• Sourdough Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

    Hello my loves! I’m back this week with a fun and fancy new cake recipe, because it’s never not the time for cake. This weekend, we hosted my sister’s birthday party in our apartment, and to be honest it felt like an Olympic Sport to me. 25 people in our little apartment? Bring it on. Food and cake and drinks to fill all these people? I’ve got this. After a very successful trip to Trader Joe’s, my biggest concern was making a cake that would provide a slice for everyone. A Sweet D cake was promised in the Facebook invite, so the pressure was on!! Then, earlier in the week I came across a cake recipe that clicked PERFECTLY. Specifically, this cake, which has a surprise visit from my sourdough starter!

    To keep you all updated, last week, I suddenly got very motivated to make my own sourdough starter, despite knowing how much of an undertaking it is. If you’re interested in taking the plunge yourself, I found that this article from King Arthur Flour to be very informative. To give you a brief summary, sourdough starter is made by combining parts of flour and water and allowing it to sit, with daily feedings of more flour and water, so that the natural yeast develops to produce a tangy, flavorful loaf of bread. But sparing you all the intricacies of sourdough making, part of the feeding process is that every day, all but 4 ounces of the starter is discarded before more flour and water is added. It requires a relatively consistent feeding schedule, which is how I ended up getting up at 6:20 every morning to feed my starter before work, like it was a small dog. Good times.

    Now, yes, starter is just flour and water, but throwing out large portions of flour can feel wasteful, so that’s where this cake comes in. Originally a recipe from one of my favorite food writers Posie Harwood, this deeply chocolate cake is both decadent and simple somehow. Now before you get worried that this is more bread than cake, rest assured. The sourdough starter only creates the most moist, intensely flavored cake you’ll ever have. As my sister said, “This is the platonic ideal of a birthday cake”. The original author recommends eating the cake on its own, no need for frosting. I’m sure she’s correct, but since this was a birthday cake, frosting isn’t just wanted, its required.

    I call this shot the “I forgot to take pictures until the cake was almost gone” shot.

    You may remember a few weeks ago when I took a cake decorating class with Claire Saffitz of the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen. If you weren’t here for that, YES that happened and it was glorious. Among the bits and pieces that I took home from that experience was a recipe for Claire’s chocolate cream cheese frosting. I feel silly for saying that I never thought about making a cream cheese frosting that’s anything but vanilla, and now I feel silly because this is DELICIOUS. Together with the cake and this frosting, it’s an unstoppable creation that had multiple guests going back for seconds. Have I tempted you enough yet?

    Before we start obviously, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. Discounted Halloween candy on November 1st.
    TWO. A crystal punch bowl set with glasses and a ladle.
    THREE. A well organized cheese plate.
    FOUR. Vintage bar carts.
    FIVE. Pre-sliced carrot and celery sticks with little cups of ranch and hummus.

    Let’s bake!!

    Sourdough Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

    A moist, intensely chocolate cake slathered in maybe the best frosting known to man, you will want to keep sourdough starter at all times for this recipe alone!!
    Prep Time3 hrs
    Cook Time40 mins
    Total Time3 hrs 40 mins
    Course: Dessert
    Keyword: cake, chocolate, cream cheese, frosting, sourdough, sprinkles
    Servings: 24 people (max)

    Ingredients

    Sourdough Chocolate Cake

    • 1 cup discard sourdough starter
    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • cup white sugar
    • 1 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
    • 1 tsp salt
    • tsp baking soda
    • ¾ cup Non-Dutch Process Cocoa Powder
    • 2 eggs

    Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

    • 6 oz. cream cheese; at room temperature
    • 2 cups confectioners sugar
    • ¼ cup cocoa powder
    • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
    • pinch salt

    Instructions

    Sourdough Cake

    • In a large mixing bowl (not your stand mixer bowl), combine the milk, sourdough starter, and flour. Stir until all the flour has been moistened, but don't worry about getting out every single lump. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dishtowel and allow to sit for 2 hours.
    • After the 2 hours is up, preheat your oven to 350°F and generously grease a 9 x 13" baking sheet, then line the bottom with parchment paper for easy release.
    • In your stand mixer or another large bowl, mix the sugar, oil, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition.
    • Add the sourdough mixture to the bowl and beat on low speed until it's totally combined into the batter. It's very sticky, so it does help to stop the mixer and scrape everything down a few times to make sure everything is incorporated.
    • Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 30-40 minutes. You'll know it's done when the top is very shiny, and only slightly bounces back when pushed with your finger. Run a knife or spatula around the sides and allow to cool completely in the pan before frosting or removing from the pan.

    Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

    • In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and confectioners sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
    • Add in the cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt, and whip until smooth and evenly combined.
    • Frost the cake as desired- you could leave the cake in the pan and just frost the top, or your could flip the cake out onto a sheet tray and frost all sides. Top with sprinkles, candles, or whatever you want! Now eat up!! YUM!

    Want more cake? Look here, here, here, and here!

  • Valentine’s Day Cookies Year II

    Hello and welcome to my second ever Valentine’s Day post!! Inspired as I always am by Molly Yeh, I have been making variations on these cookies ever since I came across the original recipe. They are versatile and greatly exceed any other sugar cookie you will ever make with the addition of lemon zest and almond extract, and that’s not even the HALF of it. These babies aren’t complete without a mirror-shiny glaze and a bit of buttercream on top, and the best part is you can do as little or as much as you want!

    So because I have too much time on my hands and I’ve been trying to improve my piping skills, I set out to cover these cookies in some good old fashioned buttercream roses. I wore my comfiest clothes, put on my headphones and got to work. And, 2 hours later, I couldn’t flex my right hand out of piping position, but I ended up with some GOOD rose cookies and I was very satisfied. They were almost too pretty to eat….almost.

    I’ll be honest, Valentine’s Day is not really my ~thing~, and although I can always count on a mini box of chocolates from my mom (LOVE YOU MOM!!), it’s easy to feel sad or simply indifferent on a day focused so much on love and relationships. My solution? Bake it out! Whether or not you have a Valentine to share the day with (@Harry Styles, call me), why not make the day that much cuter! (P.S. you can see last year’s version here, slightly different, just as cute!)

    Before we bake, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
    ONE. A rainbow of ribbons.
    TWO. Chocolate covered cherries.
    THREE. White on the evergreens.
    FOUR.
    Breaking out of an old routine.
    FIVE. Bacon frying in cast iron skillets.

     

    Let’s bake!

    MAKES: About 3 dozen cookies
    PREP TIME: 1 hour + decorating to your heart’s desire
    BAKE TIME: 10 minutes

    SUGAR COOKIE INGREDIENTS

    4 cups all purpose flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    ¾ tsp salt
    1 cup unsalted butter, softened
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
    zest from ½ a lemon
    2 eggs
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 tsp almond extract

    SUGAR COOKIE STEPS

    ONE. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and the sugars until the butter is pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon zest and mix to combine, then the vanilla and almond extracts. Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix between each. Finally, add the flour mixture and mix until combined.

    TWO. Turn the mixture out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and form a disc of dough. Tightly wrap the disc and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before proceeding. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

    THREE. Cut the disc of dough in half (it’s easier to work with a smaller batch at a time), and roll out on a lightly floured surface until about a quarter to a half inch thick. Cut out your desired shapes and lay them on your prepared cookie sheets about 1 inch apart.

    FOUR. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, until they’re just turning brown, and cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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    GLAZE INGREDIENTS

    4 cups confectioners sugar
    ¼ cup corn syrup
    5 Tbsp whole milk
    ½ tsp vanilla extract
    ¼ tsp almond extract
    pinch of salt
    1 tsp maraschino cherry liquid or food coloring (optional)

    GLAZE STEPS

    ONE. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined and smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add a little more milk at a time, if it’s too thin, add a little more powdered sugar.

    TWO, Once the cookies are cooled, carefully dip each cookie face down in the glaze, making sure the whole surface is coated, and then allow the excess to drip back into the bowl before placing the cookie back on a wire rack over a sheet of parchment paper (this will catch the drips and make cleanup soooo much easier). If you’re continuing with buttercream on top, let the cookies dry slightly, but if you’re just adding sprinkles, add them now before the glaze dries and you’re all set!

