"if you wish to be glamorous, become a cake baker" -The Joy of Cooking

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A moment with the Domestic Goddess

Yesterday evening Indigo Bay/Bloor hosted a book signing for Nigella Lawson's newest cookbook Simply Nigella.  This is Nigella's 10th...yes 10TH, book!!  Being a fan since her first series on the Food Network, Nigella Bites, I have every single one and treasure them all.

The lovely Nigella signing my book, i'm trying not to cry (thanks to my sis for the pic!!)

I'm already dreaming of baking these desserts from her Sweet chapter:

Chocolate tart, vegan chocolate cake and apricot almond cake

I'm really looking forward to her Christmas special airing December 21st on Food Network.  She will also be back with a new series to accompany the book in January! yessss!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Italian Meringue ButterDREAM!

Today I baked a special cake.  My fiance's grandmother is 90!! WOO! Happy Birthday Grandma!
I made a chocolate cake that I posted about before on this blog ( click  HERE the recipe )

This cake is my favourite as far as chocolate cakes go.  It has Lindt 70% chocolate, hot coffee and buttermilk in the batter that bakes up super moist and rich.

To ice this lovely cake, I decided to make the ultimate in frostings: Italian meringue buttercream. It is so dreamy, creamy smooth and delicious!

  I used this recipe HERE for the buttercream.  I was inspired by the super talented cake master Yolanda Gampp.  Usually I make a traditional American style buttercream with icing sugar and butter but after watching her channel I thought I'd step it up for this special cake.  If you haven't checked out her YouTube channel before and love to cake, you will LOVE her work.  She posts a new video every Tuesday.

Bowl of goodness

crumb coated

I cut out a 6in circle out of fondant that I tinted ivory to write the birthday message

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Polenta Cake

Since her fabulous cooking series, Nigella Bites I have been in love with the talented, beautiful Nigella Lawson.  She is my all time favourite food writer.  I have every book she has written so I'm really looking forward to her newest book coming out this November entitled Simply Nigella. For those interested living in Toronto and surrounding areas, she will be at Indigo Bay/Bloor for a book signing November 3rd at 7pm.

Yesterday I made her polenta cake from Kitchen.  I have to say Nigella Bites is probably my favourite one of her books, I have cooked almost every recipe in that book.   Kitchen is a very close second, the recipes are great especially this one i'm posting about today.  It is an orange polenta cake, Nigella uses lemon in her recipe but I didn't have any so orange it was.

Click HERE if you would like the recipe.

For the cake I used the zest of 2 oranges, this microplane is the best tool for the job

I added the zest to the butter and sugar mixture and beat it in my Kitchen Aid until nice and fluffy

In a separate bowl mix together your dry ingredients.  The cake calls for almond flour and polenta(cornmeal) and baking powder, I just used a fork to whisk out any lumps

Once the butter, sugar and zest are nice and light and fluffy and mixed together well, you will alternate adding 3 eggs one at time with the dry ingredients.

The resulting batter is very thick, not at all runny.  Nigella calls for a 9" springform pan that is buttered and lined with parchment paper

baking at 350 for 40mins

Just before the cake comes out of the oven Nigella suggests making a syrup with icing sugar and the juice of 2 lemons (I used 1 orange).  Once your cake is done baking and cooling, poke holes all over the top with a toothpick, then while the cake is still warm pour the hot syrup over

Of course the cake was great.  I love the texture that cornmeal gives to baked goods. So yummy.  I didn't have a 9" springform pan, mine was a slightly larger 10" so the cake is a little wider and flatter. You could easily bake this in a regular cake pan, I think the smallest you could go is 8" and would result in a higher cake

Friday, September 4, 2015

Cakes in Bloom

When starting out a few years ago learning how to decorate cakes, my absolute favourite thing was learning how to make flowers.  I first started to learn how to pipe flowers using royal icing.  I made countless pansies, daffodils, roses, sweet peas.  It made my heart sing!! The more flowers I could pile on a cake, the happier my soul.

After playing around and practicing with royal icing and piping I was very interested and eager for the next step: the world of gum paste flowers.  The first flower I learned to make was a pansy and simple 5 petal flowers of varies sizes.   Then I graduated onto a small rose, then onto daisies and hydrangeas.  I love how realistic they can be and what they add to a cake is like nothing else.

