I made this (from Recipe Tin Eats) for Nana Nice’s birthday a couple weeks ago. Unfortunately I had the plague and couldn’t partake but I can assure you that it’s equally good the next day …
Start by preheating your oven to 350°F and butter a 9″ springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment and butter that too. You can never have enough butter.
In a smallish pot on the stove, combine 8.5 ounces dark chocolate with 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 sticks unsalted butter, and 1/2 cup milk. Stir on medium low until the butter and chocolate have melted. Don’t let it come to a simmer.
Tip in into a bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 3/4 cup milk.
Then mix in 2 eggs – WAIT, I ONLY HAVE ONE EGG!
Not to worry. You can substitute an egg with 2 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, and 2 tablespoons milk, cream, butter, or yogurt.
Whisk in those “eggs.”
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 3/4 cups plain flour, and 2 tablespoons instant coffee.
Sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the cake pan and bake for 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out mostly clean (a little residue means your cake will be extra fudgey!).
Remove the sides of the pan and let it cool completely on a rack.
You can frost this with whatever you want but a nice ganache is never a bad thing. Heat 1 cup whipping cream on the stove until it’s about to start simmering, then pour it over 8 ounces dark chocolate of your choosing.
Stir until smooth and all the chocolate has melted, and then leave it to cool until it spreads like peanut butter.
Frost your cake, and have fun with whatever swirls and squiggles you’d like!
While I was waiting for the kid to show up I was getting pretty bored and pretty desperate, but I didn’t have a lot of energy. One of my former colleagues recommended cheesecake as a way to start labour and I figured, why not? I had nothing to do, and an easy cheesecake recipe would be doable given my lack of energy. This one from Sprinkle Some Sugar seemed to fit the bill. It involves using store-bought brownie mix, fudge sauce, AND COOL WHIP, so it’s the ultimate in cheater recipes for me. And given that the day I baked it the temperatures skyrocketed again for a roller coaster June, I was happy to be able to chuck this in the fridge instead of hanging over a hot oven.
The original recipe is a bit of a misnomer, as it states that there is no baking involved whatsoever with this recipe. That is a bold-faced lie – you gotta bake the brownie bottom. But it’s worth it.
Find a round springform pan, about 8″ or 9″ (this one is 9″ I think), spray it with cooking spray, and whip up some brownie batter. You can use your favourite recipe but I used this boxed stuff (hey man, I was really pregnant at the time, gimme a break).
I figured the salted caramel would add more panache to the finished product.
Plus I love the ridiculous measurements of the wet ingredients. So simplistic!
While this is baking, work on your caramel sauce (you can buy caramel sauce, of course, but this one is easy and a good way for caramel newbs to get started).
In a small pot over medium-high heat, whisk together 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water. Whisk and swirl the pot until the sugar is all dissolved, then keep swirling the pot (but no stirring or whisking!) frequently until the liquid turns a nice dark amber colour.
When you get the colour you like, carefully pour in 3/4 cup heavy cream – watch out, because it will fizz up like crazy – and whisk that until smooth. Then tip in 3 tablespoons butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla and stir until those are all melted away. Set the finished caramel sauce aside to thicken up and cool completely.
Once the brownie bottom is ready and baked according to whatever instructions you have, remove the outer ring and let it cool completely as well and start working on your filling.
In the bowl of a mixer, beat together 16oz softened plain cream cheese, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar until smooth and creamy. I mean, it’s gonna be creamy anyway because it’s cream cheese but you get what I mean about the texture, right? Man I need more sleep …
Stir in about 3/4 cup of that lovely caramel sauce you made (or squeeze it from the bottle you purchased you philistine) and add in as well 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg.
Then I want you to do something totally foreign to me: grab 4oz Cool Whip and fold that in as well.
Put the outer ring of your springform pan back on and smush all that Cool-Whipped creaminess into the pan.
Give it some smoothing out so it *kind* of looks like you baked it, then chuck that in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
Before serving, crush a bunch of pecans and spread them over top.
Grab some fudge sauce (I bought it, don’t judge) and whatever’s left of your caramel.
Pop off the outer ring and drizzle liberally with fudge and caramel. The fudge I bought didn’t drizzle, so I have fudge poops drizzled with caramel but you get the general intention here, at least. Keep the leftover cheesecake wrapped up in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!
