There is something very comforting about an upside down cake. It’s old school baking, which I think is the best kind of baking. Think chocolate chip cookies and bundt cakes.
I saw this recipe while flipping through the October 2006 issue of Martha Stewart Living. The picture made me want to eat it immediately. When I read the recipe it confirmed what my eyes already told me. The addition of saffron and ginger give the cake a modern twist, but the caramelized pears give it a classic upside down flavour.
Saffron Scented Pear Upside-Down Cake
- Vegetable oil cooking spray
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 Pears, (6 to 7 ounces each), peeled and sliced
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square or round cake pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper, and set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the saffron and 1/4 cup sugar. In a bowl beat the sugar mixture with the butter until light and fluffy. Spread the mixture in the pan.
Place the pear slices over the butter in a decorative pattern.
Whisk the dry ingredients together. In another bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry in a slow stream while stirring. Spread the batter over the pears.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes then flip onto a serving platter and allow to cool completely.
The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop.
This was my first Daring Bakers Challenge. I signed up at the beginning of July and then anxiously awaited the challenge. When I found out what it was I felt a mixture of both excitement and dread. Excitement because I had never made ice cream before and dread because I don’t own an ice cream maker. I’ve heard horror stories of crunchy ice cream that was impossible to scoop. I considered buying an ice cream maker but storage is an issue in my apartment, so I decided to try the machine free way (this is a challenge after all).
Next up was deciding if I wanted to do both the baked Alaska and the petit fours, or just one. Would I have time to make both? Could I eat both and not gain a million pounds? Once again I decided to go for it; I’m a Daring Baker!
The final decision was what kind of ice cream to make. At first I wanted to do vanilla with cinnamon chips or maybe something fruity. Then I read a post about mango tea ice cream and decided I needed to make tea flavoured ice cream, Earl Grey to be exact. (To the author of that post: I’m so sorry, I really can’t remember who you are but thanks for the inspiration!) When I got to work on the ice cream I realized that doing it without an ice cream maker actually made it pretty easy to make two small batches of different flavours so I made a batch of raspberry along with the Earl Grey. I thought the raspberry would go nicely with the chocolate ganache covering the petit fours, and it turns out it was. Plus the pink stripe looked pretty cute too.
Step one in the process was to make the ice cream. I made the Earl Grey by steeping some tea bags in the milk and sugar mixture. I also added a little Grand Marnier which went really nicely with the citrusy flavour of the tea. For the raspberry I just added some raspberry puree to the vanilla recipe. Making ice cream without an ice cream maker is surprisingly easy, all you have to do is blend the custard every thirty minutes while its freezing. Both flavours turned out very well; easy to scoop and no crunchy bits! It is time-consuming though, so if you don’t have several hours to kill I wouldn’t recommend it.
Once the ice cream was done I moved on the to beurre noisette pound cake. The smell of butter simmering is possibly one of the best smells there is. I really need more brown butter in my life. The pound cake was light and fluffy, not at all what I was expecting, and the butter gave it an amazing flavour. I think the cake was my favourite part of the challenge.
You can find all the recipes for this months challenge at Elissa’s site.
All in all I think this was a very succesful first challenge. I can’t wait for the next!
Growing up I had two favourite cakes, Fraisier and Black Forest. For some reason no one makes the Black Forest anymore. Maybe it’s because of the canned cherry filling that most recipes call for. This is me trying to bring the Black Forest back.
I made this cake for Father’s Day. I don’t want to brag or anything, but I have the best dad ever. Ever. So I wanted to make him a really beautiful cake. Sadly, the heat and humidity made icing the cake very complicated. It ended up not quite as pretty as I imagined, but still very very tasty.
The idea to make Black Forest Cake started with my lack of control when it comes to buying fruit. I had way to many cherries to eat by myself before they went bad, so I decided to try to preserve them. I pitted them, then covered them in sugar and amaretto. I let them sit in the fridge for a couple of days, and discovered they were delicious. I used these for the filling.
Black Forest Cake
- Pitted cherries, soaked in amaretto, plus the juices.
- 1/4 cup water
- juice of one lemon
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- Put all ingredients a medium saucepan, bring to a boil. Simmer until liquid starts to thicken.
- Cover in plastic wrap and let cool completely.
- Set aside till ready to assemble the cake.
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- Whip cream till starting to thicken.
- Add icing sugar, continue whipping till stiff.
- Set aside till ready to assemble.
Amaretto Soaking Syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup amaretto
- Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Simmer for five minutes
- Let cool and set aside till ready to assemble.
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted.
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- In a heat proof bowl combine eggs and sugar. Place bowl over pot of simmering water and whisk the egg mixture constantly until it reaches 130 to 140 degrees.
- Take eggs off the heat and whisk them with an electric mixer until they have quadrupled in volume (5 to 8 minutes)
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Take 2 tablespoons of the whipped eggs and combine with the melted butter.
