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, chocolate
These Soft-Centered Chocolate Teacup Cakes are rich, delicious and easy to make. Kind of a dangerous combination! They are a take on molten chocolate cake…an almost flourless and uber-chocolatey cake with more gooey, melting chocolate bits hiding in the middle.
They’re hardly more difficult to make than brownies, although you have to whip eggs and sugar until ribbony, so using a stand mixer is a good idea. The batter is divided among teacups or ramekins, which are half-filled, sprinkled with chopped chocolate and then topped off. I have quite a collection of teacups for some reason (reason actually being that they are cute!). I can see these making an adorable dinner party dessert served in mismatched cups. I didn’t get a photo of the insides for you, but you can see here that they’re schlumping a bit in the middle…that’s how you can tell they have soft centers. That dip also makes a perfect landing spot for a bit of whipped cream or ice cream.
Tags: baking, bread, cake
I’ve never made rum babas before. I’ve eaten my fair share, though, mostly at Italian bakeries. David Blom’s Babas recipe brought these pastries into my own kitchen.
Babas are little sweet yeast bread pastries, kind of like brioche and often with currants, that are soaked in rum syrup until they are practically oozing it, and then filled with something creamy. In my opinion, what’s not to like? The group made Blom’s Savarin recipe, which is similar but in made in a large cake form, a couple of years ago. For some reason, I skipped it so I am glad to have done this one.
I don’t have baba molds but I still wanted them to have the nice tall shape of the ones in the shops so I used my popover tin. I got half as many babas as the recipe said so I guess that means my tin is bigger than the molds I should have used. Whatevs– R and I split them in half. Once they were cool I gave them a good dunking in simple syrup, adding rum directly to the syrup. And then I brushed more rum all over the outside! Didn’t make the pastry cream filling the recipe called for…too lazy. Instead I whipped some cream and mascarpone together with which to stuff my babas and added a homemade candied cherry on top.
Tags: baking, cake
If I think of carrot cake, of course what comes to mind is a layer cake with swirls of cream cheese frosting. Plenty of cream cheese frosting…you know, something like Dorie’s amazeballs Bill’s Big Carrot Cake. Seems that’s not the only carrot cake game in town, though. This Fluted Carrot-Tangerine Cake is another, more subtle take on the most delicious way to get your beta-carotene. Instead of being spicy and earthy and tall, this one is bright and zippy and slim. Ginger, carrot and tangerine (or tangelo in my case) make it the color of sunshine. Okay, so there isn’t any cream cheese frosting, but a quick powdered sugar and juice glaze gives it a nice sweet crust on top. The flavor of the glazed cake reminds me of Fruity Pebbles, but I mean that in a good way!!
This cake does not need to be fluted…I made it in my quiche pan (the removable bottom was no problem), but it can certainly be baked in a regular cake pan. The cute ruffles do give it a bit of pizazz, though, since it’s only a single layer.
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
For all the yapping I did last week about wanting my own dessert, I have to admit that I shared one of Johanne Killeen’s individual Hazelnut Baby Cakes. It wasn’t that I didn’t want a whole little loaf cake all to myself…it’s just that a mini loaf is actually kind of a lot of cake.
These mini loaves were easy to make. I did take them out of the oven a few minutes before the time noted in the recipe, and I did replace one tablespoon of butter with this lovely hazelnut oil that I bough a while back to use in vinaigrettes and keep forgetting about. Other than that, I followed the recipe as-is. I was pleased to use my mini loaf pans, which almost never see the light of day.
The cakes themselves aren’t too sweet, so it’s nice to serve them with a little something. In addition to the suggested mascarpone-whipped cream (sans grappa, thank you), we had our baby cakes with poached pear slices and candied hazelnuts. Speaking of that cream, after I made my husband a birthday cannoli cake a few months ago and frosted it with mascarpone whipped cream, I decided that adding a nice blob of mascarpone is the best way to stabilize whipped cream. It’s light, tastes delicious and holds up perfectly for a few days. I highly recommend.
