I sometimes forget that we have a thing here. A thing that’s more of a weird Internet friendship than a simple fling. Forgive my forgetting.
I’ve gotten a lot of urgent emails and tweets and random Internet shouts about why why why WHY I picked up and moved my little world to New Orleans. (I also respect the fact that some of you couldn’t care less… that’s cool.)
The answer is probably far less exciting that you’d like it to be. I moved from California to New Orleans because I wanted to. I wanted a change in place, a jolt of inspiration, more crawfish on my plate, adventure. I wanted to feel out of my element and get to know a new place. New Orleans, with its little bit of magic, seems like the place my heart wants to be. So… this is that!
Can I be honest with you about something? The more people asked me why I was moving to New Orleans, the more I wanted to hold that information close and keep it to myself. I try to keep a balance of what I share with the big wide Internet (with its supporters and haters) and what I keep to myself. Mostly I’m trying to protect you from things like… my weird love for One Direction and all those times I feel too many feelings.
I’ve created a place where I can share, where we can share, where we can hang out and bake together. Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want all of the nitty-gritty. I just forget that sometimes I have to explain myself. It totally makes sense that you would want to know the why. (Again, it also makes sense if you don’t give a care.)
Anyhow… I’m still trying to figure this whole ‘sharing on the Internet’ thing out… six years into the game.
At least now you know the not terribly interesting reason I moved to New Orleans. Did I mention the crawfish? That has a lot to do with it.
I’m still figuring out how I want to photograph in my new space, I’m learning the quirks of my new oven (which are many), and I’m trying to figure out if there’s a single surface that my cat can’t jump on. I appreciate that you’re along for that ride.
Learning curve: steep. Still there’s cake.
Cupcakes in disguise… also known as Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts.
Perfectly cakey and soft with extra drippy chocolate glaze. Basically, I’ll never make a cupcake again, especially since this is the very best way to eat chocolate cake for breakfast.
Sprinkles, too! This is a total no-brainer.
Other Baked Doughnut experiments include Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts and Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts. I’m nowhere near done baking up these little darlings. So much more satisfying than cupcakes… but mostly kinda the exact same thing. Shoulder shrug.
You should get a baked doughnut pan. No pressure.
It’s really not Christmas until we make a cake shaped like a log, and prematurely plow through the chocolate treats in our Advent calendars. Well… consider it Christmas because here we have A LOG (that’s really just a cake made of whipped cream and cookies) (and the Advent calendar is loooong gone)!
I made a Yule Log-type Cake a few years ago. It had a soft (gluten-free) chocolate cake filled and rolled with peppermint whipped cream and topped with chocolate ganache. So light and fluffy! Dreams, really.
This year’s Yule Log Cake is beyond clever. We’re stacking thin chocolate wafers with peppermint whipped cream and topping it with chocolate whipped cream. It’s an Icebox Cake! No-bake. Minimal fuss.
Joy the Baker Icebox Yule Log Cake from Joy the Baker on Vimeo.
Because the cake was such a cinch. We made you a Christmas video, too! We were feeling cheeky and we like to play with our food. Thank you to the creative mind of Hilton Carter and the reliability of the Canon 6D for this video. I’d like to pat myself on the back for making a giant stable mountain of ‘whipped cream’ out of meringue and foil. Take a look!
This genius recipe is inspired by America’s Test Kitchen. Do you know the hardworking people at America’s Test Kitchen? They’re a wonderful recourse for great recipes and amazingly sensible kitchen techniques. I love their cookbook The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook.
Now let’s stack these cookies and call it a cake! It’s definitely as easy as it seems.
You can’t show up to my family holiday gatherings with just any dessert. There better not be a wiff of boxed cake mix nor a hint of shortening in the pie crust. All real. All butter. This is a place where we come correct!
I come from a legacy of legendary home bakers. Am I bragging? You bet your sweet pants I am! My mom makes the best Peanut Butter Balls (you might call them Buckeyes, right?). My dad (as I’ve told you ad nauseum) is known for his Sweet Potato Pie. My grandmother makes the best Banana Bread in the entire world… she probably invented it, so.. there’s that.
