Almond Cake with Mixed Berries – Food and Wine, March 2015

Almond Cake with Mixed Berries

Hello, do you have a cake to make soon to take somewhere, or for yourself? Are you tired of very heavy winter things? Do you like almonds and berries? Than THIS is the cake for you!

It’s a very charming cake, made with almond flour, a bit of sugar, six eggs, and berries. It happens to be gluten free, if you’re into that sort of thing or make foods for people who are. It’s very simple, especially if you have an electric mixer. Christopher actually declared it “HIS FAVORITE CAKE,” so it’s likely to please people who like regular cake.

It is also a very forgiving cake, due to the scattering of berries on top. I cracked it right down the middle trying to get it off the springform pan, but the berries and powdered sugar topping nicely hid the crack.

The recipe, from Food and Wine, charmingly mentions that the recipe originated from a nice lady who lives in Fez and teaches cooking and makes it for her students for breakfast. This would be a nice cake to have for breakfast.

So! Stir together almond flour and baking soda. Throw six eggs and a cup of sugar together in a mixer and let it woosh for 10-12 minutes. Fold in half the flour, the berries, then the rest of the flour. Bake it.

The cake will fall down a little bit in the middle. That’s okay! That’s where rest of the berries go! Add them and cover it with powdered sugar. You’re done!

The recipe mentions serving it with creme fraiche, which I and my dining companions had never had before. It goes fantastically with this cake. If you have access to creme fraiche, get some to go with the cake. If not, whipped cream would do.

My only problem was with the recipe, which says “1 lb. of almond flour or 2 1/4 cups.” Those are absolutely not the same thing. One pound of almond flour is like…4.5 cups! The comments on the recipe recommended sticking with 2 and 1/4 cups, so I did, and so should you.

Almond Cake with Mixed Berries (Food and Wine, March 2015)

Ingredients:

Baking spray
2 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
1 pound mixed raspberries, blueberries and strawberries, or pitted fresh cherries
6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon rosewater (optional) (Note: I did not use rosewater)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Crème fraîche, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly coat a 9-inch springform cake pan with baking spray and line the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the almond flour with the baking powder and salt. Set aside one-third of the berries in a small bowl for garnish.
  3. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs with the granulated sugar and rosewater, if using, at medium-high speed until very thick and glossy, about 12 minutes. Fold in the almond flour and the remaining berries in 3 alternating batches, ending with the almond flour, just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  4. Bake the cake for about 55 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Unmold the cake and let cool completely.
  5. Top the cake with the reserved berries and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with crème fraîche.
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Cooking Food and Stuff – January through March 2015

Winter is just the worst, guys. It’s dark all the time. It’s cold. Sometimes you wake up and you look outside and there’s snow all over your car and the road and everyone’s like OMG SNOW DAY and you’re like “no, no, I have a huge project at work and need to leave the house.”

And then you make food for dinner and there is no soul in it, just necessity. And even if you do make something exciting the pictures look so bad because of The Darkness. I am definitely not a photographer at the best of times, and winter food pictures are…unpleasant.

BUT it appears to be spring now. There is sunshine! I can go outside without four sweaters! I am pleased. My cooking magazines have piled up and are full of dog-eared pages. Things will be made from them!

Since I have actually cooked a bit this winter, some of it from my news year’s resolutions, this post will be a bit of a roundup.

Basketweave covers a multitude of lopsided layers

Basketweave covers a multitude of lopsided layers

Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Icing and Raspberry Filling

We had an extremely well-coordinated surprise party for my friend Krystal, who was quite surprised that her friends had shown up in her house and decorated it and brought food. We only had 15 balloons and two things of mismatched crepe paper for decorations because apparently none of us are on pinterest, but we had a giant cheese plate with heart shaped brie, so.

I made a cake! Per her husband’s request, it was a chocolate layer cake with chocolate buttercream. I layered it with raspberry filling to balance the sweetness of the chocolate. The decorations were sugar/gum paste flowers I made the week prior.

