thousand layer cake

This may look like an ordinary cake, and that’s just one of the many things I love about it.  You see, it’s anything but ordinary.  It’s extraordinary.  It’s a fabulous creation.  It was what held the secret of whether we are having a baby boy or baby girl.

I hear you, I hear you … “Whaaaaaat??”  How could a cake hold a secret?  Oh let me just tell you, my friend.

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chocolate cake … why not?

Sometime last week, one of my coworkers stopped by my desk to report a complaint: there is no cake in this office.  “[insert coworker who should not be named here] and I agree that there should be a steady supply of cake in this office,” (or something to that effect).  So I thought, why not?  I’ll bake a cake tonight.  I like cake too.  And then I remembered the honkin’ huge bottle of Disaronno that our friend Jim gave us a couple of weeks ago, so I started to Google recipes for amaretto cake but to no avail.  Most of them were just cake recipes where you poked holes in the cake after it was baked and then doused it with liqueur.  So instead I opted to make this simple chocolate bundt cake recipe by Gale Gand that I found on the Food Network, and then made a separate Disarrono glaze on the side in case some people don’t like amaretto flavor.

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OMG red velvet! event

My husband and I are not big fans of going out on the actual night of Valentine’s day because (as I’ve griped about before) restaurants tend to only offer prix fixe menus and/or jacked up pricing.  So this year we decided to celebrate last Tuesday night by having dinner at Sportello (one of our fave restaurants for Italian food – a separate post tomorrow) and an after dinner drink at Drink.  For dessert, we attended the OMG Red Velvet! event and got to see some of the best chefs and sweetsmakers in Boston and their awesomely original red velvet concoctions at Flour Bakery at Fort Point Channel.  Continue reading

vertical spiral cake duel

[This is an overdue post.  The event took place on 12.15.10 but I forgot to blog about it back then!]

It was Candice vs. Jeff in the “vertical spiral cake duel”.

I challenged my coworker, Jeff, to a “vertical spiral cake” baking duel and these photos are from the day we presented our creations.  We were inspired by this recipe but we decided to put our own spin on it by doing different cake flavors and frosting.  He created a classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  I created a coffee flavored cake with a Nutella and marshmallow fluff frosting.

The technique proved to be much more difficult for both of us than we had anticipated.  Since we ended up receiving the same amount of votes in the end, we’ve agreed to have a rematch in the spring with a twist where we both have to incorporate fruit into our creations.

3 layers vs. 6 layers achieved

To view more photos from this challenge, click here.

pastry chefs take center stage

The demo room at 808 Commonwealth Avenue on BU's campus

My friend Kathleen and I are food geeks.  There, I said it.  (Yes, I know you knew I was a food geek, but she may be my twin in this case.  Or close to it.  I still think I’m geekier than she is.)  We both are huge fans of Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and the restaurant, Myers + Chang, so when we found out about a food seminar at BU where she would be doing a pastry demonstration we didn’t hesitate to buy tickets. 

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layered blueberry cake

I saw a recipe/article in a recent issue of the Rachael Ray magazine where the woman baked a cake in a large jelly roll pan so that it was really thin and only took about 15 minutes to bake. I decided to give it a try and brought it to work for a picnic lunch at work on Friday. I was a bit skeptical about the recipe because it only called for 1/2 a cup of flour and that just seemed way too low to me. Instead, I went with a cake recipe from the How to Cook Everything cookbook by Mark Bittman (you all know how much I heart this cookbook!) and I think it turned out great. Super easy to put together and the flavors are so refreshing for warm and sunny summer days.

Ingredients for the cake:

2 cups of flour
2 -1/4 tsps baking powder
4 eggs
1-1/4 sticks of butter (room temperature)
1 cup of sugar
¼ tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cups of milk
½ tsp salt
1 pint of blueberries

Directions for the cake:

Beat the butter and sugar for a couple of minutes until it’s smooth, then add the eggs one at a time. Add the sugar, extracts, salt, and baking powder and mix well. Then alternate adding the flour and milk until it’s all blended together well. Add ½ of the blueberries, then pour it out into a buttered and floured jelly roll pan (I put a sheet of parchment paper on top of the pan which made it much easier to clean up later).

