There may be no better dessert than a well crafted pound cake. It is perfect in its simplicity and purity of flavor. This vanilla bean pound cake gets its name from the recipe’s old-fashioned formula; 1 pound butter, 1 pound flour, 1 pound eggs and 1 pound sugar. Very few modern recipes follow these exact proportions anymore, but the name stuck. Despite the richness of all that creamy butter and eggs the cake is actually quite delicate. I cream the life out of the butter to incorporate lots of air into it, whip the eggs until they are light and fluffy and add just a touch of baking powder to guarantee the texture I love. This is an excellent place to try out a European-style butter, which is made with less water and whey than American butters. It creates a melt-in-your-mouth cake that is like eating vanilla flavored velvet. I use 1 1/2 vanilla beans to make sure the flavor is as intense as possible, but even made with a single bean this cake will knock your socks off. You can shake some confectioner’s sugar over the top or create this vanilla bean icing that accentuates the flavor and seals in the moisture of the cake. Read More
There are several perks to writing a food blog, the best being the excuse to have delicious cakes, like this almond chiffon cake, in the house at all times. The only person who has an issue with this is my personal trainer, but I just remind him what job security it is for him. I also have an extensive (300+) cookbook library that I attribute to “research” when my husband asks where we will put them all, now that my book shelves are over flowing. Then there are the products companies send me to critique and review. I have received everything from peanut flour (which I adore) to a confectionery funnel (which is for portion control of pancakes and other runny stuff. Really, you have to make your pancakes the exact same size???). I will never review or endorse a product I don’t actually love and find value in.
Now back to the baking…this cake was inspired by my trip to Italy this past summer. The man who owned the home we rented introduced me to his favorite cookie, the ricciarelli. They are made from almond paste and egg whites baked into little rich clouds and dusted with pure white confectioners’ sugar. I was completely addicted to them after the first bite. They are available all over Tuscany and when baked fresh you want to sing their praises. The stale ones you buy in the tin are to be avoided and unfortunately that is what most of us have tried. After writing this description I realize I need to create and post a recipe for the actual cookie, but for now I have a cake that it inspired. It is light and spongy, but at the same time decadent because of the almond paste. The cake is great on its own with a cup of coffee for breakfast or with ice cream or coulis for dessert.
Happy Birthday Charlie! You are the best sous chef a mom could ever ask for!
Not to be outdone by his brother’s Valentine’s dessert, Charlie designed these little cakes for his 8th birthday. Complete with layers of different chocolate mousse, a drizzle of caramel and topped with cream and berries. He instructed me to put strips of cake around the outside to hold it all in. Voila, he had built a chocolate charlotte in his mind! The kid is a genius! (in my humble, unbiased opinion ;))
Charlie has helped me in the kitchen ever since he could drag a stool over to the counter. He cracks eggs like pro, knows how to use a kitchen scale and is going to have better knife skills than I do someday soon. He already makes his own crepes, aebleskivers and bread, of course! He has passion in the kitchen and that special touch it takes to be a great chef! And a proud mom!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
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