Triple Berry Crumb Cake

I’m very sad to say that summer is almost over.  My kids go back to school tomorrow and a new year of responsibilities, schedules, and homework begin.  So this is my homage to summer and the wonderful berries that we’ve enjoyed for the last 3 months.

This berry crumb cake is the epitome of the balance of flavors.  The cake is moist and tangy from the berries, then crunchy and sweet from the pecan crumb topping.  Make this for an easy evening at home or fancy it up with homemade whipped cream and fresh fruit on the side.

Put all the crumb topping ingredients into a food processor and pulse until………..

you get this.   Pour it out and set it aside.

Add the cake’s dry ingredients  to the same food processor and blend until crumbly.

In a bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together well and then pour in the dry ingredients from the food processor.

Mix it all together with a spatula until well incorporated.  It’s okay if it’s a bit lumpy.  The lumps are the magnificent specks of butter reminding you of how buttery good this cake will taste!!!

Pour out into a greased 8×8 pan.

Spoon the berries over the top and be sure to press them into the cake dough.

Sprinkle the crumb topping all over, covering every square inch.

See….this is what I mean by pressing the berries in well.

Here’s the lovely warm cake just out of the oven.  I could take a spoon and dig right into this, but that wouldn’t have looked very nice for my quests, huh?!  But………….I wish I could have!

Run a knife all around the gooey berry edges to release the cake from the pan, making sure you lick the knife when you’re done.  Not the sharp end of course, that would be silly, and irresponsible.

Enjoy my homage to summer and the berries that its warm weather brings us.

Care to share some of your end-of-the-summer recipes?  I’d love to know!

Triple Berry Crumb Cake

Adapted from Real Simple

 

FOR THE CRUMB TOPPING:

1/2  cup  pecans

1/3  cup  brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4  cup  all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

2  tablespoons  cold unsalted butter

 

FOR THE CAKE:

1/2  cup  (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan

2  cups  all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

1  cup  granulated sugar

2  teaspoons  baking powder

1  teaspoon  kosher salt

1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon

2  large eggs

1  cup  whole milk

1  teaspoon  pure vanilla extract

1  pound  frozen blackberries, blueberries, raspberries thawed (about 3 1/2 cups)

 

Heat oven to 350º F.

Make the crumb topping: In a food processor, pulse the pecans, brown sugar, flour, and butter until crumbly; transfer to a bowl and set aside. Wipe out the food processor.

Make the cake: Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. In the food processor, pulse the butter, flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon until crumbly. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and mix just until combined.

Transfer the cake batter to the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the blackberries and crumb topping.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan before serving.

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Cake Cutting Tip

Let me start by saying I did not have my usual SLR camera for these photos, so forgive the bad lighting and weird colors. Sometimes a girl just doesn’t want to be weighed down by a big camera at a party, ya know!

I went to a graduation party where there was a beautifully made cake to celebrate my step-niece’s high school graduation.  I was handed this plate with a perfectly cut piece of cake on it that looked like it was from a wedding reception.  I walked into the kitchen and this is what I found on the table.

It took me a while to understand what I was seeing.  I then realized that my step-brother who brought the cake, cut it the professional way.  This is the way to cut a large round cake and he mentioned that is how wedding cakes are cut too.

So you first cut a smaller circle in the middle and then the slices are a a manageable size.  This also helps with the falling cake issue when you are cutting a multi-layered cake…………..genius!!

Now, I just want to bake a 4-layered cake just so I can cut it this way.

Here is the perfectly cut piece of cake.  Now you can go to any wedding and be confident you’ll be able to cut a beautiful slice of cake!!

American Flag Cake

This is a cake that I made last year, but I thought I’d bring it up to remind you of the wonderful holiday coming up in America in a few days, Independence Day.  Not only is this cake patriotic, it tastes amazing!!  This cake celebrates the colors of America’s flag and the tasty sweet berries that summer has to offer.

This 4th of July, enjoy your family, the fireworks and this cake!

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Avocado Mascarpone Cream Frosting

So, you’re probably wondering why in the world someone would use avocados in a cupcake.  Well, let me tell you, it wasn’t my first choice either.  I recently had a potluck dinner at my house with some students from the college ministry I work with.  They decided it would be fun to have everyone bring a potluck dish that included avocado in it.  And of course, they assigned me the dessert course.  Lucky me!!

I searched for a while before I decided to go with cupcakes.  I’d never used avocados in dessert before, so I wanted something  a little safe, that I knew I could do.

So here it goes.

I didn’t get any photos of the chocolate cupcake, but it’s pretty basic.  I posted the recipe below.  The great thing is that it is a vegan recipe.  The avocado takes the place of the butter and egg and you really can’t taste the avocado in the cake.

The frosting was the fun part for me.  I started with mixing the mashed up avocados with powdered sugar and then silky mascarpone cheese.

After incorporating the cheese, I realized the frosting was too liquidy to actually stay on the cupcake.

