Strawberry Cake – Dairy Free

Simple strawberry cake made from a boxed muffin mix? Yup. Comes together in 15 minutes with the help of some homemade strawberry milk for a luxe spring cake.

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finished strawberry cake
Look at this gorgeous cake.

Cake Hack

Sure, technically I suppose you could use a white cake mix and simply ~add strawberries~. But that wouldn’t be as good as this cake. I’ll tell you why.

Packed full of one cup of fresh chopped strawberries, this cake can get heavy. All those heavy strawberries in a light, white cake? Not a good balance.

blueberry muffin mix
The base for this Strawberry Cake

This muffin mix provides a much sturdier, much heartier base to support the plethora of fresh strawberries. The strawberries stay put in the batter (not sinking to the bottom, as they’d do in a thinner, lighter batter of a regular cake) and provide fresh jammy strawberry goodness in each bite.

I recommend serving this as is, no frosting, with a side of whipped cream or your favorite vanilla ice cream. Some fresh chopped mint would complement the strawberries well.

a slice of strawberry cake
Strawberry Cake perfection

Special Equipment (Kinda)

To make this strawberry cake, you’ll need a few special pieces of equipment.

  1. Cheesecloth
  2. Blender (or food processor)
  3. Liquid measuring cup
  4. 10″x7″ baking dish – I used this one.

These are all pretty common items. Pick up some cheesecloth at your grocery store if you don’t have any on hand. It’s relatively inexpensive and a versatile tool to have in your kitchen arsenal.

You’ll use the blender, cheesecloth and liquid measuring cup to create the strawberry milk. If you have a fat separator measuring cup (see below), use it! Rest the cheesecloth on the top strainer.

Again, if you don’t have these items, or if you just don’t feel like going through the effort of making the strawberry milk, you don’t have to. HOWEVER, I can’t guarantee the cake will be as tasty. Some things are worth the extra time, and this strawberry milk is one of them.

a fat separator
Fat Separator — Nifty, but not essential

A Note on the Strawberries

I recommend slicing your strawberries for the 1 cup measurement ahead of time. Since strawberries can vary widely in size, it will be easier to measure this first. For the 3-4 strawberries in the strawberry milk, gather your most average-sized, consistent strawberries from the lot and use for this purpose.

Taste your strawberries before using them in the cake. For best results, use the darkest, ripest and sweetest strawberries. If yours are a bit tart, that’s okay too! The sugar in the muffin mix will help compensate for that. Serve the cake with a sweet whipped cream and no one will ever know the difference. *wink*

For reference, these are the giant strawberries we have here at the fruit stands on the Central Coast. They are consistently the size of my palm and typically weigh 3 ounces each.

a giant strawberry
Behold — the king of all strawberries. Courtesy of Okui’s Farm Stand.

Strawberry Milk

Really, this cake gives you two hacks in one. The first, using the muffin mix. And the second — making your own strawberry milk.

See the instructions on the box call for 2/3 cup of water to be added to the batter. No sir. We don’t simply add water here.

Instead, we’re going to make our own fresh strawberry milk. Don’t worry, it sounds more complicated than it is.

Essentially, we’re going to blend our preferred milk (almond, oat, etc.) with a few strawberries. Then, to ensure the cake isn’t full of too many strawberry seeds, we strain it through cheese cloth. And voila! Strawberry milk.

Set up your cheesecloth directly over your glass measuring cup. That way you can strain and measure at the same time, stopping when you reach the 2/3 cup that the recipe calls for.

Strawberry Cake – Dairy Free

This quick and easy strawberry cake recipe uses blueberry muffin mix as it's base. Comes together in 15 minutes, with the help of some homemade strawberry milk for a super moist, luxe spring cake.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course Dessert
Servings 12 slices

Equipment

  • Liquid measuring cup
  • Cheesecloth
  • Blender or food processor

Ingredients
  

  • 1 box Krusteaz blueberry muffin mix or other boxed muffin mix
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries chopped, plus 3-4 extra whole
  • cup milk of choice almond or oat work great!
  • 2 whole eggs large is best

Instructions
 

Make the strawberry milk

  • Instead of using water like the box suggests, we're going to make a quick strawberry milk, which will help to keep the cake super moist and infuse the strawberry flavor evenly throughout.
    Making the strawberry milk is technically optional, but for best results it's recommended.
  • First, take your 3-4 whole strawberries and remove the tops. Quarter the strawberries and add to a blender (or food processor) with 2/3 cup milk.
  • Blend the berries and milk together well, ensuring there are no chunks.
  • Set up to strain the milk. This step is optional, but makes the cake smoother by removing the extra seeds.
    Place a piece of cheesecloth over the top of the liquid measuring cup. You can use a fine strainer or sieve to place the cheesecloth on so it is more secure.
    Slowly pour the strawberry milk over the cheesecloth into the measuring cup, squeezing out extra liquid as necessary. Stop when the milk has reached the 2/3 cup mark on the measuring cup.

