Personal Pound Cake

Mini Pound Cake Recipe

Candied Orange and Honey Walnut Mini Pound Cakes

She unlocks her front door, kicks and stretches her way out of her work clothes and bra, throws on yoga pants and a tank and stumbles barefoot into the kitchen.

A bad day, she knows, requires a balm – one made from the holy trinity of butter, sugar and flour…something quick, that doesn’t require a cookbook, that’s single-girl serving sized. Something to soothe.

She’s perfected just that sort of recipe. She calls it her personal pound cake – It’s 1/8th of a standard recipe, just enough for one person; enough to palliate without overdosing. One bowl and five ingredients comprise the basic cake; the perfect canvas for improvisation. From there, she can add berries, almonds or lemon zest. She can soak it in rose syrup or blanket it with cream cheese frosting. She can use it as a base for scoops of chocolate ice-cream or warm peach compote – personalizing it to target whatever ails her.

Tonight, and more nights than she’d like to admit, this is her medicine. Others mix up a drink, she whisks up one of these.


Personal Pound Cake

This recipe requires a 3”x5” mini loaf pan. I use the disposable aluminum ones available at most grocery stores for quick clean up. A kitchen scale makes quick work of measuring ingredients. The trick with this recipe is to personalize it with your favorite add-ins.


Ingredients

  • 2 oz. (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 oz. sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch salt
  • 2 oz. flour
  • add-ins of your choice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350⁰ F. Whisk together butter and sugar (If your butter isn’t softened and you’re impatient, soften it in the microwave, keeping a close eye on it so it doesn’t melt).
  2. Whisk in egg and salt. (I add a pinch of flour at this point to help avoid separation that can happen when adding egg to butter).
  3. Stir in flour. Add your flavors of choice and spoon into loaf pan (no pan greasing or flouring required).
  4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan, slice and indulge.

Honeyed-Walnut Variation: In a small pan over medium-high heat, combine 4 Tablespoons of chopped walnuts and 2 Tablespoons honey. Cook until nuts are toasted and honey is thick and bubbly. Cool and add to batter.
Candied Orange Variation: At the time you add the egg , add 1 Tablespoon Orange Flower Water. After stirring in the flour, stir in 2 Tablespoons chopped candied orange peel.

Personal Pound Cake Recipe

 

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Carrot Raspberry Breakfast Muffins

Healthy Carrot Muffins
Mornings and I are frenemies, at best, and it’s been a difficult transition shifting my schedule from going to sleep at 5 a.m. to waking up around that same time. It’s necessitated a nightly cocktail of melatonin and warm milk and a carefully devised morning ritual. My ritual isn’t for empowerment, productivity, or getting my blood pumping; it’s mainly about gentle pampering and self-care that tells my soul, “See, pre-dawn mornings aren’t so bad.” Softly, softly, the morning and I meet.

I sleep in a freezing-cold bedroom with windows open wide to the night air – perfect for a sound sleep, not ideal for throwing the covers off each morning. The chilly temperature makes me covet a deeper snuggle under the duvet, not put my feet on chilly wood floors, so I make sure the heater in the rest of the house kicks on about 15 minutes before my alarm. Knowing there’s warm coziness on the other side of the bedroom door helps get me moving (not to mention two cats impatiently crying behind the locked door).

Once I’m padding around the kitchen, I feed the beasts, brew a cappuccino (Nespresso, I love you. You have no idea the crap I used to drink each morning), warm a homemade baked good-o-the-week, and snuggle onto the couch. For half an hour, I simultaneously read the news and play fetch with kitty Mochi and the often elusive “Mr. Mousy,” an eviscerated blob of plastic and fur that, at one time, resembled a mouse. During this contented couch time, the sun slowly peeps in the window and I willingly greet another day.

I don’t wait until the very last moment to spring from bed to shower. I don’t scroll through work emails and stress about my day. I don’t red-line the latest contract while absentmindedly gulping down a cup of brown liquid that barely resembles coffee. Instead, I pause…and enjoy.

My morning pause would be incomplete without a home-baked treat to accompany my cappuccino. These past two weeks (and probably next week as well), it’s been muffins. I’ve cracked the perfect morning muffin code – not too big, not too sweet, packed with good stuff, with a tender crumb and loaded with flavor. I thought I couldn’t outdo last week’s banana-cherry muffins, but I’ve done just that with this carrot-raspberry version.


Carrot Raspberry Breakfast Muffins

The perfect morning muffin – not too big, not too sweet, packed with good stuff, with a tender crumb and loaded with flavor.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 large carrot, shredded

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, yogurt, vinegar, vanilla, egg, and yolk. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just blended. Fold in walnuts, raspberries and carrot.
  2. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Top with a sprinkle of chopped walnuts. Bake 25-30 minutes until muffins are brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool slightly and enjoy.

Best Banana Cherry Muffins

Moist Banana Cherry Muffins
I forgot how exhausting it is to be a member of the gainfully employed. I barely survived my first week. If you asked me to recall the high point and low point, I’d say the high point was discovering the twice-weekly lunchtime yoga class in the California sunshine. Sign me up.  The low point was waking up in the wee hours at 6:00 a.m.  Just one short week ago, I was falling asleep about that time.

