JAFFA DOME “CAKE”

I had a few oranges left over from “poaching” my neighbors, John and Amy’s, trees. Luckily, I saw a Jaffa cake on GBBO which gave me the idea of created a Jaffa-ish dessert. Populate in Britain, Jaffa cakes include sponge, orange and chocolate.

I also had some pistachios left over from another project so I made the “cake” a pistachio flavored one. Actually, I didn’t make a cake, I made cookies, where they should have been biscuits. Whew! That’s a convoluted way to say I made pistachio flavored – mouse filled – cookie based tempered chocolate domes. Hmmm, that’s not much shorter, is it?

The orange paired nicely with the chocolate but the combination of those flavors overpowered the pistachio. I made some plain pistachio cookies with leftover dough and they were excellent. To make the pistachio cookies leave the rolled dough about 1/4” thick.

JAFFA DOME “CAKE”

Procedure Outline:

  1. Make orange jelly 1/8” thick – refrigerate
  2. Make whipped cream – refrigerate
  3. Streak silicone molds with melted white chocolate – allow to cool
  4. Coat white chocolate streaked silicone molded with tempered dark chocolate – 2x – allow to cool between each coating
  5. Make pistachio biscuit 1/8” thick – allow to rest a couple of minutes
    a. While warm, cut into appropriately sized disks to fit in silicone molds –
    b. allow to cool. They should snap like a biscuit.
  6. Make vanilla mousse
  7. Fill domes ~ ¼ full with mouse (piping is easiest)
  8. Insert appropriately sized cut disk of orange jelly into each mold
  9. Cover jelly with vanilla mousse
  10. Fit pistachio biscuit over bottom of mold
  11. Cover biscuit with vanilla mousse
  12. Pipe tempered chocolate around the edge of the bottom.
  13. Cover bottom with a layer of tempered dark chocolate – approx 1/8” thick.

(Note: my orange jelly and biscuit were too thick (1/4” each) so I reduced the amount of mousse in each cup and couldn’t cover the bottom of the dome with chocolate. The directions reflect appropriate changes. Next time!)

Orange Jelly

INGREDIENTS

  • 600 ml (2½ c) Orange juice, about 5-6 oranges
  • Orange zest from 3 oranges
  • 50 g ( ¼ c) Sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt
  • 65 g( ½ c) Cornstrach
    METHOD
  1. Grease 9-inch (24cm) square pan or similar size pan with oil and set aside.
  2. Zest two oranges and place it in a sauce pan.
  3. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and measure 2½ cups (600ml). pour the juice into the pan.
    Add the sugar, salt and cornstarch.
  4. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until thickened, about 6-8
    minutes.
  5. Pour the mixture into prepared pan, spread to 1/8” thick, allow to cool to room temperate, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Vanilla Mousse – Vegetarian

INGREDIENTS
WHIPPED CREAM – YIELDS 1 ½ CUPS OF WHIPPED CREAM
• 1 c whipping cream
• 4 tbl confectioners sugar
• 1 ½ tsp Cream of tartar
• 1 tsp vanilla
WHITE CHOCOLATE
• 1 cup white chocolate chips
• 3 tbl whipping cream
AGAR AGAR
• 2 tsp Agar Agar
• 2 tbl warm water

METHOD

WHIPPED CREAM

  1. Before beginning with the recipe, place the mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for at least 10 minutes to chill.
  2. Once the bowl has chilled, add heavy cream and vanilla and beat on low speed until the cream starts to thicken slightly.
  3. Add the cream of tartar and powdered sugar and beat with increasingly higher speed until stiff peaks form. Once done, set it in the fridge to chill.

AGAR AGAR MIX

  1. Mix 2 tsp Agar agar powder with 2 Tbl lukewarm water
  2. Whisk to combine
  3. Let set 4 – 5 minutes for the agar agar to bloom

VANILLA MOUSSE

  1. Heat the white chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave. Start with one minute, stir. If not melted try 15 seconds and stir again, then 10 seconds.
  2. Add agar agar mix and stir for 5 minutes. It will be thick like jelly, that’s ok. The white chocolate and agar agar will turn smooth and shiny.
  3. Add 2-5 Tbl warm milk and mix until the chocolate is thick but runny. Don’t add too much
  4. If desired add a few drops of white food coloring to lighten the yellowish mixture and mix well
  5. Gently fold the cool to touch white chocolate [and agar] mixture into the cool whipped cream until combined. Do not beat and deflate the mousse
  6. Add remaining 1/3 cup of ground pistachios and gently fold into vanilla mousse.