- Sift the flour and cocoa together. Fold them into the egg mixture in 2 or 3 additions.
- Fold the butter in.
- Pour into a greased 9 in pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Once the cake has cooled completely, slice it in half.
- Using half of the syrup, soak the bottom layer of the cake.
- Cover with cherry filling
- Cover with 1/3 of the whipped cream
- Place top layer of cake on.
- Soak with remaining syrup
- Cover top and sides of cake with remaining whipped cream.
- Garnish with fresh cherries.
I enjoy occasionally making fancy desserts like mille feuilles, but most of the time what I bake is more along the lines of a loaf or muffins. Maybe the occasional bundt cake. I like things that are simple yet delicious.
What could be more simple and delicious than a pound cake filled with strawberry rhubarb compote?
There are a lot of pound cake recipes out there, all tend to have basically the same ingredients, but vary in technique. I’ve tried a few of them out. The Cook Illustrated recipe is delicious, but involves a thermometer, which just seems silly. Its pound cake, grandmothers around the world have been making it forever with their eyes closed!
The thing about pound cake is that you can’t rush it, otherwise you’ll end up with a very dense heavy cake. So make sure you’re ingredients are at room temp, and cream the butter and sugar together for at least five minutes, till they really are light and fluffy looking (no shortcuts!)
My favourite recipe is pretty simple, and can easily be adapted to make it new and exciting. You can add some spices, make it chocolaty, or even a classic lemon. This time I decided to add a swirl of strawberry rhubarb compote to this one, to give it a spring time feel.
Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
- 2 cups of rhubarb, sliced
- 1 pint of strawberries
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- Juice of half a lemon
- In a large saucepot, bring all the ingredients to boil for 5 minutes, then simmer for 15. Stir frequently.
- Let cool till ready to use.
Strawberry Rhubarb Swirl Pound Cake
- 2 sticks butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 eggs, separated
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup strawberry rhubarb compote.
- Cream butter till shiny, about 3 minutes. Add half the sugar, cream until well combined, then add the rest of the sugar. Cream until light a fluffy.
- Add egg yolk one at a time, making sure well combined after each addition. Add vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whip egg whites to soft peaks, set aside.
- In another bowl, stir together the dry ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg yolk mixture by hand. Don’t over mix.
- Fold in the egg whites. Make sure they are well combined.
- Place 1/3 of the batter in a greased loaf pan, then spread half the strawberry rhubarb compote. Place another 1/3 of the batter in the pan and cover with the second half of the compote. Top with remaining batter. Using a butter knife, cut a ziz zag pattern through the dough to create a swirl.
- Bake at 350 for 1 hour 15 minutes.
The cake will keep for a few days wrapped in parchment. If it starts to dry out, its great toasted with some jam.
Happy Mothers Day!
My momma she loves me, loves me like a rock
And to thank her for all that love, this year I’m made her a maple cake. We talked about maple cake a few weeks ago. Apparently in the 80’s my mom had a piece of maple cake that she thinks about to this day. I have no idea what went into that cake, but I can make something that is full of maple goodness. This is a joconde soaked in maple liqueur with maple butter cream. Janice made this cake for a birthday for a few weeks ago and got rave reviews. The joconde recipe came from Joe Pastry, and the butter cream is a Martha Stewart recipe. Soaking in the liqueur was Janice’s idea.
- 6 room temperature egg whites
- 2 tbsps granulated sugar
- 1 cup almond meal
- 1 cup confectioners sugar
- 6 large eggs
- 5 tbsp all purpose flour
- 3 tbsp butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 425. Grease 2 9 inch pans and line with parchment paper.
- Whip egg whites to soft peaks. Add granulated sugar and continue whipping till stiff peaks.
- In another bowl, add whole eggs, almond meal and confectioners sugar. Beat until light and foamy.
- Add flour, beat just until incorporated.
- Fold egg whites into the egg and flour mixture.
- Fold butter into batter.
- Pour into pans, being sure to separate evenly.
- Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the center of the cakes spring back when touched. Let cool for a few minutes in the pans then turn out on to wire rack to cook completely.
Maple Liqueur Syrup
- Bring sugar and water to boil in a saucepan.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes
- Add maple liqueur
- Brush over cooled cake layers.
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
- 1 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- Using a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk yolks until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes)
- At the same time, in a large saucepan, heat maple syrup till it reaches 240 degress. Keep a close eye on the syrup as it will bubble up quite a but while heating.
- With the mixer running, slowly pour syrup down the side of the bowl. Be careful not to splash the hot syrup.
- Mix until bowl is just slightly warm.
- Add butter in pieces, making sure each piece is thouroughly combined before adding the next.
- Ice cake.
The buttercream is ridiculously good. I had to stop myself from sitting down with the bowl and eating the leftovers with a spoon while watching the hockey game.
