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Baked Goods

Meme’s Banana Cake

July 1, 2022

Meme’s Banana Cake is legendary in our house. Whenever my mom offers the kids to make their birthday cake or a special treat, they always ask for this. It’s moist and rich, but also light and flavorful. My mom always uses fresh whipped cream for frosting, and so when I went to go make my son’s 16th Birthday Cake, and he asked for this, I made it just like she does.  She actually keeps the cooked cake rounds in her freezer to assemble whenever we have a get together – genius! All you have to do is whip up some whipped cream and slice some bananas and voila, you have a special dessert.

This cake would be super easy to make for the 4th of July as well – you can pour the batter into one 9 x 12 cake pan instead of the cake rounds, and decorate with strawberries and blueberries.

This recipe is a lot like banana bread, but the added buttermilk makes it light and fluffy. I love that it is so easy to make, and it comes together quickly.

I also love that this is a great way to use up ripe bananas – you can peel them and freeze them until your ready to use them.

This recipe is perfect for 2 round cake pans.

Assembly is super simple – whip up some cream with a little sugar and vanilla (taste it to be sure it is your desired level of sweetness!) and frost the first layer: 

 

 

Then add a layer of sliced bananas….

 

Then repeat on top and serve immediately – the bananas do brown so only slice and assemble this cake right before you are going to serve it.  Then bite into it and let your eyes close because it is SO good.

Hope you get to try this deliciousness soon! Happy 4th of July – hope it is filled with lots of wonderful things to eat!  xoxo Katie

Meme’s Banana Cake

Ingredients

3 large ripe bananas (about 1 and 1/2 cups mashed) + 4 yellow bananas for slicing (can’t be too brown or mushy)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature

Whipped Cream 

4 Tablespoons sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C) and grease two round cake pans.
  2. Make the cake: Mash the bananas and set aside.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  4. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add both sugars and beat on high speed for 2 minutes until creamed together. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the eggs and the vanilla. Beat on medium-high speed until combined, then beat in the mashed bananas. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix. The batter will be slightly thick and a few lumps is OK.
  5. Spread batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If you find the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely. After about 45 minutes, I usually place it in the refrigerator to speed things up.
  7. Make the whipped cream: Place a metal mixing bowl and metal whisk into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes. Place the sugar into the mixing bowl and add the whipping cream. Whisk just until the cream reaches stiff peaks. Store any unused portion in an airtight container for up to 10 hours. When ready to use, rewhisk for 10 to 15 seconds.
  8. Assemble the cake: Turn out cooked, cooled cakes on a clean service. Put one layer on serving plate or cake stand. Frost the top with a layer of whipped cream, then slice 2 bananas and arrange on top. Put second cake on top, repeat layers of whipped cream and additionally 2 sliced bananas. Serve immediately or keep chilled until serving.

 

Irish Soda Bread (My Mom’s Recipe)

March 14, 2022

 

I am re-sharing my mom’s recipe for Irish Soda Bread in time for St. Paddy’s Day! I have been on the blog making her Corned Beef and Cabbage recipe for my slow cookers (I always make 2!) this week also.

This sweet goodness starts showing up a few weeks before St. Paddy’s Day around her house. If you have been around this blog long enough, you know I grew up in a big Irish Catholic family with a mom who was a great cook. As soon as I was married, those food memories followed me and through lots of phone calls and dog-earred recipe cards, I managed to get copies of many of our families favorite recipes.  This one has been at the top of my list these last few years, and now it’s here.

When I was in college I went abroad to London. I bought Irish Soda Bread at the grocery store and it tasted like sawdust. I had no idea it could be a whole wheat loaf, so coarse and dry, since my thoughts of soda bread are light, fluffy, moist and sweet with bits of dried fruit and a sweet glaze on top. Because that’s the soda bread my mom made growing up.

