Berry Filled Tea Cake

Happy Spring, y’all!

I hope that it has been as warm, beautiful, and blooming where you are as it has been in Atlanta! While I am still not used to this 80˚F weather in April and now even warmer in May, I must say that I kind of love all of the life it has brought! Cherry blossoms, hydrangeas, gardenias, the list of stunning flowers that are right outside of our little apartment goes on and on. Even beyond that, the farmer’s market season is in full swing, everyone seems to be outside running, walking, and biking, the wonderful months of grilling and margaritas have arrived—ahh can you tell I’m so excited?!

With this just incredible time of the year upon us, I wanted to give you a recipe that is just as light, refreshing, bright and simply sweet to enjoy during these warmer days ahead of us!

This cake recipe below is truly perfect for Mother’s Day, summer brunches, showers, BBQ’s—and that’s all because it is not overwhelmingly sweet. I don’t know about you, but when it’s 85˚ outside with about 90% humidity, there’s nothing I want less than a heavy dessert, which is where this idea came about. I’ve replaced any white sugar or brown sugar with honey and maple syrup, giving it a little bit more of a floral and earthy taste to the cake. From there, I used one of my current favorite teas—Ginger Turmeric—and steeped that in a honey simple syrup for a slight twist and a little kick. Lastly, the “barely-there” cream cheese flavor in the buttercream, combined with some lemon extract gives you that pop of citrus that we all crave in the summer, especially with en entire orange worth of zest in the cake! I took this one step farther and chopped up some fresh strawberries for the filling of this cake, because why wouldn’t you want that?!

Et voilà!

This cake is, to me, as lovely and stunning as all of those amazing flowers outside! It adds a nice fresh touch to any party, brunch, heck, even an afternoon snack if you’re me! With a summer that is sure to be filled with lots of dog snuggles, outdoor adventures, weekend getaways and possibly Sunday mornings when you wake your husband up too early for a “beat the sun” run…this berry filled, tea soaked cake, is exactly what you’ll be craving!

cake ingredients

Milk—4 oz, of ½ C

Canola Oil—3 oz, or ½ C

Honey—4 oz, or 1/3 C

Maple Syrup—3 oz, or ¼ C

Eggs—2

Vanilla Extract—1 ½ tsp

Flour—11 oz, or 2 C

Baking Powder—2 tsp

Baking Soda—½ tsp

Salt—½ tsp

Orange Zest—1 orange

 

process

Preheat your oven to 350˚F.

Whisk together all of your dry ingredients—the milk, oil, honey, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla.

In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the orange zest

Combine the wet and dry, whisking together until just combined.

Prep 2-6” cake pans by spraying with nonstick spray, and then either covering the bottom with a light dusting of flour, or some parchment paper.

Add half of the cake batter to each pan, which should only fill each about halfway.

Put in your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes, rotating, then another 10.

When fully baked, the center of the center of the cake should spring back nicely when pressed.

Allow to cool completely on a cooling rack until you are ready to assemble the cake.

 

syrup ingredients

Water—6 oz, or ¾ C

Honey—8 oz, or ¾ C

Tea Bags—4

Salt—small pinch

 

process

In a small saucepot, combine the water and honey; bring to a light boil, just so that the honey dissolves into the water.

Remove from the heat and steep your tea bags anywhere from 15-30 minutes, depending on how intense you want this honey-tea syrup to be!

*Note: I used a Ginger Turmeric tea for this recipe—it is quite subtle but adds a great warmth and spice to the sweet syrup, but the options are endless!*

Once you remove the tea bags, add the salt.

Allow to cool completely before using it on your cake!

 

buttercream ingredients

Butter (room temperature)—10 oz, or 1 ¼

Cream Cheese—4 oz, or ½ C

Vanilla Extract—1 TBL

Lemon Extract—1 tsp

Milk—1 oz, or 2 TBL

Confectioner’s Sugar—27 oz, or 5 ¼ C

 

process

In the bowl of your mixer, using the whisk attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese until verrryyyy smooth and creamy—this should take you a good 5-10 minutes depending on the consistency of the butter.

