Oatmeal Rye Chocolate Chip Walnut Everything Bagel Mix Cookie

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We were traveling up the coast of California in early December when I had a lightbulb cookie recipe idea. It was a Thursday morning and we were leaving Los Osos, CA heading to Big Sur National Park. Before our departure, we decided to stop by a bakery to pick up croissants. We came across a house in the middle of a residential neighborhood with two parking spots in the driveway. There was a sign that read, “Pagnol Baywood at 3rd Street Bakery”.

Immediately, I had an affinity for the spot. It was a home whose downstairs floor was completely transformed to a tiny bakery. The owner lived upstairs. It was exactly what I had envisioned for us when I opened my bakery a year and a half ago. Plus, the name of the bakery was creepily very similar to what I almost named Aero Bakery. We live on 3rd St., in downtown Santa Ana and a runner-up name was 3rd Street Bakery. To have come across Pagnol was like seeing a mirror of the life I had dreamt up a year ago.

It was a dewy, foggy morning and the outdoor bistro tables were drenched so we decided to get our croissants to go. We had made coffee earlier that morning in the AirBNB (yes, we travel with our own pour over set-up and here’s a good one we tried recently and liked), so sitting in the car would put us close to our liquid gold. I walked up to the window (a half-opened wooden door to the front of the house) and asked for the menu. And that’s when I heard, for the first time ever, a croissant dipped in everything bagel mix on a baker’s menu. As Mike and I sat in the car and ate our croissants, we could not deny that it defeats our favorite croissant to date (La Lune’s in Melbourne, Australia). But this post isn’t about the croissant. I thought to myself, “What if I incorporated Everything Bagel Mix into a earthy dark chocolate cookie?!?!”

It sounds like madness, but I am a huge lover of adding sea salt to every baked good I make. If you’ve been reading my posts awhile, you may recall that I prefer savory breakfast items over sweet ones anyway. But even a dessert cookie could do with a bit of umami.

With only two days away until Christmas Eve, I am posting this Rye Chocolate Chip Walnut Oatmeal Cookie with Everything Bagel Seasoning for all the parents out there looking for a simple, quick, and delicious recipe to fuel Santa on his merry way.

Important note: These cookies need to be hand-mixed. As much as I love my Kitchen Aid Mixer, I have found that using one whips the dough too much, resulting in a more runny and less “full” cookie. I know that throwing it into the electric mixing stand makes it easier, but I would highly recommend putting in the effort to hand mix with a fork.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs, beaten and at room temperature
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rye flour
  • 3 cups whole rolled oats
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • Everything Bagel Seasoning Mix
  • Chopped Walnuts

The Process:

  1. Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl and mix until creaming.
  2. Add the next four ingredients and mix until just combined.
  3. Stir in the flour, oats, and chocolate chips.
  4. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or until the dough is chilled and firm. (I make this recipe in large batches and store cookie dough in the fridge, making cookies as needed throughout the week. If you are busy on Christmas Eve, you can always prepare this dough a day ahead and bake them off in the evening).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
  6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper
  7. Use a 2 tbsp ice cream scoop and scoop out balls of cookie dough, placing them 1 inch apart. Press the dough down gently with the palm of your hand.
  8. Sprinkle the tops of the dough with Everything Bagel Seasoning Mix.
  9. Take walnut pieces (I like to use walnut halves) and press them gently into the tops of the cookies. I typically use 2 walnuts per cookie, because I love them so.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating and alternating the sheets halfway through baking time.
  11. Remove the baking sheets from the oven when the edges of the cookie start to brown. Rap the sheet trays sharply on the counter, to help flatten the cookie a bit more. I learned this trick working as the midnight baker for Rye Goods.
  12. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes.
  13. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the rack and cool completely for 30 minutes.
  14. Serve or store in an air-tight container (a tupperware would do) for up to a few days.

I make these cookies a day ahead all the time! I love to eat them fresh, so I will bake 4 each day for the house. Also, this recipe makes about 36 cookies, so don’t be afraid to cut it in half, which we also do.

I know it sounds like a lot going on, but in my opinion, it’s a well balanced cookie. You can always substitute walnuts with pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, or pistachios. If you want to make it extremely festive, why not through all of them on there! Santa won’t mind.

