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Posts Tagged ‘Dessert’

I did it. I made my sister and (now) brother in-laws wedding cake (two months ago now!). I am both pleased and surprised to say that I didn’t run into too many issues! That can probably be attributed to beginners luck, a healthy dose of research, and the fact that I kept the cake very simple. As I mentioned in the post about Catherine’s bridal shower, I made a practice cake. This helped me work out a few issues related to the frosting and give me the confidence to succeed on the wedding day! Without further ado here is some of my documentation of the process….

I under estimated how busy we would all be before the wedding–dropping wedding favors off, picking up THE wedding dress, entertaining family and just enjoying the festivities. Here is what my timeline looked like:

Thursday:

  •  Grocery shop
  • Bake cakes, two 10X2 inch and 1 8 X 3 inch
  •  Refrigerate overnight

 Friday:

  • Make Swiss butter cream frosting
  • Frost and stack cakes
  • Cover with fondant
  • Pick up flowers from florist

Saturday AM:

  • Place flowers on top of cake
  • Deliver cake to wedding reception venue
  • Get ready for the wedding!

I used this recipe to make a coconut cake. This makes a very decadent and moist cake. It was to die for, if I do say so myself. I had to double the recipe in order to make enough cake. Let me tell you, I think I ended up using almost every bowl in my parent’s kitchen—I was shocked how much batter it took!

Line your cake pan with parchment paper as well as cooking spray. This way you can be 100% sure you will have easy removal from the pan. When pouring batter into the pans I just eye balled the proportions, trying to make sure that I put even amounts of batter in each of the layers. Once you pour the batter in, give the pan a good shake to and allow the batter to settle a bit, this will reduce the dome on the top of the cake during the baking process.

Once the cake is done cooking, allow to cook in the pan for a bit and then place on a cooling rack. Once completely cool wrap each cake in wax paper as well as plastic wrap. This will ensure that as the cake rests and completely cools over night in the refrigerator it will not dry out or smell like your refrigerator! Making the cakes a day before is key. The next day the cake will be much more solid, making it easier to handle during the frosting and stacking process. You can even make it up to 2 weeks in advance and freeze it.

 Making the Frosting: I used Smitten Kitchens recipe for Swiss buttercream frosting. Originally, I wanted to steer clear of buttercream frosting because I just don’t usually like it. But from the research I did it seemed to be the best option. Let’s just say I never looked back. Once you make the frosting give it a few minutes to chill but not too long or else it gets too hard and incredibly difficult to spread. Although I was using fondant, I learned through research that it is imperative to have a layer of frosting between the cake and the fondant; it acts as a dressing for the cake. The beauty of this is you don’t have to be too concerned what the frosting layer looks like. Just make sure it is fairly smooth.

If Swiss buttercream is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Rolling the fondant:  Two pieces of cake baking equipment I purchase were a fondant roller and a fondant mat. I would not have been able to make the cake without these. The mat has both circles and graph paper design on it, allowing you ensure that you have rolled out enough fondant. The mat also helps when transferring the fondant to the cake. You can easily flip your freshly rolled out fondant on top of the cake, slowly peel back that mat and smooth the fondant over the cake. Cut off excess fondant. Repeat for each tier of your cake.

PLEASE WORK!

Proud Mama

Lookin' fine

Stacking: Break a thin wooden dowel into pieces, just as tall as the cake itself and hammer them into the center. This will prevent the top layer from caving into the bottom layer. It seemed a bit silly to me but after lifting this cake multiple times I learned just how heavy a cake can get. Once you place you layers on top of each other use your frosting to make decorative designs to cover the seam. I chose to color the frosting purple and orange-the wedding colors. I then alternated purple and orange frosting stars.

Placing wooden dowels

Structural Support

No more seams!

 Allow your cake the chill over night in the refrigerator. In the morning before delivering your cake cut and place flowers on the top of the cake. Carefully drive the cake to the ending location and refrigerator. I must say it was lots of fun to do this. A bit stressful at times but in the end seeing my sister and her husband cut into a cake that I made was  a cool experience.

Love

I also made sure to jump in for a  photo opp! (Thanks Lisa!) Congratulations Catherine and Andrew!

Just had to jump in!

[L]

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RT gifted me with some delicious Fair Trade Baking Cocoa from Equal Exchange I knew I had to bake with it ASAP.  After reading Eat, Live, Run’s post on Meringue I decided I had to do something similar–but with Cocoa.  I followed the recipe exactly, except I added about 1/3 of a cup of Cocoa to the sugar before combining with the egg whites and cream of tartar. 

I left my pastry bags at my parents house after making Catherine and Andrew’s wedding cake (a post on this is coming–I promise).  I decided to just put the wet meringue mixture into a zip lock bag and cut the corner off.  It was very easy to make little “clouds” out of the meringue.  I tried experimenting with “baskets” that could then be filled with fresh berries….lets just say that is still a work in progress. 

