Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

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Spicy, sweet, moist and fragrant, Pumpkin Coffee Cake says autumn bliss in every bite. Warming cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cloves and sweetened with brown sugar and maple syrup. With toasted pecans in a streusel topping covered with just the right amount of sweet, vanilla icing. Can you smell how it perfumes the whole house?

I can easily resist the siren call of “pumpkin spice latte” and “pumpkin spice” scented candles and room sprays. Don’t even get me started! However, I am a sucker for the real thing. And this lovely coffee cake actually contains real pumpkin and not merely “pumpkin” spices.

When I was searching for a recipe for a pumpkin cake or muffin, I came across this from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Initially I meant to make the recipe exactly as written – truly, I did. However, I immediately started thinking of ways to make it more my own. It’s safe to say that my version of Pumpkin Coffee Cake is only “inspired” by Sally’s.

My Pumpkin Coffee Cake gets its spicing from my Pumpkin Pie. I like a really well-spiced pie. It means adding a few cracks of fresh black pepper to my spice mix. This is a trick I learned a number of years ago. It isn’t enough to notice on its own. But it just enhances the spicy nature of the ginger, allspice and cloves.

I’m not sure why using the word “moist” to describe a cake has become a dirty word. For me, it means that the cake will melt in your mouth and the crumbs will stick together on the fork. It also means that the cake will likely be delicious even after a couple of days. So, yes, this Pumpkin Coffee Cake is beautifully and unashamedly moist! This, of course, also means that you can slice off mere slivers of the cake every time you happen to pass on by. No crumbling here.

Lately, I’ve noticed a curious correlation between bad news and my sweet tooth. The worse things are in the world, the more I crave quality sweets. So for me, the amount of icing was the perfect balance for the spiced cake and the streusel topping. But if you prefer the Jackson Pollack look of lacy lines or even no icing at all, that’s okay too. This is a humble coffee cake – not a fancy pastry.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

The coffee cake was baked in a 9-inch springform pan. However, it could easily have been baked in an 8-inch springform or a 9-inch square pan or loaf pan. It just means that the baking time will need to be adjusted depending on how deep the cake is.

Pumpkin Coffee Cake uses ingredients that most of us have in our pantry. It’s always nice when my urge to bake doesn’t require an extra trip to the grocery store. But using fresh spices is always important for optimal flavor. So don’t get seduced into buying spices in bulk. Unless you are running a bakery or restaurant, most of us cannot use up these bulk spices quickly enough before the flavors are lost. Of course, the more whole spices you buy and grind yourself, the longer the spices will last. And the flavors will be more intense.

As with most coffee cakes, you can eat this from breakfast until dessert following dinner. And the cake can be frozen. I simply wouldn’t add the glaze until just before you are ready to use it.

But enough talk – let’s bake!

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

Recipe

Yield: One 9-inch cake

Ingredients

Streusel Topping

1/2 cup (63g) all-purpose, unbleached flour

1/2 cup (100g) packed dark brown sugar

1.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup (4 T or 59g) unsalted cold butter

Pumpkin Coffee Cake Batter

2 cups (250g) all-purpose unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon double acting baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon each: ground allspice, nutmeg and cloves

1 teaspoon ground ginger

3 good cracks of freshly ground black pepper

1 cup (230g) pumpkin puree

1 large room temperature egg

1/2 cup (100g) packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup (120ml) canola or other neutral vegetable oil

1/4 cup (82g) pure maple syrup

1/4 cup (60ml) dairy or non-dairy milk

Vanilla Icing

1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar

2 to 3 Tablespoons of milk or half & half

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch non-stick springform or square baking pan. If you are using a square pan, you can line it with parchment leaving a 2-inch overhang. This will make it easy to remove the cake from the pan. You could also choose to serve it directly from the pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the streusel ingredients using your fingers, a fork or pastry blender. Mix just to create clumps and large crumbs. Set aside.

Place all of the dry ingredients (flour and spices) in a large bowl and whisk them together. Then add in the pumpkin, egg, brown sugar, maple syrup, oil and milk. Stir just until everything is smooth and combined. Do not over mix. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Add the streusel topping across the batter, gently pressing it in slightly.

Ovens vary as do the pans used. I baked mine in the springform pan for 40 minutes. I then turned the oven off, cracked open the door and left the cake in the oven for 10 more minutes. The center didn’t sink and the cake was perfectly baked. You can also check with a toothpick in the center to see if it comes out dry with a few crumbs attached. I find that less reliable. I go by smell and how the cake looks. By turning off the oven and keeping the cake in there for a few additional minutes, I know the cake will be just done without risk of over-baking.

Remove the cake to a wire rack to cool. If necessary, run a thin knife or spatula around the inside edge of the pan before releasing the outer ring of the springform pan.

Once the cake has cooled to warm, you can prepare the icing, if using. Depending on how thick you like the consistency of the icing, will determine how much liquid you use. You can always add a little more sugar if you went too far with the liquid. How you choose to ice the cake is up to your inner artist. You can also choose to spread it across the top and allow it to run down the sides. This is a cake that can be eaten warm.

Italian Apple Cake

Italian Apple Cake

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Autumn and the Jewish New Year always mean sweet/tart/crisp, juicy apples and cinnamon to me. I can’t get enough of them in every and any iteration. My blog has several apple cake examples and you could be excused in thinking that are many more really needed.

But when I came across this recipe for an Italian Apple Cake, I knew I would try it right away. Of course, I tweaked it a bit! The result is a beautiful, fragrant, appley cake that is even better the second day. Every time I lift the lid on the cake plate, I am hit with a waft of apple scent. It’s delicious before I even taste a bite!

