1. Pistachio Cake with Lemon Cream Filling, Raspberry and Blueberry Jam, and Meringue Frosting

    August 28, 2014 by alex

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    (adapted from Bon Appetit)

    The Cake:

    1 cup unsalted butter
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup pistachios
    4 teaspoons baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 cup milk
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 cups plus 1/2 cup sugar
    4 large egg yolks
    6 large egg whites
    Zest of one lemon

    Directions:

    Flour and grease two 9-inch round springform cake pans.
    Pulse the flour, pistachios, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until the pistachios are finely ground.
    Cream the butter and 2 cups sugar in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
    Add the egg yolks, one at a time, until the mixture is pale yellow and increased in volume.
    Add the vanilla.
    Add the dry and wet ingredients, alternating between them.
    Make sure you end with the flour.
    Move the mixture into a large bowl.
    Clean the stand mixer and using the whisk attachment whip the egg whites until they are frothy.
    Add the 1/2 cup sugar gradually.
    Beat the meringue until it’s medium peak.
    Mix 1/3 of the meringue mixture into the rest of the batter.
    Carefully fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter.
    Evenly divide the batter between the two cake pans.
    Bake at 350F for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
    Wait 10 minutes after the cakes are out of the oven to remove them from the pans.

    The Lemon Curd Filling:

    1/4 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
    1/3 cup lemon juice
    1/3 cup sugar
    2 large eggs
    3/4 stick unsalted butter, cubed
    1 cup heavy cream
    2 tablespoons powdered sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Directions:

    Place 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the water.
    Let it sit for about 10 minutes until the gelatin softens.
    Add some water to a medium sauce and bring it to a simmer over medium heat.
    Whisk the lemon juice, eggs, and sugar in a medium bowl and place it over the simmering water.
    Whisk constantly until the mixture thickens.
    Do not let the mixture boil.
    Take the bowl off the heat.
    Whisking constantly, add the cold butter to the lemon mixture.
    Add the soften gelatin and whisk until combined.
    Place plastic wrap over the lemon curd.
    Make sure to place it directly on the surface of the curd so that a film doesn’t form.
    Chill for 4 hours.
    Whip the heavy cream until it reaches the soft peak state.
    Add the powder sugar and vanilla to the heavy cream while it whips.
    Continue to whip until it reaches medium peak.
    Mix the curd to loosen it.
    Fold the heavy cream into the curd.
    Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

    The Meringue Frosting:

    3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    3 large egg whites
    1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    2/3 cup mixed berry jam

    Directions:

    Mix 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and salt in a small saucepan.
    Bring the mixture to a boil.
    Only stir the mixture until its dissolved.
    Heat until it reaches 240F.
    Meanwhile start mixing the egg whites until frothy.
    Add the cream of tartar and 2 tablespoons sugar.
    While the mixer is running, add the hot syrup.
    Continue to beat the egg whites until they are pale and tripled in volume.
    Add the vanilla for another minute.
    Use the frosting immediately.

    Assembly: 

    Spread the mixed berry jam over the bottom layer of cake.
    Make sure to leave a 1 inch border.
    Add the lemon cream to the same layer.
    Pipe a ring of the meringue frosting in the 1 inch border.
    Add the top layer.
    Frost the rest of the cake.
    Enjoy!


  2. Peach and Apricot Cake

    June 26, 2014 by alex

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    (adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

    The Cake:

    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
    1 large egg
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    Milk

    Directions:

    Sift the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl
    Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients
    Cut the butter into the flour mixture like you’re making a pie crust
    The mixture should resemble cornmeal
    Beat the one egg into a measuring cup
    Add the milk into the same measuring cup until the amount of the mixture equals  1/2 cup
    Add the milk and egg mixture to the flour mixture until a stiff dough is formed
    Pour and pat the dough into a greased 9 inch, round springform pan.

