For one thing, I had an enormous amount of actual cake itself, left from when I cut the rounded tops off the tiers. I had enough to create a whole other cake if I so desired. I had 12 egg yolks left from separating the whites. And I bought wayyy too much whipping cream.
I don’t know about you, but that screams TRIFLE to me. A LOT of trifle. So I sent out an email to ten of my nearest and dearest:
You guys busy Sunday night?
I have leftover bits from the wedding cake and too much whipping cream and a bunch of yolks waiting to be made into custard, so I was thinking I’d make a trifle.
I can’t make said trifle unless I have plenty of people to eat it, because it’s going to be huge. Spouses and significant others are welcome.
Bell central, 8PMish, SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY?
Stef wrote back not five minutes later:
TRIFLE I LOVE TRIFLE. You absolutely will not need to worry about the number of attendees required for consumption. I think I have a special funnel/hose device specifically designed for consuming trifle. When I was a child, Dad would park outside events at the church and we’d decide to go in based on how many different trifles I could smell. I can tell you exactly how tipsy a tipsy trifle is from 40 yards (+/- 10 proof). I suspect trifle is responsible for any love of jesus I may have; during my churchgoing days as much of 17% of my body weight was derived from eating trifles on feast days, high holies, birthdays, vestry meetings, and Sundays.
After that, it was easy to get a “yes” from every invitee, even if some of them didn’t know what trifle was. Kristopf and his lady friend even said they would show up “a trifle early.” Ha.
If you don’t know what trifle is, just click the Wikipedia hyperlink above where I talk about screaming trifle. Because it’s a British invention, I figured I should go to the BBC website for a real proper custard recipe. I modified it, of course.
So I have my 12 egg yolks. The recipe calls for 8 but this makes it extra custard-y. Add to that 2oz granulated sugar and 4 teaspoons corn starch.Whisk that silly. Leave it to come to room temperature.In a large saucepan, bring a large amount of dairy product (1250mL) to a simmer on low heat. I used half whipping cream and half milk.Pour that hot milk into your yolks, a little at a time, whisking all the while. You don’t want the yolks to curdle or cook, so this is why it’s crucial that they are warmed up gradually.Pour that back into the pot and bring to a simmer again, stirring with a wooden spoon, until thickened. Then you can remove that from the heat and allow it to cool completely.While that’s cooling, you can prepare your other ingredients. Here I washed and sliced 2 pints each fresh raspberries and strawberries.I also had to improvise a trifle bowl, because my mother doesn’t own one either. These jars, however, will do. They used to hold battery acid. Now they house random collections of sea-related items. Don’t worry, I washed the jar first.When your custard is cool, get everything else you need handy. I whipped up 500mL whipping cream, adding a bit of sugar and some maple extract. I pulled down the brandy from the liquor cabinet. Trifle is traditionally made with sweet sherry but we were out. I also heated up a 750mL jar of raspberry jam in the microwave until it was nice and runny.
Now we begin.
Start by crumbling a layer of your cake in the bottom of your bowl (or jar). Traditional trifle uses sponge cake, but slightly stale wedding cake tops work just peachy.
Drizzle about an ounce of brandy over that. You can use juice or soda instead of booze, but you need liquid to make the cake mushy. Mushy is key.
Then some jam.
Then custard, whipped cream, and fruit.
Repeat that again.
And again. Make sure to use all your ingredients. No need to measure. Top with extra fruit.
Look at those lovely layers.
Chill that in the refrigerator for a few hours until your trifle party arrives.
Shall we trifle? As you can see, Stef was first at the jar. And last.
Let’s trifle with some trifle.
And there was absolutely NONE left when we were done.
I should know by now that experimenting with recipes before a dinner party is not a good idea. But who else can I experiment on but my hapless dinner guests?
My goal was a dense, gooey, flourless chocolate cake, maybe with a glossy dark chocolate ganache poured over top. I thought I had found the ideal recipe here. It had four simple ingredients and no-nonsense instructions. It even gave me the opportunity to use my kitchen scale, which had long sat unused. Working in metric is such fun.
I’ll give you the recipe here, and then you can see for yourself how things went horribly wrong.
Preheat your oven to 180°C (that’s about 350°F for those of you who don’t have both measures on your ovens). Grease (with lots and lots of butter) a 22cm/9″ cake pan and set that aside.
Measure yourself out 250g dark chocolate and chop that sucker into pieces.
Melt that in a double boiler with 100g butter until smooth. Remove from the heat.
Separate 4 large eggs. Sift 175g icing sugar into a bowl, add the 4 yolks, and whisk until pale and creamy.
Fold the melted chocolate into the egg mixture.
