Thursday 31 May 2012

Nutella Coffee Cake

I believe I mentioned when I made the individual coffee cakes for Mother's Day that I had all kinds of ideas for different coffee cake combinations. Well, I couldn't wait any longer, and I whipped up one of them!

This variation begins with toasted hazelnuts (or 'filberts' if you're fancy.) Pulse them up in your food processor until they're roughly chopped. Remove about a third of them at this point and set aside.

Blitz up the rest until they're finely chopped, like so.

Whip up a basic coffee cake recipe, just like we've made before:

Now here's where the fun starts, especially if you're a die-hard Nutella fan like me!

Measure out a half cup of good ol' gooey, chocolatey, nutty Nutella. Put about a third of the coffee cake batter in a separate bowl.

Mix the Nutella and batter together gently with a spatula until they're the bestest of friends. Also, that lonely 2/3 of the batter that's sitting in the other bowl? Introduce it to the finely chopped hazelnuts. They'll get along great.

Spread the hazelnut batter in the bottom of a greased & floured 9" round pan. Use a spring-form pan if you have one, then you can pop the whole cake out in one pretty piece when you're done.

Spring-form pans are on my shopping list.

Spread the gooey Nutella-infused batter all over the top of the hazelnut batter.

In a separate bowl (again, yeah, we're going to go through a lot of bowls today) combine cocoa powder, flour, sugar and melted butter. Mix together until it forms a sort of loose, crumbly dough.

And there you have chocolate streusel, my friends! I bet you know where this is going.

Chopped hazelnuts!

Chocolate streusel! More hazelnuts!

Now pop that baby in the oven at 350 degrees for 25-27 minutes. Note: The toothpick test will not work here! The Nutella layer stays gooey. Be careful not to over-bake your cake or the base layer will get too dry.

I admit, I was a little freaked out when I pulled this out of the oven and saw how it had gone kind of souffle-like on me. I blame the Nutella.

But then I quickly forgave it. Because look at this beauty:

Okay, so it isn't so much to look at. But let me tell you, if you liked my basic coffee cake, and you like Nutella, this will blow you away.

And it's only a little extra work. And dishes. And it is so worth it!

Again, the basic coffee cake recipe is here, and here's what you need to add:

2/3 Cup toasted hazelnuts/filberts
1/2 Cup Nutella

Chocolate Streusel

1/2 C sugar
1/4 C cocoa powder
1/4 C flour
2 tbsp melted butter

Combine all in a bowl and mix with fork or fingers until well-combined crumbly. Note: This actually made more streusel than I needed, but I was unsure how to cut the recipe down... Does anyone actually have an 1/8 cup measure? Probably not.

Make coffee cake batter as usual.

Portion out about a third of the batter into a separate bowl, and fold Nutella into it until well-combined.

Toast hazelnuts, place in food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped, reserve roughly 1/3 of the nuts and put aside, continue to process remainder until finely chopped.

Mix finely chopped hazelnuts into the remaining non-Nutella batter and spread in round 9" greased and floured pan. Top with Nutella batter and spread to cover.

Sprinkle top with desired amount of streusel and chopped hazelnuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-27 minutes.

Be amazed. (Well, I liked it, anyway.)


This is a fun and not-too-difficult twist on a super easy recipe. Give it a try! And let me know how it goes - or if you have any really neat coffee cake ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks for reading. Until next time!

Saturday 26 May 2012

Super Bonus Weekend Post: Instructables Giveaway! *CLOSED*

UPDATE: Giveaway now closed! According to our winner should be commenter number one - Terry Stupple! BUT. But honestly, there were only two entries, and you know what?

I got featured on Instructables again this week! So I actually have TWO 3-month memberships to give away! So everyone's a winner! Congrats to both Terry and our anonymous friend.

Please email me at bakerinthebasement(at)hotmail(dot)com and I will reply with your membership code!

I guess in future I should say to include your email in your entries... I'm still learnin' folks!

Thanks for participating.


Hello all!

I've recently been introduced to a neat website called If you haven't heard of it, it's a site where you can learn how to do everything from building your own coffee table to eating a cookie like it's nobody's business.

So, it's totally fun. You can also make your own Instructables to share with everyone, which I totally did right here. Y'all have probably already seen my flower pot cupcakes here on the blog but it was cool to make a fancy step-by-step little online instruction-booklet for them.

Also, there's a Cake Decorating Contest going on right now - but time is running out! It ends midnight on Monday. All you have to do to enter, though, is make your own cake decorating Instructable, or video, or even just a photo of a cake you've decorated! Definitely get in on this, friends, because you would not believe these prizes!

Want a glance at the competition? Click through the pics to check it out!

Character Cake for Non-Skilled People
Character Cake for Non-Skilled People by RodneyBones
A great technique made super-easy! Definitely check this out. I know I'll be using this technique in the future.

