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, fruit
Fall is in the air and I couldn’t be more excited! I like summer in theory (long days, trips to the beach, bottles of chilled rosé), but in practice, we don’t have A/C, so I just feel uncomfortable and lazy most of the time. Not to mention sweaty. I will miss the summer fruit for sure, but luckily I can still get peaches and plums for another couple of weeks. Even though I have avoided turning on the oven for most of the past two months, now is a great time to get baking.
I’m quite fond of upside-down cakes, and don’t mind experimenting with them. Fruit cooked in caramel goo…ain’t nothing wrong with that. And they’re pretty, too. We know an upside-down cake is really all about the caramelized fruit, but the cakey part shouldn’t be neglected either (trust me). This cake has the right balance of sturdiness and softness. Almond meal and a bit of barley flour help with that texture, and also give it some real flavor (as in we’re not just relying on the fruit). It’s equally delicious made with peaches, nectarines or plums. I’ve had it all three ways…maybe next summer I’ll do a combo? Unless we have company, it takes the two of us four nights to go through an 8-inch cake, and I didn’t feel like this one suffered at all. (I stored the cakes wrapped in the fridge and brought slices to room temperature as we wanted them).
Don’t you just love how plum skins look like jewels when cooked down?
Stonefruit and Almond Upside-Down Cake– makes an 8-inch cake
Steph’s Notes: If you don’t have pre-ground almond meal, grind an equal amount of whole almonds, along with 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour, in the food processor until fine. You can replace the barley flour with an equal amount of all-purpose flour, if you wish.
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease pan
1 cup sugar
3-4 medium peaches, plums or nectarines, pitted and cut into 6 wedges each
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup barley flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
-Preheat the oven to 350° F and lightly butter an 8-inch round cake pan (preferably not a springform one).
-To make the topping, put 1/2 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium skillet over medium heat. It should look like wet sand. Wash down any sugar crystals on the sides of the skillet with a wet pastry brush. Cook the sugar until it becomes a deep golden brown caramel. This will happen quickly, so don’t walk away. Add 1 tablespoon butter and whisk it in until smooth. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble a bit when the butter goes in.
-Pour the caramel into the bottom of the prepared cake pan and tilt to coat. Arrange the fruit wedges snugly in the bottom of the pan in a single layer, cutting to fit if needed. It doesn’t matter if the caramel sets up while you are doing this.
-Combine the flours, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.
-Beat the remaining 5 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup sugar (a scant 1/2 cup if you like it less sweet, like I do) in a large bowl with a mixer (or in a stand mixer with the paddle) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated.
-Spread the batter evenly over the fruit and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
-Transfer to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert onto a plate and let cool completely before serving.
Tags: baking, cake, fruit
Ummm…hello? It’s been radio silent here on this blog for almost a month. How embarrassing, but I just haven’t been baking much lately. We went to the beach (and didn’t want to come back). Then when we did come back, I was given what I can only assume was a punishment schedule at work for having taken vacation time. But, now I’m back in the game, and with rhubarb no less!
I tried really hard to find local rhubarb to make Johanne Killeen’s Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake. I feel like it should be around these parts by now, but after striking out at three different farmers’ markets, I stopped wasting my time (and MetroCard swipes) and just got a few stalks from the grocery.
This recipe is intended to make several little baby cakes, but I just baked it off as one big mama in a cast iron skillet. It wasn’t super goopy so it wasn’t too scary to flip out of the skillet. Dark brown sugar gives this upside-down topping real character, and crème fraiche makes the cake batter extra tender. I threw a splash of vanilla into the batter, too, which maybe wasn’t totally necessary since it wasn’t called for in the recipe…and since I had vanilla ice cream with it anyway…but whatevs.
I can see this also being a tasty base recipe for stone fruit or even mango upside-down cake. For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Erin’s When in Doubt…Leave it at 350. It’s also here. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
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, chocoate
This Boca Negra isn’t the first super chocolaty cake I’ve made courtesy of Lora Brody. Really though, this one is more like baked pudding than cake– it’s almost flourless, so it doesn’t really have a crumb. It’s silky smooth, dense and at room temperature just barely holds shape (seriously, I destroyed the first piece I tried to lift up). And has a good amount of booze to boot…the recipe calls for bourbon, but I used dark rum.
I made this in the food processor, rather than by hand. It took barely any effort, and even less time, to make the batter. I decided to cut back on the butter by a couple of ounces, figuring that it had enough chocolate, sugar, liquor and eggs to still be ultra luxe. Along those same lines, I skipped the white chocolate cream that goes along with this one and just used plain, unsweetened whipped cream instead. It helped cut the richness just a bit. While the recipe recommends enjoying this at room temp, we really liked it about 15 minutes out of the refrigerator, when each piece was like a slice of the most decadent fudge.
I’ll make this again as an easy answer to a special occasion. For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Cathy’s A Frederick Food Garden. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, bundt, cake, dessert
It’s almost Valentine’s Day. A perfect excuse to make something sweet and pink, not that I really need one. I never need an excuse to make a Bundt either– I just love them! This Cranberry Crème Fraîche Bundt Cake seemed like just the right treat to make this year. I know that cranberry season is gone, but if you’re like me, you bought a couple of extra bags during the holidays and threw them in the freezer. When there’s not a lot of good fruit around, this comes in handy.
This cake uses a lush ingredient–crème fraîche. You can make your own, but I just buy it. It’s pretty easy to find now, even at TJ’s. The crème fraîche gives the cake great structure and texture. It also helps make it a great keeper. The pockets and swirls of tasty cranberry sauce inside the cake ensure that each slice just as pretty as the uncut Bundt. I liked the little bit of almond flavoring in the cake as well, but I’m sure it would be great without if you don’t have the extract or you avoid nuts.
Happy Valentine’s Day! xoxo
Don’t want cake, try coeur à la crème.
Cranberry Crème Fraîche- makes 10 to 12 servings
adapted from Cake Simple: Recipes for Bundt-Style Cakes from Classic Dark Chocolate to Luscious Lemon-Basil by Christie Matheson
Steph’s Note: I buy my crème fraîche at the grocery store, but you can certainly make your own. To do this, you’ll want to start at least a day before making this cake, and you’ll need 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk. Combine the heavy cream with the buttermilk, cover tightly, and let sit at room temperature (in a warm room) for at least 8 hours. Stir the mixture– if it hasn’t thickened completely, cover the mixture again and let it sit in a warm place for another 2 to 3 hours and check it again. When it has a nice, thick consistency, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus melted butter for greasing the pan
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup (240 ml) crème fraîche
Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce (recipe follows) or 2 cups (450 g) canned whole berry-cranberry sauce
Cranberry Glaze (recipe follows)
1/2 cup (45 g) chopped toasted almonds or toasted almond slivers
-Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/gas 4). Brush the inside of a 10-cup (2.4 L) Bundt pan with the melted butter and dust it lightly with flour and tap out the excess.
-Whisk the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.
-With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three increments) alternately with the crème fraîche (in two increments), beginning and ending with the flour and beating after each addition until just combined.
-Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Swirl half the cranberry sauce over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the cranberry sauce, and then swirl the remaining cranberry sauce over the batter. I tried my best to more or less keep the sauce from touching the sides of the pan and tube, just so there wouldn’t be any sticking. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out free of wet batter.
-Swiftly rap the pan on the counter once or twice right after pulling it from the oven…this will help the cake settle and release. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and let it cool completely. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Sprinkle the almonds over the top. The cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Whole Berry-Cranberry Sauce (you can use 2 cups of a nice, canned whole cranberry sauce instead if you’d like)
12 ounces (340 g) fresh cranberries
3/4 cup (180 ml) water
3/4-1 cup (150-200 g) granulated sugar, depending on sweetness preference
1/4 teaspoon salt
-In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries with the water, sugar, and salt and cook for about 15 minutes (after about 10 minutes, remove about 2 tablespoons of the liquid for the cranberry glaze), or until the sauce has thickened and most of the liquid has reduced. Let the sauce cool completely before using it in the cake (you will need about 2 cups of sauce for the cake, so you may have a bit extra). The sauce keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
1 cup (93 g) confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons cranberry juice (reserved from making the cranberry sauce)
-Mix the confectioners’ sugar and 1-2 tablespoons cranberry juice (depending on your desired thickness) in a small bowl until smooth.
Tags: baking, cake, chocolate
So, Christmas came and went in a tinsel-strewn blur. And now we are just about to say goodbye to 2012 and hang a new calendar on the wall…but first there’s one more party to throw. New Year’s Eve is a night that calls for sparkle, like these Glitter Ball Cookies, or decadence, like this Rich Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche.
