Category Archives: cake

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Chocolate Pecan Pie | 2nd Birthday | A Busy New Year

seattle real estate agent

Oh, hi there.

I’m afraid I have to apologize yet again. Time escapes me over and over. I can’t really complain about much, however. I am busy with work, which is just wonderful. Kirk is busy with his work, which is fantastic too. And, Maeve is lovely. She’s a sick little red fox, but she’s learning tons, speaking tons, and is an official 2 year old. Where does the time go? I thought you might enjoy a few pictures from Thanksgiving, Christmas, and some fun escapades. read more »

Breakfast cake dessert rhubarb

Rhubarb Coffee Cake | Becoming a Coffee Cake Person

big crumb coffee cake recipe

Hi there.

Did you know Mother’s Day is coming up here shortly? Yes, it’s true. Mother’s Day is on May 13th. That’s this weekend!

I imagine many of you are rolling your eyes right now. You are keenly aware of Mother’s Day. You’re already a mom or an informed offspring or spouse who takes pride in staying current on such matters. But maybe, just maybe, this came as news to you. You read that line about the upcoming festival of mamas and you started a bit. A touch of panic, perhaps?

It’s O.K. There is still time. You can still run to the store and find something pretty, useful, or educational depending on the type of mom you’re celebrating. You can still find a decent bouquet of flowers. You might even be able to do this on Sunday morning before she rises. It always seems there are an abundance of people standing on corners selling flowers out of buckets on Mother’s Day. You know the ones. They have flowers wrapped up in cellophane that is scalloped and tinged with bits of red to look like lace? These fancy things might even be nestled alongside some teddy bears with velvet hearts sewn between 2 itty bitty paws.

Sounds perfect.

But I have another idea.

Make her something sweet she will enjoy when she wakes up in the morning.

Moms are tired. They don’t want to make breakfast complicated, but they do want to eat something delicious. Besides, breakfast is the best meal of the day. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t had a decent breakfast. There are so many things to make for the first meal of the day it can make your head spin. I assure you, however, there is no need to fear this meal. In know it’s early in the morning and we are all a bit foggy, but I am going to give you a recipe, which will undoubtedly ensure your place in mom’s heart forever.

Coffee cake.

Big Crumb Coffee Cake, to be precise.

big crumb coffee cake recipe

I typed that and my stomach audibly rumbled. It’s pretty remarkable, actually. I never considered myself a real coffee cake person. It’s not that I don’t like coffee cake because I do. I like it a lot. In fact, I eye those tempting chunks of coffee cake in the glass cases at coffee shops all of the time. But I mostly resist. I find I have a surprising amount of will power when presented with sweets I didn’t make in my home kitchen.

big crumb coffee cake recipe

I also think part of my ability to resist coffee cake is due to my early childhood baking experiences. My mom didn’t bake coffee cake so I didn’t have the proper exposure. I’m sure this some sort form of mild abuse, but I haven’t examined the issue much. I can say I am putting all that behind me because the winds of change are blowing around here.

I am a coffee cake person. It’s official. This big crumb coffee cake will blow your mind. Did I just say that? I think I did. It’s absolutely true. Did I mention there is also rhubarb in this cake? Yes, rhubarb! I can think of nothing better to surprise that special mama’s taste buds as she bites into this delectable cake. It’s moist and sweet, but not too sweet. The sour cream and rhubarb add just the perfect and quite subtle tang. The crumb on top is truly something to behold. It’s big as the name suggests and moist unlike any other crumb topping. I can’t say which I like better. Unlike most cakes, the top and bottom are deliciously addictive in equal measure. That’s the mark of a superb cake.

big crumb coffee cake recipe

big crumb coffee cake recipe

I do hope you try it. Your mother, wife, sister, or whoever you are celebrating will be so happy to have a hunk of this waiting for her on Sunday morning. I do warn you, however, to keep the cake clear of your wee ones. I made the mistake of giving Maeve the tiniest morsel, which caused her to wail for more. She loved it. We all did. In fact, I had to remove the cake from the premises to ensure we did not eat the entire thing in one sitting. It was sad to see the lovely treat go, but our bellies needed a rest.

Oh, and speaking of rest, mom needs one. This mom, in fact, needs one right now. I’ll see you all soon.

big crumb coffee cake recipe

Happy Mother’s Day!

Big Crumb Rhubarb Coffee Cake


1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger


1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup melted butter

1 3/4 cups cake flour


1/3 cup sour cream

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup cake flour

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons softened butter, cut into 8 pieces.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-square baking pan. For filling, slice rhubarb 1/2 inch thick and toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

To make crumbs, in a large bowl, whisk together sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in flour with a spatula. It will look like a solid dough.

