Tag Archives: cake

Easy Chocolate “Wartime” Cake

4 Mar

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Raise your hand if you don’t like mayo?! There’s always someone who has a weird, jiggly story to kill the mayo buzz. When you think about it though, mayo is just egg yolk, oil and vinegar. No bigs.

Over the years, I have learned to get along with mayo (especially when you add garlic and call it aioli). If you are still not ready to commit to slathering your sandwich with mayo, maybe a taste of this awesome chocolate cake will get you past your fear…

Mayonnaise is the secret weapon in this cake. It replaces the butter and all but one egg.

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This recipe hails from Cooks Illustrated’s The Science of Good Cooking cookbook. It is a “wartime” cake because ingredients like butter and fresh eggs were scarce during World War II, so cooks came up with cakes that worked without them–often using mayonnaise.

Ready for some science?! Mayonnaise contains lecithin, an emulsifier that helps keep the oil in the mayonnaise suspended in micro-droplets. These small droplets aid the oil’s ability to coat the flour’s protein particles, leading to a supremely tender cake. The test kitchen even tried replacing the mayonnaise with butter and an egg, and oil and an egg, but those cakes were less moist and the crumb less velvety than the mayo cake. The final recipe calls for an extra egg paired with the mayonnaise to give the cake an even richer flavor and springier texture. Now thats my kind of science.

Just a little more tasty science: To deepen the chocolate flavor of the cake, the recipe calls for “blooming” the cocoa powder and a touch of chocolate in hot coffee. Cocoa powder contains solid particles of fat and protein with tiny flavor molecules (!) trapped inside. Dissolving the cocoa in hot water causes these flavor molecules, which would otherwise remain imprisoned, to burst forth, amplifying overall flavor. The roasted notes of the coffee reinforce the nutty, roasted notes in the chocolate.

Are you on board yet?

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If you get bogged down with the science, just remember that this is an “Easy Chocolate Cake.” It’s one of those dump-and-stir cakes: mix the dry, mix the wet, dump and stir.

Whether it’s the mayo, the coffee, the cocoa or the science, this is the darn best chocolate cake I have had in a long time, if ever. There’s a magical top layer that forms after baking that I just wanted to cut off and call my own.

If you have any birthdays, occasions, celebrations or cravings, this is the cake you should make. And by gosh, get over your fear of mayo!

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Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar, dollop it with whipped cream, or drizzle it with yogurt (Greek vanilla works nicely!). My new favorite crunch-tastic topping? Rainbow sprinkles!

Easy Chocolate Cake

from The Science of Good Cooking cookbook

Serves 8

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

1 cup brewed coffee, hot

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1 large egg, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream or yogurt (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 350. Grease 8-inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pan.

2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. In separate bowl, combine cocoa and chocolate. Pour hot coffee over cocoa mixture and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Gently whisk mixture until smooth, let cool slightly, then whisk in mayonnaise, egg, and vanilla. Stir mayonnaise mixture into flour mixture until combined.

3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Bake cake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

4. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack, 1 to 2 hours. Cut into squares or rectangles and serve either straight from the pan or out of a serving plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, dollop with whipped cream or yogurt, or enjoy as is.

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

19 Jan

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My gnarly sick-brain is telling me that cake for breakfast is okay, especially if I throw in some orange segments and raw almonds.

The cake has white flour and sugar, it has chocolate chips, it has butter (a pretty small amount of butter, actually, compared to other cake recipes). But there are oats for good measure, and I mashed up a random half banana that was sitting on my counter and added it into the batter. Note the almonds and orange segments, please!

Oranges add so much color to the plate! These were navel oranges, but I have been plowing through the beautiful pink cara caras and the deep purple blood oranges, too. It’s so unfair that I’ve been eating orange segments up the wazoo all week and I’m still a snotty congested mess! For some reason, though, I can still smell and taste things, so I am spending my quarantined time at home playing in the kitchen.

My favorite step of this cake recipe, as Tracy Shutterbean also notes in her blog post, is pouring boiling water over the oats and butter (I added in a little mashed banana, too) to melt the better and partially cook the oats. So clever! I like the idea of cooking the oats slightly so that they are not totally dormant. I also like that the chocolate chips get splashed with a teeny tiny bit of bourbon (you could always use water or juice) and coated in a little flour to keep them from settling to the bottom of the pan during baking.

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As I was gathering my ingredients for the recipe, I realized that I should probably go through my pantry staples for baking. I couldn’t remember how old my baking soda was, probably at least two or three years old. My brown sugar was hard as a rock, and I had to sprinkle some water over it and whack it to un-clump. I should probably store my baking soda in the fridge, and empty brown sugar into an air-tight container instead of it’s original bag. This was all a big reminder to clean out and re-stock the pantry.

Even though I may have used some old ingredients, the cake still came out tasting great! Phew.

I almost omitted the frosting because I rarely have cream cheese laying around and I thought I could be “healthy” by just slathering it in nut butter. But who am I kidding?! Cream cheese frosting is delicious; it’s just a thin layer, and it really finishes the cake nicely. Do it.

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The measurements for some of the ingredients may seem nit-picky because I halved the original recipe. The original recipe calls for a 9″x13″ baking pan, and I just wanted to make enough cake for an 8″x8″ pan. Mostly because I only had one egg left and was too lazy to run to the store to buy another carton.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from Shutterbean; originally from Baked

serves 6-8

  • 4 oz. or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon bourbon
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 oz. or 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cubed-at room temperature
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

for the frosting:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°. Butter the sides and bottom of an 8″x 8″ baking pan.

Toss chocolate chips with bourbon in a small bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the chips and toss until coated. Set aside.

