cake

When it comes to development for future Matchbox Kitchen offerings, I’ve been trying to relax a bit and experiment with new flavors and decorating techniques. It’s hard to get out of your comfort zone when you know certain things work together, but to be honest I’ve been pretty bored with the usual combinations. This cake was no exception. The combination might sound strange, or even off putting, but I quite liked it. I wasn’t really sure where I was going with the cake. Did I want something soft and pillowy with a slightly spiced accent, or did I want something more dense and hefty with a chunks of strawberries simmered with balsamic vinegar? Instead of being paralyzed with all the options in front of me, I dove in before I could over think it.

The result is a very soft cake, thanks to the use of spelt flour, lightly hinted with ground cardamom and a swirl of strawberry balsamic sauce throughout. Diced strawberries are folded in for added bursts of flavor. It also happens to be dairy free. I finished off the cake with sliced strawberries and a random assortment from the pantry: dried rose petals, chia seeds, and crumbled shortbread. These were added mostly for visual and textural aspect and did not add flavor.


The cake was also fine without all the stuff on top so you can see the strawberry balsamic swirl. Here, I added a light sprinkling of turbinado sugar.

Strawberry Balsamic Cardamom Cake – Dairy Free
 
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Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • ¾ c (77g or 2¾oz) spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, separated
  • ¼ cup raw cane sugar
  • 3 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 small apple, grated
  • ⅛ tsp ground cardamom
  • ⅛ tsp salt
  • 5-8 strawberries, diced
  • 2 tbsp strawberry jam
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 6 inch round baking pan.
  2. In a small saucepan, simmer strawberry jam and balsamic vinegar together. Alternately, you can dice fresh strawberries and cook them down with a bit of sugar if you do not have jam. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together spelt flour, salt, cardamom, and baking powder.
  4. In a separate bowl, whip egg white until soft peaks form, then add 2 tbsp sugar and whip until firm, glossy peaks form. Set aside.
  5. In another separate bowl, beat together the egg yolk, oil, remaining 2 tbsp sugar, and grated apple until combined. Add mixture to dry ingredients and mix together just until there is no more patches of flour. Fold in a third of the whipped egg whites until mixture has loosened up, then fold remaining egg whites in 2 more batches. Be careful not to overwork and deflate batter. Fold in diced strawberries.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until done.

 

 

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Did any of you grow up eating those orange flavored chocolates shaped like an orange that you had to whack on a counter top so they’d split into segments? They were definitely a childhood favorite, yet somewhere along the way I must have forgotten about them. Luckily for me, this cake tastes just like it! Every bite brings me back to attempting the perfect whack to get the chocolate to fall apart just so.

This cake version of the candy bar is much better for you. Made with almond flour instead of wheat flour, it’s gluten free and grain free, sweetened with brown rice syrup and a whole orange, with no butter or dairy in sight. The longest part of the process is boiling the orange. Yes, you boil a whole orange in water until it’s soft enough to cut through. For my smallish/medium sized orange, that took about 35 minutes.

The results are a rich, chocolately, soft yet slightly dense cake. The almond flour makes the cake surprisingly filling that I don’t need more than one slice to feel satisfied. One more serving and it puts me over the edge (ask me how I know). It is seriously so good that I am always so tempted to go in for another piece. I don’t believe in labeling desserts “guilt free” because those types of feelings shouldn’t be associated with food, but I don’t feel the slightest bit bad for indulging in something made with such wholesome ingredients.

I garnished my cake with a pouring of chocolate ganache and maldon flaked salt, but a dusting of cocoa powder would also be beautiful and delicious!

Chocolate Orange Cake – Gluten Free, Grain Free, Dairy Free, Refined Sugar Free
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 medium orange
  • 2 tbsp oil (such as coconut, walnut, avocado, sunflower)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • ¾ cup almond meal
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Boil orange in water until soft, about 35-45 minutes, depending on size. Remove from water and let cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 325° F and grease 6″ round cake pan.
  3. Using a blender or food processor, puree entire boiled orange until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and continue to blend until smooth. Batter will be thick.
  4. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Let cool in pan, then remove and garnish with cocoa powder or ganache.

 

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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!