Pistachio Shortbread Cookie

INGREDIENTS
• 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
• 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup (50g) light brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 and 1/4 (281g) cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup (100g) finely chopped pistachios, divided

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a double layer cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat together until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla, salt, and flour and beat on low speed, gradually increasing to high speed as the mixture combines. Don’t over mix. Add 2/3 cup of the finely chopped pistachios, reserving the rest to add to the mousse.
  3. Roll the dough out between sheets of parchment paper on the cookie sheet.
  4. Bake the shortbread for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned on top and around the edges.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
  6. Cut appropriate sized circles. Be sure the circles are ¼” less diameter than the molds, allowing 1/8” space around the cookie for chocolate.
  7. I ended up cutting 1/8” bits off the circumference of the large cookies.

‘appy New Year… Hic!

The problem with New Year Eve is… I can’t stay up past east coast midnight anymore. I made a cake for New Year’s 2022 that went over so well, I was asked to make one for this year. If you follow/know me, you know I said “Yes” before the question was complete.

As usual I searched the internet for ideas until I found a design I liked. It had a nice dark midnight blue frosting so with another search found the ratio of food coloring to approach that color. It’s always good to try new techniques and develop new skills with big bakes like this, (four layer 9” cake to augment cheese cakes for about 60 people.)

I made the four 9” Extreme Chocolate Cakes, wrapped them in plastic wrap and placed them on flat surfaces in the freezer. I will take them out to thaw the day before New Year’s Eve. (New Year’s Eve eve?)

Making the black chocolate cookies is straightforward. I use Modern Mountain Black Cocoa rather than Hershey’s Special Dark (my go to.)

Making black royal icing isn’t as easy as making the cookies. I made a regular royal icing and added two tablespoons of the black cocoa and about 20 drops of black food coloring. Even that much food coloring in about a cup of royal icing only turns it dark gray, and detracts (big time) from the taste. The black cocoa (be sure to sift it before adding) turns the royal icing black.

Chilling the cookie dough preserves the “star burst” shape after baking. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven insert skewers most of the way through them. Later you will paint them black. (On second thought, why not paint them with edible black paint before baking the cookies? Next time.) These cookies are VERY crispy and taste like chocolate cake.

Finally, Amazon delivered my number cookie cutters. (To be fair, we only ordered them last night.) I made the second batch of chocolate cookie dough yesterday so when they arrived I started the over, cut the numbers (and a bunch of smaller cookies for QC and I to enjoy) and baked them. Once done I immediately inserted a small skewer into each number and let them cool and turn crispy. Once cool, I made a concentrated sugar water, painted the cookies then coated them with star shaped sprinkles.

It required 6 cups of white buttercream to crumb coat the whole cake. 4 more cups of midnight blue buttercream frosting finished the cake. I wish I could make my surfaces as smooth and clean as seen online. Oh well.

Black Royal Icing

INGREDIENTS

• 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
• 3 Tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
• 5 drops black food coloring
• 2 Tbl Black Cocoa (sifted)
• 9–10 Tablespoons room temperature water

METHOD

  1. Pour confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, black food coloring, black cocoa and 9 Tablespoons of water into a large bowl.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat icing ingredients together on high speed for 1.5 – 2 minutes.
  3. When lifting the whisk up off the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 5-10 seconds. If it’s too thick, beat in more water 1 Tablespoon at a time. I usually need 10 Tablespoons but on particularly dry days, I use up to 12-14 Tablespoons. Keep in mind that the longer you beat the royal icing, the thicker it becomes. If your royal icing is too thin, just keep beating it to introduce more air OR you can add more confectioners’ sugar.
  4. When applied to cookies or confections in a thin layer, icing completely dries in about 2 hours at room temperature. If icing consistency is too thin and runny, it will take longer to dry. If the icing is applied very thick on cookies, it will also take longer to dry. If you’re layering royal icing onto cookies for specific designs and need it to set quickly, place cookies in the refrigerator to help speed it up. You can also use a fan to help set the icing.

