smores cake

First of all, I want to say thank you, oh my goodness thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I had so many kind emails and comments and tweets yesterday;  your support of my upcoming book is overwhelming. I wouldn’t have this book without that support, and I am forever grateful to you, dear readers. Thank you for following along here, and for being so wonderful.

And, here’s a recipe from the book! Today happens to be my birthday, one that I am slightly freaking out about, as I seem to be getting close to large numbers I didn’t think were possible. I will be celebrating today, however, with this S’mores Ice Cream Cake. It’s fairly simple to put together (especially if you go the store bought ice cream route), with a layer of toasted graham cracker crumbs, vanilla ice cream, more graham crackers, chocolate ice cream, and then a pile of meringue that is lightly toasted. An indulgent way to enjoy the fading of a near perfect summer vacation.

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The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

It’s finally time: The Vanilla Bean Baking Book is available for pre-order!

This cookbook is brimming with over 100 baking recipes and nearly 200 photos; everything from Mixed Berry Muffins and Creme Fraiche Scones to Ganache Cupcakes with Basil Buttercream and Cherry-Strawberry Slab Pie. It can be purchased early now, and will be sent out or available on bookstore shelves November 8th. This also happens to be Election Day, so depending on whether your candidate wins or loses, you could find it useful for either comfort baking or celebrating. I’m hoping to celebrate, with my Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream (found in the Party Cakes chapter).
vanilla bean baking book
I spent almost two years working on this book. When Avery approached me, I had never taken on a project this big before, or one with multiple deadlines. It required figuring out how to balance both work and home life, which was quite a challenge initially. My work space, the kitchen, is the center of our home, and a place that is needed for more than just recipe testing. My family came to find the sink and dishwasher were forever overflowing with bowls, whisks, knives, measuring cups, and spatulas. The noise of the mixer was a consistent background hum, the refrigerator always packed full, and the oven made our kitchen a constant blazing furnace. I would frantically text my husband at work with grocery lists: butter, chocolate, sugar, flour, eggs, and more butter! It was a struggle at times for all four of us to flow well with evidence of the cookbook piled everywhere, but eventually I managed to find a rhythm to testing recipes and writing. I baked all day while the kids were at school, and then wrote each night, after they were tucked into bed. It helped to have a supportive family during these months; my husband and kids encouraging and helping me.

I must admit I am feeling many different emotions presenting you with this sneak peak; excitement and nervousness, mixed with joy and fear. I worked so many hours on these recipes: testing and retesting, then retesting again. I don’t know how many times I made my All-Butter pie crust, or Easy Danish Dough. So many I can’t count them. My husband told me the brownies were perfect after months of testing, but I made them six more times anyway, trying to get them just right. I finally did. My father-in-law came over every day to pick up cookies and pies and cakes and bars, my husband brought the same into work each morning. If there hadn’t been a deadline in place, I might still be in my kitchen, making that Orange Cranberry Bundt Cake ‘just one more time.’ But now I’m here, on the other side of the work, with a collection of recipes and photographs on printed paper. I’m so excited, and (dare I say) proud, to share this book with you. My hope is for this book to become a trusted, go-to reference in your kitchen, well-worn and used; pages earmarked, smudged with chocolate and cake batter, and filled with your pencil marks and notes.
The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book
The Vanilla Bean Baking Book is divided into seven chapters: Morning Baking; Quick Breads, Muffins, and Everyday Cakes; Party Cakes, Pies, and Tarts; Cookies and Bars; No-Churn Ice Cream; and Homemade Staples. Recipes range from simple to complex, but there are visual guides to help with recipes that are a bit more work. Some of my favorites from the book are: Pumpkin Scones, Apricot Danish, Ginger Chocolate Bread, Honey Cake, Blackberry White Chocolate Cake, Peach Caramel Pie, my new and improved Chocolate Chip Cookies, and S’mores Ice Cream Cake (which I am bringing to you tomorrow, so stay tuned!).

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book is available for pre-order! You can order from the links below, as well as from major retail stores:
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / BAM / IndieBound /Amazon.ca / Indigo.ca /
The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

You can also follow along on Instagram! My hashtag for the book is #vanillabeanbakingbook

The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

Portland
Part two of our Oregon trip in picture form: our adventures in Portland. We had a great time eating so much good food, checking out parks and gardens and downtown and quaint neighborhoods and hanging out with family and friends.

Highlights included getting lost in the amazingness of Powell’s City of Books, eating the best cream cheese Danish I ever had at Grand Central Bakery, quite a few ice cream stops at Salt & Straw, dinner at Pok Pok, day trip to Multnomah Falls, impromptu picnic lunch at the Rose Gardens, meeting up with old friends, and Uncle Buddy playing saxophone for us.
Blue Star Doughnuts

Revival Drum Shop

Ken Forkish Artisan Bread

Waterfall, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

portland CollageA

Portland, Oregon

Grand Central Bakery

Buddy Jay Jamican Jazz Band

PicMonkey Image

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roasted peach and caramel pops
I missed Billy’s Popsicle Week back in June. I stuck my popsicle molds somewhere last winter ‘so I knew where they were’ and then of course, couldn’t find them when warm weather hit. Last week my husband gently guided me down to the basement to clean out our storage room filled with (mostly my) boxes and piles and whatnot, and lo and behold, there they were, tucked in a box marked ‘random kitchen things.’ So, much later, I am finally making popsicles.

