Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Cakes’ Category

Happy 4th Of July – An Homage to The Royal Wedding Cake

I was intrigued by the cake created for the royal wedding, you know Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, elegant and simple with lovely flavors both delicate and bold. When I read about the cake I knew instantly that I wanted to make it. The recipe was published, sort of, it fed thousands so I couldn’t use that recipe, trimming down such a massive amount of ingredients is impossible. A few years ago I found a great recipe for Genoise and decided to use that recipe adding lemon zest and an elderflower soaking syrup. The buttercream is from Stella Parks on Serious Eats @bravetart. I added some elderflower cordial as a flavoring along with the vanilla. It’s fabulous.

One thing I found very interesting is that the quality of buttercream can vary depending on the type of butter you use. I like Kerrygold unsalted it’s super creamy and seems to have a slightly higher fat content.

This cake is going with me to an outdoor BBQ, don’t worry it won’t sit outside in the heat. The BBQ is at my neighbors and I can leave the cake at home until we are ready to serve, I can run home and bring the cake when it’s time for dessert.

I have not tasted it at least not the sum of all its parts, nor do I have any photos of the cut cake since I won’t be serving until tomorrow. Fingers crossed that everyone likes, I want to wish all who celebrate Independence Day in the USA a wonderful day.

Note: If you don’t have cake flour make your own for 1 cup you remove 4 tbs of the flour and replace with 4 tbs of corn starch.

Lemon Curd 

Recipe from Martha Stewart

1 cup sugar

1 tbs lemon zest

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice

8 egg yolks from large eggs

10 tbs unsalted butter cut into small pieces

1/4 tsp kosher salt

Whisk together the sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, egg yolks and salt in a medium size saucepan off heat. Add the butter and cook over medium low heat whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon.  Remove from heat still whisking (this is important you do not want your eggs to scramble) Pour through sieve into container or bowl, cover with plastic wrap you press onto the surface of the curd and refrigerate until cold preferably overnight.

Elderflower soaking syrup

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

1/4 cup St Germaine or elderflower cordial.

Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook until sugar is melted, approximately 15 minutes. Pour into container and allow to cool.

Genoise

From Gourmet Magazine

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup cake flour (sifted first then measured)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

zest of one lemon approximately 1 tbs

5 tbs butter melted and cooled

Heat oven to 350 degree’s

Prepare 2 round 8 inch baking pans, spray with cooking spray and lay a parchment round. Spray or grease the pan and dust with flour. Set aside.

Whip the eggs, sugar, vanilla on medium high until tripled in volume and when paddle is lifted it forms a ribbon.  Melt the butter in a small bowl and set aside. Add the salt to the sifted and measured flour. Sift the flour in 3 installments into the egg mixture gently folding with each addition. Place a scant 1/4 of the batter into the melted butter and mix to combine then add back into the batter folding until incorporated completely. Divide equally into baking pans give a gentle tap on the counter and bake for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned. Let cool in pans for 10 minutes then turn onto cooling racks.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Recipe found on Serious Eats by @bravetart- Stella Parks

6 ounces room temperature egg whites ( 2/3 cup or 5-6 large eggs)

11 ounces (1 2/3 cup sugar)

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

3/4 tsp kosher salt

20 ounces (5 sticks) unsalted room temperature (soft) butter cut into pieces ( I recommend using Kerrygold unsalted butter)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tsp elderflower cordial (use more if you like I went for subtle)

Heat about 1 1/2 inches of water in a large saucepan, bring to a simmer. Put the egg whites, sugar and salt into the bowl of your stand mixer and stir with heat proof spatula. Place over the simmering water making sure not to let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Stir constantly with he spatula until the sugar is COMPLETELY melted and the egg whites are almost hot to the touch. Remove the bowl and attach to your mixer and beat on medium high for about 10 minutes or until the egg whites are thick and glossy and completely cooled. With mixer on add the butter one or two tbs at a time until you have added all of the butter. It’s ok if the buttercream breaks or curdles keep beating it will come together again. Add the vanilla and elderflower cordial and beat a few more minutes. Use immediately but you can make ahead of time and refrigerate. If you do bring to room temperature and beat again before use. For more detailed instructions click here

Putting It all together

Slice off (carefully) the top of the cake very very thinly. Put the bottom layer cut side up on your cake stand and using the pastry brush dab with the elder flower syrup. Pipe some of the butter cream along the edge of the cake and fill the middle in with a thin layer of lemon curd, spread some of the butter cream over the curd. Now add the top layer cut side down (bottom of cake is the top). Spread cake with thin layer of butter cream, a crumb coat. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Frost the rest of the cake. The cake should be brought to room temperature before serving and this is not a good cake to serve outside in the heat, the buttercream is fragile and will melt quite quickly. This buttercream is best served at room temperature not cold so if the cake is refrigerated take it out about an hour before serving.

