Wildflower Coconut Cake

Hello!! How convenient that my birthday falls on the same day of my Sweet D posts. As a result, I bring you my birthday cake 2019, because yes, I do bake my own birthday cakes! It’s great because I can do whatever flavors or designs I want, and no one can tell me not to! This year I chose a crowd pleaser though, who doesn’t love coconut cake?? This particular recipe comes from Queen Ina Garten herself, because I was looking for the classic flavors of the coconut cake from the bakery by my house: vanilla, almond, coconut, and the sweet tang of luscious cream cheese frosting. And, to pull out all the stops, I tried my hand again at some buttercream flowers, and I get better every time!

Before baking this year’s cake, I took a trip to Michaels and got some supplies, including some cake boards, baking strips, a wire cake trimmer, a flower nail, and some fancy gel food coloring. The cake board goes on your cake stand or plate, and allows for easy transfer from one surface to another. The baking strips are something I should’ve gotten a LONG time ago- you soak them for 5 minutes before baking, and then wrap them around the sides of the cake pans. This keeps the sides of the pan cooler, and results in a cake that bakes more evenly and flat. The cake trimmer lets me take the uneven top off in one motion, because I am notoriously bad at cutting my cakes evenly. The flower nail and gel food colors are for the buttercream flowers and wow does the flower nail make a difference! It lets you get every side of the flower in one motion, and results in much more even flowers.

I’m excited about what my 24th year on this earth holds, hopefully many more cakes and a pie or two (or seven). Until then, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. Zippy limes.
TWO. Bike baskets.
THREE. The glow you get from being outdoors.
FOUR. Pitchers on the porch.
FIVE. Strawberry Rhubarb jam.

Let’s bake!!

MAKE: 1 2-layer cake
PREP TIME: 2-3 hours (depending on flowers and decorating)
BAKE TIME: 45-55 minutes.

 

COCONUT CAKE INGREDIENTS

¾ lb. (3 sticks)  unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temp
1½ tsp vanilla bean paste
1½ tsp almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 oz. shredded sweetened coconut

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING INGREDIENTS

1 lb. cream cheese, softened
½ lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ tsp vanilla bean paste
¼ tsp almond extract
1 lb. powdered sugar
Shredded sweetened coconut (for decoration)

BUTTERCREAM FLOWER INGREDIENTS

1 stick butter, softened
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 Tbsp whole milk

CAKE STEPS

ONE. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease 2 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. If you’re using baking strips on the outside, start soaking them now.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until pale yellow and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bow one or two times during this process to make sure it’s all being evenly mixed. Crack the eggs into a small bowl, then add them one at a time to the butter mixture. Once all the eggs are incorporated, add in the vanilla and almond, and mix to combine.

THREE. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into another bowl. You’ll be adding the flour mixture and the milk alternately to the butter mixture in 5 parts, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold the shredded coconut into the batter.

FOUR. Divide the batter evenly into the two pans and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes in their pans for 30 minutes before turning them out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING STEPS

ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the butter, cream cheese, vanilla extract, and almond extract on low speed until combined, but do not whipped.

TWO. Carefully spoon in the powdered sugar a few at a time until it’s all smooth and incorporated. Repeat for a second batch.


BUTTERCREAM STEPS

ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar until combined. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until you’ve reached the desired consistency, but make sure it’s not too wet because it will be harder for flowers to hold their shape. Repeat as necessary for more flower colors.

CAKE ASSEMBLY

ONE. Place one cake flat side down on your cake stand or plate. Add a cup or so of frosting to the top and spread evenly. Place the other cake on top so that the flat bottom of this cake is the top. Crumb coat this cake with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting, and chill for 20-30 minutes.

TWO. Coat the cake with a second, thicker layer of cream cheese frosting and smooth out. Gently press the shredded coconut around the sides of the cake evenly. Top the cake with the chilled buttercream flowers and fill in any gaps with extra buttercream. Now cut yourself a generous slice and enjoy!!

*Pro Tip #1: for buttercream flower tips, see here.

*Pro Tip #2: when storing leftover cake (assuming there is any!), press two pieces of sliced sandwich bread over the cut sides. This will prevent the cake from drying out and keep it nice and soft.

