Funfetti Layer Cake

Funfetti Layer CakeI didn’t have any real reason to make a Funfetti Layer Cake this week. There were no special occasions. Nobody asked for a cake. Today is my dad’s birthday and Sunday is my pal, David’s, but neither of them would have Funfetti as their first choice. Nope.

Funfetti Layer CakeI just made this cake because I felt like it. In the last few weeks, I have stocked up on sprinkles at Sahadi’s and finally made a white cake recipe that I love, and if those two things aren’t enough reason to slap together a layer cake this cheerful…well, I don’t know what is.

Funfetti Layer CakeI mean, really. This has got to be the happiest cake on earth. Or at the very least, the happiest cake in Brooklyn 😍

Funfetti Layer CakeFunfetti Layer CakeFunfetti Layer CakeNow, you may be wondering what sets Funfetti Layer Cake apart from a plain white cake with some sprinkles. The answer is…well, not much. In fact the only differences between my regular white cake recipe and this cake are 1/4 teaspoon of imitation butter extract (for that box mix flavor without the box mix) and a veritable ton of rainbow sprinkles. There’s no big secret or anything—Funfetti is just white cake with pizzazz. Because sometimes you just need cake with pizzazz, am I right?!

Funfetti Layer CakeI frosted this cake with vanilla buttercream and coated the sides with as many nonpareils as the frosting would hold! This was done mostly because, as I have previously mentioned, the kitchen is the warmest room in my apartment right now—not ideal for beautiful frosting! This coating of sprinkles covers all manner of sad-looking frosting, and it’s super cute 💗

Funfetti Layer CakeFunfetti Layer CakeLook how adorable that is! I love how the bright white cake really makes the sprinkles pop. I’m just crazy about all that color 💕💕💕And as if aesthetics alone aren’t a good enough reason to make Funfetti Layer Cake from scratch, know that my version beats the pants off anything you can find in a box. The cake is light and buttery, and the frosting is super fluffy and delicious, and…oh, who am I kidding? This one’s all about the sprinkles.Funfetti Layer Cake

Funfetti Layer Cake
makes 1 three-layer frosted cake

To Grease the Pans:
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cake:
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon imitation butter extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups milk (not skim or fat-free)
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)*

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
5 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt 
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5-8 tablespoons heavy cream
rainbow sprinkles (jimmies or nonpareils), for decoration

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together oil and flour. Use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer to the entire insides of three 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Sift together four times. Do not skip this step. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, vanilla and almond extracts, sour cream, and milk. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean, dry medium-large mixing bowl. Use the whisk attachment on an electric mixer to beat egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Do not over mix. Set aside.

Fold dry ingredients into wet in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Carefully fold half the whipped egg whites into the batter, followed by the other half. Fold in sprinkles.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Lightly tap each pan on the counter a couple of times just to help any large air bubbles dissipate. Bake for 23-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for fifteen minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge of the pans and inverting the layers onto a rack. Allow to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached. Frost and layer cooled cakes. Decorate with sprinkles immediately after frosting.

Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note:

For information on the difference between jimmies and nonpareils, click here.

Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsI wait all year long for sour cherries. I love their tart flavor and tiny size, and just look at the color! Does a more beautiful food exist?!

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsGetting your hands on sour cherries isn’t easy. Their season is only a few weeks long—blink and you’ll miss them! And you can’t find them just anywhere. I’ve seen them in a grocery store exactly once in the last five years and it was a super pricey specialty foods store. These are basically a farmers market-only find.

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsSour cherries are ideal for pie—I’m not sure I’ve seen them in any other application. Pie requires temperature control though, and the kitchen is the only room of my apartment that can’t be air conditioned 😢 Futzing with sticky pie dough while sweating and cursing whoever decided to put bars on a courtyard-facing second-story window is not my idea of a good time. Instead, I’m looking at the bright side and making something that needs a warm environment to work properly—Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls, y’all!

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsThese rolls are made with my favorite sweet yeast dough, and positively loaded with sour cherries! In fact, the filling is literally just sour cherries, sugar, butter, and a pinch of salt. I considered adding some spices to pep things up, but this perfect seasonal fruit simply doesn’t need any adornment.

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsThese rolls are delicious, but they can be a little tough to handle. Once the dough is rolled out and the filling is piled on, it’s time to roll everything up. This can be near impossible to do evenly, so please don’t stress yourself out about it.