Believe it or not, I’m feel like I’m still trying to find my footing in my family when it comes to legendary baking. I’m not sure what my specialty will be, so I’m looking for a bit of inspiration in the holiday season. The inspiration for this holiday gingerbread cake comes from GODIVA Chocolate. GODIVA has chocolate-legend status on lockdown (amiright?). This particular cake was inspired by GODIVA’s Gingerbread Cookie Legacy Truffle: gingerbread spices, and Speculoos mousse wrapped in chocolate. Yes… someone finally worked Speculoos into a decadent chocolate candy. Thank heavens. Seriously.
This Gingerbread Cake with Speculoos and Dark Chocolate really ups the ante. It’s perfect for the holidays. Actually… it’s perfect for most every night between now and late February. This cake might just be the one that makes a name for me. Fingers crossed (with a mouth full of chocolate).
Have you ever put a pear in your purse? It always starts with the best of intentions. Mid-morning snack. Afternoon fruit break. Nope… it’s never going to be any of those. It’s going to get bruised by your wallet and smashed up against some loose pens. It never goes as well as you’d like it to.
Better idea? Pear in coffee cake.
This coffee cake is tender, spiced with Fall, and pear-studded. So much better than bruised and pen-stabbed, right!?
Let’s melt our butter and get this show on the road.
Sometimes in my daydreams I have hair that I can run my fingers through, I wear strapless dresses, I’m really good at driving a stick shift car, I have Sissy Spacek eyelids, and Sigourney Weaver narrates my life. Maybe also there’s an early 90’s Jagged Little Pill soundtrack running though my daydreams… but in a totally zen kinda way. I mean…
Daydreams are all well and good. But really, what’s the point daydreaming about different eyelids when there is a stack of freshly made baked doughnuts staring you in the face. Right?
I think I warned you about my new-found baked doughnut enthusiasm. A few weeks ago I made these Brown Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze, and they felt like just about the best thing EVER. I’m chasing that first baked doughnut high, this time with apples and cinnamon. Join me!
This skillet cake was divided into four pieces and eaten without apology. There was coffee: two cups each. There were a few dishes in the sink: no one cared. There was that dusty morning summer sun. So good! There was that thing I didn’t want to talk about: how my cellphone landed in the toilet and died rather unceremoniously. So bad.
Morning cake makes all the difference. Forever and always.
Time is a gift.
I know this because everyday feels like no one has time for anything ever. I’m not complaining. I’m not above it. I’m all up in it. No time? Guilty as ever.
Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is your time. Time at a new restaurant for one of those extra long lunches with pink wine and comfortable eye contact. Time at the dog park with a friend… when you’re mostly scared of large groups of dogs. Time on the phone when it’s late and your phone is over-heating on your face. Time in the kitchen making a very (very) special cake for the woman that took the dang time to carry you around in her body for nine dang months.
Time. Gosh it’s such a gift.
Let’s find some and share it with each other.
This Bundt cake is my way of making cake without rreeaaalllyy making cake. Filling, stacking, and fighting with frosting… sometimes (most times) making a layer cake is just too many steps in between me and a slice of cake.
I have sooo many tricks for doing things without doing things. (What does that even mean?) Mascara is my way of wearing makeup without wearing makeup. Carrot sticks and Tic Tacs are my way of eating lunch without eating lunch. Text messaging is my way of having a conversation without having a conversation. Coffee is my way of waking up without waking up.
You understand me. Let’s have cake.
This dessert feels like a fancied up cake mix situation without the guilt. Wait… am I the only one that feels guilty about adding eggs, water, and oil to a mix and calling it cake? I just know that I didn’t earn the compliments.
This cake is basically cake mix… without the mix or the box.
To be fair, I think brownies from a box are better than any brownie I could ever made from scratch. I’m not too proud to admit that. Delicious brownies without making brownies.
Ps. If Sweet Berry Lime makes you think of Dr. Steve Brule’s Sweet Berry Wine… you’re a friend of mine. If not… nevermind. XO!
This weekend I found myself in one of those expensive clothing boutiques that I really… really had no business being in. You know those stores: random things cost three hundred dollars and you have no idea why. Yea…
I realized something crazy ridiculous while browsing around. The only sizes displayed on the racks were sizes 0, 2, and 4. I ran across the occasional size 6 but those were like seeing a unicorn in a coffee shop.
Um…. this business practice does not at all agree with my thighs. Putting me through the discomfort of asking the XS sales girl for a larger-than-size-six-size is just not really that cool. It doesn’t inspire me to spend hundred of dollars to treat myself to clothes I don’t really need.
It’s like… Ok, fancy boutique, I see the ways in which you glorify size tiny while simultaneously work to undermine my confidence… but I happen to be happy with this body that I inhabit and I would hope that you would respect that, and reflect my needs among your offensively expensive offerings. No? You need to ‘go see if there’s a larger size from the back’? Wwwwhhhyyyy must we suffer through this exchange? It doesn’t have to be like this… you know that, right!? Fine. Whatever. I’m going to Zara.
I’m outraged and appalled (ok… i’m totally being dramatic) and I would like for you to pass the cake. Not because I’m eating my feelings, but because I actually eat cake and I’m totally ok with that.
- I sometimes think about working in a furniture store just to observe couples come in and fight over couch seat depth and textiles: a sociological study, you know? Ok… I never actually think about working in a furniture store… I’m really bad at talking about end tables and such.
- Only real adults should have to deal with fabric swatches. Seriously… what is this swatch supposed to tell me about my life? I don’t get it.
- I think that Ikea should have a bar instead of a cafeteria.
… I’m shopping for a couch… can you tell? Please send reinforcements (not fabric swatches).
- Buying a car is easier than buying a couch. I’m pretty sure this is fact.
I made this cake with far too much home decor nonsense in my brain. I came to realize that this cake is totally the best air freshener EVER. Couch shenanigans aside… (almost) all you really need is a house that smells of cake. So much can be forgiven is cake exists on pretty plates with hot coffee.
If you were to drop by my house on any given day you’d probably find me hungry and over-caffinated, behind a computer screen. You also might find me behind a giant pile of dirty dishes with flour all over my jeans. I’m not the kind of girl that’s instantly prepared for company. The pop-in is a biiig no-no. I do, however, wish I were the kind of lady that had pretty cake, coffee, and a pair of socially acceptable pants on at a moment’s notice. Sigh.
I also wish I were the kind of lady who had an attic full of festive Autumn decor that I could bust out every November for Thanksgiving decorating. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a different level of adulthood. Beyond pants, for real.
Since I don’t have any well-stored festive wreaths, I decided to celebrate Autumn on the real… with apples and trees and crisp cool sunshine. I went apple picking with Ms. Lani Trock, then I came home and made a simple and sweet Apple Skillet Cake. It’s like a visitor’s cake… the sort of cake you throw together for company on a Saturday afternoon (at least, that’s what I do in my fantasy version of adulthood) (after cake we go shopping for wreaths, right?).
all beautiful orchard photographs by ms. lani trock. she takes pretty pictures.
Sometimes I am a destroyer of myself. It’s the strangest thing… aren’t we designed to self-preserve? It feels like the most bonkers counter-intuitive part of me. My destroyer-self has tendencies. Tendencies are so annoying. Tendencies like, oh… I dunno… drinking way too much wine under stress or duress. Tendencies like… telling lies that need not be told. Tendencies like… believing the demon inside… the ones that say that I’m never ever good enough so why even try.
Gosh these tendencies. Dang them! They’re tough. They travel in packs in me and I end up in a cycle where I’m not doing myself, or anyone around me any good at all.
Is this too real? Is this just me? It can’t be. I can’t be the only destroyer.
Thank goodness there are tools. My tools of prevention include: brunch with a best friend, a super honest conversation with a stranger (taxi drivers are wonderful for this), words on the Lord, and the sharing of a cookie cake.
Let kindness prevail inside and out.
Say… hypothetically… you’re stalking someone on Facebook. Totally hypothetical.
So you’re stalking. First things first: type in name of unsuspecting stalkee.
Now, let’s just stop here for a moment. Please please make sure you type the stalkee’s name in the search bar, and not the what’s on your mind bar.
Should you happen to type the stalkee’s name in the what’s on your mind bar…. well, their name will be your new status update. Oooh, and you really can’t delete that fast enough.
Consider this a public service announcement. Don’t be like me. I’m constantly embarrassed.
Roast these strawberries. Ok… this is when you should totally be like me. Just don’t be like me on Facebook.
I know strawberries are lovely and beautiful fresh from the market. But… if you’re feeling like a person that wants to turn on the oven…. OH! The wonder!
Roasted strawberries transform from summer fruit, to warm, soft candy.
Dolloped on top of a sweet buttermilk cake? Too good. Game over.
Do you have an investment piece? Wait… do you even know what an investment piece is?
Don’t feel bad… I’m just figuring this out myself. An investment piece is a bonkers awesome, typically super expensive, designer dress that one (say… you!) might wear to a gala, ball, or um… red carpet event (because people totally do that). Can you wear it to a wedding? Only if you don’t look better than the bride.
Do you own an investment piece? ….anytime a dress is called a ‘piece’, I know I can’t afford it… let’s just be real.
I don’t own a piece.
I do, however, own one Le Creuset pot in a dusty purple. I have yet to figure out how to wear this to a gala… but luckily I haven’t been invited to any galas.
I don’t anticipate owning a piece. I do anticipate a lot of blazers, summer shorts, and loose tank tops in my warm weather future.
While I may not have the luxury of investment pieces… I do have the luxury of just enough time to make these special little quinoa cakes. They have kale in them! They’re divine and sophisticated! Just like galas.. but without the control top hose (…yea, that’s totally still a thing).
These little gems might remind you of the Lemon, Olive, and Parsley Quinoa Cakes I made last year. They were a good idea. Kale is totally a good idea too!
Five Things I would encourage you to do this weekend:
One: Give yourself some time to DO and NOT DO. Sleep in or take an after-pancake nap. Then clean out a kitchen drawer… or tackle a bathroom shelf or two. Do and Don’t… it’s all a balance, right?
Two: Read something special. I’m reading An Everlasting Meal. It’s not a cookbook. It’s not a memoir. It’s a book about life and the kitchen. It feels so different and so good.
Three: Make the call. Call you mother. Call your uncle. Call your neighbor. There’s not enough time in the day, especially when things like Twitter and Pinterest exist. I understand. Listen… just ignore the stupid Facebook timeline thing that’s totally annoying, and pick up the phone to tell you’re Great Aunt Mary that you love her and you think she’s the most awesome old lady around. Those things are important. Facebook timeline is not… don’t let them trick you.
Four: Buy a new lipstick. I love how a new lip color changes how I feel about my wardrobe. Girl talk!
Five: Maybe you have to work all weekend. I know… that’s real life. Why not come home, order good Chinese food, sweep your apartment floor while you’re waiting for delivery, then quickly eat your take-out while you watch an old episode of The Walking Dead. Eat somewhat quickly… before the zombie mess gets too gross. Aaaannnddd… you just got a glimpse of how I really live.
Five things! Enjoy them, or just totally ignore me. Either way I’m glad you’re here.
Oh! I made a cake with beans in it! I have a mad fascination with sneaking beans into things. Black Bean Brownies! Major. A new favorite for life.
I also have a huge fascination with big, chunky, flaked coconut. I’ve made doughnuts, and I’m downright obsessed with this kale and coconut concoction. I’m just really into this coconut. This sneaky bean cake is just the latest victim of coconut sprinkling. Get into it!
What comforts you these days?
My immediate comforts include pastel Easter candy, pizza from Delancey in Seattle, and hot coffee on hot coffee on hot coffee. I’m also soothed by caramel colored bourbon from small glass tea cups… that’s how ladies (and grandmothers) drink their bourbon. Why are all of my comforts food related?
I’m also comforted by old episodes of Seinfeld (who doesn’t like cashmere!?), copious amounts of post-it notes, over-sized grey sweaters, black leather wedge heels, and surprisingly…. I’ve been comforted by crowds of strangers. Thank you, people. I love you tremendous.
Chocolate and orange are also deep in my comfort brain sensors. Pound cake as a vehicle is just supreme.
Hello, Portland! You sure do know how to make a lady and her cookbook feel welcome! Thank you for coming out in the rain. Thank you for bringing me spoons to sign, lip stain to wear, and bright blue nail polish. It’s like you know me… because you totally do. You are true people. Thank you for all your smiles and love.
Please find, in the back left of the above photograph, someone holding up a little red baby. Sweet Jesus… I love you.
HeyHey Seattle, you look pretty in rain and grey… especially when you accent it with pink and turquoise. I love a good crash of color.
Chocolate and orange and chaos. Too many plates. Two cups of tea. Orange bites, and thick sliced cake.
I like when dessert settings appear cacophonous, and tend toward the delicious!
The Sunday Panics.
Do you get the Sunday Panics? Let me describe the symptoms and you can tell me whether or not I’m a strangebird, or if you relate. The Sunday Panics are most often characterized by: afternoon over-caffeination, tremendous amounts of NOT quality time spent on Twitter, a kitchen full of dirty dishes, a lengthy and daunting weekly to-do list, a fair amount of brain worry, possible nail biting, an intense desire for take-out Chinese food, and low motivation coupled with nagging laziness guilt.
Do you ever get the Sunday Panics?
Yea…. me neither. Of course not.
…except I totally do.
I’ve developed a cure for the Sunday Panics.
Movement! Up. Up. UP!! In the kitchen. Make a super easy cake. Definitely do the dishes. Make the to-do list for the week, then set it aside to rest until Monday morning. Write some greeting cards for friends. Call your mama. Enjoy cake during a several hour marathon of Grey’s Anatomy or Downton Abbey. When all else fails… try bourbon in the shower and an early bedtime. Give those Sunday Panics the boot!
Hey Dude (that I’m currently dating),
We need to talk. It’s about your mother.
Mostly… it’s about how I need to meet your mother. We’ve been carrying on for a while now… and I need to meet the lady that birthed you, clothed you, slapped you upside the head, and made you the awesome man you are now. If I don’t meet her soon, she will surely think me some sort of hussy harlot who was born in a barn and doesn’t much care for other people’s mothers. This is not the case. I care about most mothers, often.
It’s a lady thing that perhaps you don’t understand. I need to be nervous. I need to bite off all my nails. I need to agonize over the perfect outfit that will make me look sophisticated, but sweet and approachable, womanly without being more womanly that her. I need the outfit that says I can damn well take care of myself, and keep her dear and darling son in line for the rest of his life. It’s a fine fine fiiiine line.
I need to let your mother look me up and down in examination. I need to stand there and let her envision me as her daughter-in-law. I need to eat her casserole, express my desire for the recipe… then I need to do her dishes.
I need to let her tell me how to do things that I already know how to do, like make a pie, and pluck my eyebrows. We need to watch 60 Minutes together. She in her recliner, me sitting on the floor. I need to offer to bring dessert. She’ll make a face when it’s being served, and enjoy it despite herself. It’s all a dance. Every moment of it. It’s all a test… because mothers do not let their sons go quietly… they let them go passive aggressively.
Lastly, she needs to see that I make you happy. That’s where you come in. Don’t act weird. Well, don’t act weirder than you usually act. Be natural… and put your arm around me once in a while. It’s your job to make sure that no one gets a third glass of wine. That’s when things get weird.
It’s also your job NOT to tell your mother that there are beets in the cake I’m serving for dessert. That will be our little secret. Unless she loves it… then I’m taking all the glory.
Own your life. Own every last bit of it.
Don’t send your Christmas cards out until you’re good and ready. Wear neon purple tights with a grey dress… why not ? Go heavy on the gold eyeshadow…tis the season. Green nail polish? Go on. Run through the rain… or sleep in and skip exercise class.
Fashion your cakes into a roll and slice generous portions for yourself, and skinnier portions for other people. Pretend not to notice what you’re doing.
Whatever it is: own it!
Maybe you’re one of those people who thinks that rolling a cake is bonkers crazy and waaaaay too hard for you to do.
I’m hear to change your heart and mind. Ok? Let’s do this!