Monthly Archives: September 2010

You Know I Have No Life When…

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…I write two blogposts in one week, the highlight of my Friday night is seeing a sappy Julia Roberts movie (Eat, Pray, Love–do yourself a favor and read the book instead) and I write two blogposts in one week. Wait, did I already say that? This weekend I didn’t know what to do with myself except bake. And write about it. Standard.

I was actually home this weekend (shockingly) and so I decided to participate in one of my favorite activities (and meals)–brunch. I woke up to a loaf of leftover challah bread from Rosh Hashanah just calling my name to make french toast. But let’s be honest, when do I ever just make french toast? I knew I wanted to try out baked french toast since I never have before, but I ran into a small problem. Every recipe I encountered said I had to let the bread soak overnight. But I don’t take no for an answer, so I decided to do things my own way.

Cinnamon Bun Baked French Toast

We have ’80s plates. Get used to it.


I read a few recipes and kind of created my own. Measurements aren’t exact so take your own creative liberties.

  • A bit less than 1 loaf challah bread
  • 6 tbsp softened butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped walnut
  • Maple syrup to drizzle (about 1/4 cup)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • salt

1. Mix together eggs, milk, vanilla, granulated sugar and a dash of salt. Soak sliced challah in the mixture, making sure mixture evenly coats the bread (this will probably require a few bowls or shallow dishes).

2. Let the mixture soak in while you’re putting together the rest of the dish. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

3. Mix together butter, brown sugar and nuts (amount can vary on how much you like nuts). Spray 9 x 13 pan, and sprinkle small pieces of the mixture along the bottom of the pan.

4. Drizzle maple syrup lightly over the mixture in the pan–feel free to use whatever kind you have in the house.

5. Place soaked bread into pan. If the pieces don’t fit perfectly, you can just smush them together (yes, that is a technical cooking term) because the bread should be pretty soggy at this point. It’s okay if some of the bread is crusty–that’s actually the best part when the french toast is baked.

6. Bake for about 50 minutes or until bread is dry and has a golden color on top. Let cool for a few minutes and then serve immediately. Be sure to turn slices upside down, or actually right side up, when serving so that the sweet, nutty part is on top.

Top with powdered sugar or fresh jam if you like, but this french toast is really flavorful enough to enjoy alone…I mean alone like without any condiments, but don’t eat it alone because there’s like a lot of it. Serves 6. Or 4 if you eat a lot like me.

It’s a Piece of Cake

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It was an epic week. I got a new phone (necessary). And since I received my first paycheck, it was time. To buy my camera, of course! After hearing my friends had forbidden me from taking photos, I knew I had to buy my new camera before my trip to Madison last weekend.

Problem: the only time I had to get the camera was when my parents were celebrating their anniversary. So I did the natural thing and baked an anniversary surprise for them. And took some solid pictures of it (see below). I strolled into Best Buy on a mission. Canon. Point and Shoot. Silver. Done. It was both the fastest and the best purchase I’ve ever made. The guy from Best Buy thought I was crazy, but Best Buy Guy–I don’t care. I got my camera. And proceeded to get my buttermilk, butter and eggs all in a matter of about ten minutes.

On to the cake. My dad has simple tastes. “Feed the masses,” he says. No thanks. But since it was his special day, I decided to comply as much as possible.

Double Layer Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay

Well, I said I tried, right? This cake was surprisingly easy, m.o.i.s.t and even my dad liked it.

  • 1 cup  water
  • 1 stick butter
  • ⅓ cup cocoa, sifted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • ½ cup buttermilk (See my post on Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Layer Cake for how to make buttermilk if you don’t have any)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place the butter, cocoa powder and water in a saucepan, and stir over medium heat until melted.

2. Mix together flour, baking soda and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in butter mixture.

3. Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.

4. Spray 2 9-inch round pans, and divide mixture between the two. **Knock the pans on the counter to get rid of the bubbles before baking. Trust me, it works.

5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until fully cooked through. When done, allow to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes before removing.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 14 oz. cream cheese (I eyeballed this. I also used some fat-free cream cheese mixed with regular, and it still tasted amazing)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup cocoa

1. Using an electric mixer (it’s a must), beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy (about 6 minutes).

2. Mix in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar–be sure to actually hand mix these in first so you don’t have powder flying everywhere. Beat for an additional 6 minutes.

3. If you finish the frosting before the cake is done, do not refrigerate. It will harden and be difficult to spread. Let it sit in a cool place.

Once the cake has slightly cooled, frost one layer. Then, put another layer on top and frost it. Put on a pretty cake pedestal like so:

Look at that camera quality.

Looks like a piece of cake, right? Well…even baking veterans make mistakes sometimes. I had the batter in the pans, then the  pans in the oven. It was all too easy. I started to clean up when I noticed a little something peeking out from my grocery bag. The BUTTERMILK! The one special ingredient to make my cake extra-moist and delicious wasn’t even in the cake. I FORGOT the buttermilk in my buttermilk chocolate cake. Very smooth.

I pulled the pans out of the oven as fast as possible. This will be fine. I’ll just pour the buttermilk evenly in the pans and throw them back in the oven, I told myself.

Don’t do that. Obviously when you mix liquid around in a pan (including the non-stick spray), the pan is no longer non-stick. When you’ve realized you messed up, sometimes you just have to admit defeat. I poured all of the batter back into the bowl (which I had already washed), washed out my pans, remixed the batter and poured it back into newly sprayed pans. Phew, that was a close one.

So I told my parents they could finally come downstairs, and within about 2 minutes we were here…

Oh, yes. It was good.

And then we we’re here…

Action shot. My mom likes to save cake, in case you didn’t know
(my 16th birthday cake is somewhere in the freezer–for sure inedible).

The cake: a success (in the end). The camera: major success (umm can’t you tell from these luscious photos?). My stomach: turning from eating hot cake. Ouch. But was it worth it? Totally.