Braided Onion Bread

This braided onion bread is made with a rich, buttery, yeast-based dough. Each of the four strands in the braid is stuffed with a caramelized onion and grated cheese mixture.

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One of my first memories related to baking was a demonstration conducted at my kindergarten where bread dough was shaped into turtles, and birds, and elaborate braids. Scissors were used to create the tiny bread spikes on the backs of alligator and hedgehog-shaped loaves. Lobster claws got a snip up the center for visual effect and each figure was placed in an oven until puffy, golden, and fragrant. We were each allowed to take one home. The whole experience blew my five year-old mind. Braided Onion Bread filled With Caramelized Onions and Gruyere Cheese
I still like to bake elaborate braided loaves. Especially when things in my life are tumultuous. I made this one a couple of times prior to the holidays, and decided to make it again last week to photograph and share with you. It’s made with a rich, buttery, yeast-based dough. Each of the four strands in the braid is stuffed with a caramelized onion and grated cheese mixture. If you’ve never baked a braided loaf before, I’ll admit that stuffing the strands adds a layer of complexity, but the whole process is incredibly forgiving if you commit and keep going. If you look at the shape below and think “no way” just remember it’s a simple braid coiled into a snail shape. 
Braided Onion Bread Prior to Baking

The (Stuffed) Braided Bread Process

To make this bread you start by making beautiful yeast dough. You roll your dough into a rectangle, cut that rectangle into four strips, and then stuff each strand with awesomeness. I usually prepare the stuffing a day ahead of time, or the morning of the day I plan on baking. This gives the filling some time to cool. I’ve locked onto this onion-cheese combo lately, but you can imagine endless variations.

To fill the dough, you run the filling in a line up the middle of each of the four strips of dough. Fold them each in half, and then pinch the seam to seal the filling in. Now you have four filled strands that you’ll arrange side-by-side (below). Pinch them together at the top and start braiding (see diagram below). Coil the braid into a tight round, snail shape, let the dough rise, brush with an egg wash, and bake! 

Diagram of a Four Strand Braid

A Four-strand Braid

First, let me say – if you’re worried about trying the four-strand braid, I understand! If you want to fall back to a chubby three-strand bread braid the first time through, go for it. The main thing is to commit to the braid either way. Even if you’re convinced things aren’t going well. This feeling can be triggered by a few things. A common problem is strands splitting open to reveal the filling – just re-pinch and keep going. Or, you might feel like your strands keep stretching and getting longer and longer? It’s ok, you will coil them into a round shape. Keep braiding even if your strands are longer than your sheet pan. Boss the dough around a bit. If it’s too sticky, dust with a bit of flour. The main thing? Don’t get discouraged, keep going.

Braided Onion Bread filled With Caramelized Onions and Gruyere Cheese just After Baking
Please let me know if you bake a braided loaf, or send me a message on Insta. Or if you experiment with other fillings, please leave a comment. I can’t wait to see what you do with this one. I loved seeing all of you posting soup pics last week. xo – h

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Black Sticky Gingerbread

This black sticky gingerbread recipe makes an outrageously dark, dense, flavorful and delicious cake. The burnt-caramel-esque crust that forms on the top of the cake is part of what makes this recipe a keeper.

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I’ve experimented with a good number of gingerbread recipes in the years since I highlighted Regan Daley’s Black Sticky Gingerbread. There were single, double, and triple ginger gingerbreads. Cakes that were spice-kissed, and others with experience at first and second base. They’re all good, really. But hers is the one I keep coming back to when it counts. And because it has been hiding in the archives for so long, I thought I’d run my updated version today complete with tweaks, and fresh insights. Please enjoy!
Black Sticky Gingerbread Dusted with Powdered Sugar
Back then, here’s what I said, “…The Black Sticky Gingerbread comes together like the cake that it is – straight-forward, unfussy, with a bit of kick and attitude. Melt the butter with the sweeteners, stir in a few eggs, fold in the fragrant spices and flour, spike it with some freshly grated ginger, and pour the batter into the prepared pan. The cake is outrageously dark, dense, flavorful, and delicious. Not the prettiest cake you’ll ever make, but one of the tastiest. The burnt-caramel-esque crust that forms on the top of the cake is outrageous, and that was the first part of the cake to go.”Black Sticky Gingerbread Dusted with Powdered Sugar

What is the Best Gingerbread Pan?

