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Entries in Cake (8)


Leftover Cranberry Sauce? Yogurt Cranberry Coffeecake!

So, I had all of these good intentions for making cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. I even looked around and found a recipe I was going to mess around with and change up. Made my T-Day grocery list, and headed off to Trader Joes...

Wouldn't you know, they had their own cranberry sauce in the refrigerated section--regular and cranberry-orange. So yeah, good intentions and recipes went right out the window, and I picked up a container of each. Ingredients? Water, cranberries, sugar, orange--pretty much it. And one less thing to make on T-Day. Woo!

We opened the plain one first, and dear Lord, it was perfect! It didn't need spices, or alcohol, or nuts--it was amazing in it's simplicity. I could have eaten that entire thing myself! We didn't get around to the orange one, though, so back in the fridge it went.

I knew I wanted to make something with the sauce, and a quick search brought me to this recipe from King Arthur Flour: Yogurt Cranberry Coffeecake. You know me, I love using yogurt in baked stuff! I read the reviews, and it seemed the consensus was to add more cranberries, so of course I did. More fruit filling? Um, yeah, I'm all over that one! I used about 1 1/2 cups, which completely covered the bottom layer. So now you get fruit in every single bite, like it should be, right? That's a no-brainer. The streusel topping is fantastic--cinnamony and not too sweet. The cranberries add their signature tart/sweet flavors, and the bottom cake layer is moist and just right on the sweetness. Don't forget, there's yogurt in there, so it's anything but dry.

This is my dream coffeecake. Fruity, tender and moist, and not too sweet. It doesn't need a glaze over the top to cover up dry cake on the bottom. AND, it makes a lot. A whole 13x9 pan. So you can share--or not, lol. I don't know how it freezes, but I don't see why you couldn't cut the recipe in half. And I also think this would make amazing muffins, which I'm definitely trying soon!

Click here for the recipe
, and after you get that, have a look around and try not to add $200 of stuff to your shopping cart. But the best part--it's all useful stuff, so you can totally justify it. ;)



Chocolate Cake, Marry Me!

Yes, I'll be Mrs. Chocolate Cake, ok? Think my husband will mind? He can be Mr.- Mrs. Chocolate Cake.

This cake. This cake....oh my goodness. Anyone that knows me, knows that my favorite kind of cake is chocolate. So for my son's birthday, I asked him what kind of cake he wanted. Is it wrong that I totally steered him toward chocolate cake with chocolate frosting? (Don't worry. He loved. This. Cake.) We had the idea of making a giant sort of Ring Ding cake. I know, some of you might not know what a Ring Ding is. Poor souls, hehe.

Anyway, I had the killer cake recipe, and I had the killer frosting recipe, but I needed a filling recipe. I was in a hurry, and looking back, wish I took more time to find a good recipe for that, too. Don't get me wrong, the one I used is delicious, but not great for layering between two big cake layers. I used a whoopie pie filling that I'd used before...for whoopie pies, of course. It didn't hold up well to the cake layers, and before I knew it, I had a cake slide going on. Damn.

But I kept on. I poked a couple of chopsticks through the top and stuck it in the fridge to try and set it more. After 20 minutes or so, I frosted the sides with the chocolate frosting and set it back in the fridge. When I frosted the top a little later, it was still sliding, so the chopsticks went back into the top.

And you know? When it was time to serve it, it was a little lopsided, but it was for family, and they don't really care. Thank goodness, right? lol!

The cake recipe is from Epicurious. I can't even say enough good things about the cake. It's easy to make, it's dense and chocolaty, it's moist, and most important, the taste is out of this world! It's my new official chocolate cake recipe. It's my new best friend.

The filling is also from Epicurious.
I've made these whoopie pies before and they're another great recipe. Unfortunately, the filling just doesn't hold up to heavy cake layers. Whoopie pies? Yes! Cake filling? No!

And you can't have cake without frosting, can you? I don't make frosting very often, but when we do have frosting, it's this one. It's perfect, like the recipe title says. I got this recipe from a friend a few years ago, and haven't made another one since. It's incredibly simple, but homemade--so it tastes great. It's dark and chocolaty, and nice and creamy--good for spreading on cake. Please don't skip the sifting the sugar step--you don't want to have lumpy frosting, do you?

Perfect Chocolate Frosting

6 oz. semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream

1 cup butter, cut into tablespoon sizes

2-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Place a large bowl, filled halfway with ice, in the sink (a bowl that is large enough to hold the pot that you will cook the frosting in).
In a medium size pot over med low heat; melt chocolate, cream, and butter.
Stirring constantly, cook the mixture until all of the butter and chocolate melts and thickens, about 5-6 minutes.
Do not boil.
Remove pot from heat.

Whisk in the sifted confectioners' sugar until mixture becomes smooth (approximately 1 minute).
Put the pot on top of the bowl of ice. (Be careful to not allow any ice from the larger bowl to get into pot with the chocolate mixture.)
Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 4-5 minutes until frosting becomes smooth, thick, and fudgy.
Remove from ice.
Spread onto cooled cake layers.
The frosting will thicken as it sets up.
If the frosting gets too hard to spread, put back on low heat and stir constantly until you get the spreading consistency desired.