Most of the ingredients are always on hand so I was able to pull it together without a trip to the grocery store. There is nothing fancy here or cloyingly sweet. Every bite is chock full of apple chunks and the flavor is clean and apple-forward with a hint of lemon and cinnamon.

While I did use a hand mixer for beating the eggs with the sugar until airy and light, this cake can be made by hand if you have a strong arm. Other than that one task, no special equipment is required. And while I chose to lay some additional apples on top, dotted with butter and sprinkled with Demerara sugar, you could opt to leave that off and simply dust the cooled cake with confectioner’s sugar for presentation. I did also brush the finished cake top with a light coating of apple jelly for a bit of shine.

Italian Apple Cake

With so many varieties of apples available, choose one (or a variety) that is tart/sweet and will hold its shape when baked. No applesauce here!

The holiday of Sukkot begins Sunday night and lasts all week. This is a perfect treat for the coming 8 days. But you don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy this Italian Apple Cake. Perfect as is, a dollop of freshly whipped cream or crème fraîche would not go amiss, however. And the cake cuts beautifully.

And if you are like me, and can’t get enough of apples, consider some of these other delicious recipes:

Italian Apple Cake

Apple Cake – Take 2

Whole Wheat Apple Cake

Vegan Dessert to die for – Apple Frangipane Tart

Apple Bread Pudding

Tarte Aux Pommes – Apple Tart

Apple Walnut Bread with Rum-Soaked Raisins

Caramelized Apple Pancake

Apple Pecan Bourbon Bundt Cake

Apple Cinnamon Noodle Kugel

Spiced Apple Cake

Amish Apple Pie

Plum (or Apple)and Almond Paste Tart

Vegan Apple Raisin Cake with Applejack Sauce

Apple Tarte Tatin

Apple Crumble

Apple pie with cheddar cheese crust and hard sauce

Recipe

Italian Apple Cake

Yield: One 9-inch cake

Ingredients

Italian Apple Cake

2.5 to 3 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks (I used 2.5, but I could have even had a few more chunks)

1 large apple if using the decorative topping, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

Zest of one small lemon

2 cups (240 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons (14 g) double acting baking powder

1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar

1 cup (245 g) whole milk plain yogurt

1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 large eggs at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon unsalted butter for dotting apples on decorative top, if using

A light sprinkling of Demerara or sanding sugar for decorative top, if using

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a non-stick 9-inch spring form pan with a vegetable spray.

Rub the lemon zest into the sugar and set aside while you measure out your other ingredients.

In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, cream the lemon/sugar and eggs until they are light in color and VERY fluffy. This takes between 5 and 8 minutes.

Stir in the yogurt, butter and vanilla extract until smooth. Do this by hand with a spatula. Do NOT use the hand mixer.

Add the dry ingredients and stir through gently until everything is well combined. Then add in the apples and gently stir through.

If you are using the optional decorative topping, layer the apple slices in an attractive over-lapping pattern. Then sprinkle the apple slices with the sugar and dot with the butter.

Place the spring form pan on top of a baking pan to catch any oozing from the bottom of the pan. Bake until nicely browned. Ovens vary as do apples. So start checking after 45 minutes but don’t be surprised if the cake takes at least an hour. I always then turn off my oven, leaving the door ajar with the cake inside. This will ensure that the cake really is done and won’t sink. The apples and yogurt will keep the cake moist.

Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Using a thin spatula, carefully run it around the inside of the pan’s rim to make sure that nothing stuck anywhere. Then you can open the ring and remove it. Cool the cake fully. The cake should easily come off of the bottom of the spring form pan. However, you could also leave it on it and serve from there, just being careful not to cut into your pan.

Place the cooled cake in a covered cake plate. Italian Apple Cake is even better the next day, making it a great do-ahead recipe. Now enjoy!

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries

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If you are a fan of bold citrus in a melt-in-your-mouth cake, Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries is for you. What this cake lacks in ‘curb appeal’ it more than makes up for in flavor. After all, isn’t that what crème fraîche or whipped cream are for? And this humble cake requires no equipment more complicated than a whisk. Oh my goodness this cake is wonderful!

As I often do, I was clicking through recipes when I came across a recipe for yogurt cake by the well-known author, Claudia Roden. I was about to make it for Shabbat when I decided to read the comments. They were very, very mixed leaning towards the negative. By that time, however, I had it in my head that I had to make a yogurt cake – so I kept on clicking. I came across one titled French Grandmother’s Lemon Yogurt Cake. It looked simple and the reviews were universally positive.

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries

Now I meant to make it exactly as written – really I did. However, my husband, who recently has gotten into cooking and baking, said “Why don’t we add blueberries?” So I figured, why not? But then he said “What if we zest lemon into some sugar and roll the blueberries in that like for the Upside Down Blueberry Pancake?” Trying to be encouraging in his nascent dive into cooking, I said “Sure, why not?”

And, thus was born the Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries!

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries

This unpretentious cake can be eaten for breakfast, coffee or tea break or as dessert. It’s easy to make and even easier to eat. And the cake will only get more flavorful and moister as the days go on. Assuming, of course, that it isn’t all eaten up in one go! Serve just as is or with a little crème fraîche or whipped cream.