Mix the batter

  • Set the oven to 350°F. Line a 10"x7" baking dish with parchment paper. This makes it easier to remove the cake from the pan after baking.
  • Open the box of Krusteaz blueberry muffin mix. Remove the dry mix and the can of blueberries.
    Set the blueberries aside for later use. See recipe notes for ideas.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the dry muffin mix, vegetable oil, eggs, ⅔ cup strained strawberry milk. Mix well to combine.
  • Gently fold in the 1 cup chopped strawberries, ensuring even distribution throughout the mix.
  • Pour the batter into the pan lined with parchment.
    It may be thick. That's good! We want the batter to be thicker, because the strawberries will release their own juices as the cake cooks.
    Smooth out the batter as best you can to ensure even coverage.
  • Bake at 350° for 48 minutes, checking for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the cake. It should come out clean.
  • Leave in the baking dish for about 20 minutes, then remove from the dish and let cool on a rack or cutting board until ready to serve.

Notes

How to use your extra can of blueberries:
  • Mixed into oatmeal.
  • Blended in a smoothie.
  • On top of ice cream.
  • In a homemade parfait with yogurt and granola.

Have you tried this strawberry cake?

Tell us about it in the comments below!

White Vanilla Buttercream

Here’s my favorite basic buttercream recipe. It’s a great starting point for any cake project, from fully decorated to a simple sheet cake.

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A simple sheet cake covered with White Vanilla Buttercream.
Here, I added some lemon zest and blue food coloring.

Patience is Key

Really, the key to a good buttercream is allowing the butter enough time to do its thing. Whipping the butter for a prolonged amount of time (either with a stand mixer or a hand mixer) is called creaming the butter. When making buttercream (this is also a trick for great cookies) it’s imperative to take the time to cream the butter first, then cream the butter with the sugar.

Doing so incorporates air into the butter, making it light and fluffy instead of heavy. Don’t rush this process! It’s crucial to achieve that creamy, light consistency.

So light and fluffy and amazing.

Decorating Tips

You can absolutely make this buttercream ahead of time. Store it in the fridge and let it come to room temperature before attempting to decorate your cake.

For those fine details, I like to make my buttercream, then immediately fill my piping bags. If I’m planning on using different colors, I’ll mix the colors, fill the bags, then store them in the fridge until ready to use.

For more details on cake decorating, checkout my birthday cake post.

I made and decorated this birthday cake for my Nana’s birthday using this buttercream recipe!

Keep it Simple

This recipe is intended to be as simple and streamlined as possible. Pick quality ingredients and you’re sure to have a delicious buttercream base for all of your creative cake creations.

Most importantly, have fun!

A spur of the moment cake I made for Earth Day!

White Vanilla Buttercream

This White Vanilla Buttercream is the perfect base recipe for all of your decorating projects. Whether making a simple sheet cake, or a fully decorated birthday cake, this buttercream is easy to make and holds up well.
Make a few batches and add different colors for easy decorating!
Prep Time 30 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ lb powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ cup unsalted butter (3 standard sticks), softened to room temp.
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Instructions
 

  • Beat butter until soft and fluffy.
  • Incorporate powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, waiting until combined before adding more.
  • Once all powdered sugar is mixed into butter, add salt and vanilla extract.
  • Add the whipping cream in a slow steady stream with the mixer still on.

Notes

When making buttercream, it is imperative to scrape the sides of the mixer consistently, as this helps to incorporate everything evenly. Particularly if you have a mixer like mine, with a deep bowl, it is important to scrape the bottom to make sure everything is mixed in evenly.
 
Adapted from a Preppy Kitchen recipe.
Keyword buttercream

Best Thanksgiving Meal Plans for Everyone – Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Dairy-Free

Making a holiday feast that satisfies everyone’s dietary needs can be challenging. But it doesn’t have to be! We’ve searched the internet for the best Thanksgiving Meal Plans for everyone, including plans for Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free and Dairy-Free.

Don’t forget dessert! We’ve also included our favorite picks for Sugar-Free and Vegan desserts to make the holiday meal complete.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored in any way and based on personal opinion. Here at Edible Ink, we want to help make your holidays as best (and simple) as they can be, with no strings attached!

Skip to a specific menu:

Vegan Thanksgiving Menus

Mel at A Virtual Vegan goes above and beyond with her Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner Menu, including a shopping list to make preparations for the big day a breeze! Plus a timeline to make cooking a full feast manageable. Dishes include:

Get the full printable Thanksgiving Dinner Menu with Timeline and Shopping List at A Virtual Vegan.

group of people making toast
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

No doubt, large gatherings have been a rare occurrence this year. If your holidays are less grand feasts and more intimate dinners for two, the Vegan Thanksgiving Dinner for 2 may be your ideal menu. Set up as a “choose your own adventure’ of a menu complete with cooking tips, this meal plan is great for small gatherings, or just you and your significant other. Dishes include:

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Menu

Packed full of gluten-free Thanksgiving options, this Easy, Gluten-free Thanksgiving Menu satisfies every celiac’s holiday food cravings! Here, turkey is still on the menu, with modifications to cornbread, biscuits and gravy. Dishes include:

alcoholic beverages close up cuisine cutlery
Photo by Flo Dahm on Pexels.com

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Menu

Vegetarian food blogger Cookie and Kate provides a list of 33 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes to make your own meat-less feast. No need for Tofurkey with delicious, whole food dishes like:

food grapes delicious snacks
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Dairy Free Thanksgiving Menu

Nothing makes a lactose intolerant person happier than a big bowl of dairy free mashed potatoes! This list from Cook Nourish Bliss includes a slew of dairy free classic Thanksgiving sides, as well as a few dairy free Thanksgiving desserts. Dishes include:

For more dairy-free Thanksgiving side dishes, check out 19 Dairy Free Thanksgiving Side dishes from the Nosher:

