Apple Gingerbread

WIN_20150901_172011What tastes like autumn and makes your kitchen smell amazing? Apple Gingerbread! Imagine warm, fragrant gingerbread combined with baked apples… what’s not to love? This dish is equally fabulous for Sunday brunch or a weeknight dessert.

WIN_20150901_154959Ingredients (Fills a 9 inch pie dish)

1 large apple, diced

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/3 cup all-natural applesauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/3 cup molasses

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons milk


Step 1) Grease a 9 inch pie dish. Sprinkle chopped apple evenly on bottom of the pie dish.

Good Cook 9 Inch Ceramic Pie Plate, Red

Step 2) Combine all remaining ingredients in a medium size bowl and blend well. Spread batter evenly over chopped apple.

Step 3) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. If desired, sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Coffee Cake

WIN_20150713_112917This recipe is perfect for tossing in the oven on a rainy weekend morning, reading a book while the cake bakes, and then enjoying a late breakfast in your jammies. What could be better than that?

WIN_20150713_101940Ingredients (Makes a 9″ x 13″ pan)

For the cake batter:

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup softened butter

2 eggs

WIN_20150713_1036251 cup sugar

1 cup milk

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

WIN_20150713_1033261/2 cup mini chocolate chips

For the crumb topping:

1/4 cup cold butter

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 cup sugar

WIN_20150713_1038521/2 cup flour

2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips

1 tablespoon crushed peanuts


Step 1) Using two forks or a pastry cutter, combine 1/4 cup cold butter, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. This will be part of the topping; set it aside.

Step 2) In a separate bowl, cream together 1/2 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup softened butter, 2 eggs, and 1 cup sugar. Add flour/baking soda/baking powder mixture alternately with milk. Stir in mini chocolate chips.

Step 3) Pour batter from step 2 into a greased 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Sprinkle with crumb topping from step 1. Top with 2 tablespoons mini chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon crushed peanuts.

Step 4) Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 35 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Best served warm.

Rustic Apple Cake

WIN_20150601_195318Have you ever bought a boxed apple cake mix – the kind where you add an egg and a chopped apple to the mix, and the whole thing turns out pretty darn well? This is, essentially, that cake. Instead of taking 30 seconds to prepare, this will take you five whole minutes (gasp!). For five minutes of effort, you’ll save a few dollars and avoid a few preservatives.

Note: there’s no need to peel the apples for this recipe. I recommend using one red apple and one green apple, for a fun splash of color. A warm slice of this cake makes a lovely dessert, but also makes a pretty fancy breakfast with a big mug of coffee. Sigh. Now I’m hungry!

WIN_20150507_171955Ingredients (Makes a 9 inch round pan)

1 egg

1 1/4 cup sugar, divided (see directions below)

3 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

WIN_20150507_1726441 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1/4 cup milk

2 medium apples, chopped

WIN_20150601_1620381/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Step 1) Cream together butter, 2/3 cup sugar, egg, and vanilla extract.

Step 2) Add flour, salt, and baking powder alternately with the milk (add half the dry ingredients, half the milk, the other half of the dry ingredients, and the other half of the milk).

Step 3) Spread batter into a greased, 9 inch round baking dish (a deep dish pie plate works well).

Step 4) Mix 1/4 cup sugar with the chopped apples, and sprinkle sugared apples over batter.

Step 5) Mix 1/3 cup sugar with the cinnamon, and sprinkle over the top of everything.

Step 6) Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out clean.