Once smooth, slowly add in the sifted confectioner’s sugar, scraping down after about every cup added.

When all the sugar has been added and the bowl has been scraped down, add in the vanilla and 1 TBL of the milk.

Mix and scrape.

Add in the second TBL of milk.

Turn your mixer on about medium-high so that your buttercream becomes nice and fluffy.

Now it can be used to finish your cake!

 

assembly

When your cake has completely cooled, trim the tops off of both cakes so that they are flat.

Using the syrup that you made earlier, brush a healthy amount on each cake layer, specifically the side that you just trimmed off—this will keep it nice and moist the longer that it sits!

Using either a plate or a cake turntable, evenly spread on your buttercream—I do about ½” for the center.

*Optional: you may put fresh fruit in the center for even more flavor—I have used strawberries here!*

If you opt to put fruit in the middle, press it down to make sure that it is in place, and you may even want to add more buttercream over the fruit to secure it even more.

Now place the other cake layer, syruped side down, on top of the fruit, buttercreamy center you just created.

Place a good dollop of the buttercream on top and spread a thin, even layer. Do the same with the sides—this doesn’t have to be perfect, and it may have crumbs in it, it is just a base coat!

Place this “crumb-coated” cake in the fridge to firm up for about 20-30 minutes.

Once your outside layer has set just a bit, it’ll be easier to spread on more buttercream, this time there will be no crumbs that get in your beautiful frosting job!

When you have applied the second coating of buttercream and are satisfied with how absolutely beautiful and yummy it looks, decorating it however you wish—I used some dried orange peel that I had kicking around—you may cut into it and enjoy!

At this point, like me, you may have almost forgotten about the surprise of fresh fruit inside—and this, plus the syrup keeps the cake tasting extremely moist!

 

Bon Appétit!

Orange Cornmeal Cakes with PB Chocolate Buttercream

After a much needed break (AKA my job was basically forcing me to take daily afternoon naps…ask Roberto, he’s come home to me asleep more times than I can count), KBB is back in action!

While I knew that this incredible baking job that I started back in November would be hella rewarding, I did not think that would still be struggling this bad with the 2:30am wake-up time! We allllll know that this girl LOVES the morning, I mean, I was waking up to do marathon training runs at 4am last summer, but to actually think at 4am is a totally different ballgame!

Anyways! No one really needs to hear me rambling on and on and on…

I hope that everyone had an eventful few months—even though January-March have never been my favorite of the year, at least they’re just about over and we can focus on the best ¾ of the year!!

Hi Spring! Hi Summer! Hi Fall!

So, as we get into the most lovely, colorful, fully in bloom months, I have learned that here, in Atlanta, Spring isn’t exactly what I’m used to. To me, it’s rain, then SO MANY FLOWERS, cool mornings, mild days…but oh no, it was 85˚ this week…it’s still March. Ahh, at least there’s already beautiful tulips all over! Another plus to this wildly early summertime weather? Farmer’s Markets! They all begin April 1st! What?! YES!

The bakery I work at is all about dem markets, meaning 3 days a week you can see us Lil’ Tarts representin’ our baked goodies around the city! Woo! Bring on busy season from April-December, I’m ready—insert muscle emoji here.

Oh…but this isn’t just a blog where I chit chat for 3 pages, it’s actually about baking. And recipes. And slightly interesting content. So, while I mayyyyy have been MIA (or asleep) for that past few months, at least I came out of hibernation with this bomb recipe—a not-too-sweet cake with a surprise filling and an irresistible frosting!

As (I hope) you all know, my cornbread is amazing. I’m not one to toot my own horn, but, like, it’s so good that I normally eat about half of it, mainly sneaking bites so that I don’t get that girl, are you going to leave me any?!?! look from my darling husband! Now this may be the next best idea I’ve had aside to my cornbread—turning it into CUPCAKES! Whaattttt. Dessert cornbread you say?!

