The Baker Upstairs: April 2021

4.06.2021

Raspberry Lemon Cake

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This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
I am so excited to finally share my daughter Lizzy's birthday cake today! When she requested a raspberry lemon cake for her birthday, I was initially a little disappointed, because this tired mom had been hoping to persuade her to go with a Costco cake instead of a homemade cake. Her cute pleading face was too much for me, though, and I agreed to make a cake from scratch for her special day. It actually turned out to be a lot of fun to make, and the end result was probably the prettiest cake I've ever made. I'm not super confident in my cake decorating skills, so it was a wonderful boost to my confidence that I made a cake that was not only delicious, but looked gorgeous as well. Most importantly, the birthday girl was happy with it. I loved seeing her face when she came down and saw her cake on the table!
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
Since I was just making the cake for the four of us, I cut the recipe in half to make three 6 inch layers, instead of the full recipe of three 8 inch layers. I still ended up with enough cake for three nights of dessert for us! I'll share the full recipe below, but know that it's pretty easy to scale down or up if you need to. I don't normally add too many embellishments to my cakes, but I couldn't resist these cute gold candles and cake topper from Target. Lizzy kept telling me how magical her cake was, so I definitely made the right choice!
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
The lemon cake is adapted from a vanilla cake recipe I tried several months ago and sent to work with my husband. All of his co-workers raved about it and asked for the recipe, so I knew it was a keeper. I wanted to keep the lemon flavor in the cake light and not overwhelming, and I think it worked out really well. The raspberry buttercream is made with fresh raspberries, and has the most amazing raspberry flavor! All of that beautiful rich color comes from the raspberry puree, and I love that there's no artificial colors or flavor added. For the filling I also used some homemade raspberry jam that we canned last summer after berry picking, but store-bought jam will also work just fine. 
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
The cake layers are so light and tender, with a sweet buttery flavor and that perfect kiss of lemon. The raspberry buttercream is sweet and just slightly tart, and coordinates beautifully with the raspberry jam. I don't have any really great tips for frosting the cake except to do a crumb coat on the outside (a thin coat of icing to seal all of the crumbs in), refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes or so, and then add a thicker layer of frosting on the outside. As tempting as it is to skip that step, it really does make all the difference in the finished product. My cake decorating skills are very much still in progress, but I'm okay with that.
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
This cake has a fair amount of steps and felt a little overwhelming at first, but it was pretty easy for me to break it down into smaller tasks. I made the layers of the cake in the morning and left them on the counter to cool. In the late afternoon, I made the frosting, assembled the cake, and did the crumb coat. I left the cake in the fridge until I was ready to decorate it after dinner, then finished frosting it and added the fresh raspberries and the decorations. That made it easier for me to fit in feeding the baby multiple times, going out to lunch, wrapping gifts, and playing at the park, all important parts of our day. Everyone loved the cake, especially the birthday girl, so I definitely think we will be making it again soon!
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!
Raspberry Lemon Cake

for the lemon cake:
2 cups sugar
zest of two lemons
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
3 large eggs + 2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 2/3 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

for the raspberry buttercream:
12 ounces (2 small packages) fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
5 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tablespoons cream or half and half
1 cup raspberry jam
fresh raspberries, for decorating

Preheat the oven to 350. Line three 8 inch cake pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until fragrant. Add the butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and egg whites, vanilla, and lemon juice, and mix until well blended. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in three additions, alternating with the buttermilk, and mix just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake 23-26 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely before frosting.

To make the frosting, puree the raspberries using a blender or food processor. Strain the raspberries through a sieve to remove the seeds. Add the butter to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, and beat unti light and fluffy. Add the raspberry puree and powdered sugar, and mix until combined. Add cream as needed to make a smooth frosting. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.

To assemble the cake, level each of the cake layers. Place a cake layer on a serving platter or cake stand and spread a 1/4 inch thick layer of frosting over the top. Pipe a ring of frosting around the edges of the cake layer to hold in the jam. Spread 1/2 cup of raspberry jam evenly over the buttercream. Repeat with the next cake layer, then top with the remaining cake layer. Spread a thin coat of frosting over and around the cake to seal in the crumbs. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. After the frosting has set, spread a thicker layer of frosting around the sides and top of the cake, then decorate as desired (I just did little dollops with an open star tip). Refrigerate any leftover cake.
This gorgeous raspberry lemon cake has the most delicious combination of flavors. It's fresh and light, and perfect for spring!

4.02.2021

Mini Bacon Breakfast Pizzas

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These mini bacon breakfast pizzas are so delicious and flavorful, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
These mini bacon breakfast pizzas are so delicious and flavorful, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
I've been having a really hard time coming up with ideas for dinner every night in the last few months. I usually sit down once a week and make a menu plan and grocery list, and order grocery pickup for the next day. Because I've been so tired in the past few months with the baby keeping me up at night, it has been gotten harder to think of new ideas, and we've been in a total rut of eating the same things over and over. I decided to ask my older kids which of my recipes are their favorites, and to my surprise, they filled up a whole page with all of their favorite foods. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't just mac and cheese and cookies! They had also included things like hazelnut green beans and fruit salad. At the top of their list was bacon breakfast pizza. I was a little surprised that they both love it so much, since it's totally easy to make, and we usually have all of the ingredients on hand already.

My daughter Lizzy requested that I come up with a mini version of their favorite breakfast pizza so she could have her own pizza all to herself for her birthday, and I was happy to do it. The mini pizzas turned out so cute, and they're the perfect serving size for one person. I served them with baby carrots and ranch on the side (another of Lizzy's favorites) and it was a totally delicious birthday dinner!
These mini bacon breakfast pizzas are so delicious and flavorful, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
I like the yolks of my eggs soft but not runny, but you can adjust the baking time to your preference. If you'd like them more runny, I would suggest cooking the pizzas for around 6 minutes, and 8-9 minutes if you like them more firm. If you're very concerned about the eggs being cooked all the way through, you can also scramble the egg before you pour it into the center of the pizza. In that case, it should be fully cooked in about 7 minutes. If you're using a scrambled egg, you'll want to be extra careful to build a solid dam of cheese around the edges of the pizza so the egg doesn't run out and burn all over your oven. We love ours with bacon, but you could also use diced ham, crumbled sausage, sautéed mushrooms and/or peppers, or just cheese. They're delicious no matter what!
Mini Bacon Breakfast Pizzas

for the dough:
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon corn meal

for the toppings:
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 500 with a pizza stone or overturned cookie sheet inside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit five minutes, or until bubbly. Add the flour and salt, and mix until a dough forms. Knead gently, adding more flour as needed, to form a soft dough. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.

Sprinkle a piece of parchment paper or a pizza peel with corn meal. Divide the dough into four equal sized balls. Spread each ball of the pizza dough into a 6 inch circle, using your fingers to make an indented border around the outside edge. Brush the pizza dough generously with the olive oil. Sprinkle the cheese and bacon around the edge of the dough, leaving an open space in the middle for the egg. Crack an egg into the center of each mini pizza, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Carefully transfer the pizzas to the pizza stone or overturned cookie sheet using a pizza peel or large cutting board. Bake 7-8 minutes, or until the egg whites are set and the crust is golden brown. Remove the pizzas from the oven, and sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve hot.
These mini bacon breakfast pizzas are so delicious and flavorful, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!