I’ve baked this gingerbread cake in a range of pans over the years. Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong. You might have to adjust the baking time depend on what you’re using. Less time if you’re baking in muffin or cupcake tins, or longer if you’re using a sheet pan or large bundt pan. There is guidance in the recipe notes. This is just a long way of saying, experiment!

Black Sticky Gingerbread

Your Gingerbread Suggestions

A number of you have left insightful comments over the years, and I wanted to highlight a few here. Kelly noted,” I made this for Christmas dinner this year with homemade lemon curd and it was fabulous!” There has been success swapping in gluten-free flour for the flour. And Haruspex loaded it up saying, “I halved the recipe, made it in a loaf pan, added a fistful of sherry-soaked chopped dates & raisins and another of chopped walnuts, and brought it to a New Year’s Eve party.” Have fun, I’d love to know if any of you give this a try over the holidays, or if you make any other personalized tweaks to it! xo -h

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Simple Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

This is the recipe I use anytime I want perfect sugar cookies. Great flavor, and the dough is a dream to work with.

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This is the recipe I use anytime I want perfect sugar cookies. They bake up beautifully with nice structure and a hint of snap when you break them in two. Especially true if you can wait that extra minute or two before taking them from the oven. So they have time to shift from just-plain-baked to golden, crisp, and toasted. The dough is an absolute dream to work with. And the flavor? They have just the right amount of salt to counter the sweet. Simple Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies
This recipe makes enough dough to yield plenty of cookies, with dough left over to freeze. I typically run out of energy before I run out of dough. I thought I’d posted this recipe long ago(!), but a search through the archives proved me wrong! I’m also including the icing I like.

Icing

As far as icing goes, I have a lot of thoughts. 😉 I have a base recipe I use and then tweak it from there. Sometimes, I like my icing somewhat translucent, like a wash – so I add more water. Other times, I want it more opaque, so I leave it as written (below). I always like it to be a bit matte, and not hyper-glossy, so that’s what you’ll get here. Also, have fun with natural colors. You could do tiny hot-pink dots on the trees pictured with some raspberry powder plus a bit of the icing added to it. I like saffron for yellow, matcha for green, etc. Play around!

Simple Whole Wheat Sugar Cookies

Pro-tip! Keep your eyes peeled at yard sales, flea markets, and the like for special cookie cutters – that’s where you’ll find the gems. I have a bin of favorites that I can go to each time I make cookies.

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Easy Little Bread

The simple, easy little bread you should make right this minute – yeast-based, farm-style, made from rolled oats and a blend of all-purpose and whole wheat flours.

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I’m eating a slice of butter-slathered homemade bread. And quite frankly, it might be the least interesting looking bread you’ve ever set eyes on. That said, at this particular moment, there isn’t anything on this earth that would taste better. I’m convinced of it. It reminds me of the bread my dad would sometimes bake for us as kids. A dead simple yeast bread recipe made from ingredients I can nearly guarantee you have on hand. My dad’s bread was made using all-purpose white flour, whereas this bread is made with a white, wheat, rolled oat blend. I’ve baked it three times this week, after I came across the recipe for it in a beautiful, heartfelt cookbook by Natalie Oldfield.Easy Little Bread Recipe
I snapped a few shots of the book to give you a sense of it. See below. Super cute, right? I love the grids of vintage family pictures, and the soft color palette of the recipe pages. It’s a collection recipes inspired by the notebooks of Dulcie May Booker, written by her granddaughter Natalie. It was published in New Zealand, then Australia and the UK. I stumbled on my copy of it the other day at Omnivore Books here in SF, although I don’t think it’s been published in the U.S. yet.
Easy Little Bread Recipe

The recipes are classic and no-fuss. The kind that can and (clearly) have been whipped up a hundred times over – scones, fruit pies, chocolate cake, lemon bars, shortbread, and a selection of savory dishes as well.

Easy Little Bread Recipe

So, to all of you who still shy away from yeast-based recipes – you’ve got to try this one. You can have the dough in the pan in 5-10 minutes. It sits around for 30 minutes while I’m in the shower, then straight into the oven. Thank you Gran & Natalie. It’s a beautiful book.

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Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake

A 100% rye flour version of Benjamina Ebuehi’s Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake from The New Way To Cake. It’s everything you want in a cake. The chocolate notes are deep, the crumb perfectly moist, and the salted tahini icing? Something I didn’t know I needed in my life until now.

