Yep, it’s another cake! Yet this cake is dark, decadent and positively sinful. I have eaten so much cake these past few days yet this one is little bit more special.
Yep that’s right it’s the week of love, obviously. Now I might as well come clean, I am not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Let’s be honest I am not a fan at all, and never was.
Ever since we had to send little love cards in 3rd grade with a chocolate attached to our prepubescent classmates and I felt the humiliation of only getting one or none at all (and seeing your archenemies getting a few chocolates, when you know she is not very nice!), I have never been able to warm up to this ‘holiday’.
As my cynicism developed as I got older (oh those turbulent teenage years) I became less convinced by all the in-your-face pink and red mania you are bombarded with whenever you go to a convenience store or even the dentist office (very strange).
It didn’t help that nobody else around me celebrated or believed in the fervor of Valentine’s Day. After a while it just seemed this day was more for the candy and jewelry companies (not to mention roses that are incredibly over priced) to make loads of money and it just felt it wasn’t really about love itself.
Very, very rarely can you binge watch a show in all its entirety and then find that you actually learned something from it.
In this remarkable instance it was the wonderfully produced Great British Bake-Off. Granted it is a cooking show, but I can’t say I ever watched Cutthroat Kitchen and was like “Um that totally inspires me to make a botched up version of egg’s benedict.” Or after I watched Chopped I wasn’t like “Hey I should totally go get myself a cow’s tongue!”
But when you are watching the infamous duo of Merry Berry and Paul Hollywood (and also the nicest and sweetest home bakers of all of Britain) it turns out this show isn’t just something to binge watch on a dull, rainy Sunday with no other prospects.
After plummeting through five seasons of custard tarts, sweet buns and suet puddings I actually found myself learning a lot of cool and useful things (like people actually bake with hart fat from the kidneys and loins aka. suet aka. that sounds gross). There is something really special when you get to watch a person who has been baking for almost 40 years in a sort of personal setting (like when they are handling suet). I feel like you don’t really see that on television much!
One thing that I loved was how they experimented with different flavors and spices! They were so willing to experiment with ingredients like anise, lavender, ginger and chai but the one that caught my attention (and tastebuds) the most was cardamom!
I gotta be honest people, it’s really starting to annoy me that I can’t eat the sweets that I absolutely loved to eat anymore.
I used to go through life seeing any kind of food as something that was completely available to me. I was living in an age where the world of gastronomy had so much to offer and there was nothing limiting me from choosing if I wanted to venture into that area of cuisine or if I wanted to eat that particular food product.
Nothing was stopping me and therefore I never felt the need to take advantage of my impenetrable stomach because it didn’t seem necessary. Life would go on, I would eat what I wanted, whatever came my way and that was that. My youthful stomach always prevailed no matter what I put in it and therefore I was indifferent.
Now the landscape of my life as an omnivore has completely changed. Food isn’t an allotted freedom and convenience that America’s advanced yet monstrous food industry has gifted me (which I’d take full advantage of and didn’t ask any questions as to how such an industry exists).
Now every time I go to a supermarket or look at a restaurant menu a limitation always presents itself. Before there had always been a sense that my overly-zealous stomach could conquer anything on that menu. There was always a feeling of exhilarating freedom coming into that supermarket seeing all the countless aisles of guaranteed delicious and salivatory food and it was completely available for my taking – only if I wanted it or not.
I was actually thinking about making this banana bread paleo. I really like the idea of the paleo diet, not as a weight loss technique but as a conscious way of eating. I had seen a lot of paleo baking going around and it really made me think, maybe I could do it!
So I was very curious and first tried making banana bread using coconut flour. Oh how that went terribly wrong. It was just this dense doughy mess that was just unable to bake at all and it left me all depressed, eventually mindlessly playing with it like play-doh.
And then I was pretty shocked how many whole grain flours out there aren’t considered paleo. And those that are considered paleo (almond flour and other nut flours) are just crazy expensive to the point where you are most likely eating a 5 dollar slice of banana bread. Yeah, I don’t think so.
I learned that basically you can’t have any form of grain on the paleo diet (I know I’m pretty slow). Turns out eating paleo might not really be for me after all! I mean I eat brown rice and brown rice anything like there is no tomorrow. Cause hey! I thought brown rice was good for you!
Well APPARENTLY NOT. Or at least that’s what a lot of paleo gurus and articles on the web are now saying which leaves me all dumbfounded, as if all my morals were just suddenly contradicted. I see words like ‘anti-nutrients’ and ‘high-glycemic’ being thrown around and then I am being told that you should eat white rice over brown rice. Ehrrmm excuse me?? It’s like when I was told that kale is bad for you. The world is starting to not make a bit of sense.
Every girl needs to have some cake every now and then. And this is how I felt when I made these little cute and delicious blueberry cakes. They are cakes specifically designed for the girl that deserves to have her cake!
First of all when the madness of Black Friday happened and all the ridiculous deals that followed afterwards, I was literally overwhelmed with all the gorgeous and wonderful things that had all of a sudden been miraculously marked down. And this cake stand was one of them!
