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  • Strawberry Lemon Cake

    It finally feels like spring in New York, which calls for bright flavors and a celebratory cake. I had been eyeing this Strawberry Thyme Cake from The Cake Blog for awhile, but wanted to focus on the strawberry-lemon flavor combo. So after some slight alterations to their recipe I came up with this flavorful cake that's just begging to be eaten outdoors on a warm spring day.

    Lemon Ricotta Cake

    Ingredients

    • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
    2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
    3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth.
    4. Add in the sugar and lemon zest. Beat on medium for 3 to 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
    5. Add in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
    6. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
    7. Mix in the ricotta on medium-low.
    8. With the mixer on low, add in half of the flour mixture. Stream in the buttermilk.
    9. Add in the remaining flour mixture and mix until just combined.
    10. Evenly distribute the batter between the prepared cake pans.
    11. Bake for 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.
    12. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

    Lemon Syrup

    Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 cup sugar

    Instructions

    1. Place the water, lemon juice, and sugar in a saucepan over high heat.  
    2. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.  
    3. Let cool. 

    Strawberry Cheesecake Frosting

    Ingredients

    • 3 egg whites
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
    • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves

    Instructions

    1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk to combine.
    2. Place a few inches of water in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
    3. Place the mixing bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.
    4. Heat the egg mixture until hot to the touch and you no longer feel sugar granules between your fingers.
    5. Carefully return the mixing bowl back to the mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture until the bowl returns to room temperature and you have medium-soft peaks, about 8 minutes.
    6. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
    7. With the mixer on low, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time.
    8. Once added, turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until silky smooth.
    9. Add in the cream cheese and mix until combined.
    10. Add in the strawberry preserves and mix until combined.

    To Assemble + Decorate

    Generously brush each cake layer with the lemon syrup. Place one layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish. Spread on about 3/4 cup of the frosting with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Take small honeycomb cocktail picks (I got mine at a nearby 99 Cent store) and arrange them in a crescent shape on top of the cake. To decorate the sides, take a small amount of hot pink gel food coloring and mix in a few drops of water. Dip a pastry brush in the food coloring and lightly paint the sides of the cake.

  • Matcha Donuts

    Spring's been teasing us in New York. About a month back we had nearly a full week of 70 degree weather that had me thinking that winter was over. I was wrong. Yesterday was so bitterly cold and rainy I stayed inside all day in my sweats. Since I was stuck indoors—and also avoiding doing my taxes—I decided to figure out how to use up this little packet of matcha tea powder I got a few months ago. While I could've made tea with it (pssh), I made donuts. Because when there's freezing rain in April, you should definitely pretend like it's actually warm outside by making donuts the color of spring grass.

    Matcha Donuts Recipe

    Adapted from Bon Appetit

    Ingredients

    • ¼ cup white sugar
    • 1¾ teaspoons baking powder
    • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 cups cake flour, plus more for surface
    • 1 large egg
    • ½ cup buttermilk
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
    • Vegetable oil (for frying—about 1 quart)
    • Matcha glaze (for serving)

    Instructions

    1. Whisk granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl.
    2. Add egg, buttermilk, and butter. Using a wooden spoon or a spatula, gradually mix together wet and dry ingredients until a shaggy dough forms.
    3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times or so until no wet spots remain (be careful not to knead too much or donuts will be tough).
 

    4. Roll out dough to ½" thick and punch out as many rounds as you can with a round biscuit cutter, then use a slightly smaller round cutter to punch out center of each round.
    5. Gather donut holes and scraps and re-roll—repeat until all dough has been used.
 

    6. Fit a medium saucepan with thermometer. Pour in oil to come several inches up the sides of saucepan and heat over medium until thermometer registers 325° Fahrenheit.
    7. Working in batches, fry donuts until deep golden brown on each side.
    8. Transfer to a wire rack lined with paper towels and let cool slightly. 
 

    9. Dip still-warm donuts in Matcha Glaze.


    Matcha Glaze

    Whisk 1 large egg white, 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons matcha (I used a blueberry matcha powder for an extra little bit of flavor), a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl until smooth.


  • Brown Butter Banana Muffins with Pecan Crumble

    Whenever I buy bananas, there always seems to be one sad banana left behind uneaten. Too soft to eat but not spoiled enough to throw away, this banana always taunts me: A little yellow (well, mostly brown) reminder of how I wasted perfectly good food. I could easily freeze it and use it in a smoothie, but let's be real: I'd rather have banana bread. It seems that most of my favorite recipes call for at least three bananas. So what to do?

    This is why I'm glad I found this banana bread recipe that only calls for one banana over at The Faux Martha. The entire recipe is scaled down so the banana flavor isn't lost. However, when baked as a loaf, it's pretty short. But there's plenty of batter for more than half a dozen muffins—so banana muffins it is! I've tweaked the original recipe by adding brown butter to bring out the nuttiness of the pecan crumble topping and swapping yogurt for sour cream—because health be damned! I kid, I kid. It's just what I had. It does make the muffins super moist, but Greek yogurt would also work well in this recipe.

    Brown Butter Banana Muffins with Pecan Crumble Recipe

    Yield: 9 muffins

    For the Brown Butter Banana Muffins
    4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted until browned
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    ½ cup white sugar
    ¾ teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ⅓ cup sour cream
    1 large egg
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 ripe banana

    For the Pecan Crumble
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
    2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
    ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
    Pinch of nutmeg
    ½ cup chopped pecans

    Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter 9 cups of a muffin pan. Set aside.
    2. In a small saucepan, melt butter until browned. Set aside to cool.
    3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
    4. In the same saucepan the butter was browned in, add the sour cream, egg, and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Add banana and mash well to incorporate.
    5. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir together until just combined. Be careful not to over stir. 
    6. To make the pecan crumble topping, combine ingredients in a small bowl using a fork. Distribute crumble evenly over batter. 
    7. Bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan completely. Carefully loosen from pan and serve.

    Recipe adapted from The Faux Martha and Mad Hungry.