Cake Love and Vegetable Ardor.


I’ve been holding out on you. There has been cake and I haven’t shared. This post will remedy that selfishness, however, so get your pencils out and print up my holiday baking pantry check-list. You’re going to want to shop for ingredients after this post.

The three cakes I’m about to elaborate on have something in common besides, well, flour, sugar and all those cake-y ingredients. Can you guess?

They all originated at the vegetables stand of my local market. Yep, without intending to do so, and just by following my own cravings over the last few weeks, I’ve baked cakes with carrots, pumpkin and beets.

That’s a good thing, right?

Now, onto the recipes, for they are keepers.


Here we have a – hang onto your hats – Pumpkin Guinness Gingerbread Bundt Cake.
Who is the one person to come up with this craziness? Yea, the one-and-only Julie Van Rosendaal. She posted this last Saturday on Babble’s Family Kitchen blog and unbeknown to her, made my to-do list a little bit longer for that day.

I was throwing a harvest dinner party the next day, and what is a girl to do when faced with a recipe such as this? Add it to the menu, send the hubby out for stout (didn’t have to ask twice), and rummage around for a bundt pan. It obviously had to be made.

The flavors in this cake kind of blow your mind; you must check out the list of ingredients. I started chuckling to myself as I read through them (golden rule of baking: read the recipe through first) and by the time I finished was laughing my head off: Pumpkin. Guinness. Molasses. Brown Sugar. Fresh Ginger. Ground Ginger. Vanilla. Cocoa. Cinnamon….all that was missing was some espresso powder!

Needless to say, Julie sure knows how to throw a party in a bundt pan, plus it made the place smell mad.

Head here to get the recipe.


Not to be outdone by the bundt, may I present the regal, three-layer Browned Butter Carrot Cake.

I’ve had this one bookmarked from Elizabeth’s blog, Guilty Kitchen for ages, just waiting for the perfect occasion. When my brother-in-law, who is also my little sister’s boy-friend (don’t worry, it’s all legal) hinted that carrot cake would be a good direction to go for his birthday cake, I knew I had my recipe.

Its was actually both of their birthdays, my sister, and Danny’s brother. Again, yes, all legal, good stuff. They’re dating AND share the same birthday. If you think about it, it’s actually easier for me: one cake. See what I mean?

I don’t have a close-up of the interior of the cake, because, well, I’ve pretty much given up on playing hostess and event photographer. It’s just no fun. Especially by the time dessert rolls around. I’m usually ready to throw the kids in bed, demand a double-shot latte from the barista (Danny), pull up a chair and serve cake.

That said, Liz’s ultra-moist, super-classy carrot cake leaves little to be desired. Unless you like your carrot cake full of stuff such as pineapple, raisins, coconut, nuts or other extra. I don’t. It was perfect.

Head here to get the recipe.


These little Chocolate Beet Cupcakes are hot off the press over at Simple Bites. They’re my attempt at a Halloween confection, but are more like a pretty fall dessert.

Beet Cupcakes! I’m super proud of these healthier sweet treats and my boys loved them. There’s no white sugar and very little fat, but the cupcakes are sweet and moist thanks to nearly a cup of fresh beet puree. The secret is definitely in the sauce.

Head here to get the recipe.

I just realized these three cakes have something else in common. Cream Cheese Frosting.

Oh well. Deal with it.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread


Two major life events are rapidly approaching and there’s nothing I can do to change their course. So, I’ve been baking instead.

This first, and most imminent, event is my 32nd birthday (tomorrow) and I’m trying to drum up some excitement over it. Sure, I’m looking forward to a girl’s night out to see Eat, Pray, Love followed by stuffing ourselves with pizza margherita’s, but the birthday -that number– not so fun!

The second event takes place a week from Monday when Noah will start kindergarten. There’s a whole lot of emotions welling up over that big day that I won’t even get into!

In an attempt to compose my mixed sentiments over these two events, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Baking and cooking is clearly therapeutic for me, and ‘recipe testing’ can sometimes be code for ‘working through some stuff’.


One of the many projects on my plate this week was to perfect my zucchini bread recipe. Several pounds of zucchini and eight various loaves later, I narrowed my favorite down to two, one of them featured here today and the other, or The Best Zucchini Bread Ever‘, will be has been posted Monday on Simple Bites.

Both recipes are actually fantastic; however, I know I have a bevy of chocolate lovers over here, so that may have influenced my decision to feature a chocolate zucchini bread here.


This dark and deadly loaf is “…too good to be healthy” as one of my ‘tasters’ remarked. But with the inclusion of whole-wheat flour and plenty of zucchini, it’s a lot better for you than a slice of cake.

This, in fact, will probably be my birthday cake, it’s that great. Double chocolate? It’s allll good.

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Adapted from Joy of Baking

  • 1/2 c. cake flour
  • 1/2 c. whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. canola oil
  • 1 cup organic turbinado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded, raw zucchini
  • 3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the center of the oven. Grease, or spray with nonstick vegetable spray, a 9x5x3″ loaf pan. Set aside.

Grate the zucchini using a medium sized grater. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract until well blended – about 2 minutes. Fold in the grated zucchini. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the bread has risen and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 55-65 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and cool completely.

Yields one large loaf.

Yogurt Sheet Cake with Berries


Don’t be surprised if I keep bringing back recipes from foods we enjoyed during our family reunion.

