Archive for the ‘Baked Goods’ Category

This cake is a great representation of how I’ve been feeling lately. Light, airy, buoyant and in general just happy. That’s mainly because I’m leaving for Costa Rica in exactly one week. I’m so excited to take this trip. I’ve going with my friend Sheena and we plan on visiting Arenal and Manuel Antonio. I can’t wait to get out of this cold & rainy weather.

This cake is delicious and not tart like a typical lemon cake. That’s because it has no lemon juice in the cake, it only has lemon zest. My friend Peggy explained “I love this cake, and I normally hate lemon cakes.”

Recipe adapted from Food & Wine

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Level: Intermediate
Yield: makes 1 8-inch cake

2/3 cup sugar
8 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt (added this)
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, melted and cooled a bit
1/2 cup poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 325°F Butter and flour an 8-inch fluted Bundt or tube pan generously  Butter the dull side of a 10-inch piece of foil.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the sugar with the egg yolks and whole egg at medium-high speed until the mixture is pale yellow and very fluffy, about 8 minutes. Beat in the lemon zest. Sift the flour and cornstarch over the egg mixture and fold in along with the pinch of salt with a rubber spatula. At medium speed, beat in the butter, then beat in the poppy seeds.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and cover tightly with the buttered foil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cake pulls away from the side of the pan and a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the foil and let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto the rack and let cool completely before serving, at least 30 minutes.

Do ahead: The cake can be wrapped in plastic and foil and left at room temperature for up to 3 days.


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I might have been trying to write this post for a month now. It’s not that I don’t want to write the post, it’s just that it’s February and I really don’t want to do anything. All I’ve want to do lately is to stay inside and catch up on Dexter. It’s become my new obsession and I can’t get enough. I just finished season 3 and I’m so excited to watch season 4. I’ve been told by many fans it’s the best season.

Before my obession with Dexter began I really wanted to make some scones. This was back in January, super bowl weekend to be exact. I love scones because they are not too sweet and are a perfect compliment to a cup of coffee or tea. I had a hard time picking between this recipe and a chocolate hazelnut recipe. For some reason I was gravitating more toward the orange and dark chocolate. I’m glad I did because they turned out pretty great.

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Level: Intermediate
Yield: four large or six small scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold buttermilk
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice


Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.  I use my fingers to rub the butter and dry ingredients together.    In another bowl, combine egg yolk and buttermilk and beat lightly with a fork.  Add to flour mixture all at once, stirring enough to make a soft dough.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead about 15 times.  Roll or pat out into a 1-inch thickness.  Cut into 4 large or 6 small  squares.     Place on prepared baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.  These are best when serve immediately with butter and jam.

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Last month I joined an online recipe swap. This recipe swap is the inspiration of Christianna from Burwell General Store. Christianna sends us (7 participants this time) a new recipe about once a month and asks us to come up with our own “new” version of the recipe. These recipes typically come from an old cookbook she found at an antique store, All-Day Singin’ and Dinner on the Ground. This months challenge was a “Company Time” Lemon Cake.

Lemon Cake

I was super excited about this recipe from the beginning and right away thought about cupcakes with lavender. I’ve been wanting to cook with lavender for a while now and lemon seemed like the perfect combination. I used a Meyer lemon in the recipe because they have a sweater lemon flavor and I added a lemon cream cheese frosting to top it off. If you want to check out all the other recipes just click here

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Level: Medium
Yield: 9 cupcake


1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 t dried lavender buds, roughly chopped
1 t baking powder
/4 t salt
4 T unsalted butter, room temperature
/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 T lemon juice
1 T lemon zest
/2 cup lowfat buttermilk

Cream Cheese frosting:
3 T unsalted butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 T lemon zest
Fresh lavender buds for garnish

Meyer Lemon


Preheat oven to 350°F and place cupcake liners in a 12-cup muffin pan. Mix flour, lavender, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, lemon juice, and zest. Beat in one-third of the flour mixture until just combined. Beat in half the buttermilk, followed by another third of the flour, then the remaining buttermilk and flour. Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds of the way up and bake for 24 to 26 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, beat together butter, cream cheese, sugar and lemon zest  until smooth. Pipe over cupcakes and garnish with lavender.


