funfetti pony piñata cake!

in celebration of bojack season 4, but actually in celebration of bethy's kiddos' birthday a couple of weeks ago, i made a pony cake! it was one of the most satisfying cakes to make because i truly can't really think of a better way to spend a sunday afternoon than by piping one million tiny frosting dots onto a miniature dala horse shaped funfetti cake and watching bojack. it's how i imagine adult coloring books are satisfying for people but this one was edible. and i think this also marked the first time i actually used my ikea mini dala horse cake pan, which i'm sad to say doesn't appear to be available for sale anymore. but i'll sell you mine for a million dollars.

when bethy requested a piñata inspired cake with succulents, i immediately thought of this lil guy and went at it with the food coloring. she also needed a small smash cake and do you know what makes the perfect smash cake? cutting two 3" layers out of the center of a four layer cake, and do you know what makes a perfect piñata cake?! filling the center cutout with m&m's. it was a perfect win/win/win.

you'll essentially need a batch and a half of funfetti cake, a bunch of m&m's (rather, i used a mix of m&m's and trader joe's candy chocolates which are the prettiest colors), and i topped it with some edible dirt that was basically ground pretzels, cocoa powder, sugar, and coconut oil. and roses and succulents! duh.


funfetti piñata cake

makes one 4-layer 8" cake

ingredients

for the cake:

3 3/4 c (476g) flour

6 tb (48g) constarch

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tb baking powder

1 1/2 c (338g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/4 c (450g) sugar

6 large egg whites

6 tb (75g) flavorless oil

1 1/2 tb clear imitation vanilla (i prefer mccormick brand)

1 c + 2 tb (270g) whole milk

3/4 c (144g) rainbow sprinkles (artificially colored cynlinders, not nonpareils, sanding sugar, or anything naturally colored)

 

for the frosting:

2 1/2 c (562g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 c (720g) powdered sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp clear imitation vanilla

3 tb whole milk

 

for filling + decorating:

m&m's (or other candy, as desired), food coloring (i like americolor's nifty fifty set)

clues

to make the cake:

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottoms of four 8-inch cake pans and a mini pony pan (if you don't have a pony pan, you can leave it out).

in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder.

in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. add the egg whites, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. add the oil and the vanilla.

with the mixer running on low speed, add the dry mixture and the milk in two or three alternating batches and mix until just barely combined, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the sprinkles until they're evenly distributed. distribute the batter between the pans. 

bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking the pony for doneness at 15 minutes and the cakes at 25 minutes.

let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.

to make the frosting: 

in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth and then gradually beat in the powdered sugar. add the salt, vanilla, and milk and beat to combine.

to assemble:

once the cakes are cooled, use a biscuit cutter to cut out 3" circles from the centers of two of the layers. use these circles to make a mini cake! or just eat them. place one of the uncut layers on a plate or cake board and spread on a layer of frosting, then stack up the two cut layers on top of that with a layer of frosting in between. fill the hole to the top with m&m's, frost the top of the cake and then top it with the remaining uncut cake layer. frost it all over.

decorate your pony as desired: decorate one side of him while he's laying flat on a pan, refrigerate so the frosting firms up, and then stick wooden skewers in the legs. use these to attach him to the cake, and then once he's upright, decorate the other side.

add flowers, succulents, sprinkles, dollops, or any other decorations that you'd like and serve!  


-yeh!

p.s. michigan friends!! i'll be at the harbor springs festival of the book next week!! get your tickets here and let's hang!!! 

tahini caramel apples

...and my rosh hashanah menu!

wednesday (eggfamily is coming over!)

apples from our tree // our trees are bursting, the apples are snappy and tart, oh and i make pies now… (more on this later)

marzipan honey // when i passed through new york last week on the way to stephanie and ben’s wedding i stopped at breads for car snacks and they were selling marzipan honey!!! i didn’t dare buy it because can you imagine the expletives that would come out of your mouth if a jar of honey spilled in your suitcase? so i plan to simply put honey from eggbro's bees and marzipan in my cuisinart and blend it up. 

potato challah!! // ohmygosh so many of you have made this already and every time you post a photo of it i scream and smile. your braids all look fantastic!! this is why i know 5778 is going to be great. 

matbucha // this will be my first time making it but i figured it’d be a nice accompaniment to the challah and a great way to use up the tomatoes from our garden! 

brisket // it’s been a while since i just did a classic, red wine braised, oniony and carroty brisket that makes the house smell exactly like rosh hashanah, so that is what i shall do. (hi yankee candle, can you make a brisket and challah scented candle??) i’ve blocked off like five hours of my day today to track down a brisket though because finding a brisket in this town is as hard as getting through the newest season of bojack. it can be done but it’s definitely not easy. 

