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.


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


  • 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
  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
  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

• 1 c whipping cream
• 4 tbl confectioners sugar
• 1 ½ tsp Cream of tartar
• 1 tsp vanilla
• 1 cup white chocolate chips
• 3 tbl whipping cream
• 2 tsp Agar Agar
• 2 tbl warm water



  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.


  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


  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

• 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


  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.

In The Beginning…


was created for a post-wedding cake. Daniel and Frances were married in Sacramento, then honeymooned in Egypt. Upon returning to the States they stopped by South Florida for a second reception for our friends and family who couldn’t travel to California. I made my first “wedding” cake for that party. It shares the colors of Boston College and the University of Florida. I then continued making cakes for various occasions before expanding into pastries and entrees.


is my writer’s portal. Short stories and novellas are described and listed with links to Amazon and Kindle for purchase, or Kindle Unlimited Members to read for free. Backstreets, my collection of imaginary backstories of a number of my favorite songs will be available shortly.


2018 saw Fran and Dave’s Big Adventure as we took three weeks to drive across country, from Sacramento to Vermont. I blogged each day, pretending our Poodle/Havanese rescue Rosalita was with us. This turned into the book “Road Trip! Rosie Goes ‘There and Back Again.’” I wrote it primarily for the friends we visited on the trip and my family members. GhostsThatSellMemories contains my trip blog and additional travel adventures post Road Trip. I also used Ghosts to catalog our fall 2022 trip to Italy and France. I posted every day for about three weeks. A lot of fun, but a bit of a chore after a while. (Header photo of our hometown, Middlebury, Vermont by my life long friend David Griggs.

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

• 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


  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

The Baguette Challenge – #1

I was in Versailles, Fr last month and had what was undoubtedly the best baguette of my life. The crust had the exact right crunch and the interior was soft and light. Then and there I decided I needed to perfect my baguette baking to at least approach this level of perfection.

My go-to recipe is from King Arthur and it served me well. Upon returning home I searched for differences in recipe ingredients and methods keying on authors who tauted the bread qualities that I wanted.

From what I understand the hydration level, (this recipe is 72%) at least in part, determines the size of the holes in the bread. By using the stretch and fold technique with a long rest (45 min) between each helps develop the gluten. These two properties contribute to the characteristics I desire.

This is the first attempt of “perfecting” my baguette. Do you remember my five attempts at baking an acceptable rye bread? Well, here we go again,

Classic French Baguettes


• 500 g all purpose flour
• 360 g water
• 10 g salt
• 3 g instant yeast about 1 tsp
• 25 g honey about 1 Tbsp


  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
  2. Stretch and fold every 45 minutes and repeat at 3 times, flipping the dough upside down after each set. The rest time between stretch and folds is important.
  3. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight for about 12-14 hours.
  4. Turn the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 3 equal parts and gently shape into rectangles without knocking the air out of the dough. Cover and let rest for 45-60 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 500F, with a baking stone positioned in the upper half the oven. I like to use a small cast iron skillet with water to provide steam. Add the water below when the loaves are put into the oven.
  6. Stretch each dough rectangle slightly and fold into a cylinder, sealing the seams as you roll. Using your hands, roll the cylinders gently stretching them from the center towards the ends to desired length, about 14-15 inches.
  7. Place each loaf on a lightly floured couche, seam side up. Cover and proof at a room temperature for about 30-60 minutes, or until the dough has sufficiently proofed. Press dough with a finger. If it springs back slowly it is properly proofed. If it never springs back it is over proofed and if it springs back quickly it is under proofed.
  8. Transfer the baguettes to a piece of parchment paper, seam side down and dust off excess flour. I like to use a serrated break knife to make 5 scores on each baguette. Don’t cut straight across the loaf, but with a shallow long cut down the length. Each cut should be 4-5” longWhen scoring, use a swift and firm motion to ensure nice and clean cuts.
  9. Carefully open the oven, and slide the rack with the baking stone out. Slide the baguettes off the parchment paper and onto the baking stone. Add a cup of water to the cast iron skillet, close the oven and reduce temperature to 475F. Bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove the water pan, rotate the baguettes, drop the temperature to 450F and continue baking for another 10- 15 minutes, Check how brown the baguettes are after 10 minutes and every couple of minutes thereafter. They should be a nice dark brown, but not too dark. Over baking will make the crust and interior too hard. Experience will tell you when it is Goldilocks just right.

