Category Archives: Cakes

Carrot Cake Two Ways

Carrot cake two ways.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

One of the benefits of writing a blog that no one reads (yet!) is that you can post pretty much whatever you want and no one will be the wiser. Don’t have a great, chatty story behind a recipe? Make one up. I haven’t done that yet, FYI, but I was tempted with this carrot cake recipe. I’ve made it twice, once in a Bundt pan and once as a layer cake. The latter, being destined for a birthday party, looked like a white lump on the table. It’s hard to photograph a cake when you can’t take a slice out of it. Luckily for me, I’d made the same recipe in a Bundt pan a few months ago, and had never got around to posting it.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

The other lucky thing? That cute anecdote I was worried I wouldn’t have – pshaw. No problem. The layer cake was made for my friend Ellen’s 81st birthday. She’s someone about whom you can say “81 years young” without rolling your eyes. In fact, we stuck the numbers on the cake backwards and celebrated her sixty-third 18th birthday instead. I’m pretty sure her schedule is about twice as crazy as mine. I love her entire family – they’ve basically adopted me – and I inflict my baking experiments on her daughter every week when we get together to mine for gems at the local St. Vinnie’s. (For the record, she’s much better at it than I am. I find broken plates; she finds Ming vases.)

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible Gigi – Ellen’s daughter – bought her a new CD player and wrapped up a CD of relaxing meditation music, which pretty much sums up Ellen’s life. We’re all tugging at her to slow down and take a break, but she has paintings to finish and art lessons to give to kids. She drives a cerulean-blue hatchback with “Department of Peace” stickers on the back and wears “Ban the Bag” and “End Discrimination” pins on her purple jacket. She’s the kind of person the Red Hat Society – the group of older ladies that takes its cue from the Jenny Joseph poem that vows, in part, that “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple / With a red hat that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me” – would love to get its paws on. Trouble is, she doesn’t stand still for long enough for anyone to grab ahold.

Carrot Cake | Especially Edible Carrot Cake | Especially Edible

I’m fully convinced that, in ten years, I’ll be making a cake – maybe chocolate, this time – for Ellen’s 91st birthday. I’ll be pushing 40, and I’m quite sure that I’m the only one who will feel old.

Carrot Cake| Especially Edible

Carrot Cake Two Ways

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cake


For the Cake

1 lb. carrots, finely grated (about 3 cups)

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 1/2 cups canola oil

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. cloves

For the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

16 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3-4 cups powdered sugar

salt to taste

For the Cream Cheese Glaze (if you're making a bundt cake)

6 oz. cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3-6 Tbs. milk

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

salt, to taste

cinnamon, to taste

For the Garnish

shredded coconut, toasted

1/2 cup pecans, toasted


For the Cake

Preheat oven to 350. Trace the bottoms of two 9-inch round pans onto parchment paper, then use the paper to line the bottoms of the pans. (If using a Bundt pan, grease and flour the pan.)

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. Set

In a large bowl, mix sugar, eggs, oil, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Fold in carrots. (Instead of grating, use a food processor - it cuts down on the required elbow grease and sore shoulders.)

Stir dry ingredients into wet until well combined.

Pour half the batter into one cake pan and half into the other. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in pans for ten minutes, then run a knife around the edges and turn out onto wire racks. (If making a Bundt cake, pour the batter into the greased pan and bake for 50-65 minutes.) Wait for cakes to cool entirely before frosting and stacking. (Or drizzling the glaze on top.)

For the Frosting

Heat butter in a small saucepan until browned, about five minutes. Don't let the butter burn - when it's ready, you will see tiny dots of brown at the bottom and the aroma will be strong and nutty. Cool for fifteen minutes in the refrigerator.

After butter cools, cream together browned butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract and salt until smooth. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, sifting each as it goes in to eliminate lumps, Mix well after each addition, and taste the frosting after 3 cups to gauge its sweetness.

To Assemble

If necessary, level the tops of the cakes with a knife to make their tops flat. Place the bottom layer upside down on a plate or cake stand. Frost the top of the first layer, then add the second, icing the top and the sides with a thin coating of frosting.

If you have the time (and patience), let the cake chill in the fridge for 20 minutes. This will make it less crumbly and easier to frost with a thick layer of cream cheese / buttercream frosting. Use a knife or an offset spatula to ice the cake. With the spatula or the back of a large spoon, swirl the frosting on the top for a decorative effect. Garnish with toasted coconut and pecans.