Recipe

Yield: About 8

Ingredients

For the Cake

1/2 cup whole milk plain natural yogurt

1 cup granulated sugar plus 3 teaspoons, divided

3 large eggs at room temperature

1.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

Grated zest of one medium to large lemon, divided

1/2 cup of a neutral oil (I used canola)

1/2 cup of blueberries

For the syrup

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 cup powdered, icing or confectioners sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray an 8-inch springform or round cake pan with a neutral spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and lightly spray that. Set the pan aside.

Using your fingers, rub about 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest into the 3 teaspoons of sugar. Add the blueberries and toss through. Set aside.

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries

In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, 1 cup of sugar and the eggs. Stir or whisk until well blended.

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries

Add the oil to the egg mixture and stir through.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the egg mixture. Now add the lemon zest and stir just to combine. Add the blueberries and gently fold through.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is nicely browned and the cake feels springy to the touch. Depending on the oven, this can take 40 to 50 minutes.

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries

While the cake is baking, combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl. This should be more of a runny syrup than a sugar glaze. Set aside.

Cool the cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries

Then, if you are using a springform pan, just run a thin knife or spatula around the cake and release the outer ring. If you are using a cake pan, turn the cake out of the pan onto the rack. Don’t worry if the cake sinks a bit in the center. Place a pan or some newspaper under the rack to brush on the syrup.

Lemon Yogurt Cake with Blueberries

While the cake is still warm, use a pastry brush with the syrup. Generously brush the syrup over the top and sides of the cake. You may have some extra glaze which you could use when serving the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely before serving.

Simple Basbousa

Simple Basbousa

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Simple Basbousa is an easy version of this beloved Levantine sweet treat. This recipe requires no special equipment and because no eggs are called for, it can easily be veganized.

There are many versions of this delightful dessert, including one on my blog with pistachios and coconut. However, all of the recipes for basbousa utilize semolina and a sugar syrup. This means that the cake flavors intensify over time and remains incredibly moist even after several days. Because the Simple Basbousa is dense and sweet from the sugar syrup, a little goes a long way. But it is the perfect complement to well-spiced foods and strong coffee fragrant with cardamom.

I did make a few tweaks to the original recipe, but the changes do not make this Simple Basbousa any more complicated. Generally baked in a rectangular pan. I made mine in a 10-inch square pan because that was what I had on hand.

For Americans who are unfamiliar with basbousa, this Simple Basbousa version reminded both me and my husband of a moist cornbread with honey. Nothing fancy to see here. Just a delicious, simple cake. And in the summer, who wants to slave over dessert?

For more delicious semolina cakes:

Orange Semolina Cake

Lemon Semolina Almond Cake

Simple Basbousa

Recipe

Yield: 25 squares

For the cake

2 cups of coarse semolina (My so-called coarse semolina proved to be only slightly less refined than my fine semolina, so don’t fret if you can’t find both.)

1/4 cup of fine semolina

1 cup of plain whole milk natural yogurt OR plant-based such as coconut

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup of unsalted butter or a plant-based vegan “butter,” melted

1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon each of pure almond and vanilla extract

25 whole blanched almonds

For the syrup

2 cups of granulated sugar

2 cups of water

4 to 5 cardamom pods

1 teaspoon of orange blossom or rose water (I used orange blossom as my husband is not a fan of rose water)

Simple Basbousa

Directions

For the cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix together the sugar and melted butter. Then add the yogurt and mix until smooth and well combined.

Combine the semolina, salt and baking soda and then add to the yogurt mixture. Stir well. The mixture will be fairly thick.

Place the batter into a greased pan (9 X 12 or 10 X 10). Smooth out the mixture using the back of a spoon or an off-set spatula. Score the basbousa with a knife into the squares that you see above.

Add an almond to the center of each square, pressing down gently into the batter.

Bake 35 minutes or until golden brown. Ovens vary so it may take longer or shorter.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. Bring the water, sugar and cardamom pods to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 8 to 10 minutes. Then remove the syrup from the heat, discard the cardamom pods and mix through the orange blossom or rose water.

As soon as the basbousa comes out of the oven, pour the syrup gradually over the top. It will be absorbed almost immediately. Allow the basbousa to cool and then cut through the score lines and enjoy!

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

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This killer Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake is decadently rich, dark and velvety. Did I mention that it has an Oreo crust?! And for those with an egg allergy – NO EGGS! I had seen a recipe for a chocolate cheesecake on the King Arthur website and it got me remembering a Mocha Cheesecake that my Mother used to make occasionally when we had guests over. It may have been based on one that was published (we’re talking almost 60 years ago, folks) in the New York Times. I’m pretty sure that the author was Maida Heatter, that doyenne of fabulous desserts.

The only problem is that it’s just me and my husband these days and that cake fed 16 people. Now I REALLY love a great New York-style cheesecake. However, even I cannot eat that much of it. And unfortunately, I never have enough room in my freezer. You know, to put some away for a pretty rainy day – or Congressional Hearings into January 6.

So, it got me thinking that I needed to come up with a version that uses my 6-inch springform pan. I found that this is the perfect size to yield 6 servings. We can definitely consume that over the course of the week.

The base of the cheesecake started with one that I published last year with a blueberry topping. Please use a really good quality dark bittersweet chocolate like Valrhona or Scharffenberger. 70% cacao is perfect. (And actually – never use poor quality chocolate. It’s just not worth it. Better to make something else entirely!) This will counter the rather sweet cookie crust and the sweetened condensed milk. The espresso powder will emphasize the deep chocolate taste.