     

    BUTTERCREAM INGREDIENTS

    3¾ cups confectioner’s sugar
    ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
    3-4 Tbsp whole milk
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    Food coloring

    BUTTERCREAM STEPS

    ONE. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the softened butter and confectioners sugar together until incorporated- you may want to drape a dish towel over the bowl at the beginning, the mixer tends to throw a lot of loose sugar.

    TWO. Add the milk a tablespoon at a time until the desired spreadable consistency is reached, keeping in mind that a slightly softer frosting will be easier to pipe with. Add the vanilla and food coloring (if using) and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

    THREE. Fill a piping bag fitted with a coupler and decorating tip (the coupler allows you to switch tips without using multiple piping bags) and decorate away!! (Read here for some buttercream rose tips!)

    Happy Valentine’s Day!! xoxoxoxoD

  • Almond Sheet Cake with Your New Favorite Frosting

    If you remember from my last post, my dearest friends came to visit from Ireland this week, after 2 and a half years of keeping in contact and it was so lovely. In case you were wondering, I made THE Marcella Hazan’s Bolognese with Pappardelle (recipe here), when they came over and it was a big hit- I find that no one is ever disappointed to have pasta for dinner, you know? The main purpose of their trip, however, was to celebrate Marese’s 60th birthday, so naturally I HAD to make a birthday cake!

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    This cake comes from my favorite place in the world, Food52.com, from the ever talented Posie Harwood, whose recipes are legend on the website. I try to mess around with every recipe that doesn’t come from me and add a spin to it, but this cake is so beautiful that I practically followed the recipe as is word-for-word (you can find the original recipe here). This cake has an usual twist in the frosting, but since I tried it I may never look back. It begins with the boiling of milk, salt, and flour together until thick. Yup, you read that right, FLOUR in your frosting. It might sound odd, but the cooking takes away the raw flour taste, and when it’s added to the whipped butter and sugar, it produces a light fluffy frosting with just a hint of almond that might not even make it onto the cake if you “taste test” too many times. I only iced the top of this cake so that it could keep its homemade look, but I can also envision covering this cake in decorations and piping, it’s so versatile!

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    The aftermath after round 1 of cake eating!

    Enjoy a slice of this cake with a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe just eat all the frosting out of the bowl, I’m not judging! Let’s bake!!

    Makes: 1 9×13″ sheet cake
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Bake Time: 25-30 minutes
    Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (depending on how much you decorate)

    Cake Ingredients

    2¼ cups All Purpose Flour
    2 tsp baking powder
    ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature
    1 1/3 cups sugar
    3 eggs
    ½ tsp almond extract
    ½ vanilla extract
    ¾ cup milk
    1/3 cup almond flour

    Steps

    1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line your baking dish with parchment paper (or grease thoroughly and flour).

    2. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside for now.

    3. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream together your butter and sugar until it’s light and fluffy- and actually wait until it looks pale and whipped, it’s not enough to just wait until they’re incorporated. It should be about 5 minutes.

    4. Add in your eggs, one at a time, beating until each egg incorporated before proceeding. Add the almond extract and mix to combine.

    5. Measure your milk and add vanilla to it. Next, you will be adding your flour mixture and your milk mixture to the butter mixture, alternating between the two and beginning with the flour. In other words, add your flour mixture in 3 parts, and your milk in 2 parts. Take it slow, you don’t want to be wearing more flour than is in the bowl, and make sure each addition is well mixed before continuing.

    6. Once your flour and milk has been added, mix in the almond flour, which adds a nice texture to the cake I thought, plus kept it super moist.

    7. Pour your batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is beautifully golden and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool fully in the pan before frosting.

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    Ready for frosting!

    Frosting Ingredients

    1 cup milk
    3 tbs all purpose flour
    ½ tsp salt
    1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
    1 cup sugar
    ½ tsp almond extract
    ½ tsp vanilla extract

    Steps

    1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together the flour, milk, and salt until smooth. Bring the mixture up to medium heat, whisking constantly until it gets thick and bubbles as if it’s just about to boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for around 10 minutes so that it won’t melt the butter in the frosting.

    2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together butter, sugar, almond and vanilla extracts until very light and fluffy, about 6-7 minutes. Scoop the milk mixture into the butter mixture, 1 spoonful at a time, until the frosting is whipped and pillowy. Spread generously on your cake and feel free to eat the leftovers with a spoon.

    Enjoy!! xoxoxox

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