If you’re Canadian, you’ve probably had a Nanaimo Bar once or twice in your life. If you’re not Canadian, you probably SHOULD have a Nanaimo Bar once or twice in your life.
My sister-in-law Mags sent me this recipe as a not-so-subtle hint about what kind of birthday cake she’d like this year (her birthday was February 15th). We usually celebrate her birthday jointly with her dad’s, Papa John, whose birthday is on February 19th. But with a bunch of travel on all sides, we ended up postponing their birthday celebrations until this past weekend, which was MY birthday. So this is a joint cake for the three of us. And it’s amazing.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grab a food processor and chuck in 5 tablespoons cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, 1 1/2 cups graham crumbs, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, and 3/4 cup dried coconut.
Give it a good whazzing, then drizzle in 4 tablespoons melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla and whaz it again, until you get some crumbly mixture.
Take your crumb mixture and dump it into a 10″ springform pan. Press the crumbs into the bottom and a little up the sides, making sure to press extra hard in the corners (I didn’t and it was a little too thick there, so that’s why I am warning you).
Shove that into your oven and bake it for 5 minutes. When you pull it out, leave the oven on and shove in a large (9″ x 13″) pan of warm water and put it on the rack below where you will be cooking your cheesecake.
Now, in the bowl of a stand mixer, chuck 4 250g packages plain cream cheese (remember that room temperature cream cheese makes smoother cheesecake). Beat that up until it’s smooth and lovely.
Then, one at a time, crack in 4 large eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating the whole time.
Now you can chuck in 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 3 tablespoons vanilla custard powder.
I used Bird’s custard powder here, because that is all that is traditional and right in the world. Beat that up until smooth.
Pour the mix into your baked crust above your pan of water and bake for 1 hour.
When it’s done, turn the oven off and crack the door just a little bit and wedge it with a spoon. Leave that for 1-2 hours until the cheesecake is room temperature.
Don’t fret about that crack. It’s not a big deal. Transfer the cake to a nice plate with care. Chill the cake for a little while.
To make the lovely ganache that goes on top, toss 1 cup cream and 1 cup chocolate in the bowl of a double boiler and heat until the chocolate melts.
Whisk until smooth, then let it cool to room temperature.
Now gently pour it on top of your cooled cake. I had a lot of ganache so I carefully guided it down the sides as well.
Okay let’s try this again. If you were visiting last week you’ll know I made a neat little gluten-free cake I found in Canadian Living but I wasn’t totally happy with how it came out. So today I totally changed the two main ingredients (and two less main ingredients, and the cooking time) and we’re doing this for a second time. If you notice that the text reads pretty much identically to what I wrote last week, well, it’s because it IS what I wrote last week. I mostly copy-pasted that stuff, but I bolded all the differences. Deal with it.
Preheat your oven to 325°F and grease (with butter) a 9″ springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. While you’re at it, separate 6 eggs and put the whites in a mixing bowl.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together 6 egg yolks, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons COCONUT EXTRACT, 2 teaspoons grated LEMON zest, and a pinch of NUTMEG.
You are going to want to beat this stuff until it turns the colour of butter and when you lift the (stopped) beater away, you get a lovely long yellow ribbon coming out of the end, about 5 minutes.
You need 2 cups COCONUT FLOUR for this, and 2 tablespoons LEMON juice, so you might want to get these ready ahead of time. I just juiced the lemon I took the zest from. Fold the coconut flour and lemon juice into the yolk mixture.
I totally forgot that coconut flour tends to suck up moisture. If you do this, maybe just add 1 1/2 cups coconut flour.
So I added in an additional 1/2 cup of MILK.
Now take those 6 egg whites you set aside and start beating them until stiff peaks form.
Take a scoop of the whites and stir it into the flour/yolk mix. This will sort of thin out the mixture in order that it doesn’t crush the rest of your whites in the next step.
Once that first scoop is combined, gently fold in the remainder of your egg whites into the flour/yolk mixture until fully combined. Make sure to scrape up from the very bottom to make sure you got it all. Plop the batter into your prepared pan (or press it in this case) and bake it until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the centre is golden and firm to the touch, about 40 minutes.
This cake did not fluff up like the previous one. Let it cool on a rack before popping it out of the springform pan.
Dust the cake with icing sugar right before you serve it (or the icing sugar will be absorbed into the moisture of the cake). A nice lemon glaze (try the juice of one lemon heated to boiling with 4 tablespoons sugar) would also work I think.
