Uh oh, do I feel a new hobby coming on? I always thought tempering chocolate was a task too difficult for me to take on, especially without fancy equipment. Maybe it’s just after years of practicing patience in baking and a better understanding of sugar that I am able to tackle chocolate.
Armed with my digital thermometer this was my process:
Melt couverture chocolate in a bain marie up to 120° F
Seed it with some tempered chocolate around 85°
Bring temperature down to 80°
Bring it back up to 89-90°
All while stirring like crazy to make sure those beta crystals were thoroughly distributed.
Will you believe that it worked?! I certainly didn’t. I tested the chocolate for fingerprints, melting, blooming, and many other suspects of untempered chocolate a million times, but they never showed up.
Then, after seeing my candied meyer lemon cake last week, my friend Natalie came over to candy some more citrus from her backyard trees. We candied grapefruit, orange, blood orange, and lemon. Of course, I had to try dipping these in chocolate as well. I might create a tutorial on how to candy citrus if there is interest (let me know by leaving a comment!). It’s simple and straightforward with satisfying results. Perhaps a great homemade Valentine’s gift!
A few days ago I came across a group in Australia called the Canberra Cake Club. I was immediately intrigued by the name (obviously) and had to find out more. Turns out it’s exactly what it sounds like: a club where members bring cake to share and enjoy! Of course, the next logical step was to ask Twitter what they thought, and now a Los Angeles Cake Club is in the works.
The club will meet every month or so (perhaps every other month) and everyone is asked to bring a small cake or dessert, a container to take home others’ creations, and a positive attitude Follow along on twitter for more updates: LACakeClub. Once I get things going (soon, I promise!) An events page will be set up so you can RSVP and receive the location.
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For this week’s cake I decided not to make something gluten free/sugar free/dairy free. Many people get turned off by these words so I thought I’d try making something a little more approachable. With citrus season in full swing I decided to make a wholesome meyer lemon cake. Whole wheat flour and cornmeal were used to give the cake some heft and texture, but rest assured there is still enough butter and sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth. I topped off the cake with candied lemon slices which could not be easier to make. Simply slice your lemons and simmer them in simple syrup (1:1 ratio) for about 30 min to 1 hour. To make the cake more visually appealing I dusted it with the slightest bit of powdered sugar.
On a more somber note, this cake is dedicated to an acquaintance of mine that I met a couple years ago. We had only met a few times but instantly bonded over kale, sauerkraut, kombucha, and SQIRL. Unfortunately I just learned that she recently passed away from cervical cancer. While we were not close, anyone that has met her can attest for her upbeat attitude and inspiring outlook on life. She was a beam of light and happiness, and I hope this cake does her justice. This one is for you, Lauren!
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 6″ cake pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together (flour, cornmeal, baking powder).
In a separate bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and lemon juice and zest until light and fluffy. Add a third of the flour mixture and mix together until just combined. Beat in 1 egg until thickened, then continue alternating with flour and egg one more time, ending with flour.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Let cool then garnish with candied lemon and a dusting of powdered sugar.
I am excited to announce that I will soon be offering cake classes! The idea has been mulling in my head for the past year now, but it is only now that I’ve mustered up the courage to host them.
My first class will teach you cake baking and decorating basics. First, we will go over how to make a classic butter cake–properly measuring and preparing ingredients, how the cake batter is supposed to look like at each step, and how to know when your cake is finished baking. Next, everyone will get to assemble and decorate their own 6″ layered cake. This includes learning how to torte layers, crumb coating, decorating with buttercream, and adding final embellishments like flowers. You’ll learn helpful tips and tricks to make your cakes look and taste like they are straight from your favorite bakery. All materials and supplies will be provided and everyone will go home with their very own 6″ cake!
I am still finalizing the venue (if you know of somewhere in the Los Angeles area with access to a fridge, let me know!) but if you’d like to get the latest updates please sign up for my mailing list. I promise I won’t spam you
For the last few days I’ve been recipe testing a healthy cookie–no butter, no added sugars, lots of fiber, healthy fats, and nutrients. Oh, and grain free and vegan. It hasn’t been going well. It later dawned on me that what makes a cookie a cookie is the starch, fat, and sugar. Taking them out simply produced something more cake/biscuit like which is not what I was going for (although still rather tasty given its components).
