Cardamom Pear Bread Pudding

Hi, it’s Michele from Cakewalk Baking and I’m back to share one of my favorite fall recipes – cardamom pear bread pudding.  Bread pudding is the ultimate comfort dessert and super simple to make. It’s also incredibly versatile – swap out the pears and raisins with chocolate & bananas, blackberries, or apples for an equally delicious result. I love using pain au levain (a French sourdough made with a combination of wheat & white flours) for this recipe because it adds another layer of flavor and creates the best crunchy top, but most breads will do.  Enjoy!

PS – I have this recipe on my menu at Zut! in Berkeley if you want to taste it without actually making it yourself!

 photo © cakewalk baking
Cardamom Pear Bread Pudding
I loaf of day old pain au levain or French bread, crust removed & cut into 1” cubes
2 cups milk
2 cups cream
1 cup sugar (white or brown)
6 eggs
1 tsp cardamom
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 pears, peeled and sliced into 2” slices
1 cup raisins
Sugar for sprinkling

Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, sugar, spices and vanilla. Add bread cubes and gently fold in pears and raisins.  Pour mixture in a 13” x 9” ceramic dish or individual ramekins, sprinkle with sugar. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes at 350°. Remove foil and continue to bake until browned on top and the custard is set, about 30 more minutes. Serve warm with your favorite caramel sauce and whipped cream.

Modern Holiday: Neon + Neutrals

I've had mixed feelings about the neon trend, but when paired with neutrals like white and kraft, there's no denying it adds a certain cheer to the holiday season.  Try incorporating an idea or two from this roundup to add a subtle pop of neon in your home, or put it all together with some metallic accents for a vibrant and festive holiday party...
wreath + garland, via anthology.

cupcakes, toppers + tags, via martha stewart.

wall decor + treats, via somewhere splendid.

tablescape + masking tape plates via design sponge.

free printable tags via hey look.

geo ornaments via etsy.

Inflatable Birthday Invitation

Hope everyone enjoyed their turkey day.  I discovered a fantastic new blog this weekend... if you haven't already, go and catch up with Sibylle of funkytime. Lots and lots of unique DiY + party ideas, but especially loving these inflatable balloon invitations:

photo © funkytime

A Modern Baby Shower Brunch

Seri and Michelle of Little Miss Party in New York sent in this lovely modern baby shower designed for a friend.  They used eye catching details like bold zinc letters and fresh flowers to pull together a color scheme of grey, white and yellow.  I really love the thoughtful personal touches, like chocolate stars in honor of the mom-to-be's maiden name.  Read on below for more...

photos © levi stolove photography

From Seri: LMP threw the most gorgeous baby shower… and all during the crazy October snow storm! From the beginning planning stages we knew it had to be off the charts classy, sophisticated and modern; just like the mom-to-be. Keeping the colors gender neutral we worked with crisp white, pinstripe gray and lemon yellow.  We worked with Jennifer Owens at Blackberry Graphics to create a pretty and sophisticated invite which set the tone for Rachel’s shower. We used the invite as inspiration to design water bottles, a gift sign and coffee station signs. Everything tied together so beautifully making the shower feel modern yet baby chic. The menu was brunch and mostly vegetarian for our mother-to-be who does not partake in eating meat…so we served up a menu that would be hearty enough for a veg and satisfying enough for a crowd of mingling gals: Strawberry greens with a balsamic vinaigrette, Fruit salad skewers, Veggie & cheese frittatas, French toast bites, Bagels & Lox and Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins along with Sugar Sweet Sunshine yellow cake with buttercream frosting, mini cupcakes and Macarons from Maison du Macaron.  As a guest giveaway we used poodles. Rachel loves poodles and grew up with them in her home. So as a subtle way of adding this cute detail into the shower we had Kristan at Kreated by Kristan make poodle sugar cookies on sticks, individually wrapped and tied with a yellow ribbon. We put them on display with a pretty sign directing guests to take on their way out.

A Stylish 'Elle' Magazine First Birthday

This magazine inspired party for Elle is too clever (but seriously, how can you have a daughter named Elle and resist this theme, right?) Elle's mom Phu, designed much of the party herself with the help of family and friends, incorporating Chinese, American, and Vietnamese traditions and food. Super fun and fabulously girly... there's even a red carpet style 'Elle' backdrop.  Read on below for all the details from Phu...

 photos © susan hudson photography

From Phu: After taking her 7 month photos, there was a very posed photo that inspired Elle's 1st birthday party.  Elle Magazine.  As someone not so fashion forward, we concentrated on photos, the font for ELLE on the cover, some of the magazine's standard headlines, and the colors pink, black and white to carry on the theme throughout the party.  Invitations were the inspiration photo mocked up as a magazine cover with taglines indicating elements of the party. 

