Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

The name says it all.  It’s a pumpkin spice cake in bundt form… it can’t get any better than that. BUT it does!  Layer the inside with some vanilla cinnamon frosting and you have yourself a moist and delicious cake fit to show off at any dinner party.  I decided to bake this cake as a bundt rather than a 2 layer cake for presentation purposes and time.  I was busy making several different desserts in the kitchen during Thanksgiving and the fastest way to decorate a cake is to not!  So instead of spending a large amount of time frosting a 2 layer cake I saved some time by not frosting the bundt at all.  Do you really want to cover a gorgeous bundt cake anyway?  The cake turned out great with the frosting peeking out through the middle.  I piped the frosting for better presentation rather than icing it in like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

This cake was super moist and the perfect amount of spice and pumpkin.  The recipe calls for buttermilk, which is one of my favorite ingredients to use for added moistness.  However, like all holiday baking…a disaster lurks at every corner.  While in the midst of collecting my ingredients to start the cake, I realized I didn’t have any buttermilk.  As anyone knows, going to a grocery store the day before Thanksgiving is like lining up for Best Buy for Black Friday.  It just wasn’t worth it.  So in order to solve the problem…I made my OWN buttermilk.  How do you do that?  This is such a simple and easy option that you may opt to do this for future recipes if you don’t want to spend too much money on buttermilk.

Make your own buttermilk:  Take 1 cup of milk and add 1 teaspoon of vinegar.  Mix it up and let the mixture sit for at least 10 minutes prior to using.   Instant buttermilk!  Disaster averted!

I was able to make 2 pumpkin mousse tarts with the amount of time I saved not going to the market and frosting a layered cake.  Thanksgiving baking is all about planning and time management…you can never go into holiday baking blindly.  If you do…..disaster may ensue :).

Pumpkin Spice Cake

  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup of light brown sugar – lightly packed
  • 1 cup of pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 2 cups of cake flour or all purpose (cake flour will provide a less crumby cake)
  • 1/4 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp of ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk at room temperature

Vanilla Cinnamon Frosting

  • 1 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar (sifted)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp of ground cinnamon

Melange!

Cake:

  1. Pre heat oven at 350 degrees
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg together and set aside.
  3. Cream butter and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add pumpkin puree and incorporate.  Add eggs into mixture 1 at a time and mix until well incorporated.
  4. Add dry ingredients in 1/3 proportions while alternating it with the buttermilk and mix until just incorporated.
  5. Spray a bundt pan generously with non stick baking spray and fill with batter.  With a rubber spatula smooth the top of the cake.
  6. Place pan into middle rack of the oven and bake for approximately 45 mins – 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Once cake is done, remove from oven and shake pan around to loosen up the cake and immediately remove from pan by flipping the cake over onto a rack to cool.

Frosting:

  1. Cream butter until smooth and then add sugar.  Mix until well incorporated and remember to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the mixture to avoid clumps.
  2. Add vanilla extract and cinnamon and mix on med-high speed until mixture is fluffy – about 5 minutes.
  3. Use immediately or else refrigerate until cake is ready .


Thanksgiving Dessert Attraction

It’s been several months since my last post but the baking has continued.  Pardon the interruption as I was preoccupied with my courses and am currently in the midst of finals and projects deadlines.  Although I should be studying, I deserve a break.

This past Thanksgiving was quite a treat.  The desserts on the menu was a collection of holiday items that I absolutely love: Pumpkin Spice cake with Vanilla Cinnamon Frosting, Pumpkin Mousse Tart, Peppermint bark, and Cheesecake.  I typically can’t wait to scope the market as soon as October ends for cans of pumpkin puree and Thanksgiving decor.  The tantalizing smell of cinnamon spice and holiday drinks created a nice buzz in my kitchen.  My friends and family knows me well enough to anticipate the yearly White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake.

Why do I only make this once a year?

Baking a cheesecake is quite time consuming and tedious.  I reserve the cheesecake for our annual family get together because it is the perfect dessert for the holidays.  When baking a cheesecake, the most dreadful moment is *IF* and when you see a crack in your cake.  When I first began baking, I started with making cheesecakes.  As you can guess, I don’t do things the easy way :)   In order to achieve a fully cooked cheesecake and no cracks on your cake, it is best to place your cheesecake in a boiling water bath.  The water will conduct the heat and disperse it evenly during the baking process so the top of your cake doesn’t rise dramatically  because the sides are done baking.  With the sides “cooked” the only other place the heat can travel is underneath the middle of the pan as it can not move anywhere else.  The cracks occur when the cake is done baking and is removed from the oven.  The dramatic change in the temperature will cause it to deflate and crack.

