Vanilla Almond Cake With Swiss Meringue Vanilla Bean Buttercream

I love projects. I love to come up with a game plan and then commit to it. I also love giving my projects a title like Project Pastry Love. Some of the projects I’m currently working on are Clean Out A Cabinet, Why Don’t You?, and My Blood Pressure Is High- Is It Salt Or Stress? Investigate!, and The Kids Could Bathe More, Amiright?.  My latest project, Put On Your Apron ‘Cause We’re Baking A Cake A Week has recently begun. Last time I focused on leveling layers when I made the Chocolate Marshmallow Cake. This week I baked a vanilla/almond cake with Swiss meringue vanilla bean buttercream to focus on proper buttercream consistency with a sub plot on decorative piping. My life is exciting! Continue reading →

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Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

 

Since beginning Project Pastry Love almost 3 years ago I’ve learned a lot about baking and pastry. I know how to tell when bread dough has been properly kneaded. I know the temperature at which cooked sugar has become caramelized. I know when flour, water, and cold butter have transformed into perfect pastry dough just by touching it. I also know what I don’t know, and I don’t know how to decorate cakes. Sure, my cakes are passable, and they taste scrumptious, but they are not Pintrest-worthy. Last year a friend of mine asked me to make her son a cake for his First Communion. I took on the challenge with great enthusiasm, and made a delicious red velvet cake, which looked like a clown had vomited all over it. That disaster can still keep me up at nights along with my fear of falling tree branches, and stupid things I may or may not have said at a party. Well, I’ve been asked to make three cakes for the same friend at the end of April (she’s extremely forgiving), so I’ve decided to make a cake a week to practice. I’m starting with a chocolate marshmallow cake. This cake has everything I’ve been craving lately– two layers of moist chocolate cake, a marshmallow/caramel buttercream filling, and a very chocolatey chocolate frosting. Continue reading →

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Lemon Scones

I’ve been making variations of this lemon scone recipe for 2 weeks now. The first version had enormous potential but I did not bake it long enough. From then on I committed to taking the scones’ internal temperature when deciding doneness (200 degrees F.). The next batch contained one egg, and they were baked close together in the pan. I found them to be delicious! Even my son’s best friend, George, couldn’t get enough of them. Sure, he kept calling them croutons, but whatever. The only troubling aspect about  batch number 2 was its texture. They were far too cakey for my liking. Back to the drawing board I went, and guess what… I think I cracked the code. I decided to omit the egg (which helps the scones rise, but also creates a tender crumb), I lessened the liquid, and I spread the scones out on the baking sheet so that one was not touching the other. What came out of the oven was a lemon scone with a crisp and flaky exterior, and a soft and delicate interior. It was exactly the texture I desired.  Continue reading →

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Cranberry Cream Scones

I’m on a scones kick right now. Just like my brownie obsession a few weeks ago, scones have now taken top priority in my house (with my kids coming in at a close 2nd, and drinking an entire cup of coffee before everyone wakes up at a distant 3rd). I adapted this recipe from Karen DeMasco’s The Craft Of Baking. Her’s was a cream scone base studded with chocolate chips. I decided to go with cranberries instead because I needed to do something with my frozen cranberries. It was a nice choice, if I do say so myself. Each bite had a burst of cranberry tang, which was then mildly softened by the sweetness of the sugar and the cream. Here are a few things I learned while making these scrumptious cranberry cream scones:

  1. Like pie pastry, all ingredients must be cold. This will make for a flakier texture. 
  2. The mixing process is simple– mix the dry ingredients together, then mix in the add-ins (fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.), finally mix in the wet ingredients until just combined. Don’t overwork the dough or the scones will be tough.
  3. I highly recommend using an instant-read thermometer to determine doneness. Most recipes say that the scones are ready when they appear golden brown, however, this can be deceiving. My first batch were practically raw on the inside while golden brown on the outside. Sure I still ate them all, but they are much better when cooked a little longer. The scones are ready when they have an internal temperature of 200 degrees F. 
  4. Scones are best eaten fresh out of the oven, but you can make the dough ahead of time, shape it, and then freeze it for up to 2 weeks. When ready to bake  just add an extra 5 minutes of baking time.

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