Tag Archives: cake

Rose Fraisier

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Please tell me I’m not the only one who likes to bake their own birthday cake. I don’t get many chances to make a big cake, so when the opportunity arises, I consider it a birthday gift to myself. This year it was extra fun because I went over to my sister’s house and she helped me make the cake.

This month, Tuesdays with Dorie presented me with the perfect cake for our family birthday party. Rose Fraisier is a grand cake with exotic ingredients. The secret ingredients are rose extract and rose syrup.

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Rose Fraisier is not the easiest cake to make. I don’t believe the average home baker could end up with the picture-perfect result shown in the book without special equipment. My sister had a cake ring, which helped with lining up the strawberries and piping in the filling, but we still had imperfect results and a near disaster.

After assembling the cake, we debated whether to remove the cake ring or leave it on while the cake chilled. We were concerned the cake ring would be too difficult to remove if we chilled the cake first. So, we took off the ring. The filling and strawberries immediately began oozing out the sides of the cake! While I held in the filling with my hands and an offset spatula, my sister got the brilliant idea to wrap the cake in waxed paper to hold everything in. The cake chilled with it’s waxed paper collar, and when it was time to serve we removed it. Crisis averted!

I partly blame myself for the oozing filling. I had some problems with the gelatin (my own fault!) and not very much made it into the pastry cream mixture. But I mostly blame the challenging recipe.

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All that effort and angst was worth it! The cake was super delicious and it was a big hit at the party. The rose flavoring added just a hint of unexpected flavor, and I absolutely loved the pastry cream filling. Would I make it again? Probably not, but I would consider a simplified version because the flavors were so good.

My dad and niece photobombed my cake:

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If you are interested in trying your hand at making Rose Fraisier, Dorie Greenspan has posted the recipe on her blog: Rose Fraisier Recipe. You can also find it in her book, Baking Chez Moi.

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TWD: Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

Happy Tuesday! I hope those of you in the United States enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend. We had unseasonably rainy weather, so we didn’t get out as much as we had hoped. It was kind of like a typical Memorial Day weekend in the Pacific Northwest!

For Tuesdays with Dorie this week, we made a delicious cake called Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake. I made it for my parents last weekend when they were here to babysit.

This cake is exactly what the name suggests: an upside-down cake, with rhubarb in the fruit layer and a brown sugar-based cake. What makes this cake so good is that the rhubarb is sauteed in lightly caramelized sugar before being placed in the bottom of the cake pan.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

I went the simple route when serving my cake. I did not use the optional glaze, nor did I adorn the cake in any way. Dorie’s suggestions of whipped cream or crème fraîche and sliced strawberries would be wonderful. Vanilla ice cream would be good too.

This cake was a huge hit! My parents love rhubarb desserts, so my Mom plans on making this one again. My daughter scarfed her serving down. I loved the flavor of the brown sugar cake with the sweet-tart rhubarb. The cake was moist, but light. A winner!

Altitude Adjustments

I made two minor adjustments to the cake layer for my altitude and dry climate:

  • Reduced baking powder by 1/8 teaspoon
  • Added 1 tablespoon water

They must have worked, because the cake was wonderful!

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TWD: Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

It’s time for another Tuesdays with Dorie recipe from Baking Chez Moi!  I was really looking forward to this one: Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake.  I love simple vanilla-flavored cakes, so this sounded right up my alley.

What makes this recipe special is the brown butter and the vanilla bean.  Sure, it would be good with “unbrowned” butter and vanilla extract, but the inclusion of these two ingredients really adds oomph and complexity to the flavor.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Weekend Cake

As expected, I loved this cake! The flavor, the texture, everything about it. The tender but sturdy crumb was surrounded by a lightly crunchy crust. While I loved this cake on it’s own, it would be wonderful as a base for strawberry shortcake, or any recipe calling for pound cake.

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Cake

Altitude Adjustments

I live at an elevation of about 4500 feet, so I usually have to adjust cake recipes so they rise properly.  The adjustments I made seemed to work well.  Here’s what I did:

  • Reduced the baking powder by 1/8 teaspoon
  • Added an extra tablespoon of cream
  • Added a tablespoon of 1% milk

Note: I did not use the optional rum.  If I had, I probably would not have added as much extra liquid.

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TWD: Gingerbread Buche de Noel

Gingerbread Buche de Noel

Happy Tuesdays with Dorie!  Just in time for Christmas, the group made a fanciful Christmas dessert called Gingerbread Buche de Noel.  These log-shaped cakes are very traditional in Europe, and pastry chefs in Paris unveil their creations for the year with fanfare.  Dorie calls hers a “Franco-American buche de Noel”, with American flavors and the traditional European shape. I made mine for Christmas dinner.