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake is for serious chocolate lovers. It has a true, clean chocolate taste and a smooth, truffle-like mouthfeel that starts melting as soon as it hits your tongue. And as rich as this cheesecake is, compared to other New York-style cheesecakes, you don’t have to feel too guilty. Go for it.

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

Recipe

Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients

Yield: About 6 servings

Ingredients

Crust (This is the amount in the original recipe which makes a delicious but fairly thick crust)

250 g of crushed chocolate cookies such as Oreos (This is about 2.5 cups)

1/2 cup (113 g) melted butter (salted or unsalted)

Filling

8 oz. (225 g) full-fat cream cheese in a block, softened

1/2 cup (120 g) heavy or double cream

1 teaspoon espresso powder

1/25 cups of dark (70%) chocolate (about 175 g)

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt

1 Tablespoon Black Natural Cocoa Powder (Dutch cocoa could be used instead)

2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or Dark Rum

1 cup (306 g) of Sweetened Condensed Milk

Directions

Lightly grease the bottom of the springform pan and line it with a round of parchment. You don’t have to do this but it will make it easy to transfer the cake off of the bottom of the tin.

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

Blitz the biscuits in a food processor or with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs. Do not wash the food processor. Just try to remove any excess crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and add the melted butter. Mix until all of the crumbs are moist. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F or 160 C.

Using a hand beater or the food processor (why dirty another utensil?) beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy.

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake

In a smallish bowl, whisk the heavy cream and corn starch until smooth. Add this to the cream cheese. Add the vanilla, sweetened condensed milk and citrus zest. Blitz until the batter is completely smooth. Pour the batter into the pan over the crumb base.

Wrap the bottom of the pan in two layers of aluminum foil to prevent any leakage. Set the pan in a baking dish large enough to hold it. I used a 9-inch square pan. Carefully add hot tap water to the pan until it comes up about half-way up the sides of the springform mold.

Place in the oven and bake for about 1 hour or until the center just slightly jiggles. Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar with the cheesecake inside. Keep the pan in there until your oven fan turns off or the cheesecake cools down. This prevents the crust from cracking.

Remove the cooled cake to a wire rack and using a sharp, flat blade, just carefully run it around the circumference of the cake. Cool the cake in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.

When you are ready to serve, unlock the springform and carefully remove the ring. You can then either leave the cake on the bottom for serving or it should come off easily once the suction has been broken. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake for Passover

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake for Passover

Due to the unprovoked, brutal and barbarous war on Ukrainian civilians by Vladimir Putin and his army and the worsening humanitarian crisis, please consider helping by following the link below. There are a number of reputable aid agencies from which to choose.

Support Humanitarian Efforts in Ukraine

Every year for decades I hosted Passover, the Jewish holiday commemorating the redemption of the Jewish People from slavery. And while it was a lot of work, I loved having family and friends around to join in the seders. There have been many wonderful desserts, including a few that are vegan. (They are linked below.) But I always tried to make at least one new dessert each year. This Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake for Passover would have been this year’s entry in that category. Unfortunately, between my niece’s family having moved away and the pandemic, it has been a few years since I hosted any family holiday gathering.

Pesach this year will be spent with Matthew, Frances and Juliana in San Francisco. Perhaps I can convince Frances to make this Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake for Passover.

Light, moist and lemony, this flourless cake uses almond flour to replace all-purpose or cake flour. Between the almond flour and the ricotta, this is a cake that it is impossible to dry out. It may get slightly custardy over time, with the flavors only intensifying. Delicious on its own, adding either fresh berries and a dusting of icing sugar or a berry compote would kick it up to the next level. Michelle Polzine’s Slow-Roasted Strawberries would be a great option. However, for my money, true perfection was achieved when I served this luscious cake with a good dollop of lightly sweetened home-made creme fraiche and a few raspberries. No matter how you choose to eat this cake, you cannot go wrong.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake for Passover

But you don’t have to make this just for Passover. It’s a lovely, light dessert any time of the year. The recipe originated from the Donna Hay Magazine via the Nosher website and has been slightly tweaked by me. And while there are volume measurements included, I strongly recommend weighing your ingredients when baking.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake for Passover

For Other Great Passover Desserts:

Passover Florentine Cookies

Death by Chocolate Vegan Passover Cake

Passover Sephardic Wine Cookies

Chocolate Chip Vegan Meringue Buttons for Passover

Passover Almond Coconut Macaroons

Passover Orange Ginger Spice Cookies

French Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Chocolate Amaretti Tortemake with kosher for Passover amaretti cookies

Tarte Citron Mamajust substitute 1 Tablespoon of Matzah Cake Meal for the 1 T of flour

Recipe

Yield: One 8-inch cake

Ingredients

120 grams (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
275 grams (1 1/3 cups) granulated or caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped or 1 generous teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract (Optional to use only if you wish to have a more pronounced almond flavor)
1/4 cup loosely packed lemon zest (2 to 3 lemons, depending on size)
4 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
240 grams (2 1/2 cups) almond meal or almond flour
300 grams (1 1/3 cups) ricotta, at room temperature
About 2 Tablespoons flaked (sliced) natural almonds
Icing sugar, for dusting

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter or PAM an 8-inch (20 cm) springform pan. Line the bottom with a parchment round and lightly sugar the sides and bottom.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake for Passover

Place the butter, granulated sugar, vanilla seeds or extract, almond extract and lemon zest in a stand mixer. Beat for 8 to 10 minutes (REALLY) until, pale, creamy and very fluffy. Scrape down the sides as needed.

Gradually add the egg yolks one at a time, while continuing to beat the mixture.

