Banana and Toffee Cake

img_5812I have recently started following Sweet Paul’s blog and subscribed to his emagazine.  It is a wonderful site filled with great recipes, articles and decorating ideas.  I am especially drawn to his cake recipes and this one caught my eye.

img_5815Everyone knows I love banana cake so anytime I see any sort of cake recipe that uses bananas I have to try it.  It is a really easy cake to make.  I don’t think it even took me 20 minutes to prepare the batter and have it in the oven.  The nutty topping only takes a few minutes to put together and once it is baked onto the cake it forms the cakes homestyle decoration.  While walnuts are certainly my go to choice for a banana cake you can certainly vary the nuts to suit your own taste.  In the picture of the cake on Sweet Pauls blog, it looks to me like whole almonds were used even though the recipe calls for chopped nuts.  You could even add different flavorings to the topping such as rum, whiskey, bourbon.

img_5816This recipe calls for soft toffees which I have to admit I wasn’t really sure what they were.  I have always thought of toffee as a rather hard candy.  I didn’t have much luck finding anything online so I just substituted soft caramels. (when I read Pauls recipe, people who made this cake also commented that they just used caramels here).  The cake reminds me of a sticky toffee pudding.  In all honesty, you can skip the candies altogether and the cake will still be delicious.

Banana and Toffee Cake (from Sweet Paul)

Serves 12

You will need:
flourFor the cake:
3 large ripe bananas
1 3/4 sticks butter, room temperature (this comes out to 7oz)
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
3 eggs
13⁄4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
7 oz soft toffees, cubedFor the topping:
1 stick butter
3 1/2 oz chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cream or milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 370°F.
  2. Butter and flour a 10” loose base cake tin.
  3. Mash the bananas using a fork. Beat the butter and sugar.
  4. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating on high speed.
  5. Combine the dry ingredients and the toffees.
  6. Fold the flour mixture into the batter, alternating with the banana mash.
  7. Pour into the tin and bake on the lowest rack of the oven for about 45 minutes.
  8. For the topping, measure all ingredients into a pan and stir.
  9. Cook for a few minutes. Spoon the mixture onto the prebaked cake.
  10. Keep baking for about 10 minutes or until the cake is baked through.
  11. Check with a stick. If the top of the cake is brown but the cake is still underbaked, cover with tin foil.
  12. Before inverting it, let the cake rest for about 15 minutes in the tin.
  13. Leave the tin over the cake in order to keep the cake moist.
  14. Serve as such or with vanilla ice cream.

Chocolate Syrup Swirl Cake

img_5805Another little gem found in the Hershey’s Chocolate cookbook I found at the thrift store is this Chocolate Syrup Swirl cake.  This another of those easy to make, great to have on hand for snacking type cakes.  It can be made in a tube pan or a decorative bundt pan.

img_5793It is similar to a marble cake in that it has both vanilla and chocolate batters but it doesn’t require you to swirl the batters to form the marble layer.  The vanilla batter is enriched with the addition of sweetened coconut and poured into the pan, then the chocolate batter, which is flavored with Heryshey’s chocolate syrup is poured on top of the vanilla batter and then the cake is baked.  When its done the marbling just happens on its own.  And it gives you the thrill of slicing into the cake to see what type of marbling has happened.

img_5791The delicate vanilla batter gets an extra boost from the sweet coconut which also adds a slight crunch to the cake.  The chocolate batter gets its rich intensity from the chocolate syrup which makes it a bit smoother than if melted chocolate or cocoa were used.  All in all a very nice combination.

img_5792The cake can be left plain or dusted with cocoa or confectioners sugar or if you are feeling ambitious a multitude of chocolate glazes.


Chocolate Syrup Swirl Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda,  divided
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup HERSHEY’S Chocolate Syrup
1 cup Sweetened Coconut Flakes (optional)

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 12-cup fluted tube pan or 10- 12 inch tube pan.
  1. Beat butter, sugar and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs; beat well. Stir together flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and salt; add alternately with buttermilk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
  1. Measure 2 cups batter in small bowl; stir in syrup and remaining 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Add coconut, if desired, to remaining vanilla batter; pour into prepared pan. Pour chocolate batter over vanilla batter in pan; do not mix.
  1. Bake 60 to 70 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, cool is minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely; glaze or frost as desired.


