Citrus Cake with Sweet Lemon Frosting

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I’ve got a confession to make. I baked this on Friday, shot the photos on Saturday, and I have literally eaten one whole loaf to myself since then. I think I woke up in the middle of the night mumbling “i’ve eaten too much lemon cake”. It’s really bad. This recipe is highly addictive so I am warning you well in advance, do not bake it unless you have amazing self restraint because it’s not exactly healthy… it’s cake people, don’t let the lemons and grapefruits fool you!
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If you are looking for a light dessert then this is it. It’s delicious along side a cup of tea, or on it’s own and it has the right amount of sweetness to it with bright citrus flavour that takes over and makes your tastebuds dance. The icing is the perfect balance of sweet and tart, I could eat it by the spoonful. I’m telling you, this cake is a drug and writing this is making me want another slice.

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It’s been so cold lately, and the sun is often hidden behind grey clouds, so baking with bright citrus fruits exploding with flavour was the perfect pick me up this weekend. I think it may have had an effect on the weather because yesterday felt like spring! We were finally able to bring Winslow to the dog park, something we haven’t been able to do in over two weeks. He got soaked head to toe, covered in slush, and we had to throw him in the bath when we got home, but he had a big dog grin on his face which made it all worth it. It was such a great feeling to be able to stand outside and feel the sun beating down on us like a warm hug. Anne Bradstreet said it well – “If we had no winter the spring would not be so pleasant.”  I’m definitely beyond excited for spring! In the meantime, go bake this citrus cake to bring some instant sunshine into your life!

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Citrus Cake Recipe (Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)
(Makes 2 loafs)

You will need:

For the cakes:

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup grated lemon zest (6 to 8 large lemons)
3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
1/4 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice)
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Lemon Icing

½ stick butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest

What you need to do:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8 1/2-by-4 1/4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper (optional).

2. Cream butter and 2 cups sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Mixing at medium speed, add eggs, one at a time, then add lemon zest.

3. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In another bowl, combine 1/4 cup citrus juice, buttermilk and vanilla. Add flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately to butter and sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Divide batter evenly between pans, smooth tops, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean.

4. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with 1/2 cup citrus juice in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat until sugar dissolves.

5. When cakes are done, let them cool 10 minutes. Invert them onto a rack set over a tray, and spoon lemon syrup over cakes. Let cakes cool completely.

6. For icing, combine in small batches confectioners’ sugar, 4 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until smooth. (I say small batches because powdered sugar will get everywhere). Evenly spread over cakes and allow some of the icing to drizzle down the sides. Let the icing harden before slicing.

Enjoy!

 

Chocolate Cupcakes with a Vanilla Swirl Icing

I am a sucker when it comes to a good chocolate cupcake, I find there is something nostalgic about them, and this recipe does the trick! It really brings me back to my childhood when there would be a birthday party to go to every other weekend. I love this recipe for its simplicity, and since the cupcakes are not overly sweet, the fluffy vanilla icing on top ends up becoming the perfect sugary balance. I found the recipe on Sweetapolita, a baking blog that I can look at for days! Check out this amazing cake! Inspiring right?
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This weekend was a big one for us. We hosted a Super Bowl party at our place and went all out with the food. I think there will be leftovers for weeks! It was really the first time we entertained for that many people and it definitely won’t be the last.  I was going to get all creative with the dessert, seeing so many great ideas on Pinterest that blew me away, but I decided to stick to simplicity with a swirled blue frosting to go with the team colours. The blue should have been darker, but nobody complained. I also added some red sprinkles on top at the last minute for the Patriot fans in the room.
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This is no healthy dessert like my last delicious recipe I posted here, I won’t lie, but I don’t mess around when it comes to nostalgia. And lets be honest, it was the Super Bowl and I wasn’t about to introduce some healthy dessert to a room full of hungry men.

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I decided to do a swirled icing on top so it was a little more interesting and I think it turned out pretty nicely despite my lack of piping skills, don’t you think?  It’s definitely something I want to practice. There are so many amazing things you can do with a piping bag! Next time I make these, i’ll use a wider tip so the three colours can be better defined and maybe add more icing per cupcake for height and drama. All in all I was really happy with the flavour and look of these little guys and I think everyone at the party was too.

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If you’ve been looking for a classic chocolate cupcake/frosting combo, this is one to bookmark. Whether you know someone with a birthday coming up or you are hosting a party like I did, or even just looking for an excuse to bake cupcakes (you can always find an excuse to bake cupcakes), you have to give this one a try!

