Chinese Spicerdoodle Cookies

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by David Dempsey
Photography by Chia Chong
With Candace Brower

Take a snickerdoodle cookie and roll it in a mixture of Chinese 5 spice and sugar! The perfect treat for a Chinese New Year party or any party or just for breakfast. 
Chinese Five Spice Recipes, Snickerdoodle Recipes, Libbie Summers Recipes, Sweet and Vicious Baking, Cookies for a Chinese New Year Party, A food-inspired life,
Chinese Five Spicerdoodles
makes 40ish cookies

What you need:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (can substitute vanilla extract)
3 teaspoons ground Chinese five spiceWhat to do: 
Preheat oven to 400º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Set aside.In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment add the butter, shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Cream together. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined. Add the vanilla paste and mix until combined.
Add dry ingredients to the mixer and mix until just combined.
In a small bowl, stir together the remaining sugar and Chinese five spice.  Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls and roll in the sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake until just set (about 8-10 minutes).


Kumquat Layer Cake

By Libbie Summers
Assisted by Candace Brower

I love SAYING “kumquats” (because it’s a funny word), EATING kumquats (because you get to pop them in your mouth whole) and BAKING with kumquats (because they have a bitter sweet citrus flavor).


Kumquat Layer Cake
makes one 4-layer cake
(for the cake in the photo, I doubled the recipe and baked one 10-inch cake/cut into three layers, one 8-inch cake/cut into two layers, one 6-inch cake/cut into two layers…with frosting in between all layers)

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon grated kumquat zest (about 6 kumquats), save for juicing
1-1/2 cups vanilla sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup fresh orange juice plus any juice from the zested kumquats  (from about 3 large or 4 medium oranges)
Kumquat Buttercream Frosting (recipe to follow)
Tons of sliced kumquats and a few fresh kumquats for garnish

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 8-inch round cake pans and 2 6-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and spray with non-stick baking spray. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and on medium speed, cream together the butter, shortening, and zest. Gradually add the sugar, creaming until the mixture is light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between additions and scraping down the sides.

Add the sifted dry ingredients alternately with the orange juice to the creamed mixture, beating well on low speed after each addition. Pour equal amounts of the batter into the four prepared cake pans. Tap the pans on the counter before putting them in the oven to remove any air bubbles and to even the batter. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Keep a close eye on them, because the different size cakes will bake at different times –anywhere from 16 to 28 minutes. Cool the cake layers in the pans for 10 min. and then loosen the layers by running a knife between the cake and the edge of the pan. Remove the layers from the pans and put them on a rack to continue cooling. Frost when cool with Orange Buttercream frosting and decorate with sliced kumquats (see close ups of the decorating process below).

Orange Buttercream Frosting
makes 5 cups 

2 cups (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature 6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1 teaspoon orange extract
4 to 8 tablespoons evaporated milk
orange food coloring

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add 6 cups of the confectioners’ sugar. Increase the speed to medium and add the salt, vanilla paste, orange extract and 4 tablespoons of the evaporated milk. Beat for 2 minutes. If the frosting is too thin at this point, add more of the confectioners’ sugar, 1⁄2 cup at a time, and beat for 1 minute, until fully incorporated. If the frosting is too thick, add more of the evaporated milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, and beat for 30 seconds or until just combined. Divide the frosting into 2 bowls (3 bowls is you doubled the cake recipe and did a 10-inch cake too like I did). Using the orange food coloring tint the frosting into two shades of orange/medium orange/brighter orange (do a really pale orange if you baked the 10-inch cake too). Refrigerate the frosting for 20 minutes before using. Frosting can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

To Decorate:
I always start with a little inspirational sketch…some more crude than others.
I thought one layer of kumquat slices around the sides of the bottom layer of the cake, two layers of slices around the sides of the middle layer and covering the sides of the top layer would be beautiful. On the top, I thought a pile of kumquats and leaves would be a great way to keep a little bit of an organic feel and show off the beauty of the fruit.

Frost the cake layers using the coordinating frosting color for each diameter of cake. Make sure to do a crumb coat before the final coat. For a fun tutorial video on how to frost a layer cake, click HERE.

Then, I sliced a TON of kumquats. This takes a lot more than I thought (about 30). Make sure your knife is sharp because you’ll be cutting through some seeds. Luckily, I had a brand new handmade knife from Sam Densmore that my niece, Corie, had so generously given me for Christmas. You have to check out Sam’s knives. They are works of art AND I loved the way it cut and felt in my hand. I’m a bit of a knife snob and I couldn’t be more pleased with this knife…but more on that later.

It’s important to note that your frosted cake layers should be pulled out of the refrigerator about 10 minutes before adding the kumquat slices or they won’t stick. I worked from the bottom up following my sketch.

