Tag Archives: cake

Lemon Burst Buttermilk Cake

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If you love lemons, and lots of them, then this bright and tangy lemon cake from Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen is just the recipe for you. It is so good that it has become my go-to recipe whenever I have an abundance of lemons on hand.

I love this cake because it is so moist. It also contains buttermilk which has become my preferred dairy product for baking.  And because it contains a generous amount of both lemon juice and lemon zest, you are rewarded with a mouthful of lemon flavor with every bite. And by all means don’t skip the lemony glaze; it is the finishing touch for this already delicious cake.

LEMON BURST BUTTERMILK CAKE

For the cake:

3 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

½ tsp baking soda

1 cup butter, softened

2 cup granulated sugar

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs

4 large lemons, juiced and zested

¾ cup buttermilk

For the glaze:

1½ cup powdered sugar

1 Tbsp heavy cream

1 Tbsp lemon zest from lemons

2 Tbsp lemon juice from lemons

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat 2- 8 x 4½ x 5-inch metal loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • In a medium sized bowl, sift together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  • Using a hand mixer and a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla.
  • Beat until creamy then add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Reserve 1½ tablespoons of the lemon zest for the glaze then add the rest to the creamed butter and eggs.
  • Mix together ¼ cup fresh lemon juice with ¾ cup buttermilk.
  • Add to the mixing bowl alternately with the sifted dry ingredients. Beat until fully combined and all of the dry ingredients are fully moistened.
  • Divide the batter between the 2 loaf pans, tapping the pans to release air bubbles.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center shows moist crumbs.
  • Cool in the pan then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • To make the glaze, mix together the powdered sugar, heavy cream, lemon zest and lemon juice until drizzling consistency. If needed add additional cream 1 tsp at a time to thin.
  • Drizzle the loafs with glaze, slice and serve.

Yields 24 slices

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Tirimisu

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Tiramisu is the all time favorite dessert in our house.  Glenn and I discovered our mutual love of this Italian dessert early in our relationship over a late night dinner at Filomena Ristorante in Georgetown, Washington D.C.  Since that snowy January night, if tiramisu is on the menu, we order it.  Tiramisu was the dessert at our rehearsal dinner the night before our wedding (it would have been our wedding cake if I could have figured out how it could have been made in a tiered form), it is the cake I make for Glenn’s birthday every year, and it is becoming a favorite dessert for our formal dinners.

I’ve discovered that not all tiramisu is created equal. Cake that is too dry or filling that is too sweet yields  disappointing results.  This recipe comes from Williams Sonoma and in my opinion is the perfect combination of moist, yet not too wet, lady fingers and rich and delicately sweet filling.  Always make it a  day ahead of time. This lets the flavors meld together.  Of course, if there are leftovers, it is even better the following day.

TIRAMISU

1/2 cup sugar 

1/2 cup water

2 cups freshly brewed espresso 

1/4 cup dark rum 

45 ladyfingers

1/3 cup sugar 

6 egg yolks 

1/2 cup heavy cream 

1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese 

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 

Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting 

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the espresso and let cool to room temperature. Stir the rum into the cooled espresso mixture. 
  • Pour the espresso mixture into a wide, shallow bowl. Working in batches, briefly immerse the ladyfingers in the liquid, then transfer them to a plate. Set aside. 
  • To make the filling, select a heatproof bowl that fits snugly in the rim of a saucepan. Pour water to a depth of about 2 inches into the saucepan and bring to a very gentle simmer.
  • Meanwhile, in the heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is pale yellow and creamy, about 2 minutes.
  • Place the bowl over, but not touching, the simmering water in the pan. Using a handheld mixer on medium speed, beat the yolk mixture until very thick and tripled in volume, about 6 minutes.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and set the yolk mixture aside to cool completely, stirring frequently. 
  • Meanwhile, in a bowl, using the mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream until stiff peaks form.
  • Add the mascarpone and vanilla to the cooled yolk mixture. Beat with the mixer on medium speed just until smooth and well blended.
  • Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream just until combined. 
  • To assemble, carefully transfer 15 soaked ladyfingers to a 9-inch square cake pan. Arrange them in a single layer in the bottom of the pan.
  • Using the rubber spatula, evenly spread one-third of the filling over the ladyfingers. Place another layer of 15 ladyfingers over the filling in the pan and evenly spread with half of the remaining filling.
  • Top with the remaining ladyfingers and filling, again spreading evenly. Gently tap the pan against the counter to settle the ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. 
  • Run a small knife around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the sides. Using a fine-mesh sieve, dust the top with the cocoa powder. Cut into slices and serve directly from the pan.

Serves 8. 

 

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

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Tres leches cake is one of my favorite desserts.  The tres leches, or three milks, make this sponge cake moist and slightly sweet without being overpowering.  This recipe is courtesy of Pati’s Mexican Table.   I substituted coconut milk for the evaporated milk called for in the recipe and I like this version of the cake even more than the original one.  A bit of toasted coconut on top of the cake dresses it up and makes it dinner party worthy.

