Seven Recipes to Talk About – Rebooting the oven

#54 Poppy Seed Bread – #55 Brown Sugar Pecan Cake – #56 (already posted)- #57 Zucchini Walnut Bread – #58 Coconut Oatmeal Drop Cookies – #59 Orange Vanilla Chip Cookies – #60 Hummingbird Cake – #61 Dump Cake

Keeping up with my baking project got rather difficult during December and January. There was a trip with students to Paris, moving into a new house, a Christmas trip to family back in the United States, then midterm exams, grading and reporting. Sorry for the litany. I did manage to bake during this time, but at a much slower pace and with less time for blogging. Both blogging and baking took a hit, but the blog took the worst hit. All that said, the deck is newly cleared, and it’s time to catch you up on what I have managed to do towards the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook project. So, a few words on Seven unpublished recipes (in bake order – as always):

#54 Poppy Seed Bread

Poppy seed bread

I had been looking forward to traveling abroad so that I could buy poppy seeds for baking. Poppy seeds are not imported into this country because of the association of poppy with narcotics.

Well, the “bread” (I couldn’t find a bread mold at my mom’s house) was lovely to behold but kind of flat on taste. We finally decided that the vanilla I had used had lost its flavor, been in the cabinet too long.

As a note, my mom has a very serious sweet tooth and a very keen sense of taste in these matters. I enjoyed her comments on my baking so much. If I were baking in her house all the time, I’d receive the kind of feedback I need to improve things.


 #55 Brown Sugar Pecan Cake

This cake was the last one I baked while with my parents this past Christmas. I don’t have any pictures of it and that surprises me. It looked almost identical to the poppy seed bread from a distance, but up close and upon tasting, it was obviously very different.

NOTE: “Nutty,crunchy bundt cake” – This is a wonderful cake, but to kick it up a crunchy notch, finely chop up an extra 1/2 cup of pecans and stir it into the mix (being sure to include all of the fine pecan powder that results from your chopping). The result is a dark, golden brown cake with a pecan crunch exterior. Just do it.

Ode aux pécans


 #57 Zucchini Walnut Bread (with coconut)


With this recipe, I completed the first section of the book.: MUFFINS, BREAKFAST BUNS, AND QUICK BREADS


The quick-bread / cakes are so easy and so delicious. Makes whoever bakes them look like (taste like) a pro.

As you know, 90+% of what I bake is given away to students and colleagues. We kept this one on our table at home. It’s not too sweet, has a good touch of fiber and is so satisfying as a little snack.


 #58 Coconut Oatmeal Drop Cookies


So far in my baking project, cookies have given me a hard time – over-cooked, under-cooked, odd shapes… It was different this time. I was happy to share these guys.

IMG_1255 No more space. Somebody needs to get busy munching.
IMG_1254 Getting better with each new new batch of goof-ups.

#59 Orange Vanilla Chip Cookies

“These cookies were inspired by a recipe in Country Living magazine. It’s rather unique and reminds us of eating Creamsicles. People’s mouths water over these!”


These cookies were a definite hit. They represent the second cookie with which I was very happy – and so were the kids at school.



  1. Consolidated: Chill you cookie batter really well before cooking.
  2. New learning:
    1. Size matters – If the cookie dough ball is too big, the cookie can cook too much on the edges and not enough in the middle. I’ve reduced the size of the cookie ball.
    2. Cookie sheet size matters. I have two cookie sheets, one larger than the other. The heat circulates around the two sheets differently, cooking more quickly the cookies on the small sheet.

#60 Hummingbird Cake

“This wonderful cake, filled with bananas, pineapples, and pecans, came our way by good fortune.” (Magnolia)


Of the layer cakes I’ve baked so far, the Hummingbird and the Carrot Cakes are hands down favorites – and the Hummingbird just might take the cake. What makes it even more wonderful? It’s super easy to make, moist and with a perfect crumb.

FUN LITTLE STORY: I baked this cake to take to a dinner party and share with friends. It was the hosts birthday but I was unaware of the fact. When time for desert arrived, out came some cupcakes, a huge, gorgeous chocolate cake from a bakery, and the Hummingbird cake. The Hummingbird was devoured and the others left standing, almost untouched. As I said, it’s a great recipe and easy to make.

#61 Dump Cake

“It’s the easiest thing in the world,” says Kaplan, “because you just dump in all the ingredients, and out comes this terrific cake!” He sure was right!” (Magnolia)


I resisted cooking this cake for two reasons: 1) I was saving it for a moment when I needed a drop-dead easy recipe as a time-saver, and 2) It seemed too “canned” to take any pride in.

But, hey! I was feeling down for baking so little, so I decided the time was right and just did the dump deed.

IMG_1287 Looks like it might be good.

So. Can the pride thing. It’s a fun sweet to have around to make carbo-craving teenagers  think they have a dad worth keeping and it’s actually impressive to others.

dump-cake-05 Credit:

I baked this cake, as is the case for most that I do, for no special reason other than my learning project. About half of it disappeared on a Friday afternoon and then I realized I could share it at a dinner party. But, hey! who takes a half-eaten cake to a dinner party?

Bright idea! Scoop this 0h-so-scoopable cake into cupcake cups and share it that way! I had some extra-lovely cups as a Christmas present and did just that. It was a hit! (But I didn’t get any pictures of it. 😦 ………. Since then, I learned that this manner of serving such deserts is already out there (see below)


 I know this “catch-up” post is less than entertaining or enlightening. Hopefully, I’ll find my voice again in the coming posts. I actually have some more recent successes and spectacular disasters to talk about. Thanks for visiting and reading!


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