Sunday, March 27, 2011

Heavenly Cake Baker: Orange-Glow Chiffon Layer Cake

heavenlycakeplace This week's Heavenly Cake Baker cake is the light and airy Orange-Glow Chiffon Layer Cake on page 203 of Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I am not usually much of a fan of the texture of sponge cakes or angelfood cakes, but now I think that's because I just hadn't met the right one before.

I wasn't holding out much hope, but this cake was a hit. A huge hit, with me and my entire family. My brother, sister-in-law and niece dropped over for a visit and before I knew it, the cake was gone! My Japanese sister-in-law declared it was just like the cakes they have in Japan, and promptly ate 3 slices. I'd only had one slice so after I sent them home with a last chunk of the cake, I had to make another one (one slice wasn't enough)! Yes, that's right...I made two orange-glow chiffon cakes within about 5 hours of each other. And, I'm already plotting to make it again as cupcakes (with chocolate-orange ganache frosting) next weekend for a nationwide bakesale for Japan that my sis-in-law and I are donating baked goods to.

The cake was a snap to make - the second one came together in about 15 minutes or so (the first one only took longer because I was getting the mise en place together and photographing everything). And I love that you don't even have to grease the pan - it's so easy! I was really nervous about not using anything in the pan but it came out just fine.

I used a lot more zest in my second cake so the orange flavor and color was stronger, but both were equally delicious. I didn't bother making the orange whipped cream because - if I'm honest - when I was making the first on, I didn't even think I would like the cake since I'm usually not a fan. And then for the second one, I felt that the cake really didn't even need it. It is just that yummy on its own, with a cup of coffee. Or tea. Or milk. Or...well, you get the picture!

mise en place. I only had a drop of vanilla left so I pulled out my homemade vanilla -
about 20 bottles of which are "curing" for christmas presents this year.
While it was still really light in color, the vanilla smell was
already strong so I went ahead and used it.

wet ingredients, sans egg whites, go into the dry and get mixed for a minute and a half

the orange smell was wonderful!

egg whites (plus cream of tartar and one T sugar) whipped to a stiff peak

fold in the egg whites

pour into a pan and stick a flower nail in the middle
(conducts heat and keeps the middle from sagging)

35 minutes and done! I didn't have any cake strips so I folded some foil about 4 layers thick and
wrapped it around the pan and then baked it on a sheet pan.

after letting the cake sit for a minute until the puffed up top is level
with the pan, turn upside down to cool completely

hello, cake!

such a pretty golden/light orange color

so fluffy

smells sooooo good...

...and tastes even better!

Bye for now...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Avid Baker's Challenge: Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake

The April assignment for the Avid Baker's Challenge is Zebra Cookies. But as it's not quite April yet and I've got several delicious recipes tagged in Flo Braker's Baking for All Occasions, I decided to make something that's been haunting my dreams since I saw the photo in the book and on lots of other blogs, including fellow ABC baker, Hanaâ.

This weekend it was time for me to tackle the Lemon-Scented Pull-Apart Coffee Cake, page 163. After eating some, all I could think was why, oh why, didn't I make this sooner. I am a huge fan of all things lemon-zesty, so this was a home run in my book. FB herself has posted the recipe and directions online in case you want to try this one - I definitely recommend it!

Thanks to an absolutely adorable drawing on this blog - No Special Effects - I knew exactly how to create all of the fabulous lemony layers of the coffee cake. Step-by-step photos in the book, for a recipe like this, would have been helpful, but thanks to Manggy's diagram I wasn't worried at all. I love the internet!

Even though the finished product looks very fancy and complex the recipe was really quite straightforward. The coffee cake loaf would be great as a gift, for a bake sale or a brunch party - anywhere you want to make a grand impression. All three parts of the cake - the dough, filling and icing - were easy to make and came together quickly. The only thing that took a while was waiting during the two rising periods.

Next time I make this coffee cake - and there will be a next time - I might try adding some nutmeg or even go with a cinnamon-sugar-lemon zest-ground pecan filling.

mise en place for the coffee cake

adding the warm milk/butter mixture to the flour mixture

mixed by hand until combined and then onto the mixer

adding the eggs, one at a time

adding the remaining flour

the dough was quite sticky when I turned it out but after just a few seconds
of kneading - without adding any additional flour - the stickiness was gone

after about one minute of kneading, the dough was nice and smooth

I'll make the filling while the dough rises

mise en place - sugar, melted butter and lemon and orange zests...yum!

