Blog Birthday + Cappuccino Cake

Move over Easter, we've got something else to celebrate! Yep, that's right -- believe it or not, Pancakes & Biscotti turns 3 this week! They grow up so fast, don't they?! Around this time all the back in 2014 I was figuring out how to write blog posts, saving up money for a decent camera, and making up lists of recipes that could be potentially interesting to any hypothetical readers. I've learned quite a bit in the past 1,095 days; for example, I no longer post photos like this (natural light is best, it turns out) and has now become, because no one can be bothered to type in a name with so many dashes. I've created a Recipe Index and tags to make recipes as easy to find as possible (no more endless clicking!) I've found my blogging "voice" so to speak (I hope you like it) letting a bit of my personality and sparkling sense of humor come through (ha ha!), because those posts are easier to write anyways. I've been making more of an effort to post a variety of recipes -- from 2014-2015 I was sharing lots and lots of American desserts -- which has helped me to become a more well-rounded cook. I've started putting quantities in grams rather than just cups on my ingredient lists (turns out no one but the good old U.S.A uses that system,) and have added step-by-step photos and my own notes at the end of each recipe to make each one as straightforward and clear as possible. I've realized the importance and power of Instagram and other forms of social media too, something that I didn't really have time to develop when the blog was still in its very beginning cocoon stages. That kind of thing.

I feel that a blog anniversary is a good time for reflection, so here goes: Pancakes & Biscotti, modest and small of a blog as it may be, has brought me a lot of joy since I opened it. Oh sure, it's a lot of work -- my Saturday and Sunday mornings are usually set aside for recipe testing and photographing, I need to find the time to actually write the twice weekly posts, etc -- but it has led me to cook and bake a lot more, inspired me develop more of my own recipes, and has given me a creative outlet outside of a 9-5 workday. It has also led me to connect with lots of other wonderful bloggers and home cooks (I'm looking at you, Samina Patel, Cucina Conversations ladies, and Jenelle Manzi!) and read a lot more blogs, which has also been a tremendous source of creative and culinary inspiration. The blog is still very much finding its way -- its only 3, after all, basically a blog toddler, with much to learn -- but I'm excited to see where it will go in this next year. 

But to the recipe! It's not a birthday without a cake, am I right? Just like last year's Red Wine Chocolate Cupcakes, I've kept with the blog's American/Italian theme and baked a frosted, American-style cake with an Italian touch, or rather, the classic cappuccino. This cake is tender and fluffy, intensely coffee flavored, and just sweet enough, perfect with a swoosh of dreamy mascarpone frosting and gorgeous with a little snowfall of cocoa over the top to make it look just like a (giant) cappuccino you can cut in to slices and eat with a fork. Turning 3 was a lot sweeter with a slice (or two) of this on hand. Blog birthday to celebrate or not not, I suggest you give it a try.

A couple of notes: Don't have a springform pan? You can also bake this cake in a 12x4 inch loaf pan, in a muffin tin, a square or rectangular pan, or make two round cakes to make a layer cake (I'd guess you could make two 8-inch layers with this batter, but don't quote me on that). Feel free to leave out the frosting if you want just a plain coffee cake. In the photos below, you'll see I used yogurt, instead of milk, as it's all I had on hand when I went to photograph this. It worked well, resulting in a slightly denser cake. You can also replace the milk with 3 ripe mashed bananas to make a coffee banana cake instead of a cappuccino cake. Not a frosting fan? You can make this without to just have a coffee loaf cake, equally delicious! On that same note, if you can't find mascarpone in your local supermarket (for those not cooking in Italy) cream cheese would work well here too.


Ingredients for the cake:
1 3/4 cups (225 grams) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt3/4 cup (12 tablespoons, or 175 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup (175 ml) whole milk
4 teaspoons instant coffee, dissolved in 2 tablespoons hot water

Ingredients for the frosting:
250 grams mascarpone
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (160 degrees Celsius). Grease your pan with a little butter, and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside as well.
In a large bowl, using electric beaters, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at at a time and beat well until combined. 
Add half the milk and half the flour mixture to the eggs, butter, and sugar mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine; repeat with half the flour mixture and half the milk. 
Stir in the coffee/water mixture and mix everything until the batter is nice and smooth.  Next, pour the batter in to the prepared pan. 
Bake the Cappuccino Cake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean with just a few crumbs attached. Let cool completely. If the cake has become a bit domed on the top, use a sharp knife to cut off the extra cake to make the surface even. Eat cake scraps. 
While the cake is cooling, make the the frosting. Place the powdered sugar, mascarpone, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl and beat until smooth using electric beaters. 
Using a small offset spatula, spread the frosting over the top of the cake (you'll not use all the frosting, probably; reserve for another use). 
Sift cocoa powder over the top to complete the cappuccino effect -- make sure you use a light hand for this, to ensure that you get only a light dusting of cocoa and not a thick layer (like you might for tiramisu). Cut the cake in to slices and serve. Serves 8-10. 
Basic coffee cake recipe from

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