Cake – A Learning Experience And A Tip

This is a cake recipe that I have been making for years and years, the recipe is tried and true, tested and developed by my Mom many moons ago. Why then did it fail?  I posted this recipe a long time ago on Food52, it has been featured, made over and over again by hundreds and it’s a really good recipe. It all started a few weeks ago when I decided to make a cake, I followed the directions as I always do, did not deviate, everything looked good until I got the cake out of the oven, it looked different, the sides were shrinking, coming away from the sides of the pan, not just a little but dramatically and the texture just didn’t seem right. It was more like an angel food cake than a yellow cake and was mis-shapen and lopsided. I thought I had to have done something wrong, maybe I whipped the egg whites too long, so I threw it away and made it again this time being EXTREMELY careful with my preparation. Guess what, same outcome. I honestly didn’t know what to think, I am not a novice baker, I try to use quality ingredients and follow directions to the letter. It was discouraging to say the least. I systematically started analyzing everything that went into this cake, eggs were the right size and at room temperature, milk also room temperature, my baking powder was not expired, the only change was that I opened a new box of  cake flour so I thought hmmmm maybe it was the flour. I called King Arthur Bakers Catalog, who by the way are a wonderful company and spoke to one of their baking experts, they took down the lot number and other information on all 3 boxes that I had received and asked me to do an experiment, try making my own cake flour, in case you have never done this you remove 4 tbs of flour from 1 cup of all purpose flour and replace with 4 tbs of corn starch, btw, they refunded my money which I didn’t ask them to do but because they are an outstanding company they did it. A few weeks went by before I decided to give it another try.

The bottom layer is the one using the new cake pan, can you see the difference?

THE RESULT

I made the cake using homemade cake flour, it turned out really well except for one thing, one layer I baked in my Chicago Metal cake pan that I have been using for ions, the other layer I baked in a newish cake pan. The layer in my old pan was great, the other layer was good but not as good as the other layer, how could that be? To be fair I have used the new cake pan for other cake and it turned out just fine but for some reason not as much for this yellow cake. Truth be told I’m very picky and OCD about what I make and I notice even minor changes and they bother me. The cake was good, don’t get me wrong but there was a minute difference in that one layer. Going forward I will only bake my yellow cake recipe in the Chicago metal pans and will continue to be loyal to King Arthur flour but from now on I think I will make my own cake flour. Lesson learned.

I’ve posted this recipe before and it’s a favorite, Coconut Pineapple layer cake It’s delicious, the cake was perfect with a tender crumb, great flavor and very moist. I won’t post the recipe again just the story and some photo’s. Links are provided if you would like to give this a go.

single serve mixed nut milk

Nut milk is wonderful and a fantastic alternative to milk (dairy). I make nut milk all the time but sometimes would forget to soak my nuts overnight, the other problem is that nut milk doesn’t last long before it goes bad. I had an idea that ended up working out great, I soak a large quantity of nuts overnight, drain and freeze. That way I have pre soaked nuts ready to make milk and can portion out as much as I want. Don’t throw away the nut meal left from straining the milk, it’s fabulous when added to granola. Another perk is that when you add cold water to the cold nuts you have ice cold nut milk, delicious!!

frozen mixed nuts

I’ll leave you with a few photos of Percy and Jenna Rose who by the way is doing great and adapting to her new life in Brooklyn.

 

 

 

 

Jenna Rose And Some Baking

Well so much has been happening I haven’t posted in a while. My new normal has been much harder than I anticipated with regards to Percy and his health issues. The diabetes has ravaged his little body and he is now almost completely blind and very feeble. I can’t leave him unattended for fear he will fall and hurt himself and besides having to give him insulin every day the new challenges to keep him safe have been daunting. Work has also been very busy and I am having to try to arrange my schedule around caring for Percy and when I have to leave for more than an hour I have to hire a pet sitter, it gives me peace of mind knowing he is safe.

I had mentioned in a previous post that my dear friend had passed away suddenly from complications from diabetes. She was one of the founders of our Instagram pug group and had a little pug named Jenna Rose. When Irene passed her husband could not care for Jenna and Irene’s daughter could not take her either, it broke their hearts but for Jenna’s safety she could not have her in her home, you see she has two big German Shepherds that were not fond of Jenna.  I was honored that Irene’s family asked me if I would adopt her, Jenna lived with Irene and her husband Pete in Bowler Wisconsin on a big property with lots of acreage and a population of 325 people in the town. Jenna’s adventure began last week when my friends, my pug family, selflessly devised a plan to get Jenna to Brooklyn, NY. It was a labor of love that spanned almost 1400 miles. In a nutshell Irene’s daughter’s (Misty) husband and her daughter loaded Jenna in a truck and drove her to Fairfield Ohio where they met Carrie, Jenna was handed to her and she drove her to Verona Pennsylvania where she met Corrine who took her to New Jersey where she met Mary and she drove Jenna to Brooklyn. Quite an ordeal and a big adventure for this little girl. She is 6 years old and the sweetest little pug you will ever meet. You have to understand how amazing this was, selfless people who gave of their time and all for love. You see we all were close friends of Irene and would do anything for her. We just wish we she were still with us!

