Category Archives: Everyday Cakes

Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Oh, hello. Are you social distancing? Good—me too!

I have tons of baking supplies at the moment; I scooped up 20 extra pounds of flour when everything started to go to hell about three weeks ago. Before anyone scoffs, I’m not taking from others, baking is literally my job. I understand, however, that you may not have had a 10 pound bag of chocolate chips from Costco on your list, and even if you did, the likelihood that you actually got it is not great. But. But! You don’t need 20 pounds of flour or a gazillion chocolate chips or even to sacrifice eggs in the name of baking during this pandemic.

Real talk—if there ever were a time to bake, this is it. We’re all going to be home a lot; we are going to need things to do to pass the time. For better or worse, baking is entertainment, a way to redirect your mind, and it results in something delicious for you and your family/significant other/roommate(s). You’re going to need something to do between your Zoom meetings and burning through Love is Blind.

These are some of my favorite bare-bones recipes, meaning that maybe they don’t require eggs or can be made with different fats or use only the smallest quantities of everyday ingredients that are hard to find right now. These are the things you can make when you don’t have much in your pantry. I want you to get the most bang for your baking buck, you know? And in that spirit, all the recipes I post (and I will continue to post) for the foreseeable future will fit into these categories or come with substitutions.

We’re all in this together.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Oatmeal Blender Pancakes

These excellent pancakes just happen to be vegan and gluten-free, so you won’t need hot-ticket items like flour, butter or eggs to make ‘em. As long as you have oats, oil and some form of milk (plant or dairy)—oh, and a blender—you can make a shortstack in record time. Heads up that these freeze well and can be microwaved for pancakes on-demand.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Buttermilk Biscuits

I am happy to eat a biscuit any time of day. They take just a few minutes to whip together and can be on your table in about half an hour. Don’t want to sacrifice a whole stick of butter? Swap half for shortening, or try coconut oil biscuits. Cream Biscuits & Cornmeal Biscuits are also great options right now.

One great thing? Biscuits don’t require any eggs. They sure are delicious with them though.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Sour Cream Waffles

I have half a container of sour cream that needs a purpose, so I’m going to make some waffles this weekend. If you’re not in the same position, you can swap in some plain yogurt, or use buttermilk in place of both the milk and sour cream. I won’t be able to eat all the waffles at once, which is wonderful for future me. They can be frozen and reheated in the toaster when the mood strikes. Trust me, the mood will strike.

If you need your waffles to be gluten-free or vegan, try these Cornmeal Waffles.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Chocolate Chip Cookies

No dessert is quite as comforting as a chocolate chip cookie, and chances are that you have some chocolate chips or a bar that can be bashed up, thrown into some cookie dough, and baked. Don’t have cornstarch? Nothing terrible will happen if you leave it out. Same with vanilla. You can also swap all the sugar for brown sugar. I haven’t tried using all granulated sugar in this recipe, but if that’s all you have, you can use this cookie base, minus the sprinkles.

Heads up that cookie dough can be rolled into balls, placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet and frozen. Once they’re frozen-through, put the dough balls in a freezer bag. You can bake the cookies from frozen at a later date, adding a minute or so to the baking time.

Don’t want to make a whole batch of cookie dough? You can make just enough to make one cookie!

Need your cookies to be vegan or gluten-free? Try these—you can swap in peanut butter in a pinch.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Vanilla Wafers

This was the recipe that got me into this whole baking racket. The ingredient list is short and sweet, but the recipe makes a ton of cookies and they keep forever.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

This was almost a list without a cake—most require a lot of ingredients, including several suddenly-precious eggs. Boterkoek, however, requires just one lone egg and the remaining ingredients are almost all pantry staples, which is a win. Oh, and nothing terrible will happen if you leave out the almond extract and ginger.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Blondies

These are super easy and require just six ingredients (in small amounts!) at their most basic. Throw in whatever mix-ins you have or try one of the options in my archives.

My peanut butter blondies are super popular and can be made with regular chocolate chips and without the Oreos. Oh, and if you’re looking for the recipe that’s pictured, it’s not on the site quite yet—next week.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Brownies

Everyone loves brownies! Make ‘em with a gorgeous, glossy, and gluten-free, or swap out the dry ingredients for flour if you’re in a pinch. No chocolate for melting? Make cocoa brownies—feel free to simplify them by using all granulated or brown sugar. Heads up that brownies freeze incredibly well and are super delicious when ice cold.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Easy Raspberry Jam Squares

These squares require minimal ingredients (no eggs!) and you can make them any flavor you want. They’re somewhere between a blondie, an oatmeal cookie, and a linzer—a great recipe to have in your back pocket.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Magic Bars

I love a magic bar. They’re incredibly easy to make and can be made with damn near anything you have in your pantry, permitting that one of those things is sweetened condensed milk.

