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Carrot Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

I usually gravitate toward anything chocolate, but I feel that Easter dessert warrants something a bit different.  Two years ago, I made Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake, and last year I made this Strawberry Mirror Cake.  This year we had a small Easter celebration with my parents, and since carrot cake is a family favorite, I wanted to make it for dessert.  I’ve tried several carrot cake recipes, and this recipe remains my favorite for a classic carrot cake, and I loved the Tropical Carrot Cake version I made last year.  There was, however, one more version that I wanted to try.  The carrot cake from the Sweet Melissa Baking Book is very similar to the classic carrot cake recipe I use, but I was really excited to try the orange variation of the cream cheese frosting.

This was a great variation!  The orange was a great twist on classic cream cheese frosting.  It added the right amount of sweetness to the usually tangy cream cheese.  The cake itself was also delicious.  It was a simple, no-frills carrot cake and was very moist and flavorful.  What a great choice to celebrate Easter!  I cut the recipe in half and baked it in two 6-inch pans since it was just for four of us.  If you choose to scale back the recipe like I did, 30-35 minutes is a good estimate for the baking time.

Carrot Cake with Fresh Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: The Sweet Melissa Baking Book by Melissa Murphy

Ingredients

For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound carrots, grated medium fine
3/4 cup walnut pieces, coarsely chopped

For the fresh orange cream cheese frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Zest of 1 orange
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softene
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Procedure

Before you start
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and flour two 8×2-inch round cake pans. Line each pan with an 8-inch round of parchment paper.

To make the cake

1. in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs at high speed until light and frothy, about 1 minute. Decrease the speed to medium and add the oil, sugar, and salt, and mix until just combined. Decrease the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

3. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the carrots and walnuts.

4. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Spin the pans to level the batter. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a rack to cool for 20 minutes before turning the layers out onto the rack. Cool completely before filling or frosting.

To make the frosting
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and zest. Start on low speed and then increase to medium-high speed and beat until smooth, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until just fluffy and smooth, about 45 seconds more. Add the vanilla and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat.

To complete the cake

1. Cut 4 strips of wax or parchment paper about 12 inches long by 3 inches wide. Place the bottom cake layer trimmed side up on your serving plate. Tuck the wax paper under the edges of your cake on all sides. Later, after frosting the cake, you can pull away the stripes to reveal a nice clean serving plate.

2. Using a metal offset spatula, spread the filling across the top of the layer, but leave about 1/2 inch uncovered around the outside edges. (This leaves room for the filling to be squished down but to stay inside the cake.)

3. Place the second layer trimmed side down on top of the filling and press down gently with your hands.

4. Apply a light, even layer of frosting on all sides of the cake. Place the cake in the refrigerator to chill for a good 30 minutes.

5. After the crumb coat has chilled, smooth on your final layer of frosting.

The cake keeps in a cake saver in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. It tastes great eaten at room temperature or chilled.

Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake (TWD)

Happy 2nd birthday to Tuesdays with Dorie!  It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years and to see how far this group has come.  I’ve been a part of this group since almost the very beginning- my first recipe was the Black and White Cake posted on February 5, 2008.  I hadn’t been blogging very long at that point and I think that joining TWD was a key factor and motivator in keeping up my blog.  It has also given me the opportunity to make things I might not otherwise make and it gave an excuse to make things I wanted to make 🙂  This week we had a choice of what to make, and I thought it would be appropriate to make the cake to celebrate the occasion.  I made this cake to take to my grandmother’s house when we celebrated Christmas with my dad’s family.  It was also right before my uncle’s birthday, so this cake served two purposes.

This was a really great cake.  I had every intention of decorating it more elaborately, but I was very short on time the night before and at the last minute I just sprinkled crushed peppermints on top.  This gave the cake a hint of peppermint flavor.  The cake itself was very chocolaty and moist, but the frosting was really incredible!  I love the way the brown sugar and chocolate worked together.  This will probably be a go-to chocolate frosting for me in the future.

