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Archive for the ‘Cakes and Tortes’ Category

The berry season has arrived to California!  Eager to part with everything citrus I’m presenting this simple berry creation.  The chocolate ribbon, even though a bit messy, is super easy to make. 

BerryCake_WM-8

/Chocolate cake recipe adopted from Martha Stewart’s Triple Chocolate Mousse Cake/

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CHOCOLATE BERRY CAKE

INGREDIENTS:

Cake

  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Topping

  • Assorted berries
  • 4 tbs powdered sugar

Chocolate ribbon

  • 200 g of your favorite chocolate, chopped into pea-size chips

 

Yields: 8 small cakes

DIRECTIONS:

Make cakes: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat eight 6-ounce (3.5 inch diameter) ramekins and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.

Stir flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Mix with a paddle attachment. Add egg, milk, oil, vanilla, and 1/4 cup water. Mix on medium speed until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes.

 

Divide batter evenly among prepared ramekins. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into a center of a cake comes out clean. Place the ramekins on a wire rack.  Let cool completely before unmolding.  To unmold run a knife around sides of the cakes.

Wrap cooled cakes in a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours to 1 day.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place cooled cakes on it.

Make chocolate ribbons.  Measure the circumference and height of the cakes.  Cut out 8 parchment paper ribbons, making sure, their length is about 7 mm (1/4 inch)  longer than the circumference and height is about 2 cm (3/4 inch) higher.

Line a table with a large sheet of parchment paper – this is your working surface.  Have a wet towel handy, as working with melted chocolate could be a messy ordeal.

Microwave the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl for about 2 minutes (or until the chocolate starts to melt).  Mix the chips with a spoon to a smooth consistency.  Working with each parchment paper ribbon individually: place a ribbon on your working surface and, using a large spoon, spread a thin layer of chocolate over it, completely covering the ribbon.

Let the chocolate cool to a jelly-like consistency (about 30 seconds). Carefully lift the ribbon, using a knife to help you separate it from the work surface, and wrap it around a prepared cake, chocolate side facing the cake, overlapping the ends.  Make sure the bottom of the ribbon is lined with the bottom of your cake, the ribbon should be taller than the cake (creating a cup for the berries).

Repeat with the rest of the cakes.  Immediately place them in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Assemble: After the chocolate is hardened, carefully peel each paper ribbon off, gently breaking the piece of chocolate where the ribbon overlapped.

Fill the cups with seasonal fruit and sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.

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Happy New Year!!! С Новым Годом!!!

Even though NyQuil was my drink of choice (paired with some other less fortunate selections), the holiday celebrations still brought so much of that child-like excitement! Well, it helped having two little ones running around, going crazy about Santa, reindeer and Christmas lights!

BucheDeNoel_WM-7

In December we baked so much, we probably went through a ton of butter… what wouldn’t one do to spread the holiday cheer? I decided to end the madness with this beautiful Bûche de Noël.  It’s so rich and creamy that after indulging in just one slice you would feel like you are ready to kick start those New Year resolutions and quit desserts for ever and ever (or at least a few weeks), as it’s hard to beat this amazingness.

/The recipe is adopted from Lisabeth Prueitt’s Tartine/

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BÛCHE DE NOËL

INGREDIENTS:

Sponge cake:

  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2/3 cup cake flour, sifted twice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Buttercream:

  • 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tbs granulated sugar
  • ½ cup egg whites
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup coffee, brewed at double strength

Meringue mushrooms:

  • ¼ cup + 1 tbs confectioners’ sugar
  • ¾ tsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 pinch of cream of tartar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar

Coffee syrup:

  • ½ cup coffee, brewed at double strength
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

Almond “Bark”

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 6 oz (170 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ¾ cup heavy cream

Pistachio “Moss”

  • ¼ cup Pistachio nuts

DIRECTIONS:

BucheDeNoel_WM-3

Preheat the oven to 375⁰F/190⁰C. Spray baking pan with borders with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.  Spray the paper with cooking spray.

Make the batter. Mix egg yolks and ½ cup of granulated sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on high speed until the foam is 3 times its original volume and falls in thick ribbons when the whisk is lifted.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl, set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean bowl and beat them with a clean whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy.  Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup of granulated sugar and continue to whip until medium peaks form when the whisk is lifted.

Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture with a rubber spatula in 2 or 3 additions. Scatter all flour, vanilla, and salt over the batter and fold it just long enough to blend the flour evenly.

Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread gently with a spatula. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the top is golden brown and the edges star to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Make the roll. While the cake is baking, sift confectioners’ sugar over a clean flat-weave towel. When the cake is finished baking, insert it onto the sugar coated cloth.  Immediately remove the pan and parchment paper and, starting at a long edge, roll the cake into a log with the towel inside it.  Let cool completely.

Make the buttercream.

Cut the butter into 1 tbs chunks and set aside.

Combine the granulated sugar, egg whites, and salt in a small pan and cook on the lowest heat setting whisking constantly until the egg whites are hot to the touch (for about 4 minutes). Pour the mixture into a bowl of a stand mixer and whisk on high speed until it becomes very stiff – for about 5 minutes.

Add butter 1 chunk at a time, beating on medium speed waiting for each piece to fully incorporate before adding another one. Add coffee and beat until all incorporated. Set aside.

Make ahead: you can make butter cream a few days before using.  Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.  Bring to room temperature and beat with mixer till smooth before using.

Make meringue mushrooms. 

Preheat oven to 175°F (80°C).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift together confectioners’ sugar and flour, set aside. In a small bowl combine egg white and cream of tartar and beat with whisk attachment until the egg white holds soft peaks.  Slowly add granulated sugar and beat until very stiff.  Add flour mixture and mix with a rubber spatula, working very quickly.  Place the mixture into a plastic bag, cut a little corner out and pipe out mushroom hats and legs to the prepared baking sheet.  Bake for at least 4 hours.

Make coffee syrup.

Combine coffee and sugar until sugar is dissolve.  Let cool before using.

Make “bark”.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Toast almonds in the oven for about 5 minutes, stirring a couple times with a wooden spoon. Place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl.  Heat up the cream to just before boiling and pour over the chocolate.  Wait a couple minutes before mixing everything until all chocolate is dissolved.  Mix in the almonds.  Refrigerate until the mixture thickens (for at least 15 minutes).

Make “moss”. 

Process pistachios in a coffee grinder until powdered.

Assemble the log.

Place the cake on a plastic wrap.  Apply the syrup with a brush.  Spread the butter cream over and gently roll into a log.  Refrigerate for about 2 hours. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonally edges of the log.  Transfer it to the serving plate.  Add the edges to the sides of the log.  Apply the bark, and place mushrooms on top attaching the hats to the legs with a little bit of the “bark” cream.  Sift a little bit of “snow” confectioners’ sugar and chocolate powder on top.  Sprinkle moss over the log and around it.

Enjoy!

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Long-long ago in the Soviet Union this cake became the first one to be copyrighted.  The recipe was kept in secret; and the Moscow bakery that invented it had a guaranteed long line in front every day. The cake kept well for just a day, so it was made in relatively small quantities. Yet, very quickly it became exceptionally popular, and due to its shortages it was named “Ptich’e moloko”, which means birds’ milk.  Right… well, it sounds much better in Russian…

Here is my version of this light and super-easy to make delightfulness…

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TORTE “BIRDS’ MILK”

INGREDIENTS:

DOUGH

  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2/3 cup cake flour, sifted twice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt

SOUFFLE

  • 7 egg whites
  • 20 g gelatin
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 170 g butter
  • 150 g sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla

GLAZE

  • 150 g bitter chocolate
  • 30 g sugar
  • 100 g cream
  • 30 g butter

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375⁰F/190⁰C. Spray baking pan with removable bottom with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.  Spray the paper with cooking spray.

Make the batter. Mix egg yolks and ½ cup of granulated sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on high speed until the foam is 3 times its original volume and falls in thick ribbons when the whisk is lifted.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl, set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean bowl and beat them with a clean whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy.  Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup of granulated sugar and continue to whip until medium peaks form when the whisk is lifted.

Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture with a rubber spatula in 2 or 3 additions. Scatter all flour, vanilla, and salt over the batter and fold it just long enough to blend the flour evenly.

Prepare the gelatin. Pour ½ cup of water over the gelatin and let stay while the cake is baking.

Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread gently with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown and the edges star to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the pan and place on a wire rack to cool.

Prepare the soufflé. Beat the butter on high speed until it starts whitening, slowly add the condensed milk.