Paris Choux Pastry Class

I make choux pastry for eclairs and/or profiteroles several times a year. When we were planning our European vacation with a stop in France I had the opportunity to include an afternoon, small group class on making choux pastry (and it was taught in English!)

There were six of us in the class, myself, three young(ish) people from Utah and a mother/daughter from London. It was a good mix of friendly, fun people. I was the only student with experience making choux or cream patisserie, but that wasn’t an issue for any of us.

Our instructor was James who was a head pastry chef in England and France for 20 years before retiring and taking this position as a teacher. While not a trained teacher he did develop apprentices for his kitchens throughout his entire career.

The process of making choux is quite easy, but there are always tips and tricks that experience can teach you.

James set up three stations and we worked in teams of two. I worked with Mary, sister of Russ, both of Utah. You will occasionally see Mary’s hands and arms. You can tell us apart as I only wear one ring. We were both too busy to take pictures while we were filling the piping bags, also our hands were covered in raw choux.

Pipe eclairs in straight(ish) lines just less than half the width of the paper and about 3/4” wide.

Each team made a different variety of filling. Mary and I made coffee, the others made chocolate and vanilla. Cream patisserie is fairly easy to make. I use Martha Stewarts’ method of mixing everything together before heating, then sieving the thickened mixture. We did the traditional egg tempering method in class.

Two great tips for filling the eclairs, neither of which I knew. Use the tip of a knife to bore three holes in the bottom of each eclair. Let gravity be the force, do not push the knife down or you will break the eclair. Also, fill each end hole first. When you fill the center last the creampat will push up through the two end holes assuring the entire eclair is full. Believe me, this works great.

James made the topping in advance. I usually just use a simple chocolate ganache, but learning this technique was fascinating. It was so messy neither Mary or I were able to photograph the procedure.

Don’t tell QC, but I could imagine a week of baking courses in Paris, learning so many new techniques. It was a blast.

nGDS Pretzels with Kim’s Flour Blend

(nGDS – Non Gluten/Dairy/Soy)

I was not a fan of my previous pretzel experiment using KAB Measure For Measure gluten free flour. While the taste was acceptable, the texture was wrong and the resulting pretzels (both dough and baked) were very fragile. That batch ended up being binned.

This batch used Kim’s Flour Blend, the flour used to make the Artisan nGDS bread a few days ago. This flour provided the correct texture and dough strength for the pretzels to hold their shape, although the taste was not as close to a traditional pretzel as the Measure For Measure flour. As an extra precaution I cut the parchment paper under each un-baked pretzel and used a large spatula to carefully slide the pretzel and paper into the alkaline bath. The paper slid off the boiled pretzel and was discarded.

This recipe required a longer bake time. Depending on your oven, bake 9 to 10 minutes, rotate the baking tray, then bake another 9 to 10 minutes.

nGDS Soft Chewy Pretzels with Kim’s Flour

• 3 cups (420g) Kim’s blend GF flour – weighed or poured & leveled
• 1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
• 1 ½ tsp psyllium husk powdered
• 1 tbl active dry yeast
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 cup water
• 3/4 cup almond milk
• 2 tbl olive oil
• 1 tbl honey
• 3 ½ tbl red palm and coconut oils shortening (Nutivia) melted – cooled slightly


