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Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake

  • November 7, 2022

 

I hope you’re not “pumpkined-out” yet this fall, because this is one recipe (from the website “Handle With Heat” ), you need to try. It’s got that seasonal pumpkin and spice flavor, it’s moist, and has an irresistible crunchy crumb topping, finished with a glaze of maple sugar. Don’t fight it — just make it!

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Pumpkin Spice Coffee Cake
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • From the website "Handle The Heat"
  • FOR THE STREUSEL:
  • ½ cup light brown sugaar
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • FOR THE CAKE:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ teaaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 ounces sour cream at room temperature
  • 2 laarge eggs, beaten
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray the bottom of an 8-inch square pan with nonstick spray.
  3. MAKE THE STREUSEL:
  4. In a small bowl, combine all the streusel ingredients with a fork until crumbly.
  5. MAKE THE CAKE:
  6. In aa large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, brown sugar and granulated sugar.
  7. In a small bowl, stir together the pumpkin puree, oil, sour cream and eggs.
  8. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour in the wet ingrients.
  9. Gently stir until just combined.
  10. Spoon half the batter into the prepaared pan, Sprinkle with half the streusel.
  11. Spread the remaining batter over the streusel.
  12. Sprinkle with the remaining streusel.
  13. Bake for 35 minutes or until aa toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  14. Glass and ceramic pans take longer to bake than metal.
  15. Cool for 15 minutes
  16. MAKE THE TOPPING:
  17. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and maple syrup until a thick, pourable icing forms.
  18. Drizzle over the warm cakae.
  19. Cut into squares and serve.
 

Peach Upside Down Cake

  • July 15, 2022

I don’t know about you, but when peaches are in season here in New Jersey, you won’t find any other fruit that’s as delicious, in my opinion. They’re juicy, full of fragrant flavor and plentiful — although this year, I’ve found that the cost has risen significantly (but what hasn’t?). In addition to eating them in my morning oatmeal, and just out of hand, I had to bake with some of them, and the combo of brown sugar, butter and peaches is hard to resist in this upside down cake. The recipe comes from Cake By Courtney but I skipped the vanilla and added Amaretto liqueur instead. The almond flavor is subtle, but detectable and adds even more reason to dig in for a second or third slice.

The cake has a fine crumb and tender bite to it, and it’s good the second day too, but like most fruit-topped cakes, it’s best eaten the day it’s made, especially fresh from the oven. A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side would be most welcome too.

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Peach Upside Down Cake
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE PEACHES
  • 2 cups (300 g) peeled and sliced peaches about 3 small to medium size peaches
  • juice of half a small lemon
  • 1 teaspoon (2.4 g) cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons (42.4 g) butter
  • ⅓ cup (73 g) brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon Amaretto liqueur
  • FOR THE CAKE
  • ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup (150 g) sugar
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1½ cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (6 g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (3 g) salt
  • ¾ cup (180 g) buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Amaretto liqueur
Instructions
  1. FOR THE PEACHES
  2. Stir together the sliced peaches, lemon juice, cinnamon and Amaretto liqueur.
  3. Set aside.
  4. Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet on medium heat.
  5. Once the butter is melted, add the ⅓ cup brown sugar.
  6. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has completely melted. Add the sliced peaches and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, just until the peaches soften a bit.
  7. Set aside.
  8. FOR THE CAKE
  9. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  10. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  11. Set aside.
  12. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  13. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  14. Stir in the Amaretto liqueur.
  15. Gradually add in the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, starting and finishing with the dry ingredients.
  16. Mix on low speed until just combined.
  17. Gently spread the batter in the cast iron skillet over the peaches.
  18. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs on it.
  19. Loosen the edges of the cake with a knife, then using oven mitts on both hands, place a serving platter over the pan and invert onto the serving platter.
 

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

  • May 12, 2022

If ever there were a cake to knock the socks off you chocolate lovers, this is it. Picture a light chocolate sponge cake, with a luscious mousse and chopped hazelnut filling, smothered in a decadent chocolate ganache.  We first tried it at Bàcaro, our favorite restaurant in the Cayman Islands where we spend a week each winter. After enjoying it twice in one week, I asked for the recipe and Head Chef Federico Destro generously gave it to me. It was written in metric measurements, but I’ve converted them into the cups more familiar to Americans. However, if you buy a kitchen scale, I recommend using the metric system measurements, since baking by weight is always more accurate than using cups.