Easy Thanksgiving Menu

How about a super simple Thanksgiving Menu this year? Instead of roasting the whole turkey, try a juicy Turkey Breast from A Head of Thyme. More recipes include:

person holding a roasted turkey
Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova on Pexels.com

Sugar Free Thanksgiving Desserts

For the ultimate list of sugar-free desserts, check out this compilation from Diabetic Gourmet. Recipes include:

Vegan & Gluten Free Thanksgiving Desserts

Easy, vegan, and for some, gluten free! This list of 28 Easy Vegan Thanksgiving Desserts is sure to have something for everyone. So go ahead, make two! Recipes include:

What are your Thanksgiving plans this year? Are you using any of the meal plans listed here to craft your ultimate Thanksgiving feast? Let us know in the comments below! Like, share and subscribe and don’t forget to tag Edible Ink!

Happy Feasting!

A basket of pao de queijo

Pão De Queijo : Brazilian Cheese Bread | Recipe

Oh yes. Today we’re making the traditional Brazilian staple: pão de queijo. Literally translated, it means “bread of cheese” and really, that’s a great description. Soft, fluffy small rounds of cheesy goodness. Let’s get started!

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a basket of brazilian pao de queijo cheese bread

What is Pão de Queijo?

Simply put, pão de queijo is a small cheese puff bread. It’s typically served with most meals in Brazil and eaten for breakfast.

There’s no exact written history of pão, of course, but it’s believed that, around 1700, women who were enslaved typically made pão de queijo for farmers (don’t forget, Brazil was a Portuguese colony before it gained independence in 1822).

Pão de quiejo become a staple of Brazilian cuisine since, growing in popularity. You can now even find frozen versions of pão available in big stores like Costco.

One of the more distinguishing features of pão de queijo is it’s flour — commonly known to us in the US as tapioca starch. Wheat crops didn’t grow well in the northern region of Brazil, where warm weather made growing the grain difficult. Instead, ground, dried cassava root was used in place of flour.

another delicious plate of pao de quiejo brazilian cheese break

Cassava root aka tapioca starch

Cassava is an incredibly drought-tolerant plant, making it a favorite crop of warmer, tropical regions. In the United States, cassava is also called:

  • Yuca
  • Manioc
  • Brazilian arrowroot

Cassava root is made into cassava flour, which is also called tapioca starch. These alternative names are useful to know when you are shopping for the ingredients to make your very own pão de queijo!

Cassava flour possesses a unique, almost gelatinous quality when baked. Combined with the melted cheese, the pão de queijo becomes impossibly soft, fluffy and chewy!

Once we got the hang of it, we made pão de quiejo en masse

Tried and tested Pão de Queijo recipe

Let’s get personal for a moment. My dad’s side of the family is very familiar with Brazil and its cuisine. In fact, he lived there with my grandparents during his teenage years. So, it was a natural place for a family reunion.

In 2017, we all went down to Brazil! That’s where I tried pão de queijo for the first time, along with my husband and my parents. Brazil has incredible food, including mousse de maracujá (passion fruit mousse) and of course, the Churrascuria (Brazilian barbecue).

When we returned home, we began testing recipes to replicate the impossibly perfect pão de queijo we had in Brazil. Seriously, it seemed no matter where we went, it was perfect every time!

While we didn’t have access to the specific cheese typically used to make pão (meia cura/minas cheese), we found this substitute combination works beautifully! The sharp saltiness of the parmesan balances well with the mild, gooeyness (yes its a word) of the mozzarella.

For best results, buy the cheese whole and grate it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese sometimes gives off a chalky flavor.

Another non-traditional note: while pão de queijo is typically formed and placed in rounds on a baking sheet, I found it easier to place the dough inside mini muffin tins. The tins helped the pão hold their shape, and made the shaping process much faster than if we were to shape them by hand. Not traditional, no, but effective? Yes.

Enjoy!

A basket of pao de queijo

Pão de Queijo

Lauren Harvey
A traditional Brazilian bread, pão de queijo is easy to make with this straightforward recipe. Parmesan and Mozzarella replace authentic Brazilian cheese that is difficult to find in the United States. The result is a delicious, chewy, puffed cheese bread!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine Brazilian
Servings 30 pão

Equipment

  • Stand mixer
  • Mini muffin tin or baking sheet
  • Saucepan

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 ¼ cups milk
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup + 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Instructions
 

  • If you purchased pre-grated cheese, skip to next step.
    Grate the parmesan and shred the mozzarella. After measuring out the required amount, you can mix the cheeses together in a bowl and set aside.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Set up your stand mixer so that it's ready to go for the next step. Add the tapioca flour and baking powder to the bowl of the mixer.
  • In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the wet ingredients (milk, water, oil and salt). Cover and bring to a gentle rolling boil over medium heat. Once boiling, pour over the flour in the mixer.
  • Turn on the mixer and mix on high until the tapioca flour and wet ingredients are well-incorporated. It will have a stretchy, sticky texture that is to be expected.
  • Add eggs one at a time. To make things easy, you can crack the two eggs into a small bowl and whisky gently. Pour this in a slow steady stream into the mixer on medium-high speed. Allow the eggs to incorporate in small increments before adding more.
  • Repeat a similar process with the cheese. Working in small batches, add the cheese into the batter slowly until fully combined.
  • Spray your mini muffin tin with non-stick spray. Using a small scoop or spoon, scoop the batter into the muffin wells.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until puffy and golden.