Don’t have cookies to crumble? Use crackers and a few tablespoons of brown sugar or try a blondie base. Only have one sort of topping? This is not a problem—just go with it! Magic bars are sort of…magical…that way.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Cornbread

Cornbread goes with everything. My recipe is naturally gluten-free, as it contains no flour, but if you’re running low on cornmeal, feel free to swap flour in for half the dry ingredients. Want to jazz it up? Add chorizo or jalapeños and/or cheese or herbs or bacon or…you get the point.

Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Pizza Dough

Pizza dough requires minimal ingredients and can be used for way more than just pizza. Brush it with oil and sprinkle with za’atar for za’atar bread. Top it with everything bagel seasoning for something to snack on or use with a dip or spread or under runny eggs. Brush it with butter and sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar for dessert pizza. As for pizza, use what you have. Barbecue sauce and cheddar? Throw some chicken on it. Pesto and mozzarella? YUM. Really, your only limitation is your imagination.Friday Favorites: Bare-Bones Baking

Got any bare-bones baking questions? Hit me up on here or social media! I’ll be keeping it simple around here for the duration of this thing. I hope you and your loved ones are all okay.

Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I would have been content to make and eat only one Boterkoek for the rest of my life, but then my friend, David, had to go and one-up himself on New Year’s Eve by adding a bunch of almond paste.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I don’t make traditional New Year’s resolutions, but that night I absolutely resolved to make Almond Boterkoek happen on this blog. It took exactly eight weeks.

Me: 1
2020: 0Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Anyway…David’s go-to Boterkoek (“bow-ter-kook”) already has a hint of almond to complement all the glorious butter, but this one…whoa. It’s super soft in the middle with crispy & buttery edges on the top and bottom, so it’s almost like biting into a piece of marzipan that is coated in a thin layer of butter cake.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Does that make it sound gross? I promise it’s anything but.

Am I making sense? I don’t even know. What I do know is that adding almond paste to Boterkoek is the closest one can get to having a spiritual experience* with a baked good.

*maybe exaggerating…but also, maybe not.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}As with David’s O.G. Boterkoek, this one is no big deal to whip up. You will need to break out your mixer, but I promise that’s the fussiest part of the whole process. Well, except for the part where you have to remove a teaspoon of egg from a beaten egg, but that’s not too annoying. I even found time (30 whole seconds!) to make a crackly almond topping, which I used it to decorate the cake in a way that is much more flattering when it’s all sliced up.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Texture-wise, this dessert is fairly dense–more like a blondie than an American-style cake. This is because it contains no leaveners, therefore depending on the egg and the air that’s whipped into the butter for its minimal lift. If you want a cakier almond cake, try this one.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}I, however, am more than content with a wedge of this buttery-edged, soft-centered almond cake (or whatever) anytime, anywhere, especially right-this-minute as I simultaneously write a blog post and watch Netflix. Yep.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}
makes 1 8-inch cake, about 12 servings

1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon water (not hot)
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 ounces almond paste, pinched into small pieces
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract, according to your preference
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Topping:
1 large egg white, room temperature
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch pie plate with butter. Set aside.

Crack egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Use a 1 teaspoon measuring spoon to remove 1 teaspoon of the egg to a separate bowl. Whisk 1 teaspoon water with the 1 teaspoon of egg to make an egg wash. Set both bowls aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, an electric mixer (or wooden spoon and a lot of elbow grease) to beat sugar and almond paste together until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the larger amount of egg, vanilla and almond extracts, and beat to combine. Add flour and salt and mix until a thick dough forms.

Press dough into prepared pan. Brush egg wash over the top. Use the tines of a fork or edge of a knife to create a crosshatch pattern on top.

Make topping. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together egg white and sugar. Stir in almonds. Arrange topping on top of cake as desired.

Bake cake 35-40 minutes, or until golden and glossy on top. Cake will slice cleanly when completely cooled, but may be slices and served warm from the pan after 45 minutes.

Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to 2 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4. Individual slices may be double-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 3 months.Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}Almond Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}

Maple Drizzle Cakes

Maple Drizzle CakesI feel like this fall is all about maple syrup. But based on last Friday’s round-up, I feel like every fall for the last four years has been about maple syrup.

