THE white cake

 


photo courtesy of Linda Bainter at lovinthelight.com

Okay, so this is probably my dearest baking recipe. This is my “fancy white cake” recipe, if you will. This is the recipe I use for wedding cakes and special occasions. It is more work than any other cake recipe and it is infinitely more perfect in flavor and texture because of it. Call me shallow, but I DO judge books (and movies) by their covers (and rightfully so, or else there wouldn’t be people out there being paid to try and make them look appealing, thank you very much) and therefore it is super important to me that when I cut into a cake I’ve made, it makes this perfect, flat, clean cut and doesn’t crumble into a hot mess all over the place. So this cake really is perfect (see above). My favorite pairing with this light vanilla-almond white cake isfrom a raspberry jam (with seeds if people don’t mind—yum!).  The original recipe pairs it with a white chocolate buttercream (used in the picture above to create rosettes), which is delicious, light, and sweet and I will post as well. It isn’t my normal crusting buttercream that I use for wedding cakes, but I will post that another day. So if you are feeling ambitious or have a special event coming up, give it a go! Or call me and I will make you something special ; )

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carrot top

I was raised on ‘I Love Lucy’. I remember rummaging through row upon row of VHS tapes, reading the backs to see which one held the 3 episodes I desperately needed to watch right away. Lucy getting into mischief, Ricky finding out and furiously shouting at Lucy, Lucy doing her classic diagonally slanted moan as she realizes she’s in trouble…..and the classic kiss-and-makeup ending.  At the hub at this Lucy frenzy is my mother, who’s recent 50th birthday party prompted the purchasing of the entire I Love Lucy series on DVD, which takes up the space of a cereal box. That box of VHS tapes is still in my mom’s garage in case nostalgia kicks in and we have to watch it the good old fashioned way, the same way this cake was a nostalgic nod to so many years spent cuddled up on the couch, talking and laughing with Lucy. And what other way to celebrate my mom’s love for Lucy, the famous carrot top, than with a classic carrot cake. I searched for a cake that would cut clean and not crumble, something with a bright flavor (thank you orange juice and golden raisins) and some depth to it (ginger steps up to the plate!). And I’ve had this icing recipe on the shelf just waiting for a reason to try it out—-it pairs great with the cake and has a light, creamy texture that is less sugary and heavy than traditional cream cheese icing. So next time you crave a classic carrot cake, give this recipe a go. It’s a classic amped up a notch, both in presentation and flavor.

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a coconut cream dream

 

I live two lives, one at work and one at home. I love to bake so I squeeze in new recipes, pictures, and posts anywhere I can–often to the detriment of my sleep. And so I guess you could say that my coworkers um…eat well. Birthdays in particular have taken a somewhat spoiled turn, as it’s an excuse for me to delve into the wonderful world of cake. The coworker this cake was made for, when asked what her favorite flavor of cake might be for no particular reason <cough cough> responded quickly “coconut”. I was expecting chocolate or vanilla….or any of those general categories of sweets that leads me in a general direction pretty easily. But I had never had a coconut cake before. I have had vanilla cake with vanilla icing and a layer of coconut on top. I’ve made banana cupcakes with brown butter icing and toasted coconut. So I was surprised by her response and excited for a fun and exciting new challenge. I used parts of two different recipes, one for the cake and one for it’s icing and filling recipe. I searched high and low for a cake that would cut perfectly—literally one of my favorite moments is cutting that first slice and finding out if its a dense, fine crumbed cake where the slice has smooth, flat sides or if it’s going to be a crumbly, hot mess. I’ve found that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I found a cake recipe with a picture of the most beautiful slice and went with it. The final result was perfect—a slightly coconut flavored, delicate white cake with a thick, gooey coconut filling and creamy icing to tie it all together. And as strange as this may sound, I recommend it be served cold. It was so good that way—refreshing and wonderful.  It might be because the filling has almost a pudding-type feel. Anyway you want it, try it out. It had a great balance so that those who love coconut are satisfied while others, who may not be the first in line to crack open a coconut and call it dinner, will love it too.

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happy morning!

I knew i wanted to make this as soon as I saw the picture. I loved the texture–it has a fine crumb and cuts like a dream. The cake is soft and the top crunchy layer is full of brown sugar and cinnamon goodness with a touch of coffee flavor. A classic coffee cake, this is definitely going to be my new go-to recipe. I love the gourmet look, tall and perfectly sliced, unlike most recipes which leave you with flat, crumbly heaps of cake. It’s simple to make and would make a great base for your own favorite additions—pecans, blueberries, vanilla bean. Best enjoyed with a warm cup of coffee.
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easy strawberry tall cake

This was my first attempt at a real, tall layer cake. I have made a few 2 layer cakes in the past, but normally its cupcakes or cake pops or cookies….and this was fun! There is something very satisfying about carefully constructing a tower of confections. Leveling each cake, spreading layer after layer of icing evenly, stacking one upon another until you think it may fall…and the best part by far is slicing into it and revealing the flavors inside that you can’t see. This cake is excellent for beginners as I am going to give you the easy bake oven version, and those of you who choose to may gourmet it up with made-from-scratch cake and homemade whipped cream. This is technically 2 cakes in 1, and each slice of cake must be cut thin or else you will have honkin’ big pieces. But luckily this cake is incredibly light and fresh. My coworkers were sure the pieces were too big, but it eats easy because its not covered in heavy icing. If you aren’t a pro cake baker but want to impress your friends or make someone feel special on their birthday, try out this cake. It’s delicious!

