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Thursday, January 11, 2018

VANILLA CAKE


In my mind, my chocolate cake recipe is the dada of cakes, and this vanilla cake is the mama of cakes.  The cake is tender, with a tight crumb.


It can be endlessly modified. I've added zest for citrusy cakes. I've added spices to make cardamom and cinnamon concoctions. Steeping tea in the milk to make an earl grey cake works really well too! All of these ideas make we want to go make something creative right now! I hope it sparks your creativity too!


You need to know...
*I put both a 6" and an 8" version of the cake below. I like the visual proportions of the 6". It looks a bit taller and thinner.
*Both recipes make a lot of cake. They are three thick layers. I'm always surprised at how much cake it is!
*Don't skimp on the details. Make sure your ingredients are really room temp. Make sure you truly cream the butter. Make sure you scrape down your bowl often. If you are well-behaved and follow the rules, you will be proud of the delicious cake you make.
*Sometimes my urge to modify things is really strong, but I try to restrain myself occasionally and just make this cake with some vanilla or almond frosting. It's so classic and amazing in it's simplest form.


8” VANILLA CAKE

Ingredients
490g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
500g granulated sugar
255g unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs, large, room temperature
1 egg yolk, large, room temperature
340g milk, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Directions
Prepare three 8 inch round cake pans with butter and flour. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter until lightened in color and fluffy. This takes a few minutes.

Add in the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, making sure that each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Add in one third of the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract, and half of the milk. Mix until just incorporated. Follow in the same way with another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the milk, and, finally, the rest of the dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the three prepared pans. Bang the filled pans on the counter to level the batter and to knock out large air bubbles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. The cake is done when it is lightly browned, pulling away slightly from the side of the pan, and springs back when lightly poked.

Cool the cakes for 5 minutes in the pans before turning them out on to cooling racks to cool completely.


Cakes can be made ahead of time. Store tightly wrapped on the counter for one day, or tightly wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to one month.

6” VANILLA CAKE

Ingredients
326g all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
334g granulated sugar
170g unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs, large, room temperature
226g milk, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Directions
Prepare three 6 inch round cake pans with butter and flour. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter until lightened in color and fluffy. This takes a few minutes.

Add in the eggs one at a time, making sure that each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Add in one third of the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract, and half of the milk. Mix until just incorporated. Follow in the same way with another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the milk, and, finally, the rest of the dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the three prepared pans. Bang the filled pans on the counter to level the batter and to knock out large air bubbles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. The cake is done when it is lightly browned, pulling away slightly from the side of the pan, and springs back when lightly poked.

Cool the cakes for 5 minutes in the pans before turning them out on to cooling racks to cool completely.

Cakes can be made ahead of time. Store tightly wrapped on the counter for one day, or tightly wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to one month.

Friday, December 29, 2017

NOT MY RECIPES

I really enjoy using baking as an opportunity to be creative, but sometimes I just want to find a delicious recipe, make it, and eat it. During this busy season, I've really enjoyed taking it easy on myself and using some recipes from trusted sites. Here are three I want to share with you...

First up, this Berry Bourbon Cake by Southern Fatty. This cake is really special. The frosting is a boozy ermine, one of my favorite all time frostings! The cakes are full of cooked and fresh berries...so much flavor and texture! Also, Southern Fatty was our most recent guest on Flour Hour. It was a really fun chat about baking and blogging. If you want to have a listen...go here.

Next, is this Guinness Gingerbread Bundt on Chowhound. It makes your house smell like Christmas, and that's enough to motivate me to make it. Also, there are three types of ginger...fresh, granulated, and candied. There's a cup of Guinness in the batter, which leaves enough in the can for the baker to sip. Bonus! And then there's the beautiful, shiny brown sugar glaze. It's a must make!

Finally, these morning buns by Bon Appétit are as good as they look. They take some effort, but, if you have the time/desire, they are sooo worth it. Made with cinnamon, cardamom, and honey, they are super flavorful and perfect friends with your cup of coffee.