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Every year around the holidays I like to bake an assortment of cookies which I put into little bags and hand out to all my friends. This year I decided to up the ante by adding some other homemade treats to my list. On the menu was Biscotti, salted caramels, vanilla extract and a sweet & spicy rub. Although I’m really glad I decided to do this it was quite a stressful process trying to get everything made and packaged nicely in one weekend.

Here is the recipe for Bisotti. I decided to use  hazelnuts instead of pistachios since hazelnuts are in season and a local nut.  I roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, then chopped them coarsely. I also skipped the sugar sprinkles called for in the recipe and used dark chocolate instead of white chocolate.

Recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: The recipe says two dozen but it came out to one dozen for me


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries
12 ounces good-quality white chocolate, chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

Stir the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water until the chocolate melts. Dip half of the biscotti into the melted chocolate. Gently shake off the excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on the baking sheet for the chocolate to set. Sprinkle with the sugar crystals. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes.

The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.

Salted Caramels

The one year anniversary of Spicy Living was December 6th. I know I’m a month behind but I’m thinking of having a giveaway next week to celebrate.

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Cranberry Nut Bread

Did you know that cranberries are a native Oregon fruit? I had no idea! There are several cranberry farms in Oregon, so I highly recommend that you choose locally when you purchase this scrumptious fruit. Here is a great video Edible Portland did on how cranberries are grown and harvested. It’s fascinating!
This is my favorite cranberry recipe. The first time I experienced this wonderful bread was only last year. I’ve been thinking of it ever since and was so excited to finally make it again. I used fresh, local cranberries which I purchased from New Seasons. I also didn’t chop the berries, I really don’t think it’s necessary. Last, I added a 1/4 teaspoon cardamom because I’m obsessed with the flavor these days. Hope you enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Gourmet

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 1 loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 large egg
1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

In a food processor or in a bowl with a pastry blender blend together the flour, the sugar, the baking powder, the salt, the baking soda, and the butter until the mixture resembles meal and transfer the mixture to a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the zest, the juice, and the egg, add the mixture to the flour mixture, and stir the batter until it is just combined. Stir in the cranberries and the walnuts and transfer the batter to a well-buttered 9- by 5-inch loaf pan. Bake the bread in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 1 1/4 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes and turn it out onto a rack.

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One of my favorite food bloggers is Joy The Baker. Not only is she a great cook but I love that she’s honest and funny. Several days ago I saw the perfect fall recipe on her site for a curried sweet potato soup with goat cheese biscuits. This was instantly added to my “to try” list. When I was hanging out with my teenage cousin one night last week I thought this would be a fun recipe for us to try . I didn’t want to make a trip to the store for sweet potatoes and I already had a can of pumpkin puree in the cupboard. After some research I found that pumpkin and sweet potatoes can be used interchangeably without much difference.

Zoe was a great helper and we both enjoyed cooking together. The finished product was absolutely delicious! The goat cheese in the biscuits gives them a wonderful savory flavor. While the addition of goat cheese to the soup is a great creamy compliment.

Curried Sweet Potato Soup

Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup coarsely chopped onions
1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick (I used 1 can of pumpkin puree)
6 cups chicken broth, or slightly more as needed. (I actually used 4 cups and it was plenty)
salt and pepper to taste
6 to 8 teaspoons goat cheese

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and saute until the onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute, stirring for 30 seconds.  Add the ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric and red pepper flakes.  Add the sweet potatoes/pumpkin and broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. If you’re using pumpkin puree, you’ll just want to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Puree the soup, in batches in a blender or food processor.  You can skip this process if you’re using pumpkin puree. Season to taste.  The soup can be made a day ahead and kept in the fridge.  Reheat over a low flame.  If the soup is too thick, add a little more stock.