YAY! XoxoxoxoxD

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Almond Bundt Cake with Candied Citrus Peels

Since when is it April?? Literally where has the time gone? I’m all turned around and suddenly I’ll be 24 in a week? Yikes. But before I worry about that, I’m here to give you this life-changing recipe for an almond bundt cake so moist and so versatile that you may never need to make another cake again. Adapted from this recipe from Zoe Bakes, I tweaked a few little things and switched a blood orange glaze (I think they’re out of season now) with a lemon and orange one instead, similar to a frosting my grandma used to make when I was little. The combination of citrus and almond is heavenly and bright and springy and when I served this cake for dinner, there was not a single piece left over.

Some notes about this cake- the recipe calls for cake flour, which is much finer than all-purpose, and as a result creates a cake with a smaller, denser crumb. For some reason I had a box of cake flour in my house that had baking powder and salt already mixed in, do not use this! You want to be able to control the amounts that you add in, so stick with the straight up stuff. Also, it’s important to use almond paste that’s relatively new/ fresh, because if it’s too old and dry, it won’t incorporate into the batter and you’ll end up with chunks of almond paste throughout. Finally, the base cake recipe is pretty customizable, you can add a touch of citrus zest to the cake itself, serve it with or without glaze, change up the fruits, it’s all up to you! But I myself am dramatic as hell so I decided to teach myself how to make candied citrus peels to go on top, and 10/10 would recommend you try that at least once yourself, it’s deceivingly easy and SO good. Everyone’s getting chocolate covered orange peels as gifts this year.

Before we get started however, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. Receiving food as presents.
TWO. Phone calls that accidentally last over an hour.
THREE. The first day of the year that you can go outside without a coat and realize it’s comfortably warm. (Thanks Taylor!)
FOUR. Naps on a rainy Sunday.
FIVE. Spring cleaning.

Let’s bake!

SERVES: 8-9 people
PREP TIME: 30 minutes
BAKE TIME: 45-50 minutes
DECORATING TIME: Unlimited!!!

ALMOND CAKE INGREDIENTS

¾ cup cake flour
½ tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp kosher salt
7 oz. almond paste, diced into squares
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
5 eggs, room temperature

CITRUS GLAZE INGREDIENTS

3½ cups powdered sugar
Zest of two lemons
Zest of one orange
4 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 Tbsp. orange juice

CANDIED CITRUS INGREDIENTS

Peels from 1 lemon + ½ orange
2½ cups sugar
1 cup water (plus more for boiling)

ALMOND CAKE STEPS

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Generously butter and flour a 10-cup bundt pan, tapping out the excess flour. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cubed almond paste until it breaks into tiny pieces. Add the sugar a little bit at a time until combined and grainy. Add the softened butter, a tablespoon at a time, until half is in, scraping the bowl with a spatula every now and then. Beat the mixture on medium speed until smooth. When the mixture is uniform, add in the rest of the butter, and beat until fluffy and light.

THREE. Add the vanilla bean paste, and then the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. At this point, take the bowl out of the stand mixer and fold in half of the flour with a spatula. Repeat with the rest until just combined, don’t overmix!

FOUR. Fill the prepared pan with batter, smooth out the top, and bake for 45-50 minutes until golden. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then flip onto a cooling rack to cool completely.


CITRUS GLAZE STEPS

ONE. In a bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and citrus zests, then add the lemon and orange juices, a few tablespoons at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. You may not use all of it if you want a thicker glaze, and that’s fine! Transfer the glaze to a measuring cup for easier pouring.

CANDIED CITRUS PEEL STEPS

ONE. Using a vegetable peeler, cut wide strips of peel from a lemon and an orange, avoiding the bitter white pith as much as possible. If you want smaller pieces, cut the peels into smaller strips, but you can also leave it as is.

TWO. In a small saucepan, add the peels and enough water to generously cover them and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, strain the water out, add fresh water, and bring to a boil again, then drain again. Repeat this one more time. This process will take some of the bitterness out of the peels!