Notes

This recipe was adapted from Olivia’s Cuisine
Keyword Brazilian Cheese Bread, Cheese Bread, Pão de Queijo

Have you ever had pão de quiejo? How did you enjoy this recipe? Let us know in the comments below!

Easy, Hearty, White Wheat Bread | Baking

This is an easy, hearty bread recipe, made with a packet of yeast and a dash of whole wheat flour that requires very little kneading, fussing or attention.

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Bread that sticks to your ribs

This is not a fluffy, Wonder bread recipe. This bread has density and a heartiness that makes for a great breakfast toast or soup companion. Slice thin for best results. The wheat flour adds a heftiness that makes it extra filling and flavorful compared to a fluffy white bread.

hearty white wheat bread toasted with tomatoes, zucchini and fresh herbs.
Serving suggestion: Toasted with fresh herbs and veggies!

No sourdough needed

In March 2020, in lieu of my newfound work from home position amidst COVID lockdown, I fulfilled my dream of having my very own sourdough starter. Months later, after a tumultuous string of events that ultimately led to the decision to move, I decided it was time to let my starter go. After all, it hadn’t been bubbling for weeks and was producing a strange grey liquid on top that smelled a bit like toe jam.

And so there I was, having passed into and out of the sourdough starter phase of quarantine 2020. Thankfully, I am persistent upon purchasing yeast packets whenever I see them, particularly when grocery store stocks began dwindling and the shelves looked more and more bare with each visit.

Cooler months are coming, and while grocery shelves may be stocked, it’s still nice to enjoy a loaf of homemade bread on the weekend. Bonus: your house will smell like fresh baked bread for days!

Homemade bread for the rest of us

I love freshly baked, homemade bread. What I don’t love is spending countless hours preparing it only to have it come out subpar. That’s why this is my go-to homemade bread recipe. It’s simple, straightforward and comes out great every time.

If you are new to making bread, here’s a video of me kneading the dough by hand. You can watch it before you begin the recipe, or while you are kneading the dough. Let’s make bread together!

Easy Hearty White Wheat Bread

Lauren Harvey
This bread is made to fill you up! Read the full recipe, including tips and notes about mix-ins before beginning. We suggest making it as is for your first try, and experimenting with mix-ins as you feel comfortable. Enjoy!
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 1 hr 40 mins
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 1 loaf

Equipment

  • Glass bowl
  • Wooden cutting board
  • Loaf pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Whisk
  • Bench knife, lame or razor blade for scoring the loaf

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast or Instant Yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour or additional 1 cup of all-purpose flour

Instructions
 

  • Add water, honey, salt, and yeast to a glass bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Let sit 3-5 minutes until bubbles appear on the top of the liquid.
  • Add the all-purpose and wheat flours to the bowl with the yeast.
    Incorporate using a spatula until dough becomes shaggy, then you can use your hands.
    Remember to scrape the bottom of the bowl to fully incorporate flour. Once all flour is incorporated and the dough has come together in a bowl, turn out onto a lightly floured wooden board or clean, flat surface.
    Knead using the heel of your hand until dough is smooth and not sticky.
  • Heat the oven to 400°F. Turning the oven on now allows plenty of time for it to come fully up to temperature before baking the bread.
    Place the round dough on the wooden board. Cover gently with a clean flour sack towel or dish towel and allow it to rise for 30-45 minutes.
  • Using a paper towel, lightly rub the inside of the pan with olive oil.
    This step is to ensure that nothing will stick. I do it even with nonstick pans. Better safe than stuck!
    Cut a strip of parchment to fit long-ways in the loaf pan with some excess over the sides. This will make it easy to lift the loaf out of the pan once its done baking.
  • Gently roll the dough back and forth to make a log shape approximately the same size as your loaf pan. It shouldn't take much to get it into shape.
    Place dough into loaf pan and, using a bench knife, lame or razor blade, score lightly down the middle.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes.
    You are looking for a nice golden outside and a hollow sound when you knock on the bread.
    Leave on a cooling rack for an hour or so before slicing for a clean cut and to ensure its finished the cooking process.

Notes

Tip: Check for doneness by tapping the bottom of the bread. If it sounds hollow, the bread is finished cooking.
Mix-in Ideas
Add any spices, seasonings or mix-ins you’d like. Try adding sliced olives, patted dry, Italian seasoning or a sprinkle of your favorite cheese! Add mix-ins after dough is kneaded, but before it is shaped and rested.
Some ideas to get you started:
  • Kalamata Olives, patted dry
  • Parmesan, with pesto brushed on top just before baking and a sprinkle of flaky salt.
  • Sunflower seeds, soaked in water for 30 min and drained dry before baking.
  • Caramelized onions and blue cheese.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes.
Keyword Easy Bread Recipe, White Wheat Bread, Yeast Bread Recipe

Have you made bread at home? How did you like it? Rate this recipe and leave me a comment below!

Orange Espresso cupcakes

Marbled Orange Espresso Cupcakes | Baking

These marbled cupcakes are sure to impress — no mixer required! Make the separate orange and espresso batters then swirl in the cupcake tins to create the gorgeous marbled effect. Top with the orange espresso buttercream for the perfect treat for the adventurous dessert fanatic in your life — or you know, just to have around as a quick snack!