My tricks to a perfect crack free cheesecake?

1. Hot water bath

2. When bake time is over, turn off the heat and let the cake sit in the oven for another hour with the oven door closed.  The less peaking the better!

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Equipment: 1 – 9 inch spring form pan and 1 pan large enough to place the spring pan into (roasting pan, baking pan, etc) for water bath

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 cup chocolate cookie crumbs or graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

Raspberry Sauce:

  • 1 (10 ounce) package of raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup water

Filling:

  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half cream
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions:

Part I : Make the crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix cookie crumbs and sugar together.  Melt butter and mix well into cookie crumbs.
  3. Pour crumbs into spring form pan and pack tightly.  *I use the bottom of a glass cup to pack the crumbs in tightly*
  4. Bake in oven for 10 mins and remove and let cool. Once cooled , wrap the bottom of the pan with aluminum foil to prevent water from entering into the pan during baking.
*reduce oven heat to 325 once crust has been removed

Part II – Raspberry Sauce

  1. Puree raspberries and place into a small sauce pan.
  2. Add sugar, cornstarch, and water and mix thoroughly to avoid any clumps.
  3. Cook over medium heat until mixture thickens (~5 minutes).  DO NOT LET IT BOIL.
  4. Once thickened, pour over strainer to remove seeds and set aside. The mixture will thicken more as it cools.

Part III – Make the filling (reduce oven heat to 325 degrees)

  1. Use a double boiler or place a heat proof bowl over simmering boiling water.
  2. Add white chocolate chips and half and half and mix until melted.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a mixer – mix cream cheese until it is smooth, then add sugar and combine.  Remember to scrape down the sides with each new addition.
  5. Add eggs into mixture one at a time.  Add vanilla once eggs have been incorporated.
  6. Finally, add the white chocolate mixture in 2 additions to avoid splashing of the batter.
  7. ***For raspberry swirl cheesecake – pour half of the batter in then add several dollops of raspberry puree and run it through with a knife for the swirled effect.  Pour the remaining batter over. * reserve some sauce for the top of the cake once cake has chilled*
  8. Pour batter into spring form pan.
  9. Place into a roasting pan and fill pan with boiling water until it reaches about 1/3 – 1/2 of the way up the spring form pan.
  10. Bake @ 325 degrees for 1 hour or until top is slightly browned. You may need to bake longer than 1 hour if the water bath was not as hot and required additional time for the water to reach desired temperature.
  11. Once bake time is complete, turn off heat and keep cake in oven for another 1 hour as it rests.
  12. Chill overnight or at least 5 hours prior to serving.
  13. To remove cake from spring form pan – run a knife under some hot water and run along the edge of the cake prior to removing spring form sides.
  14. Top raspberry sauce over the cake once cake has chilled completely.

The LEMON CURD recipe

I’ve been meaning to post this about a month ago but had my hands full transitioning to Northern California.  I should be head deep in my books right now but decided…..I rather blog.   If you’ve been following this blog you know that I have been trying to find the “perfect lemon curd.”  Does a such a thing exists?  Aren’t all curds the same? Yes and No.  I’ve tried my fair share of curds and never seem to be satisfied….although the taste is great…I’m looking beyond the taste.  I’m looking at the texture of the curd.  Curd is made from eggs, specifically egg yolks.  Up until now, the recipes that I have tried and altered never provided me with the soft gelatinous texture that I look for in the curd.  My curd test is to see if the curd will “stiffen” once refridgerated.  Curd should be able to maintain its smooth texture regardless of the temperature.

The key to this curd recipe is to not only use egg yolks but also egg whites.  You need the egg whites to provide the protein needed to help the curd reach the desired texture.  The curd was fantastic and went straight into a 3 layer sponge cake with almonds and whipped frosting.

I made this cake for my cousin’s bday.  It’s like a lemon roll but in cake form.  :)

 

Here’s the recipe!

Lemon Curd (adapted from David Lebovitz)

1/2 cup  freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
6 tablespoon unsalted butter cubed

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl (or double boiler) mix together egg yolks, eggs, lemon juice, sugar, and salt.
  2. Place bowl over a medium heat and add butter cubes.  Continue to stir until the mixture has a gelatinous texture.
  3. To determine if curd is ready, run a finger down the back of the spoon and if the curd maintains its shape then it is ready to go.
  4. Remove from heat and strain the curd to remove any possible egg scramble.
  5. Pour into a heat safe container and let cool prior to refrigerating.
  6. Curd will be good for up to  1 week once refrigerated.

Cake Pops! Brownie Pops! Let’s get it Poppin’!

Oh yes.  The cake pop sensation has reached my kitchen.

Originally created by Bakerella, these little pops are everywhere! I wish I created these little bad boys myself! When first asked to make a cake pop I was hesitant because I didn’t like the idea of a cake pop.  What is a cake pop?  A cake pop is cake that has been crumbled and mixed with frosting then rolled into a ball and finally dipped in chocolate…all while on a lollipop stick.  Why do I not like the idea?  I love cake because it stands apart from the frosting and other decorative additions that you can think of (fondant, gumpaste, sprinkles….you name it!).  I love eating good cake and feel that cake pops are more for decorative purposes AND NOT for cake tasters.  Don’t get me wrong, I think cake pops are super cute, versatile, and oh so clever…but WHAT ABOUT THE CAKE???

The compromise….

My cousin’s engagement was yesterday and several months ago she requested 100 brownie pops and 100 mini cupcakes in 3 different flavors (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry).  I was excited to take on the order since I love to bake and love baking for special occasions!  She decided on brownie pops since I was preparing cupcakes and didn’t want to over cake the dessert table.  As previously mentioned, cake pops requires mixing the cake with frosting…but what about the brownies?  I decided to not add any frosting to the brownies as it would take away its integrity as a no frosting dessert.  I baked 4 batches of brownies and immediately started rolling them into little balls once slightly cooled.  The trick is to roll the brownies while they’re still warm and to NOT use the brownie edges.

What did that leave me with? A bowl full of brownie edges…for all the lovers out there.

brownie edges...for all the lovers.

Once rolled, they were placed into the fridge to firm up and the imperfect balls were reshaped.

 Candy melts were heated in a double boiler until smooth and heat was turned off.  This is the key to your cake pop success!!!!  Do not overheat your candy melts or else you will lose the desired consistency and your chocolate will turn into a thick paste.  The directions on the bag says to add 2 tsp of vegetable shortening if it does lose its consistency but before that happens….simply melt until smooth and turn off heat and you are in the clear.  Do not make the mistake of keeping the water simmering so that the heat keeps the chocolate in liquid form.

I had a great time preparing these little pops and am now on a cake pop kick.  I’ve decided, why not make tasty cakes in these little pops [many decorators use boxed cake :*( ].  I took a bite out of the brownie pop and went to heaven.  It was delightful as the brownie was chocolatey and chewy with a light chocolate glaze on the outside.  It was also great for presentation purposes and was very fun to decorate.

Below are instructions and insights on making your own cake pop!

1.  Bake cake and let cool slightly.

2.  For cake pops, crumble cake into a bowl and add frosting until cake holds together ( ~ 1/2 – 1 cup).  For brownies, cut brownie into small squares and roll into a ball.

3.  Once cake balls have been formed, refrigerate ~ 15 minutes or longer if desired.

4.  Remove cake balls from fridge and prepare candy melts.  Dip lollipop sticks about 1/4 – 1/2 inch into chocolate and put sticks into the cake balls being careful not to insert halfway into the cake.  You want to insert the sticks about 1/2inch in.  *if ball cracks, “glue” together with chocolate and place into the fridge until chocolate hardens.

dipping into a bath of white chocolate

5.  Once sticks have been securely placed and chocolate has hardened ( ~ 15 mins in the fridge ) dip pop into chocolate.  * DO NOT swirl the cake pop into the chocolate or else it will break apart.  The key is to dip it in directly and move it left and right but never mixing or swirling.

cake wrecks. the ones that didn't make it.

