Tags: baking, cake, dessert
So folks, we’ve come to the end of TWD Baking with Julia. The last recipe…I can hardly believe it. I admit that I have skipped a handful of them, but still, 107 completed recipes from one cookbook isn’t too shabby. The biggest and the toughest has been saved for last– a Glorious Wedding Cake! This is three tall, stacked tiers of dense almond cake sandwiched with jam and a crisp layer of almond dacquoise, topped off with rum-laced buttercream and decorated with marzipan fruit. I mean, Martha Stewart even gets not one, but two episodes devoted to this thing. Unfortunately though, no one asked me to make them a wedding cake in the past few weeks, so I had to go small instead of big on this one. Instead of a three tier show-stopper, I made a single tier cutie. Maybe it’s not so glorious, and I guess it’s basically the top tier that married couples put into the freezer for their first anniversary (R and I eloped…no cake for us, so I’m unclear on these traditions).
You may notice that there isn’t an interior shot of this cake. That’s because I definitely did something wrong with the almond cake layers. What, I am still not sure, but I was too stingy to waste all the almond paste and eggs that went into making it, so I just ploughed ahead with what I had. I’ll tell you though that there was a lot of patchwork involved and I am too embarrassed to show you what was going on in there. It was still delicious, so whatevs. No one paid me to make it for them after all.
Since my cake was tiny, the rest came together with out too much trouble. The dacquoise (almond meringue) layer was wonderful to crunch through and the egg yolk-based buttercream was super luxe. Rather than the marzipan cherries and raspberries Martha made, I did some strawberries and also some flowers and ivy leaves using the wacky hodgepodge of gum paste flower tools I have in my red pastry toolbox.
Tags: cake, chocolate, ice cream
Hi. My name is Stephanie and I’m a chocoholic. I need to be kept away from that lady Betty…she’s such an enabler with her Chocoholic Cake! I don’t stand a chance against three layers of brownie cake sandwiched and frosted with ganache. That’s why I had to alter her original cake and make it an ice cream cake. Actually, that makes no sense whatsoever– don’t stand a chance against ice cream cake either.
We are only two, so I made a scaled back version of the cake…a third of the recipe got me two six-inch layers. It is Dorie who mentions in her recipe intro that the brownie layers would be a good base for an ice cream cake. I followed her fine suggestion and filled my two layers with some coffee ice cream and popped the whole thing in the freezer for a few hours. I made the ganache recipe, but rather than cool it and use it as frosting, I used it warm as a sauce. And then I put peanut butter cereal on top. I’ve lost my chocolate-addicted mind, clearly, but it’s really delicious. The frozen cake should temper a bit before saucing and serving though, because it’s pretty hard to get a fork through it otherwise. Also, when it’s tempered, you get the really good fudgy texture and chocolatey taste of the cake layers.
Next time, I may try this the way Betty had intended. Or else I’ll make a mint chip or raspberry ice cream cake out of it! For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.
Tags: baking, cake
I know that I’m a week off with this one, but it took some extra time for me to get motivated to make Alice Medrich’s Chocolate Ruffle Cake from Baking with Julia. Maybe I’ll get to that Hot Chocolate Panna Cotta from Baking Chez Moi for a rewind week. I had my hands full with this one, what with making a genoise, a cake filling and all kinds of chocolate deco work. It is impressive, though, with its beautiful ruffly top and sharp chocolate band. This cake could easily be spread out as a weekend project, although once I did get off my duff, I just charged through it.
I was only making this cake for the two of us so I downsized the recipe by half to fit into a 6-inch pan. Since the cake was smaller, I figured I could get away with slicing it into just two layers instead of three. I like when one bit of simplification leads to another, and with only two layers to sandwich, I skipped the chocolate cream filling layer in favor of just plain cream. Oh, and instead of using whipped creme fraiche as my filling and topping, I used whipped cream stabilized with a nice blob of mascarpone (so tasty!). I only did this because wanted it to hold up for a few days…even a 6-inch cake takes us a while to eat up. Also rather than fresh (winter) raspberries in the filling, I used some booze-preserved cherries that I jarred over the summer, and the cherry booze liquid became my soaking syrup for the cake. Sounds like I made a lot of changes, but really, they were pretty minor tweaks. Dorie says in to recipe intro that we can think of this cake as a variable format rather than a precise formula, so I felt free to do so. Anyway, it’s delicious– I basically turned it into a Black Forest cake.
The chocolate work can seem intimidating, and I can hardly describe the process myself, so if the book’s instructions aren’t clear, these videos of the TV episode are really helpful. No tempering is involved, so it’s really not that bad, even if it does take a few practice swipes get get nice ruffles. Mine weren’t perfect– and I’m the “chocolatier” (it is embarrassing for me to say that!) at the restaurant I work for– but they were good enough to make a lovely, swirly-twirly arrangement on top of the cake.