In yet another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until soft peaks form.
Using a metal spoon, gradually fold the whites into the chocolate mixture.
Pour the mixture into the greased pan. Mine nearly filled it, so I put a pizza pan underneath to catch any spills. I needn’t have worried, it turns out.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the surface begins to crack but the centre is still gooey.
Alas, though the cake baked up perfectly and smelled divine, it wouldn’t come out of the pan, no sir. Not at all. I don’t even think lining the pan with parchment paper would have helped.
This is it after it cooled.
I ended up with warm, gooey, dense chocolate cake bits in a pile on a plate.
With three hours until the dinner guests arrived, the Pie said, “Well, you have time to make another cake.”
I gave him a dark look.
“Or,” he says, backtracking, “you could make a trifle?”
Huzzah! Dessert is saved! Another floor pizza crisis averted.
Of course, having never made trifle in my life (I save that duty for my mother-in-law, because Mrs. Nice does it so well), I do not own a trifle bowl. Not to worry, I will improvise. Though I wouldn’t mind getting a trifle bowl someday, hint, hint …
Trifle is all about the layers. The traditional version is a sponge cake, usually soaked with some form of alcohol, like brandy or sherry, topped with fruit, custard, and whipping cream in alternating layers. In a straight-sided container like a trifle bowl you can see all the layers and the effect is quite pretty.
This being a chocolate cake, I thought the custard would be inappropriate. If I had more time, I would have made chocolate pudding as a substitute for the custard, but I didn’t have the time needed for the pudding to set. Instead, I opted for a strawberry fruit sauce with drizzled melted chocolate between the layers of whipped cream, and topped with fresh raspberries. I drizzled a wee bit of Grand Marnier over the cake and let that sink in.
When I made the fruit sauce I added a little bit of corn starch just so it would thicken, and then I made sure to let it cool.
I added butter to the melted chocolate so that when it cooled it wouldn’t be as hard as it was originally.
I also added a wee bit of cream of tartar to my whipped cream so that it would hold its shape better while chilling in the refrigerator.
Drop a handful or two of fresh raspberries on top and drizzle the remaining chocolate all over and we’re set.
The layering doesn’t look as pretty from the side but we have to sacrifice aesthetics sometimes. Chill that sucker for a couple hours then feed it to your unsuspecting dinner guests with a sob story about your failed dessert.
This simple, zesty cobbler has a hint of citrus that takes it from ordinary to extraordinary, and is wicked easy to make. The recipe, taken from the O Magazine Cookbook, calls for orange zest, but I substituted it for lime, because that’s what I had on hand.
I also used flash-frozen cranberries instead of fresh, and they worked out just fine.
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, beat together 6 tablespoons softened butter and 1/2 cup granulated sugar until smooth and creamy.
Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time, until well blended.
Add in 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange (or lime) zest and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Add in 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder and beat until fully blended.
Set that aside for a wee bit.
In a 2-quart shallow glass or ceramic baking dish, pour in 6 cups cranberries.
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon orange zest (or lime zest) on top. Give it a bit of a stir.
Spread over this 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 1 cup cranberry juice.
Spoon the topping batter over the cranberry mixture by heaping spoonfuls.
Feel free to spread it and flatten it a bit if you like.
Bake for 40-60 minutes (depending on your oven), or until the filling is bubbly around the edges and the topping is brown. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped or ice cream.
I’m back in St. John’s for a brief visit. How I missed my kitchen!
The Pie and I do love our waffles. They’re not just a breakfast food, either. They also make a good base for many savoury dishes. Feel free to add things like frozen fruit or herbs and cheese to your mix. And you can top them with anything: honey, whipped cream, fresh or frozen fruit, maple syrup, bacon …
The electric waffle iron has made making waffles so much easier. My brothers and I got this one for my mother for Mother’s Day back in the 1990s, and when I moved to St. John’s I took it with me.
Once you have properly seasoned your waffle maker (by making a couple batches of super buttery waffles in it), you will never need to do more than wipe the goo off the outside once in a while, and flick off the crumbs left inside after use.
This recipe comes from the Joy of Cooking (of course). The instructions claim that the recipe makes 6 waffles, but in our little iron it’s more like 12. Just be prepared to eat lots of waffle-y goodness or halve the recipe. Sure, you can get a decent waffle out of a boxed mix, but really it’s just as easy to make them from scratch.
Preheat your waffle iron.
You may also want to set a stoneware plate or oven-safe dish in your oven and set it to about 225°F. This is where you will keep your waffles warm while you’re making up the rest of the batch.
In one bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1 tablespoon sugar.