Slicing requires a little more patience than most sweet roll recipes. Instead of slicing all the rolls at once, I recommend slicing them individually, using your free hand to keep them intact as you transfer each one to the pan. This may not go perfectly either, but just know that a rise will make any cosmetic issues disappear. If you have any cherries fall out, just nudge them back in the best you can—again, don’t let this stress you out. Everything is going to be fine. You can’t see it in these photos, but just know that these rolls were truly hideous after slicing. Post-rise and bake though, you’d never know it…

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsSour Cherry Sweet RollsSour Cherry Sweet Rolls…and even if you did, icing would fix it anyway. This quick, five-ingredient icing is the perfect accompaniment to the sour cherry filling. It’s flavored with vanilla and almond extracts, and formulated to be extra thick. Once it’s spread over the top, it melts down and mingles with the filling and it’s just…divine.

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsSour Cherry Sweet RollsSour Cherry Sweet RollsThese Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls are the best kind of mid-summer breakfast treat. Soft pastry, buttery, sweet-tart cherry filling, and delectable vanilla-almond icing—is there a better way to start the day?!

Sour Cherry Sweet RollsNow, run to the farmers market before the season is over! You don’t want to have to wait a year to make these.Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls

Sour Cherry Sweet Rolls
makes 12 rolls

Dough:
1 3/4-2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise Yeast)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, beaten, room temperature

Filling:
2 1/2 cups sour cherries (fresh or frozen), pitted
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

Icing:
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
6-8 tablespoons heavy cream

Grease a 9×13-inch rimmed baking pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, bread flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat whole milk and butter until hot to the touch, about 115F. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in milk mixture, followed by egg and yolk. Add more all-purpose flour until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. Knead 5-6 minutes before forming into a ball and placing in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes.

Make the filling. In a small bowl, fold together sour cherries, sugar, and salt.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into an 8×14-inch rectangle. Use an offset icing knife to spread softened butter over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch perimeter on all sides. Scatter cherry mixture over the top, leaving and excess liquid behind in the bowl. Starting with the long edge furthest from your body, tightly roll filled dough toward you, smoothing any seams with your thumbs. Carefully slice dough into 12 rolls—this may be very messy. Place rolls close together in prepared pan. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil. Place covered pan in a warm, draft-free place for 60-90 minutes, until rolls have doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375F. Uncover rolls. Bake 25-30 minutes, recovering the rolls with foil if anything begins to brown too quickly. Let cool in the pan on a rack while you make the icing.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar and salt. Whisk in extracts and 6 tablespoons of heavy cream. Mix until smooth, adding more heavy cream by the tablespoon until the desired consistency is reached.

Drop spoonfuls of icing over the warm rolls and spread around with the back of a spoon. Slice and serve.

Rolls are best the day they are made, but will keep covered at room temperature for a day or so.

Everyday Chocolate Cake

Everyday Chocolate CakeDo you ever have Chocolate Cake Emergencies? Times when you’ve just had a string of bad days or worked too much, or are in an otherwise foul mood that can only be solved with a bit of chocolate cake?

Everyday Chocolate CakeThis week has just been one big Chocolate Cake Emergency for me. I’m making a couple of big changes and I am a walking, talking ball of stress. Logically, I know that sweets cannot (and will not) fix any of my problems, but on a week like this, they sure can’t hurt.

Everyday Chocolate CakeEveryday Chocolate CakeEnter this Everyday Chocolate Cake: a nine-ingredient one-bowl wonder with no need for layering, frosting, or anything else. There are no difficult-to-find ingredients, unusual methods, or long processes—this is an easy, straightforward recipe with spectacular results. Really, this soft, fluffy, deeply chocolaty dessert is just what I want when a Chocolate Cake Emergency arises.

Everyday Chocolate CakeAs I said before, this cake doesn’t need any sort of adornment; I prefer to eat it by its lonesome or with a light dusting of confectioners sugar. If you want to get a little fancy, I recommend topping a slice with a scoop of ice cream (current favorite: Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Gelato) or drizzling the whole cake with ganache.

I’ll be real with you though—this cake really doesn’t need a thing. In fact, I think its less-is-more approach is what makes it so damn great.Everyday Chocolate Cake

Everyday Chocolate Cake
makes 1 9×5-inch loaf cake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (I like Droste)
1 1/2 baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup milk (not skim or nonfat)
confectioners sugar, for dusting (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and lightly flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla.

