Coconut & Lemongrass Tea Cake

Over Easter long weekend, Alex and I took a day out to the sort-of suburbs of Richmond, in Southwest London, for a stroll along the Thames. We came across Petersham Nurseries, a gardening centre with a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a little café for those of us a little less inclined to dine constantly at Michelin-starred establishments. Inside the café, we were first faced with a huge selection of cakes before getting to the lunch mains – just my type of place! There were some fun flavours like chocolate pear, but the most unique of them all caught my eye – coconut lemongrass. It looked like a dense cake with big crumbs, not something I typically go for, but the flavouring sounded so different that we just had to have a slice. Thank goodness, because not only could I not forget about this lovely cake after we ate it, but I also went on during the week to re-invent it in my kitchen so now you can try it at home too!

The cake has a rustic quality to it – big crumbs, no-fuss decoration (just a light dusting of icing sugar will do), and seriously good with a cup of tea or coffee in the afternoon. Also, it takes me about 30 minutes to throw everything together and pop it into the oven. I’d know, because I made the recipe twice in a week! Taste-wise, it is remarkably light and coconut-y. Although there’s coconut milk, the cake isn’t actually creamy or rich like an indulgent dessert might be. The little slices you cut off to accompany your tea might go quicker than you expect! Therefore, I’ve doubled the recipe here to make a bigger cake – always the best solution to the over-eating problem.

Ingredients

  • 160g butter
  • 150g white sugar
  • 150g brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 stalks of lemon grass, chopped into 2″ sections
  • 200g coconut milk
  • vanilla (optional)
  • grated zest from 1 lime (optional)
  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g polenta (cornmeal)
  • 6g baking powder
  • 50g shredded coconuts (a finer shred is probably better, and sweetened makes it a bit nicer to taste)
  1. Infuse the coconut milk by warming it up in a small pot with the chopped lemongrass segments. Bring to just under a boil, and turn off the heat. Keep covered and let steep for about 30 minutes
  2. Butter and flour an 8″ square pan or a 9″ round pan, lining the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. With the paddle attachment in an electric mixer, cream butter until softened
  4. Add in sugars, and beat well until combined
  5. Add in eggs, beating until well emulsified. If using, add in 1 tsp vanilla extract or a small tip-of-the-knife dot of vanilla paste
  6. Add in the dry ingredients. If using, add in the lime zest as well. The mixture will be very dry, so you can start adding in a splash of coconut milk at a time, taking care to remove the lemongrass stalks first.
  7. Once all the liquid has been added, beat well for 10-15 seconds until everything is well mixed. Do not overmix
  8. Scrape batter into prepared pan, bake until golden on top, and the cake is springy (about 30 minutes)
  9. Let cool in pan for a few minutes before taking out of pan, removing parchment paper, and cooling on a rack.
  10. Lightly dust with icing sugar just before serving with a large cup of tea!

0 comments

Summer Strawberry Cake


(Or tea cake, since Alex devoured two slices half a cake with a cup of tea.)

I love strawberry season in Canada. Strawberries were the only fruit that I missed terribly when we were traveling, despite the abundance of tropical delicacies in Taiwan and Thailand. Even though you could get imported grapes from Chile, cherries from California, and lychees from China, there just didn’t seem to be an overwhelming enthusiasm for summer berry season in Asia. Plus, unless you peeked into a Starbucks, things like berry crumbles or squares just aren’t part of the sweets lineup over there.

So I’m making up for the lack of strawberry lovin’ in my life now, especially because it’s a short season. Ever since I saw the strawberry summer cake over at smitten kitchen, I’ve been itching to try it out. My mom, on the other hand, seems to have perfected the Asian attitude towards berries. Sure, she bakes with blueberries and raspberries because it’s her job and all, but she has a vendetta against strawberries in baking, and isn’t terribly fussed about the little local beauties to begin with. She ranted for a good three minutes on how strawberries lose their colour and taste, not to mention texture, in baked goods. All I could picture in my head as she ranted, was an image of an army of strawberry ninjas attacking her, for her to have such strong feelings against them.

