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#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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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
vanilla-bourbon cake
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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banana cake with penuche frosting | the vanilla bean blog
My family is still fighting off colds and coughs and what-have-yous,  so it may be very obvious as you read along that I have not had enough sleep this week, and have spent the majority of my days listening to chapter books being read, catching up on my multiplication tables, and watching too many episodes of whatever it is sick peeps want to watch (I’ll admit it’s funny, but my head is about to explode from Candace and Dr. Doofenshmirtz).

But I did sneak in baking this cake, and I bring it to you just in time for the weekend. It’s found among the pages of Food 52’s Baking Book, a lovely collection of baking ‘best-ofs’ from the site. I’ve always had a thing for bananas in cake, although I rarely make it – chocolate seems to reign on high around here. This will have to be added to the rotation, however, as it’s so dang good and won’t be overlooked any longer come birthday time.
banana cake with penuche frosting | the vanilla bean blogbanana cake with penuche frosting | the vanilla bean blogbanana cake with penuche frosting | the vanilla bean blog

A few things that helped us all this week:

The new Innocence Mission Album

This book – my daughter and I both teared up at the gorgeous drawings and bittersweet ending. Also, James Marshall kept us laughing every day.

Episodes of Family Tree (why just one season?)

Trying to find a used copy of this amazing series that doesn’t cost my soul.

Have a lovely weekend! I’d love to hear what you’re reading/listening to/watching.

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chocolate mint cream cake | the vanilla bean blog
Usually the holiday season is my favorite time of year. Everything seems a bit more sparkly in December with two littles in my life: decorating, cookie baking, listening to Christmas music is all seen through innocent eyes. The only concern at this point is being good enough to make Grandpa’s Santa’s list, and to be reminded that really, this is the season of giving.

Glancing at any newspaper or random feed tells me otherwise, of course. ‘Merry’ and ‘bright’ might be the last words I would use to describe daily events. ‘Messy’ and ‘heart-breaking’ come to mind, as neighbor turns against neighbor, and comment sections on any and every news article is riddled with hateful outbursts. I want to disengage, but it’s impossible to ignore. I want to do something, but it all seems so out of my control.

So I hum along to the poets. Let your heart be light, they sing. Love your neighbor as yourself, they sigh. We have forgotten that we belong to each other, they whisper so softly.
chocolate mint cream cake | the vanilla bean blog

chocolate mint cream cake | the vanilla bean blog

Have yourself a merry little Christmas | Let your heart be light
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