Tag Archives: Cake

millions of peaches

Do you remember that song “Peaches” by The Presidents of the United States? Every time I see a big bowl of peaches the “millions of peaches” lyric pops into my head and I am suddenly transformed back to 5th grade. Peaches have now become my quintessential summertime fruit. Easy to wrap up in a napkin and toss in my purse or my new bike basket. Last night I was flipping through a Gourmet and came on a recipe for a Stone Fruit Tea Cake that just sounded too perfect. I had a bowl of peaches in my table, an hour to kill, and a lunch with one of my favorite people who is finally back in Chicago after a summer in Seattle filled with wedding craziness.

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Sour Cherry Coffee Cake

Have you heard about this coffee cake yet?  I bet that you have.  I have made this coffee cake more than twice over the past few months but I just haven’t had a chance to tell you about it yet. And it really is a shame because I am pretty sure that sour cherry season has come and gone. Continue reading

red and blue

Happy 4th of July! I hope that you are out at a BBQ or watching a parade and gearing up for a night full of fireworks. Growing up the 4th of July holiday was always a hot and steamy affair. It would start with a July 3rd night at the Pavilion for the free concert complete with picnics and real cannons for the 1812 Overture. The next morning was the parade where I would dress up my bike with patriotic streamers and ride with the Indian Spring Village Float. The afternoon would be filled with cold watermelon, swimming pools and BBQ. Ended with a fireworks display over the golf course and the lake. I am unfortunately “celebrating” with some Contracts and Real Property review (but maybe I will throw in some Con Law for good measure) on a somewhat rainy and cloudy 4th. Today wasn’t a total bust because the farmers were out bright and early this morning at Green City. Continue reading

four layers

…for 25 years.

I turned 25 on Monday which gave me the perfect excuse to spend an afternoon baking a wonderful layer cake rather than learning the many exceptions to the hearsay rule and the difference between the common law and the MPC for murder. It is a little hard to believe that I am 25 because some how I feel like I would be more established, more adult-like. But I guess that is what happens when 3 years gets sucked away to law school. My Mom claims she didn’t really feel like adult until I was born (she was 37) so I guess I really have some time. But making a (successful) cake from scratch, rather than from the oh so simple (and what the hell is in it) box, makes me feel a little older and wiser. Continue reading

Vanilla Bean Cake with Chocolate Ganache

My friend Susan had a party on Sunday night for the Oscars and requested that we all bring a dish that somehow related to one of the nominated movies or actors.  I figured that baking my first cake from scratch is rather domestic (like Kate in Revolutionary Road) so I sought out a recipe to try.  After looking at Smitten Kitchen and a few others, I settled on a recipe at the Kitchen Sink (I swear I have many other blogs that I enjoy I just seem to always be the most drawn to these recipes!) This recipe seemed perfect: I could finally use my 9 inch cake pans for a layer cake and give splitting a whole vanilla bean (and getting to make vanilla sugar with the leftovers) a try.

The cake recipe uses 9 egg whites. I almost bought a jug of just egg white at the store but that alone cost more than a dozen cage-free eggs so I decided to figure out a use for the leftover yolks (which are still in the fridge so they will probably get thrown out…ekk).

The batter came together quickly and the cakes were in the oven. I took them out at the specified time, let them sit in their pans and then flipped them out onto the drying racks. After flipping the first one back right side up, I decided to leave the second one upside down on the drying rack which was a mistake (or a blessing depending on how you look at it) because the center of the cake dripped into a puddle. Somehow one of the cakes wasn’t done! I tested it with a toothpick so I don’t know what happened. I put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes but the center was pretty well done for.

After the cakes had cooled, I decided to just slice off the destroyed top of the cake, and use the bottom (which was still fine) for a layer. So I had a 3 layer cake, instead of four.

The ganache was even simpler to make. I simply heated up a pint of heavy cream slowly and whisked in 12 ozs of finely chopped good quality bittersweet chocolate. Put the mixture into a bowl and let it chill in the fridge while the cakes are cooling. I brought it back up to room temp before icing the cake.