As an added bonus the cake keeps well.  You can make the cake one day then store, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to three more.  The longer the cake sits the more of the milk it absorbs making it taste even better.  You can add the whipped cream before storing it but be sure to add the coconut right before serving.  Enjoy.

COCONUT TRES LECHES CAKE

For the cake:

9 large eggs, separated

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

For the sauce:

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 12-ounce can coconut milk

1 cup whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the topping:

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/2 cup toasted flaked coconut

To make the cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 4-5 minutes or until they hold soft peaks.  Reduce the speed to medium and slowly add the sugar, beating until the whites hold stiff, shiny peaks.  Set aside and wash the beaters.
  • Place the egg yolks in a separate large bowl and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale yellow, about 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla and continue beating for another minute.
  • Gently and slowly fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture, taking care not to deflate the egg whites.  Fold in the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl with the spatula to mix well.  The batter will look a bit streaky.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes.  Place the pan on a wire rack to cool.
  • Invert the cake onto a rack and remove the pan.  Inverting the cake again, move the cake to a rimmed platter that is large enough to hold the cake and the sauce.  Using a fork, poke holes in the top of the cake so that it will absorb the sauce.

For the sauce:

  • In a large bowl, combine the three milks and the vanilla extract, stirring until well blended.
  • Pour all of the milk over the top of the cake.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

For the topping:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Spread the coconut flakes onto a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven.
  • Watching carefully, toast until browned 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and cool completely.
  • Place the heavy cream in a medium-sized bowl and using an electric mixer beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the confectioners sugar over the cream and continue to beat until soft peaks form.
  • Spread the whipped cream over the top of the cake and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.
  • Serve immediately or wrap tightly and return to the refrigerator for up to three days.

Serves 10-12

Classic Pound Cake

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Pound cake is a classic.  Topped with fruit, chocolate, or cream it can make a simple yet satisfying dessert.  It can accompany a cup of tea as an afternoon snack or even work as a breakfast on the go.  Done right it isn’t overly sweet.

This recipe from America’s Test Kitchen has been repeatedly tested to get it right.  There are flavored versions that add lemon, orange, ginger, or even chocolate but my favorite is the version made with the fewest ingredients.  Butter, sugar, and milk combined with flour is all it takes.  Because there are so few ingredients, make sure the ones you use are of the best quality you can find.  Here in Europe butter has a higher fat content than butter in the United States resulting in a rich cake.  If you are stateside try to find a European butter (President is a brand sold in some U.S. markets).  The results will be worth it.

CLASSIC POUND CAKE

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cup sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and hot

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  • Process the sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a food processor until combined, about 10 seconds.
  • With the machine running, pour the melted butter through the feed tube in a steady stream.  The process should take about 30 seconds.  Pour the mixture into a large bowl.
  • Sift one-third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture and whisk in.  Repeat twice more with the remaining flour mixture and continue to whisk the batter gently until most lumps are gone (do not over mix).
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  • Bake 50-60  minutes or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few crumbs attached.
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes then flip it onto a wire rack.  Turn the cake right side up and let cool to room temperature, about 3 hours.

Serves 8-10

Gingerbread Trifle

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In preparation for Thanksgiving, I’m showcasing some of my favorite holiday recipes this month.  Some of them are family recipes while others are my own creations but each of them always has a place on my dining room table.  This fall I had the opportunity to be profiled by Albanian Living magazine as a part of their “traditional American Thanksgiving” article.  All of the recipes I’m sharing were a part of that Thanksgiving table.
Trifles only look complicated because in reality, they are ridiculously easy to make.  All you need to do is create layers of cake and cream and you have a dessert that will impress.  Any type of cake, brownie, or cookie will work so choose a flavor combination that excites you.  Fresh fruit or preserves can also be added to the layers for even more flavor.  I’ve also discovered that trifles are the perfect way to use that cake that wouldn’t come out of the pan in one piece.  This trifle, made with a spicy ginger cake that is adapted from Fine Cooking, combines ginger with a rich cream to form a decadent dessert.  As with all trifles, this one tastes better if it is made a day ahead of time.
GINGER CAKE TRIFLE
For the cake:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 350.  Lightly grease an 8×8 inch square cake pan.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, ground spices, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.
  • Place the butter in a medium sized bowl.  Using a hand mixer, set on medium speed, beat the butter until light and fluffy, approximatley 1 minute.
  • Add the fresh ginger and mix until just combined.
  • Add both of the sugars and beat on medium speed until well combined.
  • Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and mix until well combined.
  • Turn the mixer on low and add the molasses.
  • Add one third of the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until combined.  Add one of the buttermilk and beat until combined.  Repeat alternating ingredients until everything is incorporated.
  • Scrape the batter in the prepared pan and smooth the top.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  • Let the cake cool completely in the pan before assembling the trifle.
For the ginger syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Add the water and sugar to a small saucepan set over medium heat.  Stirring ocassionally, heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the ginger to the sugar water and stir to combine.  Bring to a gentle simmer being careful that the sugar doesn’t scorch.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool.  Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve to remove the ginger.  Set aside.
For the cream filling:
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Kirsch
  • Place all of the ingredients in a medium-sized chilled bowl.
  • Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until it is light and fluffy.
To assemble the trifle:
1 ginger cake
1 cup ginger syrup
4 cups whipped cream
1/4 cup candied ginger
  • Cut the ginger cake into bite sized cubes.  Place a single layer of the cake on the bottom of the  medium-sized trifle dish.
  • Brush the cake with the reserved ginger syrup.
  • Place a layer of the whipped cream on top of the cake.
  • Repeat this layering pattern until your trifle dish is filled ending with a layero f whipped cream.  You may have some cream left over.
  • Evenly sprinkle the candied ginger pieces over the top of the whipped cream.
  • Cover the trifle dish tightly with plastic wrap and allow to sit for at least 4 hours or preferrably overnight before serving.
Serves: 12