Black Chocolate Cookies

INGREDIENTS

• 1 1/2 cups (195g) AP flour
• 3/4 cup (70g) unsweetened black cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
• 1 stick (110g) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
• 1 teaspoon molasses

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and espresso
    powder.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, (2-3 min on medium.)
  3. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and molasses.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 additions. When well mixed, remove the dough from the
    mixer, and form it into a ball. It should have the consistency of soft clay. If it’s stiff and
    unmanageable, massage some water into it, a tablespoon at a time until easily pliable.
  5. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  6. When you are ready to roll-out the dough, preheat the oven to 350°F (175° C). Break off a chunk
    of dough from the ball of dough (about a quarter of it) and place it between two pieces of
    parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to an even 1/2-inch thickness.
  7. Use a cookie cutter or the rim of a small glass to cut out cookie shapes from the rolled out
    dough. Place on a parchment paper or silicone-lined baking sheet, allowing at least 1 inch
    between cookies on the cookie sheet.
  8. Bake at 350°F (175° C) in the middle rack for 12 to 14 minutes, less or more, depending on the
    size and thickness of the cookies.
  9. The cookies should bounce back when you press on their centers and be a little dark around the
    edges. When cool, they should be crispy.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing the cookies from the tray to cool
    on a rack.

Extreme Chocolate Cake

Makes two 9” round cakes (double for this cake)
INGREDIENTS

(Makes one 10’ ROUND CAKE [and two 5”] – quantities are in parenthesis. Or one 11”x15”x2” sheet cake.)
• 2 cups white sugar (3)
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (2 2/3)
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (1 ¼)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (2 ¼)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (2 ¼)
• 1 teaspoon salt (1 ½)
• 2 eggs (3)
• 1 cup milk (1 ½)
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil (¾)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (3)
• 1 cup boiling water (1 ½)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa,baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans. (For cupcakes,portion ¼ scant cups in each cupcake paper.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or 205F internal temp. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.

Yule Log – Deuxieme Noel

I made a Yule Log cake a couple of years ago and while it was good, but it wasn’t Cake Wall of Honor good (see below.) This years just might be. It has chocolate Swiss roll with whipped cream filling, glazed and sugared cranberries and rosemary, merengue mushrooms (not majic) and a dusting of confectioners sugar.

The recipe was cloned from a number of online suggestions. I took the parts I wanted and left the rest. Sorry I can’t reference them all, I didn’t keep notes.

Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake


INGREDIENTS
Cake
• 4 large eggs, separated
• 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
• 1/3 cup (65g) packed light or dark brown sugar
• 1 Tablespoon (15ml) strong brewed coffee
• 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter, melted (see note)
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 cup (62g) all-purpose flour
• 3 Tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
Vanilla Whipped Cream
• 1 cup (240ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
• 3 Tablespoons (38g) granulated sugar or confectioners’ sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 12×17 inch baking pan (Half sheet) with nonstick spray or grease with butter, so the parchment paper sticks. Then line it with parchment paper so the cake seamlessly releases. Spray or grease the parchment paper too. We want an extremely nonstick surface for this cake roll. Place the stand mixer bowl and whip into the freezer
  2. Make the cake: Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and granulated sugar together in a medium bowl on high speed for 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks, brown sugar, and vanilla extract together until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Sift the flour, 3 Tablespoons cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together into a large bowl bowl. Pour the melted butter, coffee, and egg yolk mixture over the dry ingredients. Beat everything together on medium speed until completely combined. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, gently fold in the egg whites until completely combined. Avoid over-mixing and deflating those whites. Batter will be very light.
  4. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. It will be a very thin layer. Tap the pan fairly hard on the counter to smooth out the top. Bake for 10 minutes or until the top of the cake gently springs back when touched with your finger. Do NOT over-bake.
  5. Roll the cake: As the cake bakes, place a piece of parchment paper flat on the counter. Sprinkle with a light coating of confectioners sugar. Once the cake comes out of the oven, immediately invert it onto the parchment paper. Peel off the parchment paper that was on the bottom of the cake as it baked, then dust the recently exposed cake with more confectioners sugar. Starting with the narrow end, slowly and gently roll the cake up with the parchment. The cake will be warm. Allow the cake to cool completely rolled up in the parchment. Place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.
  6. Remove the cake roll from the refrigerator and allow to sit on the counter for a few minutes to warm up as you prepare the whipped cream.

