Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake Recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi (NY Times Cooking)

I was scrolling through the NYT Cooking Instagram feed, as I am wont to do, and I stumbled upon this gorgeous picture of a blueberry and lemon cake. Officially, the title of the recipe is Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake Recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli-British chef who runs the famous Ottolenghi delicatessan franchise in London. I also follow him on Instagram, and his feed is full of beautiful pictures of scrumptious desserts all the time. The loaf was a wonderful yellow hue splotched with bright blue, and there was white frosting spread generously on top. It had spring written all over it and I wanted some of it asap. The ingredients were pretty easy to round up. I had most of them at home, with the exception of almond flour, a lemon and extra blueberries. I always love it when I can mostly leverage what I have at home. The execution is also easy, as long as you have a stand mixer and you don’t mind taking the loaf out of the oven a few times to add some berries and cover in foil. The one mistake I made was using frozen blueberries instead of fresh ones, and I didn’t spread them throughout the loaf evenly. I think it made my blueberries a little soggy, so parts of my loaf were a little more wet than I would have liked. However, it tasted exactly as advertised, like a citrus spring breeze on your plate. The blueberry lemon cake from the NY Times and Ottolenghi is a real winner.

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Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake from Bon Appetit

When we stayed in our Fishkill home last month, I went into full hygge mode and just wanted to eat and bake indoors. As I flipped through the pages of Bon Appetit magazine, I came across a recipe for an Apple Cider Doughnut Loaf Cake and was obsessed with making it. How perfect did it sound to eat a warm loaf cake with a cup of coffee while the temperatures were freezing outside? And sure, there are plenty of farms in the area that sell apple cider doughnuts, but nothing beats something fresh and homemade. What’s nice about this apple cider doughnut loaf recipe is that it’s super easy to make. The most complicated part is that you have to reduce some apple cider in a saucepan for a couple of minutes, but otherwise you just mix things in one bowl, pour into a pan, and bake.

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Easiest Chocolate Birthday Cake from Bon Appetit

This Easiest Chocolate Birthday Cake recipe from Bon Appetit initially caught my eye because of the word easy in the title, the promise that this chocolate cake recipe would be a cinch to make. To me, easy means dumping the wet ingredients in one bowl, the dry ingredients in another, combining the two, and then throwing into the oven. But it wasn’t quite that easy. In fact, there were quite a lot of steps involved in what was supposed to be a simple recipe. I had to carefully melt a lot of chocolate, I had to take care to warm but not boil milk, I had to refrigerate some ganache for 25 minutes…not that these are necessarily hard things to do, but it requires some time and patience that you wouldn’t guess from the somewhat misleading title. BUT I do have to admit that this was a damn good chocolate cake. Out of all the cakes I’ve made recently, this probably tasted the most professional. It’s rich and dense (you’ll need to drink a lot of milk with your slice), and the tangy chocolate ganache frosting is so delicious. Easiest is a misnomer, despite all the declarations of simplicity in the recipe on the Bon Appetit website, but best chocolate cake wouldn’t be too far off.

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Sticky Buns (Partybus Bakeshop)

I have a soft spot for sticky buns. Maybe it’s because of those childhood memories of going to the mall and eating the ooey gooey Cinnabon in the cafeteria. There’s nothing better than having one with a cup of coffee in the morning. Several bakeries in the city excel at this pastry, particularly my beloved Balthazar Bakery in Soho, which is now closed indefinitely, but others like Cafe Altro Paradiso, Roberta’s and Mah Ze Dahr (when it is available) make good ones too. Another one to add to the sticky bun list is Partybus Bakeshop, a small bakery in the Lower East Side that I discovered during the early days of NYC quarantine. Their yummy sticky bun reminds me the most of the Cinnabon roll of my youth in that the roll is soft and doughy, but it’s topped with a maple glaze, not frosting. I noticed that Partybus Bakeshop posts several of their baked good recipes on their Instagram. Of course the image of the sticky buns with all the cinnamon swirls caught my eye and I had to make them this week.

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Carrot Cake – Inspired by Flour Bakery and Ina Garten

I remember I was talking to someone about carrot cake, and they said with surprising vehemence that vegetables had no business in being in a dessert. I don’t see it that way at all. In fact, when I eat a carrot cake, I don’t even notice the carrots. I like the cinnamon-y, gingerbread-like qualities of the cake itself, and it’s complemented so well by a cream cheese frosting. I guess the carrots add texture and an earthy depth to the cake, but otherwise they could get away with calling it spice cake or something like that.

I had a huge tub of cream cheese frosting left over from my coconut cake project, and so I decided it made sense to utilize it for a carrot cake. Again, I referenced my Joanne Chang cookbook Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe. Surprisingly, I only made one substitution and basically followed the recipe to a t. The hardest part was grating the carrots. I cheated and bought a tub of diced carrots from Whole Foods, and then ran these through the food processor, and they worked out fine. Everyone loved this cake, including my son, which is very important because he is the world’s pickiest toddler. Yet he ate this all up, literally, even though there were strange things like walnuts and raisins in it. This carrot cake recipe from Flour Bakery is on the denser side and is full of texture, almost a border-line fruit cake, but even with all that character, the most suspicious eater will be won over.

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