I love the combination of the caraway seeds with the little bits of apricot and golden raisins she usually uses. And the buttermilk makes it taste so tender. It is wonderful toasted with a little butter for breakfast. It’s such a wonderful food memory for me now, and such a distinctive combination of flavors. (It’s hard to go wrong with flour and butter and sugar right?). I’m so glad I am going to always have it here on the blog (one of my favorite parts of food blogging – my favorite recipes are so easy to find!).

I love that this serves as such a nice gift for others too, and you can buy little paper or wooden bread pans for easy distribution.

I like to use the mini loaf sizes too, and you can usually cut the cooking time in half for the smaller loaves, just keep watching it until the edges are brown. I hope you try this, and it becomes one of your family traditions too.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Mom’s Irish Soda Bread

4 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

2 ½ teaspoons salt

1 stick of butter (room temperature)

2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk, divided

1 Tablespoon caraway seeds

1 cup raisins, golden raisins or other dried fruit like cranberries or apricots, diced if large

 

For glaze:

1 cup confectioners sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients and butter together so it’s like a pie crust. Add raisins or dried fruit. Add caraway seeds and mix. Add eggs and 1 cup of the buttermilk and mix well. Add remaining cup of buttermilk and mix well.

Bake in 2 greased loaf pans for 50-60 minutes, until edges look browned.

While the bread bakes, mix together confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough water to form a glaze.

Remove from oven and then take out of bread pans. Drizzle with glaze while bread is warm.

 

 

Pavlova Layer Cake with Raspberry Sauce

February 4, 2022

There is so much to love about this Layered Pavlova Cake! It tastes like a macaron cookie grew extra large and gave you a hug, but kept it’s signature fluffy merengue texture and intense filling flavor. The raspberry sauce and ice cream in the middle is such a textural delight – creamy, crunchy, gooey, smooth and sweet. I just served this for a Galentine’s/Birthday party with friends last night and it was so good. It is light yet hits the sweet spot perfectly.

It also happens to be really easy to make. It takes around 10 minutes of prep and then it cooks for a while (see directions).   If you love someone who can’t abide gluten this is for you! If you love someone who doesn’t do well with dairy, we ate ours with vanilla coconut milk ice cream and it was amazing.

You start by beating 8 egg whites + 1/4 teaspoon salt in a stand mixer with the whisk setting. It takes 5-8 minutes, and your oven should be warming up during that time. (You put it in a 350 degree oven then immediately turn it down to 225. It is low and slow for cakes). Then you slowly add 2 cups of sugar while it is still beating. Then you gently fold in 2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 teaspoons of white vinegar (or cream of tarter – the egg whites need acid to create stiff peaks) and 4 teaspoons cornstarch.

You can add a drop of food coloring for a light pink color, but white is so pretty too. Then you make 2 circles on parchment paper using a 8-9 inch cake round pan. Turn over the paper so the pencil doesn’t get onto the cake. Then you spread the mixture into the two circles.

You bake them for 50-70 minutes (see below) until they are hard and then I let mine rest in the oven for another hour, but you only need to let them rest until they are cool.

While they are cooling, you can make the raspberry sauce. I use Ina Garten’s recipe – it is so easy just fresh raspberries, sugar, water, all cooked together for a few minutes. Then that mixture is blended with a jar of raspberry jam and raspberry liquor. The result is such an intense raspberry flavor, you will be so in love when you taste it and you will want to put it on everything.

Assembling the cake is so easy – just layer pavlova, ice cream, then raspberry sauce…

Then add the second pavlova on top, cover with raspberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar. You can add the rest of the sauce on top if you want but it is so pretty and good with just raspberries.

So add some extra eggs and raspberries to your grocery list and consider your Valentine’s Desert covered. You will float away on a cloud of bliss, I promise.


Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Pavlova Layered Cake with Raspberry Sauce

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE PAVLOVA

  • 8 (about 260 g) egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 g) salt
  • 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons (10 g) cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons (5 g) cream of tartar, OR 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons (8.4 g) vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • a couple drops of food coloring (optional), I used one drop of red but pink is better to get a nice pink color. I have also made this without any food coloring, and the white is so pretty too so it is totally optional. 
  • NOTE: This recipe makes TWO pavlovas. You can split the recipe in half for one layer.