I came across this recipe in the May 2014 issue of Canadian Living. I haven’t really felt like doing too much cooking in recent days, but this one looked easy and post-able enough that I figured I’d give it a shot. This is one of those cakes that is “naturally” gluten-free, meaning that you’re not looking for a flour substitute. It’s more that the recipe doesn’t require anything flour like in the first place to keep its structure. It’s also dairy-free too (just don’t use butter to grease the pan), if that’s something you’re interested in.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease (with butter) a 9″ springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. While you’re at it, separate 6 eggs and put the whites in a mixing bowl.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together 6 egg yolks, 1 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, and a pinch of cinnamon.
You are going to want to beat this stuff until it turns the colour of butter and when you lift the (stopped) beater away, you get a lovely long yellow ribbon coming out of the end, about 5 minutes.
You need 2 cups ground almonds for this, and 2 tablespoons orange juice, so you might want to get these ready ahead of time. I used the store-bought almond meal because I’m lazy, and just juiced the orange I took the zest from.
Fold the almonds and orange juice into the yolk mixture.
Now take those 6 egg whites you set aside and start beating them until stiff peaks form.
Take a scoop of the whites and stir it into the almond/yolk mix. This will sort of thin out the mixture in order that it doesn’t crush the rest of your whites in the next step.
Once that first scoop is combined, gently fold in the remainder of your egg whites into the almond/yolk mixture until fully combined. Make sure to scrape up from the very bottom to make sure you got it all.
Plop the batter into your prepared pan and bake it until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan and the centre is golden and firm to the touch, about 35 minutes.
If you need to, run a knife around the edge of the pan and leave the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack. Mine came right out, but I’m not always this lucky.
Don’t worry — it will sink in the middle. They always do.
Dust the cake with icing sugar right before you serve it (or the icing sugar will be absorbed into the moisture of the cake).
This cake was pretty good. I think I’d like to make it again, but this time I would do it with lemon zest, lemon juice, and then coconut flour instead of almond flour for a more tropical cake. I think I would also bake it differently. This one you can see was still a little runny in the centre, but the outside was starting to burn. I think I would bake it for longer, but at a lower temperature, like 325°F. Thoughts?
Ando made this for Thidz’ birthday last week and it went down so well that he suggested I put it on the blog. So here it is, adapted to his standards. While the whole thing takes a little while to prepare, it’s all easy stuff that you can do in stages. I ended up having most of it ready in the morning and then just chucked it together at the end and baked it. But we’ll work from the bottom up on this layered casserole. Also, the recipe says it serves 8, but really it serves 4 because you are going to want seconds.
Preheat your oven to 425°F and spray a 9″ springform pan with cooking spray. My pan was a little wider, but that’s fine.
In a teeny bowl, mix together 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, and some salt and ground black pepper to taste.
Peel 2 medium sweet potatoes. I only had large ones, so I opted to just do one, but I could have used both and it would have been fine.
Use a mandoline to shave off super thin slices.
Chuck those pieces in a bowl, drizzle with a few tablespoons vegetable oil, and add in your spice mix. Toss with your hands until the oil and spices evenly coat all the potato pieces.
Layer the sweet potato slices evenly in the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are softened and starting to brown. Ando wanted to bake them longer to make them more crisp, so I tried that, but I found that once you piled the rest of the ingredients on top they went soft again anyway, so don’t worry too much about that. The Pie hoped for a thicker layer of sweet potatoes (because I only used the one potato and my pan was wider), so next time I would go for two.
Grab yourself some pork tenderloin. I had a boneless pork loin rib here that was on stupid sale so I used that.
You’ll need 2lbs pork, cut into 2″ chunks. If I did this again, I would cut the chunks larger, just so your pulled pork strings end up being decently long.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add in the meat. It goes gray almost immediately, which is kind of gross. Reduce to a simmer and leave that on the go for about an hour.
Drain the pork and use 2 forks to shred it into little pieces.
Then you’re going to need some barbecue sauce. Ando expressed concern that the sauce tended to overpower the more delicate flavours of the macaroni and cheese on top, so we picked out a milder apple butter sauce and it worked out fantastically. The sweetness of the apple really worked well with the pork.
So you pour 14oz barbecue sauce all over your pork and mix it in.
