Almond Shamah Chiffon

FinalI have to admit that I was a bit apprehensive about making this recipe.  Truth be told I am not a big fan of chiffon cakes.  When I was a child, my favorite aunt always made a yellow cake  which everyone in my family always referred to as simply Mazola Oil Cake.  I am also not a big fan of yellow cake.  I was a most picky eater as a child and I absolutely hated anything that was oily, greasy or had any trace of fat.   Well, my aunt made this cake for every occasion, weddings, funerals, birthdays, mothers day, fathers day. You name it and there was a Mazola Oil Cake on the table.  I didn’t know anything about baking or food then (other than the few foods I would eat).  This cake to me always seemed leaden and when you touched it your hands were always oily and greasy.  (What kid doesn’t eat cake with his hands?)  I actually hated this cake so much that I would turn down dessert when I saw it being brought to the table.  Once I was old enough to know what things were I realized that this was a chiffon cake.  So I didn’t like yellow cake and now I didn’t like chiffon cake.  As I got older and started studying food and baking on my own it dawned on me that Mazola oil is corn oil.  It just seemed so odd to make a cake with corn oil.  A few years ago I  decided to revisit this cake and got the recipe from my aunt.  I dove in and whipped up my very own Mazola Oil Cake and low and behold….I still hated it.  All these years later and I still really hate  Mazola Oil Cake.   I am also still not a big fan of yellow cake.  At any rate, enough ranting, on with the baking.

 I found this cake to be very easy to make and it seemed mostly to be a matter of assembly.  I began by toasting the almonds and then processed them with a little flour as instructed.  Then added the rest of the flour and baking powder and processed until well blended. 

I then proceeded to whip the egg yolks  until they were thick and formed the ribbon.  Then I added the oil, water, and flavorings and beat the yolks until they were thick.  Then I sprinked on the flour/nut mixture and proceeded to the egg whites.

 Ribbon

 I whipped the egg whites until they were foamy, then added the cream of tartar and whipped them until soft peaks formed.  I then added the sugar and beat them until they formed stiff peaks.

 eggwhites

I then added about a third of the whites to the yolk mixture and stirred them in to lighten the batter and prepare it to receive the rest of the beaten whites.  I added the remaining whites in two additions and folded them into the batter gently to maintain as much structure as possible.

 Finalbatter

I divided the batter between my two prepared pans and set them in the bottom third of a preheated oven to bake.  In my convection oven I baked the layers at 350 degrees for 20 mintes.  They tested done at the end of the 20 minutes.  

 panned

I unmolded the cakes onto cooling racks and inverted them.  I allowed them to cool while I made the amaretto syrup.  I boiled the sugar and water and then covered the syrup and let it cool.  When it was cool I added the amaretto and set it aside.  Next I prepared the raspberry cream.  I whipped the cream until it formed soft peaks, then added the raspberry jam and whipped the cream until the jam was incorporated.

baked

To assemble the cake I applied the amaretto syrup to the bottom and top of one of the layers and set the layer on a serving plate.  Then I spread a layer of the raspberry cream on the layer. 

onelayer

I added syrup to the top and bottom of the second layer and set it on top of the firstlayer.  Then I frosted the entire cake with the raspberry cream.  I piped a shell border on the top and around the side for decoration and sprinkled some sliced almonds on top.  I must admit that this cream was very soft and definitely did not pipe well.  I could tell it was soft as I was frosting the cake so I put it back in the refrigerator for an hour to chill, I then rewhipped it and put it in the piping bag.  I piped the shell borders but it was still very soft.  I managed to get a few pictures before the top shells started sliding off the edge of the cake.  Even after being in the refrigerator overnight it was still very soft.  Considering how sweet this cream was, I doubt I would make it again.

finishedcake

 

           slice1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was afraid that the almond cake and the amaretto syrup would be just a bit too much for my taste but I found the combination delicious.  The wondra flour certainly did produce a very light cake with a tender and moist crumb.  I thought the syrup might make the cake soggy but such was not the case.  The cake was moist and flavorful without being sticky or soggy.  I did however find the raspberry cream to be a bit cloying and too sweet for my taste.  I think the next time I would add a thin layer of raspberry jam to the inside layer and just frost the cake with lightly sweetened whipped cream.  I will definitely make this cake again.  Who knows, this may be the one that changes my mind about chiffon cake.

