So I tell myself, after trying it once and wasting a good piece of dough... So I quit!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
So I tell myself, after trying it once and wasting a good piece of dough... So I quit!
Monday, October 6, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
• Cream Puff Dough (see below for recipe), fresh and still warm
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.
2) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
3) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.
Notes: 1) The éclairs can be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.
Assembling the éclairs:
• Chocolate glaze (see below for recipe)
• Chocolate pastry cream (see below for recipe)
1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40 degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the bottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream and wriggle gently to settle them.
1) If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water, stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create bubbles.
2) The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé (makes 20-24 Éclairs)
Chocolate Pastry Cream Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by PierreHermé
• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.
5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
Notes: 1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator. 2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream. 3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature
1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
1) If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
2) It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.
Chocolate Sauce Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé (makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar
1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.
1) You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
2) This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
So today I had my girlfriends over for lunch. I wanted to cook up a storm for two of my oldest and best girlfriends. Having been so busy the past couple of months, I had been dying to test out so many recipes. As I plotted and planned a hefty 6 course meal, I could not help but give in to the exhilaration of being in the kitchen.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
May’s Daring Baker’s challenge by all accounts, should have flopped. Though Murphy was an unwanted guest plaguing this daring baker, I persevered and managed to kick him out the door.
This month, Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Lis of La Mia Cucina, our founders were also our hosts together with Fran of Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie and Shea of Whiskful chose a complex looking cake---the opera.
Act 1 The Distraught Baker
Scene 1 the Joconde
Enter, the baker. She is in her kitchen on a Saturday morning, bright and full of hope, yet distracted by many personal issues. She goes about making her hazelnut Joconde carefully measuring her ingredients. She even melts her butter properly by defrosting it in the microwave...
She follows the recipe precisely or so she thinks. She folds in everything beautifully and divides the batter between four 9” tins. She is about to load them in the oven when she spies the melted butter on the counter.
OH NO! NO! NO! What shall I do? How shall I fix this?
What shall I do? How shall I fix this?
She divides the butter between the four tins and folds it in and prays! It seemed to be working. She places the tins inside the ovens and then looks at the recipe. She turns pale and worriedly removes the pans from the oven.
FLOUR! OH FLOUR! How could I have forgotten you?
OH NO! NO! NO! What now shall I do? What shall I do?
She sifts the flour over the four tins and tries to fold them in. She returns the tins to the oven and prays for the best. Against the odds, she produces decent cakes. They are not tall but they don’t feel dense. And boy are they moist! The hazelnut gives it a sweet nuttiness that is just incredible.
BRAVO! BRAVO! What a beautiful cake!
BRAVO! BRAVO! In spite of every mistake!
She makes a syrup of white crème de cacao. She wraps the cakes and promises to finish it off the next day to cap off the tournedos Rossini lunch with her family. She exits. Lights out.
Scene 2 the Buttercream
Our Daring Baker returns to the Kitchen. She is making a brioche for her tournedos and some time during the morning, she starts the crème de framboise buttercream.
Alas! She forgets to soften the butter. She keeps the butter close to the stove where she is making the syrup for the buttercream. When the syrup gets to 225, she removes it from the heat and adds it to the whisked eggs. At first it seems to work well. Then she adds the butter and it starts thinning out.
OH NO! NO! NO! Where did I go wrong? Was the syrup too hot?
Was it perhaps the medium egg? No! I think not!
The butter that didn’t melt! I forgot!
Dorie to the rescue! She attempts to make new buttercream using Dorie’s recipe which she successfully made before… Except that now she doesn’t have softened butter again… She tries to soften it manually and starts adding it to the whisked eggs. It starts losing volume. Disheartened, she leaves it in the ref for another hour. She whips it again and after a few minutes, it actually has structure!
MARVELOUS! MARVELOUS! Dorie saves the day once more!
MARVELOUS! MARVELOUS! Murphy is finally out the door!
With a sigh of relief and a smile on her face, the lights go out.
Act 2 The Proud Baker
Scene 1 the White Chocolate Ganache and Assembly
Enter, the baker. She is in her kitchen on a Sunday late afternoon. Yes, with all her problems, she was not able to make it for dessert. However, her family stays on to wait for her cake to be finished. She makes the ganache without incident and layers the 9” cakes within a 9” mould. She gets a 4” mould and cuts through the center to make an ‘opern ring’ and a smaller 4” cake.
She layers the cake and buttercream and tops it with the ganache. She serves it to her family and they sing in chorus---
BRAVA! BRAVA! What a beautiful cake!
BRAVA! BRAVA! In spite of every mistake!
Applause for Lis, Ivonne, Fran and Shea
This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.
For the joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temp
•2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans or 10 x 15-inches.
•a few tablespoons of melted butter and a brush (to grease the pans)
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.
2.Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
3.Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.
4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
6.Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).
7.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.
8.Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.
9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold.
10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.