Buche de Noel

There are quite a few steps to making this dessert.  First, make the pecan praline that is used in both the filling and to adorn the outside of the cake.  Next make the gingerbread sponge cake, then the filling.  Finally, when you are ready to assemble the cake, make the marshmallow frosting.

I learned a couple of new techniques while making my buche de Noel. First of all, the cake layer had a technique I have never used before. The first step is to warm the eggs and sugar over simmering water before whipping them. It must help get nice volume. Next, I have never made marshmallow frosting before. It requires a candy thermometer and techniques similar to making marshmallows. It made a lovely, light, spreadable frosting.

Buche de Noel Slice

I enjoyed the flavors of this decadent Christmas dessert, but sponge cake ended up a bit dry.  I actually blame my kitchen scale for this.  I cut the recipe in half, relying heavily on my scale to do so.  Unfortunately, the scale was on it’s last legs and I had trouble getting accurate measurements.  I am sure something was off, resulting in my dry cake.  I did get a new kitchen scale as a Christmas gift (yay!), so this won’t be a problem in the future.

Other than the dry cake, I thought the cake was delicious. I loved the marshmallow frosting and would like to try it on a different cake some time. My daughter inhaled her serving, so I think she liked it!

If you would like to try making Gingerbread Buche de Noel, you can find the recipe (and/or listen to Dorie talk about it!) here: Dorie on NPR.

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FFWD: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup + Apple Cake

Happy Friday!  I hope you all had a good week.  Things are settling back to normal around here and I made two French Fridays with Dorie recipes!

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Parsley Coulis

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Parsley Coulis

This week the group made Jerusalem Artichoke Soup with Parsley Coulis.  You may be thinking that we just made something with Jerusalem artichokes.  Well, yes we did, last month.  Now that we are getting down to the last few dozen recipes from the book, we are being strategic about which recipes we do, to make sure we don’t miss certain ingredients when they are in season.  Also, certain “odd” ingredients (like Jerusalem artichokes, for example) have been hard sells, and we are finally having to bite the bullet and make those recipes.  So, two Jerusalem artichoke recipes in two months.

This soup was actually quite similar to the Celery-Celery Soup we made last month.  Same techniques, just a variation in ingredients.  This one had butter, two large onions, a bit of celery, on leek, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, and chicken broth.  We made a parsley coulis (parsley pureed with olive oil and salt) to drizzle over the finished soup.

Jerusalem Artichoke Soup

What a pleasant surprise!  After the so-so results from the Celery-Celery Soup and the Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes, I didn’t have high expectations.  But Jerusalem Artichoke Soup had a lovely flavor that both my husband and I enjoyed very much.  The parsley coulis and a dollop of heavy cream finished off the soup very nicely.

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

Marie-Hélène's Apple Cake

This past week I also did a make-up recipe from way back when French Fridays first started: Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake.  This is a simple cake chock-full of apples.  There are almost more apples than batter!

Dorie recommends using four different kinds of apples, to get varying textures and flavors.  I took her advice and I loved the results.  She calls for four “large” apples, but I used one large and three that were smaller.  Some people have had trouble having too many apples and not enough batter, and I feel that using a few smaller apples helped with this.

Why did I wait so long to make this delicious cake?  It’s easy enough to make at the spur of the moment, and a perfect way to enjoy apples at their peak.  The touch of rum in the batter really added a nice flavor.  I love simple cakes, and this one was a winner!

If you would like to try Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake, you can find the recipe here.  The recipe for the soup can be found in the book Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan.

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Gâteau Basque

Gâteau Basque

Happy Friday!  Believe it or not, today marks the last day of summer vacation for us.  My daughter’s school district began a new school calendar last year and school now starts in early August.  Summer went so fast!  We have a few fun things planned today (lunch at a favorite restaurant and a trip to the Discovery Museum) to mark the occasion.

I am running a week behind on French Fridays with Dorie due to a fun vacation and other out-of-town activities.  I had actually hoped to get this post written before I left for my vacation, but it didn’t work out.

We only have a few desserts left to do, so we have been spreading them out a bit.  The group recently tackled Gâteau Basque, a specialty of the Basque region of France (and I suppose it’s common in the Basque regions of Spain too…).

Gâteau Basque

I am always amazed at the wonderful and different ways to use a few basic ingredients:  flour, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla.  This time they came together as a soft cookie-like shortbread cake with a sweet filling of cherry jam.

I didn’t get a lot of help eating this one.  My daughter enjoyed her piece quite a bit.  My mother-in-law ate a piece while babysitting (I never heard if she liked it or not).  My husband usually doesn’t consider a dessert without chocolate worth eating, so he didn’t have any.

