Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

with a lemon glaze

I feel like 2016 started off pretty okay and ended in total disaster. I had a lot of good things happen to me personally this year, but I really feel like the horrible things that have happened plus the cherry on top of Trump being elected president have really overshadowed anything else. Oh yeah, and the passing of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds? I have no words for that. BUT I will say that I’m energized to make 2017 a year where change happens, where progress happens, and where I do not sit back and assume that the right thing or the good thing will happen because it seems like the logical choice. Clearly that’s not how the world works. Again, you can find great places to donate here, read about some causes near and dear to my own heart here, or just do a little research and find an organization that speaks to you. Don’t let 2017 be another year of complacency. I was all too happy to sit back in 2016 and not do enough because I lived in a bubble where the things I wanted to happen happened and I didn’t think enough outside of that. But instead of wallowing or writing a think piece on Medium or whatever else, I am going to donate, volunteer, speak loudly, and make sure that this Trump bullshit does not become normalized. And to everyone who has commented, emailed, or reached out in some capacity to talk about this with me: thank you. Thank you so much. It warms the very cockles of my cold, black heart and gives me hope for the future. Thanks for continuing to read and continuing to be a source of inspiration for me every day.

cranberry upside down cake

Later, 2016.

But, personally, on an individual level, yes, there were a few shining moments in 2016. I started working as a video producer for INSIDER, to start. I get to go to restaurants and kitchens all over New York and film chefs and entrepreneurs doing what they do best, then share those videos with the world. It’s pretty awesome. I travelled a ton, from Thailand to China to Japan, to Austin and Houston, to Denver and Phoenix and Virginia Beach, to San Francisco and Los Angeles, and probably a few other small trips that I’m forgetting. 2017 has a lot more of travel in store, including Vietnam and Singapore (!!!). We also want to go visit my brothers in Atlanta and Cincinnati, maybe hit up Canada and Seattle, we still have to check out Chicago (as adults, I lived there as a kid)…there are so many places I want to go and definitely not enough time! But I’ll get there. I want to keep getting better at my job and keep making videos and, of course, keep this blog going. It’s where I get to go to be me, to share my photos, to talk about issues that matter to me, and interact with tons of people that I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to connect with. This is the eighth year I’ve been maintaining Crepes of Wrath, and I definitely don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

cranberry upside down cake

Oh, and quickly, yeah, there’s this cake. I bought two giant tubs of cranberries in December, hence why you get two cranberry recipes in a row. But I’ve got to say, this cake was insanely delicious. I put it out on Christmas Day when some friends came over after a dinner of spicy Sichuan food, and we all ate it up. By the end of the night, it was totally gone. It takes a little extra effort, because you’ve got to whip the egg whites separately from the egg yolks, and you’ve got to caramelize the sugar before adding it to the cranberries, but all in, it’s worth it. The cake is impossibly fluffy, but still wonderfully rich. The cranberries pop in your mouth with each bite, and I added a quick lemon glaze over the top to make it look a little more wintry. Why not? We’re not counting calories in the last days of the year, are we? That’s for 2017. For now, I’m going to have a piece of cake and a glass of champagne and tell 2016 that it’s been real. I hope you’ll do the same.

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Cranberry-Apple Pie with a Rye Crust

sweet & tart

Are we all in the ~spirit of the season~ yet? I love the holidays mostly because I tend to stay local in New York, and everyone else leaves. I know it’s a touristy time of year for Manhattan, but in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, things get pretty quiet, and it’s awesome. It feels like I have the whole place to myself. That means I can listen to Chance’s new mixtape in peace without hearing people yelling at each other downstairs. It’s glorious. This year, we’re seeing Why Him? (because it’s on-theme), then getting dinner at Mission Chinese with friends. I’m super excited. Tonight, I’m gonna hit up Maison Premiere (or at least try to, those lines get crazy) and * fingers crossed * start watching Mariah Carey’s new show, because that sounds pretty xmas-y to me. Am I wrong? 2016 has been long, and 2017 is clearly not going to be any easier, so let’s all take a breather, relax, eat some good food, have a few drinks, and get ready for the uphill battle that will be 2017. If you still need to get someone a gift, may I suggest donating to a worthy cause in their name? It’s a present you can both be proud of. Here’s a list of great places to donate if you need a little help.