So even with the leaky filling, this cake was awesome. My son kept thanking me for making him such a great cake for his birthday, and my other son has requested the same one for his birthday. Hopefully I'll find a sturdier filling by then!

That's it. No more talking. I'll show you how good this cake was.

**Warning! The following images may not be suitable for those of you with good table manners. Notice that one kid isn't even bothering with the formality of a utensil.

I think if I'd tried to get a bite of that slice, I'd have lost a limb. That was the last slice of cake, by the way. I had a flock of vultures hounding me the entire time I was taking photos, one even had a fork at the ready! That last series of pictures happened over a period of about 45 seconds. Piggies.



Opera Cake, and my Debut as a Daring Baker

I'm thrilled to make my debut this month as a Daring Baker! I'll admit, I was nervous and a little scared to see what the first challenge would be. But all of my worry was for nothing. The challenge was an Opera Cake, which is complicated and seems overwhelming, but as long as you go step by step, it's a piece of cake. hehe.

This month's challenge is hosted by Ivonne, Lis, Fran and Shae. And it truly was a challenge! It really tested me, but I feel like I completed a huge accomplishment.

The Opera Cake Challenge is dedicated to Barbara. She's the woman behind the food blog event called A Taste of Yellow, that supports the LiveSTRONG foundation started by Lance Armstrong. Since LiveStrong Day is in May, it's totally fitting that this challenge be for Barbara.

So now let's get right to the cake, since there's a lot to cover. An Opera Cake consists of five elements: the Joconde, or cake, the syrup, that you brush the cake layers with, the (tricky, for me) buttercream, the ganache/mousse layer, and the glaze. Traditionally, Opera Cakes are flavored with coffee and chocolate, and are dark in color. But since it's Spring and our thoughts are turning to lighter flavors and colors, one of the rules we had to adhere to was that our cakes be light in color. Flavors were up to us (yay!) so I immediately knew I'd do my current favorites, raspberry and lime.

The joconde was flavored simply with vanilla, the buttercream was flavored with raspberry, the mousse was white chocolate and lime, and the glaze--lightly flavored with almond. Here's the recipe, with my changes in blue. Oh, I took as many photos as I could, but I made this almost all in one day, and was most often caught up in what I was doing. Sorry!


Opera Cake

This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.

For the joconde
(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)
What you’ll need:
•2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans (Note: If you do not have jelly-roll pans this size, do not fear! You can use different-sized jelly-roll pans like 10 x 15-inches.) (I used 2 11x17 jelly roll pans.)
•a few tablespoons of melted butter (in addition to what’s called for in the ingredients’ list) and a brush (to grease the pans)
•parchment paper
•a whisk and a paddle attachment for a stand mixer or for a handheld mixer
•two mixing bowls (you can make do with one but it’s preferable to have two)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds (Note: If you do not want to use almond meal, you can use another nut meal like hazelnut. You can buy almond meal in bulk food stores or health food stores, or you can make it at home by grinding almonds in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of the flour that you would use in the cake. The reason you need the flour is to prevent the almonds from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups of blanched almonds to create enough almond meal for this cake.)
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
2.Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
3.Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
6.Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).

7.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
8.Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven. (Next time, I'd do one layer at a time, since they only have to cook for 9 minutes--the cake on the bottom rack got very dark on the bottom, and I had to carefully cut the dark parts off.)
9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.


For the syrup
(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
zest and juice of 1 lime
1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.


For the buttercream
(Note: The buttercream can be made up to 1 month in advance and packed in an airtight container. If made way in advance, you can freeze the buttercream. Alternatively you can refrigerate it for up to 4 days after making it. To use the buttercream simply bring it to room temperature and then beat it briefly to restore its consistency.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
•a candy or instant-read thermometer
•a stand mixer or handheld mixer
•a bowl and a whisk attachment
•rubber spatula
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp raspberry extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup raspberries (I used frozen) cooked down for a few minutes and strained through a sieve to remove seeds
1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
3.While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
5.Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
8.At this point add in your flavouring (extracts and raspberry juice) and beat for an additional minute or so.
9.Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).


For the white chocolate ganache/mousse
(Note: The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan
•a mixer or handheld mixer
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp lime juice
zest of 2 limes
1.Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
2.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.
4.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
5.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.
6.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.

For the glaze
(Note: It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan or double boiler
14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)
1/2 tsp almond extract

1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

4. After the glaze it set, carefully trim the edges with a serrated knife to get clean edges. Since you're the chef, eat the trimmings while no one is looking.


Assembling the Opéra Cake
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.
Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.

I cut my layers wrong and ended up with four layers in a rectangle instead of 3 layers in a square. I always sucked at geometry, hehe.
Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.
Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.
Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.
Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).
Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.
Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.
Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Photos of the finished cake:

My thoughts: Even though this seems like it would be a very sweet cake, it wasn't. Not the case with some of the other DB'ers, but everyone's tastes are different. Even my husband, who doesn't like things too sweet, said this was delicious and light, and reminded him of the Italian cream cakes he used to have as a kid. Maybe it's all the lime zest that cut the sweetness, I'm not sure. I'll definitely make this again! My kids have requested it for Christmas, in it's original chocolate form, which will be really fun to try.



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