It has been just over a week since coming home from Seattle and my first IFBC (International Food Bloggers Convention). Signing up over 6 months ago I was so excited to meet other food bloggers and hear what they do to have a successful blog. As the day drew near to drive the 4 hours to Seattle I started to get very nervous. I am going to be in a room with 320 people and I was going to not know one person. We arrived at the W Hotel just before noon and the lobby is crowded with people talking and hugging each other and I knew this was a friendly group but still was not sure how I was going to fit in. After checking in and getting to our room (my husband came along to support me and get some extra sleep) he said it was time to meet everyone and he pushed me out the door. After getting my badge I just walked around seeing groups of people talking and laughing and I thought “how do I meet you”. As I was standing down the hall from the Chipotle Mexican Grill lunch I heard a voice “are you here by yourself” and she said so I am, I have met my first food blogger. After we exchange who we are and what we blogged about we parted ways and went to get a seat to hear the Keynote speaker, Dorie Greenspan. As I sat around the table with some more new faces we exchanged business cards and shared with each other, now I have 5 more food blogger friends. As Dorie takes the stage and she starts to talk in her soft voice I started to feel more at ease and just in awe of the life she has had and author of 11 cookbooks. As she walks off the stage with a round of overwhelming applause I felt that there was nothing to keep me back from creating my own dream to be the best food blogger I can and maybe one day I could have a cookbook. I was so excited and we had a small break before the afternoon session started so I raced back to my room to share with my husband the most inspiring woman I just heard talk and then DASHED out of the room to learn more. The rest of the day was amazing and I wished it would not end but I knew the next day would be filled with more new faces and lots more to learn. I did send my husband on an errand Saturday morning, 8 blocks to the Barnes and Noble book store to get me a copy of Dorie’s “Baking: From My House to Yours”. Hoping to see Dorie and get her to sign it I carried the book all day and if you do not have a copy the book weighs almost 5 pounds. I lost all hope at the end of the day without seeing her and thought see must have left until I saw a tweet from her about the Urbanspoon Surprise Saturday Supper she was at. The next morning I sent Dorie a tweet and within 10 minutes she tweeted I am leaving in 30 minutes but if you leave the book at the front desk I will sign it before I leave. Leaving the book at the front desk I went to the morning class “Writing – Snap out of it” presented by author/journalist Kim O’Donnel. Waiting 30 minutes I slip out of class quietly and went back to the front desk to find Dorie had signed my book, a treasure I carried with me back to my seat. The conference would be ending soon and I felt I was leaving a more confident person and had made many new friends. Next year I want to be the person that walks up to the person standing by themselves and welcomes them into the group like I was the first day. I knew I wanted to do my first blog post on Dorie and I thought what better way but to make a recipe from her cookbook “Baking: From My House to Yours”. I created the chocolate cake with marshmallow icing on the front cover and since I got some great swag the first day I used the Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate bar and the lagrima vanilla extract in my recipe. I also used some of the photography tips we learned from Andrew Scrivani when taking these pictures. The swag bag is getting a little lighter this week with more recipes I am making with the great products we received … watch for what I will be creating next. Happy Blogging to all and thank you for welcoming me!
National Chocolate Cake Day – Two Cakes are Better than One!!
Today January 27 is “National Chocolate Cake Day”. I woke up planning on making my friend Kathy P’s recipe for Texas Sheet Cake and then decided I would make it as well as a 3 layered Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Cake.
The Texas Sheet Cake is a very simple and fast cake to make. Making it brought back many memories of seeing this chocolate cake with its creamy icing and nuts at recent family gatherings and reunions. The thin layer of chocolate cake is finger licking good and easy to eat right from your hand no fork needed!
For the second cake you need to plan on a little extra time to make the delicious caramel filling and fudgy icing, it is worth the extra time. I got this recipe from a food blogger I have been following for years, Annie’s Eats. She has some of the best recipes I have ever tried so go check her blog out. I think she helped inspire me to start my food blog.
