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Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #12 and Strawberry Mug Cake

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These mug cakes are the stuff!

Why didn’t they think of that when I was a kid? Would have had a different one every day! But then, they didn’t have microwave ovens back then. Did they have mugs? I don’t know–can’t remember.

But they’ve got microwaves and mugs now, that’s for sure. And these mug cakes are the stuff–quick, easy, minimal clean-up, near infinite variety.

This week we are featuring a Strawberry Mug Cake. There are still some local fresh strawberries, depending on where you live. But one of the great recent inventions (to go along with microwaves and mugs) are year-round fresh strawberries readily available in any grocery store. So while this Strawberry Mug Cake may seem like the ideal late-spring afternoon or evening treat, it’s ready and waiting any time of the year. Just pick up some fresh strawberries and give it a try.

Now let me go call my brother and ask if he remembers if we had mugs when we were kids.

berry mug cake

Strawberry Mug Cake

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

2 heaping Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 egg

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

2-3 large strawberries, hulled and finely diced

In a small bowl, stir together the butter and sugar until ingredients are well mixed. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and beat all of the ingredients together. Slowly stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt, until just mixed into the batter. Fold in the diced strawberries.

Spray a 12-ounce mug with cooking spray.* Spoon the batter into the prepared mug. Microwave the cake on high for 60 seconds. Check the cake for done-ness. Continue to microwave the cake on high in 15 second increments, until the cake is done and no longer raw in the center. (It took my cake about 75 seconds.)

Remove the cake from the microwave and allow to cool slightly. Enjoy warm, straight out of the mug. For an extra decadent treat, drizzle the cake with chocolate syrup, vanilla glaze, or add a scoop of ice cream on top.

Makes 1 mug cake.

*Use a 12-ounce mug or larger for this cake. The cake doubles in size when it bakes, so don’t make the mistake of using a smaller mug and having a mess to clean up!

berry microwave mug cake

{Adapted from Averie Cooks}

Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #12, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Before the Mellowing Year, Serial #12, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #53 and Super Crumb Yellow Cake

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“What’s a super crumb?” you might ask. Is it like a super-conductor or a super-computer? Or is it one of those little specks of dust you spend fifteen minutes chasing around and still can’t get into the dustpan? (“Can’t catch me!” it shrieks as it scoots under the couch or hides behind the bookcase.)

No, these super crumbs are not of the evasive dust type or a possible means to solve the world’s energy dilemma. I could be coy and respond, “Bake the recipe and find out for yourself.” But then those folks in Human Resources might get the idea that they could phase out my job of writing intros to these recipes, so let’s not go there.

This Super Crumb Yellow Cake is “super” not only for its “crumbs”, which are extra buttery and have the delicate tang of cinnamon and there are lots of them, but also for the cake, which is richer and yellower than the typical crumb cake base. These two qualities make this entire crumb cake “super” in that it is more colorful, flavorful, and substantial than a normal crumb cake, and therefore appropriate for a wide range of occasions–as a lunch or dinner dessert, or on a brunch or party buffet (or as a yummy evening or late night snack).

So you see, the prefix/adjective “super” modifies all three of the words that follow. It’s a Super-crumb Super-yellow Super-cake Super Crumb Yellow Cake (I had to say that to justify my expensive degree in English and keep those headhunters in R&R‘s HR department sufficiently confused that they won’t put my job on the chopping block.)

Speaking of degrees in English, this week’s serial from Two Sisters Times Two is the final serial for this novel. Next week we will start the journey through a new novel. Be sure to stop back and check it out–and finish up Two Sisters Times Two in the meantime, while eating a piece of Super-super-super Crumb Yellow Cake!

yellow crumb coffee cake

Super Crumb Yellow Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour, divided

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

1 egg yolk

2 Tablespoons milk or cream

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 5×7 square baking dish, and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together 1/3 cup of flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the egg yolk, milk, and vanilla and whisk ingredients together until combined. The batter will be thick. Do not over mix the batter.

Pour this batter into the prepared baking dish. To another bowl, whisk together the remaining 2/3 cup of flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir in the melted butter until crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.

Bake cake for 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool before cutting.

Makes 4-6 squares.

crumb cake

{Adapted from Baked Bree}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #53, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #53, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #48 and Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

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It’s a week for pairings.

I doubt I have to remind you of the special day coming up on Sunday, and its emphasis on pairings.

And on Monday we’ll celebrate President’s Day, a holiday situated to fall between the birth dates of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, another pairing (and a long weekend off for most of us).

And this week at R&R we’re going to give you two special pairings of our own.

First of all, there may be no better pairing of flavors than chocolate and hazelnuts (that candy that pairs chocolate and peanut butter can take a backseat). And we’ve taken this perfect match into orbit with this week’s Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake. And I don’t think we have to add that it would be a perfect highlight to that special day coming up on Sunday, maybe starting out with dinner at a nice restaurant and ending up with this cake for dessert back home.