Heat 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water to boiling. Place the oats, mashed 1/2 banana, and butter in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over oat mixture. Wait 30 seconds, then stir to moisten oats and and banana, and to melt the butter. Set aside for 25-30 minutes.

Whisk egg, sugars, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Fold in oatmeal, stirring until well combined. Fold in remaining flour, and then stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes.

To make the frosting:

Beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until combined. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until smooth (about 1 minute). If the frosting gets too soft, you may need to cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of frosting over cake. Chill for 15 minutes before serving.

Store covered cake in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Anyway Icebox Cake

25 Dec

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Who knew whipped cream and cookies could become cake and frosting overnight?! The cookies soften as the whipped cream works it’s magic. Amazing.

This is now my secret-weapon-cake for when I’m short on time (aka I have a party to attend immediately after a big final).

You could mix in some jam between the layers, or some pudding, or Nutella or peanut butter. I just kept it simple with cookies and cream. Ginger cookies felt right for the season.

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This would be a great summer cake, too, because there is no need to turn on the oven. *Imagine* Berries with shortbread and whipped cream, or peaches with a drizzle of bourbon-caramel and cream. très bon!

Anyway Icebox Cake

Wafer cookies (I used Anna’s ginger thins), about 40 wafers, or 1.5 5.25-oz packages

Heavy cream, about 2 cups

Powdered sugar, about 1-2 tablespoons

Vanilla (Citrus Zest would be nice, too!), about 1 teaspoon

With an electric mixer or a whisk, beat the cream until it begins to thicken and the whisk leaves a trail. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until the cream is thick, nearly doubling in volume, and forms medium-firm peaks.

On a flat plate, arrange 5 cookies side by side in a circle, and place 1 cookie in the center.

Spread with about 1/2 cup whipped cream, making a circle. Repeat with remaining cookies and cream, making about 7 layers of cookies. You can choose to end with a layer of cream or end with a layer of cookies. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, the cookies will have softened, acting like regular cake. So easy. So good.

Healthy Carrot Breakfast Bread

2 Apr

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Last summer, in the blazing heat, I made an enormously decadent cream-cheese frosted layered carrot cake. It was absolutely fantastic, but sometimes I crave the challenge of making something secretively healthy (and not cloyingly sweet) that still packs that satisfying punch. In other words, I want to eat cake for breakfast and not feel bad about it.

I love a good quick-bread, especially for breakfast, slathered with nut or seed butter and washed down with a hot mug of coffee. This Carrot Breakfast Bread scratches that itch for me. It’s packed with carrots, pulsed oats, and a touch of yogurt, oil, and fruit (I used up the last of the charoset that I made for Passover). It’s sweetened with agave and chopped dates, and simply feels right to eat first thing in the morning.

I was feeling lazy (and efficient, mind you), so I used my blender to speed up the preparation time. First, I pulsed my oats in the clean, dry blender. After that I grated my carrots in there, and then I mixed my wet ingredients together in the blender. Just a few pulses and some mixing together by hand and that’s it.

Of course, if you are not a fan of unfrosted carrot cake, you could always enjoy this healthy carrot bread frosted with Love and Lemon’s cream cheese frosting. It’s all about balance.

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Healthy Carrot Breakfast Bread

adapted from LoveandLemons

2 cups flour, I used 1c. oat flour (pulverized oats in the blender until they turned to flour) and 1c. all-purpose flour

2 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

spices: 1 T. cinnamon, 1/4 t. cloves, 1 t. ground ginger, 1/2 t. nutmeg, pinch of salt

1 lb. carrots, peeled

2 eggs

1/2 cup of agave

1/4 cup canola oil or coconut oil

1/4 cup plain yogurt, I used plain, low-fat Stonyfield yogurt

1/4 cup applesauce or mashed/pureed fruit such as banana

1/4-1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped dates

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and lightly dust a loaf pan with flour.

I used a blender for this recipe; you could also use a food processor. Grind your oats in the blender until they look like flour. Transfer to a bowl and whisk together the 1 cup of oat flour with the 1 cup of all-purpose or whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.

Take your peeled carrots and chop them into rough bite-sized pieces. You will need to do this next step in batches: throw a small amount of the carrots into the blender and pulse until a fine chop (not totally a puree but not giant carrot chunks…somewhere in the middle). Dump the finely chopped carrots into a large bowl. ***Note: you could also grate the carrots by hand, but I was lazy.

Next in the blender go the eggs, agave, oil, yogurt, and applesauce. Pulse for about 20 seconds until everything blends together. Pour this mixture into the carrots and stir it all together with a rubber spatula.

Add the dry mix to the wet and fold with a rubber spatula until it all comes together. Fold in the chopped dates. Dump everything into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle with some cinnamon and maybe a dash of sugar on top. Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, rotating half-way through baking.

Serve for breakfast with some sunflower or almond butter and a hot mug of coffee or tea.

Poppy Seed Cake

7 Jan

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I dare you to count the number of poppy seeds in this cake.

1…

2…

671…

My grandma used to make us poppy seed cake when we were kids. It was a plain cake, with a subtle crunch from the seeds, usually baked up in a bundt pan. Grandma uses canned poppy seeds, but I made this cake with the regular seeds that you can find by the spices at the grocery store. She says that poppy seed cake tastes even better when it’s a few days old.

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The process of preparing this cake gave me peace of mind. I brought out my Kitchen Aid mixer and whipped my egg whites to soft peaks, a task that gives me great pleasure, and that I do not get to do very often now that I am not cooking in a professional kitchen.

Folding my softly whipped egg whites into the thick yellow batter felt so good. My kitchen was silent; I was alone, soaking in every step.

To get the full recipe, head over to The Wednesday Chef.

A few notes:

Make sure your butter is soft. 

I used 1 cup of 1% lowfat milk + 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar in place of buttermilk.