showing my inner anglophile – chocolate chip traybake

chocolate chip traybake with peanut butter and chocolate fudge icing

Chocolate chip traybake cake
Chocolate chip traybake cake

like most people who have netflix, i am obsessed with great british bake off. i was actually obsessed with it before it was on netflix, and we also had the box set of the mighty boosh which i used to watch regularly with my brother. holla if you are familiar with this show… most people know of old greg, but have never really watched it past that. super weird, super british, absolutely hilarious, and definitely noel fielding’s best role. if you are into weird stuff or have a weird sense of humor defnitely check it out. i also have uk television shows on our cable, and will regularly relax with my glass of wine and watch antiques roadtrip, and obsessed with victorian farm. kind of on a tangent here, but you see where i’m going?

i’ve been working on my semi-homemade chocolate chip cake recipe, and for some reason i cannot make a regular cake to save my life. so this is why i always stick to traybakes (as the british call them, or a cake baked in a pan, not turned out and eaten in squares right out of the pan) or cupcakes. i feel like they are harder for me to ruin, there is no turning out the cake, trimming it, worrying about the icing looking perfect, etc. this traybaked poke cake is great because it reminds me of those tasty cake kandy kakes, but better because it’s homemade. and bigger. the fudge icing is from life above the cafe and i originally saw it on her instagram. she has the most amazing dessert recipes! definitely check out her blog. the cake recipe is modified from the wasc cake recipe from sugar geek show, and is super easy because it’s semi-homemade, and all you do is throw everything in the mixer together and turn it on. let me know if you try this chocolate chip traybake and what you think!


1 yellow box cake mix
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt – mountain high yogurt is delicious for baking or just by itself with some fruit or honey
1 cup milk
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter (1 stick)
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
splash (1/8-1/4 tsp) almond extract
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups peanut butter – i love the simply nature organic peanut butter from aldi, it has no added sugar

2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
5 oz evaporated milk
1 stick of unsalted butter


preheat your oven to 350, and prepare a 9×13 glass baking dish by spraying with cooking spray or coating with a stick of butter. in an electric stand mixer, or large bowl, combine the cake mix, flour, sugar, salt, yogurt, milk, butter, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. with the paddle attachment or a whisk (if you’re using a regular bowl) beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. fold in the chocolate chips. pour into your prepared pan and bake 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. i checked mine at 30 minutes and it was still completely not set in the middle. i ended up adding about 12 more minutes of baking time, for a total of 42 minutes. it will depend on your oven. just ignore the instructions/ingredients on the back of the box and only use the ingredients listed here.

after the cake comes out of the oven and cools completely, poke holes all over the top of it using a straw. microwave your peanut butter for 30-40 seconds so it’s very pourable, and spread it all over the top of the cake. after this, start the icing. in a medium-large nonstick pot, whisk together the dry ingredients (sugar, salt, and cocoa powder). add the evaporated milk, whisk everything together and bring it to a rolling boil, whisking the entire time. set a timer for 2 minutes and let the mixture boil for exactly 2 minutes, whisking constantly. when the timer goes off, turn off the heat and whisk in the stick of butter. continue whisking for one more minute after the butter is completely incorporated to cool the mixture slightly.

then take the hot icing and pour it over top the peanut butter and spread evenly over the top of the cake. i usually take mine and tap the bottom on a wooden surface (so i don’t break the glass pan) until i see that the fudge frosting starts to go down into the holes in the cake. wait until it has cooled completely before cutting into it! the top will become crusty and crackly and delicious and this is a perfect snacking cake. you can tell i definitely didn’t let mine cool all the way before cutting into it, but it’s so tempting when the frosting is still warm and gooey and fudgy. sooooo delicious. let me know if you try it! the method for the icing is on my reels on instagram if you want to check it out 🙂

homestead-y things – sourdough bread saga continued

poppyseed-raisin sourdough bread loaf with cultured butter

picture of sourdough bread with golden raisins and poppyseeds
picture of sourdough bread with golden raisins and poppyseeds, with butter and jam

this is one of my favorite sourdoughs recently, i love the sweet burst of golden raisins with the crunch of the poppyseeds. my toddler also loves it smeared with homemade cultured butter and his favorite “orange jam.” as long as i cut off the crusts for him… of course. it’s so soft and airy on the inside with that super crunchy crust. i’ll also post the recipe for the cultured butter we’ve been using for the past couple of months. so delicious spread on fresh sourdough or any bread. you can also use it for cooking, but it will lose the “cultured” properties once you cook it. this recipe is adapted from feasting at home’s no-knead sourdough bread, and please check out her post on sourdough starter as well if you need tips for that! for this recipe you will need a kitchen scale… except for measuring the half cup of whole wheat flour, i usually don’t use any cup measurements when i make bread. this is a long recipe, but check out the video below for the full method!