Make the whipped cream:

  1. Remove the mixer bowl and whisk from the freezer, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until medium to stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Gently unroll the cake. Dollop the whipped cream on top, and carefully spread, leaving about a 1/2 inch border around the cake. Gently roll the cake back up, without the parchment/towel this time. Diagonally cut about 4” off the end of the log and position along one side.
  3. Set aside in the refrigerator as you prepare the ganache.

Ganache Topping

  1. Heat cream to near boiling
  2. Pour over chocolate and let sit until chocolate softens
  3. Beat with a spoon until blended and shiny. It won’t be pretty at first but will eventually come together into a uniform shiny chocolate.
  4. Before the ganache firmest to frosting consistency use some to “glue” the branch on the log and fill in any cracks
  5. When the ganache is a spreading consistency spread over the cake
  6. Before completely set, use the tip of a knife to striate the ganache to resemble bark. Do not be to careful. It will look more natural if it imperfect. That’s my story, and I am sticking to it.

To make sugared cranberries and rosemary,

  • add 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until sugar has melted. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Spread 1/2 cup of sugar evenly on a shallow dish.
  • Dip cranberries and rosemary springs to the sugar water, then roll in the sugar.
  • Let dry before adding to the cake.
Cake Wall of Honor

Stranger Things in the Upside Down Plum/Lime Cake

I saw this in Bon Appetite and thought it a strange pairing. As it turns out, it is a fantastic pairing. The sweet/sourness of the lime caramel paired with the sweet, moist, delicate yellow cake is fantastic! Thank you Bon Appetite.

Plum and Lime Upside-Down Cake

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/plum-and-lime-upside-down-cake-recipe


INGREDIENTS
• ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
• 1½ cups all-purpose flour (188 g), plus more for pan
• 4–5 large red plums, cut into ½”-thick wedges (about 1 lb.)
• 1 tsp. baking powder
• 2 tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided
• 2 Tbsp. finely grated lime zest
• 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar, divided
• 2 large eggs, room temperature
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• ½ cup whole milk, room temperature
• ¼ cup fresh lime juice
• Vanilla ice cream (for serving; optional)

METHOD

  1. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Lightly butter a 9″-diameter cake pan and dust with all-purpose flour; tap out excess. Line bottom of pan with a parchment paper round. Wrap wet bake even strip around the cake pan to reduce doming.
  2. Arrange 4-5 large red plums, cut into ½”-thick wedges (about 8 oz.), in a circular pattern in pan,starting from center and working outward and overlapping if needed.
  3. Whisk 1 tsp. baking powder, 1½ cups (188 g) all-purpose flour, and 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt in a large bowl.
  4. Combine 2 Tbsp. finely grated lime zest and 1½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar in a large bowl and rub together with your fingers until evenly distributed, sugar starts to clump, and mixture is very fragrant. Add ¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add 2 large eggs, room
    temperature, one at a time, beating to combine between each addition, then add 1 tsp. vanilla extract and beat 10 seconds. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in dry ingredients,
    scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add ½ cup whole milk, room temperature, and mix just until combined. Set batter aside.
  5. Bring remaining ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar, remaining 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, and 3 Tbsp. water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Carefully
    add ¼ cup fresh lime juice, watching out for spatter, and cook undisturbed until liquid is thickened and beginning to turn a deep amber color, 5–7 minutes. Gently stir, remove from heat, and immediately pour lime caramel evenly over plums in pan. Scrape reserved batter over and smooth surface if needed.
  6. Spoon cake batter in large portions over all the plum layer and spread with an offset spatula.
  7. Bake cake until golden and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan.
  8. Run an offset spatula along edges of cooled cake to loosen. Set a platter upside down over pan and flip over to release cake. Carefully remove pan and peel away parchment paper; discard.
    Serve warm or room temperature, topped with scoops of vanilla ice cream if desired.

Snow White Themed Birthday Cake

I realized I didn’t post at least a picture of my Snow White cake. I made this cake for my DIL Frances’ birthday last week. It’s an Extreme Chocolate Cake with buttercream frosting. (I am not the best at frosting smooth buttercream cakes.) The apple is real, but the leaves on the top are gum paste.

The ribbons, yellow crowns and red apples are also gum paste. The figurines are all purchased, but I thought my granddaughters would like to play with them.

Raspberry Chocolate Cake V1.1

Another week, another birthday cake, except this one wasn’t a themed cake, just a plain cake. Whew! Deep breath.