Making it Marbled

A marbled orange espresso cupcake before baking.
A cupcake before baking — look at those swirls!

To best preserve the individual flavors, I’ve created two separate cake batters for these cupcakes; the orange and the espresso. The two are then playfully layered into cupcake tins and baked.

In order to keep this as simple as possible, no mixer is involved for the creation of the cake. Get two large bowls side by side and make your batter at the same time.

The recipe may look intimidating but I promise you can do it! As always, feel free to contact me with any questions.

The cake recipe is DAIRY FREE! No milk or butter used in the making of the cake. For a simple dairy-free swap in the buttercream, follow these replacements:

  • Use dairy-free or vegan butter.
  • Instead of heavy cream, use 2 tablespoons of your favorite dairy free milk, vanilla coffee creamer, or coconut cream.

Orange and Espresso: Delicious Flavor Combination

Initially, perhaps, this flavor combination seems counterintuitive. After all, chasing orange juice with espresso is a bitter experience. However, when layered with sugar in fluffy cupcake form, these flavors complement each other beautifully.

After much recipe testing, I perfected the amount of orange and espresso in each batter so that their true flavors come through but do not overpower one another. Additionally, these cupcakes are sweet which helps blend the two flavors together in a delicious way!

The espresso batter includes a dash of cocoa powder. This helps to round out the deep, bitter flavor of the espresso and complements the fresh orange zest and juice in the orange batter.

The buttercream frosting is a key component of this dessert, really tying the orange and espresso together in a smooth, creamy finish. I highly recommend taking the time to make the buttercream.

If you MUST skip the process of making the frosting, go for a vanilla store-bought, and mix in the orange zest, orange flavor and instant espresso as directed in the buttercream recipe.

Baked Marbled Orange Espresso Cupcakes
The end result of the marbling technique before frosting.

Orange and Espresso: Special Ingredients

Medagalia D'Oro Instant Espresso

To truly bring out the orange and espresso flavor in these cupcakes, we enlist the help of some special ingredients.

For the orange batter, use fresh, ripe oranges. You’ll zest and juice these oranges to use in the batter, and reserve some zest for use in the buttercream frosting.

In the espresso cupcakes, I chose to use instant espresso. It’s a great ingredient to have on hand for baking, as you can use it in the plain powdered form to incorporate into other cakes, frosting, ice cream or cookies or use the powder to brew just as much espresso as you need for your recipe. Here’s a link to my favorite brand of instant espresso, pictured below.

Marbled Cupcake Technique

What makes these cupcakes so fun and pretty to look at is the marbling technique. The natural colors of the orange and espresso come through in each batter, so you wind up with one light orange batter and a nice tan batter for the espresso. By making the batters separately and marbling them in the cupcake tin, it results in a gorgeous marbled cupcake!

Cake Mix in Two Separate Bowls. Layer and Swirl with Toothpick!

How you marble and layer the separate cake batters is entirely up to you. There truly is no wrong way to do this. Use small spoons to scoop different layers into the cupcake tin, then use a toothpick to swirl the colors together. For a more hands-on tutorial, check out this video from Wilton. The recipe they use utilizes food coloring, which you don’t need when using this recipe. However, its a good video of how the marbling process actually looks and may help if you are feeling unsure about the process.

Orange Espresso cupcakes

Marbled Orange Espresso Cupcakes

These marbled cupcakes are sure to impress! To keep this recipe as streamlined as possible, I've laid out step-by-step instructions. You'll be making the espresso and orange batters separately, then marbling them together in the cupcake molds. Lastly, while the cupcakes are baking, prepare the buttercream (if desired, or use store bought).
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 cupcakes

Equipment

  • Clean bowls
  • Coffee mug
  • Zester
  • Whisk
  • Spatula
  • Cupcake tin
  • Cupcake liners
  • Two small spoons
  • Stand or hand mixer for the buttercream frosting

Ingredients
  

Espresso Batter

  • ¼ cup water with 2 teaspoons espresso
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp instant espresso ¾
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TB canola or grapeseed oil

Orange Batter

  • 1 tsp orange emulsion
  • tsp orange zest
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 TB canola or grapeseed oil

Orange Espresso Buttercream

  • cup unsalted, softened butter
  • cup + 1 TB powdered sugar
  • 2 TB heavy cream
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp instant espresso
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • ½ tsp orange emulsion

Instructions
 

Espresso Cake Batter

  • Stir 2 teaspoons instant espresso into warm water until fully dissolved. Set aside.
  • In a clean bowl, sift flour, baking powder and cocoa powder. Add in the salt and sugar and ½ teaspoon instant espresso. Whisk gently to combine.
  • In a different clean bowl, add the egg, oil, vanilla and espresso. Whisk to combine.
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Whisk well to combine. Set aside until ready to use. If you prefer, you can pop this bowl into the fridge while you prepare the orange cake batter.

Orange Cake Batter

  • Zest two oranges into a small bowl, avoiding the white pith. In a separate small bowl or cup, juice both oranges.
  • In a clean bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Whisk gently to combine.
  • In a separate clean bowl, add the egg, oil, vanilla, orange juice, orange zest and orange emulsion. Whisk to combine.
  • Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk well to combine.

Marbling the Cupcakes

  • Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  • Using paper or silicone liners, line one full-size cupcake pan.
  • Using two small spoons, scoop a bit of orange batter into the bottom of the cupcake tins, then add some espresso, alternating however you'd like. This is the fun part! Get creative and layer however you'd like. Stop filling the cups when it reaches halfway.
  • Using a toothpick, swirl the batters together in fun and interesting patterns. There's really no wrong way to do this, so have fun with it and experiment freely.
  • Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are firm and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

Prepare the Buttercream

  • Using a stand or hand mixer, beat the butter until it is soft and fluffy about 5-7 minutes. Using room temperature butter will help speed up this process.
  • Incorporate powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, waiting until fully combined before adding more.
  • Once all the powdered sugar is mixed in, add the salt and vanilla extract. At this point, scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is fully combined.
  • Pour the whipping cream in a slow, steady stream while beating the buttercream.
  • If you prefer your buttercream to be plain vanilla flavor, you can skip this step. To get the full orange espresso flavor, add the espresso powder, orange zest and orange emulsions, mixing until fully combined.
  • If you don't have a piping bag, you can cut one corner off a Ziploc bag and use it to pipe, or simply spread the frosting onto the cupcakes with a butter knife.
  • Once the cupcakes have cooled fully, frost your cupcakes however you'd like. Incorporate some food dye into the buttercream for an extra burst of color!
Keyword espresso cupcakes, marbled cupcakes, orange cupcakes, orange espresso cupcakes

Have you tried this recipe? Curious about the flavor combination? Let me know in the comments below!

Nectarine and Goat Cheese Pissadelière | Baking

A yeast-based dough makes the base for this “French pizza”, the Provençal pissadelière.

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What is a pissadeliére?

Originating in Provence, France, pissadelière is a pizza-like street food. Located on the southeastern side of France, Provence borders Italy and the Mediterranean Sea — the perfect mix of culinary influence to create this French pizza!

On-the-water view of Provence, France
Gorgeous Provence

Traditionally, pissadelière is topped with onions, anchovies and olives. Needless to say, this is NOT a traditional pissadelière.

Instead, I chose to use the pissadelière dough as a base for a fruity, cheesy, sweet flatbread, something that could easily be eaten for dessert or for breakfast. This Nectarine Goat Cheese Pissadelière would make a great addition to a Sunday brunch, as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea or coffee or a sweet and savory dessert component for your next dinner.

Close up photo of a slice of Nectarine Goat Cheese pisadellière
A platter of Nectarine Goat Cheese Pissadelière

The dough is the most laborious part of the recipe, and even then most of the time spent is letting the dough rise, not active time.

If you prefer to use a different stone fruit, the recipe is completely adaptable. Simple choose your fruit, cheese and herby toppings! Here are some other combinations to consider:

  • Plum and Chèvre
  • Peach and Gorgonzola
  • Berries and Brie
Slice in triangles for a fun, rustic platter of tasty sweet/savory pizza!

On a Personal Note

The basis of this recipe, originally from Cook’s Illustrated , was handed down to me from my mom, originally given to her by my grandfather. He was the one who taught me how to make pizza at six years old. He called the recipe “French pizza” because he (like many of us, I’m sure) was confused on how to properly pronounce “pissadelière”. Honestly, I have no idea how to say it either. What I do know is that the final result is delicious.

Nectarine goat cheese pissadeliere
Nectarines, goat cheese, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of fresh herbs. Delicious!

The trick to the dough is using well-oiled hands! As my grandpa (Papa) said, “The dough is beautiful to work with, especially in conjunction with the parchment paper and using very oily hands stretches the dough easily.”

It was a pleasure to make this recipe that he’d made and enjoyed before. I hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we did. Feel free to change out toppings as you see fit!

Nectarine Goat Cheese Pissadelière

This "french pizza" is made with a soft dough and topped with fresh nectarines, goat cheese, herbs and a drizzle of honey. Eat for dessert or breakfast!
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 15 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, dinner
Cuisine American, French

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional as needed for dough
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1-2 large, ripe nectarines
  • 8 ounces soft goat cheese
  • Handful of fresh herbs mint, thyme or basil
  • Honey, for drizzling

Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, mix yeast and warm water. Whisk gently. Let bloom for 3-5 minutes. You should see light bubbling forming in the bowl.
  • Sift all-purpose flour into the bowl with the yeast and water.
    Add salt and olive oil. Mix in bowl until combined.
    Then, on a wooden board dusted with flour, knead dough into a smooth ball, about 3 minutes.
    When kneading, shape the dough into a ball and use the heel of your hand to push the dough down, reshaping it.
     *For an alternative method using a food processor, see recipe notes.
  • Lightly oil a clean bowl and place the dough ball inside and cover with a cloth. Allow to rise for 1 – 1 ½ hours, until the dough has grown in size
  • Have olive oil close at hand for stretching the dough. This dough responds better to oil than flour to repel stickiness.
    Line a full-sized baking sheet with parchment.
    Cut the ball of dough in half, forming two chunks.
    Stretch the dough using oiled hands to form rectangle shapes. (Any shape you make is okay, the important thing is stretching the dough so it is about ½” thick. If the shape doesn’t come out the way you’d like it, remember, it’s not a mistake – it’s rustic!)
    Place one rectangle on one end of the baking sheet. Using your fingertips, dimple the dough.
    Repeat with the other dough ball.
  • Slice the nectarines into eight sections. This prevents the nectarines from being too thin and burning in the oven. Top dough with sliced nectarines and goat cheese. Add as much or as little as you'd like!
  • Bake in a 425°F oven for 13-15 minutes. The crust should be lightly brown.
  •  Drizzle the pissaladiére with honey. Top with finely chopped herbs of your choice.
    Mint, thyme and basil all pair well with nectarines and goat cheese. If your herbs are flowering, use the flowers too! They are edible, slightly sweet and make for a beautiful presentation.
    Slice the pissaladiére any way you’d like. If the dough is not perfectly rectangular, I recommend slicing into triangle shapes.