I’ve tried to soften my 6:00 a.m. blues by pampering myself each morning with a cardamom-rose latte (my new favorite) and a warm, freshly baked treat, like these remarkably moist banana cherry muffins. They help, but I still miss the warmth of my 6:00 a.m. bed.


Best Banana Cherry Muffins

These exceptionally moist and flavorful muffins were adapted from my favorite banana bread recipe.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, plus more for topping
  • ½ cup chopped fresh or frozen and drained cherries, plus 3 more for topping
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, egg, and yolk. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until just blended. Fold in walnuts, cherries and bananas.
  2. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Top with a quartered cherry and chopped walnuts. Bake 25-30 minutes until muffins are brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool and enjoy.

Pickled Carrots

Homemade Pickled Vegetables Recipe
Like a tennis player that’s been training all year for their first match, I walk into the kitchen, full of bravado, throw the culinary ball into the air, serve it across the net and hear the words “FAULT,” followed by the words, “DOUBLE FAULT,” soon after.

Two cookie recipes in as many days – two epic fails.

Disappointment. It’s officially six days into Cookie Baking Season and I feel like a big o’ Failure. I’m a baker above anything else and this should be my time to SHINE, rather than falter. Blame the recipe. Blame the quality of the ingredients. Blame my mindset. I sound like John McEnroe.

My first attempt, an anise-scented honey cookie lightly glazed and decorated with candied orange peel, was an unmitigated disaster. The texture was all wrong – too dense – and the anise too strong, resulting in a cookie reminiscent of those hard Scandinavian licorice lozenges.

The second recipe, baked yesterday, was supposed to be delicate sandwich cookies filled with mint and dipped in milk chocolate. I was hoping for an elevated version of Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Joe Joe’s (an addiction of mine) crossed with a Girl Scout Thin Mint. What I actually created were misshapen oval disks sandwiching a dollop of minty goo similar to Crest toothpaste. I didn’t even bother with the chocolate dip – in to the trash they went as well.

Rather than squander another pound of butter, I thought I would take a break today, step away from the cookies, and try something else entirely – something that didn’t require baking. I settled on these spice-laden pickled carrots – a better late-night snacking option to a plate of cookies anyway. An array of colorful pickled veggies like these, using a variety of spice combinations, would make a great alternative to the standard holiday crudité platter – no baking required.


Pickled Carrots

  • Servings: 2 quart jars
  • Print
This pickling recipe would work with whatever fresh veggies you happened to have on hand – cauliflower, onions, beans, or beets – to name just a few.

Ingredients

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 6-8 carrots, peeled, cut into sticks and lightly blanched
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon salt
  • Hot water

Directions

  1. Divide garlic, thyme, mustard seeds, allspice berries, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes, ginger, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks,peppercorns and cloves between two quart jars. Pack blanched carrot sticks tightly into jars.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar and salt and heat until boiling. Pour hot liquid into jars filling ¼” from top. If there isn’t enough vinegar mixture, fill remaining space in jars with hot water.
  3. Close jars and refrigerate at least 24 hours and up to 2 weeks.

Spiced Candied Nuts

Sweet and Spicy Holiday nuts

Until I moved into this neighborhood, I wasn’t a huge fan of Halloween – love Christmas, love Thanksgiving, but I considered Halloween to be one of the lesser holidays – like President’s Day. Of course, I only assigned it its second-class designation after I outgrew trick-or-treating. However, Halloween is a big event around here. In my old neighborhood, we were lucky to see two or three kids all night. This place is hoppin’. We get large gaggles of costumed candy beggars throughout the night. It’s fun and festive and I can’t imagine shutting the drapes, turning off the lights and not partaking.

It takes eight bags of candy to ensure I’ll have enough to last the night. Eight bags purchased the week before the actual holiday. Eight bags of Reese’s, Jr. Mints, Twix, Paydays and Almond Joys stashed in my pantry…texting me for a booty call each night until the 31st saying, “just eat a few of us; we’re fun sized; we won’t side-track your diet.” Yeah, right.

I have no will-power and the recent tightness of my jeans is a physical reminder of that fact. If there’s sinful food in my house, it goes in my mouth. Eight bags of my favorite candy is a feeding orgy I don’t want to participate in this year. So, as counter measures, I’m waiting until the very last second to buy candy. I also made these slightly sweet, salty, spicy almonds for my personal snacking pleasure, ensuring I keep my fingers out of the candy bowl.


Spiced Candied Almonds

I used the nuts and spices I had on hand, but feel free to substitute your favorites.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups raw nuts (I used almonds)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons assorted spices (I used 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice, ⅛ teaspoon cardamom and ⅛ teaspoon urfa chile for heat)
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt and spices. In a large bowl, beat the egg white until frothy. Add the nuts and spiced sugar to the egg whites and stir until nuts are evenly coated. Spread out the nuts on the baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until browned.
  2. 2.Remove from the oven, sprinkle with sea salt (if using) and allow the nuts cool on the baking sheet.