Jenna Rose arrived on Saturday evening a country girl now living in the big city. It’s an adjustment for her and for Percy but they are both doing great. Things are starting to fall into place and I am beginning to adjust as well to everything. Jenna loves it here, she loves Percy and Percy is really starting to love her as well.

I have been cooking sporadically but nothing to speak of really. I did make brownies the other day, a recipe from the new cookbook Bravetart by Stella Parks, and they are awesome. I cannot post the recipe without permission, I’m sorry but if you are in the market for an amazing cookbook I highly recommend. I also made a cake and tried my hand at decorating, it’s something I have to work on but the cake turned out great and I think with some practice I could get fairly good at it. The problem with practice is who would eat all that cake, I would be as big as a house.

Percy and Jenna cheek to cheek

Brownies

chocolate cake with mascarpone buttercream

Once again I have 2 pugs, black and fawn, well apricot really just like Izzy and Nando. More to come….

Mini Chocolate Sponge Cakes With Buttercream Frosting

This is a simple chocolate sponge cake, the one I have always and will always use because it never fails, NEVER. So easy to make and the cake is tender and soft but still maintains the sponge like quality that, well makes it sponge cake. It’s made on a half sheet pan and is the recipe I used for my Brooklyn Blackout Semifreddo cake that was posted on Food52 and also featured in their cookbook “Ice cream and Friends”. For this little dessert I cut out small ( 3.5 inch) round layers and filled with the super simple French Buttercream that I used in the Dacquoise last year. I layered 3 rounds per mini cake and the sheet cake will give you 4 mini three layer mini cakes and don’t throw out the scraps you can freeze them and make something with them.

Cake

  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Place milk and butter in glass measuring cup and microwave for 45 seconds or until butter is melted. Using stand mixer with wire whisk or electric mixer whip the eggs and sugar on med/high for approximately 8 minutes or until the mixture is pale yellow, tripled in volume and thick, with the machine running slowly add the heated milk and butter. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Fold into the egg mixture, there should be no lumps. Fold in the vanilla. Grease a 1/2 sheet pan, lay parchment sheet and grease the parchment, and sprinkle with sugar. Pour batter into the pan, spread so that it is evenly distributed and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes in the pan run a knife around the edges to loosen then invert onto wire rack, remove parchment and let cool completely.

Buttercream

Recipe (doubled) food52 – Merrill Stubbs

12 oz soft unsalted butter

4 egg yolks

1 1/3 cup confectioners or powdered sugar

2 tbs vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until thick, silky and spreadable. Thats it, so easy!!

Chocolate Caramel Ganache

1/3 cup heavy cream

2.5 oz dark and milk chocolate chopped

2 tbs caramel sauce (I had some homemade caramel sauce in the refrigerator but you can use whatever is your favorite this is optional).

1-2 tbs clear karo syrup

Bring cream to scalding, add chocolate and caramel sauce and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth and glossy, stir in the karo syrup. Let cool to room temperature before pouring on cake.

 

 

Boston Cream Pie

 

It’s almost Valentines Day and in the days leading up to this day that celebrates love I am going to post a few recipes for desserts.  The first is Boston Cream Pie which is one of my all time favorite desserts, I love it, can’t resist it and I think that if I could pick only one dessert that I couldn’t live without this would be it. As a child this was the cake I always picked for my birthday, there was a bakery in my home town that made one of the best and my Mom after we moved from there developed a cake recipe just so she could make me this cake. I didn’t use the recipe for Tender Yellow Cake for this dessert however, I recently purchased a new cookbook “Bravetart” by Stella Parks and decided to try her recipe for the cake. Before putting the recipe on the blog I checked and it was published on the internet by Food and Wine. I have to say I love this cookbook, Stella has taken so many iconic American treats (it’s like a trip down memory lane) and developed them so that you can make them at home, the goodness of a Hostess Twinkie or cupcake or Little Debbie snack cake without all the additives, love it!

Boston Cream Pie is a cake not a pie and I am not sure why they call it pie not cake but whats in a name anyway, it’s wonderful. The original recipe uses sponge cake, a vanilla pudding or pastry cream filling and it is covered with a wonderful chocolate ganache although there seems to be debate as to whether or not the original actually had the chocolate glaze. Simple and unadorned, nothing intricate about it but the sum of all it’s parts makes an absolutely delicious dessert.

Instead of the pudding in the book I used my favorite pastry cream recipe which always holds up beautifully.  I sometimes have problems with corn starch based fillings, they often are not stiff enough and I didn’t want to take a chance having never used that recipe before. I have a lot of egg whites left over so an angel food cake will be in the works soon.

