CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE WITH PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING

December 15, 2014

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Sometimes when I feel uninspired to bake, I go back to the basics. Classic chocolate chip cookies, brownies, cupcakes… and loaf cakes. The moment I laid eyes on this Chocolate Pound Cake loaf recipe, I knew it was going to be a favorite in my arsenal. I had already made a Chocolate Beet Loaf cake at the beginning of the year that was spectacular, but sometimes you just gotta leave the veggies out of it and go with traditional. With the winter time bringing shorter days with sunlight hours between 8:30am-4:30pm, getting in baking time can be a challenge. As much as I prefer to bake in the fall and winter, the trade-off is that I have to be prepared and plan out what I’m going to bake days ahead of time, as usually a day full of errands and trips to the grocery store takes away preparation and photography time.

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While in the midst of baking this loaf, my realtor pinged me to go scope out a house. Obviously I had to wait until it was out of the oven, but the decision was: look at the house in the daylight and photograph this cake later in the dark with minimal lighting (or not at all), or photograph this cake while ample light was left and look at the house in the dark. Not wanting to keep anyone waiting, and being anxious to view the house, I ended up photographing this right before all the light was gone. High ISO = grainy images but hey, it’s better than nothing!

Part of what attracted me to this particular recipe was that I already had everything I needed on hand– eggs, butter, cocoa powder, flour, chocolate, etc. But I’m kind of an OCD baker like that. I like being prepared for when inspiration or cravings or catastrophes strike, and this was no exception.  The peanut butter frosting was spontaneous, but lent the perfect touch. These days, I pretty much just wing my powdered sugar frostings and eyeball the ratios from having made them so many times for cupcakes and cakes. Consistency is key, and it’s a kind of game. Add more liquid if too stiff, add more sugar if too thin. Also playing around with the flavors. It’s fun. And that’s the point of baking, am I right? This tasted practically like a brownie with peanut butter frosting. Who can say no to that?

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CHOCOLATE POUND CAKE WITH PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING

Serves 8

Adapted from OMG Chocolate Desserts

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 oz 60% chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons instant espresso or coffee granules (optional)

For the Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 oz cream cheese
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
  • ground nutmeg (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Grease a 9×5″ baking loaf pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the flour and salt together. Set aside.
  3. Place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl (ie. Pyrex measuring cup), and pour boiling water of the chocolate to melt. Then stir in the cocoa and set aside to cool.
  4. Mix the butter, oil and sugar until fluffy, then add in the chocolate-cocoa mixture.
  5. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  6. Gradually stir in the flour-salt mixture until well incorporated. Add in ground coffee, if using.
  7. Transfer batter into prepared pan, and gently tap several times to remove air bubbles.
  8. Bake 60-70 minutes, testing with a toothpick at the 60 min mark. Do not over bake, otherwise it will dry out quickly. You could alternatively turn the oven off, and wedge a wooden spoon into the oven door and let a little heat escape while it’s still “baking”.
  9. While cooling, make the peanut butter frosting: with an electric mixer, combine the peanut butter and cream cheese. Gradually add in the powdered sugar, and thin out with the heavy cream until proper consistency is reached (you may have to add in more liquid or sugar). Spread on top of cake, slice and enjoy!
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FRIDAY FAVORITES // DEC 12. 2014

December 12, 2014

Hey friends! How is it nearly the middle of December already? Time has been flying, and admittedly I’ve been a little neglectful here on the blog. Haven’t had much time to bake trying to balance life in every other aspect. Working a lot, preparing to go home and visit my family over the holidays, and in general just trying to keep my head above water to maintain a sense of sanity around the apartment and in my life. I’m looking forward to a 2 week break ahead, especially since I’ve been hit with a sore, itchy throat that will likely lead to a cold (but I’m fighting it tooth and nail!) which means my body is rebelling and telling me it needs some R&R. Working oneself ragged is never fun, and I feel like I’m just on the edge of that.

Anyway, in happier news! After cooking up a wonderful Thanksgiving feast for two, we ended up taking a trip to the coast on Black Friday, specifically Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City. Just a quick overnight stay with a view of the ocean, an indoor jacuzzi and fireplace. We got a ton of reading done and mostly stayed inside from the rain and crazy winds. But it was just what we needed.

A few more photos of what’s been going on lately: trying to run outside as much as possible and enjoy the fall color, reading Wild faster than any other novel I’ve read this year (so good), cozying up with the kittens and attempting to keep the heat in the apartment, drinking lots of yummy candy cane coffee and consuming many satsumas, rainy day shopping downtown, wanting all of the chocolate, and browsing pretty shops. (ps. this lipstick is ahmazing).