Sift in flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Mix just until combined. Add milk and mix on low until combined.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Tap on counter to release any air bubbles. Bake 38-42 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Run a small, thin knife around the edge before inverting. Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired. Slice and serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Carrot-Zucchini Muffins

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsI’m such an optimist when it comes to meal planning. I start every week with the best of intentions, picking up a ton of fresh produce. Tomatoes and avocados go quickly around here, being tossed with pesto or mashed into guacamole or served on toast. Greens go with fried eggs or are made into a huge salad with any odds and ends I have in the fridge. But no matter what I do, something gets forgotten.

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsLast week, it was nearly a pound of carrots and a few zucchini. I made some into hash browns (recipe coming soon!), but I can only eat so many of those in a week. Instead of letting good produce sit in the fridge for another day or two, I turned to my go-to Zucchini Bread recipe.

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsIn addition to being delicious, these Carrot-Zucchini Muffins are a little more nutritious than your average breakfast pastry. For one, they’re made with shredded carrots and zucchini—there’s a full 1/4 cup of vegetables in every serving!

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsThe batter can certainly be made with only all-purpose flour, but I like to use half whole wheat flour here. Where using all whole wheat flour has the potential to make things dry and crumbly if not handled properly, using it in a 50/50 ratio with all-purpose keeps everything nice and soft. The resulting muffins have a nutty whole grain flavor and fluffy interiors—the best of both worlds.  

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsCarrot-Zucchini Muffins are pretty low in sugar, coming in at less than a tablespoon per serving. While adding a few more tablespoons of sugar could certainly amp up the flavor, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon and a touch of nutmeg basically do the same thing without adding to the calorie count.

Carrot-Zucchini MuffinsIf you’re looking to get some extra vegetables into your family this summer, this is one easy way to do it. These muffins have all that carrot and zucchini, a bit of whole grain, and with such minimal sugar, seconds are encouraged. Also, they freeze like a dream—just pop a frozen muffin in the microwave for 45 seconds or so. Served alongside a glass of Cold Brew, eating your vegetables has never been so delicious.Carrot-Zucchini Muffins

Carrot-Zucchini Muffins
makes 12 standard Muffins

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots, not packed (about 3 medium carrots)
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini, not packed (about 2 medium zucchini)

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners, or grease well. Set aside.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Whisk in dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Fold in shredded carrots and zucchini. Divide batter among prepared muffin cups. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles.

Bake 5 minutes before reducing the heat to 350F for another 12-14 minutes. Muffins are ready when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

To freeze, place cooled muffins on a baking sheet and freeze for 2 hours. Transfer to a labeled freezer bag. Store in the freezer for up to three months. To thaw, place in the refrigerator overnight or microwave for 45 seconds-1 minute.

Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Red, White & Blueberry CakeThe Fourth of July is just a few days away, y’all! While you may be thinking about vacation or grilling or how to keep your dog safe during the fireworks, I am over here thinking about—what else—cake! Red, White & Blueberry Cake, to be specific. Yes, a layer cake that is loaded with strawberries, blueberries, and tons of whipped cream. It showcases some peak summer produce and looks pretty patriotic, too! This is my kind of Independence Day dessert.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeThe cake itself if a classic white cake. I used my Vanilla Layer Cake as a starting point, manipulating the recipe until I had a light, fluffy result. The most significant change is that there are no whole eggs in the recipe; if there were, the cake wouldn’t be white! Only egg whites are used here. They are whipped to the point where they hold stiff peaks before being folded into the batter. The air in the whipped egg whites, along with a hefty dose of baking powder and sifted dry ingredients, will keep the resulting cake light and airy.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeWhile the egg whites give the cake tons of structure, their complete lack of fat has the potential to dry it out. I did a few things to counteract this:

  • I reduced the flour. Egg whites provide tons of structure in baked goods, so I was confident that cutting a bit of the flour wouldn’t affect the cake’s ability to bake properly.
  • I used butter and oil. I wanted this cake to have a buttery flavor, but as butter is 15% water, I was concerned that the results could be dry. This recipe requires 3/4 cup melted butter and 1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil, like vegetable or canola oil. This small amount of oil keeps the cakes nice and moist.
  • I used a combination of regular milk and sour cream in place of buttermilk. Sour cream’s thick texture and fat content keep this cake super moist. Also, as it has been “soured,” when combined with milk, it mimics the tenderizing qualities of buttermilk.

