Tag Archives: easy cake recipe

Plumb Good Plum Cake

Summer was made for plum-filled cake.
Summer was made for plum-filled cake.

When Zoë Francois singles out a particular recipe as being her favorite in her new cookbook, you’d be a fool not to make that one first.

Her “Plum Cake” from “Zoë Bakes Cakes: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Favorite Layers, Bundts, Loaves, and More” (Ten Speed Press), of which I received a review copy, easily merits that adoration.

Francois, who studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York, and worked as a pastry chef at several Minneapolis-St. Paul restaurants, is also the creator of the wildly popular web site, ZoëBakes.

The cookbook is a must for anyone who loves baking cakes. Many of the recipes are unfussy enough for any home-cook to bake, such as “Lemon-Curd Pound Cake,” “Banana Cream Cake,” and “Olive-Oil Chiffon Cake.” For those who want to take things to the next level, Francois also includes detailed advice on working with fondant and piping bags, along with more ambitious recipes for “Blackberry Diva Cake” and a DIY “Wedding Cake.”

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Head Over Heels For Upside-Down Clementine Cake

Sliced clementines decorate the top of this upside-down cake so very prettily.
Sliced clementines decorate the top of this upside-down cake so very prettily.

No matter if winter has brought torrential rain, hail, sleet or snow to your doorstep, this simple little golden cake is pure sunshine sure to brighten any day or mood.

“Upside-Down Clementine Cake” is the quintessential one-pan cake — with the bonus of cheery, bright slices of clementines dotting it.

The recipe is from “Petite Patisserie: 180 Easy Recipes for Elegant French Treats” (Rizzoli). Inspired by the treats at neighborhood patisseries, this sweetly designed book is by Christophe Felder, who for 15 years was the pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Hôtel de Crillon in Paris before opening his eponymous pastry school in Alsace; and Camille Lesecq, a former pastry chef of Le Meurice in Paris. Together, the two also operate the patisserie, Les Pâtissiers, in Mutzig, Alsace.

The book starts out with a series of foundational recipes that others build upon. The rest of the book is divided into chapters not by specific dessert categories, as you might imagine, but by the days of the week. Only in the world of Felder and Lesecq, the week has not seven days but eight, with the addition of “Funday” — a concept that I can completely get behind.

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Louisa’s Cake

A sunny ricotta cake that is so moist, buttery, and rich.
A sunny ricotta cake that is so moist, buttery, and rich.

We all grew up seeing our parents and grand-parents, who lived through the Great Depression, wars, and/or famines, take care — to the extreme — to not let any drop of sauce from a can, any heel of bread or any minute shred of fish off the bone ever go to waste.

Not on their watch.

And now, not on ours, either.

With the pandemic creating food shortages — both real and exaggerated ones — we find ourselves looking at food much differently now, treating everything with the reverence it deserved all along.

The very bottom stems of parsley that I once tossed? No more. Now, they get finely diced and tossed into salads and soups. Those radish tops I once never looked twice at? Now, I savor them sauteed in an egg scramble.

The leftover ricotta I had from making lamb meatballs? Not that I would deign to ever throw something like that out, but these days, it takes on an outsize importance. Yes, that leftover ricotta that I once just nonchalantly enjoyed with berries for breakfast the next day, now seemed too good for that. Clearly, it should be destined for something far more special, I thought.

I found exactly that in “Louisa’s Cake.”

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The Comforting Taste of Mascarpone Gingerbread Bars

Gingerbread in May? Yes, please!
Gingerbread in May? Yes, please!

There are some who think gingerbread’s season ends after the holidays.

But why should something so fragrantly intoxicating and so nostalgically soothing have a yearly expiration date?

It shouldn’t, especially when the warmth of its spices enfolds us like a big hug. And who couldn’t use the comfort of an embrace like that right about now?

That’s why “Mascarpone Gingerbread Bars” hit the spot now — and anytime.

This easy, square-pan snack cake is from “The Joys of Baking: Recipes and Stories for a Sweet Life” (Running Press, 2019), of which I received a review copy. It’s by food writer and food editor Samantha Seneviratne, who has worked in the test kitchens of Good Housekeeping, Fine Cooking, and Martha Stewart Everyday Food. She’s also the creator of the blog, Love,Cake.

Given its title, it’s not surprising that the book was inspired, of course, by the iconic “The Joys of Cooking” by Irma Rombauer. Seneviratne’s is destined to be a classic, too. She invites you into her life, bravely opening up with personal stories, inspirations, and insights, and even about her brother’s death and her divorce from her husband.

“Baking is a choice,” she writes. “Baking is never a necessity. No one needs a chocolate cake to survive. Except, sometimes, a chocolate cake is exactly what you need to survive. Sometimes, a chocolate cake is the only thing you need in this world. This is a book about and for those times.”

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Too Good To Wait: Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Bundt Cake

A cake made for chocolate and wine lovers.
A cake made for chocolate and wine lovers.

Whenever my Mom started reading a new novel, the first thing she did was turn to the last chapter to see how it ends.

My Dad and I used to laugh and shake our heads in disbelief.

But I think I inherited a little of that gene because I don’t always adhere to strict order, either.

Take the new “365: A Year of Everyday Cooking and Baking” (Prestel) by Berlin-based food writer Meike Peters.

I couldn’t wait to tear into Peters new cookbook, especially because I loved her first one, “Eat in My Kitchen: To Cook, to Bake, to Eat, and to Treat” (Prestel), which won a James Beard Award.

As the name implies, this new cookbook, of which I received a review copy, offers up an entire year’s worth of recipes. Yes, one for each and every day.

The recipes are arranged from January to December, with everything from soups to salads to mains to desserts. The delights include “Saffron and Clementine Cake” in February, “Salmon with Juniper-Gin Butter” in April, “Squash Pasta with Orange, Maple, and Sage” in September, and “Spiced Chestnut and Apple Pie” in November.

I know it’s October, but when it came time to try my first recipe from the book, I leaped ahead unapologetically to January. Hey, you would, too, for a taste of “Marbled Red Wine and Chocolate Bundt Cake.”

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