The cake was very well received. I was surprised it turned out so well. The rose petals in syrup settled nicely in between the layers .The flavors were subtle and the cakes texture was perfect. I could see this cake as a wedding cake(sturdy yet delicate to layer).I most loved the butter cream. Silky and not to sweet.
Perfect Party Cake by Dorie Greenspan
Update on playing around. Yes you can do what ever you want with this cake as long as you promise to use the basic cake recipe and the basic buttercream recipe (if you are doing the buttercream that is) . The filling/frosting flavours are completely up to you. If you don't feel like using Dorie's buttercream recipe (flavoured as you wish) she says whipped cream will do for the filling and finishing and I say... go for it. If you want to use fondant or something else - it's your cake. Bake a square one, a heart shaped one or any other shape you like but please make it a layer cake.I can't wait to see what combinations people come up with. You can leave out the lemon, put different flavours of preserves in the middle, leave off the coconut - have some fun with it.
Words from Dorie
Stick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you’ll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration. The original recipe was given to me by my great dear friend Nick Malgieri, of baking fame, and since getting it, I’ve found endless opportunities to make it – you will too. The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen – no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and, it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste – special. The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation (see Playing Around), making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.
For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour (updated 25 March)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).
To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.Remove the bowl from the heat.Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.Spread it with one third of the preserves.Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.ServingThe cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.
The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.
Fresh Berry Cake
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.
I hope those of you who celebrated Easter had a good one. I cooked a big meal which I didn't photograph. Nothing new just some roasted leg of lamb,potatoes,red cabbage, a patty pan squash casserole I concocted with ricotta cheese and pecan crunch, and a Cointreau souffle. We were so tired I didn't have the energy to write or photograph. Certain Someone really liked the souffle. It wasn't picture perfect but was tasty. We devoured 2 servings!I was depressed because I tried to make him Potato dumplings from scratch and failed miserably. That's one my 'Things to Master' list. I look forward to getting a actual tutorial this summer from his mother perhaps.
Anyway, Certain Someone has been burning the midnight oil all week. So its dinner for one. After last weeks flare up about the fish he admitted he would like me to buy more white fishes like Tilapia and Halibut. Sold! So I stocked up at Costco and put them away in the freezer. Two of the ingredients I played with over Easter were Horseradish Root and Pecans. I mixed grated Horseradish root into my sour cream. Wow! So I decided to play with it as a crust. Its actually milder than you would think compared to the prepared ones you buy in the store. But if your adverse to spice this wont be for you. Here is the recipe in a simple elementary form. This was for 3 pieces of Tilapia,so adjust to your servings using my ratios as a guide.
Grate 1/4 cup fresh Horseradish root(cleaned and peeled).Take 1/4 cup pecans and crush in spice blender. Be careful as you don't want Pecan Butter!
Add some of this flavored Old Bay(if you can get it).If not add Maldon Sea Salt, and any other spice of your choosing. Be careful with pepper as the Horseradish doesn't need it.Toss the crumb together.
I can just imagine my Monday morning water cooler chat.
How did you spend your weekend.Oh I tried some Absinthe and went to see ATB.They would look at me blankly and wonder what the hell I was talking about. ATB was new to me, however Absinthe was on those 'Things to do before I reach 40 list",which is rapidly approaching. Where did all those years go?Back in the day , just released from the nuns at a school which will remain nameless, my parents turned me loose in Paris. A night like last night would be a weekly occurrence.Certain Someone loves DJ's like ATB. Unfortunately he was away and I had to represent . I planned to have fun because I havent had a evening like this in a while. A German friend had brought over some Tabu Absinthe. Its legal now to bring into the US, and there are some US producers. A few of the group had it in Prauge and don't have pleasant memories of it, taste wise.In reading I hear the Czech ones are the worst. The Thirty Something Frat Boy men gathered shots glasses lighters,and sugar and tried to prepare it.No one knew what they were doing. I was trying to recall this sexy scene with Susan Sarandon and Jude Law in Alfie where she tries to educate him on to prepare a proper glass. Cant find it on You Tube. Needless to say we just downed it with some sugar on the bottom. Now water ,as I am to find out is essential. However I read the brand we consumed can be taken straight. Half liked the anise flavor,and half wanted to hurl. All of us were warm and fuzzy as it was 100 proof someone said.We all started talking about how old were getting and how our joints don't seem to be like before.I thought it was just me. We were skeptical of the twenty somethings that would be at the event. Nothing hallucinogenic happened to us that evening. We all continued to imbibe vodka as we watched the Go Go type dancers in their neon pink underwear and boots, on raised platforms , dance to the 'Messiah' like DJ. Thank goodness we were cordoned off in our Yuppish VIP section while the masses in hundreds danced on. Where did these people come from and what do they do by day we asked. Then I remembered I was one of them once and I turned out alright.All in all a clean crowd. I was rather surprised. I made it to bed at 4:45 forgoing the after hour party in some Russian Bath House. No Thanks. The old timer Thirty Somethings grabbed some Burritos from one of those Taquerias on Ashland(good eating), and bitched about how we were going to make it through the week. I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a truck, and I didn't even get drunk.That's why I don't party anymore. I leave you with Monsieur Creepiness to see how to prepare Absinthe properly.
