Saturday, March 31, 2012

Caramel Apple Pie Cupcakes

I'm just going to tell you this now - I keep this journal of recipes and ideas that I want to try some day. Have I already told you that? If I have, oh well. You get to hear it again. If not, well, now you know. It's nothing fancy and kind of reminds me of my college notebooks, but boy is it filling up quick. Darn you Food Network and Food & Wine magazine! One of them being this cupcake - caramel apple pie cupcakes. How good does that sound? I love apple pie. I love caramel. I love cupcakes. Why not put the three together. Makes perfect sense if you ask me. I wasn't quite sure of how I would combine all three flavors into the perfect cupcake, but I knew it would come to me eventually. I decided to let the creative juices flow and give this recipe a try for a get together with Ryan's soccer team after their game last Friday. Ryan thought these might be a little to fancy (I think his exact words were frou frou) for his sweaty soccer team, but I didn't listen to him. Do I ever? Just kidding. Well, kind of. I promise I listen to you dear! I really wanted to try these out and I knew he and his soccer team would love them.

Since these cupcakes were part of my baking extravaganza last week, I decided to make these in two stages. The apple pie filling and caramel for the buttercream the night before and then the cupcakes and the rest of the frosting the next day. You don't have to do this of course, but if you have the time, I say, do it. That way you can let the filling and caramel cool over night and you don't have to do everything in one day. That's just my two cents though. Take it with a grain of salt.  The filling and caramel are super easy to make and take ten minutes each. The filling is simply diced apples, cinnamon, sugar, a little butter. Cook until tender, not mushy! The caramel is pretty much the same caramel (the proportions are just a bit different) than the caramel I made for my baileys cheesecake tart, but of course without the booze. Although, now that I think about it, whiskey may go with caramel apple pie. Hmmm, that may be an experiment for another day. Now, if you don't want to make your own caramel for the frosting, you can buy it at the grocery store, but let me just say, don't buy it. Make it. It's so easy and once you start making it, you'll wonder why you never did in the first place. Just listen to me, okay? Is that too bossy? Sorry. I told you I could get that way.

Now comes the best part - deciding what cupcake to be the base for this deliciousness. In my cooking journal, the first few cupcakes that came to mind were vanilla, brown sugar and cinnamon. Those all sounded good and then, it came to me. Snickerdoodle! It's cinnamon-y, it's sugary, it's snickerdool-y. Oh man, I wish I had one of these cupcakes now. Snickerdoodle cupcake filled with apple pie filling and topped with a salted caramel buttercream frosting. OMG GET IN MY BELLY. Needless to say, the soccer team loved them (some of them even had two!), my co-workers loved them (I brought them a few extras to sample when I delivered a cake order last week), and so did I. I'm pretty sure Ryan did too, seeing as he had two. Who has two of the same cupcake if they don't like them, right? Right! This cupcake will definitely be one of my signature flavors someday. Now what are you waiting for - go and try this one. I still see you drooling. Ya, you!

I'm going to break this down into three steps - filling, caramel, cupcakes. Here we go!

I used granny smith to balance out the sweetness of the rest of the cupcake, but use what apples you like (or have on hand).

butter and sugar and cinnamon. mmm.

adding in the cornstarch solution to the cooked apples

Apple Pie Filling  (

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 apples, diced small
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add apples, sugars, lemon juice and cinnamon. Cook until apples are tender and release their juices – about 10 minutes. In a small bowl or glass, combine cornstarch and water. Add to apples and stir, cooking until thickened. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. (Cover and refrigerate overnight if making ahead.)

boiling water and caramel. DO NOT touch this. You will burn yourself. And no, I did not burn myself.

finished caramel. don't worry if the cream makes the caramel hard. just keep whisking. you'll be fine.

pouring the cooled caramel into the whipped butter and sugar

look at all that frosting! I wonder what I was watching on tv...

