Week 44 & 45: Friendsgiving Baking

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I knew the time would come. The time when I would be so incredibly tempted to stray from my challenge and bake something other than cake. Enter pie season.

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As thanksgiving crept closer this November, I was tasked with making the desert for several pre-feast festivities. For the first, works-giving, I opted for pumpkin pie’s close to kin dessert, pumpkin gingersnap cheese cake. While I’m not the biggest fan of cheesecake, the addition of pumpkin and autumnal spices may have softened my stance.
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The recipe I found called for a gingersnap and pecan crust, giving it more of a holiday flare. To be totally honest, I found myself snacking on the cookies before I started backing and ended up with considerably less than the recipe required… oops. The crust created a snappy and decadent groundwork for the creamy pumpkin cheesecake filling. This cake did not last long around the office!
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For my second pre-thanksgiving celebration, I took on the responsibility of bringing dessert to my friendsgiving in Chicago. The inspiration for this cake goes to my number one fan (and taste tester!), Dom. Now Dom is a self proclaimed coffee lover and big into variety, so he suggested I make something with a flavor profile I haven’t included in my repertoire. We settled on coffee and I found this amazing recipe from, can you guess, Food52!
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The Vietnamese Coffee Cake tasted exactly like the hot drink you’d sip along side a steaming bowl of pho. The cake actually sunk in the middle, which seems to keep happening to me lately. But this actually ended up being the perfect vessel for holding the creamy caramel like sweetened condensed frosting, which dripped gorgeously over the edges.
Final thoughts on friendsgiving baking:
  • I’m really looking forward to baking things other than cake!
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Week 42 & 43: Chocolate Cake with Cranberry Buttercream and Tipsy Apple Parsnip Cake with Sultanas and Cider Glaze

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Throughout the entire challenge, I’ve received comments and messages from family all over asking about the challenge, sharing recipes and in general, virtually drooling over all 41 of the cakes I’ve written about and photographed. This fall, when my grandpa turned 80, I got the opportunity to share the challenge with family from all over.

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My mom organized a party and invited siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins that live all over the U.S. I was only going to be home for a few days and wanted to enjoy time with family I hadn’t seen in a while. At first the plan was the buy a cake from a bakery to have at the party, but the closer we got to party day, the more compelled I felt to bake not only one, but two cakes to serve at the party.

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I wanted some variation in the cakes, and to do something a little different than I’d done in the past. (Read: when you’re taking a day off, and someone else is buying the ingredients, take full advantage). I settled on two recipes from food52, Chocolate Cake with Cranberry Buttercream and Tipsy Apple Parsnip Cake with Sultanas and Cider Glaze.

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The former of the two created a deeply chocolate-y luscious cake. I ended up dividing the batter into three pans for a delightful triple layer cake covered in tart smooth butter cream. I will say that if you’re following the recipe for the butter cream, you’ll want to add a little more of everything (especially the confectioners sugar) to reach a desired consistency that strays from cranberry infused butter.

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The second of the two cakes was equally as delicious in it’s own way. The unexpected addition of parsnips gave the bundt wonderful texture and contrast to the boozy apple cider glaze. I ended up serving up slices with a small dollop of whipped cream to mellow out all of the spice.

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Everyone at the party couldn’t help themselves from trying both cakes, and had a real challenge picking a favorite! I was so happy to be able to share this challenge and love for baking with family and friends who have watched and supported from a distance. Going into the holidays, I’m looking forward to sharing even more cakes for friends, coworkers and family alike!

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Final thoughts on Chocolate Cake with Cranberry Buttercream and Tipsy Apple Parsnip Cake with Sultanas and Cider Glaze:

  • Bring on the holiday baking!