Which Way to Carnegie Hall?

Everyone knows how to get to Carnegie Hall, right? I am considering making bite size desserts for a gala at our temple with about 200 people expected to attend. Conventional wisdom indicated I will need 4-600 individual desserts. Perhaps you can see why I have not yet committed to this task. Allotting 2-3 desserts per person I should also have 5 or 6 dessert options, too many and it’s overwhelming (for the attendees and the baker!)

blueberry lemon and mango keylime profiteroles

So, back to Carnegie Hall. Practice, practice, practice. For anyone who follows my blog you know mistakes to not leave the house, so I practice everything first. I also experiment with different flavors and combinations. For instance, I made profiteroles last week. One was to be a mango/key lime and the other a lemon/blueberry. They were fine, except the key lime overpowered the mango. I will have to try again. Practice, practice, practice. The lemon was fine, if a bit intense.

vanilla cake and swiss meringue buttercream frosting

A couple of days ago I made some vanilla cake bites with Swiss Meringue Buttercream frosting. It was a new cake recipe, I was looking for something a bit lighter, plus a new buttercream. This one uses a Swiss meringue (egg whites and sugar whisked over simmering water in a bain marie. The frosting was delicious but a bit of a pain in the butt. I would use this if I could have  several desserts that use the same frosting. I may just divide it into aliquots and color them differently to make an easy differentiation.

chouxI make choux fairly often so don’t really need to practice, but the little choux pastries are a good way to try the different filling flavors and icings. I made these choux in an hour or two last week, used a dozen or so for experimenting and froze the other 4 dozen. If I decide to do this project I will take a day and make 200 or so. I just need enough freezer space.

This morning I decided to add two new pastries File Jan 10, 10 17 21 AMto my portfolio. The first, and easiest was the chocolate cookies with chocolate mousse filling. I decided to add some shaved milk chocolate and white chocolate over some of them and since I had some raspberry coulis in the fridge, I drizzled that over some to add more color.

pineapple upside down bites.jpeg

Once those were complete and I finished cleaning the kitchen, (yes, I clean everything up between each bake) I started the one bite Pineapple Upside Down cakes. I used the same vanilla cake recipe as last week. It was a little tricky miniaturizing everything and keeping them looking good. Next time I will reduce the amount of pineapple and use a quartered cherry so there will be more room for the cake.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

INGREDIENTS

  • 7 large (210 grams or 7 oz) egg whites
  • 2 cups (400 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks or 340 grams) unsalted butter, softened*
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt (we use non-iodized fine sea salt)

METHOD

  1. In a medium pot, add at least 1-inch of water and bring to simmer.
  2. Thoroughly wash and dry the stainless-steel mixing bowl from your stand mixer* (you don’t want grease touching meringue). Add 7 egg whites and 2 cups sugar and whisk together.
  3. Place mixing bowl over pot of barely simmering water, creating a seal over the pot (bowl should be over the steam, not touching water). Whisk constantly until mixture reaches 160˚F (takes about 3 min). Sugar should be fully dissolved (you should not feel any sugar granules when rubbing mixture between finger tips). Mixture will feel hot to the touch.
  4. Wipe water from bottom of mixing bowl and transfer bowl to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff glossy peaks form (about 15-20 min) and bottom of the bowl feels completely at room temp and not warm (important: warm meringue will melt the butter).
  5. Once bowl is at room temp, switch to paddle attachment, reduce to medium speed and add butter 1 Tbsp at a time, adding it just as fast as it is absorbed by meringue. Once all butter is in, scrape down the bowl and continue beating until it reaches a thick whipped consistency (3 min on med-high speed). If it looks lumpy or liquidy at all, keep beating until smooth, thick and whipped.
  6. Add 2 tsp vanilla extract and ¼ tsp salt and mix on med-high until incorporated (about 1 min).

Notes

*Butter should be softened at room temp about 1 hour (more or less depending on your room temperature). It should be slightly cool to the touch and not overly soft or warm. If too soft, refrigerate for 10 minutes at a time.

Vanilla Butter Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk Note: I use 1% milk and add the 2 Tbl as whipping cream

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a cast-iron pan, and dust with all-purpose flour, tapping out excess. Sift together flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  2. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Fill pan halfway, and bake until golden around edges (time will vary depending on size of pan). Remove from oven, and let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Transfer cakes from pan to a wire rack. Let cool. Coat each with glaze just before serving.

