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      Recipes — baking

      Coconut lemon Cake

      Coconut lemon Cake

      Coconut and lemon?  You got me!

      A while back I read a cute novel called, " The Coincidence of the Coconut Cake".  You know, the kind of book your girl friends refer for a nice relaxing day at the beach. Nothing serious, heavy, or deep, just a fun light read. It’s a cross between You’ve Got Mail meets How to Eat a Cupcake. It focuses on a talented chef named Lou and the critical food critic Al who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

       But what I remember most about this book besides the deliciously described coconut cake, was the character Lu (the chef) always dabbed a little vanilla behind her ears at the start of every day. As much as I love vanilla, why hadn’t I thought of this?!  Don’t think I didn’t try it!  A little bit of wonderfulness following you around all day? Yes, please!:).

       Also, since this book’s main setting settles in a small French cafe, the descriptions will leave you hungry and searching for really good food and perfectly sweet confections!

       Speaking of confections… If you love lemon and coconut, and I do… You gotta try this cake!

      Just think... 3 layers of coconut cake from scratch, sweetened coconut flakes, coconut milk, cake flour for an unbelievably soft crumb, eggs for richness, and a ton of butter. The flavors and textures are the perfect companions. I love how detailed this recipe is. You just can’t go wrong!

       

       Ingredients

      • 3 cups sifted cake flour (300g) spooned and leveled
      • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 cup (120ml) coconut milk, at room temperature*
      • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
      • 1 and 1/2 cups (345g; 3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
      • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
      • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
      • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
      • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) VanillaPura Madagasgar  extract
      • optional:1 teaspoon coconut extract (I prefer the cake without it, but it’s still tasty!)
      • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut (about 2 loosely packed cups)
      • 1 and 1.5 cups homemade lemon curd

       

      Cream Cheese Frosting

      • 8 ounces (225g) full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
      • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
      • 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
      • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) coconut milk or heavy cream
      • 1 teaspoon VanillaPura Madagascar vanilla extract
      • pinch salt
      • Topping:toasted (or not!) sweetened shredded coconut and lemon slices for garnish

       

       

      Instructions

      1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray or lightly butter three 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
      2. Make the cake: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Combine the coconut milk and buttermilk together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
      3. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract and the coconut extract (if using). Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
      4. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not over-mix. Use a whisk to rid any large lumps, if needed. The batter will be slightly thick. Finally, fold in the coconut. The batter will be lumpy. See photo above for a visual.
      5. Spoon/pour batter evenly into each cake pan. Bake for around 22-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. Remember to rotate the pans halfway through baking to ensure even baking. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
      6. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, 1 Tablespoon coconut milk/cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more Tablespoon of milk/cream to thin out, if desired.
      7. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with a thin layer of frosting, then half of the lemon curd. Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with a thin layer of frosting, then the remaining lemon curd. Finish with the third cake layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Garnish the top with coconut and/or lemon slices. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting or else the cake may fall apart as you cut.
      8. Slice, serve, enjoy!

      Notes

      1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the cake the next day when you are ready to serve. Frosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months if you have room in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Honestly, it tastes much better fresh.
      2. Flour: Do NOT use all-purpose flour in this coconut cake. Your cake will be too-dense, solid, and heavy. Make sure you are sifting the cake flour before measuring to aerate it and rid lumps. I strongly encourage you to just buy cake flour, but as an alternative you can make a DIY cake flour. For every 1 cup of flour in this recipe, remove 2 Tablespoons of it and add 2 Tablespoons cornstarch in its place. Sift at least 3-4 times, then use in the recipe.
      3. Milk: This recipe has been tested with equal parts coconut milk and buttermilk. If you can’t get ahold of coconut milk, you can use 1 cup of buttermilk instead. For a DIY version of buttermilk, add 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to a large liquid measuring cup. Then add enough regular room temperature milk (whole, skim, 1%, 2%) to make 1/2 cup total. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. This soured milk can be used in the recipe.
      4. More Lemon Flavor: To increase the lemon flavor, feel free to add the zest of 1 lemon to the coconut cake batter. Keep in mind that this will take away from the cake’s coconut flavor. Also optional for more lemon flavor: beat zest from 1 lemon into the cream cheese frosting.
      5. More Coconut Flavor: To increase the coconut flavor, feel free to use the optional coconut extract listed. And/or you can add 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract to the frosting.
      6. Sheet Cake: The batter makes a perfect sheet cake! Simply spread into a 12×17 inch half sheet/jelly roll pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. It also fits nicely into a 9×13 inch cake pan. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.

       

      A big thank you to Sally’s baking addiction for sharing this recipe!

      Homemade Graham Crackers

      Homemade Graham Crackers

      Memorial Day is coming up! What are your plans?  We usually go camping, or have a BBQ in the back yard, just to lazily soak up the nice spring warm sun that we have been missing all winter!  When I think of our backyard BBQ’s or camping, I think of roasting s’mores!

       Have you ever made homemade graham crackers?  Once you do you’ll never be able to eat those store bought rock hard, tasteless grahams again! SERIOUSLY!

        A few years ago I made them for  a s'more table at my niece’s wedding reception. In fact, enough for 250 wedding guests to enjoy.  It ended up being about 500 graham crackers! I think I can make them in my sleep now! :)

      It was a ton a work, but over the top deliciousness.  Not only did we make homemade graham’s, but we also made several different types of homemade mallows, from peanut butter, to chocolate, coconut. orange, and strawberry. One of my favorites were the vanilla bean. No surprise, right? :)  I’ll be sharing that recipe soon!

      I’m not going to lie…It was a lot of work, but worth every minute.  They were the most delicious s’mores I’ve ever, not only eaten, but enjoyed!

