Category Archives: Cakes & Cupcakes

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.

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake​

You may have noticed that, in recent months, I’ve gone from doing two posts a week to one. It’s not because I am not enjoying baking or blogging or anything like that. I’m just generally burnt out. I started to feel it around the holidays (every baker’s busy season), but tried to keep going until I realized that it’s okay to slow down a little bit, especially if the alternative is having a meltdown. I’m working more than ever and getting back to a more pre-pandemic level of socializing, and combining that with my natural introversion and some classic depression and anxiety led me to a bit of a breaking point.

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake​

Rather than disappearing completely (which I didn’t want to do), I’ve been taking it easy on myself for the time being. It’s been good for my brain and put some joy back in this place. Though I still feel some unnecessary shame for cutting back on posting, I will say that lightening my load has resulted in what I feel is a higher quality of baked goods on here. I really want every one to be a showstopper. Today’s Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake definitely fits that bill!

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake​

I mean, if the icing and decorative pieces of Oreo don’t immediately grab your attention, the chunks of cookie throughout the cake just might do it. There are 30 Oreos in the cake batter alone—we are not skimping on the cookies in this cookies & cream!

The batter for this bundt is just another variation on my favorite recipe. Why is it my favorite? Because it’s so easy to make! Simply throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix the living daylights out of them for 3 1/2 minutes, then fold in the Oreos before baking. Here, I’ve added a little sour cream for flavor, texture and to keep all the Oreo pieces from sinking to the bottom. That means you get a little Oreo in every bite!

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake​

Isn’t she gorgeous? I mean, I’ve never seen an ugly bundt cake, but one with this many Oreos?! That’s showstopper material.

Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake​
Cookies & Cream Bundt Cake
makes one 10-cup capacity bundt

Cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature
1/4 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
30 Oreos (regular or Double Stuf), cut into quarters

Icing & Garnish:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2-3 tablespoons whole milk
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4-6 Oreos, cut/broken into chunks

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 325F. Heavily grease a bundt pan with softened butter (or shortening) and dust with flour. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine all ingredients except Oreos in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick. Fold in Oreos.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around all exposed edges. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and let cake cool completely. Cake may be made up to a day in advance; it will keep double-wrapped in plastic wrap.

Ice and garnish the cake. Place a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment. Place cake on the cooling rack.

Make the icing. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, and salt. Mixture should be very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more milk by the teaspoon; if it’s too thin, add more confectioners sugar in 2 tablespoon increments. Pour over cake. Immediately scatter chopped Oreos over the top. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cake to a serving plate before slicing and serving.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five. Oreo garnish will soften over time.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake​

With Easter coming up next weekend, I’ve got carrot cake on my mind. To be more specific, I’ve got this moist, flavorful and incredibly simple Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake front and center in my brain. It’s everything I love about the classic cake—the texture, the spices, the frosting—just made a little more accessible. I totally love it!

Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

To make this sweet little cake, I began with my go-to vegan, gluten-free cake formula and then slowly, but surely, figured it out. I toyed with all sorts of different ratios of pumpkin to grated carrots, and adjusted the spices until they were just right. Ten practice cakes and two scrapped photoshoots later, I think I’ve finally nailed it.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

My Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake is tender, fragrant, and packed with carrots, raisins and walnuts, though you can leave out those last two ingredients if you’re not a nuts-and-fruit-in-your-cake kind of human. Paired with my go-to Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting, it’s so good, even the non-gluten-free, non-vegans (like me!) will go back for seconds.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake​

This recipe is written for a single layer of cake and a corresponding amount of frosting. I kept it simple because making layer cakes has seemed exhausting lately and it’s no fun to make something that exhausts you. If you’d like to make this recipe into a layer cake, I’d double the batter for two 9-inch round cake pans and triple the frosting. You could even quadruple it—nobody worth knowing has ever been unhappy about extra cream cheese frosting, especially when piped into little carrots.

Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake​
Vegan, Gluten-Free Carrot Cake
makes a single layer 9-inch round cake

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
~1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons pure pumpkin purée or unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup raisins (optional)

If you would like a layer cake, double the recipe for two 9-inch pans. Triple the frosting recipe that follows.

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

Place chopped nuts of choice (if using) on a dry rimmed sheet pan. Roast in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until fragrant. Remove and set aside to cool while you prepare the cake batter.

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add non-dairy milk until liquid reaches the 1 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until curdled. Stir in pumpkin (or applesauce) and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together brown sugar, granulated sugar, potato starch, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, almond flour, and salt. Stir in grated carrots, raisins and toasted nuts (if using).

Add liquid ingredients in two installments, stirring until combined. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure thorough mixing.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth to the edges with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with only a few crumbs (not wet batter).

Let cake cool completely in its pan on a cooling rack. Run a thin knife along the edges of the pan before inverting to release.

Place cake on desired platter. Frost as desired with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe below).

Frosted cake will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Unfrosted cake may be triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.

Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
makes enough for the top of one sheet cake

2 ounces (1/4 cup) vegan butter, room temperature (I like Miyoko’s)
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) shortening, room temperature (I like Nutiva)
1 ounce (2 tablespoons, 1/8 of an 8 ounce tub) vegan cream cheese, slightly softened
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
green food coloring, for piped carrots (optional)
orange food coloring, for piped carrots (optional)

Frosting may get very soft at room temperature depending which vegan cream cheese you use. Plain Miyoko’s brand vegan cream cheese is my gold standard for flavor and holding up well at room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat vegan butter, shortening, and vegan cream cheese until light and fluffy. Mix in confectioners sugar in two installments, mixing until combined and fluffy. Mix in salt, followed by vanilla.

If piping carrots, dye 2 tablespoons of frosting green and 2 tablespoons orange.

Use plain frosting to frost the top of the cake as desired. If piping carrots, put colored frostings in separate piping bags, snip small corners and pipe as desired. I make carrots by following the method on this video.