#bakeamericacakeagain
Today is the day! The Vanilla Bean Baking Book is now available! I’m so excited to share it with you. To celebrate, I have a new recipe and these #bakeamericacakeagain tattoos that I am giving away. The lovely FauxMartha and my husband helped me come up with this hashtag to celebrate both my book and the **Election** (remember to vote today, fellow Americans!) Details for the giveaway is below.
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#BakeAmericaCakeAgain Tattoo Giveaway

Ways To Enter For A Chance To Win
1. Comment on this post below.
2. On my Instagram post tag a friend and use #bakeamericacakeagain in your comment.
3. You can also use both method #1 and #2 to increase your chances of winning. I will select 8 winners from the site and 5 winners on Instagram to receive the tattoos.
***No purchase necessary. Open to the U.S. and Canada only.***
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(This chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream pictured is a recipe from the new book; I made it for segment on WCCO-TV. You can watch the episode here.)

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parsnip cupcakes
Parsnips are often overlooked when it comes to baking. I’ll admit I’ve walked straight past them in the produce section, their pale white exterior ignored for other, flashier vegetables. The bold-colored flesh and feathery tops of the parsnip’s neighbor is more familiar, and the root that one associates with muffins and quick bread. So it’s the carrot that is placed in my shopping cart, and then ends up in my cake.

But Martha Stewart changed my mind. Her lovely book Vegetables showed up at my front door, and after thumbing through so many amazing recipes (Skillet Pizza with Greens and Eggplant! Corn and Scallion Chilaquiles! Beet Risotto with Beet Greens! Broccoli Rabe and Ham Croque Monsieurs! Squash Blossom Frittata! Frisee and Roasted Pear Salad!), I (of course) found my way to one of the few desserts in the book, and decided to start there. I’m glad I did.
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Martha Stewart
A few things:

It’s not too late to enter my giveaway! If you’ve pre-ordered my cookbook, you can enter to win a Vanilla Bean Baking Book apron and tea towel set. See this post for details.

Last week my site was down for a little bit, and I lost three posts. I was able to get them back, but sadly all the comments were deleted. So if you left me a question and I didn’t get back to you, please try again! Sorry about that.

It’s less than a week from Election Day, which is also the release of my cookbook. The lovely FauxMartha and my husband helped me come up with the perfect hashtag to celebrate both events: #bakeamericacakeagain. I think we could all use a little extra love while we move closer to Tuesday, and baking cake and sharing some is the perfect way to do just that. Tag your cakes on Instagram to play along! 

Although I thought we were terribly clever, there are already a bunch of fun cake/bake hashtags playing on ‘Make America Great Again’ on Instagram. NPR has a post on the history of Election Cakes that you can read about here.

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vanilla doughnuts with pumpkin pastry cream
I must admit I am overwhelmed with all your love and support the last few months, and especially this last week, as my book launch is getting closer. This book wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you, the readers of The Vanilla Bean Blog, and so I just want to say once again a huge THANK YOU! I will have a couple giveaways coming up soon to celebrate, and if you’ve pre-ordered the book, make sure to check out this giveaway as well!

I mentioned before that I may go slightly overload with some pumpkin recipes this season, and here’s another one for you, this chilly October morning. Pumpkin pastry cream is quite tasty, and I honestly can’t stop making it. It’s smooth and rich like any good pastry cream should be, with just enough pumpkin flavor. This recipe is adapted from the pastry cream in my book; I start things in a stand mixer and then move to the stove. I stumbled across this method online a few years ago, and found it to work better for me. The stand mixer is more hands off, and I feel a little more in control of the pastry cream (something I struggled with in methods that required so many bowls and so much whisking). One important tip when making: make sure to cook the corn starch out! Cooking the pastry cream a few extra minutes will insure that it isn’t grainy, and that it won’t separate (an important life lesson I learned from Ms. Zoe Francois).
pumpkin pastry cream

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brownies
I have two exciting things to share with you: this giveaway, for a Vanilla Bean Baking Book apron and tea towel, and a recipe for my favorite brownies found in my cookbook. Yah!

I had some lovely help with these photos; my daughter above, and Ms. Molly Yeh, Melissa Coleman, and Zoe Francois. I got to hang out with them this weekend at Pinch of Yum’s amazing studio to celebrate Molly’s new book, and they were kind enough to let me take a picture of them in my pretty pink apron.
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FIRST THINGS FIRST, THE GIVEAWAY
To Enter: Pre-order THE VANILLA BEAN BAKING BOOK and enter for a chance to win an apron and tea towel designed to go with the book! 12 winners will receive these lovely and practical (I had to make sure that the aprons have pockets!) kitchen items. Everyone who has pre-ordered my cookbook previously or places an order through Wednesday November 6th is eligible to participate. (Sorry, US and Canada only!) Simply go to this google form here and fill it out.

Extra Entries: Share my photo about the giveaway on Instagram to receive an extra entry! Make sure to use the hashtags #vanillabeanbakingbook and #vanillabeangiveaway to help me track all entries. Thanks!
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pumpkin skillet cake
‘Foreign coins,
skeleton keys,
old French primers,
small tin boxes –

any little thing
I can hold in my hand
that like a prayer says
be attentive

this is the way we live –

bits of blue glass
polished by waves
and saved
in a jar
in a drawer.’
-Richard Jones, The Blessing
pumpkin skillet cake

pumpkin skillet cake
I’m going to now admit that I’m a big fan of pumpkin, and I don’t shy away from using it once fall hits. So consider this your warning: there will be quite a few more pumpkin-themed recipes showing up here in the next couple months. Pumpkin and chocolate is one of the best combinations invented, I do believe. They are featured here in this skillet cake, which is easy to put together, and perfect for any time of day: breakfast, snacking, dessert. All bases covered.