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I baked a 100% rye flour version of Benjamina Ebuehi’s Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake yesterday, and it’s everything you want in a cake. It is from her book The New Way to Cake, the chocolate notes are deep, the crumb perfectly moist, and the salted tahini icing? Something I didn’t know I needed in my life until now. The tahini rounds out the sweetness of the sugar in the icing. Fragrant sesame notes come to life as you whisk the flavors into balance with a generous pinch of salt. It’s so good.

Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake
There are a lot of reasons to love The New Way To Cake — the range of beautiful signature cakes, the minimalist book design, the naturally-lit photos by Holly Wulff Petersen — but her celebration of flavors close to my heart is what initially attracted me to it – hibiscus, chamomile, citrus, and chocolate all represent in unique and delightful ways.

A Bit More About Benjamina

She’s a London-based author, baker, food stylist & recipe developer, and she has been involved in some great projects since her appearance on The Great British Bake Off a few years back. You can follow Benjamina on Instagram. She also works in an ambassadorial capacity with Luminary Bakery (read about them!), and co-founded The Sister Table. And, if her use of tahini is what caught your attention today, have a look at the Necatrine, Tahini & Hazelnut Pavlova, on her blog. Or this Tahini Granola

Benjamina Ebuehi's The New Way To Cake

The New Way To Cake

Before we jump into the Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake, a few more notes related to The New Way to Cake. The book is 160 pages in length, soft-back, with sixty cake recipes. It has a premium feel, and would make a nice gift for any baker in your life. The main sections are Nuts & Caramel, Spices, Chocolate, Citrus, Floral, and Fruit. The two recipes I’ve earmarked to bake next: Hibiscus Buttermilk Cakes, and then a Chocolate Guinness Bundt with Yogurt Glaze.Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake

Benjamina’s Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake

The two main components here are a coffee-bolstered, cocoa-based chocolate cake, and the salted tahini icing/frosting. You can make either component a day ahead of time if needed. Although, I should note that, generally speaking, I like to frost cakes the day of serving. Up to that point, keep the cake covered (after cooling completely) and, if needed, rewhip the icing before using.
Salted Tahini Icing

A Rye Flour Swap

I made a few alterations to Benjamina’s cake out of necessity (different pan / alternate flour) & the good news is it baked up wonderfully. All-purpose flour can still tough to come by right now, and I keep a lot of rye flour on hand. I had a hunch that a rye flour swap would be good here – so I went for it. 100% rye. Didn’t hold back. So good! I think people worry that going an aggressive whole-grain flour swap will result in tough, dry cakes and muffins. And quite honestly, that can often be the case. But this worked nicely – have a look at the slice down below! So tender. If you’re apprehensive, go with all-purpose flour, or you can do half rye, half all-purpose flour. But there’s something that happens in the intersection of the rye, coffee, and cocoa, that is really nice.Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake
One slice of Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake

Benjamina Ebuehi's Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake from The New Way to Cake

Let’s Talk Pans

Per my mention up above – I didn’t have the three 6-inch cake pans Benjamina used to create the stunner cake pictured in her book (above). But you all know I have an endless collection of bundt pans. So that’s what I used. I baked the batter in a single 9-inch bundt pan. Buttercream wasn’t going to work with the ridged cake, so I did a salted tahini icing that I could pour over the bundt shape cake, in place of the tahini buttercream version in the book. No bundt pan? My sense is you can get away with baking in a single 13×9 pan, or two 8-inch rounds as well (adjusting the timing, of course). A long way of saying, don’t be deterred if you don’t have the “correct” pan. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
Chocolate Fudge & Tahini Cake
And a last little side note – I’ve been trying to add weekly favorites links to my newsletter more regularly – articles, books, cookbooks I’m excited about, recipes to try, products I love, or new discoveries in general. So, instead of including them here in “Favorites Lists” on the site, you’ll be able to get them there, along with the heads up on new recipes I’m highlighting. I’ve been sending newsletters out once a week, on Saturday mornings. xx -h.

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Rustic Tomato Tart

A beautiful tomato tart layered with jammy, caramelized onions, laced with fresh basil. A rustic free-form tart perfect for summer.

