WW: Now You Know What I Did Last Weekend

Poppy-Seed Lemon Layer Cake


This wedding shower cake also answers to the name “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue”as it was in honour of my friend April, who is getting married in a few weeks.

Thanks to a series of house visits and random strangers tromping through my (spotless) kitchen, I found myself starting this cake at 8PM on a Saturday without much of a plan. As soon as the last potential buyer stepped out of the house, I whipped out the ingredients and was creaming butter and sugar with the speed of a Top Chef contestant during a quickfire.
The wedding shower brunch was the next morning and I needed a realistic plan that would allow me to get some sleep. So while the poppy-seed lemon cakes baked and cooled, I made the lemon curd and the buttercream, and debated over using rolled fondant for the finish. Around 10PM the cakes were frosted and ready to be decorated–the only trouble was, I was losing steam fast. Normally I’m pretty hard core, but as I looked over at the kit for making sugar paste flowers (bought especially for this cake), all desire to start handcrafting flower petals vanished.


At that exact moment,as fate would have it, I opened a cupboard and a tin fell out onto my workspace. Inside were three perfectly crafted white sugar roses, carefully preserved from my mother-in-law’s wedding cake (not made by me) and long forgotten about. I took the discovery as a sign that I should borrow them for April’s cake–wait…Borrow…wasn’t that something to do with weddings? And poppy seeds are old, right? Lemons can be new…I just needed something blue.

I ended up dying a chunk of rolled fondant a soft blue and rolling it into little ‘beads’. I dusted them in sanding sugar and voila, my cake was decorated in about 10 minutes with an appropriate wedding shower theme.


To conclude:The bride loved her cake and everyone lived happily ever after. I don’t think I’ve never seen a cake eaten so fast, right down to the last poppy-seed.

The recipe is definitely a keeper: a soft butter cake, subtly flavored with lemon extract and zest and interspersed with not-too-many poppy seeds. There’s a thin layer of lemon curd between the layers and the whole creation is wrapped with a very tasty lemon buttercream and makes for a slice of cake that leaves nothing to be desired.

This recipe is for a 9 inch round layer cake and serves 12 people.

Poppy-seed Lemon Butter Cake

yields two 9-inch round cakes

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans

1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon lemon extract

zest of 1 large lemon

1 1/4 cups milk

1/4 cup poppy seeds

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in lemon extract and zest.With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition. Fold in poppy seeds.

3. Divide batter between the prepared pans, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Makes about 4 cups, perfect for this cake.

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons

3/4 cup lemon curd (recipe below)

In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch.
Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. If frosting appears to have separated after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again.

(Aimée’s Note: I do this every time. It brings the buttercream from a runny whipped cream consistency, to a thick frosting consistency. I prefer to work with it like this!)

Beat on low speed to eliminate any air bubbles. Stir in lemon curd with a spatula until smooth. Frosting is now ready to use or it may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. Before using, bring to room temperature.

Lemon Curd

I love this lemon curd recipe. It requires you to make it with the zest of the lemon, but at the end the zest is strained out through a fine sieve. This imparts the maximum lemon flavor, but the curd still has a silky smooth consistency. Mmm.

Makes 1 cup–enough for the buttercream with enough leftover for a thin layer between the cakes..

4 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

1/2 cup sugar

5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Prepare an ice bath fitted with a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together yolks, zest, juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove pan from heat.

Add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring until incorporated. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into prepared medium bowl. Stirring frequently, let stand until cool.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to prevent skin from forming; wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Assembly:

Place one poppy seed cake onto a platter or cake stand. Spread about 1/4 cup of lemon curd over it and top with second cake layer. Frost with lemon buttercream and smooth sides. Decorate as desired.

To my fellow Canadians: Have a wonderful Thanksgiving long weekend!

Geraldine’s Chocolate-Date Cake

I’ve been going through cake withdrawal. I haven’t posted a cake recipe in two months. That means I haven’t baked a cake in two months. Since June’s Pecan-Streusel Coffee Cake there has been soup, salad, salmon and plenty of beef, but precious few sweets, which is odd for me, wouldn’t you say? (Thanks for putting up with all the beef, by the way, we’re nowhere near finished.) Summer’s fresh fruit and berries have provided sufficient distraction and we’ve eaten crisps and cobblers galore, but with the cooler weather comes a distinct longing for… CAKE!