To prepare cake, in a small bowl, stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and a spoonful of sour cream mixture and mix on medium speed until flour is moistened. Increase speed and beat for 30 seconds. Add remaining sour cream mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of bowl with a spatula. Scoop out about 1/2 cup batter and set aside.

Scrape remaining batter into prepared pan. Spoon rhubarb over batter. Dollop set-aside batter over rhubarb; it does not have to be even.

Using your fingers, break topping mixture into big crumbs, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch in size. They do not have to be uniform, but make sure most are around that size. Sprinkle over cake. Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean of batter (it might be moist from rhubarb), 45 to 55 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Source: New York Times

cake dessert summer

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte | Summer Projects

When you are a dedicated Seattlelite, you do not complain about the weather. It’s like a secret pain you are not supposed to publicly acknowledge.  Someone, who is likely entirely garbed in polar fleece, will undoubtedly accuse you of being a wimp or, worse, a Californian. The truth of the matter is that I am a Californian. I was born and raised there. When I moved to this lovely state, I needed the change. I was a young thing with bright eyes. I was a college freshman with so much lust for life I barely noticed the weather except to marvel at the autumnal leaves. The leaves fall off the trees here in the Fall! Can you imagine?

Despite all this early vim and vigor, the charm sort of faded.  And, while I still love this city for a whole host of reasons, the gray and rain really got to me this year. There. I said it. It’s on the record, for certain. You can call me what you like. I’m an adult now.  I have a pretty thick skin. You develop an armor of sorts after several years of abuse as a public servant.

However, I’m really not going to complain any further because there is nothing to complain about now. It’s summer. It’s July and Seattle is the absolute perfect place to be this time of year. It’s temperate. It’s gorgeous. Throw open your doors and windows. Inhale the fresh air. This is living. It’s definitely a rejuvenating time of year around here. It’s the time of year when you are surely inspired to do things you don’t ordinarily do or to take on projects that would otherwise seem too time-consuming for the short days of winter.

You can make jam, for example. That is always an excellent idea. Or, quite possibly, you might consider taking on a dessert that (gasp) is a multi-hour project. I know that sounds drastic, but it’s entirely doable on the balmy days of summer in Seattle or, really, wherever you are this lovely time of year. This dessert is worth the effort. And, before I go any further, I should clarify. There’s not a great deal of difficulty involved in making this delectable treat, but there are several steps and the cake must cool and set in the refrigerator. See? Not bad at all.

I should also warn you this isn’t in the same vein as the summery berry dessert I offered up recently. It’s rich. It’s decadent. It’s worth every calorie, I promise. I made this chocolate peanut butter torte this past week for my brother who was visiting from San Francisco. The man is peanut butter addict. You must give an addict what he deserves for his birthday. So I took it on after Maeve was asleep and I’m so very glad I did. It was a BIG hit.

You might be concerned about the liberal use of peanut butter in a dessert. I expected this response. The way I see it, there are those of us who dab our toast with marmalade and those of us who slather on the peanut butter. There isn’t a great deal of crossover. Well, Nutella must straddle both camps. And, I’m sure there are some of you who fall into the gray area and adore both creamy spreads on your toast and dabble here and there depending on your mood.

There’s no gray area for me. I’m in the peanut butter camp. That is for sure. My mother routinely snuck pieces of orange peel into nearly every dessert making all of her sweet dishes reminiscent of marmalade. I can’t say I’m a fan. This sneakiness sort of turned me off anything with citrus peel as a main component to the dish. Please do not reveal this to the country of Ireland or they might take away my passport. That would be bad because Maeve is looking forward to visiting the mother country.

Without further ado, I give you peanut butter torte. I hope you enjoy it. It’s not the most sophisticated of desserts, but it is so rare we get to indulge our inner children and, even more importantly, our peanut butter addictions.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte

1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c salted peanut butter – crunchy or smooth (not natural variety)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.

Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Scrape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.

Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.

Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse.
Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream. Scrape the mousse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top.

Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.

To finish, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.
  Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.
  Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.

Source: Baking, Dorie Greenspan

cake dessert easy strawberries summer

Strawberry Brioche Bread Pudding | Fourth of July

recipe for strawberry bread pudding

It makes me feel terribly old to ask where the time goes or to ponder how time slips away from us without warning, but I think these thoughts. I do it often. Even though I find this type of thing is akin to pointless chatter about the weather, there’s really no escaping such musings when a little babe is shooting up before your very eyes.

She is a captivating little red fox, that one, but I managed to pull myself away from her for a moment today in order to take a good look at the calendar. Lo and behold, it’s July 1st. And, accordingly, I feel compelled to ask where did June go? It was fleeting. That is certain, but it was also extraordinarily lovely. It was just what I needed. It was just what Maeve needed. We are both refreshed and joyously connected.  I know all of her little peeps and sounds. I know her tired face, her sad face, and her squeals of wonder.  I love them all, of course.

