desserts, Uncategorized

classic chocolate bundt + chocolate honey glaze.

classic chocolate bundt + chocolate honey glaze.

So I just got finished with a luncheon event with Deb Perelman. Yes, that Deb Perelman. I say “with” because for a few ticks of the clock, I want to imply that I was her opening act.


I wasn’t. Maybe someday, but today I just bought tickets like everyone else, lunched on three lovely offerings from her cookbook, and realized she would probably be the most fun ever to hang out with. This last bit is great news, because I have been invited to attend a meet and greet this evening with Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen fame. So we’re clear about which Deb Perelman we’re talking about, I wrote that out. Currently the thing which weighs heaviest on my mind is if I should wear the same thing as I did (thus upping the chances that she recognizes me) or if I should go for something different (thus making it seem like I have many outfits.) Needless to say, complete sentences aren’t coming easily to me at the moment. Forgiveness requested in advance, and in return, I’ll tell you all about Deb in my next post. I took so many notes too, between the eating and the happy tears. 

Today, we will discuss chocolate cake and the Dahlia Bakery cookbook, because it’s fantastic. It’s one of the only cookbooks I received for Christmas that I didn’t ask for; rather, it was a surprise find from Mr. Table, who likes to research extensively to find things I’ll like. This one stood out to him, evidently, and so I was introduced to the most popular bakery in Seattle.

I’ve read through and made enough from this book enough to give you a pretty solid review, I think. Why? Because it’s a pretty solid book; a fantastic mix of attention to detail but without the obsessive pursuit of perfection, which appeals to me. I’m all for perfection, but I think that one person’s “perfect” cupcake may look very different from someone else’s; there’s just not one way to be spot-on. The Dahlia Bakery seems to strive for a rustic perfection, filled with hearty, soulful baked goods and savory items.

The savory items in particular caught my eye: the word “bakery” in a cookbook makes me think more of yeast donuts and pastries than it does breakfast sandwiches, and that’s not always a fair assessment. This book is filled with savory offerings, each one of them looking more satisfying than the next. If you gave me a choice of sweet versus savory for breakfast, I’d choose the latter almost without exception; my days are busy, and sweet doesn’t always cut it for getting through the day. Savory also reminds me of brunch food, and there’s quite a few things in this book which would get you through a brunch any time of year.

My other favorite thing about this book? The pie and tart section. It’s inspired, and there are just as many fresh takes on classics (the famous triple coconut cream pie) as there are original selections (chocolate caramel pecan tart, which doesn’t sound inventive, but you should see it). And get this; there’s an entire section entitled “English Muffin Love” which seems to have been written just for me and anyone else who knows in their heart that they could eat english muffins day and night.

classic chocolate bundt + chocolate honey glaze.

Overall, it seems like they’re very “rustic with a twist” in their products. There’s a vaguely Italian sensibility to it (and indeed, Italian ingredients make frequent appearances, popping up in amaretti cookies and mascarpone cream) without it being an “Italian” bakery cookbook at all. I would say it’s old-school baking, but not in the way that it’s boring or that it’s all been done before. For example, there’s several beautiful variations on brioche dough, and each version is used for a different type of recipe.

I think all cookbooks should have certain things in them which make them, at least for me, very practical to have in a library. This book meets my cookbook checklist criteria, and then some, with things like:

  • A robust resource section if you’re wondering where to find the chocolate they use, or any specialty ingredients. And if you can get ingredients at your local grocery, they’ll tell you that too, rather than making you seek out a specific brand.
  • An equally helpful “how to” section. I know many of us by now know how to chop chocolate for melting, and how best to fold egg whites into something, but not everyone knows this, and those things can be so frustrating for someone who’s never done it before. I like sections like that also because I have bad habits, and reading about how someone else does it at times serves to break me of my own mistakes.
  • Singular recipes that you can mix and match. I adore this in a cookbook, and it always makes me feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. Having a book in your library with tons of recipes for basics you can build on and play with spawn creativity, in my opinion. They make you think about how you can make something your own, and give you the tools to do it with so you’re not going in without a net. This one has everything from the honey chocolate glaze you see on this cake, to recipes for vanilla bean mascarpone and maple-molasses pecans. And I bet you just thought of 10 things you could add those to.

If I had to list a con or weak spot, I’d say it was the ice cream section. Or rather, I’d say it was the ice cream section until I really understood the book. At first, having come down from my Jeni’s Splendid and Bi-Rite Creamery ice cream cookbook high, I was slightly disappointed to see just a few ice creams listed in this book. Then it dawned on me; the ice creams seem to be completely perfect  as a way to showcase their sweet items. The ice creams in this book aren’t crazily flavored, but that’s okay, because I’m guessing they would pair perfectly with every last cookie, cake and pie in the rest of the book. So it’s the con that’s not a con, unless you’re looking for a huge ice cream section. If you are, I would steer you to either of the books I mentioned above.

So there you have it. I’ll add this (and my other recent purchases) to the cookbook library very soon, and this one is going to be a recommended one. I would say it’s not the best thing for complete beginners (at least I could think of easier ways to start off) but if you’ve managed to get pretty good at the basics of baking, you love savory breakfast offerings, and a good hot sandwich makes you happy no matter what sort of day you’re having, this book is for you.

classic chocolate bundt + chocolate honey glaze.

This cake, I think, is a great example of the sweet half of the cookbook: it’s classic but with a few surprise ingredients (potatoes!), and the honey glaze is incredible on top of it. It’s also the best glaze I’ve ever made for a cake, in that it holds together very well, gives your bundt that professional “I drizzled this like I’ve done it a thousand times before” look without much effort, and it firms up nicely but doesn’t crack when you cut into the cake. Bonus feature: honestly, try it with everything which comes to mind, but I tried it as a filling for some of those hamantaschen we just talked about. Result? Perfection, especially if you love orange and chocolate together.

Adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle by Tom Douglas and Shelley Lance.

Classic Chocolate Bundt + Chocolate Honey Glaze

for the cake:

  • 8 ounces russet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

for the glaze:

  • 6 ounces 60% bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

for the pan preparation:

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • unsalted butter or cooking spray

Make your cake:

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Whisk together the 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons cocoa powder in a small bowl. Generously butter or spray your bundt pan with cooking spray and then dust with the flour/cocoa mixture, tapping out the excess. Place the prepared pan in the refrigerator to set.

What determines butter or cooking spray? The fanciness of your bundt pan. In my experience, the more intricate your pan, the harder it is to get butter into all the cracks and crevices. If your pan is a simple one (like the one i used for this), use butter. For more exciting pans (such as the Heritage Bundt, a favorite of mine), you may want to opt for cooking spray.

Peel the potatoes and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Place the potatoes in a saucepan and cover them with cold water. Put the saucepan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 8-10 minutes (time it from when your water begins to simmer). Remove potatoes from the water and drain well, at least 5 minutes to allow the water to evaporate. Put the potatoes through a ricer in batches. By the end of your ricing, you should have about 1 cup of potatoes (do not pack). Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

Combine the chopped chocolate and honey (from the cake ingredients) in a medium bowl. Pour the boiling water overtop and let it sit for about 4 minutes. Whisk the ingredients together until everything has melted and your mixture is completely combined and smooth, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and shortening and beat on high until fluffy and pale, 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the sugar and continue to beat on high for 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition for about 15 seconds per egg, scraping down the bowl as needed (you’ll need to do this a few times.) Once the eggs have been beaten in, add the vanilla, beat until incorporated, then scrape down the bowl again.

With the mixer on low speed, add the potato and stir until combined. Add the chocolate-honey mixture and continue to stir until everything is fully incorporated, 30-45 seconds, scraping the bowl down about halfway through.

Add the dry ingredients in 2 parts on low speed, alternating them with the sour cream (which can just go in all at once; dry/wet/dry.) Keep mixer on low speed, being careful not to overmix, until your batter is completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more, checking for any dry patches.

Remove your prepared bundt pan from the fridge and scrape your very thick batter into it. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles, and slide into your oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes, checking at the 45-minute mark for doneness. You don’t want to over-bake this cake, so be diligent in testing it.

Remove the pan from the oven and lift onto a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes or so before unmolding. When it’s ready, place a 9-inch round cake cardboard or the bottom of a springform pan (me!) over the exposed part of the cake. Think through the flip in terms of hand placement, place hands accordingly, and firmly grip and flip your cake onto the vehicle of choice. Set carefully back onto the wire rack to cool completely before glazing.

Make your glaze:

Nothing to this; place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl or double boiler sitting over top of a saucepan of just simmering water, being careful to not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. met the chocolate, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula. When everything is smooth, remove from the heat.

While your chocolate is melting, warm your cream until it is unchilled (say, just a little hotter than room temperature, and I don’t care if you do it in a microwave) and then add it to the chocolate mixture, stirring to incorporate. Stir in the honey, vanilla, and salt, and allow the glaze to cool for about 30 minutes before pouring over the cake. You can test it before then to see if it’s thick enough, but I needed to wait the full 30 minutes before I was confident it wouldn’t run right off the cake.

