Classic White Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

It was my mom's birthday this past week, and what do birthdays mean?? Cake of course! And the chance for me to make a cake, one of my favorite things to do. I'm lucky that I am on an easy rotation at school right now, so it wasn't a big deal to take some time out of my schedule and bake a nice birthday cake for my mom. She is a fan of white on white cakes, so that's what I made. Classic white cake, with sweet and sugary American buttercream frosting. Simple to be sure, but always a winner. 

While I love cake, a normal double or triple layer 9-inch cake is so big for our family. We can usually finish it off eventually, but it can take a while, and even though I absolutely love cake, I start to feel bad about eating it every night for a week straight! So this time I decided to try something new. I took my favorite white cake recipe, cut it in half, and baked it in a smaller 12x9 inch rimmed baking sheet. Once it was cool, I cut it into three rectangles and stacked those rectangles to make a triple layer cake. It turned out to be the perfect size for us. On the night of my mom's birthday, we had 8 people over for cake and they all got nice sized (but not jumbo) pieces, and there was just enough cake left over to snack on for a day or two, perfect!

I frosted this cake very simply because I was trying to quick get it done before my mom came home from work so didn't have the time for anything fancy, but I think it still turned out pretty cute. Just one color of frosting jazzed up a bit with some colored sprinkles, quick and easy.

Love you mom!

The birthday girl and her cake

You can do it!

Classic White Cake

Adapted from

Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 4 large egg whites


Butter and flour a 12x9-inch rimmed baking sheet. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.

In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 3-4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Gently fold in the remaining whites.

Transfer batter to prepared baking sheet. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a light, golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack and let them cool completely. 

Frost the cakes with vanilla buttercream, recipe follows. 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Adapted From 

Savory Sweet Life


  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream


On medium speed, beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until creamy, 1-2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low until all the sugar has been incorporated (you may want to do this in a couple additions to prevent the powdered sugar from getting everywhere). Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla and almond extracts, salt, and 2 tablespoons of milk or cream and beat for 3-5 minutes, until light and creamy. Add remaining milk 1 tablespoons at a time, until you reach desired consistency. 

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

In high school I worked in food service at a retirement home, serving food to the residents, as well as prepping for meals and cleaning up. Certain foods will forever be linked in my mind to this experience, one of them being cinnamon toast. Cinnamon toast was a resident favorite for breakfast, and to this day, every time I smell the toasting of cinnamon bread it brings me back to those days. 

This recipe produces bread that is far superior to that served in the retirement home, but it still gives off that same wonderful sugary-cinnamony smell as it toasts up to golden perfection in the toaster. Smeared with some butter and sprinkled with a little more cinnamon, because why not, this bread is a wonderful way to start the day. 

The only problem I had with this bread was while it was baking. Partway through I smelled some burning and realized that some of the sugar had leaked out of the bread and had fallen to the floor of the oven where it was burning. Not the best smell. A few moments later, this blob of burning sugar then burst into flames! It wasn't too bad, and quickly died out, but I just want to warn you that this could happen. It's probably a good idea to put a baking sheet (lined with foil for easy clean up) under the loaf pan while it is baking. I also recommend covering this bread with foil halfway through, or even earlier, to prevent it from getting too brown. But however it comes out, it makes great cinnamon toast!

Cinnamon Swirl Loaf

Adapted From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook


For the dough:

  • 17 ounces (3¼ cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup warm milk 

For the filling:

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and cinnamon. Give a quick mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Add in the egg, butter, and warm milk and again mix briefly, until a shaggy dough forms. Knead with the dough hook (or by hand) on low speed until the dough is mostly smooth and clears the sides of the bowl, 5-6 minutes until the dough is smooth and supple. 

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Pat into a round. Fold the bottom third of the dough up and fold the top third down, like a business-letter. Then fold the right and left sides into the center in thirds, forming a rectangle. Press down to seal. Return to the bowl, cover and let rise again until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Generously butter a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. To make the filling, combine the sugar, cinnamon and water in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. 

Return the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into a 10 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush lightly with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture, leaving a thin border around the edges. Fold in the edges of the long sides of the dough about 1 inch.