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double shot

This cake was created to celebrate our good friend’s birthday. He loves coffee so I set out to make the ultimate coffee cake. Now, when googling ‘coffee cake’ it’s tough to sort through the masses of crumbly, powdered sugar coated breakfast delights to find recipes for actual coffee flavored cake. But I found what I was looking for. Twice. And thus this cake was born—two cakes in one. Two dark chocolate coffe layers and two straight coffee flavored layers. And what other flavor than coffee for the icing? Oh, well, Bailey’s Irish cream will do the trick. Two surprisingly delicious cake flavors combined with two bold, scrape-your-plate icing flavors. Topped with a pile of chocolate covered espresso (yes, I typed ‘expresso’ twice before getting my finger over to the ‘s’….still trying to kick the habit) beans on top because well, heck, we’re already going for ridiculously indulgent as it is. Why not go all the way?

This post is exciting for me because every element of this cake was the perfect flavor and texture, and with so many elements, it’s yours to mix and match. Dark chocolate coffee cake with bailey’s icing. Or coffee cake with Bailey’s icing filling and coffee icing on the outside. And on the occasion you are feeling adventurous, do it all. It’s definitely worth it.

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twice as nice

It’s not often a recipe is this versatile. It’s half of a recipe that can go two ways. Confusing, right? While looking for a good church breakfast treat I could make in a bundt pan, I came across a blueberry sour cream coffee cake. It had everything in it–blueberries, cinnamon, brown sugar, pecans…so much so that since I needed to make two bundts, I made the base twice and then went only blueberry with one and cinnamon pecan with the other. AMAZING, both ways. Let me tell you. It makes for an amazingly moist cake. When you bite into it, the cake practically melts and I have no idea why but it is good and I do not question things that are good. All I know is I may or may not have been making repetitive trips every 5 minutes or so to the leftovers, so that I eventually just left a fork under the saran wrap for convenience.  But this post is specifically about the magic that was the cinnamon pecan result. The bundt I drizzled with a maple glaze. And a day later in response to a request at work for a sweet treat, I scooped this same batter into cupcake sleeves and topped with a maple cream cheese icing. The batter was that same fluffy, melty white goodness with swirls of sweet crunch. I have never seen cupcakes disappear this quickly (they never saw high noon) and one coworker came to me with a mouthful and exclaimed “these are stupid good!”. People went out of their way to come to me and tell me how good these were, they were their favorite yet. It was like a weird dream. I even ate 2 and normally I am so over sugar by the time I pop goodies out of the oven that I rarely make it through more than a few bites. I can say all these things because I am not complimenting myself, but merely reveling in a thing of magic. I don’t know why or how but this recipe is here now, stored forever, and I can’t wait to pull it out when I need it for a breakfast bundt or special dessert.

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mint condition

 

Oh my, Martha has done it again. I’m not one to admit this in a crowded room or in a situation where the possibility of a piece of chocolate cake arises, but I’m not big on chocolate cake. And inevitably that is the flavor people request, again and again…oh yes, and again. I’ve found that I  prefer the lighter flavor of vanilla, paired with various fruits and creams…the types of desserts that leave me feeling like I might have a fighting chance at getting up from the table after consumption. I think it may be because I’ve had my fair share of made-from-the-box chocolate cakes slathered in inch high, heavy chocolate icing, ‘fresh’ from the can. And that every forkful of cake requires half a glass of ice water to get down. I’m allergic to milk so adjust the metaphor accordingly (oh no, don’t worry. It’s nothing that keeps me from cheeses or every dessert that is enjoyable…you just won’t see me with a hefty glass of milk).  Anyways, this cake broke all the chocolate cake stereotypes for me without compromising the the reason chocolate-lovers reach for that extra slice—that pure, smooth chocolate flavor. The cake itself is a good chocolate cake recipe that is perfectly moist and rich, and the chocolate mint ganache is creamy and refreshing. Together they combine to make what I can only describe as a girlscout thin-mint type satisfaction, amplified. And the ganache is the most wonderful consisency to work with, leaving you with an evenly covered, smooth cake—a thing dreams are made of. Top with these chocolate leaves to take it to irresistible.

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