Category Archives: Cakes

Hummingbird Cake

One SliceI made this cake to celebrate my father’s 90th birthday. Sadly, he will have to enjoy this cake vicariously, from his perch in heaven, as he died in 1999. Some may find this a bit macabre, but those who knew my dad understand that enjoying life vicariously, through others, was ingrained in his being. He got great pleasure and joy from other people’s good fortune.one slice 2Hummingbird cake is a classic Southern dessert, with Jamaican roots. The glorious trifecta of banana, pineapple and pecans meld into a moist dense cake that, once filled and frosted with a cream cheese frosting, could drive a sane person just a tad crazy. I added some unsweetened coconut to the batter because, well, coconut! All you coconut haters can leave it out. You won’t hurt my feelings. I used coconut flakes, but for a less chunky texture, you could use shredded coconut.

This cake recipe is adapted from Bobbette and Belle’s recipe for Hummingbird cupcakes.  ready to bakeNo one is quite sure how this cake got it’s moniker. Some theorize that because the cake is so sweet, loaded with sugar and fruit, that it would naturally attract hummingbirds. Others posit that the cake is so delicious, it makes people hum with happiness, like a bird.cakes coolingassembling cake 1assembling cake 2To decorate the cake I used a #8 Wilton tip to pipe a string of “pearls” around the top and bottom of the cake. I tied some gold ribbon around wooden skewers to create little flags and staggered the heights in the cake.cake and milk

Click here to print recipe for Hummingbird Cake.

Two slices

Caramel Cake and Wishes for a Very Sweet New Year

with-champagne-1 Restraint can wait. Let’s usher out 2016 with decadence. This is a time-honoured Southern Caramel Cake. If anyone knows how to bake a Southern classic it is the Lee Brothers, Matt and Ted, from Charleston. This recipe hails from their book The Lee Brothers Charleston Kitchen.

Admittedly, this cake is a labour of love. But, if you can read and follow instructions, the Lee Brothers will take you by the hand and guide you, step by step, through this challenging but fun to make cake. The tricky part is the caramel icing. A candy thermometer and an instant read thermometer are critical to success.

The cake layers are rich and buttery, and come together quickly.cake-into-pansIt never ceases to amaze me how simple ingredients like milk, sugar and butter are transformed into a fluffy caramel frosting. spreading-caramelThe gossamer light caramel icing, dissolves almost instantly on your tongue. It has a perfect salty-sweet balance that keeps you coming back for bite after bite.adding-pearlsI found some leftover Callebaut Dark Chocolate Pearls in the cupboard and decided to decorate to top of the cake with them.

Wishing you all a sweet, happy and healthy new year.

Click here for recipe for Caramel-Cake.

closeup

Brown Butter Salted Caramel Crunch Cake

cake-sliceswhole-cake-2Last week was my birthday and I made my own cake. Some people think that having to bake your own birthday cake is quite sad, but I’m not one of them. When you bake your own cake, you get exactly what you want. I gave quite a bit of thought about what to bake. (Way more thought than is probably healthy, I’ll admit).

As an early birthday present to myself I ordered Bobbette and Belle’s new cookbook. I read through it and stuck post it notes on over half  half the pages. The photography is gorgeous and there are so many recipes that inspired me. It is a very well written book with lots of tips and techniques. While some of the recipes are not for rookie bakers, the instructions they give are very thorough.
bb_book_fullsizeAs soon as I saw their Salted Caramel Toffee Cake, I knew I found my intended. Three layers of  classic vanilla cake filled with homemade salted caramel buttercream, toffee pieces and a caramel drizzle. 

This was my starting point, but I made a few changes. here’s how my cake came together.

 

I started with their recipe for a classic vanilla cake but I browned the butter first. cake-ingredientsBrown butter adds a layer of toasty, nutty deliciousness. Making it couldn’t be simpler. Butter is composed of butterfat, milk protein and water. When you brown butter, you are essentially toasting the milk protein. As you heat the butter, and it begins to bubble and sputter away, the water evaporates and the hot butterfat begins to cook the milk solids, turning them from creamy yellow to a splendid speckled brown colour and your whole kitchen smells like toasted hazelnuts. It’s insanely gorgeous!

