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Easy Christmas Yule Log Cake – Bûche de Noël

10 Dec

Photo Oct 08, 5 10 03 PMBûche de Noël is a traditional French holiday dessert. It translates to “Christmas log.” It’s formed by filling a moist sponge cake with icing and rolling it up, then cutting one end off and reattaching to form a stump. Yule log cakes are often decorated with cute meringue mushrooms, and I garnished mine with tree bark (shards of dark chocolate) and a faint dusting of snow (powdered sugar). This classic French cake will be the centerpiece of your holiday dessert table!

 

Bûche de Noël (French Yule Log) Recipe

1/4 cup Swan’s Down Cake Flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 eggs, separated
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a 10 in. x 15 in. sheet pan with parchment paper.

Sift together the cake flour and cocoa powder. In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, 1/4 cup of sugar and salt. Using an electric mixer, whip it on high speed until foamy; add cream of tartar. Continue whisking until the whites are glossy and form stiff peaks, about 3-4 minutes.

In a large bowl, whip the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, and vanilla extract with an electric mixer until thick and pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Carefully fold 1/3 of the beaten egg whites and all of the sifted flour/cocoa mixture into the beaten yolks until just combined. Add the remaining beaten egg whites into the bowl and gently fold until they are totally incorporated. Spread the batter gently into the parchment lined pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 7-8 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when touched. Remove from the oven and immediately loosen the edges with a butter knife and turn out onto a clean kitchen towel. Remove the parchment paper from the back of the cake and roll the cake up from the short side and let cool completely, seam side down.

For Meringue Mushrooms:
2 egg whites at room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cocoa powder for dusting

Preheat the oven to 200°F. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the egg whites, granulated sugar and salt until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until the meringue is very dense, stiff, and glossy. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pipe 1 inch long cones for the mushroom stems and quarter-size circles for the mushroom caps onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Dip your finger in water and press down any harsh points, especially on the mushroom caps. Dust the caps lightly with cocoa powder and bake until the meringues are completely dry, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Cool completely. Attach the stems and caps with a dab of icing or melted chocolate.

For Filling and Icing:
4 whole eggs
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pound unsalted butter at room temp
6 ounces dark chocolate

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, granulated sugar and salt. Set over a double boiler over simmering water and whisk frequently until the mixture reaches at least 140°F on a thermometer.

Whip the hot mixture at high speed with an electric mixer until the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch. While beating on medium-low speed, add the butter, one chunk at a time, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and beat until well combined.

To assemble the yule log, unroll the cooled cake cake and spread 2 cups of vanilla icing over, leaving about 1/2 inch on every side clean. Re-roll and chill while preparing the chocolate. Melt 6 ounces of dark chocolate. Pour about 2/3 of the chocolate onto a parchment lined pan and spread into a thin layer. Use a spoon or a spatula to make irregular marks vertically all over the chocolate. Refrigerate to set. Pour the rest of the melted chocolate, which should be cooler by now, into the remaining vanilla buttercream and stir or beat until completely incorporated.

Make a 2 inch cut at a 45 degree angle at one end of the cake for the stump. Place the long piece of the cake on your serving plate. Attach the 2 inch cut stump with chocolate icing to the top or side of the cake, with the cut side facing outwards. Ice the rest of the cake with chocolate buttercream.

Break the cold chocolate sheet into large shards and arrange around the outside of the cake. If the chocolate begins to melt while working with it, just pop it back into the refrigerator or freezer for a minute before continuing. Attach the meringue mushrooms to the top and around the sides of the yule log and dust with powdered sugar.

Makes about 12 servings.

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How to Make an Easy Smash Cake

20 May

easy smash cake

Every birthday deserves a great cake, and first birthdays are no exception! Smash cakes have become so popular for 1st birthday parties, so when I was invited to a party for my friend’s 1-year-old, I knew I had to make an easy smash cake for the birthday girl. Watching a baby dig into a cake with their tiny hands, smearing frosting all over their faces and tasting the sweetness for the first time is magical. But since the cake is going to get demolished anyway, why spend a lot of time or effort? It doesn’t take much skill to make this fluffy, cute easy smash cake. To me, the soft colors and texture resemble a cuddly baby blanket.

The nubby texture is easily made by piping buttercream with a tip 233, also known as the grass tip. Watch how easy it is to decorate – well worth the time to see the baby dig in on her special day!

If you like this video, subscribe to my YouTube channel! I post a fun baking video every Wednesday and would love to have you!