That’s where the heavy whipping cream comes in………

Whip up the heaving cream to stiff peaks.

Add it to the avocado mixture and voila…….

The creamiest sweet frosting with a hint of avocado green color and flavor…….perfect.

When I first heard about using avocados in cupcakes, I was really skeptical, but I am definitely a believer now.  The cake was chocolatey and moist and I really did not miss the butter and eggs at all!

The fact that I can use avocado in the place of butter and eggs means I can feel better about eating more cupcakes and that’s always good, right?  Yay for avocados!

Chocolate Avocado Cupcakes with Avocado Mascarpone Cream Frosting

From Joy the Baker

makes 4 dozen cupcakes

6 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons baking powder

4 teaspoons baking soda

4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups soft avocado, well mashed, about 2 medium avocados

4 cups water

4 Tablespoons white vinegar

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare cupcake tins with paper liners.  Set aside.

Sift together all of the dry ingredients except the sugar.  Set that aside too.

Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl, including the super mashed avocado.

Add sugar into the wet mix and stir.

Mix the wet with the dry all at once, and beat with a whisk (by hand) until smooth.

Pour batter into cupcake pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cupcakes cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting with avocado buttercream.

Avocado Mascarponse Cream Frosting

16 ounces of avocado meat, about 4 medium, very ripe avocados

8 tablespoons lemon juice

6 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 small tub (8 oz) mascarpone cheese

2 cups heavy whipping cream

Peel and pit the soft avocados.  It’s important to use the ripest avocados you can get your hands on.  If the avocados have brown spots in the meat, avoid those spots when you scoop the meat into the bowl.

Place the avocado meat into the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment.  Add lemon juice and whisk the avocado on medium speed, until slightly lightened in color and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and beat.  Add vanilla extract until combined.  Pour mixture into separate bowl.  Whip heavy cream until you get stiff peaks, then incorporate avocado mixture slowly.  Put frosting into a piping bag with a star tip and pipe your cupcakes.

If not using right away, store in the refrigerator.  Don’t worry.  It won’t turn brown!

Pineapple Cream on Pound Cake

This is my favorite easy-to-make dessert when I’m in a pinch and want to serve something fast and refreshing.  All it takes is assembly, no baking involved.  I used a store-bought butter pound cake and the cream is three simple ingredients; crushed pineapple, vanilla instant pudding and whipped topping.

You can make this exact same dessert in the form of a trifle, which makes for a beautiful presentation.

Anyway you make it, the pineapple cream will stand out as being the star in this dessert.  It is creamy, but light.  It’s sweetness balances well with the tart berries and adds moisture to the heavier pound cake.  No one will go away unsatisfied with this dessert.  Enjoy!

Pineapple Cream on Pound Cake

1 can (20 oz.)  Crushed Pineapple, with juice

1 pkg.  (3.4 oz.) Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding

4 cups whipped topping

1 loaf store bought pound cake

fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)

Mix pineapple and dry pudding mix in medium bowl with whisk until well blended. Stir in whipped topping.  Slice pound cake and place on plate.  Spoon on pineapple cream and top with fresh berries.  Serves 6-8.

American Flag Cake

Okay, I’ve officially been off the blogging radar for a month and I’ve missed it dearly.  A lot has happened since my last post, including moving into a new house.  For anyone that has ever done that, you know it’s lots of work and doesn’t seem to end for months to come.  I still have boxes to unpack and things to hang on the walls, but it’s slowly feeling more like home everyday.  What better way to celebrate than to make a cake for our country’s birthday!!

I am very happy to post this flag cake in celebration of Independence Day.  The summer berries are just so festive and I love the combination of whipped cream frosting with berries.  Here I made a chocolate sheet cake and it was the perfect size and shape for our flag.

The field of blueberries with white whipped cream stars.

I realize that I have the wrong number of stars, but that’s okay.  This is a cake, not a history lesson!

The strawberry stripe.

Try making this on Monday for your 4th of July barbeque and I guarantee people will LOVE it!!  There really is no other food that’s more patriotic than this, right?  And besides, it tastes amazing!

Chocolate Flag Cake with  Whipped Cream Frosting

From Hershey’s Kitchens

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pan.
Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes.

Whipped cream

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Assemble Cake

When cake is cooled, place on platter and cover cake with whipped cream evenly.  Start by placing the blueberries on the top left of the flag.  You do not need to be precise, just eyeball it.  Wash and cut strawberries and place them in line.  Spoon the remaining whipped cream into a piping bag fitted with a start tip and pipe the white stripes in between the strawberry stripes.  Then finish with white stars on the blueberries.

Always Use Your Leftovers

This dessert might look to you like a huge red velvet whoopie pie, but it’s actually the leftovers from a red velvet cake I made.

I’ve mentioned several times now that I am Chinese and was raised with very strong convictions about the wasting of food.  In our house, it just didn’t happen.  The only thing that was allowed to be thrown out from our dinner table were bones and fish skulls, with all the meat eaten off of course.

