Since making it for the first time in the summer of 2009, this cake has become my go-to recipe when I need (or want) to bake for something important. It's simple, dependable, and it tastes wonderful every time. I know I can make it when I'm short on time, or in an unfamiliar kitchen, or when I really, really
don't want to mess up.
So when I went to Columbus to meet my boyfriend's parents for the first time, I knew this would be the perfect thing to make for them. They loved it! They even asked me to make them another one before I left. Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time to do that. But I did give Matt's mom a copy of Molly Wizenburg's book, A Homemade Life.
Next time I visit, I hope we can make it together.
I usually make it in a round baking pan, but it's such an adaptable recipe that a square one works just as well. It would probably make good cupcakes, too! I'll be posting a recipe for a different lemon cake (it's my mom's' favorite kind of cake, so I'm constantly trying different variations) that has a lemonade buttercream frosting. That would go well with this, too . . . Hmm . . .
Recipe for French-Style Lemon Yogurt Cake
From A Homemade Life
by Molly Wizenburg
Makes one 9-inch round cake.
For the Cake:
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
Zest of one lemon
1/2 cup well-stirred plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
For the Lemon Syrup:
Juice of one lemon
1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
For the Lemon Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
3 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, sugar and eggs and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and lemon zest. Add the flour mixture in with the yogurt mixture and blend. Mix in the oil and stir until well combined. The batter should be very smooth.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes and then turn out onto a cake rack or serving plate to cool.
While cake is still warm, mix together lemon syrup ingredients and spoon over cake. Let cake cool completely.
For the lemon icing, whisk together ingredients and spoon over cooled cake. Wait until icing has set, about one hour. Serve.
(If you can't wait, don't. Who cares.)
These are the first cupcakes I have ever made. A momentous occasion indeed! Ah, life in the first world.As such, I am going to take this opportunity to discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of cupcakes.
A cupcake editorial, if you will. There is a serious cupcake craze in this country that has been going on for quite some time now. Cupcake boutiques have sprouted up in strip malls, Food Network has entire shows dedicated exclusively to cupcakes, and world records in largest cupcake
and largest cupcake tower
have been broken. (By the way, the world's largest cupcake contains two million
calories. Yeah. Two million
.) Not to mention the cupcake flavors that are out there these days! In the name of research, I consulted the universe's guide to trendy eats--Foodgawker.com
of course. I looked through twelve pages of cupcake photos, and here are some choice results I thought I'd share with you: Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes with Guinness Cake, Jameson Ganache and Bailey's Frosting
, Audrey Hepburn Cupcakes
(that's when you know you've made it big--someone's named a cupcake after you), Doughnut Cupcakes
(bring on the clogged arteries and type two diabetes!), Fig, Goat Cheese, and Caramelized Onion Cupcakes
(also known as a disappointment), and my personal favorite, the 'Cupcake Inside a Cupcake' Cupcake
. On my "Things that are Unnecessary" list,
that last one may have bumped celebrity gossip down to number two.Before we know it, normal-sized cakes will be phased out in supermarkets and bakeries across the globe in favor of their tinier counterparts, Pinkberry will carry cupcakes made with frozen yogurt, and the Girl Scouts will begin peddling Thin Mint and Samoa flavored cupcakes
every spring. Is that where society is headed, people? Is it? Is it?!
Obviously, I've been slow to jump on the cupcake bandwagon. Sure, I can enjoy a fancy dessert from Jilly's
(they won on Cupcake Wars!), but to be honest, I just don't get what all the fuss is about. To me, cupcakes seem like a cop-out. Just make a real cake, people! Why is that so hard? It is a bit funny that I've been so cupcake resistant, because I am a huge fan of muffins.
In fact, my first blog post ever was on bran muffins
, and since then, I've posted two other recipes. Maybe that's because muffins are acceptable breakfast fare, even though they taste kind of like dessert. But cupcakes have frosting, so it's generally looked down upon to consume them in the morning, which relegates them to dessert. But if I'm going to eat dessert, I'd rather have a piece of real cake, or a slice of real pie, or a scoop of real ice cream, instead of a carrot cake cupcake
(37 recipes on Foodgawker), or an apple pie cupcake
(7 recipes on Foodgawker), or an ice cream cupcake
(25 recipes on Foodgawker). So that's my opinion on cupcakes. But sometimes, the world demands that you make a double chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting. And by the world, I mean my mother. She is 100% on the cupcake bandwagon, and I can't really refuse a request to bake something.
Especially if it's something I've never tried to make before. And because I am an honest person, I will tell you that I really liked these cupcakes. They were very delicious. And my mother, who by all accounts is a cupcake connoisseur, called this recipe "a keeper." And that, dear readers, says it all.And by the way, the frosting on these cupcakes is incredible. If you want to just take the frosting recipe and use it on something else (like a real cake, or the back of a spoon--no judgment here), that's fine with me. I won't tell.