Many thanks to Laurie for starting such a great group, and to Dorie for giving us so many wonderful recipes to make and for being supportive of our group.  And as always, you can go to the TWD blog!

I thought I would list some of my favorite recipes we’ve made over the past two years:

Chipster-Topped Brownies– a great brownie variation that combines a traditional brownie and chocolate chip cookie dough- yum!

Banana Cream Pie– with the delicious custard, this pie was hard to beat!

Devil’s Food White Out Cake– the cover cake, and one of my favorite cakes of all time

Chocolate Peanut Butter Torte– for the chocolate and peanut butter lover, this is the ultimate dessert!

Brioche Raisin Snails– the brioche from this recipe is my favorite for cinnamon rolls, and my husband loves when I make it for him

Snickery Squares– my pick for TWD, and a great bar recipe using chocolate, peanuts, and dulce de leche

Buche de Noel (Yule Log)

I have been wanting to make this for a long, long time.  It’s really only appropriate around Christmas, so there  isn’t a whole lot of time to make it.  Every year I would talk about how I wanted to make a yule log, but I just never got around to it.  This year, I decided to make it one of my top priorities!

I’ve never made a jellyroll style cake before, and I was always intrigued by the way they roll up and if it would be hard to do.  I was worried that the cake would split, but since you roll it up using the towel right after it comes out of the oven, it works out well.  I was especially concerned about how this would work using gluten free flour, but it didn’t make a bit of difference.  I did this one night and then made the syrup, buttercream, and mushrooms the next afternoon.  The syrup and frosting were very simple, but I was so convinced that the mushrooms would be difficult.

The mushrooms actually turned out to be quite easy!  You just pipe them on a baking sheet (I used a #5 tip because I didn’t have the #6 tip called for in the recipe), let them bake for 50-55 minutes, and then put the stems and bases together.  I used the tip of a steak knife to chip away a small hole in the base, then used the meringue to glue the stem in.  Overall, this was a less complicated dessert than I anticipated, but a very fun one to make!  I was so happy to finally be able to make this and I’m so happy with the way it turned out.  It was devoured in a hurry (once people stopped being afraid to cut it!).  This would be a great dessert to make for Christmas dinner or another special occasion this holiday season!

Buche de Noel (Yule Log)
Source: Williams Sonoma Desserts, also found on their website (I also realized after deciding on this particular recipe that this was the same recipe the Daring Bakers made in December 2007)

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • Unsalted butter for greasing
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Confectioners sugar for dusting

For the syrup:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. dark rum or coffee-flavored liqueur

For the frosting:

  • 10 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

For the meringue mushrooms:

  • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting
  • Chocolate curls for garnish
  • Confectioners sugar for garnish

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease a 15 1/2-by-10 1/2-inch rimmed baking sheet and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the paper and the pan sides.

To make the cake, in a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until blended. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the eggs until pale and thick, about 3 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and vanilla and continue beating until tripled in volume, about 3 minutes more. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the eggs and, using a rubber spatula, fold gently until just blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until the cake springs back when lightly touched, 13 to 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, lay a clean kitchen towel on the counter and sift confectioners sugar generously onto it, covering it evenly. When the cake is ready, remove it from the oven and immediately run a knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake. Holding the cake in place, invert the pan onto the prepared towel. Lift off the pan and carefully peel off the paper. Beginning on a long edge, roll up the cake and towel together. Set on a wire rack and let cool.

To make the syrup, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water and granulated sugar and stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and remove from the heat. Stir in the rum and set aside to cool to room temperature.

To make the frosting, combine the chocolate and cream in the top pan of a double boiler. Set the pan over but not touching barely simmering water in the bottom pan and melt the chocolate, then whisk until well blended. Remove the bowl from the heat and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 2 hours. To speed this process, use an ice bath (see headnote above). When the mixture is cold, add the vanilla and salt. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the chocolate mixture briefly until firm enough to hold a soft dollop. The mixture will continue to firm up as it sits.

