Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Red, White and Blueberry Cupcakes

Would you believe that I actually made and photographed these cupcakes last year for a Fourth of July party and am just now getting around to sharing them?  I think it was because my shoulder surgery was shortly after, and I just had so much to do that month that I never got around to it, and by the time I remembered, the idea of red, white and blue cupcakes later in the summer just didn't feel as patriotic, so...  here they are.  Just in time for this year's holiday!

I made blueberry cupcakes, but you can make any flavor, of course.  And the decorations are simple.  Just vanilla buttercream topped with sparkling sugar in red, white and blue.  Cute, easy and festive.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Pie Dough Roses

For my husband's first Father's Day last weekend, or in his case, "father-to-be-day", I wanted to make him a special pie.  And when I saw the Rosy Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie by The Kitchen McCabe on Instagram, I was inspired to make my own pie-dough-roses-covered pie.

We have a very hardy and productive rhubarb plant in our backyard, and I've already frozen quite a few stalks to bake with throughout the summer and fall.  Still, the stalks keep on growing, and we'll have more than enough rhubarb to satisfy my husband's love for it.

Rhubarb has never been my own personal favorite, maybe because I didn't grow up eating it like he did, although I do like it when combined with other fruits, since they mellow out the tartness and texture of the rhubarb.  I've made a Rhubarb Blueberry Almond Crumble Tart, which was fantastic, Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars, Strawberry Rhubarb Almond Crumb Bars, and Peach Rhubarb Pie.  And then there was jam, and more jam, too, of course.

But this time, it had to be a pie, and it had to be with strawberries.  I usually use a combination of flour and cornstarch to thicken my pies, but with the extra juiciness of strawberries, I decided to use a handful of instant tapioca to soak up the juice.

As pretty as the pie was with the raw dough roses on top, it was even prettier after baking, with the red, bubbling juices trickling in between the flowers and leaves.

It was the perfect pie to say that I know he's going to be an amazing dad to our kids.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie


  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 pound rhubarb, diced
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 cup instant tapioca
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus a little extra to sprinkle on top
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup very cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4-6 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 egg + 1 tablespoon water
Make the Filling:
In a large bowl, toss the strawberries and rhubarb with the sugars, spices, and tapioca until evenly coated.  Cover and set in the refrigerator.

Make the Dough:
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Scatter the cold butter over the flour mixture and cut in with a pastry cutter until pea-sized pieces of butter remain.  Sprinkle the ice water over the mixture, a little at a time, tossing with a fork to distribute; the dough will still seem fairly dry and crumbly.

Dump the dough onto a clean surface and work with your hands until it comes together into a ball.  Divide into two equal portions.

On a floured surface, roll out one portion to between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick.  Fit the dough into a deep-dish pie pan, letting the excess hang over the edge; evenly trim the edges.  Cover and refrigerate while you roll out the other half of the dough.

For the pie dough roses, roll out the remaining dough to 1/8 inch thick.  Use a small circle cutter (about 1 - 1 1/2 inches) to cut lots and lots of circles, gathering up all the scraps and rolling and cutting those, too.  Lay four circles in a row, overlapping slightly, then roll up.  Cut the roll in half, then fan out the uncut edges to look like a rose. Use a little water, if needed, to moisten the dough enough for the petals to stick together.  (See a video tutorial here by The Kitchen McCabe.) Place the roses on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Use a leaf cutter to cut enough leaves for the edge of the pie.  If the dough is rolled thinly, you'll have enough dough to cut enough roses and leaves to cover the pie.  Freeze the roses and leaves for two hours.

Assemble and Bake the Pie:
Preheat the oven to 425.  Place the pie pan on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle the bottom of the crust with 1 tablespoon flour, and spoon the filling into the crust.

Arrange the frozen roses and leaves over the filling.

Whisk together the egg and water and lightly brush over the roses and leaves.  Sprinkle with a little granulated sugar.

Bake at 425 for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350.  Cover the pie with foil and bake for another 45-60 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and thick.  Cool pie completely (uncovered) on a wire rack (overnight cooling is preferable to let the juices set) before cutting.

Yields 8-10 servings

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen
Pie Dough Roses inspired by The Kitchen McCabe

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Strawberry Buttercream

Lemon poppyseed...  It was one of our wedding cakes, and the caterer actually told me during the reception that my recipe was the best lemon cake she'd ever tasted.

When the days get warm, I feel inspired to make lemon cake, perhaps because the fluffy, poppyseed-speckled cake and tart, bright citrus mimic these hot, sunshiny days.  Usually I keep my lemon cakes all lemon - lemon cake, lemon filling and lemon buttercream - but this time I made a sweet, strawberry buttercream to complement the lemon.

Strawberries are bright red and juicy right now, and I brought home two pounds to make homemade jam.  A batch of jam later, a bowlful of pretty pink buttercream and one beautifully frosted cake on the kitchen counter, the sunlight sparkling through the crystal pendants of my silver cake stand...  A perfect summer day.

Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Strawberry Buttercream


  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • zest of 3 lemons
  • 2 tablespoons poppyseeds
  • 1 cup lemon curd
Strawberry Buttercream:
  • 1/4 cup strawberry jam
  • 2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 3-4 tablespoons cream or milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 and spray three 8 or 9-inch pans with non-stick spray.  In a large bowl, whisk all cake ingredients together to combine well.  Divide the batter between the pans and bake for 22-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Set the pans on wire racks, covered loosely with a clean kitchen towel, and cool completely.