THREE. In the same saucepan, whisk together 2 cups of the sugar and a cup of water, then bring to a boil. Add the peels and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook until the peels are tender and translucent, about 10 minutes, then drain.

FOUR. In a small bowl, toss the peels with the remaining ½ cup sugar until they’re thoroughly coated, then remove one at a time, shaking off the excess. Allow the candied peels to dry before arranging or packaging.


CAKE ASSEMBLY STEPS

ONE. Set a cooking rack in a rimmed baking dish, then place the cake on the cooling rack. Pour the glaze over the cake*, coating as little or as much as you’d like. Let the excess glaze fully drip off into the sheet pan below, then transfer the cake to a stand or plate. Arrange the candied citrus peels on top, and serve!!

*Tip: save the glaze that drips off onto the sheet tray, and use it to drizzle over the cake when serving!!

XoxoxoxoxD

Buttery Double Vanilla Cake

Hello and happy Tuesday my friends, today we’re slowing things down with a simple tea cake. But when I say simple, I am referring only to the level of skill required to make this cake, and not at all to the depth of its flavor. I love recipes with a catch, and this recipe’s catch is that it’s got not one, but TWO types of vanilla in it. Classic vanilla extract is necessary, but the secret is an additional teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, which adds an extra punch of vanilla as well as flecks of vanilla bean so you KNOW what you’re getting before you even eat it. I used the very last of both my fancy vanilla extract AND my fancy vanilla bean paste, but I can’t imagine a better way for them to go. Taken from this recipe here by Posie Harwood, this cake is the perfect complement to a cup of tea- it’s buttery and dense and rich, and because the cake pan is lined with sugar instead of flour, it’s got a delicate, caramelized crunch on the outside.

To match the simplicity of this recipe, I will keep it short and sweet here as well, because we all know why you’re here and it’s to BAKE not to read! Thank you love you for reading, here we go!

But of course, before we get started, here are 5 things to be happy about today!
ONE. Hot drinks in clear glass mugs.
TWO. Teaching yourself calligraphy by practicing the alphabet over and over.
THREE. Mini succulents in individual pots.
FOUR. The idea that everything happens for a reason, and sometimes not planning is the best way to be.
FIVE. Mint green kitchen appliances.

Let’s bake!!

MAKES: 1 8-inch round cake
PREP TIME: 15 minutes
BAKE TIME: 35-40 minutes

INGREDIENTS

1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for the pan
3 eggs, warmed
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
1 cup flour
14 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly

STEPS

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch cake pan with a parchment circle, then grease the sides and bottom of the pan with butter. Coat the buttered pan with white sugar and shake around until it’s evenly coated.

TWO. If your eggs are at anything other than room temperature, warm them in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes, this will help when you’re whipping air into them later. In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the warmed eggs and cup of granulated sugar for 4 to 5 minutes, until they are doubled in size, pale yellow, and fall in thick ribbons when the mixer is turned off.

THREE. Add the vanilla bean paste, vanilla extract, and salt. If you don’t have any vanilla bean paste, just add an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract to make it three total. Sift the flour over the egg mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula. It’s important to fold gently in order to maintain the air beaten into the eggs and not deflate them!

FOUR. Drizzle the melted butter into the batter and mix, again gently, but until it’s totally incorporated. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. The cake will puff in the oven and then sink a little when it’s removed, but that’s normal!

FIVE. Remove the cake from the oven and run a knife around the edges, then allow it to cool for 5 minutes before removing it from the pan. Turn the cake onto a wire rack and continue to cool completely.

This cake is best enjoyed slightly warm with a cup of tea!! xoxoxoxoxoD

Sweet D’s First Birthday Baby Princess Cakes

HELLO ALL!! As you can tell from the title of this recipe, I am very excited to say that it’s Sweet D’s first birthday!!! My goodness how time flies when you get to do what you love! I won’t do some long, sappy post here since I did that ~fairly~ recently with my 50th recipe post, but if you’re feeling it, you can read that here. What I will say is thanks for sticking around a whole year, and here’s to many more years ahead!