The cake is moist and a cross between a sponge and yellow cake. Next time I will mix some milk chocolate with the dark for the ganache because I like it just a little sweeter but it is still very good even with only dark.  I kept the cake in the refrigerator overnight so it was cold when I poured the ganache on and the chocolate kind of stopped in its tracks and I had to spread it, I recommend bringing the cake to room temperature before pouring the ganache so you get that smooth mirror like finish.

Boston Cream Pie

The Cake – Recipe by Stella Parks in “Bravetart”

Makes one 2 layer 8 inch cake

2 cups (8 oz) bleached cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp kosher salt (I used a heaping 1/4 tsp)

1 tbs vanilla extract

3/4 cup egg yolks (from approximately 12 large eggs) It was 11 eggs for me depends on size

4 tbs unsalted butter, melted (I used salted butter)

1 cup milk at room temperature

Oven rack should be in the middle of the oven. Heat to 350 degree’s. Line 2 8″x3″ round cake pans with parchment and grease with cooking spray (like Pam). Sift flour into a medium bowl and whisk in baking powder.

Combine sugar, vanilla and egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on low to moisten and then increase the speed to medium high and whip until thick, light and doubled in volume, approximately 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low and drizzle in butter followed by the milk. Once added shut off the mixer, detach the bowl and gently incorporate the flour with a balloon whisk Fold the thin batter with a flexible spatula once or twice  from the bottom up. Divide between prepared cake pans.

Bake until cakes are lightly browned and firm approximately 20 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then gently loosen and invert onto cooling racks. Place the pans over the cakes to trap steam and cool to room temperature. NOTE: my cakes took almost 30 minutes to get a light (golden brown)

Once cakes have cooled slice a little off the tops of each layer (so the pudding will soak into the cake. Place one layer on cake stand and spread a generous amount of the pudding and place the other layer on top. Cover and let sit at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Ganache

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) dark chocolate roughly chopped

Bring cream to a simmer, remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes and then whisk until thick and creamy. Refrigerate for about 25 minutes don’t let it cool completely the ganache must still be a bit warm. Pour over the cake, let set and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Apple Cake With Brown Sugar Buttercream Frosting

 

Continuing my homage to the apple, the quintessential harbinger of Autumn I made an apple cake. I have been making this cake for many years and it never fails, I found it years ago while watching an episode of Martha Stewarts show on Food Network.  The cake is moist and rustic in texture, loaded with apples and warm autumn spices. Sometimes I use a cream cheese frosting but this time I made the frosting that is featured in the recipe on Martha Stewarts site. The frosting is gently sweet, buttery and has a lovely caramel flavor that comes from using brown sugar instead of granulated.

I really love this cake, it couldn’t be easier to make, no mixer required. The recipe calls for grated and diced apples but I like to use homemade applesauce, I make it in the oven, peel and quarter 4 apples, add a splash of apple cider, cover and bake for about 30 minutes until the apples are soft. Let them cool and mash with a fork. I prefer using applesauce rather than grating apples, the cake has some small pieces of apples and a balanced apple flavor. I think the buttercream is good but I prefer the cream cheese frosting,  it’s a bit sweeter but the tangy creaminess from the cream cheese goes so well with this cake. Just saying!!

I am bringing the cake to Fiesta Friday #196. This weeks co hosts are Antonia@Zoale.com and Jhuls@The Not So Creative Cook.

Cake

Recipe from Martha Stewart

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp powdered ginger

1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter melted

2 large eggs

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 1/2 cup applesauce or 4 apples peeled- 2 grated and 2 diced)

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Prepare 3 8 inch round baking pans by lining with parchment, butter or grease and dust with flour, set aside.

In medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt and set aside. In a large bowl whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar and eggs. Fold in the applesauce or apples. Add the flour mixture and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon just until combined. Divide equally into prepared baking pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until browned and toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, run butter knife or offset spatula around the edges to loosen and turn out onto cooling racks. Let cool completely before frosting.

Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Recipe from Martha Stewart

4 egg whites from large eggs

1 cup light brown sugar lightly packed

3 sticks or 12 oz of softened unsalted butter

Set pan with about 2 inches of water on low heat, place the egg whites and brown sugar in mixing bowl and set on top of the simmering water (bowl should not touch the water). Whisk until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar is completely melted. Place on stand mixer with whisk attachment and mix on medium speed until fluffy and completely cooled, approximately 15 minutes. Change to paddle attachment and add the soft butter 1 tbs at a time while the mixer is on med low speed. Once butter is incorporated continue to mix on medium speed for another 3-5 minutes. If it curdles it’s ok, keep mixing it will come together. Frost cake immediately.  I piled way too much frosting on top, don’t do like I do and make sure the frosting is evenly spread all over the cake. Thats what happens when you are in a hurry.