  1. Heat the water in the microwave for 20-30 sec to achieve a temperature of about 120-130 deg then combine with the cold milk in a small bowl for a resulting solution temperature of 110 to 115 degrees F. Add the sugar and salt to the warmed water and milk and stir to combine. Sprinkle in the yeast and mix with a fork. Allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes or until it becomes foamy.
  2. Pour the foamy mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and add the melted, cooled, unsalted butter and flour. (I add the flour a cup at a time to be sure it mixes well.) Mix on low speed for until combined and no dry flour remains in the bowl. Scrape the bowl as needed. Continue to mix for about another 7 minutes or until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is smooth. Scrape the dough from the hook if it comes up to far. Note: The dough may begin to pull away from the bowl after only 2 minutes, but may look a bit pulled or shaggy and still be sticky. It is not done kneading until it is smooth to the touch and no longer sticky.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball. Wipe out the bowl, if necessary and grease it with 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Place the dough ball back into the bowl and turn over a couple of times to coat thoroughly with the oil. Cover the bowl with a dish towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm area , free from drafts or cool air (a microwave, turned off is a good location), for about 1 hour, until the dough has risen and doubled in size.
  4. Refrigerate covered for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, but up to 10 days.
  5. On baking day, remove the dough from refrigerator and dump it out onto well-floured surface. Loosely cover with plastic wrap (the piece that covered the bowl in the fridge) and let the dough warm to room temperature.
  6. When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 F and position the oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Line a large (15″ x 20″) baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with Bakers Joy. Set aside. Note: You may need 2 baking sheets to avoid crowding the pretzels. If only one small, puny sheet is available, make one batch of pretzels and keep the remaining dough covered, so it does not become dry. Between batches, allow the baking sheet to cool, before filling with remaining pretzels.
  7. Place in proofing oven (or other draft free, warm location such as an oven, turned off, with the light on) for 1 hour
  8. In a large, wide pot (6-8 quarts) add 8 cups of water, baked baking soda and malt powder. Stir to combine and bring to a full boil. Place a plate lined with paper towels nearby, as well as the kitchen spider or slotted spoon.
  9. In the meantime, dampen a kitchen towel with water and set aside. Heavily dust your work surface with Kim’s Blended Flour, remove the dough from the bowl, place it on the work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Cover the pieces that you’re not rolling with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, so they don’t become dry. Using the palms of your hands, roll each piece of dough to a 24-30 inch long rope and then shape into a “U”. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of flour. The dough is sticky! Grab the ends of the rope and cross them over each other once or twice and then bring the ends down to the bottom of the ‘U” and press them down to seal, forming the shape of a pretzel. Place the pretzels onto the greased parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with a damp kitchen towel to prevent the dough from drying out, while you continue to roll the remaining dough. You can also cut some of them into 1 ½” logs to make nuggets.
  10. Place the formed pretzels in a warm, draft free location (such as a proofing oven, or regular oven (Off) with the oven light on to proof for an hour.
  11. The lack of gluten results in a more fragile structure than a traditional gluten pretzel dough. To help maintain the pretzel shape I cut the parchment paper around each pretzel and gently lowered them into the mixture as described in the next paragraph. The paper floats off when the pretzel is flipped. The boiling gave the dough more structure and helped they stay in shape.
  12. One at a time, lower each pretzel into the boiling water mixture for about 30 seconds. I push them down underwater a few times to assure the top is treated as well. The pretzels will puff up while boiling. Using a kitchen spider or slotted spoon, carefully remove the pretzel from the water, blot slightly on paper towels and then place back onto the parchment lined greased or sprayed baking sheet a few inches apart.
  13. Using a pastry brush, brush the top and sides of each pretzel with the almond milk wash and then sprinkle with coarse salt.
  14. Place the pretzel filled baking sheet on the upper oven rack and bake for about 7 minutes. Open the oven and quickly rotate the baking sheet so that the pretzels that were facing the front are now facing the rear of the oven. It may seem like a pain, but it’s quick and easy and will ensure even baking. Continue to bake for another 7 minutes or until pretzels are dark golden brown.
  15. Remove sheet from oven and place pretzels on a wire rack to cool slightly before serving. Outrageously good if served warm. Mildly spectacular if served later.