520g flour (half a cup of whole wheat flour, and the rest bread flour)
2 teaspoons salt
3 teaspoons poppyseeds
1 cup golden raisins
415g filtered water at room temperature
90g active sourdough starter (i usually feed mine 12 hours before making the dough, so it has time to rise and then fall again)
small amount of olive oil, just to coat bowl where bread will be proofing


kitchen scale
dutch oven – make sure the handle is metal, must be heat resistant!
parchment paper
bread lame or super sharp knife


when making this sourdough loaf, you want to start thinking about it 24 hours in advance of when you’ll bake it, because the starter needs 12-ish hours to do it’s thing once you feed it. the dough then takes about 12 more hours to proof, not counting the final proof in the fridge for an hour or more. i like to typically make my dough at night so it can proof on the counter overnight, or if i make it in the morning i will put it in the oven with the light on so it will take less time. if you leave it in the oven with the light on, make sure to keep an eye on it because i’ve had loaves proof in about 7 hours or less! you don’t want to end up over proofing it if it’s in a very warm place. it seems like a long process, but it’s so so worth it when you finally get to taste that amazing fresh home baked bread.

so the first step will be to feed your starter. or you can use starter that’s been in the fridge for up to a week for a more sour flavor. the longer it’s been sitting, the more sour it will taste. for this recipe, i typically will feed it 12 hours before i plan on making the loaf, since it has sweet elements (golden raisins), i like a more mild flavored bread. once the starter has peaked, and then come down again, it’s ready. you want it to come down again after it peaks because then you know it’s hungry again.

in a large bowl, combine your flours, salt, poppy seeds, and raisins. in a separate bowl, or 2 cup liquid measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together the water and active starter. it should look like cloudy water. pour in the water/starter mixture to the dry ingredients, and using a rubber spatula, start folding everything until it comes together into a rough dough ball, and there is no dry flour visible. at this point, i usually will coat a different bowl with olive oil and flip the dough ball out into this bowl to proof. you don’t have to do this… i just do it because i can’t stand it being in the messy bowl, ha ha. cover the dough ball with a damp dish towel, and sit in a warm spot to start proofing. let it sit for 15 minutes, and then you’re going to stretch and fold. take a look at the stretch and fold video in this post for a demo! i definitely tend to get a little bit more aggressive with my stretching and folding… so then you will let it proof for 15 more minutes, stretch and fold again, 15 more minutes and stretch and fold again. for a total of three times. i always let mine do the initial proof in the oven with the light on. i feel like it just stays warmer in there since our house doesn’t have great insulation. after that you can just leave it overnight on the counter or table with the damp towel on top.

in the morning (i wake up at 6:30 typically), check the rise on your dough. it should be just about doubled in size and have a domed top. you can take a wet finger and push it into the dough, and the indent should slowly start to fill back in.

you will then take your dutch oven, pop it into the oven with the lid on and preheat it to 470 degrees. you may need to play around with the temperature. initially i had it around 500, and it was wayyyyy too hot. my oven runs hot though. set your timer for an hour. the dutch oven needs to be super hot when you put the dough in. now you will do your final stretch and fold, place the dough into a smaller bowl lined with parchment paper and place in the fridge to proof while the oven preheats. take a bowl that is slightly smaller, i use a 1.5 qt pyrex, and line it with parchment. basically i just lay the sheet of parchment over the bowl and once the dough ball settles down into it, it lines itself. the final stretch and fold is a little different because you’ll actually lift the dough out of the bowl with both hands (make sure you wet your hands), hold it up in the air over the bowl, and let it fold down on top of itself. turn the bowl a quarter, and do it again. turn the bowl a quarter and do it again, but this time, it shouldn’t stretch nearly as much, and you will fold the bottoms in, and set the dough ball into the parchment lined bowl. see video for demo. then place it into the fridge while the oven heats up (one hour). you could also leave the dough in the fridge a little longer, 2-3 hours to develop the gluten further and develop a nice skin on the outside, making it easier to score. i found i was able to score it much easier when i left it in the fridge for 2 hours vs 1. usually i only preheat the oven for an hour.

once the hour is up, take out the dutch oven and be very careful removing the lid, make sure to remember your oven mitts, it will be extremely hot!! take the bread loaf out of the fridge, dust with flour, and score the top using a very sharp knife or bread lame. then pick it up in the parchment paper and place the whole thing (parchment included!) directly into the dutch oven. put the lid on and bake for 25 minutes at 470 degrees. during my initial bake i always put a sheet pan under my dutch oven because i was having issues with burnt bottoms on my bread. you will need to experiment to see if this will work for you or not. then remove the lid and bake for 10-15 more minutes, until the crust is deeply golden brown, and the middle is at least 200 degrees fahrenheit using a meat thermometer. let the bread loaf rest for at least 1 hour before slicing into it. the waiting is the hardest part! then enjoy your delicious homemade sourdough with your favorite toppings 🙂 recipe for cultured butter coming soon, and check out the video below for the full method!

sourdough saga

poppyseed-golden raisin sourdough

this is something i’ve been working on for a while. i am honestly super proud for following through and finally keeping up with my sourdough starter and not letting it go bad, or just tossing it because it seemed like too much work. it’s actually been working so well i’ve decided to name it…. bread-ie mercury. obvs. we’re still working on perfecting the actual loaf, and playing around with oven temps, recipes, etc. i’m having a consistent issue with burnt bottoms, so if anyone knows a foolproof method… please comment and let me know! currently i’m using the no-knead sourdough recipe from sylvia fountaine at feasting at home and it’s been going really well. it’s so easy because you literally whip up the dough the night before, it proofs on the counter overnight and is ready to bake by the morning.

i’m not posting a recipe here because i’m really still working on this but just wanted to share my journey with sourdough so far, and a few pics of this delicious loaf. i decided to add golden raisins and poppyseeds and it is a hit. feasting at home’s post has completely walked me through my first few loaves and i definitely recommend following her instructions, and i also used her tips for starting my sourdough starter as well.

bonus… if you really want to take your bread to the next level, top it with this cultured butter from ny times. so so easy, and way better than store bought butter, imo.

instagram-worthy chocolate cookies… my new obsession

olive oil chocolate sugar cookies via jessie sheehan

chocolate cookie dough balls
close up picture of chocolate cookies

i saw this recipe for chocolate cookies on an instagram reel by jessie sheehan, and had to try them for myself. mainly because they looked super easy, i had all the ingredients in my pantry, and my toddler could help. emmett loves to help bake cookies, and these proved to be toddler friendly (you only need two bowls, a whisk and rubber spatula) and delicious. the other bonus is that these are freezer friendly! after making the dough balls you can keep them in the freezer as long as you want then bake up a few any time you want cookies. i made a couple of changes only because i didn’t have the exact ingredients (dutch process cocoa powder, and light brown sugar), but they still turned out amazing. find the original recipe here! i’ve made these a few times now, and something i also love is to add white chocolate chips. soooo delicious. let me know in the comments if you love them as much as we do!


1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour 
⅔ cup cocoa powder (recipe calls for dutch process but i didn’t have it so i used regular)
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp kosher salt 
¾ cup olive oil (recipe calls for Colavita specifically, but i didn’t have this brand)
1 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract 
1 large egg, room temperature (totally didn’t let my eggs get to room temp because i’m a mom of toddlers and forgot – still turned out :))
2 egg yolks, room temperature 
granulated sugar for rolling the cookies
*optional – 1/2-3/4 cup of white chocolate chips, i prefer ghirardelli


whisk the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl. whisk the sugars and olive oil in a medium sized bowl until combined, then add vanilla and eggs one by one. original recipe calls for all light brown sugar. i only had dark, so i used one cup of dark brown sugar and 3/4 cup of regular granulated sugar. keep whisking until mixture lightens and becomes thicker and ribbony. add wet ingredients to dry, and fold together with a rubber spatula until everything is just moistened. the original recipe calls for using an ice cream scoop (1/4 cup) to make giant cookies. i opted for a normal sized cookie scoop since i was feeding them to toddlers. use whatever you prefer! i scooped the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer for 20 minutes. then remove cookie dough balls and roll each one in granulated sugar and place back in the freezer for 1-2 hours until completely frozen, or ready to bake. preheat oven to 350, and bake cookies for 15 minutes, rotating halfway through. slightly press each cookie with a spatula after removing from the oven. enjoy!

semi-homemade baking

triple-chocolate salted caramel brownies

do you guys remember sandra lee on food network? well semi-homemade food is my jam 🙂 more importantly, the lady loved a cocktail. anyway, these are super easy, since a boxed brownie mix takes the work out of measuring out all the ingredients, but homemade caramel from sally’s baking addiction, extra white chocolate chips, and some maldon sea salt add a little extra flair. great for busy moms or anyone who aint got time for making homemade brownies. the caramel can also be made in advance which saves you being in the kitchen too long. my husband said he couldn’t stop eating them, so fudgy and addicting. enjoy!


your favorite boxed brownie mix (i used the specially selected “double chocolate” boxed mix from aldi)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (recommend ghirardelli)
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or any other oil of choice)
maldon sea salt (or any other flaked sea salt for sprinkling)
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1/2 tsp kosher salt (sally’s recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, but i’m also sprinkling sea salt on top of the brownies, so didn’t want to overdo it)
1/2 tsp vanilla (sally’s recipe doesn’t call for this but i like the flavor it adds to the caramel)


make the caramel first by heating the sugar over medium heat in a medium sized pan, constantly stirring. the recipe here calls to use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula but when i make it again i’ll probably use a whisk, because i feel like it worked better. keep working the sugar until it is completely melted and a golden brown color. be careful not to burn it! as soon as the sugar is completely melted and golden brown, immediately stir in the butter and keep whisking to combine it. if the butter separates from the caramel, follow sally’s instructions, and take it off the heat and whisk vigorously until it comes back together. honestly, i always just thought caramel was ruined if this happened, but it actually worked for me. then return it to the heat and once the butter and sugar is all combined let it cook for 2 more minutes. slowly whisk in the heavy cream, it will bubble up since the cream is colder than the caramel mixture. let it boil for one more minute, then remove it from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. pour the caramel into a heat safe bowl to cool a little before using, it will also thicken up. her website also has a great video if you are confused by any of the instructions.

then, start preparing the brownies according to the directions on the box. preheat oven to 325 degrees, and mix together the brownie mix, 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips (hence the triple chocolate), water, egg, and oil until all combined. spray a 9×13 or 8×8 pan with cooking spray (your preference, or just follow the instructions on your box mix), and pour the brownie mix in and spread it evenly into the pan. drizzle desired amount of caramel over the top of the brownie mix and then take a toothpick and swirl it around. bake the brownies according the package directions for the size pan you are using. this will also vary depending on if you like your brownies to be more done, or more gooey. mine were in for about 30 minutes and i used a 9×13 baking dish. sprinkle them with sea salt after taking them out of the oven, let them cool then slice and serve.

mom’s chocolate chip cookies – with a twist

brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies

this recipe is a riff on my favorite chocolate chip cookies that my mom makes every christmas. brown butter and toffee bring a great nutty/toasted flavor and nothing is better than melty chocolate chips right out of the oven 🙂 i also had to add sprinkles for a little festive charm (here is a link to this fun sprinkle mix), but the other half of the batch is sprinkled with maldon sea salt and honestly they are to die for. next time i will go sea salt all the way around. or maybe sea salt AND sprinkles. can’t go wrong with sprinkles. hope you enjoy these as much as my family has over the years!


2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon brown butter (instructions below, but this will need to be made ahead of time)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 white chocolate chips
3/4 cup crushed toffee bits with chocolate (i used this one because i’m lazy, but you could also chop your own, or put the candy bars into the food processor)
optional – sprinkles and/or sea salt for decorating


a few hours or up to a couple of days before you plan on starting your cookies you will need to make the brown butter. cut up 1 stick + 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter into tablespoon size pieces and using a light colored pan or skillet, start to melt it over medium heat, stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. i use an extra tablespoon because some of the liquid evaporates as it’s cooking. cook the butter until the foam disappears, you start to see brown bits in the bottom, and it is giving off a nutty aroma. this should take around 5-8 minutes. be careful not to overcook it as it can burn! as soon as it’s done, pour the butter along with all the brown bits into a glass bowl and set aside to cool. the butter will need to solidify again before we bake the cookies, so you can leave it at room temperature, or put in the fridge and then get it out to come to room temperature before baking.

for the cookies, start by preheating the oven to 385 degrees. whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl. take the stick of regular unsalted butter and nuke it (yes nuke it) for about 15-20 seconds or until it just starts to melt. i don’t know why… this is how my mom does it… just trust me. add this, along with the room temperature brown butter to your electric mixer with the paddle attachment, as well as the brown sugar and white sugar. cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until fluffy. add in the eggs and vanilla, and mix until combined. add in the dry ingredients in thirds with the mixer on low until everything is fully combined. add in the chocolate chips and heath bar bits, then mix on low until everything is incorporated and evenly distributed. scoop evenly sized balls of cookie dough (i don’t own a cookie scoop because i’m weird and just use a spoon) onto a baking sheet, sprinkle them with your choice of toppings, and bake for approx 10-12 minutes. mine never take longer than 10 minutes.