If you are making a Bundt cake, soften the cream cheese in the microwave for about 20 seconds. (Make sure not to do this in the foil wrapping . . . I found out the hard way that this creates sparks.) Whisk until smooth, then sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese. Add the salt, vanilla, and cinnamon, and whisk until smooth. Slowly add the milk, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the glaze is thin enough to pour but thick enough to adhere to the sides of the cake. Pour over the Bundt cake and allow glaze to drizzle down the sides. Garnish with toasted coconut and pecans.

Sweet Potato Bourbon Cake

For a limited time only, the perfect fall dessert.

Sweet Potato Bourbon Cake / Especially Edible

Sweet potatoes. Pie pumpkins. Butternut squash. Cranberries. Eggnog. I can’t get enough of limited-time ingredients, the ones that only appear on store shelves in October and vanish after December 31, much like the way Christmas cards are mysteriously replaced by pink Valentine’s Day merchandise come January 1. So I go after sweet potato and eggnog recipes like a fast food junkie clamors for the McDonald McRib sandwich.

Sweet Potato Bourbon Cake / Especially Edible

The only thing better than recipes like pumpkin chicken chili and butternut squash hummus is one that incorporates more than one of the holiday-season ingredients. With that, I give you a modified Martha Stewart recipe: sweet potato bourbon bundt cake with cranberries. (Yes, that’s a mouthful.) The only thing that could have made it better would be . . . oh, who knows – an eggnog glaze, maybe? But I stuck with bourbon and powdered sugar, replacing Stewart’s bourbon glaze because – well, because drizzled icing is just prettier.

Sweet Potato Bourbon Cake / Especially Edible

And did I mention this bundt cake has pecans too? While pecans aren’t exactly a limited-time ingredient – think German chocolate cake and praline anything – they do feature prominently in the classic Thanksgiving pecan pie.

Sweet Potato Bourbon Cake / Especially Edible

I haven’t always had good luck with Martha Stewart recipes – the user reviews are always pretty harsh, which I hope has more to do with high expectations and more experienced bakers than any general sexist Stewart hatred – but when they work, they really work. After one disastrous macaroni and cheese dish from Stewart’s website, I was ready to swear off her – well, her test kitchen flunkies’ – recipes. Then I realized the butternut squash macaroni and cheese recipe that I made twice in one month was also a Stewart recipe. So I decided to give this bundt cake a shot.

Was it worth it? Heck, yes.

This cake is Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one. And it doesn’t feature an ounce of that ever-present fall ingredient, pumpkin. It’s also beautiful, studded with bright cranberries and drizzled with a delicate pale glaze. So without further drooling ado, I give you a (delicious) mouthful of sweet potato bourbon cake with cranberries and pecans. Sweet Potato Bourbon Cake / Especially Edible

Sweet Potato Bourbon Cake

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: 1 cake


For the Cake

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup butter, softened

2 large eggs

1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk

1/3 cup bourbon

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbs. baking powder

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1 cup chopped cranberries

For the Glaze

4 Tbs. butter

3 Tbs. bourbon

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted


For the Cake

Cook the sweet potato by steaming for 20 minutes over boiling water. Remove from heat, let cool, and mash.

Preheat oven to 325.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at at a time. Add sweet potato, vanilla, milk, and bourbon. Add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated.

Pour batter into a 10- or 12-cup bundt pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Glaze

Melt the butter in a saucepan with the bourbon. Remove from the heat whisk in sifted powdered sugar until smooth.

Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.

Cake recipe adapted from Martha Stewart . Glaze recipe from Food Network


Chocolate Bundt Cake

Baby Bundts!

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As someone whose baked goods aren’t necessarily the most attractive on the block (see this picture of one of my first brown lumps), I love Bundt pans. They turn out cakes that are beautiful from the get-go, little sculpted masterpieces of flour and sugar. Drizzle a little icing on them and you’re good to go. There are no fallen domes, no lopsided stacks of 9-inch rounds, no icing slathered on in a weird back-and-forth knife pattern.

The only problem with Bundt cakes is their size. A 9- or 12-cup pan is just too big for my usual roster of parental taste-testers, and I’m no social butterfly who cooks for big groups every Friday night. That’s where miniature Bundt pans come in. I picked up four tiny tins at a yard sale a year or two ago, and I get them out whenever there’s a special occasion that calls for something fancy.

Chocolate Bundt cakes with chocolate ganache are my absolute favorite. I love the way the shiny frosting hugs the cakes’ ridges and curves, and their diminutive size is just. so. cute. They’re a bit like cupcakes, and in that regard they remind me of this meme from The Office that’s been floating around the Internet for a few years:

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 10.11.24 PM

Where does it end? With mini Bundt cakes, of course! I halved the recipe for a traditional chocolate cake and had more than enough batter to fill my yard sale finds. (I’ve given you the entire recipe, however.) Then I delivered the results – no ugly baked goods here – to a friend for her birthday. Special cakes for a special person on a special day!