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Free-form tarts are the savior of the unfussy cook. Unlike tarts baked in a pan, there’s no need to worry about trimming dough, rolling out perfect circles, or using pie weights. They’re the sort of thing I love to pull from my oven year round, but especially in conjunction with peak tomato season. A beautiful tomato tart layered with jammy, caramelized onions, laced with fresh basil alongside a simple green salad? Good lord yes.
Favorite Tomato Tart Recipe
This tomato tart recipe is a few personal winks, twists, and additions away from one of the classic versions you might find in France. I talk more about the crust I use down below, and the toppings as well. I love these sorts of tarts for picnics, beach days, and road trips, dinner gatherings, and potlucks – cut into wedges or grids. They show off the best flavors of the season, and once you make the dough (takes less than five minutes), the rest is a breeze.
Caramelized Onions for Tomato Tart Recipe

Let’s Talk Toppings

You can keep the toppings as simple or as complex as you like, and the version here splits somewhere down the middle. The version you see pictured (and featured in the recipe) combines caramelized onions and peak, in-season, tomatoes as the core components. Cooking the onions takes a bit of time, but to be honest, if you do a big skillet full and keep them in the refrigerator, they’re great on pizzas, in sandwiches, and in noodle & pasta bowls throughout the week.
Tomato Tart Recipe
To the onions here, I add a big pinch of turmeric and lots of black pepper, but you don’t have to. You can think of the onions as their own component and season them as much or little as you like – as long as you imagine your seasoning will go well with tomatoes, you’re likely fine. There’s basically a world of possibilities. I can imagine cinnamon, cumin, caraway, ground peppers, curry blends, etc. all being wonderful additions. I talk more about toppings down below, but the tart dough is basically a blank, buttery canvas to experiment with.

Make-ahead Friendly

With a bit of advance planning, these sorts of tarts are completely weeknight friendly. Especially if you think of the tart dough as one component. You can make it days in advance and refrigerate. Or make extra, double-wrap and freeze – thawing before using (but keeping cold). I think of the toppings as the second component and often do a big batch of them over the weekend. For tarts like this one, I might caramelize the onions in advance by a day or two. Or browse your refrigerator for other ideas. If I had extra pesto, perhaps slather it across the dough before topping with other ingredients. Or, if it was winter, maybe I’d grab some roasted winter squash.

A Rustic Tart Crust

The crust of this tart deploys a favorite baking trinity of mine –  rye, cooked quinoa, and all-purpose (or bread) flour. I use a blend of these three ingredients increasingly often – when I bake sourdough, when I make flatbreads (and pizza crusts), and for tarts like these. The butter brings richness and flavor while you get the nutritional boost of the whole grain quinoa and rye flour along with a bit of lightness from the white flour. If you nail the ratio correctly, you end up with goodness coming from your oven that is rustic, flavor-rich, and satisfying – with nice, flaky texture. AND the recipe introduces you to my favorite method for pulling a pie or tart dough together.
Tomato Tarts Before Baking

A Few Tart Tips

  • Make sure your toppings aren’t hot when you assemble your tart. Whether you’re making this tart, or riffing on it with another idea you have, make sure your roasted squash, or blistered mushrooms, or grilled squash are room temperature or colder. This way it wont melt the butter in your crust.
  • Work quickly when you’re rolling out your well-chilled dough. Make sure your counter and rolling pin are dusted with flour. If your dough is sticking at all and you get the sense it has become too warm, transfer it back to the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes, and try again.
  • If you think your unbaked tart isn’t looking great, power through it. Look at my unbaked tart picture just above. It’s no prize winner, but have faith! They look exponentially better after they’ve been brushed with egg and baked until golden in a hot oven.
  • That also reminds me, resist the urge to under bake. I tend to go as long as I can in the oven, to get that nice color, and to give crispness and structure to the crust. You’re aiming for golden plus plus plus.

Tomato Tarts on Parchment Paper

Ideal Tomatoes for Tomato Tarts

I use a blend of whatever tomatoes are most flavorful at the moment. They don’t have to be the best looking tomatoes, and a tart like this is a great way to use slightly blemished tomatoes because once they bake you won’t know the difference. I like to use a mix of tomatoes of different sizes, and a mix of colors as well if I have them. Variety is all good here. Use what you’ve got as long as they taste good.
Close-up of Two Rustic Tomato Tarts
As I’m looking at this photo, I keep thinking to myself, “you should have kept it in the oven another five minutes.” It has good color as-is, but it had the potential to get really, really good. Next time!
Tomato Tarts with Green Salad

Enjoy the tart(s)! Let me know if you experiment with the toppings in anyway. You know I love your wildcards! -h

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Zucchini Bread

If you’re looking for a go-to zucchini bread recipe, give this a shot. The recipe delivers a single beautiful loaf of walnut studded zucchini bread. Moist, just sweet enough and loaded with toasted walnuts inside and out, it has a sweet nut-crusted top, requires one pan and is a rustic stunner.

