Graham Cracker Chocolate Chip Snacking Cake

I’m not quite sure what it is about being stuck inside on cold, snowy, icy, wintry days that make me want to bake. Perhaps, sheer boredom. Perhaps, having to share a TV and knowing that THEY don’t watch anything I do! Perhaps, the kitchen is the only place I am not followed. Following me in the kitchen always involves my barking orders oops! – asking for help emptying the dishwasher, passing a Swiffer over the floor, putting away things left out when hastily grabbing a snack.

Well, snow storm number 6 had me jonesing for cake! I need a cake. I don’t want to bundle up with 7,000 layers and trudge – and trust me, in Brooklyn, with the amount of snow we have still on the ground and in 10 foot piles on every corner, TRUDGE is all we do! – to the market to but a cake.

I grabbed Lauren Chattman’s Cake Keeper Cakes to find something simple and quick to bake. I know I only recently baked a disaster from this book, but I have so many earmarked and they can’t possibly ALL be bad. By the way, Lauren Chattman NEVER responded to my email asking about the cake. Very bad form!

I love graham crackers and chocolate together. The Marshmallow Fluff just put it over the top for me! And to make things better, I had all the ingredients I needed!

FOR THE CAKE

  • 8 whole graham crackers, finely ground (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 C unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 6 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 1/2 C semisweet chocolate chips

FOR THE FROSTING

  • 1/2 C unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 C confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 C Marshmallow Fluff

Preheat oven to 350

Butter an 8×8 square baking pan and dust with flour, shaking out any excess.

Mix the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.

Combine the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides as you go. With the mixer on low, add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Scrape down the side, in necessary, and beat until smooth.

With the mixer on low speed, add 1/3 of the flour mixer, then 1/2 the milk, stirring until combined. Repeat with remaining flour and milk, ending with the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the baking pan and smooth out the top. Bake for about 35 minutes and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack, turn right side up, and let cool completely.

FROSTING

Beat butter in a medium bowl until creamy. WIth mixer running, add sugar. Stir in vanilla and Marshmallow Fluff and beat well. Use immediately or store in bowl covered with plastic wrap in the fridge.

NOTE: RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO EAT THE FLUFF BY THE SPOONFUL. Put away the bread and the peanut butter. Step away from the counter.

Cut cake into squares and serve with a dollop of frosting.

NOTE: Tha cake is very nice. The graham crackers give it an interesting texture and very homespun, old fashioned flavor. Very comforting. The frosting is SERIOUSLY sweet! Perhaps a little too sweet. Fortunately the cake isn’t frosted until you eat it so we did without the frosting after the first round and drizzled chocolate syrup on top with a little dollop of FLUFF.

Rich Yellow Loaf Cake

My dear husband likes plain cake. No frosting. No icing. No drizzles. I can occasionally sneak in some fruit or a chocolate swirl. But at night, to have with his tea, he prefers plain.

I was delighted to find this recipe for Rich Yellow Loaf Cake while flipping through Lauren Chattman‘s Cake Keeper Cakes. This would be the perfect cake for my husband.

If you don’t own this book yet, you should. Every recipe is wonderful. The pictures are beautiful, it’s well written and the instructions are easy to follow. I have made and tasted a number of things from this book and each is better than the one before.

This cake came together very easily and quickly. No fussy ingredients. Popped it into the oven, sat on the sofa and waited. About halfway through the cooking time, I really started to smell the cake. I knew there was something wrong. Open the oven and what do I see?

Sigh. Over flow everywhere! I scooped up what was on the bottom of my oven. Slid a cookie sheet on the rack under the cake and hoped for the best.

I followed everything to a T. I wrote to Lauren Chattman through her blog, but she had not responded (at the time of this writing it was 3 weeks ago) and I doubt that she ever will.

Anyone out there have any ideas why my cake escaped its loaf pan? Yes, I used the right sized pan. Yes, it says 1 tablespoon of baking powder. No, I didn’t over beat it.

I have to say, even with this disaster, the cake was REALLY good! I would love to make it again, if I can solve the problem!

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 C milk
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 2 C cake flour
  • 1 T baling powder
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 C sugar

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease and dust with flour a 9X5 loaf pan.

