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.Read More
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.Read More
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.Read More
I’m obsessed with ube, the purple yam indigenous to the Philippines. This obsession first started when I bought that box of ube purple pancake mix from Trader Joe’s, which unfortunately is a seasonal item and is no longer sold there. Now I want to see that purple hue everywhere. And apparently so does everyone else. Everywhere I go, ube powder is sold out! I specifically went to a small Filipino market called Johnny Air Mart in the East Village (Ave A between 13th and 14th) and the woman there told me that she keeps selling out of all of her ube ingredients. I did manage to find ube extract online, and when my Butterfly ube flavoring finally came in the mail, I was so excited to experiment with an ube pancake recipe. The results were fun and purple and made me so happy. I don’t need to wait around for Trader Joe’s to bring back the purple people ube eater happiness, I can do it on my own!Read More
Coconut cake is my favorite kind of cake. I would choose coconut over yellow birthday cake any day. My favorite coconut cakes in the city are from Baked and Balthazar. But alas, Baked closed down its Tribeca location for good (their Brooklyn location is still open), and Balthazar shut down its Soho location due to covid. I’m left without any options for coconut cake nearby, so I’ve decided that I’ll have to make it myself in the meantime. My daughter’s 17 month birthday was coming up, so I thought that now was as good a time as any to try to tackle this coconut project. I pulled out my trusty Joanne Chang’s Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe cookbook, which has a white coconut cake recipe on p. 176-177, and eagerly started prepping.Read More