Here’s proof that decadence doesn’t have to be difficult. This cake is easy to put together because it’s just a single layer. It’s a dark devil’s food-style cake, so that’s really all you need. And you can buy the dulce de leche, although I did make David Lebovitz’s homemade version (which, to be honest, is no more difficult than opening a can). Some chopped nuts or crushed brittle add a little crunch, but even that isn’t totally necessary. What is necessary, though, is sprinkling of salt– preferably a fancy coarse sea salt– so don’t skip it. Salty and sweet, just like this year.
Happy New Year! See you in 2013…
Rich Chocolate Cake with Salty Dulce de Leche- makes one 10-inch round cake
adapted from One Girl Cookies by Dawn Casale and David Crofton
Steph’s Notes: A half recipe will yield an 8-inch round cake that bakes in 30-35 minutes. The authors suggest decorating this cake with crushed nut brittle, but chopped salty peanuts or hazelnuts would be just as good (and easier).
for the cake:
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
for the topping:
1/2 cup dulce de leche (homemade or store-bought)
a few pinches of kosher salt, fleur de sel or Maldon
about 1/2 cup of roughly chopped, salted nuts or crushed nut brittle for decoration (optional)
-Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with a parchment round.
-To make the cake, pour the hot coffee into a medium bowl and stir in the cocoa powder until it dissolves. Stir in the brown sugar, followed by the yogurt and the vanilla. Stir thoroughly to ensure that all of the ingredients are incorporated.
-In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light-yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and mix for 2 minutes.
-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer running on low speed, mix in a third of the flour mixture and half of the coffee mixture. Scrape down the bowl. Add another third of the flour mixture and all the remaining coffee mixture. Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using \a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour mixture until all of the ingredients are fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.
-Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, rotate the pan at the halfway point, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge, and then turn the cake out onto a clean plate, remove the parchment, and turn the cake back over onto a wire rack. Let the cake cool completely.
-Put the cooled cake on a serving dish. In a microwave-safe dish, heat the dulce de leche on high power for 30 seconds, or until it is just liquid. Spoon the dulce de leche over the cake, and then sprinkle the salt over the dulce de leche. If using nuts or brittle, sprinkle about 1/2 cup around the outer edge of the cake as a delicious decoration.
Tags: baking, cake, holiday
What–December already?!? Seems I am refusing to belive it, because every time I went to label the stuff I made at work today, I wrote “11/” and then had to turn that second one into a goofy two. I feel not quite ready to tackle this month.
Johanne Killeen’s Gingerbread Baby Cakes should help me get into the December spirit. These cakes may be little, but they are strong, with a spicy molasses, ginger and black pepper punch. Espresso and cocoa add extra dark, bitter notes. I want to say that I loved these, because they came out so darn cute, but really, they were too intense for me…too adult for my juvenile taste buds. I don’t have baby cake molds, but I do have baby tube pans, which made a fine substitute. I have two cakes left, and I’m thinking they will be cubed for a trifle with sweet cream and stuff to temper their spicy bite.
Tags: baking, cake, fruit
It’s Fridays with Dorie for me this week with Mary Bergin’s fabulous Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake. I made, and ate, this cake a couple of weekends ago. Then I was so excited to go Montreal for Labor Day weekend, I didn’t post. We came home and I still didn’t post, because I’ve been too busy looking at Montreal real estate websites and daydreaming about living there!!
This recipe is in a section in the book called “Everyday Delights” but I think it’s pretty fancy. It’s not just a standard-issue tinned fruit upside-down cake. Underneath the glistening fresh nectarines is a light chiffon cake bisected by a layer of crispy almond streusel. It’s a bit of work to pull off, but I thought it was worth every bite. And really, the streusel could be skipped to save a step…it would be just as good, I think.
I had good success with this chiffon. I was a little worried when I saw the batter almost totally filled my springform, and it did mushroom up in the oven. But nothing overflowed, thank goodness. If you are worried, I’d suggest taking out a couple scoops and making them into cupcakes or something. It was kinda hard to tell if the cake was done, and I think I left it in the oven a few extra miinutes. When making chiffons, the cake pans are often ungreased so the batter can really climb up the sides. I’ve learned to (gingerly!) run a thin knife around the edges of the pans about five to ten minutes after the cakes have come out of the oven. This helps the cakes to not tear away from the sides as they start to cool, which I think can cause them to sink a bit.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Marlise’s The Double Trouble Kitchen and Susan’s The Little French Bakery. There’s also a video of Julia and Mary baking this together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!