  • The cake base was this fantastic one-bowl chocolate cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart, same recipe split into two 9-inch cake pans. It is not as sturdy for layering as the butter cake I usually use, so I may keep hunting for a sturdy chocolate cake recipe. This one is quite delicious though. One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
  • The chocolate buttercream was Wilton’s recipe. I made it with cocoa powder and did the extra fudgy version. I doubled the recipe and also added two tablespoons of meringue powder so it would ice better. It was VERY thick so I thinned it slowly with extra water until I could pipe it easily. Chocolate Buttercream Icing  
  • This raspberry filling recipe is amazing. I use it all the time. The only thing I do differently is just get regular frozen raspberries instead of sugar-packed ones. I let them defrost all the way on the counter and then microwave them to get the maximum raspberry juice through the strainer. Raspberry Filling

Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers – New Year’s Resolution #1

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

Action shot seconds before they disappeared

OH YES these happened. I made them for a faux-superbowl party and they were glorious. If you haven’t made them, you must. They are not too spicy for the fearful among you, once you remove the seeds and membrane from inside the pepper. Then you fill it with cheese and wrap it in bacon. I followed this recipe by Pioneer Woman, which has you brush a little bit of barbecue sauce on the bacon before cooking. You must absolutely do this. It makes the bacon taste like candied bacon. They were gone almost instantly at the party.

 Lasagna – New Year’s Resolution #2

If I had not promised myself to make this for New Year’s and wanted to point out that it had been accomplished, I would not be posting about it. This was sort of a disaster. I tried making my own ricotta, but didn’t have heavy cream and the low-fat milk just curdled and it was horrid. There was a foot of snow outside and we risked life and limb to drive to the store to get MORE ricotta and somehow, when everyone was frantically buying milk and bread for the 12 hours of being housebound, they bought all the Barilla no-boil lasagna noodles. So I used Trader Joe’s brand, which is NOT the preferred brand of Italians everywhere. They were very gummy and I do not recommend them. My mother, who held my hand via the phone throughout the process, almost disowned me for frying up ground beef and sausage for the meat layer instead of making small meatballs, per our family’s tradition. However, the spaghetti sauce did turn out perfectly and I will post that recipe at some point very soon.

The lasagna itself was not photographed, because there was a group of hungry snow refugees at my house and I do not usually take pictures of hot food if there are hungry people waiting for it. Everyone said it tasted very good, so I will remake it with the correct ingredients that one can usually find if they are not trapped by accursed snow.

Celebration Cake – Food and Wine, September 1998

No, that is not a typo, although, my word, people, wasn’t 1998 just yesterday? When did it turn into almost 20 years ago? I’ll be 30 in 2018. I don’t like that, not at all.

Meanwhile I am panicking about 1998 being 16 years ago.

Let’s look at cake now.

Now that we’ve all taken a few panicked moments to feel the clutches of mortality and contemplate the inevitable and ruthless march of time, let’s talk about cake. This celebration cake recipe is a variation on German Chocolate Cake. The cake layers are a fluffy and light take on yellow cake. The filling is a rich coconut custard folded with whipped cream, toasted coconut and pecans, and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate frosting is very similar to a ganache, with a bit of butter mixed in to create a spreadable frosting.

Excluding the royal icing daffodils, which I made whimsically a few weeks ago after a particularly trying day, the cake takes about five hours  from start to finish, although only about three and a half hours of active preparation time. I imagine that if you do not, at some point, misplace the cornstarch and need to remove all the ingredients in your pantry while shouting “WHY CAN I NEVER FIND ANYTHING IN THIS KITCHEN?!” you will shave off about twenty minutes.

I have a basic yellow cake recipe from Martha to which I compare all other cake recipes, so when this one called for only one stick of butter instead of two I was concerned. Also, rather than adding the eggs before the flour and milk mixtures, you add them after. The result is a airy, light cake which balances out the richness of the custard filling and chocolate icing.  This is the cake you would get if butter cake and angel food cake had a baby.

