A couple of weeks ago I spent an evening at the Oregon Coast with Eva and Christiann who put together an incredible beach shoot with CB2. They invited me to come along (with a cake, of course!), an offer I couldn’t refuse….
I’m sitting in the little corner of my kitchen you’ve probably seen in so many of my pictures (it’s my favorite spot in the house) with the windows open, sweet Oliver at my feet, listening to the chickens peck at the last bits of a peach I just fed them. It’s been a cloudy, cool week, my absolute favorite….
Last summer I long term chicken-sat (I know that sounds ridiculous, but I really cannot think of another way to say it) for our neighbors who have a gorgeous, secret-garden-like yard brimming with berries, apples, herbs and a rather prolific rhubarb plant. The stalks were the biggest I’d ever seen, and while I’d previously dismissed rhubarb as some sort of unnatural red celery I couldn’t say no when she offered me some. I may have tasted rhubarb at some point in life…but I’d never really tasted rhubarb. One bite of a homemade rhubarb and strawberry shortbread with cardamom whipped cream and I was hooked. This year I waited patiently for those lovely red stalks to show up in the grocery store (and in my neighbors yard!) and have obviously been eating all I can get my hands on since….
We survived our first winter in the Pacific Northwest, and despite many stranger’s pitying looks and ‘you just wait’ comments last fall, I completely enjoyed it. I love the rain, gloomy days here are my absolute favorite. The most difficult part of the winters here are the painfully short days but luckily I don’t need much convincing to spend my evenings under a quilt with a book and cup of tea. I made pots upon pots of homemade stocks, wore out a pair of warm slippers and congratulated myself on being extra productive the mornings I was up before dawn, even if dawn happened to be at 8 am.
I will say, the arrival of spring unearthed my vitamin D deficiency, we’ve been spending every minute we can outside and all I want to do is sun myself in the grass and play in the garden. I say ‘play’ because I’ve proven myself to be a complete gardening novice, I really have no idea what I’m doing but the ground has rewarded my efforts by producing teeny tiny sprouts despite the fact that I didn’t even label the seeds I sowed. Maybe I’m somehow conspiring with the earth to surprise myself in a month or two when the mystery veggies are ready to be harvested, like little gifts hidden in the dirt.
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time you’ve probably noticed that I’m a little into infusing my cakes and buttercreams with tea. I’ve tried so many techniques: simple syrups, steeping tea in milk, etc but so far, this one wins. Fat carries flavor, and steeping the tea straight into the butter is incredibly effective. I like to think this spring awakening is responsible for my moment of cake brilliance, but there’s a really good chance I have the internet to thank.
I used Smith Teamaker’s Jasmine Silver Tip, which is slightly sweet and highly floral. The tea leaves are harvested in the spring and stored until jasmine blooms in the summer. The closed blossoms are harvested early in the day, and when they open in the evening the tea absorbs their floral, intoxicating scent, much like the way spring seems to have arrived overnight.
I’ll be making and serving this lovely cake for a tea and cake pairing at Smith Teamaker in Portland, Oregon on Mother’s Day (May 8th). To learn more about the event or reserve your spot, please visit the event page here. …
I’ve been dreaming of this cake for a while. I tried my first version of it in February when I brought it to share with the team hosting the last Secret Supper (see Eva and Christiann’s amazing recaps here and here) and while it was good, it didn’t quite possess the smoky campfire flavor I was looking for. A month or so later Hot Cakes, a local bakery here in Seattle, was releasing a line of wilderness-inspired caramel sauces along with their smoked chocolate chips and I knew exactly what the cake was missing. I used the alderwood Smoked Chocolate Chips and whiskey to flavor a rich, dense chocolate cake, filled it with a toasted marshmallow buttercream, salted graham cracker toffee for crunch and drizzled it with Campfire Caramel (made with grass-fed cream and hickory smoked organic sugar). The cake tastes like the best nights spent around a campfire: rich and a little intoxicating….
I can’t stop walking around our neighborhood looking at the incredible cherry blossoms and Japanese magnolia trees exploding into bloom. They line the streets and dust the sidewalks in pink and white flower petals. Without a doubt spring is here and I’m soaking in every moment of this incredible transformation. My husband recently built garden boxes and we planted everything from asparagus to strawberries. I’m a bit of a reluctant gardener but my son is loving digging in the dirt, if only I can keep his dirty little fingers from pulling the growing plants out.