To make the meringue mushrooms, preheat the oven to 225°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Have ready a pastry bag fitted with a small (no. 6) plain tip.

In a bowl, using a mixer on medium-low speed, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until very foamy. Slowly add the granulated sugar while beating. Increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Continue until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Sift the confectioners sugar over the whites and, using a rubber spatula, fold in until well blended.

Scoop the mixture into the bag. On 1 baking sheet, pipe 48 stems, each 1/2 inch wide at the base and tapering off to a point at the top, 3D4 inch tall, and spaced about 1/2 inch apart. On the other sheet, pipe 48 mounds for the tops, each about 1 1/4 inches wide and 3D4 inch high, also spaced 1/2 inch apart. With a damp fingertip, gently smooth any pointy tips. Dust with cocoa. Reserve the remaining meringue.

Bake until dry and firm enough to lift off the paper, 50 to 55 minutes. Set the pans on the counter and turn the mounds flat side up. With the tip of a knife, carefully make a small hole in the flat side of each mound. Pipe small dabs of the remaining meringue into the holes and insert the stems tip first. Return to the oven until completely dry, about 15 minutes more. Let cool completely on the baking sheets.

To assemble the bûche, unroll the cake and brush it liberally with the cooled syrup. Using an icing spatula, spread one-third of the frosting over the cake. Gently reroll the cake and place, seam side down, on a cutting board. Frost the top and sides of the roll with the remaining frosting, using long, rough strokes. Using a serrated knife, trim each end on a sharp angle.

Transfer the cake to a serving plate and garnish with the chocolate curls, a sifting of confectioners sugar and the meringue mushrooms. Pass the remaining meringue mushrooms at the table for garnishing individual servings. Serves 12 to 16.

Mississippi Mud Cake

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I used to make Mississippi Mud Cake quite a bit when I was in college, before I really got into baking.  I had a recipe from Southern Living that I tried for Thanksgiving dessert one year and made it a few times afterward, but not again until now.  I was in the mood for baking something rich, and one of my friends recently mentioned wanting Mississippi Mud Cake, so I decided this would be it.  It’s pretty simple to make.  The base is basically a brownie, and these are really more like marshmallow brownies rather than cake.  The recipe says to melt the marshmallows on top of the cake after taking it out of the oven and then top it with the frosting.  I could just imagine that spreading the frosting over the marshmallows would be a huge mess, so I decided to frost it, and then place it in the oven to brown the marshmallows.  That seemed to work well.  It’s not a pretty dessert, but it’s supposed to be messy and fun!  These were a huge hit and definitely satisfied the craving for something rich and chocoalty.  The recipe was written in weighted measurements, which I would recommend using!  Those measurements are much more accurate, and it’s much easier in the process.

Mississippi Mud Cake
Source: adapted from Tea and Wheaten Bread

Cake

1 cup (2 sticks) butter cut into big chunks
2 1/2 ounces cocoa powder
4 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
14 oz sugar
9oz plain flour
pinch salt
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts ( I didn’t use these)

Frosting

1lb icing sugar
2 1/2 oz cocoa powder
½ cup (1 stick)  butter
125mls milk or evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (10.5-ounce) bag mini marshmallows

To Make The Cake

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour 13 x 9 pan (I lined it with foil).

In a medium saucepan melt the butter and the cocoa over a medium heat stirring now an dagain until the butter is melted and the mixture is well combined about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the beaten egg, vanilla sugar, flour, salt, and nuts.

Beat with a wooden spoon until the batter is well combined and smooth

Quickly pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the top is springy to touch and is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan

Frosting

Prepare this while the cake is baking so you will be ready to pour it over the hot cake.

In a medium bowl sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder and combine well.

Add the melted butter milk and vanilla.