The Nostalgic Chocolate Cupcake Adapted from Sweetapolita

(makes 12)

  • 3/4 cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) white sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) dark cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon (3.5 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1/3 cup (80 mL) buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) brewed coffee or espresso, hot
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) pure vanilla extract

Fluffy Vanilla Swirl Frosting adapted from Sweetapolita

  • 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups (375 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2 tablespoons (45 ml) milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Few drops of food colouring in colours of your choice

Heres what you need to do: 

For the Cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350° F and line a muffin/cupcake pan with cupcake liners
2. In the bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift in the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch and salt
3. In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, coffee, oil, egg and vanilla.
4. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and mix them for 2 minutes on medium speed carefully because it tends to splash. Divide batter among (2/3 full or just less) liners. Batter will be liquidy, and cupcakes will rise.
5. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs. Try not to over-bake. Carefully remove cupcakes from the pan immediately (it’s hot!), and place them on a wire rack until completely cool.

For the Frosting 

1. In a bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 6 minutes. Try not to eat too much of it in the process.
2. Add the confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat on low speed until well combined, then increase the speed to medium and beat until very light and fluffy once again, about 6 more minutes.

To decorate the cupcakes
1. Divide the frosting into 3 parts. Tint 2 of them in shades of your choice and leave the last one white.
2. Into a medium or large pastry bag fitted with a large closed star tip, add a spatula-full of each frosting colour I used this tutorial to help me out. Twist the top of the bag and pipe a generous swirl on each cupcake, working in a circular motion from the outside in.
Note: The cupcakes will keep at room temperature in a container with some airflow for up to 3 days.
Enjoy!

Rustic Plum & Apple Crumble

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It’s really starting to look and feel like fall around here. The trees are bursting with vibrant colours and the ground is crunchy with their fallen leaves. All of this is making me really excited to go apple picking and make my favourite comfort foods including this delicious apple and butternut squash soup. I love apples, but my all-time favourite is the Lobo which is actually from the Macintosh family, but grown locally in Quebec. When I go to the orchards I am sure I eat almost half a bags worth before actually filling my bag up. They are tart and crisp and a great choice for snacking and baking. For this recipe I had to go with Macintosh instead, since I am clearly not the only one who loves Lobo’s, they were sold out!

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I had an idea in the back of my mind that I wanted to bake something using  apples, but while walking through the market the other day I saw the most delicious looking plums. They were a beautiful deep purple and perfectly ripe. I thought about how yummy they would be along side the apples, so they ended up coming home with me. After a very food filled weekend in Toronto (celebrating the Jewish New Year) I decided I wanted something a little bit healthier to satisfy my sweet tooth. So here it is! My Plum & Apple crumble. Simple, delicious and on the healthier side (for a dessert). I decided to omit any refined sugars by using maple syrup and swapped out butter for coconut oil. You could even replace the flour with whole grain flour, spelt, kamut, wheat etc… if you want.

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This recipe would be delicious using any seasonal fruits you desire. Peaches, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb… the list goes on, but apple is a true classic, and tis the season!

For the Fruit Mixture

5 Cups of Sliced Apples (I used Macintosh but any cooking apple will do)

5 cups of Pitted and Sliced Plums

2/3 cup pure maple syrup (you can reduce this if your fruits have their own sweetness)

The Zest of 1/2 an Orange

The Zest of 1/2 a Lemon

1 1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg (or allspice)

For the Crumble

1 Cup of Old Fashioned Oats

1 Cup of All Purpose Flour

2/3 cup of maple syrup

1/4 tsp Baking Soda

1/4 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 cup Plus 1 Tblsp Coconut Oil

The Zest of 1/2 an Orange

The Zest of 1/2 a Lemon

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees

2. Peel, core and slice up your apples. Pit and slice up your plums and put them in a large mixing bowl. Add to this the maple syrup, lemon and orange zest, cinnamon and nutmeg. Combine it all together until all the fruit is well coated.

3. In a separate bowl combine the oats, flour, maple syrup, baking powder and soda, orange and lemon zest and coconut oil together until well combined. The mixture should stick together when pressed into the palm of your hand.

4. Put the fruit mixture into a large casserole dish, then with a spoon or your hands (if they are very clean) evenly distribute the crumble so that it covers the whole surface of your dish. This s a rustic looking dessert so don’t worry too much about making this part perfect.

5. Bake for about 50 min or until the top is nice and golden brown and the fruits are soft and caramelized.

6. Enjoy on its own or with a nice big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

What is your favourite fall recipe?

Chai Infusion

Every year for Rosh Hashana or Passover, my family and I drive out to Toronto to celebrate at my aunts. What I love most about the holidays is that we get to eat all the best comfort foods in one sitting with all the people we love! At our dinners, everyone ends up bringing their own special dish, so we can count on the tried and true favorites being there as well as some special surprises.

This year we’re heading over for Rosh Hashana, and in the spirit of my last post on fall and all things cozy, I decided that I was going to make and bring these delicious fall inspired Pumpkin Cupcakes with a Chai Buttercream Icing. This is pure comfort food if you ask me and since I wanted to make something that would be easy to transport during the 6 hour long drive, cupcakes were the best bet. I could also decorate them when I got there which made me really happy – because let’s face it, isn’t that the best part of baking?

These cupcakes were perfect and truly inspired by the delicious pumpkin chai tea that I have been drinking daily. By adding a chai flavour to the buttercream I was able to create the perfect marriage! Since the buttercream recipe calls for 1/2 cup of milk, I decided I would infuse it with the chai flavour by bringing it to a low simmer and seeping 2 chai tea bags in it for about 5 minutes. I then let it cool and added the mixture to the recipe as called for. The results were perfect! These cupcakes turned out just the way I imagined them. They were moist and had the ultimate balance of sweet and savory. The strong spicy pumpkin flavour of the cupcakes really complimented the very sweet chai buttercream icing on top. The perfect fall treat!

Ingredients:

(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

Cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners and set aside (I use parchment paper so they slide off easy). In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices; set aside
2. In the bowl combine butter, 4 cups sugar, infused milk, and vanilla and chai concentrate. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating for about 2 minutes after each addition, until icing reaches desired consistency (you may not need to add all the sugar).
3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about halfway. Bake until tops spring back when touched,  20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Icing:
Ingredients:
(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6 to 8 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Latte Concentrate to taste (optional)

Directions:
1. Simmer 1/2 cup of milk on low with 2 chai teabags for 5-8 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
2. In the bowl combine butter, 4 cups of sugar, infused milk, vanilla and chai concentrate.
3. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Gradually add the remaining sugar (1 cup at a time) beating for about 2 minutes after each addition, until icing reaches desired consistency (you may not need to add all the sugar).

Enjoy!

Key Lime Pie

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My favorite pie of all time is the Key Lime Pie at Rockaberry’s! Why? Because it makes my taste buds extremely happy, since it has mastered the perfect balance between tart and sweet! I love that it has a tart and creamy lime infused center that’s sandwiched between a delicious buttery graham cracker crust and a thick layer of sweet whipped cream. I never in a million years thought I could re-create anything close to Rockaberry’s Key Lime Pie until a friend told me how easy it was to make. I gave it a try and have been hooked ever since!

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I love the fresh lime flavour that comes from squeezing delicious ripe limes. The smell in the kitchen after making this pie is amazing! I like to use whipped cream as a garnish rather than using merengue leaving it bare, because it accomplishes that sweet and sour balance. I allow the pie to cool completely before I layer the whipped cream on, then I chill it for the 2 recommended hours before I dig in and enjoy!

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This pie is a big hit with everyone that tries it and I have to say its really close to being as good as my favorite Rockaberry version!

Key lime Pie

(Adapted from Martha Stewart)

9 to 10 graham crackers (each 2 1/2 by 5 inches)

1/4 cup (for the crust) and 1/2 cup sugar for the filling

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk

3/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 4 to 6 limes), or fresh or bottled key-lime juice

4 large egg yolks

Pinch salt

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups whipping cream

3 Tbsp confectioner sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Process graham crackers and 1/4 cup of sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs form; add butter. Process until combined. Transfer mixture to a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom; pat into bottom and up sides. Place pan on a baking sheet, and bake until crust is fragrant and slightly colored, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine condensed milk, lime juice, egg yolks, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and salt; whisk until smooth. Pour mixture into crust (warm or cool is fine), leaving 1/8 inch at the top; return to oven. Bake until filling is set around edge but still slightly loose in center, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Cool completely at room temperature;

4. Pour 1 cup of whipping cream into a bowl add 2 Tbsp of confectioners sugar and whip until soft peaks form

5. Lather onto the pie, refrigerate until chilled; at least 2 hours then enjoy!