Tags: baking, cake
I first had a Tiger Cake a couple of years ago at a beautiful bakery in Montreal, but I had no idea what it was called. I don’t think there was a sign and I just pointed to it and I took it to-go. When I ate it I thought it was so delicious– moist and chewy with ganache in the center– that I kicked myself for not having gotten its name. I could tell that it had almond flour in it and its texture seemed like a financier, so I immediately Googled around in English and French (it’s limited, but thanks to my fluent mother, I can speak some– especially food words!). I found exactly what I was looking for on several French sites, les tigrés au chocolat. Although I once posted about a tiger cake, it was a very different animal, and I never did make les tigrés at home. I didn’t forget about them, though, and was delighted to see a recipe for Tiger Cakes in Baking Chez Moi. I have nominated the recipe several for TWD times now, and I am really glad that its time has come!
This batter is a lot like a financier, or maybe more like a friand, with melted butter and egg whites. It stirs together in just a few seconds. Dorie’s recipe has finely chopped chocolate mixed into the batter to give the tiger cakes their stripes, but a bunch of those French recipes I saw called for chocolate vermicelli instead. Makes sense to me…jimmies do look like stripes. I have a box of nice Dutch dark chocolate ones, so I went ahead and used them (and also saved the trouble of chopping up chocolate into tiny flecks). I just eyeballed the amount. Some folks had trouble getting their baked tigers out of the tin, and recommended greasing well. My mini muffin mold is non-stick and has only been used a couple of times so it’s still pretty slick. I used a bit of spray for added insurance and I didn’t have any sticking issues. The ganache on top isn’t strictly necessary, but it sure is good.
These were great…just what I remember from Montreal. Cute, too. I will definitely repeat this one.
Tags: baking, cake, fruit
I have to say that I wasn’t too sure about this Apple Kuchen when I started putting it together. I did not doubt that it would be tasty…I mean, apples and custard inside a sweet crust….yeah, that’s good, obvi. This sounded like it would be the high-rise cousin to the low-rise Alsatian Apple Tart. It’s just that I did not get off to a very good start making it.
The crust was easy enough to make and roll out, but let me tell you that getting a soft, delicate crust pressed neatly into a tall springform pan is a pain in the you-know-what. It was frustrating enough that the dough cracked into like a 1,000 pieces, but while I was pressing them back together into something crudely resembling a crust, the clasp on said springform decided to pop and now will not stay closed (actually, now it’s in the recycle bin). Ugh. I needed to go with it at that point, so I put a tight rubber band around the pan to hold it closed, dusted cookie crumbs on the bottom, piled it full of apples and chucked it in the oven to par bake. Not my most brilliant idea, as within a few minutes, the rubber band popped in the heat and the buckle opened up again, cracking the crust. I scrambled around and found a small pie pan that was big enough to hold the springform but tight enough to keep the buckle in the closed position. The dough was still soft at that point and seemed to come back together when the pan was re-closed, but with all those apples in there, I really couldn’t tell what condition it was in.
After the par bake, I poured in the crème fraiche custard (confession:I replaced 1/3 of the crème fraiche amount with buttermilk to lighten the calories a bit) and scattered on some plumped raisins. I was amazed that the custard did not immediately leak out the pan, so I hoped for the best. I was just making a half-recipe (6″), but I left it in the oven the full time. A knife poked into the center still didn’t come out completely clean after an hour, but I took it out away. After it came to room temp, I popped my springform-in-pie-plate contraption it into the fridge for extra insurance that the custard would be fully set. And then the moment of truth…
Guess what. The crust was perfect. There was not one spot torn or cracked and not a drop of custard had leaked out. How this happened, I do not know. It’s like it self-healed in the oven. It was very handsome, actually, and delicious…chockablock full of chunky apple pieces with rummy custard seeped around them. Now that I know to relax about the crust, next time, I’ll either mix the raisins in with the apples at the start or I’ll skip the final step of running the kuchen under the broiler with extra sugar and butter on the top…or maybe I’ll do both. The raisins were a little too brûléed for my tastes…they started off as golden raisins, but you can see in the picture what happened to them under the broiler!
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.