Elaborate Vanilla Birthday Cake

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This is a vanilla cake that I threw together for a birthday that looked perfect for instagram. It was quite laborious but made during quarantine when we had all the time in the world (which is hopefully over by the time this is being posted, but we’ll see).

Give this a shot to try and impress a crowd.

The cake base is slightly modified from Earl Grey Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla “Buttercream”

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1/2 cup strained and cooled tea concentrate (I used a vanilla oolong tea – 2-3 tbsp tea + 1/2 cup boiling water)
1 3/4 cup cake flour
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 eggs
1 cup 1% milk
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Icing:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter (softened)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk or cream

For the Ganache:

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 oz chocolate chips or dark chocolate

Directions:

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350° and spray 2-3 cake pans (depending on layers).

1) Steep tea (in filter) with 1/2 cup boiling water. Allow to cool

2) In a mixer combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix on medium speed until well combined (about a minute).

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3) Add butter, a few cubes at a time until the mixture becomes like coarse sand.

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4) Add eggs one at a time

5) Add milk, vanilla and tea concentrate and beat well. Scrape down as necessary

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6) Transfer to prepared cake pans and bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on 2 or 3 layers).

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Allow to cool for 1 hour before preparing icing.

For the icing

1) Cream butter. Add vanilla extract and mix well.

2) Add sugar 1 cup at a time, adding milk or cream if not combining

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Ice in between layers and assemble the cake. Trim off excess on the top to ensure layers are even. Use a spatula to smooth out the edges.

I used fondant to cover the cake as well so I only put a “crumb coat of icing” however, you can also transfer the cake the fridge or freezer to cool before adding a top coat of icing.

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For the Ganache:

Before putting ganache on top, make sure cake is cold (in fridge or freezer for > 1 hour.

Melt chocolate and heavy cream over a double boiler until combined. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes to cool.

Transfer to piping bag or ziplock and cut a small hole at the bottom.

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Pipe along the edges, pausing to allow ganache to drip down the sides of the cake. Cover the top in ganache and smooth out with knife.

For Decorations:

Top with anything you can find, laying it out in an organized manner. I used a mix of sprinkles, chocolate covered pretzels, candy canes, peanut butter cups, chocolate covered espresso beans and mini eggs. I also used icing to attach crushed mini eggs (using a cast iron skillet and a ziplock) around the edge.

Extreme Lemon Cake

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This nondairy version of a classic Maida Heatter cake has the perfect pairing of lemons and sugar.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

Zest of 3 lemons
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted pareve margarine, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup almond milk

For the glaze:

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray.

Combine the zest of 3 lemons and 3 tbsp. lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside.

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Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

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In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the margarine and sugar and beat until fluffy.

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Add the eggs, one at a time.

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Alternately, add the flour mixture and almond milk, beginning and ending with the flour. Fold in the zest/lemon juice mixture.

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Transfer the batter to the baking pan and bake for 55 minutes.

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While the cake is baking, combine the ½ cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup sugar in a small bowl.

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Once the cake comes out of the oven, allow to cool for 20-30 minutes and then remove from pan, turning it over.

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Brush the cake liberally with the glaze.

Lemon Blueberry Cake

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This fragrant cake is perfect for spring and summer when fresh blueberries are in season.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
4 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup grapeseed/coconut/olive oil
1 ½ cups nondairy sour cream (Tofutti)
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 cups fresh blueberries, tossed in 1 tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour

For the lemon frosting:

2 ¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp. grapeseed oil
4 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

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In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the sugar and lemon zest together.

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Add the eggs, oil, sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla.  Process until well combined.

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Add the flour mixture and pulse until just combined.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

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Transfer the batter to the baking pan and bake for 45 minutes.  Allow to cool for 30 minutes while making the frosting.

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Combine the confectioners’ sugar, oil and lemon juice in a bowl.  Stir until desired consistency is reached.

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Spread the frosting as a thin layer over the entire cake and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Banana Bread with Buttercream Frosting

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This banana bread uses an interesting ingredient to make it super moist. Not one you would expect, but with a little explanation it makes sense. Mayonnaise. Yes it sounds weird, but mayonnaise is made up of oil and eggs, two ingredients that make this banana bread super moist.

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Make sure to use super ripe bananas because they are sweeter and have a better texture. Some grocery stores sell their over-ripe bananas at a great deal so look out of them- I got a massive bag of bananas for 99 cents.

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Ingredients:

For the Banana Bread:

6 Medium Bananas
1 cup mayonnaise
2 egg
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips

For the Icing:

1 cup butter, softened
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp milk (depending how thick you want the icing)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line and spray a 9×13 pan.

Mash bananas in a large bowl (or mixmaster). Add mayo and egg and mix well.

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Add flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Mix until combined.

Add chocolate chips and mix briefly.

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Pour batter into prepared 9×13 pan.

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Bake for 40-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Allow to cool. Remove from pan.

While cooling prepare icing. Cream butter on medium speed for 3-4 minutes.

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Add icing sugar 1 cup at a time, alternating with milk. Add vanilla extract and a pinch of salt.

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Ice the banana bread and cut into individual slices. I piped the icing on for the pattern here. These can be wrapped individually in Saran Wrap. Store in an airtight container.

Blueberry Lemon Loaf

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This recipe adapted from Baker Bettie combines blueberries, lemon and a tart glaze.

Ingredients:

For the loaf:

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup Tofutti sour cream
¼ cup grapeseed/coconut/olive oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 cups fresh blueberries, divided

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
2-4 tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.