But enough about the chemistry of cake batter. This white cake is crazy delicious—soft, buttery, and flavored with vanilla and almond extracts (you can leave the almond extract out if you have a tree nut allergy). It would be spectacular with a little vanilla buttercream, but that’s not the direction we’re going in today.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeInstead of frosting this cake with buttercream, we’re using Whipped Cream Frosting! It’s a lot like regular whipped cream, except that it won’t weep or slouch after an hour or two. Many recipes for Whipped Cream Frosting require gelatin, but I don’t care for the texture it produces. Instead, our whipped cream is stabilized with sour cream. This adjustment allows for the whipped cream to hold up for days! Just beat some heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form, and then use a handheld whisk to incorporate the sour cream until you achieve stiff peaks. Don’t be tempted to add the sour cream all at once—this will deflate your whipped cream. Instead, add it by the spoonful. This sounds tedious, but it really doesn’t take long at all.

For those of you who do not care for the flavor of sour cream, know that I don’t either. Its flavor here is very subtle, especially when combined with the white cake and berries. If you really don’t wish to use it, you may substitute creme fraiche or cream cheese.

Red, White & Blueberry CakeRed, White & Blueberry CakeRed, White & Blueberry CakeTo assemble the cake, slice both baked layers equatorially so that you have four very thin layers. If the idea of slicing a cake layer in half intimidates you, just know that they don’t have to be perfect—mine certainly were not! Just do your best. Lay one cut-side up on a serving plate (or a cake round, if you are me and can’t fit a serving plate in your fridge). Top the layer with some sliced strawberries and a few tablespoons of blueberries before spreading whipped cream frosting over the top. It may seem illogical to put the fruit directly on the cake, but it allows the berries’ juices to soak into the cake instead of breaking down the whipped cream. This is just insurance that your leftovers won’t get gross in the refrigerator. Repeat the layering process two more times before placing your last thin layer cut-side down. Use the rest of the whipped cream to frost the cake. I went for the naked cake look, but you may do whatever you like. Make sure to decorate with more berries!

Red, White & Blueberry Cake
Sliced 15 minutes after assembly.
Red, White & Blueberry Cake
Sliced after chilling in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Red, White & Blueberry Cake may be served immediately after assembly, but know that the whipped cream frosting may squish out the sides a bit. This doesn’t bother me one bit, but know that a couple hours in the refrigerator will help the cake stay more intact.

Look at that! Cake, berries, whipped cream, and a little patriotic flair. Add fireworks and you’re in for a great Fourth of July.Red, White & Blueberry Cake

Red, White & Blueberry Cake
makes 1 9″ round layer cake

To Grease the Pans:
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Cake:
2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
1 1/2 cups milk (not skim or fat-free)
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
4 large egg whites, room temperature

Whipped Cream Frosting:
3 cups heavy cream, cold
4-6 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream

For Assembly:
1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
6 ounces fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together oil and flour. Use a pastry brush to apply a thin layer to the entire insides of two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Sift together four times. Do not skip this step. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, vanilla and almond extracts, sour cream, and milk. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean, dry medium-large mixing bowl. Use the whisk attachment on an electric mixer to beat egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold stiff peaks. Do not over mix. Set aside.

Fold dry ingredients into wet in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Carefully fold half the whipped egg whites into the batter, followed by the other half.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Lightly tap each pan on the counter a couple of times just to help any large air bubbles dissipate. Bake for 32-37 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pans for fifteen minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge of the pans and inverting the layers onto a rack. Allow to cool completely.

Make the whipped cream frosting. Combine heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat mixture until soft peaks form. Switch to use a hand whisk. Add sour cream by the spoonful, whipping until stiff peaks form.

Slice cake layers in half equatorially. Lay one cut-side up on a serving dish or cake round. Top with about 1/3 of the strawberry slices and 3-4 tablespoons blueberries. Drop large spoonfuls of whipped cream over the top and spread them out with an offset icing spatula. Repeat this process two more times. Place the last layer on the top cut-side down. Frost and decorate with berries as desired. Serve or refrigerate immediately.

Leftover cake will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days.