Ladle into bowls and crumble goat cheese on top. This really makes the soup.

Goat Cheese Drop Biscuits

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: makes about 9 biscuits

Adapted slightly from Art Smith’s Table Fifty-Two
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, for the pan
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted to top the biscuits
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup buttermilk

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.  Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat as well. I didn’t have a cast iron skillet so I just used a round cake pan. If you use a cake pan it doesn’t need to be preheated.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  With your fingers incorporate the butter and goat cheese until the flour resembles a coarse, pebbly mixture.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk.  With a fork,  mix together the buttermilk and flour until all of the dry flour disappears.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan or in the microwave.  Set aside.

Remove the cast iron from the oven and place one tablespoon of butter in it.  Work the pat of butter around, greasing the entire pan, including the sides.

Spoon the batter, by the 1/4-cup into the hot skillet.  Joy recommends using a big scooper to do the job.  The biscuits will touch when baked.

Brush with melted butter.

Bake for 14-16 minutes, until slightly golden in color.  Remove from the oven.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Serve warm.

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After nearly three months of being single, I’m dating again. Did I ever mention that I hate dating? I hate everything about it. The awkwardness of meeting someone for the first time, the exhaustion of constantly trying to impress, the
games people play, it all sucks. Okay, maybe not all of it. I do like the butterfly feeling of meeting someone I really like, but that’s about it.

This is where the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread comes in. I baked with a boy today and it was all his idea. How could I not like a guy who invites me over to bake with him?

I have no idea what the origin of this recipe is because it came from a home made recipe book created for my date by his mother. How cute is that?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 to 55 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 1 loaf


2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking power
1/2 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup softened butter
1 cup chocolate chips


Sift together flour, baking powder, soda, salt and spices. Combine pumpkin, sugar, milk and eggs in mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients and softened butter; mix until well blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread in well greased standard loaf pan. Bake in 350 oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Makes one load. Bread may be frozen.

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I have been craving pound cake for weeks but I was reluctant to bake one worrying that it would come out too dry. When I ran into this recipe I absolutely had to give it a try but for some reason I really wanted my pound cake to be swirled. I think the inspiration for this came from the Starbucks Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake. I rarely go to Starbucks anymore but I happen to be there a couple months ago and fell in love with this beautiful cake on display. I had no intention to try the cake but I just couldn’t help but stare at it’s beautiful pink swirl.

Blackberry Pound Cake

Recipe addapted from Orangette’s (Molly Wizenberg) book A Homemade Life

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 80 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: 1 loaf


  • 2 c. blackberries, washed and dried
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 1 T orange zest
  • 2 c. plus 8 T cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 c. sugar
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, diced, at room temp

For the swirl

6 ounces blackberries (1-1/3 cups)
Puree blackberries in blender with the juice of half a lemon.

Preheat oven to 300 and place rack in middle.

Butter a standard-sized Bundt pan, or bread pan, then dust it with flour, shaking out excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk 2 c. plus 6 T cake flour, baking powder, zests and salt.

In mixing bowl for electric mixer, blend eggs and sugar until thick and pale yellow, 1 min. Add butter and mix another 1 min, scraping down sides. Add dry ingredients and process until thick and smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly across the top.  Dot the top of the batter with about 1 cup of blackberry puree. With a skewer or thin-bladed knife, swirl batter and puree together.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 80-90 min.

Transfer cake to a rack, cool in pan 5 min. Invert cake onto rack and cool at least 20 min. before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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Last week was the kickoff to our annual Employee Giving Campaign at work. Each year there is a bake sale for the kickoff, with all proceeds going to the Oregon Food Bank. After searching forever for the perfect Red Velvet recipe I settled on the following adapted from Cake Man Raven Confectionery in Brooklyn. People raved about the recipe, claiming it was very moist and tasted the most like a Red Velvet Cake. Needless to say I gave this recipe a try even though the ingredient list didn’t seem impressive.