Mocha Fudge Torte


img_5798While rummaging through the second-hand store the other day, as always my last stop before leaving is to check out the book section.  As most of you know I am rather fanatical about cookbook collecting and while most of the thrift stores around here have abandoned their book sections there are still a few books out there to be found.  I happened upon this old Hersheys Chocolate recipe book.  It is one of those skinny magazine like books.  Ordinarily, I wouldn’t give this kind of thing a second glance but I have been missing my mother a lot ever since Christmas and I find myself being more and more sentimental over things that remind me of her.  This is exactly the kind of thing she would have liked.  My mom wasn’t much for reading cookbooks, other than her old 1950s version of Betty Crocker.  She was however very fond of church group cookbooks and jello and name brand types of books like this.  I picked it up and flipped though it and spotted this recipe.  It looked rather tempting and for the couple of dollars they wanted for this book it seemed worth it to me.  I could almost feel my mom smiling down on me as I tucked it under my arm and proceeded to the check out.

img_5795Now that I have made this cake I am rather glad I picked up this little book.  There are the usual throw away recipes but tucked in amongst them are a few gems worth trying and keeping.  This is one of them.  It is a rich and dense brownie type cake made all the more decadent by the use of Special dark cocoa.  The recipe calls for pecans but I substituted hazelnuts simply because I prefer them over pecans.  The cake batter goes together quickly and there are only a handful of ingredients.   Each 9 inch layer is only a scant 1 inch tall in the style of European cakes.  Don’t be alarmed when you take it out of the oven and find that it didn’t really rise very much.  It is more of a brownie than a cake layer.

img_5801The filling and frosting is really nothing more than a flavored whipped cream but the combination of the coffee and brown sugar here make it more than a match for the dense cake.  Definitely worth buying this little book.

img_5804Mocha Fudge Torte

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
CREAMY COFFEE FILLING (recipe follows)
Chocolate curls (optional)

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter bottom and sides of two 9-inch round baking pans. Line bottoms with wax paper; butter paper.
  1. Melt butter in small saucepan; remove from heat. Add cocoa, stirring until blended; cool slightly. Beat eggs in large bowl until foamy; add salt and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, beating well. Add cooled chocolate mixture; blend thoroughly. Fold in flour. Stir in pecans. Pour mixture into prepared pans.
  1. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Do not over. Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Carefully peel off paper. Cool completely. Spread CREAMY COFFEE FILLNG between layers, over top and sides. Garnish with chocolate curls. If desired. Refrigerate 1 hour or longer before serving.


11/2 cups cold whipping cream
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons powdered instant coffee
Combine all ingredients; stir until instant coffee is almost dissolved. Beat until stiff.

Makes about 3 cups filling.



Rosemary Focaccia

img_5788I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like bread, and I certainly have never met an Italian who doesn’t like bread.  This focaccia has been my all time favorite for many years now and I make it at least once a month if not once a week.  I always make it with rosemary but any fresh or dried herb or combination of herbs can be used.  It can even be made plain with nothing but salt and pepper and it will still be delicious.

img_5780In my house when I was growing up this was never called focaccia, instead we always called it white pizza.  I don’t know where that came from.  I am assuming it was from my fraternal grandmother as i remember eating this more often on visits to her house than with my maternal grandmother.  At any rate, it is totally delicious and very easy to make.  A few ingredients, a bit of mixing in the stand mixer, a couple of quick kneads by hand and then a bit of  unattended rising and it’s in and out of the oven in 25 minutes and ready to be enjoyed.  There are countless recipes for it.  I list her my recipe for it.