And to go along with that coming holiday and this delicious and decadent dessert, we’re going to add a celebration of our own:

This is our 150th post!!!!! 

Valentine’s Day. A long weekend coming up. This yummy cake. And our 15oth post.

Doesn’t get much better than that.

flourless choc cake

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

For the cake:

3 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons hazelnut liqueur*

 For the glaze:

2 ounces semisweet chocolate (about 1/3 cup)

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed

2 teaspoons hazelnut liqueur*

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Generously grease a 5×7 inch pan, and set aside.

To make the cake, add the chocolate and butter to a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until completely melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and mix in the granulated sugar until incorporated. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, until mixed into the batter. Lastly, whisk in the vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, and hazelnut liqueur. Scrape sides of saucepan, and ensure all ingredients are well blended and no lumps of cocoa powder remain.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes, or until set and toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Be careful not to over bake the cake. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes. Invert cake onto a serving plate, and allow to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the glaze by adding the chocolate and butter to a small saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring frequently, until completely melted. Remove the mixture from the heat and mix in the hazelnut liqueur. Spread the glaze over cooled cake.

Makes 1 small cake.

*Feel free to substitute your favorite liqueur! Amaretto, Grand Marnier, or Godiva would all work well.

flourless chocolate hazelnut cake

{Adapted from Pastry Affair}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #48, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #48, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #44 and Peanut Butter Chocolate Molten Cake

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I’ve always been conflicted about desserts with the word “molten” in them. If it’s on a menu, my eye goes to it immediately and my knee jerk reaction is to order it. It sounds so decadent and rich and–well, obviously–hot, or at least warm and gooey.

But if the waiter or waitress takes awhile to get back to take the order, I start getting scared of that “molten” dessert, start thinking about lava running down hillsides and swallowing whole towns in its path, start imagining that lava going down into my stomach and what it would do to my insides, so that by the time the waitress returns, my first question is “What flavors of ice cream do you have?”

Well, I’ve finally found a molten dessert that doesn’t make me ambivalent: Peanut Butter Chocolate Molten Cake. You see, you make this molten cake in a cup; and I’m just not going to get scared of any dessert that comes in a cup. I mean, how much damage can a cup full of molten do, anyway? And oh by the way, the molten part is peanut butter; and that seems so much safer than molten chocolate which actually looks like the lava eating those whole villages.

Take my word for it: this molten cake is safe. And it’s decadent and rich and yummy and all those other good things.

Just not scary. I promise.

pb chocolate molten cake

Peanut Butter Chocolate Molten Cake

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 cup milk

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter

1 Tablespoon chocolate chips

Spray a large microwave-safe mug (12 ounces or larger) with cooking spray. Note: A mug with straight sides works best.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and baking powder. In another bowl, combine the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Slowly mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until no lumps remain. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the prepared mug.

Spoon the peanut butter into the center of the batter. Press the peanut butter into the batter so that it is almost covered.

Microwave the cake on high for 1 minute. The cake should look set but still jiggle slightly. If needed, microwave the cake in 10 second increments until done. (Mine took about 1 minute 20 seconds.) Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes. Put a plate on top of the mug and slowly invert the mug. Gently wiggle the mug until the cake comes loose. Serve warm.

Makes 1 cake, serves 1-2.

pb molten cake

{Adapted from Five Heart Home}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #44, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #44, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #43 and Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake

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This upside-down cake formula is the stuff!

One pan baking, no frosting needed, rich caramelized topping over yummy (and healthy) fruit over dense and moist cake–what’s not to like? We’ve posted banana upside-down cake and pineapple upside-down cake, and gotten lots of response on each.

So, in a new year’s resolution of sticking with a good thing, this week we have Apple Cinnamon Upside-down Cake. After all the flash and excitement of the holidays, it’s good to get back to basics and even better to keep our cooking efforts simple and to the point.

This cake is the perfect January dessert–appropriate for breakfast, lunch, dinner (dessert) or a snack, it’s easy to prepare, serves neatly, and keeps well in the fridge. Just take it out tomorrow or the next day, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds, and you’ll have a treat that tastes like it just came out of the oven.

Because in this early new year, post-holiday lull, we need to keep things simple and to the point. And what better point is there than this quick and easy and versatile dessert?

upside down apple cake

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (divided)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup milk or buttermilk

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 large apples, peeled and sliced

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Have an 8 or 9-inch round nonstick cake pan ready to use.