London Fog Cake

I have been wanting to make a cake for a while now but lacked inspiration to try something a little different. There is a tendency to stick with the tried and true in both flavors and recipes, not that there is anything wrong with that but sometimes I feel the need to do something different. Since I got the tea from Adagio I have wanted to make another recipe using it that isn’t a cup of hot or iced tea. Yesterday an email appeared in my inbox from Pinterest and I saw this cake and immediately was struck by how utterly delicious it looked but then when I clicked on the link the frosting is flavors with Earl Grey Tea. The cake itself is pretty simple chocolate cake with a earl grey buttercream and then it’s drizzled with caramel. Sounds great right? I thought so too!! I decided to take it a step further and infuse the caramel with tea as well. The recipe is from The Cake Blog and it’s beautifully decorated and photographed. Decorating cakes is not my strong suite nor is photography but irregardless this cake sounds too good not to make. My recommendations are in bold print, I found the earl grey flavor overpowering and would recommend reducing the amount of tea used to infuse the butter. I love earl grey tea but feel that the buttercream needed to be a little more subtle in flavor.

This is my favorite chocolate cake, a recipe from Hershey’s which is on the can of unsweetened cocoa powder, the recipe has also been posted here on the blog many times click here to see it. I’ve made other cake recipes and nothing IMHO even compares. It’s simple, moist and delicious and never fails.

I am going to bring this cake with me to Fiesta Friday #188 and this weeks co hosts are Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Nimmi @ Adorable Life

Earl Grey Buttercream

Recipe from Theresa Huff for The Cake Blog

Frosts 2 layer 9 inch cake or 3 layer 8 inch cake

2 cups unsalted butter

1/4 cup loose earl grey tea (Recommend to reduce to 1-2 tbs)

1/2 cup plus 2 tbs egg whites ( 150 grams) the whites from 4-5 large eggs

1 1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or seeds from half a vanilla bean

Place one cup of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let tea steep for another 5 minutes. Strain the butter into a bowl and refrigerate until the butter is the consistency of softened butter approximate 20-30 minutes or longer it took over an hour before my butter hardened.

Place egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and hand whisk until foamy and mixed. Place an inch or two of water in a saucepan on medium heat, place the bowl with the egg whites and sugar on top of it being careful not to let the bowl touch the water. Whisk frequently until the sugar melts it should register 155-160 on the candy thermometer or until it’s hot to the touch. Fit the bowl onto your stand mixer.

Fit the mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on high for 8-10 minutes until the mixture holds medium stiff peaks. When done the outside of the bowl should be room temperature and there should be no residual heat, you also should hold your hand over the bowl and you should not feel any heat at all.  Stop the mixer, remove the whisk attachment and replace with a paddle.

With the mixer on low speed add the vanilla, the tea infused butter and the other butter a few tablespoons at a time. Once the butter is incorporated turn the mixer to medium high and beat for another 3-5 minutes. The buttercream will be thick and silky.

Earl Grey caramel sauce

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tbs light corn syrup

2 tbs strong earl grey tea

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 tbs butter,diced

generous pinch sea salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

Place sugar, corn syrup and water in a deep heavy bottom saucepan, stir to combine. Heat over high heat swirling occasionally for 8-10 minutes. The sugar mixture will start to rapidly boil before slowing down and darkening in color. Remove the saucepan from the heat once it has reached the desired color, I like a deep amber. Note: my caramel got a bit over done, almost burnt. I cooked on high and all of a sudden it started rising almost to the top of the pot after I removed from the heat. I didn’t want to add the cream and butter until it settled but that was a mistake, I should have added it to cool it down and stop the cooking process. So my caramel is a bit bitter. My advise is to remove from the heat right when it turns a light amber and add the butter and cream. Because it was so bitter I threw away half and replaced that half with a chocolate ganache. The pot I used was too small and it almost boiled over hence the over cooking, the caramel continues to cook even after removed from the heat and what stops that is adding the butter and cream. Because my pot was not big enough I had to wait until the bubbles went down a bit. 

Slowly and carefully whisk in the cream being careful to stand back because it will sputter and foam so stand clear.

Add the butter and continue to stir until melted. Now add the salt and vanilla and stir to combine. Pour into a heat proof container and let cool, it will thicken as it cools.

Assembling the cake

Place one of the layers on your cake stand or serving plate. Spread some of the butter cream to cover the layer and continue until all layers are place. Frost top and sides of cake and refrigerate until cooled at least 20 minutes.

Pour the caramel sauce over the top of the cooled cake letting it drip down the sides.

I made this cake yesterday and wasn’t in love with the flavor, today it tastes better maybe the tea flavor has mellowed but I still recommend reducing the amount of tea used in the buttercream. I love the buttercream recipe it is silky and just the perfect consistency and will definitely be using it again.

