Archive for the ‘Cake’ Category

June is birthday month! It was my friend Jeanette’s birthday and she requested angel food cake. I have never made an angel food cake before, so I was pretty excited to use the pan hanging out in my Mom’s cabinet. Finally a use for a pan with legs! I had no idea that you needed to let the cake rest upside down, so I had a great time documenting this:

The cake is marvelous – it has a perfect sponge-y texture and I love Martha’s addition of raspberry layers. They add a nice fruity contrast to the cake. The layers are very easy to make – all those egg whites make the batter extremely stiff, so you can easily spread the raspberry mixture onto the batter without a problem, making you appear to be some sort of cake layering genius.

I rarely pay attention to recipes that tell you to sift, but I highly recommend it here. The batter is very light and fluffy and if there are any lumps in the sugar or flour, it will be readily apparent in the cake. So sift away! I used my Mom’s sifter, which is wonderfully old school and works far better than my newer one.

Finally, don’t toss those egg yolks! I am saving mine to make a super batch of ice cream that will be so creamy, I will probably die of happiness. I had a fantastic salted caramel ice cream a few weeks ago that I would love to replicate, so if you know of any good recipes, leave a comment. Otherwise I might make ice cream with my second favorite ingredient, creme fraiche!

Unfortunately for the purpose of blog photos, we ate the cake on a bar patio, lit by candlelight. Great for ambiance, terrible for photos. So this was the sole focused, best lit photo of the cake. It is a bit hard to tell, but check out how awesome the raspberry layers look! Very delicious, angel food cake is now officially in recipe circulation.



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Gateau de Crepes

I made this cake for the Resident Frenchman’s birthday and it was, if I do say so myself, pretty awesome. Nothing looks more impressive than a stack of crepes, with tangy lemon curd peeking through the layers.

Crepes may seem intimidating, but they are easy to master once you get going. You must accept that the first crepe will be terrible. The second crepe will be better and by the third, things will be going much smoother. The good thing about a gateau de crepes is that you can sneak in the odd shaped crepes into the middle of the stack and no one will notice!

This is a dessert that has several resting stages and therefore, is not easily done in one day. All crepe recipes I’ve read recommend resting the batter for several hours in the refrigerator, preferably overnight. Do not skip this step – there are, of course, a variety of theories as to what resting does for the batter, but resting makes a huge impact on the taste and texture of the crepes. The good thing is that you can throw together a crepe batter in under fifteen minutes, stick it in the fridge and forget about it until you are ready to start making crepes. The other most crucial resting stage is at the end – the cake must be refrigerated after it is put together. Otherwise, when you try to slice through, the crepes will slide off each other and you will be very, very upset.

A few final thoughts on crepes. One, use a nonstick pan. You don’t need a specialized crepe pan, but for ease and less frustration, the pan must be nonstick. Two, use a metal spatula, or the stiffest silicon you have available. The firmer the spatula, the easier it will be to maneuver it with the crepes. Three, use a light hand when pouring the batter into the pan. Crepes should be thin – these aren’t pancakes. Finally, be sure to save your two best crepes to use as the base and the top. You will want a solid base and a pretty top.


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King Cake

There is all kinds of Mardi Gras awesomeness going on in New Orleans right now and I really miss it! And I really really really miss King Cake! Mmmm…king cake. If you haven’t had King Cake, then you need to make this recipe immediately. King Cake a sweet bread cake, with (usually) a sweet cream cheese filling, topped off with icing and plenty of sparkling sugar in green yellow and purple (green for faith, yellow for power and purple for justice). Inside the cake is a plastic baby and whoever get the slice with the baby has to purchase the next cake. It is delicious and completely addicting.

I’ve always wanted to make a King Cake, but the recipes always looked a tad complicated (injecting the filling?!) and really, who needs to make a King Cake when you live in New Orleans surrounded by bakeries competing to be known as having best King Cake (winner: Randazzos). But then I moved up north, had a snow day with lots of free time and the King Arthur Blog posted King Cupcakes, and while those sounded tasty, I wanted King Cake. As an aside, I love that Saints mania has permeated Norwich, Vermont!

So I made the King Arthur King Cake. And it is very close to being awesome. I think it needs a few tweaks and I definitely would like to try it with a cake mold to achieve a more aesthetically appealing cake. A few suggestions/comments:

  • Go light with or possibly eliminate the egg white wash. The cake shouldn’t be brown and the wash encourages browning.
  • Tent well to eliminate further browning.
  • Use a stand mixer if you have one, as the dough is very sticky and would be hard to knead otherwise.
  • I took the word “stretch” very literally in the recipe and ended up with a dough that had some holes because I overstretched. A rolling pin can be helpful here.
  • The rolling pin will also distribute the dough better – I ended up with one end more dough-y than the other and consequently the cake was a little uneven looking.
  • If you like a lot of filling, consider increasing the filling proportions by half (I think doubling would push it too far), some of the filling absorbed into the bread.
  • My icing ended up being more buttercream frosting and less pourable icing. So I just spread it on like I would for a cupcake and it was still delicious, if not pourable
  • Sadly, I did not import any plastic babies from NOLA when I moved up here, so I used a pecan instead of a baby

But don’t let that list deter you – this is a surprisingly easy recipe and the smell was heavenly. Perfect King Cake smell – cinnamon sweet. Happy Mardi Gras! Laissez les-bons temps roulez!


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Ah the wonderful time of year when fresh cranberries are available! The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas when if you poke around carefully in the supermarket, you can find whole bags of tart deliciousness. I’ve been stocking up whenever I see them – cranberries freeze really well – so expect more cranberry recipes. Stretching possibly into April.

Bread pudding is such a New Orleans thing that I hesitated to make it. I’ve had it so many times, at so many different restaurants that I really didn’t think I could meet my expectations. But this is a great recipe. The fresh cranberries add a bright fresh note and the French bread really stands up well. I think Challah could work well too, but the pudding would definitely be a not as stiff. And creme anglaise….mmm.


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Holy December Batman! Where did this year go?

I hardly ever make cakes and I don’t know why. Cakes are magical. Sure pies and tarts are awesome, but the ingredients you put in are pretty similar to what comes out. Cakes are more transformative. The batter is ugly and lumpy (well mine is). But the end result – so delicious! Apparently this is the first cake that French kids learn to bake. This means that somewhere across the ocean, a French child is probably making a better cake than I am.

This recipe called for a 10 in. cake pan, which astoundingly enough, I do not have. Neither does my mom, which is the even bigger surprise. So I found an adorable star shaped pan which worked fine. Any type of fruit should work in this, but I am a berry girl and blackberries were on sale. Finally, I used Liberte Lemon Yogurt because it has curd and zest in it, but any yogurt should do. As an aside, I love those yogurts! And in cake form, they are truly awesome.


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