I just fell in the love with that beautiful circular blue pattern on the top and that sort of thing I can just stare at for days. I love when things are intricately done and I am just a sucker for abstract and bold patterns and I had to snatch this up. But of course my main thought when I bought this is all the fabulous cakes I have to bake to accompany it.
And mini cakes just seemed like the perfect thing. I mean mini cakes are just so ADORABLE. I’ve realized that most of the baked goods that I usually love seemed to be so much better in a mini version, like mini pound cakes, mini bundt cakes, mini tarts, mini donuts. It just keeps on going.
There is something nice about the idea that you are not only controlling your portions but it is also a guarantee that most of the time your like mini bakes will turn out lovely (and instagram-worthy) with not as much effort and stress.
This past weekend wasn’t just Thanksgiving but it was also my birthday! Now for some people I’m sure the thought of the double festivities would mean double the fun and all special attention. But actually it has now become pretty daunting for me.
Now what I mean by this is that sometimes things happen. The fact that it is both Thanksgiving and and your birthday makes you more fragile to certain unfortunate things that may occur like in relationships, family, your job and such.
The lesson I really got from my past experiences was that on my birthday I should be completely selfish. It should be a day about me and what I want to do. And more importantly to not depend on other people to bring you happiness on that day, because you can find all the happiness in yourself.
I don’t know if what I just wrote sounds completely narcissistic (and you know what it’s okay sometimes) but this year I really made sure that on my birthday I did and ate the things that I wanted.
I had a lovely custard berry cake and ate one of my favorite meals, this spaghetti with pesto and I even included some of the leftover rosemary and thyme in the mountain of herbs I usually put in this. But when it all came down to it, I really wanted to eat these chewy almond butter chocolate chip granola bars (seriously sooooo chewy).
My sister came to visit me and I really wanted to bake something with her. However she is without a doubt gluten-free (and she’s pretty adamant about it too, bless her soul).
I also really wanted a photo buddy (a more nicer way of saying photo assistant aka. let me take pretty photos of you handling food). Cause let’s be honest when I take pictures of myself it’s a little awkward, especially when you don’t have a tripod. And I have very week arms so trying to balance the camera while holding a spoonful of potatoes ain’t easy folks.
So my sister diligently helped me out and put on her little cute jean shorts and made these cinnamon rolls with me. Total sister bonding time.
Sometimes cinnamon rolls don’t have to be super decadent. I get it, that’s what gets your mouth watering and everyone’s favorite past time in dumping all those yummy ingredients onto the dough and drowning them in frosting once they are out of the oven. But I gotta think smart in these moments.
When I was spreading the sugar and butter onto dough I thought to myself, that’s A LOT of sugar. My sister and I refrained from adding too much and just stuck to a more modest amount. But then we made up for it with the glaze.
Sometimes you are in the supermarket, strolling along the aisles, when you come across the baking section and you look at those 8. oz bars of baking chocolate stacked up high and you think, how can I buy a dozen of these without looking like some sort of chocolate fiend? Well the answer lies within this cake.
I seriously cannot live without chocolate, and I am sure that I am not alone. I used to think milk chocolate was the best thing an eleven-year-old kid could ask for until I realized dark chocolate existed.
And after that I never had a single piece of milk chocolate again. I really don’t know why but whenever I would try it in a normal candy bar it just didn’t taste good, it didn’t really even taste like chocolate to me.
So this cake is a celebration for my love of dark chocolate. I mean I could literally drink this batter. All that ridiculous amount of butter and chocolate mixed harmoniously together could make a chocolate-lover cry.
Whenever I bake this banana bread, my apartment smells like heaven for the next 3 days. I’m talking total blissful brown butter heaven.
Seriously when I put my stick of butter in that skillet and watch those little white flecks bronze to nutty perfection it’s like I’m in my happy place and I don’t ever want to get out. So naturally I like to sneak brown butter into my baking creations whenever I can.
Let’s just take a minute and do a shout out to flour. I mean this is literally where it all begins and my main man Flour (yes capitalized) is getting a real bad rep nowadays.
Yes gluten can be bad for some of us (the ones who have some gluten intolerance or sensitivity or even worse, celiac disease) but sometimes you have to remind yourself that flour isn’t the devil incarnate you might of thought it was. Like certain sugars and fats, it’s always good to take gluten in moderation and up your dose of fruits and vegetables. So it becomes that much special when you decide to treat yourself again. And this is my treat.
I never had any fancy cakes for my birthday growing up. No thick, fluffy frosting wrapped around my cake with my name written in pink icing on top surrounded by little sugary flowers. No, for me I just got an old fashioned marble pound cake. And I absolutely loved it.
So naturally this cake was the first thing I ever baked. The only memories I ever had of baking going on in our kitchen was to make this simple yet delicious treat.
I have also recently fell in love with greek yogurt. I mean who hasn’t by now. Maybe I was a little late on the greek yogurt fad. But I’m in it now and I am putting it in my pound cakes.
I just love the tart taste it gives the cake as well as the smooth and creamy texture it brings to the chocolate. It’s a different take on my family’s beloved marble pound cake recipe and it is still quite the treat and my 6 year-old self would have loved it.