Today is my son Dan’s birthday. This summer I made Grace’s “Galaxy Cake” and Vivian’s “Princess Aurora “ and Mommy Frances’ “Snow White Cake.” Today was just plain Daddy Dan’s birthday cake. Let me say up front, there is and has never been anything “just plain” about Dan. I don’t have adequate adjectives to describe what a fantastic person, father, husband and son he is.

The cake is my Extreme Chocolate Cake, which is everyone’s favorite. This time I frosted it with marshmallow frosting (my favorite.) A light dusting of freeze dried raspberry powder added a nice tart contrast to the cake and frosting. I made the 10” Round Cake size which perfected filled three 8” cake pans. Wrapping them with wet cake pan strips kept the cakes from doming.

The filling between layers was home made raspberry jam. I piped a ring of buttercream to dam the raspberry filling in place. I used the rest of the buttercream to crumb coat the cake. (Not the smoothest crumb coating. It was fixed after setting in the fridge for a while.)

This is Version 1.1 because after I baked the cakes QC asked if I put jammy bits into the cake. What a great idea, a couple of hours too late, but never fear, there will be another chocolate cake and will certainly have jammy bits included in the batter!

Extreme Chocolate Cake

(Sorry, this blog software doesn’t let me create nice columns.)

INGREDIENTS

Cake 10” ROUND CAKE

9” ROUND CAKE                                    Or 11”x15” or          HALF Sheet Cake (18”X13”

  • 2 cups white sugar                                3                                  4
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour                   2 2/3                            3 ½
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder        1 ¼                              1 ½
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda                  2 ¼                              3
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder              2 ¼                              3
  • 1 teaspoon salt                                     1 ½                              2
  • 2 eggs                                                  3                                  4
  • 1 cup milk                                             1 ½                              2
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil                             ¾                                 1
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract                     3                                  4
  • 1 cup boiling water                                1 ½                              2

 

Frosting

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (125g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar 624g (1c confectioners sugar = 117g)
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. (SEE QTY FOR 10” CAKES, AND SHEET CAKES)
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly (1000g in each 9” cake pan) into the two prepared pans. (For cupcakes, portion ¼ scant cups in each cupcake paper.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or 205 internal temp. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.
  4. To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency. (This recipe will frost 36 cupcakes.)
  5. Split the layers of cooled cake horizontally, cover the top of each layer with frosting, then stack them onto a serving plate. Frost the outside of the cake.

 

NOTES

  1. Do NOT let the internal temp exceed 210 deg F or the cake will be overdone.
  2. Fill cupcake papers 2/3rds full. This will allow space for the cupcakes to expand and create a nice domed shape.

Marshmallow Frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 egg whites
  • 5 tablespoons cool water, plus more for the double boiler
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Pour about 2 inches of water into a saucepan to create a double boiler. Bring the water to a gentle simmer.
  2. In a clean, grease free large mixing bowl, combine 5 tablespoons of cool water, cream of tartar, sugar, egg whites and corn syrup. Place the bowl over the simmering water. Turn off the heat. Use an electric hand beater to whip the mixture. Do not leave mixture unattended and do not stop beating any time during this process.
  3. After about 3 minutes, remove the bowl from the heat and quickly take the temperature of the egg whites. They need to reach 140 degrees F. If the mixture is less than 140 degrees F put the bowl back over the water and resume beating until they are finished, an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the bowl from the water and fold in the vanilla extract. It should look like marshmallow fluff. Allow the frosting to cool. Frost and serve immediately

Stairway to Heavenly

I made this cake several years ago and loved it. I re-made it a couple of years ago and wasn’t impressed. You know what they say in the bakery, try, try again.

After 35 min baking at 350F the center of the cake was only about 150F. I reset the timer for 15 min and at the end of that time the temperature rose to 190F, which is about right. Over baking will cause it to be dry and dense, and mine was both. Darn. Try, try, try again, I guess. (Hint: Have a nice glass of wine as you eat this cake.)

The drizzle frosting is simply confectioners sugar, butter, vanilla, milk and a dash of salt. I dusted the freshly frosted cake with some powdered freeze dried raspberries to temper the sweetness and added some fresh raspberries for decoration and another tart element.

