Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

It’s that time of year again, a time for bunnies, flowers, and chocolates… Easter is almost here! This is the perfect occasion to do a really pretty cake. I have a lovely cake for you, today, which is beautiful for Easter, but it is so easy and delightful that you could make it (minus the chocolate eggs and flowers, as decoration) for any occasion you like.

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake is one of my favourite cake recipes. Its wonderfully rich vanilla flavouring comes from vanilla bean paste. You can use vanilla beans or vanilla extract, if you’d prefer, but I’m a huge fan of vanilla bean paste, so that’s what I’ve used for this cake. Both the bundt cake and the glaze which is drizzled on top contain vanilla bean paste, so you get double the vanilla goodness!

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

As you can see, for Easter, I’ve decorated the cake with candy-coated chocolate eggs on top and flowers, which were from my garden’s pink trumpet vine, around the bottom edge. Feel free to decorate the cake any way you want to–or not at all. I can imagine a few tiny chocolate bunnies on top of the cake, along with the chocolate eggs, or maybe a few sprigs of very small flowers (either real ones or sugar flowers, like forget-me-nots) circling the top. Get creative! This is an occasion for celebration and beauty.

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

I wish you could see how gorgeous the inside of the cake was. I didn’t get any photos of the inside of this cake, because I was too busy serving it to our guests, at last year’s Easter lunch. The crumb of this cake is very tender, and the flavour is just wonderful. As simple as vanilla may seem, it can be very satisfying. This cake totally gets it right. Those adorable chocolate eggs are delicious, too! (I could eat them by the handful, if I let myself!)

Happy Easter, everybody! I hope your holiday will be beautiful.

Enjoy the recipe…

Easter Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

This cake is beautiful for Easter, but it is so easy and delightful that you could make it for any occasion you like. Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake is one of my favourite cake recipes. Its wonderfully rich vanilla flavouring comes from vanilla bean paste.

This recipe was adapted from Sweetapolita.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2g) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (4g) salt
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (2-1/4 sticks or 255 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract or 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature

For the Glaze:

  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1-3 tablespoons whole milk (use less milk if you use vanilla extract)
  • About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar/ soft icing mixture

To Decorate:

  • 30-40 mini candy-coated chocolate eggs (I used Cadbury’s eggs)
  • A handful of fresh flowers (They must be organic/ not treated with chemicals of any kind, to be near food.)

Directions

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F/ 180°C/ 160°C fan-forced with rack in middle. Generously butter pan or spray with canola oil, and dust with flour, knocking out excess flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with tip of a paring knife and add into butter mixture, reserving pods for another use, or add vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract, and beat until well combined, about 1 minute.

Add eggs, one at a time, to creamed butter and sugar, beating well after each addition. At low speed, add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing and spreading evenly. Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until the tip of a skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan for 1 hour, covered with a clean tea towel. Then invert cake onto a rack and cool completely, for about 1 hour.

For the Glaze:

Put confectioners’ sugar/ soft icing mixture and vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract in Pyrex measuring cup. Add milk 1 tsp at a time, whisking constantly, until you get desired consistency. The glaze should be thick yet pourable.

You want to make sure that it’s not too runny, or it won’t dry white on the cake, and will run off too quickly. It should take a few seconds to whisk it, and it will feel too thick at first–keep whisking until you get desired thickness. If too thick, add a teaspoon or so of the milk. If glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar/ soft icing sugar 1 tsp at a time.

Once the cake has cooled, drizzle glaze over top.

To Decorate:

While the glaze is still moist, gently press candy-coated chocolate eggs into the glaze on the top of the cake. Arrange fresh flowers around the bottom edge of the cake.

This recipe was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment.

All written content and photos are copyright Kim Sequoia 2018 for a delicious moment.

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Caramel Apple Pretzel Slice

This luscious chilled slice has a wonderful combination of flavours and textures. A base of crunchy crushed pretzel with a hint of cinnamon, a sweet creamy filling, and a layer of homemade apple jelly with fresh grated apple make a delicious slice. A drizzle of caramel topping added just before serving is the perfect sweet finishing touch to this dessert.

Like many food cravings, this one started with a fond childhood memory. Well, in a way, it did. I had a craving for strawberry pretzel salad, which was a very popular dessert at family picnics, when I was growing up in the 1980’s, in Ohio. The sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy juxtapositions made for a delightful dessert. I’ve made strawberry pretzel salad a few times, and my family really enjoyed it. It was just as delicious as I had remembered.

Then… I thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful to try making this dessert with apples instead of strawberries? Yes, that sounds delicious. Then, I had a revelation… What would make this even better? Caramel sauce. Oh, yessss. So, that is how this recipe for Caramel Apple Pretzel Slice was born.