Federico’s recipe says it makes 30 portions, but the portions at Bàcaro are much smaller than what I served at my recent dinner party. I cut mine into 24 portions, still a huge amount for most home cooks, but I froze half of the cake for later gratification. It freezes perfectly with the chocolate mousse inside, but wait until the day you serve it to pour on the ganache, otherwise you risk losing that lovely sheen and soft texture.

Make sure you sift the dry ingredients and have the eggs at room temperature before beating them with the sugar. Beat for the required 10 minutes to give them the volume necessary for the cake to rise, since it contains no other leavening.

Pour into a pan that’s been buttered and floured. I also lined the bottom with a piece of buttered parchment paper to help release the cake without sticking.

When it cooled, I cut the cake in half down the middle since half serves 12 people, and cutting it in half then makes it easier to cut it into horizontal layers. You’ll spread the mousse between the two layers.

In my experience, the mousse is the hardest part to make, since it uses Nutella, which is stiff and difficult to incorporate smoothly with the melted chocolate, egg whites and whipped cream.

Blend in just about a third of the egg whites with the melted chocolate and Nutella to get the mixture a little lighter. Keep whisking until it starts to loosen a bit.

Add another third of the egg whites after the initial egg whites have been whisked in. It will still be stiff, but a little easier to whisk.

By the time you add the last third of the egg whites and the whipped cream, it will become much lighter in color and texture.

Spread the mousse over the bottom layer of the cake and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.

Place the top layer of cake over the mousse, then drizzle some of the diluted espresso coffee over the cake. As you can see, I lined each section of the cake in the pan with plastic wrap, to make it easier to remove one section and leave the rest in the freezer. Place the cake in the freezer for at least 4-6 hours.

After removal from the freezer, carefully cut into 12 sections.

This is the messy part — pouring the ganache on top. The recipe below includes more of the ganache than Chef Destro recommended, partly due to the fact that I’m not a chocolatier and wasted a good bit of chocolate, and partly due to the fact that I’ll take any occasion to eat more dark chocolate!

Here’s the way it’s served at Bàcaro, and you can see how much smoother the outer coating is, when a real professional is pouring the chocolate!

Still, there were no complaints about my version either. Place the cakes in the refrigerator, but set aside about 1/4 cup of the ganache and refrigerate it too. When it starts to harden just ever so slightly, scoop a little out with a demitasse spoon to make a chocolate ball on top, and place a hazelnut on top of the chocolate. I also added a small sliver of gold leaf — totally optional, but don’t forget the whipped cream!

The recipe may seem daunting, but you can make it the day before a dinner party or event, and keep it refrigerated. One caveat though – they look really tempting to husbands grazing for a midday treat. You’ve been warned.