Mix well

Set aside until the cake is done.

Pour frosting over warm cake.  Top with marshmallows, and then return to the oven for about 10 minutes, until marshmallows are browned.
Cut into small squares.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake

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I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas by Marcel Desaulniers has so many drool-worthy recipes that when I look through it, I want to make almost everything.  I started looking through it again recently, and I saw this recipe that I bookmarked last year to make.  I thought it looked like the perfect recipe to make one night.  It’s an easy recipe, just like a quick bread, and took very little time to prepare.  After preparing the batter, you pour it into the pan and then sprinkle the walnuts and chocolate chips on top.  This was a great step and was key in creating a crunchy topping.  This cake was incredibly moist and flavorful.  I love the combination of oatmeal and chocolate together.  This would be a great dessert to take to a holiday potluck, and would be even better with a scoop of ice cream on the side!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cake
Source: I’m Dreaming of a Chocolate Christmas by Marcel Desaulniers

8 tablespoons (1 stick) plus ½ tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 ¾ cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup quick oats

1 ¾ cups boiling water

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar

3 large eggs, whisked together

1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

¾ cup walnut halves, toasted and coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat a 13x9x2-inch nonstick baking pan with ½ tablespoon of the melted butter (I just used PAM).  Dust the pan with the tablespoon of flour and shake out any excess.

In a sifter, combine the remaining 1 ¾ cups flour, the cocoa, baking soda, and salt.  Sift onto a large piece of parchment or wax paper.

Place the oats in a large heatproof bowl.  Pour the boiling water over the oats and let stand for 10 minutes before adding the sugars, eggs, and remaining 8 tablespoons melted butter.  Stir with a rubber spatula until combined.  Add the dry ingredients, and use a rubber spatula to fold the ingredients until combined.  Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Combine the remaining ½ cup chocolate chips and the walnuts in a small bowl.  Evenly sprinkle the chocolate chips and walnuts over the top of the batter.

Bake on the center rack of the oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through the baking time.

Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan for 20 minutes at room temperature.  Gently turn the cake out onto a cutting board, then turn the cake chocolate chip-nut topping side up (this is easier if you use a utility turner or wide spatula).  Cool for an additional 10 minutes before serving.

 

All-in-One Holiday Bundt Cake (TWD)

Just like last year’s Thanksgiving Twofer Pie, Dorie has once again proved that you can have the best of both worlds.  Can’t choose between pecan pie and pumpkin pie for dessert?  Make a pie that has both!  This year, we baked a dessert that combines fall’s favorite spice cakes: pumpkin, apple, and cranberry.  You have all three in one delicious cake.  This cake is full of flavor, spice, and had just the right amount of moistness thanks to the pumpkin and apples.  Some TWD members reported difficulty getting the cake out of the pan, but I followed Jaime’s advice and greased and floured my pan.  I love the punch of color the cranberries give this cake, and the flavors are well balanced.  This would be a great snack to have around when you have Thanksgiving guests! Britin chose the recipe, but won’t have it posted until next Tuesday, so you can get the recipe here.  For the month of November, we are not baking in any particular order, so you can look at the TWD blog to see some more November recipes- there’s some variety this week!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake

DSC_2247

Everyone knows that I’m a big fan of chocolate and peanut butter, and I was in the mood to bake with it one night.  I also wanted to try a chocolate-peanut butter frosting.  I’ve tried and loved a peanut butter frosting recipe, but I wanted to try a recipe where they were together.  I’ve had this cake bookmarked for a long time now, and I thought it would be the perfect cake to pair with this frosting.  This cake had a strong peanut butter flavor that was just right.  The peanut butter made it nice and moist.  The recipe says to use three 9×2-inch pans, but there is no way I could have put this batter into three pans.  I used 2 pans and the cake was still fairly thin.  If you want a thick three-layer cake, I would suggest doubling the recipe.  The cake came out just fine in two layers, though, so you can do it either way. The frosting was amazing.  It had the perfect balance between chocolate and peanut butter.   I will definitely be using this recipe again!  This was just what I was looking for!