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Chocolate Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 10-12 people


For the Cake

3/4 unsweetened cocoa powder

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate

1 tsp. instant espresso powder

3/4 cup boiling water

1 cup sour cream

1 3/4 cup flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

3/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

5 large eggs

For the Ganache

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 Tbs. corn syrup

1 Tbs. butter


For the Cake!

Preheat the oven to 350.

Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder, chopped chocolate, and espresso powder. Pour boiling water over the mixture and stir until melted. Let cool until it reaches room temperature.

In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in sour cream, vanilla, and chocolate mixture.

Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Slowly beat in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated.

Pour into a well-greased 12-cup Bundt pan.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Ganache

In a small bowl, combine the chopped chocolate with the corn syrup and butter. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil, then pour over the chocolate mixture. Stir until melted.

Let ganache cool until thick but pourable, about five minutes.

Pour the ganache over the cooled cake and allow to sit until glaze is set, approximately 30 minutes, before serving.

Cake recipe from My Imperfect Kitchen . Ganache recipe from Food & Wine



Apple Spice Cake

A Rosh Hashanah favorite gets a Martha Stewart twist

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This is the cake the senator ate.

If I were Dr. Seuss, that would make a great beginning to this post. But I’m not, so here’s the story: I volunteer twice a week at the Democratic Party of Lane County. That’s a major step back from 2012, when I spent six days a week holed up in my town’s Obama campaign office, managing the data collection for the downtown canvass area. Now I’ve been reduced to stuffing envelopes and putting together walk packets – this is what happens when you don’t stay involved after the election – but, from the reaction of everyone at the office, my primary role is Food Bearer. I’ve made butternut squash muffins, chocolate chip cookies, and gluten-free brownies for one of the few people actually getting paid to make phone calls, a teddy bear of a man named Don.

2014-09-26 14.19.30

But the biggest thing I’ve done was on request: an apple spice cake for Senator Ron Wyden, who mad an appearance at the office after stopping by the City Club of Eugene to talk about privacy issues. I’m admittedly not a huge fan of Wyden – I don’t think he’s sufficiently supportive of the president, for one thing, and his privacy crusade doesn’t do much for someone raised on an Internet driven by personal information made public – but I cant say I’ve ever baked for a U.S. senator before.


Wyden arrived on the last day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, and the office’s grimy whiteboard welcomed the senator with “Happy New Year, Sen. Wyden!” scrawled above the ever-present tally of days until the election. Apple spice cake is apparently a traditional Rosh Hashana dish, and while my Martha Stewart interpretation was a pretty loose riff on that tradition (the caramel sauce may not have been typical, but it was tasty as well as necessary to hide the missing chunk of cake that had stuck to the Bundt pan when I tried to invert it too soon), it was at least a nice effort.

I didn’t stick around for the Wyden event – no senator-baker selfies or pics of Wyden with a forkful of apple spice cake – but some fellow DPLC’ers confirmed that everyone had “devoured” the cake. Aww, shucks – I’m blushing.

I’m a political junkie, if you hadn’t already gathered that, but caterer to the pols is not a career choice I’d considered. Now . . . well, you never know.

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Apple Spice Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Yield: Serves 10 people



3 cups flour

1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 ground allspice

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

2 cups sugar

1 1/3 cups vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3-4 Granny Smith apples, cored and diced (3 cups)

Caramel Sauce

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup evaporated milk

1 tsp. vanilla

Salt to taste



Preheat oven too 350.

Sift together flour, spices, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl.

In a large bowl, mix sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla until bright yellow.

Combine dry ingredients with wet, mixing until just incorporated. Fold in diced apples.

Pour the batter into a 12-cup Bundt pan coated generously with cooking spray. Bake 75-90 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack, then invert onto rack to cool completely.

Caramel Sauce

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sauce thickens. Drizzle over cake and serve.

Apple Spice Cake and Caramel Sauce recipe from Martha Stewart.

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

A hit of healthy zucchini hidden by luscious dark chocolate

choc zucchini

In case it’s not obvious from the amateur photos (but what a nice closeup on those unsightly lumps of cocoa in the ganache!), I am not one of those semi-professional food bloggers who “partner” with companies like Kitchenaid or Sunmaid to create recipes that just so happen to involve . . . a Kitchenaid mixer or Sunmaid raisins. So it’s safe to say when I list a Hershey’s product among the ingredients, I’m not getting anything from the chocolate company. It doesn’t look like the original blogger did either, though what do I know?