When Certain Someone is away, as he is now,I tend to eat things that I don't when he's home.For a man who spent some major time in Sweden , he doesn't care for fish. He does like shellfish however.Anyway I haven't been eating as much fish as I would like while shacking up with him.That could explain the enormous weight gain. Today I craved fish. The weather was spectacular,and as I drove home,with the roof open, from a meeting in the suburb,I decided to get some fish from store I like. This supermarket caters to Mexican, Asian, and Arab communities . I love their meats, produce, and seafood.If I wasn't concerned about time and traffic on the highway, I would have stayed a long time. I picked a whole Red Snapper. I love Red Snapper and remembered the many ways I had it in Costa Rica a few summers back.
My Aussie friend Gabi had given me some Donna Hay cookbooks, and I decided to use them to find a way to cook up fish. Donna uses a lot of Asian influences in the The Instant Cook. I had purchased some Key Limes, Habeneros, and cilantro as well. So with that in mind I chose her Crispy Fried Fish with Soy and Ginger. She calls dredging the snapper in rice flour(which I had on hand) and frying it up. Then topped off with a soy and ginger sauce. I decided to forgo the fried route , took her ingredients, added leeks for scallions, a diced Habenero, and roasted the snapper.
I had no intention of staying home all day today. I planned to go into work after lunch after the cable guy came to fix our HD receiver. Well you know how those things go, and he came after the 12:00 deadline and stayed until 2:30 . Messed up my whole day. The productive person I am decided to run some errands,pay some bills, etc.While on the way home I stopped off at my favorite new neighborhood grocery for some fruit and things. I love this place because they have all sorts of International goodies to add to your pantry. I picked up some pomegranate molasses, Sharon fruit(a type of persimmon),Sweet Rice Flour,(Mochiko)coconut milk and such. All stuff to play with. I was intrigued by a recipe on the back of the Rice Flour Box.It was for a cocoa mochi. I have had Mochi before and found it odd. I have also seen some bloggers blog about it. My mind went racing and I figured I give it a go with some Matcha powder. I have been meaning to make something sweet with the Matcha other than ice cream I see popping up all over. Reading up on Mochi I found it can be very fun and innovative. Kind of like cookie making. I chose the non traditional way to make it and chose a microwavable version. I figured I could knead and shape it like fondant. Not! Nevertheless I was pleased with my results. I didn't have potato starch to dust it with , so I used confectioners sugar. I probably could have used the Sweet Rice Flour as well.I also used Cane sugar rather than white sugar, and more than the recipe called for( about 3/4 of a cup).The result at first looked like green gelatinous slime.As it cooled down it became a little more opaque. I dusted the bites with confectioners sugar and shredded coconut. And the taste? Yummy. I could munch on these sweet starchy nibbles a lot. Maybe next time I might add the bits to a ice cream. Cheap , fun, playing around on my unexpected day off.