Peanut Butter Peanut Butter Chip Cake
Source: Death By Chocolate Cake via Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar
3 ounces creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup peanut butter chips or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F.

Grease two 9 x 1 1/2 inch pans.  Line your bottoms with parchment. Set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Mix together brown sugar, peanut butter and butter for two minutes. Add egg and egg yolk and mix for another 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and mix for another minute.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix until incorporated about 20 seconds. Then add the sour cream, mixing again for 20 seconds. Gradually add the remaining flour mixture.  Add the hot water in a slow, steady stream and mix on low to combine, about 30 seconds. Add the vanilla and mix for another 10 seconds. Add the peanut butter chips and use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the ingredients until thoroughly combined.

Divide the cake batter into the prepared pans, spreading it evenly. Bake for about 22 minutes. If you have 4 inch diameter tart pans like I used, it takes the same amount of time to bake the cake, if not a few more minutes. Use a knife to see if it is done.

Frost tops and sides of cake with frosting.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting
Source: adapted from CD Kitchen

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup cocoa
16 ounces powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup peanut butter

Directions:

Combine butter, milk, and cocoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add remaining ingredients; beat at medium speed of an electric mixer until smooth.

Apple Spice Cake

DSC_2311

I love baking with apples, and think that they are really good in cakes.  The apples give the cake a lot of moisture and add a great depth of flavor, especially with spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg.  Bon Appetit’s October 2009 issue had several apple desserts, and I knew this would be worth trying.  It’s funny how foods like apples, carrots, and zucchini are very nutritious on their own, but we like to make them less healthy by putting them in cake and adding cream cheese frosting to them 🙂  This was a truly wonderful cake.  It wasn’t too sweet, and the spices enhanced the flavor of the cake.  It got the extra touch of sweetness from the cream cheese frosting.  It also helped that the frosting was only in the layers and not all over the sides.  The original recipe just called for a two-layer cake, but I decided that it would make a much better presentation with four layers, so I split them, but still used the same amount of frosting.  I also used walnuts instead of pecans.  This cake was perfectly moist and flavorful, and was a big hit when I served it.  It’s the perfect cake for a fall get-together!

Apple Spice Cake
Source: Bon Appetit October 2009, also available on epicurious.com

Cake:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon, apple brandy, or rum (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 medium Fuji or Gala apples (13 to 14 ounces total), peeled, halved, cored, cut into 1/3-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans (about 6 ounces)

Frosting:

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cups powdered sugar (measured, then sifted)
  • Coarsely chopped toasted pecans (for garnish)
  • Special equipment: 2 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high sides
  • For cake:
    Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch high sides. Line bottom of each pan with parchment paper round. Whisk first 7 ingredients in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until smooth. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla, then bourbon, if desired (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture to egg mixture in 3 additions alternately with applesauce in 2 additions, beating until blended after each addition. Stir in apples and pecans. Divide batter between cake pans; smooth tops.
  • Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of each comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 15 minutes. Cut around pan sides to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks; peel off parchment paper. Place another rack atop 1 cake and invert again so that cake is rounded side up. Repeat with second cake. Cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap each cake in plastic and stoer at room temperature.
  • For frosting:
    Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla extract and pinch of salt. Gradually add powdered sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Using long serrated knife, trim off rounded tops of cakes to make level; brush off any loose crumbs. Transfer 1 cake to platter, trimmed side up. Drop half of frosting (about 11/2 cups) by spoonfuls atop cake. Spread frosting evenly to edges of cake. Top with second cake, trimmed side down. Drop remaining frosting by spoonfuls onto top of cake, leaving sides of cake plain. Spread frosting to top edges of cake, swirling and creating peaks, if desired. Sprinkle with pecans. Let cake stand at room temperature 1 hour to allow frosting to set slightly. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 2 hours before serving.