Hershey’s does seem to be the only brand that makes dark cocoa – everything else in the store is the regular unsweetened stuff. Dark chocolate chips are easier to find, however; Ghiradelli makes some that are probably higher quality than Hershey’s. You rarely have to use a specific brand for a recipe to turn out. Some of the most ridiculous recipes online are ones that call for things like Gold Medal flour or C&H sugar. Yeah, I’m sure the flour brand is really going to make a huge difference. Scroll to the bottom of the recipe and you’ll invariably find a disclaimer to the effect of “This post is sponsored by GOLD MEDAL FLOUR, but all opinions are my own.” Yes, but Gold Medal isn’t paying you to write nasty things about its products, is it? By definition these sponsored posts are positive – they’re just giant ads.

There are probably some sour grapes here – if I ran a blog good enough to attract sponsors, my hand would likely be in the proverbial cookie jar as well. You can even shill classily and offer up a prize for readers, like this post from one of my favorite food blogs, Sarcastic Cooking. There’s no harm in promoting an ingredient that you like anyway. Still, I prefer non-compensated endorsements, like this hilarious one from the blog Two Twenty One, which recommends AirBake cookie sheets by promising “The AirBake people have no idea who I am.  They didn’t give me any dough (money or cookie) to mention them in this post.” Cookie sheets, unlike flour, do vary in quality by brand – my insulated cookie sheets (the kind that sandwiches a layer of air between two metal sheets, sort of like an AirBake knockoff) do tend to bake more evenly than the old, pitted single-plate sheets at my mother’s house. But these days, when store brands are made alongside their brand-name counterparts, I don’t worry too much about quality. Flour is flour, though I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a number of food bloggers who disagreed with me. Chocolate is another matter – the expensive stuff does seem a peg above the generic Albertson’s bag of morsels – but at least in my book, it’s the exception to the rule.

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 1 cake

Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake



2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 butter, softened

1/2 vegetable oil

1 tsp. vanilla

2 large eggs

1/2 sour cream or Greek yogurt

2 cups shredded zucchini

1 cup Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips


1 1/2 Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips

1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream


Preheat oven to 325.

Whisk dry ingredients - flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt - in a small bowl. Combine butter, vegetable oil, vanilla, and sour cream in a large bowl. Beat in eggs. Stir in shredded zucchini and chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into a greased Bundt pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes.

Let cake cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a plate.

For the ganache, microwave chocolate chips and whipping cream in a bowl for about 1 minute. Whisk until smooth, then drizzle over the cake.

Recipe from The Repressed Pastry Chef via Something Swanky


Strawberry Bundt Cake

Strawberry, lemon and tangy Greek yogurt

strawberry bundt

Recipe from Tide and Thyme, adapted from A Spicy Perspective



2 1/2 cups flour (divided)

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

8 oz. plain Greek yogurt

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 Tbs. lemon juice

Zest of 2 lemons

12 oz. fresh strawberries, diced



1 cup powdered sugar

2 Tbs. lemon juice


Preheat oven to 325. Mist a 10-inch Bundt pan with cooking spray. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt) in a small bowl, reserving 1/4 cup of the flour to coat the strawberries.

Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl, then beat in the eggs, 2 Tbs. lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the yogurt and buttermilk, until the batter is just mixed.

Using your hands, gently toss the strawberries with the reserved 1/4 cup of flour. Mix them into the batter.

Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake for approximately 60 minutes or until the “toothpick test” comes out clean.

Cool for 20 minutes in the pan, then invert onto a wire rack and let sit until completely cooled. Whisk the remaining 2 Tbs. of lemon juice with the powdered sugar until the lumps are gone and the consistency allows you to drizzle it over the cake.


red mixer

KITCHEN CONFESSIONAL: This would be a great recipe for a Kitchenaid mixer. Don’t have one? They’re pricey, but everyone says they’re worth it. “Everyone” doesn’t include me, however. I got one for my birthday a year ago, and I haven’t used it yet. That’s partly because my regular electric mixer has done the trick – with less cleanup – on every baking project I’ve tried. But it’s partly because I’m intimidated. As not only an amateur cook but a lazy one, I’m scared of adjusting the mixer attachment (what’s the deal with the “penny trick” other bloggers suggest?), scared of learning something new, and scared of making a mess that takes longer to clean up than just popping two mixer attachments into the lower basket of the dish washer. Heck, I know life would be easier if I’d just forget my nerves and take a stab at the beautiful lipstick-red Kitchenaid. And I know I’m spoiled for ignoring a mixer that other amateur bakers would kill for. But that’s why this is a confessional. My way of baking isn’t necessarily the best way to do it, but it’s my way. Stick with this blog and maybe in another year, you’ll find me using my Kitchenaid gladly!