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Chocolate Hazelnut Cake
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SPONGE CAKE:
  • 10 eggs
  • 2 cups (300g) sugar
  • ¾ cup (50g) cocoa powder
  • ¾ cup (50g) corn starch
  • ½ cup (50g) all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (150 g)
  • 1 cup diluted espresso (250 ml)
  • FOR THE MOUSSE:
  • about 1⅓ cup (300g) dark chocolate
  • 1 13 ounce jar (300g) Nutella
  • 1¾ cup (400g) heavy cream (whipped to medium hard peaks)
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp rum
  • 4 eggs
  • FOR THE GANACHE (This is enough for half the cakes, since I froze half the cakes unfrosted. Just double if frosting the entire cake).
  • 2 cups (about 425 grams) heavy cream
  • 12 oz. chocolate (I used three, 4 oz. bars of Hershey's Special Darrk)
Instructions
  1. TO MAKE THE SPONGE CAKE:
  2. Whisk the eggs and sugar at high speed for about 10 minutes.
  3. Sieve the cocoa powder, flour and corn starch and add them to the egg mixture gradually and folding slowly.
  4. Pour the mass into a half-size hotel pan (my pan measured 15" by 10" x 2.5" but the chef used a pan that was 20" x 10" x 2.5")
  5. Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes or until cake pulls away from sides of pan.
  6. Let cool at room temperature, then wrap with plastic film and store in the fridge or freezer until needed.
  7. Cut the cake in half to make for easier handling, then cut each half in half horizontally, in order to have two layers.
  8. Then put some plastic wrap on the bottom and sides of the pan where you baked the cake, and put the layers inside, with separate pieces of plastic wrap for each half of the cake.
  9. That way, you can easily remove only half the cake and leave the rest frozen for later use.
  10. Each half of the cake made 12 servings, (30 for Chef Destro who cuts smaller portions) so unless you have a crowd of 24, you can keep half frozen.
  11. TO MAKE THE MOUSSE:
  12. Separate the egg whites from the yolks and set aside.
  13. Whisk the yolks with sugar and rum.
  14. Add the chocolate (previously melted) folding it slowly, then add the Nutella and combine (This is the hardest part because the Nutella is quite stiff. But keep at it.)
  15. Whisk the egg whites to hard peak, then gradually fold them into the chocolate mixture (again it's hard because the Nutella is so stiff, but once you have all the egg whites added, it loosens up and when you add the whipped cream, it will be just right consistency.)
  16. Fold in the whipped cream and set in the fridge until ready to use.
  17. TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE AND FILLING:
  18. Leave the cake in the pan and remove the top layer.
  19. On the bottom layer of the sponge cake, drizzle with half the espresso.
  20. Set half the mousse on top of it and sprinkle with the hazelnuts.
  21. Place the top layer over the mousse and drizzle with the other half of the espresso.
  22. Cover and chill in the freezer for at least 4-6 hours.
  23. FOR THE GANACHE:
  24. Heat the cream, turn off the heat and add the chocolate, stirring to combine until smooth.
  25. TO FINISH THE CAKE WITH THE GANACHE:
  26. Cut the frozen cake in 24 portions, if you plan to serve all at one time.
  27. In that case, double the ingredients for the ganache.
  28. Otherwise, place half the cake in the freezer and cut the other half into 12 portions.
  29. Place them on a perforated rack and quickly coat them with the warm ganache.
  30. Place back in the freezer to harden.
  31. Repeat the coating process once more and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
  32. Save a bit of the ganache to use as a center dollop with a hazelnut perched on it.
  33. If you have any gold leaf, add a small piece to the top.
 

 

Boston Cream Pie

  • February 21, 2022

Boston Cream Pie is a classic American dessert that’s really not a pie at all. It’s a sponge cake, layered with a custard center, and topped with a river of chocolate ganache. Its origins hail back to the late 1880s, when a French chef at Boston’s Parker House Hotel created it. Apparently, cakes used to be baked in pie tins back then, hence the name.  I was inspired to try a recipe from Ina Garten’s cookbook, “Modern Comfort Food,” but made a couple of changes. The first was cooking it in a springform pan and cutting it into the traditional two layers, not four as her recipe calls for. I also took a shortcut and didn’t make the pastry cream from scratch, substituting a box of instant vanilla pudding with some whipping cream added in. I took the photos the first time I made it during a big snowstorm, but I’ve made it again several times and it always disappears quicker than a melting snowflake.

I topped it with a little gold leaf just to gussy it up a little, but the taste is so good, it really doesn’t need any help. Please use all the liquid called for in the soak. It may seems ike a lot, but the cakes just absorb it all and the flavor it adds is crucial.


Boston Cream Pie
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE CAKE:
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 extra large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • FOR THE SOAK:
  • ⅓ Cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange flavored liqueur
  • FOR THE PASTRY CREAM:
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon instant coffee granules
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Butter a 8 or 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, buttering that too.
  3. Sprinkle flour over the pan, then tap out the excess.
  4. For the cake, scald the milk and butter in a small pan over medium heat.
  5. Off the heat, add the vanilla and orange zest.
  6. Cover the pan and set aside.
  7. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium high speed for 4 minutes, until thick and light yellow and the mixture falls back on itself in a ribbon.
  9. By hand first whisk in the warm milk mixture and then slowly whisk in the flour mixture.
  10. DO NOT OVERMIX.
  11. Pour the batter evenly into the pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  12. Let the cake cool in the pan, then release the sides and place on a baking rack.
  13. Cool to room temperature.
  14. FOR THE SOAK
  15. Combine the orange juice and sugar in a small pan and heat until the sugar dissolves.
  16. Off the heat, add the orange liqueur and set aside.
  17. FOR THE PASTRY CREAM:
  18. Follow the directions on the pudding box, but instead of using 2 cups milk, mix the powder with 1½ cups milk.
  19. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form, then fold into the pastry cream.
  20. FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE:
  21. Combine the havy cream, chocolate, corn syrup, vanilla and coffee in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Stir occasionally with a spoon, just until the chocolates melt.
  22. Remove from the heat and set aside for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is thick enough to fall back on itself in a ribbon.
  23. TO ASSEMBLE:
  24. Cut the cake in half horizontally.
  25. Put the bottom layer back in the springform pan.
  26. Brush half of the orange liqueur soak over the cake.
  27. Spread the pastry cream over the cake.
  28. Place the second layer over the pastry cream and brush with the rest of the orange liqueur soak.
  29. Pour the chocolate ganache on the cake, allowing it to drip down over the sides of the cake.
  30. Place in the refrigerator to firm everything, then serve.
  31. Spread the pastry cream
 