cranberry apple pie with a rye crust

So, about this pie. I adored it. It was so perfect. Ever since I saw Yossy post about pie with rye crust on her blog, I’ve wanted to make one, but I bought a bag of rye flour and it sat untouched for months. That happens a lot. But my friend Anne was having a potluck this past Sunday, so I was like, “Hey! This is the perfect opportunity to make a pie. A RYE CRUST pie.” This crust is a little different than your average crust, in that it seems a bit drier than usual, but you just need to add a tiny bit more ice water and the dough comes together like a dream (and bakes like one, too!). The finished crust was perfectly golden and flaky. Kramer and my friend Jeena both commented on how much they loved the crust, picking off end pieces with their fingers and holding it up to my face to show me. I’ll take that as a great sign of approval. The filling was sweet and tart and delicious. If you’ve still got fresh cranberries in your fridge or freezer, this is what you should do with them. If you don’t have apples, you can definitely sub them out for pears, more cranberries, or cherries. This is definitely a winter pie, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little ice cream on top. Happy Holidaze!

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The Best Gingerbread Cake with Lemon Glaze

the absolute best

If you participated in my last post and donated to a charity, then 10 of you should have received an email from me asking for your address so that I can send you some cookies! Thanks SO much to those of you that donated. It means so much to the people that you’re helping, especially this time of year with the political and social climate that we find ourselves in. It gives me hope to see how much everyone cares and how hard you’re all working. If you’re interested in yet another worthy cause, I recently saw a new film called Jackson, about the last abortion clinic left in Mississippi. It was definitely painful to watch, but it’s re-energized my commitment to women’s health and a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own body. If you’re able, I encourage you to look into hosting a screening in your town if they haven’t already had one. This is a powerful documentary about the scary future of our country and how women’s reproductive care is being torn away from those who need it the most. If you’re in New York, I’ve also recently signed up to volunteer with the NYAAF. It’s a great organization and it needs all the help it can get, so please sign up if you’ve got the free time and are so inclined. I’m going to continue to do what I can to spread awareness and make sure we don’t forget that progress and change only happen if we work towards it. The right thing doesn’t just happen because we will it to happen. It’s only been a little over a month since Donald Trump was elected president, if you can believe it. Sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday, and other times it feels like it’s been a year. I know it’s exhausting and hard to fight every day, but there’s a lot of work to do and we’re the ones who need to step up and do it. Thank you all for being supportive and for all of your amazing comments. I love hearing what you guys are up to and how you’re bettering your communities and worlds. Don’t stop!

the best gingerbread cake with lemon glaze

Okay, so, while you’re out there changing the world and fixing the mess that this country is in, make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, too. That means trying to get enough sleep, eating well, and, most importantly, treating yourself to a little something now and again because you work hard and you deserve it. May I suggest this gingerbread cake? The recipe comes from the New York Times and let me tell you, damn! This cake is incredible. It’s made with real grated ginger, freshly brewed black coffee, and a little bit of beer. Throw all that together with lemon zest and a lemony glaze, and boom! This is going to be your new go-to cake for the holiday season. It smells like fake gingerbread, but it’s the real deal. When I was mixing the batter together, I made Kramer come over to the kitchen and smell the bowl because I was in awe of the aroma. It must be the combination of the hot coffee and the ginger. It’s just wonderful, and it only gets better as it bakes. This cake is rich, moist, and perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning or maybe with a little port or red wine in the evening. It took all of my willpower not to eat this cake all by myself, if I’m going to be honest with you. It was truly phenomenal, and best of all, I didn’t need to spend hours decorating it, which I really hate doing. Nope! Just throw some glaze over this sucker and get ready to feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks, NYT. You’ve done it again.

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Frosted Peanut Butter Banana Snack Cake

bonus: win a tin of homemade cookies from me!

Today is Giving Tuesday. It’s a day to focus on giving, philanthropy, and the needs of others. Given the political climate we’re facing today, it’s an especially important day to give what you can and support organizations that are important to you. There’s plenty of ways to help. I understand that not everyone has the ability to make monetary donations, but if that’s something you can swing, your dollars speak louder right now than they ever have before. Progress doesn’t just happen, and change isn’t free. Sacrifice is required, whether that means volunteering, making calls to your local government officials to let them know how you feel about issues that matter, or digging into your wallet to financially support organizations that are fighting on your behalf and the behalf of others. Personally, I am not “over” the outcome of the election. It still breaks my heart and shakes me to my very core. Every article I read or news report I hear about the racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic remarks or actions made by individuals involved in the Trump/Pence campaign make me sick. The videos I’ve seen circulated around the internet of people who now feel emboldened to spout hate because “they won” make me furious. But sitting in my apartment, angrily typing or tweeting, isn’t going to help. Action is the only way to fix society and make things better for ourselves and generations to come. That’s why I want to encourage you to donate today, either by volunteering your time or by giving a few bucks. We can do this, but it’s going to take real work to make it happen! And I want to offer an extra incentive by way of a free tin of homemade cookies from your truly. Read on to find out how to score one of those.