Lemon Meringue Cake

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Over the past four years, David and I have been very active in the young adults group at our church.  This group is so special to us, and we have met some of our very best friends there.  We recently found out that the priest who is in charge of our group is leaving to pursue opportunities in another church.  She was the one who really got our group started, and David and I have been there since the beginning.  She even traveled to our hometown to perform our wedding in May 2008.  So, as you can tell, we were sad to see her go.  For her last Wednesday night meeting, I asked her to choose the dessert.  The only thing she told me was peanut butter cookies and anything fruity or lemon.  I immediately thought of this cake.  It’s definitely something to be saved for a special occasion such as this.

DSC_2352

It was a pretty big project, but it was not particularly difficult.  It just required organization.  I made the chiffon cake layers on night, and the rest of it the next day.  The cake layers were very light and fluffy, almost like angel food cake.  The lemon cream was very similar to the lemon cream used for the Lemon Tart I made for TWD last year.  I remember having problems getting the cream to the correct temperature, but Bridget suggested using a stainless steel bowl.  I tried that this time, and it worked perfectly.  Thank goodness I found a way to make this cream easier!  The caramel seemed out of place at first, but it added the right amount of sweetness to the cake.  Next time I would actually double the caramel to take out some of the tartness of the lemon.  One thing I did change was the meringue.  I was short on time and wasn’t able to spend the time making the meringue in the original recipe, so I used the same recipe used in this lime pie. Even though this cake was a lot of work, it was worth it for the occasion and everyone really enjoyed it.

I’m also submitting this to Livestrong with a Taste of Yellow Day, hosted at Winos and Foodies.  It’s so important to do everything you can to try and prevent cancer, and to support those whose lives have been affected.  I am thankful for the people I know who have survived, especially my younger sister Amanda, who had leukemia as a child.

Lemon Meringue Cake (from Tartine, by Elisabeth Pruett and Chad Robertson, as seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles)

Makes a 10-inch round cake

I made ⅓ of this recipe and divided the batter between two 6-inch pans. I cut each layer in half to create 4 even layers. Mark has the recipe amounts for an 8-inch cake.

Chiffon Cake:
2¼ cups (11.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1½ cups (10.5 ounces) sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
6 large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ cup water
¼ cup lemon juice
1½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
10 large egg whites, at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 325F. Line the bottom of a 10-inch cake or springform pan with 3-inch sides with parchment paper cut to fit exactly; don’t grease the pan.

Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add 1¼ cups (8.75 ounces) of the sugar and the salt and whisk to combine. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Make a well in the flour, add the yolk mixture, and then whisk thoroughly and quickly for about 1 minutes until very smooth.

In another large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and beat on medium-high speed until it holds soft peaks. Add the remaining ¼ cup (1.75 ounces) sugar slowly while beating on medium-high speed until the whites hold firm, shiny peaks. Add a third of the egg whites and fold into the yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in the rest of the whites until just combined.

Pour the batter into the pan, smoothing the top if necessary. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Once completely cool, run a thin knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the cake an then release and lift off the pan sides. Invert the cake and peel off the parchment.

Caramel:
⅔ cup heavy cream
¼ vanilla bean
1¼ cup (8.5 ounces) sugar
¼ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¾ teaspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pour the cream into a small, heavy saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape the seeds from the pod halves into the milk. Place over medium-high heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low to keep the cream warm.

In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, salt, and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then cook, without stirring, until the mixture is amber colored, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat.

The mixture will continue to cook off the heat and become darker, so make sure to have your cream close by. Carefully and slowly add the cream to the sugar syrup. The mixture will boil vigorously at first. Let the mixture simmer down, and then whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice. Let cool for about 10 minutes.

Cut the butter into 1-inch chunks and add to the caramel one at a time, whisking constantly after each addition. Then whisk the caramel periodically as it continues to cool.