As it warms up, my sweet tooth goes down ever so slightly just because I’m too hot to consume anything that’s not butter lettuce, a green smoothie, popsicles and cold, cold pizza. Okay, sort of exaggerating but you get the idea, right? I came up with this subtly sweet dessert for moments just like described above, and it helps that it’s packed with orange zest to give a refreshing element to it! Hmm, how can we make it even better? Adding a Maine blueberry jam to the center? OKAY! Last, but not least, I had to add something chocolate, because, come on, it’s me…who are we kidding, right?! So all of this goodness is topped with a chocolate peanut butter buttercream…excuse me while I go scarf one down.

So, as I came up with this ingenious idea to turn my cornbread slightly sweeter and force it to become a cake, I’ve also accepted the fact that it’s going to be a bit hotter than I’m used to for a lot longer than I thought possible, but, hey! Give me a box of popsicles, maybe a pint or two of Ben & Jerry’s and these cupcakes that are bursting with citrus, jam and chocolate, and I think I’m on board!

Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

cornmeal cake ingredients

Brown Sugar—4.25 oz, or ½ C

White Granulated Sugar—2 oz, or ¼ C

Flour—4 oz, or ¾ C

Cornmeal—2 oz, or ¼ C + 2 TBL

Salt—1 tsp

Baking Powder—1½ tsp

Cinnamon—1 tsp

Orange Zest—1 TBL, or 1 large orange

Eggs—1

Milk—4 oz, or ½ C

Olive Oil—2.25 oz, or ¼ C

 

process

Preheat your oven to 350˚ F.

In a large bowl, combine both sugars, the flour, cornmeal, salt, baking powder and cinnamon.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, olive oil and orange zest.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until just combined.

Like a 12-count cupcake pan with liners.

Fill each up about 2/3 of the way.

Optional: sprinkle with coarse turbinado sugar for a nice crunch/texture before you bake.

Put in your preheated over for 12 minutes, rotate, then another 15 minutes.

Allow to cool completely before frosting them!

 

peanut butter chocolate buttercream ingredients

Peanut Butter—2.25 oz, or ¼ C

Butter (room temperature)—2.5 oz, or 5 TBL

Confectioner’s Sugar (sifted)—6.25 oz, or 1 ¼ C

Cocoa Powder (sifted)—1.25 oz, or ½ C

Milk—2 TBL

Orange Extract—½ tsp

Vanilla Extract—1 tsp

 

process

In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and peanut butter until very smooth.

While this is creaming, sift together the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder.

In another measuring cup, combine the milk and both extracts.

Once your butters are nice and smooth, slowly add half of your sifted ingredients.

Scrape down the sides of your bowl.

Add in half of your wet ingredients.

Add the final amount of confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder, then the remaining milk/extracts.

Scrape down the bowl.

Turn your mixer up to about medium speed and allow to whip for a good 10 seconds, making your buttercream smooth and fluffy.

Once your cupcakes have cooled completely, you may use this to frost with!

 

assembly

As this first step you may omit, I highly recommend that you don’t!

First, using a paring knife, cut out small little cones out of the center of each cake.

Fill them with jam—I have used a Maine blueberry jam, but any kind will work! I find that orange + blueberry complement each other oh so well!

Once each center has been filled, use either just an offset spatula or piping on a nice dollop of buttercream using a round tip, to both completely cover the jam as well as add a good 2 TBL of it on top!

This can be as messy or as clean as you’d like—all depending on your technique and preference!

I have used a medium-sized round tip in my pastry bag to cover the jam with the buttercream, and then also to put enough on before spreading out with the offset.

Finish with any type of sprinkle or sugar that you’d like, or just leave plain as is!

 

Bon Appétit!

