Coconut Sugar Banana Layer Cake with Caramelized Coconut Sugar Frosting

Real Sweet: Banana Layer Cake with Caramelized Coconut Sugar Frosting

Well, I had all week to prepare for Clara’s birthday – only I don’t mean party prep. I’m referring to the allotted time required for me to accept that she is another whole year older. Already three.

Today she climbed on a stool with my old Canon Rebel around her neck and declared she wanted to take pictures of her salad. Later she perched on my lap and helped me make the selections for my organic seed order. She “works” on her toy computer and is an utter wiz in the kitchen already. Chip off the old block? It’s looking that way.

She’s incredibly decisive; knows precisely what she likes and does not like, and declared today’s recipe “The best cake I ever ate.” Oh Clara, you’re ever the charmer.

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Pumpkin Seed Vegan Brownies | Simple Bites #recipe #vegan #brownies #baking #sweets

Vegan Pumpkin Seed Cocoa Brownies

We’re more cookie people than brownie fans around here, and you’ll find more recipes for pies than bars in the archives.

In fact, this is the first brownie recipe I’ve published in five years. Now, I get the appeal of brownies; I really do! It’s just that most recipes require so much white sugar and butter, I can’t make them for my family in good conscience. Until now, that is.

My editor recently sent me a cookbook that happened to arrive just in time for my January pantry purge. At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen: Celebrating the Art of Eating Well is an absolute gem of a book, not only for the sheer wealth of information it offers on healthy eating, but for the line-up of incredible recipes begging to be made.

Today’s brownies are adapted from Amy Chaplin’s book. Finally I have a brownie recipe for the lunchbox, my afternoon tea and basically any special occasion. These are brownies well worth a five year wait.

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rolling gingerbread with kids

Holiday baking with kids and a gingerbread house recap

Our weekend plans went awry when little Clara fell quite seriously sick and we were back and forth from the emergency room both Saturday and Sunday.

She is on the mend (we hope) and we are catching up on sleep and life. Maybe I’ll finally get to unpack from London and tackle my email inbox.

Not surprisingly, it was baking together as a family over the weekend that offered a respite from the stress. My mind has a tendency to head to a very dark place when these mysterious medical issues show up (it doesn’t help when not one, but four doctors misdiagnose the case) and I need a diversion. Preferably some thing with cinnamon and spice, cookie cutters and sprinkles.

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Bûche de Noël / Yule Log / Chocolate Hazelnut Roll | Simple Bites #kidsinthekitchen #baking

Chocolate Hazelnut Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)

Whipping cream into soft peeks, spreading frosting on cookies, or dusting the fruitcake with powdered sugar, holiday baking has to be the ultimate opportunity to welcome the children into the kitchen and let them stir, mix and roll alongside you.

In doing so, you are making memories together and creating traditions that just might last through generations. Perhaps it is just a simple batch of shortbread, prepared a few different ways and loved by all, or cut-out gingerbread cookies, our annual holiday cookie of choice. But whatever the recipe, make sure to include little helpers when you bake – it will have a lasting impression on them.

We recently sweetened up a Saturday afternoon preparing something extra special for our weekly Sunday dinner. It was enormous fun to make with my Mateo, which is why we decided to share it here with you.

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Naked Lemon Layer Cake recipe and tutorial | Simple Bites

Rustic Lemon Layer Cake for a baby shower

November is the season of comfort food, which for me roughly translates into coffee and cake – at least today it does.

Lately I’ve taken to retreating into my warm kitchen in the morning with a stack of the fall’s latest baking books and only emerging when I feel adequately caffeinated and something delightful is cooling on the counter. We can only eat so much, and I gift a good portion of my baking, but it is always welcome to have a little assignment.

So last weekend when a few close friends and I teamed up on an (actual, not virtual, although today’s is virtual) baby shower, I volunteered to bake the cake. I’d been thumbing through both Homemade Decadence and Butter Baked Goods dreaming of layer cakes and fluffy frosting and this was the opportunity I needed  to break out the cake pans. I chose a recipe from each book and both were so spectacular, I requested permission from the publishers to share them with you here.

The recipes can be scaled up or down, should you one day find yourself committed to making a wedding cake or just want a crumb of something sweet for Sunday dinner.  I think you’ll agree, few things in life are as enjoyable a frosted slice of cake, so read on for the tutorial, recipes and virtual baby shower you can join, too!

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