Salted Caramel Buttercream (

1/2 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. vanilla
3 sticks salted butter, softened
pinch of sea salt (optional)
4 cups powdered sugar

Briefly stir together granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture turns dark amber in color, about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly add in cream and vanilla (just start with a tablespoon or two), stirring with a whisk until completely smooth. (Be careful, as the mixture will definitely bubble up and possibly splatter a bit as you add in the cream.)  Set aside until cool to the touch, about 25 minutes. If making in advance, cool to room temperature and then cover and place in fridge.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low, add powdered sugar, and mix until completely incorporated.  Turn off the mixer, and then add caramel. Beat frosting on low to combine, and then increase to medium-high and beat until airy and thoroughly mixed, about 2 minutes.

the line up. I have no idea why I have three brown eggs and one white one.

creaming the butter and sugar (my favorite part)

look at that cinnamon!



filled with the apple pie filling
frosted and topped with clear sprinkles and dried apple slices. YUM.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes (

Makes 24 cupcakes

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ cups granulated sugar
4 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1¼ cups whole milk 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners. Mix together both flours, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide the batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes and frosting. Cupcakes can be stored up to 2 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

You can always switch up the flavor combination with this one too - say, add chopped apples to the cupcake and simply top with the frosting. Or, if you really wanted to get fancy, you could do an apple cupcake, with a caramel filling and a cinnamon buttercream. Ooh, I might just have to try that one. There goes another recipe to add to the cooking journal!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Gluten Free Spicy Spinach Pasta

Earlier this week I was craving a quick and easy pasta. For being a Sicilian girl, you'd think I would crave pasta all the time, but honestly, I don't. I only eat it once every few months, but when I do, I usually go for a splurge item that I normally wouldn't make or eat. A girl's gotta live a little. The next day I always regret all of those carbs and ooey gooey cheese, but it's always so worth it. Nothing an extra hard workout and tons of water the next day won't cure. 

Needless to say, this recipe won't make you feel like you need the extra work out. It's super simple, super easy and can be thrown together in about 10 minutes. Yes, I said 10 minutes. Move over Rachael Ray, we've got a 10 minute meal here! None of this 30 minute stuff. Who wants to spend 30 minutes or more in the kitchen after a long day at work? I know I sure don't and I bet you don't either. Here's all that there is to it. Bring a pot of water to a boil (don't forget to salt the water!) and toss in your noodles (you can use regular noodles here if you want, but then again, that wouldn't make it gluten free). While the noodles are boiling, in a large bowl, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes together. Just a word of advice, go easy on the red pepper flakes at first. I got a little pepper happy and my mouth was on fire when I was eating this. Not that it was bad, it was just spicy. Maybe you like that, but I like to taste my food when I eat it. Just saying.

Once the noodles are done, make sure to reserve a little bit (about 1/4 cup) of starchy cooking water. You may want this to create more of a sauce. It is up to you though. I always do it, but you don't have to do what I do. Pour the noodles into the bowl, add in the spinach, sunflower seeds and parmesan cheese and you have dinner ready. That quick. That easy. It's surprisingly fresh and lemony, but with a kick of heat. I would totally make this one again, but with less red pepper flakes of course.


measured out

make sure to salt the pasta water!

oil, lemon juice, s&p, red pepper flakes

save some of that starchy liquid

everything in the bowl and toss

ready to eat!

Gluten Free Spicy Spinach Pasta (slightly adapted from

3 cups cooked gluten-free spiral pasta
1 heaping cup baby spinach leaves
3 tablespoons roasted and salted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
juice of a lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, coarse cracked black pepper, and red chili flakes to taste
splash of starchy pasta water (optional)

Let’s keep this as simple as possible.  Boil and drain pasta.  While pasta is still hot, toss with spinach, sunflower seeds, cheese, lemon juice,  olive oil,  starchy pasta water (optional) salt, and two types of pepper.  Toss until spinach is just slightly wilted from the heat of the pasta. Plate and top with bit more cheese.

The original recipe says this makes two big servings, but I was able to get three out of it (those servings were plenty big!). If you are looking for a bit more protein (and eat meat), I think grilled chicken breast slices would go great in this!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fig & Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula

The first time I saw this recipe, I fell in love. Drooling in love. 

Now, let me first say, this is not a Christina original. Although I wish I could take credit for this one. This is all Pioneer Woman. I love, love, love her recipes (just tried her chicken tortilla soup tonight and it was fabulous. Don't worry, I'll share that one with you soon) and even more so, I love that she is an accidental country girl. Sometimes I like to say that I am too, but I don't live in the middle of no where and there are like 100 Starbucks in the town I live in. I do own a totally awesome pair of cowboy boots though and I can rock out to Jason Aldean with the best of them. Boy is he dreamy. Don't tell Ryan I said that. I like to say, I'm an urban cowgirl. Ya, I think that fits best. Giddy up!