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This recipe makes a single beautiful loaf of walnut studded zucchini bread. And a sizable one at that. For years I would load my zucchini bread batter with all manner of zest, spice, and whatnot. But that’s not how I roll anymore. Over the years I began to prefer this pared-down and more minimalist version. Moist, just sweet enough and loaded with toasted walnuts inside and out, it has a sweet nut-crusted top, requires just one pan and is a rustic stunner. If you’re looking for a go-to zucchini bread recipe, give this a shot.
Zucchini Bread Recipe

A Few Zucchini Bread Tips

Pre-grate & Freeze Excess Zucchini: When you have more zucchini than you know what to do with, grate it and divide 2 1/2 cup portions into freezer bags. Thaw and use with this recipe later in the year.

Too Much: If you’ve baked more zucchini bread than you can eat, slice it, divide with parchment paper, and freeze in baggies. When you’re ready for it, thaw and toast (or toast in a pan with a bit of butter).

Accurate Baking Time: A cake tester is important here. This is a big loaf and you want to make sure the interior is cooked though. If cake batter is visible on your tester keep baking in 7-10 minute increments. 

Yellow Summer Squash Are OK Too! You can basically use any summer squash you like here. Classic green-skinned zucchini are most typical, but you can also use eight-ball squash, patty pan, crooked neck squash, etc. I like to leave the skins on all of them for the color-flecks they lend to the batter. One thing to keep an eye out for is any squash that has developed seeds. Just scoop those out prior too grating.
Zucchini Bread Recipe

Variations

My Special Zucchini Bread: This is the more maximalist version of zucchini bread I’ve featured here since 2008. To the batter add: the zest of 2 lemons, 1/4 cup poppy seeds, 1/3 cup finely chopped crystalized ginger, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon favorite curry powder. So fragrant!

All the Zests Zucchini Bread: Add the zest of 3 limes, 2 oranges, and 3 lemons. Consider swapping almond extract for the vanilla extract.

Basil & Lemon Zucchini Bread: Add 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil and zest of two lemons to the we ingredients. You can use Italian or lemon basil.

Zucchini Oat Bread: An idea I haven’t tested yet, but want to mention it in case someone wants to give it a try. Swap 1/3 cup of the flour for old-fashioned oats.

Raz el Hanout Zucchini Bread: I’ve baked a delicious version using a Raz el Hanout spice blend, highly recommended! Just add 1 tablespoon of Raz el Hanout to your dry ingredients.

Zucchini Bread Muffins: Yes, you can make muffins! Fill lined muffin tins 2/3 full – 3/4 if you’re living on the edge! And bake until golden and cooked through.
Zucchini Bread Recipe

More Zucchini Ideas

If you have a garden that is anything like ours, it’s putting off an incredible number of zucchini right now. Take a look at these zucchini recipes. I’ve been trying to come up with more recipes that put a real dent in the zucchini supply. So far, this Pasta with Smashed Zucchini Cream is a favorite, and this Grilled Zucchini & Bread Salad is perfect for summer & using up extra sourdough at the end of the week. And we love this Simple Sauteed Zucchini, especially with a little side action of this favorite pesto.
Zucchini Bread Recipe
Enjoy! And please leave notes in the comments if you have other variations you like.

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Chocolate Dipped Biscotti

Sesame studded and heavily scented with crushed fennel seeds and chamomile, these chocolate dipped biscotti punctuated my espressos this week.

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Sesame studded and heavily scented with crushed fennel seeds and chamomile, these chocolate dipped biscotti punctuated my espressos all week. They were the petite treats I looked forward to. If you’ve never baked biscotti before, they’re a lot of fun, and quite adaptable. The main thing? You double bake them. First with the biscotti dough shaped into a long loaf. And a second time after you’ve baked and sliced those loaves into biscotti.

