The Baking Owl

a blog written by an aspiring 17 year old baker.

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pistachio & rosewater cookies.

We’re three months into the year and a week into Spring, and I think it’s safe to say I’m finally past the post-holiday season slump that haunts me for apparently an entire quarter of the year. New year’s day has long passed (along with every resolution I’ve never once followed through on), but the Persian new year has just begun. The Persian new year, Nowruz, marks the vernal equinox, aka the first day of Spring. My Pakistani side of the family originates from Afghanistan, so this has been a holiday celebrated for many generations, bringing an onslaught of ancestral dishes and traditions.

Here in the states, there isn’t as much excitement and fervor surrounding Nowruz as there is with my family back in Pakistan, so I thought I could at least partially make up for it by bringing in some Afghan influences into my kitchen.

Pistachio, rosewater, and cardamom are classic and thoroughly loved flavors in Afghan and other central/south asian cuisines, so I experimented around and ended up with these buttery, shortbread-like pistachio & rosewater cookies. They came out to be wonderful tea cookies, carrying hints of cardamom and nostalgia from my trips to Pakistan as a child.

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sprinkles & pink ganache cake.

Fall is finally here (at least I think it is – California as usual doesn’t understand the changing of seasons so we’ve still got 75 degree weather :/) and I started off the season with a fun cake order for two twin girls’ birthday. As most siblings do, these girls couldn’t agree on a single cake flavor – which is completely relatable because at 17 years old I still get into unnecessarily loud altercations with my 10 year old brother over The Best flavor of cake (which btw is red velvet, sorry Aman I don’t make the rules) – so I compromised and made this chocolate and vanilla layered cake with a vanilla buttercream frosting and a white chocolate ganache topping. A pretty good solution, I think.

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cake4kids mint & pink bow cake.

If you’ve been around here since the Very Beginning way back in 2012 (if so, I sincerely apologize for middle school Sofia’s aversion towards grammar rules and her other strange antics) then you probably know of my work with the organization Cake4Kids. A wonderful bay area based nonprofit devoted to baking birthday cakes for foster children and at-risk youth, I was deeply saddened when I moved out of the Bay Area and couldn’t volunteer anymore. You can imagine my joy when a few years later, they opened a new branch much closer to where I now live. I immediately took up baking cakes for them again, starting with this one: a mint green cake with a real big gold lined bow topper.

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berry chocolate espresso cake.

Sofia attempting a cake concoction of juicy summer berries and a bittersweet chocolate-coffee combo? It’s more likely than you think. As the end of summer approaches, taking advantage of every blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, any-and-every-kind-of-berry has been my number one priority besides y’know, school (gotta love college application season!). And so I’ve attempted this lovely, minimalistic berry chocolate espresso cake.

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mother’s day cake.

Mother’s Day has long passed, but as I was amidst finals, AP exams, and all things stressful, the time to get more than four hours of sleep much less to write a blog post was sadly scarce. However, summer has finally rolled by and while Mother’s Day is no longer here, I’d like to think any day is a great day to celebrate our moms.

And so I present to you this six inch naked cake with caramelized nuts and vanilla whipped cream! A cake that sounds a lot more fancy than it actually is, this is sure to blow everyone away, mothers and all.

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pumpkin pecan cake.

Thanksgiving in the Abbas household consists of many traditions; family ping pong tournaments, way-too-intense games of scrabble, jazz music (which I’m still not exactly sure how it became tradition), watching football & cricket, and of course food. So Much Food.

The obvious main part of Thanksgiving is forgetting you’re on a diet and proceeding to eat the whole dining table, but in my family, it’s a little bit different. Every year we attempt (mostly successfully) to create a weird Pakistani-Indian-Also Partly Vegan-American fusion of our Thanksgiving dinner which somehow results in more food then we can devour at once. The hardest part hands down is stopping ourselves from eating too much so we have room for dessert.

Which leads to my (shocker) favorite part, dessert.

Desserts sometimes vary from year to year, but most of the time we stick to at least two different types of pies, three different types of ice cream, and a cake that I take responsibility every year.

This year I opted for my favorite pumpkin cake with roasted pecans and cinnamon cream cheese frosting. It’s a bit of a handful to say, but it sure was good.

This was three layers of crunchy pecans, creamy icing, and soft, spiced cake. Everyone knows that eating anything pumpkin flavored is basically a crime before the holiday season so this was basically what I dreamt about for the ten months before Fall started.

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princess cake.

Another princess themed cake? Yup, and I’m not complaining because they’re always the most fun to make (I say that about every cake I make, but trust me on this). Working with these bright colors and so much edible glittery pearl dust; there’s no way this could be anything less.

It’s been a looong time since I’ve worked with fondant which school is to blame for. If it wasn’t for school being important to you know, my unforeseeable future and career, I’d be tempted to drop everything and become a crazy old cake lady at sixteen. Anyway, it was so great to be able to dive back into the cake making waters (now I’m just imagining soggy cake ugh sorry let’s move on) and get my hands covered with so much edible gold glitter. It was absolutely wonderful.

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lemon raspberry cake.

Among the latest trends in the world of baking, naked cakes seems to have become ever so popular. Beautiful cakes for weddings and celebrations kept popping up on my Pinterest (yes, I Pinterest) and I wanted to incorporate this unique look into this delicious lemon raspberry cake.



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