Category Archives: cake

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

An overabundance of zucchini in the summer is a very common first world problem. I’ve heard stories of people leaving bags of zucchini on their neighbor’s door, and sneaking away to not give the poor unsuspecting neighbor a chance to politely decline the bag of summer weeds. I found myself with a boatload of zucchini last summer and was getting tired of my usual sauteed zucchini with garlic (which is delicious btw) and zucchini soup, so I went to facebook. One of my facebook friends came through for me in a big way and sent me this recipe, which I’ve since been making at least every 2 weeks ever since. I even froze enough shredded zucchini last summer to get me through the winter without giving up my beloved chocolate zucchini cake. Thank god for breastfeeding, because I would never have lost the baby weight while continuing to eat this on a regular basis otherwise. 
Here is the recipe so that you can enjoy too:

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Directions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 4×10 inch loaf pans and set them aside. 
  2. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until well mixed. Add the eggs, mix well. Next add the vanilla and mix well. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder and whisk together. 
  4. Add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on medium-low speed. When the dry ingredients begin to incorporate, add another 1/3 and mix again (you don’t need to wait until the dry ingredients are fully incorporated to add more). Repeat one more time. 
  5. Next mix the yogurt into the batter, then the zucchini. The zucchini should moisten up the batter significantly. Finally, add the chocolate chips and mix until they are well incorporated. 
  6. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake for 50-60 minutes. (Check after 40 minutes, since ovens can vary widely. This cake usually bakes for 55 minutes in my oven, but the original recipe calls for 40-45 minutes of baking). 

Enjoy with coffee as an afternoon pick me up. Or, if you prefer, do what I did- ignore the 2 sticks of butter in the recipe, change the name to Chocolate Zucchini Bread instead of cake, and have it for breakfast. The calories are negated that way. It’s scientifically proven…or something.

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The making of a rainbow cake

It’s been about 3 weeks since little man’s 1st birthday party, so I figure it’s high time I write a post about the rainbow birthday cake I made for it. It was quite an endeavor and, in my opinion, deserves it’s own post, so here goes!
I originally got the idea from this pin on pinterest. I’m pretty sure the pin, though, links to the recipe on Martha Stewart, but the original recipe comes from Whisk Kid. I wont copy the recipe here, since you can just get it from Whisk Kid, but I’ll take you through the process with pictures.
First, I made the batter. Separated it into 6 bowls and mixed food coloring in. I used Wilton gel food coloring that I bought in a set at Jo-Anns. Using the gel is essential because it’s more concentrated than the food coloring drops you can buy at the grocery store.
I was lucky enough to borrow 5 9-inch cake pans from my awesome friend. That allowed me to only have to bake the 6 layers in two batches. It was a huge time saver. Here are the 5 cake pans, lined with parchment paper and ready to go.
All the colors of the rainbow, minus purple, waiting to be baked. 
5 of the 6 cakes just after coming out of the oven. Cooling a bit before going onto cooling racks.
All of the colors of the rainbow. Once they had cooled completely, I wrapped each layer in plastic wrap, stacked them up and then wrapped the whole thing in plastic wrap. I made the cakes on Thursday night and didn’t want to ice it until Friday, since the party was on Saturday. I kept the wrapped up cake layers in the fridge until I was ready to ice. 
The next day my friend and her daughter came over to play with little man while I made the frosting and frosted the cake. I made Whisk Kid’s Swiss Meringue recipe, which, by the way, uses a TON of butter. But you have to consider that this is a 6 layer cake. It takes a lot of frosting to go between each layer. This picture is from partway through the icing process.

Party day!
Friends suggested I go into the rainbow-cake-making business next June for SF Pride. Maybe by then I’ll be up for making another rainbow cake.   

Birthday cake


So, once again, here I am having neglected fraises et tartines for far too long. However, this time I have something to show for the long absence…a Master’s degree! After three years of hard work and stress, the long-awaited day has finally come and gone- graduation! Last week I walked in the Communicative Disorders & Sciences graduation ceremony and felt the elation of having accomplished something big…and the relief of knowing that I will never have to take another test (…unless I go get a PhD some day, but that wont be for a long time!). I think I can speak for all of my fellow soon-to-be speech-language pathologists when I say, “TGIFO!” (or, “Thank god it’s finally over!”).