Mother’s Spice Cake

WIN_20150330_202258 [Note: This was shared as post on The Ranting Chef earlier today!] This recipe should really be called “Mother’s Mother’s Mother’s Spice Cake,” because I believe it originally belonged to my Great-Grandmother. Take a look at the recipe card below, typed on an old school typewriter… clearly, this is a very old and much loved favorite! WIN_20150407_222818 I love how this recipe, like so many old recipes, is really just a list of ingredients. In some cases, it can be very difficult to recreate a dish from ingredients alone! In this case, however, coming up with instructions and baking times was pretty straightforward. The updated set of instructions below are user-friendly and simple enough to follow with confidence. If you’re reading this post from the U.S., remember that Mothers Day is May 10th. Wouldn’t this make a fun Mothers Day cake? WIN_20150330_174809Ingredients (Makes a 9″ x 13″ cake) 1 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup white sugar 1/2 cup room temperature butter 1 cup milk WIN_20150330_175239 2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg WIN_20150330_2000571/2 teaspoon cloves 1/4 teaspoon salt 2 egg yolks For the frosting: 2 egg whites WIN_20150330_2002321 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup white sugar Directions Step 1) Cream together butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup white sugar until thoroughly blended and fluffy. Add milk and egg yolks. Blend well. WIN_20150330_201244Step 2) Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt. Blend slowly until batter is smooth. Step 3) Pour batter into a greased and floured 9″ x 13″ cake pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool WIN_20150330_201700thoroughly. Step 4) After cake has cooled, add 1 inch of water to the bottom of a double boiler.  Combine egg whites, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup white sugar in the top of the double boiler. NOTE: you can make your own double boiler simply by setting a metal or glass mixing bowl over the top of a medium saucepan so that the water in the saucepan is “sealed” inside (the mixing bowl you select should be perfectly round and have smooth sides in order for this to work). Make sure the water in the bottom saucepan doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl. Step 5) With the double boiler over medium heat, beat the egg whites and sugars at high speed using an electric mixer for seven minutes. Yes, seven minutes. This isn’t complicated, but you need to be patient! Making this frosting is a bit like making candy… we’re creating a chemical change (protein denaturation via heat and mechanical agitation, if you are interested in that sort of thing) which will turn your egg whites and sugars into an absolutely fantastic browned marshmallow frosting! If you’ve never had this frosting before, you’re in for a treat.  🙂 Step 6) The frosting will cool as soon as you remove the top of the double boiler from the heat (don’t get any water in your frosting!). Frost your cake and enjoy!


A few cousins enjoying their Great, Great Grandma’s spice cake recipe. For me, remembering loved ones through their recipes is the very best part of cooking!

Tropical Island Cake with Coconut Rum Frosting


Baking a Tropical Island Cake with Coconut Rum Frosting while singing along (badly) to an old Bob Marley CD is my little way of wrinkling my nose at Old Man Winter.  The wind and cold outside my kitchen window just don’t stand a chance against bananas and pineapple, coconut, rum, and reggae music!

WIN_20150104_104344Ingredients (Makes a 9×13 inch sheet cake)

1/2 cup softened butter

2 eggs

3 very ripe, mashed bananas

1 cup fresh, diced pineapple

WIN_20150104_1103001 cup sugar

2 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans, but macadamia nuts would be fabulous, I think!)


Step 1) Grease and flour a 9×13 inch cake pan.

Step 2) In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter, eggs, mashed bananas, diced pineapple, and sugar. Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chopped nuts.

WIN_20150104_115422Step 3) Spread batter into cake pan and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Step 4) Allow to cool completely.  While cake is cooling, prepare Coconut Rum Frosting (below).  Frost cake and sprinkle with coconut.  Enjoy!


Ingredients for Coconut Rum Frosting (cream together all ingredients)

WIN_20150104_1755531/4 cup softened butter

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

2 tablespoons rum

3 tablespoons milk

3 cups powdered sugar

1 drop yellow food coloring

1 cup shredded coconut (to sprinkle on top of frosted cake)


Breakfast Cake (Frühstückskuchen) in Fehmarn, Germany

If there is any such thing as a perfect day, I may very well have stumbled upon it the day I first baked this cake. Last summer in northeast Germany, I enjoyed an early morning slice of warm Frühstückskuchen with a mug of strong, black coffee while watching my children play outside in the land of their great, great grandparents.  For an American intent on reconnecting with her German ancestry, it was an amazing moment.