Now it’s only fair to have a cake recipe for a birthday, no matter whose it is, and these cakes are so very important. A traditional princess cake is a full-sized cake rather than a set of mini ones, but following this recipe from Molly Yeh, these little babies just bring so much joy. They’re also very customizable, as the jam filling can be anything you feel like, the marzipan can be dyed any color of the rainbow, and your decorations can be as high or low maintenance as you please. Plus they look VERY impressive and almost too pretty to eat- the key word being almost, because not eating these would be a tragedy. Word to the wise, when the directions tell you to put the cakes covered in whipped cream in the freezer to set before covering, actually do it. It makes them soooo much easier and neater to cover with marzipan, and it will save you many a headache and ripped marzipan. Other than that, you’re ready to go!!

But first, here are five things to be happy about today:
ONE. Keeping fresh flowers by your bed, fresh herbs in the kitchen
TWO. The smell of a coffee can opening
THREE. Comfortable, stretchy clothes
FOUR. Large colonial fireplaces
FIVE. The soft splat of snow falling
Let’s get birthday baking!!

Makes: 24 Princess Cakes
Prep/ Decoration Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 18-20 minutes

Almond Cake Ingredients

1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup almond flour
½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
½ cup buttermilk

Almond Cake Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the all purpose and almond flours, salt, and baking powder + soda.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. Alternating between the two, add a third of the flour mixture, then a third of the buttermilk, until all is just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared sheet pan and spread evenly using an offset spatula. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool fully in the pan, then cut into 20 2-inch circles using a biscuit cutter.

Assembly Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream
½ cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract
1 jar store bought raspberry jam (or whatever jam you feel like!)
24 oz. marzipan
Assorted food coloring

Assembly Steps

ONE.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and extracts until stiff peaks form. Spread each cake circle with a layer of jam, then, using a piping bag, pipe a small, uniform mound of whipped cream on top in a swirl. Once all the cake circles are topped with jam and whipped cream, pop the tray in the freezer to set while you prep the marzipan.

TWO. Dust a clean surface with powdered sugar, and knead your desired food coloring into the marzipan to change its color. Set aside a small portion to use for decorations, such as rose buds, hearts, or polka dots. Roll the marzipan out into a 1/8″ layer, and cut out circles large enough to cover the cakes entirely without ripping. I ended up using a 3½” cookie cutter here and it worked out perfectly! This may take some trial and error depending on the size of your cakes, but you can always re-roll the marzipan if you make a mistake!

THREE. Cover each cake with a marzipan circle and trim off any excess from the bottom, re-rolling the scraps. For decoration, create small, flat strips and roll them into rosebuds and add petals, or use mini cookie cutters or the tops of piping tips to cut out hearts and circles to affix to the top.

Now bask in how cute these look and throw a tea party somewhere!! xoxoxoxoxoD

Chocolate Sheet Cake with Strawberry Milk Buttercream

HERE WE ARE!! Welcome to Sweet D’s 50th recipe post! I simply can’t believe how quickly time flies, can you? It seems like 5 minutes ago that I was just starting out, wondering if I was going to give up after 2 weeks. I find myself getting bored so easily that a small part of me was worried I would be over it pretty soon, but heck no! 50 recipes later and I’m having just as much fun as when I started, more so even, now that I’ve found a rhythm. I have grown as a cook and a baker, challenged myself, and learned so much.

It seems perfect that this milestone comes the week of Thanksgiving, when I’m reminded of everything that I’m thankful for in this life. I know it’s so cheesy to say, but I’m going to anyway. I am so lucky to have the support of my family and my friends, all of whom push me to do my very best, and who are always there to taste test. I am also thankful for this love of food, and for those bloggers and professionals who have continued to inspire me. And last but not least, I am thankful for each and every person that reads Sweet D, because without you I would just be talking nonsense into the internet void, which would still be fun for sure, but not nearly as fulfilling.

It’s only fitting that I celebrate this little life victory with a cake, because is it really a celebration if you don’t eat one? Today’s cake is equal parts lazy and extra, much like myself. It’s lazy in that I baked a chocolate sheet cake and didn’t want to even remove it from the dish- no sides to frost, no trimming, no stacking! But its extra-ness comes from this glorious frosting. I came across this recipe for German Buttercream on Serious Eats, and I had never heard of it before!! I’ve heard of American, Swiss, and Italian buttercreams, but German? I just had to know.