Chocolate Mousse Filled Chocolate Cookies

INGREDIENTS (Half Recipe)

  • 1 cup butter, softened (1/2)
  • 2 cups white sugar (1)
  • 2 eggs (1)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (1)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (1)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (6 Tbl)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (1/2)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (1/4)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
  4. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; stir into the creamed mixture.
  5. Spray Baker’s Joy or similar product into mini cupcake pans and fill ½ full (about a level teaspoon).
  6. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes in the preheated oven, until cookies are set.
  7. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 egg yolks (2)
  • ¼ cup sugar (2 Tbl)
  • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream (1/2)
  • 1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup) (1/2)
  • 1 ½ cups whipping (heavy) cream (3/4)

METHOD

  1. Beat egg yolks in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in sugar.
  2. Heat 1 cup whipping cream in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until hot. Gradually stir at least half of the hot whipping cream into egg yolk mixture; stir back into hot cream in saucepan. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (do not boil). Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, just until chilled.
  3. Beat 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. Fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream. Pipe or spoon mixture into serving bowls. Immediately refrigerate any remaining dessert after serving.
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Choux on This!

choux dough

I make a very nice choux pastry to be used in profiteroles and eclairs. These are usually filled with crème patisserie and iced with a shiny chocolate. I thought it would be a fun exercise to try some variations, so I made some Mango/Key Lime iced with white chocolate and blueberry iced Lemon Curd profiteroles. The recipe I found for the Mango/Key Lime was way too lime dominant. The recipe posted here is adjusted to what I hope will be more mango dominant. I guess it’s just a guess.

Mixing the choux dough is easy, provided you attain the proper viscosity before attempting to pipe it onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. This picture shows the characteristic “V” shape of the dough as it hangs off spatula. Too runny and it will flatten out, not runny enough it will be harder to pipe and may not have enough moisture to “puff” up while baking.

Mango Curd

Cook’s note” I made first with ½ cup lime juice as per the recipe. The lime overpowered the mango.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ripe large mango, peeled, flesh cut away from pit
  • 1/3 cup water (this is a guess to substitute for the ½ cup lime juice)
  • 1 Tbl fresh lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces

METHOD

  1. Process mango in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and whisk in lime juice, salt, and ½ cup sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and add pod. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks, egg, and remaining ¼ cup sugar in a medium bowl until no longer grainy and slightly lightened in color, about 2 minutes.
  3. Whisking constantly, very gradually stream about half of hot mango mixture into eggs, then gradually whisk mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until curd thickens and whisk leaves a visible trail, 5–7 minutes (do not let it boil). Remove from heat and add butter a couple of pieces at a time, whisking until incorporated before adding more.
  4. Strain curd through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring glass bowl or nonreactive bowl and cover, pressing plastic wrap directly onto surface. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

Cook’s note: Curd can be made 5 days ahead. Keep chilled.

Lemon Curd

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into bits

METHOD

  1. Whisk together juice, zest, sugar, and eggs in a 2-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in butter and cook over moderately low heat, whisking frequently, until curd is thick enough to hold marks of whisk and first bubble appears on surface, about 6 minutes. Note: cook long enough to thicken.
  2. Transfer lemon curd to a bowl and chill, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 1 hour.

Cooks’ note: Curd can be chilled up to 1 week.

Entrez Mon Ami

For Hanukkah Fran bought me a set of entremet cake pans, so of course, I had to try Zekner Ring Mold Setthem. As I had decided to make a clock face cake with mirror glaze for New Year’s eve I thought this would be a good chance to try both. I made a chocolate cake with chocolate mirror glaze for Kathy’s birthday and fresh strawberry entremet cakes for our Christmas celebration at Karen’s.

small Fresh Strawberry Cake 1

I added a little red food coloring to the strawberry cake and green to the whipped cream frosting to so they were looking a lot like Christmas, everywhere we go. I thought the texture of the strawberry cake was a little close. I may try a lighter cake and add chopped strawberries next time.

Choc cakes8

 

I crumb coated the chocolate entremet and probably wouldn’t do that again. The idea is to make the cake as smooth as possible so the mirror glaze will be smooth when completed. The buttercream crumb coat was too slippery for the glaze to adhere properly. Maybe next time, just two coats of mirror, if needed at all.

