The women in our family all have their birthdays in the spring. My youngest daughter, Claire, celebrated her birthday in April (birthday cake #1). My daughter Whitney's birthday is coming up the end of May (birthday cake #3). I was told I will be hearing from her soon about the cake. It sounds to me like there's some serious thought going into my baking assignment.
And that leaves birthday cake #2, which was mine. There seems to be a flavor trend in the first two cakes -- lemon and raspberry. My cake layers contained Greek yogurt and fresh raspberries and were frosted with lemon-cream cheese icing. A perfect spring cake! Cake #1 (Claire's) had lemon cake layers with raspberry curd (recipe HERE). I expect Whitney's cake to be nothing like the first two.
I actually preferred my cake the next day, when I finished off the last two (generous) slices. Yes... I devoured everything that was left on the cake plate the next day. I tend to like cakes and cookies on the dry, day-old side, but that's just me. Recipe for Raspberry Yogurt Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting HERE.
And that leaves cake #3... Yesterday, we celebrated my daughter Whitney's birthday with a Peanut Butter Cheesecake topped with Swiss Meringue.
Yes... it was as good as it looks! Not only peanut butter in the cheesecake filling, but the crust is peanut butter, also, made from ground peanut butter cookies (recipe HERE; made without the chocolate chips).
+ Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Swiss Merignue +
• recipe via how sweet it is
• 2 cups crushed peanut butter cookies
• 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
• 3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
• 1 cup peanut butter
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 4 large egg whites
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• freshly sliced bananas for serving
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Mix together peanut butter cookie crumbs and melted butter; press into a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for approximately 6 minutes, until slightly set. Allow to cool completely.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the peanut butter and sugar. Beat on medium speed until combined and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl when necessary. Add the vanilla extract, then beat in eggs one at a time until just combined. Pour the mixture into the crust and smooth the top. Place pan on a baking sheet in center of oven. Bake cheesecake for approximately 55 minutes, or until the center is almost set. Remove and cool completely. Cover lightly with a sheet of plastic and refrigerate overnight.
3. Make the Swiss Meringue... Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in a heat-proof mixing bowl. Place over the top of a double-boiler that contains simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are slightly warm. Immediately remove the bowl, and using the whisk attachment of the mixer, begin beating at slow speed. Gradually increase the speed to high and beat for about 6-7 minutes, or until glossy and thick. Add the vanilla extract and beat for another minute.
4. Either pile the meringue onto the cheesecake or pipe (using a 1/2-inch tip).. Serve with sliced bananas!
TAKE a LOOK:
This past week was the beginning of the spring birthday season at our house. My birthday, along with both of my daughters' birthdays, fall in the months of April and May. And since my youngest daughter had a destination birthday this year, we weren't able to celebrate until two days later with a Sunday dinner.
The post birthday meal was built around Mac & Cheese, and included Turkey Meatloaf layered with Spinach and Prosciutto, a salad of greens with apples and caramelized walnuts, and the most important course... dessert; spongy lemon layers with raspberry curd cream between.
As Claire said... the cake tasted like spring. I almost went with chocolate. That may or may not have been a mistake. I don't know if chocolate can ever be called a mistake.
I also made the lemon cakes twice. I am never going to use 9-inch cake pans again when called for in a recipe. The results are always disappointing... short layers. Eight inch pans are usually the way to go, at least for me.
... above, the mac & cheese before baking
The original cake recipe called for 3 cups of heavy cream to layer and frost the cake, but I didn't need close to that amount. I'll do my best to explain the amounts I mixed together for frosting.
Lemon Cake with Raspberry Curd and Whipped Cream
• recipe from Epicurious, adapted
• Vegetable or coconut oil spray, for the pans
• 4 large eggs
• 2 large egg yolks
• 3/4 cup whole milk
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
• 2 cups cake flour
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup vegetable or expeller pressed canola oil
• 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
• 1 6-ounce basket fresh raspberries, plus additional raspberries for garnish
• 1 1/4 cups sugar
• 2 large eggs
• 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 3 cups chilled whipping cream
FOR THE CAKE:
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray two 8-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides with nonstick vegetable or coconut oil spray. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper.
2. Whisk eggs, yolks, milk, lemon juice, and lemon peel in medium bowl to blend. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Whisk oil and butter into flour mixture. Add egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Cool cakes on racks 10 minutes. Run knife around edge of pans to loosen cakes. Turn cakes out onto racks. Cool completely. (Cakes can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap with plastic. Let stand at room temperature.)