Cannoli Ciambella Bundt Cake

  • February 4, 2022

If you’re looking for a delicious cake that only improves as the days go by, look no further. This recipe, from Rosella Rago’s Cooking With Nonna website, is moist and packed with flavor — and it tastes even better a day or two after it’s baked. That’s because it contains ricotta, orange peel, chocolate chips and pistachios. How’s that for a winning combination? Feel free to substitute almonds if pistachios are not your thing, but they are classic flavors in a traditional cannolo and I love them all.

I made a couple of small tweaks to Rossella’s recipe and you can choose to follow them or leave the recipe exactly as she wrote it. In her recipe she says to put the pistachios in a food processor and process until fine. I found that the pistachios will turn to a paste if you’re not careful, so I added part of the flour to the food processor while processing the nuts. This way, you can be assured they’ll grind to a powdery consistency, just like the flour. For the glaze, I added orange juice to the confectioner’s sugar instead of milk, to give it a light orange flavor. I also didn’t have any candied orange peel (a situation I hope to remedy soon), so I used orange peel shavings to decorate the top, along with some of the mini chocolate chips and chopped pistachios. This is a recipe I’m sure will become a regular in my household.

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Cannoli Ciambella Bundt Cake
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • For the Cake:
  • ¾ cup pistachios, crushed
  • 2¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2¼ cups whole ricotta
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup mini chocolate chips
  • For the glaze and toppings:
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • ¼ cup orange juice or whole milk
  • Candied orange peels, orange zest, mini chocolate chips and extra pistachios for decorating
Instructions
  1. To make the cake:
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Spray a Bundt pan with baking spray, or butter and dust with flour.
  4. Set aside.
  5. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  6. Set aside.
  7. If using whole pistachios, add the pistachios to the bowl of a food processor and process until fine, about 30 seconds.
  8. (I added some of the flour mixture to the pistachios in the food processor. It helps avoid getting a pistachio paste and encourages a texture more like the fine texture of flour.)
  9. Set aside.
  10. In another mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, orange zest and vanilla extract.
  11. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  12. Beat in the ricotta until fully combined.
  13. Beat in the eggs one at a time until fully combined.
  14. Beat in the dry ingredients until just absorbed.
  15. Do not over mix.
  16. Fold in the chocolate chips and ground up pistachios.
  17. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  18. Cool completely before glazing.
  19. To make the glaze and decorate:
  20. In a bowl, whisk together the confectioners sugar and orange juice, or milk until smooth.
  21. The glaze will be thick.
  22. Pour the glaze over the cake and top with candied cherries, orange slices (or orange zest) and crushed pistachios.
 

 

French Apple Almond Cake

  • October 21, 2021

Is it even Fall if you haven’t made an apple cake? There are so many recipes out there for apple cake that it was hard to choose, but any recipe that includes almonds and apples has my vote. I found this winner of a dessert on a website called The Sugar Hit and made it last year but never posted it. Hey, it’s time to make it again!  Whenever I’m peeling apples, I have a contest with myself to try to keep the peel intact in one piece. Yea! I did it! (I know, nerdy)

I used a buttered springform pan, placing a piece of parchment paper on the bottom. I then layered some of the batter over the paper, and placed apples over the batter in a neat pattern.