Paleo Gluten Free Frosted Cake Brownies

I really want to expand my horizons, I have always been a butter and sugar kind of gal and use it when I bake just about everything. On July 4th I went to a BBQ at a friends house and one of the guests practices a paleo lifestyle and has really done amazingly well. While we all enjoyed the cheesecake for dessert I watched her sit there with nothing and felt kind of bad. On Instagram I noticed a post for paleo brownies with a peanut butter frosting that looked amazing and I decided to give them a try. If you follow strict paleo, the brownies in the recipe are not 100% paleo as they have a peanut butter frosting and peanuts are not permitted. I chose to follow in that same line of thinking and the frosting I made is also not 100% paleo but it’s close. It really is delicious, I paleo-ized  (don’t think thats a word) Merrill Stubbs buttercream recipe on food52, the same one I used for the dacquoise that I made a few months ago. Since the recipe calls for powdered sugar (not paleo) and coconut palm sugar is allowed, I thought I   would make my own powdered sugar using the coconut palm sugar and a little coconut flour. It worked well, if I had a vitamix it probably would have been a little better but my Ninja did a pretty good job. There are a few pieces of the coconut sugar that didn’t break down but IMHO that gives it character. The coconut sugar gives the buttercream a caramel flavor.

The brownies which are really more like a cake are so easy to make, you put all the ingredients in a blender, process until smooth and pour into a prepared pan. Got to love that! NOTE: Be careful not to over bake, I think I did and they got a little dry. Whenever I make a recipe for the first time I follow it to the letter but if I make these again I will make a few changes. I am not going to embrace a paleo lifestyle although in theory it sounds good and I know people that have lost an incredible amount of weight and feel great but I find it too restrictive, but rather choose to try to eat healthfully with portion control and limit sugar. I also could not eat as much meat as you are supposed to eat on paleo, not my thing.

  1. Add chocolate chips or chunks or shaved chocolate (if going paleo find paleo friendly chocolate)
  2. The recipe said to use a 7 inch square pan, I have never seen a 7 inch pan and used my 8 inch pan which made them a little thinner than the ones pictured in the original recipe. It would be even better to use a 6 inch square if you can find one.
  3. Might increase the coconut oil a bit adding an additional tablespoon or 2.

Paleo/GF Brownies

Recipe from paleo gluten free eats

1 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1/4 cup coconut milk (full fat is best)

6 large eggs

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

Heat oven to 350 degree’s.

Line 8 inch square pan with parchment paper so there is an overhand on 2 sides. Grease the sides and bottom with a little coconut oil.

Add all the ingredients to your blender and process until smooth, you may need to scrape the sides once or twice. Scrape into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes (test after 20 minutes). Cake tester should come out fairly clean (a few crumbs are fine). Better to be a little under done than over done, it continues to bake a little after removed from the oven.

Powdered coconut sugar

1 cup coconut sugar

1 tbs coconut flour.

Place in high powered blender like vitamix and process until it’s powdery. It took about 10 minutes. If you have a vitamix use the dry container for this if not it’s ok, I used my to go cup on my ninja and it worked great. Place in a covered container. You might want to double the recipe if making the frosting because you need 1 1/2 cups.

Frosting

1 egg yolk from farm fresh egg or pasteurized egg

1 1/2 cup powdered coconut sugar

4 1/2 oz earth balance vegan butter or you could use coconut butter or even  pure cocoa butter (earth balance is not paleo because it contains soy)

1 tsp vanilla extract

Place everything in a bowl and beat with your electric mixer until smooth and creamy.

Frost the brownies when cooled and cut into pieces after frosting. Refrigerate until ready to use. NOTE: the egg can be eliminated but it gives a silky smooth texture that I love. The egg is not cooked or heated so make sure you use eggs from a trusted source, fresh or pasteurized.

 

 

Mocha Dacquoise Cake And The Winners Of the Giveaway

I usualy try to keep my posts consise, short,  but this one requires a lot of explanation so in advance let me apologize. This was quite an ordeal, the cake did not turn out exactly like I wanted, there were a few bumps in the road, as a matter of fact I had to keep changing things as I went along. The fillings were a disaster, I originally had the idea to use a Mocha Mousse as one of the fillings which sounds good in theory, but in practice not so much. When I put the mousse on the bottom layer and placed another layer on top of it and gently pressed down it oozed out all over the sides, it was not firm enough. The dacquoise although they feel firm in reality are fragile, very fragile. The French Buttercream was a disaster. I beat the egg yolks until tripled in volume and were thick and light in color. I brought the sugar syrup to 265 which is really past the hard ball stage on the thermometer, with the mixer running drizzled the hot syrup down the side of the bowl as directed, two problems with this 1. the sugar syrup when it hits the side of the bowl hardens so I moved it away from the side of the bowl and 2. the beater flung hardened sugar strands everywhere. OMG, it was a mess. I managed to make it adding the butter in pieces until combined. I had sugar candy stuck on the side of the bowl and sugar strands wound around the whisk from when the syrup hit it. Because the syrup was hard ball stage the buttercream was very stiff, which I guess is a good thing because it stays put unlike the mousse. Last minute I also made a buttercream recipe I saw on Food52 from Merrill Stubbs. It is a quick and easy version of a French buttercream using egg yolks, butter, powdered sugar and flavoring of your choice. It takes about 10 minutes to make is silky and thick and really a great frosting or filling. This went in as a filling, it wasn’t quite enough for a thick layer of filling but at this point it was ok. To cover up all the imperfections I frosted with the Chantilly but used my recipe for stabilized whipped cream frosting.

