• Judith's Busy Day cake
    Breakfast,  Cakes

    Judith’s Busy Day Cake (AKA Dream Cake)

    The Danes call it “Dream Cake” (drømmekage). Leave it to Americans to define it not by its deliciousness but by how easy it is to make. Yet Busy Day Cake looks and tastes elegant, and would never let on that you threw it together between Zoom meetings. This velvety vanilla cake is so fluffy it would float away if it weren’t for the caramel coconut icing to keep it earthbound. America’s Busy Day Cake (also called things like “Lazy Daisy Cake”) has been passed down for generations, and this version comes from our college friend and baking inspiration Judith Schwartz Stalk. She remembers her mother Florence baking it in the early 1960’s when Judith…

  • Cookies,  Desserts,  Other,  Passover,  Snacks

    Leah’s Fudgy, Flourless Chocolate-Almond Macaroons

    There’s no denying it—every fudgy bite of this flourless almond cookie says it’s the Macaroon’s Macaroon. I grew up thinking macaroons were those sugary coconut mounds sold in cans during Passover. They were such a holiday ritual that there should have been a spot for them on our Seder Plate. They were okay, but who’d ever want to eat them the rest of the year? Then along came “macarons,” the French almond-meringue, attitude-filled confections that look like pastel rainbows in pastry cases. They no doubt dropped the “o” to distance themselves from their macaroon relatives and signal that they are très cher. They make a lovely occasional treat, but nothing I’d ever crave. Now,…

  • Fudge squares
    Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts

    Fudge Squares

    Baking in a tiny RV is a bit like being marooned on a desert island. We have limited space for tools and supplies. And not every recipe works under survival conditions. It has to have few ingredients, require minimal equipment, and bake without complaint in our small convection/microwave oven. On our trek West, I came to realize which recipes are my true loves—the cakes, breads and cookies I can’t live without. The revelation is like the finale of a cheesy rom-com, except there’s no race to the airport before the plane takes off. My heart and head picked a dear old favorite, fudge squares. A snack-style cake that looks and cuts like brownies, it…

  • Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts,  Other

    King Arthur Flour Chewy Whole Wheat Brownies: The Lost Recipe

    To: Bill Tine, Vice President of Marketing, King Arthur Baking Company From: Diane Brody, Recipephany.com Subject: Permission to Publish Recipe for Whole Wheat Brownies Date: October 29, 2020, 1:20 PM Dear Bill, I have been a loyal subject of King Arthur for nearly 50 years, starting when I was your company’s account manager at the Boston PR firm, Robert Weiss Associates. My highlight was placing your affable bread-baking evangelist Bert Porter on talk shows. Already popular with New England audiences, this buttoned-down, down-home “Mr. King Arthur” required no selling on my part. Who else could demonstrate how to make a loaf of bread so well—even over the radio? As a bonus, I snagged Bert…

  • Cakes,  Desserts

    Queen of Sheba Cake (Julia Child’s Reine de Saba Gateau)

    This voluptuously moist French pastry-shop chocolate gateau has just enough structure to qualify as cake, but otherwise could pass for a chocolate truffle for 12.  A shiny glaze doubles down on the chocolate, making sure that no part of your palate escapes the wave of deep dark flavor. Prepare for a totally immersive chocolate experience. Julia Child wrote that Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba) was the first French cake she ever ate, and she devoted her 100th show of The French Chef to this recipe way back in December 1965. First aired on WGBH-TV in Boston, this seminal cooking series went nationwide, catapulting Julia to culinary icon, and then on to her current…

  • Cakes,  Desserts,  Pudding

    Lemon Sponge Pudding Cakes for Lemon Sponge Pie Lovers

    You’ve heard me gush about “Ma’s Lemon Sponge Pie” for years. The tart and creamy lemon filling merges with an ethereal fluff that rises to the top as the pie bakes. So you’ve got the lemon curd on the bottom blending into an airy sponge cake that browns Maillard-style to add a hint of caramel. Lemon sponge pie is far better than lemon meringue pie in my book, since meringue can be wet, weepy, and have the foamy texture of something expelled by an undersea creature. A couple months ago, our friends Pam and Adam had us over for a splendid dinner of grilled delights on their rooftop patio. I brought Ma’s pie. They…

  • Breakfast,  Cakes,  Other,  Recipephany ingredient

    Thin and Crispy Rhode Island Johnny Cakes

    Rhode Islanders love their johnny cakes the way Southerners love hushpuppies. You won’t confuse johnny cakes with hushpuppies, though. Unlike those cornbread fritters, johnny cakes are thin, 100-percent corn meal pancakes passed down from the Narragansett tribe. A spoonful of corn meal mush gets griddled until it’s crispy outside yet still soft and creamy inside. There’s nothing but corn flavor through and through—except of course for the tang of the maple syrup it happily soaks up. Etymologists say johnny cakes evolved from journey cakes because early settlers packed them for trips. Seriously? These fragile cakes can break on the way from the stove to the table. I did learn that jonakin is an early…

  • Desserts,  Passover,  Snacks,  Sorbet,  Vegan

    Leah’s Blood Orange Sorbet (Without an Ice Cream Machine)

    Sweet, tangy, and gorgeous in the bowl, this blood orange sorbet is stunningly delicious. Despite its ease, you won’t find better, even at a high-end restaurant. That’s because it was scientifically formulated by Leah Greenwald, Chief Food Technology Advisor at the Recipephany Test Kitchens. A curiosity about the science of cooking drives Leah to analyze, hypothesize and improve her recipes. She has been a great help here at Recipephany and is our own J. Kenji López-Alt (author of The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science). Coincidentally, they both studied architecture at MIT. But Leah (introduced to you in her recipephany for lemon vinaigrette) is an architect, mother of triplets, and a five-time champion on…

  • Breads,  Desserts,  Egg dishes,  Muffins,  Passover,  Pastries,  Snacks

    Whose Passover Popovers Win You Over?

    Before Passover is over, treat yourself to some popovers. Judy Geller, a dream client and the mastermind behind many industry-leading conferences and events, introduced me to these years ago. We would meet at a cafe where I could spread out advertising concepts and layouts for her to review. Then we’d linger and talk about family, holidays, and her family’s Passover Popover recipe. These popovers are so delicious, so un-Passover-ish, we might as well just call them “bread” and be done with the pretense. The other day when I called to ask if I could post the recipe, Judy asked, “Which one?” To my surprise, she has not one, but two family recipes for Passover…

  • Cakes,  Other

    Recipephany Turns 10

    Ten years ago I started this little blog with Black Magic Cake, a recipe that touched my life as it has probably touched the lives of countless other chocolate lovers. An easy recipe with simple ingredients produced a confection that, after one bite, dethroned our family’s long-revered celebration cake. I dubbed it a “halleluyum moment.” This was a recipe epiphany I wanted to share with everybody. At the time, I didn’t realize how much of a life-changer Black Magic Cake would become. It turned into a wedding cake—twice. As if the joy of their marriages weren’t enough, our son and daughter asked me to make the cakes that they would ceremonially smear over their…

  • Cakes,  Desserts,  Snacks,  Vegan

    Sweetheart (please make me a) 1-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

    How about a Valentine’s Day quickie? Make a warm, double-chocolate little “mug cake” for your sweetie any time he or she implores you. Betty Crocker, that tart, makes it possible with her “Super-Moist Chocolate Fudge Cake Mix.” Measure some mix into a mug or small bowl. Stir in water and chocolate chips. Watch it circle around in the microwave for up to 60 seconds. Cool slightly—the chocolate chips will stay gooey—then top with whipped cream. Most of all, it means less time in the kitchen—a lovely indulgence for both of you. Sweetheart 1-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake Adapted from Joy Bauer’s “3-Ingredient Chocolate Mug Cake,” Savory Magazine (Stop and Shop), January 2020, p.39 Recipe doubles…

  • Dad's Favorite Coffee Cake
    Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts

    “Dad’s Favorite Coffee Cake”

    If Do-It-Yourself were an Olympic sport, my father-in-law would have won gold. To Louis (everyone knew him as “Louie”), every chance to fix the unfixable was an opportunity to achieve a personal best. As a contractor, he could do everything. He was a wiring wizard and mechanical mastermind. To solve a problem, he would cobble together ingenious gadgets out of scraps from his garage. When he was in his 80s, he even developed a computer program for doing his taxes. So why was I surprised to hear that he baked? I suppose it’s because his wife Dorothy (everyone called her “Dick,” a nickname coined by her little brother) kept the household swimming in brownies,…

  • Ingredient,  Jams and Condiments,  Passover,  Technique,  Techniques & Ingredients

    Quick Homemade Horseradish: If You Can’t Stand the Fumes….

    Making your own horseradish takes just four ingredients: horseradish root, vinegar, salt, and courage. The goal is to get from root to jar as quickly as possible, minimizing the time you spend holding your breath, clenching your eyes, and stumbling out of the kitchen gasping for air. But if you like horseradish, you’ll enjoy the challenge. No store-bought brand can mess with your pleasure/pain center quite like the stuff you make fresh. My dad famously made horseradish from home-grown root, yet it was Mom who consumed it with the most gusto. She heaped it onto her gefilte fish, laughing through her tears about how well it cleared her sinuses. As my neuroscientist daughter points…

  • Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts

    Chocolate Mini-Donuts

    Do we really need another recipe for chocolate cake besides our definitive Black Magic Cake, the first Recipephany? Yes, because we also need chocolate mini-donuts drenched in chocolate ganache. Black Magic makes ultra-moist full-sized cakes, but is doesn’t work so well for tiny sweets. With this recipephany, you can make these intensely chocolatey cuties in the time it takes to bake a batch of cookies. These mini-donuts have a lot going for them. Besides looking adorable on a dessert plate, they’re great for portion control. Instead of cutting a whopping slab of cake, you can pick up one of these and dispatch it in a couple of genteel bites. Then you can go back and…

  • Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts,  Snacks

    Things to Do With Cranberries: Cranberry Streusel Coffeecake

    If you’re like me, you bought two bags of cranberries before Thanksgiving because it said on the Ocean Spray package, “Buy two, freeze one.” Now what do you do with the one in the freezer? Cranberries keep a year or more in the freezer. So you can dip into your cranberry stash any time and make, for instance, this tasty Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake. This breakfast/snack/dessert has it all: cranberry and its best friend, orange; your favorite sour dairy product (sour cream or yogurt or sour milk); the baker’s drug of choice, vanilla; and cinnamon and nuts. You can bake one large sheet cake or two 9” square cakes. In the Ocean Spray spirit,…

  • Breads,  Breakfast,  Cakes

    Muriel Brody’s Wheat Germ Banana Bread

    My mom died in August, just a month shy of turning 102. She was a success at more than just longevity. She became an art teacher rather than a journalist because her father thought it was a safer profession for women in the 1930s. And even though she’d never picked up a paintbrush until she entered Moore College of Art, her watercolors were as masterful as if she’d been born with the divine gift. She gave up teaching to serve as a Naval officer’s wife at a time when “entertaining” was serious business. Throwing dinner parties and organizing wives’ club luncheons were part of the job, and she had the poise and smarts to…

  • Breakfast,  Cakes,  Muffins,  Other,  Snacks

    Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffin Cake

    There was something about the loftiness, the berriness, and the sugary crustiness of Jordan Marsh blueberry muffins that hooked Boston in the 60s. Jordan Marsh (“Jahduns”) was Boston’s answer to Macy’s for more than 150 years, until Macy’s had the final answer and acquired it in 1996. It speaks to the power of a good snack that a sugar delivery system for tired shoppers has become a favorite memento of this late, great New England retailer. The muffin’s originator, Jordan’s baker John Pupek, kept his recipe a professional secret. This triggered Muffin Mystery Mania, when home bakers and restaurants alike set out to recreate the oversized, overstuffed muffin. For decades, the media and the…

  • Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts,  Snacks

    One Bowl Apple Cake

    If you’ve got two apples and some baking basics, you can make this jewel of an apple cake without even having to take out your mixer. Luxuriously moist and studded with soft apple chunks, this lightly spiced one-bowl wonder is as at home after a dinner party as it is at breakfast or snacktime. This cake’s versatility stems from its Jewish heritage. It purposely contains no dairy, so those who keep kosher can enjoy it any time, with meat or dairy meals. This recipephany comes from my earliest baking bible (Old Testament version), From Manna to Mousse. Born in 1969 as a plastic-spined fundraising cookbook produced by the Sisterhood of Congregation Beth El in…

  • Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts,  Snacks

    Dick’s Brilliant Blueberry Bundt Coffee Cake

    My mother-in-law Dick was our very own “America’s Test Kitchen” well before Christopher Kimball. She was always experimenting, and couldn’t contain her enthusiasm over a new find. She called one day bubbling over with excitement. She told me about this light, fluffy blueberry coffee cake. She would mail me the recipe, and she just knew I’d like it. I’d heard she’d been looking for a blueberry coffee cake. Perhaps it was because her signature coffee cake (see Dick’s Sour Cream Coffee Cake) was chock full of nuts, which many people avoid. Or maybe it was just blueberry season. I’d had a favorite blueberry cake, but this replaced it in no time. All too often,…

  • Cakes,  Desserts,  Passover

    Zell Schulman’s Chocolate Mousse Torte from Israel

    Once, an “alternative chocolate cake” was something we made for Passover, usually from a Manischewitz mix. As much as my Mom and I tried, no cake recipe calling for a matzo derivative ever produced anything remotely fluffy or moist. (I swear Manischewitz cheated.) Sometime in the 1960s, French-inspired bakers adventured with eggs, nuts, butter, and intense flavorings to create decadent chocolate cakes with minimal flour. So a kind of Fifth Question inevitably swept the Passover baking community. “On all other nights we can eat flourless cake. On this night, why can’t we eat matzoless cake?” Zell Schulman helped lead the Exodus into the land of glorious desserts with this recipe for Chocolate Mousse Torte…

  • Cakes,  Desserts,  Vegan

    Bay Area Scientists Develop Breakthrough “Alternative Chocolate Cake”

    I’m thrilled and proud to post this news story I found online featuring the research of my favorite PhDs, my daughter and son-in-law.  ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ Bay Area scientists have developed a recipe for an “alternative chocolate cake” free of gluten, fat, sugar, and animal products, fulfilling a dream of those seeking a dessert they can serve to all guests. The breakthrough is reported in the April issue of the journal Nature Gastronomy. Chemists, gastronomists and celebrity chefs alike herald it as the most significant advance in food science since the fat substitute Olestra was approved by the FDA in 1996. Those who have eaten the cake, however, question its palatability. In the paper, co-authors Claire…

  • Cakes,  Cookies,  Desserts,  Snacks

    Gardner Heist 25th: Isabella’s Stollen Pieces

    On March 18, 1990, two guys dressed as Boston’s Finest pulled off the biggest art heist in US history. Holes in Gardner Museum’s so-called security led to holes in frames. I commiserate with those who may never tick that Vermeer off their bucket lists. But mostly I feel mostly for Isabella. I’ve had a close, imaginary relationship with this woman since the day I arrived at college literally next door. Museum admission was free back then, so I frequently strolled through like an invited guest, taking in Sunday concerts that seemed arranged just for me. In my yearbook picture, I’m seated on a bench abutting the Venetian courtyard, my hair ironed and my glasses…

  • Black Magic Wedding Cake
    Cakes,  Desserts

    Black Magic Wedding Cake, One More Time

    I only have two children (as far as I know). And both asked me to make them Black Magic Wedding Cakes. I couldn’t have been happier if they had proclaimed “I love you, Mom” on the Fenway Park Jumbotron. Last year, it was my daughter Claire and Gordy’s three-tiered cake with buttercream frosting. This year, Raegandrew (Raegan and my son Andrew) opted for all chocolate. No tiers, no “3D frosting.” Just regular birthday-style cocoa frosting. Six cake recipes yielded exactly three 9” cakes for guests and one 6” three-layer cake for the bride and groom to smear all over each other’s faces. Claire truly topped it all with her poetic sculpture of intertwined trees…

  • Black Magic Wedding Cake
    Cakes,  Desserts

    Black Magic Wedding Cake

    Three years ago I kicked off this blog by posting Black Magic Cake. Now it’s back as my daughter Claire’s wedding cake. Claire didn’t exactly ask me to bake the wedding cake. She asked me to take charge of getting enough Black Magic Cake for the wedding. I think she envisioned friends and family dropping off cakes in various pan sizes at a designated table. And yet, despite my inability to do anything with buttercream frosting other than get it in my hair, I wanted to bake her a real wedding cake. This would be a challenge. I’ve never watched more than five minutes of “Ace of Cakes.” Claire is smart, and knows that…

  • Poppy Seed Lemon Cake
    Breakfast,  Cakes,  Desserts,  Ingredient,  Recipephany ingredient

    Lemon Buttermilk Poppy Seed Cakes, and the Poppy Seed Predicament

    Poppy seeds and lemon adore each other, and prove it in these lovely mini loaves. You can feel the sparks fly in your mouth, with the teeny pop of the seeds and the puckery citrus. Tangy buttermilk, the one-two punch of lemon in the cake and the syrup, and the delicately nutty seeds create a sunny cake to boost your mood any time of day. Wrap a petite loaf in clear plastic, tie it up with some raffia, and it makes a luxuriously delicious gift. This recipephany, though, also has to do with how I solved the Poppy Seed Predicament. I’m not talking about how a slice of this will make you flunk a…