RED CARPET READY? Papparazi Perfect Picture Poses: We hired a photographer to take photos of the guests entering the house on the red carpet and stopping at our mini step and repeat.  Guests received this photo as part of their thank you for coming.  Our friends had a huge printer and I submitted a design to them as a PDF file that they printed for us. 

ARE YOU A MILK-A-HOLIC? How Desserts Can Help You Cope: This was a catchy phrase used to showcase our dessert table.  Everything but the two layer birthday cake was made at home.  The simply decorated birthday cake by Jackie Spratt emulated the design from the invitation and I hand made the ELLE topper by dyeing, molding and drying fondant on sticks. We bought toppers from Cake Sugar Designs for the homemade cupcakes to carry on the design theme.  The other desserts were simple, theme oriented, milk-friendly, and all made at home with love: chocolate chip cowboy cookies (recipe taken from bakerella), brownies, pink rice crispy treats, red velvet cake balls, and homemade chocolate ganache filled pink macarons.  To incorporate some other elements of fashion and the magazine, the kids took home small swag bags with an ELLE cup containing sunglasses and candy and served as a container to take desserts home with them. 

We also asked guests to partake in an Asian tradition of guessing what Elle would be when she grows up.  Elle was a presented a tray of items that portray things she might be when she grows up and she selects an item.  (She played to the Asian crowd and picked the syringe indicating something in the health professions ;) Above the display for this game was a pictoral timeline of Elle's first year.  Each month had a photo and milestones written out for guests to see and read about her first year.

For non-dessert food, we had a mix of American and Asian a tribute to her bi-racial identity.  We made a hot dog bar with gourmet toppings that guests could either follow our recommendations or make their own.  Snacks included BLT bites, caprese skewers, and parmisan fries.  We also experimented with chicken, bacon donut burgers as well as made fried panko crusted deviled avocado eggs.  Asian food consisted of various noodle dishes, curry soup, eggrolls, and wraps.  A little something for everyone and all of it was made at home by her loving family.

We also had cotton candy and a jump house as a gift from her uncle.  He didn't know what to get her, so he thought those two things would benefit her and the party :)  As you can tell, this party was a family affair where we decorated and cooked our hearts out.  
Photography: Susan Hudso
Invitation printers: VistaPrint
Invitation Photo: Arden Prucha Photography
Cake: Jackie Spratt Cakes
Cupcake Toppers: Sugar Cake Designs
Pink Elle Stadium Cups: Creative Cup
Florist, food, other desserts, and decoration: Elle's wonderful family

Giddy Up: A Rockin’ Giveaway from the Land of Nod

The Holidays are coming! Do you have a little one who’s already making their list and checking it twice? As the mom of a toddler I happen to prefer buying well-crafted wood toys and games, so for me opening the holiday catalog from The Land of Nod is a complete delight. They have the most wonderful things for all ages, many of which remind me of my own childhood. Like this Hi-Ho Rocking Horse. We got one for my daughter and just couldn’t wait for Christmas to put it to use... we’ve lovingly dubbed him Ranger. To put size in perspective, at 18 months old Caitlin is able to climb on and off by herself (and she somehow knew instinctively how to ride like a cowgirl on first attempt)...

The Land of Nod has kindly offered to GIVE AWAY one of these classic wood beauties for the toddler in your life. For a chance to win, visit their online catalog and check out the great selection of holiday toys and games... then come back and leave a comment on this post with your favorite item and who it’s for. Bonus entries available if you share this giveaway on your blog, facebook or twitter page.

Giveaway ends Midnight PST on 11/20 and a random winner will be posted on Monday 11/21.  Caitlin wishes you the best of luck!

photos © cake.2011

Up Up and Away: A First Birthday Photoshoot

Completely smitten with this first birthday photo shoot sent in by Heidi of Velvet Owl Photography.  Can't you feel the warmth, love and happiness radiating through these gorgeous images?  Also, I'm reminded that I ought to get it together and have some family photos taken this season... if they could look like this I might actually stop procrastinating.

 photos © velvet owl photography

DiY Tutorial: Classic Lattice Top Apple Pie

Please join me in welcoming our newest contributor - the lovely Caroline of Coeur de La.  You can read all about her and her beautiful photography in the about section here.  I'm so happy to have her as a part of our team... as a foodie, photographer and Bay Area local, she is sure to bring a unique perspective to Cake.