Maybe it’s all the early-budding trees, or maybe my sweet tooth has gotten out of control but I’ve been in a serious ice cream mood. You know the one, the ‘run to the corner store for ice cream in completely unacceptable clothing hoping you don’t see anyone you know’ kind of mood. I worked on a ricotta ice cream recipe I never got around to posting over the summer and now I know what it was waiting for: spicy honey. I’ve been a little obsessed with making my own ice cream since talking my husband into a machine during the hottest summer on record in Seattle and this is one of my favorites (did I mention one of my top reasons for moving here from Texas is that I hate being hot? Joke’s on me?). I’ll be keeping a supply of this in my freezer well, forever….
It seems I’m a little smitten with berry buttercreams and pink cakes recently. I’ve never been super girly, maybe it’s my subconscious trying to work that out in cake form? Either way, this cake tastes like spring. Meyer lemon zest infused in a rich buttermilk cake speckled with poppy seeds and filled with a creamy double blackberry and vanilla buttercream using both fresh blackberries and blackberry extract. Use fresh blackberries if you can, if not frozen will work just fine. If you’d prefer, you can use a third 6 inch pan instead of the 8 inch pan.
I received a copy of Twigg Studio’s beautiful cookbook in December and have been pouring over the lovely photos and recipes ever since. Aimee’s effortless styling and creative take on familiar recipes (and not-so familiar, hello, cheesecake-stuffed tulips!) is seriously inspiring….
I partnered with Smith Teamaker to create a cake using their Lover’s Leap tea which is a blend of black tea, rose petals, chamomile flowers and citrus that is fragrant, delicious and only around for Valentine’s Day. I had the pleasure of visiting their storefront in Portland last month and not only is their new space beautiful, their menu is amazing (I tried a carbonated chai and the monthly tea latte, the top of which was actually bruleed!). Smith began as and has remained a small-batch tea producer. Their staff and head teamaker are truly the kind of people whose passion for what they do is contagious, if you aren’t a tea lover when you arrive you will be by the time you leave. I discovered Smith Teamaker’s teas when I moved to Seattle and have been enjoying them ever since, and I was so excited to work with them on this tea-infused Valentine’s Day cake.
This is the sort of cake that fills my dreams. It’s tall, dark and heady, filled with a whipped dark chocolate ganache that has been infused with the floral black tea blend and covered in swiss meringue buttercream with fresh raspberries and rosewater. The buttercream is impossibly creamy and balances the dark chocolate cake and ganache beautifully. If the way to a man’s heart (or anyone’s, for that matter) is through the stomach, this cake is destined to inspire many epic love affairs….
I know, I know, more shortbread. I think I’ve mentioned this before but (besides my mom’s famous chocolate chip cookies) I’m not often tempted by cookies in general, especially not if there’s cake around. But shortbread…buttery, crumbly shortbread…it gets me every time. Please feel free to substitute your favorite thumbprint cookie recipe in its place, but Bouchon’s shortbread recipe works beautifully here. If you are looking for something to do with the leftover curd you could use it in place of the grapefruit curd in this cake. I also made some changes to my usual shortbread recipe, adding some lemon extract, zest and a little vanilla salt….
If you are looking for a classic cake with chocolate icing, look no further. Vanilla butter cake filled and iced with silky, slightly tangy chocolate buttercream. The recipe couldn’t be simpler…okay, the chocolate icing probably could’ve been simpler but this icing is so good. I was inspired by this recipe by The Sugar Hit and the idea of creating a simple cake that would be perfect for any occasion (or no occasion at all!) and one that anyone could make regardless of their baking experience. The cake is best served at room temperature but is also perfectly acceptable chilled.
Christmas this year was really, really wonderful. I spent my days in Texas snuggling new nephews and watching little David play with his cousins and my family. I took naps and baked one of my favorite cakes for Christmas dinner. We drank a lot of good wine, ate some perfect meals, celebrated my birthday followed by my husband’s, and came back to Seattle feeling refreshed, stuffed with tex-mex and so grateful.
My husband loves crepes, we specifically booked a hotel in Paris around the corner from his favorite creperie when we went a few years ago. His birthday is right after Christmas and I wanted to make something a little lighter so when I came across a recipe for baumkuchen, a crepe-like layer cake, I had to give it a try….
