Sunday, May 3, 2015

Eggless chocolate layer cake

A super moist, dense and rich chocolate cake that is made without eggs! The moisture comes from applesauce and buttermilk and will stay fresh for several days. Top it with sprinkles to make the cake even better!

I'm still astounded that Addie turned 5 last month. It doesn't seem that long ago when she was crawling or drooling on her bib. Now we have to prepare for Kindergarten (!!) and all the fun stuff that comes with that.

When I asked Addie what kind of cake she wanted for her 5th birthday, she immediately said chocolate with sprinkles. I looked for a recipe that would fit the bill but wanted to keep in mind my parents' dietary needs. As I mentioned on here before, my father had a minor heart attack over a year ago, so he has not been eating too many eggs. I thought an eggless cake would be difficult to find, but I was wrong. Don't get me wrong - this recipe uses plenty of butter so it's not health food, but I can honestly say that there are no eggs in it.


The cake extremely moist and chocolate-y and was a huge hit with my family. My dad was surprised when I told him that there were no eggs in it. Since he is also watching his butter intake, he only took a small slice, but I know he wanted more.

The birthday girl ate her slice in record time and got some chocolate all over her face. It was a precious moment that I wish I had captured on camera, but the OCD mom in me wiped her face before I could even think about taking a photo.

This was one of the best chocolate cakes I've had to date, and that's definitely saying something. I've had plenty of chocolate cakes in my lifetime, and this was rich, dense and full of chocolate flavor. The applesauce and buttermilk made the cake nice and moist, and the cake didn't dry out even after a full week.

I'm keeping this recipe in my back pocket because I know I'll be making it again.

Eggless chocolate layer cake
Cake

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • Frosting

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 225 grams unsweetened chocolate, chopped and melted
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup water/milk of choice/coffee


  • Directions
    Bake the cake: Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease and line two 9" round cake pans and set aside.

    In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

    The bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, cream the butter and sugars on medium speed for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add in half of the applesauce and mix. Add the remaining applesauce and vinegar and mix well. The batter will look curdled, but do not worry.

    Add in the vanilla. Then alternatively add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. 

    Evenly divide the batter into your two prepared cake pans. Bake in your preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    Allow the cakes to cool completely before frosting. I found that it's best refrigerated overnight before frosting (the cakes will be a bit soft to slice in half and frost otherwise).

    Make the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl if using a handheld mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and glossy, about 1 minute.

    Add in the melted chocolate, vanilla, salt and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Mix for 1 minute. Alternatively add in the remaining powdered sugar and milk in 3 increments, beginning and ending with the powdered sugar. Once all the powdered sugar is in the bowl, beat on medium-high speed for 1-2 minutes until the frosting is smooth and spreadable. If the frosting is too stiff, add a bit more liquid (milk or coffee). If it is too runny, add more powdered sugar.

    Assemble the cake: Remove the cooled cakes from the pan and slice each one in a half horizontally (optional). I used a serrated bread knife to cut mine in half. Put one layer on the bottom of a cake pan and top with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of frosting. Repeat with remaining layers. Add frosting to the top and sides of cake and serve.

    Leftover cake should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for about 1 week.

    Yield: One 9" cake; about 10-12 servings

    Source: Eggless Cooking

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    Friday, May 1, 2015

    Skating Fridays

    Recap from Adult Nationals - Part 2 of 3

    I hope you all enjoyed my last post about Adult Nationals (ANs). Seriously, I had the best time. Of course, I was missing my rinkmates and especially my skating BFF and training partner (Hi, K!), but I still managed to have a wonderful time.

    While I was in the locker room getting ready for my freestyle event, I met another skater from Colorado (Hi, P!). After we started chatting, we realized that we were very similar. Both of us had children, we were working on similar elements, and we both only skated in 4-5 total competitions. She was new to the Gold level, as was I. We scored similarly in previous competitions, and we were both at ANs with no other rinkmates or coaches. In addition, we had similar music, hair, dresses and even had the same poses in our programs. I had a skating twin! Naturally, we decided to hang out together and coach each other for our event. As it turned out, she skated first, and I would skate third.