Coco's Matcha Mochi
1 cup mochiko sweet rice flour(glutinous rice flour)
1 cup water
3/4 cup cane sugar
confectioners sugar or katakuriko, for dusting(potato starch)
1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder
sweetned shredded coconut
1)Mix mochiko, matcha, and sugar in a bowl. 2)Add water and mix thoroughly. 3)Put in a microwaveable dish. Cover with plastic wrap. 4)Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Remove plastic wrap. Cool until it gets to a workable temp.
5) Shape, roll, or cut into desired shapes.Mochi will be very sticky so dust with katakuriko or confectioners sugar to prevent mochi from sticking everywhere. I used a pastry scraper to cut it cleanly.Roll around when cooled in coconut and more sugar.
Check out the Update for the Tamale Open. Prize now available.
Ben and I have come up with this great prize for the winner of our Tamale Open. We have decided to let you vote for the winner after the roundup is published on May 5,Cinco de Mayo. You will up until May 10 to vote, and then we announce the winner. The winner will recieve this great Indian Soft Hammered Spice Box and 8 spice blends(Tandoori,dried Thai Chilies,Sansho seven spice blend,Himalayan Pink Salt,Quatre Epices,Ras-El Hanout,Chipolte Chili Powder, and Panch Phoran). All can be used or stored in this nifty spice box which can also serve as your Mise en place when cooking. So dont forget to enter.
*If the winner is outside of the US, we will replace the spice element of the prize with another item if shipping has restrictions.
A Cinco de Mayo event: Tamale Open
I have mentioned before that I love history. That’s why the celebration of Cinco de Mayo in the U.S. intrigues me. In Mexico it is not a big deal (only in the state of Puebla where the battle was fought) Cinco de Mayo is not even an official holiday. Maybe it was a big celebration in Texas because Ignacio Zaragoza, the general that defeated the French army, was born there when that state was still part of Mexico. Or maybe the fact that Napoleon III’s imperial forces lost for the first time was the biggest world news at the time (however, the French came back with more forces, took over the country and replaced the president Benito Juarez with an emperor) Whatever the reason Cinco de Mayo is a big deal in the U.S. we join the celebration, not with more history lessons, but with a food event. After all, food is what this blog is about.
My good friend Courtney from Coco Cooks made mole and tamales a couple of weeks ago. And that gave her a great idea, to celebrate the upcoming Cinco de Mayo with a Mexican food event, more specifically tamales.
She asked me if I’d like to co-host the event and I had to say yes. How could I say no to a brilliant idea like that? After several emails and idea exchanges we came up with the name (actually her Certain Someone did) the date and the rules for the event. If you are interested in participating in this event, this is what you have to do:
Make a dish using tamale dough. It doesn’t have to be just tamales. Tamales (like most Mexican dishes) are made and wrapped in many different ways and the dough is also used for casseroles, stews, and other kinds of dishes. So be creative when making your dish. Just remember that it has to be done with a corn-based dough.
For more information about tamales and tamales recipes visit these links:
Please include somewhere in your entry a link to Courtney’s blog and Ben’s blog and mention the event so we can get more people to participate.
Feel free to use the badge in your entry or sidebar of your blog with a link back to this post.
Send your entry to cococooks(AT)hotmail(DOT)com or ben.herrera(AT)whatscooking(DOT)com before April 30 including:
The name of your blog
Your blog URL
Your entry permalink
The roundup will be published on May 5,2008.
Update: Prize offering
After the roundup on May 5, vote for your favorite until May 10. Winner announced May 11.If winner resides outside the US , and there are shipping restrictions for the spice element of the prize, we will replace with another piece to go with the Indian Spice Box. See prize below.
The winner will recieve this great Indian Soft Hammered Spice Box and 8 spice blends(Tandoori,dried Thai Chilies,Sansho seven spice blend,Himalayan Pink Salt,Quatre Epices,Ras-El Hanout,Chipolte Chili Powder, and Panch Phoran). All can be used or stored in this nifty spice box which can also serve as your Mise en place when cooking.
Be sure to let it set well. I cut mine after a few hours, but it could have chilled some more to hold some shape.For a more perfect presentation serve it up in the individual ramekins. Regardless the flavors merge well and it gives you a sweet light light headed feeling. Certain Someone declared it was rich!
* Warning: Don't eat this and operate heavy machinery or drive.