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Entries in cake (10)

Friday
Nov042016

Chocolate Pavlova Cake with Strawberries and Cream 

 

 

   This was a fun cake to make. It looks harder than it actually was. There are a few different parts to it, but they’re all basic and easy.

     The Hershey’s back of the box chocolate cake recipe is tried and true. It’s my go to recipe when I want a chocolate fix.

      Merengue is an easy thing to master as long as you’re patient with adding the sugar, get the egg whites really stiff, and let it cool slowly in the oven so it holds its shape and doesn’t crack.

     Ganache? Melted chocolate and cream – not hard at all. Strawberries and cream classics with chocolate and meringue.

     Simple, singularly delicious pieces all put together for a #GBBO inspired showstopper. Next time I’ll make it three tiers!

  

For the meringue “crown” 

5 large egg whites

11 oz granulated sugar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon white vinegar


For the chocolate cake 

1 cup sugar  

1 ½ cups self rising flour or  

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 

1 egg

½ cup buttermilk

¼ cup canola oil

2 teaspoons vanilla

½ cup boiling water

 

For the chocolate ganache

4 oz bittersweet chocolate pieces

¼ cup heavy cream

 

For the topping

½ cup heavy cream, whipped

1-1 ½ cups sliced strawberries

 

Make the chocolate cake

     Heat oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch cake pan and dust with cocoa powder. Combine sugar, flour, and cocoa in a large bowl. Add egg, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat on medium speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. reduce speed to low, add water (batter will be thin) and pour into pan.

      Bake 25-30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire wrack, remove then cool completely. Can be made 1 day ahead.

Make the meringue “crown”

     Preheat oven to 350°F. Draw a 10-inch circle on one piece of parchment paper. Draw a 6-inch circle on another piece of parchment paper. Place on un-rimmed baking sheets.

     Whisk egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand-mixer until they form soft peaks with the whisk is lifted. Slowly whisk in sugar, a tablespoons at a time until the egg whites become stiff and glossy. Whisk in cornstarch and vinegar.

     Spoon or pipe ½-¾ of the mixture onto the 10-inch circle to form a base. Continue spooning or piping a “wall” of meringue around the edge of the circle up to 2 ½ inches high. Do the same on the 6-inch disk with remaining meringue.

     Reduce oven to 275°F. Bake 1-1 ¼ hours until the shells are crisp on the outside, but still soft inside. Turn oven off and let cool completely in the oven.


Make the ganache

     Pour the cream over the chocolate pieces, stir over low heat until the pieces are melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool until lukewarm, and still spreadable.  

Assemble cake

     Trim the top and sides of chocolate cake so that it will lie flat and fit inside large meringue base. Place cake, upside down in base, cover top and sides with ganache. Top with smaller meringue “crown” fill with whipped cream and strawberry slices. Garnish with additional whole strawberries and meringue decorations.

 


Note: recipes adapted from Hershey’s Classic Recipes and BBC Food’s Crown Layered Pavlova

    

 

Monday
Oct242016

Apple Slab Cake with Toasted Almonds & Honey

 

 

     A while ago I caught an episode of Martha Bakes where she made a Baltimore Peach

Cake. It looked lovely, old fashioned, and cozy. I immediately wanted one.

     Well, peaches aren’t in season at the moment, but it’s fall and apples are. So an Apple Slab Cake with Toasted Almonds & Honey was the dessert du jour.

     The “cake” itself has a bread like texture with just a hint of buttery sweetness. It’s more dense, less fluffy than a traditional batter cake and, as I said, not as sweet.

      I tossed apple slices with sugar and apple pie spice (like an apple pie filling) then layered them on top of the cakey dough.

     This is an easy cake to make, but not a quick one. The dough/cake needs two rises, each a few hours. It’s a good rainy day project when you’re not in a hurry to “let them eat cake,” but want to try an old traditional (Baltimore Peach Cake has been around since 1884) recipe, that’s something new to make and delicious to taste.

      P.S. don’t forget the vanilla ice cream.

 

Makes 1 cake, serves up to 12

½ cup whole milk, room temperature

1 tablespoon sugar

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 large egg, room temperature, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature

For the apples

3-4 gala apples, peeled, cored, sliced ¼ inch thick

¼ -1/3 cup granulated and brown sugar, even amounts

1-2 teaspoons apple pie spice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 tablespoons honey, warmed for easier brushing

¼ cup almond slices, toasted

 

     Stir 1 tablespoon sugar and milk together in a glass measuring cup. Sprinkle yeast over top, let stand, about 5 minutes, until frothy. Add egg, vanilla, and whisk.