Hope you are having a delicious holiday season! Thank you very much for swinging by and reading! xo

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

HONEY RED WINE POACHED PEARS


Poached pears sound fancy. They are fancy, but fancy doesn't always mean that it has to be hard. Poaching is really just simmering something in liquid...in this case wine with spices and Aunt Sue's Raw and Unfiltered Honey. I liked the warmth that the honey brought to this recipe. The extra flavor from the honey works really well with the cinnamon and cardamom. I chopped my pears and soaked them in the poaching liquid overnight. Then, I used them to fill this cinnamon cake. They are great this way, but are also delicious served simply with whipped cream.


You need to know...
*Buy a dry red wine. I know everyone says to buy something you would drink, but I didn't. I bought the cheapest red wine in my grocery store because I wanted to save money, and the pears turned out to be very delicious.
*To use the pears as cake filling, dice them up, but not too finely. The texture is lovely! This recipe makes plenty to fill a 4 layer 6" cake or a 3 layer 8" cake.
*If serving the pears whole, make sure to drizzle some of the reduced wine over top. More is more!

HONEY RED WINE POACHED PEARS

Ingredients
1-750ml bottle dry red wine
(1/2 c) Aunt Sue’s Raw & Unfiltered Honey
1 tbsp orange zest
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 cinnamon sticks, whole
4 pealed Bosc pears

Directions
Combine all of the ingredients, except for the pears, in a large sauce pot. Bring to a boil.

Using a slotted spoon to avoid splashing, carefully place your pears in to the poaching liquid. It’s okay that they will not be completely covered in liquid. Bring the mixture to a simmer. 

Simmer, turning the pears occasionally, until the pears are tender. You can use the point of the knife to check the pears for doneness. This should take about 20-30 minutes.

Once the pears are tender, remove them from the pot and set aside.

Continue to simmer the liquid until it is reduced to ~2/3 cup. Strain out the spices and zest.

To serve, drizzle some of the reduced wine mixture over each pear.  

*This post is sponsored by Aunt Sue's Raw & Unfiltered Honey. For more details about the honey and where to buy, please visit: www.auntsueshoney.com.

Friday, December 15, 2017

FLOUR HOUR podcast


FLOUR HOUR podcast...yes!!! Jeremiah and I have teamed up to make a podcast completely dedicated to baking and I couldn't be more excited! There will be lots of talk about butter, flour, and sugar...and lots of laughing! Also, we will have guests who have different perspectives on baking...bakery owners, food stylists, bloggers, baking show contestants, specialty bakers, etc.

I invite you to listen while you bake or commute or clean or relax or something else! Hope you enjoy it (and subscribe and rate it 5 stars on iTunes...pretty, please???)!

Click HERE to listen on iTunes.

Click HERE to listen on SoundCloud. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

HONEY CINNAMON MALT CAKE





This Honey Cinnamon Malt Cake is like a vanilla malt milk shake + honey bun + cinnamon roll all magically turned into a cake! Yeah, total magic. I made the cakes with malted milk powder to give them the unique malty, milkshake taste. Once the cakes cooled, I soaked them in Aunt Sue's Raw & Unfiltered Honey. I chose to use the honey as a cake soak vs. incorporating it in to the cake because the flavor really shines this way. Also, it looks extra tempting to see the honey when the cake is sliced. Finally the cake is filled and frosted in a cinnamon buttercream. Hello, cinnamon roll deliciousness!


You need to know...
*The malted milk powder is available in most grocery stores. Look in the baking area or the hot drink area.
*Depending on how much you want to soak your cakes, you may not use all of the honey soak. I like mine super soaked...so I used it all.
*The photos are of this recipe baked in 6" pans. I wanted a tall cake and some extra layers. If you want to make six 6" layers you may need to adjust the baking time down a tiny bit.

HONEY CINNAMON MALT CAKE

Ingredients
Cake
490g (3 1/2 c) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
40g (1/3 c) malted milk powder
500g (2 1/2 c) granulated sugar
255g (1 c + 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs, large, room temperature
1 egg white, large, room temperature
340ml (1 1/4 c + 3 tbsp) milk, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
Honey Soak
113g (1/2 c) Aunt Sue’s Raw & Unfiltered Honey
1 tbsp water
Cinnamon Buttercream
226g (1 c) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
906g/2 lbs (7 c) confectioners sugar
120ml (1/2 c) heavy whipping cream

Directions
Cake
Prepare three 8 inch round cake pans with butter and flour. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and malted milk powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter until lightened in color and fluffy.

