Lemon, Poppy Seed and Blueberry Streusel Pound Cake

Okay, so the honest truth is that I had to make this cake a total of four times. Yes, you read that right. Four times before I got it right. I was ready to scream, pull out my hair, denounce pound cakes for life and give up on everything because a little ol’ pound cake was defeating me. This is why I never make pound cake by the way, because I feel like they’re always so difficult, for some unknown reason. It’s not like they require a lot of ingredients or attention for that matter. In theory, they’re kind of simple to make. Yet it’s my baking kryptonite. For those of you that think I never mess up in the kitchen, think again. Even I, with all of the baking experience I have, still make mistakes from time to time. It’s totally normal. In fact I’d be worried if I didn’t mess up because those little hiccups humble me and make me a better cook/baker. So don’t be hard on yourself if things don’t always come out right the first time. Just keep trying.  

The very first attempt of this cake, I forgot to toss the blueberries in flour so they all sank to the bottom of the loaf pan, causing a not-so-pretty wet mess at the bottom, forcing me to lose half of the cake to moisture. No good. I clapped my forehead and called myself a dummy for forgetting such a crucial step. Sure I was disappointed, but I started all over again without thinking twice about it. So off Julian went to the grocery store for me and got more blueberries and cream cheese and almonds so that I could go in for round two. I made the cake again, this time a bit faster since I didn’t have to photograph it step by step. I was thankful for that. The second time was also a failure. When I removed my precious pound cake from the oven, the center had completely caved in. I started laughing (masking the irritation) because I haven’t had a cake cave on me in many years since I started baking. I don’t know what happened, maybe I opened the door too soon or maybe there was a movement or loud bang by the oven at some point and it scared my cake into ruin? Who knows. Anyhow, I was ready to give up at this point but Julian (and my mother, through various frustrated phone calls all made by me to her) kept telling me to try again. Believe me I didn’t want to. So there I went off again to the grocery store to buy yet another box of blueberries and cream cheese and almonds and butter this time around and I got home and did it once again. Mind you it’s like 11:30 at night at this point and I’ve made this cake for a total of three times now. 

This time around I felt really confident. I told myself this was it, this time it would work. So I made it all again (with my eyes closed practically), poured the batter into the pan, topped it with the streusel and popped it into the oven. I even kiss the pan and said a little prayer before closing the oven door. I crossed my fingers and continued with some other work. I made sure to not make any sudden movements by the oven door, tip-toeing when I needed to, nor did I open it prematurely. This time around, I waited until the time was up. I open the oven door and all I saw was horror. Complete and utter horror. Low and behold, it was the biggest disaster of my entire career. Not only did the cake batter bubble over out of the pan and onto the baking sheet, but it also caved in (big time) and the blueberries sank once again. The trifecta of cake mishaps. I threw the cake away, with the pan, slammed everything shut and went to bed. I lost hope. I started looking at other jobs, getting ready to stop blogging and photographing and baking and cooking altogether—I exaggerate for the effect. Before bed Julian (and through one last phone call with my mother) convince me to not give up and just try again. Take it slower and do it carefully, they said.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I already shared some photos of the process and got you all excited about this cake on instagram, I would’ve just scratched the entire idea and done something else. I realized though, that I couldn’t just leave you guys hanging. I promised you a blueberry pound cake and by George I was going to deliver one. So I woke up super early the next morning, took one last trip to the grocery store for some more blueberries—which I single handedly have kept the blueberry growers rich—and more cream cheese and almonds and a lemon. I get home and start for the fourth time. Although this time around I changed the recipe a bit by removing an egg, adding more butter, losing the baking powder and baking soda and calling it good, making sure to toss those blueberries in flour. I poured it into the pan, topped it with streusel and put it in the oven without much hope. One hour and a half later I had the most perfect pound cake I have ever made/seen. I let it cool (in a kitchen cabinet above the sink because Napoleon has gotten into the bad habit of trying to eat anything in sight) and did the biggest celebratory dance ever known to mankind. That is the story of my adventure of making four pound cakes in less than 24 hours. I have to say though, it all paid off. This cake is pretty epic. 