    The Topping:

    3-4 peaches
    5 apricots
    1 cup dark brown sugar
    2 teaspoons cinnamon
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    Zest of a lemon
    Juice of 1/2 a lemon
    3 tablespoons melted butter

    Directions:

    Peel and slice the peaches and apricots into a medium bowl
    Add the lemon zest, juice, and vanilla to the fruit mixture
    Let it sit for at least 15 minutes
    In a small bowl mix the dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter together
    Arrange the fruit slices on the cake
    Add the topping to dough and bake in a 425F oven for about 25 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.


  3. Chocolate-Caramel Cake with Sea Salt

    November 15, 2013 by alex

    Chocolate-Caramel Cake with Sea SaltThis cake got the most votes in the last poll. I went light on the chocolate and added a little orange and ginger. Please let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    (adapted from Bon Appetit)

    The Cake:
    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3 large eggs
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup dark brown sugar
    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 cup mayonnaise
    1/4 cup yogurt
    1 1/3 cups lukewarm water

    Directions:

    Spray three 8-inch cake pans with nonstick spray (I used 8-inch square pans)
    Whisk the dry ingredients together
    Beat the eggs with the sugar until pale yellow
    Add mayonnaise and yogurt
    Add the lukewarm water and the dry ingredient alternating between the two
    Pour the batter into the prepared pans
    Bake in a 325F oven for about 25 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean
    Let cool for about 20 minutes then flip

    The Frosting:
    12 ounces bittersweet chocolate
    3/4 cup sugar
    1 tablespoon honey
    1 cup whole milk
    3 sticks unsalted butter
    3/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup water

    Directions:
    Put the chocolate in a medium bowl
    Bring the sugar, honey, and water to a boil in a small saucepan
    Stir to dissolve the sugar
    Bring to a boil and brush down the sides of the pan with a wet brush
    Wait until in turns a deep amber color then remove from the heat
    Whisk in cream
    Return to heat and cook for about two minutes
    Pour the caramel over the chocolate and let cool
    Beat the chocolate-caramel mixture with the butter until it comes together
    Cool until stiff
    Assemble the cake
    Sprinkle the top of the cake with salt


  4. Asian Pear and Orange Upside-Down Cake

    October 1, 2013 by alex

    Happy Fall everyone! Last week my dad and I went to the grocery store and I bought some oranges and Asian pears that I thought would be great in a dessert. Last night, I was looking through Williams-Sonoma’s New Flavors for Desserts, and found a recipe for pear upside-down cake. I made it and just switched some of the ingredients. I took out the cardamom and cloves, and added ginger instead. I hope you enjoy!

    (recipe from William Sonoma’s, New Flavors for Desserts)

    The Glaze:

    5 tablespoons unsalted butter
    2/3 cup brown sugar
    2 tablespoons maple syrup

    Directions:

    Beat the butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup together.
    Spread the mixture in the bottom of a round 9 inch cake pan.

    The Pears:

    3 Asian pears
    2 teaspoons cinnamon
    Zest of half an orange

    Directions:

    Peel, core, and slice the pears.
    Toss in the cinnamon and orange zest.

    The Cake:

    3/4 cup unsalted butter
    3/4 cups sugar
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup whole milk
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 large eggs
    Zest of an orange

    Directions:

    Cream the butter and sugar together.
    Add the eggs one at time.
    Add the dry and wet ingredients, alternating between them.
    Spread the cake batter on top of the pears.
    Bake for 60 to 70 minutes in a 350F oven.
    When the cake is done, immediately carefully flip the cake pan.
    Let the cake cool.


  5. Honey Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes

    September 25, 2013 by alex

    I used the recipe from my mini bundt cakes that I made back in March. I just added three tablespoons of cocoa powder and substituted 1/4 cup sugar for honey. There is no glaze on these mini bundt cakes. I hope you enjoy.

    The Mini Bundt Cake:

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/4 sticks butter
    3/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup honey
    3 tablespoons cocoa powder
    3 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2/3 cup milk
    1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
    Zest of an orange

    Directions:

    Cream the butter, honey, and sugar together.
    Add the eggs.
    Mix in the vanilla and orange zest.
    Shift the dry ingredients.
    Add the flour mixture and milk to the batter, alternating between the two.
    Spoon 2/3 cup of batter into each of the mini bundt cake molds.
    Make sure that the rack is on the lower third shelf of the oven.
    Bake for 25 minutes in a 375F oven.


