Korena of Korena in the Kitchen was our May Daring Bakers’ host and she delighted us with this beautiful Swedish Prinsesstårta!
Yup, I was the Daring Bakers host this month, and I can’t tell you how much fun I had! I was pretty nervous putting a recipe out there for hundreds of people to bake – what if it didn’t work? what if they thought it tasted awful? – but the feedback was pretty positive and the recipe was a success, save the pastry cream, which curdled for some people (I’m so sorry, those people!). A big humungous THANK YOU to all the Daring Bakers who baked along with me this month, and please PLEASE check out the Daring Bakers blogroll to see this month’s seriously amazing results – so many delicious variations and flavour combinations and beautifully decorated cakes!
If you are on a diet, you might want to avert your eyes.
When I asked Nate a few weeks ago what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he gave me free reign to make whatever I felt like. I was all set to make a tres leches cake, but when I told him this the day before he didn’t seem as enthusiastic about it as I was. So I asked him exactly what he wanted, and he gave me these particulars: chocolate, maybe some bacon, perhaps some caramel. Basically, “It should be… insane.”
Natalia of Gatti Fili e Farina challenges us to make a traditional Savarin, complete with soaking syrup and cream filling! We were to follow the Savarin recipe but were allowed to be creative with the soaking syrup and filling, allowing us to come up with some very delicious cakes!
Before this month, I had of course heard of the great epicure and gastronome Brillat-Savarin, but not of this cake by the same name – which is quite unlike any other cake I’ve ever made. It starts with a rich brioche dough baked in a ring pan (there are special Savarin pans, but a bundt or angel food cake pan works too). The baked cake is soaked in a flavoured syrup, which it soaks up like a thirsty sponge, and then the hole in the middle is filled with pastry cream and topped with fruit. Savarin is very similar to baba au rhum, which is soaked in rum syrup and usually made into individual cakes, and both baba and Savarin are somehow related to Polish babka (sort of like this babka – it’s all one big extended brioche family).
Lemon curd. Toasted meringue. Coconut macaroon. What’s not to love?
(I told you there’d still be plenty of butter and sugar in these parts… no flour in this one though!)
In the course of making these little tarts, the only thing I didn’t really love was that for some reason, my meringue topping just would not whip up to stiff peaks. I started it off by hand with a whisk, because I thought how hard can it be to whip one egg white into a stiff meringue? Apparently it’s pretty hard (and I think I know the reason I’ve ended up with tennis elbow, or more accurately, baker’s elbow!), so I transferred it to the KitchenAid mixer, ending up with sticky meringue on half the utensils in my kitchen, and still only achieved floppy peaks. Nonetheless, the meringue toasted nicely under the broiler, which worked out much better than my failed blow-torch attempt.
I used my wacky creaming method for the lemon curd, and this I did manage to make successfully by hand. And then I made the coconut macaroon tart shells by hand, too. Continue reading
Almost two years ago, I made a wedding cake for my good friend and frosted it with cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream. The cake turned out great, but the frosting was another story. Turns out that cream cheese doesn’t work so well as a replacement for butter, which I realized after having made two giant batches of frosting, posting about it, and then having it go all weird and curdled when I actually tried to frost the cake with it. It was so unsuccessful that I wouldn’t recommend the recipe to anyone, but it is obviously a topic of interest to many because that post generates a lot of traffic for my blog. Continue reading
Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!
OK, here comes the FOURTH cake post this month! My goodness.
I’ve been mildly obsessed with red velvet cakes for the past little while – you know, the American Southern classic bright red cake spiked with cocoa powder and frosted with cream cheese frosting – only upon looking through several recipes, there was one ingredient that put me right off: red food colouring. We’re not just talking a few drops here – we’re talking a few tablespoons or ounces! I figured there had to be a way to make this cake without all the food colouring, so I started searching. I found a post with a recipe for a red wine velvet cake (yes I’ll be trying that soon!) and a really interesting history of the red velvet cake as we know it (ie, chock full of food colouring). Apparently, way back when, “velvet cakes” were called that because of their velvety texture, and red velvet cake would have been appreciated for that rather than for its colour. In this particular cake, the acidic buttermilk caused a chemical reaction with the small amount of cocoa powder in the batter, making the resulting cake a slightly reddish brown. As well, the cake was usually made with brown sugar, which at the time was known as “red” sugar. The bright red velvet cake we know today didn’t come about until the enterprising owner of a food colour-producing company decided to boost Depression-era sales by creating a recipe for red velvet cake that included two whole bottles of red food colouring.
Maybe not two-bottles-of-food-colouring red, but still pretty red.
This might be the most unattractive cake I’ve ever made, which is both disappointing and hilarious.
Disappointing because the pictures from the recipe I based it on are quite pretty, but somehow it didn’t translate (more on that later).
Hilarious because, as my darling Nate pointed out when he went to cut himself a piece, the bananas look like penises (yup, I just said that).
A good friend of ours had a milestone birthday this week, and to celebrate we got together with a bunch of good people for some Neapolitan style pizza at Pizzeria Prima Strada last weekend. I offered to make Aaron a cake, but unfortunately you can’t take a homemade cake into a restaurant… so instead I made cupcakes that we devoured in the parking lot after dinner.