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Tuxedo Cake

3 Oct

What luck that Shawnda picked such a great cake recipe for the first week of the month for Project Pastry Queen–I’ve started baking treats for the monthly birthday celebration for the office and this was perfect!  My only hope is that I get it to the office without issue, which involves driving up and over a mountain range.  In fact, as you’re reading this, probably right this moment, my office is either enjoying lovely slices of Tuxedo Cake or eating Cake Mush.

The cake was pretty basic to put together: just a normal chocolate cake, whipped cream, and more or less just melted chocolate.  But what a presentation!  It just looks so fantastic, with its stark black and white contrast, that I would have sworn it took a lot more manpower and hours than it really did.  My only two notes are that I’m always afraid of over-whipping the cream so I started off with whipped cream that was too soft (although it did make a nice “crumb coat”, a thin layer of frosting that seals in all the crumbs so you can add another perfectly crumb-less layer of frosting).  The whipped cream is the right consistency when you slap a dollop on the side of the cake and it doesn’t drip right off.  Also, Rebecca (and Shawnda) used Lyle’s Golden Syrup.  I admit again that I substituted what I already had in my cabinet and readily available.  I’m not sure if it was because of this substitution, but my chocolate dripped over the sides perfectly, despite Rebecca’s warning that it might be too thick if you let it cool for too long.

Check out all of the other Project Pastry Queen participants’ takes on the recipe here!

Tuxedo Cake
From Rebecca Rathers’ Pastry Queen

For the cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla

For the frosting

  • 4 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, well-chilled
  • 1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

For the glaze

  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla

Cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of three 9″ cake pans or two 10″ cake pans with parchment paper rounds and butter and flour the pan or spray with non-stick baking spray.
  2. Combine the butter, water, and canola oil in a medium saucepan set over medium heat and let butter melt.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together sugar, cocoa and flour.  Pour the butter mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk until smooth.
  4. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk.  Whisk in the baking soda, salt and vanilla all at once.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pans.  For a 3 layer cake, stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another.  Set two layers on one rack and the third on the other.  Bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each layer comes out clean.
  6. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on racks for about 15 minutes before inverting onto baking racks.  Cool the cakes completely, at least 2 hours, before frosting.

Frosting

  1. Whip the cream in a large bowl on high speed until soft peaks form (when you lift the beaters out and turn them upside down, there should be little peaks on the end of the beaters whose tips fall over quickly).
  2. Add the powdered sugar and whip until stiff peaks form (the peaks will stand tall and not fall over).
  3. Place first layer of cake onto serving plate and top with a layer of frosting.  Add second layer of cake and frosting and last layer of cake and frosting before frosting the sides of the cake with a thick layer of whipped cream.
  4. Put cake in fridge and let frosting set for 1 hour.

Glaze

  1. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl.  Heat the cream in a small saucepan until steaming and pour it over the chocolate.  Whisk until chocolate is fully melted.
  2. Stir in the corn syrup and vanilla until fully incorporated and set bowl aside to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Drizzle the glaze along the top edge of the cake and cover the whole top of the cake with glaze.
  4. Many people finish with strawberries, often covered in chocolate, but strawberry season is just closing here so I decided to forgo them this time–but the next time I make this I will definitely be including them!
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Apple Honey Cake

30 Sep

The Jewish New Year is upon us!  The Boyfriend’s family is Jewish and every year I beg to go to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services with them.  I love the traditions observed and, of course, all of the food.  The best combination of both of those is the Rosh Hashanah tradition of eating honey and apples to symbolize the hope for a sweet year.

So I rushed home today and grabbed some apples from the grocery store on the way.  I had to be ready to go in 45 minutes and would you believe that I was able to combine the ingredients, bake the cake, let it cool a little and take photos of it all before it was time to leave for Temple?  That should show you how easy and quick it is to throw this delicious little cake together.

Some notes: the cake will end up very thin, since the original recipe called for a smaller cake pan.  I used what I had and actually really liked it thin–it let the apple and honey flavors shine and made for a perfect light dessert instead of a one that makes you feel overly stuffed.  Also, I really suggest using a mandolin slicer for this project.  I got a great handheld OXO mandolin for just about $15 and it’s an amazing tool (slicing pizza toppings– just sayin’).