After my patience was worn a bit thin the meringues were finally ready!  Fresh out of the oven, these were delicious, they tasted like clouds of chocolate melting in my mouth.  I tell you, this is the stuff dreams are made of.

Chocolate Dreams

[Lizzie]

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Maple Walnut Scones

I have an affinity for scones.  I love everything about them.  This past weekend I went to grab a coffee and a scone. I had my eye one a maple  scone, the last one in the case.  By the time I got to the counter and ordered it, someone in front of me had scooped it up.  Jerk.    

I used this recipe to try to make up for my lost scone.   As usual, I made a few changes:  

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour to replace white flour
  • Walnuts instead of pecans
  • Real maple syrup instead of maple extract

To start, cube  the butter   

Butter makes it better!

Then, chop the walnuts   

    

Using a pasty cutter (one of my best friends in the kitchen-just like using your hands but much less messy!) combine the dry ingredients with the butter until they form small, pea sized chunks. Then, mix in chopped walnuts. It was very hot and humid in Boston today, so I placed this mixture in the refrigerator while I worked on the wet ingredients to prevent the butter from melting.    

Oh hey best friend!

The next step is to mix the wet ingredients. Whisk together butter milk, two egg yolks and maple syrup.     

    

Combine with dry mixture    

    

Form dough into a circle and cut into six triangles.  Place each triangle onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.   Next time I think I will do eight sections because these scones ended up being about as big as my head!    

Looking Good!

I baked these in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.  I think this is one area where I went wrong.  I didn’t watch these closely and I think I overcooked them by about 3 minutes.  I also think trying to makes these a bit more healthy by using 1/2 whole wheat flour was a bad idea.  They tasted fine but a little too “healthy” and dry.    

For the glaze melt butter and whisk together with brown sugar, a few tablespoons of butter milk, and maple syrup.  Allow this mixture to cool for a few minutes.  Add powdered sugar until the mixture thickens up a bit.  Once scones have cooled completely, drizzle glaze on top.  It  is important to wait for the scones to cool or else the glaze will just slide right off!  And since these tasted so healthy, I think giving them a bath in glaze is a very important step.  To finish the scones, top with a few walnut pieces and enjoy!   

   

What is your favorite breakfast treat?   

[Lizzie]

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As Catherine mentioned in her latest post, we spent a wonderful Saturday lunch with our parents at her and Andrew’s new condo. I wanted to make a contribution to the meal, so Catherine asked if I would bring a dessert. Desserts can be tricky at lunchtime in the summer because you really don’t want something that will weigh you down. And, honestly, I really wanted to take advantage of C&A’s grill. The decision was made: Grilled peaches.

What you will need:

  • 4 peaches
  • 24 oz container of Greek yogurt
  • 1 pint blueberries
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Cut the peaches in half from top to bottom and remove the pit. This was a lot more difficult than I anticipated–I figured it would be like removing the pit from an avocado but it was actually a lot more difficult. After a little bit of muscle I was able to remove the pit!

Brush the peach halves with olive oil and place face down on your grill. The grill should be heated to a medium temperature. Cook the peaches for about 10-15 minutes until they get beautiful grill marks and warm through the center. The timing will most likely depend on the ripeness of your fruit. The less ripe your fruit, the more cooking time it will need.

Once done cooking, remove from the grill.You could enjoy these as is, but I chose to add some toppings. I sprinkled each peach half with a bit of Cinnamon, a dollop of Greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey, and a handful of blueberries followed by one more sprinkle of cinnamon for good measure.

The warm sweet peaches combined with the creamy Greek yogurt made these taste a lot more decadent than they were–dare I say it tasted just like a peach cobbler.

Lizzie

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WCWWC is proud to introduce our first guest blogger!  Miriam and I have been friends for 14 years.  Not only is Miriam a wonderful friend she is also a wonderful cook and knows how to throw some great parties.  She is especially well-known for her dessert and wine party she host annually.  Now that she lives in San Francisco I am really going to miss that party!  Without further ado I present to you Miriam’s Lemon Cake!

As a full-time graduate student who is new to San Francisco, I anxiously anticipated my first west coast summer break.  Although I was already breaking grounds on the hiking and biking trails outside the city, I was still ready for the months of summer freedom.  Like those from the Northeast, I regard summer as a sacred time of year—when you can strip off layers, head to the beach, bake some lobsters, and truly enjoy the fresh air.  I had been warned by locals that I shouldn’t get my hopes up and be ready for a chilly season—but instead of my usual northeast sunshine, all I have gotten is rain. 

Waking up to my 4th day of summer vacation and a heavy and steady downpour I stumbled into the kitchen to face a bowl of 9 beautiful ripe lemons from my dad’s tree in Carmel, CA.  He had dropped them off on the way to the airport and I had been contemplating all week how to create something that did them justice.  Earlier in the week while on a date with a high-end chef, I proposed him my dilemma.  He had suggested I salt them and refrigerate them for the zest in a few months for seafood or chicken—although it sounded like a delicious idea, they were so ripe that I wanted to find something in order to use them as a whole (juice included).  My roommate suggested a lemon cake and it sounded like a perfect idea to guest blog for L&C.

