Monday, November 3, 2008

Banana Bundt Cake

One of the problems with being a blog slacker is that I tend to upload photos when I take them and always have the best intentions of posting entries right away so that I don't do things like forget where I got a recipe from. Like this banana Bundt cake. I am positive that the glaze came from Fearless Baking by Elinor Klivans. Chalk up one more for hopelessness!

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Autumn means that it's time to bake with apples, cranberries, and pumpkin. I had some leftover chocolate frosting from my commission cake, and I thought it would go well with pumpkin. So it turned to Julie Hasson's 125 Best Cupcake Recipes. Good combination. 

Now I need to make something with cranberries.


Every now and again, I get a commission to make a cake. I think that's pretty cool; being a good baker is a nice reputation to have, that's for sure. For this commission, the request came in the afternoon, and the cake was needed the next day. I went with the yellow cake from the Magnolia Bakery cookbooks, then used the frosting and toasted coconut-pecan "macaroon" blend from the Junior's yellow-cake recipe. By all reports, the cake was a hit, which leaves me hopeful for future commissions. 

Double-Apple Bundt Cake

This Double-Apple Bundt Cake comes from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. The batter calls for both a grated apple and some apple butter (hence the double-apple reference). While the cake turned out pretty well, my one second thought about it is that I could have baked it in a slightly smaller tube pan. The final cake seemed a little height-challenged.

Birthday Cake

For her birthday this year, Claire requested a repeat of a cake I'd made previously but didn't like that much. Fortunately, I was inspired to make this chocolate cake, which appeared in an issue of Everyday Food. I was missing an ingredient for the ganache that was used to ice the cake, so I used to the lighter, fluffier chocolate frosting from the Magnolia Bakery cookbooks. The cake tasted great, but I guess I should have cleaned up the frosting smears on the cake-dome platter!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Applesauce Cake

I made this applesauce cake with homemade apple-raspberry sauce (hence the pinkish tinge to the cake). For the topping, I made a traditional cream cheese frosting and added some toasted pecans.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Best Muffins

I'm not always necessarily fond of Cook's Illustrated's self-aggrandizing need to label their recipes "best." I think that there can be wiggle room for tweaking and customizing recipes here and there. Besides, what is best to one palate is maybe not someone else's cup of tea.

That said, I used a CI recipe to make a batch of Mocha Chip Muffins, and they are amazing. They taste great (not too sweet, nice coffee flavor), and look terrific (big domed top, firm moist crumb). The batter is stiffer than other muffin batters I've baked with lately. I was a little afraid that I was overfilling the muffin tin, but that stiff batter worked out: The muffins didn't overflow the pan, just baked up nice and tall.

I made the Mocha Chip Muffins (photo above) for a meeting I attended tonight, and I've got a batch of plain chocolate-chip muffins (photo below) in the oven to go to the skating rink tomorrow morning.

I will be using this recipe again. Probably frequently.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Muffins, Part 2

For the past couple of weeks, Claire has been doing some skating on Saturday mornings. For weekend-skating mornings, she and her friends have a little tradition called the Sunshine Morning Breakfast Club. That means that she (meaning me) makes something to bring along to share with her friends.

This week, "we" again made two varieties (although they were made tonight rather than tomorrow morning in a mad frenzy, like last week). For tomorrow's breakfast club, it's a batch of Chocolate Chip Muffins, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, from Lauren Chattman's Mom's Big Book of Baking; and Double Chocolate Chunk Muffins, from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours.

In a gesture of unfathomable selflessness, Claire took one of the Chocolate Chip Muffins for a test drive tonight and very much enjoyed it, commenting on how much she liked the combination of the cinnamon-sugar and chocolate flavors. I hope that the rest of the skating crew enjoys them tomorrow morning, too.

Apple-Ginger Streusel Coffee Cake

When I saw this recipe at the Fine Cooking Web site, I wondered how I could possibly have overlooked it when it was originally published. Then again, in November 1995, I was more concerned about month-old Claire than I was about any coffee cake that involved streusel and ginger. What can I say? I'm just glad that I noticed it now, nearly 13 years later.

