Tags: baking, cake, dessert, holiday
It’s almost Christmas, and that means it’s time to get fancy in the kitchen! Something like a Gingerbread bûche de Noël sounds like the right way to celebrate. Way back in the early days of this space, I made another bûche. That one was all done up with stumps, meringue mushrooms and faux wood grain…this one’s easier in that it’s just a roulade but it’s still a showstopper and, of course, it still has several steps. In addition to a gently-spiced geniose-style gingerbread sponge cake, there’s a cream cheese filling, a marshmallow meringue frosting and, for crunch and sparkle, a pecan praline.
If you’re the organized type, you can actually break up the steps and knock out the praline and filling a day in advance, but I did it all start to finish in one afternoon, so I can tell you that it’s procrastinator-friendly, too. I did kind of goof up the cake a bit, and you can see it in the center of the spiral. I deflated the cake batter while mixing in the butter at the end. I was pretty annoyed with myself, and worried it would be like eating a rubber mat, but there’s a lot going on with this cake and we also had it with a scoop of eggnog ice cream, so it really wasn’t that noticeable. Next time, I’ll do better with that. Although the marshmallow makes a stunning, glossy, snow-white frosting, I had a lot left over…next time, I’ll also try cutting that amount in half. I’ll reduce the cream of tartar in the frosting a bit as well because I think it gave the marshmallow a slightly acidic taste. If you’re on the fence about gingerbread (I know not everyone is crazy about it), the flavoring here is very subtle…no molasses or cloves or other dark and mysterious flavors.
Tags: baking, brownies, cake, chocolate, dessert, holiday
For Saint Patrick’s Day, I turned the Mocha Brownie Cake from Marcel Desaulniers into a Baileys Brownie Cake. Oh yeah! It was as easy as just replacing the coffee in the ganache with Baileys…plus a swig more to taste. I’m lucky I’m a fast baker, because I pushed the clock on this one. All those resting and chilling times didn’t really register when I read through the recipe. Thanks to my BFF, the freezer, I managed to get a photo while it was still light(ish) out.
I made a half recipe in six-inch form. It only took about 35 minutes to bake (I watched it closely, cuz no one likes a dry brownie). The cake is a cake-brownie hybrid. It starts out with whipped eggs– sort of like those Best-Ever Brownies we made awhile back– and also has baking powder for lift. I was kind of nervous to cut the cake into three layers, but it rose nicely in the oven and after it was chilled and firm, it was really no problem to slice…it helped that it was a small cake, I’m sure.
The filling and glaze is a dark chocolate ganache flavored with coffee (or Baileys for me, thanks). Delicious! I just realized after reading another blogger’s post that I completely forgot to add the extra sugar in the ganache. Oh well– it doesn’t need it, especially if you like your chocolate on the dark, bitter side (or you use sweet Baileys to make it). Even thought the recipe said to make sure the ganache was still pourable when filling the layers, mine was definitely spreadable– the consistency of thick custard. I didn’t see any problem with using it that way, and in fact it set up nicely. I didn’t need to build the cake up in a springform pan and it was ready to glaze quickly. I did reheat the remaining ganache so I’d have a shiny, pourable glaze for over the top. And then I sprinkled the cake with green luster dust for extra shimmer.
I’m really impressed with this actually. It looks great cut (use a hot knife) and it totally satisfies my ever-present chocolate craving. Also, it’s a heck of a lot easier to put together than Marcel D’s “Death by Chocolate Cake,” which I made once and is waaaay more involved.
Tags: baking, birthday, cake, dessert, giveaway
Sometimes I just want a piece of birthday cake…even if it’s no one’s birthday. Know how that is? I do feel I’m embarrassingly late to the imaginary party with this confetti cake. I don’t even know if I’ve ever had the Pillsbury version. And it seems everyone’s made a homemade one but me (till now). What I thought was some magical secret to the colored bursts of confetti is really just jimmies stirred into cake batter. A cute book called Sprinkles!, which helps turn all things sparkly or rainbow-colored, showed me that. My own sprinkles collection borders on the absurd. Apparently I really needed this book– I’m filing it in the “self-help” section of my bookshelf.
Back to the cake! The base here is a delicate white cake flavored with almond extract, although it would be also great flavored with lemon, so I included that as an option. The sprinkles folded into the batter explode in the in oven (not in a dangerous way, I promise!) into little pops of color scattered throughout each slice. I think any frosting you like with white cake would work well here, so use your favorite. I made an American-style powdered sugar buttercream with a blob of cream cheese added in to temper the sweetness just a bit. The sides of the cake are exposed to show off the fun inside, and don’t forget the extra sprinkles on top!