Then you add in 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and stir that in as well, then set the whole thing aside.
Bring another saucepan of water to a boil and add a pinch or two of salt. When it’s boiling, add in 8oz elbow pasta (MACARONI) and cook according to your package instructions. When it’s ready, drain the water, saving about 1/4 cup of it. Add the water back to the pasta in the pot.
Add to the pasta 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese (I think the sharper the better), 1/2 cup grated Gruyere (we used Jarlsberg), and 1/4 cup creme fraiche (which is next to impossible to find in Newfoundland, so we used sour cream instead). Because Ando suggested boosting the flavour of the mac, I added a few crumbles of blue cheese (Rochefort) as well.
Stir that up until it’s all melted, then add a few drops of hot sauce (we used Tabasco) to taste.
Season it with salt and pepper and set it aside.
Melt 1/4 cup butter and stir it up with 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 1 cup panko breadcrumbs.
Smooth the pulled pork over the sweet potatoes.
Dollop the macaroni on top of that and flatten it down a bit.
Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture on top of that to completely cover the macaroni.
Bake for 15 minutes, until the casserole is hot through and the bread crumbs are browned.
Ideally you should be able to pop open the springform pan and cut this puppy like a cake. My pork ended up being supremely saucy and thus too slithery to be architecturally sound in terms of casserole structure. Meaning I tried to pop off the frame and then the whole thing went sideways — literally and figuratively. So we just scooped it out with spoons, hence the lack of presentation. Didn’t matter. Ate it anyway. And it was awesome. Thanks Ando!
I will let you in on the worst-kept secret in our family: Saturday was the Pie’s thirtieth birthday. He’s finally as old as me and will (hopefully) shut up about my aging process.
Now, for me, being born the week before March Break, as a child I often celebrated more than one birthday. There was my actual birthday, then there was one when my grandparents came to visit the following week, and then maybe one with my friends from school. Through no fault of my own, this happened consistently through to my adulthood, just little low-key celebrations dotting a week of aging, with maybe a cake at the end of it. For the Pie it’s a bit different. Because he was born in the summer, all of his friends were out of school and so he generally had one big bash to celebrate his big day. Needless to say, since we became broke and moved to Newfoundland, his expectations have taken a hit. Fortunately, Papa John and Mrs. Nice are in town, so we can make it a bit of a party.
As a rule (because we’re broke), we don’t exchange gifts, but on our birthdays, the other makes the celebrant a cake. Last year, I made the Pie that disastrous leaning tower of chocolate. This year I thought I would try for something a little more refreshing, given that it is summer, after all: ice cream cake! Having watched several of the bloggers I read try and fail at this feat last summer (Caroline, I’m thinking of you!), I think I know what NOT to do, so here goes …
Start with a springform pan. The fact that you can dismantle it means that getting the cake out when you’re done won’t be that hard.
Now you need some ice cream flavours. One of our favourite restaurants in St. John’s, Get Stuffed, used to have this boozy ice cream cake, where the three layers of ice cream were flavoured with various liqueurs. It. Was. Fabulous. So I’m going to try to recreate that, but with a little less booze. Just a little less.
I’m using ice creams I made from scratch, but you can use store-bought ice cream that has been softened. The first layer, at the top of the cake, is raspberry (you can see the recipe here, though this time I used cognac instead of vinegar!). Simply spoon 2 or 3 cups of softened ice cream into the bottom of the pan and smooth it out. In retrospect, I should have frozen the empty pan before plopping the ice cream in it, because just-churned ice cream on a hot day has a habit of melting, and this seeped through the edges of the pan a bit before it re-froze. No big deal, just something to remember for next time.
You might also want to scrape down the sides a bit, just so residual ice cream doesn’t interfere with the look of the following layer.
This cake took a couple of days to make, because each ice cream mixture needs to sit in the fridge overnight before you churn and freeze it, but that gave each layer ample time to get nice and solid before I added the next one.
The middle layer is vanilla, and the Pie loves his vanilla ice cream, so I used the best recipe possible.
Because the pan was frozen and the ice cream underneath was frozen, it was an easy job to smooth on this layer.
Then a chocolate layer. Neither the Pie nor I are particularly fond of chocolate ice cream, but I have never seen an ice cream cake, especially one with a fudge layer, without it, so it had to go in.
You will be able to see the recipe here on Wednesday.