Fortunately, before I started spazzing from lack of flour, eggs, sugar and butter baked in pleasing proportions, Beth Lipton’s (aka CookiePie) brand spanking new cookbook arrived in the mail for me to review. Titled You Made That Dessert? this sizzling cookbook provided ample reason to rev up my Kitchen Aid.


I’m so thrilled Beth chose me to participate in her online book tour. This cookbook was a pleasure to peruse and a breeze to follow. I love it’s tag line: “Create Fabulous Treats, Even If You Can Barely Boil Water”. I can attest to the clear directions and straightforward steps; they are going to make baking a whole lot easier for the novice.

Since I already had cake on the brain, I thought it would be easy to choose a recipe from Beth’s cookbook; however, her stellar collection of twenty or so cakes left me thumbing back and forth for some time before I settled on a recipe that combined two of my favorite ingredients (chocolate & coffee) with a twist –dates.

There were two things I noted while making this cake–well, three actually.

1. The recipe calls for the dates to be chopped in half. Brilliant, because they are going to be tossed in a blender later and pureed with the coffee. Ever encountered a date or olive pit while using your blender? NOT fun. As it so happens, I removed two pits from the ‘pitted’ dates as I was chopping them.
2. This really is a one-bowl cake, dry ingredients are sifted right on top of the wet. And speaking of sifting…
3. Listen to step 2 of the recipe:

“Sift the dry ingredients by holding the sieve over the bowl and lightly tapping the side with your fingers. If there are any lumps of dry ingredients left after you’ve finished sifting, rub the back of a spoon over the lumps to press them through the sieve.”

Are those not clear directions, or what? Beth has carefully outlined each step with such care, they will reassure even the most timid baker. Bravo!


As I had suspected, this cake was even better after sitting overnight. The flavors really had a chance to meld, yet each one still shone through in its own way. Marvelous cake, and @CookiePie–fantastic cookbook! Congratulations!

Geraldine’s Chocolate-Date Cake

Ingredients:
Cooking Spray
2 cups pitted dried dates, halved

1-1/4 cups hot strongly brewed coffee

11 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate chips

Method: Preheat the oven to 350F. Mist a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Place the pan on a sheet of parchment, trace the pan with a pencil and cut out the parchment circle. Line the bottom of the pan with the parchment round and mist it with cooking spray. Loosely fill a 2-cup liquid measuring cup with the dates and cover with the hot coffee. Let it sit for 5 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a flexible spatula and then beat again until the mixture is uniform. Place a fine-mesh sieve over the bowl with the butter mixture and put the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in the sieve. Sift the dry ingredients by holding the sieve over the bowl and lightly tapping the side with your fingers. If there are any lumps of dry ingredients left after you’ve finished sifting, rub the back of a spoon over the lumps to press them through the sieve. With a flexible spatula, mix the dry ingredients gently into the butter mixture until nearly combined.

Pour the dates and coffee into a blender or food processor and blend to puree the mixture completely. Add the pureed dates to the batter and mix with the same flexible spatula until all the ingredients are combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the top evenly with the chocolate chips. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until the edges begin to pull away from the side of the pan and the cake springs back when you touch it lightly. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, then gently turn the cake out onto the rack to cool further. Serve at room temperature. Cover leftover cake with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Join the You Made That Dessert? Cookbook Food Blog Tour!!

Sour Cream Coffee Cake on Two Peas and Their Pod

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Cupcakes on Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Cappuccino Biscotti on the Life and Loves of Grumpy’s Honeybunch

Lime-Glazed Citrus Tea Cake on Sticky, Gooey, Creamy Chewy

Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Bars on Recipe Girl

Banana Snack Cake with Rich Caramel Frosting on Cookie Baker Lynn

PB&J Bars and Coconut Rice Pudding on Eat Me, Delicious

Pecan-Streusel Coffee Cake


Danny celebrates his birthday on July 1st, which is Canada Day. He has always liked having his birthday on that particular National holiday as there is sure to be a party or an event happening, but I feel that as a result of all the festivities, his birthday tends to take a backseat. Usually there’s some sort of brunch, then a mad dash downtown to stake a spot on the sidewalk for the parade. This is generally followed by an ice cream outing and an afternoon poolside with friends and family. If we can muster up any energy after that, we’ll catch an open air concert in the evening and some fireworks in Montreal’s Old Port. Not much time in there to bake a cake, you’ll notice, so this year I was happy the birthday boy requested something simple.


