• Coffee & Cake with Amy Chaplin

    Amy Chaplin, is the James Beard Award winning author of, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well. Currently Amy is wrapping up working on her second book, that will be coming out next year with Artisan. I've caught a few sneak peaks at the photos, shot by Anson Smart and I'm just saying, I think we should all be getting excited. I met Amy at a friends art gallery opening in Soho, nearly ten years ago. We gravitated towards each other and ended up spending the entire night talking next to the cheese and wine table, like we've known each other for years. We had a lot in common, growing up in Australia, somehow ending up living in New York, and a deep love of cooking and food. Amy taught me a lot about baking without gluten or refined sugar without sacrificing any of the texture or flavor. Head on over to the recipe page on the blog to give Amy's Lemon Maple Coconut Loaf a spin for a nourishing morning or afternoon cake.

    1) What’s the best cake you’ve ever had?
    It was my 34th birthday cake, made by my sister. I think it’s called a Princess Cake (editor: Prinsesstårta, a traditional Swedish layer cake or torte). It was about 12 thin buttery vanilla layers with chocolate ganache between each one and a thin dark chocolate coating.

    2) What small joys do you get from baking a cake?
    The sheer joy people experience looking at and eating cake. The temporary scent winding through the house.

    3) Who deserves a cake in your community?
    Who doesn’t? :)

    4) What’s been your best cake fail?
    No cake fails are good. But a lot can be hidden by a really good frosting.

    5) Who would you like to have a slice of cake with?
    My mother. No one likes my cakes more!

    6) Any tips for the cake bakers at home? 

    Give it a try! It’s worth the time and mess, as nothing tastes as good as homemade cake.

    ***

    Amy, I 100% agree, frosting can hide all sorts of sins, but the main point is, you gave it a crack. Even if your cake is lopsided, or full of unexpected character...who cares! You've still got cake. 

  • Lemon, Maple, Coconut Loaf Cake

    (Gluten and Refined Sugar Free) 

    There was a brief period when I was on a gluten, dairy, and sugar-free diet to try and bring down inflammation. Eek. It took a lot of discipline and planning to keep on that regime. It’s no surprise that one of the things I missed the most was a slice of simple cake. Since I found baking without the usual suspects really intimidating, I asked my good friend and James Beard–award-winning cook and author of At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, Amy Chaplin, for help. She created this recipe for me that has some of my favorite flavors all rolled into one: coconut, oats, lemon, and maple. It’s best baked in a loaf pan that’s been greased with a few drips of the melted coconut oil. Finish the cake by dusting maple sugar on top or just leave naked. It’s not a high riser or beauty queen but sliced warm and served with a cuppa, it's a nourishing treat. 

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    Makes one 9 by 5-inch loaf 

    Preparation: 25 minutes

    Ingredients 

    6 tablespoons (75g)(2.7oz) extra-virgin coconut oil, melted, plus more for greasing the pan
    1 cup (80g)(3oz) dried shredded unsweetened coconut
    ½ cup (45g)(1.6oz) gluten-free old fashioned rolled oats
    ¾ (75g)(2.6oz) oat flour
    ¼ cup (20g)(0.8oz) ground flax seeds
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 egg, at room temperature
    ½ cup (180ml) (6oz)pure Grade-A maple syrup
    Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
    ¼ cup (60ml)(2oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice

     

    Directions

    Preheat the oven to 350/180. Grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with coconut oil, line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper, and grease the paper.

    In a food processor, grind the coconut and rolled oats until they are as fine as they can be. Add the oat flour, flax seeds, baking powder, and salt. Grind again until combined. Set aside.

    In a medium bowl, whisk the egg. Add the maple syrup, the coconut oil, lemon zest, and juice. Whisk until combined.

    Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk or stir until just combined.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for approximately 35 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when gently pressed and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let it stand for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the cake to gently release. Peel off the parchment paper from the sides. Invert the cake, peel off the bottom piece of parchment paper, and cool on a wire rack.

     Tip

    Flour with gluten adds structure to cakes. Many gluten-free flours and ground grains can be very absorbent. Amy taught me that when you’re using gluten-free alternatives, it’s best to mix a variety of gluten-free grains and flours to get a nice crumb and a nuanced flavor. As a result, the ingredients list for this cake may involve a trip to the store, but putting this cake together is simple.

     

     

  • Coffee & Cake with Julia Turshen

    Toward the end of editing "Simple Cake," my editor and I had to ruthlessly cut pages. I was over what the book had been commissioned and my publisher had already kindly negotiated me an extra twenty-four pages. One of the things that got cut was the reference page. I loved this page because it was an extension of my bookshelf. A list of all the wonderful authors and books that I have turned to for advice, recipes, inspiration and companionship over the years.