I've been eying this pizza and been wanting to make it for at least a month. I don't know what stopped me from making it. Maybe it's the fact that there would be lots of extra and I know I don't need eight extra pieces of pizza screaming "EAT ME NOW CHRISTINA!". Since my Dad was out of town for business this week, I thought it would be a great opportunity for my mom and I to have a mother-daughter dinner date (which we often do when my Dad is out of town). She had everything we pretty much needed, so I picked up some whole wheat pizza dough and arugula at Whole Foods and we were good to go. 

If I had the time, I would have tried to make my own pizza dough, but the dough from Whole Foods (or Trader Joes) is pretty darn good. Some day I'll make my own. That's what I say about pie dough too. My mom and I stretched out the dough and placed it on a large cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Use the biggest pan you have here so the dough does not get too thick. When the dough came out all cooked and the cheese bubbly, it looked beautiful. I could have just eaten that. Don't worry, I'll show you a picture in a minute. You will want to lick the screen, but please don't. That would be gross. Topped with sliced prosciutto, a couple of big handfuls of arugula and shaved parmesan and you are ready to have the best pizza ever. It's sweet from the fig jam, peppery from the arugula and salty from the bubbly brown cheese and prosciutto. I know the flavor combination sounds strange, but just trust me here. I wouldn't steer you wrong and neither would the Pioneer Woman.

figgy figgy fig jam! well, this was fig butter.

stretched out the dough as far as it would go

spread the dough with the figgy spread. leave a little border if you want

cover with cheese. say hi to my momma's hand.

prosciutto and shaved parmesan

look at that bubbly cheese. DROOL.

add prosciutto

finished pizza. GET IN MY BELLY.

Fig & Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula  ( or her new cookbook!)

1 (14oz) package of prepared pizza dough
Non-stick spray
4 tablespoons fig spread or jam (I used fig butter from Trader Joes)
12 ounces, mozzarella, sliced thin (use fresh if you can find it, but any mozzarella will work)
6 ounces, thinly sliced prosciutto
2 large hand fulls washed and rinsed arugula
1/2 cup Shaved Parmesan

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Roll out the pizza dough as thinly as possible. Place on a large baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray.  Spread fig spread (or jam or butter) all over the surface of the dough. Lay slices of mozzarella all over the surface. Sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly. 

Remove from oven and immediately lay prosciutto over hot pizza. Just before serving, sprinkle on arugula and Parmesan shavings. Cut, serve and enjoy!

This was only my second pizza making experience and boy am I glad it turned out great. Next time, I think it will be even better with homemade dough and a big glass of red wine. Maybe two glasses. That sounds perfect.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crock Pot Veggie Stock

This recipe is a great way to use up any left over, cut up veggies and herbs you have in your fridge. Simply place all the veggies and herbs in a crock pot and cover with water. Cook for at least 12 hours for a rich and thick stock. I used carrots, celery (I wish they only sold one stalk since that's always what I need, but now I found a way to use up the extra!), garlic, onion, bell pepper, lots of parsley (always have this on hand), thyme and some salt and pepper.  I think I even added a couple of bay leaves too. Why not. Use what you have and clean out that fridge! The only thing I wouldn't recommended using is potato peels - it may give it a dirty, dishwater kind of taste. Not that I know what dirty dishwater tastes like, but you know what I mean. I usually throw my peels away (not down the sink!) anyways.

This recipe makes about two and a half quarts of stock. I kept the little jar in the fridge for quick use (mmm skinny chicken salad), gave one away to my girlfriend Lauren to enjoy and put the other in the freezer for later use. I always have stock on hand for soups, stews, risotto, sauces and lots of other dishes. Once you see how easy it is to make, you won't go back to buying it at the store! 

veggies and herbs

break up the carrots and celery. no need to peel and chop.

cover with water

cover and cook on low for 12 hours

veggie stock after 12 hours

strain and place into jars or freezable containers for storage

Crock Pot Veggie Stock  

Selection of veggies to fill crock pot:
Carrots (broken in half)
Celery (broken in half)
Onions (halved)
Garlic Bulbs (halved)
Bell Pepper (broken into large pieces)
Bunch of fresh parsley
Fresh Thyme (or whatever other fresh herbs you have in your fridge)
Salt & Pepper to taste (peppercorns if you have them, ground pepper if you don't)
1-2 Bay leaves (optional)

Put all veggies and herbs into a crock pot. Add salt and pepper and bay leaves (if using). Cover everything with water. Cook with lid on for at least 12 hours. Once stock has become rich in color, strain, cool to room temperature and store stock in the fridge or freezer. Homemade stock will need to be used within 1-3 days, otherwise freeze and use within three months.