Lemon Cake with Sugared Flowers

6 May

crystallized flowers

Sugared flowers look beautiful and impressive as cake decorations, but they’re very easy to make. Many larger grocery stores stock edible fresh flowers in the herb section of the produce department. They come in plastic clam shell packaging, just like the other herbs. Opening up a package is a bit like Christmas morning – you’re not sure what’s going to be inside, but expect vibrant colors and a great variety of shapes. Common edible flowers include nasturtium, marigolds, geraniums, and lavender.

Making sugared flowers is simple. All you need is a pasteurized egg white, a splash of water, some granulated sugar, and a small brush. The result is a sparkly, crystallized effect that is gorgeous on top of a baked treat like this little cake. After the crystallized flowers dry, they have a slightly crunchy texture and a very mild floral taste that pairs perfectly with lemon. That’s why I showcased my sugared fresh flowers atop this homemade lemon cake.

Mother’s Day is this weekend. and I think that this is the perfect way to celebrate your Mom or the other fabulous women in your life. A homemade cake AND fresh flowers? What mom wouldn’t love that?

Here’s how easy it is to make!

Like what you see? Subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly baking videos!

Perfect Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

27 Apr

Vanilla SMBC Title Card

I love Swiss Meringue Buttercream so much that I’ve already blogged about it. It is my absolute favorite frosting recipe, the one I turn to 99% of the time I make cakes or cupcakes. I’ve made this basic icing recipe so many times that I no longer need to reference the recipe during cooking. I have it memorized. I wonder how many times I whipped it up before it became stamped in my mind forever…that’s a lot of frosting…

For all of you visual learners, I’m now sharing my SMBC* love via video. Check it out, and let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to help you out!

*SMBC is what all of us “serious” cakers call Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Because who’s got time to say all 7 syllables when there’s cakes to be baked, and stacked?

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream

6 egg whites
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 pounds butter, softened and cut into tablespoons
2-3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, granulated sugar and salt. Set over a double boiler over simmering water and whisk frequently until the mixture reaches 150°F on a thermometer.

Whip the hot mixture at high speed with an electric mixer until the outside of the bowl is cool to the touch. Switch to paddle attachment on mixer. While beating on medium-low speed, add the butter, one chunk at a time, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and beat until well combined.

How To Make An Easy Princess Leia Cake

28 Jan Princess Leia Cake Princess Layer Cake

Princess Leia Cake Princess Layer Cake

I love puns! I love them almost as much as I love cake, so when it was suggested that I make a Princess Leia Cake to play on the phrase “layer cake,” I knew that I had to do it. It was just to punny to pass up!

This is a silly, fun little project that anyone can bake. It’s a great tribute for Star Wars fans, for a Star Wars themed birthday or a movie viewing party. Please share this video with the Star Wars enthusiasts in your life – we all have at least one, right?

Easy Princess Leia Cake

In full disclosure, I have gone 36-1/4 years without seeing any of the Star Wars movies! How is this possible? The Star Wars culture is so permeating that even without seeing them, I know what a Wookie is, I know that Darth is Luke’s father, and I know all about Leia’s amazing hairdos. But tell me Star Wars aficionados, which movie should I see first? Where should I start? What’s your fave Star Wars film?

Please share this video, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and may the force be with you!

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Rainbow Cone Ice Cream Cake

29 Jun

Rainbow Cone Ice Cream Cake

Rainbow Cone, an iconic scoop shop on Chicago’s south side, has been serving up  tall cones since 1926. The Rainbow Cone booth is a staple at Taste of Chicago festival, giving their namesake ice cream treat fame well beyond the south side of the city.

There are 5 frozen flavors in a Rainbow Cone. Each one is scraped onto the next in a downward pulling motion with a utensil that most closely resembles a wide spackle knife. A finished cone showcases each sloping color of ice cream, proudly rising up to meet its name. So what comprises a rainbow cone? The combination of flavors is quite unique, and might surprise you:

Rainbow Cone

Photo courtesy of Original Rainbow Cone

It starts with a base of chocolate ice cream, followed by pretty pink strawberry, with signature Palmer House vanilla (vanilla with toasted walnuts and cherries) at the center, creamy green pistachio, and vibrant orange sherbet topping it all off. Does that sound weird to you? Does it seem gross? If you break it down a little bit, you’ll see that each flavor compliments another. Chocolate goes well with strawberry. It goes well with pistachio, and also with orange. Same thing with strawberry. It’s refreshing with orange, great will pistachio, and a natural with Palmer House vanilla. When you put them all together and take a big lick from bottom to top, getting a little taste of each flavor all at once, it works. It just works. I suspect that it goes back to each flavor being great with the other flavors in a one-on-one basis, but let’s not over think it. Maybe it just tastes great because it is so fun to eat an ice cream cone that looks like a rainbow. I took liberties and topped mine with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles (what else?).