Buttercream. With a food processor or blender, puree the strawberry jam until smooth.  In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and jam until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and meringue powder, mixing on low to combine.  Add the cream/milk and vanilla; whip on medium high for 4-5 minutes until very light and fluffy.

Stack the cooled cakes, filling with the lemon curd, then frost all over with the buttercream.

Recipes from Curly Girl Kitchen

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

Summer is for desserts made with all the lovely berries that are in season, and I can't get enough.  I eat blueberries year round, keeping them in the freezer and topping them with a spoonful of yogurt and a little cinnamon for a quick breakfast or dessert.  But I only buy them fresh in the summer, and there's nothing like that sweet, juicy burst of flavor from a sun-ripened blueberry.

Blueberries pair beautifully with lemon, and I put them together in a lusciously creamy and cool cheesecake that's bright, citrusy, and just the right amount of sweet.  A spoonful of tart lemon curd is a nice touch as well, but my favorite thing is the garnish of pretty little flowers.

It's starting to get hot here, with our first 90-degree days this week, and we finally gave in and turned on the air conditioning.  I might have been able to hold out a little longer, but being pregnant, I just can't stand being hot while trying to get a decent night's sleep.  It's going to be a hot summer for this pregnant curly girl.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

  • 1 1/2 cups finely crushed graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • zest and juice of 2 small lemons
  • 2 cups blueberries
Preheat the oven to 325 and spray an 8-inch springform pan with non-stick spray.  In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, salt and melted butter with a fork until moist.  Press firmly into the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Cool while you make the filling.

Pour 1/2 cup of the cream into a microwaveable bowl and stir in the gelatin.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then microwave on high for 30 seconds to dissolve.  Stir and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice until smooth.  Add 1 cup of the cream and beat until smooth.  Beat in the remaining 1/2 cup cream and gelatin.

Fold in the blueberries and spread over the crust.  Refrigerate until set, about 4-6 hours.

Top each slice with lemon curd and more blueberries.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Key Lime Pie Cake

Key lime pie has a special place in my heart, since it was key lime pie that led a cookbook author to my photo of key lime pie cupcakes and tartlets, which ended up as the cover photo for his latest cookbook on key lime pie.

Creamy, citrusy and refreshing, it's the perfect summer dessert, and I put it into a cake, of course.  Three layers of fluffy cake infused with lime zest are layered with cool and creamy lime cheesecake, and then frosted with lime buttercream.  Salted, buttery graham crackers are sprinkled over the cake and in between each layer, and a simple garnish of fresh cherries and slices of lime are all the decoration it needs.

Today is a special day, too, because it was exactly seven years ago that my husband and I met.  Seven years later, with a wedding, a house and a baby due in September, there's no one else I could imagine spending the rest of my life with.  He's everything I every wanted, needed and dreamed of in a husband, future father to our kids, and best friend.

Key Lime Pie Cake

  • one box white cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
Preheat the oven to 350 and grease three 8-inch pans with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together the cake ingredients for several minutes until well blended.  Pour into the cake pans and bake until a toothpick in the center comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes.  Cool cakes completely.

Cheesecake Filling.
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 1 packet gelatin
  • 1 1/2 pounds cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
The cheesecake filling should be prepared a few hours in advance, or even overnight.

In a microwaveable bowl, combine the lime juice, zest and gelatin.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then microwave for 20-30 seconds to dissolve.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream cheese, sour cream and powdered sugar until smooth.  Whisk in the gelatin mixture.

Line the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan with a circle of parchment paper.  Spread half the cheesecake filling into the pan.  Place two more circles of parchment paper on the first layer of cheesecake.  Spread the rest of the filling over the papers, and add a fourth circle of parchment paper on top.  Refrigerate for several hours, or overnight, until set.

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk or cream, if needed
In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, shortening and lime zest until smooth.  Gradually add the powdered sugar and meringue powder until combined.  Add the milk and whip on medium high for 5 minutes until fluffy.

Graham Cracker Crumble.
  • 1 cup crushed graham crackers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
In a bowl, combine the graham crackers, salt and butter until moist and crumbly.


Unmold the cheesecake by removing the sides of the springform pan, then slide a spatula between the two circles of paper that separate the layers of cheesecake.

Place one of the cooled cakes on a cake pedestal or cardboard cake circle.  Peel the paper off one side of one of the cheesecake layers, then carefully invert onto the cake, removing the other paper.  Sprinkle with some of the graham cracker crumbs.  Repeat with another layer of cake, cheesecake, crumbs, and the last layer of cake.

Frost the cake all over with the buttercream, and garnish as you like with more graham crackers, fresh fruit and lime slices.

Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Doughnuts for Sundays, Birthdays and Everydays

I realize I'm a day late for Friday's National Doughnut Day, but when it comes to doughnuts, better late than never, am I right?

Last Sunday was my husband's birthday, so I made this assortment of doughnuts for his birthday breakfast.  As it happens, I always have a stash of leftover buttercreams and glazes which made it relatively easy to assemble so many different kinds of doughnuts in one morning, but this more of a special occasion sort of ensemble, and not for every day.

There were German chocolate doughnuts with a sprinkling of toffee, lemon cream-filled with powdered sugar, buttercream and sprinkles, plain glaze, dark chocolate glaze with vanilla cream filling, jam-filled with powdered sugar, chocolate chips, and what turned out to be my favorites for their delicious simplicity, doughnuts rolled in cinnamon and sugar.

You can find the doughnut recipe here, but as far as the flavor variations, I leave those up to your imagination!