See, I told you that was easy. Dump, cover and cook. How much easier can it get then that? Not much. Also, if you are looking for a great homemade chicken stock, check out my overnight crock pot chicken stock. It's easy, yummy, and you'll be glad you have it in the freezer when you need it. Trust me. Chicken and veggie stock are a must have staple that every kitchen should have on hand.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Skinny Chicken Salad

A couple of weekends ago, one of my girlfriends, Lauren, invited me to join her and some of her co-workers for high tea. I had never been and thought it would be perfect for a girly afternoon. We dressed up and met at The Tea List in Davis, California. You can check out the cute little place, here. For about $18 a person you get to pick out your own tea from this HUGE list of teas (they even had decaf for me, which was great!) and then they bring you these two huge tiered trays full of tea sandwiches, fruit, scones with jam and cream, and pastries. Between us five girls, we could not finish all of that stuff, but boy was it good. The decaf peach apricot tea was amazing and went perfectly with the chicken salad tea sandwiches I seemed to fancy. I don't know what it was, but those little things were really good. Maybe it was the grapes in the sandwich. I am not sure, but I knew I had to recreate it at some point.

That point came sooner than I thought. Last week I had a huge craving for chicken salad. I am not sure why, but I went with it. I had chicken breasts in the freezer so off to the store I went to get what I thought would make a yummy, flavorful and low-fat version. I picked up fresh chives, plain yogurt (lactose free of course), a lemon, some grapes and dijon mustard. I knew I had apple cider vinegar at home (I was recently on a kick of taking a shot of that everyday for health purposes. Ya, it was pretty nasty.). Now it stays on the shelf for dressings and marinades. Before I go any further, let me tell you about the grapes I picked out. These are not just any ordinary grapes. These are muscat grapes! I could not believe Whole Foods was selling wine grapes. They are sweet, juicy and just perfect to complement the tangy dressing I would be making to coat the chicken. Of course, you can use red or green grapes here. No need to get fancy. I wanted to just because they had them. I do that a lot at the store. Here is what those beautiful grapes looked like. So pretty.

I got home and took a frozen chicken breast out of the freezer. If I was thinking ahead, I would have taken it out a day or so ahead to defrost, but oh well. I had made some crock pot veggie stock the week before (don't worry, I'll show you that soon. SO EASY and a great way to use up old veggies), so I brought that to a boil and poached the chicken in it for about 30 minutes or so until it was done. While the chicken was simmering away, I decided to whip up a sauce for my chicken. Now, chicken salad is usually loaded with mayo and other super fattening things. Don't get me wrong, it tastes down right delicious, but if you are trying to watch your waistline, it's not the best thing. So, I wanted to see if I could whip a sauce up on the fly that was just as creamy and just as delicious. I think I got pretty close! To the plain yogurt I added apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, a dash or two of worcestershire sauce, fresh lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Mix together, pour over cubed and cooked chicken and toss with halved grapes, chopped chives and toasted slivered almonds. It was tangy, it was fresh and it had just a hint of oniony flavor from the chives. I love chives. I was really happy with the way this came out and even happier that 3/4 cup of this creamy chicken salad was only 245 calories. Can you believe it? I served mine on a toasted everything bagel thin (my awesome co-worker, Michelle, calls these flagels - get it? Flat bagel!) and a few leaves of butter lettuce. It's more of a "fork and knife" kind of sandwich. Trust me, if you try to eat it the normal way, you will end up with chicken in your lap or on the floor. That would be sad. No one likes to eat chicken salad off the floor. People might look at you weird.

I forgot to include the worcestershire (it was a last minute flavor decision).

chicken poaching in veggie stock

halved grapes and chopped chives

creamy yogurt to fool you into thinking it's mayo. greek yogurt would work here too!

I changed my mind from my original plan to use champange vinegar.

toasted almonds

chopped chicken

all tossed together

assembled and ready to eat. yum!