I take this same discipline of frugality to my baking.

 

 

This is the cake from my red velvet cake to-go post.

 

 

These are the tops that were lopped off of the cakes.

I love my cake layer cutter (on the left).  Cuts the cakes nice and evenly.

 

 

With a bit of leftover cream cheese frosting, I was able to make a dessert for my family that night.

This also served as a great distraction, because my kids were salivating over the cake I made and of course couldn’t have because it was for a friend’s birthday.  This leftover creation kept them at bay long enough for me to slip the cake out of the room undetected.

Yogurt-Marmalade Pound Cake

If you like citrus flavors in your baked goods, you will love this pound cake.  The addition of yogurt is genius too.  It makes this cake so moist and delectable!

Unfortunately, my hubby finds citrus flavors in his desserts objectionable.  I really didn’t think he would give this a try.  He wouldn’t even take one bite of my lemon bars.

To my surprise, he did.  And he went back for a few more bites too!

 

 

After I removed the cake from the loaf pan, I pricked the top with a toothpick.  This helped the orange marmalade icing soak into the cake.  You should do this while the cake is still warm.

 

 

I was sure to not let any of the icing go to waste either.  I smeared my pieces of cake with the icing that pooled around the edges of the cake.  Just heavenly!

 

Yogurt Orange Marmalade Cake

From Pioneer Woman

1-½ cup All-purpose Flour

½ teaspoons Salt

2 teaspoons Baking Powder

1 cup (heaping) Plain, Lowfat Yogurt

1 cup Sugar

3 whole Eggs

1 teaspoon Vanilla

1 whole Zest Of Lemon

½ cup Canola Oil

_____

ORANGE GLAZE:

½ cup Prepared Orange Marmalade

¼ cup Yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix together 1 cup of yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and canola oil until just combined. Pour over dry ingredients and mix until just combined; do not over beat.

Pour into a loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove from pan. While cake is cooling, pour marmalade into a sauce pan. Heat it on low until melted, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup of yogurt to the pan and turn off heat. Stir to combine, then pour slowly over the top of the cake, allowing icing to pool around the sides.

German Chocolate Cake

 

This German chocolate deliciousness was my husband’s request for his birthday cake this year.  After all, he is German!

Come to find out, this cake did not originate in Germany.  It is actually named after a man who developed a type of baking chocolate and they named it after the Englishman, Sam German.

The filling is a coconut-pecan caramel and really gives the cake it’s distinct flavor.  The pecans add a great crunchy texture and the coconut’s flavor is lovely.

I will warn you, this is quite a decadently sweet cake, but it was for a special occasion and a very special MAN!

I took the recipe from two different places.  The cake and frosting are from Hershey’s Kitchen and the filling is from allrecipes.com.

 

German Chocolate Cake

Cake

2 cups sugar

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

 

Filling

1 cup white sugar

1 cup evaporated milk

1/2 cup butter

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 1/3 cups flaked coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Chocolate frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10 in. square baking pan.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake about 25-30 minutes or until done.  Set aside to cool, then cut cake horizontally into two even layers.

To make the filling: In a saucepan combine 1 cup sugar, evaporated milk, 1/2 cup butter, and 3 egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla. Cool until thick enough to spread.

To make the frosting:  Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Spread filling between layers of cake and then frost the top.

Red Velvet Cake to-go

This is the story about a birthday cake…..

at an outdoor campsite…..

late at night…..

under a glaring flashlight…..

perched precariously on top of a cooler.

This is how a lovely red velvet cake lived the last few minutes of its life!

As you can tell from the photo, I wasn’t too worried about the resolution and composition of this shot.  It was pretty much…..”Take the picture so we can eat it already!”

The only disappointing thing about this cake is that I did not do it justice in the photo.  I can’t complain about any other part of it.  I made it for some friends’ birthdays which we celebrated on a camping trip last year and it was divine!  It was a fun juxtaposition to enjoy a regal-looking cake on a tent-camping trip.

 

 

Here’s my lovely red batter.  I love watching this color transformation.

 

 

One layer baked and leveled.

 

 

Can’t have red velvet without the cream cheese frosting, right?

 

 

The first layer meets its other half.

 

 

In the isolation booth and ready for the reveal at the campsite.

If you think that the cake is too difficult to make, you might find my red velvet cupcake version a bit easier.

 

Red Velvet Cake

From Bakerella.com

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 oz. red food coloring

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8 inch cake pans.

Lightly stir eggs in a medium bowl with a wire whisk. Add remaining liquid ingredients and stir together with whisk until blended. Set aside.

Place all the dry ingredients in your mixing bowl and stir together really good with another wire whisk.

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute or until completely combined.

Pour into cake pans and then drop the pans on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  After about ten minutes, remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
6 cups confectioners’ sugar

Sift sugar and set aside.

Beat cream cheese and butter on high until creamy. Add vanilla.

Then, add the sugar in batches. Scrape down the sides in between each addition.

And frost away.