Babu’s Coffee Cake

Babu's Coffee Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

It is hard to believe that I am writing this post and it is even harder to write it. One month has passed since my family and I lost my grandma, Babu. For those of you who don’t know me personally or haven’t read my Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Mother’s Day post, Babu and I were incredibly close. These past few weeks without my best friend have felt surreal. As most people who have dealt with loss have experienced, the ache does not get smaller, you just get better at handling it.

Babu's Coffee Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha
Babu loved hearing about my cooking and the food blog. She would always ask me what I was making for dinner and would listen to me read her my latest posts over the phone. Several times I had prints made of the food photos I knew Babu would like and mailed them to her. Babu would share them with her friends in her building and report back to me with which ones everyone wanted to try the most. Not only did Babu encourage me to follow my food passions, but she also helped foster those passions by baking with me and of course our many, many lunch dates.

Babu's Coffee Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha
In my family it is hard to mention coffee cake and not think about Babu. When she lived with us she always made sure there were slices in the freezer. She would make a coffee cake, always waiting to let me help glaze it, then cut it into big slices, wrap them in plastic wrap and pop them in the freezer. I would come home from school, microwave a slice for 30 seconds and it would taste like it just came out of the oven. There would be one slice left and the next day the freezer would be stocked back up with a fresh cake.

Babu's Coffee Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

After Babu moved back down to Delaware I came to look forward to having some every time I went to visit, especially when we would do our annual beach trip. Since I always knew I would have some on these trips, I never made this cake on my own. When I was thinking of what I could make that would help celebrate Babu on Lemon & Mocha, once beach week started approaching I knew it had to be her coffee cake.

Babu's Coffee Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

It was difficult knowing I couldn’t ask Babu any questions before I started baking or knowing that this would be my first beach trip without her, but I know she was there with me the whole time- cheering with me when the cake came out of the Bundt pan perfectly and laughing with me when I totally left too much batter for the final layer. I hope that this simple cake can bring you as much joy as it has brought me over the years and that you can share it with someone special, too.

Babu's Coffee Cake  |  Lemon & Mocha

Babu's Coffee Cake
Yield: 10-12 servings
for the cake
  • 1 Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
  • 1 package instant vanilla pudding (3.4 ounce size)
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
for the glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a Bundt pan and set aside.
  2. Combine the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, vegetable oil, water and vanilla extract with a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until well combined.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and ground cinnamon.
  4. Evenly pour ⅓ of the batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Use a spatula to even the layer. Sprinkle half of the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly over the batter. Repeat with ⅓ of the batter and the remaining cinnamon sugar. Top with the last ⅓ of batter.
  5. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. Apply the glaze while still warm, but not hot.
for the glaze
  1. Combine the powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Spoon or pastry brush the glaze over the warm cake.


Lemon Cheesecake with Cranberry Raspberry Compote

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

The lemon cheesecake that serves as the base of this recipe is the first cheesecake I ever baked from scratch. Matt had gotten me my stand mixer for my birthday (lucky girl!) and I wanted to christen my new kitchen toy with an epic recipe. After days of sifting through cookbooks and blog posts to pick the perfect recipe we decided on a lemon cheesecake with lemon curd.

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

My, oh my, was it outrageous. I have since made the lemon curd many times over for all sorts of recipes and occasions, but had yet to revisit the fluffy and tart lemon cheesecake. Four years later I decided it was finally time to make it again. I told you it takes me a long time to remake recipes! I thought the lemon would pair perfectly with cranberry for the holiday season because of the flavors and beautiful color.

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

This cranberry raspberry compote is simply made with cranberries, raspberries, orange juice and sugar. It is sweet, tart, fruity and a great cheesecake topping.

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you have never made a cheesecake before I urge you to give it a shot. You will feel so impressed with yourself when you’re done and your tastebuds will thank you. Although it may seem intimidating, homemade cheesecake is rather simple.

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

The key to an extra light and fluffy texture is to keep beating the cream cheese past when you normally think you should stop. If the cream cheese is extra airy before you pour it into the crust you will have an unbelievable texture once it is baked.

Lemon Cheesecake with a Cranberry Raspberry Compote  |  Lemon & Mocha

Lemon Cheesecake with Cranberry Raspberry Compote
Yield: 12 servings
for the crust
  • 16 graham cracker squares
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
for the filling
  • 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Zest of 1 lemon
for the compote
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 6 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
for the crust
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9" springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor to create crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse until the graham cracker crumbs are coated. Evenly press into the bottom and ½" up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.
for the filling
  1. Beat the cream cheese until very fluffy. It should almost have a satiny quality to it. Add the sugar then beat until smooth. Add 1 egg then beat for 30 seconds. Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
  2. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is set, except for the center which should look almost just set and glossy. Let cool to room temperature on a cooling rack then cover the pan and chill in the fridge overnight.
for the compote
  1. Combine the orange juice and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. After 5 minutes, add the cranberries and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once the mixture comes to a boil and most of the cranberries have started to burst, add the raspberries then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Let cool in the fridge. Pour over the top of the cheesecake.