Notes

Alternative dough method: If you are new to dough making, you may be more comfortable with the food processor method described in the original Cook’s Illustrated recipe:
“In the workbowl of a food processor fitted with a plastic dough blade, pulse flour, yeast and salt to combine, about five 1-second pulses. With machine running, slowly add oil, then water, through feed tube; continue to process until dough forms ball, about 15 seconds. Generously dust work surface with flour; using floured hands, transfer dough to work surface and knead lightly, shaping dough into ball.”
Keyword dessert pizza, french pizza, goat cheese recipe, nectarine recipe, pissaladiére, pissaladiére recipe

Decadent Peach Buckle | Baking

A delicious peach buckle with a hint of cinnamon.

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Meet your new go-to summer dessert.

A buckle is similar to a cobbler, but instead of biscuit dough, a buckle uses a cake-like batter. Classic buckles include a crumbly topping, but to keep things simple, I decided to omit it from this recipe.

To learn more about the difference between a buckle and a cobbler, check this out.

Everyone has their own technique for a buckle, and this recipe uses mine.

I use an easy buttery batter, adapted from this recipe. The batter is poured in first, then skinned peaches tossed in brown sugar go on top.

Closeup of peach cobbler

This way, as the buckle bakes, the batter rises up around the peaches, soaking up all that delicious peach juice and making for the best, sturdiest slice. Serve with some vanilla bean ice cream to cool off the warm summer nights.

I buy my peaches (and a myriad of other stone fruit and berries) from the Okui Fruit Stand in Grover Beach.

I may be biased, but something about Okui fruit just stands out above the rest. That being said, the peaches I used in this recipe were huge, bigger than I could hold in one hand, and may be larger than the peaches you find in your local supermarket.

For this recipe, the bigger the better! If you can only find medium sized peaches, adjust the blanching time when you boil the peaches to peel them.

Decadent Peach Buckle

Cake batter and fresh peaches come together in this easy summer dessert!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

For the filling:

  • 4-5 large peaches, about 4½ cups peeled and sliced
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated or turbinado sugar for sprinkling

For the batter:

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • cup milk (almond milk works great)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions
 

Skin the peaches

  • Over high heat, bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Gently rinse the peaches and score an X on the bottom of each peach with a paring knife.
  • Once the water is boiling, carefully drop the peaches in and cover with a lid for 1-2 minutes, depending on the size of your peaches. Larger peaches will take longer than smaller peaches.
  • Remove from boiling water and place in a glass bowl in the sink. Run cool water over the peaches.
  • When they are cool to the touch, peel the skin off starting at the X mark. If ready, the peach skin should come right off, detaching from the peach evenly and easily. If the skin seems stuck, try boiling again for another minute.
  • Slice the peaches in half and remove the pit. Cut into quarters, then slice the quarters in half. This should give you sixteen peach cubes per peach.
  • Place all sliced peaches in a large bowl and set aside.

Prep the filling.

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • To the bowl with the sliced peaches, add ½ cup brown sugar. Stir to combine. Set aside while you prep the batter.

Prepare the batter.

  • Melt the butter using a microwave safe bowl in the microwave, using 15-30 second intervals to ensure the butter does not spill over. (If you don’t have a microwave, you can use a toaster oven or melt it in a small pot on the stove.)
  • In a clean bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.
  • Allow the butter to cool to the touch, so that it is still liquid but not too hot.
  • Once the butter is cool, add it to the bowl with the dry ingredients. Add the milk. Stir to incorporate well. Set aside.

Bake the buckle.

  • Grease a 9×13” baking pan
  • Pour the prepared batter into the pan, and smooth out to cover evenly.
  • Add the peaches on top of the batter. If your peaches are extra juicy, use a slotted spoon to scoop the peaches into the pan. This way, you will retain some of the juice but don’t have to use all of it.
  • Sprinkle sugar on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, until edges are beginning to brown and the batter in the middle of the cobbler is no longer runny.
  • Allow the buckle to cool before serving. This gives the batter time to soak up any juices left behind by the peaches in the baking process, making for an extra tasty buckle!
  • Serve with vanilla ice cream and a bit of whipped cream. Enjoy!
Keyword easy dessert recipe, peach buckle, peach dessert, summer dessert recipe

Ultimate Banana Bread | Baking

A light, fluffy version of classic dense banana bread. Add chocolate chips for a luscious, cake-like dessert.

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banana bread

Golden brown, light & fluffy

This recipe is an adaptation of the Banana Loaf recipe in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible. I’ve made a few minor adjustments, converting the self-raising flour to accommodate all-purpose flour instead. I’ve yet to come across self-raising flour on the supermarket shelves, and this bread comes out as cakey and light by making your own.

You’ll notice your bread looks dark golden on the outside. That’s good! This recipe comes out light, fluffy and cakey on the inside, unlike any other banana bread I’ve tried before. In fact, that’s why I’m sharing it — this is my go-to recipe and its the only one you’ll ever need!