I plunged ahead with my plan to use up the last of the berries while my mom napped. It was a little difficult as I’m an intruder in her kitchen these days, and she’s kind of the guardian of the ingredients. Nonetheless, victory was mine as I plopped the cake pan into the hot oven. The end result was amazing. Strawberries dotted the warm, sweet, and buttery cake, and it definitely is one of the best tea time snacks I’ve ever made.

  

Strawberry Summer Cake – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 85g softened unsalted butter
  • 188g all-purpose flour*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 170g granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 400g strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 big spoonfuls of sugar for sprinkling (about 2-3 heaping teaspoons)
  • 2 big spoonfuls of chopped roasted nuts (I used a mix of almonds, pecans, and walnuts)

*Deb’s suggestion: swap 94 grams all-purpose flour with 75 grams of barley flour if you have it

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter, flour, and line a 9″ cake pan or a 8″ square pan with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter and 170g sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. It may look a little curdled at this point if your milk and egg are cold, but not to worry, it will work itself out as you continue to beat.
  4. Add flour mixture in, mixing until just smooth.
  5. Pour into prepared pan. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar and nuts over berries.
  6. Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack.

The cake is best served warm, freshly out of the oven, with a dollop of cream (or ice cream if you’re feeling extra-indulgent). Alex may or may not have heaped a healthy-sized scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the warm cake. Although the original recipe did not include nuts, I found that the chopped nuts really added a bit more of a coffee cake taste to them – something a little more complex, and nutty of course. The taste also inspired me to try swapping in some ground almonds for flour in my next batch, whenever I make this again!

Enjoy!

2 comments

Lemon Yogurt Polenta Cake

My mom gave the lemon yogurt cake I made last weekend a facelift and we LOVE it! So it’s only proper that I now share the newer version with you on a Sunday.

Because of the addition of cornmeal, this cake is much more crumbly, but in a fantastic way. It is light, lemon-y, but not too sweet. I thought with cornmeal, yogurt, and an egg, it would be much heavier than my recipe – but it’s totally not the case. Adding blueberries also added moisture and nice little surprises when you eat this cake – it reminded me of something between a simple cornmeal cake and a yummy blueberry pancake breakfast! On that note, I’ve had a slice with breakfast, lunch, and dinner today. And then my mom made another one. I’m starting to feel like efforts we put into the past month of healthy eating are quickly going down the drain.

Recipe and more photos after the jump

0 comments

Sunday Supper: Lemon Yogurt Cake

DSC_3031.JPG

I spaced out and booked us so that we ate out all day on Sunday – even though I had planned and bought some lamb, chard, and potatoes for a nice treat for dinner. Instead, we had a lovely brunch at Morning Glory and a birthday dinner with my sister at Rivoli.

So, I’m going to distract you with sunshine and lemons.

This is a slightly dense and totally moist and flavourful lemon cake that goes well with breakfast, or is delightful as an afternoon snack. I love making it whenever I have plain yogurt on hand (which isn’t very often), and the bright citrus taste always brings a little sunshine to my day. It was with this thought in mind that I picked up some lemons on Saturday when we ventured out in the -19 weather to get groceries. In the middle of this bleak and freezing day, a slice of this cake with a warm cup of tea in the afternoon is perfect.

The recipe is from the Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook that I received a few years ago when I first started building my kitchen. The book is great for basic recipes, and there are quite a few staples in here that I tend to revisit quite a bit. I have also since read that yogurt cake is a very typical French snack, and from there have made my own adjustments to all the recipes for yogurt cake I’ve come across, to get to the one below.

