Monthly Archives: September 2010

Mixed Berry Crumb Cake

Blame it on the buttermilk…..that is all I can say.  I bought a quart of buttermilk for the pie I baked earlier this month and I still had most of the bottle left.  This lead me to make a banana cake that called for buttermilk and now this crumb cake.  As I opened the refrigerator throughout the week I would see the bottle of buttermilk with the expiration date of 10/09/10 staring me in the face.  I started to think it would be a crime to let it go to waste….determined it should have a different fate than my usual bottle of skim milk.

I was getting ready to make buttermilk pancakes for dinner tonight ( I love breakfast for dinner) when I remembered seeing a beautiful picture of this blueberry crumb cake in Dorie Greenspan’s book Baking: From My Home to Yours.  All I had was a bag of frozen mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries and marionberries) so I used those and am calling it a Mixed Berry Crumb Cake instead.

So, my crumb topping doesn’t look exactly as pictured in Dorie’s book but the cake was still yummy.  I would have liked it a tad sweeter but I think this was probably due to me using frozen berries.  Overall this was a success….can’t wait to have a piece for breakfast tomorrow once completely cooled as the piece I tried was still warm (not a fan of warm desserts).

For the crumbs:

  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

For the cake:

  • 1 pint (2 cups) blueberries (preferably fresh, or frozen, not thawed)
  • 2 cups plus 2 tsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • grated zest of 1/2  a lemon or 1/4 orange
  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter an 8-inch square pan and put it on a baking sheet.

To make the crumbs: Put all the ingredients except the nuts in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms clumps and curds and holds together when pressed.  Scrape the topping into a bowl, stir in the nuts and press a piece of plastic against the surface.  Refrigerate until needed.  Covered well, the crumb mix can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

To make the cake: Using your fingertips, toss the blueberries and 2 tsp of the flour in a small bowl just to coat the berries; set aside.  Whisk together the remaining 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Working in the bowl of a stand mixer or in another large bowl, rub the sugar and zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic.  Add the butter and, with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat the sugar with the butter at medium speed until light, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs one by one, beating for about 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla extract.  Don’t be concerned if the batter looks curdled as it will soon smooth out.  Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, the flour in 3 parts and the buttermilk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients).  You will have a thick, creamy batter.  With a rubber spatula, gently stir in the berries.

Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth the top gently with the spatula.  Pull the crumb mix from the refrigerator and, with your fingertips, break it into pieces.  There’s no need to try to get even piece – these are crumbs, they’re supposed to be lumpy and bumpy and every shape and size.  Scatter the crumbs over the batter, pressing them down ever so gently.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the crumbs are golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Transfer the cake to a rack and cool just until it is warm or until it reaches room temperature.

  • The only changes I made were using the mixed berries and omitting the nutmeg….I just don’t like it.

Posted by on September 30, 2010 in Cakes


Birthday party cupcakes

Let me start off by saying I am very happy with how the cupcakes look on my tower.  The birthday girl’s reaction was adorable.  She truly had a surprised look on her face and brought her hand to her chest as to say “oh my goodness.”  She just turned 3yrs old this week so I am just adding the caption to go along with her facial expression and body language.  My friend was surprised and excited to see how everything turned out.

Now on to the cupcakes themselves…..cookies n’ cream and plain vanilla.  I was able to get a small taste of the cookies n’ cream one and it was good.  Not amazing….delicious or anything that would make my heart skip a beat…they were simply okay.  The kids and parents alike seemed to enjoy them but I on the other hand was a bit dissapointed.  The recipe comes from Jen of Beantown Baker.  I was excited to make them as many people raved about them both on Jen’s blog and on Annie’s Eats.  Maybe something went wrong at some point or maybe they my taste buds simply weren’t fans.  Ultimately the important thing is everyone else seemed to enjoy them and they looked super cute! Please go here to see Jen’s recipe….you’ll likely be with the majority and fall in love with these cupcakes.

On to the vanilla cupcakes….these I definitely did not like.  In my opinion these cupcakes were very dense….not light and airy as expected.  The recipe comes from Joy of Baking as does the buttercream frosting I used to top both of the cupcakes.  Jen paired her cookies n’ cream cupcakes with a cream cheese frosting but I opted for the flavor 3 yr olds may be more accustomed to, which luckily turned out well.  You can check out both the vanilla cupcake and frosting recipe here.


Posted by on September 26, 2010 in Cupcakes, Uncategorized


My handmade cupcake tower!

My friend is having a birthday party this weekend for her little munchkin and I will be making cupcakes for the party.  I couldn’t just let them sit on a table amongst the other food as if they were nothing special!  I remembered a step by step tutorial I had seen not long ago by Annie of Annie’s Eats.  I absolutely adore Annie’s blog and decided to make the tower in order to display the special birthday girl’s cupcakes!  Please go here for Annie’s tutorial.

Although Annie’s instructions are very easy to follow this was not an easy project for me. I had to improvise as I could not find cardboard cake circles that didn’t come in packs of 10 or more.  Believe it or not I went to the baking aisle at Michael’s and grabbed a 12″, 10″ and 8″ cake pan and traced them onto a thick poster board I had just purchased.  I asked the very nice Michael’s cashier if it was okay and she gave me the green light.  By this point I had already told her what I was planning to do and even showed her Annie’s tutorial using my blackberry!

