Tag Archives: cake

Cinnamon Apple Cake

9 Jan


Sometimes the simplest things can be the best things. It’s not that a cherpumple or a three-layer chocolate cake are bad things (although, truth be told, my personal jury is still out on that cherpumple), but, amongst all the fanciness and multiple layers of many things, it is often times quite nice to just roll with something straightforward, humble, and nearly perfect in its simplicity.


It may seem far-fetched, but a similar line of thinking could also be applied to friendships. My best friend’s husband once asked her why she and I rarely go out together, and her response was hilarious in its point-blank frankness, “It’s not what we do,” she told him. And it’s true. When she and I hang out, we are almost always on her couch (because we never, ever hang out at my house, only hers, because, again, hanging out at my house is “not what we do”), there is almost always something horrible on the television, and there is always a running commentary going on that concerns how bad everything is on that television. Someone once told us that there should be a television show about the two of us watching television, and, after thinking about it for a bit, we sort of agreed. Of course we agreed. We are best friends. We can center an entire evening around one couch, and we don’t even need to involve any alcohol. With respect to our spouses, we’ve had a comfortable, married-type relationship for well over 15 years, and I don’t care how boring that sounds to other people, because my super-mellow relationship with my best friend is one of my most favorite things about life.



And here is where my cake comparison comes into play. While a super fancy cake can be a nice thing, more often than not, the most satisfying cake you can have is a simple, beautiful, everyday type of cake. This apple cake is my take on the classic and somewhat legendary New York Times recipe for Teddie’s Apple Cake, circa 1973. The cake was meant to be a proven example of how not all cakes needed to be laborious, time-consuming affairs. This apple cake was about as straightforward as you could make a cake: you chopped, you mixed, you baked, you were done. Though nearly perfect in its original form, I’ve made this cake a number of times, and each time I do, I change a little something here and there. Predictably, I have reduced the sugar, and swapped out a bit of the regular sugar for brown sugar. I’ve added more spices, used an apple with a bit more bite to it, and, inspired by my son’s desire to have more cinnamon in everything at all times, I’ve added a crunchy cinnamon sugar lid that, while subtle, adds a lovely dimension to each bite. I may have made the cake evolve a bit, but, at its core, it’s still the same, simple, endlessly pleasing cake.



Fittingly, for no reason at all, except because everyone needs some cake once in a while, I gave this cake to my best friend. When I told her I wanted to make her a cake, she was delighted. When I asked her what she wanted, she requested something not too big, and rather simple. Of course she did. She knows.


This cake is part of my Go Mighty goal of making 50 cakes for 50 people. You can read more about it here.

Cinnamon Apple Cake

Adapted from Teddie’s Apple Cake, in the New York Times

Butter for greasing pan

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

½ teaspoon ground ginger

pinch of nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced tart apples, such as Granny Smith

For sprinkling on top of cake:

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugars together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or beat in a large bowl using an electric mixer. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.

In a large bowl, toss the apple chunks with 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, then set aside.

Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla. Fold in the cinnamon apples.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tube pan pan. Combine the ½ teaspoon of cinnamon with 1 teaspoon of sugar, and sprinkle evenly over top of cake. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve cinnamon-sugar-side-up, at room temperature.

Orange Butter Cake with Chocolate Ganache

26 Dec


Sometimes the best part of making a cake is not actually knowing what cake I am going to make. When I offer to make someone a cake, I always leave the door open in regards to what sort of cake I should be making. Sometimes people immediately know what type of cake they want. Chocolate cake with coffee frosting. Spice cake. But sometimes—and, secretly, this is the type of thing I really, really love—my question is answered with just a list of elements that one might envision in a cake. Orange. Chocolate. Whipped Cream.





And so, it began. When my husband’s cousin (does that make her my cousin as well? I am never quite sure how that works) celebrated her 30th birthday, this is the cake she wanted: something with orange, chocolate, and whipped cream. You’d think that I would take some time to mull that request over before I dove into preparing a cake, but, truthfully, I knew immediately what I wanted to do.