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The Classics: Apple Pie

It’s not autumn, so why am I posting an apple pie recipe in the middle of February you ask? This is more of a cozy comfort fall recipe, I know, but apples are always in season here in California. Sadly there isn’t a plethora of apple orchards to go apple picking on the weekends during a specific time of year. So that being said, I was craving a slice of apple pie the other day and the only logical option I had was to make one myself. So here we find ourselves with another installment of my new favorite series on the blog, The Classics! It’s been a while since one of these posts/recipes have made an appearance on the site so just in case you’ve forgotten, I’ll refresh your memory. The first round was The Classics: Buttermilk Fried Chicken. The crunchiest and juiciest and easiest and most flavorist (not a word but I needed it to sound like the other words) chicken you’ll ever make and eat. Then The Classics: Bacon Cheeseburger graced us with it’s presence and we all sort of died a little because it was a monster of a burger. And then because two savories could only be followed by an incredible sweet, The Classics: Cinnamon Rolls debuted and taught us that large cinnamon rolls the size of your face is the only way to go.  

The Classics: Apple Pie was the only logical fourth installment because I’m always looking for any excuse to make pie so that I can then go ahead and eat the entire thing by myself and not feel bad because it’s all in the name of work. I’m also always on the look out for recipes that are socially acceptable to be eaten with a giant scoop or two of ice cream. If apple pie isn’t the ultimate vehicle for large scoops of vanilla ice cream, then I don’t know what is. Thank you mamma for teaching me life’s most important lessons. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard here and there from a few sources—and by a few sources I mean I’ve been the one spreading the rumors—that pie is a breakfast food so serving yourself a slice of apple pie first thing in the morning with a large cup of coffee is totally okay in everyone’s book. There are apples in the middle, lots of apples, so it’s healthy. Don’t let anyone tell you different. 

Just in case you don’t know the whole story about The Classics series, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. These posts are quick shortened posts that focus on the simplicity of these classic dishes we’re all familiar with. Recipes we’ve grown up with and have come to love. The posts aren’t filled with tons of photos like they normally are and the recipes aren’t overly complicated with hard to find ingredients. They’re just simple and straight forward and what’s more, they’re fun to make because you don’t have to worry about hard to follow directions. Sure there are a millions recipes out there for apple pie etc., but there aren’t a million of my version of the classic and perhaps it’ll become your go to recipe as well! Sold? Well then go head and get to baking! Don’t forget to snap a few pictures during the process and share them with all of us on Instagram! Tag the photos with #TCAclassics so that we can easily find them. I’ll even share them around in the newsletter! More importantly though, you’ll have a giant apple pie all to yourself once you’re done and that’s motivation enough if you ask me. 

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Chocolate Strawberry Filled Cupcakes

When I was a little boy I was crazy about those chocolate Hostess cupcakes. The ones with the white swirl on top. Do you remember those? I’m sure you do, they’re pretty popular, or at least they were back in the early nineties when I was growing up. Well anyhow, I couldn’t get enough of them. My sister on the other hand hated them. She wasn’t (and still isn’t to this day) the biggest fan of chocolate. She was all about the twinkies, though, which I could never get down with. They weren’t my cup of tea. I secretly loved that she had her own strange tastes and that she didn’t like chocolate cupcakes because it just meant there was more for me. Those classic white swirled cupcakes have always inspired me and for the longest time I’ve wanted to make my own version of them on the site, but I never got around to it, until now. What better time to do it than on Valentine’s Day when chocolate desserts are sort of a must. 