Italian Pasta Salad

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Over the summer, we spent a weekend in Colorado and met up with a dear friend (our accountant, actually, who of course I became dear friends with) and his wife who was also a dental school classmate of mine. It was the first time we saw friends since the stay-at-home mandate and it was our first sign of normalcy, an indication that things would eventually be okay.

They were hosting us in their lovely backyard and as I watched them wrangle their two kids, put one down for a nap, entertain a talkative other, turn on a grill, make burgers, grill hot dogs, and continue a constant flow of conversation, I thought to myself, “Man these people are super heroes!” Which, I suppose, all parents are.

But the thing that stood out to me the most was when we sat down for lunch, with the older one seated at the end in his floating high chair and the table set for five, my friend turns and pulls out this pre-made pasta salad and a bowl of already chopped fruit from the fridge to add to our awesome burger and hot dog feast. I remember thinking to myself, “Genius!”

I am all about pre-making meals when hosting gatherings but sometimes, in between wanting to impress guests and wanting to serve fresh food, I do forget that the simpler things are usually best. What amazed me most about our friends was that they weren’t running around trying to pick up toys from the floor. They weren’t trying to prevent their kids from running around in the yard. They weren’t concerned about the details of the table setting. They were concerned about whether we wanted another beer or how much ice cream serving is good enough. They focused on their guests alone and I think that when you have two kids and two dogs, you should get a medal for that type of stuff.

I’m sure this isn’t the exact same Italian pasta salad that she served, but that is another great thing about recipes such as these. You can make them on the fly with whatever ingredients you have in stock and they turn out just as great. This recipe is easily made in big batches and it actually tastes better after a day of being in the fridge, soaking up the dressing’s goodness. Plus it looks good in any container.

My parents recently hosted a BBQ themselves and I made a huge batch of this and saved half for us (which we ate with salmon a couple meals in a row) and brought half to the party. I can’t believe I wasn’t making this sooner. It was such a breeze.

Ingredients:

  • Rotini or Bow Tie Pasta (1 lb)
  • 1 Cucumber
  • 1 cup of small tomatoes
  • 1 cup of pitted olives
  • Other additions/veggies you want to add. Examples include bell peppers, roasted eggplant, roasted squash, pickled carrots, and more.
  • Italian Dressing, to taste
  • Feta cheese to crumble on top
  • Black pepper, to taste.

The Process:

I think the process is rather self-explanatory but here it is in a nutshell.

  1. Boil pasta according to the box instructions. Drain and shock in a bowl of cold water. If you skip shocking the pasta and toss the salad when it’s warm, the noodles will stick together and have a gummy consistency.
  2. Cut cucumber, tomatoes, and olives into similar sized pieces. You want this pasta salad to be easy to eat, which means you want everything to be about the same size.
  3. Mix pasta with fruit and veggies, toss with Italian Dressing, and top with Feta cheese and freshly crushed black pepper.

NOTE: You may notice that we have red onion in this pasta salad. Red onion has a pretty potent flavor and you don’t want to detract from the rest of the salad. If you do add red onion, you can soak it in the dressing prior to adding it in. I myself place cut red onions into a mason jar and soak for at least fifteen minutes so that the dressing pulls out some of the red onion’s harshness. It will also give the onion a sweeter, pickled taste. I toss both onion and dressing with the salad in step 3.

For those interested, the plates are side plates in Morel from East Fork Pottery and the coasters are Herringbone in Black from Fog Linen.

Lemon Poppyseed Loaf

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I am not the type of person who cleverly come up with recipes on my own. Perusing recipe books, pastry displays at coffee shops, and farmer’s market stalls are really how I get most of my inspiration. I will usually come across a base recipe that sounds good, but will have qualms over a few of the ingredients or will find substitutions necessary. When it comes to baked goods, I will usually swap flours, fruits, and toppings. When it comes to meals, I will typically throw in what I already have in the pantry to reduce waste, and add complexities such as spices, peppers, hints of lime or lemon, even brown sugar.

This lemon poppyseed loaf, however, comes as close to the original recipe published in Tartine Book No. 3. Of course, it was my husband who made it and not I. He came across it last week after eating dinner, sitting at the table perusing through the pages to look for bread recipes. Ironically, this cake was what caught his eye.