Skinny Chicken Salad (makes about two 3/4 cup servings)

1 large chicken breast (or two small ones)
Water or stock to poach chicken in (enough to cover the chicken)
1/2 cup of halved grapes
1-2 tablespoons chopped chives
1 6oz container of plain yogurt (try to find one that is 100 calories or less for the container)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (more if you like it tangy)
3 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
Few dashes of worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot filled with water or stock and the chicken breast(s) to a simmer. Cover and simmer until fully cooked, about 20 minutes. While chicken is cooking, in small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, worcestershire and salt and pepper to taste. Give the sauce a quick taste and add more of previous ingredients, if desired. In a separate and larger bowl, place the halved grapes and chopped chives. After the chicken is done poaching, remove from liquid and cover with foil for about 10 minutes. Chop chicken into bite size pieces and set aside. In a small pan, over medium heat, toast the almonds for about 5 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Your nose will know when these are toasted. Just don't burn them. Add the chopped chicken and almonds to the grapes and chives. Pour over about half of the sauce and coat the ingredients.  Serve and enjoy.

The leftover sauce with this can be saved for a couple of days and used to make another batch of chicken salad. Or if you want to make a big batch of salad for the week, you can use it all at once. Just double all the other ingredients. Another way to enjoy this great salad is on top of butter lettuce as chicken salad lettuce wraps. Sounds fun right? My favorite way to enjoy this salad is on a bagel thin with lettuce. The whole sandwich comes in at just about 365 calories. Can't ask for a better meal packed with protein that will keep you and your tummy feeling full and totally satisfied.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Raspberry Curd and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I have been on a major cake making spree the past couple of days. You should the mess in my kitchen. Whoa! I think there may even be some frosting on the walls. If one thing is for certain, I can definitely say my kitchen aid got a workout this weekend. I had a carrot cake order to complete, cupcakes to make for a get together after Ryan's soccer game and then this cake - a three layer lemon poppyseed cake filled with raspberry curd and a lemon cream cheese frosting. Boy is that a mouthful to say, but trust me, you will want to fill our mouth with this cake. It's refreshing and kind of tastes like raspberry lemonade. Kinda sorta. But better. Way better.

This cake is a special cake and was made for the one and only, Barb! This weekend she celebrated her 65th birthday (she probably didn't want me telling you all that, but I had to say it. Sorry Barb!) and I wanted to make her something extra special. At first, I was going to make her malted chocolate chip cookies (because I know she loves malt), but good thing I didn't - she gave up cookies for lent! Close call. Although cookies are yummy, I am a strong believer that everyone deserves a special cake for their birthday. Since her and Dean were going to be in town this weekend, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to make her something extra special, and surprise her of course. Now, I really wanted to do a chocolate cake with this peanut butter crunch filling (kind of like my crack brownies) , but then Ryan reminded me, well, more like told me, that I better make something I could eat. There goes that whole lent thing getting in the way again! Good thing I had a few other flavors in mind. The one that really stood out to me and a flavor I know Barb loves is lemon. How can you not like lemon? It's light, it's lemony and oh so refreshing. Plus, as soon as I saw this cake, I knew I had to make it. The lemon poppyseed reminded me of the huge muffins at costco. They are so good and totally worth the 700 calories for one. I'm pretty sure that's how many calories are in that thing. That's probably why I haven't had one in 10 years. Totally not joking, but now I kinda want a muffin. Darn it.

Okay, back to cake. This cake is not difficult to make, but it does take time (and patience) and you have to make the curd ahead of time. The original recipe I saw called for making this in a 9x13 pan and then cutting out the cake to make individual mini layer cakes. I thought about doing that, but then I also thought it would be a fun challenge to try to adapt this cake to a layer cake. Why not, right? There were a few comments on the post for this recipe that said to make this into a layer cake that you'd have to double or even triple the recipe to make it big enough for all the layers. Let's just say I am glad I did not triple it. I ended up doubling the batter and all that lemony batter barely fit into three 9 inch pans! Since I was doubling the batter, I figured I'd double the curd too. Ya, I didn't need to do that. I still have two small mason jars left of that stuff. I hope I can freeze it! That will be an experiment for later this week. The original recipe called for a simple lemon buttercream. Although that sounded good, I wanted to kick it up and make a lemon cream cheese frosting. It was tangy, lemony and had just the right amount of sweetness. Again, I made too much and could have just halved the recipe. Since none of it was going in between the layers (just on the outside), I really didn't need all that extra. Although, I will admit, I totally took a big spoonful of the excess frosting and dipped it in the curd.  So delicious!