Add in the eggs and egg white one at a time, making sure that each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Add in one third of the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract, and half of the milk. Mix until just incorporated. Follow in the same way with another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the milk, and, finally, the rest of the dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the three prepared pans. Bang the filled pans on the counter to level the batter and to knock out large air bubbles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. The cake is done when it is lightly browned, pulling away slightly from the side of the pan, and springs back when lightly poked.

Cool the cakes for 5 minutes in the pans before turning them out on to cooling racks to cool completely.

Cakes can be made ahead of time. Store tightly wrapped on the counter for one day, or tightly wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to one month.

Honey Soak
Warm the honey and water together in a small sauce pan over medium-low heat until warm.

Cinnamon Buttercream
Combine the butter, salt, vinegar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until smooth.

Add in about half of the sugar. Mix on low until combined. The mixture will be dry. Add in 1/4 cup of the cream. Mix on low for about 3 minutes. 

Add in the remaining sugar. Mix on low. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add more cream 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Frosting can be made up to two days ahead. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature and mix on low for one minute before using.

Assembly
Trim the cakes to make each layer even and flat. Brush the trimmed side of two of the layers with the honey soak. Use these as the bottom two cake layers.

Alternate layers of cake and frosting and cover the outside thinly with frosting. Chill for 15 minutes.


Once chilled, apply the rest of the frosting around the edges and on the top of the cake. Use a frosting smoother to smooth the sides, if desired. Decorate with a dusting of cinnamon, any extra frosting, and a drizzle of honey.

*This post is sponsored by Aunt Sue's Raw & Unfiltered Honey. For more details about the honey and where to buy, please visit: www.auntsueshoney.com.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

COCONUT ORANGE DREAM CAKE

For whatever reason, I tend to crave tropical things in the fall and winter. Maybe you too? This Coconut Orange Dream Cake has "dream" in the title for a reason...it's dreamy. If you want to simplify the recipe, you could totally leave off the coconut fluff and add a little coconut extract to the cake instead. However, if you have the time, make the fluff. It's super special.


Here's a trio of this cake that I made for the Atlanta Girl Gang Repairing Paradise fundraiser. I considered making three different cakes for this event, but I knew people would love this one, so I went for it!


COCONUT ORANGE DREAM CAKE

Ingredients
Vanilla Cake
490g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
500g granulated sugar
255g unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs, large, room temperature
1 egg white, large, room temperature
340g milk, room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
Orange Cream Frosting 
226g unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
3 tsp orange oil or extract
906g/2 lbs confectioners sugar
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
Coconut Fluff
37g water
75g granulated sugar
117g light corn syrup
1 1/2 egg whites, large, room temperature
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp coconut extract
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
Vanilla Cake 
Prepare three 8 inch round cake pans with butter and flour. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the sugar and butter until lightened in color and fluffy.

Add in the eggs and egg white one at a time, making sure that each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Add in one third of the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Add in the vanilla extract, almond extract, and half of the milk. Mix until just incorporated. Follow in the same way with another third of the dry ingredients, the rest of the milk, and, finally, the rest of the dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter evenly amongst the three prepared pans. Bang the filled pans on the counter to level the batter and to knock out large air bubbles.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. The cake is done when it is lightly browned, pulling away slightly from the side of the pan, and springs back when lightly poked.

Cool the cakes for 5 minutes in the pans before turning them out on to cooling racks to cool completely.

Cakes can be made ahead of time. Store tightly wrapped on the counter for one day, or tightly wrapped and stored in the freezer for up to one month.

Orange Cream Frosting 
Combine the butter, salt, vinegar, vanilla, and orange in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix until smooth.

Add in about half of the sugar. Mix on low until combined. The mixture will be dry. Add in 1/4 cup of the cream. Mix on low for about 3 minutes. 

Add in the remaining sugar. Mix on low. Scrape down the bowl as needed. Add more cream 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.