In addition to all this learning and connecting, we had a lot to celebrate last month. We celebrated my birthday, K’s first father’s day, and Maeve’s half birthday. That’s right. She’s 6 months old. It’s a wonder, isn’t it? And, during our brief respite, she learned to sit up on her own, began the painful teething process, and started routinely giggling at anyone and everyone. She rolls over with ease, explores new foods with vigor, and can stick both sets of toes in her mouth at the same time. The amount of new things she absorbs everyday makes my brain sort of hurt. It’s remarkable.

Suffice to say, June was pretty fantastic and I recall several moments of sheer clarity. However, as I desperately tried to figure out the natural rhythms of Maeve’s sleep cycle, there were more than a few crazy moments. There was the time I chased a giant fly about the house for fear it would wake up my tired girl. There was the mean Fed Ex man who pounded on the door prompting me to post a hot pink sign begging people not to disturb us. We even went so far as to oil every door in the house so the squeaks wouldn’t wake up our girl during her restorative naps. The doors now fly open like butter, but I suppose that’s better than those unpredictable creaks.

Maeve also suffered her first bout of illness during June. And, I won’t lie. It nearly broke my heart. The sneezing and coughing were sad and more than a little terrifying. So scary were those wheezes that I found myself in a clinic in San Francisco on Memorial Day. It certainly wasn’t what I envisioned for our getaway weekend, but, in the end, my worry and the extra gray hairs were unnecessary. Maeve was merely suffering from a nasty virus. It also turned out the clinic where we brought her out of desperation was a marijuana dispensary. You can all rest assured, however. Maeve’s virus didn’t qualify her for herbal treatment, but I do think she inadvertently took her first whiff of the stuff. I suppose I should be grateful I was there to supervise the momentous occasion.

When we floated out of the clinic, we were more than a little relieved. We were also delighted to find ourselves within walking distance of Tartine Bakery. Is there a better place to find oneself after a hard morning of fret at the pot clinic? I think not. In fact, in the future, I will try to remember this day for the miraculous strawberry bread pudding I had at the bakery and not the series of unfortunate events that preceded it.

You can see a picture of the Tartine bread pudding above. Miraculous, I tell you, is an understatement. The Tartine bread pudding was moist with a rich custard and just the right amount of tartness from the early summer strawberries. It was sweet, but not cloyingly so. The bread still seemed remarkably light despite the fact that it was soaked in custard and laced with a generous helping of homemade caramel.  And, I’ll be honest, a day hasn’t passed during which the thought of recreating that strawberry bread pudding hasn’t crossed my mind.

tartine bread pudding

I figure the time is right. After all, the Fourth of July is just around the corner. You are very likely headed to a barbecue or, quite possibly, you are hosting some sort of patriotic affair in your own backyard. Whatever the case may be, you were probably going to make a strawberry shortcake. It’s a standard dessert. It’s also delicious. There is really nothing wrong with strawberry shortcake. I like it a great deal. However, you should skip it this year. I think you’re ready for a little something different. This strawberry bread pudding is just the ticket. It’s not the Tartine recipe, mind you. I don’t have that recipe, but I did my research and my taste testing. I am more than satisfied with the outcome.

strawberry bread pudding recipe

The key to a wonderful strawberry bread pudding is the dark brown sugar that caramelizes in the bottom of the pan, which mixes beautifully into the custard, and egg bread. Of course, plenty of good berries are essential as well. In the end, you’ve got a delicious helping of bread pudding and a truly pretty dessert for nearly no effort. Although it does take some time to bake, I think you’ll find strawberry bread pudding even easier to put together than your standard strawberry shortcake.

Let me know what you think. Maybe this strawberry bread pudding will make your day? Take the edge off a medical emergency? Either way, it’s a great option for your next picnic. Happy Fourth of July!

Strawberry Brioche Bread Pudding

1 and 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
4 and 1/2 cups 1/2-inch cubes crustless egg bread (such as challah or brioche)
7 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 pinches of salt
2 and 1/2 cups sliced and hulled organic fresh strawberries

Spread brown sugar evenly in bottom of 8x8x2-inch glass baking dish (or other 9- to 10-cup dish). Sprinkle bread cubes evenly over. Combine eggs, cream, milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in large bowl; whisk to blend well. Pour custard through sieve over bread in dish. Spread the strawberries over the top of the bread and mix into the cubes and custard. Let the pudding stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing on the bread and berries to submerge.

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Place baking dish in roasting pan. Pour enough lukewarm water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of baking dish. Bake pudding until set, brown on top, and small knife inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Let cool in water 20 minutes.

Spoon bread pudding into dessert bowls and serve warm.

Adapted from Bon Appetit.

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