Lemon Cream:
½ cup + 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 egg yolk
¾ cup (6 ounces) sugar
pinch salt
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) unsalted butter

In a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the lemon juice, eggs, yolk, sugar, and salt (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Whisk them together constantly until very thick, or 80°C (180°F) on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat and let it cool down until warm to touch (60°C or 140°F on a thermometer). Place the lemon cream in a blender and with the motor running, add the butter in small pieces. Allow to cool completely. (You may refrigerate it, but allow to come to cool room temperature before using.)

Lemon Syrup:
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup (2.5 ouncs) sugar
⅓ cup lemon juice

In a nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Transfer to a cool bowl, let cool for a bit, then chill for half an hour. Stir in the lemon juice.

Assembly:
Split the chiffon cake horizontally into four equal layers. Place one layer on your serving plate (which I lined with wax paper around to cake) and moisten evenly with ¼ of the lemon syrup. Spread ⅓ of the caramel over the cake, then ⅓ of the lemon cream. Repeat with 2 more layers, using up the remaining caramel and lemon cream. Top with the fourth cake layer and moisten with the remaining lemon syrup. Cover the cake completely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.

Swiss Meringue:
7 egg whites
1¾ cup (12.25 ounces) sugar
pinch of salt

In a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt and whisk until the whites are hot to the touch, about 120F, about 5 minutes. Beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick and holds stiff, glossy peaks.

Unmold the cake and spread the meringue all over. Use a spatula or a spoon to create dramatic swirls. Using a propane torch if available, scorch the meringue, blackening the tips and swirls.

Blueberry-Lime Pound Cake

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The end of summer is approaching quickly, and I wanted to make one more summery dessert before we say goodbye to fresh fruit and welcome pumpkin, squash, and other fall flavors.  I love baking with blueberries.  I’ve seen the blueberry-lemon combination many times, but I thought the idea of blueberry-lime sounded really good, so I wanted to try it.  I love pound cakes because they are so simple to put together but they make incredible desserts.  I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to baking one night, so this was a perfect choice.

The blueberry-lime combination was incredible!  This was a great cake.  It was moist and full of flavor.  It did take on the longer end of the baking time, and I was worried that it might affect the texture, but it was just fine.  I really liked the glaze.  It added a nice touch to the cake and dressed it up a bit.  It was a big hit, and David ended up eating several pieces that night!  It was gone very quickly, and I didn’t have any left to take home.  This was a great way to say goodbye to summer and enjoy a fruit dessert one more time.

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Blueberry-Lime Pound Cake
Source: Use Real Butter

cake
8 oz. unsalted butter, softened (more for buttering the pan)
10.5 oz. (2 1/3 cups) all-purpose flour (more for the pan)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder (1/2 tsp @8500 feet)
1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp table salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsps lime zest, finely grated
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
13 oz. (2 1/2 cups) blueberries, room temperature, washed and drained on towels

glaze
4 oz. (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsps lime juice, fresh (more as needed)

Cake: Place rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl. Pulse the sugar and lime zest together in a food processor about 20 times until well blended. Beat the butter and cream cheese together on medium speed for about a minute until it is smooth. Add the lime sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (1-2 minutes). While the mixer is running, add the eggs one at a time making sure to mix well after each addition and scraping down the bowl. Beat in the lone egg yolk and mix everything together on low speed. Slowly add the flour mixture. Scrape the bowl down and beat on medium speed for 20 seconds and then gently fold in the blueberries. Pour batter into bundt pan and smooth the top. Tap the pan on the counter to remove air pockets and bake for 50-55 minutes or until it passes the clean toothpick test. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes and invert the cake. Let cool completely.

Glaze: Whisk the powdered sugar and lime juice together until smooth. It should be just thin enough to pour. If too thin, add more sugar, if too thick, add more juice. Pour over the cooled cake and let the glaze set before serving.