Author Archives: Liz {E2 Bakes Brooklyn}

About Liz {E2 Bakes Brooklyn}

I'm a blogger, freelance baker, and recipe developer in South Brooklyn.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake {Seven Year Anniversary}

In years past, I might have gone with a flashier recipe to celebrate seven years of this blog, but this year I’m keeping it low key and doing what comes naturally. I’m just glad to be here.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

I’ve been open about needing a break this past summer. Though the baking never stopped, I’m very much getting back into the swing of posting. I am currently writing to you on a Friday afternoon from the New York City subway—it’s not the first time and certainly not the last. E2 Bakes has always been a little bit of a patchwork. A little time here, a little time there. Late nights, early mornings, set baking hours with a little wiggle room, writing content on public transit between appointments—it all makes this place function.

Of all of that, the baking and recipe testing is obviously the most important. I need to spend time making the things that I want to make not just because it’s enjoyable for me, but because those things are just better. See exhibits A, B & C of many (many, many). I am not one of those who thinks being “made with love” is crucial for success (I have made plenty of delicious things while absolutely furious), but it sure doesn’t hurt.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

This Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake was made with joy, on the fly, in pajamas, on a Monday morning in my kitchen. I didn’t shop for any specific ingredients or make a plan; I just saw what I had (a fridge drawer full of apples) and went from there. It was, to be frank, my ideal baking situation.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

The cake itself is the slightest variation on the summery Peach Upside-Down Cake I made in 2020, but updated for fall with a little more comforting spice. It’s a simple torte batter poured over a mix of brown sugar, butter, and sliced apples that bakes up to tender butterscotch-edged perfection.

There are certainly prettier ways to arrange your apples for this cake, and I know that the finished product could benefit from a drizzle of caramel and a scoop of ice cream, but I like it like this. Thrown together for the fun of it, photographed without a plan, eaten warm before noon on a weekday. It feels authentic, which is exactly how I hope this space comes across.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​

Thank you for being here and for supporting this little project of mine for so long. It means the world. I hope we bake together for many years to come.

Happy birthday, E2 Bakes.

Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake​
Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

For the apples:
2 large baking apples (I used Granny Smith & Pink Lady)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For serving (optional):
vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside.

Slice apples in 1/4-inch slices. No need to peel. Discard cores.

In a small saucepan, combine butter and dark brown sugar. Place over medium-low heat and stir constantly until butter and sugar are melted and fully homogeneous, 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Pour mixture into a 9-inch round cake pan, using a silicone spatula to spread it over the entire bottom of the pan.

Top the brown sugar mixture with single layer of sliced apples, slightly overlapping them for the prettiest effect, in any design you like. Set aside.

In a small-medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until very light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in granulated sugar and light brown sugars. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. With the mixer on low, mix in dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.

Drop batter in spoonfuls over the peaches. Use an offset icing knife or the back of a spoon to spread it in an even layer. Tap the pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean or with only a few moist crumbs (not wet batter).

Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge a couple of times. Place a cake stand or large serving plate upside down over the top of the pan. Holding on to the plate and pan with oven mitts, quickly invert them so that the plate is right-side-up and the pan is now upside-down. Tap the top of the pan a time or two to help the cake release. Lift off the empty pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan, just nudge it back onto the cake with your fingers or a spoon.

Serve cake warm, room temperature, or cold, with ice cream, if desired.

Cake is best the day it's baked, but will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies​

During my blog sabbatical, I made a mental list of all the things I wanted to make last year but never found the right moment. These little sugar cookie pies were on it, and I’m so happy they’re on here now, not least because it means we can all both dream about and eat them anytime we want. Having this kind of power could be dangerous, but I’m willing to risk it.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies​

I mean, look at these things. They’ve got thick cookie crusts and plenty of smooth pumpkin filling—a perfect two-bite dessert for when you can’t decide between pie and cookies. Why not both, you know?

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies​

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies begin with a batch of Pumpkin Spice Spread. If you’ve yet to try it, it’s exactly what it sounds like: spreadable pumpkin pie filling perfect for toast, s’mores, or putting in pumpkin baked goods. It’s made with pumpkin purée, sweetened condensed milk, a couple of egg yolks, and pumpkin pie spice, and comes together quickly on the stove. It will need to be made ahead so that it can be easily dolloped into the crusts before baking. And yes, the batch makes enough for you to sneak a few bites right out of the jar!

The sugar cookie crusts are the same graham cracker-spiked base I used in my Key Lime Linzers. It comes together pretty quickly and doesn’t need a chill or anything—just press heaping tablespoons into the bottoms and up the sides of your muffin tin to create little crust shapes, then fill and bake! I tested this recipe with with my Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie dough and it worked just as well, but the graham cracker crumbs give these a hint of pie crust flavor that I really love.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies​

The pies bake up in just under twenty minutes—you’ll know they’re ready when the filling has puffed and the cookie crusts are beginning to turn golden. The centers will relax as they cool, and before long it’ll be time to dig in!

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies would be great for a bake sale, a Friendsgiving, or an autumnal tea party, but I made them just because I could. Highly recommend.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies​
Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies
makes about 2.5 dozen little pies

Pumpkin Spice Spread:
1 cup pure pumpkin purée (I use Libby’s)
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Cookie Crusts:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Make the Pumpkin Spice Spread. Place pumpkin in a small sauté pan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until slightly drier and a tiny bit darker in color. Remove from heat.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

In the heatproof bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Whisk in pumpkin purée. Place bowl over simmering water, creating a double boiler. Let cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes (it will thicken further as it cools). Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minute before transferring to a heatproof container. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface. Let cool completely at room temperature before refrigerating for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, place the oven racks in central positions. Preheat the oven to 350F. Put cupcake liners in two muffin pans. Set aside.

Make the cookie crusts. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, ginger, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Dough may appear crumbly, but should hold together very well when pinched.

Scoop dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Working with one ball at a time, press it into the bottom and about halfway up the sides of one of the cupcake liners in the pans. This should create a little crust shape with a place in the center for the filling. Repeat the process with remaining cookie dough.

Remove Pumpkin Spice Spread from the refrigerator and give it a stir. Spoon a scant tablespoon into the center of each cookie dough crust. When this is done, wet your finger and smooth out any peaks.

Tap full pans on the counter 5 times to release any air bubbles. Bake sugar cookie pies for 16-18 minutes, or until puffed in the centers and turning golden at the edges. Let sugar cookie pies cool in their pans for 10 minutes before removing to cooling racks to cool completely. Once cool, you may peel off cupcake liners.

Sugar Cookie Pumpkin Pies will keep at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (and a story about burnout)

Hi. Is anybody still here?

I’ve been a little MIA recently, owing mostly to the burnout I’ve been rocketing toward for the last year. It happened gradually—I went down to one post a week in February, quit posting to social media in June, didn’t do anything blog-related during my vacation in August, then took three more weeks away. I tried everything in my power not to disappear completely from this place, but nearly seven years into this endeavor, I was just…tired.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (and a story about burnout)​

Running this one-woman show isn’t easy. Between testing, photographing, writing, posting, and promoting, each post takes about twelve hours start-to-finish. I make income from this blog, but throwing all the daily tasks of running it on top of my day job, trying to have some semblance of a social life, and regularly scheduled introvert hours had me on the verge of a breakdown. So, I stepped away.

I didn’t stop baking though. In fact, I have baked more. I have baked, dare I say, *better.* With more passion, without any expectations. I made things I wanted to make, whether or not they were seasonally appropriate or trending.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

Take this Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, for instance. I wanted to make it for months, and finally did it once I took the pressure off myself. It’s old-fashioned and simple, made with my go-to chocolate cake recipe and finished with a silky, tangy chocolate frosting. It’s rich and chocolaty, unfussy and unpretentious, with a glossy finish usually reserved for the cover of Southern Living Magazine. In short, it’s everything I want in a chocolate cake. I’m just glad I finally took the time to make it. I hope you will, too.

I am a little hesitant to dive back in here, but I think I am ready to get back to blogging. I’ve missed it. Posts may be twice a week or may just be once depending on how the rest of my life is going. For now though, I am back and oh-so glad to be in this little corner of the internet.

Hello, out there.

Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Chocolate Cake
makes two 9-inch round layers

Cake:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch Process)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon espresso granules (optional, but recommended)
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I use canola)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (low fat is fine)
1 cup boiling water

For assembly:
1 recipe Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting (below)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, espresso granules (if using), baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk to distribute ingredients evenly. Set aside.

In a separate medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together oil and eggs, followed by vanilla and buttermilk. Whisk half the egg mixture into the dry ingredients, just until combined. Add half the boiling water. Whisk in the remaining egg mixture followed by the remaining water. Batter will be thin.

Divide batter evenly between the pans. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 25-27 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in their pans for at least 30 minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the edges. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and discard parchment. Allow to cool to room temperature.

While layers are cooling, make the frosting (recipe below).

Assemble the cake. Place one layer on a cake plate. Top with about 3/4 cup frosting, then sandwich the other layer on top. Frost and decorate cake as desired.

Frosted cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days, and in the refrigerator for up to a week.


Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
makes enough for two 9-inch round layers

2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (heaping 1/3 cup) full-fat sour cream

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk together to distribute evenly.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in half the dry ingredients, scraping down the bowl as necessary. It may seem like too much, but it will incorporate. Mix in remaining dry ingredients. Add vanilla and sour cream, then beat on high for 2-3 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Use to frost a 9-inch round layer cake (or whatever).

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

How has it been more than six months since I posted a rainbow sprinkle recipe?! I hardly know who I am anymore!

Just kidding. I know exactly who I am: a woman with a drawer in her kitchen that is only for sprinkles. I’ve got my priorities in order.

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies​

Today’s sprinkly recipe? Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies! They’re a take on my go-to crunchy cookie formula, this time scented with vanilla and bursting with colorful sprinkles inside and out. Though I was once a soft-cookie-only person, I can’t help but love these crispy, colorful cookies!

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies are super easy to make, but the method is a little different from most drop cookie recipes. Instead of being creamed with the sugar, the butter is added to all the dry ingredients—a method called reverse creaming—and the dough is bound with a spoonful of light corn syrup rather than an egg. Together, these things keep the gluten from developing and the moisture level low, resulting in crunchy cookies. The lack of chill and longer bake time help too, and they also mean that these cookies can be made in under an hour start-to-finish. Score!

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies are just what they sound like: crispy, crunchy, and chock full of sprinkles! In addition to providing tons of color, the sprinkle coating adds even more crunch—so good. That said, if you’re not ready to come over to the crispy side just yet, I’ve got your back. You can never have too many sprinkle cookie recipes, you know?

Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
Crispy, Crunchy Sprinkle Sugar Cookies
makes 22 cookies

1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon light corn syrup (or golden syrup or mild honey)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)

For coating:
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies or nonpareils)

Arrange oven racks in central positions. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Cut softened butter into 8 pieces and add them to the mixing bowl. Starting at low speed and increasing as ingredients become incorporated, use an electric mixer to mix the butter into the flour/sugar mixture until powdery and wet-sandy. You may need to stop a time or two to break up larger pieces of butter.

Add corn syrup and vanilla and mix to combine. Dough will look crumbly, but should hold together well when pinched.

Add the sprinkles to the dough and mix them in with a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) until evenly distributed and the dough is a cohesive unit.

Pour sprinkles for coating into a shallow bowl.

Scoop the dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Roll each ball around in the bowl of sprinkles until completely coated. Place dough balls 2-3 inches apart on prepared pans (I fit 12 on each half-sheet pan). Bake for 9 minutes, then rotate the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake another 7-8 minutes, until a bit puffy and turning golden at the edges.

Let cookies cool for 7 minutes on the pans. Remove to a rack to cool completely. Serve.

Leftover cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week. Depending on your area’s weather, they may soften a bit over time.

Sour Cream French Toast

Sour Cream French Toast

There are pancake people and waffle people, but I am 200% French toast people. Do I like pancakes and waffles? Sure do! But when Sunday morning rolls around and I go to make myself a special breakfast, nine times out of ten, it’s French toast. I’ve made it so many times at this point that I can do it without having coffee first—a miracle. I always have some form of the basic ingredients (bread, eggs, milk, maple syrup) on hand…or at least almost always.

Sour Cream French Toast

You see, if I were a person who prepares, this recipe might not be here right now. One Sunday morning last month, I had run out of dairy milk, almond milk, and heavy cream, leaving me with few options to get my French toast fix. Just when I was preparing to pack it in and go get a bagel, I noticed a half-empty container of sour cream, thought “that might work,” and ten test batches later, here we are. Sour cream is the secret to my go-to waffles and now my current favorite French toast—you know it won’t be long before I’m making sour cream pancakes!

Sour Cream French Toast is super easy to make and incredibly delicious—buttery and eggy with the slightest sour cream tang. The method is the same as classic French toast: mix together a quick vanilla custard, dip day-old bread into it, then fry in butter until golden. Finish with maple syrup and fruit (and a sweetened sour cream topping) and call it breakfast. Like I said, it’s so easy I can make it before I’m caffeinated.

Sour Cream French Toast

I need to give a little disclaimer that the batch pictured is double the written recipe. I wasn’t having a party or anything—I just like cold leftover French toast. It gives me the same vibe as cold leftover macaroni & cheese, but without all the cheese and pasta. Does that make sense? Probably not. But the best things in life (and breakfast) don’t have to.

Sour Cream French Toast

Now, tell me. Are you pancake, waffle, or French toast people? Or do you have another go-to sweet brunch? Inquiring bakers want to know!

Sour Cream French Toast
Sour Cream French Toast
makes 8 slices (3-4 servings)

Sour Cream Topping (optional):
1/3 cup full-fat sour cream
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

French toast:
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 large eggs
8 thick slices day-old brioche (or challah)
2-3 tablespoons butter, for cooking

For serving (optional):
pure maple syrup
fresh fruit of choice
sour cream topping (recipe above)
confectioner’s sugar

Make the sour cream topping, if using. Combine sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl. Use a fork to whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat oven to 200F. Set an ovenproof cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.

Make the French toast. In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together sour cream, vanilla, brown sugar, and salt. Add eggs one at a time, whisking until smooth. Pour mixture into a shallow dish.

Heat a large (10-12 inch) heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and swirl to coat.

Working with 3-4 slices of day-old brioche at a time, dip them in the custard, coating on all sides. Let them soak for 20-30 seconds before placing them in the skillet, making sure not to crowd the pan. Let cook until a golden brown crust forms, about 2-3 minutes. Flip slices and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove French toast to the prepared rack/sheet pan and place the entire contraption in the oven to keep warm.

Repeat soaking and cooking processes until all slices of brioche have been used. Add more butter to the pan as necessary.

When ready to serve, remove sour cream topping from the refrigerator and uncover.

Divide French toast over 3-4 plates. Top with sour cream topping, maple syrup, fresh fruit and/or confectioner’s sugar, as desired. Serve immediately.

Leftover French toast may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or foil and refrigerated for a couple of days. Warm before serving (or eat cold if you’re weird like me).