something with zucchini // i have not figured this out yet but i need to bc we are now in possession of three zucchini that are twice the size of sven cat!!!! and sven cat is a very large northern cat!! i am leaning toward this zucchini kugel topped with walnuts and capers and tons of herbs, a la marian zucchini.

apple pie, with the marzipan crumble from alanna’s book // i know, i know, who is this pie maker cat lady that i have suddenly become??? we are going to talk about this soon, it’s gonna be fine. but there's this recipe i’m working on that has hawaij in it and omg it’s so good. ok bye.

thursday (low-key, eggboy and me, and probably what women want on hbo)

shakshuka challah! // i’m going to reserve some of the challah dough from wednesday, make lil rounds, spoon some shakshuka sauce and eggs into them, and then cover them with herbs and feta.

matzo ball soup // i’ll probably go the very classic route with this too, or i may use my fave roasted vegetable stock with it so i can use more of our garden vegetables. 

annnd....

tahini caramel apples!!!

i love a caramel apple. i love unwrapping all of the little pieces of caramel*, eating things on sticks, and brushing my teeth for an extra long portion of time. and picking apples from our tree makes me so happy, it’s like living on rock candy mountain. we are no strangers to tahini going with caramel (see: hawaij carrot cake), so it felt right that tahini caramel should go on apples. 

*this is an outdated hobby, as they don't even sell the individually wrapped caramel squares at my grocery anymore, it's all the unwrapped little balls

i went through a few variations of homemade caramel for these apples, which tasted fine, but getting the consistency just right took so much time and energy that i kind of started dreading making them. it wasn’t, like, fun dough-kneading energy, it was sweating-over-a-hot-pot-of-caramel-for-way-too-long-wondering-if-i’m-going-to-burn-it energy. so i dug out this brick of caramel that’s been sitting in the back of my pantry for two years, melted it down, mixed in tahini, and it worked like a charm and came together in like five minutes! it also tasted great, better than the homemade caramel even, since it wasn’t seasoned with stress and sweat. so conclusion: we're going with easy peasy store-bought caramel here. the tahini does a great job of cutting the sweetness from the caramel and kind of bridges the gap from tart to sweet. and the tiny bit of cinnamon adds a nice autumnal warmth!

you know what else is so good?? pouring any leftover tahini caramel onto a sheet of waxed paper and covering it with chopped pretzels. let it harden and cut it into squares. wrap in cute candy wrappers and eat as desired.

shana tova, friends!!!! 

🍎🍯🍎🍯🍎🍯🍎🍯🍎🍯🍎🍯🍎🍯🍎🍯🍎🍯


tahini caramel apples

makes 6-8 apples

Ingredients

6-8 tart apples
1 ounce (28g) toasted sesame seeds
11 ounces (312g) caramels
2 tb water
1/4 t cinnamon
1/3 c (75g) tahini
 

Clues

Wash and dry the apples. Insert sticks into the top, place them on a waxed paper lined baking sheet, and refrigerate them for at least 20 minutes. Place the sesame seeds on a plate and set aside. In a small or medium saucepan, combine the caramels, water, and cinnamon, and heat on medium heat, stirring with a heat-safe rubber spatula, until the caramel is melted. Stir in the tahini until smooth and reduce heat to low. Dip the cold apples in the caramel, letting any excess drip off, dip them in the sesame seeds, and then place on the waxed paper (or on parchment cupcake liners). Firm up in the fridge for about 20 minutes and enjoy! These should keep in the fridge, covered, for up to a couple of weeks. 
 


-yeh!

pictured: pot / spurtle / small plate / big plate

tahdig shakshuka

With the way that people talk about making tahdig, you’d think that they were talking about reading Ulysses or something. Not that I would really know for sure since I am about 100% positive that I will die without having read Ulysses but I’ve felt the size of it and I’ve heard Eggboy talk about it and at this moment in time that is the best comparison I can think of because both require time and patience, and 30% of the time, you fail. 

When you do succeed though you’re rewarded, of course. Not necessarily with fireworks and instagrammability, but with satisfaction and maybe some street cred?? They’re beasts. One would take me 10 years to finish, another, it turns out, you can do in an evening so long as you focus and have the right tools.