All in all, it was mostly worth the wait. There is a lot of prep involved in this cake: streusel (including chopped walnuts) to be blended, an apple to be chopped, crystallized ginger to be minced. My only error with this cake was making it in the 12-cup Bundt pan, which I absent-mindedly grabbed instead of a 10-in. pan, as called for in the recipe. I would definitely have gotten more height from the cake in the smaller pan, and also might have gotten a bit more definition in the streusel weaving through the cake.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Every Peanut Butter Cupcake in the Book

For a recent work birthday, I needed to make something that involved chocolate and peanut butter. I'd started to feel that over the years, I'd done all the varieties of things I could make (cakes, pies, ice creams), so this year, I opted for cupcakes. When I perused Julie Hasson's 125 Best Cupcake Recipes, I ended up deciding to make all four of the peanut butter-chocolate cupcake recipes. Each one made a dozen cupcakes, so I was sure to have leftovers. I made a double batch of her peanut butter frosting for half of the cupcakes; for the other half, I used a chocolate buttercream.

Savory Scones

I don't often bake savory items, but when I saw the recipe for Bacon-Cheddar-Scallion Scones on the King Arthur Flour blog, I was intrigued. I could be completely vegetarian if it weren't for bacon. Put some bacon in a biscuit with cheddar cheese and scallions (I used chives in the scones I made)? Is it possible that this could be the perfect food? By all accounts, this scone might in fact be the perfect food.

Birthday at the Lake

I'm behind on blogging, as usual, but a couple of weeks ago, we celebrated a birthday after a Sunday-morning run at the lake. After breakfast, I broke out this beauty. It's from the More From Magnolia cookbook by Allysa Torey: chocolate cake and chocolate frosting. I know I've made this cake before and liked it a lot because I have made notes about it in my copy of the book, the most important note indicating that it should be baked in three 9-in.-dia. pans instead of two.

Thanks for not ordering the pancake this year, John.

Orange Marble Pound Cake

This cake is from a recipe in The Buttercup Bake Shop Cookbook by Jennifer Appel. I've kind of had an eye on this recipe for years because it uses club soda as an ingredient; it's a little off the wall. All in all, this cake was good, with a bright orange flavor. My only issue involved the chocolate swirl in the center. The recipe directs you to remove a portion of the batter, then mix in unsweetened cocoa powder. Although the cocoa blended into the batter just fine, the chocolate center was really dry after baking. If I try this one again, I'll add a little extra liquid to the cocoa batter before spooning it into the Bundt pan.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Banana Pound Cake

The other day, I needed to make something for a parent-leadership alumni group meeting. Since I had some overripe bananas -- it doesn't take much for bananas to grow overripe in the hot, humid conditions we've been dealing with lately -- I decided it was time for a banana cake. A quick pass through Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours provided a great candidate: this banana pound cake. Although I knew the cake was good, I couldn't help but tweak it. I added about a cup of mini chocolate chips, then some toasted coconut and pecans (left over from a recent Junior's cake). I reserved some of the coconut and pecans, figuring I'd use it as a garnish sprinkled on some chocolate glaze.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hospitality No. 1

Last month, I was elected to the board of the local skating club. I'm now the hospitality chair. I can't imagine how my name became associated with the idea of hospitality (read: food); it's really something of a shocker.

Last Friday, I had to do my first big hospitality gig: providing food for a group of judges who were coming to work at a test session at the rink. Judges do these testing gigs on a volunteer basis, so it's a big deal to provide them with something good (and warm) to eat. For the menu, I took a cue from the previous hospitality chair: soup, sandwiches, fruit, dessert. For the sandwiches and fruit, I relied on prepared items. I made the soup, though: for this session, a batch of black bean soup that turned out really well. (I know it was good; there was some leftover.)

Then, of course, there was an opportunity to make dessert. My first dessert choice was the ever-reliable, ever-popular Blueberry-Lime Pound Cake from Fine Cooking, only this time I tried it with lemon. This is simply a recipe that can do no wrong. The cake was a big hit. (I'm extremely excited that Nicole Rees, who created this recipe, has a cookbook coming out later this year.)

