chocolate sheet cake with pistachio butter frosting

Sugar beet harvest is well underway!!!! It’s one of the most wonderful times of the year. It’s by far the busiest and the sleepiest, but also the most exciting. Eggboy has a weird, vaguely nocturnal sleep schedule which has me waking up way before him (this has been a little nerve wracking since he’s the only one who knows how to operate our very complicated coffee grinder) but it means that I can make a big breakfast when he wakes up in the afternoon. Tonight will be my first night home during harvest since I was away over the weekend and I intend to just binge Pretty Little Liars and restock the freezer with pita and soup for quick harvest break snackees. Good thing there are enough PLL seasons to take me through even the longest of harvests, which luckily this doesn’t seem like it’s going to be. Based on my extremely limited knowledge, I’m gonna bet you a dollar that this harvest will take shorter than last year’s verkakte muddy harvest but longer than the easy breezy beautiful year before that. Which affects you and me in the sense that it determines how many baked goodies I make for the crew. I filled our deep freeze with pumpkin bread, blueberry scones, and a funfetti cake last week before I scampered off for a quick trip to Harbor Springs, Michigan, for a Molly on the Range event and then to Boston for the Forbes Under 30 summit. 

Wow, Harbor Springs is one of the prettiest cutest places in the world! I could eat it all up. Or at least see myself going back again and again to crash the book festival and look at the beautiful houses. I got to stay with Maureen, who wrote one of my favorite cookbooks, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, and we made raw kibbeh!! It was a dream come true. I’ve been wanting to make raw kibbeh since reading about it in her book but was never confident enough in my butcher finding skills to get clean enough beef that could be eaten raw. So I waited until I got to Harbor Springs, and then we feasted on raw kibbeh, baked kibbeh, fattoush, hummus, knafeh, and this amazing sticky date cake with orange blossom caramel. I also got to hang with Nicole and a whole bunch of new sweet people. It was heaven! 

After Michigan I zipped on over to Boston for a quick day and a half at the Forbes Under 30 summit, surrounded by break fast at Mamaleh’s (with a truly inspirational kasha varnishkes), brunch time tahini buns, sofra with family, and then sofra again with friends, and some hardcore catching up with old college homies. I was in a cloud of congestion and snotty tissues (ew gross sorry forget I said that) but came home with a full heart and a full suitcase of saffron gummies, aleppo pepper, the la boîte halva mix, and Maureen’s nougatsA+ souvenirs

Ok one last thing before we get to cake: Molly on the Range turns one today!!!!!! I can hardly believe it! This last year has been a year filled to the brim with your sweet posts and messages about recipes you’ve made from MOTR and they make me the happiest bean in the world. I love seeing you guys celebrate birthdays and holidays with MOTR cakes and challah and schnitzel and I am so freaking happy that I've gotten to meet and hug so many of you at book events. I cannot thank you enough for how much joy your support of Molly on the Range has brought me over this past year. I am going to try and express all of my gratitude by making some of your favorite foods though!! Since so many of the recipes in MOTR were homemade versions of my childhood favorite foods (lunchables, pigs in blankets, you know…), I want you to hop over here and tell me some of your crazy childhood favorite foods and then I’m going to pick a few to recreate from scratch! If yours gets picked, you’ll get a special one of a kind edition of Molly on the Range :) Head to Instagram for more details.

Alright, cake time!!!! Because all of this harvesting and book birthdaying is calling for celebration. Eggboy put this cake out for all of our harvest helpers on the first day of harvest and from what I can tell, it got gobbled up immediately. It’s your basic super rich chocolate sheet cake covered in a buttercream that has my current obsession, pistachio butter, all up in it. It’s the same pistachio butter that was in these pudding pops but now that it’s getting a little colder I’m giving you a more weather appropriate use for it. Pistachio butter, the fanciest of the nut butters (?), is so great in this buttercream. Just think of how great peanut butter frosting is and then... make it pistachio. This frosting is rich, pistachio-y, a little lemony, and almondy. AKA basically perfect and greenish, the best color. Hooray!   


chocolate sheet cake with pistachio butter frosting

makes one 9" x 13" sheet cake

ingredients

for the cake:

1 3/4 c (350g) sugar

1 3/4 c (223g) all-purpose flour

1 c (85g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 large eggs

1 c (240g) buttermilk

1 tb vanilla extract

1/2 c (100g) flavorless oil

3/4 c (178g) boiling water

for the frosting:

1 c (128g) roasted pistachios (preferably unsalted)

1 c (225g) unsalted butter, softened

3 c (360g) powdered sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt (omit if pistachios are salted)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

zest of 1/2 a lemon

2 tb heavy cream

clues

for the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottom of a 9" by 13" pan with parchment paper.

in a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda. in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and oil. add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. whisk in the boiling water.

pour the batter into the cake pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. let cool in the pan.

for the frosting: 

first, make the pistachio butter. in a food processor, blend the pistachios, scraping the sides occasionally, until very creamy and spreadable, about 5-10 minutes.

with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and pistachio butter until creamy. add the powdered sugar and mix to combine and then mix in the salt, vanilla, almond extract, lemon zest, and then heavy cream. 

spread all over the cake, decorate as desired, and enjoy! 


