Chiffon Cake with a Tuscan Twist!

What an exciting year 2009 was. Towards the end it got a little too exciting and I was forced to take a break from posting. Now that the schedule of promoting Healthy Bread in Five has slowed down and the fevered pitch of the holidays has subsided I can get back to what I love. Don’t get me wrong I love my job, but when it all comes at once it can feel like too much of a good thing. Baking cake is a pure comfort. It is how I got started in this career in the first place, I needed a way to calm down after work, so I baked. After a particularly stressful day at work I whipped up a pile of cakes and my husband suggested I go to culinary school. I think I quit my job the next day and enrolled in the culinary program at the local technical college. It didn’t take long to figure out that I LOVED the study, but not the school. After much consideration I packed my bags, left my husband and dog behind (just for a while) and headed off to the CIA in NY. I was in heaven. Even after serving my time in restaurant kitchens, delivering wedding cakes to psycho brides and having to make 3000 spun sugar curls for a benefit dinner in the sweaty month of August, I love my job. So, despite being exhausted at the end of 2009 and needing a rest, I head into 2010 with a whole lot of gratitude and excitement about what this year brings.

As some of you may know from my facebook page my husband/web designer/IT guru is in the processes of revamping ZoëBakes, stay tuned for those changes soon. I am also working on a 3rd book with Jeff, about Pizzas and Flatbreads from around the world. The project has me obsessed with Italy and other points on the map where these breads are eaten. This summer my family will embark on a journey to find, taste and bake some of them. We’ll start in Italy, so I’ve been gearing up, which in my world means cooking Italian foods. Hence the Tuscan Twist on Chiffon cake. Traditionally it is like a super luscious angel food cake that is made with oil and egg yolks in addition to lots and lots of whites whipped and folded in. Instead of using a neutral flavored oil, which only adds to the texture, but not much in the way of flavor, I used a fruity olive oil. Bellissimo! (more…)

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Bûche de Noël ~ Christmas Yule Log

This is a classic French dessert that is served at Christmas time. Bûche de Noël translates as the “Christmas Log” and is meant to look like the piece of wood you are about to toss into the fireplace. It is a rather odd tradition and yet I find myself making one every year. It always reminds me of the TV station that plays Christmas music and shows nothing but a burning log in a fireplace. I thought those were just memories of my long ago childhood, but I was amazed to see that the burning log still finds its place on YouTube even today.

Despite my unglamorous association there is something quite elegant and beautiful about the Bûche de Noël. According to Larousse Gastronomique the yule log cake tradition started in the 1870s when Parisian pastry chefs decided to replace the less elaborate brioche style fruit loaf with this more festive confection. Although I am quite partial to the Panettone style breads, I can see why pastry chefs created something a little more fussy to work on, that is just how we are!

In the giving spirit of the holidays I encourage you to check out Menu for Hope 6 at Chez Pim! So many wonderful gift idea to bid on and what a wonderful cause!

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