I haven’t been doing as much baking as I’ve been cooking, cake decorating, and caregiving. The big kids were home for a two-week spring break. It felt like I spent most of the time preparing snacks and finding new ways to build blanket forts while it continuously rained outside.
Even though I’ve barely turned the oven on, the kitchen has still been full of cakes. Over the next several weeks, we will be diving into cake decorating. I updated my most popular designs with how-to photographs and made some new ones for Easter. When I wasn’t elbow deep in buttercream, here’s what I’ve been into lately:
What I’ve Been Eating:
Sweet and savory alike, food is such a big part of my life. Growing up around great cooks, the kitchen was always the most popular room in the house. And even though I didn’t start cooking myself until after I moved out, I haven’t wanted to stop. Here are some of things I’ve been whipping up this month:
Spicy Noodles: Pasta is my undisputed favorite food of all time. Long, short, hand-pulled - you name it. I love how noodles are used in all types of cuisine. I honestly don’t think I could ever get tired of them. Lately, it’s been all about saucy, spicy noodles. I keep seeing videos of garlic chili oil noodles pop up everywhere, and I want to eat them all!
Chocolate Peanut Butter Marble Cookies: I re-made these cookies from the newsletter archives and they were even better than I remembered. I accidentally grabbed a slightly larger scoop when rolling the peanut butter and chocolate doughs and they seemed to improve in texture. Slightly crisp around the edges and extra chewy in the middle, they are my current cookie obsession.
Stir-fry: For me, comfort food is sautéed beef/chicken/tofu with vegetables in a quick gravy served over rice. This is what my mom cooked for us weekly. Stir-fries come together quickly and are so adaptable to whatever is in the fridge. Now I understand why they were such a staple of my childhood. I am grateful my kids eat vegetables without much fuss. This season, we’ve been really into green beans and asparagus paired with honey garlic chicken and sticky sesame tofu. Mom always had the rice cooker going, but a sub for spicy noodles (see above) checks all the right boxes for me right now.
Lemon Curd: I get so envious of my mom’s lemon trees back in California. When I finally have an abundance up here, I turn it into lemon curd (or a lemon tart - see below). When not incorporating lemon curd into a dessert, I love to swirl it into yogurt.
What I’ve Been Reading:
Like last month, I’ve continued on my Kindle kick. I have a brand new hardcover that’s begging to be cracked open, but unfortunately its the lighthearted novels via my phone that are the easiest to read and stay awake with while tending to our 3 month old. I discovered my local library’s digital bookshelf, so I don’t see myself breaking this habit anytime soon. I’ve also been doing some deep-dives into some of the writings by my favorite bakers here:
Alice Medrich articles on Food 52: Author and Chef Medrich has a wealth of knowledge. I’ve learned so much about baking and pastry from her cookbooks, but recently fell down the rabbit hole of her Food 52 recipe archives. I was researching chocolate ganache for this month’s Birthday Cake Club recipe, and couldn’t stop clicking from one article to the next.
“Making a Cookbook”: Dorie Greenspan shared some behind the scenes from her latest book, Baking with Dorie, in her newsletter. This three-part series was very fascinating. I particularly loved the article where she interviewed her food stylist Samantha Seneviratne. If you like Dorie’s recipes and writing as much as I do, then definitely go poke around her newsletter, XOXO Dorie.
Looking for more ways to read? Use the NEW Substack app!
What I’ve Been Listening to:
West Side Story: I recognized the first notes of the new Steven Spielberg trailer within seconds, as I’ve been listening to the sounds of Bernstein and Sondheim for over half my life. My grandmother’s family came from Puerto Rico, and I remember going with her to see both the 1995 and 2010 tours. My eldest daughter started ballet this year, so I was excited to show her some of the dance scenes from the new movie, but it’s the original score that I’ve been playing in the kitchen continuously.
Samara Joy (s/t): The self-titled debut album from NYC jazz singer Samara Joy should be on your kitchen playlist. Add it now to soundtrack your next baking project.
Recipes to Make in April:
Easter is April 17th. This year, we will be having a small celebration with my parents and the kids. I haven’t decided what I’ll be baking yet, but likely one of the following:
Almond Layer Cake: This delightful cake stays extra moist and tender from the almond flour. It is sandwiched together with fluffy cream cheese icing and dusted with coconut flakes. The whimsical buttercream flowers on top may be replaced with fresh roses for an even less fussy version.
Cinnamon Rolls: It’s a family tradition of ours to make my Overnight Cinnamon Rolls for Christmas morning, but I think they would be perfect for Easter brunch, too.
Brown Butter Carrot Cake: I made this cake almost two months ago now in order to re-share it with you all a couple weeks ago. Apparently two months is too long to go between slices because I am already craving it again. This cake is such a crowd-pleaser, and I am certain many of you will be baking it for your Easter guests, too.
Berry Prosecco Cake: If the Brown Butter Carrot Cake is feeling a bit too rustic for your Easter celebration, then definitely check out last month’s Berry Prosecco Cake. Not only is it beautiful, the flavors are light and fresh. At only 6-inches, I could see you guys baking up this cake to serve as your brunch centerpiece with lots of other little desserts to go with it.
Earth Day is April 22. If you are looking for more reasons to bake this spring, then try one of these garden-inspired recipes:
Carrot Coffee Cake: Moist carrot cake meets coffee crumb cake in this anytime, single layer cake recipe. When you are craving cake for breakfast or need something sustainable for grazing each time you pass through the kitchen, this counter cake is your best friend. With a ripple of brown sugar and drizzle of vanilla bean glaze, this Carrot Coffee Cake is as every bit comforting with morning pj’s as it is perfect for any spring celebration.
Strawberry Rhubarb Donuts: These cheater jelly donuts are filled with homemade strawberry-rhubarb compote. I haven’t spotted rhubarb yet this season, but I am hoping I will by the end of the month. This recipe uses ready-made biscuit dough, but I am looking to recreate it with a yeast-risen brioche soon.
Blooms and Baking: Author Amy Ho seamlessly incorporates the most beautiful flowers into her recipes. In her book, Blooms and Baking, Amy teaches us how to add aromatic, floral flavors to cakes, cookies, candies, and more. Her recipes use infused flavors like lilac and chamomile and incorporate cherry blossoms, hibiscus, roses and more.
Spring is a finicky season, especially here in Vancouver. Just when you think warmer weather is on the horizon, those April showers show up and try to ruin the day. I just read that we might have one of the stormiest springs yet! For when you are wishing for sun, here are some spring pick-me-ups to brighten your day:
Raspberry Earl Grey Choux Buns: A light and crispy shell, Earl Grey pastry cream, and tangy raspberry jam - these are sure to turn any rainy day around. If not, try the coffee version (video tutorial included in link).
Easy Lemon Tart: This recipe is more or less lemon bars but baked in a tart pan. The base is made with part almond flour and a hint of cardamom to compliment the mouth-puckering lemon filling.
The Best Cheesecake with Raspberry-Rhubarb Coulis: This foolproof cheesecake recipe is ultra creamy and well-balanced in flavor. I use a steaming method that doesn’t require the cheesecake to sit in a water-bath. No mater how much foil I wrap around the pan, it always leaks for me. Top it with the vibrant Raspberry-Rhubarb Coulis for a punch of flavor.
Love these round-ups? Check out my March Links.