Upon digging deeper, I learned that to make this style of buttercream, you essentially have to make pudding first, chill it, and then whip it with butter and voila!  What’s cool is that you can infuse the milk with other flavors before you make the pudding, which got me thinking…what if the milk wasn’t just regular milk, but strawberry milk?? That beautiful, millennial pink stuff in the Nesquik bottles, reminiscent of childhood, its flavor a perfect compliment to chocolate cake. And so, an idea was hatched, and here we are.  And, because I had to take it just another level higher, I conquered another fear and that fear is buttercream flowers. I’ll tell you that practice makes perfect for these, but some reference videos and a good set of piping tips surely helps as well. This frosting has 5 sticks of butter in it (trust me, it’s not a typo), so if you find the buttercream starting to get too warm as you pipe, throw it in the fridge for 15 minutes and then go from there!

Here is the video I found helpful from Wilton, just keep going, you can always scrape the flowers off and start again!! It turns out to be very calming; I put on some TV, got comfy, and piped away!

And because it wouldn’t be a Sweet D post without some happys, here are 5 things to be happy about today:
ONE. The first snow of the year.
TWO. Christmas Tree Farms
THREE. Thanksgiving naps after too much turkey.
FOUR. Watching the parade from under a cozy blanket with a nice cup of tea.
FIVE. Early rising and productive mornings.

Makes: One 9 x 13″ sheet cake, serves 12-15, plus 7 cups buttercream
Prep Time: 1 hour
Inactive Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 35-40 Minutes

Chocolate Sheet Cake Ingredients

2 cups white sugar
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for pan
1½ tsp baking powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup flavorless oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup boiling water
½ cup very hot brewed coffee

Chocolate Sheet Cake Steps

ONE. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9×13″ baking dish and dust with cocoa powder.

TWO. In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder + soda, and salt. Once combined, add the eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat this mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes. Lastly, add the boiling water and hot coffee, mixing slowly to combine without splashing (the batter will be very thin). Transfer to your baking dish.

THREE. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick/ cake tester comes out clean. For this recipe, I’m leaving the cake in the dish for serving, but if you’d like to remove it, allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes before flipping. Otherwise, allow to cool completely in the baking dish before frosting.

 

Strawberry Milk Buttercream Ingredients

1½ cups strawberry milk (or plain milk with strawberry powder/ syrup)
2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 vanilla bean)
¾ cup white sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
3 eggs, cold
1 tbsp vanilla extract
5 sticks (I KNOW, trust me) unsalted butter, at room temp.

 

Strawberry Milk Buttercream Steps

ONE. Combine the strawberry milk and vanilla bean paste in a heavy bottom saucepan and heat on medium until steaming. Set aside to infuse the vanilla bean flavor for at least 1 hour.

TWO. To make the custard, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Once combined with no cornstarch lumps, whisk in the eggs.

THREE. Return the milk to a simmer. Ladle a rough ½ cup of the heated milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs without cooking them. Repeat with 2 more ladles, then transfer the tempered egg mixture to the pot with the milk.

FOUR. Cook on medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard becomes thick and lumpy, it should be about 3 minutes. As soon as you see the first bubble in the custard (indicating boiling), set a timer for 2 minutes and continue to whisk constantly. Cooking the custard for these 2 minutes at a steady boil temperature neutralizes a starch-dissolving protein in the egg yolks and ensures a better frosting consistency.

This custard smells SO good, and it has the sweetest rosy pink color!

FIVE. After 2 minutes and off heat, stir in vanilla extract, then pour the custard into a large baking dish to speed up the cooling process. Press a sheet of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour. *Tip: take out your butter to soften now, so that when the hour is up your butter is also ready!

Your frosting should be this fluffy and light, that’s when you know it’s done!

SIX. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the softened butter on medium speed until it’s light and fluffy, it should take about five minutes. Meanwhile, begin to “knead” your cooled custard with a rubber spatula. It will be a very thick consistency, and before adding it to the butter it needs to be mixed into a dough-like state. Once it’s properly mixed, add it to the whipped butter a tablespoon at a time, one right after the other, scrape down the bowl, and mix for a few more seconds to fully combine.