For the syrup
½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice
1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
For the buttercream (Update Note: The recipe for the buttercream that is listed below was originally based on the original but we had some typos. It's all very confusing (we're good at confusing ourselves) but here is the short of it: When testing the buttercream, we tested a modified version (we're crazy like that!!!) that had 2 cups sugar, ½ cup water and 1¾ cups butter. Yes. That's right. 1¾ cups of butter. The eggs remained the same. We ended up with a very creamy buttercream. VERY. CREAMY.
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
seeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract (Note: If you are flavouring your buttercream and do not want to use the vanilla, you do not have to. Vanilla will often enhance other flavours but if you want an intense, one-flavoured buttercream, then by all means leave it out!)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
flavouring of your choice
1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
3.While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
5.Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
8.At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.
9.Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).
For the white chocolate ganache/mousse
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc.)
1.Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
2.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.
4.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
5.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.
6.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.
For the glaze
(Note: It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)
What you’ll need:
•a small saucepan or double boiler
14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)
1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.
Assembling the Opéra Cake
(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).
Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.
Step A (if using buttercream only and not making the ganache/mousse): Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup. Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer. Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup. Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour). Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze. Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.
Step B (if making the ganache/mousse): Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup. Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer. Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup. Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour). Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up. Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze. Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I never really liked lollipops. Hard sugar candies, even on a stick just did not appeal to me. But when I saw this month’s challenge, I thought, now who would not like cheesecake lollies?
This cheesecake was particularly easy to bake. I halved the recipe and baked it in a square 8” pan. It took a little over 40 minutes to bake through. After 24 hours, I used a square and round cutter to make my pops. I wanted bigger circular pops so I cut them in half just so they wouldn’t be too heavy.
When they were ready to be enrobed in chocolate, I melted some white chocolate chips. They didn’t have the right consistency though so after coating one, I gave up. For the dark chocolate, I decided to use couverture to ensure the quality. Initially it melted beautifully then dried up so I guess I over heated the chocolate. I added more dark chocolate and it was much better.
I wasn’t sure how to decorate my pops and I didn’t have much time to do so either as it was midnight and I was going to the beach very early the next morning. I tried using cake glitter but that melted right away. I used sprinkles for a festive feel but I still wanted to do something a little different. I decided to do monogrammed pops! We were two couples going to the beach and I wanted to bring some for dessert. So using gold dust, I painted a P, two Js and an O. It was so cute---crude but cute! With all the computer work i do, i no longer have a steady painting hand. Unfortunately, the chocolate was sweating and I had to work fast. I tried a few more patterns, stripes, card suits and a flower. I have to practice a bit more before I can post a picture I'm proud of!
The next day, everyone enjoyed the pops, amazed to find cheesecake inside. Two of the monograms got damaged during the transport but still, they made waves in the beach!
Makes 30 – 40 Pops
5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionary coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate.)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
(Note: White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional
Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.
Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.
Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.
Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionary chocolate pieces) as needed.
Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.
Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I was looking for a recipe for a vanilla thyme martini, the delicious drink my date and I had had on our first evening out. Scouring the net for this, I was introduced to many an interesting blogger. One blogger led to another and another and eventually led me to favorites such as my dear daring bakers and Dorie Greenspan. You can imagine my delight when I found out that Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts had chosen Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake for March’s challenge! And what an honor for us all I when Dorie herself wrote us and gave tips and suggestions!
Since my more recent love affair with bread, I have not baked a layered cake in many, many years. Easter was a pretty good time to renew an old flame with cake along side my catholic faith…
As I gathered my ingredients and started off, I could not believe how wonderfully fresh-perfumed the sugar was after mixing it well with the lemon rind. I knew right there and then that this cake was going to be good---not a yeah, it’s good cake but rather a wow, this rocks cake!
I used cake flour as specified but I was only able to fill half of two 9” round tins. My cakes didn’t rise much which could have been because of old baking powder or perhaps the local cake flour could be of an inferior quality. Dense though the cakes seemed there was a curious lightness to them that made the lemon flavor so delicate and heady at the same time. I almost could not wait for the buttercream, I just wanted a slice. I was hooked. I was in love again with cake.
I had a lot of frozen egg whites from making tons of ice cream and I tried making the frosting with them. On the first attempt, my sister-in-law was talking to me and I thought I may have heated the whites too much. Into the bin. I had exactly four egg whites left. I tried it again watching the temperature as if my life depended on it and this time it was just to the right degree. A watched pot never boils? It never whips! Into the bin! Tired of manually beating my whites over a double broiler, I conceded that frozen whites don’t make buttercream and bowed to fresh eggs. Third time’s the charm!
Initially I had wanted to put an apple pie type layer in between the two cakes and top the cake with thinly sliced apple crisps. It was Easter and I was tired from the brunch I prepared for the family so an easy jar of strawberry jam was emptied on top of one cake. Buttercream was smeared over everything else.
My family loved the cake and they want me to try it with orange next time. With the million flavor permutations on this cake, this will obviously be a lifelong affair. Ditto on the date---Jay loved the cake too!
THE PERFECT PARTY CAKE
For the Cake
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).
To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves.
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold.
Thanks to Morven and Dorie for a great choice and challenge!