Posts Tagged ‘cake

24
Jan
11

I say Hazelnut and you say Filbert…..

I notice that my blog gets a lot of hits using the search word Hazelnut. Hazelnut frosting,

hazelnut paste, hazelnut butter.  Lots of hazelnut.  I have written a few posts that feature

cakes frosted with hazelnut buttercream.  The addition of hazelnut paste to vanilla

buttercream equals hazelnut frosting.  I have divulged my recipe for the aforementioned

vanilla buttercream in previous posts.  But, where does one get hazelnut paste?  Well, truth

be told, I used to get it where I work when I was the pastry chef.  I would order 15 pound

buckets of the stuff from one of our fancy pants purveyors.  And it was pricey, but oh, so

worth it.  So, now that I only make cakes when a few close friends have birthdays or a few

clients who want to give me money for a cake, my need for hazelnut paste has waned.  Until a

couple of weeks ago, when my favorite client, Katie D., wanted a chocolate cake with

hazelnut frosting for her birthday.  I have searched for sources on the Internet, and there

are many, for hazelnut paste. Very pricey and the shipping is ridiculous.   Lots of calls to

specialty shops came up cold.  Then it hit me – “We have a Champion juicer!” I used to make

peanut butter with the Champion, why not make hazelnut butter?  So make hazelnut butter, I

did.

Lovely, creamy, natural Hazelnut butter

I bought 1 and 1/2 pounds of toasted hazelnuts. You can buy raw hazelnuts and toast them

yourself; the already toasted one were available at work and I wanted to save a step.  If

you want to toast them at home, set your oven at 350 degrees, spread the raw nuts out on a

heavy sheet pan and roast for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned and nutty smelling.

I know, they have a dark brown skin on them, so how do you know when they are browned?  Some

of them will start to shed their skin and then you will see it.  Once toasted, dump them

onto a dish towel and rub vigorously to help remove the skin.  Not all of it will release,

but that’s okay.  You’re going to pulverize them anyway so what’s a little skin?

Straight through the juicer and into the jar. Talk about direct deliciousness.

Now, I have no clue how you would do this if you do not have a Champion juicer.  If you use

a blender or food processor I don’t think you will get a creamy nut butter.  More on that in

a sec……

Here is, the bad boy himself, the Champion juicer. Seriously worth every penny spent on it.

So now I’m all proud of myself for making hazelnut butter, but I realize this stuff is not

going to work for frosting.  I’ve made the error in the past by putting natural peanut

butter in buttercream and ending up with oily frosting.  Not good.  I really need hazelnut

paste.   Back to the Internet I go and, lo and behold, I stumble upon a website called

gourmetsleuth.com where I find a recipe for Hazelnut Paste!  And it is so simple!

2 cups toasted hazelnuts
2 large egg whites
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp Hazelnut liqueur

Dump 2 cups of toasted hazelnuts into your food processor

Grind it until it is course, like cornmeal

Add egg whites, Hazelnut liqueur and powdered sugar

You don't have to buy brand name sugar or liqueur to get excellent results

Process until smooth

So pretty, so shiny, so tasty!

Once I figured out that only hazelnut paste was going to work to make the frosting. I was on a roll.  I made the vanilla butter cream and started chucking in the hazelnut paste a scoop at a time and tasting after each addition until it was just right.  Not only was I making a birthday cake for a client, I had a second cake in the wings as well.  We were taking our good friend Robert out to dinner on the same night as I was making Katie’s cake.  We were celebrating Robert’s birthday and I could not show up to celebrate his special day without a cake from Vampire Gran’s Kitchen!  A light bulb went off in my brain like in the cartoons and I created a hazelnut filling to slather between the layers of cake.

This is literally two bites worth of cake. I made a taster piece like they do when you go to try cakes for a wedding, ya know? I had to make sure it all went together. after all....

The filling was fabulous!  I mixed the hazelnut frosting with a bit more hazelnut paste, added some of the hazelnut butter and a bit more of the hazelnut liqueur.  It was a bit thin so I thickened it with more powdered sugar.  It was perfection.

Katie's cake was a nine-inch, four layer job. I know, all of my cakes are starting to look-alike. Guess that's my signature style.