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In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest.   IMG_3326.jpg

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Add the flour mixture and pulse until just combined. The batter will be thick.

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Fold in 1 ½ cups blueberries and transfer to the loaf pan.

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Scatter the remaining ½ cup blueberries over the top of the loaf.

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Bake for 65 minutes.

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Once the cake has cooled, combine the confectioners’ sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. Add lemon juice until the consistency is thick but pourable.

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Pour glaze on top of cake.

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The Momofuku Milk Bar Cake

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This post isn’t an original or modified recipe, but instead an experience with a recipe. I’ve included a link to the recipe I followed from Bon Appétit. I didn’t make any changes, but altered the proportions to make the cake larger. I made three times the cake batter from the proportions in the recipe and double the crumb and frosting. In hindsight I would have made triple the frosting as well (I ran a little short when assembling the cake).

I’ve included pictures of the process and a photo of the final product however you can follow the instructions and ingredients in the Bon Appétit recipe.

As for equipment, I bought a 10 inch cake pan for assembly at Michaels, and some sheets of acetate paper.

Mixed Dry Ingredients.

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Butter, sugars, and shortening.

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After adding eggs.

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After adding rest of the wet ingredients.

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After adding dry ingredients.

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Mixed crumb ingredients.

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Mixed frosting.

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Bottom layer of cake pieces.

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Assembled cake.

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Chocolate Tahini Cake with Tahini Frosting

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Adapted from Molly Yeh, this easy cake has the unique flavouring of tahini (sesame) in both the cake and the frosting.

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 cup almond/coconut/soy milk
½ cup tahini
¼ cup grapeseed oil
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup brewed coffee, at room temperature

For the Frosting:

2 sticks (1 cup) pareve margarine, softened
½ cup tahini
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. kosher salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a 9×13-inch baking pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

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In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the milk, tahini, oil, vanilla, eggs, and coffee. Process until smooth.

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Add the flour mixture and pulse until just combined. Transfer the batter to the baking pan and bake for 28 minutes.

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Allow the cake to cool while preparing the frosting.

IMG_2905.jpgIn the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the margarine and tahini and blend until creamy.

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Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar, followed by the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Spread the frosting over the cake and chill just before serving.

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Maple Apple Cake

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Canada is a great country, and aside from free healthcare we have a few other things going for us – for example maple syrup. This cake is filled with apples, and has maple syrup in both the cake itself and the glaze. This cake will be sure to sweeten up your week.

Ingredients:

For the Apple Filling:

1.5 tbsp butter or margarine
3 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Granny Smith apples, chopped

For the Cake:

1 1/3 packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda

For the Glaze:

2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cinnamon
1/2 cup powdered sugar

Directions:

For the Apple Filling:

On medium low heat melt butter or margarine, add brown sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix well and add apples. Cook for 5 minutes.

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For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.

In mixer, beat brown sugar, melted butter or margarine, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

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Beat in eggs. Add flour, salt and baking soda. Mix well.

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Add apples and mix with a spatula. Pour batter into the pan.

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Bake for 30-40 mins. Allow to cool for 10 minutes.

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For the Glaze:

Melt butter on medium low heat, add maple syrup, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix well. Add powdered sugar and mix until dissolved. Allow glaze to cool for 10 minutes before pouring over cake.

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Putting it Together:

Using a fork, poke holes all over the cake. Pour the glaze overtop.

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Allow to cool, cut and enjoy.

Coffee Cake

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This is an adapted nondairy nut-free version of a recipe from a late patient of mine from many years ago, Mrs. JB, who was a kind, sweet, nurturing Bubby to her adoring family.  I always think of her when I bake this cake.  In addition to being called Bubby B’s Coffee Cake, it also became known as the Anniversary Cake when I was able to help “save” my friend BF on one July 1 many years ago when he did not have a gift in hand for his very special wife until I pulled one of these out of the freezer.

Ingredients:

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¾ stick unsalted pareve margarine (6 tbsp)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup Tofutti sour cream
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups cake and pastry flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda

Filling:

½ cup brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 9-x by 5-inch loaf pan lined with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the margarine and sugar until creamy.

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Add the eggs, one at a time and scrape down the bowl.

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Add the sour cream and vanilla and blend again until well combined.

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In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and baking soda.

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Add the flour mixture to the mixer and blend on low until just combined.

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Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and cocoa in a small bowl.

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Place half of the batter in the loaf pan and sprinkle with half of the filling.

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Cover with the rest of the batter and then cover this with the rest of the filling.

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Swirl the batter gently with a sharp knife.

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Bake for 55 minutes.

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Espresso Banana Bread with Chocolate Espresso Glaze

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This is a large loaf cake which makes good use of leftover bananas. Definitely a pick-me-up snack with the great combination of coffee and chocolate. Freezes well when wrapped with a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of aluminum foil.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. instant espresso powder
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. kosher salt
3 bananas
2/3 cup coconut/grapeseed/olive oil
½ cup brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
½ cup almond/soy/coconut milk
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the glaze:

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp. freshly brewed espresso

Directions:

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Preheat oven to 350F and line a 9-x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper sprayed with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

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In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, combine the bananas, oil, sugars, eggs, milk and vanilla and well processed.

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Add the dry ingredients and pulse until just combined.

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Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

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Transfer the batter to the pan and bake for 60 minutes.

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Allow to cool for 20 minutes in the pan then transfer to a plate.

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Melt the chocolate in a microwave over 60-90 seconds. Add the confectioners’ sugar and brewed espresso and stir until it becomes a pourable glaze.

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Coat the cake with the glaze and spread over the top.

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