PS: I know the song is about a boy and his mom, I just think it still applies.
PPS: Please don’t laugh at my piping skills, I’m working on it!
I recently changed departments at work. My old department would collect a dollar from every employee on Friday’s and use the money to buy birthday cakes from Premiere Moisson. My new department does not. The switch from a cake department to a non-cake department hasn’t been easy. I often find myself craving a piece of Opera cake. Or chocolate mousse raspberry cake, which I will try to reproduce at home one day.
I have therefore decided to introduce cake to my new coworkers. Today is my bosses birthday, and I will be bringing a birthday cake to the office tomorrow to celebrate. I checked with Genevieve, and she thinks the department will sing Happy Birthday to her. I won’t, but since I’m making the cake I think that’s ok.
I decided to go with a classic, chocolate cake with chocolate icing, to be sure that everyone will like it. I used the same recipe as the last birthday cake I made, mostly because I didn’t have time to look for a new recipe. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t any drama though! I decided to make the cake in a 9 by 3 inch spring form pan instead of baking it in two separate pans. My goal was to limit the domming effect that led to the lopsidedness last time. Bad idea. About two minutes after I put the cake in the oven, it smelled like something was burning. At first I thought maybe some of the milk from the icing (recipe below) had landed on one of my stove burners. I looked but everything seemed fine. Then I opened the oven. The pan was leaking. Thankfully it was a slow leak and some of the batter had landed directly on the element so the smell of burning alerted me to the impending disaster. I pulled the cake out of the oven, poured the batter into two regular 9 inch pans, set the timer and walked away. Thirty minutes later the timer went off. I opened the oven and discovered two completely uncooked cakes. I had turned the oven off when I pulled the springform pan out and never turned it back on again. So I turned on the oven, reset the timer and tried to bake the cake for the third time.
Third time is the charm!
I won’ t repost the recipe for the cake, as you can find it here, and the only change I made was to soak it in a little Kahlua.
I will however post the buttercream recipe. The buttercream is divine. The recommended to me by Janice, who has the answer to all of my baking questions. She described it as tasting like chocolate milk, but I think its more like hot chocolate. It’s a pastry cream based buttercream, and is incredibly easy to make. If you’ve never made a pastry cream before, be careful not to curdle the eggs.
Yields about 4 cups.
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 lb butter (4 sticks)
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
- In a large bowl mix egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and cocoa together with a wooden spoon.
- Bring milk and 1 1/2 cup sugar to boil in a large sauce pot over medium high heat.
- Once boiled, add a small amount of milk to the egg mixture, stir to combine. This will temper the eggs to avoid curdling. Slowly add the rest of the milk mixture, whisking constantly.
- Return milk and egg mixture to sauce pot over medium heat. Mix constantly but slowly for 2-4 minutes, until you see large bubbles come up. At that point mix quickly for 45 seconds to 1 minute. The pastry cream should have increased in volume and become quite thick.
- Whisk the pastry cream with an electric mixer for 5 to 10 minutes to cool.
- Once cooled, add the butter 1 tbsp at a time, thoroughly incorporating after each addition.
- Add the melted chocolate, whisk till well combined.
I’ll try to get a picture of a slice at the office tomorrow.
It’s Frank’s birthday! Yay! Ok, it was his birthday a week ago, but we are celebrating tonight with a feast of beer can chicken and other things which I can’t remember at the moment. What’s for dessert you ask? Chocolate cake with mascarpone icing, topped with some berries. Frank is a man who loves dessert, and I hope this cake doesn’t disappoint.
The chocolate cake is one that I’ve made a few times now, and it is always great. It’s a moist, rich cake, that is very easy to make. I’ve seen the recipe in a couple of places now, so I’m not sure who to credit. Anna Olson has a version on the Food Network Canada site, and Epicurious also has a very similar recipe. The ingredients are the same, only the size of the pan and baking times change. The original recipes call for buttermilk, which I almost never have on hand so I used a combination of milk and plain yogurt.
The cakes bake up pretty domed, and I didn’t trim the tops to level either one of them. When I was done icing the cake I realized the cake was quite lopsided. I’m going with the theory that its whats on the inside that counts.
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup strong fresh-brewed coffee
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 250 g mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
- 250 ml whipping cream
- 1/3 cup icing sugar (or to taste)
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Combine dry ingredients (including sugar) in a medium bowl.
- In another bowl, beat coffee, buttermilk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla together.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 batches, mix until well combined.
- Pour into two 9 in pans, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
- Add 1/4 cup of the whipping cream and 1 tbsp of icing sugar to the mascarpone. Beat until the mascarpone is smooth.
- Combine the remaining cream and icing sugar and whip until firm.
- Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone.
Once the cakes have cooled completely, spread half the icing on one cake. Top with some fruits. Place other cake on top, and spread the remaining cream on that cake. Top with more fruit.