And now, some news and links from around the web:

-Greg and Douggie are doing really, really well on Top Chef!

-Speaking of Wild, Reese was here on Monday for the big Portland premiere (so wish I could have been invited! sad face), and tickets are pretty much all sold out for tonights showings. Going to see it tomorrow night, can’t wait! More behind the scenes of making the movie, and locations filmed in and around PDX.

-In relation to the PCT, a pop-up cafe along the trail would definitely make my weary, aching hiking feet much happier. Here are also some lovely portraits of hikers on the PCT. Love it.

-Twelve lovely gifts under $10 via DesignSponge.

-Sometimes we can all feel this way, and it’s reassuring.

-There’s only one real way to listen to music, science says.

-This is the best. THE BEST! Kitty therapy FTW!

-Ten jaw-dropping photos to make your head spin.

-Seinfeld visits Portland in a vintage two-stroke Saab and has coffee with Fred Armisen! LOVE!

-Ok, back to cats, because I can never help myself (maybe this explains it). A cat’s guide to loving a human. So accurate! At least for us, anyway…

-14 truths about being an introvert. One hundred percent relatable.

-This is pretty much the only damn fine thing I want for Christmas. Or ever, really.

-Big sigh of relief/newsflash: not wanting kids is entirely normal.

-No wonder some of my greatest recipe ideas have come to me in the middle of the night!

-Who else is listening to Serial? Going through these Reddit posts has been extremely fascinating. Still have a few episodes to catch up on, so no spoilers!

Have a wonderful, relaxing weekend everyone!

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RESTAURANT PHOTOS: NED LUDD, PORTLAND OR

December 2, 2014

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I’m not sure if I ever mentioned this, but back toward the end of last Spring/start of Summer, I started freelancing for the Portland MercurySuch a wonderful opportunity to build my skills doing my favorite activity: photographing food. My very first photo assignment was for a “veggie issue“, and I was to get photos of two vegetarian dishes from Ned Ludd (owned and operated by Jason French), and some of Departure (executive chef Gregory Gourdet–also currently a contestant on season 12 of Top Chef). The Departure photos never happened for reasons out of my control, but at least Ned Ludd worked out.  It’s a beautiful space, full of rustic Portland charm and wholesome food. With axes and stacks of chopped wood surrounding every nook and cranny, you feel like you just walked into John Muir’s restaurant, if he ever had one. Very friendly people, and they styled each plate effortlessly on unique pieces of vintage china. Their creative eye in styling the food made my job easy, and luckily I scored a table with perfect natural lighting.

Being that this was my first assignment out on my own, doing my thing, I’ll admit–I was ridiculously nervous! And I had to take a photo of the chef! A very well-known Portland chef! Taking photos of food, I’m familiar with, but I am not a professional portraiture photographer! I was a little worried. Questions racing through my mind, up until doing this included how many people would be sitting in the restaurant enjoying their meal would be staring at me while I jump around kneeling on chairs and doing crazy overhead shots? Would I fumble with my tripod? Would I even need to use it? (Bring it anyway!) Would I take multiple shots with each and every lens I own? Where would I take the photos? Would there be sufficient natural lighting? Would I be nervous? Would the chefs be nice? Would I drop something? How long would it take me? Talk about anxiety! Trying to collect myself and stay calm and breathe was honestly the hardest part. The photo taking? No problem! I was shaking and a nervous wreck the entire time. The adrenaline was pumping, and I was worried my shaky hands would result in blurry photos. Luckily, the photos turned out exactly as I hoped them to. I used my tripod on a few shots, but, like every time I use my tripod, I end up feeling constricted and frustrated and just say hell with it… I’m winging it. Needless to say, I’m pleased how these turned out in the end, and ever since this shoot, I’ve never felt more confident. It was like I got all the shakiness out of my system, and ever since, the assignments have been a breeze! Cool, calm, and collected. The most exciting part? Seeing everything go to print, and rushing out to pick up a freshly printed issue every Wednesday afternoon or Thursday morning. Celebrating my successes with family and friends, and patting myself on the back. That is what makes it all worth while.

I still have yet to enjoy a full course meal from Ned Ludd, but I intend to go back very soon. Their Monday night wood fired pizza and weekend brunch is supposed to be top notch. Also–check out their new project, Elder Hall.

More photos of other restaurant photo assignments to come!

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