Whole Wheat Candied Lemon Cake
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • ¼ c sugar
  • ½ c whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ c cornmeal
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • juice and zest of ½ lemon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 6″ cake pan and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk dry ingredients together (flour, cornmeal, baking powder).
  3. 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.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Let cool then garnish with candied lemon and a dusting of powdered sugar.

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Take the nontraditional route and have a set of bundt cakes for your wedding reception. Simple, unfussy, and can easily accommodate several different flavors to please all your guests.

Beautiful photos by Twah Dougherty.

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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!

For more cake information and inquiries please visit my website at matchboxkitchen.com.

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This was the plum cake I made a few days ago, from Amber Rose‘s book Love Bake Nourish. Her cookbook has not come out in the US (yet, fingers crossed), but when I heard about it online I knew I had to get my hands on it. Instead of bleached, all purpose flour that’s been stripped of its nutrients, Rose’s recipes employ a variety of grains like spelt, buckwheat, and nut flours. Natural sugars like maple syrup, honey, and raw cane sugar replace refined, whitened (and most likely GMO) beet sugar.


My first try was this spiced plum and honey cake, sweetened only with honey and the cutest, sweetest little plums from the farmers market. The batter was made up of spelt flour, almond flour, eggs, butter, honey, and a trio of spices. Freshly ground cardamom filled my apartment with a deliciously addictive aroma, which later translated to the most delectable cake without frosting that I’ve had in a long time.


As the plums baked into the cake, they transformed into sweet pockets of plum jam. The texture was a nice contrast against the tender yet sturdy almond spelt cake. It was so delicious that I ended up eating the whole thing in two days! I’m already looking for an excuse to make it again.


Here is the recipe for Amber Rose’s Spiced Plum and Honey Cake.

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Yesterday I tried my hand at making a “naked” cake and had so much fun putting it together! It was a nice challenge to try something new. Sometimes they end in flops, but I was so pleased with this one I couldn’t wait to share photos. The cake above is comprised of a chiffon cake filled with cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream and fresh strawberries and raspberries, then dusted with powdered sugar. Don’t you love the snowy effect of the sugar?! Definitely something I want to employ more often.

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Every now and then I’m asked if I can share recipes for my cakes. While I would be more than happy share them, most of the time I don’t have a specific recipe for each and every one. Instead of a recipe, I wanted to share the process on how my cakes come together. Because all cakes really are, are just three separate components: cake, frosting, and filling.

First, I’ll have a brief idea of what I’d like to make. Sometimes a client will request something open ended, such as a light and fluffy cake with fresh fruit that’s not too sweet. Or sometimes it’ll be something specific, like a deep chocolatey cake with a rich, fudge frosting, filled with caramel.

First, I start off with the cake. Do I want light and fluffy or rich and dense? Here are a few cake types:

  • angel food – very light, sweet, and fluffy. no fat
  • chiffon – tender and fluffy. oil used instead of butter. slightly heavier than angel food cake
  • genoise – sturdy but tender and buttery
  • butter – traditional american cake, very buttery and somewhat dense
  • pound cake – very rich, sturdy, buttery, and dense

Next I’ll think of the frosting. My go-to is Swiss meringue buttercream (SMBC). I love how buttery and smooth it is, without being heavy, overly sweet, or gritty. Despite having a slightly longer process, it’s actually very forgiving to make and you can add all sorts of flavors. Sometimes SMBC isn’t the right frosting for the kind of cake I’m going for. Here are a few other types of frosting:

  • American buttercream – butter and powdered sugar whipped together. very sweet and can be dense
  • Swiss or Italian meringue buttercream – egg whites and sugar are combined to make a meringue, then a lot of butter is whipped in. (Swiss meringue is made by melting sugar and eggs together in a bain marie, whereas italian meringue has melted sugar poured into whipping egg whites). very smooth, buttery, but not too sweet
  • ganache – chocolate and heavy cream mixed together. can be very thin and pourable to thick and used as filling
  • boiled milk/butter roux – flour and milk are cooked together, then whipped for a light yet slightly grainy frosting
  • 7 minute/marshmallow – egg whites and sugar are beat together to create a meringue/marshmallow like frosting. very light, sweet, and fluffy