Caramel Apple Pretzel Slice

I daydreamed about making this Caramel Apple Pretzel Slice for months. Since it’s a chilled dessert, I was waiting for summer to make it. I’m always looking for things to make in the heat of summer, since I live in such a hot climate, here in South Australia. But I kept pushing it back, because I kept making other things. Other cravings had to be satisfied, you see. Next thing I knew, summer was nearly over, and I had not yet made this slice. I finally made this dessert on the second-to-last day of summer. It was well worth the wait! In fact, I think it’s a pretty perfect late summer dessert, since apples are coming into season, and a chilled dessert is always welcome at this warm time of year. Of course, it would be delicious any time of year!

By the way, for those of you who are wondering what the term “slice” is all about, as far as I can tell, it is an Australian word for just about anything, sweet or savory, which can be served in slices. Things which we Americans would call a brownie, bar, frittata, or even a salad, as in this case, would probably be called a slice, here in Australia. It makes sense, for this recipe to be called a slice, since it is served in slices.

Caramel Apple Pretzel Slice

I’ve got to say, this dessert was luscious. I love a good sweet and salty balance, as well as a contrast of crunchy and creamy textures. The fruitiness of the apple also works beautifully. This slice is fairly easy to make. It just takes a bit of time to do the layers. There is more waiting than work involved. You won’t need to turn on your oven at all to make this slice. You will need to turn on your food processor and your mixer, unless you are willing to put in a good arm workout (I’m not).

The pretzel crust and the creamy layer are both quite easy to make. The apple jelly layer was a challenge for me to figure out, when I was considering how to create this recipe. I wanted the apple layer to be easy to make, and to taste very fresh and fruity. Also, I thought it might be difficult to find apple jelly mix.

One great thing that I learned is how incredibly easy it is to make your own jelly from fruit juice. You just use a simple ratio of 1 Tbsp gelatin powder to 2 cups juice. It’s super easy, and you don’t need to add any sugar. The fruit juice is sweet enough. I used cloudy apple juice, because I like it a lot more than the clear kind. So, I made apple jelly for the apple layer, along with grated apple. I know grating apple might seem a little odd. Trust me, though, it’s lovely. Grated apple has such a fresh taste, and it works really well in this dessert. (I first made it for my son, when he was a baby. It is a quick, easy treat for little ones who are just starting to learn how to eat.  Make homemade apple jelly for your babies and toddlers. They’ll love it!)

As for the caramel sauce on top, you really need to drizzle the sauce on just before serving. If you do it too early, the caramel will mix with the apple jelly and make a less-than-pretty presentation. If you like more salt than sweetness, you could use salted caramel sauce instead of caramel sauce.

Enjoy…

Caramel Apple Pretzel Slice

This luscious chilled slice has a wonderful combination of flavours and textures. A base of crunchy crushed pretzel with a hint of cinnamon, a sweet creamy filling, and a layer of homemade apple jelly with fresh grated apple make a delicious slice. A drizzle of caramel topping added just before serving is the perfect sweet finishing touch to this dessert.

My recipe was inspired by a recipe for Strawberry Pretzel Salad. Directions for the apple jelly were found here.

Ingredients

For Crust:

  • 2 cups/ 200 g pretzels
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 7/8 cup/ 200 g salted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For Creamy Filling:

  • 8 oz/ 225g cream cheese (not low fat), at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 8 oz/ 225mL whipping cream/ thickened cream (not low fat)

For Apple Jelly Layer:

  • 1 Tbsp gelatin powder
  • 2 cups cloudy apple juice
  • 1 large apple

Topping:

  • Store-bought (or homemade) caramel sauce, in a squeeze bottle

Directions

For Crust:

  1. Spray oil or butter a 9 x 13-inch Pyrex baking pan.
  2. Put pretzels, sugar, and cinnamon in bowl of food processor. Pulse until pretzels are crushed to fine crumbs. Pour the melted butter over pretzel crumbs. Stir with a fork until pretzel mixture is evenly moistened with butter.
  3. Press mixture into bottom of baking pan. Chill for about 20-30 minutes, while preparing the creamy filling.

For Creamy Filling:

  1. Using an electric mixer, whip the whipping/ thickened cream until fluffy. (Do not walk away, while mixing! This will happen very quickly!) Using a rubber spatula, scoop out whipped cream into a large glass bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  2. Using electric mixer, again, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, for about 2 minutes.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the whipped, sweetened cream cheese.
  4. Spread cream mixture evenly over the pretzel crust. Refrigerate slice while you prepare the apple jelly layer.