The kind folks at Quirk Books sent me a copy of Sprinkles!, and now I want to jazz up your baking by sending a copy to one of you. Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 4:00 pm EST on Tuesday, March 18 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list. Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you if you’re chosen.
***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. It selected comment 24, so congratulations to Barb T. I’ll be in touch and sending your book soon!***
Confetti Layer Cake– makes a 9-inch triple layer cake
adapted from Sprinkles! by Jackie Alpers
Steph’s Note: Obviously I didn’t bake my cake in 9-inch rounds. I scaled it back to a third and baked it as a quarter-sheet (adjusting baking time accordingly), which I then cut into three strips and frosted.
1 1/2 cups milk
9 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/3 cup applesauce or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or lemon extract
4 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted, plus extra for flouring pans
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup rainbow jimmies, plus extra for decoration
4 cups (approximately) your favorite buttercream or cream cheese frosting
-Preheat oven to 350°F. Line three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment circles, grease, then dust with flour.
-In a medium bowl, stir milk, egg whites, applesauce or yogurt and extracts. Into another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
-Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to low; add flour and milk mixtures alternately, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the 1/2 cup sprinkles.
-Divide batter among pans. Bake until a tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes.
-Cool cakes in pans set on wire racks for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of each pan, then invert cakes onto a cutting board. With a serrated knife, carefully cut off the tops and “crusts,” exposing the confetti sprinkles (this is optional).
-Place first layer on a plate. Spread 3/4 cup frosting evenly over top. Repeat with second and third layers, leaving the sides exposed. Decorate the perimeter of the top with the remaining jimmies. Serve, or refrigerate up to 3 days.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
I start this post with a warning: after I made Mary Bergin’s Vanilla Chiffon Roll, I took a look in the sink and internally freaked out. I think I used every bowl, whisk and spatula I own to make the cake and mousse filling, not to mention the food processor and all its bits and pieces. Well, I was really glad that this cake was totally worth that mountain of dirty dishes I had to tackle! And also that assembly was much easier than washing up. The soft vanilla chiffon cake was really easy to roll around its delicious chocolate-walnut mousse filling. I didn’t get any tears or cracks…just a little sticking, which was easily disguised with a dusting of cocoa and powdered sugar.
I made a half recipe of the cake in a quarter sheet pan. I think it took a few minutes longer to fully bake than the time indicated for the full-sized cake, so go with your good judgment if it looks underdone. I noticed when I watched the video that there was a lot of leftover mousse in Mary’s bowl after she filled her cake, so I decided that I’d just make a third of the mousse recipe (I keep typing “mouse” BTW). The full cake supposedly yields six servings…if you’re feeding giants…I easily cut six slices from my smaller cake. Once this roulade has had time to chill out in the fridge, it’s really divine, not to mention classy. I loved the chocolate-walnut mousse (and was psyched to use my special black walnuts and fancy walnut oil for it). If I had had any extra left, I most certainly would have polished it off with a spoon.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
I am a master procrastinator. I should be spring cleaning my disaster of a closet right now. Instead, I am blogging about cake…a cake that I made two days ago, when I was also off work and also should have been spring cleaning my closet. Housekeeping gives me the blues, but cake makes me happy!
I always buy too many bananas at once, so I have this perpetual stash of them in my freezer, waiting to be turned into smoothies or baked with. Although I want to make every single thing in the book Vintage Cakes, I figured I’d start with a cake that would put some of those bananas to use. I’ve made one, no two, banana layer cakes here before, so forgive me if I seem like I’m repeating myself. They’re all good….moist, and most definitely cake and not banana bread.
I think banana cake is a good match for lots of frostings…cream cheese, chocolate, peanut butter. I didn’t use the coffee walnut buttercream that is paired with this cake in the book. Instead I frosted it with some leftover chocolate frosting that I brought home from work a couple months ago and stuck in the freezer. It’s actually too sweet for my tastes, and isn’t a recipe I’d make at home (which is why I’m not providing it below), so I had to temper that sweetness a bit by rewhipping it with a little cream cheese and some instant espresso. OMG, wait–I used bananas and frosting from the freezer…doesn’t that mean I did some spring cleaning after all?