Ingredients

  • 250g plain yogurt (non-fat doesn’t work as well as the thick whole-fat good stuff)
  • 200g (1 cup) sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 250g (1 1/4 cups) flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 100g (1/2 cup) vegetable oil (i.e. canola)
  • juice from the 2 lemons
  • 65g (1/3 cup) sugar

DSC_3018.JPG  DSC_3010.JPG

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter, flour, and line a loaf pan with parchment
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside
  3. Whisk together yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed, but don’t over-beat
  4. Fold in the flour until well incorporated. Drizzle in the oil and stir everything together until the oil is completely integrated in the mixture
  5. Pour into pan and bake for 45 – 55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. The top always cracks for me. If you have any tricks/patience to try different temperatures or techniques, please feel free to share in the comments!
  6. Let cool in pan for about 5 minutes on a rack before removing from the pan
  7. Put the cake in a plate or on the rack but with a plate underneath. Heat up the lemon juice and sugar until sugar is melted and the mixture is warm, and drizzle slowly all over the cake
  8. Let the cake sit in the lemon juice for 5 – 10 minutes before removing from any remaining liquid and cooling on a rack

Glaze (optional)

  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup (80g – 160g) icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice or water – from your remaining lemon juice would be ideal

Mix together the icing sugar and lemon juice until it’s a thick syrup consistency, and drizzle over the cake. Let the icing cool and harden before slicing.

DSC_3036.JPG

Hope you’re all keeping warm and cozy and doing the Summer dance with me!

2 comments

Vanilla vanilla buttercream

Ruffled icing, take 1

A simple recipe today for safe-keeping. I originally copied this down at a store, typing surreptitiously on my now defunct BlackBerry, but forgot to save it when I switched to my iPhone. All’s not lost, as I attempted to re-create the recipe this past weekend and am pleased with the results. So, before I lose another piece of technology, here it is.

Vanilla buttercream (American style) – adapted from the Sprinkles cupcake mix carton*

  • 350g icing sugar
  • 227 g (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp milk

Mix all the ingredients on low in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment until the icing sugar is incorporated. Turn up the speed to medium and whip, scraping down the bowl occasionally, for about 30 seconds until lighter and fluffier (but not too fluffy, or it’ll get runny).

Tint lightly with red colouring to get a lovely shade of pink – the best colour for an old fashioned American buttercream!

Happy birthday, Allison!

*I suppose I could go back to said store, and read the carton again, and see if I actually have everything down right…but I live so far away from the cool shops now! Yes, that’s an excuse, and I just used it.

0 comments

DSC_3075.JPG

I got lazy about Sunday Supper this weekend because I got a little too carried away baking for our “unhealthy eating break” that Sunday brings. We had chocolate chip cookies, a yellow cake, a lemon yogurt cake with a recipe to come, and the chocolate gingerbread cake pictured above.

For supper, we had an easy, but comforting grilled cheese sandwich with a lovely cheese we came across yesterday when we ventured out to the market during the snowstorm. I made a just-as-effortless roasted tomato and basil soup with some organic roma tomatoes and the teensiest bunch of basil found in the middle of winter. Everything’s familiar, and quick to whip up, so I could focus on the baking and the decorating that ensued. I promise, posts to come for these aforementioned sweets.

DSC_3069.JPG

The chocolate gingerbread recipe is from Adam at Amateur Gourmet, whose posts I recently discovered, and enjoy reading immensely. I actually stumbled across Adam’s blog via Twitter, with this poignant post in support of LGBT teens. (It looks like Dan Savage will be publishing it in the upcoming book of essays – way to go!)