frosted peanut butter banana snack cake

A few organizations that are extremely meaningful to me right now are The Young Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. You can read more about The Young Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the efforts to protect Standing Rock through the links provided. What I really need from you is a donation, either by way of time or money. Once you’ve donated or signed up to volunteer in some capacity for any of these organizations, please forward me your email confirmation to sydney@crepesofwrath.net. I will personally mail 10 people (chosen at random) a tin of my famous homemade chocolate chunk cookies. If a lot of people participate, I’ll open the group up to more. Tell your friends and family to donate, too! You can use the cookies as a way to bring a little holiday cheer to your officemates, keep them in the freezer to enjoy over the course of a few weeks, or eat them all in one sitting. I’m not here to judge. I’m just here to mail out cookies for a good cause. Thank you to all who donate, and an even greater thank you to those that spread the word. Let’s make a difference together. Also, here’s a recipe for a pretty damn good peanut butter banana snack cake. Enjoy!

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Anthony Bourdain’s Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame

your new favorite side dish

I am, like I’m sure many of you are, deeply disturbed by the outcome of this election. My heart breaks for this country, but more, it breaks for my non-white friends, for my LGBTQA+ friends, for my non-Christian friends, for my undocumented friends, and so many others. I know that I let this happen. I didn’t do enough. I posted a bunch of pithy stuff on Facebook, sat back, and waited. I was not active and I was not political. I didn’t listen, I just shouted my own dumb opinions for the echo-chamber of my Facebook page to hear. I was so sure that Hillary had this in the bag, for all her faults. She was the most qualified candidate. She wasn’t talking about creating a database of Muslims, and her vice president wasn’t talking about repealing Roe v. Wade. Neither of them were talking about making the deportation of two or three million people one of their top priorities. I’m using this platform to discuss how I feel because this is my blog and that is my right. Any negative comments will be deleted. This is a safe space for those that are hurting. I’m going to be volunteering with The Young Center, I’ve made donations to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and Amnesty International. I’m going to a group meeting this week to talk about more ways we can work together to do good and enact change. I am going to remain vigilant and be active and not let this happen again. I encourage you to go to protests in your area to show that we will not be silenced. Facebook is a great way to find marches and rallies in your area. Please feel free to contact me via the link to the left if you want help finding ways to be active in your area, or even if you feel alone and want to talk. I’ll be here.

anthony bourdain roasted cauliflower with sesame
Cookies that I brought to a march on Sunday to hand out to people. You can still use small gestures as a way to show people you care.

anthony bourdain roasted cauliflower with sesame

As always, cooking and baking can help to heal, so that’s what I’ve been doing a lot of lately. Anthony Bourdain’s new cookbook, Appetites, has been helping inspire me to get in the kitchen and use my hands and do what I love to do, even if I might not necessarily feel like it right now. He is the reason I started cooking in the first place, to be honest. The itself book is truly a breath of fresh air. Its recipes are uncomplicated and approachable. They are dishes that he likes to make for his family, be it a big Sunday night dinner or a simple weeknight meal that can be thrown together quickly. The photos are both personal and silly, and the writing is, of course, extremely Bourdain. If you are a fan, then you know what that means. The dessert section consists of one page, for example, where he talks about how he is terrible at pastry, but if you want to put out a great dessert, just throw down some Stilton and your guests will love you forever. There’s another chapter titled “Big Fucking Steak.” So yeah, it’s ya’ boy, back at it again. I already know that this is going to be one of my favorite cookbooks for the rest of my life, and I’ve found myself flipping through it over and over again. This roasted cauliflower is one of the gems in the book that truly inspires me to get in the kitchen. It’s nothing fancy, but you do have to get yourself a tub of tahini (sesame paste) and miso (fermented soybeans). I usually have both of these in my fridge at all times, and I recommend that you start doing the same. They are both incredibly versatile ingredients that lend themselves to just about anything, like this cauliflower. Roasted until nice and crispy, and broken apart by hand instead of chopped to hell with a knife (try it, your cauliflower world will be forever changed), and tossed in a creamy, salty mixture of tahini, miso, and vinegar, there’s nothing not to love here. Kramer and I ate it over the course of a week as a side to some pork that I also made from the book (I’ll be posting that soon, as well) and I only lamented that I couldn’t eat all of the cauliflower by myself. You probably will, too.