I tried the recipe from Saveur for the Dacquoise and failed pretty badly, not exactly sure what happened. The batter was runny, the dacquoise were like thin crisp mishapen sugar cookies. I know there is supposed to be a crispness but this was more cookie like.  IMHO I think there is too much sugar in the recipe. It’s also possible I over processed the almonds and sugar. The batter spread and didn’t look anything like the photo’s (sorry no photo’s) and video’s I’ve seen of how to make Dacquoise and certainly didn’t look like the one in the Saveur video (the video is included in the link above). Humph… I decided to search for another recipe and found one from Fine Cooking that looked good. It seemed pretty simple, the proportion of the ingredients sounded right and loved that it used hazelnuts and almonds (love hazelnuts).

misshapen, flat and really crisp first attempt

Second attempt, instead of rounds I made a rectanglar cake.  The recipe from Fine Cooking is wonderful, the batter is perfect, holds it’s shape when piped onto the baking sheet, I feel like this will be a success. The batter is super easy, and quick to put together. I have actually become quite good now at the dacquoise. Because one of the layers bit the dust, I quickly made a half a recipe which I can now make without even looking at the recipe and put it on top.

Final Analysis:

Perfect batter, ready for the long bake

Dacqoise

From Fine Cooking

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts

1/2 cup toasted almonds

1 1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/8 tsp kosher salt

6 egg whites

1/3 cup granulated sugar

French Buttercream

7 large egg yolks (about 1/2 cup)

12 oz- 3 sticks usalted butter softenend

2/3 cup strong coffee

1 cup (7 1/2 oz) sugar

 Chantilly

2 cups heavy cream divided

2 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Buttercream

Recipe on Food52 by Merrill Stubbs

6 oz soft unsalted butter

2 egg yolks

2/3 cup confectioners or powdered sugar

1 tbs vanilla extract

Put all the ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat until thick, silky and spreadable. Thats it, so easy!!

Instructions

Dacquoise

Pre heat oven to 225 degree’s and position a rack in the middle of the oven. Draw three 10×3 rectangles onto parchment paper, turn over and place on sheet pan spray with cooking spray, butter or oil and set aside.

Add the hazelnuts to food processor and pulse just until it is a fine powder, no longer otherwise it will turn to paste. Next pulse the almonds the same way. Place the nut flour in mixing bowl and sift the powdered sugar over and add the salt. Stir with rubber spatula to combine.

In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachement beat the egg whites for 3-4 minutes until there are soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar in 3 additions beating well after each addition and the egg whites are thick and glossy and hold a stiff peak.

Sprinkle the nut mixture on top and gently fold into the meringue until combined. The consistency will be thick and gooey. You can either use a piping bag with a 1/2 inch plain tip or spread the batter in the rectangles 3 inches apart as they will expand.  Place in the oven and bake for approximately 2- 3 hours or until they are firm to the touch. Turn off the oven and let them sit with oven door closed for 6 or more hours. NOTE: Although the recipe does not say to, I rotated the pans every now and then to ensure even browning. I used 2 sheet pans because I was afraid they would run (they didn’t) and the pan on the lower rack browned more quickly. Also the dacquoise were done at just slightly over 2 hours, so I turned off the oven and let them sit for about 6 hours. After turning off the oven I waited about 20 minutes and then gently loosed them. Believe me, it helped greasing the parchment they gave way easily and there was no sticking.

 French Buttercream

In a high sided saucepan over medium heat, add the coffee and sugar, set a candy or deep fry thermometer in the pan and cook until it reaches 265 degrees.

Meanwhile in the clean bowl of a stand mixer whip the egg yolks until tripled in volume and the color has lightened significantly, approximately 8 minutes.

Once the syrup has reached the temperature, remove and slowly pour the mixture into the yolks, whisking on medium low speed. Continue to run the mixer for 20-30 minutes, letting it cool completely. Once fully cooled, add the butter one tbs at a time, whisking until fully incorporated after each addition. The buttercream will thicken noticeably when all the butter has been fully incorporated.

Chantilly

To a small saucepan add 1/2 cup cream, whisk in the confectioners sugar and corn starch. Cook on medium heat until the mixture thickens. Immediately remove from the heat, scrape into a bowl and set aside, stirring frequently until cooled completely.

Place 1 1/2 cup cold heavy cream in mixing bowl and start beating using either whisk attachment on your stand mixer or hand held is fine also, add the cream cornstarch mixture and flavoring of your choice, continue to beat until thick and stiff peaks form. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.