Though I haven’t given up just yet, it made me wonder why I was trying to make something with so many restrictions. I’m not vegan, I don’t have a gluten intolerance, and I don’t follow a “paleo” diet. Part of it is because I enjoy a good challenge, but mostly it’s because I believe the best diet is a varied diet. It’s easy to get stuck eating the same vegetables or even the same meals day after day. Go on instagram and see how many #mealprepmonday photos are filled with chicken breast, tilapia, brown rice, broccoli, and sweet potato. Eating “clean” (don’t get me started on that term either, but that’s another story for another day) is definitely healthier than fast food, but there are so many varieties of grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts that offer more than just sustenance. Varying the types of foods you eat offers you a wide range of nutrients you might otherwise not be getting, and sometimes restrictions encourage you to seek out new ingredients rather than relying on old favorites.
Since the cookie recipe has yet to be perfected, I thought I’d share something more up my alley: a cake, of course! Last night I came across a dessert called an apple sharlotka, a Russian/Polish cake that has a large proportion of sliced apples to actual cake batter. The structure is mostly from eggs so I thought it would be a good candidate for gluten free flours. Along the way I came across something similar from Leite’s Culinaria, the drunken apple cake. Still a large proportion of apples but this time with butter creating a richer cake. I made a combination of the two and ended up with a gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free apple cake. No, not as indulgent as the others but delicious nonetheless!
A combination of almond flour and oat flour was used for this recipe, mostly because it’s what I had on hand. I originally planned to use a bit of brown rice flour but that was nowhere to be found. For sweetness I used a combination of brown rice syrup and maple syrup, but I am sure honey would be fine as well. I should really call this an almond maple apple cake instead. The maple really shines so make sure you use a good quality syrup. As soon as the cake came out of the oven I brushed it with a tablespoon of maple syrup then garnished with chopped almonds. The almonds aren’t necessary but it dresses up an otherwise plain cake and adds some nice texture. Next time I might try adding a few tablespoons of rum like drunken apple cake to deepen the flavor.
I’m pretty happy with how it came out. The fat from the almonds, fiber from the apples, plus a hit of sweetness from the maple syrup keep my sweet tooth in check with the tiniest of slices. An unfussy cake fit for a weeknight dessert, I’d say.
Preheat oven to 350° F and grease a 6″ round pan, 3″ tall.
In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, salt).
Using a hand or stand mixer, whisk together in a separate bowl the oil, honey/maple syrup, and eggs until aerated and slightly frothy, about 5 minutes. Add dry ingredients and fold until combined. Batter should be slightly thick.
Portion one third of the batter into the prepared pan, then lay half of the apple slices in a concentric circle. Add a third more batter, and repeat with the remaining apples. Finish off with the last of the batter.
Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes inside pan, then invert on stand and let cool until room temperature.
Slice with a sharp knife and serve with coconut cream, a drizzle of honey, or a dusting of powdered sugar.
Yesterday I attempted to make a gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free pumpkin cake, but both attempts turned out to be flops. This sort of baking is remarkably different than the traditional types made with white flour, white sugar, eggs, and butter. It’s even a little intimidating. Should the batter be this thick or runny? What will give the cake structure? How little added sugar can I get away with? While I can bake pretty much any of my standard cakes with my eyes closed, more wholesome recipes require me to take note of every little detail.
So to gain a little confidence back after being defeated yesterday, I thought to follow a recipe from one of my favorite new books, Wholefood Baking by Jude Blereau. As soon as I received the book, I read it from cover to cover. Every page is filled with so many helpful tips for baking with different grains, sugars, and fats. I chose to make the Coconut and Palm Sugar Cake. Made with coconut palm sugar, coconut flour, and shredded coconut, coconut cream and coconut oil, it’s definitely got a lot of coconut going on. There’s also a bit of lime zest added into the mix and spelt flour for structure. It would almost be vegan except for the eggs, which are a necessary component that cannot be replaced with flax or chia. For now, dairy free and refined sugar free is fine by me.
As I brought the cake out of the oven the kitchen was instantly filled with a warm coconut scent. Instead of using the accompanying cream cheese frosting recipe, I topped it off with coconut whipped cream, then drizzled it with a lime and coconut sugar syrup. There is a nice moist, though slightly dense crumb which I am guessing is from the coconut flour. I am not the biggest coconut lover (except for fresh young coconuts) but the lime was a perfect partner. Next time I will leave out the shredded coconut as it’s not my favorite texture.
I won’t be sharing the recipe here since it’s not my own, but I do strongly encourage you to check out Jude’s books if you’re interested in more wholesome baking. The recipes include wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, and egg free options. There’s really something for everyone!