What can I say? I am a maple syrup fangirl. I love its sweetness and nuance and amber color and near-undeniable deliciousness and I don’t think I’ll ever stop finding ways to spotlight it in my baking.Maple Drizzle CakesI mean, have you tried my Maple Thumbprints yet? Or my crowd-favorite Salty Maple Caramel Corn? Or the Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies I posted when I was a little baby blogger and just re-photographed last week? Because you should. But maybe start your autumnal maple-mania off with these Maple Drizzle Cakes. I’d love to give you a sentence qualifying why these cakes are somehow superior to all my other maple baked goods, but

  1. That’s silly. I love all maple baked goods with the same reckless abandon that I reserve for a holiday cookie platter or a puff pancake on a Saturday morning.
  2. Maple. Drizzle. Cakes. Need I say more???

Maple Drizzle CakesAs you may have guessed, these are an autumnal take on classic Lemon Drizzle Cakes. Like those cakes, these are rich and buttery, but instead of being flavored with three hits of citrus, these have three doses of pure maple syrup! You’ll find it in the cake batter, soaked into the baked cakes, and mixed into a thick icing that’s poured over the tops.Maple Drizzle Cakes

Oh, and these are easy to make. So, so easy. Just dump all the cake batter ingredients in one bowl and mix them for 3.5 minutes before dividing it among a couple of loaf pans and baking. Boom. Done.Maple Drizzle CakesAfter baking, tiny holes are poked in the warm cakes and maple syrup is brushed over the tops and allowed to soak in. Alternatively, you can cool the cakes and then brush on warmed maple syrup. No matter which method you choose, this will add extra moisture and flavor, and make your cakes extra delicious.Maple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle CakesThe icing is made primarily of maple syrup, confectioner’s sugar, melted butter and water. It goes on as a liquid, cascading down the sides of the cake before drying to a set finish. I like the icing recipe as written, but you could add another layer of flavor by browning the butter. You know, if you’re into things like that.Maple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle Cakes are great for any occasion. You could use them as hostess gifts, pack them carefully and mail them overnight to someone you love, leave one in the office break room, or even serve one as a non-pie Thanksgiving dessert (we all know a pie hater).

Or you can eat a thick slice with your fingers while you’re wearing your best/softest/oldest/most hideous pajamas and binging The Righteous Gemstones, and marvel at how great it is to live a life where you have both excellent cake and quality television. Or something.Maple Drizzle Cakes

Maple Drizzle Cakes
makes 2 9×5-inch loaf cakes

Cake:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature

Syrup:
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Icing Drizzle:
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoon water
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9×5-inch loaf pans. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on the two long sides, and grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine all ingredients 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.

Transfer batter to prepared pans and smooth the tops with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pans on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in the pan for 15 minutes.

Stab warm cakes (still in their pans) several times with a thin, flexible knife or skewer, making sure to poke all the way to the bottom. Brush syrup evenly over the cakes, about 1/4 cup each. Let cakes soak in the syrup until they are completely cool.*

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set a cooling rack over the top. Use parchment overhang to remove soaked cakes from pans. Discard used parchment and place cakes on prepared cooling rack.

Make the icing. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar, maple syrup, butter, water, and salt. Mixture should be very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more water by the teaspoon. Pour over the centers of the cakes—the icing should “spread” itself, but you can coax it a bit with the back of a spoon. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cakes 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. Maple flavor will intensify over time.

Note:

You may also let the cakes cool before brushing on the maple syrup. Simply let them cool in their pans before lifting them out onto a rack that has been set over a piece of parchment (exactly as it’s written in the icing step). Poke them with a skewer. Warm the maple syrup slightly (10-15 seconds in the microwave will do the trick) before brushing it onto the cakes. Let soak 30 minutes before applying the icing.Maple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle CakesMaple Drizzle Cakes

Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread

Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadHas anyone else’s week been five years long? Mine started with two babkas, three layer cakes and a Rosh Hashanah dinner, continued with some early morning construction in my apartment, and was followed up with a neck-ache and a midweek heatwave.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadThe good news is that NYC weather is finally starting to get with the autumnal program (I am so tired of summer clothes) and that my only plans for this weekend are to take my visiting godparents out for lunch and watch postseason baseball. Then two more work days before going on vacation next Wednesday—it can’t get here soon enough! But more on that later. For now, let’s talk about Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake. Swirled. Pumpkin. Bread.

Perfectly spiced pumpkin bread with a tunnel of creamy cheesecake running through it.

The easy autumnal quickbread/loaf cake/whatever of my dreams. Call me “basic” all you want. This stuff is delicious.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread begins with a half-recipe of my Pumpkin Bundt Cake. I went back and forth trying to determine if I should call this a pumpkin cake or a pumpkin bread, eventually determining that my Pumpkin Bundt batter is what many bakers would use for a pumpkin quickbread and ohmygawdthisexplanationissodull.