Heavenly White Cake

INGREDIENTS

• 2 ¾ cups sifted cake flour
• 4 tsp baking powder
• 2 tsp Cake Improver
• ¾ teaspoon salt
• 4 egg whites
• 1 ½ cups white sugar
• ¾ cup butter
• 1 cup milk
• Trace of violet food coloring
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 tsp almond extract (optional)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F or 175 C.
  2. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add ½ cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  4. Cream butter or margarine (about 3 minutes.) Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy (about 6 minutes.) Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Wipe a trace of violet food coloring to the front of the rubber blade of your mixer. This will offset the yellow coloring due to the butter and vanilla. Start and end with dry ingredients.
  5. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat gently, but thoroughly into batter. Spread batter in desired pan which has been lined on the bottom with parchment paper or silicon sheet.
  6. Bake at 350 F (175 C) for 30 to 35 minutes for a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan, or two 9” round pans, or three 8” round pans for 25 to 30 minutes or one 9”x4” round pan for 40-50 minutes. (DON’T OVERBAKE!)
  7. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Vanilla Drizzle Icing

INGREDIENTS
• 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted before measuring)
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (clear for whiter icing)
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 3 to 4 tablespoons milk

METHOD

  1. Sift the confectioners sugar then measure out 2 cups.
  2. Combine the sifted confectioners’ sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract, salt, and 3 tablespoons milk in a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until smooth and well blended.
  4. Adjust for desired consistency as needed, adding more milk for drizzling or more confectioners’ sugar for spreading.
  5. Use immediately to top a cake, cookies, and other treats.

Yellow Cake

I’ve been searching for a recipe for an exceptional tasting, moist, tender white cake. I was reminded that I made a cake for my granddaughters baptism and it was described as one of the best “white” cakes they ever tasted. Today, that cake was resurrected as a small, two layer 8’ cake to share with QC and a couple of neighbors as opposed to the two layer 11”x15” cake to serve 60.

I used a chocolate frosting that complements my Extreme Chocolate Cake. When I say complements I mean it is smooth, shiny and sweet.

I had a few flower and bird decorations left over from my other granddaughters Princess Aurora birthday cake, and being a frugal ex-pat Vermonter was unable to bin them.

Yellow Sheet Cake

INGREDIENTS : (Double – Half)
• 2 and 1/4 cups (285g) all-purpose flour (570g -142g)
• 1 teaspoon baking soda (2tsp – 1/2tsp)
• 1/2 teaspoon salt (1tsp. 1/4tsp)
• 1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, softened to room temp (460g – 115g)
• 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar (700g – 175g)
• 2 large eggs, at room temperature (4 – 1g)
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (4tsp – 1tsp)
• 1/2 cup (120g) sour cream, at room temp (240g – 60g)
• 1 cup (240ml) whole milk, at room temp (480g – 120g)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Generously grease and lightly flour a 12×17 inch half sheet/jelly roll pan. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 3 full minutes until creamed together. The mixture should be a light yellow color. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition until both are mixed in. On high speed, beat in the vanilla extract and sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients alternating with the milk. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick.
  4. The full recipe yields 2000g of batter. Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan. Smooth it out into a thin, even layer. Bake for 20-22 minutes (for the jelly roll pan, less for a half recipe or 35-40 minutes for a double. Actual times depend on pan used, less time for shallow pan, more for deeper, or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or 200F. (Two 8” round pans required 30 minutes to bake in my oven.) Make sure you rotate the cake pan once or twice during bake time if your oven has hot spots. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan placed on a wire rack. As the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
  5. Make ahead tip: Cake can be made 1 -2 days in advance, covered tightly at room temperature.

Extreme Chocolate Frosting

INGREDIENTS (2/3 Recipe)

• 3/4 c butter ½ c (112g)
• 1 1/2 c (125g) unsweetened cocoa powder 1 c (80g)
• 5 1/3 c confectioners’ sugar 624g 3 ½ c (415g)
• 2/3 c milk .45 c (98g)
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cream butter until light and fluffy.
  2. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla.
  3. Beat to a spreading consistency.

The Beautiful Sleeping Aurora

Finally I made the Princess Aurora cake for my granddaughter Vivian’s birthday – 20 Covid days late. The extra days gave me extra time to obsess and agonize on the design and execution. The original design was to be 4 layers of 10” cake for the base and 3 of 8” for the top and serve 60 people. We are down to 9 people and a scaled down cake.