6.  Once pop has been dipped, tap off excess chocolate by holding tightly onto the cake pop while your free hand is tapping at the hand holding the pop.  That way you are not applying direct force onto the pop but rather indirectly through you hand causing more gentler vibrations.  While tapping excess chocolate, slowly swirl the cake pop for an even coating.

coated & waiting to dry

7.  Place coated pop into a styrofoam board and let cool to harden.

*for all cakes, chips, pretezels, anything at all….once dipped in chocolate the item will maintain freshness as the chocolate protects it from being exposed to air.


Layered Delights

This past week, I went berry crazy.  It seems to be the case quite often with me. :)  I was excited to make a decorated cake after my trip.  The featured cake is a sponge cake with mixed berries mousse made from pureed strawberries and blackberries.  For all of my mousse and glazes, I don’t have a set recipe but adjust as I go.  I have a general recipe which is usually 1/3 cup of puree + 1/3 cup of sugar.  Everything else is customized by taste but rest assured if asked to repeat the exact same mousse…I sure can!  :D.

mixed berry cake with berry mousse on top accented with strawberry buttercream stars and text.

This cake is accented with strawberry milkshake frosting for added color and dimension to the cake.  It’s always so convenient to have different frosting colors when decorating a cake, especially when working with whipped frosting.  the texture is so light that it’s hard to create definite designs (such as stars, shells, etc) compared to buttercream. Therefore, I like to add little bits of buttercream for design purposes but definitely not enough to overwhelm the light whipped frosting.

ooey gooey berry merry goodness!

I realized I forgot to post this cake (pictured below) that I made a month ago for a colleague.  This is the same cake that was previously posted (yellow cake w/ mixed berries) with a whole new look.  I love the lattice on this cake and the designs on the top. The lattice was a last minute edition since the cake was made for no specific occasion but to enjoy the delights of baked goods.  Overall the design was fun and super cute…perfect for any occasion.

yellow cake w/ mixed berries, whipped frosting, and strawberry milkshake lattice. So pretty!!!


Summer sweets : Blackberry Buttermilk Cake

I went 3 weeks without baking and as soon as I got back …I took out my mixer.  I started with something quick and simple just to satisfy my urge…so I made butterscotch cookies.  If you’d like the recipe, just leave a comment and I’ll send it right on over!

I couldn’t settle for just cookies, I wanted to make something that involved more steps and complexities…and this cake was a great start.   This is my summer cake or at least one of the many favorites.  What’s my spring cake? – Lemon of course! Fall and Winter? – Just stay tuned! It’s a simple cake with no fancy designs or fillings…just a moist blackberry cake dusted with some powdered sugar.  This cake is perfect for a picnic, poolside party, or any casual gathering.  Serve a slice up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and watch the flavors merry together or enjoy it simply with a cup of coffee or tea.

I really enjoyed baking this cake as I was able to use my springform pan (which is often used to bake cheesecakes) and also because it was an upside down fruit cake!  After dusting your pan, the first step is to line the blackberries at the bottom of the pan and then to sprinkle some sugar evenly.  You would think that the sugar would melt and caramelize the bottom into an ooey gooey mess (or at least that’s what I thought!) but rather it created a very nice solid sugar coat similar to that of creme brulee.  Where the berries were, the sugar and berries macerated to leave imprints of beautifully exploded fruits into the batter.

What’s a spring form pan?

A spring form pan comes in a round circular pan with a detachable bottom and a flexible side.  It has a latch on the side that looses the pan so you can remove cakes easier than a regular solid pan.  The springform pan is ideal for cheesecakes because it enables the removal of the cake with great ease and is often used for many delicate cakes.  It’s also great for layering mousse and letting things set!

Now that Summer’s here, so are the weddings and engagements.  Bdays, baby showers, whatever it is…desserts bring people together! Mini cupcakes, cake pops, sheet cakes, tiered cakes, ……the countless different desserts that I can’t wait to make!  My next event is an engagement party with 100 mini cupcakes and 100 cake pops!  I can’t wait to start!  If you’d like some desserts for your special occasion, just leave a comment or shoot me an email at siftedfleur@gmail.com.

Line berries at the bottom of the pan, coated in sugar.

smoothed out batter...ready for the oven!

golden brown :D

sides removed from pan...the magic of springform!

tada! succesfully flipped over!

hungry yet?


