May is a busy time for me with birthdays and baking. I made this cake last week. We visited friends at their cabin and I was asked to bring this cake along. Honestly, at first I thought we should be eating rhubarb. It is definitely rhubarb season! Spice cakes, for me anyway, conjure up thoughts of fall and cooler temps. This however, was the perfect cake for our weekend get away and easily one of my favorite cakes ever. A very bold statement for me to make; I have eaten and baked a lot of cakes in my 62 year life. I beg of you... make this cake! And don't wait until fall.
The only change I made to this recipe was to add more powdered (confectioners') sugar to the frosting. The 3/4 cup in the original recipe didn't make it thick and fluffy enough for me.
• 2 1/4 cups unbleached flour
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1 stick(1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
• 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
• 1 cup white granulated sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
• Espresso-Cardamon Frosting (recipe follows)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 (8-inch) or 1 (13x9-inch) baking pans.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, cream butter, brown sugar and white granulated sugar together, then add eggs one at a time then vanilla, mixing until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes), scraping the sides of the bowl while mixing.
4. Beat in dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat until just smooth, about a minute. Pour into prepared pans.
5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 30-35 minutes for layers, 40-45 minutes for the oblong cake, or until cake tests for doneness. Remove from oven and cool on racks about 10 minutes, then remove from pans (13x9-inch cake may be left in the pan) and finish cooling on racks.
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1 tablespoon espresso powder
• 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened
• 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar, plus additional to make thicker and fluffier. I used at least 1 cup -- possibly more.
1. Heat the milk and dissolve the espresso powder in it, then allow it to cool.
2. Beat together the remaining ingredients for the icing together, then add the coffee/milk mixture and continue beating until fluffy.
TAKE a LOOK:
I had already planned the cake I was going to make for my daughter's twenty-second birthday and purchased all of the ingredients. It would be full of fresh, organic strawberries and orange cream. That was until she told me, at nearly the last minute, that she wanted tiramisù. Of course that changed everything. I always honor birthday requests, so I put the cartons of strawberries aside and started thinking tiramisù "cake". I did not want to serve tiramisù from a dish. I wanted it to look like a cake. For a birthday you need a cake. I also had to consider my other daughter. She cannot eat gluten. If I was going to make tiramisù the ladyfingers, a key ingredient of Italian tiramisù, could not be a ready-made Italian, grocery store variety. They needed to be homemade, by me, with my Turkey Red flour, a heritage flour my daughter can painlessly digest, from Sunrise Flour Mill in Minnesota.
I chose a tiramisù recipe that included whipped heavy cream, not always a tiramisù ingredient. When combined with the mascarpone cheese and egg yolks, then layered between the espresso-soaked ladyfingers it guaranteed the loaf cake, when unmolded, would hold its shape. I used a nifty, French loaf pan with sides that collapse, but any pan of similar capacity and lined in plastic wrap will release the cake when inverted.
The only minor problem I encountered was in making the ladyfingers. I've realized I need to start measuring my egg whites or purchase medium sized eggs. The large organic eggs I've recently been using could easily pass for extra-large. When working with any batter that is piped, if it is too liquid it will spread. I've lately run into this with choux pastry and some cookies. I was tempted to remake the ladyfingers that, as you can see above, spread during baking. But they tasted great and worked beautifully in the making of my tiramisù, so I left them as is... My (sometimes feeble) attempt at not needing everything to always be perfect... They were, however, perfect in the end result.
Ladyfingers | (adapted) recipe by Emeril Lagasse
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose, unbleached flour
• 4 egg yolks
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 4 egg whites, beaten until stiff, but not dry
• Pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Confectioners' sugar for dusting
PREHEAT OVEN to 350˚F
1. Grease two baking sheets with 2 tablespoons of the butter. Dust each baking sheet entirely with flour.
2. Combine the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until the mixture is yellow, thick, and has tripled in volume, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add to this the whipped egg whites, salt, and vanilla. Fold the mixture while slowly sifting in the 3/4 cup flour. Fold the mixture well until smooth.