     Whisk flour, salt and 3 tablespoons sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add milk mixture and “stir/knead” about 5 minutes, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Add butter piece by piece and continue to “stir/knead” until the dough is smooth and the butter is incorporated, about 5-6 minutes.

     Transfer to buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place, about 1-1 ½ hours, until doubled.

     Line a 13”x9” rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, butter paper. Punch down dough, and pat into prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour until dough is level with the pan’s sides.

     Toss apple slices with sugars and apple pie spice, stir to make sure all slices are coated in mixture.

     Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange apples on dough, slightly overlapping in rows or any other pattern you prefer. Bake until edges of cake are golden brown, 40-45 minutes (check after 30 minutes), and the center is set. Do not over bake or the bottom will be burnt and tough.

     Brush apples with honey when still warm, sprinkle with almonds. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then slide cake out and continue cooling on rack. Cut in squares to serve.

Note: Adapted from Martha Bakes - Baltimore Peach Cake.

 

 

 

Saturday
Oct222016

White & Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake - The easier way

 

     White and dark chocolate mousse cake for Thanksgiving? Sure no problem. Finding a recipe that didn’t make me want to whack my head with a cast iron frying pan? A problem.

     Oh the recipes are out there, quite a few, and they’re pretty long, overly complicated (IMO), and nothing I wanted to tackle with all the other Thanksgiving prep. 

     So I did a deep cookbook dive. I hauled out books by Julia, Ruth, Buddy, Tom, James, and Nigella. Didn’t find what I was looking for. This was turning into a nuisance dessert and a great big UGH.

     Then I came across a recipe for white chocolate mousse filling from Tom Douglas on FoodandWine.com. It was straight forward and exactly what I had searched for. The good news? It works with dark chocolate as well. One recipe, one method two mousses. Perfect.

     This was easy to make, very easy. The only drawback was the waiting time. And that’s only a drawback because you can’t tuck into this delicious, smooth, light textured, rich tasting dessert immediately.

     I can’t believe I’ve never tried making this before. Next time, a triple chocolate mousse, or maybe a swirly moussey cake. The options are endless with a good basic recipe like this!

     Let your imagination imousseination go wild.

     A special shout out to Sophie for sticking with your guns on this dessert request for our Thanksgiving feast. You’ll be pleased – if I do say so myself.

 

White & Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake

 

Makes 1 9-inch cake

 

For the brownie base

½ cup butter, melted plus a little more for pan

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs, slightly beaten

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ cup flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

For the dark chocolate mousse layer

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces or bitter-sweet

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1 tablespoon water

¾ cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons vanilla extract, strong coffee like espresso or brandy

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons sugar

For the white chocolate mousse layer

12 oz. good quality white chocolate pieces

3 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1 tablespoon water

¾ cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons vanilla extract or orange liqueur

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons sugar

 

Make the brownie base

     Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan with parchment paper. Grease the bottom and sides with a little melted butter.

     Whisk flour, cocoa, and baking powder together in a bowl, set aside.

      In a medium bowl, stir melted butter, sugar and vanilla together until combined. Add eggs and beat until well incorporated. Add flour mixture to eggs and butter mixture, beat until well blended. Pour enough batter into prepared pan, to come ½ inch up the side. Drop the pan on the counter to even out the batter, smooth top with an off set spatula. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes until a tester inserted to the center comes out clean and the top feels soft and set. Do not over bake, the brownie base will harden as it cools. Cool completely.

 

 

For the dark chocolate mousse layer

     Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl. Let stand until softened.   

     Melt chocolate with 3 tablespoons heavy cream over a double boiler or microwave, stir until smooth, set aside and let cool.

     Beat heavy cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form, return to fridge and chill at least 10 minutes or until ready to fold into chocolate mixture.

Heat vanilla or coffee until hot, add softened gelatin and stir until dissolved.

     Beat egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl with a hand mixture on high speed until thick and pale about 5 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl often.

     Beat in gelatin mixture then cooled chocolate. Fold chilled whipped cream into chocolate mixture.

     Pour mousse on top of brownie, smooth, cover with cling film and chill 4 hours or overnight before adding the white chocolate layer.

  

For the white chocolate mousse layer

     Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small bowl. Let stand until softened.  

     Beat heavy cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form, return to fridge and chill at least 10 minutes or until ready to fold into white chocolate mixture.