I made some chocolate curls to decorate both cakes.  These were fun to make but time consuming.  You have to soften the chocolate without melting it by zapping it in the microwave for like 6 seconds at a time.  Once it is the right – softness (?) – I used a vegetable peeler to make the curls.  Oh, you must have a chilled plate for them to land on as you’re doing this.  Don’t use the same plate that you use to microwave with.  It will be warm and melt your curls.  Yes, I know this from experience and that is why I am telling you.  Learn from my mistakes.

They look like little rosettes (or pencil shavings?)

So, let’s review.  Hazelnut frosting you need hazelnut paste, not hazelnut butter.   Hazelnut butter you need a Champion juicer or a nut butter machine.  Hazelnut paste is easy to make and you need a food processor.  Chocolate curls – microwave and cold plate and a vegetable peeler.

I hope you enjoyed our lesson for the day.  It just made me want a hazelnut butter and jam sandwich followed by a hunk of cake.

19
Nov
10

Don’t make me go into that kitchen!

Just give me one good reason to bake a cake and I’m all over it.  Actually, it doesn’t even have to be a GOOD reason or even a reason at all.  Or an excuse for that matter.  Ah, hell, just ask me to bake a cake.  Better yet, tell me you have something to celebrate.  I love a good celebration cake.  A couple of weeks ago, my Katie and her workmate, Patty B.,  both had work anniversaries.  These two ladies were both celebrating four years of working for the good Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary.  Being a former Catholic School Girl, this still makes me slightly nervous, but the nuns are cool.  And they do love a good sweet treat!

Heaven on Earth - four layers of banana cake wrapped in a cloud of coconut cream cheese frosting

This here bad boy is a Banana cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.  To really kick up the banana flavor, I put slices of banana between each of the layers (it’s a four layer cake!).  It was insanely heavenly, right up the sisters alley, so to speak.

Here is the recipe:

CORDON ROSE BANANA CAKE

Adapted from the Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

2 nine inch pans, buttered and parchment lined bottoms

4 large ripe bananas
2 tablespoons sour cream
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups sifted cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
20 tablespoons unsalted butter, must be softened

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F

In a food processor process the banana and sour cream until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla and process briefly just to blend.

In a large mixing bowl of an electric mixer, combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend.  Add the butter and 1/2 of the banana mixture.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and strengthen the cake’s structure.  crape down the sides. Gradually add the remaining banana mixture in two batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and develop the structure.  Scrape down the sides.

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula.  Bake 30 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow cake to cool 10 – 15 minutes on a cooling rack before removing from pans.  Allow to cool completely before wrapping.

I like to chill my cakes before I frost them.  Remove the top “dome” with a serrated knife, for a more professional look.  You can make this a two layer cake or a four layer.  My preference is four layers.  It’s best to use a cake decorating stand.  Place cake on stand, and using a long serrated knife, slice the cake into two even layers.

COCONUT CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

1 # unsalted butter, softened
1/2 # cream cheese, softened
0.2 oz salt
0.4oz vanilla
0.2 oz lemon juice
2 oz water
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Place butter in bowl of electric mixer.  Cream for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add powdered sugar, salt, vanilla, lemon juice and water.  Mix on low ( I pulse it until incorporated so my kitchen isn’t covered in powdered sugar) for about 1 minute.  Once it is incorporated, gradually increase the speed to the highest.  Stop and scrape the sides a couple of time during this process. Whip until light, fluffy and very white.  Add coconut and mix until incorporated.

So rich, so insanely decadent!

Frost the cake.  I sliced about four bananas for this cake for in between each layer.  You can see them in the pictures.  So good.

I really do love to tease you with these photos!

Dear, sweet Katie brought a piece home to me.  We ate on it for three days!  So, what are we celebrating next?  Anyone?

18
Oct
10

Purple Haze and Birthdays…….

I am not necessarily a tradition based person.  We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with any sort of tradition.  In fact, we haven’t celebrated either of those two holidays for 2 years now.  They are merely two paid holidays from work.  That being said, I seem to have fallen into a tradition in October that used to only be reserved for my Halloween born grandson.

For the past three years I have made a special birthday cake for my friend and grasshopper, Emily.  Her birthday falls on October 15th.  Emily made several delicious home-made pizzas and I made a spice cake with cream cheese frosting for her 24th birthday.  For her 25th birthday last year, we celebrated by going bowling and eating the Root Beer Cake.  As Emily is maturing to the ripe old age of 26th, her birthday cakes are evolving as well.  We decided several months back that this was the year of the Purple Haze cake.

Crazy delicious cake!

I used my Red Velvet cake recipe and substituted Wilton gel violet food coloring for the “traditional” red color.  Although I had hoped the cake would be a more distinct purple color after it was baked, it was still a huge hit.  I’d like to think it was my crazy baking talent that made it so tasty, but perhaps it was the “special” butter used in the frosting  between the  four layers  that made it truly an experience.  As the late Jimi Hendrix would say “Are you experienced?”  After eating the Purple Haze cake, everyone was indeed experienced.

A light, birthday nosh and the Purple Haze cake

Emily wanted salad platters for her birthday meal.  She mentioned seeing salad platters in food magazines and she wanted them for her birthday dinner.  We ate kinda late, as she and Chuck came directly to our house from Breitenbush Hot Springs where they had spent the night and then spent the day soaking in hot springs, being pampered with soothing massage treatments and feasting on amazing vegetarian cuisine.  They were ready to continue eating  healthy fare and then indulge in a wicked treat of a birthday cake.

Emily did all of the food styling on the platters

I roasted potatoes earlier in the day, as well as crisp stirred fresh organic green beans.

We love our grains!

A couple of days before her birthday, Emily and I brainstormed about what we wanted on the platters.  We got all organized and made a list of possibilities.  There were a few more items on that list, but what I managed to throw together, I’d say everyone was more than satisfied with the food of the weekend.

Feta cheese on the outsides of the platter, moving in to the wheat berrie salad and then spicy quinoa  in the center, topped by chili powder sprinkled avocado slices.  So simple.  So good!

Tastes so good and it's so good for you

A little do ahead work and you have a light meal

The potatoes were tossed with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, garlic and onion powder and roasted in a 350 degree oven until done.  I sautéed the green beans in peanut oil, fresh chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and cracked pepper.  A splash of some mirin and put the lid on to lightly steam the beans for a minute.  They stayed bright green and very snappy.

We also had a bowl of mixed greens from the garden dressed with a creamy pesto concoction that I whipped up from what I had on hand.

And then came dessert………………………………

I was going for a certain look....

Ok, so when I think Purple Haze, I think hippies, tye dye, trippin’, Jimi Hendrix music (duh).  I envisioned a cake that looked like it was tye dyed.  This cake look more like stained glass window on the top (which was pretty cool) and the tye dye on the sides reminded me of some kinda medallions.  At any rate, it was a fun cake to make and it made an excellent conversation piece.  We kept it center stage on the table and sat around it, almost in worship.   But eventually we had to cut it.

It had to be done

See, it doesn’t really look purple in the picture, but it really had a purple tint to it in real life.  The frosting is my favorite vanilla butter cream.  The frosting between the layers  has coconut and almond extract.  The outer frosting is tinted vanilla.  It was a damn good cake.

Emily kept saying “this is the best birthday ever!”  Coulda’ been her best birthday ever.  Coulda’ been that she was exhausted from a spa day and a long drive.  Coulda’ been a belly full of delicious, nutritious food.  Or it coulda just been the cake talkin’.’

26
Apr
10

Oh, No, You Didn’t!

Probably falls under the category of a mortal sin

 

Oh yes, I did!  I combined three of my most popular cakes into one.  If there is indeed a hell, I just know there is a big fat red devil with his pitch fork poised, just waiting for me to drop in with this cake.  It’s definitely a cross between heaven and hell.  Heavenly to behold, sweet, moist and rich in the mouth.  Hella hard to resist.  Oh, I’m sure it’s off the charts in fat grams and calories, but who’s counting?  I totally envision the angel and devil routine, each one  perched on my shoulders and whispering in my ear.  Devil -“Go ahead, eat it!  No one is looking!”  Angel – “Oh, my, all those calories!  All that fat!”  Devil – “Don’t listen to her.  You can eat whatever you want.  You deserve it.”  Angel – “It does look delicious.  Maybe just one eensy, teensy bite.”  Devil – “Screw that!  Eat it all.  Now!”  At this point I shake the Angel off my shoulder, give the Devil a conspiratory wink and devour that one way ticket to diet damnation with no remorse.   

