Archive for the ‘cakes’ Category

One of my dear friends got married on Saturday, naturally, I couldn’t resist making her wedding cake. We decided on carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. V and I were inspired by a cake with leaves vining up and around the tiers so I went with it. I got together some gum paste supplies and made a bunch of leaves ahead of time. I used two shades of green and made them somewhat irregular (although they ended up being pretty uniform.)

While I was in baking school we used a recipe for carrot cake that quickly became my favorite. It has buttermilk in it and is quite moist. The original recipe calls for walnuts but we chose to exclude them.

I was pretty nervous about making a cake that was big enough so I went with 14-10-6″ tiers. (As it turns out, I was VERY generous with my estimate.)


Each tier was 4 layers, two cakes split in half, each layer was filled with cream cheese frosting. I did a thin crumb coat before the final coat of frosting.

Finally I decorated it with the gum paste leaves. I also had a few fresh flowers leftover from the bridal bouquet so I snuck a few on as well.

The bride, the groom, and the cake.

Read Full Post »

Ever since I was little, I have wanted to be able to make candied violets that end up looking presentable; although I am not completely there, I am at least getting closer. My backyard is full of  violets so the other day I went outside with a little basket and collected some of the prettiest ones.

I made a simple syrup 2:1 sugar and water and added a little rose-water to it to enhance the flavor. I pounded some sugar in my mortar and pestle so it was “superfine” and then began to candy the violets. I dipped each flower in the syrup…

…carefully opened the blossom back up with a fine paintbrush, and sprinkled them with the superfine sugar – being careful to coat the front and back of the flowers. I placed the flowers on a sheet of waxed paper to dry. They have been drying for a day now and are still a little moist. I am hoping that when all is done, they won’t crumble.

I also am in the process of making a bunch of marzipan roses. Yesterday at the store I got some almond paste (which I prefer over marzipan because it is less sweet) and some natural food coloring, made from beets. I added the red coloring to the almond paste until it was the shade of pink I was going for. I took a small portion of the almond paste, rolled in to a log and covered the rest with plastic wrap so it wouldn’t dry out. I sliced off 6 small pieces and rolled them into little balls.

I then gently flattened them out with one end of the disc thinner than the other. I found the having a little bowl of water nearby to rinse my fingers every once in a while helped keep the “petals” from sticking to my fingers.

When all 6 petals were ready, I started rolling them together with the thinner end at the base of the blossom.

Overlay two petals and begin to roll them up, add a third petal and roll a little more, repeat until all the petals have been incorporated. (These pictures were taken in low light, I apologize for the poor quality but they should give you an idea of how to put the petals together.)

You can trim the end at an angle to help the flower sit upright.

Both types of flowers make great decorations, especially for cakes.

(Note: As long as the marzipan is stored in an air tight container you can make the flowers in advance. They are very simple to make but they do take quite a bit of time so plan ahead, maybe recruit some helpers if you need a lot.)

Read Full Post »

Lemon Rose Cake

I had a request to make something “springy” and since there still aren’t many fruits available, this is what I came up with. A white cake with quite a bit of lemon zest in it, rose simple syrup – for drenching, dried roses – for their petals, and Radiance Dairy cream – for fluff.

I brushed the rose syrup on the cake layers and spread some whipped cream on top….

I placed the second layer on the first, spread on some more whipped cream, and sprinkled it with rose petals.

Note: Next time I might add either a thinned preserve or some fresh fruit to the filling.

Read Full Post »

I got up early this morning to bake a cake. I only have one large sheet cake pan so I had to bake two layers, separately. I used the same recipe that I used for my friends wedding cake last summer. Last night while reading through some cookbooks, I came across a useful tip. When baking large cakes, reduce the oven temperature by 25*F to allow for more even cooking. I tried this out today and I am pleased to say that my cake turned out quite nicely, no dry or crispy edges and the center is cooked through!

While the first layer was baking, I prepared the batter for the second layer. With both layers baked and cooling…

I thinly sliced some strawberries. (Normally I don’t buy like to buy fruit out of season but I had a request for strawberries and they actually looked pretty juicy so I went for it.)

I put the berries in a bowl and sprinkled a some sugar (maybe 2 Tbsp.) on them.  I whipped some cream and assembled the cake. I put the strawberries in between the two layers with just a touch of whipped cream…

…then covered the entire cake with whipped cream and dusted it with a little cocoa powder.

Read Full Post »

A birdday cake

My sister made this cake a while ago and it looked delicious! When I was deciding what to bake for my brother for his birthday, the “Chocolate Guinness Cake” came to mind, it is rich, chocolaty, and moist. Perfect for a wintry day like today.

