Saturday, 21 May 2011

Baking Sunday: Tiramisu cake

This recipe is from a blog I have admired for a long time, Smitten Kitchen. Deb has been blogging and taking beautiful photos of her food since 2006 and her blog is an amazing resource of hundreds of interesting recipes, with a New York influence. A lot of Smitten Kitchen's recipes have become my favourites such as thick chewy granola bars, potato pancakes, apple and cheddar scones (one of my favourite flavour combinations - is that weird?), and lighter than air chocolate cake

I happened to have some mascarpone leftover from my red velvet cake and whilst tiramisu is one of my favourite desserts, I wanted to make something that I already had the ingredients for (not being in the habit of keeping savoiardi biscuits at a regular supply). I remembered that Smitten Kitchen had a recipe for tiramisu cake and decided to go for it.

One of the advantages of making something that has already been blogged about is that I was able to read all of the comments and suggestions. Some people mentioned that the cake was a bit dry and suggested doubling the amaretto espresso syrup which the cakes are brushed with. The cakes are quite dense, acting as the 'biscuit' element of the tiramisu and they certainly benefited from the extra syrup.

The mascarpone icing was creamy and delicious but the consistency was a bit wet - commenters had noted this but there were not suggestions on how to bring it back to a thicker consistency and sadly even refrigerating the icing and adding extra stiff whipped cream didn't help that much. It was a minor quibble though, the icing and filling still spread perfectly. It was just a tinier bit messier than I would have liked however at least it didn't curdle like some reported back!

I copied the gorgeous star pattern from Smitten Kitchen, using grated chocolate instead of cocoa powder and it was a beautiful cake indeed, deliciously rich, moist and creamy. I'd prefer a stronger coffee flavour myself so would alter this slightly but otherwise I really enjoyed it and so did everyone who tried it.

This recipe is entirely in US measurements. I have recently reading about the differences with measurements between the UK and US cup sizes. The difference is negligible but for cakes I've never made before I'm far more confident with weight measurements and so my converted recipe is as below. I didn't convert the tablespoons and teaspoons as the amounts were so very small there didn't seem to be much point. I use this website for conversions, it's fantastic and has conversions for most of my cooking needs.

Tiramisu Cake (see Smitten Kitchen blog for full recipe)

For the sponge layers:
220g / 2 cups cake flour / Take 1 tablespoon from plain flour and replace with cornflour to make cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
141g / 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature / 141g or 5oz
225g / 1 cup sugar / 225g
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
177mL / 3/4 cup buttermilk / 177ml
Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius and grease and line two 9 inch cake pans. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking sode and salt. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centres will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them, and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side

For the filling and frosting:
226g / 8 ounces marscarpone
60g / 1/2 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto, Kahlua or brandy
236 mL / 1 cup cold heavy cream
70g / 2 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped or about 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips / I used dark cooking chocolate
Put the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla and liqueur in a large bowl and whisk just until blended and smooth. Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and stir about 1 quarter of the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a light touch.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Clandestine Cake Edinburgh

Clandestine Cake is an event run by Lynn from the Secret Tearoom in Leeds and is kind of like a secret cake club - everyone bakes a cake to bring along to a secret location and shares the cakes made by everyone who attends. The event is not meant to be a competition, but more focussed on bringing together people who love to bake, eat and chat cake! There are loose themes to base your cake around, such as Cake Porn, Crimson Crime Cakes and Cake Cornucopia but all types of cake and even cake disasters are welcome.

Lynn brings Clandestine Cake to various cities and came to Edinburgh this evening with the theme of Homespun Harmony. The event was held at Fredericks Coffee House, which is a wonderful cafe on Frederick Street with gourmet teas and who on a normal occasion would usually serve beautiful cakes from Patisserie Jacob. Tonight, there were approximately twenty cakes from Edinburgh bakers and frankly, they were all amazing. There'd been a bit of excitement on Twitter about who was baking which cake and it was great to chat and see everyone's creations and to meet some Twitter and blog friends. Unsurprisingly there was a lot of cake chat!

I considered the theme of Homespun Harmony and decided to bake something with the homemade limoncello I'd recently made. I made a lemon polenta cake with a limoncello syrup, topped with candied orange and lemon peel. It was slightly nerve-wracking offering up a homemade cake to so many experienced bakers but people seemed to like it, and I admit I tested a wee bit to make sure it tasted okay and lo, to my relief, it was good!