Chocolate Gingerbread – adapted from this recipe

  • 60g (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 30g (2 tbsp) packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 160g (1/2 cup) molasses
  • 110g (4 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 110g (1/2 cup) brewed coffee, cooled
  • 170g (1 1/4 cup) flour
  • 6g (2 tsp) baking soda
  • 2g (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 1/2 tsp each of: ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and mustard powder
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  1. Butter and flour a loaf pan, and line the bottom with parchment. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl, and set aside
  3. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy
  4. Add in the egg and mix well on medium. Add in the molasses and melted chocolate and beat until thoroughly mixed. It may look slightly curdled first – just keep beating and it’ll all come together as an emulsion soon enough
  5. Add in half of the dry ingredients and mix on low until incorporated. Add in half of the coffee and mix on low until incorporated. Repeat with remaining flour mixture and coffee
  6. Once everything is well incorporated, scrape down the bowl and beat on medium speed for a couple of minutes
  7. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until a tester comes out clean
  8. Cool in pan until pan is cool enough to be handled without mitts, and reverse out onto a cooling rack to cool thoroughly

The cake rose quickly and had a cracked top, which, me being OCD, had to cut off before I poured on the ganache. In Adam’s original version, he kept the cracks as is and the cake looked just as impressive.

DSC_3040.JPG  DSC_3045.JPG

To finish off the chocolate gingerbread, I melted 2 oz. chocolate chips with 2 tbsp. of whipping cream, plus a dash of cinnamon. Once the ganache was cool enough to touch, I poured it onto the cake (with the cracked top already cut off), and spread quickly with an offset small spatula.

I was impressed with the texture of this cake – it’s somewhere between a hardcore chocolate cake and a lighter snack like a banana bread. It’s also slightly crumbly when you slice into it, but still manages to be somewhat fluffy. The best thing is that aside from the chocolate expectations, the spices really come through and make it quite flavourful and suitable for the season. I would highly recommend giving this a try before putting the cinnamon and molasses away until December!

0 comments

My Favourite Chocolate Cake

DSC_0370.JPG

I just think it’s so quaint when someone refers to that cake that they always had at family gatherings. The “it” cake of the family, if you will. Growing up, my birthday cakes have been interesting and wildly different every year depending on geographical location and later on, the temperamental weather in May in BC. Suffice it to say, my family doesn’t have a go-to cake for functions, despite the fact that my mom is a pastry chef. (She only became an official pastry chef in the last 8 or 9 years, to be fair.)

A few years ago when Private Practice first came on and I discovered that there was a doctor show I could watch without feeling nauseous, I checked out the website on ABC. I was delighted to find chocolate cake recipes posted on there, as a tie-in to one of the episodes. There were three recipes, and one immediately caught my eye – “Holy Mother of Chocolate Cake”. I don’t remember anything about the other two recipes, but I’m so glad this was the one I hastily wrote down on a piece of paper before I went grocery shopping for ingredients. It has now become the “it” cake in the family, as most of my family fondly refer back to the last time we had it whenever we talk about cakes. Naturally, with Alex’s birthday just around the corner, this was the cake he asked for.

The cake is very moist and rich, but is not dense at all. Inside the punch of flavour, there is a lightness to it that makes it easy to devour a giant piece before you realize what just happened. Because of the moisture and the richness, it’s not a cake meant for typical butter-and-icing-sugar icing, either. Nor did it work out well with meringue buttercreams. There are a few ways to dress it up or down, but my favourite way remains the orange whipped cream that I concocted serendipitously the first time I made the cake.

DSC_0252.JPG

Holy Mother of Chocolate Cake

  • 3 oz. semisweet chocolate – I used Lindt 70% cacao
  • 12 oz. / 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
  • 22 oz. / 650g sugar
  • 13 oz. / 370g all-purpose flour
  • 6 oz. / 170g cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. / 10g baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. / 2g baking powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. / 6g salt
  • 150g / 3 large eggs – mine came to 170g when I measured, so I actually scooped out 20g before I added the other liquids. The extra 20g wouldn’t have made a huge difference, except you’d probably get a slightly denser and heavier cake (not necessarily a bag thing)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Grease and flour two 9″ or 10″ cake pans, and line the bottoms with parchment paper.
  2. Break up the chocolate into small pieces, then mix with the hot coffee. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  4. With the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, beat the eggs on medium speed for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Slowly add the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to the eggs, beating until well combined and smooth.
  5. Add the dry ingredients in parts, beating to combine with each addition. Don’t over mix once it’s all integrated.
  6. Pour batter into the pans and bake on middle rack for about an hour. When it is done, your kitchen will smell really, really, really chocolate-y. (As in, this should be the new thing to pop into ovens when you have an Open House.)
  7. Remove pans and let cool in pans until the pans are no longer warm to the touch. Cool completely on a cooling rack before handling, or else it likes to fall apart.

DSC_0305.JPG

Orange Whipped Cream Icing: whip a 500mL carton of whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Stir in the zest of an orange and 2 crushed up Crunchie chocolate bars (the honeycomb gives it a light toffee flavour and sweetness. So if you don’t have access to Crunchie, find some honeycomb to mash up!). Cover and chill in fridge until ready to use. I recommend allowing the topping to sit for at least 24 hours before consuming, either as part of the cake or prior to icing, so the flavour can develop.

Orange Chocolate Topping: in a food processor, chop up 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips with 1 tbsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp. orange zest.

To finish the cake for a family gathering, I usually ice it with the orange whipped cream and leave it at that. The cake really shines on its own that not much else is needed. The sprinkled topping, though, works great if you want to give it a bit more oomph and also a bit more crunch when you eat it. It’s just that I hate cleaning additional appliances so I avoid this step when I know I can get away with it.

The orange whipped icing also isn’t the prettiest to look at. So for Alex’s cake that he took to the office, I covered it up with a new invention of mine – chocolate orange ganache. YUM!

Chocolate Orange Ganache – in a small heavy-bottomed pot, warm up just over 1/2 cup of cream, and the zest of an orange, on low heat. When the cream is warm and slightly bubbling around the edges, strain the liquid through a fine sieve to get rid of the orange zest (you don’t have to, but I prefer my ganache to be smooth, so I did this). Immediately pour the cream over 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate, stir until everything is melted. When the mixture is about room temperature, pour over the cake (it would be helpful to put the cake in the freezer when you start this process – it helps the ganache set quickly). Smooth out with a large spatula and voila! When the ganache is set and just before serving, sprinkle the orange topping on top.

Enjoy!

3 comments

Heaven and Hell Cake, My Way

Heaven and Hell Cake

After reading Alexis Stewart’s post on making this Heaven and Hell Cake from Saveur.com, I wanted to give it a whirl, too. Since then, I’ve whirled at least three times to get it right. Today, I can finally share something.

The reason why it’s called Heaven and Hell Cake is because the cake layers are alternating Angel Food Cake and Devil’s Food Cake. The filling is a light peanut butter mousse, and the whole thing is finished off with chocolate ganache. First of all, whatever you do, do not follow the Saveur.com recipe blindly, especially on the peanut butter mousse. I learned the hard way that my KichenAid isn’t even big enough to handle all the ingredients.

Anyway, long story short, I re-made it and re-made it again. I got the peanut butter mousse after toying with some recipes I found online, and finally got the Angel Food Cake, too, thanks to a handy-dandy book of mine.

The recipe yields enough for a 6″ cake, and the whole process will take a lot of work because of the different layers that go into the final product…this isn’t meant to be an everyday cake, but a fancy once-in-a-while thing.