Blackberry Buttermilk Cake (from Bon Appetit)

  • 3/4 cup of unsalted butter ( 1.5 sticks) at room temp
  • 1 1/3 cup of granulated sugar + 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 package of fresh blackberries
  • 2 1/3 cup of cake flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of baking soda
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature
  • 2 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp of finely grated orange zest
  • 1 cup buttermilk – well shaken
Melange
  1. Preheat oven at 350 F
  2. Grease 9 – 10 inch springform pan and dust with flour.  Tap out excess flour and line bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Lay blackberries into bottom of the plan and sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar over the bottom of the pan evenly.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Cream butter until smooth then slowly add 1 1/3 cup of sugar until smooth.
  5. Add eggs into butter mixture one at at time and incorporate.  Add vanilla extract and zest into mixture and combine.
  6. Add dry and wet ingredients in 3rds, starting with flour and ending with flour.
  7. Pour batter into the pan and spread the top evenly.
  8. Bake in preheated oven between 1 hour – 1 hour and 25 minutes or until golden brown on top and inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Once cake is ready, remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 – 15 minutes.  After 10 – 15 minutes, run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake.  Then loosen the pan by unlatching the spring form.
  10. Remove sides of the pan and flip cake over onto a wire rack and let cool.
  11. Generously dust top of the cake with powdered sugar.
Voila!!!

Special Edition: Thailand & Vietnam Cuisine

I recently went to Thailand and Vietnam for 3 weeks and there were so many different dishes sampled that I have to post this special edition – non baking related post.  Rest assured, while on vacation I was desperately looking for the next great dessert.  I stopped by every bakery, cart, and restaurant that offered anything that looked like baked goods.  Desserts aren’t done up in Asia how they are here but the great food and fresh fruits made up for it.

3 weeks, 5 different airports, 8 different hotels, countless taxi  and motorbike rides, a couple swings in a speed boat and a couple of walks down the wrong alley offering some not so kosher shows….I was definitely in another world.  Life was wild.

The heat in both countries was sweltering.  It was at least in the high 80’s – 90’s with a minimum of 75% humidity.  At 7am, I was sweating.  I felt a closer connection to Anthony Bourdain as I sweated through the streets looking for the next great dish :D.  The streets are filled daily with local vendors up since 4am to prepare for the market.  I quickly found that there was no “junk food” in these asian countries but rather rare and exotic fruits that kept me asking “what is that??” and ” how are you suppose to eat it?”

In Thailand the street food ranged from spicy papaya salad with blue shell crab to angel wings (chicken wings stuffed with some mushrooms and glass noodles) and finally to your usual pad thai & pad see ew.  Never had I seen so many items grilled on a stick as I did when in Thailand.  Squid, fish balls, sausages…basically anything that can be put on a skewer.  Had I never lived in Southern California and never tasted any of these delightful dishes, I would have been in paradise; however, I had a greater appreciation for such dishes as I was at the root of it all.  The Thai tea was heavenly and a completely different concoction than what I was used to back at home.  Perhaps, the Thai teas that I’ve been enjoying was the lazy man’s way of doing it.  In Thailand, the tea is placed into an espresso maker and is pressed through, mixed with steamed milk, sugar, and condensed milk.  All too sweet?  Absolutely not, it was amazing!

My extended stay in Vietnam was all the more interesting.  I stayed in the Northern capital of Hanoi for several days and tried the best of the best in specialty dishes of many different street vendors and restaurants.  The fruits in Thailand was also found in Vietnam….ahhh Southeast Asian fruits.  I traveled a couple hours away from the chaotic city into a Haiphong, which is much slower paced than Hanoi and offers a greater country charm.  In Haiphong, you will find Ha Long Bay which is a very picturesque body of water and rocks that is a national treasure for Vietnam.  I rented an entire boat out with my family and climbed into caves and cruised the bay while eating fresh fruits that I could never taste fresh in America.

The next move was down south to Saigon where I was pleasantly surprised of it’s westernized development.  Being in Saigon was similar to being in a small town city in the States…clean, no crooked cops, no dirt roads, etc.  Saigon offered the same foods as the north but offered more international cuisine such as Japanese, Indian, and Malaysian.

I came to Asia, ate, and left with some extra weight.

I plan on incorporating the exotic fruits tasted into some type of delicious baked item.

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