Yellow Cake with Chocolate Icing

Originally posted November 6, 2011

I used a disgusting amount of butter this weekend.  Between a birthday cake for my mom, cherry squares for my dad, another birthday cake for some friends’ party, and biscuits this morning, I literally have none left in my refrigerator.  All of the items turned out pretty well though!

For now, I’ll start with my mom’s birthday cake.  We all have our favorite desserts on our birthday.  Mine is Betty Crocker Butter Recipe Golden (not yellow) cake from a box with canned cream cheese icing.  You can make me a real cake, but nothing will ever compare to what comes out of the box, and since it is my birthday, that’s what I choose.

My mom’s favorite is yellow cake with chocolate icing.  Since she was coming in town for her birthday (and for the opening of the Container Store and to go shopping in our new Nordstroms), I figured I should find the best yellow cake with chocolate fudge icing I could.

I turned to smitten kitchen, and she didn’t let me down.  To be honest, I didn’t even really taste the cake, it just acts as a medium for eating the chocolate icing.  For any of your friends who want yellow cake with chocolate icing on their birthday, I recommend trying this out.  The chocolate icing is extremely easy as long as you have a food processor.  If you are in a bind, you can use the Betty Crocker yellow cake box mix and then making this icing.

Now, I better go help out my mom since she has already re-organized my whole closet and cleaned all my clothes — on HER birthday weekend!

I used the recipes exactly, so I won’t re-print, rather just refer you to the links:
yellow cake (
chocolate fudge icing (scroll down to the last recipe, it is the Instant Fudge Frosting, not the recipes with the expresso):
I used cake flour for the first time.  It took me forever to find because they don’t have it with the other flours.  Instead, it is in the section with the cake mixes.

Make sure you put a cookie sheet underneath the cake pans when baking, mine majorly overflowed

For your leftover buttermilk you can make my cinnamon biscuits!


Apfel Kaffee Kuchen (Apple Coffee Cake)

Originally posted on October 9, 2011

“Dass ist Apfelkuchen? Nein, dass ist kein Apfelkuchen.  Dass ist Kirchkuchen.”

Usually you learn another language before you go and visit a foreign speaking  country.  Well… I’m doing the opposite.  After returning from my trip, I downloaded a few “Learn German by Podcasts” to listen to on my way to and from school each day.  It is quite entertaining!  My favorite podcast is, shockingly, the visit to the bakery.

A man walks into the bakery and asks for a piece of cake and then asks what kind of cake it is.  “Is that apple cake?  No, it is not apple cake.  It is cherry cake.”

Apple cake??  What in the world is apple cake?  I had to find out.  I did a little research, and found a few examples including this one on smittenkitchen.  Apple cake looked…ok, but I wanted my apple cake to be different.  I wanted it to be along the lines of coffee cake.  Solution: make an apple coffee cake!

I used my favorite coffee cake recipe from the Waldemar cookbook and added a layer of apples at the bottom.  I had some leftover buttermilk, so I replaced the regular milk with that.  Instead of using all of the butter in the cake (it is pretty rich), I substituted ¾ of the butter with unsweetened apple sauce.  It came out delicious!

I just want to make it clear, that if you walk into a bakery in Germany and ask for a piece of apple cake (“Ich möchte ein Stück Apfelkuchen”) that what you get will likely not be anything like this cake.  **Sidenote: I went back to Germany this past May and could not find any apple cake!  I finally settled on ordering Apple Strudel (in German I might add) which only led to more confusion because for the rest of the meal the waitress thought I spoke German. **

As for my German, I can ask for apple cake, but I still can’t count to ten.  I’m not sure how this is going to help me the next time I’m in a panic at a train station in Austria at 6:45 in the morning because I don’t know any German and I got off at the wrong train stop.  (Don’t worry, I still made it to the airport in time for my flight despite running to another train station with 3 bags and missing my train by one minute – silly Germans and their punctuality!)

Apple Coffee Cake (Adapted from the Waldemar Coffee Cake)

Bottom Layer
3 apples pealed and chopped
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Cake Batter
3/8 cup applesauce
1/8 cup butter (2 Tbsp.)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups flour
½ Tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ cup butter, cold

Preheat oven to 375.
Toss the apples with sugar and cinnamon. Set aside
In a mixing bowl, cream applesauce, softened butter, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and continue to beat.
Sift together in a separate bowl: flour, baking powder, and salt.
Stir in flour mixture and milk, alternating.
Add vanilla and stir to combine.

Put the apples at the bottom of a 9×9 pan.
Add cake batter on top.
Bake in oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix together sugar and cinnamon for the topping.  Cut in the butter.

Take the cake out of oven and sprinkle the topping over the cake.
Bake for an additional 20 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).

Nina’s Pound Cake

Originally posted on June 1st, 2011

In 8th grade, our entire class took a 14-hour bus trip across Texas (yes, Texas is that big) to Big Bend National Park to camp out for the week.  The longest and hardest hike of the week was the “Blue Creek.”  We packed PB & Jelly sandwiches and a few snacks to carry us through the hike, but the last couple hours of the hike were especially brutal: the pretty sights were over, we were all hungry, and the hike consisted of switch-back after switch-back.   In order to pass time, we started brainstorming different foods I would sell if I owned a restaurant at the bottom of the mountain – I think the name was going to be “Blue Creek Café” or something equally as creative.  After awhile, the conversation evolved into us just naming all of our favorite foods.  Someone brought up pound cake.  Alex T. then said that the way you can determine whether a pound cake is good or not is if you smash your fork into it and the pound cake squishes through the fork.   Every time I have pound cake now, I have to do the test.  This recipe passes with flying colors.

This particular recipe comes from Nina who taught me how to cook.  I used to just sit in the kitchen and watch her make banana bread (I once ate a whole (mini) loaf in one sitting and then had to go take a long nap), chicken fried steak (my favorite), and all sorts of other things.  She rarely used a recipe – she just knew what to add.  Most of the time the ingredients were ‘heaping’ and she’d stop adding when it seemed right.  Of the hundreds of things she used to make, I only have a few recipes, and this is one of them.  Nina turned 89 yesterday – happy birthday!!

Citation: Nina Perkins

Nina’s Pound Cake

3 cups flour
3 sticks butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
2 T vanilla
1 cup sour cream
¼ teaspoon baking soda, mixed into the sour cream.

Grease a bunt pan well (I recommend using butter and flour to make sure the cake comes out smoothly).
Mix together all of the ingredients and pour into the pan.
Bake at 325 for 1 hour to 1 ¼ hours.

Serve by itself or with some strawberries.

The sour cream is what makes the cake so moist.