1. Stir the 6-ounce basket of raspberries, 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, lemon juice, butter, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until thickened and beginning to bubble at edges, about 5 minutes. Using a mesh strainer, strain raspberry curd into a medium bowl, pressing on solids to release all liquid. Refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours, but preferably up to 1 day. See NOTE below.
2. Whip cream and 1/2 cup sugar until peaks form. Fold 1 1/2 cups whipped cream into raspberry curd. Reserve remaining whipped cream
3. Cut each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place 1 layer, cut side down, on platter. Spread a thick layer or raspberry filling over. Repeat with 2 more cake layers and filling. Top with remaining cake layer.
4. I had approximately 1/4 cup raspberry curd remaining and folded all but about 1 cup of the whipped cream into the curd. Spread this over top and sides of cake. You can use the remaining whipped cream (totally optional) by placing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and to pipe design around bottom edge of cake. Decorate cake, if desired, with additional raspberries. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and keep refrigerated.)
NOTE: If you would like more raspberry curd in the frosting for the cake, double the recipe for the curd and add to whipped cream before frosting.
TAKE a LOOK:
I suggest you make several loaves of this Goat Cheese, Bacon, and Olive Quick Bread, and keep in your freezer. That's what I'm doing. It is such a great savory bread/cake to have on hand! I like serving it in the late afternoon with a glass of chilled white wine. If storing in the freezer, defrost and reheat in oven before serving. This bread (which reminds me of a French weekend savory cake) will be a regular on the patio this summer!
+ Savory Goat Cheese, Bacon, and Olive Quick Bread
Recipe by David Lebovitz | February 2016 Food & Wine
• 6 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1 to 2 teaspoons cayenne
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 4 large eggs, at room temperature
• 1/2 cup buttermilk
• 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 6 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
• 1 1/3 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
• 2 scallions, thinly sliced
• 1 red serrano chile, seeded and minced
• 2 teaspoons minced thyme leaves
1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat a 9-inch loaf pan with cooking spray; line the bottom with waxed or parchment paper. In a skillet, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crispy, 8-10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cayenne, and salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs with the buttermilk, olive oil, and mustard. Stir the egg mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. Fold in the goat cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, olives, bacon, scallions, chile and thyme. Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the surface.
3. Bake the bread until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the loaf to loosen it from the pan. Invert onto a rack and cool completely.
TAKE a LOOK:
These Cranberry, Coconut, and White Chocolate Friands (almond cakes) were our dessert one night, and leftovers eaten the following morning along with our cappuccinos. I found them to be even more flavorful the next day. The original recipe calls for 1 cup fresh cranberries, which I did not have, so I substituted dried cranberries that I rehydrated in boiling water. Next time I plan to make the friands with fresh blueberries!
• Jennie Jordan | The West Australian, recipe adapted
MAKES 10 FRIANDS
• 3/4 cup dried cranberries
• 1 3/4 cups almond meal
• 1/4 cup Confectioners' sugar
• 3/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
• 140 grams unsalted butter, melted
• 5 egg whites, lightly beaten
• 1/2 cup shredded coconut
• 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped white chocolate
1. Place the dried cranberries in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the almond meal, Confectioners' sugar, flour, and baking powder. Add the melted butter and stir to combine. Add the egg whites and beat until a smooth batter.
3. Fold in the reserved cranberries, coconut, and white chocolate. Divide batter between 10 greased and lined metal oeufs en gelée molds, if you have them, or muffin tins. Bake in a preheated 350˚F oven for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Dust lightly with Confectioners' sugar before serving.
TAKE a LOOK:
I spent the month of December baking cookies. Nothing new. All were cookies I've made before; a Christmas tradition.
Our family Christmas was delayed by a day, until part of our family returned from out of town. We celebrated with a big noon meal. The entrée was a Beef Stroganoff by Jonathan Waxman that I have made several times before and absolutely love. I meant to photograph it and post the recipe, but I didn't even take the time for a quick shot with my phone. By the time the meal was plated, I was hungry and dove right into the beef tenderloin with cognac mushrooms in a sauce of mustardy crème frâiche. If it sounds like your kind of a meal, get the recipe HERE. If I can make a suggestion... make more than the recipe calls for. You will end up eating it all!
Grand dog, Miss Midge, waiting for the festivities to begin... and possibly some food to fall to the floor?
It was a first time in my kitchen for the Chocolate and Olive-Oil Cake. This cake is now classified as, "a keeper". So good! Whipped crème frâiche is the perfect accompniament. I got a good laugh from both of my daughters. Each one walked past the bowl of whipped crème frâiche and plunged their finger in for a lick. Both made quite a face when the cream they expected to be sweet, wasn't. It is perfect, tho', alongside the fudgy cake.
Next up... New Years Day Brunch. I need to get to work...