Tahdig is a Persian dish that consists of the crispy layer of rice that forms at the bottom of the pot. It’s often flavored with saffron and can also be made with vegetables or bread. It is so good and I can’t believe it took me until 2017 to make it for the first time. I think I first heard about it from Naz at the Saveur awards back in 2014. I remember her talking about how much patience you need to make it and how exciting it is when it works. I love her post about Tahdig, where she compares it to a coy lover. Ok maybe that’s better than Ulysses. A while back in New York, a few friends attempted it for our Shabbat potluck but I remember them not being so satisfied with how it turned out. It’s just so hard to tell when the crispiness forms and then once you flip it out, I don’t think you can crisp it up anymore. In Berlin, Sophie and Xenia turned out like 12 perfect Tahdigs in a row, it was super human and they all looked like gorgeous yellow cakes destined to sop up short rib juices. Shortly thereafter I had a miniature tahdig at Zahav with their legendary braised lamb, and then finally it was time to make it at home. 

It was not a total failure but, you’ve seen my little stove coils, they can only heat so much and tahdig requires a very even heating element. So I tried it out in my mini cocottes and it worked for a few but then got fussy when I tried to make 30 of them for a dinner party. It was actually really traumatizing and I didn’t make tahdig for a long time after that. I kind of came to the conclusion that my go-to cast iron pots weren’t necessarily the right option for tahdig and started creeping around the internet for alternatives. Anytime tahdig would come up on my IG feed, I’d kind of stalk the account to see if they posted the pot they made it in…

And then a few months ago Alana started raving about her GreenPans and how nonsticky and easy to clean they were (I think she has become my new kitchenware curator btw), so when GreenPan got in touch to work on this post I figured I’d better at least try a Tahdig in one before making any decisions, so I did and guess what! I nailed it the first time. And the second, third, etc., etc. The coating on the pans is not only so nonsticky that the tahdig practically slides out of the pan and into my mouth, but it also heats so evenly that I can use their 12” pan on my 8” coil and still get an evenly yellow saffrony ghee-y crust. And it doesn’t contain the crusty nonstick stuff that peels off and kills u. I am hella sold. (the pan i'm using is part of their 10th anniversary set and it's on sale rn!) I know Alana likes making eggs in them and now that it’s fall I’d like to try making caramel for my apples in them but for now I’m just really glad to have filled the void in my life that was a perfect Tahdig pan.

Let’s talk about why this Tahdig is different from all other Tahdigs: In a shakshuka-inspired move, it’s got poached eggs all up in it. “Just because it has poached eggs doesn’t make it a shakshuka” wrote Jeff after I IG-ed it. It spurred a long argument that is still not over. He thinks it is more similar to Maqluba and that shakshuka requires a sauce. My argument was that even though most shakshukas have tomato sauce, shakshuka isn't required to have tomatoes or even a sauce (see: green shakshuka). darya said it might be similar to mirza ghasemi! which i've never had but sounds delicious. What do you think? I love shakshuka and I also love this dish and definitely feel like shakshuka doesn’t really need to have tomato sauce… but… tomato tomahto? 

This dish is crispy rice, eggs, and a party full of toppings. I basically just pulled a bunch of pretty things from my garden and threw them on top. I would def recommend topping this with at least pickled onions, fresh lemon juice, herbs, and tomatoes if you have them. Feta was also great! But you can really go wild and use whatever toppings you have on hand. This recipe makes a big batch and is perfect for a brunch party. And seriously with an even nonstick pan like this one, you can go confidently in the direction of tahdig, even on your first try.


tahdig shakshuka

makes 6 servings

ingredients

540g basmati rice

kosher salt

1/8 tsp saffron

3 tb ghee

6 eggs

for topping: black pepper, crushed red pepper, fresh basil and mint, pickled onions, lemon wedges, feta, chopped scallions, chopped tomatoes, other herbs/cheeses/sauces as desired

Clues

In a large bowl, cover the rice with enough water so that it comes up a couple inches above the rice and soak for 30 minutes. Drain the rice and then rinse it well. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Boil the rice until it’s soft on the outside but still has a bite on the inside, about 4-5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking. 

Crush the saffron using a mortar and pestle and then dissolve it in 3 tablespoons boiling water. 

Heat a 12” lidded nonstick Greenpan over medium high heat and add the ghee and the saffron water and swirl it around so it coats the pan evenly. Add the rice and pack it down firmly with the back of a spatula, making a pyramid shape in the center. Use the handle of a spatula to poke a few holes in the rice, stopping right before you get to the very bottom of the rice. Carefully cover the skillet with a clean dish towel and then the lid, folding the corners of the towel up around the lid so they don’t touch the stove (if you’re working with a gas range, you may want to fold the towel up around the lid before putting it on the skillet to be extra careful that your towel doesn’t get in the flame). Cook on medium high for 30 minutes and then reduce the heat to medium low. Carefully uncover the pot, keeping the cover level so that any moisture collected under the towel doesn’t spill out and burn you or fall back into the rice. Using a spoon or spatula, create 6 egg-sized divots about an inch apart and crack in your eggies. Cover (you don’t need the towel for this step) and cook until the whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny. Top with black pepper, crushed red pepper, fresh basil and mint, pickled onions, a few squeezes of lemon juice, feta, chopped scallions, chopped tomatoes, and/or other herbs/cheeses/sauces as desired, and serve immediately. Enjoy! 