I made a small mistake when making the filling - I mixed the melted butter in with the zest/sugar. So instead of brushing the butter onto the dough and then sprinkling the zest/sugar mixture on top of it, I just spread my buttery zest mixture all over each strip of dough with the back of a spoon. The cake tasted fantastic, so I don't imagine it made any difference. And, actually, it may have made assembly easier since I didn't have to worry about the sandy zest/sugar mixture moving around when I picked up the dough strips to layer them on top of each other.

my filling, ready to be spread on the layers

after rising for almost an hour, it hasn't quite doubled in size, but...

when I pressed my finger into the dough, the indent stayed, so - per the instructions - it was ready

I tried to shape my dough into a rectangle before I started rolling

rolled out to 20 x 12"

cut into five strips, each 4" wide

I spread 1/5 of the filling onto each strip and then layered them on top of each other

the layers are then cut into 6 rectangles of ~2 x 4"

into the buttered loaf pan

I got a little worried at this point, because the recipe said to let the dough rise again until doubled in size. My six segments were already barely fitting into the loaf pan so I decided to take 2 segments out and bake them in a separate pan.

I wasn't sure how those two on their own would fare since they didn't take up much
space in the pan, but I figured I'd find out soon

after about 40 minutes they look ready to bake

35 minutes and done. The pan with the 2 segments looks pretty cute!

the smell of the lemon and sugar caramelizing in the pan was wonderful

mise en place for the icing. I didn't have any cream cheese so I used mascarpone instead.

let's get these babies iced and eaten while they are still warm!

I like the 2 segment mini loaf. Next time, I think I'll make several of the small loaves instead.

all I can really say is YUM!

time for a few slices and a cup of coffee...

a wee bit more icing...delicious!

Bye for now...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Heavenly Cake Baker: Tiramisù (free choice)

heavenlycakeplace It's free choice this week in the Heavenly Cake Baker club. I was debating between the Red Velvet Cake on page 83 of Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes and Tiramisù on page 267. Tiramisù won out in the end as it seemed like more of a challenge.

I must confess that I cheated a bit this week and deviated from the recipe in the book to (mostly) follow a recipe I'd made once before. While baking, I went back and forth between the two but the final cake, in the end, leaned more toward the more familiar recipe and not the book. I hope I won't be kicked out of the club!

To start with, I got totally flummoxed when reading RLB's instructions for the ladyfingers because she instructs you to pipe the fingers but also to pipe out an 8" disk...but the disk is never called for in the tiramisù recipe. It wasn't until much, much later that I realized the disk instructions were for the recipe on the previous pages. D'oh!

The recipe I (mostly) used called for ladyfingers for the top and bottom layers and a sponge cake as the middle layer (another reason I kept wondering where to incorporate the ladyfinger disk). As you can see from the pictures below, my ladyfingers were pretty much a disaster. Next time I will definitely either use RLB's ladyfinger recipe or the sponge cake recipe (which said it could also be used to pipe the ladyfingers).

I'm not sure exactly what went wrong with my ladyfingers. I think I may have over-beaten my eggs, egg yolks and sugar mixture, but everything seemed fine until just before I started filling the pastry bags...then the batter just collapsed before my eyes. Sad.

mise en place for the ladyfingers

beating the eggs and sugar

I can tell disaster is coming; after adding the flour and butter, the batter is already collapsing

as you can see I had a hard time getting a light dusting of powdered sugar!
the first set wasn't great but they weren't too horribly bad

the second set was a complete disaster

they look okay from afar and were actually very light inside...but

...they were so sad and FLAT up close

The sponge cake, on the other hand, was fantastic. It was easy to pull together, it didn't collapse on me and it baked in less than 10 minutes. It was spongy and moist (it would roll up nicely for a roulade!). It was a bit sticky on the top, but otherwise was very easy to work with after it was baked. I picked it up, flipped it over - both dry and wet - and it never tore.

mise en place for the sponge cake

egg whites and sugar are whipped to a stiff peak


dry ingredients are added to the egg yolk, sugar, vanilla and water mixture

after the whipped egg whites are folded in, it's baked in a sheet pan

less than 10 minutes later - done!

mise en place for the pastry cream

making the pastry cream...whisk whisk whisk until it boils

the mascarpone has been added to the pastry cream which is set over an ice bath to cool

the final ingredients: cream to lighten the pastry cream; super strong coffee and Kahlua to soak the layers;
and cocoa/powdered sugar to decorate

adding the whipped cream to the mascarpone pastry cream

almost incorporated - smells delicious!

the first layer of cookies are soaked with the coffee/Kahlua and
covered with the mascarpone pastry cream

the sponge cake layer is up next; it's given a good soaking

I had lots of extra cookies and more sponge cake than I needed for the large serving dish I was using so I made a second dish (what I'm going to do with TWO dishes of tiramisù though, I don't know). However, at this point I started thinking that I was going to run out of the cream filling by the time I got to the top so I whipped up some more heavy cream, added a few splashes of the coffee/Kahlua mixture for a bit of flavor and then incorporated it back into the mascarpone pastry cream mixture. It diluted the delicious pastry cream flavor a little, but definitely made it go further.

the final layer is made up of ladyfingers and then topped with more cream

all done...looks great

now I just need 20 people to serve this to!

after setting up for about an hour, I sliced into it; I think it will be even better tomorrow after the
flavors have more time to meld


Bye for now...