If you’re up for a weekend challenge, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan for the recipe. There are also a couple of videos of Alice and Julia making the cake together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of this week’s TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake
Happy New Year, friends! I want to start 2016 fresh, so it’s time for me to take care of a few pesky things that I’ve left in limbo over the last couple of months. One is Flo Braker’s Raspberry Swirls recipe, which I actually made along with the group in the fall and then never posted. This uses a sheet of genoise that’s been cut and coated with raspberry jam and then rolled up jelly-roll style, the jam forming a little red curlicue in the middle. Like Braker’s Miniature Florentine Squares or Glazed Mini-Rounds her Raspberry Swirls are meant to be cut into one or two bite petits fours, but after I rolled them, I decided to leave them more the size of HoHos (or Yodels or Swiss Rolls, depending on your childhood treat preference). Indeed, these were good…once I glazed them in chocolate and dipped them in coconut and pistachios, they actually reminded me of a rolled up Lamington, an idea I would like to explore further (possibly for Australia Day??).
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from the Raspberry Swirls week a few months ago!
Tags: baking, cake
I make a lot of petits fours at work, but it’s not often that you’ll see something like Flo Braker’s Miniature Florentine Squares or Glazed Mini-Rounds making an appearance at my house. I don’t usually get that old-fashioned fancy here. If I serve up anything post-dessert, it’s typically just a healthy-sized complaint about having to do all the dishes myself.
The Florentine Squares and the Glazed Mini-Rounds are two different recipes in the book, but they are both made the very same way, just cut and decorated a little differently. They are both ladyfinger genoise layers soaked in sweet wine syrup, sandwiched with jam (I used blackcurrant), glazed with white chocolate ganache and decorated with designs of melted dark chocolate. I made one cake and cut and decorated some of each style.
They weren’t so hard to make (I watched the video first, and got some tips on chilling the cake before cutting to prevent too much crumbage) and they were pretty fun to decorate. It’s so hot in my kitchen that my dark chocolate designs got a little droopy as the petits fours sat for their photo shoot. I thought they were still charming though. These were tasty little bite-sized treats, but they were quite sweet. They would have been good with a strong cup of coffee.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
Over the years, I must have seen the Baking with Julia TV episode where Marcel Desaulniers makes his White Chocolate Patty Cake a dozen times. Normally, white chocolate doesn’t really float my boat, but for some reason, I could tell by watching the episode that this cake would be fabulous. I’m so glad that we’ve finally gotten to this recipe– and that my decade-long cake daydreams came true!
The white chocolate here is melted into the cake batter– a whole 12 ounces of it. Two layers of cake are dressed up with raspberry sauce (made from pureed frozen berries) and fresh raspberries. I made this with the Fourth of July in mind, so I used a combo of blueberries and raspberries in the sauce and on top. You know, for that whole red, white and blue effect. I think blackberries would shine in this cake as well. In addition to all that white chocolate, the cake also has lots of eggs, so the texture is luxe and velvety. Snappy berry sauce keeps it from being to sweet.
The cake rises in the oven and then shrinks a bit as it cools. If you make the recipe (which you should!), you might be concerned that the layers look a little schlumpy. Don’t worry because once it’s stacked and decorated with the sauce and berries, it looks like a million bucks. The cake will slice neater after it’s been refrigerated for a bit and the sauce has time to firm up.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
Markus Farbinger’s take on Cardinal Slice is the first I’d heard of this cake. Where have I been? On the wrong side of the Atlantic, I guess. It’s called kardinalschnitte in Austria, where it’s a classic (and apparently ubiquitous— ha!) Viennese pastry. Well, I didn’t need first-hand experience to know that I’d like to sink a fork into a cake made of ladyfingers and meringues sandwiched with coffee whipped cream. If I could successfully pull it off, that is.
When was poking around the interwebs for info on the Cardinal Slice, I came across Joe Pastry’s detailed posts on the subject. Seems that in order to recreate a classic version, he started off with the BWJ one and then scrapped it for another because he couldn’t make it work. Oh no– not promising! The cake layers are alternating strips of meringue and ladyfinger batters baked side-by-side…two things that require very different baking times and temperatures. The BWJ recipe bakes for a long time at a low temp, which cooks the meringue, but makes getting a puffed up ladyfinger tricky (I can only assume that Chef Markus has made this so many times in life that he just has the touch). I didn’t want to abandon the BWJ recipe entirely here, so I decided to follow the BWJ ingredients and mixing techniques with the baking temperatures Joe Pastry recommends (essentially to start out in a hotter oven and then reduce the temperature halfway through). I don’t think that my cake layers came out as poofy as either Markus’s or Joe’s, but my mixed up method seemed to work out OK.
The whipped cream filling is flavored with an intense syrup made from caramelized sugar and espresso called a couleur. This syrup reminds me a lot of a French coffee extract called Trablit that we use to flavor buttercream at the restaurant. It tastes so much better than instant espresso, but it’s pretty pricey and not so readily available for home use…I’m pleased to know I can make a very similar thing for the price of two shots of espresso from the coffee shop down the block. I have plenty extra for my future coffee buttercream or whipped cream needs…or perhaps my coffee milk or milk shake needs…
The Cardinal Slice has a bit of a tiramsu thing going on with the flavors, but since the filling’s all cream with no yolks or mascarpone, it feels a lot lighter. Like any other type of icebox cake, the cake layers soften further as the cream absorbs into them, and this needs about an hour’s rest before cutting into it. I’d say the recipe instructions to eat the cake within four hours of assembly are probably ideal, although we did have a hunk left over that we ate the next day. It was very smooshy at that point, but still tasty.
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.