For Apple Jelly Layer:

  1. Pour 1 cup of cloudy apple juice into a saucepan, and warm over low heat. You don’t need to boil the juice, just to warm it up.
  2. Once apple juice is warm (Use your finger to test warmth. It should be warm, not hot.), whisk in 1 Tbsp gelatin powder. Mix it well, until there are no clumps.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat. Whisk in the other cup of apple juice, until blended. Pour jelly into a large Pyrex bowl.
  4. Refrigerate jelly for 1 1/2 hours or until thickened, but not completely set.
  5. Once jelly is the right consistency, peel and grate the apple. Gently stir 1 cup of grated apple into apple jelly.
  6. Spoon blobs of apple jelly mixture over the cream cheese layer. Gently and evenly spread jelly mixture over creamy filling.
  7. Cover and refrigerate slice for at least 3 hours, or until apple jelly layer is firm.
  8. Cut slice into squares, to serve. Drizzle caramel sauce over each serving. Serve immediately.
  9. Leftovers should be stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Slice will stay fresh for 2 days.

This recipe was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment.

All written content and photos are copyright Kim Sequoia 2018 for a delicious moment.

Master Bedroom Inspiration

 

Master Bedroom Inspiration

As you know, if you have been following this blog for a while, my partner and I have been renovating our home, room-by-room. The next room I would like to work on is our master bedroom. I have been gathering images for inspiration for our bedroom for quite a while, seeking to envision a serene retreat for the two of us.

A bedroom can evoke many moods, from calm, soothing, and restful to fantasy, romance, and passion. I think the ideal is for the bedroom to balance all of these moods, to flow from one moment to another with ease.

Master Bedroom Inspiration

Perhaps more so than in any other room of the house, the master bedroom is a very personal, private space. Sharing this space and agreeing on what that space should look and feel like is often a difficult task for a couple. I’m hoping that Glen will enjoy my vision for our bedroom, so I’m creating this post to help us both to visualize what a beautiful space our bedroom could become. I hope you will find it inspiring, too.

Master Bedroom Inspiration

Here is my vision… I would love our bedroom to be an oasis of calm, a haven of tranquility, to escape from the stresses of daily life. The room also needs to be able to have a more sensual side. A day-to-night transformation is what I’m imagining.

I always love bright, airy rooms, in soft colours, with lots of sunlight pouring in. Luckily, our bedroom has a big bay window which lets in lots of light. At night, I would like to have lighting options which can change the function and mood of the space, as desired. I believe that ambient lighting is the key to changing the mood of the bedroom from serene sunny space into a more romantic, intimate space. A chandelier would be gorgeous, and using a dimmer would achieve that lighting goal. I also want to have a smaller lamp or candles with some kind of pattern, to create ambiance.

 

Master Bedroom Inspiration

The colour palette I’m envisioning is a subtle, pale blue, accented with white, pale grey, and blush pink. Blue and white never loses its charm, for me. It’s so elegant and beautiful. My ideal would be to have a Gracie chinoiserie branch wallpaper, with a soft blue background, like the one shown above, from designer Mark Sikes’s bedroom. We will start by painting the walls the right shade of blue. Later, if I can work up the ambition, I would like to hand-paint a lovely branch pattern on top of the blue, to evoke my dreamed-of Gracie paper. (I should be doing something with my painting degree, right?)

Master Bedroom Inspiration

Master Bedroom Inspiration

On the subject of art, I plan to add to the art that is hanging on a large wall next to our bed, to create a collage. I have a lovely vintage Vargas print now. She looks a bit lonely, there, all by herself. It might take a little time to collect and create the right pieces. That’s the sort of project that I feel is best formed over time, organically.

Master Bedroom Inspiration

 

A detail which I’d like to add to the room is a small mirror, above our dresser. I’d like to DIY the dresser to give it a light grey and white bone inlay-like pattern. Then I’ll add a vase of faux cherry blossom branches on top. I would also like to switch out the dark brown shades on the lamps on our bedside tables for white shades, for a lighter style. We really want a grey tufted headboard. Our bed currently has no headboard at all, so that would make a huge difference in the room, and to our comfort level. I would love bedding with a large floral pattern, to play off the blue walls (that might be a bit much, though, if I do the branch pattern), or maybe do simple grey and blush pink linen or white-on-white bedding (if we do wallpaper). Lastly, I would like to make white slipcovers for a pair of antique chairs which occupy the space in front of the bay window, both to protect the upholstery from the sun and to tie in with the blue and white colour palette.

 

Master Bedroom Inspiration

 

Master Bedroom Inspiration

So, there you have it… my dream bedroom inspiration! I hope to have a before-and-after post about the room’s transformation within the coming year. This room deserves to be more beautiful.

Master Bedroom Inspiration

(This photo of Constance Bennett standing in front of a beautiful chinoiserie screen totally illustrates how I want to feel when I’m in my bedroom… impossibly glamorous and elegant. Well, I hope the room can live up to it, even if I probably never will!)

(Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 Approaching Storm art print by Stephanie Ryan , 9, 10, 11 unknown, 12, 13, 14 unknown, 1516)

This post was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment. Words and opinions are my own.

Beach Craft

beach craft

Have you found yourself bringing home natural treasures from the beach (or your little one has)? Then, once you’re home, you put them all in a little bowl–which is lovely, but you kind of wish you could display your finds in a more creative way.

Well, that’s what I was thinking, so I decided to hang them on a branch. I had seen something similar on instagram (oh, how I love instagram!). I had filed that image away in my brain for future inspiration. Another summer rolled around, and my little boy and I came home from the beach with a handful of shells, a stone, and a seagull feather, and I knew just what to do.

beach craft

Now you do, too. It’s so easy. Just get some string (I used kitchen twine), and a branch, and hang your treasures on it. You need to either find shells that have holes in them, or drill small holes in them. You can also wrap the string around the shells and stones.

beach craft

My son enjoyed helping me with this craft, too (until he got bored, and decided to go watch tv). He’s 4. If he was a little older, he might have the attention span to do more. He loved collecting the shells and sorting them out. He also loved watching me string them up and turn them into a wall hanging.

beach craft

Once you have tied all the shells, etc. onto lengths of string, lay the strings out along the branch, to check the spacing. If you feel like securing the items a little more, just use a tiny drop of glue on the knots. I did that, on a few spots. When you’re happy with the spacing, secure each string to the branch.

beach craft

Then, use a length of string (I doubled mine up, to be stronger), knotting on each end, to suspend the branch on the wall. I used a Command hook on the wall, in case I decide to change things up later.

beach craft

See how easy it is? Now, get those shells and stones out, and string up some of your favourites. It will make you remember being at the beach, and you’ll feel just a tiny bit more relaxed. Sounds good, right?

beach craft

Those of you up in the northern hemisphere can save this for later. Summer will return, and you’ll be collecting your own treaures. You could use other things, if you’re not into shells, like crystals, pine cones, seed pods, and the like. A forest-inspired wall hanging would be really cool, now that I think of it. So, there you go. An easy craft to bring some natural beauty into your home.

beach craft

All photos and writing copyright Kim Sequoia 2018 for a delicious moment.

If you would like to blog about this project, please use your own photos and wording, and link back to my original post. Thanks.

Cantaloupe, Prosciutto, Basil, and Bocconcini Salad

Cantaloupe, Prosciutto, Basil, and Bocconcini Salad

Every summer, I look for new inspiration for salad recipes. While I have my favorites, which I make year after year, I always enjoy coming up with something new, or tweaking a favorite recipe to be even better. Salads are a great medium for experimentation, since you can mix things up almost endlessly. I especially love sweet and savory flavor combinations. In a salad, fruits can add just the right level of sweetness, and balance out the other flavor elements.

Cantaloupe, Prosciutto, Basil, and Bocconcini Salad

This Cantaloupe, Prosciutto, Basil, and Bocconcini Salad is just such a salad. The sweet cantaloupe (or “rock melon”, for those of us in Australia) balances the savory prosciutto (it is a classic combination, of course). Basil and cucumber bring freshness, while baby bocconcini adds creaminess. I made this salad for a barbecue last summer, and I just made it again, this summer, as a side dish to go with Cajun-spiced salmon, for dinner. It is definitely one of my favorite salads now. I hope it will become one of yours, too.

Cantaloupe, Prosciutto, Basil, and Bocconcini Salad

I just want to add that, like pretty much any salad, the dressing is not really necessary. I like that it adds a little zing to the salad, but the salad is really delicious on its own, too. I’ve mentioned, in the ingredients list, that the Dijon mustard is optional. Again, if it’s not your thing, just leave it out. I’ve experimented with all of these combinations. I think they all work well. I also think a raspberry vinaigrette or a classic balsamic vinaigrette could work well with this salad, too. It’s up to you.

Enjoy…

 

 

Cantaloupe, Prosciutto, Basil, and Bocconcini Salad

Ingredients

Salad:

  • ½ cantaloupe/ rock melon, peeled, deseeded, and diced
  • ½ seedless cucumber, peeled and diced small
  • 4 slices prosciutto, chopped
  • 12 baby bocconcini balls
  • A small handful of basil, torn into small pieces

Dressing:

  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)
  • 2 large or a several small basil leaves, chopped or torn into tiny pieces

Directions

Salad:

Put everything in a medium-sized glass or ceramic bowl. Stir gently. Cover salad with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.

Dressing:

Put everything in an old jam jar. Put the lid on. Give it a good shake. Chill until ready to use.

This recipe was created by Kim Sequoia for a delicious moment.

All written content and photos are copyright Kim Sequoia 2018 for a delicious moment.

If you would like to use my recipes on your own site, please re-write them in your own words and link back to my original post.