I made most of the decorations a few weeks ago and kept them safely tucked away until now. All the flowers and birds are gumpaste. The roses were made using the typical technique of adding several rows of die cut petals. The other flowers were also die cut and while still flexible placed on a slightly crumpled sheet of parchment paper to give them some contour.

The letters fondant, rolled thick and cut with a die. A sharp knife cut the pattern into the letters which were airbrushed gold and dusted with glitter. The picture frame was cut from rolled gumpaste, allowed to dry and the edges were painted gold. Gumpaste glue stuck the picture to the frame.

The drapes and dress are darker pink dyed, rolled fondant and dusted with silver petal dust. The crown is gold airbrushed gumpaste cut in the shape of Princess Aurora’s crown. Gold glitter was dusted on the still slightly wet crown. The “4” is tempered dark chocolate, airbrushed with gold and dusted (too heavily) with gold glitter. (The fingerprints are mine.)

The top two 6” layers are white cake and the bottom three 8” layers and my extreme chocolate cake (family favorite.) I am not a fan of this white cake. (I constantly and this far unsuccessfully search for a recipe that is light and moist.) The frosting is a simple buttercream with 3:1 butter to shortening ratio.

Many techniques, lots of time, tons of fun making this cake.

Tender White Cake

INGREDIENTS
• 326g (2¾c) Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
• 333g (1⅔c) sugar; superfine sugar is best
• 1 Tablespoon baking powder
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 170g (12Tbl) unsalted butter, softened
• 4 large eggs whites plus 1 whole large egg
• 227g (1c) whole milk (2% plus 4Tbl Heavy Cream)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon almond extract

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8″ x 2″ or 9″ x 2″ round pans; a 9″ x 13″ pan; or 2 standard cupcake pans (20 to 24 cupcakes) by greasing and flouring; or lining with parchment, then greasing the parchment. Note: Make sure your 8″ round pans are at least 2″ deep; if they’re not, use one of the other pan options.
  2. Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, like fine damp sand. It may form a paste, depending on the temperature of the butter, how much it’s mixed, and granulation of the sugar used.
  3. Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating well after each addition to begin building the structure of the cake. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt (or milk) with the vanilla and almond extracts. Add this mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for 8″ or 9″ rounds; 23 to 26 minutes for a 9″ x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake; or 20 minutes for cupcakes. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan, if desired (not advisable for a 9″ x 13″ sheet cake), cool on a rack, and frost.
  6. Yield: Two 8″ or 9″ round layers; one 9″x 13″ x 2″ sheet cake, or 20 to 24 cupcakes.

Basic Crusting Buttercream

INGREDIENTS:
• 1/2 cup solid high ratio shortening (1/4 cup Crisco, ¾ cup butter)
• 1/2 cup butter softened (see above)
• 1 tablespoon of merengue powder
• 1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract (or extract of choice)
• 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
• 2 tablespoons milk
METHOD

  1. In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer.
  2. Add vanilla and milk.
  3. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating on a slow speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.
  4. Keep bowl or covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks.
  5. Don’t over whip or it will bring air to the icing and will be impossible to smooth.
    NOTE:
    If you have a kitchen Aid use white attachment, not whip attachment.
    YIELD: Makes about 3 cups.

A Delicious Old Glory!

This 4th of July dessert is either the largest cookie, or one of the smallest cakes I ever made. That is not to say it is either the least flavorful, or not the prettiest cookie/cake I ever made. I am very happy with the result in both attractiveness and flavor.

There were no real trick in making this. Once the cookie cooled a few minutes in the pan I turned it out onto a cooling rack to let it cool to room temperature. I trimmed it to fit the available serving tray and to remove the more well done edges.

I coated the cookie with a thin layer (<1/4”) of white buttercream and first outlined the upper left corner and set blueberries in a rectangle approximating the aspect ratio of Old Glory.

I just noticed I squeezed some raspberries into the third from the bottom row on the left. Probably should have used a larger berry there and left a bit more white showing. Judgement call, could have gone either way.

Chocolate Chip Cookies/Sheet Cake

INGREDIENTS
• 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
• ¾ cup granulated sugar
• ¾ cup packed brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 2 large eggs
• 2 cups (12 oz) chocolate chips

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Gradually beat in flour mixture.
  6. Stir in morsels and nuts.
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Pan Cookie Variation:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. It’s easier to pat down into an even layer with wet/damp hands. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack.