• Birthday Cake Year 3

    I know. It’s been a month again, I KNOW. Here’s the thing. I tried to justify using our hard-won groceries for this blog, but at the end of the day, my fear of using all the eggs for something that didn’t work out kept me from cooking for fun during much of this quarantine. Also, to be frank, my sister and I were eating several variations of white beans for most dinners, and while delicious, they are not very photogenic. I know I usually keep these posts before the recipes on the short side, but what the hell, I have nothing else to do and I know you don’t either, so let’s chat! After returning to my parents’ house and spending a little over a week in ~light~ quarantine, I was finally allowed back in the kitchen last week, and I cannot emphasize enough how much it helped my mood. I put on my headphones, set up my laptop to play movies, and got to work doing what I love most- feeding people.

    I know that I am incredibly lucky to have a job while in quarantine, a roof over my head, and sweet and wonderful parents to take care of me even though I turned 25 last week. These are frightening times, and it’s okay to be scared! The most important thing to remember is that this situation, while it doesn’t necessarily feel like it, is temporary. That’s what I keep reminding myself, and as long as we all do our part and STAY INSIDE, we’ll be okay. So while it’s weird to not be able to run to the grocery store every time I want to cook something random, we’ll make do, learn to love beans, and sometimes have cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s quarantine, who cares!

    This brings me to the point of this post, which is this cake. I’m sure you’ve caught on by now that I like to make my own birthday cake. Every year they become more of a project – see years one and two– and this year was no exception. In a perfect world, I was going to take off from work, spend the day at the Met, and then come home and bake a cake, but alas. Now, I had to pour all my birthday energy into this one cake, and boy did I. Because I’m a nutcase and I love to plan things, I had a vision board of sorts where I’d save pictures of cakes over the course of the year as inspiration for my cake, and the one I kept going back to was a sweet pink one topped with maraschino cherries. It felt old fashioned and a little bit like a child’s birthday cake, so uh, the perfect way to ring in year 25. The almond cake is filled with apricot jam, because if it doesn’t taste like a petit four, what’s the use? And, because I’m an adult, I also made my sisters participate in a tea party lunch. Not bad for a quarantine birthday!

    It isn’t a proper birthday without birthday tea!

    Now, because we could all use a few things to be happy about today, here are not five, but TEN things:
    ONE. Those moments where you laugh so much that no sound comes out.
    TWO. Feeling a breeze through the open window.
    THREE. The first sunny day after days of rain.
    FOUR. Texting someone in the middle of the night to find out that they’re still awake too.
    FIVE. Lying in your bed in the dark and hearing the rain tap on the windows.
    SIX. Filling pages of a notebook with thoughts that only you will read.
    SEVEN. Stacks of cookbooks for every occasion.
    EIGHT. Reading a book so good that you finish it in one sitting.
    NINE. Going for a walk to be alone in nature.
    TEN. Driving around with no real destination, listening to music with the windows down.

    Without further ado, let’s bake!!

    Almond Sponge Cake Ingredients
    (from Molly Yeh’s Valentine’s Day Almond Cake)

    ½ cup all purpose flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    8 oz. (1 package) almond paste
    6 eggs, whites and yolks separated
    1 tsp vanilla
    ½ tsp almond extract
    Pinch of kosher salt
    ½ cup white sugar

    American Buttercream Ingredients

    7 cups confectioner’s sugar
    2 sticks butter, softened
    4-6 Tbsp whole milk
    2 tsp vanilla extract
    Food coloring, for decorating
    Apricot Jam, for filling
    Maraschino cherries (with stems), for decorating


    Steps

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8-inch cake pans with butter and parchment paper.

    In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

    Using a stand mixer, beat together the almond paste (torn into pieces) and egg yolks until the mixture is thickened and uniform. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and set aside.

    In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Then, add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until the egg whites hold stiff peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg yolks, making sure not to deflate the eggs too much. Sprinkle the flour over top and finish by folding into the batter.

    Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and loosen the sides of the cake away from the pans, but allow the cakes to cool almost completely in the pans before turning out. They may sink a little in the middles but it’s okay! That’s what frosting is for!

    While the cake cools, make the buttercream by beating together the softened butter and powdered sugar until combined. Add the vanilla, and the milk a few tablespoons at a time until the desired consistency is reached, then the food coloring in whatever colors you feel like!

    To decorate, I didn’t trim the tops of my cakes but you can if you’d like, then place the flat side of one cake down. Fill the middle with your choice of jam and/ or buttercream, then place the second cake on top upside down, so that the flat bottom is the top surface. This will ensure that you have a neat, flat cake!