If you can’t tell by the picture, the bottom layer is Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, the center layer is, are you ready?, Vanilla Mascarpone Cheesecake (!)and the top layer is Red Velvet Cake.  If that isn’t sinful enough, I frosted it all with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting.  Yeah, it’s even better than it sounds.   

Wanna see how it’s assembled?  OK, since you asked, here goes:   

I baked a 9 inch Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, a 9 inch crustless Vanilla Mascarpone Cheesecake and a 9″ Red Velvet Cake.  The cheese cake was baked the day before the other two cakes were made so it could get good and set up in the refrigerator.   

Bottom Layer - Chocolate Buttermilk Cake

 

Here is the bottom chocolate layer with a thin layer of the frosting.  Yeah, I do call that thin. 

The center cheesecake layer

 

I unmolded the crustless cheesecake directly on top of the frosted chocolate layer.  The parchment paper is still attached in this photo, that’s why the bottom (or top, here) of the cheesecake looks wrinkly.  Don’t forget to remove the parchment before frosting the cheesecake layer.  The only reason I mention this is I actually started frosting this after I snapped the photo and then stopped myself.  Fortunetly it’s really easy to remove frosting from cheesecake when it has parchment on it!  Yes, sometimes I am a dork.  

Frosted cheesecake layer

 

Ok, so then I spread a layer of frosting on top of the cheesecake layer, after first removing the parchment paper!  This was the first time I had ever frosted a cheesecake and it glided on there smooth as proverbial silk.  

Last but not least, the top layer, Red Velvet

 

I placed the Red Velvet layer on top and then frosted the whole, beautiful creation.  By the way, I leveled both of the cake layers with a serrated knife before frosting, duh.  

Here's the finished product

 

I made the executive decision not to do my usual piping top and bottom borders.  The true attraction of this cake is on the inside.   

Is the devil whispering in your ear yet?

 

I wish the Red Velvet cake crumbs didn’t get drug across the cheesecake layer.  I used a sharp hot knife and cleaned it between cuts, but I still got crumb dregs.  Well, this was just an inspiration I came up with and thought I drive it around the block a few times until I come up the perfect rendition of this cake.  Not bad for a proto type, though, eh? 

So, what do you reckon, am I going to hell, or what? 

ps:   We did not eat this whole cake ourselves.  Katie and I shared the piece that appears in the picture next to the whole cake.  I sent almost half of the cake to work with Katie and I took almost the other half to my job.  The photo at the beginning of this post was kept at our house, for us to enjoy and share with a couple of lucky people who came by that weekend.

21
Sep
09

Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Frosting

This past week, a co-worker ordered a cake from me.  It was for her Grandmother’s birthday party.  Both Katie (the co-worker) and her mother LOVE my hazelnut frosting.  So do I!  They also love chocolate.  This hazelnut frosting and buttermilk chocolate cake are perfect together.  The light, sweetness of the frosting with the dense, dark chocolate of the cake are a match made in dessert heaven.  Here is a picture of Grandma Elsie’s cake.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Hazelnut Frosting

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Hazelnut Frosting

The chocolate leaves were simple to make.  I went into my garden, picked some raspberry leaves, coated them in melted dark chocolate, let them sit in the freezer until firm and gently pulled the “real” leaves off.  Make sure you use leaves that are not sprayed or poisonous!

Of, course, as always with me, I had left over cake batter and frosting so I made a few things for my spouse to bring to her job.  I only had enough frosting left over for one cupcake after frosting three individual cakes and I sprinkled them with toasted hazelnuts.

Same cake, different presentation

Same cake, different presentation

I used the same Vanilla Frosting recipe that is in my Elephant Cupcake post and added 1/2 cup hazelnut paste to it.  You may be wondering where to buy hazelnut paste.  Well, it can be tricky to find.  I would suggest calling some upscale foodie markets and shops first.  If they don’t carry it in your area, go online and order it.  There are a lot of sites that sell it, just Google hazelnut paste.  Or you can try making your own.  If you have a Champion juicer, just toast the hazelnuts and put them through using the homogenizing method. 