Fresh Strawberry Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (8 oz.) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing pans
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups (about 14 7/8 oz.) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pans
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half (equal parts heavy cream and milk to make ¾ cup)
  • 1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries (about 7 oz.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red liquid food coloring

METHOD

  1. Prepare the Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat sugar and butter with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time; beat on low speed just until incorporated after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add to sugar mixture alternately with half-and-half, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat on low speed just until combined after each addition. Fold in strawberries and red food coloring.
  3. Divide batter evenly among 3 greased and floured 8-inch round cake pans. Bake in preheated oven until a wooden pick inserted in center of cakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  4. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks to cool completely, about 1 hour.

 

Chocolate Mirror Glaze

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 g gelatin sheets
  • 125 g water = ¼ cup to bloom gelatin
  • 225 granulated sugar
  • 30g cocoa powder
  • 150 g chocolate
  • 65 g heavy cream

METHOD

  1. Bloom gelatin in ¼ cup cool water (about 10 minutes)
  2. Add and mix sugar and 125 g water in a large saucepan
  3. Heat to 104C (219F) remove from heat
  4. Add 150 g finely chopped chocolate and mix until dissolved
  5. Add 30g cocoa powder and whisk until dissolved
  6. 65 g heavy cream and mix
  7. Cool to 60C (140F) add gelatin, mix until dissolved
  8. Sieve to remove any remaining lumps
  9. Immersion blend to smooth
  10. Sieve to remove any bubbles
  11. Cool to 32C (90F)
  12. Pour over cake being sure to coat the sides thoroughly

Gelatin Conversions

  • 1 (0.25 oz.) envelope granulated gelatin = 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin = 3 sheets leaf gelatin.
  • One package (1 tablespoon) of powdered gelatin equals 4 sheets.
  • 4 sheets leaf gelatin = 1 (.25 oz) envelope granulated gelatin = 1 tablespoon granulated gelatin; Agar-Agar, which is an alga based jellifying agent

Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS

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

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.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.

 

Honey, I Shrunk the Cake

completed cakeI asked Neil what kind of birthday cake he would like us to eat for him, as we will be unable to be with him on his actual birthday, yet what kind of birthday would it be without a cake, and why waste a cake if I am going to make one anyway? Whew!

He asked for an 8 Layer Honey Cake. After doing a (very) little research, I found a good recipe with instructions on Natshakitchen.com. The only modification I made was to reduce the size (diameter) of the cake as there will only be 3 or 4 people partaking. I didn’t reduce the size of the recipe so simply made two small (6″) cakes. (Please don’t ask about the disposition of the second cake.)layer with frosting

One mistake I made was to not roll the dough out to the specified 1/8″ thick. (Mine were closer to 1/4″.) I also found the frosting was too thin. Next time I would use less sour cream and more sugar, or let it set overnight in the refrigerator.

cakes1

8 Layer Honey Cake (Medovik)

INGREDIENTS

Cake Layers Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) honey
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs, beaten with a fork
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I used unbleached, organic)

Sour Cream Frosting Ingredients:

  • 32 oz sour cream
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream

For the topping:

  • ½ lb Fresh Berries, optional

METHOD

How to Make the Cake Layers:

  1. Add ¾ cup sugar, ¼ cup honey and 2 Tbsp unsalted butter to a medium sauce pan and melt them together over medium/low heat, whisking occasionally until sugar is melted (5-7 mins). Don’t put them over high heat or they may scorch to the bottom.
  2. As soon as the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and while it’s still hot, add in your beaten eggs in a slow steady stream while whisking vigorously until all of your eggs are incorporated (whisk constantly so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs).
  3. Whisk in the baking soda until no lumps remain, then fold in your 3 cups flour ½ cup at a time with a spatula until the dough reaches a clay consistency and doesn’t stick to your hands. Mine took exactly 3 cups flour (measured precisely, scraping off the top of the cup).
  4. Cut the dough into 8 equal pieces and move on to the next step right away (these roll out best when the dough is still warm)
  5. On a well-floured surface, roll each piece out into a thin 9″ circle (about ⅛” thick). You can sprinkle the top with a little flour too to keep dough from sticking to your rolling pin. Place a 9″ plate or base from a springform mold over your rolled dough and trace around it with a pizza cutter to get a perfect circle. (I used a 6″ cake pan and “punched” out each disk. Be sure to use plenty of flour to keep the dough from sticking.) Keep the scraps for later. Transfer the dough to a large sheet of parchment paper and bake 2 at a time at 350˚F for 4-5 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before stacking. Repeat with remaining layers.
  6. Finally bake the scraps separated evenly on a re-used sheet of parchment. Once the scraps are baked, cooled and firm, you can crush them with a rolling pin or pulse them in a food processor until you have fine crumbs.