The filling’s coconut custard base is absolutely delicious, and something I will definitely make again for another recipe. You toast the coconut flakes in the oven before mixing them in with the egg yolks, dark brown and white sugars, and milk. Once the custard thickens, you strain out the coconut flakes and let the custard cool. When you’re ready to layer the cake, you’ll whip heavy cream until it forms stiff peaks, then fold it into the custard with the pecans, remaining coconut, and chocolate. If you want to eat some of this with a spoon, feel free, this recipe makes a generous amount of filling.

The chocolate frosting was quite easy, and involved simply stirring chopped chocolate and butter into heated heavy cream. The hardest part was fretting over the texture, waiting for it to get cool enough to be fluffy instead of drippy. Sticking it in the refrigerator will not hurt it, but keep a watchful eye.

The guts of the cake.

The guts of the cake.

Assembling the cake is fairly straightforward. Since the cake is divided into three pans, only the top needs to be removed, and no individual layers cut from the cake you have. The filling is sturdy, and can be heaped between the layers without an issue. I used a large piping bag, this magical cake tip, and this technique  to spread the icing. It will look like you don’t have enough icing, but run your spatula around the side and remove some of the excess. This icing can and should be spread on the thin side.

I decorated the cake with the pre-made royal icing daffodils, and made a tiny batch of green buttercream for the vines and leaves. I used Wilton Tip #3 for the vines and Tip #352 for the leaves.

I liked this cake. It is quite rich, so I suggest serving it with coffee, espresso, or lightly sweetened whipped cream. Eat it for breakfast and appreciate that your mother would have never let you eat cake for breakfast if it were 1998.

Photo Credit – Reed Davis

 

Celebration Cake 

(Food and Wine, September 1998) – Recipe by Emily Luchetti

My Cooking Notes

  • Although the recipe does not say to do so, I mixed the flours, baking powder, and salt together and sifted them.
  • If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, get their pound-plus dark chocolate bar. The $5 bar has 17 ounces, as opposed to the $2.50 bar of Baker’s chocolate that only has 4 ounces.

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Coconut Pecan Filling
  • Chocolate Frosting

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and position 2 racks in the middle and lower thirds. Line the bottoms of three 9-inch round cake pans with parchment or wax paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the cake and all-purpose flours with the baking powder and salt. Combine the milk and vanilla in a small pitcher.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture resembles moist sand, about 3 minutes. Beat in the flour mixture at low speed in 3 batches, alternating with the milk mixture; stop the mixer occasionally to scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating at medium speed between additions.
  3. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the layers are light golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn each out onto a rack and peel off the paper. Invert onto another rack and let cool completely.
  4. Center a cake layer on a platter and spread one-third of the Coconut Pecan Filling over the top, leaving a 1/2 -inch border at the edge. Set a second cake layer on top of the first and spread another third of the filling on top. Cover with the third cake layer. Spread the top and side of the cake with the Chocolate Frosting. Spread the remaining Coconut Pecan Filling over the frosting on the top, leaving a 1-inch border.

Coconut Pecan Filling 

(Food and Wine, September 1998)

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans (2 1/2 ounces)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate (4 ounces)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the coconut and pecans on separate baking sheets and bake for about 7 minutes, or until golden and fragrant; let cool.
  2. In a large heavy saucepan, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated and dark brown sugars. Stir in the milk, cornstarch, salt and 1 cup of the coconut and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until pudding-like, about 6 minutes. Strain the custard, pressing hard on the coconut. Discard the coconut and let the custard cool. Stir in the vanilla and refrigerate until cold.
  3. Whip the cream until it holds firm peaks. Fold the cream into the custard, then fold in the chocolate, pecans and the remaining coconut.

Chocolate Frosting 

(Food and Wine, September 1998)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream until bubbles appear around the edge; remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Stir in the butter until smooth. Let the frosting cool, then beat with a wooden spoon until slightly thickened.