     Melt white chocolate with 3 tablespoons heavy cream over a double boiler or microwave. Stir until smooth, set aside and let cool.

     Heat vanilla or liqueur until hot, add softened gelatin and stir until dissolved.

     Beat egg yolks and sugar together in a medium bowl with a hand mixture on high speed until thick and pale about 5 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl often.

     Beat in gelatin mixture then cooled white chocolate.

      Fold chilled whipped cream into white chocolate mixture. Pour white chocolate mousse on top of chilled dark chocolate mousse, smooth, cover with cling film and chill 4 hours or overnight.

 

     When ready to serve. Remove cake from spring form pan. Carefully pull away the parchment collar around sides. Smooth sides with a metal spatula if necessary. Dust top with cocoa powder using a decorative stencil. The cake will cut easily and clean when chilled.

 

 

 

Notes: The brownie recipe is adapted from Hershey’s Classic Recipes. The mousse recipe was adapted from Tom Douglas’s White Chocolate Mousse Filling.

 

 

 

 

Friday
Oct142016

Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake - Code Name: Hurricane Matthew Evacuation Relief Dessert

      

I’m never getting off this baking buttermilk bandwagon (say that three times fast then LOL at yourself).

      The original recipe for this is from the CIA (the cooking school in Hyde Park, NY, not the spy guys in Langley, VA) obviously.

     I mean for one thing, we’d never get the spy guys’ recipe. If they even have one for lemon buttermilk cake, which they probably do underwraps, but it’s probably super secret, classified even; unlike Hillary’s hacked risotto revelations.

      But, the CIA, the one in Hyde Park, regularly disseminates their secrets and prized, classified recipes. Which makes us all better in the kitchen.

      I had a little CIA Intel situation of my own going on. I made it once, and this covert CIA wannabe decided the recipe needed a lot more lemon juice and zest. I confess. I did the unthinkable. I altered a CIA recipe/brief. Whoops sorry, not sorry.        

     Here’s what I did. First I sprinkled the pan with sugar instead of flour. Enter a nice carmalized outside. I doubled/tripled the lemon zest and juice, pucker up! Then with the glaze; who wants water when, that’s right, LEMON is right there at your now zesty fingertips.

     So - Sugar, on lemon on buttermilk, on more lemon on sugar gets you a really crunchy, tart and sweet on the outside, soft and lemony on the inside CAKE.

     Sorry CIA I didn’t pay attention to orders. I deviated from the plan of attack and I think the mission was successful. 

 

Makes 1 9-inch cake  

 

1 cup (2 full sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature plus more for pan

1 ¾ cups sugar, plus more for pan

2 2/3 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups buttermilk

3 lemons, zested

10 tablespoons lemon juice from zested lemons (may need a bit more to make up 10 tablespoons)

4 large eggs, room temperature

For the glaze

¾ cup confectioners’ sugar

2 lemons zested and juiced

     Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter Bundt pan and sprinkle sugar around to coat the inside, tap out excess.

     Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl, set aside. In another bowl whisk buttermilk, lemon juice and zest together, set aside.

      Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

     Add eggs one at a time, beat well and scrape down bowl after each addition. Reduce speed to low. Add dry ingredients to the egg mixture alternating with the buttermilk mixture in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until incorporated, and batter is smooth, do not over beat.

     Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth with a spatula. Bake 1 hour until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched. Check after 50 minutes just in case.

 

     Let cake cool completely on a wire rack and make the glaze. Whisk confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and zest together in a small bowl until smooth. If glaze is too thick, add more lemon juice, too thin? Add more sugar.  Invert cake onto plate and spoon glaze over cooled cake. Let glaze harden, then cut and serve at room temperature.

  

Note: Adapted from Baking At Home With The Culinary Institute Of America

 

Sunday
Sep182016

Reversed Impossible (it's possible) Chocolate Flan

  

 

I’ve been threatening to make the Reversed Impossible Chocolate Flan featured in  “Sweet & Southern” by Ben Mims and on NYTimes cooking for weeks. I’d been looking for a recipe like this after I made the Lemon Pudding Cake a few weeks ago (if you haven’t tried it do so. It’s amazingly delicious). I secretly tried to come up with a recipe for a one batter magic cake myself, hoping I could achieve the same separation with one chocolate batter. Well, I didn’t have much luck, but I did have a really nice chocolate mousse cake in my fridge.

     This cake has two batters (they’re both dead easy) so twice as much magic happens. Before your eyes, the pudding sinks, the cake rises and a dessert worthy of a banquet at Hogwarts appears. No charm or wand waving needed. Helga Hufflepuff would be proud.

 

For the cake

½ cup butter, room temperature (1 stick)

¾ cup sugar

1 large egg, room temperature

1-½ cups flour

¼ teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup buttermilk

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cooking spray

For the chocolate custard

12 oz. can evaporated milk

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

½ cup cocoa powder

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

4 large eggs

 

     Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a Bundt pan with cooking spray. Place it in a large roasting pan, fill roasting pan half way up with water. Remove Bundt pan, and place roasting pan on rack in middle of oven.

     In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, beat in egg and mix until incorporated. Whisk flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together in a bowl. Whisk buttermilk and vanilla together in another bowl.

     Beginning and ending with the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk, add to butter and sugar in three stages, beating just until incorporated. Spread evenly in Bundt pan, smooth top.


     Using a hand mixture, beat evaporated milk, condensed milk, cocoa, eggs and vanilla together until smooth (the mixture will be thin). Ladle custard gently on top of cake batter.

 

     Transfer to roasting pan, and bake for 35-40 minutes until a tester comes out clean.


     Cool completely on a wire rack before even attempting to turn out (I put it in the fridge towards the end to make sure the custard set). Invert pan onto a plate, cake should slide right out. Grab a fork.


Some notes if you make this: A few of the reviews mentioned that the custard portion was rubbery. I didn’t find that at all. The custard was silky with a rich chocolate flavor. Also, some thought the cake was bland; so with that in mind I decided to triple the vanilla, used buttermilk rather than coconut milk and skipped the vinegar.

 

 

Saturday
Aug272016

Lemon Pudding Cake 

 

 

 

I had lemons, I had buttermilk and wanted cake. So, when my NYTimes “what to cook” email came through featuring this recipe, again, I took it as a culinary sign that lemon pudding cake was in my future.

     This cake was a snap to make. I was a little skeptical about it separating and turning into sponge on top and custard on the bottom. But, like the magic that baking is - it happened. One batter two layers.

     Well, I don’t believe in magic (since I’m a muggle – sigh) and we know baking is actually a science, I wanted to know the “why” behind the magic science. Turns out that during the baking process, the egg whites and flour rise, while the pudding stays at the bottom. The water level in the oven bath helps determine how much pudding there’ll be. The water insulates and slows down the bottom layer’s cooking, which allows the cake portion to form and bake, like magic, I mean science (Thank you, America’s Test Kitchen for the info). A lot of recipes suggest serving this fresh tangy cake warm, I liked it cold. Next time, there’ll be vanilla ice cream and blueberry sauce to go with.

 

Makes 1 8-inch cake

 4 large eggs, separated

Zest from two lemons

2/3 cup lemon juice

1-tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1-cup sugar

½-cup flour

½-teaspoon salt

1½-cups buttermilk

     Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square or round cake pan. Place it in a large roasting pan, fill roasting pan half way up with water. Remove buttered cake pan, and place roasting pan in oven.

     Whisk egg yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice and butter together in a large bowl. Whisk sugar, flour, and salt together in another bowl. Whisk half the sugar mixture into the egg yolks, followed by half the buttermilk. Whisk remaining sugar mixture, then buttermilk, and whisk until smooth.

     Beat egg whites into soft peaks, then carefully fold into batter. Pour batter into prepared pan, place in water bath and bake until the cake is set, about 35-40 minutes.

Note: Adapted from Julie Moskin’s NYTimes cooking recipe.

 

 

Tuesday
Jul052016

Great British Baking Show - Mary's Walnut Layer Cake - Tech Challenge #3

If you’re one of the 13 million fans of The Great British Baking Show or GBBS on PBS then you’ll get this and might have even done it yourself.

     I’m hooked, follow along each week and fall in love with the bakers. I feel their pain when there’s a disaster in the kitchen. I admire them for making their signature bakes, blind technical challenges, and showstoppers on a time limit in front of a camera. I couldn’t do it, no way and I’m a pretty experienced cook/baker.

     So, for fun I thought I’d put myself through the GBBS tech challenges.

     Let’s get to a few things straight right off the bat. It’s not a true challenge. I know that.

     I have clear advantages. From the start, I know what the challenge is. My recipe isn’t stripped down. I know what it’s *supposed” to look like. I’ve seen others make it with successes and failures.

