Caramel Apple Cake (& emotions)

“Hey, can I talk to you for a second?” I shifted in my kitchen clogs, staring at the mixer and not my boss, unable to meet the gaze of his blue eyes.

Caramel Apple Cake via Midwest Nice Blog

“Sure,” he said. I left the contents of the mixer and followed him out into the dining room, the lunch rush nearly done. We sat at the community table, his son at the head of if playing a game on his phone, a bowl of half-eaten mac and cheese beside him. I tried to look anywhere but at him, not wanting to say what I was about to.

Taking a deep breath, I stared at my hands, “I’m m—“

“Moving back to Wisconsin,” he finished.

I whipped my head up, tears already springing to my eyes. “…yeah.” I stammered, struggled to understand. ”How did you know?”

Caramel Apple Cake via Midwest Nice Blog

“I figured it was about to happen,” he smiled, broad, genuine, his head tilting in the way that was completely unique to him, to Alex. “That, and I saw your house listing. I wasn’t sure at first, I thought I recognized it, and when I got to the picture of the garage and saw my weight bench, I knew.”

Of course, the weight bench. The weight bench he’d given me a few months ago, when I decided to turn my garage into a home gym. When I was still hell bent on remaining where I was, who I was.

“I wasn’t going to tell you until I had accepted an offer on the house. I didn’t know how long it would take. I certainly didn’t think it would happen in a day. I thought it would take a few weeks. Or maybe a few months.” I rambled on. I thought I had more time with him, with this place.

Caramel Apple Cake via Midwest Nice Blog

We talked some more. He asked about my plans moving forward, how close I’d be to my new twin nieces, if there was anything he could do. We decided on an end date, when my last shift would be. I fiddled with the corner of my apron. Neither one of us ready to move from that table, that moment. His son’s game continued to whir and whistle. I continued trying to hold back tears. I continued to fail.

“You have a gift, Amanda,” he told me. “You should keep doing this. I know you say you don’t want to own your own business, but you are the kind of person who should. You don’t just make food that tastes good. You make food for people to feel something, to move them. You put emotions into everything you make,” he paused. “I feel like somewhere along the way, I lost that thread.”

Caramel Apple Cake via Midwest Nice Blog

The tears were free flowing now. My chin quivered. I tried to wipe away the water. We shared a small smile. Eventually, I returned to my corner of the kitchen, to the contents of that mixer. He returned to his son, to the business he was running. Both of us finishing the day, both of us moving forward, the only way we knew how.

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Classic Carrot Cake

Can you settle something for me?

Classic Carrot Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

Carrot cake – what’s it supposed to have in it? Carrots, obviously, but anything else? Raisins? Walnuts? Pineapple? Because I sure as hell don’t think so.

Classic Carrot Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

That, to me, would be a hummingbird cake, a traditional Southern treat that’s as sweet as hummingbird feed (Idk if that’s where the name came from, I’m taking an educated guess and avoiding Google.) and NOT carrot cake.

Classic Carrot Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

Carrot cake has carrots. And a few warming spices. All slathered in cream cheese frosting (because apparently I’m incapable of making a cake without it). Nothing else. I don’t want any nuts or other fruits or other veggies in my way.

Classic Carrot Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

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King Cake Layer Cake

I did a bad thing.

King Cake Layer Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

I changed King Cake. Into a layer cake. The horror! The horror! I can hear my NOLA friends (Hi Megan! Hi Justin! Hi Ben! Hi Cole!) rolling their eyes and blanching at the thought.

King Cake Layer Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

Lord forgive me.

King Cake Layer Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

Eating a slice of this cake may go a long way towards forgiveness. It’s got all the aspects of the traditional King Cake – brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, sprinkles. But I did away with the yeasted, brioche-esque dough (because I’m lazy) and soaked the whole thing in a bourbon syrup (because Bourbon Street). There’s still a baby hidden among the layers, he’s under the light and airy sorta-Swiss buttercream.

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Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting

Spring weather definitely isn’t for me. With the ups and downs and dramatic changes in the forecast at a moments notice, it’s too much. Cold in the morning, too hot in the afternoon, rain whenever. It’s a lot to plan for. Will I need an umbrella? Will I be too cold after work? Are my shoes waterproof? There are outfits to choose, light layers to build, jackets to carry around. Geez Louise.

Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting | via Midwest Nice Blog

Yes, I’m aware how self-indulgent and ridiculous I’m being, but I have a point thankyouverymuch.

Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting | via Midwest Nice Blog

You see, the yo-yoing weather also means yo-yoing cravings. When it’s chilly I want soup, when it’s warmer I want salads, sometimes I’m craving hearty comfort and others I want light and lean.

Sweet Potato Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Frosting | via Midwest Nice Blog

Which is what led to this beauty’s creation. The flavors are most definitely fall and winter inspired – hearty sweet potatoes with warm spices, but give a nod to light and lean spring too with airy marshmallow frosting. If you don’t have a kitchen torch, you don’t need to toast the frosting, but it adds that “sitting ‘round the campfire on a warm summer night” feel to truly make this cake fit for all seasons.

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Red Velvet Cake

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Red Velvet Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

Today I’ll be celebrating with my best friend and a trip to Ikea followed by burgers and beers and nail painting and face masking. The perfect day with the perfect person.

Red Velvet Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

We were toying with the idea of going to Savannah for the day but since she just drove six hours here it would be torture to drive another eight hours round-trip the very next day.

Red Velvet Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

I’d do that for a slice of this cake though. Or for anything from Back In The Day Bakery. It has been one of my favorite places and spaces and inspirations since I got their first cookbook back in college. I spent my 21st birthday taking a trip there. Because that’s how I feel about bakeries and baked goods and people pursuing pastry passions – I want to spend my birthday with them. And not just any birthday, it was the big two-one, the one most people can’t remember because they drank too much and ate too little. Not me, I spent five days in Savannah with my dad, eating my way around, taking in the sights and sounds and tastes of the city, stopping in at BITDB every day for a cinnamon bun, cupcake, or ‘nana pudding. I even met Cheryl and Griff and cried a little and they signed my (very stained) book.

Red Velvet Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

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Lemon Raspberry Cake

I’m not feeling too hot today.

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

It’s been a day of naps, Netflix, and cuddles with Edgar. Sips of water, cold sweats, and weird aches.

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

I’ve heard before that when you’re sick it’s best to avoid sugar, which, truth be told, is no easy feat for me. It should be obvious by now that I love sugar. Very much so. I find it comforting (which I’m sure horrifies plenty of people, my dentist included).

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

When I’m sick, however, I find grilled cheese (made with American slices and good ol’ white bread) and mac ‘n’ cheese (the kind from a blue box) the most comforting. My dad used to make me both when I was sick. They’re calling my name today. But only if someone else makes them. That’s the worst part about being sick as an adult – you have to make your own sick food. Where’s the comfort in that?

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake | via Midwest Nice Blog

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