Shortbread wedges

These cookies go together in about 2 minutes- assuming your butter is room temperature.  They are lovely with a cup of tea, and a very nice accompaniment to any sort of fruit dessert.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter- much has been written about the superiority of unsalted butter when baking.  I find it to be hogwash. I use salted butter with impunity and it’s totally fine if you do too. Must be very soft, but not melted.

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt.

You could sift everything, but I just bash it all together with a wooden spoon, until it comes together.

Line a cake pan(8 or 9″) with a circle of parchment paper- do not skip this. Get a small bowl of water. Press the dough into the pan, if your hands are getting too sticky, dip them int the water. Smooth the top of the dough. Bake at 300* convection for about an hour.  It should be firm and the tiniest bit golden. While it’s still hot take a fork and prick all over the surface. Score into 8(or 16 if you are of a stingy persuasion or assembling a cookie basket) Allow it to cool before raking out of the pan.

I am not inclined to gild the lily, but dunking one end of the wedge into some melted dark chocolate is something I can get behind.  Or swirl a lemon glaze over the top. Or just enjoy the simple perfection.

Tiramisu parfaits for Meredith and Paolo


a sheet of yellow cake- i used one box of yellow cake mix, and baked it on a baking sheet- use lots of baking spray to make sure it will be easily removed- it will cook in about 10 minutes.

Cream filling:1 cup of heavy cream

1 cup of heavy cream

half a block of cream cheese

1/2 cup of powdered sugar- mix thoroughly either with a stand mixer, or by hand

Coffee syrup

1 cup of extra strong coffee

1/2 cup of sugar- combine and boil until the coffee is reduced by about half.


1 cup of heavy cream

1 cup of dark chocolate chips- combine in microwave and  heat in 30 second intervals stirring until it is silky and smooth

Now, using the screw on lid of your jars cut circles from the cake- once they are in the jar- use a brush to soak with the coffee syrup(do Not do this before- you will end up with a handful of syrupy cake.  this is not altogether a bad place to be, but not what we are aiming for here…  Layer, cake,syrup, cream filling, ganache.  End with cake and sprinkle cocoa powder.  Now- screw your lids on. these can easily park in the chill chest for up to two days.

Calculating how much cake to make…


Calculating wedding cake batter- basic rule of thumb, round up….

ok, now we have a problem, most books that tell you how to make a wedding cake, assume a MUCH smaller portion than is reasonable.   So if you are using a different source, you may need to double the recipe to serve as many people as you want. Personally, unless you are hosting a whole dessert buffet, I think wedding cake is the appropriate dessert for a wedding. This cake is yummy.

To make a 6” cake  each layer will require 1 cup of batter. For Hazels wedding cake, you will need four layers of each size)

An 8# cake will require 1 and ⅔ cup of batter per layer.

a 10” cake will require two cups of batter.

A 12” cake will require 2 and 2/3

Now, weddings are an expensive proposition, so buy 1 pan each in your desired sizes.   You can bake cakes of different sizes at the same time- just put the smaller ones up front and watch them.  WE made 5 10” cakes ( i thought they would be birthday cakes, but presto chango!) We used 4 boxes of cake mix per cake. So that’s 20 boxes of high end cake mix which were about $1.50 each.  If you dont live in Alaska, it will be cheaper for you.  You will also need eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil and butter, baking spray and parchment paper.  We also used citrus juice, zest and essential oils.  and a few drops of food coloring.  We made enough cake to serve 100 people. We decorated them with a few roses.  They were simple and luscious and of course the rainbow of fillings looked and tasted amazing.

For my own wedding i used the same cake recipe, but for the filling I added a healthy dollop (about ⅔ a cup of huckleberry jam to butter cream frosting to make the filling. i didn’t have a choice, it all started with those rascally blue  berries…  i thank God for them every day.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Variations

Swiss meringue Butter cream frosting variations

 Add up to 1/12 cups melted semisweet, or dark chocolate- not unsweetened, unless you are giving it to very awful people that you hate. Let the chocolate cool a tiny bit before you add it to the frosting- it will be softer,  while its warm.  Just continue to beat like crazy. OR sift in ½ cup cocoa powder-

You can add drops of essential oil (any citrus is good, peppermint, cinnamon can be nice- the powdered spice will turn your frosting gritty… the main thing about essential oils is LITERALLY (and unlike some 20 somethings I know who work at the local pizzeria when I say LITERALLY I truly mean literally) add them a  drop at a time.  You can always add more, too much and you will turn your dazzling frosting into some sort of strongly flavored tooth paste.  Heartbreaking.

A Coral Cake for Hazel

Cake Picture Without question the prettiest cake you will ever see.  Its a tall cake-each “layer” consists of alternating thin layers of moist white cake and a citrus curd filling.  Since I adore Hazel we went for a rainbow affect. (you could use several layers of one filling) But combining different juices and zest ) and buttercream you can get a variety of colors and flavors. Since Lady Hazel prefers shades of coral we used  blood orange, ruby grapefruit and tangerine fillings.  I would recommend making all three of your fillings(or two, or four, or what have you) as you will want to compare their colors and perhaps jazz them up with a the tiniest bit of food coloring. You want the colors different enough that it doesn’t look as if you tried to make them match and didn’t quite succeed.  In cake baking as in life, confidence counts for a lot.

To make the grapefruit  filling:

You will need 1 cup of buttercream frosting(see index)

The juice of two grapefruits and the zest(zest them first)

Bring the juice to a boil and cook until its reduced by about half.   This is the (very very slightly tricky bit) while yoru syrup is still warmish(you can hold your finger in it easily) pour the warm juice unto the buttercream.  The warmth of the juice will open up the buttercream a wee bit and allow it absorb the juice.  Add 1 cup of sour cream- NOT straight out of the fridge- and ½ cup powdered sugar and 5 drops of grapefruit essential oil.. Beat like a madwoman. Soon you will have a  pale pink, luscious billowing sweet tart  filling.  Life is good. Set aside and do exactly the same thing with the tangerine(4 tangerines should be the right amount of juice and zest) and blood orange (2 should do it, but a 3rd wouldn’t be remiss.)  I highly recommend setting them in glass bowl next to each other so you can tweak the color.

Now- on your cardboard cake round- put a dollop of butter cream and one of your cake layers.
Filla piping bag with your filling and use your scissors to cut a large ish hole.  Pipe  the filling on in circles.  Add a cake layer. Continue in this fashion , ending with cake.  Now- should you desire you can leave it as is- those naked cakes are all the rage.  We however would rather leave a man behind on a battlefield then leave a cake unadorned.  So cover with your butter cream. Do a thin coat, stick the whole thing in the fridge and allow to chill and then add swirls of frosting.  


We have a bond you and I.  A connection that transcends the space time continuum…  We share a love for good food and snarky snark.  Therefore I will unburden my heart to you all and trust that my deepest secrets will be held in confidence and that you will not think the less of me for them….

I use cake mixes.    No.  Your love has emboldened me …. I USE CAKE MIXES AND SO SHOULD YOU. I know, I know, it’s appalling-           it’s low rent, trailer trashy and borderline deceptive.

Now, allow me to put forth the case for the defense.

Cake mixes are dry ingredients.  Yes, they are full of artificial moisteners, but unless someone has deceived both of us ,the food in question is cake.  Cake, not life support-although I am prepared to argue that sometimes they are one and the same.  And  you are making a wedding cake, which will require a significant freezing, thawing, decorating and then assembling time frame.   You owe those artificial moisteners and do not forget it.  Now, we are going to jack up the recipe, to get optimal lusciousness and keeping power.   It also saves you time which is something that you will find yourself grasping for as the blessed day approaches.   Now  am going to give you the basic recipe- such as it is- look in  the archives for the tables so you know how much to make.  This template talks you through making a 4 layer 10” cake. This is more than you need for tasting, in which case feel free to call and invite me.  However- you will definitely need a 10” layer so you should practice making that size and you can make a smaller top cake by cutting a bigger cake… trust me on this

2 boxes name brand premium cake mixes (white or chocolate)  my favorite might include the initials DH and the words ‘pudding in the mix”  or maybe not- a lady always keeps her secrets…..

12 egg yolks (see recipe for frosting- double it and you are good to go)

½ cup melted butter (use the amount of oil called for on the box- and double it)

1 ½ cups buttermilk(use double the amount of water called for on each box)

Put the ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mixes first, covered by other ingredients.  Your bowl will be full, so it’s probably a good idea to stir with the paddle attachment by hand for a few turns  and then assemble the mixer.(we’ve already established that confession is good for the soul- so here goes- I lost part of the splash guard attachment within days of getting my mixer- if you have one of those  you can skip this step)

Allow to mix for a few minutes- you want it to be consistency or  well, cake batter- not quite as loose as pancake batter- nothing like cookie dough.  Add small amounts of water if you need to until you get there.

Spray a 10” cake pan liberally with a baking spray and eyeballing it- add 1/3 of the batter.  Bale at 315*(in convection- 345 if not)

  Start testing at 20 minutes… Those recipes that say  to bake until a toothpick comes out dry are anti cake propaganda of the worst sort.  It’s trickier than that.  You need a tiny bit of moist crumb sticking.  Allow to cool I pan for a few minutes and then lay a rack over it and turn it out.  Repeat two more times.  –It’s a very good idea to plan a stew or pot roast for the days you will be baking.  The oven can easily hold both.

When cakes are cool- AND NOT A SECOND BEFORE-  slather with butter cream.  I’ll cover decorating in a future blog.  You can also- freeze cakes- separated by parchment and then wrapped n cling film and then foil for months.

PS the only possible response when people ask if the cake is homemade is”Yes I baked it myself”

Keep your life delicious,

Killian’s fave Rhubarb Custard Pie



Pie Crust


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons vegetable shortening (cut into cubes and chilled)

12 tablespoons unsalted butter (cut into cubes and chilled)

6 tablespoons ice water

You are hereby granted the right to use store bought pie crust, in this recipe and in perpetuity—there’s no guilt in cooking. Pick your battles.




3 eggs

3 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup unbleached white flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

3/4 teaspoon nutmeg

4 cups chopped rhubarb (Hazel grows her own of course- it can be sliced and frozen so you can enjoy the tart juiciness of early summer all year round). You can also buy it frozen. In either case, let it thaw first and let it slightly drain.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.


Pulse butter, shortening and dry ingredients for the crusts in a food processor until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add water until dough comes together in a ball. Divide dough into two even parts and roll out for the top & bottom crusts

Beat together eggs & milk.

Mix flour, salt, sugar and nutmeg for the filling together. Then add these dry ingredients to the egg mixture.

Mix in chopped rhubarb.

Pour filling into pie shell and cover with second pastry top.

Bake 50-60 minutes.

Serve warm with ice cream! For the wedding my Mom and Hazel made small tarts of this. This was a labor of love and made our day even more special. Bake smaller tarts about 20 minutes. They should look set and slightly puffed when they are done.