Blueberry Lemon Tea Cake with Glaze.

A few days ago I woke up, made a pot of coffee, and then realized, much to my stomach’s unfortunate state of emptiness, that there was nothing to eat for breakfast. Nothing, not even something inappropriate like cold pizza, grilled cheese, quesadillas or other appropriated lunch foods. And so, faced with skipping breakfast and getting straight to paper writing, I took the procrastination route and made cake.

The morning was infinitely better for it, as it soon contained cake. Glazed cake nonetheless.

Have you ever eaten a muffin and realized—much to your secret delight—that it was secretly a ball of cake masquerading as a muffin? This Blueberry Lemon Tea Loaf with Lemon Glaze is secretly a lot of muffins masquerading as a loaf of cake. I threw the ‘tea loaf’ bit in there because it sounds more appropriate for breakfast consumption than a straight-up ‘cake.’ Duh. Some people have tea at breakfast, right? Not me, but gallon-o-coffee loaf just doesn’t sound the same…

The best part about this cake, and keep in mind that there are very many great parts about this cake— the moist blueberries, the tangy lemon zest, the rich moist crumb aided along by a nice half cup (and a bit) of sour cream, the sweet glaze crust on top— is that it is sliceable. Hold on. Sliceable? Take a moment and imagine a slice of toast, very close to the most-perfect-of-all-food inventions. Now imagine a toasted slice of cake. Griddled in a little butter maybe, or perhaps just toasted, with a schmear of jelly or a drizzle of honey.

Yup. It’s time for breakfast.

Recipe on the following page.

Orange Poppy Seed Cake.

Sometimes cake is complicated. It’s high maintenance. It has four layers, two kinds of filling, and a whipped meringue frosting. It has to be refrigerated. It absolutely needs glitter. Oh yea, and that gold dust as well. Sometimes cake requires Q-tips, skewers, and brushes to assemble. Sometimes, you have to roll the cake, flip it upside down and then hope to St. Pastry it stands up. Against gravity.

Sometimes however, cake comes out of the oven, pops out of the pan, gets a little glaze, and is ready to sit happily on a plate. Sometimes a cake is perfect with just some good-ole baking magic. This Orange Poppy Seed cake is one of those kinds of cakes. The best kind, the kind of cake that’s there in two hours without any fuss.

As a rule of tongue, any baked good that doesn’t require chocolate or brown sugar and still reaches unthinkable levels of deliciousness is special. When something that has fruit and poppy seeds is good enough to be snuck down from the counter in your hands, you know you’ve got the right-kind-of-cake up on the cake platter.

Say hello, poppy seeds. Unlike in some hard little lemon scones, or silly lopsided shortbreads, here in cake-space you really shine. You taste nutty, a little spicy even, and you add a great deal of crunch to the moist, orangey, zest-studded cake crumb. Topped off with a tangy and sweet simple orange glaze, this really is quite a cake.

Take a look. No tricks anywhere from raw ingredients to plate. If there wasn’t time to bake a cake before, if the leveling and stacking seemed a bit much, here’s a cake that’s perfect without. There’s time to bake a cake now, and who doesn’t need a little bit more cake? Cake at breakfast, cake at second breakfast, cake at snack time…

Recipe on the following page. 

Ho-Ho-Ho.

Like these CinnaBunBombs, the Ho-Ho-Ho is a recipe that’s been a long time coming. It’s a Christmas tradition in our house, at our aunt’s house, at our other aunt’s house…wherever there’s Christmas dinner, there is a Ho-Ho-Ho waiting patiently in the fridge a la Santa up on the roofs. Waiting for dinner to end, and for everything sweet to come to the table.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Ho-Ho-Ho is yet another punny dessert. Get it? Christmas? A giant Ho-Ho that large enough it needs another ‘Ho’ added to the title? Santa Claus’ more iconic saying? It’s a dessert that’s made for the holidays, both in name and in taste.