How to make the frosting:

  1. Beat 1 cup heavy cream until fluffy and stiff peaks form (1-2 min on high speed).
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together 32 oz sour cream with 2 cups powdered sugar.
  3. Fold the whipped cream into the sour cream and you have your frosting.
  4. Refrigerate until ready to use. I suggest overnight to firm up the frosting.

Assembling your Cake:

  1. Spread about ⅓ cup frosting on each cake layer (don’t skimp on it since the cake needs to absorb some of the cream to become ultra soft.
  2. Press the cake layers down gently as you go to keep the layers from having air gaps.
  3. Frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.
  4. Dust the top and sides with your breadcrumbs, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
  5. This cake needs time to absorb some of the cream and soften, so be patient. It’s worth the wait!

 

When You Wish Upon A Star…

 

(a Cinnamon Star Bread that is,) “Makes no difference who you are.”
I saw this recipe on KAF as part of their CINNAMON STAR BREAD BAKEALONG: CHALLENGE #16.   These are fun ways to improve and augment anyones baking skills, no matter who you are, plus they result in a delicious product (when executed properly.)

Dusted Completed bread

INGREDIENTS

DOUGH

  • 2 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • ¼ cup potato flour
  • ¼ cup nonfat dry milk
  • ¾ cup + 2 to 4 tablespoons lukewarm water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough
  • ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

FILLING

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

METHOD

  1. First, measure the flour by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Next, sift the flour, potato flour, and dry milk through a strainer; this is an important step to prevent lumps in the dough. (If you’re using instant mashed potatoes rather than potato flour you can skip this sifting step.)
  2. To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead —I use a mixer and dough hook — to make a soft, smooth dough.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 60 minutes, until it’s nearly doubled in bulk.
  4. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, cover the balls, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
  5. On a lightly greased or floured work surface, roll one piece of dough into a 10″ circle. Place the circle on a piece of parchment, brush a thin coat of beaten egg on the surface, then evenly sprinkle with 1/3 of the cinnamon-sugar, leaving 1/4″ of bare dough around the perimeter.
  6. Roll out a second circle the same size as the first, and place it on top of the filling-covered circle. Repeat the layering process — egg, cinnamon sugar, dough circle — leaving the top circle bare.
  7. Place a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cutter in the center of the dough circle as a guide. I used a 3/4 cup measuring cup and scored the center of the top ring. With a bench knife or sharp knife, cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layers.
  8. Using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips and twist them away from each other twice so that the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.
  9. Pinch the pairs of strips together to create a star-like shape with eight points. Be sure the ends are well pinched or they will separate.
  10. Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet. Cover the star and let it rise until it becomes noticeably puffy, about 45 minutes.
  11. While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
  12. Completed breadBrush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg. Bake it for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s nicely golden with dark brown cinnamon streaks; the center should register 200°F on a digital thermometer.
  13. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve warm or at room temperature.
  14. Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.

3 Strikes In A Row!

As you may know, I often make a “practice” cake prior to producing the “public” cake. Thanksgiving Windtorte“Practice” cakes do not leave the kitchen, (unless they are good.) I made a practice Thanksgiving cake based on a Spanische Windtorte as seen on GBBO. It looked beautiful and tasted awful. It would have been easier to eat a half cup of sugar with a strawberry chaser.
I fell back to a standard chocolate cake but decorated with a Thanksgiving theme. The feathers are chocolate, white chocolate and butterscotch chips, warmed, mixed with corn syrup, rolled into long thick strings, braided, rolled and cut into equilateral triangles, about 2″ on each side. Fold one side and pinch together forming the feather.

 

Frost the chocolate cake using a spatula to make feathers across the top. Array 18 chocolate frosted cupcakes (I used white cake for variety for the guests) around the frosted chocolate cake. Place the feathers on the cupcakes and add a few to the front side of the turkey body.

Frost one cupcake with white buttercream, form some red dyed gum paste into the snood and waddle and invert a chocolate chip (pointy side down) into the top as an eye.

Boom!

Chocolate Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 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.
  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.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. 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.
  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.