Instead of Kamut flour and pastry flour, we used einkorn flour, which I’ve had as a staple in the pantry since my fellow baker reported it as being his favorite bread flour, and all-purpose flour respectively. We did not use Kefir butter like the recipe asked, sticking with the more readily available unsalted butter during these barren times. I couldn’t justify splurging on such a frivolous ingredient as Kefir butter after the financial repercussions of COVID 19 (see how to battle those here in my recent post). This lemon poppyseed loaf (and all other home-baked goods thus far) has been the silver lining to this stay-at-home movement thus far.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup Einkorn flour
  • 1/3 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup Almond Meal
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold but pliable
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 2 T poppy seeds
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 2 lemons

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The Process:

  1. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients listed from sugar to salt.
  2. Add the butter and, slowly increasing the speed to medium, mix until just combined.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating each egg before moving on to the next.
  4. Stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape along the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is included in the mix.
  5. With the mixer on low, slowly add the poppy seeds, lemon juice and lemon zest.
  6. Once combined, transfer the mixture into a tightly sealed container and refrigerate overnight.
  7. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350 F and take out the container to allow the batter to come to room temperature.
  8. Spray coconut cooking spray into an 8.5 x 4 inch pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Transfer the batter into the pan.
  9. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, turning the pan halfway through.
  10. Check for done-ness with a toothpick (hopefully if comes out clean!), adding a few additional minutes if the loaf isn’t ready.
  11. Let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. If you invert it too soon, the loaf may not come out nicely. Use a knife and run it along the sides of the loaf. Invert the cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

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We prefer to eat our slices with matcha lattes in the morning. We gave half of the loaf to our parents and kept half for ourselves. We love how the exterior of the loaf is a dark brown sugary glaze. This is my husband’s “favorite thing he ever baked”. For me, it’s a bit sweet, but I bet that increasing the almond meal and substituting a darker flour while reducing the amount of granulated sugar to less than a cup would really make this loaf sing.

Of course, I could never just leave the recipe be.

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For those looking to discover the baker within, I highly recommend Tartine by Elizabeth Pruitt and Kinfolk Table. For a free way to learn how to cook, Skillshare has a few classes which you can access for two months FREE here

The plates are by East Fork Pottery, my favorite place to find tablewares from the heart.

Rye Strawberry Thyme Scones

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Strawberry season almost slipped past without my notice. Gone were the invitations to pick fruit from the farm, gone are the baskets of luscious berries that caught my eye at stands, gone are many more familiar indicators of seasons passing by. It wasn’t until a farmer’s market opened up in front of our door that I noticed and realized that strawberry season is here.

Rye and strawberry is one of my favorite flour and fruit combinations. I’m mighty peculiar in that way. I’ve got buckwheat and blueberry pancakes and einkorn and tomato pizzas, things that go like jam and jelly in my book, and so too with rye and strawb.

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These scones are perfect with a light cup of coffee in the mornings. My dad had a habit of dunking bread-like brekkies directly into his mug, but I prefer to bite into this pastry creating a crumby mess on the plate. I personally do not like very sweet pastries – so we added thyme into these scones which make them more savory than normal. Because of that, I can easily eat two to three without walking away feeling heavy. It takes minutes to prepare and these were fresh out of the oven before our room mate even walked upstairs. If sleeping in is more your thing, make then mid-afternoon for a little work-at-home tea break.

This recipe was modified from Kinfolk Table, by far my favorite published recipe book for it’s unassuming simplicity and charm. If you can, support local and small bookstores such as Lido Village Bookstore, one of my SoCal faves.

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups dark rye flour, freshly milled if possible
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting
  • 3 tbsp. sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
  • 1 cup dices strawberries
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream plus additional for brushing
  • 1/s tsp vanilla extract
  • Fresh or dried thyme

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The Process:

  1.  Preheat the oven to 400 F with a rack in the center.
  2. Sift the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the butter pieces and with thumb and pointy finger, flatten the butter, pinching floury bits into it. Alternatively, you can use two knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles small peas.
  3. Stir in the strawberries.
  4.  Whisk the eggs together in a separate bowl. Add heavy cream and vanilla to the egg mixture and whisk again until well mixed.
  5. Stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture with a fork, mixing until just combined. I l liken the end result to one big, shaggy mess.
  6. Lightly dust a clean work surface (I use a marble pastry slab, but a wooden surface works well too), with flour. Turn the dough onto this surface and knead until just combined.
  7. Shape the dough into a square (6 inch x 6 inch). Cut the dough into four 3-inch squares, then cut the smaller squares into triangles.
  8. Arrange the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with heavy cream using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the tops generously with sugar and thyme. Depending on the flavor profile you are aiming for, you can favor one topping over another.
  9. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Transfer the scones to a rack and cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

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These babies reheat real nicely in a toaster oven. I would store them in an air tight container on the counter for a few days. I reckon they won’t last long.

