ sugar

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter and lightly sugar 4 ramekins.**

In a large bowl add egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest and using a hand mixer beat until well combine on medium speed. Sift in flour, sugar and salt into the mixture and beat on low until well combined.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture a little at a time until completely incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins and bake in a water bath. Place the ramekins in a large roasting pan and fill hallway with water.

Bake for 45 minutes until the top springs back when gently pressed. All the cakes to cool slightly and then invert onto a plate and garnish with fresh berries and confectioners’ sugar.

**I sprayed my ramekins with cooking spray then sprinkled sugar in them.

Recipe from Food Network

Food Network

 

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with a Dulce De Leche Filling

Remember a few years ago when whoopie pies were all the rage? I remember ripping out quite a few recipes from different magazines. Now, they didn’t go away, people just moved on to another rage. In fact, whoopie pies have been around for quite some time. Traditionally found in the New England area – they are considered the official state treat (who knew that was a thing!?!) of Maine and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition – you can find them in all parts of the country. I am sure depending on the region and season the flavors can vary greatly. Imagine a blueberry version from Maine made with fresh blueberries… YUM!

All this talk about them, let’s get to the bottom of what they are. They can be considered a cake, a cookie or a pie. How awesome is that!?! Traditionally they are made with 2 small round mounds of chocolate cake that are then filled with frosting or a filling made with marshmallow creme or fluff. These I’m sharing with you today are filled with a dulce de leche filling… Double YUM!

The cake part is made with a Devil’s food box cake mix (I used Pillsbury) and the filling is made with canned dulce de leche. I normally find it in the Hispanic food aisle in my supermarket. If you can’t find it by you, or just want to make it yourself, you can simmer a can of sweetened condensed milk. Here’s a great recipe for doing just that. It’s then mixed with cream cheese, butter and some other ingredients to make it the perfect consistency to pipe onto the chocolate cakes.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with a Dulce De Leche Filling

  • Servings: Makes About 20
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Ingredients:

Whoopie Pies

1 box of Devil’s food cake mix

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup water

3 large eggs

Filling:

1/2 cup dulce de leche

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

Combine the cake mix, butter, water and eggs in a large bowl and beat at medium speed until smooth. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using a cookie scoop, drop the batter onto the parchment line baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

In another large bowl beat the cream cheese and unsalted butter on medium speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and beat until well combined. Add the dulce de leche, vanilla extract and salt and beat until well combined.

Pipe or spread the filling onto half of the cookies, place the second cookie on top.

Recipe adapted from Land O Lakes