Add the almond meal and beat to combine. Fold the ricotta through the mixture.

In a separate, clean bowl, beat the egg whites until you have stiff peaks.

Gently mix through about 1/3 of the egg whites in to the main batter to loosen it up. Then carefully fold in the remaining egg whites in 2 parts until most of the white bits are no longer visible. Be careful to not deflate the mixture since there is no other leavening in the cake.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smooth out the top with a spatula. Decorate the top with the sliced almonds.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake for Passover

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or longer, depending on your oven. The top should be golden and there shouldn’t be any wobble. If it appears that your cake isn’t done, but you don’t want it to brown anymore, cover it lightly with aluminum foil. Allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack. Carefully run a thin knife or spatula around the cake in the pan to be sure that it isn’t sticking anywhere. Then you can loosen the ring of the springform pan and remove the cake. Do not apply icing sugar until the cake is completely cooled.

Lemon Ricotta Almond Cake for Passover

Chocolate Marble Cake

Chocolate Marble Cake

Growing up I had a very Manichean approach to dessert. My favorite cookie was a Black & White. My favorite ice cream was a soft-serve twist of chocolate and vanilla from Carvel. And my favorite cake was Chocolate Marble Cake from our local bakery. In New York, where I lived until I was fourteen, these desserts were ubiquitous. Every good deli and bakery carried the cookie and cake of my dreams. And in those days, a Carvel sign could be seen at most off-ramps all over New York. The truth is, I have never outgrown these loves, although finding really good versions of them in the Midwest is more challenging. So I was VERY excited when I came across this recipe for Black & White Pound Cake using black cocoa powder.

Black Cocoa Powder is what gives Oreos (or Hydrox Cookies, which is what I ate growing up and believe to be superior) their color and unique almost dry chocolate flavor. I had only used Dutch cocoa before. That will work here but the look and flavor will be different. The recipe comes from Sohla El-Waylly, a Food 52 star baker. She is very fun to watch and has several YouTube offerings. Sohla has a slightly funky vibe and a natural charm. I’ve made a few things of hers and the results have always been successful.

Now the one part of this recipe that caused a lot of debate in the comments section was the so-called streusel, which is used in both the middle of the cake and on top. I say so-called because it isn’t really like any other streusel I’ve eaten. It’s quite dry and the whole cake when it comes out of the pan, kind of looks as if it had been rescued from a fire and was covered in coal dust. I know, I know – this doesn’t sound as if I am making a case for the topping. But the funny thing is that as I ate the cake, the not-very-sweet topping grew on me. The part that went in the middle just melted into the cake and was delicious. The stuff on top crumbled off these dark, deep Oreo-like bits which were not overly sweet, but had a certain somethin/somethin.

It would be completely understandable if you chose to leave it off of the top and the cake would be AMAZING. But if you are open to giving it a chance, I would encourage you to do so. Either way, I would definitely use it in the middle of the cake as given in the recipe.

The finished cake when cut is an ever-changing work of art. Each slice is unique in it’s design and all are beautiful. It’s edible modern art, with dark beautiful veins of deliciousness. And while it may appear to be difficult to achieve, it really isn’t. I won’t lie. The cake is a bit fussy, takes a little time and uses several bowls, but there are no special techniques to making this. Just REALLY, REALLY, REALLY read the directions through several times before starting. And I also found that by measuring everything out before I began actually making the cake made things much easier. Yes, it does create more bowls and dishes to wash, but it also means that there is no scrambling to measure and possibly mis-reading things. Directions are crucial here.

I have mentioned it in other posts, but it’s worth saying again. I have become a BIG fan of weighing most of my ingredients when baking. It really is so much more accurate than simply measuring. Kitchen scales are readily available and cost around $25 – money well spent. I have included both measurements and weights where appropriate.

The other thing I learned when making this cake is how transformative long creaming of your butter and sugar can be. Until Sohla, I had never, ever creamed butter and sugar this long. However, I will now never, ever cream butter and sugar anything but this long again! Who knew how light and fluffy the mixture could become? And it is essential that ALL of your ingredients are at room temperature for best results.

Recipe

Chocolate Marble Cake

Yield: One 9 X 5-inch loaf

Ingredients

For the Streusel (Optional)

1 1/4 cup (156 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (20 grams) black cocoa powder (or Dutched or natural cocoa powder)
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
6 tablespoons (82 grams) cold butter, cut into cubes

For the Cake

14 tablespoons (196 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
1 1/4 cup (250 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup (187 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons (15 grams) black cocoa powder (or Dutched or natural cocoa powder)
1 tablespoon milk or water

Chocolate Marble Cake

Directions

For the Streusel

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cocoa, and salt. Add the cubed
butter and rub the mixture together with your fingers until it comes together into clumps; set aside. [Mine never quite formed clumps and I tend to agree with most of the comments that felt it needed more butter for this to happen. However, it did surprisingly stay together on the cake and when eaten was the texture of a thick Oreo dust. Not especially sweet.]

For the Cake

Set a rack in the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5-inch metal loaf pan with butter or cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment and grease that as well.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar,
baking powder, and kosher salt on medium-high speed until pale and very fluffy, stopping once during
mixing to scrape down the paddle and bowl, 6 to 8 minutes total. (You might think it’s done before that
time, but keep going all the way.)

Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl. On medium-high speed, beat in the eggs and yolk one at a
time, scraping down the paddle and the bowl after each addition. The batter should look very fluffy,
creamy, and emulsified (if not, your eggs or butter may have been not at room temperature—let the
mixture come to room temperature then try mixing it again).

Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl. In a small bowl, stir together the sour cream and vanilla
until lump-free and totally smooth.

Add half of the sour cream and mix on low until just incorporated, about 15 seconds. Add half of the flour
and mix until just incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with the remaining sour cream and flour. Using
a flexible rubber spatula, scrape down the paddle and the bowl and mix the batter a few times to make sure
everything is evenly combined.

Transfer about half the batter to a medium bowl. Sift over the cocoa powder and stir into the batter along
with the milk or water.

Sifting Black Cocoa

Add half the cocoa batter and half the vanilla batter to the pan in alternating dollops. Top with half the streusel and repeat dolloping the remaining batter.

With a butter knife or offset spatula, swirl the knife through the batter to make sure it is evenly distributed
into the pan with no big air pockets and give the pan a few swift taps against the counter. Wet a butter
knife and use it to slice down the center of the loaf cake (this ensures an even crack right down the middle
of the cake). Top with remaining streusel, lightly pressing it into the batter.

Chocolate Marble Cake

Bake until the crust is deeply browned, the loaf rises and splits, and the cake feels firm and set when you
gently press the top, 65 to 75 minutes. (This is a very moist cake and it is better to overbake rather than
underbake. If the crust is looking very dark partway through, set a wire rack just above the loaf pan and
place a rimmed baking sheet on it to provide a shield.)

Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then run an offset spatula or butter knife around the sides to
loosen. Tip the cake into your hand, then place on a wire rack to fully cool before slicing.

Bourbon Pecan Bread

Bourbon Pecan Bread

This fragrant quick bread is easy to make and even easier to eat. While flipping through one of my old hand-written books of favorite recipes, I came across this Bourbon Pecan Bread. I hadn’t made it in years and the recipe said that it made three mini-loaves. Clearly this was a recipe that I used to make as gifts to friends and teachers. However, I wanted to only make a single larger loaf this time around. Like most quick breads, this one comes together quickly and bakes for about an hour. These breads are really not breads at all but are simple cakes that are perfect with tea or coffee pretty much anytime of day. They all have the traditional crack down the middle that you see in cakes made with baking soda.

Bourbon Pecan Bread doesn’t need any glaze or embellishments. With holidays and maybe even some friends or family visiting, it’s great to have this absolutely wonderful quick bread in your back pocket. The most difficult part will be not jumping in to eat it before its cool. These make wonderful “host/hostess” gifts. And wrap it in some cellophane and tie a pretty bow on for a gift that anyone would be happy to receive.

Now I’m sure that the recipe comes from somewhere. Unfortunately, several decades ago when I was writing it down, I wasn’t concerned with provenance. So, that said, my apologies to whoever conceived the original, wonderful recipe. Though uncredited, it is truly appreciated. I did make a few tweaks, but nothing substantial.

This recipe was made using a food processor. However, it could also be made by hand, or using a hand or stand mixer. There are just a few things to remember: don’t over mix the batter once you start adding the flour and make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature.

You could swap out walnuts for the pecans and some sort of cognac or Armagnac for the Bourbon. But there is just some wonderful alchemy that happens when pecans and Bourbon are in the same recipe. Bourbon is an American whiskey made from distilled corn mash. And pecans are the only indigenous American nut. So perhaps, that is why something so magical happens when they are paired in things like Bourbon Pecan Pie or this Bourbon Pecan Bread.

Bourbon Pecan Bread

While there is alcohol in this recipe, it cooks away in the baking process, leaving only its flavorful depth and essence behind. There is no non-alcoholic substitute that would work here.

Tightly wrapped once it has fully cooled, this Bourbon Pecan Bread will last for several days and can be frozen for later enjoyment. However, when this intoxicating smell wafts out of your oven, you will have to be of a stronger will than I have to not eat it right away.

Recipe

Yield: 3 mini-loaves or one 9 x 5-ince loaf

Bourbon Pecan Bread

Ingredients

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk or plain kefir

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans, lightly pan toasted

3 Tablespoons Bourbon

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

About 2+ Tablespoons Demerara or other coarse sugar (optional, but a nice touch)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease (I used cooking spray) a loaf pan. Line the bottom and sides with parchment with a 2-inch overhang. Grease the paper as well. Sprinkle the Demerara sugar un the bottom of the pan, if using. Then carefully turning the pan, coat the bottom and sides with the sugar. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and then add the salt.

Using a food processor or mixer (or by hand), cream the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until fluffy. This should take about 3 minutes if you are using a machine. Add the eggs and mix well. Then add the Bourbon and vanilla.

Starting with the flour, add one third to the butter mixture and process in pulses just until barely combined. Then add half of the buttermilk and lightly pulse or mix it through. Repeat with the next third of the flout and the remaining buttermilk. Add the toasted pecans to the final bit of flour and toss them together. This will help prevent the nuts from all sinking to the bottom. Now add this last amount of flour/pecan mixture and pulse it through the batter or mix with a spatula until just combined. Do not overmix the batter once you have begun adding the flour or the final cake will be gummy and tough.

Pour or spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan. Tap it lightly on the counter to even things out. Lightly sprinkle with the coarse sugar if using and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. For mini-loaves, bake these beauties for about 45 minutes. If your oven bakes as unevenly as mine, turn the bread about half way through. Don’t worry about the top cracking down the middle. That is classic for this kind of bread. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Then carefully lift out the Bourbon Pecan Bread, using the parchment sling. Remove the parchment and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Now enjoy!