It wasn’t the prettiest cake since the layers were a little lopsided and I didn’t have a good tool to really spread the ganache on pretty but man it tasted good. Not too sweet, rich without being overpowering, very classy and adult…if I do say so myself.

Chocolate Ganache
Recipe Adapted from Gourmet

2 Cups Heavy Cream
12 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate; chopped reasonably fine

Bring cream to a simmer in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate until smooth. Transfer ganache to a bowl and chill, covered, stirring occasionally, until thickened but spreadable, about 1-2 hours.

Vanilla Cake Recipe
From The Kitchen Sink

1 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 cup whole milk
9 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 vanilla bean, scraped
4 1⁄2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt
2 1⁄4 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter and flour two 9- inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, milk, egg whites, and vanilla extract and beans; set aside. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In an electric mixer, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugar and beat until combined, about 2 minutes.

Working in several batches, alternately add the flour mixture and milk mixture, ending with milk mixture. Beat after each addition until the mixture is just combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cakes are beginning to brown around the edges and a tester comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in their pans on a rack for about 5 minutes. Remove the cakes from their pans and allow to cool completely.

If the cakes are domed, slice off the domed portion to create a flat cake. Slice each cake horizontally into two even rounds. Set one of the four layers on a cake stand, slipping pieces of parchment paper between the layer and the stand. Using an offset spatula, slather the top of the cake layer with frosting. Top it with another layer and repeat with the next two layers. Finally, place the fourth (last) layer on top and heap on the remaining frosting. Smooth the frosting out over the top and down onto the sides of the cake.

Allow the cake to set for at least an hour before slicing and serving.

TWD #4: Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake

I will say that while I had fun making the caramel, I wasn’t a big fan of the final product. The cake turned out dry and the topped was really hard to chew through. I took it with me to a friend’s apartment for dinner on Friday night and came home with half that ended up in the trash today.  I just didn’t want another slice 😦

This was the fun part.

This was the fun part.

Look forward to next week!

TWD #3: Perfection Pound Cake (in place of Creme Brulee)

Since I don’t own a blowtorch and didn’t really want to try the whole water bath method, Creme Brulee was out (even though it would have been the perfect excuse to use the new ramenkins!)   I decided to try one of the many recipes that the TWD bakers have completed in the past months.  Since I had all the ingredients on hand for the “Perfection Pound Cake” I decided to give it a try.

A bunch of kitchen staples

A bunch of kitchen staples

  I don’t think I have ever had true pound cake before so I don’t really have a point of comparison.  It turned out quite good.   Dave was expecting it to be sweeter since it is “cake” but I really liked the rich butter flavor.  I added in some lemon zest that I rehydrated from The Spice House but I’m not sure if I could really taste it.  I want this stuff to work well because I hate buying a whole lemon/orange and then just using it for the zest.
The jury is still out...

The jury is still out...

I had it with some vanilla ice cream and a handful of frozen raspberries.  Dave had some for breakfast on Sunday morning with a little Pear Butter from Seedling Farms spread on it.  The recipe calls for quite a lot of time with the mixer.  I followed the times closely and once I was at the point of adding the flour to the butter/sugar it was very fluffy and light.  Dorie was right, it really does taste better the next day.


TWD #2: Dimply Plum Cake

Dimply Plums

Dimply Plums

The Dimply Plum recipe that was chosen for this week was quite yummy and I will probably make it again with other fruits. It is much better warm on the first day than reheated the next, so make this when you know that you will be able to share it quickly with others. It was also fun to try out some of the plums from the farmer’s market. I used cinnamon in place of the cardamom because I have a weakness for the Spice House and already had some great quality cinnamon in my spice box (yes-I have boxes–this is a subject of a future blog).

Lovely orange zest

Lovely orange zest

Dave got to it before I got a picture...

Dave got to it before I got a picture...

Recipe is from Baking: My Home to Yours on Page 41. This is a lovely book that I got for under 10 bucks on Half.com 🙂

Andj on Homemade French Onion Dip
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