For those wondering, these cake plates are from East Fork Pottery in Eggshell.

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Buckwheat Blueberry Pancakes

This post is in partnership with East Fork Pottery,  a company slinging hand-thrown, timeless pottery in Oregon using regionally-sourced stoneware clay. Their beautiful food-safe glazes are made in house and lend their pieces character, but in an unfussy and classic manner. The collection is, truly, a treasure trove.

With the advent of daylight-savings-time-changes mid-winter comes a post-apocalyptic episode of me scrounging a few more moments of sleep, desperately and daily. The time change lands on my most dreaded day of the year, and what follows is a week full of lethargy, a pathology that is largely self-diagnosed by yours truly. Coupled with dreary weather, rainy forecasts and winter blues, there isn’t much to be excited about after the clock sets back. EXCEPT perhaps… naturally leavened buckwheat blueberry pancakes! 

All of this to say that the sun dost continue to shine, even if we can’t see it. You find brightness in other ways. In my case, flour to match in color with the winter blues, a dash of farm treasures in the form of berries, and perfect East Fork“>pottery to bring out those moody hues.

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Before you begin to think this post is mostly a ranting of my hatred for time changes and a boasting of my favorite vessels, let me straighten the record and say that this truly is a sharing of a recipe. In particular, one that gets me out of bed on those mornings when I feel as if sinking into oblivion would be a better option. I guarantee you, it is not. With the record straight, let me digress and romanticize about all the reasons why this pancake (and this plate) makes this time of year more amicable.

There’s something about the color of buckwheat. It does, to me, give the pancake a bluish hue. The texture of the flour is soft and fluffy, and with the help of a natural starter, gives rise (pun intended) to a very delicate stack. Yet the taste of buckwheat contradicts this delicacy with its bold, earthy tone. The savory taste so distinct in soba noodles is ever so faintly noticeable in this overall sweet recipe.

Then there are the blueberries, which we purchase from a local farm up the road from my parent’s house. Organic and freshly picked, I like to mix these additions into the batter prior to pouring onto the pan. What results when cooked in the cake is a juicy bubble bursting to seep its way into the pancake’s core. The tartness of the berries offsets the savory pancake, their juiciness offsetting the sandy texture of buckwheat.

Off course, drizzling the entire stack with maple syrup and pairing with maple sausage links can’t hurt. And if this hasn’t convinced you of the therapeutic effects of cooking a comforting breakfast on a wintry morning, perhaps the presentation on hand-thrown, human-made clay pots is more appealing to you.

This morel hue does just the trick. Reminiscent of earthy things, like mushrooms that sprout, grounding and calming all at the same time. It’s no wonder East Fork considers it the most versatile color in the collection. Rich and soft like brown butter, morel adds elegance to the presentation without being pretentious. The coffee mug, also in morel, fits warmly in the hand and elevates my mood.

Then again, the coffee also helps.

Whatever wintry flourishes you’ve got in your back pocket to abide the time until Spring arrives, may this help get you through.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Buckwheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

Instructions:

  1. Whisk the eggs in a Kitchen Aid mixer or by hand, depending on your energy level.
  2. Add the milk and starter and whisk again, on low, until well incorporated.
  3. Add the dry ingredients including the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar. Mix thoroughly, stopping halfway to scrape a rubber spatula down the sides of the bowl, catching all the escaped floury bits.
  4. Whisk in the melted butter, and let sit for 20 minutes to allow starter to do it’s magic.
  5. Add the blueberries right before frying on the pan. Fold the berries in with a spatula.
  6. Scoop 2 tablespoons onto a pan and heat on the first side. Flip after bubbles begin to pop at the surface and cook again for about the same amount of time.
  7. Serve with Grade A amber maple syrup, more berries, and bacon or sausage links, if preferred.
  8. Get by for the rest of winter.