My batter didn’t reach all of the edges which was fine because I ended up trimming the edges anyway when I cut out the rectangles, and it made for good snacking. Hee hee. Oh and bake it in a 350 oven for 15-18 minutes (I started with 15 minutes but it wasn’t quite brown enough on top). Let it cool in the pan for a few minutes, and then cut it into rectangles. Transfer the rectangles to a cooling rack and let them completely cool before icing.

Icing ingredients:

1 – 8 oz. package of cream cheese (room temperature)
½ cup of prepared lemon curd (I like the Dickinson’s brand)
½ cup of sugar

Directions:

Blend all three ingredients until smooth. Then spread the love.

I stored the cake in my cake carrier with the lid on in the refrigerator overnight, and then let it thaw out to room temperature before we cut into it at lunch time (around 12:30 pm). The cake stayed nice and moist that way vs. the piece that I made for my husband that I put in the fridge without anything covering it. The cake got tougher overnight, but it was still yummy.

I can see using this technique of layering with different fillings in the future for other fun cake ideas. It really is pretty quick to put together from start to finish. Enjoy!

lunch on the green

There is a huge patch of grass next to our building at work. It’s usually taken over by flocks of geese and a family of groundhogs (I think that’s what they are), but lately it has been used for games of cricket and lunchtime escapes from the office. I figured the office would be pretty empty on the Friday before a long weekend so I organized a last-minute lunch on the green outing with some of my coworkers. I brought a couple of picnic type blankets to spread out on the grass for us but alas, there was a perfectly good [empty] table waiting for us when we got outside. So we decided to hang out there instead, plus it was better for the two cakes.

Photo taken by my coworker, Tom. Yes, that’s the Cambridge jail behind us.

Two cakes? Yes. Two.

My coworker (and extremely talented baker), Jeff, and I had a conversation about cake suggestions earlier this week for a party he was supposed to go to on Friday. I described (and later gave him the recipe for) a cake idea I saw in the Rachael Ray magazine where this woman baked a cake in a jelly roll pan so that it was an extremely thin cake and only took about 15 minutes in the oven. Then she cut it up into rectangles and stacked them with frosting in between. So Jeff went all out and created a beautiful and tall cake made with layers of vanilla and chocolate cake, and iced with a decadent mocha chocolate frosting. The only problem was that the party was cancelled. Errr, not so much a problem for me and my coworkers because we got to enjoy his wonderful creation.

I went ahead and made a cake similar to the one I found the recipe to (read more about it here) but I was thrown off by how she only called for 1/2 a cup of flour so I decided to use my trustworthy How to Cook Everything cookbook by Mark Bittman instead. I used the cream cheese and lemon curd recipe from the article though, and I think it turned out fantastic.

What a fun way to spend a lunch break at work with some of my favorite coworkers. 🙂

anne’s nibbly cookies recipe

I was craving bread from the Danish Pastry House yesterday (see what too many trips to the farmers market will do to ya?!), and luckily my parking angel was with me and I got a metered spot nearby. So after I bought a loaf of their Epine baguette (so yummy!) I walked by the Taza Chocolate booth to see their new chococycle. It’s really cool! I decided to pick up a large bag (6 ounces) of their organic chocolate covered nibs to make something.


(I will refrain from saying what the husband said these look like.)

I didn’t have any plan in mind so I was happy to find this recipe on the back of the package when I got home. They turned out great! Well, I should say that my husband didn’t really love them like he loves regular chocolate chip cookies that I make but everyone at work who tried them loved them! They were super easy to make and they came out so soft. The only thing I didn’t do in the recipe was add the nutmeg and that was simply because I didn’t have any on hand.

I love using ice cream scoopers for cookie dough. These only took 10 minutes in the oven because they were small and bite-sized.

It was definitely a good idea to use the parchment paper on top of the pan because it made clean up a breeze!

So my friends, if you’d like the recipe you should go out and get a bag of these lovely little nibs!

Oh and by the way, speaking of yummy baked goods. Check out this cardamom cake that my coworker, Stephanie, made (yes, the same one with the amazing basil garden). Our departments hosted today’s coffee hour this morning which is why I brought the cookies in to work. I really like the green plate that she brought it on, and the cake was as delicious as it was beautiful!

Happy baking everyone! 🙂

jill & drew tie the knot

Congratulations to our friends, Jill and Drew, who tied the knot yesterday!

Don’t have time to post all the photos yet, but couldn’t resist sharing a couple of photos of their cake. They went with a seaside beachy theme and the cake turned out awesome!