Lightly beat yolks, milk and vanilla together. In a separate, medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

Combine butter in sugar in large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.

NOTE: This may be where my disaster began, I used my Kitchen Aide and not a hand electric mixer. But without feedback, one will never know!

With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour the egg mixture into the bowl in a slow steady stream. Stop the mixer once or twice to scrape down the sides.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixer 1/2 cup at a time. Scrape down the sides after each addition. After the last of the flour mixture has been added, mix four 1 minute on medium speed.

Scrape the battered into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out the top. Bake cake until it’s golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert cake onto a wire rack, turn right side up and let cool completely.

NOTE: Despite the over flow, this was a delicious cake, one I would love to make again. Hopefully Lauren Chattman will answer, or perhaps one of you can come up with a solution!

Blackberry-Swirl Pound Cake ~ Part 2

As those of you who follow my kitchen antics regularly may recall this cake the first time around was difficult for me. Taste was totally there, but not really nice looking. What I labeled a successful failure.

After I tweeted on Twitter that I was a twit with this cake, Danielle from Everyday Food contacted me and we emailed back and forth a bit to see where the problem with the cake lay. I promised to give it another try with the new knowledge in hand, and here we are again.

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces blackberries
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment.
 
NOTE: I did butter the parchment this time and used two pieces so it wasn’t so smooshed in the pan.
 
In a food processor, puree blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.
 
NOTE: The blackberry puree looked thicker this time, so I did not cook them down. For a third go round, I think I will cook them down a little.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed.

With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Transfer half the batter to pan and dot with 1/2 cup blackberry puree.

NOTE: Now, while I did not cook the blackberry puree down, and it was not as loose as Cake No. 1, it could have been thicker. I took Danielle’s advice and used less puree. I think I used too little puree this time out of fear. According to Danielle, you should have 2/3 a cup of puree. This measurement was a little confusing to me as the recipe says to use 1/2 cup for the middle of the cake, but I went with the program.

Repeat with remaining batter and puree.

NOTE: I did not use ANYWHERE near as much puree as I had or as used last time. I saved the left over to put on yogurt or waffles. I think I should have used a teensy bit more.

With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl batter and puree together. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours.

NOTE: I took Danielle’s advice here as well and swirled and brought some of the batter up to the top.

Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing. (Store cooled cake, wrapped tightly in plastic, at room temperature, up to 3 days.)

NOTE: This cake was a whole different ball game. It was not as messy looking, had more of a swirl going through, but I think I need more puree next time.

Thank you so much for your time and patience, Danielle and Dawn. I would have given up without you!

Plum Torte

The New York Times published this recipe annually for nearly twenty years, in all sorts of variations, in response to overwhelming reader demand, At one point Burros told readers to just cut it out of the paper, laminate it and tape it to the inside of their cupboard!

This recipe originally appeared in 1960 in Marian Burros’ The Elegant But Easy Cookbook, and is now available as The New Elegant but Easy Cookbook.

This is the easiest cake you will ever make. The batter comes together in seconds. The variations are limitless. I have made this with peaches, with apricots, with raspberries, with blueberries, with the original Italian plums, my darling friend who introduced me to this recipe has made it with apples and cranberries. I have pears in my head to try next time.  Try it, you will be making this cake over and over again. By the way, it freezes beautifully. Make two freeze one.

There are 2 variations out there. I always make this one, which calls for a tablespoon of baking powder and not a teaspoon.

Makes one 8- or 9-inch single-layer cake; serves 6 to 8

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 scant cup all-purpose flour, spooned lightly into a measuring cup
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 12 Italian plums, halved and pitted
  • Sugar, for sprinkling
  • Ground cinnamon, for sprinkling

NOTE: I use demerara sugar for an extra crunch.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8- or 9-inch round cake pan.

With an electric mixer at medium-high speed (or in a mixing bowl with a large wooden spoon), beat the butter until light. Beat in the sugar and vanilla until fluffy; beat in the eggs, one at a time.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture and stir just until combined, no longer.

Spoon the batter into a spring form of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, or to taste.

NOTE: Some people put the fruit skin side up, some skin side down – dealer’s choice.

 Bake until the cake is golden brown and baked through, about 45 minutes.

 Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Serve at room temperature, cut into wedges.

Blackberry-Swirl Pound Cake

Walking through the supermarket, wanting to bake something, waiting for inspiration, I came across these glorious blackberries.

Could you resist these? I know I couldn’t. And then from the recesses of my memory, I remembered a recipe in Everyday Food magazine for a Blackberry-Swirl Pound Cake. There was my answer!

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 6 ounces blackberries
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
Lightly butter a 5-by-9-inch loaf pan and line with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides; butter parchment.
 
NOTE: I forgot to butter the parchment, and it made no difference.
 
In a food processor, puree blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl as needed.

With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Transfer half the batter to pan and dot with 1/2 cup blackberry puree.

NOTE: As you can see the inky black-purple of the black berries is very hard to capture.  And this is where I ran into my troubles. Yes, trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with B and that stands for BLACKBERRIES. My puree wasn’t thick enough. So there was no DOTTING the puree – not for a lack of trying!

Repeat with remaining batter and puree.

NOTE: Again, same problem.  I did something wrong, but I have NO clue what it was! All I could hope for was an oven miracle.

With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl batter and puree together. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 1 1/4 hours.

Let cool in pan on a wire rack, 30 minutes. Lift cake out of pan and place on a serving plate; let cool completely before slicing. (Store cooled cake, wrapped tightly in plastic, at room temperature, up to 3 days.)

NOTE: This cake was really very good, though I didn’t have the swirl inside that you see in the magazine photo. This is definitely a do again cake. I just need to figure out where I went wrong with the puree!  Any thoughts?

Nutella Swirl Pound Cake

While flipping through Food & Wine magazine, I cam across a section of cookbook reviews. One of them was for Lauren Chattman’s Cake Keeper Cakes and there was a recipe for Nutella Swirl Pound Cake. Had to buy the book, had to try the cake.

Nutella swirled in a cake? Could there possibly be anything bad about that? And what a simple recipe!

This is a great book of cake recipes that are really good to keep on a cake stand. They can just be slivered to the end, stay fresh and are easy and yummy!

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • One 13-ounce jar Nutella

Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions until just incorporated. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.

Spread one-third of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread half of the Nutella on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Nutella.

NOTE: I think my Nutella was a little thick. Make sure you spread it from side to side. I might use slightly less next time.

Top with the remaining batter. Lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not overmix.

NOTE: I should have swirled a little more. The batter and nutella are VERY thick. I was also afraid to over swirl. Next time this will be perfection!

Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve.

Strawberry Country Cake

It is my darling son’s birthday.  When asked what he’d like as a birthday cake, my chocolate hating son said ‘Strawberry Shortcake!’ Not one to ever disappoint my darling boy, I asked the gals at Contessa’s Kitchen for tried and true recipes and my friend Linda suggested the Strawberry Country from Ina Garten’s Parties.

This recipe actually makes two cakes, two layers each.

Cake

  • 3/4 C (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

NOTE: I wasn’t paying attention when reading the recipe and somehow paid little attention to it being 1/2 teaspoon each of the zest and made it 1 teaspoon each. It was fine.

Topping

  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream, chilled
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

NOTE: I diced some of the strawberries and macerated them with a little sugar. Before I added the topping to the bottom layer, I added the macerated strawberries and then the topping and the sliced strawberries.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour two 8″ round cake pans.

Cream the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, then the sour cream, zests, and vanilla, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and combine just until smooth.

Pour the batter evenly into the pans, smooth the tops, and bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then remove to wire racks and let cool to room temperature.

NOTE: For some reason my cakes CAVED in the center. THe cakes were still great, but I need to discover why this happened before I do this again.

If using 1 cake, wrap the second well and freeze.

NOTE: Because of my cake caving, I don’t have any cake in my freezer. I just cut the caved part away, so my layers may be a little thicker than normal.

To make the filling for one cake, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until firm. Slice one of the cakes in half with a long, sharp knife. Place the bottom slice of the cake on a serving platter, spread with 1/2 the whipped cream and scatter with sliced strawberries.

NOTE: This is where I added the macerated strawberries.

Cover with the top slice of the cake and spread with the remaining cream. Decorate with strawberries.

NOTE: This cake was REALLY good! Definitely will make this again. THe flavor was good, not too sweet. The macerated strawberries in the center were terrific!

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