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. (NOTE: you will reduce this temperature later). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Trace a circle on each, using an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake pan as your guide. Flip the parchment paper over, so the pencil doesn’t get on the pavlova. Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until soft peaks begin to form. Note: the eggs will foam first and then come together to create soft, white peaks. Be patient. This will take a few minutes.

Once the soft peaks have formed, gradually (very gradually), add the sugar (about one tablespoon at a time).

After the sugar is incorporated and stiff peaks have formed, stop the mixer and fold in the cornstarch, cream of tartar (or vinegar), vanilla bean paste, and food coloring (if using).

Divide the meringue in half and pour one half onto each of the parchment sheets with circles on them. Gently spread the meringue to the edge of the circle you drew, making sure the top is fairly level. The edges don’t need to be perfectly round or even. In fact, the more rustic and left alone, the better.

Place the pavlovas in your oven. If you have two ovens, you can place one baking sheet in each. If you have one oven, you can place both baking sheets in at once, on two different racks, making sure to switch the baking sheets halfway through baking.

When you place the pavlova in the oven, immediately reduce the temperature to 225 degrees F.

TWO OVENS: If you are using two ovens with one pavlova in each, your bake time will be about 50 to 60 minutes. 

ONE OVEN: If you are using one oven with two pavlovas, your bake time will be closer to 70 to 90 minutes.

You are looking for the meringue to harden, but not get too brown or crack too much around the edges.

Once the pavlova is done baking, turn the oven off and allow the pavlova to cool completely in the oven.

 

FOR THE RASPBERRY SAUCE:

1 half-pint package fresh raspberries

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

1 cup (12 ounces) seedless raspberry jam

1 tablespoon Framboise liqueur (I used a local raspberry liqueur)

DIRECTIONS

Place the package of raspberries, the granulated sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and Framboise into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

ASSEMBLY

Place one pavlova layer on a cake stand or plate. Cover with a pint of ice cream and half of the raspberry mixture and then fresh berries. Cover with second pavlova and garnish with fresh raspberries and powdered sugar. (You could also top with more ice cream and the rest of the raspberry sauce if desired but the ratio was lovely of meringue to ice cream and sauce with it just in the middle.)

Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from Cake by Courtney

The Best Chocolate Fudge Sauce

December 21, 2021

It doesn’t really feel like Christmas until I start making my mom’s chocolate fudge sauce as gifts for everyone. I love how excited our friends and neighbors get because, well it is like chocolate crack. I make it every year, and every year I congratulate myself on how easy it is to make a huge batch of gifts. It’s also so cute the way the teachers who have one of our kids in class get excited because they know they have chocolate sauce coming at Christmas. 🙂

The reason why it is so beloved is because when it is cold in the fridge (where it needs to be stored) it has a thick, fudge consistency like frosting. But when you heat it up it is liquid chocolate, and it is so good over ice cream. You’re going to want to stock up on Candy Canes too because crushed peppermint on top is the best. Sometimes I get lucky and find the special edition peppermint ice cream but the topping is just as good.

This is by far my most requested recipe and I can’t believe I am just now getting to put it up on the blog.

The best part of making this for gifts? It is only 4 ingredients and it takes 10 minutes.

You start by melting the butter and the chocolate chips together…

Then once that is smooth you add the sugar…

And right after that you add the evaporated milk, bring to a boil, then reduce to low for 8 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn on the bottom, and to help the sugar dissolve and the rest of the chocolate chips to melt.

Then you’re ready to let it cool a little, and in 10-20 minutes stir it well, and then pour into glass jars.

PRO TIP: Use a funnel. It makes things so much easier and less messy. 

I have taken notes in my cookbook how to times the recipe by 4 or by 8 which I’ll share below because it makes cooking in bulk so easy.