Happy New Year!  This Apple Honey Cake will guarantee it’s a sweet one.

Apple Honey Cake
Adapted from Taste of Home

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 2 Gala apples, very thinly sliced (use a mandolin if you have one)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey, plus extra for drizzling
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper (I forgot to coat the paper with nonstick spray, but it was fine without it, so no big deal if you don’t have any).  Sprinkle cinnamon in a light, even coat across the bottom of the pan.
  3. Arrange apple slices in whatever pattern you want.  I did three rows of 6 overlapping slices, the center row moving the opposite direction.  Fancy!
  4. Cream the butter and brown sugar until crumbly and fluffy, about 2 minutes, beat in egg, then milk and vanilla.
  5. Combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a small bowl, then add to butter mixture and beat until combined.
  6. Drizzle honey evenly all over the arranged apples in the pan, as much or as little as you like.  Gently pour the cake batter over the apples and honey and spread until entire bottom of pan is evenly covered.
  7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and the apples are soft.
  8. After taking it out of the oven, let the cake cool for 5 minutes or so and invert the cake onto the serving platter.
  9. Serve warm if you can, but no matter what the temperature, definitely serve it with whipped cream!


Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

8 Sep

About a month ago, we had a Hawaiian Luau themed luncheon at work.  For it, a coworker bestowed upon me her beloved Grandmother’s secret family recipe for Pineapple Upside-Down Cake.  I was truly honored to be able to make it and I could tell immediately at looking through the ingredients that this cake was something special.  The cake was a big success at the Luau and I couldn’t wait to share the recipe with you except…it’s called “Grandmother’s secret family recipe” for a reason.  I was desperately trying to think of a way to share it, but, really, there must be integrity and honor amongst chefs, right?

I couldn’t leave you with nothing, so I’m including Cooks Illustrated’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, since their recipes are usually foolproof.  You’ll still be eating fantastic cake!  (If you promise not to tell anyone, I might suggest you think about adding bit of a three letter alcohol.  It’s not the most secret ingredient and not the one that adds the biggest special taste profile, so I feel okay sharing it).  Please note again, that the cake shown above is not the same recipe as below!  If you want a more traditional looking cake closer to what I made above than what CI suggests, make the caramel sauce, pour it into the cake pans, and arrange the maraschino cherries (first) and pineapple rings (second), then pour the cake batter over them.  Aloha!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Recipe from Cooks Illustrated

Pineapple Topping

  • 1 medium fresh pineapple (about 4 pounds), diced into 1/2 pieces (about 4 cups prepared fruit)
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (7 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), softened but still cool
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 egg white at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup whole milk at room temperature
  1. Lightly spray 9-inch round, 2-inch deep cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside.
  2. For the pineapple topping: Combine pineapple and brown sugar in 10-inch skillet; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally during first 5 minutes, until pineapple is translucent and has light brown hue, 15 to 18 minutes. Empty fruit and juices into mesh strainer or colander set over medium bowl. Return juices to skillet, leaving pineapple in strainer (you should have about 2 cups cooked fruit). Simmer juices over medium heat until thickened, beginning to darken, and mixture forms large bubbles, 6 to 8 minutes, adding any more juices released by fruit to skillet after about 4 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla; pour caramel mixture into prepared cake pan. Set aside while preparing cake. (Pineapple will continue to release liquid as it sits; do not add this liquid to already-reduced juice mixture.)
  3. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
  4. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to medium, add vanilla, and beat to combine; one at a time, add whole eggs then egg white, beating well and scraping down bowl after each addition. Reduce speed to low; add about one-third of flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add half of milk and beat until incorporated; repeat, adding half of remaining flour mixture and remaining milk, and finish with remaining flour. Give final stir with rubber spatula, scraping bottom and sides of bowl to ensure that batter is combined. Batter will be thick.
  5. To bake: Working quickly, distribute cooked pineapple in cake pan in even layer, gently pressing fruit into caramel. Using rubber spatula, drop mounds of batter over fruit, then spread batter over fruit and to sides of pan. Tap pan lightly against work surface to release any air bubbles. Bake until cake is golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes on wire rack, then place inverted serving platter over cake pan. Invert cake pan and platter together; lift off cake pan. Cool to room temperature, about 2 hours; then cut into pieces and serve.