Unfortunately I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked but for once, other people were taking more pictures of cakes than me! I'm sure this will be a highly blogged about event but below are a few of my highlights.

A selection of cakes from the event - there were twenty in total (I think - they just kept appearing one after another!). Lynn told us the record for slices of cake eaten in one sitting was eleven. I was seriously impressed! I did manage quite a few mini-slices and tastes of cakes (I don't think I managed a whole slice of any given cake), and everyone got to take home the leftovers.

Baker's Bunny made her Tower of Sin, which is one of Vanessa Kimbell's recipe. Layers of brownie, meringue, ganache, cream, nuts - quite possibly the most decadent cake you could imagine! About four other girls shared my plate of this - it was divine, particularly the meringue layer.

Dundee Marmalade cake - I love how indulgent and creamy the filling looks in this picture! This was a whisky marmalade flavoured (with possibly a hint of ginger?) cake topped with candied oranges which were apparently made at 1am that morning - that's dedication!

Angel food cake - this was served with a rhubarb compote and was quite possibly my favourite cake of the day. It was beautifully light and the combination with the fruit compote was indeed heavenly. The lightness was certainly appreciated after eating so many slices of cake!

This was a beautifully moist and very very rich three-layer chocolate fudge cake. I brought a big slice of this back for my boyfriend who adores chocolate cake and declared it delicious.

There were quite a few other highlights - like the apple and olive oil cake, the pink sparkly raspberry and white chocolate cake, raspberry bakewell cake and the sour cream blackberry pound cake with a crunchy sugary topping. It was just really lovely to eat some cake and chat to folk about being a foody and life in Edinburgh. Amazingly no one slipped into a diabetic coma. Or ran around trashing Fredericks on a sugar high. Big thanks to Lynn for organising such a fabulous event!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Word of Mouth Cafe Grand Bake Off and Red Velvet Cake

This Saturday I went to Word of Mouth Cafe off Leith Walk for an old-fashioned cake bake off.  I'd read about the event in an Edinburgh weekend events mailshot and as it's somewhere I'd wanted to go for a while this seemed like the ideal opportunity to visit.  I love the idea of a baking competition and frankly I am happy to take any opportunity to make a cake for others!  I tried to discover more details about the event but only found out the barest of details: bring along a cake, have some free summer cup punch and win a £30 voucher and some baking goodies if your cake wins.  I don't think they did justice to themselves with that description though - it was a really lovely event.  There were delicious red and white wine punches that the Word of Mouth ladies constantly topped up, made with fruit and fresh mint.  There was a piping demonstration and little piping practice plates.  And there was lots of cake chat and board games - it was a delightful way to spend a sunny Saturday evening. 

I wanted to make a red velvet cake and after a bit of dithering and looking at various recipes I decided to make the Joy of Baking's version. A lot of recipes I found were for three layer cakes and I didn't want to make a monster of a cake so this was a perfect two layer size.  I wanted to have a nice thick layer of cream cheese and berries and the entire cake fully covered with beautiful white icing so that the berry-filled bright red cake would be a surprise.  The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of red colouring, but I had some red food dye gel and used 1 tablespoon of that which made the cake was a vivid (quite blood-like!) red.  

The icing used was a mix of cream cheese, marscarpone and whipped cream which resulted in a very soft creamy topping.  I was pretty happy with how the cake turned out although I would recommend brightly coloured berries placed on top of a white cake be thoroughly dried after washing - there was a little bit of blackberry juice dripping down the cake by the time it got to Word of Mouth!

There were seven cakes entered into the competition and we tried a piece of each, judging them based on prettiness, yumminess and overall greatness.  I was particularly taken with the fudgy chocolate and red wine cake and the beautifully shiny chocolate orange cake had to win my vote for prettiest cake.  The overall winner though was.... me!  I was totally thrilled to win and am hugely looking forward to going to Word of Mouth to spend my £30 voucher. They had a delicious looking selection of homemade cakes and traybakes themselves and some tasty sounding mezze dishes.  

Word of Mouth also have a cookery evening event happening on Friday 20 May - French Granny's cookery secrets which sounds utterly charming.  Next stop for cakey times in Edinburgh: Clandestine Cake on Tuesday, 17 May. And then the Taste festival in July.  Plenty to keep us Edinburgh foodies going!