Friday, October 29, 2010
Akheela at Torviewtoronto made this Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Jam. Check out the fancy plating!
I made this Yellow Cake with Amaretto Mocha Buttercream Frosting.
Barbara at Modern Comfort Food made this Carrot Cake with Pecan Coconut Frosting.
Valerie at Une Gamine dans la Cuisine made this Chocolate Sweet & Salty Cake from Baked.
Corina at Searching for Spice made this Chocolate and Macademia Cake.
Sunmi at A Heap of Lemon Zest made this Deep Dark Chocolate Cake.
Katie at Level2Mommy made this Lemon Coconut Cake.
Carolyn at All Day I Dream About Food made this Sugar High Chocolate Cake (fitting name or what?).
Melissa at Cute Kitty Punk in the Kitchen made this Sugary Sweet Spumoni Cake. Love the Italian theme!
Mihaela at De prin lume adunate made this Amandina Cake, a Romanian layered cake.
Alex at For the Love of Sucrose made two cakes:
Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
and Four Layer Coconut, Lemon, Raspberry Cake
Dawn (no blog) made this Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Nuts.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Don't forget, time is running out to submit your cakes for this month's Sugar High Friday - Layer Cakes Edition! Click here for more info. The deadline is tomorrow, October 26th.
Last week, I took the first of three week-long cake decorating classes from Toba Garrett at the Institute for Culinary Education in NYC. It was a basic skills class which I had to take to take the more advances courses, but it was definitely worth it. The chocolate rose alone was worth the cost of tuition. And it was so much fun. First you make modelling chocolate from chocolate and corn syrup. After it rests for 24 hours, you can mold the chocolate. The rose above is a small chocolate rose or if you keep it a little tighter, the first step of the full chocolate rose, below. It took about 2 hours to make the large rose for the first time, but it was great!
We made this cake at the end of the week. Because the rose took so long, that left very little time to actually level, frost, fill, and decorate the cake. The recipes can be found in Toba's book The Well Decorated Cake. The cake was good, though I'm still a devotee of Shirley Corriher's yellow cake. The buttercream is great if you like a very buttery buttercream; if you want a lighter frosting, try this swiss meringue recipe, and add the coffee & Amaretto mixture instead of the vanilla and jam.
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F, and spray 2 8" pans with baking spray. Line with parchment paper, and spray again.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Cut the butter up into small pieces, and beat on medium-high speed for about 4 minutes until light and creamy, scraping the bowl occasionally if you don't have a beater blade. Gradually add the sugar, scraping the bowl occasionally.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each one is just combined.
Stir the vanilla into the buttermilk.
Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk. Divide the batter between the two pans, and smooth the batter with a knife or spatula. Drop the pans on the counter from a height of 3" or 4" to burst any air bubbles. Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans.
Double wrap the cake in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or the freezer for up to 2 months.
Friday, October 1, 2010
Welcome to October's Sugar High Friday!
Sugar High Friday is a blogging event started by Jennifer at the Domestic Goddess. Each month, the host chooses a theme, and you all get to make a dessert showcasing that idea. At the end of the month, I'll post a round-up of all your delicious concoctions!
This month's theme: Layer Cakes! I love layer cakes, and with the weather getting colder out there, it's a perfect time to spend an afternoon in the kitchen. You won't even need to worry about your buttercream melting! Be creative with your flavor combinations -anything goes: peanut buttter, chocolate, carrot, almond, pistachio, lemon, pumpkin, ....
Anyone can participate. Here are the details.
* Make a layer cake between now and October 26th.
* Post your cake on your blog (if you have one), with pictures, and a link to this announcement.
* Send me an email with the following info by Monday October 26th: your name, your blog's name, the name of your cake, the link to your cake post, and a 250 x 250 pixel jpg of your cake.
* If you don't have a blog, send me an email with your name, the name of your cake, and a 250 x 250 pixel jpg of your cake by Monday October 26th.
*Check back here on Friday October 30th to see everyone's cakes!
Here are some more cakes, just to start your creative juices flowing.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
It's about time I had an "About" section on this blog, so here it is.
I'm Allie, and I live in the Berkshires in northwest MA. For my day job, I'm a math professor. But I also run a home-based bakery called Zucchero Dolce. And, oh yeah, I teach fitness classes as well.
I bake all sorts of things (typically sweet), including lots of French desserts. But I have a very big Italian family on my father's side, and consider myself more Italian than anything else, hence the name Zucchero Dolce, which means "Sweet Sugar."
I'm also a vegetarian, and I'm a lover of healthy foods (except for dessert of course!): fruits, vegetables, and whole grains make me swoon. I blog more about dessert, but you'll find some savory vegetarian recipes here as well. You'll find some baked goods just for your lovable furry companions soon as well!
Oh, and here's my dog Tsuki and me:
Click here to become a fan of Zucchero Dolce on Facebook!