Assembly

The layers were not even at all, some were smaller, some larger, there was some overhang and the layer that had the failed mousse attempt was cracked and broken. Dacquoise is very fragile and does well when filled and covered and refrigerated overnight or longer. Because the layers were uneven in size I trimmed them with kitchen shears as a knife just doesn’t cut it. The pieces and crumbs I pressed into the bottom layer that had some canyon size gaps, mixing with a little of buttercream from the sides of the cake. Talk about kitchen hacks, this cake was hacked every step of the way.

Anaylysis:

Will I ever make this again, maybe. The perfectionist in me wants to keep making it until I get it right but it literally was hours and days of work. The dacquoise I have down pat and it’s really not hard. I don’t think I will ever make the French buttercream again, it’s just not worth the effort and the results did not knock my socks off. I really like Merrill’s shortcut version of a French Buttercream, it tastes almost exactly like it, it’s fool proof, quick and easy. All in all I actually loved the challenge, it didn’t matter that it was a partial fail, I learned a lot and made something with a fair degree of difficulty and it was edible, I learned what to do and what not to do, what works and what doesn’t. Because of that I view this as a success for the simple fact that I did it! Tasting it though, it did kind of knock my socks off, the cake is delicious, the dacquoise retained its crunch kind of a melt in your mouth crunch and I am really glad I used hazelnuts. Ok maybe I will make it again.

The Winners

Selected by feeding everyone’s names into Random.org the winners of the cookbooks are and Annie@Give me meatloaf and Teagan@Teagans Books. Congratulations to you both. Watch for an email, I will need your mailing address so we can get those books out to you asap.

Happy Valentines Day-Chocolate Layer Cake With Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache Frosting

img_9500

I don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day but one thing I love to do is make a special dessert, usually containing chocolate. The cake is chocolate, my favorite go to recipe from Hershey and the frosting is one that I developed and entered in a contest at Food52, I was lucky enough to win the contest with this simple and very delicious frosting, there is no added sugar so it’s not cloyingly sweet and is it’s very light. Three layers of cake piled high with chocolate caramel whipped ganache is a great way to celebrate this day that celebrates love. Speaking of love, February 13th is Percy’s gotcha day, I will forever be grateful to Emily for letting me adopt Percy and although he cannot have chocolate cake I will make him a special dinner, his outfit a vest, white shirt and red bow time was made by an uber talented designer I met on Instagram see her work @thestylishbisou, she is amazing.  I made a 8 inch 3 layer cake and the recipe for the ganache made just enough to fill and frost the top, you can easily double the recipe for more frosting to cover the entire cake.

I am bringing this special Valentines cake with me to Fiesta Friday #158 and the co hosts this week are Ai @ Ai Made It For You and Petra @ Food Eat Love Check out all the gorgeous food and join us all at the party.

img_9400

Hershey’s Best Chocolate Cake

makes 24 cupcakes, two 9 inch layers or three 8 inch layers

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup whole milk at room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Line muffin pan with liners or butter and flour cake pans.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In 4 cup measuring cup add the wet ingredients and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with electric mixer for 2 minutes. In the meantime put water on to boil and add the 1 cup boiling water to the batter and mix with electric mixer for 1 minute or until combined.

The batter will be thin, thats ok it’s supposed to be that way. Pour into prepared pans and for cupcakes bake 20-25 minutes. Layer cakes 30-40 minutes depending on size of the pan. Cake is done when tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

img_9367

Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache

Chocolate Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter cut into tablepoon-size pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces dark chocolate (I used bittersweet)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Put the heavy cream in a glass measuring cup and microwave on high for 45 seconds, add chocolate and microwave another 30 seconds Stir until its smooth, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine, add the butter to the warm chocolate cream and set aside .
In large saucepan add the sugar, turn heat to med/high and let sit until it starts to liquefy. Swirl the pot and gently move  with a heat proof spatula.  Cook until it turns amber in color.
Remove from heat and add the chocolate cream. Stir until its incorporated. Be careful when adding the cream and butter the hot liquid sugar will bubble and could burn you. Store in a container at room temperature until ready to use. If you make this ahead of time, simply place the bottle or jar in hot water to warm the caramel so it’s pourable. Note: I changed this slightly, instead of adding the butter and then the choolate cream. I added the butter to the warm chocolate cream and added it all at once after removing the caramel from the heat.
Ganache :
4 ounces dark chocolate broken into small pieces
4 ounces milk chocolate broken into small pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon liquor (I like cointreau or kahlua) or vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate caramel sauce
Heat cream to scalding (not boiling). Pour over the pieces of chocolate that are in a mixing bowl. Let sit 5 minutes then stir until there are no pieces of chocolate and it’s smooth and shiny, then add the chocolate caramel sauce and stir to combine.
Place bowl in an ice bath or in the refrigerator until cooled but not COLD  — it will stiffen fairly quickly if it gets too cold. Remove from the ice bath and beat with a mixer or whisk until the ganache is fluffy and spreadable. Frost the cake immediately. Best served at room temperature.

img_9589

Percy

Percy