Hello, I am Caroline from Coeur de La and I am so happy to be contributing to Cake. I've been an avid reader since the days when this site was known as Birthday Girl so I am thrilled to be here... 

Now, onto the yummy stuff. Pie. Good ole apple pie is one of my favorites. I love the way it tastes, smells, and adore how the main ingredient is apples. However, for the longest time I was so scared and intimidated to make it. I had heard horror stories of making crusts, that apple pie was just too time consuming to make, and really I was simply terrified to make a pie. Silly? Yes! But, it just so happens I got over this fear after visiting one of my favorite apple orchards. The weather was chilly, the apples were gleaming, and I knew I had to put to use all of my bounty. After leaving the orchard I was on a mission to make an apple pie. Luckily, I found this recipe and was completely inspired to make my own. An hour later, while pulsing flour and butter in my food processor, I thought to myself "Wow, this isn't too difficult." And, as I listened to Zaz, one of my favorite French singers, my pie making came together that autumn day in my kitchen. The smells that filled my kitchen reminded me of warm apple cider, chilly autumn mornings, and the holidays. So, with the holidays around the corner, I would love to inspire you to make your own apple pie. Roll up your sleeves, and try that lattice crust because believe me you will inspire yourself. And who doesn't love a good ole' apple pie?  My secret ... keep it simple ... use golden delicious apples. Bon Appetit! 

1. Make your dough and cut it in half.

2. Roll out your dough into two discs, place in the fridge for one hour. While you wait, peel your apples. 

3. With the cores removed, cube your apples.

4. Add brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon, flour, a little lemon, and nutmeg to your cubed apples. 

5. Mix your apples with your spices. 

6. Roll out one of your doughs and fit it into your pie pan. Next, fill your pie with the apples. 

7. It's time to make your lattice crust. 

8. Roll out your second crust and with a pie cutter, cut 1/2 inch or smaller vertical ribbon pieces.

9. Start your weaving.

10. This is a bit tricky and I am still perfecting my lattice crust. I swear, youtube videos help. 

11. Bake your pie for 50-60 minutes (all ovens differ) at 400 degrees F. 

12. After your pie has cooled, take a minute and admire your pie. 

13. Serve with milk, coffee, or tea.

14. Eat Pie. 

photos © coeur de la

Classic Apple Pie
Adapted from one of my favorite sites: bread & honey

4-5 cups of Golden Delicious apples, cored & cubed
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, or adjust to your liking
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon all spice
2 tablespoons flour to hold your filling together
2 tablespoons whole milk (I sometimes skip this)
1 tablespoon of butter (you can use two, but I am happy using 1)
2 pie crusts ... and the secret is using this recipe ... pretty much amazing
Follow the pie crust recipe to a T and your crust will come out perfectly

Preheat oven to 400 F
1. Roll out your pie crusts.
2. Place one pie crust into your pie pan, pushing down all sides, making sure that the dough goes up near the top of the pan.
3. In a large bowl, mix the apples, sugars, lemon juice, flour, and spices, and pour into your pie dish.
4. If you choose to, top with milk and butter. Again, this helps hold everything together and makes for a really rich filling.
5. For the lattice crust, there are really no precise tips I can give you other than watch youtube videos and practice. However, roll out one of your doughs and use a pie cutter to cut 1/2 inch vertical ribbons, starting from the middle and working your way out. You will notice they will vary in length. Starting with the longest two, make an x in the middle of your pie. Next, I will probably just confuse you, so find a good youtube video for lattice crusts and start weaving. Once you see it done right and are patient, you won't believe how easy it is. Describing it is a whole other story.
6. Pinch down the edges of your lattice crust, sealing everything in.
7. Place pie in your pre-heated oven for 50-60 minutes ... again all ovens vary.
8. Remove from oven when golden brown, let cool, and enjoy!!
9. Practice makes perfect. You won't believe how quickly you can make a pie after a couple times or so.
10. Bon Appetit!!!