This skillet cake is 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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vanilla-bourbon cake
A man who writes a story is forced to put into it the best of his knowledge and the best of his feeling. The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. A writer lives in awe of words for they can be cruel or kind, and they can change their meanings right in front of you. They pick up flavors and odors like butter in a refrigerator. Of course, there are dishonest writers who go on for a little while, but not for long, not for long…

A writer out of loneliness is trying to communicate like a distant star sending signals. He isn’t telling, or teaching, or ordering. Rather, he seeks to establish a relationship with meaning, of feeling, of observing. We are lonesome animals. We spend all our lives trying to be less lonesome. And one of our ancient methods is to tell a story, begging the listener to say, and to feel, ‘Yes, that’s the way it is, or at least that’s the way I feel it. You’re not as alone as you thought.’ To finish is sadness to a writer, a little death. He puts the last word down and it is done. But it isn’t really done. The story goes on and leaves the writer behind, for no story is ever done.’ John Steinbeck
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I love John Steinbeck

I’m excited to share a recipe from Alanna Taylor-Tobin‘s new cookbook. It’s a gluten-free cookbook, so that makes this cake gluten-free as well. Made with a combination of sweet rice, oat, and millet flours, this vanilla cake base has a neutral taste, but more texture than all-purpose flour. I thought it was great. I’ve been impressed with everything I’ve made so far from the book: the buckwheat double chocolate cookies were so.good. with a hint of orange and intense chocolate flavor, and the vanilla chiffon cake was perfect for snacking. I made it with corn flour instead of millet, and loved the flavor of the vanilla and corn together. Even if you are not eating totally gluten-free, this book is full of inspiration.

(Unrelated, but awesome: Emile Henry has a great giveaway going on right over here. You can win an Emile Henry Bread Cloche, a Duralex USA glass bowl, a Rosle USA Kitchen Scale, a Lekue Baking Mat, a Shun Sora Bread Knife, and a bag of King Arthur All Purpose Flour all in one big package. So many good things. I have the bread cloche and use it all the time at home.)
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scone loaf
As someone slightly obsessed with scones, you can imagine my delight flipping through Molly’s new cookbook only to discover this take on my favorite breakfast. A scone loaf! Of course! Why didn’t I think of this years ago? I’ve adapted her recipe slightly, turning chocolate marzipan into chocolate orange, one of my favorite scone combinations.

I met Molly for the first time several years ago in Las Vegas of all places, and liked her immediately. Warm, kind, hilarious, and genuine are all words that belong to her. I’ve eagerly awaited her new cookbook, and am happy to report it is lovely, with unique recipes, stories worth curling up with (I’m a cookbook-as-novel type person), and photographs that capture her engaging personality perfectly.
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molly on the range

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pumpkina
I’ve somehow convinced myself that if I only bake one layer of chocolate cake, I can still mound piles of buttercream on top, cut it into tiny pieces, and call it a snack. Which is exactly what happened here. There was pumpkin puree to use up, I was craving just the tiniest bite of chocolate cake, and then two hours later we all were nibbling on indulgent squares of pumpkin and chocolate. Not a bad scene for Tuesday afternoon.
chocolate snack cake with pumpkin buttercream
A few things:

You can now pre-order The Vanilla Bean Baking Book! I’m so excited for you to see it.

Other cookbooks just out or nearly out I highly recommend: Molly On the Range, Adventures in Chicken, Alternative Baker, and Eat My Kitchen.

Fascinating read about Pete Wells, New York Times food critic.

The foods everyone was obsessed with the most the last 40 years. A fun look back at food trends.

Don’t forget to register to vote!

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kolaches4a
I’m addicted to kolaches. Any and all kinds, but especially these pictured here. Kolaches were brought to Texas by Czech immigrants and now have a cult-like following, for good reason. Almost a Danish pastry, they are made with a brioche-like bread dough instead of laminated layers; their centers filled with creamy sweet cheese and the slightest hint of lemon. When I first came across them in Bread Illustrated (America’s Test Kitchen’s new bread book) I instantly walked to my kitchen cupboards and took out all the ingredients needed: flour, yeast, butter, cream cheese, milk, sugar, lemon. While I worked the dough on my counter top, my mind jumped to purchasing a nearby corner bakery for the sole purpose of filling with kolaches. There would be trays lined with rows and rows of beautiful circles, all topped differently: cream cheese, chocolate and white chocolate, jam and fresh fruit, extracts, vanilla bean, meringue, whipped cream, ice cream. They would compete with local doughnuts shops for breakfast, boasting both simplicity and extravagance in every dozen sold.

Of course, such day dreams are not able to become reality at this point, but each bite I take convinces me otherwise. Maybe one day, Minneapolis. Maybe one day.
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cake
‘Commonplace objects are constantly changing… The pies, for example, we now see, are not going to be around forever. We are merely used to the idea that things do not change.’ – Wayne Thiebaud

I mentioned in a previous post that Zoe Francois and I were getting together to bake the cakes from Wayne Thiebaud‘s painting, Cakes. Both of us have a print of Cakes hanging in our kitchen, and have spent time pondering what flavors and textures were represented. It only seemed natural that we should try to recreate them. We started with the pretty pink one in the first row on the bottom right-hand corner; the princess cake of the bunch. Chocolate cake was decided on. Because, chocolate.
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‘Art is not delivered like the morning paper; it has to be stolen from Mount Olympus.’ – Wayne Thiebaud

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Purchase my cookbook!

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / BAM / IndieBound

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