Although friends who have seen me work in the kitchen know I struggle with following recipes, I was inspired by this  Ina Garten recipe.  However, I modified her recipe for a somewhat healthier and more citrus version, trying to avoid pure white sugar.  My baking was all done by hand with a whisk but can be modified depending on your preference.

I started with bowl of 9 ride and beautiful lemons

When life throws you lemons...

For the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together:

1 stick of butter

1 cup of apple sauce

2 cups of Organic agave nectar

Add 3 large eggs into the sugar mixture as you continue to mix with a whisk

Add 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon zest (about 5 large lemons that will be juiced later)

Set aside for a moment

In a second bowl combine:

3 cups of white all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

In a third bowl combine:

1 cup fresh lemon juice (using your lemons)

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup low-fat milk

Next, combine the flour mixture and lemon juice mixture into your first bowl—alternating between the two.  Keep mixing and your mixture should be smooth and thick.

Grease two 2 (8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch) loaf pans and divide mixture between them.  My cakes took approximately 1 hour to bake but check on them after 45 minutes. 

While cakes are baking, combine ½ cup agave nectar with 1 cup lemon juice in a small pan to create lemon syrup.  Pour syrup over cakes when they have cooled for about 10-15 minutes.

Let cakes cool for another half hour.

Optional: I decided to go ahead with the glaze but if you are looking to cut down on sugar, skip this and enjoy your cakes plain!  Another idea is to glaze only one cake and leave the other with just the syrup.

Lemon Glaze:

In a small bowl combine 1 cup confectionary sugar and 3 tablespoons lemon juice.  Mix until you have a thick glaze and pour a thin layer over cakes.

Enjoy!

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Simple Pleasures

After eating a light dinner of leftover soup, I was craving something sweet.  I have been on a major PB&J kick recently and decided to add a little pizazz to this childhood staple–warm PB&J with banana.  I know, I know, the concept of adding a banana to PB&J is not so wild, but trust me this is some good eats.  And unbelievably simple!
What you need:
  • Sandwich wrap
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • 1/2 of a large banana
  • Cinnamon
  • Cooking spray
Schmear the wrap with peanut butter and jelly and then sprinkle with cinnamon.  Slice 1/2 of a large banana and place the pieces so that half of the wrap is covered, fold the other side over to make a sandwich.  Right now you are probably asking yourself…what will I EVER do with the other half of the banana? Go wild and just eat it!  Or save it for tomorrow morning’s oatmeal pancake!

Yes, that is extra PB...please dont judge!

Spray your griddle with cooking spray and place your sandwich on the warm surface.  Flip after about 3 mins–just enough so that each side gets warm and the outside is a little crispy.
In less than 10 mins you have a great dessert that is hearty,wholesome and brings back childhood memories.  Tastes pretty sweet to me.
[L]

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Over Christmas I decided to announce to C & FBIL that I would be more than happy to make their wedding cake. They excitedly said yes.  But I thought they were just being polite.  About a month later they asked if I was still interested in doing it. Interested in doing it?  Are you kidding me, I couldn’t be more excited!  Seeing as I don’t really have the skill set to make a beautifully decorate cake let alone a beautifully decorate multi-tiered wedding cake this will certainly be a learning experience!   I have decided that the blog will be a perfect place to document my learning experience. 

The first official step in the process was taking a fondant cake decorating class.  I signed up for a 3 hour seminar at Create a Cook in Newton, taught by Linda Brundz of Sweet Alternatives.  The class taught us how to prep the cake for foment, how to handle fondant, various tools that would aid in your decorating and different decorating methodologies.  I was luckily enough to have my friend Sara join me in the class, I will probably have to use her as a resource at a later date!

Here are a few of the key take aways:

  • Bake and chill your cake a few days in advance–your cake will be firm and easier to work with
  • Cover your cake in frosting and let chill.  The frosting acts as a glue when covering with fondant.
  • What to do if your fondant is not the right texture-sticky (add corn starch) dry (add vegetable shortening)

 I am happy to report that I came away from this class learning a lot but knowing I still have a lot more to learn!    Here are some of the pictures from my class!  

 Rolling out the fondant-make sure to rub vegetable shortening on your rolling pin if you use a wooden one!  

Cutting the extra fondant off after the base color is place over the cake.  

 Adding stencil work….I have some great ideas for how this skill will come in handy for the wedding cake!  

Placing the fondant ribbon around the cake–as you can see I need to work on my measure skills…this was a bit uneven!  

And the final product!!      

View from the top.

 Please note I will not be making the cake toppers by hand-the women sitting on the side of my cake is less than flattering!  As you can see the collar I tried to put around the women’s neck, doesn’t so much look like a collar (use your imagination).  As I mentioned about, I have a lot of learning to do!

I am looking forward to taking Linda’s next class offered at Create a Cook–how to make a tired wedding cake.  What is your favorite flavor of wedding cake?

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