Because no dessert tray is complete without a chocolate option, I made a batch of the chocolate cupcakes from More From Magnolia by Allysa Torey, frosted with a chocolate buttercream from the same cookbook. Definitely a tried-and-true pair of recipes for me, and also a hit.

I think we have another test session coming up at the end of August. It's going to seem like a cliche, but I think I'll be making another pound cake featuring blueberries again.

Birthday Cake

One of my colleagues needed a birthday cake for his spouse, and I was happy to oblige with this favorite. I like it when I pick up a for-hire gig from time to time. It's always so much fun to deliver a cake in a box. Makes me feel almost like a professional baker.

Milky Way Cake

I've made this recipe before, and it's a good one. I'm still amused that somehow, someone thought it would be a nifty idea to melt some Milky Way candy bars and use them as the ingredient in a pound cake. I guess it was someone who simply didn't want to make their own batch of chocolate caramel. This time, I added some toasted pecan and coconut mixture left over from one of the Junior's cakes that I've made recently. The glaze is from Elinor Klivan's Fearless Baking.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Weekend Baking

Once more, with pictures: the blueberry-lime pound cake from Fine Cooking. It is perfect the day after it's baked. After a few days, especially in hot, humid weather, the glaze starts to disintegrate and be absorbed into the cake. Also, after making this cake a couple of times, I can say that I think the glaze recipe as published is a little too thin. I've taken to adding a little more powdered sugar to get a glaze that pours nicely onto the cake.

Not really seasonally appropriate but tasty nonetheless, Apple Crumble Bars, from Elinor Klivans's Fearless Baking. They were quite good, although again, not totally compatible with hot, humid weather. I'll definitely try them again in the fall during apple season.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Junior's Cake, Part 2

This cake was a variation on this cake, which I made a couple of weeks ago. While I liked the idea of the cake, I thought it would be better with a butter-type cake layer instead of a sponge-type cake layer. So I went back to a reliable yellow cake from More From Magnolia by Allysa Torey.

I made the cake as three layers, then decorated it with the chocolate frosting and toasted coconut/pecan combo. I guess it's a matter of personal preference, but I liked this version better. The butter cake just seems like a more-sturdy base for the frosting and nuts.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Lemon Cream Pie

It's only mid-June, and we are already in the midst of our first summer heat wave. Since Saturday, temperatures have been in the 90s, and the humidity is, as ever, unbearable. In conditions such as this, when even standing still is a perspiration-inducing activity, baking isn't necessarily something that even I want to do. Still, I needed to make something to take to a meeting tonight, so I thought about refrigerator pies.

Lauren Chattman's Icebox Pies is a great collection of recipes for desserts ideal for foul summer weather. In it, the recipe for Lemon Cream Pie caught my eye. To avoid turning on the oven, I relied on a purchased graham-cracker crust. The filling is a pretty simple lemon curd lightened with whipped cream. After I folded the whipped cream into the lemon curd, I was a little worried that the filling would be too soupy. However, after spending a night in the fridge, the pie set up nicely.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

An Early Birthday

My running buddy Brendan is getting married in a couple of weeks, and his birthday falls roughly the week after the wedding. In other words, he'll be away when we would otherwise celebrate his birthday after a Sunday-morning run and then breakfast. I decided that it would be OK for us to celebrate a few weeks early.

Knowing that we would be in for some too-early-in-the-season-for-it-to-be-this-disgusting weather, I looked around for a cake I thought would be sturdy enough to be in the car for a couple of early-morning hours while we ran. With a couple of extralarge eggs to be used up from a dozen I'd bought for the Lost lunch season finale cake, I centered my focus on a book whose recipes are formulated with extralarge eggs: Chocolate American Style by Lora Brody.

Perusing the cake listing in the index, I saw a chocolate pound cake. That would fit the definition of sturdy, so I went with it. Blessedly, the cake is formulated for a 9.5-in. Bundt pan, which meant I didn't have to use the big same-old Bundt pan; I used my star-shaped Bundt for this cake. I zested a couple of oranges into the batter for an extra bit of flavor, and I glazed it with a tried-and-true glaze from Elinor Klivans's Fearless Baking.