1 cup warm tap water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
6 tablespoons olive oil
5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, or
1 tablespoon dried, plus rosemary sprigs (optional)
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon kosher or coarse salt

One 11 x 17-inch jelly-roll pan

Measure the water into a bowl and whisk in the yeast, then 3 tablespoons of the oil. Measure the flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and chopped or dried rosemary into a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. With a spatula or wooden spoon, stir the yeast mixture and the milk into the flour mixture until all the flour is evenly moistened, then beat vigorously for a minute. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

You can also do this in a stand mixer with a dough hook.  Mix in the order listed above with the dough hook and the mixer on low speed until all the dry ingredients are moistened.  Then mix on medium speed for 5 – 8 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Knead by hand about 10 times and proceed with the rise as directed above.

Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons of the oil on the baking pan. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto the pan and pat and press it to fill the pan completely. If the dough resists, let it rest for a few minutes before continuing. Dimple the surface of the focaccia by using a fingertip to poke cavities in the dough at 2-inch intervals. Drizzle with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil and sprinkle with the kosher or coarse salt and the rosemary sprigs. Allow the dough to rise again until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

About 20 minutes before baking, set a rack at the lower third of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.

Bake the focaccia for about 25 minutes, until deep golden. Lift the side of the focaccia with a spatula or pancake turner to check the bottom about halfway through the baking time. If it is coloring too quickly, slide the pan onto another pan to insulate the bottom.

If you are serving immediately, slide the focaccia from the pan onto a cutting board. If you will be serving later, slide the focaccia off the pan to a rack to cool.

SERVING: Cut narrow slices, or squares to split horizontally for sandwiches.

STORAGE: Keep the focaccia loosely covered at room temperature if it will be served on the day it is made. For longer storage, wrap in plastic and freeze. Unwrap and reheat the focaccia on the pan used to bake it for about 7 minutes at 375 degrees.


Hummingbird Cake

img_5769I have always associated this cake with the south and indeed it is an all time southern favorite.  I was surprised to find that it didn’t get its start in the south but as a promotional idea for Jamaica Airlines back in the 1960s.  The cake, with its bananas and pineapple was supposed to conjure up images of tropical destinations.  It so happened that the tail logo for Jamaica Airlines was a hummingbird.  When promotional parties were held to promote Jamaica as a destination, the cake was also promoted and called the hummingbird.  The recipe was shared with readers of various newspapers and it eventually made its way through the south were it became and remains a favorite.

img_5771I always associate the hummingbird with the south but more specifically with the late 1960’s as that is when I first heard about it and my young palette was just beginning to branch away from Little Debbie cakes.  I have several recipes for hummingbird cake and they are all basically the same.  I prefer this one simply because I love banana cake and this recipe uses more bananas than any other recipe I have for it.


Hummingbird Cake

Vegetable shortening or butter and flour for prepping the pans
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2  teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple packed in juice, drained
1 cup finely chopped pecans, if desired
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans for garnish
Cream Cheese Frosting

Place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 9″ round cake pans. Shake out the excess flour, and set the pans aside.

Place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, and whisk to combine well. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla, and blend with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer on low speed. Increase the speed to medium and blend until well combined, (1 minute), or stir more briskly until well combined. Fold in the pineapple, pecans, if desired, and the bananas. Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and place the pans in the oven.

Bake until the cake just pulls away from the edges of the pans, 18 to 22 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pans, and give them a gentle shake to loosen the cakes. Invert the cakes once and then again onto the racks. Let the layers cool to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the frosting. If using the pecans as a garnish, toast them in a 350°F oven for 4 to 5 minutes.

To assemble the cake, place 1 layer on a serving plate. Spread with about 2/3 cup of frosting. Top with a second layer and repeat with the frosting. Top with the third layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with smooth strokes. Garnish the top of the cake with pecans. Slice and serve. Or chill for 1 hour uncovered for easier slicing.

Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, 30 seconds. Add the pinch of salt and half of the confectioners’ sugar. Blend until smooth. Add the vanilla and the rest of the confectioners’ sugar, and blend until smooth. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the frosting until fluffy, about 1 minute more.