Candy Cookie Cake

Happy Halloween, my friends!

What are your plans?! Trick-or-treating? Passing out candy? Ridiculous parties? Or, if you’re like me, you'll be devouring all of the candy you had to buy, knowing that no one will come up to your apartment door ringing the bell…

Yes. That’s me. I can’t resist the candy aisle for any holiday, and when you can get an assorted bag of all of the best mini-size chocolates, you go for it! As a chocolate-obsessed gal, I just can’t help myself and I’m not ashamed. Funny story—I recently did a small “about me” for my job’s website and had to write about my favorite foods…all I could think of was, well, chocolate…

Yes, Katie’s favorite food is chocolate…who am I?!

ANYWAYS! Back to this glorious cookie cake. As I mentioned in my post here, cookie cakes are just like a dream of mine—and I always am tempted to buy one when walking past Mrs. Fields. So, of course, challenge accepted, and I had to make this, especially since I’m trying to use the pounds of Halloween candy that I bought so I don’t binge eat it every night.

I also feel like, if I was to get actual Trick-or-Treaters and if handing out baked goods was acceptable, this would be the most incredible treat ever!! Like, oh yeah, if you go to Katie’s house, you can get slices of a cookie cake that is stuffed with candy…basically a 2 for 1! Ahh in my wildest dreams…

AND what I love so much about this is that you can put anything you want in it—yum! I mean, Kitkats, Twix and Snickers are the best chocolates to choose, but I won’t judge if you chose something a little less exciting and wonderful. So, if you’re like me and you bought way too much candy, this is a perfect way to use it! Bake up a few of these cakes, invite over some friends, watch Hocus Pocus, or even Saw, drink so wine—really there’s nothing you can do wrong with this candy-filled cake. While I do sometimes miss the weeks of costume making and end up wearing basically a black dress with cat ears, this new tradition I have of putting on big sweats and stuffing my face with candy and wine (maybe “Crazy Dog Lady” is this costume?) is something that I can get on board with!

 

cookie ingredients

Butter—4 oz, or ½ C

Brown Sugar—3 oz, or 1/3 C

Sugar—1 oz, or 2 TBL

Eggs—1

Vanilla—½ tsp

Flour—6 oz, or 1 C

Salt—½ tsp

Baking Soda—½ tsp

Halloween Candy, chopped—3 oz, or ¾+ C

 

process

In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.

Add in the egg and vanilla.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda. Slowly add this into your creamed mixture.

Scrape down the sides of your bowl.

Add in your chopped candy (reserve a small handful)—whatever you like best!

In terms of Halloween candy, I chose chocolate because, to me, that goes yummiest with this cookie cake! From there, pick your favorites. Mine happen to be Twix, Snickers and Kit Kats, but the candy aisle is your oyster!

Spray a spring form pan or a tart pan with nonstick spray.

Press the cookie dough in the pan, leaving about ½ an inch around the edge so that the cookie can spread slightly.

Sprinkle the remaining chopped candy on top of the cookie dough.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so that it will firm up.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350˚ F.

Bake your cookie cake for about 20 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden.

The center may look underbaked, but it will finish baking from the heat of the pan outside of the oven.

Allow to cool completely before decorating!

 

buttercream ingredients

Butter—2 oz, or ¼ C

Shortening—0.5 oz, or 1 TBL

Confectioner’s Sugar, sifted—5 oz, or 1 C

Cocoa Powder, sifted—0.5 oz, or 2 TBL

Milk—0.5 oz, or 1 TBL

 

process

In the bowl of the your mixer, cream the butter and shortening until smooth and fluffy.

Sift together the confectioner’s sugar and the cocoa powder.

Slowly add this into the mixer, scraping down the sides when necessary.

Add the milk in about a teaspoon at a time—you may need more if you want it a little creamier.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then turn the mixer up to medium-high to give the buttercream a nice, final whip.

 

When your cake is completely cooled, you can begin to decorate with the buttercream!