Recipe for Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream FrostingFrom Sing for Your SupperMakes two dozen cupcakes.
IngredientsFor the cake:
2 cups sugar1-3/4 cups flour3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder1-1/2 tsp baking powder1-1/2 tsp baking soda1 tsp salt2 eggs1 cup milk1/2 cup vegetable oil2 tsp vanilla extract1 cup boiling waterFor the frosting:1/2 cup butter, melted2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder3 cups powdered sugar1/3 cup milk1 tsp vanilla extractInstructionsFor the cakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line two cupcake tins with liners.Whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat at medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water. The batter will be absurdly thin, and will probably end up all over your hands, face, counter top, and muffin tins. Totally worth it. But wear an apron.
Also, don't forget to put in the sugar. But if you do, and you get all the way to the end of the recipe and then wonder why the batter isn't thin, and then taste it, and realize you left it out and that the resulting batter is one of the worst things you have ever tasted, you can add it in at the end. The cupcakes will still turn out just fine.Pour batter into muffin cups. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in the trays, and then cool completely on wire racks. For the frosting:
Combine cocoa powder and melted butter in a medium bowl. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add a small amount of additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. (Makes about 2 cups frosting.)
I have achieved biscotti perfection. A bold statement, I am aware. I would invite you to come over and taste for yourself, but there isn't any biscotti left. I'm sorry. If you have to blame someone, blame my fourteen year old brother. (This is a good strategy for a variety of problems.)
The cranberry-pistachio biscotti from last week was delicious and festive. But in my mind, one of the most classic autumn/winter flavors is pumpkin. And pumpkin + baked goods = good for you! This is what I tell myself; do not try to dissuade me.
Recipe for Pumpkin Biscotti
(Adapted from Dessert for Two
)Makes about 24 cookies.Ingredients:
2 large eggs1 cup sugar1 tsp baking powder1/4 cup pumpkin puree1/4 cup olive oil1 tsp cinnamon1/2 tsp nutmegpinch of gingerpinch of cloves1/4 tsp salt1/2 tbsp vanilla2-1/2 cups flour1/4 cup + 2 tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds)1 12-oz. bag white chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli--it really never disappoints.)Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat eggs, sugar and baking powder vigorously with a whisk for about two to three minutes.
Add pumpkin puree, olive oil, spices, and vanilla. Whisk vigorously again.Sprinkle flour on top and mix in with a spatula.
Fold in the pepitas.With wet fingers, divide the dough in half and shape it into two flat logs, one on each prepared baking sheet.
Bake for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.Remove from oven and let rest for at least 15 minutes.
Cut into half-inch slices and bake for another 30 minutes at 300 degrees, flipping the slices over halfway through.Cool completely. Melt white chocolate in 15-second bursts in the microwave, stirring after each time. Dip one side of the biscotti in the chocolate; for a festive addition, dip again into colored sprinkles.
Welcome to my two-part holiday post on biscotti. When it comes to cookies, biscotti ranks pretty low in my book, somewhere between vanilla wafers and those bizarre bacon-flavored cookies that are so
popular in the foodie world right now. When I think about a store-bought (or more commonly Starbucks-bought) piece of biscotti, I think dry, jawbreaker-style cookie with the texture of sandpaper. Having become an occasional coffee drinker over the past few years, I can better understand their appeal with a nice espresso or latté, but not enough to really want to crunch into one in place of a piece of pumpkin bread or cranberry bar. Now that I've completely turned you off of ever eating one of these things again, let me reign you back in. Here's the secret: Homemade biscotti is a totally different breed of cookie.
It has just the right crunch without being too tough, and is anything but dry. Plus, you can decide what you want in it and
control (read: go out of control with) the amount of chocolate drizzle or dip being used. And the holiday bonus: Biscotti is a perfect gift! Wrap a few pieces up in a plastic cellophane bag, tie a pretty bow on it
, and pair it with a nice bag of coffee for an excellent, affordable present.
Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti with White Chocolate
Adapted from Diamonds for Dessert
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup sugar2 tsp vanilla extract2 eggs1-3/4 cups flour1/4 tsp salt1 tsp baking powder1/2 cup dried cranberries1 cup pistachios6 oz. white chocolate chips
Instructions:Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.In a large bowl, combine olive oil and sugar. Add vanilla and eggs. In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients into wet and stir until no streaks of flour remain. Fold in cranberries and pistachios. With wet hands, divide dough into two
equal portions and form into logs roughly the length of the cookie sheet. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 275 degrees F. With a serrated knife, the logs into half-inch slices
. Toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes, flipping once. Cool completely.In a shallow bowl, melt white chocolate in the microwave in 15-second intervals, stirring well after each one. Be very careful not to scorch the chocolate
. Dip one side of the cooled slices in the chocolate.