Because it was so hideous even today even at 8 in the morning, I brought the cake into our usual Sunday-breakfast site, and we ate it there after breakfast. There's nothing like chocolate cake before noon, much less a good celebratory reason for having it.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Going-Away Blondies

One of my wife's colleagues is moving on to some post-graduate studies, so she put in a request for something to commemorate his last day in the office. Because it was a sort-of last-minute request, I fell back to a tried-and-true favorite, The Great Blondie from The Greyston Bakery Cookbook.

This time, I made them without any butterscotch chips. Instead, I used some dark-chocolate M&Ms in the batter, along with some leftover toasted pecan-and-coconut mixture from a cake I'd baked last week. On top, I used chopped walnuts, chocolate chunks, and chocolate chips. This edition of The Great Blondie is definitely one-of-a-kind.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Lost Cake

Knowing that we had the Lost season finale coming up, I was scouting around for a lavish dessert befitting our annual cliffhanger dissection. When I saw Alex Witchel's article in The New York Times the Wednesday before the Lost finale, I knew had my dessert: a four-layer yellow cake slathered with chocolate frosting, encrusted with a blend of toasted coconut and pecans. The recipe is based on a cake I know all too well, available at Junior's.

The cake is very much of the sponge variety: 10 extra-large eggs in this cake, but only 3/4 cups butter and 1-2/3 cups of cake flour. I've made a version of the frosting before; it's featured in the first Junior's cookbook. I'd actually never forget this frosting recipe because it specifically calls for a stick of margarine (which I believe Julia Child referred to as "that other spread"). The margarine -- and the quarter-cup of dark corn syrup -- really keep the frosting soft and creamy.

Clearly, the cake photographed well. Every once in a while, I take my time with a cake and gussy it up, and this one was surely ready for its closeup. In the end, though, I have a feeling of disappointment with the cake. Somehow, I ended up feeling as if the sponge-type cake was far too delicate for the rich frosting and the nutty coating on the sides. Of course, that didn't stop me from eating the cake. Twice. The next time I'm passing through Grand Central Terminal, I'm going to buy a slice of their version of this cake. I can't help but think that their cake is a sturdier, traditional butter cake.

I have to give props to the toasted coconut-pecan combination for the side of the cake. I had some leftover of that, and a bit of frosting. They were great together, even without benefit of the cake.

The Cake

No photo, but I once again made The Cake. This time, it was the basic version, with apples and chocolate chips. Now that cherries are starting to show up in stores, I think it might be time for a cherry version of The Cake again.

An Early Start to Blueberry Season

The new issue of Fine Cooking contains a great Nicole Rees article about blueberries. The issue showed up a little before blueberry season, but it was enough to get me psyched. Then, by some divine intervention, early-season blueberries showed up. I tried a couple of the recipes from the article: the Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling (photo above) and the Blueberry-Lime Pound Cake (no photo because it was devoured before it could be photographed).

No complaints at all with either recipe. I am not sure what it is, but blueberry works really well with citrus. Both of these things will be baked again, preferably with fresh, locally grown blueberries. (Here in Connecticut, the locally grown citrus, well, it isn't so great.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Amish Friendship Bread

So my daughter, Claire, came home from school with a zip-top bag of goo and a recipe for Amish Friendship Bread. I deduced that it was some sort of starter, and we followed the instructions as directed, feeding it as required and after 10 days, replenishing the starter, dividing it into five portions, and then giving away some and keeping one to bake with.

We actually kept two and baked off one of them. That was good because I messed up the first batch of bread that we made. We ended up being able to make the bread again, and the second time, the bread turned out better with the proper proportions of ingredients in it. (I'd put in too much sugar the first go-round.)

After the second set of loaves, I was left with a big question: What was the deal? I was kind of expecting something special, maybe a distinctive, tangy flavor. Instead, it was a moist quick bread. I was perplexed to the point that I posed my question at CooksTalk, the forum at In the end, the upshot seemed to be: Yes, it's a moist quick bread.

The charm of all of this rigamarole is in sharing the starter. It was a cute-enough endeavor, but on the other hand, we have now distributed all of the starter to other friends. I think we're totally OK with that, too.

For what it's worth, the best version we made was chocolate, flavored with chocolate pudding and mini-chocolate chips. The version in the photo was made with golden raisins.

Celebration Cakes

Because of my surplus of overripe bananas to use up, I made a couple of banana cakes, then froze the cake layers until I had a reason to frost and serve them. The top cake is from a recipe in Alisa Huntsman's Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. Although I ended up hating the slack cream-cheese frosting I used on the cake, I loved the cake itself. It contains a bit of Chinese five-spice powder, certainly not an ingredient I've used in baked goods prior to this cake, and I really liked the way its flavor played off the banana.

The second banana cake, frosting with chocolate icing, is from Nancie McDermott's Southern Cakes. This book and author can do no wrong.

Lemon-Cranberry-Chocolate Cake

When I flipped through Warren Brown's new book, CakeLove, I was smitten, caught up in his combination of exotic flavors and not-always-traditional techniques. The first cake I made from this book was this lemon-cranberry-chocolate cake. It's a trio of flavors that I wouldn't necessarily have put together, but they work well as a team in this pound cake.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Banana Cupcakes

I made these banana cupcakes from a recipe posted at a cupcake blog. I had bananas to use up, and was inspired by an idea to make the banana cupcakes with crystallized ginger as a flavoring. The cupcakes were great, but I wasn't quite as fond of the cream-cheese frosting recipe that accompanied them. A combination of cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar, the frosting was a bit bland. It definitely could have used a splash of vanilla to round out the flavors. Otherwise, a nice recipe.

Orange Bread

I hadn't made any yeasted breads in a while. When I was looking through The Old Farmer's Almanac Best Home Baking Book, this orange-raisin bread caught my eye. It's supposed to have an orange glaze on it, but I passed on that step, figuring that the glaze wouldn't hold up well in the toaster. The preparation of the dough is more akin to a quick bread than a yeasted bread, and the texture isn't quite as developed as a traditional yeasted bread. Nevertheless, the tender texture and sweet orange flavor make for a great loaf of bread--especially when toasted.

Banana Breads

More stuff from bananas on the dented-and-dinged rack. The top loaf is Banana-Peanut Bread from More From Magnolia. The recipe specifies chopped unsalted peanuts, but I'd made this bread once before with unsalted peanuts and decided that the bread had no peanut flavor. I tried it with salted peanuts and liked it much, much better.

The second loaf is a very rich, dense banana bread from Emily Luchetti's Stars Desserts. The recipe makes two loaves of banana bread, and that is a good thing. This loaf filled with toasted pecans is an excellent version of this standard.

Banana Cake

After once again being suckered by a bag of dented-and-dinged bananas on the discount rack, I was scrounging up banana recipes. I found this banana-chocolate cake recipe in The Greyston Bakery Cookbook. The cake has a great fudgy, dense texture and is really moist. The chocolate kind of overwhelms the banana, though.

Cupcakes to Go

In early April, we went along with the Girl Scout troop for Scouts' Day at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts. To make the drive home a bit more pleasant, I brought along a few batches of cupcakes. I made a batch of the Pretty in Pink strawberry cupcakes from Julie Hasson's 125 Best Cupcake Recipes. Also from that book, I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. Finally, there was a batch of Banana-Butterscotch Cupcakes from Elinor Klivans's Cupcakes!. Good choices all.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


At most marathons, the post-race refreshments are drawn from a pretty standard assortment of fare: fruit (especially bananas); bagels; water; and Gatorade. In January, when I ran the Houston Marathon, we lucked out with a full breakfast post-race, including hot biscuits. Last weekend, after the Knoxville Marathon, we were treated to pizza and a variety of baked goods, including mini cupcakes (source unknown, but quite tasty) and a variety of cookies donated by VG's Bakery in Farragut, Tenn. When I saw the bakery boxes and cookies within, I was really ecstatic. I guessed (correctly) that the white-glazed cookie was a lemon sugar cookie. The pastel-glazed number seems to have been a glazed sugar cookie: nice, soft, and sweet. The oatmeal-raisin cookie was really good, too. I wish there would have been time to pay a proper visit to the bakery. When we make our visit to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I'll be sure to get to Farragut for the bakery visit.

Although I failed to take photos, I brought along a batch of Coffee Toffee Chunk Cookies to share with my pals who ran Knoxville. I might have shared a few with myself after the race, too.

P.S. One other unphotographed baked item was made for a PLTI alumni board meeting last week. I made a batch of the Chocolate-Mayonnaise Cupcakes from Jill O'Connor's Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey. I frosted them with a vanilla buttercream that I jazzed up with a little orange extract.

Lemon Tea Cake

If pressed to name my favorite baking book, I'd have to go with Lisa Yockelson's Baking by Flavor. My admiration for this book didn't happen immediately; instead, it developed over time. My previous inability to keep track of stuff I've baked -- especially from that book -- is one of the factors that led me to start this blog. I'd guess that I've made anywhere between one-third and one-half of the recipes in Baking by Flavor. Not all the recipes were successes, but certainly enough of them were to keep me going back and using the book again and again and again.

Because Baking by Flavor has a great lemon chapter, I turned to it for this Lemon Tea Cake recipe. The cake is lemony with zest in the cake itself. Then, when the cake is warm, it's brushed with a warm lemon-sugar syrup. This cake is supermoist and extremely good.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Lemon Pound Cake

I decided to try one more lemon pound cake from Elinor Klivans's Fearless Baking. This one turned out great. It has a tight crumb and is wonderfully dense. The lemon glaze on this cake is a great complement.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lemon Cream Swirl Pound Cake

This cake is from Elinor Klivans's Fearless Baking. The idea is really appealing: a lemon pound cake with a creamy lemon swirl wafting through the cake batter, topped with a coating of streusel crumbs. A portion of the cake batter is put in a tube pan; then the lemon-swirl filling is drizzled on top of the batter. Then the remainder of the batter is poured into the pan over the filling. After the cake bakes for 40 minutes, the pan is removed from the oven, and the streusel topping is sprinkled on. I assumed that was to allow the top to firm up and prevent the streusel from sinking to the bottom of the pan. The end result was less than stellar.

In the end, as can be seen in the photo, the creamy lemon filling sunk to the bottom of the pan (it took on a cheesecake-like texture). As can't be seen in the photo, so did most of the streusel. Don't know what to think about this one, other than that I wish it would have turned out better. (I so wanted a good lemon pound cake, though, that I tried another recipe from Fearless Baking and had much more success with it.)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Brooklyn Bakery Tour

So last Saturday, a week after I'd been in Brooklyn for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, I returned to undertake an adventure that had previously been discussed but never planned: a Brooklyn bakery tour. My intrepid cohorts in bakeryizing and I had quickly assembled a list of places to visit, and Ryan plugged the info into a Google map. Despite the prospect of a rainy day, we were good to go. (photo below, from left, Kent, Tracy, Ryan, Katie, and me)

Our first stop was Damascus Bread and Pastry (195 Atlantic Ave.), where the photo above was taken. Lots of great Middle Eastern stuff. At Damascus, I got a sesame cookie, reinforcing my newly discovered fondness for sesame-flavored cookies, and a pastry called a ladyfinger. It was phyllo rolled around a filling of ground walnuts, golden raisins, and some honey. This bakery is definitely worth a revisit. I didn't sample as much here as I would have liked to. I was afraid of taking the early miles too fast, as we marathon runners might say.

Next up was Adams (214 Atlantic Ave.). While on a break from crosswording last weekend, I'd walked past Adams, which was closed but had a listing of cupcake flavors on a chalkboard in the window. It was the prospect of trying one of their peanut-butter-and-jelly cupcakes that got me rolling on the bakery tour. Unfortunately, the PB&J cupcake didn't live up to my expectations. However, the Rocky Road Bar (photo below) more than made up for any disappointment I had with the cupcake. The remains of the bar in the photo is half of the size it started at. A topping of pecans and marshmallows nestles in a fudgy brownie bed that itself rests atop a crisp shortbread crust (in which I detected just a touch of salt). Extravagant and quite tasty.

From Adams, we walked a bit to get to Sweet Melissa Patisserie (276 Court St.). When we ducked in, we figured we would just be ordering and leaving. However, a sudden downpour led us to the wise decision to take a table and enjoy a treat. Katie got a chocolate-hazelnut madeline. Kent got a beesting (a custard-filled roll). Ryan and I were both torn by the choices, so we decided to split and share what we were ordering. For us, then, it was a Chocolate-Peanut Butter Decadence (I think that's the right name; Ryan's order) and a small passion-fruit cheesecake. I had really wanted to go with the chocolate-PB thing, but Ryan ordered first. As it turned out, my runner-up choice ended up being my favorite dessert of the day. The citrusy, almost-but-not-quite-orange flavor of the cheesecake was exotic, and the cheesecake was perfectly creamy. I also ended up feeling a little disappointed with the chocolate-PB item, which was plenty chocolaty but lacked a real peanutty flavor.

Sweet Melissa's also had this strawberry Celebrate Life cake. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each cake go to the American Breast Cancer Foundation. I bought a slice and tried a small piece of it, and was really impressed with the strawberry flavor in both the cake and in the buttercream. The rest of that cake is in the freezer for later.

I also had to get a supplementary passion-fruit cheesecake for post-bakery-tour consumption. Melissa Murphy, owner of the bakery, has a cookbook due out soon, The Sweet Melissa Baking Book. My fingers are crossed that it will have the recipe for the passion-fruit cheesecake.

Next up: One Girl Cookies (68 Dean St.). We knew we were getting close when we saw this promising sign hanging over the sidewalk.

When we entered the bakery, I realized that I've had One Girl Cookies before. I bought some of their bite-size cookies during a stop at Dean & Deluca a little over a year ago. I got a sampler of cookies, all of which have a female name. For instance, there's the Lucia, a square with a shortbread bottom and chocolate top sandwiching a caramel center. There's also the Lana, a chocolate sandwich cookie with a raspberry filling.

Katie examined the pastry cake carefully before deciding on what she wanted to order.

Here's the sample of treats I got at One Girl.

After One Girl, we stopped for lunch at the St. Clair Restaurant (107 Smith St.). It seemed promising, and I think I might have liked it more if I'd been served what I'd ordered.

On our way to Downtown Atlantic, we passed a kitschy antique store with a Pillsbury Doughboy in the window.

Then we got to Downtown Atlantic (364 Atlantic Ave.), which had many, many choices.

From the outside, Downtown Atlantic proudly displays its assortment of jumbo-size cupcakes.

The pastry case indoors at Downtown Atlantic.

This cream-filled cupcake was tasty, but it needed more cream filling.

I'd tried Downtown Atlantic's red-velvet cake the week before the Bakery Tour. I liked it enough to get a second piece. (It's a three-layer cake, actually. I ate one layer before I took the photo.)

Then there was a mini-chocolate cake with coconut coating the icing.

Our next stop was Betty. This bakery had loads of appealing stuff to choose from, and also had samples available of their orange-chocolate Bundt cake. For as appealing as the Bundt cake was, I went with an assortment of other items: a white cake frosted with mango buttercream; a banana cake frosted with chocolate icing; sesame cookies; and a mango tea bread. So far, I've eaten the mango tea bread, and it didn't leave me hugely impressed. I was hoping for more mango flavor. However, I did have a little taste of the mango buttercream on the white cake, and it's really flavorful. I also enjoyed the sesame cookies. 

Finally, we made our way to Trois Pommes Patisserie. It's a little hard to believe, but I was feeling a little bakeried out by this point. However, I sucked it up and tried a raspberry-filled doughnut. Certainly not as shiny and perfectly shaped as a Dunkin Donuts product, but infinitely more interesting and tasty to eat.

I left the pastry cake at Trois Pommes largely unsampled, but I'm motivated to go back there and make it a first stop next time a Brooklyn bakery tour is on tap.