Put it into a piping bag with whichever tip you’d like to use—a star tip will make nice rosettes or a rope, but it’s whatever look you’re going for.

Pipe around the outside boarder, decorate with some sprinkles or some more candies of your choice, and devour!

 

Bon Appétit!

Blueberry Cupcakes with Toasted Meringue

Oh, hello there. Can we be friends again, please?!

July was one hell of a month—two of my friends got married, I spent over a week in Maine for my own wedding stuff, marathon training got really intense!! Just everything is happening in a beautiful 2-3 month period, and I can’t bring myself to chill for a sec and bake! I mean I did allow myself to binge read the new Harry Potter book in a couple of days—that’s as wild as I get!

I love when life is crazy busy and exciting, but like, hold up, can I have a day or two when I can think about nothing and just nap?! Maybe I’ll take a nice winter hibernation this year…

So, while being at my mom’s house, I forgot how much I absolutely love waking up every morning and picking fresh raspberries and blueberries from all of the bushes we have around the house! It doesn’t get much better than that—I mean maybe when I would bring my dogs with me to pick them and they would smush their faces into the berries, then leave them on the ground. I suppose that was pretty cute…even though they wasted so many beautiful berries…

ANYWAYS! That there is the inspiration for these moist, berry-filled cakes I’ve made for you. There is just something so satisfying about homegrown produce, and when you can bake with it, I mean, that is the ultimate! Oh wait, then I added some meringue on top—even torched it with my brand new flame! This has been on my “must have” list for like, a lifetime, and my friends were too kind to have gotten it for me!

And let me tell you, it does so much more than just torch meringue, it lights candles, it lights cupcake liners on fire, it makes fruit taste burnt, it’s just all-around fun!

When I stopped lighting nonsense on fire with my new torch, I actually toasted the meringue, and Oh. My. Gosh. Hi campfire on you gorgeous little blueberry cakes! If I hadn’t felt such a sugar high, I would have just torched ALL of the meringue and eaten it like that. The balance of the sugary meringue, the tart berries and the toastiness on top of it all—it’s one of the most perfect bites in my opinion!

I can’t get over it, clearly shown by all of my exclamation points in the last paragraph! And now!

Being at home, in Maine, means the ocean, the fresh air, the weird accents, bonfires, family, lots of dog snuggles, and, of course, fruit picking! Having a beautiful bowl of handpicked berries on the back patio on a cool summer morning is just beyond comforting and relaxing. While these cupcakes are not exactly that, it’s pretty damn close!—I give you yummy blueberries stuffed into cupcakes and topped with (way too much) toasted meringue!

It’s light, it’s happy, it’s summery, and it screams all things Katie! 

cake ingredients

Butter—2 oz, 4 TBL

Sugar—2.75 oz, or 1/3 C

Vanilla Extract—½ tsp

Eggs—2

Plain Yogurt—4 oz, or ½ C

Flour—5.5 oz, or 1 C

Oats—1 oz, or ¼ C

Baking Powder—½ tsp

Salt—½ tsp

Cinnamon—1 tsp

Blueberries—5 oz, or ~1 C

 

process

Preheat your oven to 350˚ F.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

In the bowl of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar.

Once light and fluffy, add in the vanilla and eggs.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Alternating between the yogurt (I prefer Greek!) and the dry ingredients, add about ½ of each at a time until you have finished both.

Fold in the blueberries.

In a lined muffin pan, fill each cup up about halfway with the cake batter.

Bake in your preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, until the top springs back just slightly.

Allow to cool completely before putting the meringue on top!

 

For the meringue, it is this recipe here, but I halved it to use for this recipe (you can even quarter it if you’d like). Also, torching the meringue is, of course, optional, but if you have a cute little kitchen torch, I highly suggest using it—adds for a great toasty flavor!

 

Bon Appétit!