Filling can add an extra dimension of flavor and texture. Here are just a few possibilities, but really you can add practically anything! You can also layer multiple fillings, like jam with buttercream, curd with buttercream, caramel, fresh fruit with mousse, etc. Here’s just a small list of examples:

  • buttercream (same as the one you used to frost the outside)
  • jam/preserves
  • fresh fruit
  • fruit curd (lemon curd, grapefruit curd)
  • fruit mousse (strawberry mousse, mango mousse)
  • chocolate ganache
  • caramel

The real icing on the cake is texture. Take notice of your favorite foods. Maybe you love chunky clusters of granola on Greek yogurt, flaky croissants, or crispy fried chicken. A big part of what makes these foods so amazing is the texture! Just like filling, there are a myriad of ways you can add texture to your cakes.

  • chocolate shavings – large and chunky or soft and fine
  • oat crumble
  • turbinado sugar
  • cookie crumbles (crush your favorite shortbread into small chunks)
  • crisp and chewy baked meringue cookies
  • toasted slivered almonds
  • dried or sugared flowers
  • toasted meringue

For this cake I wanted to something light but substantial enough to support all the layers, so I went with a vanilla bean chiffon cake. Next, I made a cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream. The cream cheese adds a light tangy flavor, while the buttercream makes it buttery, smooth, yet not too heavy. I filled each layer with fresh sliced strawberries and raspberries. Finally, I dusted the whole thing with powdered sugar.

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Don’t get discouraged if things don’t go well the first time around. Practice makes perfect! You will inevitably have to test a few recipes before you find your favorite. I can’t tell you what the best butter cake recipe is because “the best” to you might be different! Once you get this down, you can start getting more crazy and elaborate. How about fruit soaked in alcohol, or spun sugar, or infusing dried herbs and flowers? The possibilities are endless.

Was this post helpful? Would you like to learn more about the assembly of a cake? Leave a comment with any questions or requests, and I might be able to help!

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Whoops, I can’t believe I didn’t share this! Earlier this year I had the pleasure of making this simple two tiered wedding cake for Tawny and Irv. It was confetti cake with strawberry preserves and vanilla buttercream. Their wedding was featured on Green Wedding Shoes and marks my first credit on a wedding blog (woo hoo!). Even more exciting was watching the cake cutting ceremony in their wedding video. This is one of my favorite parts of making cakes but am rarely there for it (obviously), so it really put a smile on my face! Thank you again, Tawny and Irv, for letting me be a part of your big day. You can see more of their photos here.

Tawny & Irv from JP on Vimeo.

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I’ve been doing pretty well avoiding refined sugar…until this cake. Let’s just say I “tasted” a little more than usual. My friend Keiko requested a cake for her mother’s birthday and this is what we came up with! She grew up in Hawaii so Keiko wanted to incorporate something tropical. Normally I will only use fruit if I can purchase them fresh and locally grown. I used to use freeze dried berries but I’ve done away with that as well. Thankfully mangoes are currently in season and these were grown in Mexico.

Here is a breakdown of the cake: chiffon cake soaked with coconut milk, mango mousse, chiffon cake with coconut milk, mango mousse, topped off with whipped heavy cream and coconut cream, swirled with some mango puree.

This is a slight departure from my usual multi-layered butter cakes with buttercream. In fact, there’s no butter in this cake at all! While I won’t be giving up butter any time soon (meringue buttercreams are one of the greatest things on earth), it was a fun and exciting change to step out of my comfort zone.

Also, if you haven’t already checked it out, Keiko recently launched her new web shop that’s filled with her beautiful artwork!

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Whoa, so much health talk lately! Rest assured I still love baking cakes and believe they are well deserved for special occasions. Just make sure they’re worth the calories, alright?!

Here’s a custom cake I made recently for a baby shower. A buttery vanilla cake filled with layers of lemon cream (the flavor of lemon curd but much smoother with more body!), coated with my favorite cream cheese swiss meringue buttercream. If you love cream cheese but aren’t a fan of how thick, dense, and sugary it can get, this frosting is for you! Everything was then coated with fine shavings of white chocolate.

Because it was a baby shower for a girl, my client ordered cute glittery lace crowns off of etsy in two sizes we and tiered them on top of the cake. Such a princess-y cake! As you can see in the background, everything came together wonderfully. I just wish I got better photos than from my iphone!

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