Recipe // Coffee Brownie Cake

My experiments with layer cakes (see earl grey, funfetti, tiramisu) continues!

For a potluck I hosted earlier this spring, I made Michelle’s (from Hummingbird High) Vietnamese coffee cake with condensed milk frosting. Although I wasn’t that impressed with the frosting (it didn’t taste like anything special), the coffee cake was just perfect: moist and delicate, with a slight bitterness from the coffee.

I wanted to play around with color and texture for this cake, and I am really pleased with the results. A light coffee cake sandwiches a dense dark chocolate brownie and bright, tangy cream cheese. For a little crunch, I sprinkled the top with chocolate chunks.

I am too cheap to buy enough butter/cream cheese to cover the entire cake. Luckily naked cakes are in… but in the future, I’m going to suck it up and practice fully decorating.

Coffee Brownie Cake
Makes a three-layer 8-inch cake

Coffee Cake
adapted from Hummingbird High

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp instant coffee powder/
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 c greek yogurt
1/2 c oil
3/4 c strong coffee, at room temperature

Brownie
adapted from delishably

1/2 c oil
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c flour
1/2 c cocoa
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from allrecipes

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c butter, softened
1 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp instant coffee (optional)
1 tbsp cocoa powder (optional)

Make the cake

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare two 8-inch round cake pans by spraying generously with cooking spray and lining the bottoms of each with a parchment paper circle; spray the paper as well.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk to combine and set aside
    3. In a new bowl, combine 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 large eggs, and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to its slowest setting and add 1 cup sour cream, beating until incorporated. With the mixer still on its slowest setting, slowly pour in 1/2 cup oil and continue beating until incorporated. Once the oil is incorporated, slowly pour in 3/4 cup coffee and continue beating until combined.
    4. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Turn on the mixer back to its slowest setting and add the dry ingredients (from the 2nd step) a few big spoonfuls at a time, beating on low speed until the dry ingredients have just disappeared into the batter.
    5. Divide the cake batter between the two prepped pans and transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the top of the cakes are golden and bounce back when gently poked.

Make the brownie

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Prepare one 8-inch round cake pan by spraying generously with cooking spray and lining the bottom with a parchment paper circle; spray the paper as well.
  2. Mix the oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract well.
  3. In a new bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just combined.

Make the frosting

  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Mix in the vanilla, then gradually stir in the confectioners’ sugar. Add a little more sugar or milk depending on how spreadable the frosting is.
  2. Optional: add instant coffee and cocoa after the frosting is mixed. I separated my frosting into two bowls so I had half white vanilla frosting and half mocha frosting.

Assembly

  1. Do not begin to assemble until the brownie and cakes are all room temperature. Make sure that the frosting is very spreadable and at room temperature.
  2. Using a serrated knife, level your cakes. This is the ideal snacking step.
  3. Place the uglier coffee cake down on the plate/cake stand you will be using. This is going to be your base. Spread 1/3 of the frosting evenly on top. Add the brownie layer, spread on the next 1/3 of the frosting. Add the second coffee cake layer, spread the final 1/3 of frosting on top.
  4. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top and enjoy!
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Recipe // Za’atar Brussels Sprouts Pizza

Current search history:

brussel sprouts over or under cheese on pizza
brussel sprout or brussels sprout
why is brussels sprout spelled brussels

And a little later:

sicilian vs grandma style pizza
what is sicilian pizza

After making pizza two weeks ago, I decided to try again. I doubled the quantity of dough so it was extra thick, tried out some different toppings, and baked it for less time. (does that make it more sicilian, which is thicker?? the internet is not helping)

This time, I was so worried about overbaking it that I think I actually didn’t bake it for long enough. Cue Mary Berry voice: “it’s underbaked.” However, it still turned out so well that I can’t wait to make it again and get it perfect.

I topped this pizza with shaved brussels sprouts, mozzarella, and caramelized onions, and best of all, Zesty Z Za’atar. Keep scrolling for the full recipe!

Dough
1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for bowl
2 tsp kosher salt
4 c all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for surface

Topping
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 c Zesty Z za’atar, plus 2 tbsp for sprinkling later
1 c mozzarella
1/4 c caramelized onions
1/4 c brussels sprouts, chopped and tossed lightly in oil

  1. Combine yeast and 1½ cups warm water (105–110°) in a large bowl; let stand until yeast starts to foam, about 10 minutes.
  2. Mix in oil, salt and 2 cups flour. Add the other 2 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until incorporated and a shaggy dough forms.
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft, smooth, and elastic, 10–12 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 24 hours.
  4. Generously coat a 6×12′ baking pan with oil. Stretch out the dough on the baking pan and let it sit in a warm place until it is puffed and full of air bubbles
  5. Preheat the oven to 525 or as hot as it will go.
  6. Spread an even layer of Zesty Z za’atar on the dough, leaving 1/2 inch on all sides Then sprinkle on the mozzarella, primarily over the Zesty Z. Leaving a few pieces of mozzarella over the crust is fine – it just will turn into a great golden brown. Finally, evenly distribute the caramelized onions and brussels sprouts on top.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is a light golden brown. Spread a little more Zesty Z za’atar on top.

Recipe // Grandma Style Pizza

My favorite pizza place in Philadelphia is Pizza Gutt, a strange “Instagram pizza restaurant.” Daniel releases the week’s menu on his Instagram Sunday so you can reserve a pizza for Wednesday-Saturday night at a cafe/bar. As a business model, it is genius – you know exactly how many ingredients to buy and you don’t have to pay rent.

Strange restaurant model aside, the pizza is incredible. Daniel makes the pizza Grandma-style, which means the crust is thick, fluffy and focaccia-like, and he sprinkles cheese around the outside so it gets a little burnt and crispy.

As a weekend project, I decided to try a Grandma style pizza.

This Bon Appetit recipe requires that you make the dough a day in advance so that it has time to bring out the flavors, making it the perfect weekend project.

I overbaked the pizza a bit and set off the fire alarm for a minute or so… but this is definitely a recipe that I am hoping to perfect and add to a monthly rotation. Making a great homemade pizza definitely sounds like a great skill to have.

Also, I may make the photo below my phone wallpaper:

Grandma Style Pizza with Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions, and Rosemary

Pizza dough adapted from Bon Appetit

Serves 3 (I cut the Bon Appetit recipe in half)

Pizza Dough
1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.)
1 tbsp plus 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
2 tsp kosher salt
2 c all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for surface

Pizza
1 c mozzarella
1/2 c caramelized onions
1/2 c grape tomatoes, cut in quarters
lavender, for sprinkling
salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine yeast and 1½ cups warm water (105–110°) in a large bowl; let stand until yeast starts to foam, about 10 minutes.
  2. Mix in 1 tbsp oil, salt and 1 cup flour. Add another 1 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing until incorporated and a shaggy dough forms.
  3. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until soft, smooth, and elastic, 10–12 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Chill 24 hours.
  4. Coat an 8×12” rimmed baking sheet with remaining 1/4 cup oil. Gently and gradually stretch dough until it reaches the edges of baking sheet.
  5. Cover dough on baking sheet tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until it is puffed and full of air bubbles, 30–40 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 525 F, or as high as it will go.
  7. Sprinkle on cheese, then toppings of your choice (you can see my toppings in the ingredients list above).
  8. Bake until the crust is golden brown, around 20 minutes. (don’t over-bake like I did!)