  6. Back to Baking

    July 2, 2013 by alex

    It feels great to be back and baking again!!! It’s been a long time since my last post because I’ve been super busy with the last few weeks of my high school junior year. Not having the chance to bake much has been pretty frustrating … and I miss being able to get feedback from the people I enjoy baking for.

    Last Thursday, I finally made a pavlova. The meringue was a crystal, glossy white and it looked great. The recipe just said to put the meringue on the cookie sheet. I did and it was just a huge heap of meringue! I put it in the oven and it took over two hours to bake! Not the greatest experience. In the end, the pavlova was pretty good. Of course I would love for it to have looked better, but everyone did eat it in about five minutes. I wish that I had made it thinner so it would have baked through in 50 minutes.

    Yesterday, I made a simple vanilla cake with a lemon buttercream. I used a favorite cake recipe and decided to make a buttercream instead of cream cheese frosting. The cake looked great coming out of the oven, yet it seemed a little bit dense. I think I overmixed the batter a little and shouldn’t have softened the butter as much as I did. The buttercream was interesting to make. I’m really not too fond of buttercream and find it too sweet. I decided to try it anyways. I hadn’t made buttercream since the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts when I made an Italian buttercream. I used two sticks of softened butter, one cup and a half of powdered sugar, and some lemon zest. I felt that the buttercream tasted too much like pure butter, so I added some lemon juice. It’s frustrating when desserts don’t come together the way you would like. Baking can be so precise and you need to pay attention to each step in the process and know your stove very well. I’ve got a good system going in my kitchen but I still make some pretty good mistakes. But that’s the best way to learn!

    I’ve had a few desserts go pretty badly over the years. I made a German tea cake that was like a golden stone. I made Langues de Chat (Cat Tongues) that were like charcoal.

    Four very important things I have learned throughout my years of baking are:

    1. Don’t ‘nuke’ your butter – just let it rest and soften on its own. This can be difficult because sometimes time is a little tight. If you do use a microwave, cut the butter in pieces and be very careful and just do a few seconds at a time, and check the butter often to make sure it is malleable and not too soft.
    2. Don’t over mix your batter.
    3. Make sure that all the ingredients are at room temperature. When they aren’t, the batter tends to separate.
    4. If the recipe calls for it, always grease AND flour your pan. Then follow the recipe instructions for best timing to remove from the pan.

     

    Today, I made a dairy-free chocolate cake and a simple chocolate cake. I also made a ganache for each cake. I don’t like ganache much but wanted to get some experience, so that I know how to make it well. I tried a whipped white chocolate ganache that broke. Then I made a chocolate and white chocolate (not whipped) ganache and they worked. They just needed to be cooled in the refrigerator for an hour. In the end, the cakes looked and tasted pretty good. I shared them with some friends who were over for the 4th and they seemed very happy.

    Vanilla Cake:
    (recipe adapted from www.cooks.com)

    2 sticks butter, softened
    1 3/4 cups sugar
    3 cups flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    4 eggs (separate)
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 1/2 cups milk

    Directions:

    Beat yolks, sugar and butter. Add flour, milk, baking powder and vanilla.
    Then beat egg whites slightly.
    Add salt.
    Add to the original bowl. Just fold them in.
    Pour in square aluminum pan. Flour and grease.
    Bake in a 350F oven until done, 40-50 minutes.

    Lemon Buttercream:
    (recipe adapted from Baking by James Peterson)

    2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
    5/6 cup powdered sugar
    2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
    2 teaspoons lemon juice

    Directions:

    Beat the butter for 5 to 10 minutes using a hand or stand mixer.
    Add the sugar, zest, and juice.
    Switch to the whisk attachment and mix for 5 minutes.