Texas Sheet Cake

img_5764One of the cookbooks my sister bought me for Christmas is a little tome called “Vintage Cakes” by Julie Richardson.  It is a wonderful book and for me it is almost the story of my childhood and teenage years told in cake.  So many of the recipes in this book are old friends that I grew up with and still enjoy, others I haven’t tasted for years but remind me of simpler times.  This one however just jumped off the page.  It was almost as if I was transported back to my moms kitchen on any given weekend.  There I was at the kitchen table watching my mom take a big pan of this cake out of the oven, ready to be cooled and taken to any number of events.

img_5764I feel as though I have always known this cake.  It was certainly one of my moms most made recipes.  In the summer when I was growing up we would almost always have cook outs and get togethers in our back yard or at one of my parents friends house.  They were always great fun.  My favorite of all the weekend outing was going to Farmer Jims.   Farmer Jims  was one of those places where there was an enormous grassy area with pavillions where someone in the group would get there early, stake out a good spot and then everyone else would arrive after church and unload coolers, barbeques, water floats, cases of beer and soda and all sorts of food.  This cake was always there.  I can hardly think of a time when this cake wasn’t at one of these events or when it wasn’t sitting on the counter of our kitchen ready to be snacked on.  I haven’t had this cake since I left home in the 1970s but just the smell of it baking made me feel like a kid again and I could almost feel my moms presence in my kitchen while I made it.

It isn’t at all fancy, you don’t even take it out of the pan, just slice it in squares and serve it right out of the baking pan, but it is old fashioned and delicious.  Give it a try.


1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (13/4 ounces) lightly packed premium unsweetened natural cocoa
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup water
2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 cups (14 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup (1 ounce) lightly packed premium unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed
1/3 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups (12 ounces) sifted confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) toasted chopped nuts (such as walnuts, pecans,
or hazelnuts)

15 X 10 X 2 inch baking pan, greased

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 375’F.

To make the cake, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa. Add the oil and water and bring to a rolling boil for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside to cool

Meanwhile, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed. Pour the warm cocoa mixture into the sifted ingredients and whisk until just combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. With a rubber spatula, stir the buttermilk mixture into the batter. Pour the batter into the greased pan and place in the center of the oven. Bake until the top is firm and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out with moist crumbs, 22 to 25 minutes.

While the cake is in the oven, make the frosting: melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the cocoa and bring the mixture to a rolling boil; boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk and vanilla. Add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time while whisking continuously.

Immediately after the cake comes out of the oven, pour the frosting over the hot cake and sprinkle with the nuts. Try not to jiggle the cake before it sets or you’ll leave waves in the frosting. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

Well wrapped and stored at room temperature, this cake keeps for up to
5 days.

Cider and Five-Spice Bundt Cake with Salted Caramel Sauce.

img_5755This is another one of those recipes that I wanted to make for the holidays and just didn’t get around to doing.  Now that I have finally made it I am so sorry that I didn’t get to it sooner.  As I have said, I am a cake batter eater.  When I licked the spoon on this one I shot straight into the stratosphere.  I just thought, if the batter tastes this good, the cake is going to be out of this world, and indeed it is.  It is a very simple bundt cake but with the fresh ginger, treacle ( or molasses), nutmeg and Chinese 5 spice powder, it has to be the worlds most grown up gingerbread.  If you like gingerbread, you are going to love this cake.  Rich, dense, moist and spicy.  What else could you ask for.  This one is absolutely perfect for the holidays, from Thanksgiving right through the New Year and if your like me and love gingerbread, then it is going to be a favorite all through the year.

img_5759Where you may ask does all this flavor come from.  Well, from none other than my beloved Nigella Lawson.  It is a recipe from her latest book, “Simply Nigella”.  For those of you who are fans and wouldn’t dream of not owning every one of here books, this recipe is in there.  For those of you who simply want to try the recipe you can find it here:


There is also the recipe for the Salted Caramel Sauce.  If you prefer your cake plain or simply can’t face making caramel, this one can stand on its own.  If you go for the gusto, you won’t be disappointed.


