Salted Caramel Apple and Pear Buckles

I needed a super fancy name for this post, hence the word “buckles.” Although in all reality, these are buckles. Buckles. Buckles. Buckles. I just really like saying “buckles” for some reason. Like that one very popular song I used to love as a kid. One, two, buckle my shoe. Three, four, close the door….wait, where was I? Oh that’s right, I was talking about how much I love these crumb cakes. That’s basically what buckles are, just really good coffee cake-like dessert. The perfect dessert or breakfast for autumn. Is it a problem that it’s been 80 plus degrees here in Los Angeles, and I’m baking for fall with the air conditioning running on full blast? I think it’s a problem. Clearly, Southern California didn’t get the whole changing of the season memo. Get it together LA! You’re way behind, it’s almost Thanksgiving. This is the part where you change the colors of your leaves and drop them to the ground. This is when you’re supposed to start pouring down on us all of this autumn rain. You’re doing it all wrong, California. You need to be more like the East Coast, or like Seattle. I’m all about Seattle weather. 

You know what I’m also all about? These salted caramel apple and pear buckles. AKA apple and pear spice cakes with a crumb topping. Even though it’s still hot as summer during the day in the West Coast, I still get a craving for a warm apple spice cake every November. I decided to take this recipe over the edge with a little (okay more than a little) salted caramel and of course let’s not forget about the cinnamon and oatmeal crumb topping. It’s like the world’s best coffee cake had a baby with the world’s best cobbler or fruit crisp. It’s like the universe is trying to tell me I should be spending my days eating all of the apple spice crumb cakes in the world.  Hey, what can I say? When the world talks to me, I listen. Especially when there’s cake involved. 

Speaking of cake, I’m having a really difficult time establishing if this cake is actually a breakfast or a dessert. Of course, if this is my mother or my doctor asking, I have most definitely decided that this is in fact not the perfect breakfast. Wink wink. Shhhh don’t tell anyone yet. This all stays between you and I.  Although I did actually make these with the idea on my mind that I need more breakfast recipes. So it can really go either way on this folks. I don’t care about what time during the day I eat it, just as long as I get to eat it. Am I right ladies and gentlemen? Of course I’m right. So now let’s go out and celebrate by making and eating these apple and pear buckles. It’s the only way to celebrate! 

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Mini Pistachio Boston Cream Pies

We’ve finally finished unpacking all of the boxes, putting everything into its proper place and assembling all of the furniture we bought thinking we could totally build everything ourselves. Why did we think this was such a great idea? It isn’t so much all of the difficult instructions made entirely out of hard to decipher pictures that gets us, but more so all of the manual twisting and turning of the screwdriver. We really should invest in a power drill. Thankfully, it’s all taken care of now with only a minor amount of cursing under our breath (not a single one from me, mind you).

We’re currently in that state of not wanting to leave our home because it’s just so nice, and it still seems so unreal to us. Like we’re vacationing in someone else’s house. Do you know the feeling? I’m also currently in the state of making sure nothing is out of place. I’m positive I’ve started to get on Julian’s nerves walking around dusting everything, vacuuming, mopping and sweeping all the time. I can’t help it, I’m a perfectionist. Sue me.  

This is officially the first post I’ve shot in the new place and I have to say that it’s been a fun and exciting adventure, to say the least. It has been a little weird, though, mostly because I have to get accustomed to everything all over again. It’s funny how one can get so comfortable somewhere and feel so out of place the second you find yourself somewhere else. I was moving so slowly making and shooting this, for some reason, trying to adjust to my new surroundings, familiarizing myself with the kitchen and forgetting where exactly I put everything away. “Where did that spoon go?” “What cupboard did I shove that bowl in?” “Is it time for a drink, yet?” The answer to which is always, YESSSSSS! It’s always time for a drink…and chocolate. Luckily for us, this here post happens to involve dark chocolate and pistachios. Two of my favorite things. 

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Tres Leches Cake

Do you know how sometimes you really just want a birthday cake, even when it’s not your birthday? You find yourself asking everyone you know if their birthday is coming up, and if their answer is no, you ask if they know of anyone whose birthday is coming up. An aunt, an uncle, a cousin (twice removed), or even a dog, perhaps? You’ll settle for a pet’s birthday at this point because all you really want right now is an excuse to make and eat some birthday cake. That’s totally normal right? Everyone does that. I’m not just projecting my feelings for birthday cake onto you all, am I? That’s a rhetorical question. One that I don’t expect for you to answer, like at all. Mostly because I know you get me on this. We’re on the same page.