It’s time to bake another Frühstückskuchen and reminisce!


Bridge to Fehmarn Island

Ingredients (makes 1 9″ x 13″ cake)

2 cups grated carrot

1 cup peeled, chopped apple

3/4 cup real applesauce (no corn syrup)

1/4 cup canola oil

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups white flour

1 cup whole wheat flour


Fehmarn Lighthouse (One of several, but the only one open to the public)



Step 1) Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ cake pan.

Step 2) Combine carrots, apple, applesauce, oil, eggs, and sugar in a large bowl.

Step 3) Combine spices, baking powder, baking soda, and flours in a second large bowl.

Step 4) Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined.

Step 5) Spread batter into the pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until a toothpick

inserted into the center comes out clean.  Check after 35 minutes; do not overbake.

Step 6) Let cool slightly before cutting.  Serve with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar, if desired.


Roses bloomed everywhere on the island!


Orange Sponge Cake


This is a grand summertime cake!  Bursting with orange flavor, simply dust this cake with powdered sugar and decorate with candied orange peel – you’ll never notice the absence of traditional frosting (which typically adds around 200 calories per piece of cake!).  This recipe gives you a great excuse to dust off the tube pan lurking in the back of one of your kitchen cabinets, and the resulting cake is pretty enough to stand out at your next outdoor party.  Enjoy a slice for me!

picture599Ingredients (serves 12)

6 eggs, whites and yolks divided

1 tablespoon grated orange zest (use an organic orange for this!)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon Grand Marnier liquor or orange picture600extract

1 1/2 cup sugar, divided into 1 cup and 1/2 cup portions

1 1/4 cups white flour

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar


picture602Step 1) Using an electric mixer, beat egg yolks for 5 minutes on high speed.  Add orange zest, orange juice, and Grand Marnier.  Slowly add 1 cup sugar, blending at low speed.  Gradually increase speed to medium, and blend mixture for 3 more minutes.  The mixture should be thick, and should double in volume.

Step 2) “Sprinkle and fold” flour into egg picture603yolk mixture, 1/4 cup at a time.  In other words, sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour over the egg yolk mixture, and gently fold the egg yolk mixture over the flour using a rubber scraper.  Repeat until all flour has been added.  Do NOT over mix.

Step 3) Using a scrupulously clean mixing bowl and beaters, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high speed until soft picture604peaks form (see photo).  This will probably take 2 or 3 minutes.  Then, slowly add 1/2 cup of sugar, adding 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form.  (see photo).

Step 4) Now we need to combine the yolk mixture and the white mixture without losing all of the “poof” we just created with the electric mixer!  To do this, gently fold 1 cup of the white mixture into the yolk picture605mixture.  Then, fold all of the yolk mixture into the white mixture.  Don’t overthink it… just combine the two mixtures as gently as possible.

Step 5) Transfer the batter into an ungreased tube pan, approximately 10 inches in diameter (“standard” size).  Bake in a preheated 325 degree oven for approximately 55 minutes.  The top of the picture606cake should feel springy when touched.  If you press gently with your finger and the imprint doesn’t bounce back, give the cake a few more minutes.

Step 6) Remove from oven and tip the pan over to cool.  I find that balancing the pan on a bottle (a beer bottle or a wine bottle, don’t judge) works well.  After cake has cooled completely, slowly loosen cake from picture608the sides of the pan with a butter knife and gently shake onto a serving plate.  If your cake doesn’t come out of the pan perfectly, don’t panic.  Powdered sugar and candied orange peel will hide “cake owies” very well!

Step 7) Dust, decorate, and enjoy!

About that candied orange peel… simply peel an orange using a potato peeler, to get picture607thin slices of peel without the white pith.  Add the peel to a small pan with 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar.  Simmer for 10 minutes, remove peel, and place peel on a baking sheet.  Dry peel in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, while your cake is cooling!