In celebration of my blog’s 3rd birthday, I made a birthday cake (kind of). Fittingly, this recipe is a variation of one developed by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks. It’s fitting because her blog was the one that inspired me to start my own. The first time I tried her Lemony Olive Oil Banana Bread, it became a staple in my recipe arsenal. For this one, I subbed the dark chocolate for dark chocolate toffee, nixed the lemon, and topped the cake with a toffee-molasses glaze. I really love this for its simplicity, its not-too-sweetness, and its shape shifting abilities to act as a breakfast bread or dessert.
A hybrid between a shortbread and oatmeal cookie is a perfect base for sweet, rich banana pudding. The cookie itself is not too sweet and stands up to the pudding without getting too soggy. I made homemade pudding here because it’s not that much more laborious than the heat-and-serve kind you get in the grocery store, and I had control of the amount of sugar. The boxed variety could easily be substituted.
This carrot cake is flawless as-is. People literally lined up for one of these beauties when my Mom Mom made them to sale at church bazaars. It really is the best carrot cake you will ever eat. I cut down on the sugar and oil and added a healthy cup of spent grain because I had it on hand.
Stollen has a hint of sourdough essence and a dense, almost cake-like crumb, partly because it sits for at least two weeks before serving. Booze-soaked fruit and nuts are folded into the batter, along with some additional flavorings and spices, and there you have a colorful canvas of flavors. No candied citrus peel in this gorgeous loaf. I went the less saccharine route and made a whole wheat substitution to make this a little more wholesome and a little less sugary.
This recipe is a variation of an Upside-Down Cake from Joy of Cooking (1975). The cake cooks in a pool of boiling buttery, sugary sauce, which in the end gets dumped over the entire cake, so the result is a super-moist, dense cake. Note: when you turn the cake upside down, be very careful of the sauce. Use a rimmed baking sheet or platter larger than the cake pan and be careful not to burn yourself. The plate I used was barely bigger than the cake pan, and sugary syrup spilled all over my countertop, dripped down my cabinets, and onto my floor (and me). Ick!
If you’re hankering for a fruit cobbler or a traditional, super sweet fruit crisp, you might want to pass on this rendition. WAIT! There is a take-away: use cardamom in place of cinnamon and plums as your fruit in any crisp/cobbler recipe you DO try. The flavor combination is out.of.this.world.