A wonderful recipe from bon appétit, this Pecan-Streusel Coffee Cake was just the kind of simple recipe we needed to quickly put together after a long day. It was so easy, Noah did most of the work, relishing in the thought that he was creating his daddy’s birthday cake. Fireworks were going off in the distance as we ate the cake warm from the oven and the candles melted into it, but it was so good, no one minded; definitely worth missing fireworks for.


With a cake like this, the person of honour is bound to feel special, as I know Danny did, no matter how many other things are going on. Greek-style yogurt keeps it very moist, and a decadent vein of brown sugar-pecan streusel running through the center makes it hard to eat just one piece.

Pecan-Streusel Coffee Cake
From
Bon Appetit magazine
Serves 9

Ingredients:

Streusel

2/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2/3 cup all purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly

1/2 cup pecans, toasted, coarsely chopped

Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/3 cups (packed) golden brown sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 cup whole-milk or reduced-fat (2%) plain Greek-style yogurt*

*A thick yogurt; sold at some supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Greek markets. If unavailable, spoon regular yogurt into a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight to drain.

Preparation:

Streusel: Combine brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Add melted butter; toss with fork to blend. Using fingertips, rub mixture together until small clumps form. Mix in pecans. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Cake:
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.
Butter 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan.

Combine flour, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt in medium bowl; whisk to blend. Using electric mixer, beat brown sugar, butter, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Add half of flour mixture; beat just until blended. Add yogurt; beat just until blended. Beat in remaining flour mixture just until blended.

Spoon half of batter into prepared baking pan; spread evenly. Sprinkle half of streusel evenly over batter. Spoon remaining batter in dollops over streusel, then spread evenly over with offset spatula. Sprinkle remaining streusel evenly over top.

Bake cake until streusel topping is brown and tester inserted into centre of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 30 minutes.
Cut into squares and serve slightly warm or at room temperature

Irresponsibly Yours with Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake


Most days I eat responsibly. I set a good example for the babies such as avoiding snacks before a meal, finish all my dinner before dessert, and generally conducting myself in a grown-up manner.

Then there are days where I pull an upside-down rhubarb cake out of the oven, attempt to photograph it while it is still warm, sneak a few bites here and there, and finally wind up eating it entirely– and just before dinner, too. Strangely, I’m not hungry for spaghetti and meatballs after that. At all.

Fortunately the boys are still young enough that I can get away with such shenanigans, but in a few years, I’m going to have some explaining to do if I attempt to eat only cake for supper.
Maybe we’ll skip the meatballs and everyone can have cake. I think I like that idea.

I’d like to see anyone try to resist this dessert.


I probably haven’t made this cake in ten years, but a recent discovery of the recipe in an old handwritten cookbook of my mothers brought back some good memories and I knew I had to make it again.

Fortunately I did because it was even better than I remembered. I love, love, the combination of the tart, compote-like rhubarb top with the ever-so-light butter cake base. It’s a perfect spring dessert, uncomplicated, and easy enough for everyday enjoyment.

Just you try and save it for dessert.

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Makes a 9-inch round cake. Serves 6-8. I also divided the batter and made two smaller 6 inch cakes. This is nice if you want to give one away.

Be sure to read through the recipe and have all the ingredients assembled before you start.

For the Rhubarb bottom:

3 1/2 cups rhubarb, washed, dried and chopped in 1/2 inch slices
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons orange rind
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a round 9 inch round cake pan with parchment paper and butter pan thoroughly. Mix together first four ingredients and pour into pan. Dot with butter and place in a preheated oven. Cook only as long as it takes you to put the cake batter below together.

For the Cake:

In the bowl of a mixer combine

1 cup cake flour, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 cup soft unsalted butter
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

With the paddle attachment, beat ingredients for two minutes, scraping down sides as necessary.
Then add:
1 egg

Beat for another minute.
Pour batter over rhubarb and return everything to oven.
Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes. Place a plate or cake platter on top of the pan and re-invert cake onto the platter. Remove tin and peel off parchment. Allow to cool.
Serve with whipped cream.