    Chocolate Cake:
    (recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

    1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
    1 stick unsalted butter
    1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

    Directions:

    Whisk the dry ingredients into a bowl.
    Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla to the flour mixture.
    Mix in the softened stick of butter for a minute on low speed.
    Then scrape the bowl and beat for another minute on medium speed.
    Scrape the bowl again and beat for about 30 seconds on low speed.
    Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
    Pour the batter into the pans and bake in a 375F oven for about 20 minutes.
    Let the cakes cool before frosting them.

    Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake:
    (recipe adapted from The Joy of Cooking)

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar
    1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup cold water
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

    Directions:

    Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
    Add the rest of the ingredients.
    Mix until smooth.
    Pour the batter into a greased and floured 8 inch square pan.
    Bake for 30 minutes in a 375F oven.

    Chocolate Ganache:
    (recipe adapted from Baking by James Peterson)

    8 ounces semisweet or white chocolate
    1 cup heavy cream

    Directions:

    Make sure that the chocolate is in a heatproof bowl.
    Bring the cream to a simmer. Make sure not to boil it.
    Pour the cream over the chocolate.
    Wait about 10 minutes, until the chocolate has melted.
    Stir the ganache with a rubber spatula.
    It should have the consistency of sour cream.
    Cool the ganache in the refrigerator before using. It will be easier to spread.

     

    I’m now accepting requests for new desserts!

     


  7. Orange and Pear Tea Cake

    April 17, 2013 by alex

    I hope you enjoy!

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    The Cake:

    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 cup sugar
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 eggs
    1/2 cups milk
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 stick unsalted butter
    1 Bosc pear coarsely chopped
    Zest of an orange

    Directions:

    Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
    Mix in the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract.
    Beat in the butter.
    Stir in the pear and orange zest.
    Pour the batter into a greased 13 x 9 pan.
    Bake for 20 minutes in a 375F oven.


  8. Swedish Tosca Cake

    April 6, 2013 by alex

    This is for one of my dad’s coworkers. It is an vanilla cake with an almond topping. I hope you enjoy!

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  9. Vanilla, Orange, and Pistachio Mini Bundt Cakes

    March 26, 2013 by alex

    My mother just bought some pistachios and I wanted to use them in a dessert. I made mini bundt cakes with orange zest, pistachios, and a little bit of pumpkin pie spice. I hope you like them!

    The Mini Bundt Cake:

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/4 sticks butter
    1 cup granulated sugar
    3 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    2/3 cup milk
    1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
    Zest of an orange

    Directions:

    Cream the butter and sugar together.
    Add the eggs.
    Mix in the vanilla and orange zest.
    Shift the dry ingredients.
    Add the flour mixture and milk to the batter, alternating between the two.
    Spoon 2/3 cup of batter into each of the mini bundt cake molds.
    Make sure that the rack is on the lower third shelf of the oven.
    Bake for 25 minutes in a 375F oven.

    The Glaze:

    1 1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 teaspoon vanilla
    1/2 teaspoon orange juice
    2 tablespoons milk

    Directions:

    Mix the ingredients together.
    Make sure there are no lumps in the glaze.
    Glaze the cakes.


  10. Lina’s Lemon Cake

    March 12, 2013 by alex

    One of my dad’s coworkers asked me to make one of his grandmother’s recipes. It is a lemon cake with a lemon glaze. I hope you enjoy!

    The Cake:

    2 1/4 sticks butter
    1 lemon
    5 eggs
    1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup cornstarch
    2 tablespoons baking powder

    Directions:

    Beat butter in a bowl until creamy.
    Slowly add the juice of one lemon and the grated peel of a lemon.
    Slowly add sugar and eggs.
    In a separate bowl, mix the flour, corn starch and baking powder.
    Work the dry goods into the butter and egg mixture.
    Place the dough into two greased and flowered round, 9-inch cake pans.
    Bake for 50-60 minutes at 325 degrees.

    The Glaze:

    1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice

    Directions:

    Stir lemon juice into the powdered sugar until smooth.
    Consistency should be thick, but if it’s too thick add water to dilute.
    Apply glaze to cake only after the cake has cooled completely.