Chocolate Dipped Biscotti Recipe
You can play around with the flavors here, but the way the fennel seeds and chamomile complements the chocolate is really fantastic (I used, and loved, Guittard 66% organic semisweet). That said, I’ll offer up some alternative suggestions down below, because I totally get that not everyone keeps chamomile around 😉 xx!
Chocolate Dipped Biscotti Recipe

Biscotti Tips:

A couple things I should point out:

Rolling Technique: First, make sure to roll your dough into a tight shape (pictured below). This way, when you go to slice your biscotti after the first bake, they’ll hold their shape. You don’t want crumbling biscotti going into the second bake. A serrated knife is the way to go for slicing, using a quick sawing motion, and not too much downward pressure.

Texture and Baking: If you like a cake-y biscotti, slice them a shade thicker and bake them for a hint less time. If you like a crunchier, more structured biscotti, slice them a shade thinner, and bake them a bit longer (consider flipping them toward the end to really get both side toasty).

Storage: On the storage front. They’ll keep in an air-tight container for a couple of weeks.

Chocolate Dipped Biscotti Recipe

Variations

Herbs: I love herbs like rosemary, thyme, and lavender in biscotti. You can experiment with those. Chop and add to your dough with the other dry ingredients. Go easy, make notes, and adjust each time you bake them. A teaspoon is a good place to start.

Spices: A bit of turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, all are welcome here. Basically if it’s a flavor you can imagine being good in a muffin, it’s fair game here. Or, pre blended spices. My favorite chana masala blend is magic here, and garam masala is a good fit as well. 

Citrus Zest: Lemon zest, makrut lime zest (or minced leaves), orange zest – all add a sunny punch of flavor.

Outer Texture: I rolled these biscotti in sesame seeds to add some texture and boost the flavor inside the cookies, but you could go in all sorts of directions. You could roll them in large grains of sugar, for a crunchy, shardy texture. Or, poppy seeds (or a blend of seeds) could be nice. Or, you could add some sort of flavor boost or ingredient to the egg wash you do before the first bake.
Chocolate Dipped Biscotti Recipe

This is what my biscotti looked like when they came out of the oven after their second bake. Once you’ve sliced your biscotti, for the second bake, you can put them all on one pan. They’ve already risen, so you don’t need to distance them the way you would with most other cookies.
Chocolate Dipped Biscotti Recipe
If biscotti aren’t your thing, but you’re still up for a baking adventure, I love these brownies, this Devil’s Food Cake, these snickerdoodles, or the swirl cake from last week.

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Chocolate Almond Swirl Cake

A fun swirl cake made with a beautiful yellow olive oil cake paired with classic chocolate buttercream frosting that has been bolstered with an entire tablespoon of almond extract.

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Buckle up everyone. I’m going to counter all the recent bean recipes with a birthday cake. It was Wayne’s birthday this week and I felt like a special cake was in order. I wanted to make something that looked classic from the outside, with a surprise when you slice into it. I also wanted to combine all the flavors he loves – chocolate, olive oil, almond, and a good kiss of salt to balance the sweet. He’s always showing me photos of crazy cakes, so I thought it’d be fun to bake him some sort of a swirl cake.

Chocolate Almond Swirl Cake

The Swirl Cake Game Plan

Swirl cakes, zebra cakes, and tiger cakes all have three main components: the base cake, the swirl, and the frosting or icing. For this version I made an incredibly moist and fragrant olive oil cake to use for the base and swirl. It’s a favorite made with yogurt which helps keep things tender. The tangy note of the yogurt nicely balances out the sweetness as well. And then there’s the frosting. The frosting here is classic chocolate buttercream bolstered with an entire tablespoon of almond extract. On the swirl front I ended up doing two versions to see which one I liked better – one I envisioned with a hot pink dragonfruit or raspberry swirl (I had such high hopes!!), and another with classic chocolate. 
Chocolate Almond Swirl Cake

How to Assemble a Swirl Cake

This is what a swirl cake looks like (above) just out of the oven. When you slice into it you get beautiful striping and swirls depending on how you layer or swirl the batter. For a cake like this I use a ratio of about 2 parts yellow cake batter to 1 part chocolate cake batter. You do 2 big spoonfuls of batter into the center bulls-eye of your prepared cake pan, and then top it with one spoonful of chocolate. Repeat until all the batter is gone. Always placing the batter onto the bulls-eye.Chocolate Almond Swirl Cake Recipe

The Frosting

Before we get to the details, just a reminder to let your cake cool completely before you attempt to frost it. And before you go to mix up your buttercream, make sure your buttercream is at a nice, mild, room temperature. Not too warm, not too cool. You want it to whip up nice and billowy. If your kitchen is too warm, and your butter is starting to get a little sweaty looking as you mix it (or at any point, really). Just give it a few minutes in the refrigerator.Chocolate Almond Swirl Cake
To make this shape cut a square cake in half, and stack.