So here are my two issues with the cake, not enough cocoa and not enough butter. I’m pretty sure the use of oil instead of butter is what gives this cake its moisture but it also gave it an almost oily taste. I used canola oil but I’m curious if I can use coconut oil next time which has a more neutral flavor. I also want to try using more butter and less oil. So, I’ll have to try out this recipe a few more times to get it perfect. Not to mention adding more cocoa to the mix.

One more thing, don’t make the mistake I made and add orange food coloring instead of red. That is the reason why my cupcakes are a brick color instead of red.

Adapted from Cake Man Raven Confectionery

1 tbsp. butter:
2 1/2 cups plus 12 tbsp. cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. white distilled vinegar

12 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Grease three 8″ round cake pans with butter. Dust with 2 tbsp. of the flour and set aside. Sift remaining flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a bowl. Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Divide batter evenly between pans. Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25–30 minutes. Let cakes cool for 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a rack. Let cakes cool.

2. For the frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5–7 minutes.

3. Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate; spread one-quarter of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting. Press pecans into the sides of the cake.

MAKES ONE 8″ CAKE (I obviously made cupcakes)

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Peach Tart

Peaches, peaches, peaches! I love this juicy fruit and this is the perfect time of year for them. I love to go to the farmer’s market for pesticide free peaches. Did you know that peaches are ranked #2 on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list? That’s because the trees are very prone to disease and fungi. I’ve heard they are actually very hard to grow pesticide free and many who claim to be free of pesticide are still sprayed at the blossom stage.

This dessert is so buttery and delicious; it’s really a heart attack in every bite. I recommend eating this as a dessert and not trying to eat it for breakfast like I attempted to do with the leftovers. It’s super heavy for breakfast and will most likely make you feel sick. But don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely superb. Top this off with some vanilla bean ice cream and it’s a perfect treat to sulk over a break-up.

The recipe below is meant to make 8 individual small tarts. I didn’t have the patience to make 8 little tarts so I just rolled out the entire dough and baked it in a pie pan.

Prep time: About 3 hours including 2 hour of refrigeration
Cook time: 30 minutes
Level: Medium
Yield: 8 servings

Adapted from Gourmet

For pastry

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) unbleached pastry flour* (not whole-wheat)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

For almond filling

  • 3/4 cup sliced blanched almonds (about 2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 firm-ripe peaches
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar


  • vanilla or honey ice cream
  • raspberry sauce
  • raspberries
  • *Available at specialty foods shops and some supermarkets

Make pastry:
Cut butter into bits and freeze. In a food processor pulse together flour, sugar, and salt. Add frozen butter and pulse mixture just until it resembles coarse meal. Add 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until barely combined. Transfer dough to a bowl and stir in just enough ice water to form a ball. Flatten dough into a 6-inch disk. Chill dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Make filling:
In food processor blend filling ingredients until very smooth. Filling may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring filling to room temperature before using.

Halve dough. On a lightly floured surface roll out 1 piece of dough (keeping other piece chilled) into a 12-inch square (about 1/8 inch thick). Using a 5-inch saucer or plate as a guide, cut out 4 rounds and transfer to a baking sheet. Roll and cut out 4 more rounds from remaining dough in same manner, transferring to another baking sheet. Prick rounds all over with a fork and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Halve and pit peaches and slice thin. Spread each round evenly with about 1 1/2 tablespoons filling, leaving about a 1/4-inch border, and arrange peach slices, overlapping slightly, over filling. Cut butter into bits. Sprinkle each tart with about 1/2 tablespoon sugar and dot with butter. Bake tarts in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, 25 to 35 minutes, or until crusts are golden and peaches are tender.

Serve tarts warm with accompaniments.

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