I’ve never had a homemade steamed pudding, I’ve never even been to England. I can’t tell you if this is particularly traditional or not, but I can tell you it is delicious. It’s a warmly spiced, soft cake studded with fresh cranberries and soaked in a bright whiskey and cider molasses hard sauce. It’s the absolute essence of comfort food, and I imagine if I’d had an English grandmother she would’ve made this every Christmas.
I like to think that my love for all things winter is intrinsic, that it has been a part of me since my birth on the winter solstice on a day so cold oil froze. I’ve counted down the months until winter every year since I was a child, holding my breath until the first flakes of snow fell from the sky.
Since I’ve started baking, I wait for the cooler months to make my favorite kinds of treats. Warmly spiced and citrusy creations take center stage and I can never, never get enough cranberries. This recipe is a take on a traditional rolled cake in which the layers are wrapped around each other to form what looks like a standard layer cake, only when you slice into it do you reveal the lovely pink cranberry curd striating the cake vertically….
I’ve recently fallen in love with homemade ice cream. While a bad recipe can go very, very wrong and leave you with a too-sweet eggy mess, good homemade ice cream is heavenly. It’s rich and creamy and once you have the base down you really can do anything with it. This recipe happened by accident, I was craving some simple vanilla ice cream and ran out of cream so I used a little egg nog. I also had a jar of caramelized white chocolate in the fridge and thought that just might be a lovely combination (it was). Then, my husband brewed some espresso which I immediately snatched off the stove and poured into a jar of ice cream and told him he’d thank me later (he did)….
This fall has been full of changes for us, some great, some a little less than great. We watched the leaves change and fall with stuffy noses and fevers and have unfortunately spent most of our days inside nursing never-ending colds. In the midst of that I saw so many of my self-imposed deadlines blowing past me.
I have a history of 6 month hobbies, you wouldn’t believe the long list of ‘really great ideas’ my gracious and extremely tolerant husband has supported me through. All that to say, I’ve tried to be really intentional about this space; about consistently building and growing and creating; but am realizing that at some point I have to give myself grace to slow down. The 5,000 holiday recipes I didn’t get to try will be there next year…or in July…and who doesn’t want cranberry everything in July, anyway?
This recipe has been a long time coming. About a month of colds passed around our house combined with daylight savings and a new, 4:30 pm sunset have made my days more than just a little unproductive, but I think we are finally emerging from the fog and returning to real life. October was over in a blink between travel and projects, and I fully intend to embrace the rest of November and these last days of stunning red and yellow trees and the anticipation of the coming holidays.
We are spending Thanksgiving away from our families this year, which isn’t something that’s particularly uncommon for us. There were a few years before we had our son that we took off to the mountains to sleep in a tiny cabin, hike, build campfires (well, I built campfires…we won’t talk about someone’s inexperience in the fire-building department) and drink hot chocolate with marshmallows as the sun went down….
There’s a whole lot of pumpkin happening around our little house, I’ve gone on a bit of a fall recipe baking spree and I have to say, a warm house that smells of cinnamon and spiced gingerbread is not a bad place to be on a chilly fall day. November really is the month for pumpkin recipes. Cool, shorter days call for warm, comforting meals and sweetly spiced desserts….
I recently made a few cakes for Bloom Workshop’s event in Seattle and I made a dark chocolate, earl grey and lavender ganache that I just loved, so I decided to dedicate a whole cake to that delish flavor combination. The cake is subtly flavored with black tea and bergamot, it’s filled with a whipped bittersweet dark chocolate, lavender and deep, citrusy bergamot ganache and covered with a salted caramelized white chocolate ganache. I topped it with lavender meringues, culinary lavender and some simple, lovely flowers….
I grew up in Virginia where it seems fall doesn’t just happen, Virginia does fall. The foliage is beyond incredible, every morning I rode to school counting the hot air balloons in the sky, and the apple picking. Oh, the apple picking. Nearly every fall we’d make a trip to Carter’s Mountain during the apple harvest to go apple picking, drink cider and eat hot sugared cider doughnuts by the bagful. It’s been so long since I’ve lived anywhere with seasons you could truly soak in, each with a definite beginning and end. Experiencing the nostalgia of pumpkin patches, hay rides and hot cider with little David has been so sweet.
