Monday, July 6, 2009

Patriotic cakes

I hope you had a wonderful 4th of July!!!  The heat in Houston is really getting worst, but it didn't stop me to bake cakes. Actually for the occasion I had to prepare more than one and I'm glad to share those with you! The recipe is the same for both, but for the birthday cake you'll need to double the amount of the ingredients.

The white cake is the base for this light and nice cake,  richer from this velvety frosting. I choose raspberry for the top, but you can substitute with strawberry, if you prefer. Enjoy!

TRIPLE BERRIES WHITE CAKE WITH MASCARPONE CHEESE FROSTING

FLAG CAKE

flag cake (2)

Frosting:
1¼ cups mascarpone cheese
1¼ cups heavy cream, chilled well
5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
1¼ teaspoons almond extract

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment,
whisk the mascarpone on medium speed until soft. Add the cream, and beat until it begins to thicken. Add the sugar, vanilla and almond extract; continue beating until the cream forms soft to medium peaks. Cover, and refrigerate until needed.

BIRTHDAY CAKE

birthday patriottic cake (9)


Cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter (12 tablespoons), brought to room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
6 large egg whites, brought to room temperature
¾ cup whole milk, brought to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
½ pint fresh blueberries, for garnish
1 pint fresh raspberries, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place an oven rack in the middle position. Butter a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan; line the bottom with parchment paper to help prevent sticking.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside until needed. In an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, milk, vanilla and almond extracts.
Reduce the mixer speed to low; add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed butter. Increase the speed to medium, and add half of the milk mixture. Repeat the process until all of the flour and milk mixtures have been added in, ending with the last addition of the flour
mixture.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan; smooth the top of the cake with a large, metal offset spatula to level the batter. Tap the pan on the counter one or two times to remove any air bubbles. Bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven, and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack. Remove the parchment paper, and cool completely.
Using a large, metal offset spatula, spread about 2/3 of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip with the remaining frosting.

Arrange a small square of blueberries in the top left-hand corner of the cake, about 7 to 8 blueberries down and 9 to 10 blueberries across. Pipe small rosettes on top of the blueberries to represent stars. Pipe large horizontal stripes across the cake (one on each of the long sides of the cake and three in the center), all evenly spaced apart. Do not pipe stripes over the blueberries. Fill in the spaces between the stripes with strawberries, sliced or whole, or raspberries.
Serve immediately, or place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from the Viking Cooking School

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A very whimsical chocolate cake

Few months ago I've taught a cake class - at the Viking Cooking School in the Woodlands - and this luscious chocolate cake was the king of the class. Three layers of chocolate cake frosted with chocolate buttercream. What else do you want from life?!? If you want to have more fun, just add few touches with rolled fondant!

chocolate cake (5)

Cake:
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon fine salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting cake pans
2 cups boiling water
2 sticks unsalted butter, brought to room temperature
2½ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, brought to room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

chocolate cake
Chocolate Frosting:
1 pound semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 pinch fine salt
½ cup half-and-half
2 sticks unsalted butter cut into cubes
2½ cups confectioners' sugar


For the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder; set aside until needed.
Whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until completely combined; set aside to cool to room temperature.
In an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla and beat until light in color,about 5 minutes.
At low speed, add one-quarter of the flour mixture to the butter mixture followed by one third of the cooled cocoa mixture; repeat until all of the ingredients are well combined.
Divide the batter evenly between three, 9-inch, round, buttered and cocoa-dusted cake pans.
Bake until the center of the cake springs back when touched and the sides begin to shrink away from the pan, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and cool for 10 minutes; unmold onto wire racks, and cool completely. Meanwhile, make the frosting.

For the Frosting: In the top of a double boiler, gently melt the chocolate with the salt and half-and-half; cool for about 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On low speed, add the butter, 1 cube at a time, beating until fully incorporated. When the
mixture is smooth, increase the speed and mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the confectioners' sugar, ½ cup at a time; continue mixing on high speed until doubled in volume, about 5 to 7 minutes.