Parsnip, Cherry Walnut Cake with Sweet Hawaij Glaze

Parsnip Cherry Walnut Cake

Parsnip, Cherry Walnut Cake with Sweet Hawaij Glaze is a knock-out. I know, I know – parsnip?! But hear me out. We eat carrot cake and zucchini bread without giving it a second thought. So why not the under-rated cousin of carrot? Parsnips are one of those root vegetables that is a harbinger of autumn for me. This sweet, unassuming vegetable is wonderful in soups, stews and root vegetable mash. But cake?

We Jews have just begun the Festival of Booths (Sukkot) which is the middle holiday in the panoply of High Holidays celebrated by Jews all over the world. This ancient harvest festival “commemorates the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert after the revelation at Mount Sinai. The huts represent the temporary shelters that the Israelites lived in during those 40 years.”

And parsnips are the perfect early harvested vegetables to begin the autumn and the Jewish New Year. I came across this recipe through a website called Nosher on my Jewish Learning. It intrigued me enough to try it. While perhaps not the most impressive-looking of cakes, it is packed with flavor. I did change the original glaze to one of my own making, however. It seemed that the amounts and types of spices would overwhelm the cake.

Included below is a recipe for Sweet Hawaij from the cookbook Shuk by Einat Admony and Janna Gur. This Yemeni spice blend is magical. I often use it to replace anywhere you might use pumpkin or baharat spices. It will take coffee and roasted vegetables to the next level. Try it in pumpkin pie. You might just be converted. I make up my own but it is also available online and at spice stores.

Despite the leavening used in the recipe, the cake does not rise very much in. If you would prefer a higher cake, you could use a smaller bundt pan, but it would likely increase the baking time. While dense, the cake is not at all heavy. Every day the flavors melded and became even moister and richer. I would definitely suggest making this at least a day ahead of when you plan on eating it. Mine was stored in a glass-domed cake plate and has held up beautifully.

Parsnip Cherry Walnut Cake

So if you are looking to add more veggies into your diet, there is no sweeter way than this Parsnip, Cherry Walnut Cake with a Sweet Hawaij Glaze. The tart cherries perfectly complement the sweet parsnip and the walnuts add some depth and texture. But don’t wait for a holiday to make this yummy cake.

Recipe

Yield: About 10 servings

Ingredients

Parsnip Cherry Walnut Cake

For the cake

2 cups (260 g) unbleached, all-purpose flour

1.5 teaspoons (7.2 g) baking powder

1 teaspoon (5 g) baking soda

1/2 teaspoon (2.6 g) kosher salt

3 large eggs at room temperature

1 cup (206 g) packed light brown sugar or jaggery

1 cup (240 g) sour cream at room temperature

2 teaspoons (10 g) vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (8 Tablespoons or 113 g) unsalted butter, browned slightly cooled

About 4 parsnips (340 g after peeling and trimming ends), finely grated and packed into a 2 cup measuring cup

1/2 cup (60 g) dried pitted cherries or barberries

1/2 cup (57 g) walnuts, lightly toasted and chopped

For the glaze

1.25 cups (155 g) confectioners or icing sugar

1 generous teaspoon Sweet Hawaij (see recipe)

pinch of kosher salt

About 1/3 cup milk (79 ml)

Sweet Hawaij

Yield: About 1/2 cup

1 Tablespoon ground cloves

2 Tablespoons freshly grated nutmeg

2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons ground ginger

1 Tablespoon ground cardamom

This will last in a cool, dark place kept in a small glass air-tight jar for up to a year. Mine gets used up waaaaaay before that!

Directions

For the cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (176 C). Spray well a 12-cup Bundt pan with a non-stick vegetable spray and set aside. Place a cooling rack over parchment, newspaper or a baking pan and set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add the salt and set aside.

Using a stand or hand-held mixer (or by hand), combine the eggs, sugar, sour cream, vanilla paste and browned butter. Mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix just until barely combined. A few small streaks or lumps of flour are okay. (Over-mixing leads to a gummy cake!)

Add the finely grated parsnips, cherries and walnuts and mix just until combined. pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes and then turn it out. Allow it to cool completely. If you are feeling lazy, you can simply dust the cooled cake with confectioners sugar and call it a day. The cake alone is delicious. But if you want AMAZING, make the glaze.

For the glaze

In a medium bowl, combine the confectioner’s sugar, salt and Sweet Hawaij or pumpkin spice blend. Slowly add in the milk until you get a consistency that is fairly thick but still pourable. If you go too far, just add a bit more sugar. When the cake has cooled completely, pour or drizzle the glaze over the top and allow it to run down the sides.

Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake

Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake

Feel the island breezes blow with every bite of this Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake. And while this cheesecake is rich, it is also refreshing with the citrus tang of lime zest and pineapple. The macadamia nuts and toasted coconut add just the right amount of decadence. The bits of lime zest make for a subtle yet pretty contrast to the silky, smooth, white of the filling. It’s such a happy cake!

So after a day of slogging at work or playing in the sun, this make-ahead dessert is the best reward. Another great thing about this cake is that it is not a ginormous cheesecake. It’s still just me and my husband at home and a 9-inch cheesecake would take forever to finish. The circumference is only 6 inches and will easily satisfy 6 of even the hardiest appetites. And it holds up beautifully for several days in the fridge.