Mini Maypole Cakes
Mini Maypole Cakes by StudioDIY

So simple, and so pretty! Makes me want to dance with ribbons in the springtime sunshine... and that is so not me, you guys. These cakes are that cute.

Cupcake bouquets
Cupcake Bouquets by Jmae
Can you believe those are cupcakes? So beautiful! I hope she puts up instructions, soon, though I'm pretty sure those are marshmallows cut in half and pressed in coloured sugar. Neat!

And here's the competitor that I voted for - yes, I was so impressed, I voted against myself. Because I like this cake that much.

Game of Thrones: Iron Throne Cake
Game of Thrones: Iron Throne Cake by Stephanefalies

I don't even know what to say about this. I mean, just look at it. Like, dang. Just click through and go look how she put this baby together. You will be amazed.

Well, maybe I'll win one of the other the Mini Cricut Cake Cutter. 

So what I'm trying to say is, go check out Instuctables! Take a moment to sign up - it's free and quick, so what the heck why not - and vote for your favorite entries!

And if you'd like to win your own 3-month paid Pro Membership, simply leave a comment on this post saying what Instructable you'd like to see, or what you'd like to make an Instructable for! I will randomly select one comment on Thursday, May 31st, to receive a 3-month Instructables Pro Membership.

So get at it!

And don't worry, I've got more treats in the oven to tell you about, so tune back in on Thursday for that, too! Thanks for reading.

Until next time!

Thursday 24 May 2012

Fireworks Cupcakes: Sweet, Spicy, and Unexpected!

Besides working full-time as a charity fundraiser, I help out seasonally at a fireworks shop called Kaboom! Let me tell you, it is super-fun answering the phone and saying, "KABOOM! How can I help you?"

But maybe that's just me.

In any case, I had been batting a new flavor idea around in my head for a while and being called back to the shop for Victoria Day weekend gave me the nudge I needed to put it into action!

So I whipped up my favorite yellow cake - Bonnie Butter Cake, recipe below - and as a control batch, made 12 plain cupcakes in plain white wrappers.

Then it was time to experiment!

That, my friends, is crushed red chili flakes, which I crushed myself in my mortar and pestle. I knew I bought that thing for a reason.

Next, to be sure there'd be no confusion as to which cakes were regular and which were extra spicy, I chose bright red wrappers for the spicy half.

Then I filled the cups and baked like usual. Well, except that when I usually bake cupcakes, I don't get a faint whiff of chili from the oven, but I suppose that's to be expected.

Next I invented a very simple, Thai-flavours-inspired frosting consisting chiefly of peanut butter, icing sugar and coconut milk. My brother, Duck, happened to be assisting, and asked how I made the frosting.

"Oh, it's really easy," I said, "You just throw it all together in a bowl and -"

"... Okay, not that easy, jeez."

Actually, measure out a 1/2 cup of peanut butter and, using a hand mixer, slowly add 3 cups of icing sugar while mixing until the peanut butter is pretty evenly distributed.

Then add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a tablespoon of coconut milk at a time, mixing on medium in between additions until a smooth frosting forms, like so:

Because of the amount of peanut butter, the frosting will have a somewhat goopy consistency. If it gets too soft to pipe, simply add a bit more icing sugar to firm it up.

The plain cupcakes were topped with pretty swirls of peanut butter coconut frosting. Of those who tried the plain cupcakes, I heard both that the coconut flavor was too strong, and that it wasn't strong enough, so I suppose you can adjust the level of coconut milk depending on your liking. Simply replace the coconut milk with regular milk when you feel you have enough coconut flavor.

The spicy cupcakes got a swirl of icing, too, but I wasn't stopping there, oh no. I mixed up a simple icing glaze.

Then I made it less simple and more sensational! Add as much sriracha sauce as you think you can handle.

Then add a little more.

Then a little more than that.

Seriously. I thought I had made mine too hot until I put it on the cupcakes and tried it. The frosting's richness really brings the heat level down, so feel free to go a little nuts with the hot sauce!

You could stop here, but I felt the glaze looked kind of pale-orange-beige and I really wanted it to visually scream: WARNING! SPICINESS AHEAD! So I threw in a bit of red food colour, with a smidge of brown to try to approximate the colour of the sriracha sauce.

Now that says hot! I dipped a spoon into the glaze and simply drizzled it over the top of the cupcake, like so:

Feel free to adjust the amount of the glaze to your own liking. Heat levels are a very subjective thing... 'not hot enough' to me might be equivalent to 'oh god my eyeballs are melting!' to you, so be sure to keep that in mind.

So I packed up the spicy Fireworks and took them to the fireworks store. I also brought the plainer ones in case of non-spice fans. And you know what?