Frosting can be made up to two days ahead. Cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator. Return to room temperature and mix on low for one minute before using.

Coconut Fluff
In a small sauce pot, combine the water, sugar, and light corn syrup.

Heat over medium-high heat until 240°F. Do not stir! 

While the sugar mixture heats, prepare the egg mixture. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar. Whisk on high until soft peaks form. Turn off mixer until the sugar has reached the proper temperature.

Once the sugar mixture is at 240°F, remove from heat, and turn the mixer on to medium-low. Slowly stream the hot sugar syrup in to the eggs. Do your best to avoid the whisk or the side of the bowl.

When all of the sugar has been added, turn the mixer to high and mix until it becomes a white, glossy cloud.  Add in the extracts and mix a minute more. Use immediately. 

Assembly
Trim the cakes to make each layer even and flat.

Alternate layers of cake and frosting and cover the outside thinly with frosting. Chill for 15 minutes.

Color the extra frosting in desired colors. Dab little dollops of the colorful frosting here and there on the sides of the chilled cake. You can use an off-set spatula or cake smoother to carefully spread the colors around the cake. Wipe your utensil often and work in small sections to avoid over working the frosting.

Top the cake with the coconut fluff, and, if desired, torch the fluff until lightly browned.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Honey Apple Tart


This Honey Apple Tart brings together a few of my favorite sweets...shortcrust pastry, sautéed honey apples, and crumb cake crumbs. Each component can be prepared a day or two ahead of time, and you can bake it off the day of or the day before you want to serve it.

The crust is similar to a shortbread cookie. A cookie crust is always welcome at my table. The apples are cooked in Aunt Sue's Raw & Unfiltered Honey and spices until tender. They are delicious enough to serve as a side at your Thanksgiving table, but I've decided to showcase them in this tart. I used honey to sweeten the apples instead of sugar because the honey adds an extra flavor that makes this tart uniquely tasty. The crumbs, let's talk about the crumbs. They are similar to the crumbs you find on a New York Coffee Cake. I love those crunchy devils.


You need to know...
*Use this crust recipe by Dorie Greenspan. It is my favorite, favorite. Follow the directions for partial baking, then add the apple filling and crumbs.
*Make sure you strain the cooked apples of their juices. If you dump everything in to the crust, it will be too wet and become soggy...not a great thing for pies or tarts.
*If you would like to scribble the tart with caramel like I did, I highly recommend making this chai caramel sauce. The piped stars are whipped cream, but vanilla or cinnamon ice cream would be exciting too.
*You could bake this as a pie instead of a tart. Just double the honey apples.


HONEY APPLE TART
makes one 9 inch tart

Ingredients
1 par-baked tart shell
Crumble Topping
150g (1 1/4 c) all-purpose flour
50g (1/2 c) light brown sugar
113g (1/2 c) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger, grated 
Honey Apples
113g (1/3 c) Aunt Sue’s Raw & Unfiltered Honey
7 medium apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice or 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract

Directions
Crumb Topping
In a medium or large mixing bowl, stir together all of the ingredients for the crumb topping. Press them together in the base of the bowl, cover, and refrigerate.

Honey Apples
In a sauce pan over medium heat, cook the honey until simmering.

Add in half of the apples, salt, cinnamon, and lemon juice or vinegar. Continue cooking over medium heat until the apples are tender but not starting to break down. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

Assembly
Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Strain the cooked apples of their juices, and fill the par-baked tart shell with the cooked honey apples. Top the cooked apples with the remaining raw apples. 

Break the chilled crumble up in to small pieces and evenly sprinkle over the apples. Some of the crumble pieces will be fine powder and some will be larger tablespoon sized pieces.

Place the filled tart on a cookie sheet or sheet pan and bake until the crumbs just start to brown, about 20 minutes. Rotate the tart halfway through baking. Cover any dark areas of the tart shell with pieces of foil to prevent over-browning.


Once baked, cool in the tart pan on a wire rack for an hour. Carefully remove the tart pan and cool completely before serving.


*This post is sponsored by Aunt Sue's Raw & Unfiltered Honey. For more details about the honey and where to buy, please visit: www.auntsueshoney.com.