Friday, October 29, 2010

Sugar High Friday Roundup - Layer Cakes!

So many great cakes, I'll get right to it. Be sure to check them all out, there's a wide variety of flavors.  Happy Cake Baking!

Vanessa at Sweet Artichoke made this beautiful Chocolate "Truffé" Cake.

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.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Yellow Cake with Amaretto Swiss Meringue Buttercream for Sugar High Friday

Small Chocolate Rose

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.

Moist Yellow Cake 
(Toba Garrett's The Well Decorated Cake)

3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
5 eggs
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.


Hand Sculpted Large Chocolate Rose

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Sugar High Friday - October's Theme is Layer Cakes!


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.


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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!

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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sugar High Friday: Almond Cake with Raspberry Filling and Brown Butter Frosting

The August edition of Sugar High Friday was hosted by Elissa at 17 and Baking.

The theme for this month is Brown Butter.  I was very excited.  I've made this brown butter frosting several times now, and it's one of my favorites.  It's not as time consuming or potentially tricky as a buttercream, but way tastier than a traditional powdered sugar based frosting.  And it's a great conistency for piping decorations.  And the brown butter, with its slightly nutty taste, pairs very well with the almond cake.

I'll be hosting the October edition of Sugar High Friday's, so check back on October 1 to see what the theme is, and please consider submitting an entry.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Berries & Cream Cake

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!

Berries & Cream Cake

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting

I've been a vegetarian for close to 20 years, and I always will be, but I'll probably never be vegan.  I usually eat 2 vegan meals a day, but I often have cheese with dinner, and it would be really hard to give up all my favorite baked goods... but being vegan is becoming easier and easier with vegan bakeries springing up all over the place.   It wasn't so long ago that no one could even pronounce the word vegan, now it's a regular part of the culture.

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!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from Martha Stewart - Makes about 20 cupcakes

2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Spray muffin wells with baking spray, or line with muffin wrappers.

Whisk together the dry ingredients:  flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar

In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, espresso, and vanilla.  Add to the dry ingredients, and whisk until completely mixed.  Add the vinegar, and stir quickly:  the baking soda and vinegar will begin to react, and you'll see pale swirls throughout the batter.

Pour the batter into the muffin tins - each one should be about 1/2 full.  Bake for about 12-15 minutes.

Vegan Vanilla Frosting

1/2  cup vegan margarine, soft
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-5 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons water or soy milk
food coloring, optional

Beat the margarine and shortening together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until very soft and smooth.  Beat in the vanilla (use clear vanilla if you want to keep the frosting pure white).  Add the sugar in 3 or 4 additions, beating well between each addition.  Beat in the water or soymilk.  The powdered sugar and water/milk measurements are flexible (and somewhat weather dependent) - add more powdered sugar if you want a stiffer frosting, and less if you want a creamier frosting.  You can also add water/milk to make the frosting softer and creamier.

Add a toothpick-full or more of gel food coloring if desired.

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