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The sun is finally shining high up here in the Pacific Northwest, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that spring is here to stay. I cannot think of a better way to celebrate spring and times of renewal than with a delightful layer cake. A slice of one of these rose orange cardamom mini cakes is like a little slice of sunshine on every plate. With Mother’s Day just around the corner and warm weather on the horizon, now is the time to start turning these bright, light flavors into delectable little treats.

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I’ve personally been on a cardamom kick lately, and have been experimenting with ways to incorporate the spice into different desserts.  I find that it pairs beautifully with citrus and subtle floral flavors. The buttery, velvety orange and cardamom cake make a great match with the zesty filling and silky, rose buttercream frosting.

And how cute are these mini layer cakes?!?!  Instead of making on large cake to share, make these minis to set at each pacesetting or decorate a dessert bar for your next spring celebration!

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Find the full recipe at The Kitchn.

 

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Warning.  This is NOT breaking news.  But did you know that not all baked goods need to be sweet?  I have been seriously into savory pastries lately.  From butternut squash hand pies to tomato focaccia, making savory pastries is like combing my love of baking and cooking into one.  I love mixing herbs with fruit for unexpected flavor notes regularly, but going full-blow savory is just another way to enjoy warm pastries and freshly baked goods.

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Making savory pastries also means that I get to bake even more often, creating dishes for fancy lunches and light dinners instead of packing more cake into my already-stuffed freezer.  Think tomatoes and mozzarella with puff pastry, flakey meat pies, and cheesy gougeres.  Wether it be for work, fun, or practice,  I tend to bake more than anyone can consume in any given week. So when I know I have a bunch of sweet treats coming up (which is almost always), my “free bake” time has been devoted to playing with savory pastry and breads.

This asparagus tart is the perfect example of flakey, buttery crust meets fresh, savory filling.  The asparagus is perfect for spring and the quinoa in the base adds extra sustenance to help fill your belly.  Try it paired with a nice green salad for lunch or as a starter at dinner time.  I’ve added a pinch of red pepper flakes, fresh lemon zest, and topped it all off with finely grated parmesan.  While Easter has come and gone, I think this might be the most perfect addition to any Mother’s Day brunch spread.  Don’t you think?

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Recipe adapted from Small Plate & Sweet Treats.

Spring Asparagus Tart

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pie dough (single crust)
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 leek, trimmed and sliced thinly
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 ounces Greek yogurt
  • fresh asparagus, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
  • fresh lemon zest
  • handful grated parmesan
  • fresh thyme

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Dust clean work surface with flour and roll out chilled pie dough to about 1/4" - 1/8" thick.
  3. Transfer dough to tart mold and press to fit. Pinch together any cracks that may form.
  4. Chill for about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Place a piece of parchment on top of the dough and fill with pie weights.
  6. Blind-bake for about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove weights and parchment and bake for another 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, and reduce oven to 350 degrees.
  9. Saute leeks in a medium saucepan with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt for about 4-5 minutes, or until softened.
  10. Add in the cooked quinoa, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Season to taste.
  11. Transfer quinoa mixture to the tart crust.
  12. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and yogurt. Pour the custard on top of the quinoa.
  13. In the medium saucepan, add the remaining oil and quickly sauté the asparagus. Be careful not cook completely. Season with remaining salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Carefully place the asparagus on top of the custard.
  15. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until custard is set.
  16. Let cool for about 15 minutes before slicing.
  17. Top with lemon zest, fresh thyme, and parmesan.
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Every time I come here to share a recipe or two with you all, I always seem to talk about the weather.  Truth is, I cook and bake with the seasons and am always inspired by the changing forecast.  I suppose that is just nature at its best.  Why would I not cook with the most fragrant of peaches and juiciest of strawberries in the summer or apples when they are harvested in abundance during the fall?  During the cold months, I love to add warm spices and nutty elements to my dishes.  As we head into Spring/Summer, I am always in the mood for fresh, light treats.  Well today, I’ve gone and switched it up.  This Sunday is Easter, and Easter means carrots – right?  Or at least in my book.

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While I’ve devoted years and years of creating layer cakes, I’ve recently found a new love: single layer cakes.  We all know how much I love combining flavors through velvety cake, luscious filling, and fluffy frosting, but sometimes less can really be more.  Now of course I had to go and add a nut crumble and whipped topping, but this carrot cake is the most moist and flavorful cake on its own.  Intimidated by stacked cakes?  Then this is the perfect cake for you.  And better yet, it is made without your typical white flour nor white sugar.

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This carrot cake is even on the healthy side, at least as far as healthy cake go.  Inspired by Amber Rose’s Love, Bake, Nourish, this cake is packed with carrots, healthy grains, and flavorful nuts for extra crunch.  I’ve used a combination of oats, spelt flour, and ground flaxseed for the batter, sweetened with wild blossom honey.  Have a slice for breakfast or with a cup coffee.  For dessert, add freshly whipped cream and a pinch on cinnamon.

