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 nougats. A+ 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
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
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!