Rainbow Cake

My friend Brenda and I decided to write complementary blog posts about a lovely, intimate, low-key Friday night dinner to celebrate her niece’s recent wedding.

Brenda posted weeks ago, and I’m finally catching up. She wrote about the special evening hosted (and home-catered!) by her brother Jeff and his partner Gayle, but I wanted to focus on dessert – the pièce de résistance – a stunning homemade rainbow cake.

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A slice of rainbow cake [Maddy Kadish photo]

Gayle followed an online recipe that she said was fun to make. Six round layers, each a different colour of the rainbow, were separated by the same cream cheese icing used to frost the entire creation. She dusted the top of the cake with round rainbow-coloured sprinkles, a hint at the the multi-hued creation concealed by the white icing.

The cake was a surprise for the newlyweds, and we all oohed and aahed to see the inside. This is definitely a special-occasion dessert.

Somewhere in my files, I have a recipe for a rainbow cake, which I’ve been saving for years. It has only three layers; the icing in between provides three further colours. But now that I’ve seen and sampled the wedding cake, I think I’ll retire my old recipe before I even use it.

Brenda’s blog is here.

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Chocolate Sunday on Tuesday – Chocolate Hamantashen, part 2

The approach of Purim this weekend is pre-empting my usual Tuesday blog post about writing, journalism and/or life after being downsized. But I suppose finding time to bake hamantashen on a Monday afternoon, when I would otherwise be working, is part of life after being downsized.

chocolate hamantashen

My chocolate hamantashen didn’t look perfect, but the chocolate filling is probably the best I’ve ever tasted.

I had high expectations when I set out to recreate chocolatier Alice Medrich’s recipe for chocolate hamantashen. I blogged about it here on Sunday, but didn’t have time to bake until yesterday.

My first thought was that I owe Alice Medrich an apology for not doing her recipe justice. I cheated a bit by melting the chocolate and butter in the microwave, not over hot water. I also substituted coconut sugar for regular sugar in the dough, because I didn’t have enough white sugar. And I suspect my butter wasn’t the right consistency (“softened but not squishy”) – or maybe coconut sugar just wasn’t a good option – because I found the dough hard to work with.

That said, the chocolate filling is divine. The recipe is definitely a keeper. And my kitchen smelled deliciously buttery while the hamantashen were baking.

Enjoy, and Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday)!

 

Chocolate Sunday – Chocolate Chip Banana Bread!

Maybe it’s the elimination diet I was on last month – cutting out chocolate and other foods that I might be sensitive to – or maybe it was finding my junior high Home Economics notebook this week, but I found myself wanting to bake something very basic this week.

banana chocolate chip breadI had more ripe bananas than we could eat, so I searched online for banana bread recipes, thinking I might combine elements from the best three or four, and add chocolate chips if they weren’t already in the ingredient list. But in the end I went back to the recipe I’ve used most often in the past – Ridiculously Simple Banana Bread, from Canadian cookbook author Susan Mendelson’s Mama Never Cooked Like This.

I like her recipe because it doesn’t call for milk or butter, and most of the online versions I found call for both (although it’s easy to substitute oil for melted butter).

I modified Mendelson’s recipe a bit, and may modify it further in the future. I used the white flour that the recipe calls for (I know, it’s not the healthiest). I couldn’t bring myself to use white sugar, though. Instead, I substituted coconut sugar, which has some advantages over white, but should still be used in moderation. I used less than the recipe called for, because my bananas were very ripe.

Next time, I think I’ll replace part of the white flour with whole wheat, and I may include some ground flax seed, to up the health benefits. That was an ingredient in one of the online recipes, but my flax seeds weren’t fresh.

I threw in some dried tart cherries, which are also healthy, but I think they would be better in a more chocolatey loaf. I’ll go back to pecans next time.

So here’s my ideal banana chocolate chip bread recipe, which I haven’t actually made yet!

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread (inspired by Susan Mendelson’s Ridiculously Simple Banana Bread)

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 cup unbleached white flour

1 tsp. baking soda

2 eggs

1/2 cup oil

3/4 cup coconut sugar

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

1. Sift together flours and baking soda.

2. Combine eggs, oil, sugar and bananas, and add to dry ingredients, mixing until blended.

3. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

4. Pour into greased loaf pan, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes at 350.

Enjoy!