But not just any popsicles. These little pretties took a bit of time to put together, but dang, they are worth it. Roasted peaches, salted caramel, simple syrup, and some bourbon make these quite the late summer evening treat. Get yourself cozy in on a pool floaty (this one would be perfect) and enjoy.
roasted peach and salted caramel pops

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roasted peach and salted caramel pops

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oregon coast

“It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen.” – Tolkien, The Silmarillion

I just got back from the West Coast (where I had this song in my head all week). We spent 8 days traveling up and down the coast on our first family airplane trip (thank you, frequent flyer miles!). It was a beautiful adventure, filled with high highs (my first time visiting Oregon, my littles first experience with the ocean) and low lows (homesickness, long car rides, same room sleeping), as all family vacations are.
Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Canoon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, OR

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, OR

oregon 2

output_g0cwJB

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farmette4A
Last week Stephanie Meyer had a little get-together to celebrate Imen McDonnell being in town. Imen’s cookbook, Farmette, came out recently, and it is beautiful, filled with recipes and stories from her life on an Irish farm. Imen was just as lovely and kind in person as I imagined. I made the Wild Hazelnut and Vanilla Slice from her book – a perfect rectangle consisting of puff pastry, thick vanilla custard, and hazelnuts.

You can check out Imen’s blog here, and her book here. I highly recommend both.
farmette cookbook

hazelnut and vanilla slice

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

sarah kieffer

farmette cookbook

hazelnut and vanilla slice

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wayne theibaud
I first discovered Wayne Thiebaud’s painting Cakes at Zoe’s house. She has a small print hanging in her kitchen, and I find myself drawn to it each time I go visit her. It’s simple but beautiful, and I’m often questioning the cakes as I study them. Are you all just chocolate and vanilla, or is there a carrot cake in there, too? Maybe even pumpkin? Is that lemon curd on top down front, or did someone get crazy with the food coloring? What kind are you, little cake peeking out from the side? Why is only one cake cut into way in the back row? Zoe and I have chatted about the piece over the years, and finally came up with a project that has been starring us in the face: baking through Thiebaud’s Cakes. We’ll be starting the series later this summer, so stay tuned.
wayne thiebaud

honey cake with caramel buttercream

honey cake with caramel buttercream

honey cake with caramel buttercream

wayne thiebaud

crafted honey
I finally purchased a print of Cakes for myself (details below), and it is now hanging proudly in my kitchen. I still find myself questioning each and every cake on a weekly basis, and it’s spurred on some delicious conversation between friends and family alike.

But! I have a non-Thiebaud dessert for you today, however: Honey Cake with Caramel Buttercream. Crafted Honey, a small batch, family-run company sent me some samples a few weeks ago, and I thought adding it to a layer cake would be a good idea. Turns out it was. The honey flavor really shines through, and kept the cake moist a little longer than a butter cake normally does. I used the Wildflower Honey in the cake, but also highly recommend the Sourwood Honey, which I want to pour on everything and I daily eat directly off my spoon.
honey cake with caramel buttercream

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peach struesel bars
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
-From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot
peach struesel bars
peach struesel bars

peach struesel bars
These streusel bars are also another baking recipe I’ve created as a Pulses Ambassador this year. The United Nations has declared 2016 the International Year of the Pulse, and I’ve taken the Pulse Pledge, committing to eat pulses once a week for the next year. Pulses are beans, chickpeas, lentils and dry peas; leguminous crops that are good for your health and good for the environment. I’ll be posting recipes involving them periodically this year, incorporating pulses not only in my savory cooking, but baking recipes as well. I’d love for you to join me! If the Pulse Pledge sounds interesting to you, you can read more about it here. It’s a 10 week commitment, and it doesn’t require elaborate baking: a serving of hummus and a bowl of soup are good ways to take them in, too. Also check out my Vanilla Lavender Cupcakes.

This post was sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. All opinions are my own.

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abby dodge and zoe francois

zoe francois

zoe francois

abby dodge

trustone cold press

ice box cake

zoe francois

sparkling coffee cake

everyday baker by Abby Dodge
Baker extraordinaire Abby Dodge is in town this weekend, and Zoe Francois had a little get together at her house to welcome her and celebrate her latest book, The Everyday Baker, which just won both a James Beard Award and an IACP award. We hung out on Zoe’s fabulous porch all afternoon, and spent lots of time laughing and eating treats made from Abby’s book.

I also snapped this photo of Abby taking a peek at my book (I have a black and white preview copy), but I can’t quite show you the cover yet, which is why the smiley face is over it. I’ll show you soon!
zoe francois and abby dodge

The recipe for the Salted Caramel-Toffee Ice Box Cake pictured is over on Bakepedia.

The cold press pictured is from True Stone Coffee Roasters, a local roaster that we used when I worked at Bordertown Coffee. It was so dang good.

 

peach-apple-cherry pie
‘Have you been online yet?’ my husband asks from the couch. It’s 8:45 am, and I am searching the kitchen for breakfast. Most mornings, upon waking, I reach for my phone next to me on my nightstand, and check all the icons chirping at me like hungry baby birds. Email, facebook, instagram, twitter, usually in that order. I despise the impulse, but I’m too tired to stop my arm from reaching, and its become a daily habit. Summer vacation is upon us, however, and I’ve set new goals for myself. Wear a small gray arm band to record my daily steps. Read books at night before bed instead of falling asleep to the internet. Eat a healthy breakfast, then go ahead and see what the world brings.

So I hadn’t heard the news. ‘No,’ I replied. ‘Something bad?’  He handed me his phone with a stony face, and I knew instantly. Another shooting. I felt the pit in my stomach, the one that has been there since Columbine, that grew into something fierce after Sandy Hook. The one that triggered my anxiety the last day of school, just two days ago, the one that made me whisper as my kids left for the day: ‘Please, please, one more day. Let them come home to me.’
pie

pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

peach-apple-cherry pie

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