Recently, I saw that Peggy Porschen came out with a new book, Cakes in Bloom and I HAD to have it!!  I own most of Porschen's baking/decorating books. For me, she is the queen of cake.  If you love to decorate cakes and haven't heard of her before or seen what she does, please check out her site www.peggyporschen.com.  She is amazing! I love her style, so inspirational.  Based in London, she was very successful early on and has done many cakes for celebrities.  I have taken so many ideas from her and dream about opening the same pink Parlour that Peggy has in London.  She also has a Cake Academy, hopefully i'll make it there one day.

Here are some of her exquisite flowers:  

This English Garden Rose is spectacular!

Peonies...*sigh*....so beautiful

This Dahlia is so elegant 

The book is over 200 pages of step by step instruction on the art of sugar flowers and also has a section on baking and icing basics

This book is definitely not for beginners but I do think that it can spark the desire to learn and experienced cake decorators to expand their repertoire of what they can create. Thanks Peggy for another great one! Another book from you to treasure.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Chocolate Mistake Cake

As I've already mentioned on this blog, I have a slight obsession with cookbooks.  I love reading them,  drooling over recipes I know I definitely want to try and admiring the way the food was styled in the photographs.  I love having them and holding them in my hands.  Some may ask, "are you really going to cook everything in all these books?", well no...not every single one, but I do cook from them.   They do inspire me and keep me excited about cooking and baking.

Today I wanted to share a recipe with you from Twelve Recipes by Cal Peternell.  Paternell is a professional chef who enjoys cooking and baking cakes with his family.  I can't tell you how much I adore this book.

I love that the book started as a small project by the author to get his son set up with some good recipes to take with him as he was leaving home for the first time for College.  I love how Peternell was so concerned if he had taught his son well enough to cook for himself.  He wonders if he has absorbed enough knowledge about things like how salty the water should be for cooking pasta or not to let the garlic get too brown while making a sauce.

The book is less about highly stylized photos of food,  and more about the basics of really simple, family style, straight forward, homey food.

I decided to make the Chocolate Mistake Cake because I love chocolate and cake and I make mistakes all the time and was curious why this yummy cake could ever be one.  Peternell writes that sometimes mistakes are a great thing because something wonderful can come as a result.

I also love that you will need only one big bowl and a whisk to make this recipe and minimal ingredients too.  No buttercream to worry about here either.  Paternell suggests serving with whipped cream.  Ice Cream would be nice too or just plain with a little sifted icing sugar over top would be pretty too.

This was my bowl and whisk of choice for today.

For this recipe you will need:  1 stick (1/2 cup or 8 table spoons) of butter, 1 1/2 cups boiling water, 4 oz (113g) bittersweet chocolate chopped or chocolate chips, I used Lindt 70% dark chocolate

Cut up the butter in chunks and throw it in your bowl then add boiling water to the butter.  While that starts melting chop up your chocolate into small pieces and add that into the butter and hot water and leave aside to melt.

Next, you will need 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sift them all together in a separate medium size bowl (so maybe you need 2 bowls after all...) Set aside.

Add 2 1/2 cups brown sugar, 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 2 teaspoons of vanilla to the butter and chocolate mixture and whisk until everything is well combined

Next whisk in 3 eggs, one at time.  Whisk well after each addition.

Add half of the sifted dry ingredients to the bowl and whisk until just combined.  Then add the rest of the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is nice and smooth.

Pour the batter into a well buttered 9 inch cake pan.  bake at 350, start checking the cake around 25min mark.  Mine was ready after 35 min
hot out of the oven

I highly recommend this book.  It is great for people who want to learn to cook or for people who are seasoned cooks looking for inspiration in the kitchen and wish to get back to good, simple food.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sweet Inspiration

Beautiful hydrangeas from the garden....

inspire pretty sugar flowers to be made 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cute as a Button

Here is a birthday cake that I made for a little girl's 1st birthday.  I made an 8 and 10 inch vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream icing.  The theme of her party was Cute as a Button.  I was very happy with the result as were the parents and party guests.

Here is a pic of some of the bows and buttons I made for the cake.  I used pre coloured fondant and mixed it with gum paste to get the desired colours I wanted for the cake.  I have a round cutter set in graduated sizes and used that to cut out buttons in small, medium and large sizes. I used a pointed gum paste tool to create the holes and decided to make some bows with button centres