Almond Bliss German Chocolate Cake

29 Aug

I’ve always been hesitant to make a German Chocolate Cake because they’re not really my favorite flavor combo for cake and, quite frankly, I don’t think they look very pretty.  This being an assignment for Project Pastry Queen, I plowed ahead, hoping against hope that I would be able to create a cake worthy of posting…and well…here I am, so it all worked out for the best!

Let me start out by saying something Big and Important: this is my new go-to chocolate cake recipe.  I can take or leave the coconut custard icing that makes it an official German Chocolate Cake because it’s just not my favorite type of icing for a cake.  This is no Devil’s Food Cake, but it’s the perfect every day chocolate cake–soft, moist, and full of strong chocolate flavor.  I can’t wait for the next time I need chocolate cupcakes or a cake for a party, because I know I won’t have to scour over recipes and hope that the recipe I choose turns out okay.  If you do like coconut, this is a slightly different filling recipe as it utilizes cream of coconut for an extra punch of flavor and almonds instead of pecans.  I did like it in the end and, while not my favorite, it’s certainly a great recipe to have in your box if you love German Chocolate Cake!

In an interesting tidbit for the morning, Rebecca shared that German Chocolate Cake isn’t actually from the country of Germany, but from Texas and named for the brand name “German” chocolate.  Who knew!

Notes: Again, I left out the chocolate chips.  1 3/4 cups stirred in at the end if you want them.  Rebecca also uses almonds in place of the typical pecans, but I’m sure you can substitute pecans back in if you would prefer.  You’ll need three 9″ cake pans, which was a surprise since I only had 2 pans.  Also, make sure you have plenty of eggs on hand–you’ll need a total of 9!

Almond Bliss German Chocolate Cake
Recipe from The Pastry Queen


Cake

  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Custard Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened cream of coconut (I found a bottle in the alcohol section next to the rum, since it’s used in pina coladas)
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  1. Place one baking rack 1/3 from the bottom of the oven and the second 2/3 from the bottom.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of three 9: cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter and dust with flour.
  2. Place the chopped chocolate into a small bowl and pour the boiling water over the chocolate.  Stir until it is melted completely into a smooth sauce.
  3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar on medium for 2 minutes.  Add the egg yolks and beat for another minute.
  4. In a bowl, add the buttermilk and baking soda, stirring until it dissolves.  The buttermilk will gently foam up and double in volume, so be sure your bowl is big enough.
  5. Add half the buttermilk mixture to the butter-sugar-egg yolk mixture, beat on low until incorporated, then add half of the flour, beat, then the rest of the buttermilk and the rest of the flour, beating after each addition.
  6. Using a spatula, stir in the salt, vanilla, and melted chocolate.  (Stir in chocolate chips, if using.)
  7. In a clean medium bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed, until soft peaks form.  Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter.
  8. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.
  9. Staggering the cake pans in the oven, put two on the top rack with lots of space in between, and the third on the bottom rack in the middle.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Keep an eye on them, as they could rise strangely (mine were most definitely lopsided) or the pans could finish baking at different times.
  10. After coming out of the oven, transfer pan to wire racks and after 5 minutes, take the cakes out of the pans and put them upside down directly on the wire racks (that should help them to even out if they rose unevenly).
  11. While the oven is still hot, spread the almonds evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast the almonds for 5 to 7 minutes until golden brown.
  12. Heat the milk, cream of coconut and butter in a saucepan over medium heat utnil the butter has completely melted.
  13. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until smooth.  Pour 1 tablespoon of the hot milk mixture into the whisked egg yolk mixture and whisk until fully incorporated.  Repeat two more times (we’re warming the egg yolks up, “tempering them”, so that when we add them to the milk they don’t immediately curdle up into scrambled eggs).
  14. Slowly pour the tempered yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture, which still is over medium heat, whisking constantly.  Whisk constantly for 7-10 minutes until the mixture thickens and looks spreadable.  This happened at exactly the 7 minute mark for me, but I kept going for a few more minutes just in case.  I would rather have slightly over done frosting than frosting that just dribbled down the sides of the cake!
  15. Stir the shredded coconut and the toasted almonds into the custard mixture.  Let the icing cool for at least 15 minutes.
  16. If your cake layers aren’t exactly even, as mine weren’t, you can take a serrated knife and cut the tops off so that they lay flat when stacked.  Bonus:  the tops you cut off are all yours to eat!
  17. Put one layer of cake on the plate, spread icing on top, and repeat with the other layers–I put the top layer on upside down so that the perfectly flat side was facing up.  It was a prettier surface for laying down icing on.  Do not frost the sides of the cake, and you’ll have a surprisingly beautiful specimen of a German Chocolate Cake!  I think leaving the sides clean goes a long way towards avoiding the sticky gloppy mess you usually see of German Chocolate Cakes.
  18. Rebecca suggests you wrap the cake well if you don’t plan to eat it within 3 hours.  I say, see how long it lasts!

Cappuccino Cheesecakes

22 Aug

First, a short programming note–my apologies for the missing post on Friday!  I was out of town and had set up a post to automatically publish on Friday morning but I missed a button somewhere and it didn’t get posted for you.  I’ll save it for later this week!  And on to our regularly scheduled programming…

Another entry for Project Pastry Queen, this is without a doubt my favorite recipe from the cookbook so far and possibly my new favorite cheesecake recipe. Granted, I’d never made cheesecake before this recipe, but I think these individual cheesecakes are perfect in every way. They’re small enough that you have automatic portion control. They’re not giant thick layers of cheesecake, but instead surprisingly thin–and surprisingly, the perfect amount. You’ll find yourself satisfied but without indulging in the thousands of calories you might with a normal sized slice. The crust is crunchy, chocolatey, and buttery and is in perfect ratio to the filling. You can’t beat the cappuccino-chocolate flavor combination and the silky chocolate ganache on top is just to die for!

Long story short: do not pass go, do not collect $200. Go directly to the kitchen and make these cheesecakes!

Note: I went to a few different fancy food stores looking for the tins for this recipe before finding exactly what I needed at my local big grocery store.  The tins you want are just the cheap aluminum foil pans, about 5″ across.  The ones I found came in a pack of 3, with big clear plastic lids for each tin (VERY handy for transporting to work the next day for our picnic!) and were labeled “pot pie pans”. 

Also, my true confession for this week from yours truly: I don’t actually like chocolate chips in desserts unless they’re melted and gooey in chocolate chip cookies.  Even then, I go for the cookies with fewer chips.  As such, I left the chocolate chips called for in this recipe and didn’t miss them one bit.  I think they would have interfered with the rich, smooth texture and the ganache more than makes up for any potential lack of chocolate. If you want to add them, stir 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips into the filling batter just before baking.

Cappuccino Cheesecakes
Makes 8 Individual Cheesecakes
Adapted from The Pastry Queen

Crust

  • 1 package (16 oz) Oreos
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted

Filling

  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs

Ganache

  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate (my suggestion: 1 bar of Ghiradelli)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put the cookies in a food processor and pulse until all the cookies are now just crumbs.  Pour the melted butter in and pulse until butter is fully combined.
  2. Press the cookie-butter mixture into the bottom and about an inch up the sides of the pans.  There should be just enough cookie mixture for the 8 tins.  Set tins aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine espresso powder with the boiling water and mix.
  4. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, combine the cream cheese, sugar, salt and coffee mixture.  Add the eggs all at once and beat on medium about 1 minute.
  5. Pour the cream cheese mixture over the chocolate crusts.  I think I used a 1/3 measuring cup and did a scoop of batter for each tin.  You want to leave just a little space between the top of the batter and the top of the crust because you need room for the ganache to sit on top later.
  6. Bake the cakes for 35 minutes until the filling is set.  Cool for 20 minutes while you make the ganache.
  7. Now I’m going to tell you a story right here in the middle of the instructions.  There once was an impatient baker named Emily, who ruined her ganache at 10:30 at night and had to go buy another chocolate bar to finish her recipe before taking it to work the next morning for a picnic.  Do not be as impatient as Emily!  Basically, I thought I knew what I was doing, heated the milk too hot and dumped the chocolate into the milk instead of what the instructions said.  I ended up with a clumpy greasy mess instead of the silky gorgeous ganache I was supposed to have.  Second try was beautiful, because I followed the instructions.
  8. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and put them in a medium bowl.
  9. Heat the cream in a small sauce pan until it is hot and just beginning to steam.
  10. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in the bowl and stir until it is completely melted.
  11. Stir in corn syrup and vanilla.  Let cool for a few minutes.
  12. Using a normal spoon, I carefully poured a couple of spoonfuls of ganache over each cheesecake.  Gently tilt the tins back and forth and around to make sure the ganache spreads and covers the whole top so that no cheesecake is showing through the top or around the edges.
  13. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.
  14. You can pop the cheesecakes out of their tins to serve or, as I did, cut them into 4 wedges and let people take a wedge as they please.

Sour Cream Blackberry Pie Bars

8 Aug


I’ve only been blogging for a few months but I followed various food blogs for a long time before starting my own.  Even so, there are so many facets to the food blogging world that I’m only now being introduced to.  One of those facets is the Project Pastry Queen, a group of extraordinary bloggers who are baking their way through Rebecca Rather’s The Pastry Queen, and a group I am pleased to say I am joining!  Each week one of the members chooses a recipe, we all give it a shot and share the hopefully fabulous results with you.

I received my copy of the cookbook last week and this week’s challenge for the group was inconveniently a brownie recipe…there’s still a batch of brownies sitting on my counter slowly disappearing, so for the sake of my waistline, I dove into Rebecca’s recipe collection with one I knew I could pass off to the boyfriend who would happily devour it all himself.  Strategy is everything, right?

This recipe falls somewhere between a pie, a cobbler, and a cake.  If you don’t want to wait for it to cool so you can cut it into bars, Rebecca suggests you can just spoon it out of the pan warm like a cobbler.  Either way sounds good to me!



Sour Cream Blackberry Pie Bars
Recipe from The Pastry Queen

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 16-oz bags of frozen blackberries, defrosted and drained
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9×13″ baking pan with butter or spray.  Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse for about 45 seconds until fully combined.  Cut butter into 1/2″ cubes and drop into the flour mixture.  Pulse the butter-flour mixture it looks crumbly.  If you don’t have a food processor, you can cut the butter in using two knives, a pastry cutter, or an electric stand mixer.
  2. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crumbly mixture to use as the topping.  Press the rest of the crumbly mixture evenly into the greased baking pan (could pie crust ever get any easier??).
  3. Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes until it is golden brown.  Note: my crust barely browned on top but it turns out it was dark brown on the bottom and very crunchy.  Daniel said it was the perfect crunchy texture, so just be aware that you don’t need to get it super browned on top.
  4. Let the crust cool for at least 10 minutes and in the meantime…
  5. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl, add sugar and whisk until completely combined.  Add sour cream (whisk), flour and salt (whisk again).  Gently fold the blackberries into the mixture.
  6. Pour the blackberry mixture over the baked crust and make sure it is spread into the corners evenly.  Sprinkle the reserved crumbles evenly across the top of the blackberry mixture–I thought it would be a pretty light sprinkling, but it ended up being a complete crust and you couldn’t see any of the blackberry mixture underneath.
  7. Bake for 45-55 minutes until the top is lightly browned.  Let cool for at least 1 hour if you want to cut it into bars.  If you want to spoon it out like a cobbler, let it cool for about 30 minutes or as long as you can stand it!