Well, I am back to the kitchen to work on more goodies to share with you!

30
Jun
09

What I do with Left Over Frosting……

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting and fresh berries from our yard!

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting and fresh berries from our yard!

 

 I had a lot of that frosting left over from Nathan and Sarah’s reception cake so I decided to make a carrot cake.  I bake for my profession but I also bake at home to relax.  Crazy?  I don’t think so.  I am fortunate that I get paid to do something I love everyday.

I found this great carrot cake recipe in Nick Malgieri’s book “Perfect Cakes”.  Here is that recipe:

Martha Turner’s Carrot Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour(spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

4 large eggs

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, such as corn or canola (I used canola)

2 cups peeled and finely grated carrots ( about 4 large carrots)

one 8-ounce can crushed pineapple in juice

3/4 (about 3 ounces pecans, coarsely chopped (I used walnuts instead)

( added 1 cup of shredded coconut)

Three 2-inch deep  9-inch cake pans, buttered and bottoms lined with buttered parchment or wax paper.

1. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the ove n and preheat to 325 degrees.

2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a bowl, mixing well.

3. Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk in the sugar and continue whisking briefly until light, about 1 minute.  Whisk in oil in a slow stream.

4. Stir in the carrots, the pineapple with its juice, and the nuts, then fold in the dry ingredients.  Scrape the batter into prepared pans and smooth the tops.

5. Bake for about 45 minutes, switching the position of the pans top and bottom and back to front, once during baking, until the cake layers are firm and golden and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean.

6.  Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto racks to finish cooling.  Remove paper before icing.

OK, that was copied word for word from the book.  I used two 9 inch pans instead of three.  I have a convection oven so I baked both pans on the same rack and did not do the maneuvering thing.  I also let the cakes cool completely in their pans and then removed them. 

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

(This is my own personal recipe)

1 pound cream cheese, softened

1/2 pound butter, softened

2 pounds powdered sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pure vanilla

1 teaspoon lemon juice

2 ounces water

4 cups  sweetened shredded coconut

Place all of the ingredients except for the coconut into mixing bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle.  Start slow so the powdered sugar doesn’t fly everywhere.  Stop/start the machine if you have to.  Once everything is pretty well mixed, gradually increase the speed until you can whip it at full force.  Whip until light and white.  Stop machine and mix in the coconut.  The frosting is ready to use.  It may be refrigerated but bring it to room temperature before frosting a cake.  Enjoy!!

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting - Someone said it had too much frosting.  Frosting lovers, is this possible?

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting - Someone said it had too much frosting. Frosting lovers, is this possible?

 

You can garnish the cake with what ever your heart desires.  We just happen to have a lot of berries growing in our yard, so…….

21
Jun
09

Better late than never

Well, it seems I ‘ve been neglectful far too long on my blog site here.  Life has a way of getting in the way of writing sometimes.  A few weeks a ago I was comissioned to make a “wedding cake” for a co-worker.  On the day of the reception,  Nathan and Sarah had been married for 4 years, 4 months and 24 days……………

As Nate’s mother pointed out in her speech, the party was for her.  The newlyweds had waited until his mom was out of town and quietly went to city hall and did the deed.  The groom’s mother always wanted to have a wedding and reception for her oldest child but, as often happens with parents, her dreams were dashed and the kid gets their way.

Nathan and Sarah are now playing the parts of responsible adults – they bought their first house, are expecting their first child and are finally having a wedding reception, thanks to his loving mother.

The couple ordered a Lemon Cake with Raspberry Filling topped with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting. 

Frosting in action

Frosting in action

Whoosh!!

Whoosh!!

OK, Bottom layer finished!

OK, Bottom layer finished!

Putting it all together on site

Putting it all together on site

Keep going, its almost time for the party!

Keep going, it's almost time for the party!

Cake table is set

Cake table is set

Ready for its close up - Lemon Cake, Raspberry Filling with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

Ready for it's close up - Lemon Cake, Raspberry Filling with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting




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