Years ago, before I started this blog, started reading Hummingbird High. It’s a baking blog with beautiful recipes, photography, and prose by Michelle Lopez. I found myself making her recipes, marveling at her cake decorating skills, and asking many questions of her. She was generous with her time and always inspired me – I absolutely relied on her excellent guides to Portland, OR when I visited several years ago.
Michelle’s new book, Weeknight Baking: Recipes to Fit Your Schedule shows how to fit baking into a busy, 21st century life – short and simple recipes as well as more involved recipes in manageable steps over the course of a few evenings. I am deeply touched and honored to have received an early copy of the book to share and explore. The condition of me receiving this book was simple – share the recipes and book!
I made several recipes and shared the epic Pumpkin Bread on my Instagram, and followed the #WeeknightBakingBook hashtag to see what other people were making from the book. It makes me hungry, and so heartened to see people coming together to promote this beautiful work.
Today I’m sharing my version of the chocolate cake recipe with a #Hanukkah twist! This year Hanukkah starts on December 22nd and continues until December 30 – overlapping nicely with Christmas, and letting up in time for New Years. In past years, I’ve shared some less common recipes and approaches to celebrating Hanukkah – no latke recipes, no doughnut recipes… yet. We did Olio Nuovo Olive Oil Tasting, Frying-Free Hanukkah, shopping guides, latke round-up, as well as olive oil-centric recipes like a fresh Green Bean and Pomegranate Salad and Zesty Lemon Olive Oil Cake.
The Weeknight Baking book is divided into categories – cookies, loaf cakes, bars, cakes, frostings, etc. Each of the categories has suggestions and instructions to help the busy baker, and there are reference chapters about ingredients, shortcuts, equipment, and substitutions. The substitutions came in handy when I realized I didn’t have (or really want to have) cake flour in the house. Michelle’s *mathmagical* formula let me use all-purpose flour instead.
The #vegan recipes are especially exciting because of how Michelle approached their development with her admirable curiosity. Additionally, each recipe includes suggestions for ingredient and flavoring tweaks – everything from different spices to how to get tahini in to more things (my life’s goal!).
Every year, I look for a new way to celebrate #Hanukkah’s miracle ingredient – olive oil. This year we have tender chocolate cupcakes featuring my beloved California olive oil with an easy chocolate buttercream. I decorated them with gold sprinkles, disks, and sugar to reference the rededicated temple of the Hanukkah story and the traditional, extremely noshable gelt coins. The mix of sprinkles I bought was pretty, but included tooth-challenging sugar balls, so I linked to another option above and in the recipe. A glitzier option would be using gold cupcake liners instead of the yellow ones I used.
In the spirit of Hanukkah’s story of liberation and self-determination, the cocoa products used in this recipe are fair trade or similarly certified. It’s getting easier to find ethically certified products, and I love featuring them here. If you’re looking for fair trade chocolate coins for the holiday and competitive dreidel, here here here here! They are all delicious!
A little confession: this is the first time I have made impressive-looking frosting. The chocolate buttercream frosting in Weeknight Baking is so straightforward, so easy, and so delicious! I piped blobs onto the fully-cooled cupcakes then used a tiny spoon dipped in hot water to spread it out from the center. It took as few tries, but I got pretty good at it!
These cupcake are perfect whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Solstice, Festivus, or just feeling like enjoying some tender, beautiful cake! Happy holidays, and happy cake days to you!