Chocolate Frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup milk

METHOD

  1. Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler. In a large bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and 1/2 cup of the milk. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture. Add remaining milk, a little at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
  2. Let stand until spreadable (frosting will thicken as it cools).

Heavenly White Cake (Cupcakes)

INGREDIENTS                                               

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  3. Cream butter or margarine. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat thoroughly into batter. Spread batter in a 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan which has been lined on the bottom with parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes, then remove from pan and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. This cake may also be baked in two 9 inch round pans for 30 to 35 minutes, or in three 8 inch round pans for 25 to 30 minutes.

Just a Pretty Face

As my regulars know, I am a big GBBO fan. For the past couple of years I have been mesmerized by Mary Berry’s Spanische Windtorte. When asked to bring a dessert of my choice to Thanksgiving dinner, I thought, “What a perfect opportunity to try the windtorte.” (Full disclosure, Fran suggested this, it was not my original thought.) Substituting pumpkins and colored leaves for the violets satisfied my sense of holiday decorum. Well, the result is that this was a very pretty cake and I think I would have done very well in the GBBO Technical Challenge. However, it would have been easier to eat a couple of tablespoons of pure sugar as that is exactly what it tasted like. If it weren’t for the whipped cream and berry mixture filling the cake, it would have no edible redeeming value. Pretty, but also, pretty disappointing.

I made the below recipe of French meringue and piped two 8″ diameter disks and three 8″ diameter rings onto parchment paper. These were baked at 200F for an hour. With some difficulty the meringue was lifted from the paper. One disk was used as the base and the three rings were stacked, one at a time, using several thick meringue mounds to “glue” them together. The whole structure was then baked for 45 min, again at 200F.

6 small

Once cooled, the balance of the meringue was used to “frost” the side of the cake. By this time the meringue was a bit thin and even vigorous beating could not thicken it. I should have made a new batch, but struggled on (this was just a practice cake after all.) The resultant side of the cake was not as smooth I would have liked, but was ok. I simply trimmed the bottom of the cake where meringue dripped.

The cake was filled with the whipped cream and berry mixture from the recipe below and the top added. This resulted in the very pretty cake seen above.

INGREDIENTS

For the French meringue shell

For the Swiss meringue decoration

For the filling

METHOD

  1. Line 3 large baking trays with baking parchment. Draw 2 x 20cm/8in circles on 2 of the trays and 1 x 20cm/8in circle on 1 of the trays. (You should end up with 5 x 20cm/8in circles). Preheat the oven to 200F.
  2. For the meringue shell, tip the egg whites and cream of tartar into a large spotlessly clean bowl and whisk with an electric mixer on high speed until the whites form stiff peaks. Add the caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously to make a thick, glossy meringue.
  3. Spoon two-thirds of the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1.5cm/⅝in plain nozzle. Pipe a thick ring inside one of the circles on the baking tray and continue spiraling until the entire circle is filled. Repeat with a second circle. These create the base and the top of the meringue cake.
  4. Repeat the process with the 3 remaining circles, except don’t fill in the circles, so that you have three hoops of meringue – these create the sides of the meringue shell. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  5. When the meringues are dry, gently slide 1 of the cooked, filled meringues onto a 30cm/12in heatproof (to 200F) serving plate. Spoon the remaining meringue into the piping bag and pipe 8 blobs of meringue, evenly spaced around the edge of the circle. Place 1 of the meringue hoops on top and press down very gently to stick the hoop to the base.
  6. Repeat the process with the remaining 2 hoops of meringue. Roughly pipe the remaining one-third of meringue around the sides to disguise the hoops. Using a spatula smooth out the meringue so that the sides are smooth and straight and look like a cake. Bake on the serving plate for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  7. For the Swiss meringue decoration, set a large mixing bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Tip the egg whites and sugar into the bowl and whisk until the sugar is dissolved and the meringue reaches 70C on a sugar thermometer.
  8. Remove from the heat and continue whisking until cool and stiff. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle. Pipe a pretty border around the base, the middle and the top edge of the meringue shell. Pipe a border around the outside edge and the middle of the filled meringue circle that will become the lid. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  9. For the filling, whip the cream and icing sugar together in a bowl until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Whisk in the orange blossom water and gently fold in the strawberries and raspberries. Spoon into the cooled meringue cake shell. Top with the decorated meringue lid.