Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

I’ve had Britain on the mind lately.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know this is not an unusual occurrence.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

I’m a big fan of all things British: Scones. English chocolate. Harry Potter. Sherlock. Downton Abbey (see above) and other, real English country estates. Free art museums with glorious collections. And of course, the accent. (Does anyone else sometimes get the strong urge to just start speaking in a British accent to random people? Or their cats? … Just me? Okay, then.)

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

My current British obsession combines nearly all of the things above: THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE-OFF. Oh yes. (Minus Harry, Sherlock, and the National Gallery–can’t win ’em all. Although, maybe they’ll have to create cakes inspired by works of art for the season finale, and Benedict Cumberbatch will cameo as a guest judge for some inexplicable reason… hey, a girl can dream.)

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

The Great British Bake Off is seriously awesome. A reality show where the contestants are not only incredibly talented non-professional bakers but also all actually care about each other? Dry and witty comedienne hosts? Decidedly pro-UK interludes with food historians? A judge named, I am not kidding you, MARY BERRY!? TV does not get better than this, people. Especially when you’re a baker yourself and occasionally realize you know more than the contestants (case in point: kouign-amann, best pastry ever–how had NONE of them ever heard of it before!?).

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

So what does GBBO, as the Brits call/hashtag it, have to do with this coffee cake? (Coffee cake is not exactly British, after all.)

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

Toffee! That’s how I’m bringing this full circle. (Yeah, it’s a stretch, because turns out what we in the US refer to as “English toffee” is not really anything like what toffee is in the UK. Whatever, just go with it, I really just wanted an excuse to talk about the Great British Bake Off.) I’m not the biggest fan of toffee–it’s definitely more of an English confection than American–but when you douse it in brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon, it is definitely OK by me.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

One of my curator pals, a fellow baker, recently told me about this recipe and I had to give it a try once she described it. And I am so glad I did. I adapted it a bit on the go (adding toffee bits and cinnamon to the batter itself) and it is pretty amazing.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

If you want to make your own British connection, you can always sub your side of coffee for tea. In the meantime, I’ll be spending my Sunday catching up on past GBBO seasons with this coffee cake at my side.

Toffee Pecan Coffee Cake

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Whiteout Cake

Whiteout Cake

Turns out life without homework is pretty… well… boring.

Whiteout Cake

I’m okay with boring, though, most of the time. It’s refreshing to have nothing to do and nowhere to be on a weekend. Suddenly brunch is easier to impulsively make happen, I feel no guilt about going out shopping for hours on end, and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a lot of TV I need to catch up on after two years of grad school.

Whiteout Cake

To be honest, I have always been into the stuff that most people find boring. I almost always choose vanilla over chocolate, for example–that age-old indicator of your boringness level when judging ice cream flavors–and I love a good day at home when I don’t have to leave my apartment.

Whiteout Cake

I will say, though, even for my introverted self, those sorts of days have their limits. There’s only so much Call the Midwife or Leftovers a girl can handle in 24 hours (take your pick between too many babies or too many unanswered questions). As I wondered what the heck I was going to do with myself for the holiday weekend that might, perhaps, get me off the couch, I remembered that baking stuff, taking photos of it, and writing odd little posts about them publicly for the whole internet to see is kinda my thing.

Whiteout Cake

So here we are! I was going to make cupcakes. I really was. But I loaned my one cupcake tin to a friend last week (side note: what kind of food blogger only has ONE muffin tin to her name!?). Thus, a full-out cake it was. Well, a cake and two dozen mini cupcakes.

Whiteout Cake

This Whiteout Cake is from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, and is a sweet, light, subtle vanilla cake with white-chocolate buttercream. The whole thing is quiet and reliable but super delicious.

Whiteout Cake

So rather than celebrating the last day it’s socially acceptable to wear white pants–which admittedly would be a better connection to why I made an all-white cake for no reason this weekend–let’s say instead that this is a cake for celebrating boredom. Because as much as I love a quiet day, I’ll also admit I’m a bit of a workaholic, so spending a day doing nothing does not come easily to me. So here’s to me embracing boredom–what better way to get started than with cake?

Whiteout Cake

In other news, does anyone in the Milwaukee area want a cake? ‘Cause if so, I have a whole one, minus one slice, with your name on it…

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Lemon Thyme Cake

My birthday was yesterday and so — in keeping with tradition — I made myself a cake!

Lemon Thyme Cake

(Well, two cakes. I love my 6″ cake pans, in part because they leave me with leftovers, like this 3-incher.)

Lemon Thyme Cake

Every year when I tell people I’m baking myself a cake for my birthday at least one person gets kind of sad on my behalf and offers to bake a cake for me instead. Which is, of course, extremely thoughtful. But then I explain that I do in fact like baking for myself on my birthday. It might have started as a perfectionist thing, but now it’s more an excuse to have people over to share the finished product. (And act as hand models for your nerdy food blog. See: final photo of this post.)

Lemon Thyme Cake

I suppose it is a little strange that I like to bake myself a cake on my birthday. If I had a favorite cake spot in Milwaukee, I might consider getting myself a cake from there instead. I do have a favorite bakery here, but I don’t think they really do cakes. (If I was in New York, though, watch out, I might never bake myself a cake again. I’m thinking of this place. Oh man, THIS PLACE. What I wouldn’t give for a cake from there. Close second: thiiiis. Drool. Can you tell I’m in NYC withdrawal since finishing grad school?)

Lemon Thyme Cake

But! I digress. I found this cake on Pinterest last week, and it just looked so simple and pretty from the beautiful photographs on Spoon Fork Bacon that I couldn’t resist! Plus, longtime readers around here know I’m an herb-and-sweets fiend, and it was high time I broke out of my lavender obsession to try something new.

Lemon Thyme Cake

And indeed, this cake is pretty darn good. Since it was my birthday, I adapted this into a two-layer cake (rather than a one-layer as the original recipe suggests), making a slightly stiffer frosting to hold up the heavy layers.

Lemon Thyme Cake

I will admit that I could not detect much of a thyme flavor — I’m not sure if the thyme in my apartment building’s garden was too young, perhaps, or if I should have gone a little heavier handed on my tablespoonsful (let’s be real, I got tired of mincing), but no matter: the lemon-sweet flavor of this cake is STRONG. In fact, if you balk at herbed cakes, you can just leave out the thyme. This recipe really does makes the most lovely, super lemony cake.

Lemon Thyme Cake

So, I’ll leave you with some more pictures of my birthday cake (now half-demolished with remains making their way to work with me tomorrow, along with the baby cake, which is going to my fantastic catsitter as an extra thank you for putting up with my needy cats for pretty much the entire month of June while I was off grad-school-ing).

Lemon Thyme Cake

As I said in my previous post, not sure when I’ll next have the urge to bake, but stay tuned. In the meantime, I’ll be dreaming of my vacation to NYC next month, where I plan to continue my baked-good-fueled-birthday-celebrations…

Lemon Thyme Cake

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Malt Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting

It has been a busy, cake-baking summer!

Malt Cake with Chocolate Frosting

It’s rough to bake a cake when it’s so hot outside… as you already know from my previous two summer cake posts.

Malt Cake with Chocolate Frosting

After all, I am a creature who loves the cold. (Which is probably why I was so blissed out in San Francisco last weekend–post forthcoming–60 degrees and breezy!? Yes please!) Anyway, this means that bringing myself to turn on the oven to make something as intensive as a cake is pretty difficult.

Malt Cake with Chocolate Frosting

But I have been wanting to make this Baked cake for a couple of years now, and I knew that for my birthday, this was it!

Malt Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Yes–I bake my own birthday cakes. Some people think this is weird, but I love putting all that effort into myself once a year.

Malt Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Plus, it gives you an excuse to throw a party!

Birthday Party

Or rather, in this case, to have a friend kindly throw you a party at which you can share said cake with others! Not to mention a feast fit for a hot summer day…

Birthday Party

Homemade sangria…

Birthday Party

Fresh guacamole…

Birthday Party

Popcorn with brewer’s yeast (this is a Milwaukee thing)…

Birthday Party

Fruit, fruit, and more fruit…

Birthday Party

And goat cheese rolled with herbs from the garden.

Birthday Party

I don’t think I could have asked for a prettier setting–I definitely had way too much fun taking pictures! Of utensils in a little box…

Birthday Party

Candles and art-making materials…

Birthday Party

And of course hanging out with good friends!

Birthday Party

When it got dark, it was cake time!

Malt Cake with Chocolate Frosting

This cake is definitely one of my new favorites. The cake itself is malted and dense, almost nutty.

Malt Cake with Chocolate Frosting

The frosting is slippery and silky, so chocolatey–a weird mix between a ganache and a buttercream, and surprisingly easy and not too fussy. Let’s just say I definitely enjoyed the extra cupcakes this six-incher leaves you with.

Malt Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Thank you so much to all my friends who came and celebrated my birthday with me, and a special thanks to Shannon for hosting a beautiful party in her backyard!

Malt Cake with Chocolate Frosting

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Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

As promised, friends: CAKE!

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

I made this “Aunt Sassy Cake” for a birthday party at work!

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

And ooh, it’s a good one. The cake is moist and fluffy and delicate, the frosting is crazy: a bit of depth and sweetness from the honey, but not teeth-achingly-sweet by any means.

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

(Forgive the messy cut–it was 100 degrees out that day and it’s honestly a wonder the thing made it from my apartment to work!)

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

And I must admit, dear readers, I spent nearly twenty minutes typing up and adapting the below recipe. Phew. Almost as exhausting as baking the cake itself.

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

So I hope you’ll allow me to keep this post short and sweet and leave you with simply a bunch of pretty pictures of the cupcakes this recipe also made. Sound good? I thought so.

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

Aunt Sassy Cake (Pistachio Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream)

This cake, and bonus cupcakes, are worth the effort. Give it a try!

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Lemon Lavender Cake

For some reason this post has been a LONG time coming! I just can’t quite seem to bring myself to write it.

Lemon Lavender Cake

I think it’s because it has been sooo hot. Seriously. 90’s. This Nordic girl can’t handle the heat.

Lemon Lavender Cake

That’s about all I have to say. Tasting Tuesdays is tomorrow and I made some delicious little things from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. Exciting!

Lemon Lavender Cake

And now, without further ado, here are some more pictures of cake (which I do wish I was eating right now). I hope you’re keeping cool out there!

Lemon Lavender Cake

Lemon Lavender Cake

Lemon Lavender Cake

Lemon Lavender Cake

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Rosewater Cake + Cupcakes

Rosewater Cupcakes Rosewater Cake

Hello, friends. Let’s have summery rose-flavored cake and iced tea together out in the sun!

Rosewater Cake

Here are some things I love:
1) Six-inch cake pans.
2) Birthdays.
3) Rosewater.

Rosewater Cake

Why do I love these things? First. Six-inch cake pans give you the excuse to make not just cake, but also cupcakes. There are very few cake recipes that make just enough batter for a six-inch cake. Most of the time you’ll have enough left over for cupcakes. Like these guys!

Rosewater Cupcakes

This cake is moist and light and fluffy. For a little cupcake, all you need is a dollop of fresh whipped cream, lightly flavored with vanilla.

Rosewater Cupcakes

Two. BIRTHDAYS! I love it when friends have birthdays because I have an excuse to make a cake. And I really love it when friends with adventurous tastes have birthdays. Because then I can get quirky with my cake flavors.

Rosewater Cake

I knew my friend, Shannon, who is an artist, educator, gardener, and lover of food, would appreciate a cake with an unusual flavor. It was time to go for the rose. (By the way, are you wondering why the inside layer is green!? It’s because that’s Shannon’s favorite color! I had to have some kind of surprise in there since it was a birthday cake!)

Rosewater Cake

Rosewater is a tricky ingredient. Too much and it’s soapy, too little and it’s a bit odd. But just enough is magic. Unable to find a summery rose-flavored cake (most of the ones I found used cardamom, which felt too heavy to me), I adapted a plain cake recipe, went sparingly on the rosewater, and hoped for the best.

Rosewater Cake

Which brings me to… Three. Rosewater! Oh goodness. The cake is soft, subtle, and tricks you into thinking it’s just a normal, albeit awesome, vanilla cake. Until you get the hint of rose. Floral, sweet. Not overpowering. Just there in the background, being lovely. And the frosting is super-sweet, giving you a break from the flowery flavor, just for a little bit.

Rosewater Cake

I am completely in love with this cake. (And by the way, it’s all thanks to Sweetapolita–whose recipes are divine and have worked beautifully every time I’ve tried them.) I highly recommend this recipe for a celebration–or just for summer fun!

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