Repeat with the batter (don’t worry if you don’t get complete coverage), then more apples.

When you’re finished with that layer, scatter the almonds and sugar topping all over, then bake. (I overbaked it by five minutes and the bottom layer was too browned.)

Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar when cooled.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee (and some vanilla sauce or ice cream wouldn’t hurt either).

Click here to connect with me on Instagram and find out what’s cooking in Ciao Chow Linda’s kitchen each day (and more).

French Apple Cake
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • For the apples:
  • 3 medium granny smith apples (or whatever kind you like)
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar (for you Americans, use superfine granulated sugar)
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp rum
  • For the cake batter:
  • 1 + ½ sticks (150g) butter
  • ½ cup (110g) caster sugar (superfine granulated sugar to you Americans)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1¼ cups (185g) plain flour
  • ¾ cups (85g) almond meal
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup sliced almonds, mixed with sugar and cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F/180C and grease a 9 inch/22cm springform cake tin.
  2. Peel and core the apples, then quarter them and slice them into thickish pieces.
  3. Toss the pieces with the sugar, cinnamon and rum and set aside while you prepare the batter.
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar, until they are light and fluffy, then add the eggs and beat them in well.
  5. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and slowly mix or fold until everything is well combined. The batter will be very thick.
  6. Scrape 2 thirds of the batter into the greased cake tin, and spread it evenly over the base (it will seem like there's not enough, but there is).
  7. Scatter most of the apples evenly over the cake mix, leaving enough slices for a second layer.
  8. Then dollop over the remaining batter and spread carefully over the apples.
  9. Add the rest of the apples, arranging the slices in a concentric circle.
  10. Scatter over the chopped almonds and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
  11. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out without any raw batter clinging to it.
  12. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes in the tin, before carefully unmolding it and scattering over a little sugar to decorate. This is best served warm.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plum Almond Cake

  • September 13, 2021

I’ve been making the well-known plum cake from Marian Burros and the New York Times for years, but recently decided to try a similar one in Domenica Marchetti’s cookbook “Rustic Italian.” Her recipes are always winners and this was no exception. It incorporates a little almond flour in addition to all-purpose flour, but what really sets this apart is the sugary-almond topping nestled over the plums. The crunchy coating takes it over the top, although it loses its crispness when it sits overnight. No problem, because it’s so delicious, you’re not likely to have any leftovers the next day.

It uses Italian prune plums, and although Domenica’s recipe calls for nine of them, mine were smaller and I needed a lot more to fill the pan. It’s a cinch to remove the pits. Just slice down the middle, twist each half in the opposite direction, and pull out the pit. Lay the plums over the batter cut side up.

Top with the almond-butter-sugar coating and bake.

The crumb is really tender, the fruit is jammy and the topping is sugary and irresistible. I don’t know what took me so long to make this cake, but it’s now at the top of my list when I have a hankering for a slice of cake. I think this would taste great with apricots, peaches or other fruits too when Italian prune plums are hard to find. Grazie mille, cara Domenica.

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Plum Almond Cake
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup sunflower or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • ½ cup almond meal or almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup half and half or whole milk
  • finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • ¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 9 Italian plums, halved and pitted (or more if they're small)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil an 8-inch springform pan. Dust tthe pan with flour and tap out the excess.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the oil, egg, half and half (or milk), lemon juice and zest, the 1 cup sugar, and almond extract.
  4. Whisk to blend thoroughly.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined.
  6. Pour the batter into tthe prepared pan.
  7. Arrange the plum halves, cut side up, on top of the batter.
  8. In a bowl, combine the almonds, the 2 tablespoons sugar and the butter and mix well.
  9. Dot the almond topping over the cake.
  10. Bake until the topping is golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes.
  12. Remove the ring from the pan and place the cake on a serving platter.
  13. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
 

Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake

  • August 21, 2021

I’ve been overdosing on blueberries lately. It all started while I was in London and walked by a fruit vendor on a corner selling crates of blueberries for the equivalent of $4 U.S. I hit the mother lode, so how could I resist?  The vendor dumped the blueberries out of the crate into a plastic shopping bag, and it was heavy – nearly the same weight as my one-month old granddaughter that I’d been visiting. On my 20 minute walk home, I had to continually shift the bag from my left hand to my right to keep my shoulder from hurting.

