{twd} lemon loaf cake

*sigh* I’m one week post-surgery and I’m bored silly. Actually, bored silly may be a bit more fun than what I really am: bored-bored. I should be grateful. I’m sleeping again and my pain is under control. Paul is taking very good care of me and has the patience of a zen-master. Since the surgery, I’m only allowed to get up to use the restroom (no baking!). I see my orthopedic surgeon for my first post-surgical follow-up appointment tomorrow. I hope all goes well, the x-rays show I’m healing nicely, and my orthopedist allows more moving around.

I baked this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection, Lemon Loaf Cake, the morning of the day I broke my patella. As it was a busy weekend and Paul was leaving for a week-long business trip, I  stuck it in the freezer for a later date.

Yesterday we took it out of the freezer and enjoyed the lemon cake for dessert. Perfect timing for a time when times are strange in our house–we were surprisingly out of treats to eat.

I made 1/2 recipe in a full recipe size pan so it baked up low and dense. I also used my homemade rough and tumble vanilla sugar in place of regular sugar. We liked the lemon flavor and thought it was a nice little cake to enjoy with tea. It’s not a stop-the-presses! type of recipe which lemon desserts have high-potential to achieve, so I probably won’t make it again.

You can find the Lemon Loaf Cake recipe in the book we’re all slowly baking through, Baking with Julia, or on the blogs of the hosts for this week: Truc of Treats and Michelle of The Beauty of Life.

photos by paulrus

World Nutella Day 2012: Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake

Happy World Nutella Day! I’m excited to be back after missing last year’s celebration. I almost missed it again, having only realized it was happening a couple days ago.  I quickly searched for a recipe I could make that wasn’t too time-consuming and one that I had all the ingredients on hand.

Nutella-Swirl Pound Cake from Food & Wine fit the bill. Not only was it easy to bake, my swirl worked! I have a problem with swirl cakes. It’s got a pretty good swirl and a great taste. Not dry and the Nutella to cake ratio was perfect. No need for whipped cream or fruit with this cake. You can find the recipe HERE.

“Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy and Michelle from Bleeding Espresso solemnly declare Sunday, February 5th “World Nutella Day 2012″ – a day to celebrate, to get creative with, and most importantly, to EAT Nutella.”

Photos by Paulrus

{twd} rum-drenched vanilla cakes

I have no idea why I never noticed this recipe until it was my turn to pick one. Really, it has everything I enjoy. Rum. Vanilla Beans. Low Mess/Dirty Dish Count. No Waiting for Butter to Soften. Simple Straight-Forward Recipe.

I joined Tuesdays with Dorie back in August 2008 and now almost 2 years later it is finally my turn to host a recipe. It was a super-easy pick for me. I just flipped through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking…From My Home to Yours and the book fell open to page 226: Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes.

Originally when I selected this recipe I was going to make it three times. Once with the beans I bought in Taha’a, Tahiti; once with the beans I bought in Zihuatanejo, Mexico;  and once with the beans I bought in Vava’u, Tonga. I even considered making it four times with the Madagascar vanilla beans that I have but did not travel to get. Yeah, I may have a little vanilla bean problem. I wanted to see if I could taste the difference.

I also have a time management problem and ran out of time. I went out-of-town this weekend, got home Sunday afternoon, went to go make the cakes, realized I didn’t have eggs or cream, ran to Trader Joe’s, got home, realized I was out of sugar, debated going to the store again, decided to use the homemade vanilla sugar I had and had just the right amount for the recipe.

This is an awesome recipe. The cake is unbelievably good. The texture is amazing and flavors work really well together. Yum.

Rum-Drenched Vanilla Cakes

Recipe from Baking…From My Home to Yours, page 226.

The texture of this cake is so perfect–the crumb so soft, even and tightly knit–that you could mistake it for a Sara Lee pound cake. That’s high praise in my book: I’ve always loved Sara Lee’s compact, tiny-bubble crumb and the slices of cake are simultaneously firm and supple. But what you get here is a flavor Sara Lee can never deliver, one that depends on using the very best vanilla you can find. The first choice is a pair of moist, pliable vanilla beans. You get the truest flavor from beans, and if you follow the nifty technique of  of rubbing the pulp of the beans into the sugar, you’ll get maximum results. If you use extract, you’ll still produce an excellent cake, but you’ve got to use pure extract. As for the rum–it should be high-quality, dark and strong.

Make the syrup as soon as you slide the cakes into the oven to bake–that way, it will have time to cool.

For the Cakes

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/3 cups of sugar
  • 2 plump, moist vanilla beans, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out and reserved, or 1 1/2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 stick plus 7 tablespoons (15 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Syrup

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark rum

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-x-2 1/2 -inch loaf pans, dust the insides with flour and tap out the excess. (Even if the pans are nonstick, it’s a good idea to butter and flour them.) Place the pans on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular sheets stacked one on top of the other.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

Put the sugar and the pulp from the vanilla beans, if using them, in a large bowl and, working with your fingers, rub them together until the sugar is moist and thoroughly imbued with the fragrance of vanilla. (If you are using vanilla extract, add it later, after you’ve added the eggs.) Add the eggs and whisk them into the sugar, beating until they are thoroughly incorporated. Whisk in the extract, if you are using it, then whisk in the cream, followed by the rum. Continuing with the whisk or switching to a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 additions; the batter will be smooth and thick. Finish by folding in the melted butter in 2 or 3 additions. Pour the batter into the pans, smoothing the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. (As soon as the cakes go into the oven, make the syrup.) After about 30 minutes in the oven, check the cakes for color–if they are browning too quickly, cover them lightly with foil tents.

Meanwhile, Make the Syrup: Stir the water and sugar together in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts, then bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum. Pour the syrup into a heatproof bowl and let cool.

When the cakes test done, transfer them to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding them and turning them right side up on the rack. Place the rack over a baking sheet lined with wax paper and, using a thin skewer, cake tester or thin-blade sharp knife, poke holes all over the cakes. Brush the cakes all over with the syrup, working slowly so that the cakes sop it up. Leave the cakes on the rack to cool to room temperature.

{sms} lemon walnut-sour cream pound cake

Busy, busy, busy. I thought once the holidays were over I would have more free time. Nope.

I made this week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays recipe right before I left for an out of town trip on Friday.

I took the picture with my iPhone and I’m writing this with my iPhone, because I haven’t had time to sit down at my computer.

Thank you to Raeann of Basically, Baby Boots for hosting this week. The pound cake was a hit with the family.

(now let’s see if I can post via iPhone….)

Happy National Bundt Day!

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Today, November 15, is National Bundt Day. The only reason I know it’s National Bundt Day is because one of my blogging friends, Mary from The Food Librarian. She chose to celebrate by baking and blogging a bundt a day for the 30 days leading up to today. She really, really, really likes bundts and named her blogathon–I Like Big Bundts.

Inspired by Mary, I baked a bundt to celebrate National Bundt Day: Deep Chocolate Sour Cream Pound Cake. The recipe came from Tish Boyle’s The Cake Book. You can find the recipe HERE. As its name implies, it is full of chocolate flavor.

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I’m a little late writing this post because yesterday I completed my longest hike ever. I hiked to the top of San Gorgonio, which at 11,501.5 feet is the highest peak in Sounthern California. Not satisfied with one peak, my hiking group and I  bagged two additional peaks: Big Horn (3rd highest, 10,997 feet) and Dragons Head Peak (4th highest, 10,866 feet). It was a tough and challenging hike, 19+ miles total. We started at 6:30 am and made it back to our cars in the dark at 5:30 pm.

Here’s a short video I shot from the top of Big Horn: