Honey Pistachio Cake

Slice of honey pistachio cake on a plate with the full cake and a mug in the background

Jordan: This is a good cake.

Kitra: I’d make this again on a non-Cake Day. It was so easy, so low stress, and so damn good.

One of the best effort-to-outcome ratios we’ve ever had for sure.

This all started with honey powder that we picked up on trip to New York over 2 years ago. As soon as we saw it, a pistachio cake with honey frosting was the goal.

Like baklava, but in cake form and without having to wrestle phyllo dough. The cake has a great pistachio flavor, nutty and not too sweet.

The frosting is so delightful, I’d like to put it on everything. The topping adds just the right baklava flair (and more pistachios!).

Honestly, we don’t know what else to say about this cake. We ate it in total silence: no critique, no chit chat. Just cake.

Top-down image of pistachio cake with honey-glazed pistachios on top

Honey Pistachio Cake

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Notes

This frosting uses honey powder, which is essentially just dehydrated honey. We bought ours at Kalustyan’s in New York, but you can also order it online or check at specialty food stores near you. If you don’t want to seek it out, feel free to try one of the many honey buttercreams on the internet. Stella Parks’s Honey Italian Buttercream is probably great, albeit a bit more complicated than a standard buttercream.

We used a food processor for the cake itself, but you can also make this with a stand or handheld electric mixer and it won’t add much time to the process. We thought of it too late, but in the directions below we have you make the frosting in food processor before the cake so you only have to wash it once. We did our frosting in a mixer, but no one likes extra dishes.

Pistachios should be roasted, shelled, and unsalted in both the cake and the topping. If you want a fun green color and a boring task to entertain yourself, you could probably blanch the pistachios before using. If using a mixer, you’ll need to find pistachio meal instead; use 140g rather than trying to measure by volume.

Feel free to add some spices to the cake batter to really emphasize the baklava flavor. A bit of cinnamon and/or cardamom would be great here.

Ingredients

Frosting

  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup (70g) honey powder
  • 1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake

  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (140g) pistachios (see note)
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (5 oz.) unsalted butter, cold is fine if using a food processor, softened if using a mixer
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • Slightly heaped 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (115g) flour

Topping

  • ½ cup (60g) pistachios
  • 2 ½ tablespoons (50g) honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • pinch of salt

Directions

Frosting

In a food processor: Add all frosting ingredients to the bowl of your food processor. Process until thick and fluffy, scraping down as necessary. Transfer to a separate bowl and scrape/wipe out the food processor as best as possible, but no need to wash.

With a mixer: Beat the butter on its own until it is soft. Sift in the honey powder and powdered sugar and mix to combine. Add the vanilla extract and beat until the frosting is thick and fluffy. Transfer frosting to a separate bowl and scrape/wipe out the mixer bowl and beater as best as possible, but no need to wash.

Cake

Preheat oven to 325°. Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper, then butter or spray the sides of the pan.

In a food processor: Add the pistachios, sugar, and salt and process until they are a very fine powder. Chunk up the butter, add it to the mix, and process until it becomes smooth and soft. Add eggs one at a time, blending in between and scraping the bowl down if need be, then blend in the milk and extracts. Add baking powder and blend again. Add the flour and pulse until everything is just combined.

With a mixer: Beat the softened butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating in between each, then add milk and extracts and beat to combine. Mix in salt and baking powder. Add flour and mix until just combined.

Both methods: Spread the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Move to a wire rack to cool.

Topping & Assembly

Once the cake has cooled fully, make the pistachio topping. Combine pistachios, honey, salt, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is slightly thickened and everything smells great. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you assemble the rest of the cake.

Carefully divide the cake into two layers. Spread frosting gently on top of the bottom layer, going all the way to the edges. Replace the top layer.

Once the pistachio glaze has cooled enough to no longer be runny, use a spoon to scoop the pistachios out and place them on top of the cake. Drizzle the remaining liquid over top. Serve.

Our 2nd Birthday Cake

Three-layer yellow cake with chocolate frosting, sprinkles, and a candle

Jordan: About two years ago, we decided that we had more cake recipes bookmarked than we had occasions to make cake, and thus, Cake Day was born.

Kitra: I will always remember what weekend our cake… anniversary(?) falls on because it was the same day that Falsettos opened on Broadway in 1992. That’s in my calendar as a recurring event.

(Kitra is a nerd.) Cake Day shares a birthday weekend with several awesome things, including Kitra’s local bookstore, where she picked up a copy of Alison Roman’s Dining In this weekend. It’s full of great dinner ideas and brilliant cooking tips, but it also includes a recipe for the fluffiest yellow cake ever.

It’s tall and beautiful just like a birthday cake should be. Also, I would like everyone here to try and explain to relative strangers that you’re buying a birthday candle for a cake about cake. (Thanks to my other favorite local store for never being put off by sentences like that when I come in to buy a “2” candle, or walk in with nothing but a melon and a dog in hand.)

Funnily enough, we didn’t really have this kind of birthday cake growing up. (I was always a cheesecake fan, at least after the “cakes shaped like princess castles or dinosaurs” phase. I contained multitudes as a child). But there’s something undeniably birthday-y about good yellow cake, chocolate frosting, and sprinkles.

Mine often had the misfortune of being Halloween-themed, so I too lacked the classic birthday cake experience. In fact, for the past 6 years I haven’t had cake at all. But yellow cake with chocolate frosting and sprinkles is still what I bring to any and all birthday celebrations that I’m allowed to bring cake to.

Last year we tried out the recipe from Stella Parks’s cookbook, Bravetart, and it was… fine? But it wasn’t quite what we were looking for. (The cookbook is great though, don’t get us wrong.) This one hit the spot.

I’m pretty loyal to the Smitten Kitchen cake and frosting, but I think that the size and scale of this cake work better with a fluffy beautiful cake like this. (If you want a sheet cake though, you know where to look.) We kept the frosting though, because it is just so damn easy and smooth.

That said, if you happen to have a recipe for a fudgy frosting that tastes just like the amazing canned stuff you buy at the grocery store, send it our way. There’s always next year.

Three-layer cake with chocolate frosting, sprinkles, and a lit candle

Fluffy Yellow Cake

From Dining In by Alison Roman

Notes

On the order of operations: We have you prep your dry and liquid mixes first here, so that they’re ready when the time comes to add them. However, the butter/sugar/egg process takes almost 10 minutes here, so if you have a stand mixer we recommend starting that first and prepping the other ingredients while it runs.

Ingredients

  • 3¼ cups (365g) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1½ cups buttermilk
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 oz.) butter, softened
  • 2 cups (400g) white sugar
  • ½ cup (100g) brown sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350°. Grease three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment.

First, prep your dry and liquid ingredients. In a medium bowl, combine cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside. In a separate bowl (or large liquid measuring cup), combine buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and set that aside too.

In a large bowl (we mean large; don’t skimp here) combine butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Using an electric hand or stand mixer, cream on high for about 4 minutes. The mixture should be very light and fluffy; take the full time here will make the next step work better. Add the eggs and yolks one at a time, then beat on high for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is absurdly fluffy and roughly doubled.

Add about a third of the flour mixture and beat on low until it’s just mostly combined. Mix in half the buttermilk. Repeat with another third of the flour and the remaining buttermilk. Add the last of the flour and mix until fully combined, being sure to scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl.

Divide the cake batter evenly into the three prepared pans. If you want to be precise and use a scale, we found that each pan got about 600g of batter. Smooth the surfaces of each layer.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until the tops are set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. You’ll likely want to shift the cakes halfway through, to change up whichever is in the middle (if you put them all on one oven rack) or on its own rack (if you used two). Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before gently turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with chocolate buttercream.

Chocolate Buttercream

Adapted the tiniest bit from Smitten Kitchen Every Day by Deb Perelman

Notes

We made this in the food processor, but if you don’t have one (or don’t have a large enough one), you can do it with an electric mixer as well. Just beat the butter, powdered sugar, and salt together first before adding the remaining ingredients. If you’re using a mixer, we recommend sifting your powdered sugar first; it’s not necessary with the food processor.

Deb uses unsweetened chocolate here; we used Trader Joe’s 70% dark chocolate. Either will work, but of course dark chocolate will end up with a slightly sweeter frosting.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (3 sticks, 12 oz.) butter, softened
  • 4½ cups (540g) powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 oz (170g) dark or unsweetened chocolate (see note), melted and cooled
  • 3 tablespoons cream or milk
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

In a large food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Scrape the sides of the processor bowl to make sure there are no pockets of unmixed ingredients hiding anywhere. Blend again until fluffy.

Classic Cake Day: Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Black Currant Whipped Cream

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[Classic Cake Day revisits some of our favorite cakes from the first year or so, before the blog. We made this cake for Valentine’s Day 2018.]

Jordan: This cake was delicious. Kitra also broke a chair taking pictures of it.

Kitra: I forgot that a screw was loose and wanted to get this cake from all the angles because it’s. just. so. pretty.

When we were in New York to see a musical a while back (Come From Away, go see it, it’s amazing), we stopped by Kalustyan’s to browse the truly absurd amount of spices, herbs, and miscellaneous flavorings they have there.

We picked up a couple of things, but the first one to see use was the black currant juice powder, because it is truly the most remarkable color and tastes great.

Plus it’s the king of berries!

Or so they said. I buy it.

Literally. We bought it. And it was delicious—bright and fruity, and when folded into whipped cream made a delightful replacement for the heavy buttercream you might expect from a Valentine’s Day cake.

While we’d hoped it would stay hot pink in the cream, it turned into a lovely shade of purple and we’re not mad about it.

We paired it here with a vanilla buttermilk cake, which was moist and dense in the best senses of both of those words.

When we looked back to write this post, the first though both of us had was “my coworkers loved this cake,” so it’s clearly also a crowd-pleaser. Which is good, because this makes a lot of cake.

You could easily scale down the recipe and do this as a single layer cake with a thick layer of frosting and it would be a great afternoon snack… But if you make the full thing, we don’t think your coworkers will mind.

valentines-cake-2.jpg

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake with Black Currant Whipped Cream

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who adapted it from Sky High

Notes

We recognize that black currant juice powder is kind of a niche product, so don’t feel obliged to track it down. This cake would also pair well with any fruit whipped cream made with freeze-dried berries, like the blueberry one we made over the summer. Strawberries or raspberries would be nice and festive for Valentine’s Day.

Since this is a whipped cream topping, be sure to keep the cake in the fridge once frosted.

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

Ingredients

3 3/4 cups (450g) cake flour
2 1/2 cups (500g) sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup buttermilk (divided)
5 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°. Butter three 8- or 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment.

Combine dry ingredients, including sugar, in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the butter and 1¼ cup buttermilk and beat on low until blended, then increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, vanilla, and remaining ⅓ cup buttermilk. In three additions, fold the egg mixture into the rest of the batter.

Divide batter into pans; there should be about 3 cups of batter per pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out free of batter. Allow to cool fully before frosting with black currant whipped cream between each layer and on top. If desired, dust top of frosted cake with additional black currant powder.

Black Currant Whipped Cream

Ingredients

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
black currant powder, to taste

Directions

Using an electric mixer, whip cream and sugar together until thick and fluffy. Use a rubber spatula to fold in black currant powder, tasting as you go, until the flavor is to your liking.

Classic Cake Day: Red Velvet Ghost Cake

ghost-cake.jpg

[Classic Cake Day revisits some of our favorite cakes from the first year or so, before the blog. We made this cake in October 2017.]

Jordan: Last year’s Halloween cake was probably going to be a cake covered entirely in candy eyes, like a sprinkle cake (but eyes).

Kitra: Which we should still do.

Agreed. But it was worth postponing because: ghost pretzels. Ghost. Pretzels. They look like the poor unfortunate souls from The Little Mermaid! You can’t not love them.

We had way too much fun making ghosts. Also just saying the word “ghosts”.

Imagine Kitra saying “ghosts” with a Minnesotan accent over and over and you’ll get the idea.

Ghoosts.

Rather than just covering any old cake in ghosts, we went for the most disturbingly blood-like of cakes: red velvet.

I’ve used Alton Brown’s recipe before, and it’s lovely. Except where it looks like the inside of our meat suits.

That was gross. I’m sorry. This cake is delicious, but be warned that between the cake, cream cheese frosting, and a solid coating of yogurt-covered pretzels, it’s VERY sweet.

And also your fingers will be a weird color for days unless you’re very careful.

Recommended order of operations for this:

  1. Make the cakes so that they can cool
  2. Make frosting
  3. Make a million tiny ghosts
  4. Start thinking of puns that combine both ghosts and cake
  5. Assemble the cake
  6. Make a really bad video
  7. Profit???

 

 

I was really insistent about the video. I also love it. In fact, I showed it to someone this month for no particular reason other than I feel it is a work of ART.

In summary, we’re not really inventing the wheel here on red velvet cake, but we are making it a lot spookier.

ghost-pretzel

Red Velvet Cake with Pretzel Ghosts

Cake from Alton Brown, ghosts inspired by Dessert Now Dinner Later

Alton Brown stubbornly insists that you use weights when baking, and while he’s correct that it’s better that way, it’s not convenient if you don’t have a baking scale. You can convert your ingredients here if you like.

Two bags of pretzels will likely give you more than you need, but it’s good to have extra so that you can discard (aka eat) the broken ones.

Cake

Ingredients

5 1/2 oz all-purpose flour
4 oz cake flour
1/2 oz cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk, room temperature
2 T red liquid food coloring
1 T white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 1/2 oz brown sugar
4 oz. (1 stick, 4 T) unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350°. Line two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Set both dry and wet ingredients aside while you do the next step.

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer), use an electric mixer on low and cream butter and brown sugar about 2 minutes, until it is lighter in color. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully combined.

Add one third of the flour mixture and mix on medium speed mostly combined. Add half of the buttermilk mixture and mix until mostly combined. Repeat with another third of the flour, the other half of the buttermilk, and the last of the flour. Mix until the batter is fully smooth.

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 10-15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool fully.

To Decorate

Ingredients

2 12-oz bags of yogurt-covered pretzels
2 packages of candy eyes
cream cheese frosting of your choice (we made ours up as we went, but Alton’s original recipe includes one)
food coloring (if desired)

Directions

Scoop about half a cup of frosting into a small bowl and set aside. If desired, add food coloring to the remaining frosting until it reaches your desired shade. Set the tinted frosting aside.

Using a butter knife, dab a small amount of the reserved white frosting onto the back of a candy eye and place it on a pretzel, over one of the two upper holes. This is usually easiest if you place it toward the top or bottom of the hole, so that the candy eye has as much surface area covering meeting the pretzel as possible. Eyes at the top make them more ghoulish; eyes at the bottom make them more adorable. Set ghost aside to firm up. Repeat until you run out of pretzels, eyes, or time.

Frost your cake and arrange pretzel ghosts to your liking. While a two-layer cake will neatly fit two rows of ghosts if you stagger them (think like the pattern of bricks), know that this makes the cake very hard to slice and we don’t recommend it.

Black Sesame Orange Layer Cake

sesame-cake-1

Kitra: Jordan loves Halloween. I love… cake.

Jordan: It’s my fault. I ruined Halloween for Kitra by forcing her to have Halloween birthday parties throughout her childhood.

I maintain that there is no such thing as a “seasonally appropriate theme party” and that if my birthday was near any other holiday we would not do that.

I always thought she was wrong about this, but no. It has taken me almost twenty-six years to realize that I would have a New Year’s/Fourth of July/Halloween themed birthday, but normal people would not. Clearly I was always an event planner at heart.

Anyway, this is why we always make a Halloween cake and I don’t even make myself cake for my actual birthday. #TeamEatonMess

Halloween cakes are great because you get to be ridiculous with them. Hence the way this looks a little like a Halloween carnival threw up on a cake plate.

Even though it looks like circus peanuts, I promise it doesn’t taste like them. For one thing, it’s not stale. Yet.

The cake itself is black sesame, which has a nice mild nuttiness

–same–

and we included a slick of marmalade in between each layer, which gives it a little bitterness.

Also same.

The frosting is fairly sweet, but it’s also light. We discovered this bizarre cooked frosting a while back—you start by basically making a bechamel, which seems so, so wrong—that provides a nice neutral base for a little bit of orange flavor. (Side note: I now want to make a cheese frosting using this base.)

I don’t buy the idea that this would be anything other than horrifying. And I LOVE cheese.

This cake is also the culmination of two long-held food dreams.

Back in… 2013? I got a tube of sweet black sesame paste, which I mostly ate with a spoon and a glass of orange juice. I always said I would start a food blog only if I could come up with a good black sesame/orange cookie.

For me, I’ve been holding onto this recipe for probably five years and finally got an opportunity to make it, or at least something like it. Considering that half the point of Cake Day was to use up my many bookmarks, I’m pretty happy with that.

sesame-cake-2

Black Sesame Orange Layer Cake

Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes

This cake would also be good scaled down into something of an afternoon tea cake, with a thin orange icing and/or a simple layer of marmalade, no frosting.

The first part of this recipe walks you through making a sweet sesame paste; if you have access to a good Asian grocery where you can find the pre-made stuff, it would likely work with that too. Make sure you find one that is sweetened, not just plain black sesame paste. The recipe will make more than you need; you’ll need about 2 cups total, whether homemade or store-bought.

Glutinous rice flour is the kind used to make mochi and other gloopy treats; it is not the same as regular rice flour. It’s sometimes sold as sweet rice flour or mochiko.

Finally, we highly recommend finding pre-ground black sesame seeds (sometimes called black sesame powder) if possible, but you can also try lightly toasting and then grinding them as finely as possible in a blender or food processor. Be sure to toast them first, as the raw seeds will have a lot more bitterness. For best results, measure the seeds by weight and grind them along with the rice flour and sugar–the extra volume will help.

Ingredients

1 cup (85g) ground black sesame seeds
½ cup (80g) glutinous rice flour
½ cup (100g) sugar
2 cups cold water, plus more as needed
½ tsp sesame oil
1 cup (8oz, 227g, 2 sticks) butter, softened
2c (400g) sugar
4 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla
3½ cups (440g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
orange frosting (see below)
2 tbsp orange marmalade, stirred so that it is easily spreadable
black sesame seeds, for topping

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Line the bottoms of three 8-inch round pans with parchment and lightly grease the insides of the pans.

In a medium saucepan, combine ground sesame, ½ cup sugar, rice flour, and 1 cup of cold water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a flexible spatula, until the mixture is fully combined and starts to thicken. Add the second cup of water and continue stirring.

Let sesame paste cook, stirring consistently, until it is the consistency of warm pudding: it should be able to ooze off the spatula when you scoop it up, but it shouldn’t be runny. The mixture may come to a very slow boil at some point, which is fine. If you find that your paste has thickened up too much, add a little more water and stir until it thins back down.

Stir in the sesame oil, then remove pot from heat and set sesame paste aside to cool to room temperature. (You can move it to a separate bowl and/or put it in the fridge/freezer to hurry this along.)

In a large bowl, cream butter and 2 cups sugar together with an electric beater until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until combined, then add vanilla.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Once the sesame paste has cooled, add a third of the flour mixture to the butter and sugar, beating until mostly combined. Beat in one cup of sesame paste until mostly combined. Repeat with two more portions of flour and one additional cup of sesame paste (for two cups total) and mix batter until fully combined. The batter will be very thick.

Divide batter into three prepared pans and bake 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cakes cool in their pans for about 10 minutes, then remove onto a rack to cool fully.

To assemble cake, spread a thin layer of frosting onto the top of one cake layer, followed by a very thin layer of marmalade. Don’t spread the marmalade all the way to the edges, as it can make for a messier frosting job on the outside. Repeat with second layer and top with the final layer (no marmalade needed here). Frost the outside of your cake and top with sesame seeds as desired.

Orange Frosting

Adapted from Food52

Ingredients

slightly full ¼ cup (35g) flour
1½ c milk
¾ tsp salt
1½ c (300g) sugar
zest of 1 orange
1½ c (12 oz, 340g, 3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
½ tsp orange extract
food coloring (optional)

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine milk, flour, and salt. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the mixture just comes to a boil. It will thicken significantly as it does so. Remove from heat and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, until it is a little warmer than room temperature.

In a large bowl, combine the sugar and orange zest. Use your fingers to rub the orange zest into the sugar; this helps release the flavor. Add butter and beat using an electric mixer until very light and fluffy.

Once the milk mixture is cool enough that it won’t melt the butter, add it one spoonful at a time to the butter and sugar, beating throughout. As you add more, the frosting will become light and fluffy; continue beating until you’ve added all of the milk mixture. Add orange extract and food coloring, if using.

Red Red Wine Chocolate Rage Cake

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Jordan: So this week happened.

Kitra: 😡

This week happened, and then I googled “rage cake recipe” and mostly got gender reveal cakes(?).

Which do, in fact, fill most of us with rage. Gender is a fucking construct you assholes, get it together and just buy some tiny baby overalls. They’re unisex.

Kitra is still in a generally angry mood.

😡

My first impulse was “what kind of cake involves smashing things” but alcohol was a close second. Smitten Kitchen, ever the source of great ways to drown your sorrows, provided us with this cake.

My response was “I am on board with the red wine cake provided I can write something along the lines of ‘AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH on it in melted chocolate.”

Other options included “wtf y’all” and “honestly fuck Susan Collins” but we decided to keep it simple. Turns out I’m not half bad at icing in cursive. This is probably not what my third-grade teacher intended.

This cake is exactly what it claims to be. It tastes like wine and chocolate.

(Red Red Wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiineeeeee)

The frosting tastes like sweetened condensed milk, though you could use a standard cream cheese frosting.

Speaking of sweetened condensed milk, during the making of this cake, I revisited some classic Buzzfeed quizzes including “What kind of milk are you?” which is deeply embedded in my personality.

“Do you want to start writing the blog post?” “Hold on, I need to finish finding out what kind of soup I am.”

I’m minestrone. She’s miso.

Getting back to the cake: It’s one-bowl, it’s not too sweet, and it includes two cups of wine. This is a cake to make when you want to smash the patriarchy, when you have that damn UB40 song stuck in your head, when you want to cry into dessert, or when you just want a good chocolate cake. Swear words highly encouraged, because fuck eloquent discourse.

So, from two 2% milks to all of you, have some rage cake.

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Red Wine Chocolate Cake

This is the layer cake version from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, but the single-layer cake on the website is essentially identical.

The mascarpone in the frosting gives a noticeable dairy flavor, but you could sub cream cheese easily. Our frosting was a little thin and grainy, but we suspect it’s because our mascarpone was nearly room temperature. It should whip up better if you keep it cool. The online version has a very lightly sweetened whipped mascarpone topping instead, which would be good option for something that’s not so sweet.

Use whatever red wine you like; we used Wish Flower from Trader Joe’s because Jordan had an open bottle of it she wasn’t going to drink.

Ingredients

16 T (225g, 2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups (340g) packed brown sugar
⅔ cups (135g) white sugar
4 large eggs
2 cups red wine
2 tsp vanilla extract
2¾ cups (345g) flour
1⅓ cups (115g) cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325°. Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper and coat the insides with nonstick spray.

In a large bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until smooth. Add brown and white sugar and continue creaming until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and mix to combine, then add red wine and vanilla. Mix until more or less smooth; the batter will look somewhat curdled at this point, which is fine.

Sift all of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients; no need to combine them in a separate bowl first. Mix until combined; a few lumps are okay.

Divide batter into prepared cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then remove cakes to wire racks to cool completely. When cool, top with frosting.

Mascarpone Frosting

Ingredients

16oz mascarpone
2⅓ cups (280g) powdered sugar, sifted
Pinch of salt
¼ tsp vanilla extract

Directions

Beat all ingredients with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Chocolate Cake

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Kitra: There was a time in my youth(ish) where I lived in a place deep, deep within the archives of Better Homes and Gardens. I made their Rosemary Lemon Cupcakes at least once a month, and everything else I tried came from there. Enter this cake. It was always… Almost right. A dense chocolate cake that tasted barely healthy, with a truly inadequate dollop of blueberry infused Cool Whip. It’s been on my list of things to fix up for a while, so I brought the idea to Jordan.

Jordan: And I had zero opinions on it, but also zero opinions on anything else. The world runs on apathy. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So we made a cake! Apathy Cake! Or, Whole Wheat Chocolate Blueberry Cake.

Kitra suggested calling it “extra-gluten chocolate cake,” but I was pretty sure that’s not how whole wheat works.

Listen, it’s WHOLE wheat. Not just partial wheat. Extra wheat = extra gluten.

Fun fact: The internet tells me that whole wheat flour actually has less gluten. So.

Fun fact: Shut up. Bonus fact: Jordan calls blueberries “bluebs.” And also corrected my spelling of “bluebs.”

It’s the first part of the word “blueberries”! Of course it’s spelled that way! But also, blame my coworker for me saying “bluebs.” She started doing it and now I can’t stop. It’s so much fun to say. Bluebs. Bluebs. Say it with me.

I’m good.

Bluebs. Bluuuuuuebs.

The original cake is one layer, and generally close to something you’d want to eat while not quite making it. (Can I be mean to this cake?) The first change I wanted to make was modifying it to become a layer cake, which meant making the batch slightly larger. The second thing that I wanted to change was the blueberry layer. In the original recipe, there is hardly any blueberry. In fact, Jordan didn’t even realize it existed in the original recipe until it was pointed out while writing this. This is, however, the best part of the cake, so in this revision I wanted us to focus in on the blueberries labor.

Ah yes, the blueberries’ labor. [Note: Kitra is voice-typing.]

They do do most of the heavy lifting, and we thank them for their service.

Anyway, focusing in on the blueberry flavor. Swapping out the Cool Whip-blueberry concoction for  a blueberry whipped cream, we were able to get more into the cake. After making that whipped cream, we decided it wasn’t enough and ran to the store to get blueberry jam. Which is a stand-in for the moisture that the original recipe gets from a “ganache” and adds more fruit notes to the cake.

Side note: This cake was SO EASY. It took 10 minutes and 2 dishes to make the batter, and it is deeply pretty. Plus, it’s got whole wheat so I think you’re good to eat it for every meal today.

Oh good, because that was my plan. The cake itself is fudgy and delicious, and I say that as someone who doesn’t really like chocolate cake. The whipped cream tastes like a milkshake and we ate the leftovers straight from the food processor bowl with our forks while writing this.

Any last words on this cake?

Bluebs.

🤦

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Whole Wheat Blueberry Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens and Serious Eats. See Instagram for some behind-the-scenes shots.

Cake

1 ½ cup (180g) whole wheat flour
1 ½ cup (300g) sugar
9 tablespoons (45g) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder, lightly heaped
¾ teaspoon baking soda
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
¾ cup blueberries
1 whole egg plus 1 white

Frosting

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (50g) sugar
25g freeze-dried blueberries

Assembly

Extra freeze-dried blueberries (optional)
1/3 cup blueberry jam
Blueberries to top

Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In medium bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In blender combine water, blueberries, and the egg and white. Cover and blend until smooth.

Add to flour mixture. Whisk until well combined.

Divide the batter into two greased 8 inch round pans, and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Frosting

In a food processor, blend the dried berries and sugar until powdery. Add the cream, and blend until stiff.

Assembly

Spread a thin layer of jam over each cake layer. Place the first layer, and add about half of your whipped cream. (Note: If you have leftover dried blueberries, feel free to do what we did and sprinkle some crushed berries over the whipped cream between layers.) Add the second layer and top with the remaining whipped cream. The cream will squish out a bit between the layers, so you can run an offset spatula around the cake to create the semi-frosted sides you see on our cake. We topped ours with some remaining dried blueberries (crushed) and a pile of fresh blueberries.

This cake keeps well in the fridge for a few days.