Tuscan Apple Cake

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Sometimes it is the simplest ingredients that form the most memorable dishes.  I love fancy desserts but complex isn’t alway better.  This simple apple cake courtesy of The Daily Meal, is one such example.  Use the best apples you can find and with just a few ingredients and a minimal amount of hands on time, you can easily put together a dinner party worthy dessert.  Many autumn desserts are loaded with strong spices that can mask the delicate flavors of your other ingredients.  Not this cake; with the only added flavor being a dash of vanilla extract, the apple flavor shines right through.  Your guests will be impressed and if they don’t eat it all, you will be able to enjoy a leftover piece the next day.

TUSCAN APPLE CAKE

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

Pinch sea salt

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup milk

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

4 large, firm fleshed apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/8 inch slices

Powdered sugar, for garnish

  • Pre-heat the oven to 375.  Lightly coat a 10-inch non-stick springform pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  • Place the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Whisk on medium speed until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is pale and thick, about 30-60 seconds.
  • Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture until just incorporated.
  • Fold in the milk then the butter and finally the apple slices.  Be sure to not over-mix the batter.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan being sure to push the apples to the bottom of the pan.
  • Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 55-60 minutes.
  • Allow the cake to cool slightly on a wire rack then use a paring knife to loosen the cake from the edge of the pan.
  • Remove the ring from the pan and transfer to a serving platter.  Allow to cool to room temperature then sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

Serves 8

Miniature New York Style Cheesecake

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Who doesn’t love a traditional, New York style cheesecake. A good cheesecake is rich, smooth and dense. Those quick, no-bake versions that get passed off a “real” cheesecake give this decadent dessert a bad name.  Growing up my mom made amazing cheesecakes.  While her pumpkin and chocolate with chocolate crumb crust were good, a plain cheesecake, perhaps served with a bit of fresh fruit were by far my favorite.

A good cream cheese is a necessary base for any cheesecake.  Here in Albania it is extremely difficult to find real, American style cheesecake.  Philadelphia brand is available in some supermarkets but the European version is whipped and doesn’t yield a cake of the right consistency.  Block cream cheeses are also available but the ones I have found tend to be too sour, resulting in an unpleasant taste.  So what is a cheesecake lover to do?  Whenever we travel to the Navy Commissary in Naples, Italy, I stock up on my traditional Philadelphia cream cheese.  Frozen, the cream cheese will keep for quite some time.  I simply allow it to defrost in the refrigerator before using it.  Freezing changes the texture of the cheese so you probably wouldn’t want to spread it on a bagel but when baked in a cheesecake, you will never know whether the cheese was fresh or frozen.

This freezing trick is especially handy since I’ve discovered that Europeans love real New York style cream cheese.  I’ve doubled this recipe and made it as a single, large cake in a spring-form pan for dinner parties.  For a recent lunch, when a heavy piece of cake is too much for the middle of the day, I’ve made the cheesecake in miniature form and served it with fresh sliced fruit. Regardless of its shape or size, this cake is always a hit and leaves people scrambling for leftovers.

MINIATURE NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE

For the crust:

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 ounces almond biscotti, crushed

 

For the cheesecake: 
1 1/4 pounds (2 1/2 8-oz. packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1-inch chunks, at room temperature
Dash of salt
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • To make the crust, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.
  • Brush the bottom and sides of individual cheesecake pans with 1/2 tablespoon of the melted butter.  
  • In a food processor, crush the biscotti until small crumbs form.  In a medium bowl combine the biscotti crumbs and 4 tablespoons melted butter. Toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
  • Transfer the crumbs to the cheesecake pans and use a small spoon to firmly press the crumbs evenly into the pan bottom.  
  • Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 10 minutes.  
  • Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute.  
  • Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at medium-low speed until combined, about 1 minute.  
  • Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute.  
  • Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute.
  •  Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolk and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.  
  • Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions.  
  • Brush the sides of the pans with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon melted butter.  
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees.
  • Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 20 minutes or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. If you need to continue cooking the cakes, do so in five-minute increments until the cakes are done. 
  • Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

Yields:  24 individual cheesecakes

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