To glaze:

I like to put my glaze into a pour-friendly container with a spout, like a Pyrex liquid measuring cup. Place your cake (still on the wire rack) in a place where you can easily turn it a full 360 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper underneath the wire rack, and start pouring carefully, turning the cake as needed to keep things even. Don’t feel like you need to hit it on the first round; do a loop, wait to see where it goes, then do another loop.

Decorate as you see fit with sprinkles, and indeed, sprinkles are spectacular on a solid chocolate-on-chocolate cake.

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  • Reply Amy @ Elephant Eats March 1, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Awwww, that’s so cute and sweet that Mr. Table found such a wonderful present for you without you having to buy it yourself and just signing his name on the card!!!

    This cake sounds great! I actually just make a choco bundt this past wknd. You know, all your talk about cookbooks makes me want to buy some…or read the multitude i have sitting in my pantry that I never crack open because going on the internet is just so much easier for recipe finding.

    • Reply shannon March 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm

      it IS nice that he does that: i think since I’m usually so specific about what it is that i DO want, that finding something i may not have thought of is exciting. Rest assured, i get plenty of gifts a la URL sent via email to him, because i can be picky; it’s safer that way. 🙂
      it was so good! Do I get to see your chocolate bundt offering on the blog soon? I hope so…you can never have enough bundt recipes. Do yourself a favor while you have some free time and get some out to read, girl! That’s like the best way to get to know (or re-know) your cookbooks. I pull out old ones all the time to go through, and i swear i find something new each time i do it.
      am i the only one on earth that things that the internet isn’t the easiest way to find a recipe? I see everyone’s point: if i want “beet and goat cheese salad” or “peach champagne vinaigrette” it’s much easier to google than wonder if it’s in one of my cookbooks. HOWEVER: if you know your cookbooks as much as i do (and if you have a freaky photographic memory as i do) it’s fun to try and remember where you saw something in your own collection. Don’t even listen to me right now: i just read that last paragraph and i realized i may as well have said I walked to and from school uphill both ways in the snow. 🙂

  • Reply Sue/the view from great island March 1, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    What a gorgeously intense chocolate cake—with potatoes you say? I tried to make biscuits the other day with part potato flour and it was a big disaster…they turned out like little mounds of mashed potatoes….but this cake seems to have escaped that fate!
    I say go for the same outfit with Deb—and come back soon with all the details!

    • Reply shannon March 1, 2013 at 4:18 pm

      With potatoes, I say! I was a little skeptical too, but it makes for a great cake, I promise. Now i’m curious about potato flour (as i’ve never used it) to see if/how it works…hmmm.
      the same outfit it is! I feel like i was comfortable in it, which always means good things, right? I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

  • Reply movita beaucoup March 1, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    1. Did I tell you that we made English muffins at school? SO GOOD.
    2. The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook has been on my wishlist for ages. I just moved it up to the top.
    3. That bundt? Mother of pearl.

    • Reply Emma March 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm

      Please don’t touch her.

      • Reply shannon March 3, 2013 at 7:06 am

        In all fairness, probably Movita meant like, “when she’s not looking and somewhere where she won’t feel it, like her sweater” or “act like it was an accident.”


        i was so frozen with glee that thankfully my hands didn’t move from my lap, so don’t worry.

        she does very much make you want to hug her. so certainly i was conflicted.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats March 1, 2013 at 4:44 pm


    My bookcase is full, so that means if I must buy another cookbook, I MUST ALSO BUY ANOTHER BOOK CASE! BF will not be pleased to hear this news…

    Please oh please for the love of god and all things holy wrap a piece of that cake in like 23492384 layers of saran and ship to to AZ because it’s March 1st and I’m going to eat at LEAST one piece of cake every day this month, dam**t! (Sorry that I swore on your blog, but I wanted to let it be known that I meant business) 🙂

    And I love love love the colorful sprinkles, like I would never think to put sprinkles on it, bc it’s liek chocolate and chocolate and I have 2934383 varieties of sprinkles (bc I only put them on white things for some reason? And I’m really a chocolate girl) but they’re SO PRETTY AND PERFECT! and they give such a nice >POP< of color to the deeply chocolate looking cake.

    Ok, have I talked your ear off, bc I still have to tell you HOW INSANELY JEALOUS I AM that you got to meet Deb!! SK was like the first food blog I ever really read and omg so much inspiration and her pictures and OMG HER ADORABLE BABY omg. I die. OMG! You should totally have her baby boy and your baby girl grow up and get married and YOU WOULD BE PART OF HER FAMILY (Does that come off as slightly creepier than touching her things? I'm not sure.)