     And here’s why all that doesn’t matter. You can give the same recipe to 12 (in this case 13) different people and 12/13 different results get churned out.

     I’m giving myself the same time limit that the bakers get. I know, I know – I’m in the comfort of my own home without a TV crew or judges in my face asking me unnerving questions to shatter my already fragile confidence. So, again, an advantage, but I still thought this would/could be fun. I just want to see if I can produce something anywhere close to what Paul and Mary would approve of and/or what it should look like. We shall see.

     This week’s challenge was Mary’s Walnut Layer Cake. A sponge, with buttercream filling, caramelized walnuts, and meringue icing.  I’ve made cakes with walnuts in them, I’ve made buttercream, I’ve caramelized nuts and made meringue icing. This should be easy…right? I have 1 hour and 45 minutes to get it done. Time starts now – BAAAAAKE.

     First almost disaster – only put three eggs in the batter instead of four – saw the lone egg before I added the flour mixture – disaster averted.

     2nd batch of walnuts look pretty good –1st batch was a sticky, glob of a mess.

 

   54:22 to go – cakes are out. While they were baking I made the buttercream and stuck it in the fridge. Next is the cooked icing – fingers crossed.

     I started the meringue icing before I spread the buttercream on the layers – CRAP. Now the buttercream is a little to cold to spread, and the layers aren’t totally cool yet.

     This on the clock thing is praying on my mind. I feel like I have to get it all done…NOW. Which is so wrong as I’ve seen in many episodes.

     Also, I was so worried about the cooked icing that I spread the buttercream on the warmish layers and watched them slide – aaand, I put the top layer on upside down. Now I've got something that looks like it belongs in a Whoville bakery, not the gingham alter. 


     While trying to check the consistency of my marshmallowy icing – I lifted the whisk [electric] still whisking away and gave myself, and the surrounding area a nice sticky shower. I needed a set of tiny windshield washers for my glasses. I’m nervous for no reason – I’M NOT BEING JUDGED.

      So now I’m scared ABOUT the time, and scared OF the icing and Mary and Paul [who don’t exist in my kitchen]. I toyed with the idea of taking the icing off the hot water and continue whisking it until it cools – that’s the way I’ve made this stuff before – heat and whisk until the egg whites are a little frothy and the sugar is dissolved – Igotthis.Iknowthis.

     Well I didn’t do that.

 

I decided to continue on with the disaster in the bowl and once again, sprayed myself and kitchen with the now gooey, runny white stuff [wish I took a picture to show the hilarity of it]. I even had time to redo the icing, but for some reason the idea of being on the clock made me forget all sense of any baking technique. I was in grab, go, goop, momentum, all because of the DAMN CLOCK.

     I completed the challenge with 16:31 minutes to spare, but I could have used the time better – I need better time management - I screwed up the easiest tech challenge.

     Verdict – the cake turned out okay. There were a few larger pieces of walnuts in there [which I didn’t mind, [but old blue eyes probably would have had something to say]. I thought it was on the tough side, possibly over cooked. My layers were even. The buttercream was fine, but due to spreading it on warmish layers, it eeked out of the edges.

  

     The second batch of walnuts were, also, fine. But I placed them wrong on the cake [again, I even knew how they should have been placed]. I tried to move them around, but they left funny marks. The cooked icing? Effing disaster. A Runny, grainy, mess.

    To put my tech challenge in perspective [with my other contestants] - my walnut cake was most like Stu’s on the icing side and Ian’s on the cake side. I had height, I had even layers, I had decent butter cream, some larger chunks of walnuts and grainy icing. I think I’d have been 11th in the challenge. That was Stu. He went home.

     I’m already nervous for next week’s challenge. I had no pressure except the timer on my iPhone and that’s what I turned out? I DON’T know how they do it.

  

Sunday
Jun192016

Vanilla Genoise with Mascarpone Cream and Fresh Strawberries

 

I saw a recipe for a Strawberry Cassata on the NYT Cooking website the other day and it looked so appetizing. A light sponge cake, soaked in vodka laced syrup, layered with sweetened fresh ricotta and topped with berries. While that recipe wasn’t a “traditional” cassata – no candied fruit on top and no marzipan. It did get me thinking about making a copycat dessert. So I did.

 

For the cake: 

3 large eggs, room temperature

6 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for dusting

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

1-teaspoon lemon zest

For the Mascarpone Cream:

1-cup heavy cream

8oz. mascarpone cheese, room temperature

3 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar

1-teaspoon vanilla extract

16oz. fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

     Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan, line bottom with parchment paper, butter paper and dust entire pan with sugar, tap out excess. Whisk vanilla into cooled, melted butter – set aside.