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill white flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup butter
1 cup water
4 tablespoon cocoa
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons milk
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup walnuts (use hazelnuts to give it a Fresh From Oregon taste)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 12 x 18 x 1 inch baking sheet, set aside.
For the cake, mix together the flour, eggs, sugar, salt, baking soda and sour cream in the bowl of a stand mixer. In medium saucepan bring to a boil the butter, water and cocoa. Add all at once to the mixer and beat until combined about 30 seconds. Pour cake batter into the baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake for 20 minutes. Make the icing while the cake is baking, you need to spread it on the cake while it is still warm.
To make the icing bring to boil in a medium saucepan the butter, cocoa and milk. Add the confectioners sugar, vanilla and nuts and mix to combine. Spread over the warm cake evenly.
Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel Layer Cake from Annie’s Eats
Three Best Apples for Baking this Week in Oregon
Each week new apples are being picked in Oregon and these are the three best apples for baking with this week. That list changes as we move through the season with varieties getting too ripe for good baking and new ones being picked.
Honeycrisp – It is a medium to large apple with a white flesh that is crisp and juicy with a good balance of sweet and tart flavors. The University of Minnesota developed this apple from a cross between Macoun and Honeygold apples. This is a modern apple developed in the 1960’s and introduced to the market in the 1990’s. The Honeycrisp is a great keeper you can store at 32-38 degrees for 4 months. This is an all-purpose apple for me, I use it in cakes, pies and it makes the best dried apples.
Ginger Gold – This is the best of the early golden apples. Its firm, crisp, juicy flesh is dripping with sweetness. The Ginger Gold was discovered as a chance seedling growing near a Golden Delicious orchard in Viginia in the 1960’s. The color and shape looks like a Golden Delicious but it has a much earlier season ripening 6-8 weeks earlier. This apple is a short season apple only keeping 2 months at 32-38 degrees. This apple is great for eating, baking, pies and applesauce.
Tsugaru – Yellow with red blush, the Tsugaru (SOO-GA-ROO) resembles Golden Delicious, but is much more firmer. It is a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Jonathan apple. It is a medium size apple with a creamy white flesh, very juicy, lightly flavored, and moderately sweet with low acidity and very little browning. This apple is great for eating, baking, salads and pies.
Best Ever Apple Cake
3/4 cup pecans, chopped
3 cups Bob’s Red Mill white flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large baking apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350°F. Spray a 10-inch removable-bottom tube pan with nonstick spray. Sprinkle pecans evenly on bottom of pan. In a large bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the flour, 1/4 cup of the sugar, and cinnamon. Add apples and toss to combine. In another large bowl, mix remaining flour, remaining sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add eggs, oil, butter, orange juice, and vanilla extract. Beat until batter is smooth. Pour half of the batter (about 2 cups) into prepared pan. Top with half of apple mixture. Spoon remaining batter over apples and top with remaining apples, placing them 1/4 inch in from the tube and the border of the cake. Bake 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a paring knife around the sides and center of cake and turn cake out onto wire rack. Invert cake onto another rack to cool, pecan side up.
Apple Caramel Cake
Apple season started weeks ago here in Oregon and after a trip to Kiyokawa Family Orchards & Fruit Stand in Hood River, Oregon my refrigerator is bursting with apples. I left with 9 varieties of apples and have several recipes ready to share with you over the next few weeks. The Apple Caramel Cake is a easy recipe to make, very moist and the frosting adds a great finish. I like to use a nice sweet apple so I used Ginger Gold in this cake.
1 3/4 cups Bob’s Red Mill flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups apples, peeled & finely chopped
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13×9-inch baking pan, set aside. In large bowl combine flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In bowl of a mixer cream brown sugar and butter 2 minutes, add eggs and vanilla until combined. Add flour mixture, mix for 3 minutes on medium speed. By hand stir in apples, walnuts and raisins. Pour into greased baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack.
Frosting: In small bowl with whisk blend powdered sugar, cinnamon, butter, vanilla and milk. Add more milk if need to make spreading consistency. Spread over cool cake and sprinkle with nuts.