SEVEN. At this point, switch to a whisk attachment and whip on medium speed until the buttercream is airy and light.*

 

*Troubleshooting tips: if a buttercream is going to go wrong, it’s either because the mixture is too warm or the mixture is too cold. The good news is that neither of these are unfix-able so there’s no need to start over! Find your solutions below:

Problem: If your buttercream is too cold, it won’t whip up properly, it looks heavy and thick, not light and airy.
Solution: Place the entire bowl in a warm water bath until the sides of the bowl are slick with melting buttercream, then pop back in the mixer and whip as normal.

Problem: The butter was too warm and now the buttercream is soupy and/ or runny.
Solution: Pop the whole bowl in the fridge and chill for 15 to 20 minutes to firm everything up slightly, then try try again!

Love you love you, xoxoxoxoD.

 

Raspberry Opera Cake

HELLO! This may be one of the most ambitious projects I have ever attempted, but the results were well worth it I promise you! I mean, just LOOK at it. I have never felt more like a contestant on the Great British Bakeoff and it was so fun. The other day I was scrolling through Instagram as one does, and came across this masterpiece by Zoë François of the blog Zoë Bakes and I immediately began plotting. The recipe below was adapted from that very recipe, with a few minor flavor changes including raspberry jam instead of blackberry, and dark chocolate for the ganache. Be warned, this is not a quick recipe, and there are a lot of different pieces and parts, so prepare to have a whole day set aside for this. Put on your comfiest clothes, put on a movie (I watched Solo while I baked this and simply had a blast) or your favorite cooking music, and have lots of iced coffee at the ready, you GOT this.

This weekend was completely free of obligations and plans, which are my favorite kinds of weekends. I get to tackle so many baking and cooking projects in two days it feels like I might as well move into the kitchen. Saturday’s projects were this cake and some shrimp scampi for dinner, and Sunday brought this fall’s first of many apple pies (recipe for that coming soon, it’s my pride and joy)! Now if only the weather outside matched my fall mood. All in good time I guess!

Before we start, here are your 5 things to be happy about today!

ONE. Hot apple cider with mulling spices.
TWO. Marathoning a movie series on a rainy day.
THREE. Switching out your summer wardrobe for your thickest sweaters.
FOUR. Running through a corn maze as an adult and having just as much (if not more) fun.
FIVE. Homemade breakfast sandwiches with the crispiest bacon.

Serves: 6 to 8 people
Prep/Assembly Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 12-15 minutes
Inactive Time: ~2 to 3 hours

Almond Joconde

3 eggs, room temperature
90 grams sugar
3 egg whites
30 grams sugar
115 grams almond meal
28 grams flour

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

½ cup egg whites (from 3 to 4 eggs)
1 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Kosher salt (a pinch!)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
¾ cup raspberry jam

Dark Chocolate Ganache

12oz. dark bakers chocolate
12oz. heavy cream

Meringue Topping

½ cup egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

*Fresh Raspberries for topping

 

Almond Joconde Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF. Line an 11″ x 16″ baking sheet with parchment paper, then brush with butter to prevent the cake from sticking. In a large bowl, sift together the almond meal and flour, then set aside.

TWO. In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the whole room temperature eggs and the 90 grams of sugar until the mixture has tripled in size and, when drizzled, forms ribbons that hold their shape momentarily before disappearing back into the rest of the egg. It should take about 7 to 8 minutes. Gently fold this mixture into the almond meal mixture.

THREE. In the clean bowl of your stand mixer, whip the three egg whites and the 30 grams of sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold this mixture into the rest of the cake batter. Pour into the prepared baking sheet and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the top is lightly golden. Allow to cool completely.


Raspberry Buttercream Steps

ONE. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the ½ cup egg whites and the 1 cup of sugar until thick and combined. It will be very grainy. Set this bowl over a pot of boiling water (a double boiler situation!), and heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the sugar has completely dissolved.