    As I took my beginning position, something just felt weird. I'm not sure if it was the high altitude or jet lag, but I felt really sluggish on the ice. I also think I forgot to smile throughout my program because I felt heavy.

    I was hitting the elusive camel-sit spin combination in practice earlier that day, but what I realized was that once I put it into the context of my program, I wasn't getting enough speed going into it, so I couldn't get the required number of revolutions for it to count. As a result, I made the decision to take out that spin and swap it for another one. This turned out to be a good move, since I gained positive GOE (grade of execution) on the new spin and didn't get the dreaded "dash of doom" for 0 points.

    Unfortunately, I fell on my axel, and I ran slightly over time. The 2 point deduction from these two mistakes cost me greatly. Had I not received these penalties, I would have placed 10th.

    Although I was bummed and disappointed in myself for this skate, there is a lot to be proud of. I only received one "dash of doom" this time, which was on my lutz combination. I two-footed it and they didn't count the request of my combination (a toeloop-loop). It's an improvement from the last competition, where I got two dashes of doom. Also, my PCS (presentation) scores improved too. In fact, my PCS scores were higher than many of the skaters who placed above me.

    Coach B and I will be strategizing soon to see what else we need to change to increase my scores for the next competition, whenever that will be. I hope to add a few more difficult spins to my repertoire and earn a score in the mid to high 20s.

    Here is my performance from ANs:


    Next week I will recap my Dramatic event.

    Until then...

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    Wednesday, April 29, 2015

    Whole wheat cinnamon raisin muffins

    These moist and fluffy cinnamon raisin muffins are made with whole wheat and contain no butter! They are reminiscent of cinnamon raisin breakfast treats, except slightly healthier.
    Inspiration can strike at any time. We were eating dinner one day when my husband walked into the pantry and brought back a package of raisins to snack on. We also happened to have finished off the last batch of muffins. When I asked Addie what kind of muffins I should try baking next, she looked at the raisins and said, "Raisin!"

    Now why didn't I think of that? I used to be addicted to cinnamon raisin everything - from bagels to bread, it was one of my favorite breakfast flavor combinations.


    I was ecstatic to find a whole wheat cinnamon raisin muffin recipe online and just tweaked it slightly. The original recipe asked for a 1/2 cup of melted butter, and I decided to replace it with applesauce. Knowing that whole wheat flour usually needs slightly more liquid to balance it out, I added slightly more applesauce to my batter so I wouldn't get a dry, crumbly muffin.

    I was super excited about how these muffins turned out. They tasted like my favorite cinnamon raisin bread and bagels, but in muffin form. The muffins weren't too sweet and were firm enough to hold together after a bite (I hate crumbly muffins). I know that I'll be making these time and time again, and my husband was also a huge fan. Plus, the cinnamon made our house smell pretty amazing!


    Whole wheat cinnamon raisin muffins
    • 2 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 4 Tablespoons brown sugar
    • 2 Tablespoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup milk
    • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 1 egg
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 cup raisins
    Directions
    Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Generously grease a standard muffin pan (I used a silicone one and did not grease it). Set aside.

    In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

    In a medium sized bowl, mix together the milk, applesauce, egg and vanilla extract.

    Transfer the milk mixture into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Fold until a few streaks remain. Add in the raisins and mix until just combined. The batter will be very thick.

    Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared muffin pan and fill each one all the way to the top.

    Bake in your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (mine baked for about 15-20 minutes).

    Allow muffins to cool before serving. They should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

    Yield: 12 muffins

    Source: Slightly adapted from Just a Pinch

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    Sunday, April 26, 2015

    Hawaiian roll monkey bread

    Looking for a sweet treat or an indulgent breakfast? Look no further and make this decadent monkey bread! It uses Hawaiian rolls as the base and is drizzled with an irresistible caramel-like syrup!