In a second bowl, mix together 3 eggs, 1/2 cup melted butter, and 1 1/2 cups buttermilk.
Make a well in your dry ingredients and pour in your wet ingredients. Whisk that sucker up good.
Pour some mixture into your waffle iron. You don’t want it to fill up completely, because it will expand as it cooks.
Cook until your iron tells you it’s ready. Ours chirps. It’s rather obnoxious. About as obnoxious as making heart-shaped waffles.
While you are cooking your waffles, you might want to toss some frozen blueberries, some lemon juice, and some sugar into a pot to make up a quick fruit sauce.Now all you have to do is eat them!
Okay maybe today it’s bright and sunny, but let me assure you that this is rarely the case. And it’s still cold and slippery. And winter.Being Canadian, you’d think I’d be used to this nonsense that happens year in, year out.
I prefer to live in denial.
Or hibernate. And eat lots of carbs.
So that’s what we’re going to do today. Eat cheese. And carbs.
This is a twist on the classic fettuccine alfredo recipe, and it’s really not very good for you. But who cares? I live in Newfoundland and no one will ever see me in a bathing suit. If you don’t like blue cheese you can substitute it for something milder. The key component of an alfredo sauce is that it is parmesan or romano melted in cream, so as long as you have that going for you you’re set.
In a medium frying pan, melt about a tablespoon butter and sauté 3 cups sliced mushrooms until they are brown and tender.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and chuck in enough dry fettuccine pasta for 4 servings. While your pasta is cooking, melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan. Add about 2 tablespoons flour to that and whisk it well.
Add 1 cup whipping cream and 1/2 cup milk and bring to a boil. Make sure to stir constantly. I got interrupted so you can see that my butter browned a bit before I added the dairy. No matter. It was still good.
Reduce to a simmer and add 1/2 cup fresh oregano (or 2 tablespoons dried), 2 teaspoons minced garlic, and 1 pinch nutmeg.
Add to this about 3/4 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese as well as 3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese.
You can add in your cooked mushrooms now. You want to do this as late as possible so they don’t get soggy or overcooked and tough.
Cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is nice and thick.
Drain your cooked pasta and add it to the pot, tossing it in the sauce to coat the pasta completely.
Serve immediately, garnished with some more grated parmesan or romano. Food coma to follow.
Here we’ve reached the last of our Jerusalem artichokes. Have you had enough? I think I have.
This is kind of a garbage soup, but only sorta.
Chop up a large onion. Or in my case, half an onion and two shallots. Chuck those in a pot with some olive oil and garlic.
I still had some eggplant leftover from that lasagna I made a little while back. You can leave that as an option at your discretion.
Chop up three jalapeños and chuck them in as well.
Sauté them for a little bit.
Chop up two carrots and plop those in.
Chop up two pounds of jerusalem artichokes. Those go in too.
Pour in enough chicken stock (about a litre) to almost cover and bring the liquid to a boil. Simmer on medium-low for an hour or so, until all the vegetables are tender and you can squish the carrots with a spoon.
Take an immersion blender to it and give ‘er until it’s smooth.
Now take some romano and grate it up. About three tablespoons.
Put it in a bowl and sprinkle it liberally with black pepper.
Pour in about half a cup whipping cream. Whip it up good.
When stiff peaks form you’re set.
Plop a dollop of that on your soup with some Italian parsley.
You are awesome. I think we should be best friends. We should hang out and stuff.
p.s. My husband loves your ice cream.
Have I mentioned recently that I am in love with David Lebovitz and the magic he makes in his tiny Paris kitchen? If you haven’t been reading his blog, you probably should. It was from him that I got that amazing Devil’s Food Cake recipe with the coffee in it. Mmmm …
The Pie came to visit me for Thanksgiving, so I wanted to make sure to make all of his favourite things for when he was here. Because one of our family friends always brings her amazing pumpkin pie to our Thanksgiving dinner, I figured what better complement to the dessert than a home-made ice cream? And vanilla is the Pie’s favourite. I’ve never made a “cooked” ice cream before but I have recently learned that all the things that used to intimidate me about cooking are not as hard as I once thought them to be. So here we go.
This recipe, of course, is adapted from David Lebovitz. You should read his post about it for all the interesting information about vanilla and where it comes from and how you can store your used beans.
Start with 1 cup whole milk. I used half whipping cream and half 1% milk, because that’s what I had.
Grab yourself as well 3/4 cup sugar.
Heat the milk and sugar in a saucepan.
Split a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the milk and add the pod as well. My vanilla bean was dried out so it kind of disintegrated on me, but that’s okay.
Remove the milk from the heat, cover it, and allow it to infuse for about an hour.