Place soaked gelatin into a small sauce pan and add 125 g of sugar. Cook on low heat until it reaches 140⁰F/60⁰C.
Beat the egg whites on high speed with a whisk attachment; add lemon juice and 125 g of sugar and vanilla. Whisk till hard peaks form.
Lower the mixer speed to medium and gradually add gelatin mixture to the egg whites. Slowly add butter cream.
Assemble the torte. Separate the cake into two disks using a long knife. Place one half into the pan that you used for baking. Cover with half of the soufflé, cover with the second half, and the rest of the soufflé. Flatten the top with a knife. Place the torte in the fridge for 1.5-2 hrs.
In about 1.5 hours make chocolate glaze. Pour cream into a sauce pan, and 30 grams of sugar and heat up till the sugar completely dissolves. Place chocolate in a bowl, and pour hot cream over it. Whisk, till chocolate completely dissolves. Whisk in butter and make sure it is completely dissolved as well.
With a sharp knife separate the cake from the edges of the pan. Take it out and place on a serving dish. Pour chocolate glaze over the cake, letting it drip over the edges. Completely cover the cake with chocolate and let rest in the fridge for another hour. The torte is ready!

 

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I may have my moments in the kitchen, but when it comes to being on the road – I am one of the contributors to the female driver stereotype. You know, San Francisco has lots of cars and lots of people, and a stop-light camera ticket would cost you $500!  They would also send you a letter with a photo of your car, license plate number, picture of you behind the wheel, and a picture of a to-go Starbucks cup in your hand… These roads can make anyone paranoid! 

So, every time I go by a speed limit signal, I have a strong feeling I must slow down, and I do… even when I’m passing a 45 mile/hr sign while jogging… barely making 12 minute miles… Better safe than sorry, you know…

After all this stress and “hard” work a little dessert is always welcome. This Russian torte has all the right ingredients – sugar, chocolate, nuts, sugar…, whipped cream, and a magic name.  It will easily impress your guests, and it tastes best when made a day or two before serving.

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TORTE “PHOENIX”

INGREDIENTS:

Batter:

  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2/3 cup cake flour, sifted twice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar

Syrup:

  • 130 g sugar
  • 120 ml water
  • 1 tbs cognac

Filling:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1.5 cup whipping cream, chilled
  • 1.5 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 20 g gelatin

Topping:

  • ½ cup chocolate sauce /I used my favorite Fudge is my Life’s Dark Chocolate Sauce/
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350⁰F/180⁰C. Spray baking pan with removable borders with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.  Spray the paper with cooking spray.

Make the batter. Mix egg yolks and ½ cup of granulated sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on high speed until the foam is 3 times its original volume and falls in thick ribbons when the whisk is lifted.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl, set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean bowl and beat them with a clean whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy.  Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup of granulated sugar and continue to whip until medium peaks form when the whisk is lifted.

Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture with a rubber spatula in 2 or 3 additions. Scatter all flour, vanilla, and salt over the batter and fold it just long enough to blend the flour evenly.

Bake.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bakefor 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown and the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan. When finished baking, remove from the pan immediately, peel off the parchment paper, and let cool on a wire rack for 6-8 hours (otherwise the torte will not absorb the syrup properly and will become soggy).  Cut the cake lengthwise to separate it into two disks.

Prepare the syrup.  Pour water and sugar in a small sauce pan, bring to boil and turn off the heat immediately.  Whisk so that the sugar completely dissolves. Let the syrup chill to about 37⁰C/98⁰F.  Add the cognac and mix well. Apply the syrup evenly on each half of the cake.

Prepare the filling.  Mix gelatin with the milk and let rest for about 1 hr.  Bring the mixture to boil and immediately take off the heat.  Gelatin should be completely dissolved.  Chill the mixing bowl and whisk before making the cream.  Pour cream into the bowl and mix on medium speed of a stand mixer until thickened.  Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and whisk on high speed until the cream forms medium peaks. Pour the gelatin mixture over it to stabilize. Place one of the cake disks back into the baking pan, pour the filling over it, and cover with the second cake disk.  Cover and refrigerate for the filling to set for about 2 hours.

Prepare the sauce according to the container instructions. Spoon it over the cake and sprinkle with walnuts.  Keep the cake refrigerated before serving.

I wonder why my jogging isn’t paying off!?

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While the rest of the country is enjoying the sun and 100+ degree weather (that’s 37⁰C and higher for those, who are not into Fahrenheit); we are still dressing up kids in their winter coats in the middle of the summer and trying to hide our snobby smiles from tourists, who make San Francisco-themed sweatshirt business really profitable.  Got ya!  Enjoy the Sunny California, you, happy owners of shorts and t-shirts! 