The first step was to pour the Guinness in a wide saucepan, add the butter and warm it until the butter melts.

Next, I whisked in the cocoa powder and the sugar, until it was smooth. I slid the pan off the  hot burner and beat the eggs with some vanilla and sour cream. I added the egg mixture to the pan and mixed again. Lastly, I added the flour and a little baking soda.

I poured the batter into a springform pan and popped it in the oven for about 45 minutes. When it was done, I put the cake outside to cool.

Meanwhile, I made up a batch of cream cheese frosting. The recipe calls for a little whipping cream to be added into it, making it fluffy, somewhat resembling the foam on top of a pint of Guinness.

Read Full Post »

Hedgehog Cake

I have been wanting to make this cake since last winter. I couldn’t find any chestnut paste in Michigan and when I finally got some from my mom’s store, it seemed too rich and wintry to make in April. My sister loves chestnuts and hedgehogs I made it for her birthday last week. The recipe for this “Hedgehog Cake” came from Simply Sensational Desserts by Francois Payard, you might recall a lime tart I made a while back- also from this wonderful book.

I started by making the cake, a chocolate sponge. I baked it in on of my favorite pans, my mom’s all-clad jelly roll pan.

While the cake was baking, I made the chestnut ganache! I chopped up a bunch of bittersweet chocolate and poured boiling cream on top and whisked away. When that was smooth, I added some chestnut puree and whisked some more. I cooled it in the fridge for about 45 minutes, stirring it occasionally.

By this time, the cake had cooled and everything was ready to be assembled. I used some bowls to trace around and cut out the layers. I lined a bowl with some saran wrap and spread a generous layer of the ganache evenly across it.

I placed the smallest of the three cake rounds in the bottom and smeared on some more ganache. Then more cake, more ganache, and a big dollop of whipped cream. I topped it off with the last of the cake rounds and sealed it with some ganache. I put it in the freezer over night so that it would hold its shape.

In the morning, I filled the sink with hot water and set the bowl in it long enough that the cake would unmold.I turned it out onto a cake plate and with the back of a spoon spread the spiked the rest of the ganache on it to resemble spines. (I think this step would have been a little better if I had let the ganache warm up a bit more.) I decided to leave it headless. I thought that it would be too disturbing to have to cut off the head of a hedgehog. Eeek. I dusted it with cocoa powder.


Read Full Post »

Pear Spice Cake

I woke up this morning thinking about what to bake with the last of my pears, (I say last even though there are still several on my counter.) I opened my email and saw a recipe for a spiced applesauce cake, it looked so good that I decided to do a spin-off using pears. I made a quick batch of pearsauce, I didn’t mill them this time, I just mashed them up a bit.

I also cut the sugar back and adjusted the spicing slightly. I used fresh ginger instead of powdered and added a bit of lemon zest to the batter.

There was a bit or pearsauce leftover so I served the cake with a spoonful of that as well as some whipped cream.

For the cake:

Cream together…

1 stick butter

1 scant cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp fresh grated ginger

zest of 1/2 lemon


2 farm fresh eggs, one at a time.

Beat in…

1 3/4 cups pearsauce (or unsweetened applesauce)

Mix together in a separate bowl…

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 – 3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground clove

Slowly add dry ingredients to the applesauce mixture. Pour batter into a well-greased cake pan or square baking dish. Bake at 350* for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with pearsauce and whipped cream.

Read Full Post »

Forgive me for being so behind on my posts lately. I have been quite busy. Recently, we had another great cooking class at The Store! Kathy Dubois and Steve Boss (hosts of Great Taste on KRUUFM) taught us how to make risotto and farrotto! Farro is prepared very much in the same way as risotto with the exception of using farro in place of rice. Farro is an ancient Italian grain, great for soups, stews, and salads. It is a bit chewy in texture and has a very nice nutty/earthy flavor. We also made a couple of starters and an apple cake!

We started with some slow roasted beets drizzled with Traditional Balsamic Vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Next we had a fresh brussel sprout salad. It was very simple, shredded brussel sprouts, pecorino toscano cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper.

Kathy and Steve roasted some garden tomatoes ahead of time and made a nice big pot of veggie broth for the risotto and farrotto. Both dishes were prepared in a similar fashion. We began by sauteing some leeks, carrots, and celery. Then adding the rice/farro followed by a splash of wine. Once the wine has evaporated off, you can begin adding broth one ladle at a time stirring often. As the liquid cooks off, add some more. I always find that the longer the risotto has been cooking the more I need to stir it. Once the rice/farro was sufficiently cooked, still a little toothy, we turned off the heat and added some butter and parmigiano reggiano. We finished the risotto with a roasted red pepper sauce that Kathy made, and the farrotto with the roasted garden tomatoes.

