Lemon, Berries & Cream… Oh My!

Back in the fall I made a cake that I coined the Quintessential Fall Birthday Cake– an Apple Walnut Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (YUM!) – and recently I made a cake that could quite possibly be the Quintessential Summer Birthday Cake. A 4-tier lemon cake layered with pastry cream and topped with fresh berries (Delish!)
IMG_3825
Since the pastry cream needed to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours before using it I began this cake by cooking up 2 batches of it. I gathered up my ingredients (egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, salt, milk and vanilla extract) and whisked together the eggs yolks in one bowl and in another cooked the sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk until the mixture thickened and was bubbling. I then poured about a third of the milk mixture in with the eggs to temper them. Once the eggs were tempered I pour them back into the remaining milk mixture on the stove and whisked the mixture constantly until the cream came together. I removed the cream from the heat and added in the vanilla extract.
photo_2
Following that I strained the cream through a sieve and then placed a piece of parchment paper right on top of it prior to refrigerating it. I had never made pastry cream before and was concerned this wouldn’t come out well, especially with tempering the eggs, but, it came out perfectly and I probably could have easily eaten the whole bowl it was so good.
photo_1
While the pastry cream was chilling I began to work on the Lemon Cake – a 1-2-3-4 Lemon Cake. A 1-2-3-4 Cake is an old-fashioned cake that gets its name from the list of ingredients – one cup butter, two cups sugar, three cups flour and four eggs. First up I sifted together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. I actually sifted the flour twice as I first sifted it to get the 3 cups I needed and then sifted it again along with the other ingredients.
IMG_3792
In the bowl of my stand mixer I beat butter until it was softened and then gradually added in sugar until it was pale and fluffy.
IMG_3793
And then the eggs.
IMG_3795
Next up I added in the flour mixture in 3 batches alternating with 2 batches of buttermilk.
IMG_3797
And finally I beat in vanilla extract and lemon zest.
IMG_3798
I divided the batter evenly between two 8-inch pans – which I prepped with baking spray and parchment paper – and baked it for about 45 minutes in a 350 F preheated oven, rotating halfway through.
IMG_3803
After letting the cakes cool 15 minutes in the pans I then removed them and let them cool completely on wire racks.
IMG_3807
In preparation to assemble the cake I split the two cooled cakes into four with a cake leveler and then whisked together the chilled pastry cream.
IMG_3808
After assembling the cake – I spread about a cup of pastry cream between each layer – I chilled it in the refrigerator for about an hour so the pastry cream could set and so I wouldn’t end up with a cake that had layers sliding all over the place.
IMG_3814
While it chilled I rinsed and dried the berries I would be using – strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.
IMG_3816
To make sure the berries would stay put on top of the cake I spread a layer of pastry cream on the top tier and then placed the berries on top of it.
 IMG_3830
This cake was delicious… The three flavors worked so well together and I can definitely see myself making it again before the cold weather begins to creep in in a few months.
 
Makes about 3 cups
Ingredients:
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
2 cups milk
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions:
1. Whisk egg yolks until smooth in a large bowl. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan, and heat over medium. Stirring constantly, gradually ass milk in a slow, steady stream, and cook until mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 5 minutes.
2. Whisking constantly, slowly pour one third of the milk mixture into egg yolks. Pour mixture into remaining milk mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil and is thick enough to hold its shape when lifted with a spoon, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.
3. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl. Cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap, pressing it directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days.)
 
Ingredients:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of 2 lemons (I used one lemon so the cake wouldn’t be too “lemony”)
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter two 8-by-2 inch round cake pans; line with parchment rounds, and butter parchment. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. (I used two 8-by-3 inch pans and used baking spray instead of butter and flour.) Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
2. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add granulated sugar, and beat until pale and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of bowl once or twice. Gradually add eggs; beat until incorporated after each addition, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice.
3. Slowly add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of buttermilk; beat until just combined. Beat in vanilla and lemon zest.
4. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Bake, rotating halfway though, until a cake tester comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool 15 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks to cool completely.

Rosette Covered Cannoli Cake

A while back I picked up a five-layer cake pan set at Sur La Table– I saw it one of their catalogs which also included a coupon so it was destined to be. I wasn’t sure what kind of cake I wanted to make to test it out but then all of a sudden I had the idea that I wanted to make one with a cannoli cream filling – something I had never made before. Another thing I hadn’t done before… Decorate a cake entirely with rosettes. I did take the Wilton decorating classes some time ago and while I did learn how to make rosettes I normally just decorate a spot or two with them but lately I have been seeing these beautifully cakes decorated with large rosettes and wanted to try it myself.
IMG_3071 IMG_3075
I opted to use a white cake box mix for this cake since I wanted to be sure that I would have enough batter for the five pans and right on the box it said that one box cake would suffice. After mixing the batter according to the directions on the box, I filled the pans evenly with batter (I used an ice cream scoop to be precise,) baked them and then let them cool.
Cannoli Cake 1
While the cakes cooled I worked on the cannoli filling. I settled on a recipe from Sargento. I figured this recipe would be a good one to follow since Sargento is a producer of cheese products. To begin I whipped heavy cream until soft peaks formed. I then beat together ricotta cheese, sugar and vanilla extract. Following that I folded the whipped cream along with mini chocolate chips into the ricotta mixture.
Cannoli Cake 2
Now it was time to prep my mini cakes for assembly. I used a cake leveler to remove the crowns of the cakes to make them all level.
IMG_3114
To assemble the cake, I filled each layer with about a cup and a half of cannoli filling.
IMG_3117
Then it was time to frost it. Initially I wanted to frost it with a whipped cream frosting, but, since I wanted to cover the entire cake with rosettes the whipped cream wasn’t going hold up well on the sides of the cake… On top of the cake it would have looked great though. So I opted to whip up some Fluffy Vanilla Frosting – which I first made when I made Chocolate Malted Cupcakes. I started by crumb coating the cake.
IMG_3127
And then using a 2D Wilton Tip I covered the cake with large rosettes and I think I may have found my new way of decorating cakes….
IMG_3132 IMG_3133

Cannoli Filling

2 cups Part-Skim Ricotta Cheese

3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whipping cream, whipped

1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

1. Beat ricotta cheese, sugar and vanilla on medium speed in bowl with electric mixer for 3 minutes.

2. Fold in whipped cream and chocolate chips.

 

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

Makes About 4 Cups

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 pound (4 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

2. Reduce speed to medium. Add the confectioners’ sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed; after every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium. This process should take about 5 minutes. Frosting will be very pale and fluffy.

3. Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

 

Breton Butter Cake

I came across this recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cakes book and as soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make it. It sounded simple and more importantly with a few key baking ingredients (butter, eggs, sugar & flour) I knew it would be delicious. If you like shortbread, you’ll love this cake! Just as an FYI, this cake is also known as a Brittany Butter Cake (as in Brittany, France a region located in the northwest part of the country) or a Gateau Breton.

To begin I combined a cup each of sugar and butter in my stand mixer and mixed it together until it was light and fluffy.

IMG_2833

Following that, I added in vanilla extract and six egg yolks one at a time.

IMG_2834

And finally I added in flour and salt and mixed all the ingredients together until they were just combined.

IMG_2835

Now it was time to transfer the batter to my tart pan – most tart pans have a removable bottom (as this one does) which makes removing the tart a cinch. You just push the tart up from the bottom when it’s done cooling and the decorative rim slides right off. I also prepped the pan with baking spray.

IMG_2838

After I had transferred the batter I smoothed the top with an offset spatula and then refrigerated it for fifteen minutes.

IMG_2841

Following refrigeration it was time to prep the top of the tart for baking by brushing it with an egg wash and making a criss-cross pattern.

IMG_2844 IMG_2846

I then baked it in a 350 degrees oven for about forty minutes and voila…

IMG_2854

After it fully cooled I easily removed the decorative ring. It was simple to make and turned out delicious. And the golden color due to the egg wash and the simple criss-cross pattern made it visually appealing which is always a plus when it comes to baked items.

IMG_2859

Breton Butter Cake

Makes one 9-inch cake

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

6 large egg yolks

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large whole egg, lightly beaten

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and salt; beat just until combined. Do not overmix.

Transfer batter to 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom; with small offset spatula, spread batter and smooth top. (If necessary, chill batter 10 minutes before smoothing.) Place pan in refrigerator 15 minutes.

Remove from refrigerator. Brush top with beaten egg, and mark a criss-cross pattern with a fork. Brush again with egg. Bake until cake is deep golden brown and edges pull away from sides of pan, about 50 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. Remove cake from pan, and slice while still warm.

Blood Orange-Olive Oil Cake

I recently picked up Martha Stewart’s newest cookbook – Martha Stewart’s Cakes  – and after going through it I was eager to try out one of the many delicious recipes in it. I was all set to make a butter cake until I came across some blood oranges in my local supermarket and remembered a Blood Orange – Olive Oil cake recipe from the book.

The oranges…

IMG_2486 IMG_2506

After zesting and peeling the oranges….

IMG_2488

I squeezed a few segments to get 1/4 cup of juice. While it probably would have been easier just to squeeze the juice into a measuring cup this oddball method was what my hands reached for first.

IMG_2492

After mixing the orange zest and sugar together with my fingers (per the instructions) I then added in the juice and buttermilk and whisked it together with my hand mixer… not my fingers!

IMG_2495

I then added in three eggs and extra-virgin olive oil. No worries… There wasn’t a hint of taste of olive oil in the final outcome and I must say the olive oil produced a very moist cake. If you want some more information on baking with olive oil check out this website.

IMG_2497

And finally I added in a sifted mixture of flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

IMG_2498

I knew this cake was going to be a winner when the batter itself already had a wonderful aroma and it wasn’t even in the oven yet.

IMG_2499

I then poured it into a prepared – I sprayed it with non-stick baking spray – 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and baked it in a 350 degrees preheated oven for about forty-five minutes.

IMG_2502

I first let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for fifteen minutes and then turned it out on the rack to finish cooling overnight.

IMG_2512

Once the cake cooled I made a dark chocolate glaze to drizzle over it. I did so by chopping up two ounces of bittersweet chocolate and then poured warmed heavy cream over it.

IMG_2514

After letting it sit for a few minutes I whisked it together.

IMG_2516

And then drizzled it over the cake.

IMG_2517

I couldn’t wait to slice it into it and was not disappointed. The cake had a nice orange taste and that little bit of chocolate on top was just perfect! The recipe actually called for a honey-sweetened blood-orange compote to go along with it but I opted not to make it and I definitely didn’t miss it.

IMG_2521

 

Blood Orange – Olive Oil Cake

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3 blood oranges

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup buttermilk

3 large eggs

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

2 oz. bittersweet chocolate

1/4 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a 9-by-5 inch with non-stick baking spray. Finely grate enough rind from oranges to yield 1 packed tablespoon zest.

2. Peel the oranges and then working over a bowl squeeze the segments to obtain 1/4 cup juice.

3. Combine sugar and zest in another bowl; using your fingers, rub together well. Add juice and the buttermilk; whisk to combine. Add eggs and oil; whisk to combine. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl; add to buttermilk mixture, whisking until smooth.

4. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until golden and a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack to cool completely.

5. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring cream to a gentle simmer in a small saucepan. Pour over chocolate, let stand 5 minutes, and then whisk together until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake and let set about 1 hour.