It is best to brown the butter in a light coloured pot, so that you can easily monitor the browning process. Note that only the milk solids will turn brown. the butterfat stays clear. As soon as you reach the perfect brown colour, pour the butter out of the hot pot to let it cool completely.white potbrowned butterYou will need to chill the brown butter and let it harden before you can cream it with the sugar.creaming-brown-butter-and-sugarDivide the batter evenly into 3 pans and bake.cake-batter-goes-into-pansNext I decided to alternate layers of brown butter vanilla cake with layers of almond meringue. I thought the textural difference of pillowy soft cake layers would be fantastic with chewy crunchy meringue. soft-peaks-for-almond-meringuepiping-meringueA salted caramel buttercream would be the perfect glue to hold all these layers together.buttercream-one-cube-at-a-timebuttercream-2Admittedly, there are a lot of components to prepare for this cake. Don’t try to do it all in one day. Make the components on day one and assemble on day 2. I have included detailed instructions on how to make all the parts, in the recipe below.

Click here to print recipe for Brown-Butter-Salted-Caramel-Crunch-Cake

Light the candles and make a wish!make-a-wish

 

 

 

Apple Custard Cake

sliced-cakeI have a recipe for an apple caramel cake that is outstanding. But some occasions (maybe breakfast if you’re my husband) call for a simpler cake. This cake is perfect for those times. This is a dense cake. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I mean dense in the best possible sense. This is yellow cake at it’s finest. Owing to butter, eggs, whole milk and sour cream it has a compact velvety texture.

My dad would have described this cake as plain. And he would have meant it as a great compliment. He liked subtle flavours, nothing too sweet, ornate or fancy. The inspiration for this cake comes from Sarabeth’s Good Morning Cookbook. Sarabeth knows good breakfast!

The first tweak I made to the original recipe was to toast the sugar. Stella Parks over at Serious Eats convinced me to give it a try. The bottom line is that toasting sugar in the oven tames sugar’s sweetness and the longer you toast it, the more intense the caramel flavour will be. Check out her article if food science is your jam.

I toasted my sugar for about 2 1/2 hours. The toasted sugar is on the right. I tasted both, side by side and did find that the toasted sugar tasted less sweet. You can toast 4 pounds at one time and it will keep forever, just like white sugar. toasted-sugarStart with a 9 inch tube pan (also called an angel food cake pan). Butter and flour the pan very well.brushing-panI made this cake twice last week. The first time I made it, I found it too plain. (Sorry dad!). On the second go-round I added an additional layer of apples and coated the apple slices in cinnamon-sugar.

Half the batter goes into the pan. Smooth it out.smoothing-batterI used the first Honeycrisp apples of the fall season! Pink Lady or Granny Smith would also be great choices.slicing-applesTop batter with cinnamon apples.arranging-applesRepeat with a second layer of batter and cinnamon apples. Then drizzle with custard mixture.drizzling-custardResist the urge to turn the cake out of the pan until it has completely cooled. Your patience will be handsomely rewarded. 3-slicesThe ribbon of cinnamon coated apples that runs through the center of this cake is quite beautiful.one-slice-1

Click here to print recipe for Apple-Custard-Cake.

sliced-cake-2

Ultimate Chocolate Birthday Cake

topsy turvy 3When I watched Ina Garten and Tyler Florence collaborate on this birthday cake for Tyler’s 7-year-old son Hunter, two things occurred to me. The first being, what an odd and unlikely duo! How did Ina and Tyler even come together on this project in the first place? My second thought was, what a cool idea for a birthday cake. For some reason, I only associate stacked cakes with weddings. This off kilter, cake was perfect to help celebrate my youngest son’s birthday. He turned 23 at the end of April.1 slice cI didn’t use Ina’s recipe because I have a favourite go-to recipe. It was created by Noreen Gilletz, slightly adapted by me, and comes together in the food processor in a few short minutes. It is the moistest chocolate cake I have ever tried. Deep, dark  intense chocolate flavour with a fudgy dense texture. Half a cup of strong coffee enhances the chocolate flavour.cake mise en placeinto food processorready to bakeThe deep dark chocolate buttercream is the genius creation of Nila over at www.thetoughcookie.comchocolate buttercreamI had some leftover salted caramel buttercream from making macarons so I sandwiched the layers with it, and frosted the top and sides with the chocolate buttercream. If you don’t feel like preparing two kinds of buttercream, it is still fantastic with just chocolate buttercream.salted caramel buttercream between layersYou will need two round 8-inch, two round 6-inch and two round 4-inch cake pans, as well as some cardboard cake circles.ready to frosticing cake 2ready to stacktopsy turvy 1 625If the thought of building this Topsy Turvy cake makes you nervous, just make a double layer 9-inch traditional cake. It’s still very special and quite beautiful.Let's party 13 slices 2

Click here to print recipe for Topsy Turvy Chocolate Birthday Cake.

Click here to print recipe for Perfect Chcolate Birthday Cake.

Click here to print recipe for Salted Caramel Buttercream 2.

2 slices 625 sq