A Tasty Fail

You can see a couple of in-process shots (below) of the version of the swirl cake made with dragon fruit puree. You know those smoothie packets? I pureed one of those. And it looked incredibly promising all through the bake. The disappointment came when you sliced into the cake. If you were expecting bold stripes, no dice. But if you were expecting a really delicious cake, we’re still in business. If you want to make this version – do it for the flavor, not the visual. Mix 1/4 cup of the puree into about half of the yellow cake batter, and skip the cocoa. 
Chocolate Almond Swirl Cake
Before the bake (above), after the bake (below). 
Chocolate Almond Swirl Cake
Swirl cakes are a lot of fun. And you can play around with all the different components of your cake if you have another frosting you like, favorite base cake recipe, or even the shape. 

Or, if swirl cakes aren’t your thing but you still want to make something sweet and tasty try these brownies, this Devil’s Food Cake, this popular chocolate cake, or skip the cake altogether, and churn up some berry swirl ice cream.

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Turkish Coffee Chocolate Brownies

These brownies are dense and fudgy, deep-dish, and decadent with a high fat (butter & chocolate) to flour ratio. Espresso powder and an infusion cardamom seeds lends a Turkish coffee flavor profile.

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Hi everyone, after a few weeks without eggs, we finally scored some. To celebrate? I baked brownies – the best brownies I know how to make. They’re fudgy, deep-dish, and decadent with a high fat (butter & chocolate) to flour ratio. We ate some, froze some, and left some for neighbors. In addition to lots of bittersweet chocolate in the batter, I dial up the intensity with 1/4 cup of espresso powder and an infusion of fragrant, freshly ground cardamom seeds blooming in vanilla extract. It’s a flavor profile I love every time I encounter it. They’re Turkish coffee chocolate brownies, and I’d happily use my last eggs and chocolate to make them.
Turkish Coffee Chocolate Brownies

Brownie Tips

Chocolate: I love Amy Guittard and her family’s San Francisco-based chocolate. For these brownies I use a bag of Guittard Organic Bittersweet 74%. That said, any good bittersweet chocolate over 70% is great. If you can only get semi-sweet right now in the 60-70% zone – they’ll still be delicious, but look for bittersweet as your first choice.

Grinding spices: If you have a coffee grinder at home, you can grind the cardamom seeds along with your beans when grinding the espresso powder. That said, it’s probably easier to use a mortar and pestle to quickly grind the cardamom – your coffee grinder will retain the cardamom scent for a while if you don’t clean it which takes some effort. To clean a coffee grinder you can grind a handful of white rice to clear it of other ingredients and scent.

Invest in good cardamom: Many of you are familiar with Diaspora Co. turmeric, but don’t sleep on the cardamom. I use it here and it is incredibly fragrant and special. Other things you can do if you have a jar –  steep pods in tea, grind a couple seeds with your coffee beans in the morning, toss a few pods into stews, etc. Freshly ground spices can make a huge difference in your baking.
Turkish Coffee Chocolate Brownies

Coffee Choice

A dark, robust roast is welcome here. Anything labelled espresso. You’ll want the coffee beans ground espresso-fine.

Brownie Pan Size

You have some flexibility here. I call for baking in a 8×8-inch pan. If you only have an 9×9-inch brownie pan, I’ve baked these in that size as well, they’ll be a bit thinner, and you won’t need to bake as long. A 9×13-inch pan will result in a thinner brownie, you’ll need to bake for even less time. 
Turkish Coffee Chocolate Brownies
One variation I want to mention. I love using almond extract here in place of the vanilla extract called for.  I’m out right now, but if you have some, consider using it!

Other baking ideas: Maybe you’re not in the mood for brownies, but cookie recipes sound good right now? I love these snickerdoodles, these shortbread cookies, and this Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie. On the cake front, a lot of people are baking this One Bowl Banana Bread right now. Kim Boyce’s Rosemary Olive Oil Cake is wonderful, or if you’re up for a bit of a project, make the Violet Bakery Chocolate Devil’s Food Cake

Continue reading Turkish Coffee Chocolate Brownies on 101 Cookbooks