Weeks 35 and 36: Virgo Birthday Cake

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There’s no sugar coating it, or maybe there is given the nature of the challenge, but I’ve fallen behind. Not in actually baking the cakes, but in sharing with the interwebs my progress and commitment to insanity.

Because I’m so far behind I’m going to combine the past two weeks of cake and talk about the very deserving people and occasions I made them for.

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I don’t know what it is about Virgos, but there happens to be a lot of them in my life. For weeks 35 and 36 I made birthday cakes for my dad and one of my dearest friends from college. Here’s where it gets ironic, they both happen to be born on the same day along with another very important friend who I made multiple goodbye party cakes (see week 17 and week 18) for this spring (shout out to you Laurens).

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Anyway, back to my astrological connections. According to a very credible article about Virgos and their food preferences, those born between August 23 and September 22 are “sensuous eaters and relish every morsel”. My challenge was written in the stars, find and recreate a cake that would appeal to the Virgo taste.

I’ve been getting back into cookbooks, trying to grow my collection despite having zero space left on my diy floating shelves I had my SO screw into the minimal wall space in my already small studio. Despite having the space to put any new books, I’ve acquired two new cookbooks that I’ve been enjoying. (One is actually a loner from my mom’s library so I won’t be keeping it long term ūüėČ ).

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For week 35 I set out to celebrate my dad (several days ahead of his actual birthday) by selecting the most perfect cake to send off summer over Labor Day weekend, Chocolate Chip, Raspberry and Almond Cake. The recipe comes from Izy Hossack’s new book, The Savvy Cook.

I ended up doubling the recipe because after I poured the first round of cake batter into the pan I was very worried that there wouldn’t be much cake. I’m so happy I listened to my intuition because if I hadn’t I’m not sure this recipe would have worked out. I’ve actually found myself in this same situation when baking recipes written by British bakers, which Izy happens to be. I think it might have something to do with their use of weighing ingredients versus our use of volume of ingredients for cakes and other baked goods. No big deal, but something to keep in mind!

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Even though I had a minor hiccup, the cake turned out perfectly. Ooey gooey raspberries, melted bittersweet chocolate (make sure to use a high quality bar!). We had no problem dolloping whipped cream over every slice and licking our plates clean.

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For week 36 I shifted gears and looked to Pati Jinich’s Pati’s Mexican Table for some Latin inspiration, after all, my friend was throwing a fiesta party with a nacho bar and flowing margaritas. I took it upon myself to recreate Pati’s delectable Tres Leche cake to help carry the theme through out.

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The cake was well received and every square inch devoured; however, I want to take a moment to point out that one year ago I made the cake for this same exact friend’s birthday. It was a chocolate orange cake with orange curd filling and a decadent robe of chocolate ganache for panache. Looking back through my files of baking memories it was this cake that became the catalyst for more baking projects leading me to the idea for the¬†sweet-sweet-love.com¬†52 cake challenge.

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I’d made a handful of cakes before but after serving the chocolate cake a year ago and getting great feedback from my friends I kept going–leading me to where I am today; 36 cakes in and two weeks behind on posting.

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It’s kind of crazy looking back on how many cakes I’ve made and realizing I only have a handful left to wrap up the year. I’ve been asked what I’m going to do next with this project. For now, its TBD, but I can say that I won’t be going anywhere too far and I’ll still be baking.

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Final thoughts on weeks 35 and 36 (might actually be 36):

  • Happy birthday to my favorite Virgos!
  • (Plus the Virgo I made goodbye cakes for.)

 

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Week 34: Eat Your Veggies Cake

In the beginning of the challenge, I knew I was crazy. 52 cakes in a year? Ambitious, yes. Certifiable, after this week… maybe. I say this because my inspiration for week 34’s recipe and cake was vegetables. Early in the week, I got it in my mind that I wanted to make a zucchini cake, reminiscent of everyones favorite speckled green tea cake. To my disappointment, a recipe didn’t exist!

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Several days of recipe research later, I decided I would adapt the ingredients for carrot cake to emulate soft, moist and carmely sweet zucchini bread in the form of a sheet cake. The recipe creation ended up being simpler than I thought (shared below) and I swapped out carrot shreds for zucchini and removed the typical nuts and dried fruit as well as spicy flavors.

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Because zucchini bread is usually made sweeter with the addition of chocolate chips, I decided to top it with creamy thick chocolate frosting featuring an unlikely main ingredient. Sweet potatoes!