So stinkin’ cute right!! Good enough to insta. A celebration of the citrus season.

Buttermilk Citrus Bundt Cake

By Libbie Summers
Photography by Cedric Smith
Assisted by Candace Brower

Easy to make.
Gorgeous when baked.
Loaded with citrus and love.


Buttermilk Citrus Bundt Cake
serves 12

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Zest and juice from one lemon, divided
Zest and juice from one small orange, divided
5 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 to 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar (for glaze)

•Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease and flour a (9-inch) Bundt pan and set aside.

•In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

•In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, lemon zest, orange zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons orange juice and set aside.

•In a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and light in texture (about 5

minutes). Add the eggs to the butter-sugar mixture, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. In 3 additions, alternate adding the

sifted dry ingredients and the buttermilk ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, stirring on low JUST until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared Bundt and bake until the center of cake springs back when touched and a skewer inserted near the center comes out clean (about

60 to 75 minutes).

•Remove the cake from the oven and let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Release the sides and bottom of the cake from the pan with a narrow metal

spatula or knife. Invert the pan and turn out the cake. Place a wire rack in a baking pan and set the cake, right side up, on the rack.

•For glaze, mix the confectioner’s in a small bowl with just enough of the remaining lemon and orange juice to make a pourable frosting.

•Once the cake has cooled, pour the glaze over the cake and allow to firm up before cutting.

•For a beautiful decoration, I like to fill the center of the cake with fresh citrus and citrus leaves like kumquats or satsumas.

Take a peek behind the lens in this 15 second video of getting this shot.

Grapefruit Meringue Cakes

Recipe and Styling by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong
Food Stylist’s assistant: Candace Brower 

Something simple and still a bit fussy for a perfect dinner party dessert. Kind of a poor man’s Baked Alaska –if Baked Alaska was cool. 

Grapefruit Meringue Cakes
makes 6 jumbo muffin size cakes 

What you need:
3 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 sticks butter, softened
2 cups sugar
½ cup grapefruit zest plus more for garnish
4 large eggs, room temperature plus 8 egg whites (room temperature)
2/3 cup milk
4 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 cups vanilla ice cream (or your favorite ice cream or sorbet)
3 cups powdered sugar

What to do:
Preheat oven to 325º F. Spray a jumbo muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the butter, sugar and grapefruit zest. Beat until light colored and creamy. Add 4 eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour mixture, milk and grapefruit juice.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester is inserted in the center of the cake and comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing from pan and allowing to cool completely.

Using a small spoon, dig out a hole out of the top of each muffin and add fill with a 1/3 cup scoop of the ice cream. Place on a baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour.

While cakes are freezing prepare the meringue coating. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add the egg whites and beat until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the mixture is thick and glossy.

Preheat oven to broil.

Cover each cake completely with meringue and place under the broiler until lightly browned (about 2-3 minutes). Garnish with grapefruit zest if desired. Serve immediately.

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Libbie’s Food Styling Props: Vintage glass pedestal is a family treasure from my husband’s grandmother. Silver fork from Habersham Antiques Market. Fabric from Fabrika Fine Fabrics. Bakelite handled knife picked up in an antique shop in Los Angeles. Plaid flannel shirt is J Crew. Roasting pan is just an old one I use all the time in my kitchen.

5 Interesting Ways To Use A Grapefruit

Recipes and Styling by Libbie Summers
Photography by Chia Chong, Cedric Smith
Assisted by Candace Brower
5 Interesting Ways To Use A Grapefruit
I could probably name 100’s, but I get bored after 5.
Find all the inspiration, recipes, and pro tips all week long on my blog!
A Food-Inspired Life, Five Ways To Use A Grapefruit, Citrus, Life Hacks, How To
1. A Food-inspired Centerpiece
For a chic centerpiece on the fly, always look to the beauty of seasonal foods! Here, grapefruit just picked from the tree (or bought at the store) lined up like soldiers down the table maked for a striking centerpiece to a dinner party. Don’t forget to include your inspiration in at least one course so to inform the meal. 
When berry season seems so far away, this simple sauce is the perfect substitute spooned over morning pancakes, French toast or a simple sponge cake for dessert. 
A last minute gift of smooth skin and wide eyes is only a few ingredients away. If you’re making it for a friend, do yourself a favor and double the recipe and give a gift to yourself. 
A full blown toast party. 
When you want to impress and get a little nostalgic at the same time this is the cake for you. This Grapefruit Meringue Cake is a Baked Alaska via Brooklyn –old school meets something pretending to be old school. Make one for every two people at your table to promote a little table talk!