If you follow me on Instagram you probably know poor little oh honey bakes experienced a pretty massive crash recently. Lesson learned, when you’re editing code that you don’t know anything about and WordPress says those three little words…no, not ‘I love you’, WordPress is definitely just not that into me…when they say ‘proceed with caution’ they actually mean it. I’m sure this is really obvious to any other bloggers/web folks/people with the tiniest bit of knowledge about the big crazy internet but apparently there’s no UNDO button?(!) One week, one meltdown, and about 5 pounds of chocolate later I’m back and bringing you these…my therapy baking dark chocolate and salted peanut butter cow cookie sandwiches.
They started out as simple, buttery chocolate cows but then I thought to myself, “two cookies are obviously better than one, and chocolate and peanut butter is obviously better than just chocolate (okay, sometimes)”. And since I’m clearly into taking things way too far, a little white chocolate peanut butter ganache splatter painting seemed about right.
I stopped in our neighborhood coffee shop this morning and the barista asked what I’d been up to this summer, and it struck me that I’d felt absolutely no need to travel over the last couple of months. It’s funny realizing you now live where you’d usually have wanted to escape to. And also that your barista realizes you’ve stopped drinking coffee since the spring when you basically existed solely on caffeine.
Our first month in Seattle. Oh, let me tell you the very short story…non-sleeping tiny person = non-sleeping adults = zombie mom. I literally drank coffee and pushed my nocturnal toddler around in a stroller for hours simply so I wouldn’t fall asleep standing up. So, I became bff’s with my baristas and they were my only friends in Seattle, and I was okay with that. I’ve since started sleeping (sometimes) and returned to my tea-drinking ways.
Seattle is such a neighborhood city. What I mean is that each little pocket of a neighborhood has a very distinct personality and everyone thinks their neighborhood is THE best, down to actually having zip code bumper stickers. I’m not kidding, it’s pretty fantastic. It’s been so fun exploring them all since moving here.
A few weeks ago I went with my friend Holly to a Cookie Mix Throwdown…yes, I did say a Cookie Mix Throwdown…at Marx Foods in lower Queen Anne where I stuffed my face with far too many of Not Without Salt’s delicious chocolate chip cookies (as well as this and this) and then walked around eyeing (read: drooling over) everything in the shop. Honestly, I was so overwhelmed that I think I walked out with a bar of chocolate. But I went back. The shop is so charming, all of the staff I’ve met were so kind and knowledgeable, and they carry some amazing stuff. Specialty meats, a lot of local products, edible flowers and they have more on their website. The short of it is it’s super awesome, if you live in Seattle you should go and if you don’t, it’s lucky for you they ship….
This is a story about the bestworst cake idea I ever had. Oh sure, it looks all charmingly melty with all of it’s delicious raspberry sauce and creamy jasmine ice cream, it looks like a cake that would do exactly what you wanted it to, a perfectly compliant cake. But no. No, no, no. So, what I am going to do is tell you what I did, and tell you what I’d do next time (never going to be a next time).
Okay, just kidding, there will definitely be a next time. The amount of delicious in this manipulative, deceptive little cake would make me do it all over again. As badly as it treated me, I can’t help but go back for more. A bit of a cakey stockholm syndrome thing happening, I actually feel I’ve been held hostage in my kitchen for the last week.
On the subject of things that seem one way and appear another, I was reading an article about the way sugar affects our brains, its addictive qualities, etc etc and David informed me that I’m basically a drug dealer. I corrected him, I am not the dealer, I am the cook. I am the Walter White. I am The Walter White of Cake. Two things. 1.) I realize we were late to the Breaking Bad game but we just binged our way through the last season on Netflix and we may be having some withdrawals. 2.) I am not proud of #1 or the fact that I referred to myself as the Walter White of cake, but seriously.
This is such a lovely ice cream recipe. I’ve tried a handful of them since picking up an ice cream maker recently and while I love knowing what is going into my ice cream (no stabilizers, etc) homemade ice cream can sometimes be a little…eggy. This recipe was the first I’ve tried that uses whole eggs instead of just yolks and it is so creamy, not too sweet and the jasmine flavor is fresh but not super overpowering. I definitely recommend picking up some high-quality tea for this, I used a silver needle and it was perfect. You could definitely substitute any other tea you like.