I have a sister (the older one) who doesn’t like birthday cake. Or just cake in general, for that matter. She’s prejudice against cake. A true cake hater. Those are the worst kind of people, if you ask me. Every night right before I sleep, as I’m lying in bed, I ask myself the same question. This is every single night, without fail, mind you. I ask the ceiling of my room, and to anyone out there listening up in the stars, “Why is my sister such a weirdo?” Sometimes I’ll even ask another question right after like, “What did I do to deserve a crazy sister who doesn’t like cake?” I must have killed a cute baby animal at some point in my life, and now I’m being punished by the universe. I’ll normally ask those questions and then right after, I’ll eat a giant slice of cake because I get too worked up thinking about it, and the only way to calm me down is with some (it’s not anyone’s birthday but I still have birthday cake) cake.

Tres leches cake, or three milks cake for all you non-spanish speakers out there, is a cake that has three different types of milk in it. (Duh). I won’t even say anything because many people close to me asked what it meant. You know who you are. I wasn’t a fan of tres leches cake growing up, actually I hated it. I’m glad my mom hated it too, because we never had it as kids. It was always too moist and wet for my taste. Not the way a birthday cake should be. I remember going to my friend’s birthday parties as a kid, being super excited for cake, and when they’d bring it out and I’d see that it was tres leches I’d run up and toss the cake on the floor. I was doing everyone a favor. Cut to me now, many years later, I actually love it. Only when it’s homemade though, because I get to control the amount of wetness in the cake. That my friends is the meaning of happiness in life. Let’s make birthday cake for ourselves even when it’s not our birthday.

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Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake

Let’s talk about cake for a second. Okay, I lied. Let’s discuss cake for more than a second. If I had it my way, I’d only talk about cake. All the time. That’s the only thing thing on my mind. If someone asked me a specific question or was talking to me about a completely different topic, I’d respond simply with “CAKE!” I’d just shout it out to them. Scream it to their face. Part of me wants to do it just because I’d like to see what their reaction would be. The other part wants to do it because I love cake. I wouldn’t even care if it made sense or not. Cake makes perfect sense. ALL THE TIME. In reality, if I could, all I would talk about is butter and sugar and cinnamon. Talk about a love affair. Those three ingredients have my heart. Forever and always, I’ll never say no to them. Butter and sugar and cinnamon together is the stuff dreams are made of. Put those three together and I kid you not, you could solve all of the world’s problems in one easy swoop. Seriously though, it would make the world a better place. Just imagine if criminals had a piece of cake before they committed their crime, they’d change their mind and wouldn’t go through with it. That’s how good cake is. That’s the power of the cake. I’m probably exaggerating a tad. I mean not all criminals would change their mind after eating cake. But I’m sure a select few would. I say, give everyone cake. Cake for all.

I’ve been on a savory kick lately, as you can probably tell from the last couple of posts. I mean sure, potato tacos are freaking delicious. I ate about fifty of them, and I’m not even joking. Okay, I’m joking. It was more like forty-nine. Calzones? Why not? Give them to me. On cold rainy days, panini and roasted tomato soup is sort of my jam. But with all that being said, cake (cinnamon, sugar and butter) well that’s just hands-down-no-contest, a sure fire winner for me. All I want to do lately is stuff my face with cake. Cake of all kinds. If you subscribe to the newsletter, you’ll have noticed the chocolate bundt cake recipe I included in it. Ate all of that without even a second thought. If you read the newsletter—which you should have by now because I sent it out at midnight. What are you waiting for?!—you’ll also know that it was my sister’s birthday this week. Of course I made her a birthday cake. It was a chocolate hazelnut cake with a nutella filling. Ate it. Stuffed the whole thing in my mouth. So when I decided to swing things back to sweet on the blog, the only logical thing to make and shoot and share was a cake. Duh. Cake for life. I immediately thought to myself that all I needed in life at that very moment was sugar, butter and cinnamon. So guess what…I made a cinnamon sugar coffee cake. I wanted it to be simple and yet a classic recipe that you guys would want to make. I hope you want to make this cake because let me tell you, it’s a delicious breakfast cake. I should make an entire cookbook of breakfast cake. I’d call it “Yes I’m Eating Cake For Breakfast And No You Can’t Have Any.” Or something like that, it’s a work in progress. It would give me an excuse to recipe test and eat nothing but cake for breakfast without people judging me. (Like my mom and doctor). I’d say, “I’m just working on the book. I have to eat this cake because it’s research!” We’d all have an excuse to eat cake first thing in the morning once the book came out. I’d be the reason every kid (and a few adults here and there) would be demanding cake for breakfast. I’m okay with that. I could live with myself. Gimme that cake.