    If you’d like, lightly cover the top and sides of the cake with a thin layer of frosting to “crumb coat”, and chill for at least an hour, to overnight. Finish with a thicker layer of frosting, then decorate however you’d like! I went a little crazy on the piping, which I’m still trying to get better at, and topped it with cherries. Enjoy, and stay safe!!

    xoxoxoxD

  • Summer Fruit Galettes

    Hello and welcome back! I apologize for being M.I.A. last week, in the midst of spending time with friends I don’t get to see a lot, I realized I had nothing to share with you all and rather than throw something together last minute, I figured I would take some time this weekend to bring you something extra nice. SO, for today’s post, you get not one, but two summer fruit galette recipes!! I went to the farm on Saturday with no recipe ideas or direction and hoped that something would jump out and tell me what to bake, and lucky enough, I immediately found some ripe peaches, blueberries, and the most beautifully colored sweet cherries I’ve ever seen!  To my dismay, the cherries lost a lot of their vibrant color during the baking, but it was still SUCH a good combo. However, if this bothers you, you can use dark sweet cherries, or substitute with tart cherries and add a few tablespoons more sugar to compensate.

    We have finally hit peach season, and I could not be happier about it. In my humble opinion, peach season might be the greatest time of the year, you know?? Naturally, this means that peaches are the star of both of these galettes, which truly could not be simpler. For those who have never made or seen one of these before, a galette is a type of french tart (it can be sweet or savory), where the bottom crust folds up the sides and keeps all the juices ad flavors inside, WITHOUT a pie plate! That’s right, this is a pie that can be baked on a sheet pan! It is the ultimate combination of fancy and rustic in all the right ways.

    As if it couldn’t get any better, this is also probably the quickest pie/tart dessert, since there’s only one crust, a simple filling, and no fussy crimping of edges. Not counting dough chilling time, this galette could be warm out of the oven in less than an hour to satisfy your pie cravings at any time, day or night. Without further ado, let’s get baking!


    Makes: 
    2 galettes, 6-8 servings each
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Inactive Time: 1 hour
    Bake Time: 35 minutes
    Total Time: ~2 hours


    Galette Dough (makes 2 galettes)

    2½ cups all purpose flour
    2 tbs white sugar
    Pinch of Kosher salt
    16 tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter
    ½ cup ice water

    Galette Dough Steps

    1. Using a food processor, blend together the flour, sugar, and salt to incorporate evenly.

    2. Cut the butter into relatively even cubes and add to the processor as well, pulsing 8-10 times until the butter is mixed in and resembles the size of peas in the flour.

    3. Slowly drizzle in the ice water while pulsing another 8-10 times, until the dough is crumbly, but still comes together when you pinch it. If your dough seems to dry, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water gradually. Divide the dough in half and form 2 discs, slightly flattened on top for easier rolling out later. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

     

    Peach-Blueberry Filling Ingredients

    3 peaches, peeled and cut into thin slices
    ½ pint blueberries
    Splash of vanilla extract
    ¼ cup sugar
    1½ tsp cornstarch

     


    Peach-Blueberry Filling Steps

    1. Combine peaches and blueberries in a large bowl.

    2. In a smaller bowl, mix together the sugar and the cornstarch. Add this mixture to the fruits and stir until everything is evenly coated. Let sit for 15 minutes or until the fruits start to release their juices.


    Peach-Cherry Filling Ingredients

    3 peaches, peeled and cut into thin slices
    1 rough cup cherries, pitted
    Splash of vanilla extract
    ¼ cup sugar (1/3 cup if using sour cherries)
    1½ tsp cornstarch


    Peach-Cherry Filling Steps

    1. Combine peaches and cherries in a large bowl.

    2. Like above, mix together the sugar and the cornstarch, then add this mixture to the fruits and let sit for 15 minutes.

     


    Galette Assembly Extras

    1 egg
    1 tbs water
    Demerara sugar

    Galette Assembly Steps

    1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

    2. On a floured surface, roll out one of your galette doughs into a rough circle about ¼ inch thick.

    3. Carefully transfer this dough to a piece of parchment paper on your baking tray. In the center of the dough, carefully mound your fruit filling, leaving plenty of room on all sides for folding of the crust. If you’re worried that your fruit filling will be too runny, use a slotted spoon to transfer to control how much of the fruit juices are added in.

    3. Gently fold the sides of the galette up over the fruit, as if you’re pleating the dough. This can be as messy as you like, I promise it will look beautiful no matter what!

    4. Once you’re happy with the look, beat the egg with the water and brush onto the dough and sprinkle generously with the sugar. This will give the crust a nice golden brown color and a beautiful crunch.

    5. Bake the galette for 35-40 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and thickened, and the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

    6. Allow to cool, at least slightly, before serving. Best eaten with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a good cup of tea.

    YUM! xoxoxo