Like the infamous Hostess treat, the Ho-Ho-Ho is a dessert that brings smiles to one and all. Except instead of that wonderful (and it is wonderful) packaged chocolate cake, thick saccharine cream, and odd chocolate ‘coating,’ the Ho-Ho-Ho is a homemade cake. A chocolate soufflé roll, vanilla whipped cream, and rich chocolate ganache. The white chocolate ganache twizzle is simply the wink on top of the cake. (True Hostess aficionados will note that the twizzle is not traditionally of the Ho-Ho treat. It’s snack cake blasphemy, I know. But it tastes good, real good. And I like to think that if all Hostesses desserts could get together and combine in joyful union, the Ho-Ho-Ho would be the result. Tasty, taste results.)

The real beauty of the Ho-Ho-Ho is neither taste-based nor aesthetic. The secret is: the Ho-Ho-Ho is a soufflé roll that’s ridiculously easy to make. It’s practically foolproof as long as you take the requisite cooling steps with damp paper towels, and don’t over beat the eggs. Though I’ll tell you another secret. Even if the cake breaks during rolling, it’s still delicious. Just pretend you made a layer cake, the abstract interpretation of a Ho-Ho. Pastry is a great medium for abstract expression after all.

Recipe on the following page.

Lemon Pucker Cake.

This is a fresh cake. Fresh in the Fresh-Prince kind of manner. But most importantly, it’s a fresh cake baked for the birthday of a fresh little sister.

Now here’s a story…

There was a batch of cupcakes. Lemon Lust Cupcakes in fact. Wonderful little lemon cups of cake, filled with tart lemon curd and topped with only the highest quality of  whipped cream. These were fresh cupcakes, these were tart little bites of cupcake perfection.

And so, like all great cupcakse aspire to be, these little Lemon Lust Cupcakes were transformed into a very big Lemon Pucker Cake. Moist, buttery lemon cake filled with tangy lemon curd and encased in the perfect foil of sweetness, a decadent white chocolate buttercream. Each slice is a wedge of lemon, and the best part is, if you finish a slice, chances are there’s more where it came from. With those cupcakes? You might have eaten the last one.

At which point, you’ll be truly fresh-deprived.

Recipe on the following page. (And yes. That last picture is of emo cake in the shade.)

Chocolate Dipped Cinnamon Donuts.

Here’s the thing about donuts, they’re perfect. Truly, completely, perfect bits of fried dough. That they’re fried should tip one off to their perfection. And glazed, and occasionally filled. Whether yeasted or cake, donut I love you. It’s an unhealthy feeling, yes, to love such a thing. But have you ever tried one?

It’s America after all, if you’ve reached the point in life of literacy, you probably have encountered a donut.

But here’s the thing, Krispy Kreme donuts are not the superior donut of which I speak. Neither, unfortunately, does Dunkin’ Donuts fits the bill, although their coffee is my guilty go-to in the face of dearth of cafes. Donuts from small, ma and pa shops are the way to go. If you’re in the proximity of a Happy Donuts or an All-Star Donuts, (the favored donut shop name I’ve concluded after years of research), go. Go immediately. Get a cinnamon stick, a chocolate old fashioned, a chocolate custard donut, and donut holes.

In Los Angeles, specifically in Westwood, there is a corner store name Stan’s Donuts. Oddly, Stan’s shares a storefront with a Korean rice bowl place, but don’t worry, they’ve yet to collaborate on a Kim Chi donut. Which, to be honest, if they did, I would try. Because I love Kim Chi too. But that’s a love poem for another time.

Stan’s Donuts, of peanut butter chocolate, custard filled fame. It’s an exercise in self-control to even wander down into the neighborhood. But look what happens when I restrain myself from purchasing the perfect little fried and lazed circle of bliss?

I make my own. Because, as it turns out, a decent cake donut is a bit of flour, an egg, and a chocolate dip away. Throw on some sprinkles and it’s a rainbow party. Who needs Stan’s Donuts? (When you can make your own…)

Recipe on the following page.