     Beat eggs, sugar and lemon zest together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on high, until a thick, ribbon forms when the paddle is lifted. This will take at the very least 5 minutes - don’t under beat.

     Remove bowl from stand, sift flour over mixture and fold in until incorporated. Add ½ cup of batter to butter and vanilla, gently fold together until completely mixed, fold butter mixture back into batter. Spread batter into the prepared pan, smooth top. Bake for 25 minutes until top springs back when lightly pressed and a tester inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan until you can handle it, run a knife around the edge of pan, and turn out onto a cake rack. Cool completely then use a serrated knife to cut in half making two layers.

     Whisk cream, sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Whisk in mascarpone until smooth.

     Place bottom slice of cake on a plate, cut side up. Spread with ¾ of mascarpone cream. Place strawberries in a circle starting from the edge, filling in until cream is covered. Cover with top slice, spread remaining cream and decorate with strawberries.

     Keep chilled until ready to serve.

 

Sunday
Nov092014

Panforte

 

     Panforte is cross between nougat and fruitcake, a bread and a candy. I think this is one of the Christmassiest desserts ever. For me it's the aroma that wafts around the kitchen when it's baking.

     There's nothing to be intimidated by, it's not tricky to make just a bit sticky to make. The honey syrup hardens really quickly so you have to move fast from mixing to getting the batter into the pan. What’s nice is that this Italian spiced “bread” keeps for ages, easily a month or two wrapped well at room temperature.

 Ingredients

2 cups toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

2 cups candied citron mixture (like lemon, lime, orange, cherry)

Grated zest from one lemon

¾ cup flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1-cup sugar

¾ cup honey

     Preheat oven to 300°F. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Spay paper and sides of pan with cooking spray.

     Mix the almonds, citron, zest, flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together in a large bowl.

     Heat the sugar and honey in a small pan on low heat stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth, bubbles slightly and reads 240°F on a candy thermometer. Pour honey syrup into nut mixture and stir well, the batter stiffens quickly, so work fast. Scrape into prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula or your fingers when it’s cool enough to handle. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the center feels like soft custard and your finger comes away clean. Do not over bake. The panforte will firm up as it cools. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, run a knife around the edge to loosen, remove pan and cool completely. Remove the bottom and parchment paper, sprinkle heavily with confectioner’s sugar.

It's All Delicious note: I mushed two recipes together; one from David Lebovitz and the other from The Essential New York Times Cookbook.

 

Monday
Oct102011

Pecan Praline Cake from the Charleston Cake Lady

 

I do believe I have found one of the best cake recipes – EVER!  I came across an out of print book called Special Recipes From The Charleston Cake Lady by Teresa Pregnall.  Sadly Mrs. Pregnall passed away in 2008 but her recipes live on.  They’re old-fashioned and remind me of my Great Grandmother Florence’s original (typed on a Royal typewriter) recipe book I treasure.  Anyway, the Pecan Praline Cake is not only dead easy to make, it received high marks from all the household critics here.  Make it once, and you’ll make it again, and again.  It will be one of your “go to” cakes and will now be included in our list of favorite family recipes – it’s that good!

 

For the cake:

2 cups flour

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup buttermilk

½  cup butter

2 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla

Cooking spray

 

For the frosting:

¾  cup butter, melted

1 ½  cup dark brown sugar, packed

½ cup whipping cream

2 cups pecans, finely chopped

 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease a 13x9 inch pan with cooking spray.

Whisk flour, cocoa, and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Melt butter into buttermilk in the microwave or on very low heat in a small saucepan.  Let cool slightly.  Beat eggs, sugar and buttermilk in a large bowl on low speed until combined, about 2 minutes.  Add flour mixture and vanilla, beat until batter is smooth.  Pour into prepared pan and spread batter to corners using a spatula.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until a tester comes out clean.  Let cool about 10 minutes.

 

To frost the cake:

 

Preheat broiler.  Lower the oven rack.  Stir melted butter, dark brown sugar, whipping cream and pecans together in a medium bowl.  Spread frosting over warm cake and broil.  “Cook” no more than 5 minutes just enough to allow the frosting to bubble – check often to prevent burning!

Frosting before sticking it under the broiler 

It’s All Delicious Notes:  sorry the pictures aren’t better – but the cake was gone before I could get an individual shot!