There’s something a little intimidating about making homemade pancakes. Maybe it’s the fact that a box of pancake mix costs about $3 and is super easy, consistent, and doesn’t really require measuring cups, or the fact that first thing in the morning I’m just waiting for the caffeine to kick in and the last thing I want to do is read a recipe. But weekends…oh, weekends. Weekends are for homemade pancakes you let your kid help make, even if he just ‘mixes’ the flour and dumps half a bottle of your pricey vanilla extract in on accident (I don’t even put vanilla in these…).
Like all pancakes these are at their very best straight out of the pan but these keep really well in a warm oven or under some foil. I really only tell you that to give you an excuse to hide around the corner and eat a few hot ones when no one is looking ( I never do that). They’re fluffy and tender thanks to the buttermilk, they have crispy edges and are perfectly…umm…moist. I had to, I’m sorry. I actually used a Thesaurus to find another word, but soggy, muggy, clammy and damp didn’t exactly do the trick, plus who wants to eat a clammy pancake?…
When I lived in Sydney my apartment was right around the corner from a coffee shop that served the most delicious banana bread. Like, caramelized bananas in bread form, and I completely blame it for the 5 (of the undisclosed number of) pounds I gained in my first year. I’m wondering if I can also blame it for a few of the other bad choices I made in college….black hair for one…why not? Anyway, Sydney fatty banana bread. I’ve never been able to perfectly replicate it but this recipe is pretty freaking close. The browned butter adds a nutty, caramel flavor and I use just a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg. If you like a spicier banana bread, throw some more in, and maybe add some cloves too. Walnuts would also be a great choice. Toasted walnuts would be even better.
I’m not sure if you’ve heard about the insane heat wave the pnw had this June, but I will tell you this: I’ve been begging my husband for an ice cream maker for YEARS and I finally got one. This has resulted in the need for a couple things. 1. bigger pants and 2. an extra freezer. It’s seriously addicting. I can’t stop thinking about ice cream.
For Father’s Day this year I made an awesome strawberry-rhubarb shortcake with cardamom whipped cream but then something happened. I had the perfect shortcake recipe and then…I didn’t.
And then came the epic shortcake battle of 2015. Five failed batches and a lotta bad words later I decided to take a break because SERIOUSLY. I blamed the 10,000 degree weather and moved on to shortbread, and after I made this recipe shortcake looked a little more like the boyfriend you were glad you broke up with ’cause you found a much more attractive boyfriend who treats you so much better than he ever did, and I’m thinking all of this with Queen Swift’s ‘Bad Blood’ playing in my head. I promise I wouldn’t know that song (every word) except the tiny David yells ‘WOUDER!’ when it comes on the radio, and I’m all about peace-keeping….
We’ve lived in Seattle for about 3 months now, and there is still so much about this city that surprises me. Having lived in Houston for the last 10ish years it seems there’s magic in the way blackberry bushes grow next to sidewalks. Rhubarb shoots out of the ground like a weed, things just grow here. Our house backs up to a tall, steep hill that was pretty sad and bare when we moved in, and now it looks like we live in a jungle that threatens to take the house back. Ivy grows into our open windows overnight.
The idea oflivingin the country has always enticed me. Slow, quiet days and hands in the dirt. We spent six months on my grandparent’s farm in southern Washington when I was little and I still remember picking blueberries and walks in the woods, and a cow named Beans that met an unfortunate end after eating a thistle. That brings me to chickens.
This ricotta is delicious and super simple to make. The flavor is really subtle and the crumb is just on the dry side while staying creamy. If you prefer a richer ricotta, up the ratio of cream to milk. It’ll last 4-5 days in the fridge, if you can resist eating it all while it’s still warm.
This chocolate cake. It’s simple, rich, and you can have it out of the oven and in your mouth in just over an hour. If you’re not much of a baker, this is a great recipe to start with. I’m a fan of dark chocolate, I used 60% but you can use any good quality chocolate up to 72%. This is a good time to splurge on some quality chocolate, because the cake requires just a few ingredients you don’t want to skimp. I promise you’ll thank me later, probably by email at about 3 am when you’ve eaten half the cake and it’s kept you up all night. Not that I’ve ever done that.