I chose to use virgin coconut oil in place of butter in the crust. It just ramps up the tropical flavors and it is a 1:1 swap. If you don’t have coconut oil or prefer not to use it, just substitute with an equal amount of butter. And I used pre-toasted coconut that I buy from Nuts.com – a wonderful source for all kinds of dried fruits, nuts, flours, spices and treats. But, it also is easy enough to toast coconut yourself if you either don’t have access to this or simply don’t want to go that route.

As you read the recipe, you will notice that I layer the flavors to build the intensity. You will taste the coconut, rum and macadamia nuts in the base and topping. And the lime zest is in the filling and topping. So with every bite there will be the creamy filling along with the slight crunch of the nuts and toasted coconut. The pineapple on top just adds to the tropical notes. Lovely!

Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake

In order to get a perfect clean cut, run your knife under hot water first.

We are still not doing a lot of travelling, but eat this Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake and you will think that you are on a beautiful island with tropical breezes gently blowing.

My husband wanted me to add this comment from him:

I had my first piece of the Coconut Pineapple Macadamia cheesecake last night and was blown away. I had always thought that when chefs talked about a “particular balance of flavors” that it was just a bunch of hooey. I was wrong. This cheesecake isn’t merely delicious; it’s delicious from the first bite, as soon as that first combination of coconut, lime, pineapple, macadamia and other flavors hits your mouth.

NOTE: While I did not make this vegan, it easily could be since no eggs are required. Nowadays, there are delicious vegan substitutes for cream cheese and condensed milk. Check out my vegan Pumpkin Pie recipe for a recipe for vegan sweetened condensed milk at the end. This is my own recipe which is why I have not linked to anyone else.

For other delicious cheesecakes:

Blueberry Cheesecake

Summer Ricotta Cheesecake

No Bake Nutella Cheesecake

Crostata di Ricotta

Recipe

Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake

Yield: About 6 good servings

Ingredients

Crust

Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake

150 g of crushed biscuits (Digestive or graham crackers. While I love Digestive Biscuits, the graham crackers make for a somewhat less dense, lighter base. I have used both, but prefer the latter.)

70 g macadamia nuts (I used dry roasted with sea salt. If you use raw macadamia nuts then add about ¼ teaspoon kosher salt)

35 g unsweetened, shredded coconut

1/2 cup (113 g) virgin coconut oil, melted (If you use refined coconut oil there won’t be any of the coconut flavor that you want.) If you have neither, you can use butter.

Filling

Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake

8 oz. (225 g) full-fat cream cheese in a block, softened

1/2 cup (120 g) heavy coconut cream

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Zest of one large lime

1 Tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut

1 Tablespoon dark or light rum (Optional) (The alcohol cooks off and only the flavor remains)

14 oz. can (396 g) of Sweetened Condensed Milk

Topping

Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake

8 oz. can of crushed pineapple in juice

1/8 cup of light brown sugar (You could also use jaggery or demerara

Zest of half of a large lime

1.5 teaspoons corn starch

1.5 Tablespoons (44g) pineapple juice or water

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons to 1 Tablespoon rum (The alcohol cooks off and only the flavor remains)

About 1 Tablespoon chopped roasted macadamia nuts (Optional)

About 1 Tablespoon toasted shredded coconut (Optional)

Directions

Lightly grease the bottom of a 6-inch springform pan and line it with a round of parchment. You don’t have to do this but it will make it easy to transfer the cake off of the bottom of the tin.

Blitz the biscuits, nuts and coconut in a food processor or with a rolling pin until you have fine crumbs. Do not wash the food processor. Just try to remove any excess crumbs. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl and add the melted coconut oil. Mix until all of the crumbs are moist. It should feel like wet sand! Press the crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F or 160 C.

Using a hand beater or the food processor (why dirty another utensil?) beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy.

In a smallish bowl, whisk the heavy coconut cream and corn starch until smooth. Add this to the cream cheese. Add the vanilla, sweetened condensed milk and lime zest. Blitz until the batter is completely smooth. Pour the batter into the pan over the crumb base.

Wrap the bottom of the pan in two layers of aluminum foil to prevent any leakage. Set the pan in a baking dish large enough to hold it. I used a 9-inch square pan. Carefully add hot tap water to the pan until it comes up about half-way up the sides of the springform mold. This creates a bain-marie.

Place in the oven and bake for about 1 hour or until the center just slightly jiggles. Turn off the oven and leave the door ajar with the cheesecake inside. Keep the pan in there until your oven fan turns off or the cheesecake cools down. This prevents the crust from cracking.

Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake

Remove the cooled cake to a wire rack and using a sharp, flat blade, just carefully run it around the circumference of the cake. Cool the cake in the fridge for 4 to 6 hours.

Meanwhile make the topping. Place the crushed pineapple with its juice, sugar, zest in a heavy-bottomed pan. On medium heat, cook until the sugar dissolves. Make a slurry of the cornstarch and water (that just means that you mix the two until there is a milky, smooth liquid). Add this to the pineapple mixture and bring it to a boil. Cook until the mixture thickens up. It doesn’t have to be totally solid as it will continue thickening in the fridge, but should be the consistency of a good jam. Allow the mixture to cool.

Add the cool mixture to the top of the cheesecake. I did it in the mold, but the original had you unmold the cheesecake and then add it. Your preference, but my way is easier if you don’t want a mess. Garnish with chopped macadamia nuts and toasted coconut (about 1 Tablespoon of each).

Coconut Macadamia Cheesecake

When you are ready to serve, unlock the springform and carefully remove the ring. You can then either leave the cake on the bottom for serving or it should come off easily once the suction has been broken. Transfer to a serving plate and enjoy.