I think whipped cream was a great compliment to this recipe.  For about 1 1/2 cups of whipped cream, you’ll need 3/4 cup of chilled heavy cream, 3/4 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a chilled bowl is suggested.  Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, medium speed for about 30 seconds, and then kick it up to high speed until it’s the consistency you want it. (Cooks Illustrated, March 2005)

Strawberry Genoise

1 Aug

I don’t know about where you are, but here in California it’s strawberry season with a vengeance!  Strawberries that are normally $4 a box are now just 88 cents a box and the smell of those ripe berries hit you in the face as soon as those sliding grocery store doors open.  That said, I got my strawberries for the week on the way back from the Gilroy Garlic Festival this weekend.  There are eleventy million farm stands along the road from LA up north–fresh corn, 6 ears for $1 and a half a flat of strawberries (SIX of those little green plastic fruit baskets) for only $5!!  Besides, it’s such a fun (and healthy! and economical!) gesture to buy directly from the actual farm that grew and cared for the food you’re eating.

With the over-abundance of strawberries, I knew I’d have to make something special and out of the ordinary this year (although if I said I could ever get tired of strawberry shortcake, I’d be lying).  Enter: Strawberry Genoise, a cake technique I had yet to try.  There is no leavening in the cake, so any height you get out of it is strictly from how much air you whip into the eggs.  I admit, my cake wasn’t as tall as I had hoped, but it made up for it in being a light, airy sponge cake that wasn’t too sweet–it certainly lets the strawberries shine!

Strawberry Genoise with Whipped Cream
adapted from Williams Sonoma

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar/confectioners sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced into chunks
  • halved strawberries for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon kirsch*

*note: Kirsch is unfiltered cherry brandy that is very expensive to purchase.  I chose to forgo it.  However, David Lebovitz, pastry chef extraordinaire, has very strong opinions on kirsch, naming it the most important ingredient in his dessert repertoire after the obligatory flour, eggs, butter and sugar.  Read more about his thoughts on kirsch here.  I’ll leave it up to you whether or not to include it.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line the bottom a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper.  I did this by placing the pan on a square of parchment paper, tracing around it, and cutting the circle out.  Also fill a large pot with an inch or two of water and set simmering.
  2. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the first 1/2 cup of sugar and the eggs.  Set the bowl over the pot of simmering water and whisk the mixture gently until it reads 140 degrees on your instant read thermometer, which should only take 5 minutes or so (this apparently helps the eggs to whip up better).
  3. Once it reaches 140 degrees, take the bowl off the heat and beat the mixture on high until it is nearly tripled in volume, which took me almost 10 minutes with my hand mixer.
  4. Sift 1/2 the flour over the mixture and gently fold it in.  Repeat with the other 1/2 of the flour, gently folding it in.
  5. Gently mix a dollop of the whipped mixture into the bowl of melted butter, then pour that into the large bowl of whipped good stuff and fold it gently in as well.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake until the top of the cake is  browned.  The original instructions say 20 minutes but I took mine out closer to 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.
  7. Put the last 1/4 cup of sugar and the 1/4 cup of water into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat.  Stir constantly until the sugar is fully dissolved, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Mix in the kirsch after its cooled, if you choose to use it.  (Without the kirsch, this is called “simple syrup”, great for mixed drinks so you don’t have sugar granules pooled at the bottom of your drink.)
  8. Add the heavy cream and confectioners sugar to a large bowl, whip to soft peaks.  Remember that this will serve as the frosting, so if its too runny, it will run right off the cake.
  9. Slice the strawberries–I went for chunks to give the filling some good body, but you can cut the strawberries into slices so that they lay flat between the slices.  Mix about 1/4 -1/3 of the whipped cream into the bowl of strawberries.
  10. Once the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool on a wire rack, run a knife around the edge to loosen it from the pan, then flip it out and slice it in half so that you have two flat cake rounds.
  11. Take the top layer and invert it on the cake plate so the crumby cut side is facing up.  Brush the cut surface with 1/2 of the sugar (and kirsch) syrup.  Add the strawberry-whipped cream mixture on top and spread it around evenly on the cake.
  12. Add the remaining layer of cake on top, making sure the cut face is, again, facing upward.  Brush the remaining 1/2 of the sugar syrup over the surface.  “Frost” the cake with the whipped cream, spreading it evenly over the top and sides of the cake.
  13. Decorate as you please with strawberry slices, halves, however you choose to garnish!
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