Good thing I liked this cake!  I loved the buttery, vanilla-y cake layers.  The jam I chose was a little too sweet for my taste, but I enjoyed the mix of flavors.  While the cherry jam is traditional, this would be wonderful with other jams too, particularly apricot or strawberry.

This post participates in French Fridays with Dorie, an online cooking group cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s wonderful book Around My French Table.  If you would like to try making Gâteau Basque you can find it in Dorie’s book, or here.

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Green-as-Spring Veal Beef Stew + Visitandine

Happy Friday!  I’m not feeling like the words are going to flow easily today, so we’ll see how this goes…

For French Fridays with Dorie this week I am doing yet another double post.  This week’s recipe was a green stew called Green-as-Spring Veal Stew, except I used beef.  I also made a recipe from earlier this month, a simple cake called Visitandine.

Green-as-Spring Veal Beef Stew

Green-as-Spring Veal Stew was unlike anything I had made before.  It calls for veal stew meat, but I used grass-fed beef chuck roast instead, which I cut into 2-inch cubes.  The main reason I made the substitution is that I had the chuck roast in the freezer just waiting to be used.  It sounds like several FFWD participants made substitutions for the veal – I can’t wait to see what the others used and how it turned out!

Green-as-Spring Beef Stew

So, back to the recipe…  First, the stew meat is boiled for just a minute or two, then drained and rinsed.  This rids the meat of any impurities that might cloud the sauce – very clever!  Next, the meat is simmered in broth with a variety of veggies and seasonings until it is tender.  When the meat is done, it is removed from the broth, and the veggies and seasonings are discarded.  Here’s where it gets interesting (and how it gets green):  After the broth is reduced a bit, a bunch of fresh greens and herbs are added (arugula, spinach, dill, parsley, and tarragon).  After cooking briefly the whole thing is pureed (minus the meat!).  Whisk in some creme fraiche and squeeze in a bit of lemon juice, and the sauce done!

Green-as-Spring Stew

I liked this a lot!  I was concerned that the flavor of the beef would be too bold for the sauce, but it was not at all.  The sauce was fresh-tasting and delicious!  I can imagine using it for many different meats, including chicken.  It’s also a good way to sneak spinach and arugula to wary eaters!

If you are curious what other meats were used, check out the “LYL” on the FFWD site:  LYL: green as spring veal stew.

Visitandine

I am always amazed at how many wonderful things can be made from just a few simple ingredients:  eggs, flour, sugar, and butter.  Visitandine is a perfect example.  This simple cake is easy to make and easy to eat!

Visitandine

This cake is made with whipped egg whites, and the recipe is similar to Coconut Friands and Financiers.  Because it is a simple, vanilla-flavored cake, it is very versatile and can be served many ways.

I made this for Easter dessert and served it with whipped cream and strawberries.  Kind-of like an unlayered shortcake.  While I enjoyed it served this way, I liked it even better the next day eaten out-of-hand as a snacking cake.  I loved letting the simple flavors shine on their own.

If you are looking for a last-minute dessert made with ingredients you have on hand, give this delicious cake a try!

I guess the words flowed OK…maybe too well!

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Quatre-Quarts

Is it really Friday already?  This week has flown by!  Being Friday, you know what that means:  French Fridays with Dorie.

This week’s recipe is a simple cake called Quatre-Quarts, which translates directly to “four-fourths”.  Similar in concept to an American pound cake, the cake uses equal amounts of eggs, flour, sugar, and butter.

Cakes have been my nemesis since I moved to Reno over 11 years ago.  Growing up in sea-level Seattle I never had to be concerned with my altitude while baking.  Reno is apparently at a high enough altitude (~4400 feet) to affect the baking of cakes.  I suddenly had cakes that were not rising properly, sinking in the middle, spilling over the pan, and the texture was off.  The richer the cake, the more trouble I had.

I received the book High Altitude Baking, which explains a lot of the science behind baking and altitude and also gives suggestions for adjusting recipes.  For years I attempted small adjustments to my recipes with mixed results.  Whenever I did any Internet searches for help with high altitude baking, most people said they simply added an extra egg to their recipe.  I resisted trying this because it seemed too easy, but a year or so ago I started adding an extra egg to cake recipes and it worked!  The extra egg changes the texture a little bit, but cakes rise beautifully and the texture is way better than what I was getting without the extra egg.

If you live at a higher altitude, do you adjust your cake recipes?  If so, what method do you use?