Spiced Raw Chocolate Mousse

In the Kitchen is a series created to inspire others to cook more for themselves. It’s an effort to make healthful eating attainable in a zero-plastic way. It’s an ode towards the one life hack that keeps us well on our financial track. Hoping to slow people down this fast-paced track, I suggest giving up the dine-out and to-go habit, even for just a day a week. Some recipes are meant to be shared with your community, lest it be two or twenty. Others, more decadent and perhaps meant entirely for yourself. In either case, these are some of our tried, true, and favorited. 

This spiced raw chocolate mousse is adapted from Kinfolk Table.

In this summer’s heat, there are times when the best dessert involves staying as far away from the ovens as possible, even if you ARE a bread baker. In fact, especially so. I came across this recipe in Kinfolk Table and was drawn to the simple ingredients used to make a such a luxurious dessert. I was happy to find that the ingredients are staples commonly found in a pantry, and that the preparation would take about 5 minutes of my time. Just my style. As an added bonus, the presentation requires nothing more than a couple of whiskey cups or water glasses and a smattering of sliced almonds (both for looks but also as an added layer to mouth feel).

We’ve been spending the last few days on our patio set, sweating in shorts and a tee, engorging ourselves on this perfect summer’s treat. Plus, didn’t we determine we would choose chocolate??

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, sitting in water for 10 minutes and strained
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of raw cacao powder
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 1 large banana, frozen and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey, agave, or pure maple syrup
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Pinch of ground ginger
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Cold water, as needed

The Process

  1. Blend together the softened almonds, cacao, avocados, banana, honey, cayenne, ginger, and salt in a blender until smooth. I had to keep scraping down the sides of the blender to make sure that all the almonds and bananas were incorporated.
  2. Add water 1 tablespoon at a time to adjust the consistency to taste.
  3. Topped with sliced almonds. Serve immediately, while cool.
  4. Conversely, make the mousse ahead of time and store in the fridge. This is a great dessert to make for a large group of people. Serve with blueberries for an even more elevated dessert.

Serves 3

Notes: The original recipe called for hemp seeds instead of almonds and 2 tablespoons of cacao powder. I used almonds because that’s what we had in the pantry and 2 tablespoons was just way too much (gasp!). It also says it serves two, but neither of us were able to eat that much mousse for dessert, surprisingly.

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Hearty Barley Salad with Broiled Feta and Tomatoes

As we delve deeper into this sustainable, zero-plastic, less-waste, bread-baking, grain-preserving journey, we keep finding little ‘windows’ (as my friend Heather called it) into different ways of approaching life. Prior to pursuing a more eco-friendly lifestyle, our choices regarding the food industry stemmed from the most frugal of options. Ergo, hardly were our choices supportive of our planet’s well-being, let alone our own well-beings. As we age and start to see the consequences of such choices, we have been attempting to spin our compass needle to something a bit less, destructive(?) Needless to say, efforts have been made in consuming more healthy options, this recipe included. Aligned with my mantra of less is more, a minimalist approach to a simple recipe for a very versatile dish. Adapted from Kinfolk Table. This we eat alone as a salad, or as a side dish with broiled salmon. Upon first make, we eat it warm, but second helpings are eaten cold, straight from the fridge.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. of feta cheese, purchased from the Olive Bar, cut into small cubes
  • 1.5 cups Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 0.5 cups of mixed black and green olives from the Olive bar, pitted
  • 0.25 cups chopped fresh herbs, such as oregano, rosemary and thyme
  • 0.25 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup barley
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 ripe avocados diced into 0.5 inch cubes
  • 16 oz. artichokes, cut into 1/2 inch thick wedges
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes

The Process:

  1. Turn the oven on to 390 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the center of the oven.
  2. While the ovens are pre-heating, combing feta, tomatoes, olives, herbs and olive oil on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss until mixed. Bake for 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, bring the barley and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer the barley for 20 minutes or until tender. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a salad bowl.
  4. Add the avocados, artichokes, cucumber, basil and lemon juice to the barley and toss to combine. Stir in the feta mixture. Season to taste. I add a dash of red pepper flakes to get a little bit of a kick.

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Hummingbird Birthday Cake

When it comes to birthday celebrations, I am a firm believer in home-made cake. Anyone can go to the store and pay for a cake, but it will likely be missing some of the magic. There may be some joy in the tippy-toeing over counters and selection of icing color, but there won’t be that love and care delicately (or not so delicately) folded into the flour, tucked underneath the frosting. I think the best presents come in the form of chocolate cookies made from scratch, so it just follows that the cake must also come from human hands, not a machine. All the better when it’s from someone dear.