Graham Cracker Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches

Hello, my friends! I am back, and I am sorry! I haven’t posted for weeks, and I promise I have a sort of excuse, and I am giving you an insane recipe that may trump all ice cream sandwiches…ever…

So. Let’s see. Since I last posted, my brother visited me in WV, my fiancé came back from two too-long months away for work, we went to Germany for a week for a birthday party of a dear friend, and now I am back—about to head home to Maine for a week for even more fun festivities! Basically, the month of July is all about traveling and not staying in one place for too long, which I am loving because it’s just been amazing.

First off, Germany. Need I say more? We were in Munich and then a small town outside of the city for many celebrations. Oh, and guess what? My best friend is living in Munich for a couple of years, so hello to Luci-Katie time!!

Secondly, we are headed to Connecticut to see two of my incredible friends (who I met in WV, go figure!) tie the knot! I am so excited, like can’t contain my excitement, can’t wait to see my friend in a gold sequined dress, can’t wait to dance the night away with the two brides, kind of pumped. I’ve been counting down the days to this weekend in forever. Ugh. SO MUCH LOVE!

And last, but not least, I am then headed to beautiful little Maine for a week. This includes dress alteration #1, my bachelorette party, bridal shower, so much dog snuggles and friend cuddles…tell me how could this be any better?! Oh shoot, and beach time. Lots and lots of beach time—heart eye emoji here, please.

By the time I am back, it’ll be almost August and summer will have slipped away…ugh why did I have to make that so sad so quickly?!

Back to the happiness and sugar-high!

Okay, okay…so I made these ice cream sandwiches, right? But what is so mind-blowing about them to me is that they use graham cracker donuts. Like, this is basically a s’more, but with an ice cream center and two fluffy donuts to hold it altogether. Yeah, this girl is ALL about the campfires, bonfires, s’more fires…but with the heat clouding my thoughts, I needed something to cool me down some.

And boom—donuts + ice-cream = new obsession!

Yes, you can use whatever flavor ice cream you want, I chose peach because we just made it at work, and it just screams summertime in my opinion! Final touch? Drizzle on melted chocolate for an even messier, even tastier treat.

Yep…mouth salivating, going to walk to the freezer to get one right now...

So, while I may have been MIA for a couple of weeks, and will be going up and down the east coast quite a bit over the remainder of the month, I hope that you all can forgive me and make these ASAP! Trust me, this drippy mess is worth every sticky little bite!

ingredients

Flour—5.5 oz, or 1 C + 1TBL

Graham Cracker Crumbs—1.75 oz, or 1/3 C

Brown Sugar—4 oz, or ½ C

Baking Soda—¾ tsp

Salt—½ tsp

Eggs—1

Milk—4 oz, or ½ C

Vanilla Extract—1 tsp

Butter, melted—2 oz, or 4 TBL

 

process

Preheat your oven to 375˚ F.

In a bowl, combine the flour, crumbs, brown sugar, baking soda and salt.

In another bowl, mix together the egg, milk and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix until almost combined.

Add in the melted butter.

Mix.

Pour your donut batter into either a piping bag or a large sealable baggie.

Spray your donut pan with nonstick spray.

Fill each section about ½ - ¾ full of batter.

Bake in your preheated oven for 8 minutes, until the donut springs back when touched.

Allow to cool before assembling ice cream sandwiches.

 

assembly

Once your donuts have cooled, it’s time to fill them!

For this recipe, I used homemade peach ice cream that I had made at work, but any and all flavors will work!

Take one generous scoop of ice cream and put it in the center of your donut.

Gently press down with either a spoon or an offset spatula.

Place another donut on top, press firmly to hold in place.

Now you may either wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer, or cover the ouside with more graham cracker crumbs and sprinkles, and then freeze!—clearly the second option is the route I took.

While the ice cream sandwiches are firming up, melt some chocolate over a double boiler.

Drizzle over the ice cream sandwiches, and now it’s time to eat!

 

Bon Appétit!