Thank you GreenPan for these pans and for sponsoring this post and for making the perfect Tahdig pan! the lidded one pictured is part of their limited edition 10th anniversary 5-piece set ($59.99) which includes a smaller 10” pan, a bamboo spatula, and a recipe book, and all greenpans are 20% off from 9/15-9/24. greenpans have a ceramic nonstick coating, thermolon, that is made from a sand derivative. it is high heat resistant and won’t ever peel off or emit harmful fumes. 

All photos are by Chantell and Brett Quernemoen! 

potato challah

Around this time two years ago I began begging Eggboy for a pet pig for my birthday. I’ve always loved pigs (it goes hand in hand with my marzipan obsession since when I was little I collected marzipan pigs) and after living on a farm for a few years, it seemed like the time was right to get one. 

Ok, but we’re going to name him Potato, said Eggboy.

That’s a cute name!! But why?

So that when we eat him we can just say we’re eating Potato and confuse all of our friends.

😒😒😒😒😒😒

That kind of ended that.

And that’s all I have to say about potatoes at the moment other than that there are real actual potatoes in this challah dough, not pigs. And there are potatoes of an unknown variety growing in our garden! And idk why it took me this long to put mashed potatoes in challah. I loved potato sandwich bread and potato bagels from Einstein growing up because, well you know me, I've always been one for soft doughy bread over a crusty baguette. So this year for Rosh Hashanah when I was having my routine challah brainstorm, my mind went to the humble potato.

If you thought that a perfectly baked loaf of doughy eggy challah could not get any better, well just add a cup of mashed potatoes to your dough and watch it get even softer. And richer! It’s a subtle difference, you can’t really taste potato *flavor*, but eating it is a similar sensation to hugging a friend who you haven’t seen in a while and feeling a stronger, more robust embrace, the kind of arms that make you step back, do a once over, and ask, you been workin out?  

Potato challah is regular challah that has been going to the gym all summer. 

So, you know, the recipe here is not very different from the challah that you were going to make next week. Just do all of us two favors: add mashed potato to the dough, and when proofing the yeast, use the water that you used to boil the potato instead of regular plain jane water. Works like a charm! Sounds like we’re all going to have fabulous New Years. 

Ok so to shape it, you can either just make one huge long snake and coil it up into a round swirly shape, as I’ve done in past years. Or you can make four strands and make a circular braid. It looks a lot more complicated than it really is. I have all of the faith in the world that you can do it. Here is a slower version of the braiding video that I posted on IG the other day. Plz forgive the background banter between chantell, brett, and me. Or just don't turn the sound on haha. My non-existent video editing skills are exactly non-existent: 


potato challah

makes 2 loaves

ingredients

8 oz peeled potatoes, cut into 1” cubes
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp + 2 tb sugar
4 c (504g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs
1/3 c (66g) flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable
2 tb (42g) honey

egg wash + topping:

1 beaten egg
poppy seeds, sesame seeds, other seeds, optional
 

clues

Place the chopped potato in a large pot and cover it with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until a fork pokes easily into the potato, begin checking for doneness at about 10 minutes. Drain the potato, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Let the potato cool, mash it, and set it aside. Once the cooking water has cooled to be warm (about 105º-110ºf), add the yeast and the 1 teaspoon of sugar. Give it a little swirl and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until foamy on top. Meanwhile, in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, and honey. When the yeast mixture is foamy, add it to the dry mixture, followed by the egg mixture and mashed potatoes. Stir to form a shaggy dough and then either knead it on a clean surface or in the stand mixer, adding flour if it gets too sticky to handle. Knead until the dough is smooth and just slightly sticky, 7-10 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, 1-2 hours. 

Preheat the oven to 375ºf and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface, divide it into two equal parts, and shape according to the notes and video above. Transfer the loaves to the baking sheets. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes. Brush the loaves with a light coating of egg wash and sprinkle with seeds, if using. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and have an internal temp of about 190ºf. Begin checking for doneness at 25 minutes. 

Let cool until it is jusssst cool enough that it won’t burn your mouth, then smother it with butter and hope that there will be some left for dinner that night. Hehe. 



oh here are some more challah recipes!! 


-yeh!!!