The Best Chocolate Fudge Sauce

For 1 jar: 

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup evaporated milk (equal to 1 5 oz. can)

For 4 jars: 

3 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup butter

2 2/3 cup sugar

2 2/3 cup evaporated milk

For 8 jars: 

6 cups semisweet chocolate chips = 3 bags

2 cup butter = 1 pound package

5 1/4 cup sugar

5 1/4 cup evaporated milk = almost 4 cans

Directions: 

In a small heavy saucepan melt the chocolate and butter over medium heat. Add the sugar, gradually stir in the evaporated milk until sugar dissolves. Bring to boiling, reduce heat. Boil gently over low heat for 8 minutes, stirring frequently (watch carefully so it doesn’t burn). Remove from heat, cook slightly. Serve warm over ice cream or cover and chill and store in the fridge.

Original recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.

 

Eggnog Brioche French Toast

December 17, 2021

This is one of those recipes that I have been making for years around Christmas and my family loves (especially my husband!) so I am so glad I am finally sharing it with all of you!

The fluffy texture of brioche (or challah bread, I am using here) makes for the lightest, pillowy soft french toast, and the flavors of eggnog – with its sweet cinnamon and nutmeg flavors – go so perfectly together. 

This breakfast is so easy but is so special, perfect for quick holiday brunches while you are busy doing a million other things.  And it totally feeds a crowd – I am full after one piece.

The little dusting of powdered sugar is my kids’ favorite and just adds to the Christmas brunch allure.

To make it, you just combine all the ingredients in a bowl and then dunk each piece of brioche into it.

I love to use our indoor grill pan which is a skillet on one side, and it cooks 6-8 pieces at a time.

This dish is such a treat and will fill everyone with the flavors of the season. You are going to want to grab some extra eggnog this year and keep some brioche in the freezer for the slow mornings of Christmas week.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Eggnog Brioche French Toast

Ingredients

 

Teddie’s Cinnamon Apple Cake

September 28, 2021

Happy Fall, friends! It is peak apple season here in New Hampshire and like the rest of New England we can’t get enough.  I keep buying huge bags from my favorite local farmer (where I get my eggs, vegetables and flowers all summer) and I have to go back and get more because we’ve eaten them all.

I have some healthy recipes for you coming, but I thought I would just start with this Apple Cake that originated in the NY Times Cooking section and found its way to Alexandra Cooks, and then into my kitchen with our twins. They love to cook! We make a lot of muffins and cookies, but they got very excited when I asked if they wanted to make Apple Cake. We have no idea who Teddie is though.

I really wanted to try it because it sounded similar to the blueberry cake I posted about last summer that was a recipe my mother in law makes often for family get togethers. I have really grown to love how a fruit cake is just as good with coffee in the morning as it is with ice cream for desert. And that is just what Alexander said she loved about this cake too.

Turns out it is fall in a slice of cake.

So moist, sweet, and filled with the warm spices of cinnamon. And I added a twist from what what we love about the blueberry cake which is to sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. It makes it slightly crunchy with a sugary cinnamon crust. I highly recommend.

As I was making this I thought of a ton of variations – it would be so easy to triple this recipe and put it on a big sheet pan to feed a crowd. It would also be great with a drizzle of a maple frosting, but it is so simple and moist on its own and really lets the apples shine.

This recipe made me want to invite neighbors over and sit down and chat and drink coffee. It is the perfect thing to make for a neighbor or a get together (still so glad we have those now! I don’t take them for granted!).  Or just make it for your crew for dessert.

Teddie’s Cinnamon Apple Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter for greasing pan
  • 3 cups(384 g) flour, plus more for dusting pan
  • 1 1/2 cupsvegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar (+2 Tablespoons for topping)
  • 3eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (+ 1/2 teaspoon for topping)
  • 1 teaspoonbaking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced tart apples, I used Cortland & they were great*
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I omit)
  • 1 cup raisins (I omit)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional

*Alexandra used a mix of Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Fuji, York and Cameo with success — use whatever you have on hand or whatever variety you prefer to bake with.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.
  2. Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts (if using) and raisins (if using) and stir until combined.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.  Mix together the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons sugar and sprinkle it over the top. 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 at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Recipe from NY Times via Alexandra Cooks.