3. Fill a large pastry bag, fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip, with the batter. Pipe twelve, 4-inch lengths, well spaced, onto each baking sheet. Dust the lady fingers with the Confectioners' sugar. Bake until just firm on the outside and light brown in color, about 15 to 18 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and transfer ladyfingers to a cooling rack.
Tiramisù Loaf Cake | (adapted) recipe from Renée Kemps
• 250 ml double cream
• 75 gr sugar
• 4 eggs (yolks)
• 500 gr mascarpone cheese
• 5 tbs coffee liqueur (optional)
• 200 ml espresso coffee
• 250 gr ladyfingers (made with recipe above, or purchased)
• Cocoa powder, for dusting
1. Line an 11-inch-by-3 1/2-inch loaf pan (or any pan of similar capacity) with plastic wrap extending 2-inches over each side. Set aside while you mix up the tiramisù.
2. Whip the cream just until stiff peaks form. Do not over beat.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. In a large bowl beat the yolks with the sugar until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Stir the mascarpone cheese into the egg-sugar mixture. Fold in the whipped cream.
4. Mix the espresso and the liqueur (I used Kahlua) in a shallow dish. Take the ladyfingers and trim them to fit crosswise into the loaf pan. Dip the ladyfingers into the espresso and place a row over the bottom of the loaf pan, using any leftovers, dipped,from the trimmings to cover completely.
5. Pour half of the filling over the ladyfingers and spread mixture evenly. Repeat this step one more time, ending with a layer of espresso-dipped ladyfingers on top. Fold the extending plastic wrap over the top of the tiramisù and refrigerate for at least one day. If you can allow it to chill for two to three days, that's even better.
6. To unmold, fold back the plastic wrap and position a serving plate over the top of the tiramisù. Invert the tiramisù onto the plate and carefully lift off the loaf pan/mold. Gently remove the plastic wrap. Dust the top of the tiramisù liberally with the cocoa powder. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
TAKE a LOOK:
Kugelhopf (also Gugelhupf, Guglhupf, Gugelhopf, kougelhopf, kouglof, etc.) is a baked, sweet bread similar to brioche that has taken on a life of its own in my mind -- just like French Canelés did last year. And as with the Canelés, I had never eaten one, but was obsessed with the thought of baking a picture-perfect Kugelhopf.
Kugelhopf originated in the Alsace, but Germany, Austria, and Switzerland also lay claim to this yeasty coffee cake. There are also many variations to the dough. The recipe I used is from André Lerch: Pâtisserie-Boulangerie Alsacienne, in Paris' 5e. This Kugelhopf is made with milk and brandy, but many use just water. It is advised that the cake is left wrapped and uneaten for a day or two after baking. There is a general agreement Kugelhopf is at its best when slightly dry -- making the coffee cake all the better when dipped into your morning Café au Lait!
In my plans to make a Kugelhopf, I became obsessed with finding a true, earthenware Kugelhopf mold (which, as you can see, I did not). They are traditionally baked in a tall, ceramic tube mold with angled ribs that resemble a Turk's turban. Whole, blanched almonds are placed at the base of each "rib" before the yeast dough is added, resulting in an almond-studded crown when the cake is unmolded. I ended up using a decorative copper tube pan from the late 1800s that my sister loaned to me and has since given me upon seeing the photos of the coffee cake (with the stipulation that I bake and send one to her). So, yes... substitute a Bundt pan if you are unable to find the traditional Kugelhopf mold.
When in Paris, you will see Kugelhopfs in many pâtisseries; often the smaller, individual-sized cakes. I was always fascinated by them, and although I photographed Kugelhopfs, I never purchased one to eat. Crazy... I know. On one visit to Pierre Hermés I purchased a salted caramel macaron, but it was my sister that left the pâtisserie with a Kugelhopf to snack on!