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Carrot Cake with Pistachio Crumble

Ingredients

  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/3 cup oat bran
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups grated carrots
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/3 cup spelt flour (for topping)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup pistachios, chopped
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 or 10 inch spring-form pan.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the yogurt, honey, egg, melted butter, and vanilla together in a separate bowl.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
  5. Fold in the carrots and chopped apricots.
  6. Spread batter evenly into the spring-form pan.
  7. In a separate bowl, add the 1/3 spelt flour, brown sugar, salt, flaxseed, oats, and chopped pistachios.
  8. Cut in the cold butter or rub butter and nut mixture together between your finger tips until it resembles a corse meal.
  9. Evenly distribute the topping on top of the cake batter. Press down gently.
  10. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until done.
  11. Let cool before removing from the spring-form pan.
  12. Whip together the cream and sugar with an electric mixer until medium peaks form.
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Over the past couple months, I have been working with the talented editors over at Better Homes and Gardens.  They initiated a Pretty Food program, asking some of their favorite bloggers to create decorative food and desserts.  These new party-ready treats are perfect for any spring celebration or birthday and have easy step-by-step tutorials to go with each project.  I am so honored to be a part of this program, and I am excited to share some of my newest designs!

Just in time for Easter, I created this Lamb Cake.  Surely you can make a little lamb cake any time of the year, but how cute would this cake be at your next spring celebration or brunch?  Starting with just a round cake iced in plain buttercream or fondant, this cake tutorial transforms a basic cake into a stunning show-stopper.

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I used a Cornelli lace pattern to give the lamb texture and to resemble fur.  Easy fondant cut-outs create the heart nose and sparkling eyes.  I love how the little eye lashes give the lamb so much personality.  So sweet, right?

Check out all of the other Pretty Food projects and learn how to make this Lamb Cake today!

 

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The weather and light sure are funny things up here in the Pacific Northwest.  I just walked home from sushi with my mom and bro at 8pm and it was still light out.  In April.  It was just pouring over the weekend, and now I can walk all around downtown with just a sweater and jeans, catching peaks of the sun reflecting off the water and glass buildings.  And while I know we have yet to see the last of the rain (we won’t get reliable sunshine until about mid-July), this small glimpse of light has me feeling energized and renewed

For me, I am the most happy when I’m able to work creatively or able to be with my family.  Lately, I’ve had a lot of both if my life.  It’s been busy, not gonna lie, but productive.  Naturally, in my free time, my thoughts go to our Easter menu – the next time both my parents will be in town and a chance to celebrate.  And when we celebrate, that definitely means food.  While my work days are filled with recipe developing and testing, I never get tired of food and always have more ideas of what I want to cook or bake next than I have time for.   It really must be the spring sun lately that has me re-charged,  my creative-juiced flowing, and me dreaming up new, fresh desserts to test and share will all of you.

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As of late, my cakes have been all about the flavor.  From innovative combinations to cakes dripping in caramel and even adorned with donuts, I’ve definitely been having my fun creating multi flavored and textured layer cakes.  For this Easter egg cake, I wanted to focus on the design and make something cute and charming.  This fairly easy DIY cake is the perfect piece to add a bit of whimsy and wonder to your celebration.

This cake might looks complicated, and while it did take a bit of time, it was pretty simple to put together.

1. Start with two 8 inch round layer cakes, trimmed flat.  Place the bottom cake on a cake board and spread with a layer of buttercream.

2. Top buttercream with the second layer of cake.

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3. Trim both layers into the shape of an egg.  Use a template, if desired.

4. With a small serrated knife, go back and round out all of the edges.  Carve the cake into a simple egg shape.

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5. Frost the cake with a thin layer of buttercream before covering with fondant.

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6. Roll out varied widths of colored fondant and trim into long strips.  Use a square cutter to easily create a zig-zag pattern on the bottom of the strip.  Repeat of the other side.

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7. Brush cake with a touch of water or gum glue where you want your stripes to go.  Layer and drape zig-zag fondant horizontally across the egg cake.  Trim to fit.  EasterCake5

8. With a small, round piping tip, pipe royal icing on and in between the zig-zags for extra interest and dimension.EasterCake4

Ta-Dah!!!  Pretty straight forward, right?  Don’t worry about the zig-zags being perfect or you will just give yourself a headache.  You’ll hardly notice this little imperfections in the end.  Enjoy :)

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No, it’s not an illusion.  Instead of your regular horizontal layer cake, I’ve turned this cake upside-down to create this fun and playful vertical stripe cake!  I paired together perfectly spring flavors to make this lemon jelly roll cake with luscious raspberry buttercream.  Silky Swiss meringue buttercream with confetti sprinkles add the finishing touches to the party cake.  Flipped on its side, the cake slices with vertical layers.  Pretty cool, right?

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“This Lemon-Raspberry cake gives a new, whimsical twist to the typical layer cake.  Creating vertical layers in each cake slice, this cake is sure to wow and excite anyone lucky enough to share a slice.  The lemon sponge cake and raspberry buttercream filling create vertical stripes when the cake is cut into.  With just a simple buttercream frosting and festive sprinkles, this clever cake will leave you looking like a culinary mastermind once you get a peak at the party going on inside.  But trust me, it is much more simple than you might think.  I won’t tell if you don’t.”