Cheesecake slightly adapted from Sketches and Scribbles.
Compote from Allrecipes.

Summer Berry Trifle

I don’t have very many Fourth of July food traditions, but there was one dessert my grandma and I used to make every year: the quintessential flag cake.

I’m sure most of you know the cake I am talking about as I’m sure it has appeared on almost every Fourth of July spread at some point in time. Vanilla sheet cake, vanilla frosting, cut strawberries, or raspberries, laid across to create the stripes in the American flag, 50 blueberries placed in the upper left corner to mimic the flag’s stars.

It is a delightful classic, but I decided this classic needed a major makeover. As much as I love the original, oftentimes the red from the strawberries bleeds into the vanilla frosting if decorated ahead of time and who wants to be laying out lines of strawberries in the kitchen while everyone else is outside enjoying the barbecue.

Also, I am all about multi purposing and the flag cake is not really an enjoy-it-all-summer-long kind of treat. When I was looking through an old issue of the Food Network magazine I came across the perfect solution: this patriotic berry trifle.

Cubes of moist angel food cake are layered with fluffy homemade whipped cream and fresh sweet berries to create a delicious, fuss-free, make-ahead, presentation-worthy dessert. Now that’s a quadruple win right there!

I must admit that I had a serious addiction to this dessert and may have eaten three servings in one sitting… I’ll never tell!

Perfect for your Fourth of July party, Labor Day potluck and just-because-it’s-a-nice-day-out barbecue.

Summer Berry Trifle
Yield: 8-10 servings
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 pre-made angel food cake, cut into 1" slices
  • 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 16 ounces fat free Cool Whip
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 2 pints blueberries, washed and stems removed
  • 2 pints strawberries, washed, hulled and thinly sliced
  1. Over medium-high heat in a small saucepan heat ¼ cup of the sugar and ¼ cup of the lemon juice. Stir frequently while heating until the sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the almond extract.
  2. Lay the angel food cake slices face down and brush with the syrup. Flip over and brush the other side of the cake slices. Cut into 1" cubes.
  3. Beat the remaining ½ cup of sugar and the cream cheese on medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Add the Cool Whip and very lightly beat until smooth. Stir in the tablespoon of lemon juice, to taste.
  4. Using a 13 cup trifle bowl place half the cake cubes in an even layer on the bottom. Add a layer of ⅓ of the blueberries, followed by half the cream mixture. Layer with half of the sliced strawberries, followed by the remaining cake. Then layer ⅓ of the blueberries, followed by the remaining cream mixture.
  5. Top with a layer of strawberries overlapping around the edge of the bowl. Place the remaining ⅓ of blueberries on the top in the center. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.
For easiest preparation, cut angel food cake with a serrated knife in a slow sawing motion.

Recipe slightly adapted from the July/August 2010 issue of The Food Network Magazine.

Mini Blackberry Cobblers for Two

Last week was the first day of spring! Not that you would notice here in Boston where the lows sank into the 20’s this week. It’s okay, us New Englanders don’t expect much out of spring. Everyone says that unlike some other parts of the country New England experiences all four seasons and that is true, but not how you imagine it. We get all four seasons except sometimes we can go from fall to summer to winter… in one week. And usually the year feels like a really long winter, a decent summer, with the teeniest smallest amount of spring and fall in between. But, as the song goes, “Boston, you’re my home,” and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

To get through the seemingly forever winter I like to treat myself to some summer and spring flavors, especially berries. Even though berries may not be in season just yet, frozen berries are a great substitute, especially if you’re baking with them. A few weeks ago I wanted to use some berries and make a small and quick dessert. A dessert that would actually be for two, a little unlike my experiment with the vanilla blackberry-mascarpone cake for two, and would be ready without extensive preparation and cooking time. These mini berry cobblers for two are the perfect treat. They are like little light cakes with a juicy berry center that will make you think it’s summer and not actually still 40 degrees.

Some cobblers have a texture more similar to biscuits, but I like this recipe for the cake-like result it yields. The ingredient amounts are a bit odd because I was scaling down a full-sized treat, but the end result is satisfying deliciousness. Cutting into the soft cake with your spoon to discover the moist berry inside is almost as exciting as scraping that last bit of the cobbler into your mouth. Almost. So treat yourself and your lucky friend, significant other, child or second-cousin twice removed to these delightful mini berry cobblers. Or treat yourself twice, you know by now I certainly won’t judge you.

Mini Blackberry Cobblers for Two
Yield: 2 cobblers
  • 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tablespoons milk, plus 1 teaspoon
  • ½ cup blackberries
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Divide the butter equally and melt each half in two 8-ounce ramekins. Set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  4. Add the milk to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined, being sure not to over-mix.
  5. Divide the batter and pour half into each of the prepared ramekins. Do not stir, just pour over the melted butter. Pour ¼ cup blackberries into the center of the batter and again, do not stir.
  6. Bake the cobblers for 25 minutes or until the top of the cake is golden.
  7. Serve warm with fresh berries and whipped cream, if desired.
Instead of blackberries try substituting raspberries, blueberries or a combination of all three.

Recipe adapted from Circle B Kitchen.

Vanilla Blackberry-Mascarpone Cake for Two

There are a lot of special days throughout the year, but yesterday was extra exciting. No, it wasn’t Ben & Jerry’s free cone day or a work holiday. And there weren’t any overturned bakery trucks spilling pastries into the street or any celebrity sightings. There was a birthday in the Lemon & Mocha family:  yesterday Matt was one year older! What an old geezer! Just kidding, especially since I’m six months his senior.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, Matt is an amazing photographer and an excellent eater. He is also one of the most caring people and without his support and encouragement Lemon & Mocha might still have been a dream of mine rather than a reality. To celebrate Matt’s day of birth I wanted to make him an extra special cake. This was more difficult than it sounds as Matt and I have been heavily cutting back on desserts. I found this fabulous blog called Sweetapolita that would ensure the treat would remain a treat and not a week-long gorge session of a full 9-inch layer cake. I haven’t had great luck with scaled down baked goods, including some incredibly disappointing recipe that made two dense vanilla cupcakes, but this mini cake turned out fabulous.

The fruity interior was light and beautiful against the moist vanilla cake. I never have the greatest luck with vanilla cakes, but this one was incredibly tasty. There are a fair amount of components and steps, but I spread it out over a couple days to make it easier to manage. Although the cake is so divine you will want to keep it to yourself, this “cake for two” is more like a cake for four or six so they’ll be plenty for you even if you share. So happy birthday, Matt! As part of my gift I was going to make sure you didn’t have to take any photographs of your own cake, but you couldn’t help yourself 😉

Vanilla Blackberry-Marscarpone Cake for Two
Yield: 4-6 servings
for the cake
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons cake flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
for the blackberry compote
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, divided
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • Pinch of salt
for the whipped mascarpone filling & frosting
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
  • 1¾ cups heavy cream, cold & divided
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • ⅓ cup mascarpone cheese, softened
for the cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 round 5-inch baking pans. Line with parchment paper, butter and flour the parchment paper then set aside.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of the milk, egg whites, whole egg and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and shortening then mix until combined. Add the rest of the milk then mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape the sides if needed.
  4. Slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture while beating on medium speed. Once just combined, evenly divide the batter into the 2 baking pans.
  5. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes. Run a butter knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pans and invert the onto the cooling racks, making sure to turn them right side up for cooling. Let cool completely before beginning assembly.
for the blackberry compote
  1. Heat 1½ cups of the blackberries, sugar, lemon juice, orange juice and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the berries start to cook down, about 10 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the compote has thickened enough that it coats a spoon without dripping off. When ready, remove from the heat and let cool for a couple minutes.
  3. Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth. Set a fine mesh sieve of a medium bowl and push the compote through, discarding the seeds caught in the sieve. Stir the remaining whole blackberries into the compote then store in an airtight container in the fridge.
for the whipped vanilla mascarpone filling
  1. Place the cold water in a small bowl then sprinkle with the gelatin, letting sit for at least 10 minutes. Heat ⅓ cup of the cream in a small saucepan until just steaming then pour into the gelatin mixture. Place the small bowl in the fridge so the mixture can cool, about 8 minutes. Open the fridge and stir the mixture every couple minutes.
  2. Beat the remaining cream, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt with a stand mixer. This works best if the whisk attachment and stainless steel bowl have been chilled in the freezer. Continue to beat it soft peaks just begin to form, about 1 minute. Slowly add the cooled gelatin mixture, making sure to continue beating until it is thick enough to spread. Make sure you add the gelatin mixture very gradually of the filling could collapse.
  3. Place the mascarpone cheese in a large bowl then carefully fold in the whipped cream mixture. Cover the filling and place in the fridge until you are ready to assemble the cake.
for cake assembly
  1. Carefully cut each cake in half horizontally so you have 4 equal cake layers. Place the first cake layer on a small plate or cake stand. Place a few tablespoons of blackberry compote and a few tablespoons of mascarpone filling onto the center of the cake layer then carefully spread with a spatula. Place a second cake layer on top and repeat until the final cake layer has been placed on the cake. The final cake layer should be placed face down. Smooth the frosting in between the cake layers with an offset spatula and add more frosting on any spots where the compote filling is leaking out.
  2. Carefully wrap the entire cake in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to help it firm up before frosting.
  3. Making sure your frosting is fluffy, apply a thick layer allover the chilled cake. Smooth with an offset spatula.

Recipe from Sweetapolita.