I tend to add a couple of generous handfuls of chocolate chips to the batter before pouring it into the pan. It makes for a great dessert, or toast a slice with some butter for a scrumptious breakfast.

banana bread
Golden brown on the outside. Light and fluffy on the inside.

Butter (and) Oil

Mary Berry’s original recipe calls for 4 oz of softened butter. I use half butter and half canola (vegetable) oil because I prefer the fluffier texture you get from using some oil alongside the butter. Make sure your butter is about room temperature, this will ensure it blends easily in with the rest of the ingredients. Melting the butter to a complete liquid state may affect the texture of the cake negatively.

By Volume or by Weight

I make this recipe by weight, but have included volume measurements as well if you don’t have a kitchen scale (though I recommend it!).

banana bread with chocolate chips
Chocolate Chips make everything better!

Ultimate Banana Bread

Light, fluffy, cakey version of the classic dense banana bread. Add chocolate chips for some extra enjoyment!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr

Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz softened butter
  • 2 oz canola oil
  • 6 oz granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 225 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a loaf tin with parchment.
  • Measure all ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat with a stand or hand mixer for about two minutes, until well-blended. Mix in ½ cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, if desired. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface.
  • Bake in the oven for about one hour, until well-risen and golden brown. a fine skewer inserted into the center should come out clean. Leave the tin to cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack before slicing and serving.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible.

Enjoy!

Berry Stone Fruit Crisp | Baking

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Crisp, Crumble, Cobbler: What’s the Difference?

For the answer to this question, I consulted the experts over at Farmers Almanac. Turns out I’d been calling my crisp a crumble all this time!

The main difference: Cobbler uses a pie crust or dropped biscuit dough on top of the fruit, while a crisp use a streusel topping, typically some combination of oats, flour, butter and sugar. Crumbles are similar to crisps, minus the oats in the topping. Now you know!

close-up of a berry crisp
While it’s not the prettiest dessert, it’s no doubt one of the tastiest.

A Dessert for Any Fruit

This on-the-fly fruit crisp is my go-to when I need dessert STAT. If using berries, you can throw this crumble together in 10 minutes flat. Bring it to a potluck, or let it bake while dinner is cooking! It’s a foolproof recipe that relies heavily on ingredients already in your pantry. No mixer required!

This crisp is also a great way to use up fruit that is right on the edge of turning bad. Even berries or stone fruit that are a little too soft to eat cook up nicely in the crisp.

I’ve made this crisp with various combinations of blueberries, apricots, strawberries and blackberries. I even tried it with only strawberries (super delicious). The point being, as long as your measurements are the same as the recipe, it will be great!

Choose your favorite combination of berries and/or stone fruits. Go with what’s in season, or what looks best at the market. That’s the true secret to a good crisp!

Bring It All Together

No one wants a crisp that’s turned to juice. This recipe requires quite a bit of corn starch, which helps to bind all the juices together as they cook out of the fruit.

Lemon juice & zest provide a contrast in flavor, and also help to draw out those juices! The topping crisps up nicely and also absorbs some moisture, resulting in a perfectly sweet, tart, crunchy, jammy crumble every time.

secondary close-up of a berry crisp
Sweet, jammy, with just a hint of lemon — perfection!

Berry Stone Fruit Crisp

Delicious, simple, comes together quick. This dessert checks all the boxes! Feel free to substitute in whatever fruit you have on hand — just stay away from citrus.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

For the Filling

  • 2 lb fruit Fresh strawberries, blackberries, blueberries; stone fruit like peaches, nectarines, apples; whatever fruit you'd like!
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup corn starch This amount is appropriate for very juicy berries and fruit. If your fruit is not as juicy, you may not need as much, but it won't hurt to add it anyways.
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice Substitute: 1 tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, ½ tsp allspice.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon About 1 teaspoon

For the Topping

  • cup all-purpose flour
  • cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter Equivalent to one stick

Instructions
 

  • Wash the fruit. If needed, trim and slice. The fruit will cook down in the oven, but bite-sized pieces are recommended.
  • Heat the oven to 350°F. Pull butter out of the fridge and let come to room temperature on the counter while preparing the rest of the crumble.
  • Using an 8"x8" baking dish, add the fruit. Measure vanilla extract, lemon juice, and lemon zest directly into the baking dish with fruit. Stir to combine.
  • In a clean bowl, add sugar, corn starch, and pumpkin pie spice. Whisk to combine.
  • Pour sugar and corn starch mixture over the fruit in the baking dish and mix well. You can use a spatula but I prefer to use my hands. Set aside.
  • Cut the softened butter into small, manageable chunks using a knife or bench knife. Place in a clean bowl. Add in the flour, oats, and brown sugar. Mix to combine, coating the butter with the dry ingredients and breaking it down into pea-sized pieces. You can use a pastry cutter to do this, which works best. Alternatively, try a hand-held potato masher or just your hands.
  • Sprinkled the topping evenly onto the fruit in the baking dish.
  • Bake about 45-55 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and sticky and the topping is golden brown.
  • Let the crisp stand for 15-20 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to cool and thicken thanks to the corn starch. Serve with vanilla ice cream.
Keyword berry dessert, dessert in under 30 minutes, easy baking recipe, easy dessert, easy dessert recipe, fruit crisp, stone fruit dessert

Enjoy!