Banana Layer Cake– makes an 8″ three-layer cake, serving 8-12
adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
Steph’s Note: I halved the recipe to make 6″ rounds. They took a little less time to bake, about 24 minutes. Frost it with your favorite frosting.
2½ cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (14 oz) sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 eggs, room temperature
-Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 8″ round cake pans and line them with parchment circles.
-In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, then whisk them together. In a small bowl or a measuring cup, combine the banana with the buttermilk.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together on high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping frequently to scrape the sides and the paddle with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time.
-With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the banana mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the four. After each addition scrape the bowl well. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula.
-Divide the thick batter equally among the prepared pans, and tap the pans on the counter to settle.
-Bake until the centers spring back when lightly touched, 28 – 30 minutes.
-Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Flip them out and let them continue to cool on the rack, top side up, until they reach room temperature. Leave the parchment paper on until you assemble the cake.
-Fill and frost with your favorite frosting.
Tags: baking, cake, fruit
Flo Braker‘s French Strawberry Cake is the perfect thing for right now, right here. Strawberries are all over the NYC greenmarkets (and my CSA), so a summer strawberry cake of some sort was bound to be in order even if we hadn’t picked this for TWD.
This is a lovely simple cake…no fancy buttercreams or anything. Just some lightly sweetened whipped cream and mashed strawberries filling a whole egg sponge cake. The cake is called a genoise in the book, but it’s the only genoise I’ve ever made that doesn’t heat the eggs in the process. The recipe calls for making one tall cake and splitting it into three layers. I made just a half recipe and I thought my little six-inch cake really only needed to be cut into two. This type of sponge cake can be a little dry on its own, but the whipped cream and macerated berries add the moisture that is needed. I think it became even tastier the second day. I can see this being great with raspberry smoosh, too, if you are feeling more English than French (Victoria sponge, anyone)?.
Tags: baking, cake, chocolate
This week, we are having a rare rewind week for TWD, a chance to make-up something we missed. There was a time when I was making (and eating) layer cakes left and right. Despite the last couple of weeks, they are kind of a rarity around here now (although I wish they weren’t). In fact, I really made this cake months ago..for Easter…in case the pastel Robin Eggs didn’t give that away. Chocolate cake with a chocolate-malt buttercream…I can see why this would be a good birthday cake. Maybe my husband will make it for me next year? Yeah, probably not….I’ll have to make it for his instead.
I made a half recipe of this cake and baked it in my six-inch pans. Any time I have a cake recipe, I pay close attention to it as it bakes. Sometimes it takes just as long as the full recipe, and sometimes it takes ten minutes less….you just never know. I happened to pull this cake out of the oven at the perfect sweet spot. The cake was so moist and velvety…I wish I remembered how long it was in there for! Hopefully I can repeat that success next time. This cake recipe is really just a scaled-up version of Dorie’s Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes. It’s the same thing, but for some reason I liked it much, much more as a layer cake. I think it baked nicer in “real” cake form, but maybe it was really the pairing with the chocolate-malt buttercream that I liked so much. There were some reported troubles with the frosting, but I thought it came out just right, and it was easy to work with. I like when I can get the frosting on a cake without too much mucking about.
For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or look at The Splendid Table’s website (not sure that we had an “official” TWD host/recipe poster that particular week, as it was a recipe for the group’s second anniversary). Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll to see what everyone picked to catch up on this week!
Tags: baking, cake, holiday
I know that I’ll be making a pie for Thanksgiving dinner, so I’m getting the craving to stuff my face with cake out of the way ahead of time. I’ve actually been itching to make this Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake ever since I saw it on the cover of Fine Cooking last year. And it was everything I’d hoped for in a spice cake, complete with cream cheese frosting and a crunchy topping.
If you are ambitious, you can make your own pumpkin purée by roasting a squash. If you are lazy, like I am, you can just open a can. The canned stuff works just fine, in my opinion, and you always know what you are going to get. Anyway, you have to go through the extra step of browning butter a couple of times, so why make things too hard on yourself? Actually, making browned butter is no big deal, and it’s totally worth it in terms of flavor. It makes an especially gorgeous addition to the cream cheese frosting, giving it that slightly nutty taste and beautiful taupe color. The browned butter baked into the cake gives the pumpkin and spices extra dimension, and because you use it as a liquid fat, you mix the cake by hand. I love that! I thought about skipping the pecan and pepita topping, but I’m glad I didn’t. It’s crunchy and kind of Cracker Jackey caramelized. I can’t wait to make this again next fall (or possibly sooner…)
P.S.: Don’t forget to enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY, if you haven’t done so already….