At a certain point, I cradled the bag of blueberries in my arms, which wouldn’t have been so bad except I was wearing a stark white shirt. You know where this is going. Fast forward to a spray I found in my daughter’s laundry room that miraculously took out the blueberry stains and returned my shirt to its virgin glory. I later found out later however, that it was bathroom cleaner with bleach, not a spot remover for clothes! Well, at least now I have another tool in my arsenal for removing stains.

But I digress — back to blueberries. I used them all up (finally) to bake three blueberry cakes, two pies and a dozen and a half muffins. The first cake I made was Ottolenghi’s well-known and delicious blueberry almond and lemon cake, which I’ve made many times and the recipe is here. I wanted to try a different recipe for the second go-round, and decided on a lemon blueberry pound cake from Once Upon a Cake.  I made it, but substituted one cup almond flour for half the regular flour. It was good but it didn’t rise enough to create the attractive domed center that I was looking for. Moreover, after we each had eaten a slice of the cake, Trevor the cat found it on the kitchen counter and helped himself to a big chunk, causing us to toss the remaining cake, and wreaking havoc in Trevor’s “plumbing.”

photo credit: Ben Morse

When I got back home to the U.S., I decided to bake Once Upon A Cake’s recipe a second time, but this time exactly as it was written, eliminating the almond flour. The result was a perfectly domed center and a delicious pound cake.

I saved a few of the blueberries to cook down and tint the glaze, but you could keep the glaze white, or eliminate it entirely, dusting the top with only a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

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Lemon Blueberry Pound Cake
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, packed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups + 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with a knife
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries (if using frozen blueberries, do not defrost)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1¼ cups gramulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • FOR THE GLAZE:
  • about six blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice, (about ½ lemon, or as much as needed to get the right consistency)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Adjust an oven rack to middle position.
  3. Butter and flour a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan, shaking out excess flour.
  4. (Or butter the pan and line with parchment paper, then spray with nonstick spray)
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  6. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes while you proceed with the recipe.
  7. It will curdle, but that's fine.
  8. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, baking soda and salt.
  9. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the remainign teaspoon of flour.
  10. Set both aside.
  11. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or beaters), cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  12. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  13. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again.
  14. With the mixer on low speed, beat in a third of the flour mixture, then half of the milk mixture.
  15. Beat in another third of the flour mixture, then the remaining milk mixture, followed by the remaining flour mixture, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  16. Add the flour-dusted blueberries to the batter and, using a spatula, fold until evenly combined.
  17. Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  18. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a tester comes out clean.
  19. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
  20. When the cake is cool, transfer to a serving platter.
  21. Make the glaze by cooking the six blueberries with the water, pressing down on the blueberries to release the color, and cooking for a couple of minutes.
  22. Strain the blueberries, retaining the liquid and tossing the squashed blueberries.
  23. Mix the liquid with the confectioner's sugar, adding lemon juice if it's too thick.
  24. It should be very thick, almost the consistency of molasses.
  25. Spread the glaze over the cake, allowing some to drip down the sides.
 

Dried Winter Fruit “Cakelets”

  • February 18, 2021
I’ve never counted how many cookbooks I own, but I do know that with many, I make one or two recipes and unfortunately, never revisit them for years because some other newcomer has captured my attention. I’ve got my tried and true cookbooks that I wouldn’t neglect for the world, but then there are some I’ve pushed to the back shelf over the years, including many that are written in Italian. Truth be told, it can be tedious to transcribe the quantities into the American measuring system when they’re written in metric. But the results are frequently worth the effort, like these little dried fruit “cakelets.” They’re from a cookbook called “Fantasie Da Forno” that I picked up in a Milan bookstore  years ago.

Winter is the perfect time for this recipe made with dried fruits. You can make it in small disposable paper cake pans, like these that I bought at a discount store, or make one larger cake in a round pan. There is a certain charm to these miniature cakelets though, and they are just the right serving for one person.

The small amount of cornmeal in the recipe gives the cake a darker look, but adds a bit of flavor and texture. If you want to eliminate the cornmeal, just substitute an equal amount of white all-purpose flour.