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Saturday, August 21, 2010
This would have made a great cake for the 4th of July. But berries are still in season, and it'll taste just as good on the 4th of September, or the 21st of August; well, you get the idea. As far as layer cakes go, this is on the lower end of the difficulty level - the filling and frosting are the same, and you can whip the cream in just a few minutes. The white cream is a great backdrop for all sorts of berry decorations, so have fun!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
I've done a reasonable amount of vegan baking and sampling, and unfortunately, many vegan desserts taste vegan - that doesn't mean they're not yummy, but sometimes they just taste a little... different. I don't think that's the case with these cupcakes though, especially if you eat the cake and frosting simultaneously. Go ahead, invite your friends over and have a taste test!
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Vegan Vanilla Frosting
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
There are a lot of bowls to clean with this recipe, but it's very easy - you don't even need a mixer!
Also, I'm not quite sure where the recipe originally came from, my mom has been making it for a few years now.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Almond Cake (adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum)
1 1/3 cups sour cream, separated
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/3 cups cake flour, sifted
2/3 cups finely ground almonds, toasted and preferably unblanched
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 sticks butter (12 ounces), room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 3 9" round cake pans with baking spray, line with parchment paper, and spray again.
In a medium bowl, stir together the eggs, 1/3 cup of the sour cream, and the extracts. Set aside. Don't worry, it won't be smooth or pretty.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the dry ingredients - mix for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining 1 cup of sour cream, and mix on low until combined. Mix on medium for 2 minutes to aerate batter. Add the egg and sour cream mixture in 3 additions, beating 20 seconds after each addition.
Split the batter between the cake pans, and smooth with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30-40 minutes until a toothpick just comes out clean.
Let the cakes cook in their pans for about 10 minutes, then turn on to cooling rack. Cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and chill until ready to frost.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Are you finding it much too hot out to turn on the oven? Time for ice cream cake!
Chocolate and Raspberry is one of my new favorite flavor combinations - doesn't matter the form: cakes, brownies, cupcakes, or ice cream cake like this one... Plus, I love that it's pink!
Ice cream cakes are great for entertaining, because so much of the work can be done ahead of time. And guests are always impressed with homemade ice cream, though feel free to use store-bought if you don't have an ice cream maker. You can even stir in the raspberry puree into store-bought vanilla ice cream, if you want to go the semi-homemade route.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
I taught a 4-week, 40-hour course in January called The Art & Science of Baking. We used Shirley Corriher's book Bakewise for a textbook. Shirley is a frequent guest on Alton Brown's show Good Eats. She's a chemist, and explains the science behind the baking. If you want to develop your own recipes, this is a must-read book. She explains how to check the math of a given recipe and the important differences between baking powder and baking soda, natural cocoa powder and Dutch-process cocoa powder, and so much more. One of the most surprising things I learned - so many cake recipes are way over-leavened!!
Shirley examines pound cake early on in her book, and takes you through her process of developing the perfect recipe. Make this cake immediately, and as you taste the moist buttery cake with just a slight hint of almond (perhaps unidentifiable to some, but you'll taste something a little different), with a dense (but not heavy) crumb, you'll see how successful she was. The whipped cream is not a typical ingredient in pound cake, but after you make this cake, it might become a regular in all your cake recipes. It adds moisture, and of course enriches the flavor of the cake; whipping air into the cream lightens the texture of the cake. Replacing some of the fat (i.e. butter) with oil also adds moisture to the cake; oil is better at greasing the flour proteins than are butter or shortening, so less gluten forms.
Full-disclosure, I did adapt Shirley's recipe slightly. Potato starch isn't readily available at my grocery store, so I stuck with flour; Shirley says the potato starch adds moisture to the cake, and that the large granules make the texture a little less tight than the average pound cake. I believe her, but my version of the cake is still extremely moist, and the texture is not as dense and tight as your everyday pound cake. I also didn't add her optional cream glaze or pound cake icing. I didn't miss them.
Other things to note: don't make this cake in a loaf pan, it won't work. The abundance of butter and sugar in this cake make the cake perfectly moist and sweet, but don't contribute enough protein structure for the cake to dome in a loaf pan. Using a tube pan or Bundt pan insures that the cake remains fully in the pan; in a loaf pan, we would want the cake to dome nicely above the pan, but without the sides of the pan to climb, the cake needs sufficient protein structure to reach that high. Also, if the cake sinks slightly on top, it's not noticeable with these pans, since you invert the cake before serving anyway.
Oh, and I'm not sure she mentions this, but this cake improves after baking, so try not to eat it all the first, or even second day. It's still moist on day 3, and the butter flavor is even more pronounced (I haven't figured out why yet!).
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
I've never quite understood the world's fascination with carrot cake, but everyone seems to love it. I do think these cupcakes are pretty cute with the pecan on top, and I love cream cheese frosting, but carrot cake will never be my cake flavor of choice. To each his own...
By the way, if you don't already use an ice cream scoop to fill cupcake liners, I highly recommend it. It makes the whole process go much more quickly and I also think it makes it easier to fill the wells uniformly. Remember, each one should be filled just over halfway (for most recipes).