By our standards though, the summer has been really nice, and I started running again.  Well, jogging probably would be a better word… unless they have another word that describes something even slower than jogging… walking with a jig, turtling..?   I load my baby on a BOB and we go to the ocean or lake Merced, or any place that has as little hills as possible…

So, after one or two outings like that, I started feeling that a little pastry is well deserved.

This cake is almost worth a Russian Friday – it’s so popular back home.  My fear of sponge cake making is long gone since I discovered Natasha’s Kitchen blog. She describes the process so well, you cannot make a mistake. So, here is another creation, that looks and tastes wonderful with minimum effort.

/Both recipes are from Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America/

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APRICOT JELLY ROULADE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2/3 cup cake flour, sifted twice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup strained apricot preserves
  • 2 cups Chantilly Cream (see below)

Yields: 8 servings

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375⁰F/190⁰C. Spray baking pan with borders with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.  Spray the paper with cooking spray.

Make the batter. Mix egg yolks and ½ cup of granulated sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on high speed until the foam is 3 times its original volume and falls in thick ribbons when the whisk is lifted.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl, set aside.

Place egg whites in a clean bowl and beat them with a clean whisk attachment on medium speed until frothy.  Gradually add the remaining ¼ cup of granulated sugar and continue to whip until medium peaks form when the whisk is lifted.

Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture with a rubber spatula in 2 or 3 additions. Scatter all flour, vanilla, and salt over the batter and fold it just long enough to blend the flour evenly.

Bake. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread gently with a spatula. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the top is golden brown and the edges star to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Make the roll. While the cake is baking, sift confectioners’ sugar over a clean flat-weave towel. When the cake is finished baking, insert it onto the sugar coated cloth.  Immediately remove the pan and parchment paper and, starting at a long edge, roll the cake into a log with the towel inside it.  Let cool completely.

Assemble the roulade. Strain apricot preserves.  When the cake is cool, unroll it and spread the apricot preserves over it.  Spread the Chantilly cream over the preserves and roll the cake again without the cloth.  Refrigerate for about 1 hour, dust with confectioner’s sugar, and serve.

Summer in San Francisco

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CHANTILLY CREAM

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup heavy cream, chilled
  • ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Yields: 2 cups

DIRECTIONS:

Chill the mixing bowl and whisk before making the cream.  Pour cream into the bowl and mix on medium speed of a stand mixer until thickened.  Gradually add confectioner’s sugar and whisk on high speed until the cream forms medium peaks.

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I don’t know about you, but I’m in constant search for reasons (or… rather excuses) to eat carbs.  The husband provided a solid justification today when he emailed this article about San Francisco. My favorite line:  “walking uphill, both ways, all the time, always”. So, clearly, just because we are living here, we are covered as far as the workouts go, so this cake should be absolutely guilt-free!  Come visit our beautiful city, and you can make this cake for yourself!

The recipe was inspired by a few jars of last-year’s raspberry jam and one of my favorite Russian bloggers, Natasha.  She is the master of biskvit (the Russian version of sponge cake).

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RASPBERRY TORTE

INGREDIENTS:

Cake:

  • 8 eggs, whites and yolks divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup sugar

Syrup:

  • 1/4 cup raspberry jam
  • 4 tbs raspberry liqueur (such as Chambord)

Frosting:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 8 oz /225 g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1-4 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs cinnamon
  • 1 pckg raspberry-flavored gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water

1/2 pint fresh raspberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350⁰ F/175⁰C.

Line two 8.5-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.  Spray it with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl mix together sugar and egg yolks, after the sugar has dissolved, whisk in the flour.

In a separate bowl beat the egg whites till soft peaks start forming.  Using a spatula gently mix in the egg yolk mixture in the egg whites.

Divide the dough between the baking pans and bake for 18 minutes or until they turn golden.

Remove from the oven.  Place the cakes on a wire rack and gently peel off the parchment paper.

Let the cake cool at the room temperature.

Cook the gelatin.  Dissolve the contents of the package in boiling water and let cool at the room temperature.  Do not use the amount of water recommended by the package, you need a firmer substance than what’s suggested.

Make the frosting by mixing all its ingredients

Make the syrup by mixing the liqueur and jam together

Once the cakes are cool, place one of them on the cake tray.  Brush with half of the syrup.  Apply half of the frosting, and repeat the layers. Place fresh raspberries on top of the cake making a tight circle and refrigerate the cake for about 20 minutes.

After the frosting is chilled, apply the gelatin one layer at a time.  Spoon a thin layer of jelly over the top of the cake, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.  After the first layer of jelly is set, repeat with more layers until jelly is used.

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