Ultimate Carrot Cake – revisited and even better!

My Ultimate Carrot Cake first made an appearance on ZoëBakes in 2008, and it has remained one of my most popular posts. I have made it many, many times since then and tweaked the recipe, as I am apt to do, every time I make it. After all the experiments, this is the recipe I have come to like the best. The changes are subtle, because the original was pretty spot on, but this version wins. Try them both and let me know which you like best.

I am gearing up to go on book tour with Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day. You can find my travel schedule on the events page and I would be thrilled to meet you if I am coming to your area. The tour schedule is coming together in bits and pieces, so check back if I don’t have all the details for your city written in yet. Hope to see you! (more…)

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My Kitchen Remodel (before and after)

Kitchen with boys 03

(picture by Wing Ta of Canary Grey for MSP magazine)

Two years ago my husband and I bought a house. It’s a gob-smacking piece of 1902 architecture with ornate woodwork, the likes of which I’d never seen before. It was built by T.P. Healy, who made a name for himself in Minneapolis building homes for the flour barons and other folks making it big in the milling town. Our house was once a grand gesture of a time of wheat prosperity, but it fell on hard times, as did the country, when the depression hit and it eventually became a boarding house and then apartments. Luckily for us and for the preservation of history, the house was kept in pretty good condition, considering the number of people who ended up owning it and living there. By the time we bought the house it was broken up into 4 apartments, which was honestly part of the appeal. Not that we intended to rent the apartments out, in fact, it is only zoned as a duplex, so two of them were illegal. The draw was the 4 kitchens that came with all those apartments. I had visions of having a “family” kitchen and then using one of the others as a studio to work in. For the first several months that is exactly what I did. At first it was awesome, I cooked meals on the first floor where I had a great gas range, ran up to the second floor, which had the best oven in the house to bake and then to the third floor kitchen to photograph, because the light is AWESOME up there. This was all good fun, then I realized that I was doing about 12 trips up and down the stairs per recipe. Quite a workout plan, but not exactly efficient for my work day. None of the apartment kitchens really fit the bill, but as a combined effort they were proving less effective than I’d fantasized. This became abundantly clear while a team of 6 people tried to shoot the photos for The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. We all jogged up and down, which I’d come to think as normal, but they moaned as they baked on one floor and shot on another. The photo shoot also took days longer than expected as a result. The next week I had an architect, Gregg Hackett, drawing up plans for one kitchen that would satisfy all the needs. A few months later Blue construction moved in and built it.

blueprint

We were really lucky to have the original blueprints (above) from 1902 to work from and we tried to put the kitchen back to where it had been originally. This meant taking out a bedroom and bathroom to make space. The pictures below are a before and after of that renovation.

The finished kitchen is featured this month in both Fine Cooking Magazine’s Behind the Kitchen Door and Mpls/St Paul Magazine’s Home Tour. First I spent a wonderful day shooting with Chuck Miller from Fine Cooking and my neighbor, friend, fellow food blogger and cookbook author, Stephanie Meyer, who helped style my kitchen. The editors at the magazine were particularly taken with my cake stand collection and are doing a GIVEAWAY  of a pair of cake stands, just click here to enter. Then the team from MSP magazine came by and we had an absolute blast tossing pizzas and flour around the kitchen with my boys. It is incredible to see the space through the talented lenses of these folks. To see all their photos check out the articles, the photos below are just my snap shots.

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A Day Spent Baking with ShootingTheKitchen.com!

This photograph of me was taken by Susan Powers, while we sat at Tilia and sampled ALL the desserts. Our day together began baking Linzer cookies, carrot cake cupcakes and a gluten-free pizza for lunch, at my house. Being a food blogger and writing cookbooks is, for the most part, a solitary profession. It was such a treat for me to share the kitchen with Susan and her partner in Shoot The Kitchen, Stephanie Meyer.

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Caramelized Pumpkin & Armagnac Prune Pudding!

This season is bittersweet as far as fresh produce goes. On one hand my backyard urban farm is just a ghost of its lush summer self and I miss it. But, there are the apples, pears, persimmons, quince and the versatile sugar pumpkin, which are at the height of their season. I also associate the smell of sweet spices; cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and cardamom with cool weather. The mixture of the fruits and spices is baked up in quintessential American classics like apple and pumpkin pies, poached pears and some across-the-pond desserts like persimmon pudding and quince tarts. All of these combinations are pure comfort; warm, sweet and hearty. Another classic pairing that fits this description are prunes & Armagnac. So when thinking about the ultimate fall pudding I layered together pumpkin, spices, the prune combo, caramelized the crust and topped the whole thing with maple spiced walnuts. It is outrageous and something you can eat for dessert, brunch or an after school snack. It was equally tasty hot and served cold.

I used cubes of slightly stale bread, something I always have around, but I have also done this pudding with vanilla pound cake or gingerbread.

*Some big news below! (more…)

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Come Get Your Hands in a Bucket of Dough!

bret’s table

(Bret, Suvir Saran, Me and some of the wonderful students at the last class we taught at Bret’s Table)

Come to Bret’s Table on June 11th and roll your sleeves up. We’ll be making dough and baking bread. It is a wonderfully intimate kitchen, decked out with great equipment and a glass of wine. Bring your ideas and questions and we’ll tailor the night to what you want to learn. This is the beauty of a class with only 10 students. If you bring your own 6 quart bucket you can fill it with dough to bring home and continue baking. (more…)

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