Apple Upside-Down Cake

This was my first cake for the Rose’s Heavenly Cakes Bake Through and I have to admit that this was a very simple cake to put together.  Just the kind of cake that I like for busy times when I have a million things to do and still need a dessert for dinner or to take to friends.  The only out of the ordinary step that this cake required was just a bit of advanced planning for the apples to steep for an hour before beginning to make the cake. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had all the necessary ingredients on hand so there was no having to run around finding things or trips to the store for a forgotten ingredient.  I baked on Saturday morning.  This was a busy weekend for me.  I peeled, cored and sliced the apples and mixed them with the brown sugar and lemon juice and set them aside.  Then I proceeded to get the rest of the mis en place together.  This all took no more than 20 minutes.  Then I went off to do my Saturday morning errands.   The grocery shopping, dry cleaning, banking, filling the car with gas, etc.

When I returned home I was ready to bake.  I drained the apples and boiled the juice with the remaining brown sugar and butter.  While the juices were boiling I prepared my pan.  I poured the finished juiced into the pan and arranged the apples.  Then set about making the cake batter.  This was a very simple batter and went together in a matter of minutes.   While I was preparing the batter I had my pizza stone set in the oven which was preheating.  I baked my cake in a convection oven and found that it took 35 minutes.  I didn’t make any adjustments in temperature as I have found that for cakes, lowering the temperature in my convection oven only leads to longer baking times.

Unfortunately, my other half was away on business for the weekend and had the camera so I had to snap a few shots using my cell phone camera.  Trust me, even with the regular digital camera the pictures would not have been good.

bakedcake

 Here is the cake as it emergered from the oven.  The magic strips really helped the cake to bake very level.  I always use them.

 

 unmold

 

Here is the cake waiting to be unmolded.  The cake unmolded beautifully without any problems.

 

unmolded

 

Here is the umolded cake.  I think using the baking stone really helped to get good carmelization on the apples.

Final

 

And finally, here is the cake with its dusting of toasted walnuts.  I served the cake with the optional Bourbon Whipped Cream and I found that it was a perfect finish to this simple and flavorful cake.

On the whole, I was very pleased with this recipe, both in how simple it was to put together and how great it tasted.  I think I would like to try this one with peaches, pineapple, nectarines, plums, and maybe even pears.  To be honest, I enjoyed the cake so much that I may be tempted to just make the cake without the fruit just for snacking.   One benefit for me is that being diabetic in a house of diabetics, we often find it hard to have great tasting desserts.  Often I will bake a complicated cake and find that one small slice sends our glucose readings soaring.  The 3/4 cup of sugar in this recipe didn’t really have a big effect on the glucose readings but really delivered on taste which made it great for our househould.  I will definitely be making this one again.

Next up:  Shamah Almond Chiffon

At Long Last

The book finally arrived this afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised to arrive home from work and find it waiting at my door. I had already gone to the library and copied the next few weeks recipes so that I could bake along this weekend but now I have my very own copy. I am sure that I will spend the rest of the evening in total bliss reading this book.

I Love Pound Cake

I have to admit that I am a total sucker for pound cake.  I don’t know what it is but put one in a room with me and I will eat it until it is gone.  Whenever I pick up any kind of baking or dessert book, the first thing I look for is the pound cake chapter.   Pound cakes are just so versatile.  You can use them for triffles, fruit desserts, breakfast treats and just plain snacking.  I thought I would share my favorite pound cake recipe with you all.

Lemon Cream Cheese Pound Cake
From “Great Cakes” by Carole Walter
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2 cups sifted cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
6 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/3 cups superfine sugar
5 large egg yolks, lightly stirred
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter a 9 inch flat-bottomed tube pan or fluted ring pan (10 – 12 cup capacity) and dust with flour.  Tap out the excess flour.

 Using a triple sifter, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

 Cut the butter and cream cheese into 1-inch pieces and place in the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the lemon zest.  Soften on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes.  Increase speed to medium-high and cream until smooth and light in color. (about 1 ½ to 2 minutes)

 Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, taking 6 to 8 minutes to blend it in well.  Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Add the egg yolks in three additions a 1 minute intervals, scarping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla.

 Reduce the mixer speed to low.  Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix until blended.  Scrape the sides of the bowl. Increase speed to medium-low and mix about 30 seconds longer.

 In a separate large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until frothy.  Add the cream of tartar and increase mixer speed to medium-high.  Continue beating until the whites are shiny and hold in firm peaks.  Do not overbeat.

 With a wide rubber spatula, fold about 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the batter,  taking about 20 strokes to lighten the batter. Then fold in the remaining egg whites, taking about 40 strokes.

 Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface of the batter.  Center the pan on the rack and bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown on the top and begins to come away from the sides of the pan.  The cake is done when a cake tester inserted into the center comes out dry.

Remove the cake form the oven and set the pan onto a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes to cool.  Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and remove the pan.  To protect the top of the cake if you have used a flat-bottomed pan, turn the cake top side up on a second cooling rack to cool completely.  If you have used a fluted tube pan, cool it top side down.  Just before serving, dust with confectioners sugar.