Anyway, my attention can finally turn back to some of life’s simple pleasures that I’ve been seriously missing these last few months & years…cooking, photographing, and writing about food, to name a few. I didn’t waste any time getting back into the kitchen after all of the graduation/family festivities died down. Two good friends were celebrating a birthday this week, so I took advantage of the opportunity to work on my cake-baking & decorating skills. I decided to go all out and make a 2-layer, 2-tiered cake covered in rolled fondant. The layers were strawberry cake with strawberry buttercream, and vanilla cake with vanilla frosting.

The process started by baking the 4 cakes…2 strawberry & 2 vanilla. For the strawberry layers, I used the Sprinkles Strawberry cupcake recipe that can be found on marthastewart.com. Both the batter & frosting have real strawberry puree in them, which gives them an authentically “strawberry” taste (especially the frosting). For the vanilla layers, I used the Magnolia Vanilla cupcake recipe that got rave reviews on RecipeZaar.com. I wont repost the recipes here, since they’re easily accessible on those websites, but I’ll do a step-by-step for actual cake-assembly.

Instructions:
1. Bake 4 round cakes (2 strawberry and 2 vanilla). I used 2 different round cake pans, one of them slightly smaller than the other, in order to get a tiered effect. What you’ll end up with is 2, 2-layered cakes. Once the cakes come out of the oven, let them cool on a wire rack before removing them from the cake pans (about 15 minutes). Then carefully remove them from their pans and allow them to cool completely on wire racks. I made the cakes a day ahead and let them cool overnight, just to be sure.
2. Use a very sharp, long, preferably serrated knife to even up the top of each cake. Try to make the cakes as flat and even as possible, since they will be sitting on top of one another. Next, using the strawberry buttercream, frost the top of the two bottom layers evenly. Then place the top layers on top for each cake. Like so:


3. Next cover both cakes with frosting. I used vanilla frosting for the bottom cake, and strawberry for the top cake (although if I were going to make this again, I would cover both cakes in strawberry buttercream…it’s that good).
4. Once both cakes are covered with buttercream, it’s time to color your fondant. I kind of skipped over the whole, making the rolled fondant part of this. Just a quick recap, I made the fondant the night before as well, using a recipe for marshmallow fondant. It’s super easy to make and way cheaper/tastier than buying it at the store. However, if you don’t have time or don’t want to make your own fondant, you can find it at craft stores. I colored my fondant with a teal gel food coloring. I thought teal would fit well with the pool-themed party we were having for the birthday ladies. It takes a while to knead the color into the fondant and achieve a smooth color rather than marbling. Just keep kneading, and then refrigerate the fondant for about 15 minutes before using it to harden it up again.


You don’t need much food coloring to achieve a deep color, so just add a little bit at a time. Also, this part can be very sticky. To avoid a sticky mess, cover the counter tops and your hands with corn starch.
5. Next, add more corn starch to the counters, your hands, and a rolling pin, and roll the fondant out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Make sure there’s enough corn starch on the counter top before you do this, or you might end up with a frustratingly lovely-looking, smooth, rolled out fondant that you can’t remove from the counter! (You guessed it, this happened to me several times).


You might think this is an awful lot of corn starch, but don’t worry. You’ll be able to wipe it off later with your hands, or a pastry brush.
6. Now you want to carefully lift the fondant over one of the frosted cakes, and smooth it onto the cake. You should have extra fondant around the bottom of the cake. Once the fondant is all smoothed out, use a pizza cutter to trim the extra fondant from the bottom of the cake. Repeat this with the other cake. Now you have two fondant-covered cakes!


7. Next, carefully place the smaller cake on top of the larger cake, making sure it’s nicely centered. Don’t worry too much about imperfections in the cakes’ fondant edges, you’ll fix that later.
8. Using a thick vanilla buttercream, pipe small pearl-like dots around the bottom and middle circumferences of the cake. I used a buttercream from a recipe I got in a box of Wilton’s meringue powder. It’s extremely thick and holds well even in warm conditions. Unfortunately, it wasn’t very tasty, so I didn’t use much of it on the cake.

And here is a close-up of it for you:


9. Finally, roll out some white fondant and use letter-shaped fondant cutters to spell out “Happy Birthday!” Use a very small amount of water (I dipped my finger in water for this) to wet the back of each letter so that they will stick to the cake.

That’s it! You’re done! Now cut the cake and enjoy!