Happy New Year! It’s been a little quiet around these parts but I’m determined to change that this year. I’ve decided to change my focus to creating more wholesome, healthier desserts. More on that soon, but in the mean time here is a ginger molasses bundt cake I tested out yesterday. I brought it to a New Year’s gathering yesterday and I’m so happy to report that everyone loved it. These are family members that love cakes loaded with sugar and white flour, so I took it as quite a compliment!
I was inspired to make this cake after baking sticky date pudding for Christmas. It was a total sugar bomb, made with over 2 cups of brown sugar, but totally rich and delicious for a special occasion. The recipe called for blending the dates with water, sugar and butter which I’d ever done before. I was curious (and a little worried) to see if the cake was going to come out gummy. Lo and behold it was light and fluffy! I knew I had to try the same technique with gluten free flours.
A few important notes:
I used a 3 cup bundt pan for this recipe. It’s not a common size, so I tried it in a 6″ cake pan as well. It had to bake slightly longer but still came out fine, so be sure to keep an eye on it.
Here are two ways I decorated the cake, one with chocolate ganache and one with simple powdered sugar on top. The ganache looks much more decadent while the powdered sugar is more simple and casual. Both are equally tasty.
I have tested this recipe with both butter and oil and there was no difference in the final product.
A flax egg may be used, making this recipe vegan, but your results may vary. I tried this as well and it was a little too moist and borderline gummy.
½ – 1 tsp ginger (depending on how much ginger you like)
¼ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together oat flour, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine the dates, water and baking soda and let sit for 5 minutes. Place the date mixture in the bowl of a food processor or blender with the oil/butter, molasses, and brown rice syrup and blend until smooth.
Add the egg, then the flour mixture and process until just combined. Pour into a lightly greased 3 cup bundt pan or 6″ cake pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Add more spices if you like a more prominent flavor. My preference is ½ tsp ginger. You may use dried or fresh for more kick.
My cousin got married a few weeks ago and I had the privilege of making their wedding cake! Each tier is made of four layers of vanilla butter cake with lemon cream filling and a light lemon swiss meringue buttercream.
I absolutely loved that the venue served each slice with a dollop of double cream and mixed berry compote, I’d never seen/heard/thought about pairing wedding cake with something else before! It was such a simple addition but really made the cake a complete plated dessert. Definitely suggesting this to future couples at their wedding. So many guests were asking for seconds but there was just enough to serve 62 guests, including taking the top tier home for the bride and groom.
For wedding cakes with flowers such as these, the florist (my aunt!) set aside an assortment of flowers and greenery to decorate the cake. Just remember,it’s very important to remember to use flowers that are not poisonous and that have not been sprayed with pesticides!
Hey, remember this project I started? I photographed them all but never got to blogging ‘em. Unfortunately since it’s been so long and because of my not so organized recipe writing, I have no clue what I used.
This was my version of a raw, vegan tiramisu. I remember that the cream layers were made of cashew cream, one infused with vanilla and the other with dandy blend, which is a combination of herbs that tastes very similar to coffee. The “cake” portion was a mixture of nuts, dates, and some other flavorings that I don’t recall. I enjoyed eating this for the first 5 bites or so, and then it started to feel really heavy. I kept it in the fridge for a few days and would take a couple bites every now and then. It was an enjoyable, relatively healthy snack, but nothing like real tiramisu.
Funnily enough, I went to cafe gratitude for the first time a couple weeks ago and ordered their version of tiramisu after my friend raved how much it was like the real thing. We were already pretty stuffed from dinner (I ordered their eggplant parmesan-style sandwich which was delicious) but I had to try it. Much to my surprise it tasted incredibly similar to the one I made at home! About halfway through the dessert I got that same dense, heavy feeling. Must be all the nuts. I ended up eating only the cream portions and leaving the dense, heavy “cake”.
I think this was the most extreme dessert I made throughout my project, but definitely not the worst! I’m not sure if I should share my failures. Some of them are pretty bad.
Here’s another naked cake, this time with chocolate drizzled on top! Similar to my other naked cake, this one is comprised of vanilla chiffon cake, fresh strawberries and raspberries, and a cream cheese whipped cream frosting. The cake is then finished off with a drizzle of semi sweet chocolate ganache and a dusting of powdered sugar.
This time around, the frosting was softer and offered less structure, but I really enjoyed the more relaxed look! Unfortunately this type of frosting prevents the cake from transporting well and must be refrigerated the whole time. I am trying to loosen up my cake style a little more and am really enjoying the direction I’m heading!