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From the Italian cookbook “Fantasie da forno”

Dried Winter Fruit Cakelets
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 7 tablespoons butter, softened (100 gr. di burro ammorbidito)
  • ½ cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten (2 uova sbatute)
  • ⅓ cup (50 grams) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (un cucchiaino di lievito) baking powder
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cornmeal (100 gr. di farina di mais)
  • 1½ cups mixed dried fruit (225 gr. frutta secca mister
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, or other nuts (25 gr. di pinoli)
  • grated rind of a lemon (la scorza grattugiata di 1 limone)
  • 2 tablespoons milk (2 cucchiai di latte)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice (4 cucchiai di succo di limone)
Instructions
  1. Grease a 7" or 8" round pan (or use several small baking paper cake holders).
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a mixer.
  3. Add the beaten eggs, one a time, mixing each one thoroughly.
  4. Add the flour, baking powder and cornmeal and mix until incorporated.
  5. Add the dried fruits and nuts, the lemon peel, the lemon juice, and lastly the milk.
  6. Spread the mixture into the pan and bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for one hour, but if using the mini pans, check after 30 minutes.
  7. Test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.
  8. Remove from the oven, let it cool, then dust with powdered sugar.
 

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

  • October 20, 2020

Have you got a celebration coming up? If not, consider this afternoon a good enough occasion for a celebration. Forget Norman Vincent Peale. If you want to win friends and influence people, chocolate is where you want to be and this is the route to take. This cake has great flavor and texture, and is the second best chocolate cake around. THE best chocolate cake I’ve ever eaten is a chocolate truffle cake from a local shop here in town (Olive’s) and the hubs is getting it for me for my birthday this week. (Yea!) Only fitting, since I made this cake for his birthday earlier this year.

Most of you don’t live within a quick drive to my town and that shop, so I’ve giving you the next best thing. It’s almost the same recipe as Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate Cake” but since I had buttermilk in the house from another recipe, I decided to use that instead of regular milk. Buttermilk adds a bit of a tang, and makes a big difference in the tenderness of cakes. Even if you don’t have buttermilk in your refrigerator, you can create it by squeezing a little lemon juice into regular milk and letting it sit for five to ten minutes.

This ratio of chocolate frosting to cake is crucial, in my humble opinion, but then again, I’m a pushover for chocolate frosting (well, any kind of buttercream frosting, actually).

I melted a little chocolate for the decoration, and also shaved some chocolate to press into the sides of the cake.

If that’s too much chocolate for you (you’re kidding, right?), it tastes delicious with a plain buttercream frosting too, as my granddaughter demonstrates in the video below.

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Chocolate Buttermilk Cake
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • CAKE:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1¾ cups flour
  • ¾ cup dark cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hot coffee, cooled (I use espresso, and add more water to bring to one cup)
  • CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM FROSTING:
  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup dark cocoa powder
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
Instructions
  1. MAKE THE CAKE:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Grease and flour two 8" cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper for easy removal later.
  4. Whisk together in a large bowl of a standing mixer (or use a hand mixer) the sugar, flour. cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  5. In a separate mixing bowl, add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs and vanilla, and whisk to combine.
  6. Beat at a low speed, then and slowly pour in the wet ingredients until just combined, scraping sides of the mixing bowl if necessary.
  7. Keeping the mixer at a slow speed, carefully pour in the coffee. Mix until just combined, scraping the sides of bowl as needed.
  8. Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Remove cakes from oven.
  10. Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then flip gently onto cooling racks to continue cooling.
  11. Remove the parchment paper and cool completely before frosting.
  12. MAKE THE FROSTING:
  13. Beat the butter, vanilla and salt together until smooth and creamy.
  14. Whisk together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar, then add the mix and the whipping cream to the butter mixture, a little at a time until mixed together.
  15. Continue beating for 3 or 4 minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.
  16. Frost the cake, using about ⅓ for the inside of the cake and the rest for the tops and sides.
  17. If you want to decorate as I did, shave some chocolate using a vegetable peeler and press on the sides (It can be messy)
  18. For the top, microwave an ounce or two of dark chocolate with a 3-4 tablespoons of cream.
  19. You may need to add more cream to get to a pourable consistency.
  20. Stir until it is liquid enough to pour, then drizzle in lines across the top.
  21. Using a toothpick or butterknife, swipe across the opposite directions of the chocolate lines, first in one direction, then the other, to get the wave pattern.