Anyway, the batter is from a cake recipe, but it’s baked in a loaf pan and I’m calling it a quickbread, okay? Okay.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadTo assemble, you’ll need the pumpkin batter and a small batch of cheesecake—don’t worry, they’re both easy to make. Set aside a cup of the pumpkin batter and put the rest in your loaf pan. Top it with the cheesecake, followed by the remaining batter. Swirl it all with a thin knife or skewer before baking for the better part of an hour. The bread will be puffed when it comes out of the oven, but sink a bit as it cools. This is just the cheesecake buckling a bit—not a bad thing.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadThis bread needs to be cooled at room temperature and then chilled in the refrigerator, making it an ideal make-ahead treat. Don’t rush to serve this. Pumpkin is a flavor that blooms over time and nobody loves room temperature (or warm 😬) cheesecake. Good things come to those who wait.

This is a very good thing.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread

Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread
makes one 9×5-inch loaf, about 10-12 servings

Cheesecake:
8 ounces (1 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pumpkin Batter:
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)
1 cup pure pumpkin purée (I like Libby’s)

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Line with parchment, leaving overhang on the two long sides for ease of removal. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cheesecake. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg and vanilla. Set aside.

Make the pumpkin batter. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until frothy (about 1 minute). Whisk in light brown and granulated sugars followed by oil, vanilla, and pumpkin purée. Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Set aside 1 cup of batter.

Pour remaining batter into prepared pan and smooth with a spatula or wooden spoon. Dollop cheesecake over the top and smooth again. Spoon reserved batter over the top and smooth again. Use a skewer or long, thin knife to swirl the batter a bit.

Tap the full pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a few spots comes out with just a few moist crumbs (not soupy batter).

Let cake cool completely in the pan on a rack. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight, until chilled through. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan and use the parchment overhang to lift out the bread. Discard parchment. Slice and serve.

Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.Cheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin BreadCheesecake Swirled Pumpkin Bread

Blueberry Torte

Blueberry TorteI love an everyday cake, although I guess that’s technically a misnomer here. This blueberry beauty is a torte, which essentially means that it’s a cake made with little (or sometimes no) flour.Blueberry TorteSo…I guess it is a cake? Not all cakes are tortes, but all tortes are cakes. So yes, Blueberry Torte is a cake. Glad we got that sorted.

(Sorry.)Blueberry TorteAnyway…this Blueberry Torte is easy peasy and so good, you’re going to want to make it all summer long. And you absolutely should! It’s got a soft center, slightly chewy edges, and is literally bursting with fresh blueberries—what’s not to love?!Blueberry TorteThis is a spin on one of my favorite holiday desserts, Pear & Cranberry Torte. It’s so super delicious that I wanted to make a spring/summer appropriate version and, well, here we are.Blueberry TorteThe recipe begins with a simple cake batter. You’ll find many of the usual suspects here (softened butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs), plus light brown sugar and the tiniest bit of lemon zest.Blueberry TorteBlueberry TorteBlueberry TorteOne ingredient you won’t find? Milk. There’s none in this recipe, so the batter is pretty thick for a cake…er, torte. This lack of liquid is also what gives us the almost cookie-like edges. Yesssss. If you’re worrying about this leading to a dry product, never fear—this torte stays plenty moist thanks to the butter and eggs, small amount of flour, and two full cups (12 ounces!) of blueberries that are pressed into the top before baking. They soften and sink into the batter while the torte bakes and become jammy and fragrant and it is stupid good and why aren’t you actively walking to the kitchen right now???

(Sorry again.)Blueberry TorteBlueberry TorteBlueberry Torte doesn’t require any frosting or other flourishes and can be served up while it’s still warm. If, however, you want to jazz it up for a dinner party or you’re feeling fancy, you can give it a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, a dollop of whipped cream or a smattering of fresh blueberries. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need all three.Blueberry TorteSorry, not sorry.Blueberry Torte

Blueberry Torte
one 9-inch cake, about 8 servings

2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon, for sprinkling
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh blueberries

For serving (optional):
confectioners sugar
whipped cream
fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

Combine lemon zest, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and light brown sugar in a small bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar to release the oils. Set aside.

In a small-medium bowl, whisk together flour, 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 sugar mixture. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. With the mixer on low, mix in dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.

Spread batter into the prepared pan. Scatter blueberries over the top and lightly press them into the batter. Sprinkle the additional tablespoon of granulated sugar over the top. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge and releasing the springform.

Serve warm or room temperature with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, whipped cream and/or fresh blueberries, if desired. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for a few days.Blueberry TorteBlueberry Torte