    In the lead up to the release of "Simple Cake," I’ve decided to share a series of five quick questions with some of the authors that were on the list. And yes, it’s all about cake.

    So friends, meet Julia Turshen: writer, cook, activist and good soul. Be sure to check out Julia’s books: "Small Victories," "Feed The Resistance" and the newly released "Now & Again." Anyone who names a cake ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life Cake’ is a woman of my own heart. Julia is the connective tissue between food and community. Her work is bigger than just a beautiful image. It’s about empowering home cooks, and making sure all walks of life are welcome at the table.

    1) What’s the best cake you’ve ever had?
    I love coconut cake and the best I've ever had is the one made by the great Dolester Miles in Birmingham, AL.

    2) What have you learned from baking?
    So much! At a young age, baking was the only thing that helped me really understand math and science. I still think of any fraction in terms of cups….! Baking also teaches me over and over about the power of patience and the possibility of transformation. Each time I pull a baked good out of the oven, it feels like a small victory.

    3) Who deserves a cake in your community?
    Every single public school teacher and volunteer firefighter.

    4) What’s been your best cake fail?
    I have done the dreaded thing where you mistake salt for sugar. That's hard to come back from.

    5) Who would you like to have a slice of cake with?
    If it could be someone who is no longer with us, then definitely my Aunt Debby who had the sweetest tooth. If someone living, Michelle Obama.

    ***

    Yes, mistaking salt for sugar is very hard to come back from. If you meet with Michelle…call me…I’ll bring the cake. I’m planning on baking Julia’s ‘Happy Wife, Happy Life Cake’ for Halloween this week. I know it’s going to be a winner because it has buttermilk in it! Thanks so much Julia.

  • November Inspiration

    Hello ! Happy November! Here’s what’s been on my mood board this month and what’s been inspiring me.

    Falling hard for Henry Street Studio ceramics I want them all!

    Going gaga over A Star is Born and watching the Barbara and Kris version in front of a fire.

    Feeling a sense of comfort in everything Andrew Wyeth.

    Baking the Cinnamon Apple Cake from Simple Cake weekly. Pre-order your cake belly now!

    Drinking this bubbly deliciousness with dessert over the holidays.

    Obsessing over photographer Olive Cotton work and name.

  • Chocolatey Chocolate Cake

    This cake is pure celebration and my chocolate go- to. Not too rich but ridiculously moist, it is decadent without being overly sweet. It’s almost impossible to mess up and so easy to make; it gives Betty Crocker a run for her money. If you have a whisk and two large bowls, you can pull this off. Since the batter is very runny, avoid using a springform pan, which can leak. This cake is a slight adaptation of my dear friend Simon’s recipe. He effortlessly cooks for thirty people without breaking a sweat, and everything he makes tastes delicious— including this cake. There’s also an added bonus: the final product has some serious shelf life— it will keep fresh for days, and it freezes well if you would like to bake it ahead of time. 

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    Makes: 10 x 3-inch round cake
    Preparation: 20 minutes

     

    Ingredients

    1 ¾ cups (225g) all-purpose flour
    ½ cup (45g) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
    1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
    1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    1 cup (240ml) whole milk
    ½ cup (120ml) grapeseed oil or any mild- flavored oil
    ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 cup (240ml) boiling water

     

     

    Directions

    Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10 by 3- inch round pan with butter, line the bottom and sides of the pan with parchment paper, and grease the paper. (I’ll let you just grease, line the bottom of the pan, and lightly flour the sides if you’re feeling lazy.)

    Place a large sifter or a sieve in a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and sift. Add the sugar and whisk until combined. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla together. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until there are no lumps and the batter is smooth. Carefully pour in the boiling water and stir until combined. (Watch the little ones with the hot water!)

    Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven for approximately 50 minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, and the cake bounces back when lightly pressed.

    Remove from the oven and let the cake stand for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife around the cake to gently release. Peel off the parchment paper from the sides. Invert the cake, peel off the bottom piece of parchment, and cool on a wire rack.

    Try these other pan options
    Two 8- or 9- inch round pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes.
    12 by 8- inch or 13 by 9- inch rectangular pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
    10 to 12 individual ramekins (grease and fill halfway). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
    24 cupcakes (fill liners no more than halfway). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

     

    Topping
    In Simple Cake I give many topping suggestions for how to top this cake, but the simplest is a generous dusting of confectioners sugar when the cake has completely cooled, served with a dollop of whipped cream, or ice cream. Or sign up to my newsletter to receive my delicious Chocolate Mascarpone Buttercream recipe!