Beginning with one of the short ends, roll the dough up into a tight spiral log, gently pressing as you go. Pinch the seam shut, and place the loaf seam side-down in the prepared baking pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let rise until the dough rises just above the edge of the pan, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425˚ F. When the loaf has risen, brush the top of the loaf lightly with the remaining beaten egg. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through, until the loaf is golden brown, about 45 minutes. If the surface seems to be browning too quickly, tent loosely with foil. Cool in the pan 5 minutes, then turn the loaf out and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.

Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake

This cake actually made its appearance a couple of months ago, but I kind of forgot about it. Not because it wasn't memorable, but because I forgot I took any picture of it. I'm happy to share it today because it brings back some wonderful memories of the end of summer, spending time with friends, and eating outdoors on a beautiful late summer night. This simple cake is an elegant ending to any meal. The flavors of the olive oil and the wine really shine through, but in a subtle and wonderful way. They add such a unique flavor that, combined with the slightly gritty texture of the cornmeal, perfectly finish off a relaxing evening. 

I really enjoyed the wine in this cake, but I'd like to also try it with the orange juice. I didn't end up using the orange zest when I made it, but if I ever make it with orange juice instead of the wine I would definitely add the zest. I also wondered if buttermilk would work instead of the wine or orange juice, just as something different. I might give that a shot some time. But then again, I liked the wine so much, I might not try anything else!

Olive Oil Cornmeal Cake
From Martha Stewart

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar, plus 1/3 cup for topping
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or orange juice)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush bottom and sides of an 8-inch round cake pan with oil; line bottom with a round of wax or parchment paper, and brush paper with oil.

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, eggs, 1 cup sugar, and wine until smooth. Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and orange zest; whisk gently to combine.

Pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1/3 cup sugar (topping will be thick). Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool in pan 20 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake; invert cake gently onto a plate, and remove parchment paper. Reinvert cake onto a rack to cool completely. Serve with orange segments, if desired.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry season is basically over, this is always a sad realization to me since strawberries are my favorite fruit. I love buying a couple quarts at the farmers market and then stuffing my face full of sweet, juicy berries because we all know that freshly picked strawberries last about a day before they start going bad. To me this means I am required to eat as many as possible because I can't let any of these early summer jewels go to waste. This is a task I attack with pleasure.

This year I definitely did my share helping out the local strawberry farmers. This sometime required me to become creative with the baskets and baskets lining my counter. I had a wonderful time figuring out what to do with all of my strawberries, what a fantastic problem! When my neighbor called and told me she had rhubarb galore and I needed to come take some off of her hands I jumped at the opportunity. I had never made a strawberry rhubarb pie, but that was all about to change. Strawberry and rhubarb are my favorite combination. The juicy sweetness of the strawberries combined with the puckering tartness of the rhubarb is a match made in heaven. I'm already looking forward to next year!

While I've been making more pies and tarts recently, I still would definitely call myself an amateur. I'm getting better, but I still have things I need to work on. Regardless, this pie turned out absolutely delicious, even if it lacks a little in the looks department. I like to think of it as rustic. In the end it really doesn't matter what the pie looks like, the most important thing is what it tastes like, and this one did not disappoint.

Note: This is a rough estimate of my strawberry rhubarb pie recipe. It was delicious, but it could definitely have used more filling, both strawberries and rhubarb. Feel free to play around with the quantities, increasing the filling until you are satisfied with it.

For the topping: this time around I didn't melt the butter, but for future use I probably would. I think you get bigger chunks of streusel then. Also, if you are a big streusel fan (like me) you'll want to increase the amount of streusel. Try doubling it perhaps!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie



  • 1/2 recipe Pate Brisee (or your favorite pie dough)
  • 1 3/4 cup chopped rhubarb
  • 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons Yukon Jack Liquor (or whatever you happen to have in your cupboard, this was what was in mine!)


  • 3 tablespoons room temperature butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • pinch salt


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the filling: Mix together rhubarb, strawberries, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and liquor. Set aside.