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Mini Scallion Pancake Challah Buns

with sesame seeds

OH EM GEE Cynthia of Two Red Bowls added a tiny human to her family! His name is Luke and I already want to borrow his cool hat. Cool Hat Luke, if you will. Anyway, to celebrate this exciting occasion, Stephanie from i am a food blog and Alana from Fix Feast Flair got a bunch of other food bloggers together to make things in BOWLS (get it) as our way of congratulating the Bs. Congrats, guys! You did it. I’m definitely drooling and wishing I had more than a few of these things to gnaw on for breakfast, but for now, I’ll have to be content with my yogurt (that I’m also eating out of a bowl) and think about weekend baking and cooking projects to come. Head over to the other blogs to take a look at what they’ve come up with, or scroll on and find out how to make these baby-sized challah buns made with the softest dough I ever did touch with my own two hands.

mini scallion pancake challah buns

The dough, of course, comes from Molly Yeh’s new cookbook, Molly on the Range. I am in awe of how great this book is. There’s no banana bread recipe in there because we all have enough banana bread recipes. It’s truly inspiring. Instead of banana bread, you’ll find things like sesame coffee cake and homemade baloney and THIS scallion pancake challah. Only for my purposes, I made what is normally a beautifully braided loaf into tiny scallion pancake buns because we were supposed to make something in a bowl but I also really wanted to make this challah. This dough is literally the best. I’m not the greatest with breads, honestly–I tend to overknead or overproof my dough because I am forgetful, but this dough is apparently extremely forgiving because I didn’t mess it up. By adding a brush of sesame seed oil and a sprinkle of scallions (and maybe some garlic powder because you can), you really get the best of both worlds. A savory, yeasty, pillowy bread that will make your friends say stuff like, “YOU made this?” (thanks for the confidence, Jeena). There’s really nothing quite like the smell or taste of freshly baked bread, and believe me, my apartment smelled unbelievably good the day that I made these. Pulling each knot of challah apart and seeing the steam rise up and out of the bread before popping a piece in your mouth is pure heaven, and thankfully, this recipe makes for a LOT of buns, so you won’t have to ration them out. Thanks to Molly for the recipe, WAHOO to Cynthia on the birth of her baby boy, and way to go Stephanie and Alana for getting us all together to celebrate. Now let’s all eat some bread.

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Candy Corn Chocolate Chip Cookies

with sea salt

When do you start feeling like you’re too old for Halloween? It’s sort of starting to feel that way to me. I’m almost 28 and this is really the first year that the thought of dressing up exhausts me. I’m usually pretty good about it! But I’ve never had more going on in my life than I have in 2016, so maybe it’s not the thought of getting dressed up that’s exhausting but just things in general, hah! I am attempting a costume, though, and I ordered Kramer a banana suit because that’s just plain funny, so we’ll see how the night ends up. I really want to go see the new Ouija movie, because I love being scared shitless, apparently, and then we’ve got a party to go to on Saturday night. This is also the first Sunday in a while where we have ZERO plans and I am honestly looking forward to that the most. I can’t wait to nurse my Halloween hangover from the couch all damn day. That’s the plan for now, anyway. What are you guys going to be for Halloween? Inspire me!

candy corn chocolate chip cookies
Just come stuff I’ve been up to at work! You can check out INSIDER Food and INSIDER Dessert to see what videos I’m working on lately.

The best part about Halloween, other than scary movies, is the candy, obviously. Last year I was at a party where there were tables full of different kinds of candy, and my friends and I just kept shoving handfuls in our pockets like it was the last day we’d ever see Halloween candy again in our lives. Seeing Mounds bars and Snickers and gummy worms and all that stuff just sets off some kind of weird nostalgia spark in my brain and makes me feel like I MUST HAVE IT ALL RIGHT NOW. And then I found a few pieces in my jacket pocket like two days later, so yeah, I felt that bogarting all the candy was a good move on my part. I also really love candy corn, which I couldn’t take fistfuls of because nothing’s weirder than a girl who’s walking around with loose candy corns in her pockets. But I do love candy corn nonetheless, they’re like chewy, marshmallow-y marzipan, and people who don’t like it don’t know what they’re missing. I grabbed a bag at the store the other day, thinking maybe I’d just then a garnish on a cake or cupcakes or whatever, but then I thought, screw it, let’s just throw them into a batch of chocolate chip cookies. They melted a little bit, which I think looks kind of cool and on-theme for the holiday, but I recommend throwing them in the freezer or fridge for a little bit before you bake with them, because I think that will help keep the more in-tact. Despite that, I gave these out to my candy corn-loving brethren and they were well received by all. I also added some black and orange sprinkles to the mix (black bats and orange pumpkins, specifically), because I had them leftover from last year and I had to get rid of them. They made for some extra spooky Halloween treats, don’t you think?