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After using this frosting for the chocolate vegan cake I made during week 12, I knew it needed to make another appearance during the challenge. When I was developing the recipe for the zucchini cake, I immediately thought to top it with this frosting to up the vegetable ante. I ended up bringing the cake into work and having people guess what was in the frosting. Few had good luck, but everyone was shocked to find out it was only two ingredients, one of them being a vegetable! It’s that good. Creamy, rich, chocolatey, decadent, if you’re feeling sneaky, no one will ever know.

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I’m telling you, this frosting is the best kept secret for those who enjoy alternative less refined baking methods. The only ingredients are chocolate chips and sweet potatoes and if you have a high power blender or food process it’s easy to make.¬†I first saw it made on Food52, but I’ve shared the recipe below.

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Eat your Veggies Cake

  • Servings: 30-35
  • Difficulty: medium
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Ingredients For Cake:

  • 2 2/3 c. all purpose flour (I like King Arthur)
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 c. flavorless oil (I use vegetable oil)
  • 2 2/3 c. sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 4 cups of grated zucchini

Ingredients For Frosting:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 and line and grease a rectangular sheet cake pan with parchment paper. Prick your sweet potato with a fork (keep the skin on), wrap in foil and place in oven to roast.

Sift or whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside. If using a food processor, attach the grating blade and run your zucchini through the processor. If you have a Cuisinart, use it. If you don’t, get one. Save the grated zucchini to fold in as the final step.

In a separate large bowl, mix the sugar and oil together with a hand mixer on medium speed. Once combined, turn the speed down, and add the eggs one at a time. Then add the vanilla and continue beating until combined.

Fold the dry ingredients to the wet until no streaks show. I ended up using the hand mixer to help combine the mixture. Once the dry and wet are thoroughly mixed, fold in the zucchini, ensuring equal distribution through out the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Transfer to a cooling rack.

At this point the sweet potato should be soft and cooked through. Remove from oven, carefully peal off skin and save until the cake has cooled. Once the cake is cooled, puree the sweet potato flesh in the food processor. Transfer the puree to a sauce pan to reheat. Add the chocolate chips. Once melted, return to the food processor and puree until thick and creamy. Spread the frosting all over the cooled cake, using an offset spatula to create swirl patterns.

Final thoughts on Eat your Veggies Cake:

  • Vegetables as a dessert ingredient…
  • Highly underrated.

Week 17: Chocolate Torta Soffice

I’ve never been a fan of goodbyes. Whether I’m the one leaving or it’s someone else, I usually end up choking back tears and feeling mopey about it for days.

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Case in point, I found out a few weeks ago one of my closest friends was moving to Minnesota for an amazing job opportunity (we’re talking actual childhood dream job!!!). Rather than being devastated about her impending departure, I distracted myself by researching potential cakes to serve at the going away party.

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Week 13: My Recipe for Coconut-Banana Cake

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Anyone who’s anyone that shops at Trader Joe’s knows their bananas are the best deal in town. At 19 cents a pop they’re hard to beat. Throw them in you smoothies, pack them as a mid-afternoon snack, sprinkle them over a little peanut butter toast–you can’t go wrong. However, you can go wrong when you leave them on your counter uneaten all week. And since you’re anyone who’s anyone,¬†you know that Trader Joe’s produce isn’t one to wait around for you to eat it. Don’t even get me started on how fast their conventional sweet potatoes last!

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Week 12: Vegan Chocolate Cake

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I double checked the astrology charts to make sure mercury wasn’t in retrograde. Maybe it has to do with the change of the seasons, but I suddenly and unexpectedly found myself craving chocolate cake. While I usually go for light fruitier flavors with a nut flour based recipe, I could not get the thought of biting into a luscious slice of chocolate cake out of my head.

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But why vegan?

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Week 7: Nostalgic Mini Morsel Pound Cake

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Seventh through twelfth grade, I coveted my best friends lunch box. Not because of the sandwiches with hand cut rotisserie chicken and munster cheese layered between ‘everything’ ciabatta rolls. Definitely not because of that. I was envious of what came after the sandwich. When the savory was over, she casually whipped out a parcel fastidiously wrapped in shiny tin foil.¬†Inside the palm sized package was tucked the most delicious mini morsel pound cake her mom made fresh every week! If I was lucky, she’d let me have a bite.

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