Featuring my favorite butter cake as the building block, this is a celebratory stack of orange-scented cake and deeply creamy, chocolaty ganache. Though I was, sadly, not able to get a photo of the final iteration of the cake (all of my daylight was gone, and my kitchen’s lighting is not at all suitable for taking pictures at night), just try and picture this cake with a towering tophat of snowy whipped cream, and you’ll get an idea of its official presentation. The birthday lady (she is 30, after all) was thrilled to receive the cake, and I was honored to be trusted with making such a special cake for such a special birthday for such a special person. Welcome to your 30s, Ms. W. It is so much fun being semi-related to you.


Last Year: Smoked Salmon Canapés on Potato Crisps

This cake is part of my Go Mighty goal of making 50 cakes for 50 people. You can read more about it here.

Orange Butter Cake with Chocolate Ganache

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup finely grated orange zest

¾ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 cups cake flour

1 cup half-and-half or whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.

Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat together on high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and orange zest and mix well, again scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Sift together the salt, baking powder, and cake flour.

Add about one half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, then beat on low speed until well blended. Add about one half of the milk and beat well. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until mixed well. Add the rest of the milk and continue to beat well until the mixture is completely combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until the cakes spring back when touched lightly in the center, and a cake tested inserted in the middle of the cakes emerges with just a few moist crumbs attached, 25 to 35 minutes. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks to continue to cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

½ cup heavy whipping cream

In a double boiler or large, heat-safe bowl set over a pan of simmering water, slowly melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, until it is just melted. Remove double boiler from heat, then whisk in the heavy cream until the mixture is smooth, thick, and shiny.

When cakes have cooled completely, set one cake on a serving plate. Slowly pour half of the ganache over the cake, concentrating the ganache in the middle of the cake. The ganache will pool out towards the edges of the cake on its own, but, if you want, you can help coax it to the edges by gently spreading it with a spoon or an offset spatula until it just reaches the tipping point. Place the second layer of cake over the ganache, very gently pushing it in place, just to secure it a bit. Pour the rest of the ganache over the top of the cake, again gently spreading the ganache towards the edges.

You can serve the cake as is, or you can top the whole affair with a mountain of freshly whipped cream.

Chocolate Orange Cake Bread

24 Oct

The logistics of how it happened are almost irrelevant. Maybe there were no logistics. Maybe it was just pure luck, or happenstance, or, on the other side of the coin, the other guys’ back luck coming into play at the worst possible time. Like I said, it doesn’t matter, really. What matters is that the San Francisco Giants are in the World Series, and now, because who knows how they managed to come back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit many, many times over, I can’t stop making black and orange foods because What If. What if the black and orange foods were the missing piece of the puzzle? Do you see what I am getting at here? I can’t stop now.

And so I continue. Today’s installment in the veritable cornucopia of evidence that I’ve compiled for the case against my sanity is a dense, intensely chocolaty little number that is flecked with orange zest and plumped up with orange juice. It’s a meet-up of those friendly flavors, chocolate and orange, and, once again, an entry into that familiar category of bread-or-cake. Not that it matters what you call it, of course. I mean, aside from delicious.

You can, of course, make this bread as depraved as you want. Depending on how rich and aggressive you like your chocolate treats, there is nothing stopping you from adding a handful of chopped bittersweet chocolate to the batter. If you are truly batty for the combination of chocolate and orange, you could also hunt down the ubiquitous holiday chocolate orange, chop it up, and throw in some bits for an even stronger kick of chocolate plus orange. However, I think this bread/cake is just perfect as it stands, with a deep chocolate flavor that is merely highlighted by the brightness of zesty orange. As for whether or not it can supply the same good fortune as black and orange foods of past? Well, we’ll find out in just a few short hours.

Last Year: Creamy Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa (seriously–I have dreams about this salsa, it’s so good)

Chocolate Orange Cake Bread Recipe

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

¾ cup Dutch process cocoa

1 tablespoon espresso powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest


1/3 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9” by 5” loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the vegetable oil until ingredients are uniformly coated by the oil. The mixture will look quite pebbly, but that is all right.

In a large measuring cup or a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, orange juice, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest. Slowly pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, whisking slowly until the mixture is just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake in center of oven for 65 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Place pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then run a small knife around the perimeter of the cake to help release it from the pan. Turn pan over and gently invert cake out onto a wire rack, then turn cake upright and leave on wire rack to cool completely.

When cake has cooled, prepare glaze by combining ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until smooth. Pour or brush glaze over the top of the cooled cake.

Makes 1 9″ by 5″ loaf. Serves 8 to 10.

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