NOTE:

You can make this cake plain but decreasing the lemon zest to ½ teaspoon (or omitting it entirely) and increasing the vanilla extract to 2 teaspoons.

Not Yet

Well, the book didn’t arrive again.  I called the book club this morning and they informed me that is shipped on Oct 8th as opposed to Oct 2 which is what their website indicated.  That means that it has only been 8 days and not the 14 days that I had thought.  With any luck it will be waiting for me when I get home from work today.  I thought that I might take a few minutes to talk about some of the pastry chefs/authors that I admire and the books that I collect/use.

First off there is Rose.  Her books are so enjoyable to read and her recipes so thorough and precise that you can’t help but turn out something good from each one of them.

Books by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Books by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Next there is Jim Dodge.  Jim has sort of fallen off the pastry chef radar as of  late but he remains one of my all time favorite pastry chefs.  I had the pleasure of taking several classes from Jim when he would come to San Diego several years ago and I never failed to walk away from his classes filled with new found knowledge.  He would offer his time and knowledge freely during those classes and I know everyone learn alot.  His two books remain some of my all time favorites.  They are out of print but well worth the effort of seeking out. 

Books by Jim Dodge

Books by Jim Dodge

Alice Medrich.  I am always in awe of Alice.  She is just such a master of her art and I love the attention to detail in all she does.  You just know that when you try one of her recipes they are going to taste spectacular.  I couldn’t live without all of her books on my shelf.

 

Books by Alice Medrich

Books by Alice Medrich

Carole Walter.   Carole has been a favorite of mine since I discovered her wonderful book “Great Cakes”  I use it extensively when I bake and always find something great to bake and eat in it.  I have since become a devotee of all of her “Great” books.

Books by Carole Walter

Books by Carole Walter

Nancy Silverton.  I can’t remember exactly when the first time I saw Nancy Silverton was but I know that I have been hooked ever since.  Her books are a total joy in the baking arts.  Never stuffy or complicated, they are filled with straight forward, no nonsense great recipes and practical advice.  I love them all.

Books by Nancy Silverton

Books by Nancy Silverton

Jacques Torres.  I remember seeing Jacques’ show Dessert Circus on PBS and was hooked.  Then he had his great show on Food Network and I was totally under his spell.  His books offer all of his great techniques and advice and make it accessible to us home bakers.

Books by Jacques Torres

Books by Jacques Torres

Maida Heatter.  She is known as the doienne of desserts and just one glance through any one of her books and you will now way.  Totally approachable and always just plain good fun to read.  Many of her recipes became standards around my house.

Books by Maida Heatter

Books by Maida Heatter

Gale Gand.  I fell under Gales spell after watching her Food Network show “Sweet Dreams”.  She has a totally infectious personality and she makes you just want to get into the kitchen and try her recipes.  I especially like her small bites because they allow you to indulge without making a big cake or pie.  Everyone should try these.

Books by Gale Gand

Books by Gale Gand

Collette Peters.  I am totally in awe of Collette.  I find myself buying her books just because they are by her.  I don’t think I would ever have the nerve to attempt one of her elaborate creations but I love reading the books and looking at the pictures and just knowing that it is possible to create art out of cake.  We can all dream.

Books by Collette Peters

Books by Collette Peters

Well, that is just a few of the bakers that I admire.  There is also Dorie Greenspan, Mary Bergin, Carole Bloome, Cindy Mushett.  The list goes on and on.  I hope that if you aren’t familiar with some of these great bakers that you will look into some of their work and find inspiration for your own home baking.

No Book Yet

Since yesterday was a holiday there was no chance that my book was going to arrive so I thought I would include a recipe today.  If you remember from yesterdays post about my first wedding cake, I used the white cake from the Time-Life Good Cook series.  It is one of my favorite cake recipes.  It produces a moist white cake with a fine crumb and silky texture but sturdy enough to stand up to being tiered and doweled.  It also freezes well so it can be made ahead and defrosted.

 

White Wedding Cake
From Time-Life Good Cook Series, Cakes
Printer Friendly Version

Makes one 12 inch cake

1/2 pound butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
6 egg whites

Cream the butter, gradually adding 1 1/4 cups of the sugar, and beat until light and fluffy.  Blend in the almond and vanilla extracts.  Sift together all of the dry ingredients.  Add the milk, alternately with the sifted dry ingredients, to the creamed butter and sugar.

Beat the egg whites until they form peaks; gradually add the remaining sugar and bear until stiff.  Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Turn the batter into a cake pan that has been buttered and floured and lined with parchment paper.  Bake un a preheated 350 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes, and then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely,  Remove the parchment paper, then frost and decorate the cake.