Make the crust: Roll out pate brisee to a 1/8-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate. Place in refrigerator or freezer for 15-30 minutes, until well chilled. 

Drain excess juice from the rhubarb/berry mixture. Pour filling into chilled pie crust. Bake pie for 45-55 minutes, until crust is well browned. Remove from oven and cool. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or lightly whipped cream. 

Chocolate Chip Cream Scones

This semester my sister Lara and I started a new weekly tradition. Once a week, usually Wednesday or Thursday mornings, we head over to our favorite local bakery, Wealthy Street Bakery, where we split a pastry and enjoy a cup of super dark coffee with plenty of half and half. It has probably become my favorite time of the week! Each week it can be difficult to decide what to get to eat, the options are all so good. There are muffins, scones, croissants danishes, cinnamon rolls, breakfast cookies, babka and bread pudding to name just a few! There is absolutely no way I can name a favorite breakfast treat, but I do have to say that I absolutely love the flavor and texture of their scones. They are so light and soft, yet slightly crisp, light but not overly delicate. In the last few months I have been on the search for a scone recipe that may somewhat compare to these little beauties. Here is one attempt at this difficult and important challenge.

I decided to start by trying Martha Stewart's scones from her Baking Handbook, which is a wonderful cookbook and has never let me down. This was no exception. These scones turned out delicious, with a great texture and were beautiful too. I have been enjoying them all week with a smile on my face.

With that said, these scones were not exactly like the scones from Wealthy Street. They are not quite as tender, and just a little too crunchy. Instead of being lightly crisp on the outside, they are slightly firmer, not quite as light. I fixed this a little by turning the temperature of the oven down partway through baking which worked very well, but they were still a little harder than I want. Still delicious of course, but not the texture I am looking for. However, the flavor is excellent and the scone overall is fantastic. Definitely something I can make again (after I find the copycat recipe I want so badly!). Give these scones a try, they really will make your breakfast extra special.

Look at the height of that scone

Sugary and crunchy top, beautiful 

golden brown

Chocolate Chip Cream Scones

Adapted From: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook


  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • sanding sugar for sprinkling


In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using pastry blender, cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining. Mix in chocolate chips

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour the cream into the flour mixture. Slowly draw the dry ingredients over the cream, gradually gathering and combining the dough until just coming together. If it is too dry, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands press and pat the dough into a circle, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches tall. Using a sharp knife, cut the circle into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on a parchment lined baking sheet; cover with plastic and freeze until very firm, at least 2 hours, or overnight. (At this point you can freeze the unbaked scones in a resealable plastic bag until ready to bake, up to 3 weeks.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolk with a couple tablespoons of cream or milk; brush over the tops of the scones and sprinkle generously with sanding sugar, if using. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet, reduce the heat to 325 degrees and continue baking for 15 to 20 more minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm, or at room temperature. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares

Time for round two of the pumpkin recipes. It's the fall so I think two pumpkin recipes in a row is perfectly acceptable. Since I had some leftover pumpkin puree from the pumpkin bundt cake cake I just made I decided that I was obligated to make something else. When I saw the recipe for these bars they just sounded good. Chocolate and pumpkin is one of my favorite combinations so I was sure this recipe would be a winner. I was definitely right. I know it may not look or sound all that exciting, it's just a bar, but don't be fooled by it's humble appearance. This bars turned out even better than I had hoped. The pumpkin leant it's characteristic mild flavor and moistness to each bite, the two kinds of chocolate were bursts of delicious sweetness, and the fall spices warmed the whole thing up. A perfect combination.

This is a simple recipe, not much to say other than that you should try it. All you need is a can of pumpkin, chocolate and lots of butter. There is no reason not to make this, it is so yummy!

The ingredients, ready to go

Spread the batter in the pan

Ready for the oven


Ready to dig in


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares
Adapted from Martha Stewart 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 4 ounces white chocolate, cut into chunks
  • 8 ounces semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth; beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in pumpkin puree (mixture may appear curdled). Reduce speed to low, and mix in dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in chocolate.

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake until edges begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 35 to 38 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Cut into squares and enjoy!