I actually saw a photo of cupcakes with handwritten “I love you’s” on the internet, and I knew I needed to take the idea and run with it for Valentine’s Day. It just felt so right. Copying is a form of flattery after all, right? Thanks Martha Stewart for the smart idea. You’re always one step ahead of everyone else. So the design has been done, but the cupcakes? The cupcakes are all me. Rich chocolate cupcakes filled with my all-time favorite frosting, strawberry cheesecake, and then because there just wasn’t enough chocolate already, I went ahead and dipped them in a dark chocolate ganache. Melted white chocolate finishes them off. They taste like chocolate dipped strawberries and they’re the perfect dessert for Valentine’s Day! 

There was a point a few years ago when cupcakes were the biggest thing on Earth and everyone who is anyone was sharing their recipes. Clearly I’m behind on the times. They might be a little taboo these days but I’m totally bringing them back. They’re a necessity on certain holidays and I’m sure no one will complain about these. So let’s forget about what we should or shouldn’t be cooking and baking. What’s in or what’s out and let’s definitely not pay attention to what people are saying because that’s not important. All that matters is that we’re happy and content in what we’re doing in life. So let’s celebrate Valentine’s Day with those we love, family members, friends, significant others, and pets and stuff our faces with all of the chocolate and all of the cupcakes. 

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Chocolate Butterscotch Hazelnut Cake

Okay, so I know it’s January and this whole New Year thing literally that just happened, and we’ve made resolutions and promises to ourselves to eat healthier and make better choices from now on. I’m all for it…just not at this very moment, clearly. While everyone else is eating salads and vegetables and saying no to desserts, I’m over here tempting you all with this behemoth of a cake. What’s wrong with me?! I obviously didn’t get the memo, but that’s okay because I didn’t really want that memo to begin with. All I can say is that I’m very sorry, I just couldn’t help it. Don’t blame me. It’s not my fault. This cake happens to be a special cake. A birthday cake, to be exact, and I’m posting it so that we can all celebrate together, because a cake like this deserves to be admired and shared. A cake like this is worthy of breaking a few New Year’s resolutions here and there. I won’t judge, and I’m definitely not complaining. 

Next week is Julian’s birthday (hooray)! So in honor of this awesome occasion, I’ve decided to bake him a cake made up of his favorite flavors; chocolate, butterscotch and hazelnuts. Just in case you were wondering, I’m posting the recipe a week early because I’m taking him on a special top secret (shhh) trip for a week to celebrate his day of birth. The day he came into this world. He doesn’t know where we’re going, exactly, which is very exciting and fun for me because I get to surprise him with our actual destination on the day we leave and yell out “SURPRISE!!” Really loudly. Like I said, fun. The bajillion questions he asks me on a daily basis though since he found out about this trip—Where are we going? I just want to know! Is it far? Just give me a clue! Where are we going? Is it Hawaii?—not so much. All I know is that I couldn’t sit back and let the day go by without making him something special, aka something drenched in chocolate. So here we are with a giant cake in our faces, staring us right in the eyes, on a month when we vowed to eat nothing but vegetables. Damn you cake, damn you. 

Since we’ll be away next week on his actual birthday (January 13th), I thought it would be a great idea to make him his cake in advance, and post it early so that we can all still have something to enjoy in his honor. Lucky for Julian that means he gets two celebrations, not to mention this delicious cake. So give me a hand and help me wish this guy a Happy Birthday. It’s because of him that this chocolate, butterscotch, Nutella, hazelnut and dark chocolate ganache cake exists in our lives. We owe him a lot. 

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Holiday Danish Butter Cookies

I have very few store bought guilty pleasures that I not so secretly love, and have loved ever since I was a kid. Zebra cakes, frosted circus animal cookies, powdered sugar tiny doughnuts and those Danish butter cookies that come in a blue tin are my all time favorites. I’m obsessed. Now I know they’re not healthy treats, and who really knows what kinds of crazy unpronounceable ingredients they have, but I can’t help it, they remind me of my childhood. In my defense, it was the nineties and no one was really scared about crazy chemicals in food back then (or at least I don’t think they were). It was a different time, for sure. Don’t judge me! I’m sure I’m not the only one out there with guilty food pleasures. Sure, I’m a baker and I can easily make any dessert at home, but no matter what I do, those treats up there are irreplaceable. I’m not saying to go out and eat these cookies, cakes and doughnuts every single day, but I am saying it’s totally okay to treat yo’ self every now and then. You deserve it. 