Add half of the butter (1/4 cup) to a mixing bowl with the granulated sugar. Cream these ingredients together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and whisk until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Add 1/2 cup of flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and slowly mix into the batter. Before the flour is all the way incorporated, add the milk and remaining 1/2 cup of flour, and slowly mix until all of the ingredients are well incorporated, careful not to over mix.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of butter to the round cake pan and place in the preheated oven. Once the butter is melted, remove from the oven and stir in the brown sugar. Lay sliced apples onto brown sugar mixture until all of the brown sugar and butter is covered. Pour the cake batter over the apples. Place the cake in preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cake springs back slightly when touched. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before inverting over a serving plate. Serve this cake warm with whipped cream or ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Makes 1 round cake, or about 8 servings.

apple cinnamon upside down cake

{Adapted from Babble}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #43, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #43, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #39 and Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

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A lot of good things have come out of Boston. The Red Sox and the Celtics are obvious candidates, Paul Revere and John Adams if you want to talk history, Aerosmith or The Cars if you want to talk rock and roll.

But this is a cooking blog and I’d better switch over to cuisine before I offend someone or get into a fight.

On the food side of the ledger, Boston boasts such specialties as Boston baked beans, corned beef and cabbage on St. Patty’s Day, and baked scrod (at least that was a regional specialty when I used to hang out in those parts). But my all time favorite Boston specialty (even better than Faneuil Hall Marketplace or the North End or the swan boats in the Public Garden) is Boston Cream Pie. For all I know, this isn’t even originally from Boston. But I don’t care! It’s the best dessert in the world and it has the name Boston in it, so it has to be the best thing to ever come out of Boston.

So there.

And to celebrate this marvelous mixture of cake, pudding, and chocolate, this week’s recipe is Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes. This recipe turns the large scale, fairly ambitious dessert into a more manageable quantity and undertaking, and makes it in single serving sizes.

If you’ve ever had this dessert, you know it’s a winner. If not, give it a try tonight. You’ll be glad you did!

(Go Sox! Oh yeah, baseball season is over. Well, there’s always next year.)

boston cream pie cupcakes

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

1 egg

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

3 Tablespoons milk

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 vanilla pudding cups

2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

2 Tablespoons milk

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease 6 muffin cups in your muffin pan, and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl, add the egg and granulated sugar and vigorously whisk until the mixture becomes a pale yellow and thick. Add the melted butter, milk, and vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Whisk in the dry ingredients until the cake batter comes together and no lumps remain.

Divide the batter between the 6 greased muffin cups. Bake in preheated oven for 16-18 minutes, or until they just start to turn golden brown. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, cut each in half horizontally. Divide the two pudding cups between 6 cupcakes halves, spooning and spreading the pudding evenly. Top the pudding with the remaining cupcake halves.

Make the chocolate topping by heating the chocolate chips and milk in a microwave safe bowl for about 30 seconds. Stir until chocolate melts. Drizzle this mixture over top of each cupcake.

Serve immediately. Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator. Cupcakes are best eaten within 2-3 days.

Makes 6 cupcakes.

mini boston cream pie

{Adapted from Martha Stewart}

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #39, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #39, text © Jeffrey Anderson


Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #31 and One-Bowl Apple Cake

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So it’s the season of apples, at long last. They’re plentiful and delicious and healthy and not very expensive if you buy them in quantity at the roadside produce stands or the farmers’ markets.

But if you buy in quantity (say, a bushel), the question is–What do I do with all these apples? You could eat one for lunch every day, but it might take you about ten years to finish the whole box (and they might not be as tasty ten years from now). We like to turn large quantities of apples into homemade applesauce–just quarter and simmer till soft then run them through a food mill. Mmmm-mmmm good!

But how about apple desserts? The traditional apple pie is great, but a lot of work making and rolling out the bottom then the top crusts. An apple-crumb pie, with a cinnamon and brown sugar top crust, is a little simpler but still a lot of effort (and a lot to eat).

So this week we’re offering a small size, very easy One-bowl Apple Cake as a simple way to have a fresh apple dessert in a manageable quantity (three or four generous servings) made in a short amount of time. That way you can make a fresh apple dessert every night till that bushel of apples is gone!

Or maybe not. Do it for a week then turn the rest into applesauce. Applesauce freezes well and you’ll be glad for the yummy treat in the dead of winter or next spring.

apple cake

One-Bowl Apple Cake

1 egg

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 large apple, peeled and thinly sliced*

one-bowl apple cake

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 5×7 pan with cooking spray, and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, cinnamon, and vegetable oil. Slowly mix in the flour and baking soda until combined, careful not to over mix the batter. Fold the apple slices into the mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown and set. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. Cover and store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

Makes 1 small cake.

*Gala, Fuji, Honey Crisp, or other similar varieties of apple work best.

one bowl apple cake

{Adapted from My Recipes}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #31 of “Two Sisters Times Two”.

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #31, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Two Sisters Times Two, Serial #31, text © Jeffrey Anderson