Brown Butter Pumpkin Layer Cake— makes 8-12 servings
adapted from Fine Cooking, Issue 107
Steph’s Notes: You can substitute 1-1/2 cups canned pumpkin purée for homemade, if you like. If you do choose to make the purée, you can do so up to 2 days ahead. The frosting amount is a bit on the skimpy side. I made it work, but there wasn’t a lot of extra play around with. If you’d like more leeway, I’d suggest a 1.5x recipe.
for the purée (if not using 1-1/2 cups canned):
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 medium-large Sugar Pie pumpkin, cut in half from stem to bottom and seeded
for the cake:
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. table salt
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
for the topping:
1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2/3 cup pecans
1/2 cup unsalted, raw, hulled pepitas
2 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. table salt
for the frosting:
4 oz. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
pinch of salt
5 oz. (1-1/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
-Make the pumpkin purée (if not using 1-1/2 cups canned): Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Brush a 9×13-inch baking dish with the oil. Put the pumpkin halves in the dish cut side down and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel the pumpkin and purée the flesh in a food processor until smooth. You’ll need 1-1/2 cups of the purée for the cake. Refrigerate or freeze any remaining purée for another use.
-Make the cake: Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans with removable bottoms (or butter two 9-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment, butter the parchment, and flour the pans). Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until cool but not set, about 15 minutes.In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. In a large bowl, whisk 1-1/2 cups of the pumpkin purée with the granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and buttermilk until very well blended. With a rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Gently whisk in the brown butter until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake the cakes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 28 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto racks, remove the pan bottoms or parchment, and cool completely.
-Make the topping (while the cake bakes): Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the pecans and pepitas and cook until the pecans brown slightly and the pepitas begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt and stir until the sugar melts and the nuts are glazed, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the mixture cool in the skillet.
-Make the frosting: Melt the butter in a heavy-duty 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling the pan occasionally until the butter turns a nutty golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Pour into a small bowl and let stand until the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Carefully transfer the bowl to the freezer and chill until just firm, about 18 minutes. Using a spoon, carefully scrape the butter from bowl, leaving the browned solids at the bottom; discard the solids. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, brown sugar and pinch of salt on medium-high speed until light in color and the brown sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.
-Assemble the cake: Put one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread 1/2 cup of the frosting on the layer and top with the second layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Arrange the topping on top of the cake and serve. The assembled, frosted cake can be covered with a cake dome and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve at room temperature.
Amy of Amy Ruth Bakes showed us that a loaf cake can be fancy, too, with her choice of Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake for TWD. I baked this the week before I went to London…glad I did, because I packed on a couple extra (now totally unwanted) pounds on that trip, and I may have had a hard time justifying making this afterward!
Both the cake and the frosting contain a good amount of sour cream. Chocolate-sour cream frosting is on my list of “world’s tastiest stuff.” The heaviness of the cake is cut by two layers of jam sandwiched in-between. I don’t usually go nuts for fruit and chocolate combos, but I must say that this was tasty!
I almost forgot to bake this cake. That’s not quite true…I didn’t forget about the cake, I just didn’t realize the 20th is already here! For the month of May, we Cake Slice Bakers have mixed it up a bit and are throwing back to last year’s book, with a recipe for Lemon-Poppy Seed Cake with Almond-Cream Cheese Frosting from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes.
It’s pretty, isn’t it? Something about this cake seems so sweetly charming and old-fashioned…like something my grandmas might bake (except for my grandmas have never been much into baking). Underneath the almond-cream cheese frosting is a light white cake, flecked with lemon zest and poppy seeds. I added a few drops of lemon oil to the batter, just to enhance the lemon flavor.
The lemon oil was my only tweak to the recipe (also not quite true…I cut back on the almond extract in the frosting just a tad), although I did a wackadoo two-fifths of the original amount of batter and frosting (I only wanted to use two egg whites). I baked the cake in a quarter sheet pan, then cut it into three strips for frosting and stacking. I like the change from the usual round layer cakes, although I do find squares and rectangles to be a bit trickier to frost.
Poppy seeds are so freakin’ cute! Their amazing ability to get absolutely everywhere, though, really isn’t.
Here’s a printable link to the recipe…it’s really a keeper. Better yet, get your hands on a copy of Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alicia Huntsman and Peter Wynne. Cruise through the list of The Cake Slice Bakers to check out all of our mile-high cakes this month.