Most of the staff was afraid to try them!

Seriously, guys? Seriously? You're okay to work in a building full of explosives, but a little hot sauce on your cupcake freaks you out? Come on.

The manager was brave enough to try one. Then he was brave enough to try a second, so I'll take that as a good review. Hubby devoured a couple himself and I certainly had my share!

Hubby took what was left to his workplace the next night, and they pretty much disappeared, all reviews were positive - unless hubby just didn't want to hurt my feelings - but seeing as the trays returned very nearly empty, I'm inclined to believe the overnight staff at the fast food restaurant truly did enjoy these!

Of course, these are the same guys who sneak bacon into their ice cream treats, so... take that as you will.
On another note, these cupcakes were featured on My Food Looks Funny (and before you get upset about the caption, know that I wrote it, poking fun at my own creation!) so definitely go check out the other funky treats and oddities over there.

Want to make your own? Here's all the required recipes:

Bonnie Butter Cake
Another one adapted out of the ol' Betty Crocker book

2/3 Cups Butter, salted
1 3/4 Cups Sugar
2 Large Eggs
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
2 3/4 Cups Cake or Pastry Flour
2 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 1/4 Cups Milk
1 tsp Red Chili Flakes, crushed (if making fireworks cupcakes, optional. Add more if you're a real heat fan!)

Mix butter, sugar eggs and vanilla until fluffy.  Beat 5 minutes on high speed with hand- (or stand-) mixer, scraping sides down occasionally. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, chili flakes (if using) and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients bit by bit, alternating with milk, until well combined.

Pour into lined cupcake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 17-19 minutes. Makes 24 cupcakes.


Peanut Butter & Coconut Frosting
From my brain, where I get most of my ideas.

1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
3 Cups Icing Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla
5-6 tablespoons Coconut Milk (not coconut water or beverage!)

Cream peanut butter with hand mixer on low, slowly add icing sugar until peanut butter is distributed throughout. Add vanilla, and first tablespoon of coconut milk. Be sure your bowl and mixer are very secure, due to the thickness of the frosting at this point, the bowl can try to get away from you!

The next thing you know, the mixer's out of control and spraying frosting everywhere! Not that it would ever happen to me.

Get that photo out of here!

In any case, add a tablespoon of coconut milk at a time until the frosting reaches a spreadable (but yes, it will be kind of goopy) consistency.


Sriracha Glaze
Only the brave need apply.

1 Cup Icing Sugar
1 tblsp Coconut Milk (or regular milk)
1 tblsp  Water
Sriracha sauce to taste. Then a bit more than that.

Food Colouring, optional

With a fork or small whisk, combine icing sugar, coconut milk, and water. Add sriracha sauce a bit at a time until desired heat level is reached. Add food colouring, if using, until desired shade is achieved.


So, feeling adventurous, my friends? Give these suckers a try. If you dare!

Until next time!

A Slight Delay

Today's post will be late due to the fact that I've been working 2 jobs and have had little time for baking and blogging.

So for today, here is a little teaser image for the next post:

And as soon as I have a bit of time to put a cohesive post together, you'll find out exactly what this baby is made of! Have fun guessing in the meantime.

Also, I put together an entry for Instructable's Cake Decorating Contest. Check it out, and maybe even make an entry of your own! There's a Cricut fondant/frosting sheet cutting system up for grabs! In any case, here's my entry if you're interested:

It is still under moderation and hasn't been put up for voting yet... but you know, when it is, maybe you could do a gal a solid and gimme a little vote? Hmm? Pretty please?

Anyway, I will try to have a proper post up before the weekend's out.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

- Tamara

Monday 21 May 2012

Flower Pot Cupcakes - now with Sunflowers!

Because the first batch just wasn't enough!

Well, that, and the fact that some of my work friends saw the last set of these I did - possibly because I constantly yak about my baking to everyone who will listen, or who is forced into listening because they happen to sit near me.

In any case, a few of my coworkers asked if I could make them some flower pot cupcakes, and I was happy to oblige! I put together a set of four just like the ones in this post for my good pal Linda, and when Nate, who sits near Linda heard about it, well, he just had to have some, too.

His order wasn't quite as simple though. Not only did he want a full dozen cupcakes, he wanted sunflowers on some of them! Sunflowers! I tried to explain that sunflowers grow wild and free on great towering stalks, but he just had to have them in little pots.
A new challenge appears!

As you can see, I did find a way to create sunflowers, but the going was not as smooth as I'd hoped. You see, I'd spotted the perfect cookie cutter for the sunflower petals at Bulk Barn just the week before, so I had figured out in my head the perfect, easy way to make the sunflowers.

Except when I got to Bulk Barn, every last one of those cutters was gone. Every. Last. One.


Which meant, I had to custom cut all of it - every petal!

I started with a round cutter and used the pointed end of a spade-shaped cutter to turn the circle into a sunburst shape (if you have a sunburst shaped cutter, you get to save lots of time on this step!)

I used a smaller circle cutter to make an impression to outline the middle of the flower. Then I removed the cutter and arranged the petals around the center, and used the cutter again to trim away any petals that had stuck too close to the middle.

Next, I used a plastic baggie with the corner snipped off - I didn't feel a proper piping bad was necessary for this simple task - and piped a swirl of chocolate frosting into the flower center. I then went over the initial swirl with small dots of frosting until it was completely covered and, by George, looked an awful lot like a sunflower!

I made 4 sunflowers and it took the better part of an hour. I would love to make these again, so I think I'll be stalking the local Bulk Barn & cake supply shops' aisles pretty frequently until that petal cutter I want shows up.

Once all the flowers were done, it was time to apply them to the cupcakes.

For a how-to on making your cupcake flower pots, check out this post. When I was making a full dozen like this, I completed each step for all the cupcakes before moving on to the next step. Here you can see I'm partway through adding all the upper rims to the pots.

And voila! With a large flat leaf draped over the seam of the pot's upper lip and a sunflower nestled comfortably atop it, we have a successful sunflower-in-a-pot cupcake!

I have a feeling this may become a thing.

I'm on a real cupcake kick lately, and as I write this at 1:00 AM Sunday morning, I have a very experimental batch of cupcakes sitting in my good ol' cupcake caddy on the kitchen island. Tomorrow I'll be sharing them with my coworkers at my other job - oh, did I never mention I work a second job seasonally? No?

Well, I guess I'll talk more about that and the experimental cupcakes on Thursday.

Until then!

Thursday 17 May 2012

Mother's Day Brunch and the Easiest Coffee Cake Ever

On Mother's Day, my husband, my brother and I all worked together to make a special brunch for my mom. I fried up some delicious peameal bacon, hubby took care of toast duty and assisted with the delicious cheddar & green onion scramble my bro Duck put together.

A lovely little plateful to be sure, but something was definitely missing... something sweet!

Coffee cake ingredients, assemble! I am willing to bet you probably have all of the ingredients for the cake base in your cupboards and fridge right this very moment. Milk, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, an egg and your choice of butter, margarine or shortening. I was feelin' the Becel this particular day.

Like many of my favourite recipes, the directions here are basically measure & mix! Beat vigorously until smooth. Yes, you could use a hand mixer here, but frankly the whisk was closer.

Perhaps my judgement is not at its clearest before I've had breakfast. Oh well.

Next, you want to put together the topping for the cake, it's simply butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and flour. Mix until nice and crumbly. Add nuts or whatever you like at this point. Our secret ingredient?

You'll see in a couple of pictures. Gosh!

Next, grease and flour your baking pan of choice. Usually I would do this cake up in a simple 9" round pan,, but since it was a special day I thought it would be nice to give everyone their own little coffee cake.

These silicone jumbo muffin cups were the easiest thing I've ever greased & floured because they're so flexible and easy to manoeuvre.  The recipe turned out to be just enough to make 5 jumbo muffin-sized coffee cakes.

So, first, put a bit of batter in the bottom of your baking cup, then sprinkle with about a tenth of the topping.

And the 'secret ingredient' is... CHOCOLATE CHIPS! Allez cuisine!

Uh, I mean... a bit of semi-sweet chocolate chips, somewhat unexpected in a cinnamon-brown sugar topping adds a lovely richness to this cake.

Fill with more batter almost to the top, and sprinkle on some more topping.

Pop 'em in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25-27 minutes, and behold:

Oh... Yes, please!

The topping bakes up sweet and crunchy and chocolatey and melty and wonderful. And the inside?

Fluffy, light, buttery (Becel-y in this case, also good!) and streaked with more brown sugar and chocolate. Now THAT'S a brunch worth getting out of bed for.

At 3 PM.

Hey, we're not morning people.

Want to make your own?

Easiest Coffee Cake Ever
Adapted from Betty Crocker

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening, butter or your favourite margarine
3/4 cups milk
1 large egg

1/3 cup golden brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips (or nuts, or dried fruit, or bits of fresh apple, or whatever!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the cake, simply combine all ingredients and beat vigorously by hand for 30 seconds, or use a hand mixer on low, until smooth. Mix topping together separately until crumbly.

Grease and flour pans of choice. For 9" round cake pan, layer batter and topping as desired and bake for 27-30 minutes. For jumbo-muffin size, bake 25-27 minutes, or until golden brown on top. For regular muffin size, 18-21 minutes.

Now that I listed those different variations for the 'secret ingredient' I have all kinds of ideas circulating in my head... When is Father's Day again?

Until next time!