Last week I made a Génoise, the classic ethereal cake that is the perfect base for so many desserts. It is a cake just begging to be flavored with a syrup. If left all alone it can be a bit on the dry side. In fact, it is also known as a sponge cake, because it soaks up the flavors you add and holds them perfectly. The trick is knowing how to add the flavors so the cake is moist but not soggy. I decided to go with a simple syrup flavored with cinnamon, I layered the whole thing with milk chocolate mousse, enrobed it in a cinnamon buttercream and covered it in rolled fondant for my much hyped blog-iversary cake. 😉 Here’s how I made the cake and all its layers. Next I will decorate it, I promise!:Read More
More than half of the cakes I do for clients are covered with fondant. It is gorgeous, sleek and can be simple or ornate. Over the years I’ve tried just about every product out there and have loved some and loathed others. Some are easy to use but have no taste feel like chewing gum in your mouth. Others are melt in your mouth and have a pleasant flavor, but are nearly impossible to work with unless the conditions are just right. Not to mention the cost. For those of you who have worked with it you know it is very spendy, as we say here in MN. So make your own and get the flavor, the texture and the price you like. It is very easy, albeit a tad messy, but most of all fun!Read More
I’m gearing up for my one year blog-iversary next week and I’m making myself a cake. On the way to that celebratory occasion, I’ve made a few of the basic elements in the pastry kitchen: génoise and homemade rolled fondant. As Sherry Yard says in the opening of her génoise recipe from The Secrets of Baking, this simple cake is a test of pastry chefs technical prowess. It is used in competitions and in restaurant job interviews to see if you were paying attention in culinary school. Génoise is a basic cake used for weddings, birthdays, jellyrolls, petits fours and many more classic desserts. I love this delicious, light and versatile cake when it is baked well. You can add flavored syrup to it without it disintegrating into mush, it holds up to buttercream, ganache, fondant and anything else you can think of. It may seem old school, but I think génoise really is essential and can be easy if you have the right recipe and the proper technique.Read More
Every year at this time I make apple cakes, many of them. It is our traditional dessert during Rosh Hashanah** and just simply delicious for any occasion. This year I tried a new recipe — this apple pumpkin cake — from Robin Asbell’s latest book on Whole Grains. It gets its richness from pumpkin puree, a layer of sautéed apples and then the whole thing is topped with spiced streusel. This cake is so amazing, I had to bake two. The first one my family ate before I could photograph it, so I made another, and it’s gone too. Because the cake is made with whole wheat flour, apples and pumpkin I feel great about satisfying my boys’ requests to eat it for breakfast, a snack and dessert.Read More
First I have to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dad, Craig Neal! He is leading a trip in the boundary waters today or I’d bring him some cupcakes.
Last night I delivered a gazillion mini cupcakes to the annual Children’s Heartlink Gala event. I was part of the live auction with my friends Michelle Gayer (owner of the Salty Tart and pastry chef who wrote Charlie Trotter’s Desserts); extraordinary pastry chef Khanh Tran; Kevin Ryan (the author of Betty Crocker Why It Works); Sue Zelickson, the grand dame of food in the Twin Cities; Andrew Zimmern; Marjorie Johnson (the author of The Road to Blue Ribbon Baking and frequent guest on Jay Leno) and the Kare11 host Belinda Jensen. We are having a bake-off-party at General Mills with the highest bidder. It will be a fabulous event for an incredible cause.
Michelle and I went to the Gala and served up some sweet treats to try to entice people to bid on our auction package. She came with a brown butter pear tart with maple cream and a black pepper tuile. I decided to go CHOCOLATE and made my Devil’s Food cupcakes with Outrageous Mocha Buttercream with a honey tuile heart as the garnish. To make the honey tuile and see pictures of the event: Read More
This weekend I had the greatest honor and pleasure of making a chocolate wedding cake for my friend Maggie and her wonderful husband Steve. She is a fabulous midwife and delivered my two boys. It is an understatement to say she went above and beyond for me during my pregnancies and births. Maggie is the type of person who brings joy and love to everyone who has the good fortune to meet her. It meant so much to me when she and Steve asked me to participate in their special day.
Steve is a chocoholic and they decided to break with convention and go with a tower of over-the-top chocolate. I couldn’t agree more! I, of course, started with my Devil’s Food recipe and added a deep chocolate ganache-fudge icing. Read More