Kim’s Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend 700g (5 c) 1.4kg (10 c) 2.1kg (15 c) 2.8kg (20 c)
Bob’s Red Mill potato starch 285 g 570 g 855 g 1140 g
superfine white rice flour (DON’T use 250 g 500 g 750 g 1000 g
regular rice flour, ie Bob’s Red Mill)
Tapioca flour 75 g 150 g 225 g 300 g
Egg white protein 75 g 150 g 225 g 300 g
Xanthan gum 15 g 30 g 45 g 60 g

Artisan Gluten, Dairy and Soy Free Bread

When I research a new recipe from someone else’s blog or website, I alway read both the good and bad reviews to find any possible problems. This recipe had very few less than 5 star reviews and were primarily due to the reviewer not reading the instructions. (I gave it 5 stars.)

I made this excellent bread as printed, except I substituted the recommended whey protein isolate with egg white protein. I also used the baking-stone/steam method.

The only change I would make to the method would be to let the dough warm to room temperature before shaping and resting for the second proof. I let the bread rest in my proofing oven for almost 90 minutes at 115F and it was still under proofed. I will try this on the second loaf.

Find the recipe at Let Them Eat Gluten Free Cake and the special blend flour at Kim’s Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend.

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


• 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)


  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

• 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


  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.

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

• 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


  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

• 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

  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.
    If you have a kitchen Aid use white attachment, not whip attachment.
    YIELD: Makes about 3 cups.

One for the Sour, Two for the Dough

All through the pandemic’s shut downs, social isolations and maskings I resisted joining the crowd and never made sourdough bread. Things are starting to open up, so I made my first ever sourdough boule.

As it so happens I kept my copy of King Arthur Baking’s February 2022 catalog that has a recipe for multigrain sourdough, and as it happens, I bought a jar of King Arthur’s sourdough starter when I was in Vermont last summer. This starter has been nurtured in New England since the 1700’s. KAF recommends feeding their starter within 10 days after receiving it. Well, it was a bit longer for me… nearly 10 months. It was a lot of work to revive it, but it was certainly worth the effort!

I had most of the ingredients on hand, but had to make some substitutions. Apparently, malted wheat flakes are in short supply so I used rolled oats instead. To created the malt flavor I added 2 tablespoons of diastatic malt powder. I am also not a fan of sunflower seeds so substituted roasted pine nuts, which I crushed after roasting but before mixing into the dough. For some reason, lost in the mists of baking history, I had some KAF Artisan Bread Topping —perfect.

Other than those substitutions I followed KAF’s instructions below, which resulted in an outstanding loaf with a great crust and crumb. Oh! I almost forgot. I baked it in an Dutch over with extra steam from hot water poured in a hot pan at the bottom of the over when the bread was put in the over.

Sourdough Pine Nut Boule

• 1 cup (120g) rolled oatmeal
• 2/3 cup (152g) boiling water
• 2 Tbl Diastolic Malt Powder
• 1 cups (227g) ripe (fed) sourdough starter
• ¾ cup (170g) to ¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (190g) lukewarm water
• 3 ½ cup (420g) bread flour
• ½ cup (71g) toasted pine nuts
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
• 1 – 2 tablespoon sesame seeds or The Works Bread Topping, or your favorite blend of seeds

For the soaker

  1. Put the oatmeal and diastolic malt powder in a heat proof bowl and mix in boiling water.
  2. Stir until combined and cool to lukewarm

For the dough

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the ripe starter and ¾ cup of water, mix to combine
  2. Add the soaker and remaining ingredients, and mix and knead approx 8 minutes until you’ve made a soft dough, adding additional water or flour as needed.
  3. Cover the dough in the bowl, and let it rise until it’s almost doubled, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased work surface, and gently fold it over a few times to deflate it. Shape it into a large round.
  5. Place the round in a covered baker, about 4.2-quart and 10″ diameter, that’s been sprayed with non-stick baking spray and put on the cover. Let the loaf rise until it’s very puffy, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
  6. Just before baking, brush with water, and sprinkle with seeds. Use a lame or a very sharp knife to make four slashes across the top of the loaf, in a crosshatch pattern.
  7. Bake the bread for 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F and uncover the loaf if in a covered baker, and continue to bake 10 to 15 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F. (A loaf baked on a baking sheet will need to bake for 38 to 45 minutes total.)
  8. Remove the bread from the oven, let sit in the baker for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a rack.