Category Archives: Cakes & Cupcakes

Maple Cupcakes

I know we’re past Halloween, but I’m not quite ready to dive into Thanksgiving food. Rest assured, I will be soon, but I need just one more minute to savor non-holiday food before we get to the pies and sides and then everything that Christmas requires. All of those things are wonderful, but let’s a moment for Maple Cupcakes first. I promise they deserve a second in the spotlight.

Maple Cupcakes

To me, Maple Cupcakes are the ideal treat to make the first weekend in November. Their hint of spice and natural colors make them seasonally appropriate, but they’re not associated with any holiday tradition I can think of. They’re just delicious—nothing more, nothing less.

Maple Cupcakes

Maple Cupcakes are a take on my reader favorite Maple Layer Cake. Like that dessert, they have maple syrup in a minimum of three elements; four, if you’re feeling kicky. Truly, these are a maple lover’s dream.

(It’s me. Hi. I’m the maple lover. It’s me.)

Maple Cupcakes

The cupcakes themselves are a lightly modified spin on my go-to vanilla recipe. They’re simple to make and the results are spectacular—soft and springy with the tiniest hint of spice to accent the maple. They bake up golden-edged and beautiful, with even surfaces perfect for brushing with more maple syrup and piling high with maple frosting. I like to finish them with coarse sugar, but an extra dab of maple syrup before serving is a nice touch, too.

In short, these are all maple all the time—it’s an approach I can get behind.

Maple Cupcakes
Maple Cupcakes
makes 14-16 cupcakes

Cupcake Batter:
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons heavy cream

For Assembly:
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
sparkling or coarse sugar (optional)

Make the cupcake batter. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Combine milk and sour cream a liquid measuring cup, then use a fork to whisk them together. Set aside.

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

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar, followed by maple syrup. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.

Fill liners 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner's sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Beat in maple syrup, followed by heavy cream.

To assemble, use a pastry brush to brush the top of each cooled cupcake with maple syrup. Let soak in for 1-2 minutes, just so there is no syrup standing on the surface of the cupcakes. Spread or pipe maple frosting on cooled cupcakes. Finish with coarse sugar. Add a few drops of maple syrup immediately before serving, if desired.

Leftover cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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.

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).

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

By now, you all know I love a cookie cake. I mean, what’s not to love about a giant shareable cookie with a frosted edge?!

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

I’ve made all the classic flavors at this point: chocolate chip, double chocolate, red velvet, Funfetti. They are all wonderful, but sometimes I want a cookie cake that’s a little more…niche. Like one that tastes exactly like the signature banana pudding cookies from my favorite bakery in New York City.

As Shakespeare said, specificity is the soul of good baking. Or something like that.

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

You may notice that there isn’t any boxed pudding mix in this banana pudding dessert. Instead, the dough contains the three primary ingredients in instant pudding mix: sugar, cornstarch, and powdered milk. When combined with the banana, vanilla, and white chocolate, they perfectly mimic the flavor of classic banana pudding.

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​

This Banana Pudding Cookie Cake is a dreamy dessert year-round, but is somehow especially good in summer. I mean, think about it. Banana pudding is a classic summertime dessert, right? Well, take all that banana-vanilla loveliness, add some white chocolate chips, and bake it into a giant cookie. Finish it off with a vanilla buttercream border, then slice it up and prepare to be both shocked and delighted that it tastes *exactly* like the best cookies in NYC…which taste *exactly* like banana pudding.

Banana Pudding Cookie Cake​
Banana Pudding Cookie Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
~1 1/2 medium very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips + more for topping

For decoration:
Vanilla Buttercream (recipe below)
white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, non-fat dry milk powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Whisk together melted butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Whisk in egg, followed by mashed banana and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients, then fold in 1 cup white chocolate chips. Transfer dough to prepared pan and spread into one even layer. Bake 28-30 minutes, or until the top is no longer jiggly & a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs (not batter). Top with more white chocolate chips for aesthetics, if desired.

Let cookie cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan before inverting the cake onto the rack. Revert onto a serving plate. Decorate with Vanilla Buttercream and sprinkles as desired.

Decorated cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.

Vanilla Buttercream
makes enough for 2 dozen cookie cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioner's sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

In a medium-large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner's sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add heavy cream by the tablespoon until desired consistency is reached.

How to pipe: Stand a piping bag fitted with a coupler and star tip in a tall cup and fold any bag overhang over the outside. Use a silicone spatula or spoon to “load” 1/3-1/2 of the buttercream into the bag. Unfold bag overhang and lift piping bag out the cup.

Press frosting toward the tip. Twist bag overhang closed and hold tight between your thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand, letting the main portion of the bag be held by your palm and remaining fingers. Use your non-dominant hand to tap the bag a couple of times to dislodge any air bubbles. Pipe a dab or two of frosting onto a surface or small plate, just to get the buttercream going in the right direction.

Pipe a buttercream border onto the cookie cake, refilling the bag if/when necessary.

Neapolitan Icebox Cake

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

Beautifully baked, elaborately frosted layer cakes are all fine and good, but have you ever skipped the oven entirely, stacked Oreos with three different flavors of whipped cream, let the whole thing set up in the fridge and called it a cake?

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

Oh yes, Neapolitan Icebox Cake is where it’s at. This triple-layered, triple-flavored no-bake cake hits all the buttons you want in a summer dessert, including keeping the kitchen cool. Even mixing vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry whipped creams, it takes less than 45 minutes to assemble and slide into the fridge to set up.

There are two secrets to perfecting this icebox cake. The first is dipping each Oreo in milk before assembling the cake. This allows the cookies to soften all the way through by adding moisture to the creme centers. If you skip the dipping, you will still be able to slice the cake, but the areas near the Oreos’ creme filling will stay a bit tough instead of softening to a cake-like texture.

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​

As with all icebox cakes, the second secret is time! Though it only takes minutes to assemble, this cake has to be refrigerated for at least 8 hours before serving. Luckily, we here at E2 Bakes love a make-ahead recipe almost as much as we love cake. And that’s really saying something because we love cake a lot.

Neapolitan Icebox Cake​
Neapolitan Icebox Cake
makes one cake ~9 inch cake

1 batch chocolate whipped cream (recipe below)
55-60 regular Oreos, divided (I used 57)
~1 cup milk
1 batch vanilla whipped cream (recipe below)
1 batch strawberry whipped cream

For garnish (optional):
Chocolate Shell
crushed freeze dried strawberries
crushed Oreos

Use an offset icing spatula to smear a thin layer of chocolate whipped cream onto a 11-12 inch round plate or platter.

Create the first Oreo layer. Take one Oreo, dunk it in milk, then place it in the center of the plate. Repeat this process, arranging the Oreos so that they are touching and make a vaguely circular shape (mine is technically a hexagon). I used 19 Oreos per layer.

Top the first layer with the chocolate whipped cream, spreading it all the way to the edges.

Repeat the Oreo dunking and arranging process. Top with the vanilla whipped cream. Repeat the Oreo dunking and arranging one more time, then top with the strawberry whipped cream.

Refrigerate the cake uncovered for 2 hours. Then, gently cover the cake with plastic wrap and let refrigerate for 6-20 more hours, until ready to serve.

About 30 minutes before serving, gently remove and discard the plastic wrap. Drizzle the cake with chocolate shell and other toppings, if desired. Refrigerate the cake for 10 more minutes to ensure a hard shell.

To serve, cut slices with a large, sharp chef’s knife, wiping it clean between cuts. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. The freeze dried strawberry garnish will soften over time.


Chocolate Whipped Cream

1 1/3 cup heavy cream, very cold
2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Vanilla Whipped Cream

1 1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 confectioner’s sugar

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.

Strawberry Whipped Cream

~2/3 cup freeze dried strawberries
1 1/3 cup heavy cream, very cold
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Place freeze dried strawberries in a food processor and process until they are powder, about 45-60 seconds. Alternatively, place the berries in a sealed zip-top bag and crush well with a rolling pin or other heavy object.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, and pulverized berries. Use an electric mixer to whip cream until stiff peaks form. Do not over whip (but if you do, just add a little more cream). Store in the refrigerator until needed for cake assembly.