    • Reply shannon March 3, 2013 at 6:21 am

      i know, i know, i’m sorry! but this one is so good, and i know how you love brunch…and i know how you love bookshelves…? If it makes you feel better, i’m in the same boat, because my dedicated cookbook book shelf is going to collapse any day now.

      you are SO SERIOUS right now; looks like i’m going to be getting weird looks from UPS again. 🙂

      there is something about chocolate cake with chocolate frosting/glaze which compels me to add sprinkles. specifically these tiny dot kind because they stand out so well and they turned my very serious cake into a happier one, somehow.

      she was, no lie, sort of the first food blog which caught and held my attention. It’s not like there’s not so many awesome food blogs out there, but something clicked with hers, so i know the feeling. and isn’t her baby just about the most precious thing ever?!?! THAT HAIR! THOSE LITTLE SWEET BABY EYELASHES! he and the Wee one would make the cutest couple (as i act like it would just be about them; Deb and I would make the cutest Mother In Law/friends!!

      i can’t think about it…i get too excited. not even b/c she’s who she is, but that she serious is SO unreasonably nice to be around.

  • Reply Jen @JuanitasCocina March 1, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    WHY have I not cracked open this cookbook yet? And WHY am I not with you and Deb?

    • Reply shannon March 3, 2013 at 6:23 am

      OMG crack the book, Jen! and there’s so many things i feel like you would enjoy, too, b/c it’s very like, unpretentious, not crazy, family cooking.
      i think the only reason you’re not here is because of the snow we have. I think that would have been the biggest deterrent.

  • Reply Monica March 1, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Wow, you learn something everyday – russet potatoes?! This is probably a silly question but does the honey flavor take over in the glaze? I suppose it depends on the kind of honey you use. I like honey but don’t want it interfering with my chocolate so much. : )
    So exciting about Deb; she is awesome!

    • Reply shannon March 3, 2013 at 6:28 am

      Monica, when i read the ingredient list, i was surprised too! But it’s supposed to give the cake a little lightness, which I can appreciate. You’re exactly right: the type of honey you use will have the say in how much you taste it. For my baking, i almost exclusively use honey for a honey flavor and not as a substitution for sugar, etc. Because of this, my favorite one to use is a dark wildflower variety I get from a farmers’ market in nashville (my sister brings a giant jar of it when she visits). I loved the flavor in here, but certainly you know it’s there when you taste it. For a less in-your-face honey flavor, try and find a local clover honey; something which has a flavor, but isn’t too dark. I will say that although I don’t scream “buy local” from the rooftops (because I know depending where you are it can be difficult, and people shouldn’t feel bad if they can’t), local honey from wherever you are is going to be better than the mass-produced sort.

      • Reply Monica March 3, 2013 at 5:52 pm

        Thanks, Shannon! I agree with you about the honey. I was turned off by honey for a while until I realized it was just the bad quality ones I’d been buying at the market that had little real honey flavor. I bought a jar on a whim when I went apple picking at a local farm in the Fall and – holy cow – it was so good, it reignited my love of honey again. : ) I’m being a little dramatic but I try to be selective about the honey I buy now. : )

        • Reply shannon March 10, 2013 at 8:17 pm

          Bottom line: low quality, super-inexpensive, “no real origin” honey is GROSS. and not gross in a flavor way, more gross in a NON-flavor way. There was a honey I purchased so long ago (before i cared) and I may as well have just purchased corn syrup for how much it tasted of nothing. And that’s so sad, right? You’re not being dramatic at all; buying local is fantastic, but buying local honey? Essential in my book. Now, technically my favorite is my sister’s local honey (because it’s from nashville) but our missouri honey has a really great, slightly more “classic” honey flavor, and I use that one all the time as well. Honey is such a cool thing when you think about how it gets it’s flavor and how it differs from region to region. Just neat. 🙂

  • Reply Ashley March 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Holy deliciousness batman!!! That bundt, especially that glaze, looks insanely tasty! I can just imagine the glaze on vanilla ice cream or anything with peanut butter. Wait, add some chopped salted peanuts or almonds? Mmm!

    I would be absolutely flipping out if I had the chance to meet Deb. And I’d have a lot of those silent “want to be best friends always? can we hang out weekly? will you teach me?” thoughts screaming through my head…but I’d be too shy to say them aloud. Perhaps a tame “I really enjoy your blog and book…a lot A LOT. Kthanksbye.” I hope it’s awesome!

    • Reply shannon March 3, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Ashley, this bundt is crazy good. and i’m telling you – like i swear on our friendship – this is THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE YOU WANT TO MAKE FOR EVERYTHING. It’s a totally dreamy texture (i credit the honey) and it’s so great to work with. and you just made my day talking about this over salted peanuts and almonds. that would be KILLER.