To Assemble: With a cake knife, trim the top of each layer. Place 1 layer on a cardboard cake round, and spread with a thin layer of frosting. Add the second and third layer, frosting each. Using an offset spatula, frost the top and sides of the cake generously. If you want, cover with rolled fondant and make decoration with it.

Recipe adapted from the Viking cooking school, The Woodlands.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

When time runs too fast....

... and you really need something sweet, here the cake for you. I already did this time ago (check here), but I wasn't really happy with the texture. so, playing with the ingredients - adding something here; taking off something there - I came up with this new and improved version of the fastest cake ever!

7 minutes coconut cake

IMG_4044

  • 150 gr flour
  • 150 gr sugar
  • 100 gr coconut flour
  • 140 ml vegetable oil
  • 125 ml heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons orange extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 eggs
  • pinch salt

Whip eggs and sugar; stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour in a silicon pan (8 by 2 inches) and cook  in the microwave at High for 7 minutes.

Remove from the pan and frost it with a glaze of sugar and water. Decorate with sprinkles.

Note: if you have a 4 inched deep pan - trust me - is better: you won't see your cake try to run out of the pan!!!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Pause

A flower and a prayer for the recent earthquakes '  victims in Abruzzo, Italy.

 IMG_3964

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Saint Patrick day to y'all

And here a recipe in green to celebrate!!!

Garganelli in green!!!

Few day ago I've received my Food & Wine magazine  (April 2009) anIMG_3946d I was immediately taken from the picture of the dish o n the cover. So I've decided to replicate, using though a wonderful fresh pasta, call garganelli (a type of egg pasta characterized by a shape that resembles a small, ridged, rolled tube, similar to a quill.), that my friend Alice sent to me from Italy the last Christmas time. It was time to honor this pasta with a wonderful, rich but still light dressing, perfect for the incoming spring season. Enjoy it!

Garganelli pasta with peas and asparagus

IMG_3945

 

Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound garganelli pasta (or penne)
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound thick asparagus, cut into 1-inch lengths
  • 1 cups chicken stock *
  • 1 cups  frozen baby peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and asparagus and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and boil over high heat until reduced by half and the asparagus are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the peas and cream to the skillet and boil over high heat until the sauce has thickened, 3 minutes. In the meantime cook the garganelli for few minutes (since is fresh pasta it'll cook in minutes), drain them and  stir in the pan with the sauce and cook until heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, parsley and the 1/2 cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the pasta to bowls and serve right away, passing additional cheese at the table.

* substitute with vegetable stock for a vegetarian option.

Adapted from here

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cannoli doc!!!

Here we are with the second annual  FESTA ITALIANA,FESTAITALIANA that Maryann e Mary have hosted for us. The last year I've "brought" a recipe from the Northern Italy - this one - today I'm going South, really South: in Sicily with the wonderful recipe of cannoli.

I got this recipe from a Sicilian friend, Rossella, who's also the soul of a very interesting Italian culinary forum: Pan per focaccia. But no more chatting, here the recipe:

 IMG_3832

Ingredients:

250 gr flour
25 gr. butter/shortening
25 gr. sugar
1 gr. salt
5 gr. cocoa powder
70 gr marsala wine 
1 egg

To make the shells: Mix together the dry ingredients and cut in butter with 2 knives. Add the Marsala and shape the dough into a ball. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for few hours or overnight.

To make the filling: for every 2 pound of ricotta cheese (preferably sheep ricotta cheese) well drained you'll need 1 pound sugar. Mix the two ingredients and let rest overnight. After this time, strain it and if you want add chocolate chips or candied fruit. Mix well and fill the cannoli shells.

As a good rule you should fill the cannoli at the last moment, before serving them. But in case you want to make them in advance, brush the inside of the shell with melted chocolate, let dry and then fill them.

 
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