 

To make my 3 tiered cake, make the recipe 3 times.  Divide the cake batter among 2 6-inch cake pans, two 9-inch cake pans and two 12-inch cake pans.  Bake the 6 inch layers for 20-25 minutes, the 9-inch layers for about 50 minutes, and the 12-inch layers for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

I generally fill this cake with a thin layer of strained raspberry puree and vanilla custard but feel free to substitute whatever filling you wish.

I also used a powdered sugar based icing to frost and make the icing flowers.  I have to admit that I find this icing a bit too sweet for my taste and would ideally use a french buttercream, the best decorator icing is very easy to work with for making flowers, borders and swags and it stands up in the heat and will hold for several hours without refrigeration.  The recipe can be cut in half or doubled or even tripled.  It freezes beautifully.  I have had batches of this icing in my freezer for up to a year and still had good results with it and it doesn’t loose anyof its fresh taste when thawed.

 

Best Decorator Icing
From Amy Malone School of Cake Decorating
Printer Friendly Version

2 pounds confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cups Crisco
1/2 cup water or whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons any flavoring (orange, vanilla, almond, etc.)
1 teaspoon butter flavor
4 tablespoons powdered milk or Dream Whip

 

Beat the Crisco at high speed for 5 minutes.  On low speed, add water or whipping cream, salt and powdered milk or Dream Whip.  Slowly add the sugar and flavorings.  Beat on high until light and fluffy.

While We’re Waiting

CaketopperI had hoped that my copy of Rose’s Heavenly Cakes would have arrived this past weekend.  I preordered it from my cookbook club months ago and they sent me a notice that it had been shipped so I thought it would be here by now.  Since I wasn’t able to bake along with this weeks recipe I thought I would just post about a little cake that I made several years ago.  Somewhere around 1990 – 91 I had been cooking from Julia Child’s The Way To Cook and had just discovered Alice Medrich and Jim Dodge and I had begun to realize that I really preferred baking to any other type of food preparation so I decided that maybe it was time that I took a few classes and at least learned how to use a pastry bag. I looked through the food section of the newspaper and finally found a local cake decorating school, The Amy Malone School of Cake  Decorating. I called Amy and had a nice long chat with her and signed up for Cake Decorating for Beginners. Well, after the first class I was hooked. Soon after followed Intermediate and Advanced Cake Decorating, then Icing Flowers, Borders, Chocolate Artistry, Cookie Bouquets, Candy Making and a miriad of other classes that she offered. I was having so much fun, I soon found myself sitting in as a helper at her classes because I had taken everything she had to offer. Well, finally, that summer she offered a class in making wedding cakes and I figured, “why not”?   I signed up and off I went on this two part class. The first week we went over the dull but necessary tasks of meeting with the bride,  pricing,  transporting,  and general baking.   Then we were given our assignment for the next week.   We were going to bake a 3 tier wedding cake.   Any flavor you wanted but Amy did dictate the sizes as 12, 9, and 6 inch layers. And we all had to use the same Best Decorator Icing.   Since there were about 15 of us in the class, Amy insisted that we all make the same cake design so we could get through it in one night.   I went home to decide what to do.   Well, I knew that Amy had done the cakes for the Time-Life Series Cakes.   I had tasted the white cake recipe that was in the book and I did actually own the book so the white cake was my choice.   I also included a thin layer of raspberry puree and the fluffy white decorator icing.   I have to admit I never cared for this icing as far as taste goes, I always found it way too sweet but it was great for decorating which is why Amy was making us use it.   I managed to get all my cakes baked, wrapped and stored and ready for the next class. I arrived early for the class and was ready to go.  We started at 6:00 pm and were told we would probably be there until around 10:00 but could stay as long as it took. Off we went on frosting, stacking, stablilizing, decorating and packing.  It was a night I will never forget. We worked like mules trying to get those cakes finished and by 9:30 that night there were 15 completed wedding cakes lined up.  I thought I was really something having completed that cake.  When I look at these pictures now after all these many years, it sure does look amatuerish but I still feel a burst of pride at first glance, knowing that I had achieved my first major milestone.

Cake

Welcome

chocolateHello and welcome to my new blog.  I am pleased to announce that I have been accepted by Marie at Heavenly Cake Baker to participate in the Rose’s Heavenly Cakes bake along.  That is the whole purpose for my starting this blog, so that I may document my progress through the book as I bake along with many talented bakers.  I am hoping to learn alot about baking and blogging and food photography so please feel free to send along any hints that you make have that will make our journey all the more pleasant.