Tunnel of Fudge Cake

img_5739I had to smile when I came across this recipe in one of my new baking books.  It has been around since the early 1960s.  It was the runner up in the 1966 Pilsbury Bake Off.  Funny how it became more famous than the winner.  Do you even know who the winner was.  It was a recipe called Golden Gate Snack Bread.  This was quite a sensation back then.  It’s secret ingredient was a box of Pilsbury Double Dutch Chocolate frosting mix.  It was also one of the first cakes to use the new bundt pans.  Pilsbury stopped making the Double Dutch frosting mix years ago and for as many years there have been many attempts to recreate the recipe without the frosting mix.  This one is from Shirley Corriher, author if Cookwise and Bakewise.

img_5740My mom made this cake for us a few times but it wasn’t  staple in her repertoire so I don’t really have a clear memory of what it is exactly supposed to taste like.  I just remember it being chocolatey with a gooey fudge center.  It’s not really one of my favorites as I am not especially found of the lava type cakes and this is an early version of those.  It is however rich, moist and fudgey so it is certainly worth at least one try making it and then you can decide for yourself.  Maybe many of you have a clearer memory of what the original tasted like.

img_5737Tunnel of Fudge Cake

2 cups chopped pecans or walnuts
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt
Butter or vegetable shortening and flour for prepping the pan
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter,slightly cool, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Place a heavy baking sheet on a shelf in the lower third of the oven. Pre- heat the oven to 350°F.
  1. Place the pecans on a large baking sheet, and place in the oven while it is heating. Toast the nuts until nicely browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Keep watch that they do not burn. Turn the pecans into a small bowl, and add the 2 tablespoons melted butter and salt. Toss to coat and set aside.
  1. Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt pan. Shake out the excess flour, and setthe pan aside.
  1. Place the 1 1/4 cups butter in a large mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft and fluffy, about a minutes. Add the granulated and brown sugars, and beat until creamy. While beating, if the bowl does not feel cool, place it in the refrigerator for S minutes, then resume beating. Add the vanilla, oil, and salt, and blend until incorporated.
  1. Add the egg yolks. Crack the 4 whole eggs into a medium-size mixing bowl, and blend with a fork lightly. Add to the batter in 3 batches, blending on low speed. Add the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa, just until combined.
  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir the flour and toasted nuts. Fold them into the batter, and turn the batter into the prepared pan.
  1. Place the pan in the oven, and bake exactly 4s minutes. You cannot use the toothpick test to check doneness because the center will not be set. Remove the cake from the oven. It will still have a runny, fudgy core and an air pocket above the tunnel of fudge. Let it cool for is minutes. Press down on the cake with a clean kitchen towel to deflate the air pocket. Run a knife around the edges of the cake, and invert it onto a platter to cool for 4s minutes. Slice and serve.


Italian Cream Cake

img_5726My wonderful sister gave me a stack of beautiful baking books for Christmas.  In the weeks since Christmas I have been avidly prerusing them, making notes, making pages and making lists of which cakes I want to make out of which books.  One of the books is Anne Byrns, American Cake.  It is a wonderful book which is divided into eras, then the cakes are described and histories given for the cakes before the recipes are laid out.  It is a wonderful book which is well worth reading even if you aren’t going to make a single one of the cakes.

img_5729As I was going through this book, in the last chapter I came across this recipe for Italian Cream cake.  Not only is it a particular favorite of mine but it made me pause for several moments and tear up.  I don’t know if it was the suddeness of my dads passing so close to the holiday and then being back home with my family for Christmas but this cake reminded me so much of my mother that I could feel her presence in the room with me.  My mom used to make a version of this cake, which she called Italian Love cake.  This isn’t exactly like her version but it certainly is good and it was close enough to conger her spirit to me.


The cake is easy to prepare.  Watch the cakes closely while they are baking because one minute they will look as though they aren’t even close to being done and the next minute they are finished.  The cake layers have a slightly dense crumb and are incredibly moist so you will need to exercise care when assembling the cake as to not break the layers.  All of it is filled and frosted with a wonderful cream cheese frosting studded with toasted pecans.   In spite of all this, the cake is surprisingly light, not at all cloyingly sweet and loaded with flavor.