Make no mistake, good food abounded during that time, and while I wasn’t about to take time away from family to blog everything as we consumed it, I will rewind and share some favorites over the next few weeks…


Like this yogurt sheet cake (which I had made before, loved, and never got around to sharing…oops!) and birthday cake for my brother’s little guy, Jesse. The little sweetie turned two while they were here and it was my absolute treat to be able to bake his cake.

A sheet cake was perfect for this event; I didn’t want to spend the whole afternoon in the kitchen, yet still wanted something that felt festive.

This recipe comes together quickly, and the frosting is poured over the top and left to run down the sides in the true unhurried fashion of lazy summer cooking.

For the simple decoration, I cut a ‘J’ stencil out of cardboard, lay it on the cake and generously doused it with sprinkles.

The kids approved.


Pair this cake with any berry you like, whatever is gorgeous and ripe at the market or in your backyard. It was strawberry season in June and we were bringing home a flat of 6 pints from the market every day.

The ripest ones got whizzed into a coulis along with some vanilla sugar and the rest were sliced up and served alongside the cake.


I love this cake, not just for its simplicity, but for its tender crumb, too. No doubt the cake’s moistness is a result of the two cups of yogurt, and the cake flour certainly contributes to its tenderness.

Thanks to Gourmet magazine for this recipe. Can we just take a moment for my favorite magazine, please? This cake was featured in the August 2009 issue (to date, my favorite issue).

Try it!

Yogurt Sheet Cake
with sliced strawberries & strawberry coulis

Makes 1 9×13 sheet cake. Serves 12.

Ingredients

for cake:

  • 3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, warmed in shell in warm water 10 minutes
  • 2 cups well-stirred plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek-style) at room temperature 30 minutes

for frosting:

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Scant 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Method for Cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter a 9×13 cake pan, then line bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper and butter parchment. Dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Sift together cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat together butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, at medium speed. At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and mixing until just combined. Spread batter evenly in pan and rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake until cake pulls away from sides of pan and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge. Invert onto a rack and discard parchment. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

Method for Frosting:

Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, cream, and vanilla until smooth.

Put cake on a platter and spread icing on top in a thick layer, letting it run down sides. Let icing set at least 15 minutes.

Serve with plenty of fresh berries and a strawberry coulis.

Do ahead: Cake can be made and iced 1 day in advance. Cover and keep cool.

* * *

Don’t Miss…Julie’s profile of yours truly on The Family Kitchen, the family food blog of our friends over at Babble:
Master Your Muffins with Aimee Wimbush-Bourque of Simple Bites.

It’s an honor to be featured!

WW: Cake Wreck or Cake Love?








Happy Birthday Danny!!

** Noah and Mateo are wearing ‘Luna’ and ‘Chameleon’ tee’s from Barley and Birch’s Spring 2010 collection.

Happy Birthday to You (recipe: Very-Vanilla Buttercream)


June is a month of birthday’s around here. This week there was one every day in my extended family & friends. Whew!

Today, however, is a very important birthday for a super cool mom, Nicole. She’s turning thirty, folks, and for those of you who have been there, it ain’t easy saying good bye to the twenties.

Won’t you join me in wishing her a happy birthday?

Happy 30th, Nicole!

Now, Nicole, take a deep breath and repeat after me: everything is going to be OK.

It looks like the thirties are going to be kind to you, as far as I can tell. I mean, you’ve got that great hair, a super cute and decidedly edible baby, and a pretty rad husband.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, he sent me this letter:

“Aimee,

My name is Jonathon and I am writing to let you know that my wife, Nicole, is a big fan of Under the High Chair. She has made several of your recipes, all of which were delicious, and she loves reading about your family.

We recently had our first child, Eric, who is now a bouncy 6-month old baby boy. During the pregnancy and after Eric was born, we were so busy that we got away from cooking (something we both love). Your blog has encouraged Nicole to get back in the kitchen and become passionate about cooking again. Thank you.

Anyway, I have a request, and please feel free to decline. Nicole (my wife) is having her 30th Birthday this Friday, June 11th. I know that she is feeling a little down about the age thing (however, to me she has never been more beautiful than she is now holding our boy).

Would it be possible for you to email her a short happy birthday email? I know it would tickle her to death and would be an unexpected surprise. You could even include some sage wisdom about cooking and/or motherhood.

I apologize if this is a strange request. We don’t put a lot of stock in Hollywood, but right now you (and your recipes) are a celebrity in our household.
I will attach a photo of Nicole and Eric to this email. I am proud of both of them.

Thanks,

Jonathon”

Thanks for your email, Jonathon. It pretty much made my night!

As for sage wisdom about motherhood, well let just hope people pipe up in the comments section, because I’ve still got a lot to learn.

Nicole, I hope your birthday was stellar and really, the thirties rock!

Oh right, I almost forgot. The cake!

It’s all components that you’ve seen before… Yellow Butter Cake, layered with buttercream and homemade Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam, and iced with a classic Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It’s finished with rolled fondant, and by now you’re probably thinking you’ve seen this cake before. Yes, you have, right here.

I kicked everything up with about four vanilla beans, however. Here is my new favorite, very-vanilla frosting:

Swiss Meringue Vanilla-Bean Buttercream
slightly adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
  • 1 vanilla bean, split plus 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Continue beating until the mixture if fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If frosting appears to have separated after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again.)

With the tip of a knife, scrape seeds from vanilla pod and add to icing. Beat on low speed to eliminate any air bubbles. Stir until smooth.

Frosting is now ready to use or it may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. Before using, bring to room temperature.

Also, a big “Happy Birthday” to all my friends & family who celebrated a birthday this week: Josh, Laura, Peter, Rachel, Daria and Melanie!