Whipped Cream and Rainbow Sprinkles

And what the heck is Palmer House vanilla, anyway? Well, the Palmer House is a stately and well-preserved old hotel in Chicago, and Rainbow Cone pays homage by mixing toasty walnuts and maraschino cherries into vanilla ice cream.

If your ice cream consumption spikes dramatically during the summer months, while your inclination to turn on the oven plummets, then this no-bake ice cream cake should be at the top of your to-do list. It’s perfect for summer birthdays, pool parties, outdoor meals, and even random Wednesday nights when it is hotter than you-know-what.

Slice of Rainbow Ice Cream Cake

It is not coincidental that I’ve posted this entry on National Pride Day. Love, respect, and ice cream! I’m off to the parade!

Rainbow Cone Ice Cream Cake 

This recipe is sized perfectly for an 8 inch round springform pan. If you use a larger pan, consider using a little more than 1 pint of each flavor, as the layers will be very thin. Also note that most inexpensive ice creams are largely air. Thawing them and then spreading them into the pans will cause the ice cream to lose a lot of volume, as the air is knocked out. Splurge for the good stuff for this ice cream cake – you won’t regret it!

12 Oreo cookies, finely crushed
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 pint chocolate ice cream
1 pint strawberry ice cream
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
1/3 cup (about 1/2 of a 10 oz. jar) maraschino cherries, stems removed and roughly chopped
1 pint pistachio ice cream
1 pint orange sherbet
1/2 cup whipped cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Rainbow Sprinkles

Secure the base and the sides of a springform pan by closing the hinge. Pour crushed cookies and melted butter into pan and stir until crumbs are evenly moistened. Press firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan using the flat bottom of a pint glass. Freeze for 30 minutes.

While the crust is chilling, place chocolate ice cream on the counter top to soften. When ice cream is partially thawed, and somewhat pliable (about 30 minutes), gently spread it into an even layer over the cookie crust. Return to the freezer to firm up, at least 30 minutes.

Place strawberry ice cream in the counter top to soften. When ice cream is partially thawed and somewhat pliable (about 30 minutes), gently spread it into an even layer over the cookie crust. Return to the freezer to firm up, at least 30 minutes

Thaw the vanilla cream until it is somewhat pliable and then mash in the walnuts and chopped cherries with a spoon. Spread into an even layer over the strawberry ice cream. Return to the freezer to firm up, at least 30 minutes.

Repeat the thawing, spreading, and freezing process with the pistachio ice cream, and finally the orange sherbet. Freeze until completely solid, at least 3 hours, before cutting.

Just before serving, whip cream with confectioners’ sugar to soft peaks. Pipe onto top of cake and garnish with Rainbow Sprinkles and serve immediately. For clean slices, dip knife in hot water between each cut to warm blade, dry with towel, and cut ice cream cake.

Graffiti Cake

24 Jun

Graffiti Birthday Cake

I made this cake for a friend over the weekend. If you had to guess,how old do you think Bethany is? What birthday was she celebrating?

Would you guess…

39 4 Eva?

If you were guessing solely on this cake design, I bet you would aim a lot lower. And if you saw Bethany in person, you’d guess even lower than that. I’m pretty sure she still gets carded when she buys lottery tickets. Lucky lady!

Bethany, also known as “Queen B”  is a phenomenal DJ, part of the Orchard Lounge collective. We met 12 years ago and bonded over a mutual love music. A couple of years later, she talked me into break dancing lessons. Yes, they teach that. Or at least, they used to teach it before anything and everything could be learned via YouTube. I was pretty terrible at it, but Bethany could windmill with the best of ’em. She probably still can.

Fondant Modeled Bee

City-gritty AND ultra-feminine is tough to pull off. but it’s like Bethany invented it. This street art-inspired, buttercream-iced cake is an homage to her unique style and the way she lives her life, in full color and with a little bit of sparkle.

Gold Luster Dust and Edible Gold Star Accents

 

 

 

 

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