So, with that all frozen, I could work on my chocolate fudge layer, which, in my opinion, was always the best part of the store-bought ice cream cake. Fudge sauce recipes abound on the internet, but I was looking for something with a bit of substance, something that would take well to freezing, and this one from The Foodess seemed perfect. She even said it went well in ice cream cakes.
Making it was super easy, too, which I like. I did it on the stove, but The Foodess recommends working with the microwave, so that should tell you how easy it is.
In a small saucepan with a thick bottom, pour 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup powdered cocoa, and 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk (I used homogenized milk here).
Heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves, and bring the mixture to a boil, all of which should take about 3 minutes.
Add in 4 tablespoons butter and cook for another few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens. You might want to turn the heat down a little bit, so that the sauce doesn’t burn.
Remove the sauce from the heat, add in 1 teaspoon vanilla and a pinch of salt and you’re all done. Wasn’t that easy?
Let that cool before smoothing it onto your final ice cream layer. Mine was in the fridge overnight and so I just stuck it in the microwave for a minute to soften it up a bit.
It slathered onto the frozen chocolate layer quite nicely.
Then you want a crumb crust. You can use Oreo crumbs, but I also had some leftover pieces from some particularly crumbly gluten-free brownies that were in the freezer, so I pulsed them in the food processor and used them instead, which meant that everything in the cake was made from scratch (you gotta put in the extra effort sometimes).
As an aside, I also broke my mini food processor doing this — not because of the density of the brownies, but through my own mishandling of the situation. Alas.
Smooth the crumbs over the fudge layer.
Right to the edge. Yes, I licked the fudge off my finger later.
Press that stuff down and re-freeze for a couple of hours.
To serve, run a bit of hot water around the edges of the springform pan and release the cake, flipping it upside down onto a plate (make sure it’s a plate with a lip, otherwise the cake will dribble everywhere as it melts).
I used an icing scraper to texturize the sides and scrape away dribbles from other flavours that ruined the effect.
Then I used a fondant smoother to get rid of the weird melty marks on the top.
You can decorate it any way you want, but the Pie is a huge Street Fighter fan and he plays the character of Hakan, a Turkish oil wrestler. So I bought some teal and white icing from Sobeys and put a stylized version of his face on the cake, as his skin is almost the same colour as the raspberry ice cream (okay so now not everything is made from scratch. Sue me).
Cover the cake with plastic wrap or seal in a container and store in the freezer when you’re not eating it.
Now that I have a springform pan, I have taken it upon myself to perfect cheesecakes. This cool no-cook cheese confection is a modified version of one by Gordon Ramsay and it’s dee-lish.
Because it’s a British recipe, I’m afraid that even with my modifications it’s all still in metric. This is where having a kitchen scale comes in mighty handy. Of course, because it’s a no-cook recipe, you needn’t fret if your conversions aren’t exactly accurate.
First, crush up about 150g cookies. I used chocolate wafers, but graham crackers or digestive biscuits also work well. You can even buy cookie crumbs pre-crushed in a box.
Mix those with about 50g melted butter.
With a glass or your fingers, flatten the crumbs into the bottom of a 20cm springform pan (mine was 25 cm so my cake is a little shorter and wider than yours might be). Chuck that in the fridge to chill.
Now plop about 340g fresh blackberries (that was what was in the package for me) in a pot with a dash of sugar and a dash of water or juice. Add the juice and zest from half a lemon to that as well. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring often, until it’s all bubbly and saucy. Scoop out a bit of the juice and make a slurry with a small amount of corn starch. Add that back in and let it come to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Chuck it in the fridge to make it extra cool and thick.
Whip up 500mL whipping cream in a chilled bowl.
In a separate bowl, cream together 500g soft cream cheese, a splash of vanilla extract, the zest and peel of half a lemon (nice use of a whole lemon there, waste-not), and 200g sour cream or crème fraîche. The warmer your cream cheese is, the less lumpy it will be, but be careful not to let it melt if you put it in the microwave.
Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. Keep this stuff cool until you need it, but don’t chill it.
Spoon or pipe a layer of the cream cheese mixture over the crumb base.
Spoon on some of your blackberry sauce and use a skewer or flat knife to swirl it around.
Add another layer of cheese, and plop the remaining fruit sauce on top. Swirly swirly swirly. If your cake pan is smaller and your cake taller, you could probably try for three layers of cheese with swirlies in-between.
Refrigerate the cake for at least 5 hoursand keep it refrigerated when you’re not eating it.
We only had it in the fridge for probably 3 hours before we ate it, so you can see it was a little runny in the centre.
On Saturday my best friend Chel got married. To Invis. For the second time.
My wedding present to the lovely couple was their wedding cake, which they wanted to be vanilla flavoured, white on the outside, and have ivy trailing over it.
I practiced ahead of time. I got the recipe down with the Pie’s birthday cake last summer. Then I worked on my fondant technique with my own birthday cake, and adapted the fondant flavourings with the moose cake. I even made my own vanilla for the occasion.Was I ready for this? I had never made a wedding cake before. Chel and Invis wanted it simple, but a wedding cake is still a definite challenge.
First I had to figure out how much cake I needed. I had an 8″ springform pan, an 11″ springform pan, and then a gigantic 16″ aluminum pan (which I think my father now covets). So I did some mental math and decided to quadruple the recipe that I had for the Pie’s birthday cake and go from there.
That’s a lot of cake.
Four kilograms of icing sugar, 2 of white chocolate. Two litres of whipping cream. One and a half pounds of butter and the same in shortening. Two kilos of cream cheese. Sixteen eggs. Two bags of flour. Lots of mixing.
I gave myself three days to make this cake: the first day to do the actual baking and prepare the decorations; the second day to ice the cakes, and the third day to put the cake together. So that means you get to have three days of posts, because otherwise you’d be reading the world’s longest essay on cake. I gotta break it up a little. Shall we begin?
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Butter your pans generously and dust them with flour, knocking out the excess.Of course, the whole selling point of a springform pan is it makes removing cake from it so ridiculously easy. Unfortunately, you’d be hard pressed to find a springform pan bigger than 12″ in diameter. So for the 16″ pan, which wasn’t springform, I had to cut out a circle in parchment paper for it and then butter and flour that as well.Separate 12 eggs and bring the whites to room temperature. Save the yolks for making custard.
Then you want to do some sifting. A lot of sifting. More sifting than you actually want to do, to tell the truth. I started out with a regular sifter.Then I got bored and my hand got tired so I switched to a fine mesh sieve instead. In any case, sift together 13 cups flour (I used cake and pastry flour because it’s fortified with a bit of cornstarch, which helps you maintain volume in your cake) with 4 tablespoons baking powder and 4 teaspoons baking soda. The sifting process helps to eliminate lumps and also serves to add a bit of air into your flour, making it lighter and fluffier. Volume is key.Now set that aside. In a larger bowl, beat together 2 cups softened butter with 2 cups vegetable shortening until fluffy and creamy.And I’m talking creamy.Add in 7 cups granulated sugar and 1/2 cup pure vanilla extract.
Make sure you’ve also got all those precious vanilla seeds in there too.Beat that up until it’s fluffy, and make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Now crack in 4 whole eggs and mix that up as well.Okay so this next bit you mix in your flour mixture, as well as 6 cups ice water. But WAIT.You gotta do it a bit at a time. You want to add the flour in three separate increments, and the ice water in two. So you start with the flour, then add water, then flour, then water, and then the rest of your flour. And that’s how that is done.Once you’ve done all your adding, scrape down the sides of the bowl and just keep mixing for a further minute or so. Isn’t that lovely and smooth?Now, in yet another bowl, you want to whip up those nice warm egg whites. Add in 1 teaspoon cream of tartar to firm things up a little and beat the whites until they are at the soft peak stage, shapely but not dry.Plop those whipped whites into your batter bowl.Gently, ever so gently, fold those whites into the batter. This is what will give you the majority of your fluffy cake.Now distribute the batter between your three pans and smooth the tops.Now we bake. Unfortunately the day I did this, Ottawa was in the midst of a heatwave. So this is what I look like when it’s hot and I’m leaning over an oven: hair in pins, shorts, dishtowel tied around my waist, and a jaunty wet scarf on my neck to keep me cool. Super sexy, I know.
In terms of baking times, I baked the first two tiers for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre came out clean. I used a convection oven, so it might take a little longer in a regular oven. The bottom tier took about 60 minutes to bake, but just keep checking on them to make sure they don’t burn. The 16″ tier BARELY fit in the oven.When the cakes are all golden-brown and lovely, put them on racks to cool completely. When they are completely cool, remove them from the pans, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and put them in the fridge overnight. It is much easier to decorate a cold cake than a warm one, trust me.While the cakes are doing their thing, you can make the fondant and frosting, as well as the gum paste for the ivy leaves.
For the fondant, I creamed together 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup vegetable shortening, 2 cups lily white corn syrup, and 6 teaspoons almond extract.When it was all creamy I was ready to add in the icing sugar.By the time I had the texture right, I had added almost 3 kilograms of the stuff (I’m Canadian, so forgive me for switching back and forth between Imperial and Metric. It’s just what we do). I had also neglected to take my rings off before I kneaded the stuff. Shame on me. Then wrap the fondant tightly in waxed paper and chuck it in the refrigerator overnight.For the frosting, start off by melting 4lb white chocolate, chopped. I know, it’s a lot. But it’s necessary.While your chocolate is becoming liquid, cream together 6, 250g packages of cream cheese.Really mix it well to get out all the lumps.Pour in 2 1/4 cups each whipping cream and icing sugar. Add in 3 teaspoons vanilla extract as well.Whip that extra good until it’s super smooth and creamy.
By now your chocolate should be all melty.Pour that white goodness into your other white goodness and whip it up to create more white goodness.Now put plastic wrap on the surface of the icing and chuck that in the refrigerator overnight.
For the gum paste, I didn’t want to tempt fate (I know my own limitations, folks) so I purchased gum paste mix from a cake decoration store.The instructions on the package are to mix 16oz of the mixture with 1/4 cup water.Then you stir like crazy, eventually using your hands to knead it all in.Then wrap it tightly in a bag and leave it at room temperature for 15 minutes.Now you can dye it. I used two different shades of Wilton icing colour: moss green and juniper green.It’s a good idea to use gloves when you do this, unless you want green hands. Apply the colour with a toothpick. Just remember that a little goes a long way.Then, with gloves on your pretty little hands, knead the gum paste until the colour is thoroughly mixed in.Okay, so now put a bit of spray oil on your rolling pin and roll that sucker out flat.We’re cutting out ivy leaves here, so I thought, what better template than a real ivy leaf?
Cait came over to help me with the cutting out.
First we squished real (washed) ivy into the flattened gum paste.
You can see how the veins show up nicely.
Now we took a sharp pointy knife and cut them all out.
Laid them on waxed paper to dry overnight.
Aaaand … that’s all you get for today. I don’t know about you, but I’m pooped. More Friday!
This is kind of a mish-mash cake I made for Rusty (the man loves his cake), and it turned out pretty well, all things considered. The cake recipe comes from Epicurious.com and the icing is a modified version of the one I used in the Pie’s vanilla birthday cake.
Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter and flour a 9″ x 9″ square cake pan (or, in this case, a 10″ round springform pan).
Cream together 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup softened butter. Then add in 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract.
Combine 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour with 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder and add that to the butter/egg mixture.
Finally, stir in 1/2 cup milk until the batter is smooth.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and level the top.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the cake springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove to a rack to cool completely.
I was a little disappointed at how flat this cake turned out. I suppose if I were to do it again I would separate the eggs and whip the whites to boost the volume. You can gently fold the whites into your mixed batter to make your cake much fluffier.
While the cake is cooling, prepare your icing. In a double boiler, melt 4 oz white chocolate.
Cream together 1 package (250g) softened cream cheese, 1/2 cup milk, 4 cups icing sugar, and 2 teaspoons vanilla. If you use heavy cream instead of milk you will need less icing sugar.
Add in the melted chocolate and blend until smooth. Put that gooey goodness in the fridge to cool.
I decided to add a fruity boost to the cake with 1 cup blueberry fruit sauce (you can see the basic recipe here). Make sure your sauce is cool before you put it on your cake or it will melt your icing.
When the cake is cool, carefully slice it in half horizontally so you have two layers.
Slather some white chocolate icing on the top of the bottom slice and cool that in the fridge for a few minutes.
Plop about three quarters of your fruit sauce on top of that icing layer and smooth it out. I may have licked the spoon. But everyone who ate it was related to me.
Plop the second cake layer on top and ice the whole cake with your icing. Mine was pretty gooey and so oozed down the sides, but it worked out for me.
Pour the remaining fruit sauce on top of the cake.
Swirl with a knife for a marbled effect and then cool in the refrigerator until set.