      I was flipping out on the inside. I tried so, so hard to maintain my composure on the outside, and it’s a miracle I got out that i was a food blogger and that she was a huge inspiration for me; and i’ll say that that’s how it sounds in my head. i’m pretty sure that’s what i said. when she told me she thought she has seen my blog, something inside of me melted, i think? like in a good way.
      and then i was all “wait, maybe she just was being nice” and then i thought “wait, but she seems so honest, and genuine, and what if i had a food blog that like, only my mom read? then i would know she was just being nice, and she would know that i would know…”
      and then i confirmed in my head that Deb has actually seen my blog and i medium lost it. in a good way. more on that later; today i’m (spoiler alert! i feel like you always get my spoiler alerts) making the mushroom tart she made for us at the luncheon so i can post it and tell you all about the good half of my day with Deb.

      • Reply Ashley March 4, 2013 at 1:43 pm

        yay! mushroom me!
        I’m making her spaghetti squash tacos (again) this week. Unexpectedly satisfying! (that’s quite the ringing endorsement…I mean they’re awesome and you wouldn’t expect them to be, since they’re just squash.)

        and…I’m all over the chocolate glaze. I hear greek yogurt, ice cream, berries, shortbread, cake, bananas (maybe even me, though it’d be awkward as heck to explain)…calling out for a bath in this glaze. Thank you!

        • Reply shannon March 4, 2013 at 9:24 pm

          i will see your mushrooms, and i will up you some goat cheese (yes, i said goat cheese; just because we love it so much). 🙂
          i want to make those! I find that squash is, in general, unexpectedly satisfying, at least in my experience. It’s like they surprise you with their heartiness and great flavor every time. Underrated little things, the squash family.

          OH, Ashley…the glaze. THE GLAZE! I just threw the rest away (i know, sin, but i had to do it) and i swear to you it is still delicious. it would be so good with bananas (omg i just thought of a thing to make) and basically everything you just listed plus like, mostly every other thing. on the earth. Don’t you love it when you find a glaze, or frosting, or sauce that you just can make all the time for everything? it’s like finding gold. you, as always, are welcome.

  • Reply Emma March 2, 2013 at 4:13 pm

    Sounds like a nifty cookbook, judging by this recipe. Love honey, love sprinkles (!), love chocolate, feel somewhat indifferent about SK… but she HAS changed food blogging in great ways so that is a good thing. I hope you had a super splendid time and enjoyed yourself and said something akin to “you may remember me from that regional website awards ceremony where I wore that kickass dress!?” At least that’s how I would have introduced you had I been there;)

    How’d you score the invite? Was it the dress??

    • Reply shannon March 3, 2013 at 7:24 am

      It is; like i think sometimes we’re all like “oh another bakery cookbook” but this one, sort of like that Back in the Day bakery book, has some really original things. I’m very excited to try the savory recipes, because they just seem stellar.
      I am unsurprised about how you feel re: SK, and i get the perspective completely. For me, she came along at a time in my life where I very much wanted to know how to cook, but was having zero success at it. The stuff i could cook/bake seemed uninteresting, i didn’t know how to freestyle ingredients together and have them taste good, and the recipes that looked good to me i couldn’t get right. Her blog changed that for me, in that she used interesting (but not crazy) ingredients, put things together in a new way (new to me, at least) and took the time to explain it so i got it. Almost all of you have said how much you like the way I write recipes, and you can probably thank her for the courage to “talk” my way through them. 🙂 And one could argue we wouldn’t even know each other had Deb not opened my eyes to blogging, and i would consider that a BIG loss for me. 🙂
      i did have a great time: today i’m writing it up and making one of the things from our lunch that was divine (and i know you’ll like it because there’s a massive amount of mushrooms in it). I knew there was a reason i should have purchased a third ticket; my amazing emma intro.
      the luncheon was just tickets purchased, but i think i scored an invite to the meet and greet because people actually know i exist locally now? i’m sure the RFT win/exposure had something to do with it, but the group that went are all very nice and very active in the blogging community here. or it could have been the dress. 🙂

      • Reply Emma March 3, 2013 at 9:01 pm

        mushrooms, yeah! can’t wait:)

  • Reply Carla September 15, 2013 at 9:39 pm

    Hi! I want to try baking this but I don’t have a ricer. Would the texture be so different if I just mash it?

    • Reply shannon September 18, 2013 at 3:43 pm

      Sure, you could mash it; maybe use a hand masher and just don’t overdo it like you see with mashed potatoes that get pasty. the less handling, the better, but a hand masher (or even a fork) will do nicely.

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