I had no idea the work that was waiting for me when it came to cutting out the traced circles.  I used a box cutter because there was no way scissors were going to cut through the board.  My hands were seriously hurting by the time I was done!  Apart from the cutting issues my hot glue gun decided not to work.  I had to buy a new one during my lunch break today.  This one worked perfectly and I was able to finish where I had left off yesterday.  I put in a good amount of hard work but the birthday girl is most definitely worth it.  I am very happy with the my tower and I can’t wait to see how it looks with all the cupcakes in their cute pink and purple liners!


Posted by on September 22, 2010 in Uncategorized


Banana Cake

I love checking out cookbooks from the library and just browsing through all the beautiful glossy pages.  I always pick cookbooks that have lots of pictures as I need to see what a recipe should look like.  One of the books I checked out recently was Brunch: 100 Recipes from Five Points Restaurant by Marc Meyer and Peter Meehan.  I figured this recipe was meant to be as I had exactly 3 super ripe bananas sitting on my counter and leftover buttermilk in the fridge from the Lemon Raspberry Buttermilk Pie I baked this weekend.

I substituted the buckwheat flour for more all-purpose flour and used half brown and half white sugar in the batter.  I found this “cake” to be a bit more dense than the banana bread I usually make but it was still very yummy!

  • 3 ripe to overripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1  1/2 sticks of butter
  • 1  1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mash the bananas and mix with the buttermilk in a bowl until smooth; set aside.

2. Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer on high-speed for 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat to incorporate.  Add half the dry ingredients and mix in.  Then add half the buttermilk/banana mixture and mix in.  Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and the remaining buttermilk/banana mixture.

4.  Pour the batter into a buttered and floured loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until the loaf is a dark rich brown and knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool in loaf pan on wire rack.

* Mine was done at about 1 hr and 10 min

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Posted by on September 22, 2010 in Cakes



I put the pie in the fridge and it seems to have finished setting and I am a bit happier with the end result.  I was actually able to cut a slice without it falling apart! The first piece I ate was before having it sit in the fridge for a few hours.  That piece I was not happy with.  I then cut myself another slice (the one above) after it rested in the fridge.  I think I liked it a bit more with every bite I took.  I was still on the fence so I cut myself another slice…making 3 total!  After all this I still can’t decide if I should take it to work tomorrow!  Note to self for next recipe….only one serving allowed!

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Posted by on September 19, 2010 in Uncategorized


SMS: Lemon Raspberry Buttermilk Pie

I have been anxiously waiting for today as this is my first baking experience with SMS.  I wish I could report I was 100% successful with this recipe.  For starters I went to three different grocery stores and could not find fresh blueberries.  I therefore decided to go with raspberries.

Now for the not so wonderful experience with the pie dough.  I used a pastry blender to make the dough as I do not own a food processor.  I’ve noticed most people seem to use a processor to make their dough but when I read Melissa prefers to use a pastry blender and recommends using it over the other methods I went ahead and bought one.  Just after my first attempt at cutting the butter into the flour mixture my pastry blender looked like it had been run over by a tractor!  I got it for under $5 so maybe the quality was not so great.  I did my best to get the butter to resemble large peas but it was not so easy.  I think this may have affected the dough coming together properly.

Then my dough shrunk after the blind baking process which then caused the custard to seep in underneath as I poured it over the crust.  So, I ended up with soggy crust on the bottom and practically burnt crust all on the rim of the pie. When cutting myself a slice it kind of fell apart therefore I am not able to post a picture. I have never made or eaten a custard pie so I am even unsure if the filling was the texture it should be.

On to the most important part… it tasted.  Even though it was on the toasty side the rim of the crust was good and the filling has a nice lemony flavor….I’m just not too sure on the consistency.  At least I can say the raspberries were absolutely delicious! LOL     I’m still debating on whether my pie should be shared with co-workers tomorrow or if I should keep this experience to myself!  Well, myself and all the other SMS bakers.

I’m posting a picture of the pie plate I used as I think its just so cute.  It’s from Martha Stewart and I got it at Macy’s.  

This week’s recipe was chosen by Melissa of LuLu the Baker.  Please visit her blog to see what this pie should look like and to get the recipe.  Even though my experience was not as successful as I would have wanted  I still enjoyed baking along with all the other bakers.  Check out the other SMS bakers here to see how they did.


Posted by on September 19, 2010 in Tarts & Pies


Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I’m so excited because this is my first post and I happen to love pineapple upside-down cake.  The recipe I use is adapted from one I found on Epicurious and it is absolutely amazing.

For topping:

  • 1/2 medium pineapple; peeled, quartered lengthwise and cored
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For batter:

  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp dark rum
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 2 tbsp dark rum for sprinkling over cake

Preheat oven to 350

Make topping:

Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch thick pieces.  Melt butter in 10″ cast iron skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, 4 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

Make butter:

Sift together flour, cardamom, baking powder and salt.  Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla and rum.  Add half of flour mixture and beat on low-speed just until blended (batter may appear slightly curdled).

Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly.  Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Let cake stand in skillet 5 minutes.  Invert cake onto a plate, sprinkle rum over cake and place on wire rack to cool.

The following are changes I made…..

  • canned pineapple and maraschino cherries
  • omit cardamom
  • 1/2 brown and 1/2 white sugar in batter
  • light rum instead of dark
  • sprinkle 1 tbsp of rum and 1 tbsp pineapple juice over cake
  • baked in normal cake pan vs cast-iron skillet

I made this cake for a birthday celebration we are having at work tomorrow for several co-workers.  I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do!


Posted by on September 15, 2010 in Cakes