Last week we threw a birthday party for my mother-in-law. We hosted a dinner with both our parents and the grandparents, gathering around a table of freshly baked brioche buns, home-made turkey patties, and fresh produce in that construct-your-own-hamburger kind of way. Obviously, I baked a cake for celebrations sake, one that I think is worth sharing. The recipe itself isn’t my doing. I must admit that I stole that from The Kinfolk Table, a book that we saw sitting on the shelves of an AirBNB in Melbourne and one that I am currently going through, trying one recipe a week. All have been wonderful additions to my stash of recipes, but none have been as fitting or fantastic as the Hummingbird Cake.

The Hummingbird Cake is the type that one reserves especially for birthdays. Don’t ask me about the name, because its source is left unknown. It has all the special-ness without, say, the fuss. It can be whipped up in a jiffy, and the steps can be broken up around the gift-wrapping and the house-decorating. The ingredients are easily accessible year-round, and the decorating is made easier by the handful of pecans scattered on top to cover the frosting technique. In other words, it’s newbie-baker approved.

I made a few alterations to the original recipe, but the basics still stand. I knew it was a doozy when my roommate ate half of the excess cake that I had sliced off in order to produce flat cake layers. She said it was the best thing she’s ever tasted, and diligently ate away at the left-over cake crumbs, sans icing. I knew it was a killer when our 82-year old grandma exclaimed, “I would literally DIE for this cake” after her first bite. Someone who just survived a recent-knee surgery shouldn’t be making jokes like that. The true test, however, was when our picky grandpa who does not even eat CHEESE or anything more adventurous than beef and potatoes finished his entire slice without a word. That alone says enough.

For me, I think it holds a hint of a memory that is buried in the recesses of my happy, unhealthy childhood. Mornings spent with my mama’s banana bread in hand, or cutting into a fresh pineapple cake. Also, there’s nothing as sentimental as the way my mother-in-law’s eyes lit up when she saw that I had baked her a birthday cake, and the way three colorful candles looked alit atop. The birthday song sung by everyone in the room in the dim kitchen lighting really set the tone for this cake and what was once reserved for someone else’s family’s traditional birthday cake now became one of our own.

May all your birthday cakes be baked by someone you love, for all the future birthdays to come.

Hummingbird Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 28 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 460 grams Bob’s Red Mill Pastry Flour
  • 350 grams bananas
  • 400 grams granulated sugar
  • 3 grams baking soda
  • 3 grams ground cinnamon
  • 6 grams salt
  • 3 large eggs, beaten and at room temperature
  • 360 milliliters vegetable oil
  • 227 grams crushed pineapple
  • 7.5 milliliters vanilla extract
  • 255 grams organic pecans, chopped

For the icing:

  • 227 grams cream cheese at room temperature (equivalent to one 8 oz packaged cream cheese)
  • 113.5 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 454 grams confectioner’s sugar
  • 5 milliliters vanilla extract
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The Process:

For the cake:

  1. I make this cake with two layers, and icing in the middle. I use two 9-inch round cake pans in order to achieve this, and spray the insides with coconut spray. Preheat ovens to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven. It is here that you will bake off both pans.
  2. Finely chop the bananas. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add the eggs and oil and stir just until you no longer see any specks of dry ingredients. Fold in the bananas. Stir in the pineapple, vanilla, and half of the pecans. Reserve the other half of the pecans for topping the cake.
  3. Divide the batter equally between both pans, ad set them on the middle rack. Bake, rotating halfway, for a total of 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of the cakes come out clean. Transfer the cakes to racks and cool in the pans for ten minutes before inverting out. Inverting too soon can compromise the structure of the cake. After cooling, invert them directly onto a rack and cool for at least one hour.
  4. After the cake has cooled, trim off the excess on the tops of the cake, to get nice flat cake layers.

For the icing:

  1. While the cake cools, beat the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Decrease the speed to low and add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla gradually. Beat until light and fluffy, about another three minutes.
  2. To assemble, start with a bottom cake layer. Spread the frosting on top of it and sprinkle with some pecans. Then stack the second cake layer on top. Ice the cake on the sides and the top with the rest of the cream cheese frosting using a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining pecans on top of the cake, to cover a newbie frosting job.
Can’t frost to save your life?
No problem! Its a home made cake. Proof is in the icing.

Repeat for special birthdays to come.