I think that during the winter, especially a horribly cold and frostbiting one like this winter, people like to stock up on citrus. Seriously, I notice lots of lemons on sale and oranges and other citrus fruits.

I, thinking of summer, bought a huge bag of grapefruits. Ruby, to be exact. I was planning on eating them for breakfast as a way to battle the winter blues and to combat winter weight. However, they ended up sitting on my kitchen table and slowly began the process of dessication. So to salvage the grapefruits and to not waste food (this is a very bad economy), I decided to do something with them.

My original thought was Grapefruit Bars, a twist on my favorite Lemon Bars recipe. But I trolled the Internet instead and found a great recipe for a Grapefruit Yogurt Cake. It sounded so healthy, that I had to try it.

I ended up with this:

It's not very sexy, but it tastes so wonderful. The yogurt in the batter adds a subtle tang in the cake, while the fresh grapefruit syrup adds this wonderful aroma and of course the lovely citrus flavor that I love with this fruit.

And without further ado, the recipe (modified from the modified recipe off SmittenKitchen.com - my new favorite blog)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup plain non-fat yogurt (you can use whatever you have on hand)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoon sugar
3 large eggs
3 teaspoons grated grapefruit zest (approximately one large grapefruit)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

For the glaze:
1/3 cup of confectioner's sugar
enough fresh grapefruit juice to mix into a runny icing

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester (or toothpick for us amateurs) placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1 cup grapefruit juice and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Let cool for later.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and grapefruit juice and pour over the cake.



Since I live in NYC, my oven is often used as an extra storage compartment. This means that if I want to bake something, I'll not only have to unload the oven, but I'll also need to find temporary storage around my kitchen and other rooms. It's a hassle.

Enter the toaster oven, an urban baker's trusty sidekick. I invested in a Krups Convection Toaster Oven, which has served me well over the years. Whether I need to bake up a quick batch of Lemon Bars, my Jam Crumb Cake or any other "small dessert," I've been able to do it...sometimes they come out better than if I did bake it in my regular oven.

So, with my oven on the lam and me with a three-day weekend, I decided to bake Babka. Yes, Babka- that quintessential Jewish sweet treat that I buy in bulk when I go to Zabar's. Since I love the Chocolate Babka they sell there, I was able to find a great recipe on Epicurious.com and thus attempt to recreate one of my favorite treats. My only addition was the powdered sugar and melted semi-sweet chocolate drizzle on top. I also added cinnamon to the filling, because cinnamon and chocolate complement each other well flavor-wise.

It was a long and arduous process, and I was afraid many a time of falling flat (lame dough rising joke here), but everything turned out more or less OK. Not exactly as airy as the delectable Babka I get at Zabar's, but still pretty darn good for an amateur attempt and a toaster oven.

Let's just say that everything is better with Babka.


I'm Smitten!

So with my oven on the fritz and me dithering about whether to call a repairman or fix the damn thing myself...I haven't been baking!

I know, and with a three-day weekend, I can only think about all the things I want to make and can't. So instead I've been trolling the Internet for recipes and blogs so I can greedily soak in recipes and ideas for when my oven does get fixed.

My toaster oven works fine, but the limited capacity puts a hamper on my plans for cookies and cakes. So I've been looking for simple loaf and bar recipes.

A site I have recently come across that has me wishing I was a better photographer (and writer) is Smitten Kitchen - a beautifully laid out blog about cooking. It's not at all pretentious, the blogging is easy to read and the recipes are given like the way you'd give your recipe to a good friend. I've bookmarked it, added it to my RSS feed and am using it as an aspirational prototype for the way my blog should be.

I don't think I'm ever going to go the professional route with my baking (although you never know), but as with all things, the will to learn and better oneself in the pursuit of knowledge is always worthwhile.

So thanks Smitten Kitchen for making my oven-less days a little brighter!



My oven has decided to give up on me.

I was in a state of (almost comical) shock for an hour or so on Sunday trying to figure out what happened. I ascertained that the broiler and burners worked, but the oven - well it stayed at a cool 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes without budging one degree higher.

The tragedy of the situation was that I had some freshly prepared Carrot Cake Cupcake batter sitting in my mini-muffin pan. They were ready to go and then this happened. I was in a dither because I needed to bring these treats to my friend's place where I was graciously invited to dinner.

In the end, I baked the cupcakes at her domicile to the adulation of her and her husband (the latter gobbled so many of them I was afraid he's fall into a sugar coma).

So now, I have ideas aplenty and a Daring Baker's Challenge to complete and no oven.

I'm almost afraid to see what the cost will be.



I've become obsessed with ginger this winter. Mainly because drinking it in tea format seems to clear my body of aches and pains and other seasonal maladies. It is also refreshing and a wonderful addition to cookies and cakes.

I prefer to add my ginger in the raw versus powdered because the pure "gingery" flavor seems to work better, or rather come through more in the cookie or cake.

An online friend of mine shared with me a fabulous recipe for gingersnaps that I made using fresh ginger and parceled out to my friends and family for holiday gifts. Out of all the other cookies, this was the one that hit the highest note.

Recipe to follow.