Small Kugelhopfs at Gérard Mulot, 76 rue de Seine, Paris 6e
The recipe below will give you enough dough to make two Kugelhopfs. I halved the recipe and made one cake (thinking... I only have one mold). Had I known this cake would be so good, I would have made enough dough for two Kugelhopfs and kept half of the dough refrigerated until needed. That is certainly what I will do the next time.
Also, while kneading the dough, additional flour will probably be necessary. I was working with a very wet dough for some reason and needed much more flour. Add the flour, a generous tablespoon at a time, until the dough begins to clean the sides of the mixer bowl and you hear a slapping sound. You want a smooth, shiny dough that is still a bit sticky upon completion.
+ recipe from Paris Boulangerie Pâtisserie by Linda Dannenberg
+ This recipe will make enough dough for two 2-quart Kugelhopf molds or Bundt pans. Halve the ingredients if you only want to make one Kugelhopf.
• 1 cup golden raisins
• 1/4 cup kirsch or brandy
• 2 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
• 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
• 5 teaspoons (2 packages) dry yeast
• 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
• Softened butter for molds
• 1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
• 3/4 cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar
• 4 teaspoons salt
• 2 large eggs
• Confectioners' sugar for dusting
1. Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover with the brandy. Let soak while preparing the starter.
2. STARTER: In a small saucepan combine 3/4 cup of the milk with 4 tablespoons of the butter. Heat, using a low temperature, until lukewarm. Transfer to a mixing bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the milk mixture; stir in 1 cup of the flour until almost fully incorporated. Place a piece of plastic wrap loosely over the bowl and set bowl aside to rise until almost double, about 1 hour.
3. Generously butter two 2-quart Kugelhopf molds or Bundt pans. Press almonds into the buttered grooves at the bottom of each mold.
4. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer with a dough hook, combine the remaining lukewarm milk and butter; add the flour, granulated sugar, salt, and eggs. Mix well. Pour in the yeast starter and mix well until thoroughly combined. Knead by hand on a lightly floured work surface, or using a stand mixer at medium-high speed, for about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and shiny and feel soft and slightly sticky. As you knead, add more flour or milk if necessary to adjust the consistency. (I ended up adding quite a bit more flour to my dough. Add it slowly, if needed. The dough should be slightly sticky when you are finished kneading.)
5. Drain the raisins and reserve the liquid. Knead the raisins into the dough by hand, while in the bowl, until well distributed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise to 1 1/2 times its size, approximately 1 1/2 hours.
6. PREHEAT OVEN to 375˚F. Place oven rack about one-third distance from the oven floor. Gently divide the dough in half and form into two balls. Using your thumbs, stretch a small opening in the center of each ball. Place the ring of dough over the center tube of the mold. Ideally, the dough should fill 3/4 of the mold. Cover mold with a sheet of plastic wrap and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
7. Place the molds on the rack of the preheated over and bake for 45-50 minutes. The Kugelhopfs should be golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Cover Kugelhopfs with foil toward the end of baking if browning too quickly. Remove from oven and cool Kugelhopfs on a rack for several minutes before unmolding. They should release nicely if the molds were well buttered. Cool thoroughly on racks, then dust generously with Confectioners' sugar. Wrap tightly in plastic for 1 to 2 days before eating. Dust with Confectioners' sugar again before slicing.
TAKE a LOOK:
As I write this, I am eating a slice of the Cake aux Olives et Jambon. I am trying to get the feel of what it's like to be French. According to the recipe, this cake is purchased on Friday nights at the local pâtisserie, then brought to the country house to be enjoyed, certainly with French wine, over the weekend. Since I do not have a country house, I am eating this Olive and Ham Loaf Cake in my kitchen, at the counter, in front of my laptop. Certainly not a bad place to be; I love my kitchen. But I also love filling my head with snapshots of how I imagine it would be to live the good life in France...
... I need to run over to Stohrer in the 2nd arrondissement, because that is the source of this recipe. I decide to hop on the Metro, since the patisserie is on the Right Bank and I live in a centuries old, stylishly renovated apartment on the Left... in the 6th. I usually prefer to walk, but I know how distracted I can be by beautiful things, and it's already getting late. I pick up the Cake aux Olives et Jambon, along with the tiniest of tarts for one, studded with even tinier fraises alpine -- just because. I arrive back at the apartment and find my husband has returned from walking our three French Bulldogs, Marcel, Claude, and Winkie. We quickly finish loading the vintage Citroen and escape Paris, through heavy traffic, driving most of the night until we reach our chateau in the hills near Barjac. I pass out in my bed of white goose down and French linens, and dream of the brocantes I will visit the next morning, hoping to find that perfect French pastry table for my kitchen in Paris. Pretty nice, huh? Do you want to come visit me? Well... it won't be there. That's not my life. But it's so much fun to dream.
In the meantime, I bake French things in my Saint Paul kitchen and that keeps me happy. This is the second "weekend cake" I have made. The two cakes have their similarities, but are still very different. They both have ham, green olives, and Gruyère cheese. But the Gateau au Jambon et aux Olives (recipe HERE) that I made several years ago for the first time is a bit more basic and not as dense. The Cake aux Olives et Jambon I made today is a bit more complex in ingredients and flavor. It's full of white wine and vermouth. And more of just about everything else that make up the Gateau. It's a dense cake and I ended up baking it for much longer than what was specified in the recipe. And in addition... I cut slices that I broiled in the oven briefly. All of the Gruyère and olive oil in the loaf cake lend themselves nicely to a little toasting. Serve alongside a salad of greens with fruit, nuts, and cheese, then drizzled with a French vinaigrette, and that's all you need. Oh... include a bottle of good French wine and a few friends!
• adapted recipe from PARIS BOULANGERIE PATISSERIE by Linda Dannenberg
• 2 cups, less 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 1/2 cup dry vermouth
• 4 large eggs, beaten
• 7/8 cup mild-flavored olive oil
• 1 1/2 cups finely diced cooked ham
• 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese
• 1 1/4 cups green olives, pitted and chopped coarse
PREHEAT OVEN to 350˚F
1. Sift the flour with the baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center; add the wine, vermouth, and eggs. Mix gently just until combined. Add the olive oil, a little at a time, mixing until the batter is smooth. Add the ham, cheese and olives, and using a rubber spatula, mix just until incorporated.
2. Grease an 8-inch-by-4-inch loaf pan; pour in the batter. Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted to the bottom of the cake comes out clean. I found I needed to bake my cake much longer than the recipe specified. The original recipe calls for 55 minutes. I baked my cake for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours. It's a dense cake. If browning too much towards the end of baking, cover with foil.
3. Cool on a wire rack; then invert onto the rack and cool completely. If desired, slice the loaf and broil the slices briefly to toast.
TAKE a LOOK:
I am by no means a hoarder! I do, however, want to save things, having difficulty at times parting with ingredients. And by ingredients I mean... olive oils, vinegars, decorative sugars, and exceptional sprinkles. You understand, don't you? If I use them, they'll be gone. I know. It's a rather warped way of thinking, but that's just me... (Savory Rosemary-Olive Shortbreads that were never eaten).
This has recently been the case with a little jar of small, pastel sugar beads that my daughter purchased in Paris last summer. The jar has been setting on a shelf in my kitchen where I can look at it, and admire it daily. But the questions eventually began... "Why haven't you used the sprinkles?... "Don't you like the sprinkles?"... "When do we get a dessert with the sprinkles?" I caved. Yesterday I made an easy Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Butter Frosting that followed a big platter of beef and vegetable stir-fry. As you can see in the jar above, there are enough sprinkles (whew!) for another future dessert. No worries.
After dinner, my other daughter sent me this photo she took yesterday afternoon in downtown St. Paul. It reminds me of my sprinkles! I love it!
This easy chocolate cake goes together quickly. The ingredients are mixed right in the baking pan. If you want to serve the cake out of the pan, do as I did, and line the bottom of the pan and up two sides with parchment paper which makes for easy removal. There is more than enough frosting for the top and all four sides.
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 6 tablespoons canola oil
• 1 tablespoon white vinegar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 cup cool water
• 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
• 2 cups confectioners' sugar
• 2 to 3 tablespoons milk
• 1 1/2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* The cake ingredients are mixed in an ungreased baking pan. If you want to unmold the cake from the pan for serving, lightly butter the pan and line the bottom and up two sides with parchment paper.
1. PREHEAT OVEN to 350˚F
2. Sift the flour into an ungreased 8-inch x 8-inch baking pan. (All I had available was a 9-inch x 9-inch which works just fine.) In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add this to the flour mixture and using a fork, gently stir all of the dry ingredients until evenly combined.
3. With the back of a spoon, make 3 indentations in the flour mixture -- small, medium, and large. Add the canola oil to the large, the vinegar to the medium, and the vanilla to the small. Pour the water over everything. Using a fork, gently stir together the ingredients. You want to be sure to get into the corners of the pan and distribute the liquid equally throughout. Do not beat the batter (and if the pan is lined with parchment take care not to rip it), but you do want most of the lumps smoothed out and no patches of too thick or too runny batter.
4. When all of the ingredients are evenly combined, transfer the pan to the middle rack of the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool completely -- especially if unmolding.
5. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup of the confectioners' sugar until smooth. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the milk. Stir in the cocoa powder and vanilla extract, followed by the remaining 1 cup confectioners' sugar; mix well. Add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk to achieve desired spreading consistency.
6. Frost the top of the cake if left in the pan. If you choose to unmold the cake, frost the four sides as well.
TAKE a LOOK:
Last spring I was asked if I would like to be one of several to bake desserts for the "Grand Re-opening Gala of the Minnesota Governor's Residence". I didn't think about it very long -- I said "yes" almost immediately. The desserts I made consisted of French Chocolate Bouchons, French Canelés, and little Lemon Pound Cakes with Lemon Drizzle and French Lavender Bud Sprinkles.
That gala took place this past weekend. I considered my contribution to the event, of 50-plus individual servings, as little French bites.
Little Lemon Pound Cakes with Lemon Drizzle and Lavender Bud Sprinkles...
Individual desserts packed up for delivery...
• a recipe by Norman Love | BAKING WITH JULIA, written by Dorie Greenspan
NOTE: The recipe below uses one 9-inch-by-5-inch bread pan. I used eight 3 1/2-inch-by-2 1/2-inch pans and needed to adjust down my bake time.
FOR POUND CAKE:
• 4 large eggs, room temperature
• 1 1/3 cups sugar
• Pinch of salt
• Grated zest of 3 large lemons
• 1 3/4 cups cake flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
• 5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
FOR LEMON DRIZZLE:
• 1 cup Confectioners' sugar
• Fresh lemon juice
• Culinary lavender, optional
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a 9- by 5-inch loaf pan (see note above) and dust with flour, shaking out the excess.
2. Working in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and salt for just a minute, until foamy and smoothly blended; the mixture should not thicken. Whisk in the grated zest.
3. Spoon the flour and baking powder into a sifter and sift about a third of the dry ingredients over the foamy egg mixture. Whisk the flour into the eggs, mixing lightly--do not beat. Sift the flour over the eggs in two more additions and whisk only until everything is incorporated. Whisk the heavy cream into the mixture. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently and quickly fold in the melted butter.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for approximately 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake to a cooling rack to rest for 10 minutes, then unmold.
5. Place the Confectioners' sugar in a small bowl. Add enough fresh lemon juice to make a good drizzling consistency. Spoon the lemon drizzle over the lemon cake. Sprinkle with lavender buds.
TAKE a LOOK:
Yes... another recipe with fresh peaches. I can't get enough of them. And all of the peaches that I've purchased this summer have been wonderful. That isn't always the case. This Peach and Blueberry Cake was dessert the night we ate the Tomato and Peach Salad with Burrata. I was hoping there would be leftovers for breakfast the next morning... No such luck.