-yeh!

how to make flower cake for an intimate wedding of 320 people!

three months out: practice buttercream flowers. watch how-to videos. embrace the bedtime instagram session and search #buttercreamrose often. order all of the tips from wilton and all of the color gels from americolor. try swiss buttercream, screw up italian buttercream, settle on american. test the almond cake, the hazelnut cake, and the coconut rose cake six or eight times. make a folder with all of the recipes. order a pan rack! call him jim. make a schedule. acquire a large white board to make some lists. get cake boards, cake boxes, piping bags, parchment circles, and gold pearls. make a sam’s club list and a grocery store list. separate them into perishables and non-perishables. buy all of the non-perishables. think about cake stands, come close to buying this blue one, but decide against it since it doesn’t fit with the overall aesthetic (and since you bought all of the wilton tips when you really only needed some of these and some of these) and this cake situation is about eggsibs, not your personal cake stand desires.

consult with eggsis, consult again, just don't stop talking or thinking about cake.

rent dress, make sure it fits with enough room to allow for taste testing.


three weeks out: clean out one of your freezers. fill it with cookie dough, pop-tarts, and muffins for the before-the-wedding festivities and the after-wedding breakfast. begin baking cake layers at a leisurely pace. once they are cool, wrap them in plastic wrap, label with masking tape, and freeze. do not stack more than two layers on top of one another before they are completely frozen.

five days out: clean out fridge. replace the baking soda box. buy all of the heavy cream and butter in grand forks. take a deep breath, or a nap, or a b-12 shot.

four days out and three days out: realize your vanilla cupcake recipe still sucks. work on it, save all the good ones, bake 16 batches. put them on sheet pans, wrap them in plastic wrap, and freeze. keep some out to practice frosting swoops. bake all remaining cake layers and freeze. 

two days out: welcome mum to town!! assign her to frosting duty and emergency butter runs. frost all cakes with a white layer of buttercream. don’t be lazy, do a proper crumb coat, firm up in the fridge, and then do another coat. store uncovered in the fridge.

one day out: welcome celeste to town!! color all of the frosting for the flowers, fill piping bags. cut out small parchment squares. pipe flowers ad infinitum. refrigerate on sheet pans until firm. top cakes with a mound of frosting to give dimension to the flowers, top the mounds with flowers. fill in empty spaces between the flowers with leaves and artful blobs. tweezer on gold pearls. store in the fridge.

eat pizza because it’s friday and because pizza appeared on the farm while everyone was outside setting up for the rehearsal dinner and because eggboy came in with a slice hanging out of his mouth and it looked good.

say hi to eggsis and any other visitors that swing by! 

go to the rehearsal, sneak out of the rehearsal dinner early to finish the remaining flowers. brainstorm the finishing touches and a way to differentiate the center cake from the other cakes. brainstorm brainstorm brainstorm. taco bout it with celeste and mum. go to sleep, confident that quality brainstorming really does happen in the middle of the night. wake mid-slumber with the correct idea! cha-ching! set an alarm to go off the next morning so that you don’t forget it. (“marzipan cut-out heart” 9am.)

wedding day: take cupcakes out of the freezer, frost them all, put em in boxes and keep at room temp. make marzipan heart. assign mum to pop-tart glaze and sprinkle duty!

pack everything up (cakes, cake stands, spatulas, gloves, piping bags with any leftover frosting, tweezers, and sprinkles), fill eggmom’s mini van, ride slowly slowly all the way there. set everything up at the venue, add a last-minute border around the center cake. 

yeah go team!!! hi fives all around. cakes stay out at room temp. 

get hairs did! eat a bagel. put on dress. acquire a brother-in-law!!!!!!!! party. cheer on eggsis and eggbro as they cut the cake! steal two slices, go outside with celeste, style those suckers, and get those shots before the sun goes down! eat nachos, lose voice, guard cake leftovers, bring them home, stick them in the deep freeze, and go to bed!!

yayyyy!!!! congratulations, eggsis and eggbro!!!!!!!! 🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

photos by celeste noche!

macaroni's first egg!!!!!!

we hyperventilated for five minutes straight. and then omg-ed for five more. it was the greatest hanukkah present ever in all the land! one teeny tiny egg, too small for most of our egg cups and very lightly speckled. everything we've waited for since june (they grow up so fast!). we cuddled it and stared at it and finally decided that we should eat it ceremoniously, out of the egg cup we bought on our honeymoon.

we wanted a six-minute egg, but with such a dainty little specimen we reduced the time to five and it was perfect. firm whites, a yolk the thickness of honey. and its color! we kvelled so hard, we've never been prouder. is this what having an honor roll student is like? can i get a bumper sticker about all this? 

we spread our little egg onto buttered toast and sprinkled it with salt while the snow came down outside. it was tasty and bucolic af. now we're researching how to bronze the shell so we can keep it on our mantel forever and ever. 

we're so proud of you, macaroni!!

-yay!

a little tractor adventure

well, it was a big tractor, but a little adventure.

the tractor needed a new part, so eggboy had to drive it to the fix-it man.

junior cat was not allowed to come.

but i was! here is the view from the buddy seat as we drove down the highway and stopped traffic. tractors don't go very fast! eggboy was focused on not hitting any bunnies but he still smiled for my rearview mirror picture. what a guy.

(no cars ahead of us, they are all stuck behind us.)

we even drove across the bridge to north dakota.

past my favorite sign... 

and my other favorite sign... (look, the grain mill in the background!)

and then we arrived at the tractor fix-it place on the edge of town, where a row of combines welcomed us with glee.

eggdad picked us up in his pickup and gave us popcorn because you can get free popcorn at a lot of the farm shops in town. it was salty and tasty and perfect with eggboy's hat sweat. 

the end!

-yeh!