Now, back to this week’s cake…  I debated whether or not to follow the recipe as written or to add the extra egg.  In the end, I decided to add the egg.  The result was a lovely, simple cake very similar to a pound cake, but lighter in texture.

I really liked this cake.  Dorie mentions that it is a common after-school snack cake, so my daughter enjoyed a piece when she got home from school.  We ate it plain, but the cake would also be lovely dressed up a bit.  Strawberries and whipped cream would be good!

My daughter is notorious for helping herself to cakes and other baked goods left unattended.  This cake became a victim.  Luckily it happened after my pictures were taken!

Who ate this cake - a little mouse or a little girl?

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A French Table Feast

My mother-in-law was out of town for Christmas and well into the new year, so we did not get a chance to celebrate Christmas with her.  This past weekend we had her over for dinner for a mini post-Christmas celebration.

Tapenade Batons

Tapenade Batons

I decided to make the entire meal from Around My French Table.   My mother-in-law spent a good couple of hours pouring through it last week, so I knew she would be up for a French feast.  Also, I am still excited about my new cookbook and there are so many recipes I want to try.

We started off with Tapenade Bâtons, a variation of Mustard Bâtons.  Delicious and so easy to make!  I had leftover puff pastry in the freezer and tapenade in the fridge, so this one was a no-brainer.

Roast Chicken

Just Out of the Oven

For the main course, I made Roast Chicken for les Paresseux (Roast Chicken for Lazy People) and Brown-Sugar Squash and Brussels Sprouts en Papillote.  The chicken was fabulous with crispy brown skin and tender meat.  My husband especially loved the garlic that roasted along with the chicken.  My mother-in-law and I both enjoyed “the bread trick” (the chicken is roasted on top of a piece of bread which soaks up the cooking juices and gets wonderfully carmelized).  The squash and Brussels spr0uts were also a big hit – even my seven year old daughter ate her share.

The grand finale was also this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe: Michael Rostang’s Double Chocolate Mousse Cake.

Mouse Cake

Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

I had a few issues making this cake.  The biggest issue was that I did not have the right size pan.  The recipe calls for an 8-inch springform pan.  The pan I used measured 9½ inches.  I also have a 6-inch springform pan.  In retrospect I wish I had used the smaller pan and put the extra batter in a ramekin or two.  There was also a problem with the egg whites that are folded into the mousse.  I’m not sure if I over-whipped them or if I folded them in too vigorously, but the resulting batter did not seem “light” enough and kind-of seemed to “liquidy”.  When baked, the cake did not rise as much as the recipe described.  Finally, the recipe has you place the pan without its bottom on a baking mat or parchment paper.  I noticed some pretty big gaps under my pan, and my batter was fairly thin, so I decided to use the pan bottom to prevent seeping.  The cake would have been difficult to move to a serving platter, but luckily I did not care about that.

Despite the few issues, the cake was delicious!  It was met with rave reviews.  The recipe provides three ways to serve this dish.  The first night we went with the warm option: part of the batter is baked and then cooled, then the rest of the batter is poured onto the chilled base and baked again, then served warm.  The next night we had the baked and chilled option.  While I enjoyed both versions, I preferred the texture of the chilled one.

I will certainly be making this one again.  I’d love to resolve my egg white issues and I like to track down an 8-inch springform pan or try it with my smaller pan.  This cake is definitely worth perfecting!

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Macaroon Cake

Macaroon Cake

For Christmas Dinner this year I made Macaroon Cake.  I normally like to make something a little “grander” for Christmas Dinner, but this year it was just the three of us and I had a lot of other cooking I wanted to do, so I settled on this cake.  It is quick and easy to make and not too big.

One thing I love about this recipe is that it was my great-grandmother’s recipe.  I love the idea of a recipe being enjoyed and passed down from generation to generation.

There are a lot of other things to love about this recipe.  As I mentioned already, it is quick and easy to make.  The cake is nice and moist and keeps for several days.  Although I made it for Christmas, it is a good everyday kind of cake.  I love the crunchy, chewy, sweet macaroon topping and the flavor of the vanilla cake underneath.  Oh, and did I mention the coconut?  This is a cake for coconut lovers only!

Macaroon Cake

Click here to print.

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla, divided
  • milk, if needed (I always add 1/4 cup)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350°.  Prepare an 8×8 inch cake pan by greasing lightly.

Cream butter and sugar together.  Mix in two egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down the bowl if necessary.  Mix together the sifted flour and baking powder in a separate bowl.  Add  to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.  Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Add a little milk if the batter is too stiff.  Spread batter in the greased cake pan.

Beat 2 egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Gently stir in 1/2 cup sugar, coconut and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Spread on top of the cake batter.

Bake for 30 minutes.

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