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Lemon Dream Layer Cake

with lemon cream

Long time, no see, right guys? I know I’ve been MIA recently, and I’ve even gotten a few texts/Tweets/emails asking when I planned to update the blog again. I know lots of people comment and read this thing, but somehow I still sometimes feel like nobody really cares too much about what I’m doing here (and I mean, honestly, why would they, it’s a blog, there are a million of them), so those of you that reached out, thank you for making me feel incredibly special and loved. Really! I can’t tell you how touched I am when someone asks where I’ve been or what I’m up to or whatever. I’m a part of something and it’s an incredible feeling, not to get too sentimental on you or anything. But yeah, I could blame it on work or whatever else, though I guess I just needed a bit of a break. By the time I get home at night, after being at work all day and then spending the evening either at some event, getting drinks with friends, or maybe even the gym, I get home, make dinner or do chores or whatever else it is that adults are supposed to do to lead healthy, normal lives, and it’s often hard to motivate myself to hop back on my laptop and start editing photos and writing recipes when all I really want to do is zone the hell out and watch some TV or talk to my husband for five minutes. I do miss working on the blog, though. Even sitting here right now, typing out whatever fluff pops into my brain, makes me feel good. It’s a warm, fuzzy feeling that I can’t quite describe but after doing this for eight years now, it’s almost like putting on a favorite sweatshirt or listening to a favorite album. It’s weird, I know, but even being away for, what, two or three weeks, makes me miss blogging a whole lot. So I’m going to try harder to be here, to work on this little project of mine, because honestly, I need it. It’s my outlet, my baby, the thing I’ve come to view as a really big part of myself, and even if I’m tired or lazy or whatever, I should make time for it. I get to come here and talk, be it about something trivial like a movie I really liked recently, or more serious, like the anxiety I often feel and am alleviated from by taking photos and recipe testing. So hi, hello, I’m back! Thanks for sticking around.

lemon dream layer cake
I missed you guys, did you miss me?

There’s a bar near my apartment that Kramer and I frequent perhaps a little too much, but it’s basically our Cheers, so we like going. It’s super close and the bartenders are all incredibly friendly, the music is great, and there’s a big, beautiful backyard to hang out in when the weather is tolerable, which for New Yorkers, means anything above freezing. That’s why when one of my favorite bartenders asked if I could make a cake for her friend’s birthday party, I was like, “Yeah, duh.” I wanted it to be extra special, but I’m admittedly not an impressive cake-maker. I can whip up something ~rustic~ pretty easily, but decorating a cake is kind of a daunting task for me. That’s why I turned to lemons. I love a good lemon curd, or in this case, a dreamy lemon cream, and I figured that plus a solid lemon cake could do me no wrong. I did a bit of adjusting, specifically making my cakes a bit bigger because I wanted to make a four-layer cake and knew that my shaky cake-slicing skills would fail me if I tried to slice through a thinner 8-inch round, but otherwise, it was pretty smooth sailing. The directions look daunting, I admit, but this was a cake I spaced out over the course of a few days so as to not go insane. I made the lemon cream a few days ahead of time, and I even made the cakes themselves about a week ahead of time, froze them, and then thawed them out a day before I planned to assemble everything. This is something I highly, highly, highly recommend, because it actually makes for a more moist, yet more sturdy cake, and it gives you more free time on the weekends to binge whatever TV show you’re super into. I also discovered that just piping a bunch of extra buttercream and lemon cream all over your cake in random areas ends up looking pretty good, if I do say so myself, so there’s that. If you like lemon meringue pie or lemon bars or anything tart and sweet and bursting with flavor, then this is truly the cake for you, be it your birthday or otherwise. Thanks for asking me to make this, Anne! It was an honor.

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