TWO. Transfer the bowl back to the mixer and beat the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form and the egg whites are back down to room temperature.

THREE. Once the egg whites are the right texture and temperature, add the butter in, two tablespoons at a time, until completely incorporated. Some notes about this: if the egg is still too hot and the butter starts to melt, put the whole thing in the fridge for a while to cool it down. If, while you’re adding the butter, the mixture begins to look like it’s curdling, don’t panic!! This happens, but if you keep mixing, it will fix itself.

FOUR. Once all the butter is added, continue to mix for another minute, until the frosting is thick and glossy again. Add in the vanilla, salt, and raspberry jam and mix with a rubber spatula until fully incorporated.

FIVE. Dollop the frosting over the completely cooled cake and spread with an offset spatula. It’s important that the frosting is as even and flat on top of the cake as possible, as it will make stacking much easier later. Chill the cake until the frosting is set.


Chocolate Ganache Steps

ONE. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the heavy cream until simmering, then remove from heat. Add in the chopped chocolate and swirl to ensure that all the chocolate is covered by the hot cream. Allow to sit for 3 minutes.

TWO. After 3 minutes, whisk the mixture together, as the heat from the cream will have melted the chocolate by now. Let the ganache cool before spreading on the cake so as not to melt the frosting.

THREE. When the ganache is cool and the cake is set, spread the ganache evenly over the buttercream and smooth with an offset spatula. Chill until the chocolate is solid.


Cake Assembly Steps

ONE. Once the cake is chilled and completely set, run a hot knife around the edges to loosen the cake and the chocolate from the tray. Wrap the top of the cake with plastic cling wrap, and place another (same size) baking sheet on top of this, with the bottom of the baking sheet touching the plastic wrapped top of the cake. Flip the whole thing upside down so that the ganache side of the cake is now on the bottom. Remove the original baking sheet and peel the parchment paper off the bottom of the cake.

TWO. Flip the cake back to right side up by placing the bottom of the original baking sheet on top of the cake and turn upside down again, then peel the plastic wrap off the ganache side of the cake. At this point, you should have your cake sitting on an inverted baking sheet (to make it easier to slice) with the ganache on top and the cake on the bottom.

THREE. Using a heated knife (keep a large glass of boiled water nearby to dip your knife in as you slice), trim off any uneven edges of your sheet cake so that all the sides are perfectly straight.

Shot from my snapstory, gotta get those angles you know??

FOUR. Using a ruler to keep measurements exact, turn your tray so that the long side is vertical. Cut the cake into thirds on the long side (the 16″ side), so that you have three long strips of cake. Then, turn the tray so that the long side is horizontal, and slice in half so that you have 6 even rectangles of cake. *If at any point the ganache starts to get soft, place  the cake back in the fridge until everything is set again.

FIVE. To assemble, take a long spatula and place one cut rectangle onto your desired serving tray. Repeat with each rectangle, making sure that the sides all match up and the cake doesn’t end up lopsided. Top the finished cake with even rows of raspberries.


Meringue Topping Steps

ONE. This step is optional, but it looks so pretty so 10/10 would recommend. In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together the egg whites and sugar until stiff and glossy. Mix in the vanilla extract/ vanilla bean paste. Dollop or pipe the stiffened meringue over the raspberries, making spikes and swirls with the back of a spoon. Using a kitchen torch, toast the meringue until golden.

You DID IT!!! I’m so proud of you, it’s been quite a journey!! xoxoxoxoxoxD

Applesauce Cake

Hello hello! Here we are at another Tuesday, and here I am with another dessert recipe, ready for fall! This weekend, my sisters and I (all 5 of us!) met up in NYC for dinner, and I had some of the best pho of my LIFE from a restaurant in Greenwich Village called Pho Bar. A ginormous bowl of beef pho and a Vietnamese Iced Coffee (espresso with sweetened condensed milk), are really all I need to be happy. Here in New York, the past few days have been cold and rainy, which quite honestly, is my FAVORITE kind of weather. What better excuse to cook all day and watch a lot of Netflix?? This Sunday, pretending that we were further into Fall than we were, I made Beef Bourguignon, which you can find here, and this applesauce cake.