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Check out the complete tutorial and recipe over at Brit + Co.

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I can’t believe we head back up to Vancouver tomorrow and it has taken me this whole time to write a new post.  My husband and I have been back in Cali for the past week or so visiting family and working (for me).  We’ve been down to LA, the Bay Area, and back up to Sacramento to film a new cake tutorial with Brit + Co.  (more on this soon).  Needless to say, it has not been a very relaxing vacation, but very fun and jammed-packed nonetheless.  Just the way I (not so secretly) like it.

While I’ve been away, a couple articles of mine were published beyond Style Sweet CA.  Before we left, I was busy cramming in as many projects as possible.  First up, my debut post for the Crafty Blog!

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Check out the full article on how to make your own fondant bows to add to any cake design!

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I’ve been baking up a storm lately.  Lot’s of layer cakes, donuts, and bundts.  Most of the treats are for a designated project, but my kitchen it still left with cut-into confections everywhere.  I have a super sweet tooth, but my waistline does not appreciate it.  With warmer weather and less bulky sweaters just around the corner, it’s time to get fit.

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I’m not afraid to hit the gym hard, but please don’t take away all of my sweets!  I decided to make three different flavors of Gourmet Meringues as a light and airy alternative to all the buttercream and chocolate that usually floods my fridge.  Made with only egg whites and sugar, they leave you feeling a bit more guilt free.  The crisp yet chewy texture is perfect for snacking.  Check out the recipes for tart Raspberry, nutty Pistachio, and Chocolate-Orange over at Brit + Co.

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Yes, you read that right.  Style Sweet CA’s first (intentionally) vegan recipe.  No, I am not turning vegan.  And no, I did not swap out ingredients to try to make a crowd pleaser.  I made this recipe because the donuts taste amazing and just happen to be vegan.  You feel me?

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I made these babies on a rainy weekend.  Brett was feeling under the weather and I stole some time to myself to bake for pleasure.  Don’t get me wrong, I still like baking and feel blessed every day that I get to do something that I love for work.  I’ve always had to find the right balance between baking for my clients and baking what I want.  Most of the time, I develop recipes with a client or specific project in mind, so when I can steal a moment to bake just for fun I really try to enjoy the whole process – from initial idea to the very last garnish.

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The fridge/freezer of this freelance pastry chef is always full of 3/4 layer cakes and desperate attempts to keep pastries fresh until someone can take them of my hands.  If I kept up eating what I baked every week, I’d make myself sick.  So when it comes time to develop a new recipe to be enjoyed guilt free on a lazy weekend, I went with a healthy version of a chocolate donut.

First of all, these donuts are baked.  They will never have the same characteristics as a real, fried donut, but they are delicious nonetheless.  Using some coconut oil and a jar of apple sauce from the back of the pantry, I created the chocolatey vegan batter.  To bring out the coconut flavor even more, these Chocolate Coconut Vegan Donuts were given a non-dairy coconut caramel glaze and topped with coconut flakes.  Like most chocolate batters I make, I added a touch of almond extract for depth and for the love of almonds (almond extract just might be my most favorite scent ever).  Sliced almonds were sprinkled on the other half of the donuts for those of us who don’t care for coconut flakes (me, specially – lol).

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The donuts were super moist and crazy flavorful.  And that vegan caramel?!?!?  Incredible.  These donuts turned the whole weekend around.  Brett started to feel better, and by Sunday, we were able to share the leftovers with friends at a sunny puppy play-date. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Coconut Vegan Donuts

Ingredients

  • 1 batch vegan coconut caramel
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 c almond milk
  • 6 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • coconut flakes
  • sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray wells of a donut pan with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. Sift together the dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in the remaining ingredients with a wooden spoon until batter is smooth and uniform.
  4. Place batter into a pastry bag with a large, plain piping tip.
  5. Fill donut pan about 2/3 full with donut batter.
  6. Bake about 10-12 minutes or until done.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Dip donuts into warmed coconut caramel and let drip-dry on a wire rack (with a piece of parchment underneath)
  9. Sprinkle with coconut flakes and/or sliced almonds.
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Coconut Caramel inspired by Heather Christo.

Vegan Coconut Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium and bring to a simmer.
  3. Reduce heat and cook for about 5 minutes, whisking occasionally
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With today being Pi Day (3/14) and only a few days left until St. Patrick’s Day, I thought of no better way to celebrate than with some Shamrockin’ Mint Whoopie Pies!

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Is it a cookie? Is it a cake?  When they taste this good, who cares what they are called!!

The giant, soft cake-coookies sandwich in creamy mint filling studded with dark chocolate chunks.  Looks a bit like mint chip ice cream, right?  But don’t worry – these treats won’t melt on you.  Perfect for celebrating all weekend long!

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Mint-Whoopie-Pie5Get the recipe over at Best Friends for Frosting.