Peanut Butter Cake

Ingredients

Angel Food Cake

  • 3 oz. egg whites (I buy cartons of egg whites rather than ending up with a bunch of yolks)
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 oz. sugar, divided into 2 equal portions
  • 1 oz. cake and pastry flour

Devil Food Cake

  • 5 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 oz. softened unsalted butter
  • 4.5 oz. brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 oz. melted unsweetened choclate
  • 2/3 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Peanut Butter Mousse

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped
  • 2 oz. (1/4 package) cream cheese
  • 2.25 oz. icing sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp smooth peanut butter

Peanut Butter Cake

Directions

  1. For the Angel Food Cake, set the oven to 350 degrees Celsius. Line the cake pan with parchment paper everywhere – the edges and the bottom. Angel Food Cake tends to do better with parchment than the regular old butter-and-flour set-up. Sift the flour and 3 oz. of the sugar together. Set aside. Whip the egg whites in an electric mixer on medium speed with a wire whisk, until bubbly. Add in the salt and cream of tartar, and continue whipping on medium speed until the volume starts to double and the mixture is turning white. Drizzle in 3 oz. of the sugar and continue whipping until very soft peaks begin to form. The worst thing to do with Angel Food Cake is to over-mix the egg whites, which in turn makes the cake non-airy. Add in sifted flour and sugar and fold gently into the almost-meringue mixture. Pour into the ready pan, and put into the oven right away. Bake for about 30 minutes just until the top is nice and golden, and a tester comes out clean. Remove from oven, chill on a rack in the pan until it settles, and then cool on the rack upside down for at least an hour before removing.
  2. For the Devil’s Food Cake, butter and flour the pan, and line the bottom with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cream the butter in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, then add in the brown sugar and beat on medium until lighter in colour. Add in egg and mix on medium for three minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in melted chocolate. Then alternately mix in dry ingredients and milk + vanilla until it’s all incorporated. Pour into the pan and pop in the oven for about 40 minutes. Remove from pan when it’s set and just starting to pull away from the edges, and cool in pan for a few minutes before removing and cooling on the rack.
  3. For the peanut butter mouse, whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Put in refrigerator. Cream the cream cheese in a electric mixer with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add in icing sugar and salt and cream together until smooth. Add in peanut butter and mix until smooth (will feel slightly dry and lumpy, just keep going at a lower speed). Fold in the whipped cream by hand until well mixed, and put back on the mixer and whip at medium-low speed for another 30 seconds. Yum!

Angel Food Cake

Assembly

  1. Slice the cake layers in half, so that you have 4 cake layers in total. Start with a Devil’s Food Cake, top with a layer of peanut butter mousse, then a layer of Angel Food Cake, and then another peanut butter mousse layer. You should finish at the last layer of Angel Food Cake. Don’t add peanut butter mousse on top, but finish off the edges with any leftover mousse – “masking the cake”, if you will – so that the edges are even and smooth. Put in the fridge while you do the chocolate ganache.
  2. Melt 8 oz. chocolate chips and 1/4 cup whipping cream, and pour over the top of the cake when it’s cooled off a bit but is still liquid.
  3. Use any leftover peanut butter mousse to pipe fancy decorations on top of the cake if you have any desire to continue with the cake at this point. Voila!

Heaven and Hell Cake

8 comments

Strawberry Buttercream for Ella

A little something for a little girl’s first birthday. The theme that her parents requested was Mary Had A Little Lamb…so off I went with some modelling with the fondant!

Ella

The inside of the cake was a basic yellow cake, with strawberry buttercream that I adapted from the Sprinkles Cupcake recipes on Martha Stewart

Strawberry Buttercream

  • 1/4 cup strawberry puree that’s been cooked, reduced, and thickened
  • 1 cup butter at room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  1. Cream butter and salt in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes on medium-low speed
  2. Sift in the icing sugar in two parts, stirring just to combine each time. It’d be helpful to drape a cloth over the mixer when you do this to avoid icing sugar flying everywhere
  3. Scrape in the vanilla paste from the bean pod, and add in the thickened strawberry puree. You don’t need to thicken the puree, but I think it helps to intensify the flavour
  4. Mix on medium-low speed until combined. Don’t mix too much – too much air would make it very light and airy and harder to stick on cakes…not that it’s a bad thing, though, if you’re partial to lighter frosting and you’re making cupcakes

Ella

The little lamb had somewhat evil eyes, I know – food writers suck, don’t buy them. For the little girl, I opted to use a toothpick and the black food colouring paste I had, which worked out much more precise and looks way nicer!