I most commonly get a craving for Danish butter cookies during the holidays. Maybe because that’s when I see millions of those blue tins around grocery stores everywhere. My favorites are the wreath shaped ones and the small pretzel shaped cookies. Those are the best. I recently decided it was time to make my own version of those cookies at home. I browsed online and found that I’m not alone in this Danish cookie fascination. I was lucky enough to find lots of recipes on the internets that I was able to piece together a few to make the ultimate butter cookie recipe. It’s great because they’re made with everyday ingredients that you (most definitely) probably have on hand already. No need to take a trip to the grocery store for anything fancy. Well, maybe just sprinkles but you know what, that’s totally worth a trip to the store because these cookies need to get they’re sprinkle on. 

With the holidays around the corner, I think they fit perfectly with the season. Plus, who doesn’t love a good cookie recipe in December? Let’s get into the holiday spirit and whip up a big batch of these cookies and make it rain down the most delicious buttery treats you’ll ever encounter. Let’s also run down to the grocery store, while we’re at it, and try those guilty pleasures I mentioned earlier. Let’s keep it just between us and not tell anyone that we’re living our lives. Most importantly let’s have a good holiday season filled with lots of guilty pleasures!

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Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Cinnamon and Pecan Rugelach

Well hello again! If you haven’t already noticed by now, I’ve been away for a while. I sincerely apologize for that. Believe me, it hasn’t been by any choice of mine. The holidays have kept me quite busy.  Thanksgiving taught me that there is no limit to how much turkey I can eat. I know that it seems like I haven’t been working on the blog, but if you really think about it,  I have been working on new recipes for the blog to share with you guys. I’ve teamed up with a few companies that I’m super excited to work with and although I can’t share the recipes or all of the details right at this moment, I do want you to know that some new and exciting recipes (that I’m most proud of, mind you) are coming to the blog very soon. And by very soon I mean a couple of weeks. I’m just itching to tell you guys all about them. To let the cat out of the bag and spill the beans but unfortunately I can’t just now. I can tell you though that these recipes I’m talking about are going to blow your socks off. Blow them clear across the country. I think that justifies my absence, right? 

The other day I was video chatting with my mother—which by the way, I had no idea she even knew how to Facetime, but I gotta tell you she’s more of a pro than you and I could ever dream of being—so she proceeds to tell me that I’ve been neglecting my blog for far too long. She hasn’t gotten any email updates from me recently, and she’s worried that I’m going to lose all of my followers if I don’t post anything soon. Thanks mom. Now, I’m no cookie pro baker but I do have to inform you that I am a professional cookie eater. Don’t believe me? It’s on my resume. (It really isn’t on my resume, but how cool would that be?) Anyhow, as I was saying, my mother was throwing shade my way so I knew that I needed to get my act together.  

After that, I wanted to get into the holiday cookie-baking spirit so I decided to think outside of the box for a bit. I didn’t want to share an easy recipe of something we’ve all seen far too many times. I wanted something that was unique and perhaps maybe even new to some of you. Rugelach sort of made all the sense in the world because you can easily fill it with whatever your heart desires. These are loaded with butter, cinnamon sugar, dark chocolate, cherries and pecans. I don’t think it gets any better than this, but luckily for me, I’m not complaining about the situation. Rugelach kind of look like croissants but the doughs are completely different from one another. This one is a little more dense than pie crust, but it’s still super delicious. If you’ve never made these before or have never tried them for yourself, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve been missing out. Don’t worry, you still have time to catch up to the rest of us. I’ll even help you eat your way through. I’m willing to take one for the team. 

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