Set up an ice bath.
Place a smaller bowl (at least 2L) in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over top of the smaller bowl.
Pour 2 cups heavy cream (whipping cream) through the strainer.
Re-warm your infused milk and gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly.
Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly (and I mean constantly) and scraping the bottom of the saucepan with a spatula, until the custard (because that’s what it is) thickens enough to coat the spatula. It won’t take long so keep an eye out.
Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir over the ice in the bath until it’s cool.
Chuck the vanilla bean pod back into the mix. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.
I also added here 3 tablespoons Screech rum. Lebovitz says that adding a little bit of alcohol to your ice cream will make it softer after it’s made.
When you are ready to freeze your ice cream, take out the vanilla bean pod and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
Store in an airtight container in your freezer until thoroughly frozen.
My childhood equivalent of an ice cream treat was my mother’s tart yet sweet rhubarb fool. You can even find this recipe in my mother’s cookbook. We used to grow so much rhubarb in Nova Scotia that it was actually possible to hide among its leaves. Needless to say, rhubarb in its many forms graced our table often.
This easy dessert has only three ingredients: 1 cup whipping cream, 2 cups stewed and sweetened rhubarb (plop your raw, chopped rhubarb in a pot with some sugar and bring it to a boil. Tada, you’re done), and a little bit of granulated sugar.
In a bowl, whip up your whipping cream until it’s as stiff as you can get it.
Try to avoid getting it all over yourself. I always fail.
Anyway, you have your whipped cream. Add a bit of sugar so it’s a little bit sweet. If your stewed rhubarb isn’t that sweet, you might want to add more sugar to the cream.
Add the stewed rhubarb.
Fold it in so it’s all swirly with rhubarby goodness.
Spread evenly in a 9-inch pie pan and chuck it in the freezer. Give it at least three hours to freeze all the way through.
Take it out of the freezer about 20 minutes before you want to serve it.
Cut it like a pie, garnish it with what you want, and serve it up. Sweet and tart!
My last attempt, as we all know, was somewhat disastrous, though the Pie says it is the best pie I’ve ever made (what does that say about the rest of them?). This time, with some new calculations, it worked out a little better …
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
Chocolate Crumb Crust
In a bowl, mix together 1 cup chocolate baking crumbs, 1/2 cup shredded coconut, and 2 tbsp granulated sugar.
Melt about 1/3 cup butter and pour it in. Mix well.
Flatten your crumb mixture into a 9″ pie pan and shore up the sides as well. Bung it in the oven and bake it for ten minutes. Let the crust cool completely while you work on the filling.
Key Lime Filling
Take yourself a pound of key limes (about two dozen). Using a rasp zester, grate the zest from about half of them into a small bowl and set aside.
Juice all the limes and set that aside as well. It takes for freaking ever.
Take yourself six eggs.
Separate them and put the whites away for something else.
In the bowl of your mixer, plop in the yolks and the zest, along with 2 tbsp granulated sugar. Beat for several minutes until thick.
Add in 1 can (300mL) of condensed milk and 1 can (500mL) coconut milk. Beat again for a while, then add your lime juice and mix until incorporated.
Pour into your cooled pie shell (I have slightly overfilled mine).
Bake for 35 minutes or until the middle is almost set. Cool completely, then chill for at least an hour and serve with whipped cream.
Obviously, I still need to work on the aesthetics part.
Angel food is one of my favourite cakes, always has been, even since I was a child. My mother would rarely make it because without a stand mixer it’s kind of a pain in the ass. With my lovely Kitchenaid this whole shebang is a breeze.
This is one recipe where I follow the rules to the letter. You really can’t mess with the science of this cake. Angel food is basically an enormous meringue with flour and sugar suspended in it, so you have to be pretty rigid with how you make it. You also absolutely NEED a tube pan or bundt pan to make angel food cake. The batter won’t cook evenly without that empty space in the middle. Trust me, I’ve tried it. Bad things happen. Tube pans are generally better to use than bundt pans simply because the tube on the pan is generally taller than the rest of the pan to allow you to invert it, or the pan comes with legs on the top that let you do the same thing.
I got this recipe a few years ago from Cooking for Engineers, and I think it’s fantastic. It’s a good way to fancy up an easy cake. The only change I made to this recipe was to double the amount of stewed strawberries, as the last time I made it I didn’t feel like I had enough.
Preheat your oven to 375°F.
In a bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups cake flour or all purpose flour and 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Then sift that stuff together with a sifter. I like the handheld squeezy sifters because they make my life easier and they’re fun. You want to sift your solids a couple times to make sure the sugar and flour are fully incorporated.
Now you need the whites of 12 eggs (about 1 1/2 cups). You can either separate them yourself or buy them in a carton – the choice is yours. Just make sure that if you separate them yourself you don’t get any yolks mixed in with the whites – whites don’t get all that fluffy when there is fat mixed in. We’ll figure out something to do with the yolks another time, but until then you can wrap them tightly and put them in the freezer. Bring the whites to room temperature. You can do this quickly by putting the bowl of whites inside another bowl of warm water. Room temperature whites will make a bigger foam than cold whites. FACT.
Put your whites in your mixer and let ‘er rip. When the whites begin to look frothy, add in 1/4 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar.
When the whites have formed soft peaks, whisk in 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and then whisk in 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar, a little bit at a time.
When the whites have formed stiff peaks (ones that don’t droop), stop yer mixin’ and take the bowl out the mixer.
Sift the flour mixture onto a thin layer on top of the whites, a bit at a time, and fold in gently with a wide spatula. Be very gentle so you don’t disturb the millions of little bubbles. Keep adding layers of flour until you’re out of stuff to sift, and keep folding until it’s all in there.
Gently scoop the mixture into a spotlessly clean and un-greased tube pan (grease + meringues = not so good). Level the top with a spatula and ease it into the oven for 35 minutes, until the top is a lovely golden brown.
Remove the cake from the oven and immediately invert the pan. I like the old wine bottle trick, where you invert the pan and stand it on the neck of a full bottle of wine. Inverting the pan prevents the very fragile cake from collapsing on itself as it cools, and putting it on a wine bottle allows for sufficient air flow underneath to speed the cooling process. Don’t touch the cake for a couple of hours until it is completely cool. Not to fret – the cake will not fall out on its own – you didn’t grease the pan, remember?
While the cake is baking/cooling, you can make your strawberry goo. You can also do this the day before, which is handy if you’re having a dinner party.
In a pot, combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and 8 oz frozen strawberries. Now, the last time I made this recipe I didn’t have enough strawberries, so I decided to up the amount. Therefore, I dumped in an entire package of frozen strawberries, which was 600g, or about 21 oz. This was a goodly amount for my purposes, but it does end up leaving you with a lot of extra glaze. I froze my extra glaze for some invention at a later date.
Anyway, stir your pot mixture to dissolve the sugar while you bring it to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about ten minutes. I don’t recommend covering the pot and walking away. Bad things happen. My house still smells like burnt sugar. Keep an eye on that sucker.
The strawberries should be super gooshy at this point. Remove the pot from the heat and strain your solids from your liquids by pouring the mixture through a sieve into a measuring cup. Make sure to get as much liquid as possible from your solids and set them aside.
Return the liquid to the pot and bring it to a simmer again. Whisk 1 tbsp corn starch into 3 tbsp water and pour the suspension into the syrup. Bring the syrup to a boil again, stirring often. This will activate the starch and cause the syrup to thicken. When it does, remove it from the heat. Set the syrup aside to cool, then refrigerate for a while until cold.
Now back to the cake. Once it is completely cool you can set it upright again. Run a thin knife between the cake and the pan to loosen it. Make sure to run the knife around the tube as well. If your tube pan has a separating bottom, you can now just lift out the bottom panel and run your knife around that to free the cake. If not, jimmying the knife around and jiggling the cake itself generally helps to get it out of the pan.
Put the cake on a clean surface, and using a long serrated knife, cut the cake equally in half horizontally. Try to keep your lines straight.
Remove the top half of the cake and set it aside. In the bottom half, use a spoon or your fingers to scoop a shallow trough in the cake all the way around, like a wee moat. You can eat the bits that you scoop out, mmmm. Fill the moat with your strawberry solids, all the way around.
Put the top half of the cake back on and pretend that you never cut it at all.
Take your chilled glaze and, using a spatula, silicone brush, spoon, or whatever is easiest, coat the entire cake, even in the little hole, with the glaze.
Put the glazed cake aside until you are ready to serve it. A little bit of time also allows the glaze to set a bit. Right before serving, whip yourself up some cream, about 1 1/2 to 2 cups whipping cream, with 1 tbsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp vanilla. Over-whip the cream a bit so it’s stiffer and maintains its shape.
Slather the whipped cream all over the cake, even in the hole in the middle, until it’s evenly covered. You can go for the smooth-looking approach by using a long knife, or you can go crazy with whorls and cowlicks and whatever. I like to dump about 2-3 cups of fresh sliced strawberries all over the top and into the hole before serving. Oh man, oh man . . .
Cover left-over cake (hah, as if that’s even possible) with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week, if it lasts that long.