This cake was the perfect way to say happy birthday to Barb and I am so glad she enjoyed it. Even more so, I was so happy that I was able to help her celebrate her special day. This recipe is perfect and will definitely be going on my list of favorite cakes - not only to eat, but to make. Ps. There are going to be a lot of pictures. Just warning you. I wanted to make sure to show you as many of the steps (plus a few bonus pictures!) as possible. Don't let all the steps scare you though. I promise, it's easier to make then you think.

First Step = The Curd. Don't let making curd scare you. This one is foolproof!

raspberries + sugar + egg yolks + lemon juice + butter (not pictured)

make sure to keep your egg whites for the cake!

adding the yolks to the warm berries, sugar and butter

make sure to keep stirring so you don't get scrambled raspberries. now that's just gross.

strain through a fine mesh strainer to get out all the liquids, but get rid of the seeds (and any yolks that may have curdled - it's okay if this happens!)

Second Step = Cake Baking
see, I told you to save those egg whites

whip whites until they are stiff peaks. See the peak?

put the whites aside, clean the bowl and then combine whip the butter and add the sugar

after everything is combined, gently fold in the egg whites. Make sure not to deflate them!

this recipe makes three VERY full 9 inch pans

cakes are golden brown and cooling!

Step Three = Cake Assembly & Frosting!
since the curd is loose (almost like yogurt) make sure to not put too too much and make sure to leave a little room at the edge of the cake. This will prevent the next layer from squishing it all out. I used about 1/2 cup of curd per layer, but add more if you want.

Frosting shot. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the ingredients - butter, cream cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest and powdered sugar.

cake assembled and decorated!

Step Four = Celebrate & Eat Cake!

Cake with candles waiting for Barb to blow them out. She's really 32. I don't know why the cake says 65. Who did that?!

Inside shot of the cake. Don't you want to lick the screen? I do.

 Lemon Poppyseed Cake with Raspberry Curd and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting (adapted from

For the cake:
4 2/3 cups cake flour
5 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
10 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 cups sugar (I used bakers ultra fine sugar, but regular sugar will be just fine here)
4 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups whole milk

For the raspberry curd (I originally doubled this, but one recipe is more than enough! Double the below if you want):
1 stick unsalted butter
1 12-oz. package frozen raspberries, thawed
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2-3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

For the lemon cream cheese frosting (this could easily be halved - there was lots of extra!):
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
4-5 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
2 8oz packages of cream cheese, softened

To make the raspberry curd, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the raspberries, egg yolks, sugar and salt, and cook, mashing the berries.  Stir frequently at first and then constantly at the end, until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Pour the mixture through a coarse strainer set over a bowl, pressing hard on the seeds and pulp to extract as much liquid as possible.   Stir in lemon juice to taste and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. The curd will thicken as it cools. This can be done 1-3 days in advance.

To make the cake, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray with non-stick spray (or butter) and line with parchment, three 9 inch cake pans.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds in a bowl and set aside.   In the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and increase the speed to medium-high.  Beat just until stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted.  Transfer the egg whites to a separate bowl, clean the mixer bowl and reattach it with the paddle attachment.

Add the butter to the mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until incorporated.  Mix in the lemon zest.  Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Add 1/2 cup of the milk and beat until just blended.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternately with the remaining milk in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Beat until just blended.  Using a rubber spatula, fold one quarter of the egg whites into the batter, being careful not to deflate the mixture.  Once incorporated, add in the rest of the whites and gently fold in until well combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22-30 minutes (your cakes might take longer depending on your oven).  Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Run a thin knife around the outside of pan and gently turn the cake out.  Allow to cool completely.

To assemble the cake, lay one layer on the bottom of your cake plate. Top each later with the cooled raspberry curd leaving the top layer plain (very top layer of the cake).  Be careful not too put too much curd or the layers of cake will slide around. Once layered, place the cake in the fridge for 20-30 minutes for the curd to set.  While the cake is in the fridge, make the frosting.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and zest on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until smooth.  Add the lemon juice and beat for one minute longer until light and fluffy. Frost all the entire cake with the lemon frosting and decorate as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

There is not much more to say other than you have to make this. The decorations I did reminded me of 4th of July (totally not intentional), so perhaps you can make this then? I think this would be a fabulous refreshing summer cake. The flavors are just perfect together and, if you have extra curd left over, you can use it as a sauce when serving (or to dunk the cake in if you are a raspberry lover!).