1 comment

Alex and I got carried away buying produce last weekend. Okay, maybe it was just me.

Saturday at the Market
$60 bought us all these! There’s hidden zucchini in the back and everything!

The thing is, living in the arctic circle where winter lasts six months of the year and snow is the biggest bitch you’ve met in your life, I get a little (just a little) excited when summer comes and fresh produce is in plain sight. The Farmer’s Market at St. Lawrence every Saturday makes me happy, even if I have to get my elbows out just to walk through the half block of produce stalls along Jarvis Street. So this past weekend I was all “Wow! Yay! Love! Yum!” as I flitted from stall to stall, piling all these things (plus some meats and carbs and stuff) into the bags Alex was carrying. Oh yeah, he carried them all – but don’t feel sorry for him, he gets to eat all this stuff.

One thing I was thinking about making with all this stuff shocked me….for the first time in my life, carrot cake piqued my interest. I have long scoffed at the thought of “vegetables in my dessert”, but with all these pretty carrots with their cute little green tops, how could I say no? When I read that the original idea of carrot cake was to use carrots as a sweetener, I was even more intrigued. What a healthy dessert!

Pineapples in Carrot CakeCream Cheese Icing - Carrot Cake

The cream cheese icing that goes with carrot cake might also have something to do with my interest. It’s dairy, and has cheese, and therefore has calcium! How much healthier can I get? :P

(Recipe edited in 2012 to include extra amazing-ness. You’re welcome.)

You will need:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (80g) packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup (170g) vegetable oil – I use canola or rapeseed
  • 1/4 cup (57g) extra virgin coconut oil – really adds to the taste!!
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (140g) self-rising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder – no-aluminum baking powder is best!
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts – hazelnuts and walnuts are both good choices
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce (or fruit puree of your choice) – apple sauce is mild and doesn’t take away from the taste. Originally I used chopped pineapple chunks – those are good too.

Putting it together

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour 2 round or square pans, and line bottoms with parchment paper. I used 8″ square pans.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the dry ingredients together.
  3. In an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, or with a handheld mixer, whip eggs together for about a minute until light yellow in colour. Add in sugar and continue beating for 3-4 minutes until thick and creamy looking.
  4. With the mixer still going, stream in the vegetable oil, and the vanilla extract.
  5. Scrape down bowl and add in half of the dry ingredients. Use a low speed to incorporate everything together. Scrape down again, and add in the second half of the dry ingredients. Use low speed to incorporate again.
  6. Fold in the carrots along with any juice that the carrots might’ve left behind from the grating – it’s a thick mixture, so make sure you stir enough to distribute the carrots evenly. Now fold in the nuts and fruit puree/apple sauce.
  7. Distribute mixture into the two pans and bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  8. Let cool on rack while you move on to the next step – the icing!

The Best Cream Cheese Icing

I got this off the back of a baking mix once and when I gave people the cupcakes that went with this icing, all I got was, “Oh my goodness the icing!” and a bunch of rude noises. I gathered it must be the best cream cheese icing then, and haven’t deviated from it since.

The magical ingredients

  • 8 oz. package of cream cheese, slightly colder than room temperature
  • 4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, more or less room temperature but not too mushy
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 oz. sifted icing sugar

Whip your icing
In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together with the salt and vanilla on a lower speed until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the icing sugar slowly and on a low speed just until combined. If you whip on high or whip too long, it’ll become airy and light. If you would like a thick and creamy icing, do not overmix. Voila!

Finished product

Ice the cake according to your mood. I typically opt for fussy and overachieving, but in this case I decided it was charming to do homemade with sprinkles to hide the flaws. Totally didn’t help that the icing didn’t yield quite enough to smother the cake, so it wasn’t easy to work with. Whatever, it’s not some perfectionist wedding cake, after all.

0 comments