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Banana Pecan Raspberry-Swirl Crumb Cake

Let’s take a moment to discuss our options. Each morning we get up—slip out of our comfy beds and our warm sheets and our loved one’s arms—with big stretches and yawns and growls that mimic those of a lazy lion in the zoo. A quick glance in the mirror only confirms this. Our hair, wild and crazy, going in all sorts of directions. Untamable, however, we proceed unfazed and without a thought in our heads, other than wanting desperately to get back into bed. Half asleep and unwilling to compromise, we find ourselves at a fork in the road. Having to make choices so early in the morning should be illegal. We can grab that boring box of cereal. The one that’s been sitting on top of our fridge for weeks getting good and stale on us, because someone left it partially opened. We can reach into that refrigerator and grab the just about expired milk—regular, soy or almond or maybe even settle for a yogurt—plain or greek infused with fruit. Perhaps we don’t have the luxury of time because we woke up late or decided to spend all our time getting ready (we have our lion selves to thank for that) knowing that our allotted breakfast eating time would suffer and diminish. So because we’re running late we proceed to reach into a box of granola bars. We fool ourselves into believing it’ll be a good enough morning meal. We get a hold of the box, grasping inside, only to come up empty handed. We make a mental note to reprimand the person who took the last bar and left the empty box in the cabinet, reminding us of yet another thing we can’t have. Spontaneity and unpredictability aren’t traits we posses this early in the morning nor do we want to, so what next?

If only we had some sort of morning pastry to cut, grab and go. Something tasty that would fit the breakfast bill. A delicious treat to eat alongside our coffee, tea or juice on our drive to work or school or whatever other activity that doesn’t occur to me at the moment. What we really need is a banana bread kind of a thing. A banana bread meets coffee cake. And if said cake happened to have a raspberry-swirl filling in the middle and a pecan crumb topping, well then, we wouldn’t be angry about that. Who are we to complain about such things? Yes, a hybrid breakfast cake slash dessert meets decadent treat is just what we need in the morning to lift our spirits up, but where do we get such a delight? Where do we come across such a marvel?

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Gluten-Free Carrot Bundt Cake

I don’t know about yours, but my Easter Bunny happens to be gluten intolerant. I learned that the hard way when for years he didn’t eat the cookies I left out for him. Each year comes and goes; the treats left behind, untouched, while the milk was completely gone. I’d lay them out by the Easter plant that I decorated with colored eggs and chocolate candy….wait….that’s not right. I’m getting my holidays mixed up. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Silly Jonathan. Cookies are for kids. Bunny rabbits don’t eat cookies!” And do you know why that is? Because most cookies have flour in it. Ergo, they must be gluten intolerant. It is the only explanation as to why bunnies don’t eat cookies. So this year I’ve decided to get smart by making a gluten-free cake for my furry Easter friend. Maybe, just maybe, this year will be the year he eats the dessert I leave out for him, so he can get energy to deliver Easter baskets for all to enjoy. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping for an Easter miracle.

All kidding aside, I’ve been promising you all more gluten-free desserts on this here blog. So here it is. Or rather, here one is. I thought a carrot cake would tie in perfectly with the upcoming holiday, regardless if you celebrate it or not. I know that Easter tends to be a religious holiday, but you don’t have to be religious to enjoy the seasonal treats that spring up during this time of year. If you don’t care for gluten-free desserts, have no fear, my blog isn’t becoming a gluten-free blog. I still very much enjoy making and posting and gorging on ridiculous amounts of crusty, golden brown, gluten-rich breads. I’m just taking a break to show my appreciation for those fans who are indeed gluten intolerant. I’m trying to expand my horizons and reach out to as many people as possible. I don’t have any special dietary restrictions—as you all may know by now with my penchant for all foods—but I do have to admit this is a really good cake. You don’t have to have celiac disease to appreciate the awesomeness of this recipe.

Growing up, Easter was always a big event at my house. My mom would go all out for my sisters and I. Even now as adults we still go through with our Annual Easter Egg Hunt, and there may or may not still be some baskets filled with goodies for us. If you thought that four grown adults could be civilized while searching for plastic eggs filled with prizes, you are very much mistaken. We get extremely vicious when searching for these eggs. Fighting hard to find the most we possibly can. Hair is pulled, clothes are ripped, siblings are pushed to the floor. Stealing, cheating and sneakiness are traits that are possessed for the day (and that’s just my middle sister, she’s very competitive). We demolish the house looking for eggs that mom has so cleverly hidden. We enjoy the occasional egg filled with chocolate Easter candy here and there, but what we’re really yearning for are the eggs stuffed with the major prizes. Frozen yogurt gift certificates, lottery scratchers and of course money. Those are the treasures that make the black eyes and bruises worth it. Of course at the end of the day we all sit down as a family and enjoy a pleasant meal together. One of us happier than the others because we were fortunate enough to find the perfect eggs. That my friends is Easter in my house and has been for as long as I can remember.

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