This place was so yummy and fancy!

A story about this cake- this recipe comes from my amazing Grandma Marcella, who used to make this all the time when we came over for dinner. My grandparents have lived three doors down from us my entire life, so walking down to their house for dinner and a slice of this impossibly moist cake was a DREAM. As the years went on, my mom and then I started to take over some of the dinner and baking responsibilities, but somehow, this recipe fell by the wayside.

You can see that this copy of the recipe is well loved!

Cut to many years later, I was in my senior year of college and doing everything in my power to procrastinate during finals week (as one does in college, you know), and SUDDENLY I thought about this recipe and could think of nothing else. I called my mom immediately and begged her to look through her recipe books to see if we had a copy written down, and, sure enough, 5 minutes later I had a picture of the recipe and was en route to the grocery store at 9pm. Honestly, god bless my roommates, I didn’t have a car in college, and somehow someone was always willing to drive me to the store. Probably because it meant they would get baked goods, but still. It was just as delicious as I remembered when I made it that night in college, and words can’t describe how important it felt to make this cake and serve it to my grandma at family dinner the other night and make her proud.

This is the most expensive Le Creuset item that I own and I’m not kidding when I say it’s my prized possession (it’s LAVENDER) and I just wanted to show it off okay THANKS

Some notes about this recipe: the applesauce makes this cake SUPER moist without any extra oil, which is a win if you ask me. It’s best to start with unsweetened applesauce, that way you can control how sweet the cake turns out, but if all you have is sweetened, lower the brown sugar amount maybe to ½ cup. Also, I’m not the biggest fan of raisins, so if I were to make this on my own, I would lower the amount to ½ cup, but the original recipe as made by my grandma specified 1 whole cup.

Before we start, I’m getting into these 5 things to be happy about bits, so here are 5 more for today:

ONE. When the temperature drops below the 70ºs for the first time in AGES.
TWO. Beginning a binge of fall movies and TV, just to get you in the mood for what’s to come.
THREE. Having a favorite mug and refusing to use anything else to drink tea and coffee out of.
FOUR. When you’re so sleepy that, upon getting into bed, you fall asleep immediately.
FIVE. Family board game nights.

Anywho, let’s goooooooooooo!

 

Ingredients

1 cup applesauce, preferably unsweetened
¾ cup brown sugar, less if you’re using sweetened applesauce
1 stick butter
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
½-1 cup raisins, depending on preference
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
5-6 tbs confectioners sugar

Steps

ONE. Preheat your oven to 350ºF and generously butter a 9″ x 9″ pan. Set up a double boiler on the stove*, and in the top bowl, add the applesauce, butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Heat until the butter is melted and the mixture is almost bubbling. Allow to cool slightly before proceeding. (My grandma would place the bowl in the sink with a little cool water in it to speed up the cooling process!)

TWO. Once cooled, stir in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda until everything is combined, then mix in the egg and incorporate.

THREE. In a small bowl, toss the raisins with about a tablespoon of flour, this will keep them from all sinking to the bottom while baking. Stir the raisins into the batter until evenly distributed, then pour the whole thing into the prepared pan.

FOUR. Bake for 15 minutes at 350º, then after the 15 minutes are up, turn the heat down to 325º and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Before removing from the oven, test with a cake tester or knife to ensure doneness, the cake should be moist but not wet and the tester should come out clean. Cool completely before glazing.

FIVE. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice and confectioners sugar into a thick, pourable glaze, adjusting the amounts as necessary until you have a thickness that you’re happy with. I like mine on the thin side, I find that it seeps into the cake more this way, but it’s totally up to you! To glaze, slice the cake into 9 slices, then pour the glaze over it so that it completely covers the top and starts to sink down the cut sides.

Best enjoyed with as much glaze as you can get on top of each piece!! xoxoxoxoxoD

* To make a double boiler, fill a saucepan up half way with water and turn the heat up on the stove to bring the water to a boil. Place a large heat-safe bowl on top of the saucepan, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t actually touch the water in the saucepan. As the water boils and releases steam, it heats the contents of the bowl without direct heat, so nothing in the bowl can be burned or overcooked!