       But… to be honest they really are not that hard to make. Especially when you’re NOT making 500! :)

      I like to make a couple batches and put them in the freezer. Some of them I crumble to use for a graham cracker crust whenever I need it. I know they last at least a couple months in the freezer in an airtight container.  About a week at room temperature. Make sure they are kept air tight.

      You can make these ahead and have plenty for Memorial Day AND plenty for your yummy graham cracker crust desserts to come! They won't disappoint!

      Happy S’moring!!

       

       Ingredients:

      • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
      • 3/4 cup graham or whole-wheat flour
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
      • 2 teaspoons of VanillaPura Mexican extract
      • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
      • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
      • 1 tablespoon honey
      • 1 large egg

       

      Instructions: 

      1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, brown sugar, and honey until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, add egg, and mix until combined, Add flour mixture, and mix until combined.
      2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll between two sheets of parchment to a 1/8-to-1/4-inch thickness. Remove top piece of parchment paper and place dough on a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut dough into 2 1/4-inch squares and prick dough with a fork to create dotted lines. Transfer to two parchment-lined baking sheets and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
      3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Bake graham crackers until golden brown, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer crackers to a wire rack to cool completely.

       Graham crackers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week. Or longer in the freezer. This recipe makes about 16 crackers. Use a scalloped cookie cutter to make them even cuter!

       

      Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Homemade graham crackers.

       

      Lovely Little Vanilla Lemon Bars

      Lovely Little Vanilla Lemon Bars

      These little Vanilla Lemon Bars are not your go-to typical lemon bars. They are more like a snack cake. Two things I love…lemon…and vanilla!  They are moist and sweet with a thin layer of glaze over the top.  Just delicious and very simple to make. That yellow color is screaming sunshine and spring flowers. The perfect little sweet treat for a spring afternoon.

      INGREDIENTS

      • 1 cup butter, softened
      • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
      • 4 eggs
      • 2 teaspoons VanillaPura Madagascar/vodka vanilla extract
      • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2–3 lemons)
      • zest of one lemon
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 2 cups all-purpose flour

      FOR THE VANILLA GLAZE

      • 1 cup powdered sugar
      • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
      • zest of one lemon (optional)
      • 1 tsp of VanillaPura extract
      • 1 Tbsp of heavy cream

      Instructions:

      1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 13 inch baking dish with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.
      2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed. Add eggs one at a time, and mix until incorporated.
      3. Add vanilla bean paste, lemon juice, and lemon zest and mix.
      4. Add salt and flour and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Pour the batter evenly into the pan, and bake for 28-30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
      5. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, and then pour glaze over the top and spread it evenly to the edges. Cool completely and then cut into bars. A plastic knife works very well! Store in an airtight container.

      FOR THE GLAZE

      1. Add powdered sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla bean paste, and heavy cream into a bowl and whisk together with a fork. Add water as needed to thin the glaze. It should be pourable. Pour and spread the glaze over the slightly cooled bars.

      Thanks for sharing Julie @ lovely little kitchen

      Vanilla Bean French Toast

      Vanilla Bean French Toast

      This is the perfect recipe for Easter brunch. Make it ahead the night before, and then just pop it into the oven. Top it with your favorite syrup or try our buttery vanilla syrup on the blog. I love to add fresh berries when ready to serve. Whatever’s in season is always great! 

      Ingredients:

      • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
      • 1 loaf challah or brioche, about 1 lb. (500 g), cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) slices
      • 6 eggs, lightly beaten
      • 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) half-and-half
      • 1/4 cup (2 oz./60 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
      • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
      • Kosher salt
      • 1 VanillaPura Madagascar vanilla bean, split lengthwise
      • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) maple syrup
      • 2 tsp. VanillaPura Madagascar/ rum vanilla extract
      • 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) fresh raspberries
      • 1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g) sliced almonds
      • confectioners sugar for dusting

      Directions:

      Preheat an oven to 425°F (220°C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking dish. Set aside.



      Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast until the bread is lightly golden brown and dry, about 7 minutes, flipping the slices about halfway through the cooking time. Transfer the bread slices to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature.

      In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, brown sugar, lemon zest and a pinch of salt. With the tip of a paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean halves into the egg mixture and whisk to combine; reserve the vanilla bean halves. In batches, dip the bread slices into the egg mixture, turning the slices to coat them evenly and letting the bread sit in the bowl for about 2 minutes to absorb the liquid.

      Arrange the bread slices in the prepared baking dish, overlapping them slightly. Pour any remaining egg mixture in the bowl evenly over the bread in the dish. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

      Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C).

      Transfer the dish, still covered with the foil, to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the dish, increase the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C) and continue baking until the French toast is puffed up and browned, about 15 minutes more.Top with your favorite syrup and fresh berries.

      Thanks Williams Sonoma for sharing this recipe. It's delish!

       

       

       

      rich and buttery vanilla syrup

      rich and buttery vanilla syrup

      I’ve posted so many yummy breakfast/brunch recipes that would go perfect with this rich buttery vanilla syrup. My friend Mindi gave us this syrup for Christmas in the cutest little vintage jar. It is "THE" syrup for just about everything.  Its rich, buttery, and vanilla goodness will have your guests coming back for more!

       

      Ingredients

      1. 1 cup sugar
      2. ½ cup butter
      3. ½ cup buttermilk
      4. ½ teaspoon baking soda
      5.  2 teaspoons VanillaPura Madagascar/rum vanilla extract

      Instructions:

      1. Melt butter over low heat in a 3 quart sauce pan.
      2. Add Sugar, buttermilk, and baking soda. Stirring consistently, turn the heat up to medium, and bring to a boil.
      3. Remove from the heat a stir in the VanillaPura extract
      4. Serve immediately on pancakes, waffles, or french toast.

       

      Thanks to the white apron for sharing