8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature,  separated
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans


1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 to 4 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
Dash of salt
Extra sweetened flaked coconut as garnish, if desired


  1. For the cake, place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 3250F. Grease and flour three 9 inch round cake pans. Shake out the excess flour, and set the pans aside.
  1. Place the butter and shortening in a large mixing bowl, and blend withan electric mixer on high speed until creamy, 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar, blending on medium speed. Add the egg yolks, one at a time,beating just until combined. Add the vanilla and combine.
  1. Sift the flour and baking soda in a small bowl, and sift to combine well. Spoon a third of the flour mixture into the butter mixture and blend on low, then add 1/2 cup of the buttermilk and blend. Add another third the flour mixture, then the rest of the buttermilk, blending, then the rest of the flour mixture. Fold in the coconut and pecans just until combined. Set aside.
  1. Place the s egg whites in a large mixing bowl, and beat with clean beaters on high speed until stiff peaks form, 4 minutes. Fold the beaten whites into the batter until the whites are well combined. Divide the batter between the 3 pans, and smooth the tops. Place the pans in the oven.
  1. Bake until the cakes are golden brown and just pull away from the sides of the pans, 22 to 25 minutes. Remove the pans to a wire rack to cool for ten minutes, then run a knife around the edges. Shake the layers gently, then invert onto the rack right side up to cool completely, 30 minutes. Leave the oven on.
  1. Meanwhile, make the frosting. Place the 1/4 cup nuts in a small pan in the oven to toast for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large mixing bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, 1 minute. Add the vanilla and half of the confectioners’ sugar, beating on medium until combined. Add another cup of sugar and the salt and blend on medium-high until combined and light. Add the remaining sugar as needed, and beat on medium-high to lighten the frosting Fold in the cooled toasted nuts.
  1. To assemble the cake, place 1 cooled layer on a cake stand and cover with 3/4 cup of frosting, spread to the edges. Place a second layer on top, and spread it with 3/4 cup of frosting. Place the third layer on top, and add 1 to 1 1/2 cups frosting to the top of the cake, spreading it decoratively across the top. Use the remaining frosting to frost the sides of the cake, using smooth, clean strokes. Pat extra coconut on top of the cake for garnish, if desired.



Cranberry-Sour Cream Coffee Cake with White Chocolate Ganache


I wanted to make this cake before the holidays but with my fathers passing away, the travel back and forth to Ohio for the funeral, then back home and then back to Ohio for the already planned holiday with my family I just never seemed to find the time to get around to it.  With the weather here in San Diego being cloudy, overcast and rainy for the past week this cake just seemed to be appropriate to have on hand.

img_5718It is a lovely firm crumbed coffee cake with the smooth tang of sour cream and the extra tartness of fresh cranberries.  A winner all around in my book.  The addition of the white chocolate ganache is certainly another reason to sing the cakes praises but trust me, this wonderful cake can certainly stand on its own without the ganache so if you don’t have white chocolate on hand, don’t hesitate to make this cake anyway.

img_5721It is a quick cake to put together.  Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs, then the dry ingredients, fold in the fruit and bake.  While it cools make the ganache if your using it and its done.

img_5711A word here, I found this recipe somewhere online.  I can’t even remember where.  It lists almond extract in the ingredients but then never calls for adding it in the instructions.  In my opinion you can add it either to the cake or the ganache.   I chose to add it to the ganache as I feel that white chocolate and almonds go well together but you decide what you want to do.


Cranberry Coffee Cake


  • 1 1/2 c. fresh cranberries (or frozen and thawed)
  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 c. white chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or bundt pan.
  2. Make batter. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Using a hand mixer, whip until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until smooth.
  3. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until evenly incorporated.
  4. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and mix until just combined. Fold in cranberries and transfer batter to the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 50 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.
  6. Meanwhile, make chocolate ganache. Place white chocolate chips in a medium, heatproof bowl and set aside. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When bubbles begin to break the surface around the edges of the pan, turn off the heat. Pour the hot cream over white chocolate chips, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth. Pour over the coffee cake and let set for about 10 minutes.