    I'm super excited to share this recipe with you today since it involves one of my favorite childhood memories. When I was in middle school, I had a good friend who had girls for sleepovers quite a bit. Invitations to these sleepovers was quite the feat because the event was pretty epic. My friend had an in-ground pool, a hot tub, and a water bed. I don't think any of us ever went to bed until close to 3am on those days. There was lots of giggling, gossiping and Ouija-board playing.
    After we finally woke up the next morning (which was probably close to noon, mind you), my friend's mom would make us an amazing breakfast - monkey bread. As soon as she would pull out the freshly baked monkey bread from the oven, it would disappear in a matter of minutes. We middle school girls could eat!


    For reasons unknown, I have never made monkey bread until now. But I guess I am making up for lost time now, because this monkey bread was pretty amazing.

    Please visit Mandy's Recipe Box for the recipe!

    Yield: About 8-12 servings (depending upon how hungry everyone is)

    Source: Adapted from Crazy for Crust, via Kings Hawaiian

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    Friday, April 24, 2015

    Skating Fridays

    Recap from Adult Nationals - Part 1 of 3


    I am back from Salt Lake City, where I competed at the 2015 Adult Figure Skating Championships (also known as A.N., or Adult Nationals). There is so much to share that I'll break this up into several posts. Today I'll give a brief overview of how I skated and not talk about any specific event.

    The Venue
    The competition facility was held at the sports complex at the University of Utah, in downtown Salt Lake City. There were two rinks in the complex, as well as an exercise/biking area plus indoor and outdoor pools. The top level of the complex was the walking track, which connected the two rinks. You could be on the walking track and see both rinks.  I wish I had taken a picture, but I didn't.

    The Logistics and Scheduling
    Hats off to the local organizing committee, because they did a phenomenal job. Almost every event that I attended started on time. Some events even finished early. I know the logistics for organizing an event of this scale is not easy, so a huge kudos to all those involved. The practice facilities were top-notch, and it felt like everything ran really well.

    The Skaters
    As I stated in last week's post, all of the skaters I met were extremely supportive of one another. I received hugs and congratulations from people I'd just met, and several people I didn't know showered me with tossies. It also felt like everyone's skills were top-notch this year. Skaters were executing more difficult elements, so scores were high. Some of the top level skaters (at the Masters Junior-Senior level) were landing clean double axels and even triples. Wow.

    The Experience
    AN was such a wonderful experience. Although I was the only one from my rink to attend, I never felt like an orphan. Other skaters adopted me into their circle of friends, and I made new skating friends left and right. I'm excited to see all of my skating friends again, whether it's at a local competition or next year's AN.

    All in all, I am happy that I attended. I didn't medal in either of my events, but I definitely made some improvements. That's definitely something to be proud of and to celebrate.

    Photos
    Here are just a few photos from AN.

    My Gold ladies skating twin!
    Former Gold Ladies National Champion - one of my adult skating heroes!

    Check the Eva Bakes Facebook page for more photos from the event!


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    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

    King Arthur Flour's "best" chocolate chip muffins

    Chocolate chocolate chip muffins from King Arthur Flour have been taste-tested and perfected by countless bakers. This one is kid and mom approved!
     
    I've mentioned before that I've been fortunate to meet several blogging friends in real life. It's funny how the power of food can bring people together, even over the internet.

    I had been following Kirbie's blog, Kirbie's Cravings, for a while and knew that she was based in San Diego. When my husband and I decided to visit San Diego last summer for vacation, I contacted Kirbie to see if she would be willing to give me some restaurant recommendations. Not only did she do that, but she also met up with us for a fantastic meal at a local Taiwanese restaurant and got dessert (Taiwanese snow ice) afterwards! It was a trip I will always remember, and I am thankful to have met an internet blogging friend in real life.

    Kirbie has a ton of fantastic recipes on her website and is mostly known for her mug cakes (she even wrote a mug cake cookbook!). I found this chocolate chip muffin recipe on her website after browsing a few online. Addie had been begging for chocolate muffins, so this momma was out to make her happy. And I did - Addie ate these up like candy and begged for more, so this was definitely a successful recipe.


    King Arthur Flour's "best" chocolate chip muffins
    • 2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa (I used Hershey's Dark)
    • 1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 and 1/4 cups light brown sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup milk of choice
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
    • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly (if using salted, omit the salt from the ingredients above)
    • 1 cup chocolate chips
    Directions
    Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Generously grease a standard muffin pan and set aside (I used a silicone muffin pan and did not grease it).

    In a large bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

    In a medium sized bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, vanilla and vinegar. Then add the melted butter. Transfer this to the large bowl with the dry ingredients.

    Gently mix until a few dry streaks remain. Fold in the chocolate chips and be sure not to over mix. The batter will be thick and lumpy.

    Evenly distribute the batter into your prepared muffin pan, filling each well almost all the way to the top.

    Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

    Cool the muffins before serving.

    Muffins should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator and will keep for several days. They can also be frozen and thawed.

    Yield: 12 muffins

    Source: Kirbie's Cravings

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    Sunday, April 19, 2015

    Soft garlic knots

    Soft and fluffy garlic knots that you can make easily at home! Perfect with a bowl of pasta or a slice of pizza! You can dial the garlic up or down depending upon your tastes.


    My 5-year old daughter is a little sponge. She soaks up everything she learns at school and can memorize all the books she reads. One of her latest recitations is telling me about tastebuds. "Mommy, you know those little bumps on your tongue? Those are tastebuds. They can change when you get bigger."

    How right she is. As a child, I could not stand garlic. I am talking about full-on hissy fits and cry-fests. My mom got smart and started hiding garlic in dumplings, wontons and other foods she'd make. I would be the kid that picked out every visible bit of garlic I found and put them on my napkin to throw away later.

    As I grew older, I started appreciating garlic more. I liked the aroma, but the bits of garlic I could see in food still detracted me a bit. Now I am at a stage where I don't mind it as much. Addie was right - my tastebuds changed.

    One food item that I have grown to love are garlic knots. I have fond memories of trying these for the first time at a local pizza place in college. I would always order the spinach pizza with a garlic knot as my dinner. I especially enjoyed the soft, fluffy roll with the buttery garlic sauce on top.


    When Nicole of Seven Ate Nine announced that this month's What's Baking theme was baking with garlic, I knew I had to make these. The knots are a great way to get my little girl to try garlic at a young age. Plus, the garlic knots go great with one of her favorite foods - pasta.

    So whether you're a garlic hater or garlic lover, I'm sure you'll enjoy these soft garlic knots. They're not too heavy on the garlic, and remember that you can always pick off the bits of garlic or just use garlic powder.

    Be sure to visit Nicole's blog to see what the other ladies baked this month!

    Soft garlic knots
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar 
    • 2 teaspoons instant yeast 
    • 1¼ teaspoons salt 
    • 2 Tablespoons olive oil 
    • ¼ cup milk of choice 
    • 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm water
    Garlic butter glaze
    • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped (I used 1 teaspoon of garlic powder since I didn't have any garlic on hand)
    • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
    • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

    Directions
    In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if mixing by hand), mix together the flour, sugar, yeast and salt with a rubber spatula. Add the dough hook and continue to mix the ingredients on low speed. Slowly add in the olive oil, milk and warm water (if kneading by hand, simply make a well in the middle of your large bowl and mix in the liquid ingredients and knead well). Keep mixing until a soft dough forms. You may need to add more flour if the dough is too sticky - it should not stick to your bowl.

    Stop the mixer, remove the dough, and transfer it to a large bowl. Cover and allow it to rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 hour.

    Divide the dough into ten equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope.

    Tie each rope in a regular knot. Tuck the ends into the top and bottom of the knot to hide them. Press down slightly so they don't stick up.

    Transfer the knots to a parchment-paper or silicone lined baking sheet (a baking stone works too).

    Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow it to rise for another 45 minutes or until they are puffy.

    Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

    To make the glaze, mix the garlic with the butter and Italian seasoning together. Brush each roll with the garlic butter mixture.

    Bake the rolls for 15-18 minutes or until they are slightly golden. Allow the rolls to cool slightly before serving.

    Leftover rolls should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. They are best the day they are made but can be reheated in the oven (after thawing).


    Yield: 10 garlic knots

    Source: Barely adapted from Annie's Eats

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