For dessert, Kathy had prepared a delicious apple cake with a crumb topping and, of course, whipped cream!

Click here for the risotto and farrotto recipe.

Read Full Post »

Last week we had a Tunisian cooking class at my mom’s store. My good friends Sarah and Katie taught the class. Sarah has been doing a lot of research on Tunisian food, and to my delight a lot of practice too! We made several different dishes: lablabi, mlauoi, m’hamsa salad, torchi, carrot feta salad, and gateau a l’orange.

Lablabi is a Tunisian chickpea stew, it is the one food that is consistently available on the streets of Tunisia both night and day. The lablabi stands don’t have any signage, but rather, they have tall stacks of bowls made specifically for eating lablabi in. So that the chickpeas get very sweet and tender, the stall-keepers start cooking them in the wee hours of the morning and keep them on the flame all day long. We weren’t quite as diligent on this step, but we started cooking the chickpeas first thing in the morning (at about 8am instead of 3am.)

There are a few musts for preparing lablabi, it must be served with bread, toasted cumin, harissa and a drizzle of olive oil. Beyond that, you are free to add whatever condiments you like. Sarah recommends adding capers, preserved lemon and brine, and sun-dried tomatoes.

First in the bowl is the bread (ripped into pieces) then a scoop of chickpeas with plenty of broth, (making sure to have enough broth after the bread has soaked some up) followed by the condiments.

After you have added everything be sure to mix it up very well so you get all the flavors in each bite!

The next thing we learned how to make was mlaoui, a traditional semolina flatbread. These breads are very simple to make, you mix together semolina flour and a little all-purpose flour, some salt and olive oil. Then add enough water so that the dough ends up looking something like this.

You will need a lot of water! Semolina soaks up a lot more than you would think. After achieving the right consistency, it needs to rest for at least 20 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead it, sprinkling a little bit of water as you go. The dough should be soft and malleable. Divide it into 4 pieces and let it rest a bit longer.

Then you spread the dough out in a large somewhat translucent rectangle and rub it with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of semolina and fold it in on itself like a letter going into an envelope.

Press the dough out again and roll it up. (If you want to make little breads, you can slice the roll into pieces.)

Press the roll (on end) into a thin circle and place it on a hot griddle. Cook it until the bread is lightly golden and flip. Flip it once more and hope it puffs up!

During the initial rest period, we prepared several salads (all of which pair very well with the mlaoui!)

This next dish is something I make at home quite often, it is a m’hamsa (couscous) salad. We sautéed some summer squash, sweet and hot peppers in olive oil. Towards the end of cooking, we tossed in some already cooked beans, and caraway seeds. When the m’hamsa was ready, we added the veggies to it and finished it with a squeeze of lemon juice, chopped mint, and parsley.

Torchi is a quick pickle. You can use just about any vegetable that is in season,(some common ones are radishes, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, and fennel.)  We used red cabbage, the color was stunning! To make torchi, you chop fresh vegetables and dress them with some toasted and lightly ground coriander, salt, champagne vinegar, and of course, a bit of harissa. You can eat it right a way or you can let it sit over night in the fridge.

I have always loved carrot salad and this Carrot and Feta salad is no exception! I mean how can you go wrong with carrots, harissa, feta, raisins, a sprinkling of mint and parsley,  and a squeeze of lemon? Let me answer that for you, you can’t!

For dessert we made Gateau a l’Orange (an Orange cake made with olive oil!) It involves using the entire orange, minus the seeds. After removing the seeds, you put the oranges in a food processor and grind them to a pulp. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and sugar, add the flour baking powder and olive oil. Mix. Add the orange pulp and mix again. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and bake.

We also made a rose geranium syrup to brush on to the cake while it was cooling.

To finish off the meal we had some mint tea, traditionally served with toasted pine nuts.

Note: For a complete version of the recipes click here.

Read Full Post »

I was introduced to buckles recently and I can’t seem to get enough of them! The idea behind a buckle is that you load the (coffee cake) batter with so much fruit that it buckles in on itself. My sister got a big box of Missouri peaches the other day so this morning I crept into her house while she was still sleeping, and snatched several. I had to resist an urge to take one of her pies from her kitchen counter.

I rinsed the peaches and cut them into little pieces about the size of blueberries (which also make really really good buckle!) I prepared the streusel topping (brown sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon) and then mixed up the batter.

I folded in the peaches, poured the batter into a buttered baking dish..

… sprinkled on the streusel, and put it in the oven at 350*F. 55 minutes later…

I made a pot of coffee while it was cooling at sat down and devoured a piece with my coffee.

(I am feeling a little guilty that I don’t have anyone home to share it with.)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »