Category Archives: Cakes & Cupcakes

French Apple Cake

French Apple CakeIf you are looking for an apple cake with brown sugar and warming spices, this isn’t the one. (This is.)French Apple CakeIf, however, you’re looking for a buttery, almost custard-like cake with only a teaspoon of vanilla extract to distract from the flavor of tender fresh apples, you’ve come to the right blog.French Apple CakeMeet the French Apple Cake. It’s easy. It’s elegant. It’s French home-baking at its finest.French Apple CakeFrench Apple CakeThis little cake is perfect for the upcoming holidays (or just any ol’ day) because it requires minimal effort and delivers big time. Also, it requires exactly nine ingredients (ten, if you include the confectioner’s sugar) and there’s an 80% chance you have all of them already.French Apple CakeFrench Apple CakeThere’s no need to soften any butter either, so you can conceivably have this in the oven in under 20 minutes. You won’t even need to break out your mixer!French Apple CakeFrench Apple CakeThis beauty bakes up in about 45 minutes, and since it doesn’t require frosting or filling or anything more than a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, it only needs a 15 minute rest before you can release it from its springform and slice it up.French Apple CakeYou read all that correctly. If you crank the oven right now, you can be eating French Apple Cake in 80 minutes.French Apple CakeI’d start moving toward the kitchen, if I were you.French Apple Cake

French Apple Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large baking apples, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
juice of 1/2 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon)

For serving (optional):
confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Combine 3/4 cup sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Whisk for about 2 minutes, or until uniform in appearance and a bit thick. It will be grainy.

Whisk half the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, followed by half the melted butter. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients and butter.

In a small mixing bowl, toss together apple chunks and lemon juice.

Add apples to cake batter and fold together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Transfer to prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Scatter remaining tablespoon of sugar over the top. Tap full pan on the counter 5 times before baking for 40-50 minutes, or until golden. A toothpick inserted in the center should come back clean or with only a few moist crumbs.

Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the pan before releasing the springform. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature. Dust with confectioners sugar, if desired.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.French Apple CakeFrench Apple Cake

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Maple Layer Cake

Maple Layer CakeNotice anything different? I updated the look of this site on Wednesday afternoon!Maple Layer CakeI haven’t made any major aesthetic changes to this site since I started blogging almost three years ago. I mean, I’d thought about it on and off, but had never actually gone through with anything until two days ago. I’d love to say this was planned, but it absolutely was not. I just decided on a whim that it was time to change the theme and streamline a few things, so here we are.Maple Layer CakeNow, I’m not someone who makes many impulse decisions—I’m a big over-thinker—so changing the look of my blog is a pretty big deal for me. I still need to make a few formatting adjustments, but other than those, this look is here to stay.Maple Layer CakeAnother impulse decision I made recently? Baking this Maple Layer Cake! One minute, I thought “I should make a maple cake this fall,” and the next, I was whisking up batter and whipping buttercream.Maple Layer CakeMaple Layer CakeMaple Layer Cake
Maple Layer CakeMaple Layer CakeThat’s really something, considering that I was deep in the babka zone at the time, working on a recipe that I overthought to the point of making 18 (!) babkas.Maple Layer CakeMaple Layer CakeMaple Layer CakeIn the midst of all that self-imposed craziness, this cake went from a one-off thought to a sparkling four-layer naked cake in the span of an afternoon. Isn’t it a stunner?!Maple Layer CakeThat’s not all! This cake tastes as good as it looks 🙂 Maple Layer CakeThere are 1 1/3 cups of pure maple syrup in the entire cake—in addition to the cake and fluffy buttercream, each buttery layer is torted (sliced in half equatorially) and brushed with the good stuff. There is absolutely no mistaking the flavor of this cake!Maple Layer CakeI’m sure I will continue to be an over-thinker for years to come, but if this Maple Layer Cake proves anything, it’s that it’s good trust my gut every now and then.Maple Layer Cake

Maple Layer Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake

Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk,* room temperature

Frosting:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 cups confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons heavy cream

For Assembly:
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
sparkling sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and granulated sugar. Whisk in eggs one at a time, followed by maple syrup and vanilla. Whisk in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the buttermilk. Add the remaining dry ingredients, followed by remaining buttermilk.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans. Tap each pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in their pans for 15 minutes. Run a small, think knife around the edges, invert onto racks, and remove parchment. Allow cakes to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in two installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Beat in maple syrup, followed by heavy cream.

Assemble the cake. Use a serrated knife to slice cake layers equatorially so that you are left with 4 very thin layers. Place one layer, cut-side-up on a serving plate or cake stand. Brush layer with maple syrup. Top with a thin layer of frosting. Top with another thin layer of cake and repeat the brushing and frosting. Repeat layering process one more time. Top with the last remaining thin layer of cake, cut-side-down. Frost cake as desired. Top with sparkling sugar, if using.

Slice and serve. Leftover layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note:

If you do not have buttermilk on hand, you may make a substitute. Place 2 tablespoons of vinegar (or lemon juice) in a liquid measuring cup. Pour milk up to the 2 cup mark and stir. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes, or until curdled. Continue with the recipe as written.

Maple Layer CakeMaple Layer Cake

Orange Cardamom Cake

Orange Cardamom CakeI don’t know if I’ve mentioned before that I do all my blog photo shoots in a corner of my bedroom. I’ve got wide windowsills and my carrara marble pie board, so it’s a pretty sweet deal…except when it’s gray outside for days on end and my viewless east-facing window gets terrible light. I’ve made it work in the past, but just couldn’t bear the idea of taking grainy, sub-par photos of this Orange Cardamom Cake.Orange Cardamom CakeSo, uh, hello from my make-shift photo set-up in the living room! Look at this cake I made for you!Orange Cardamom CakeIf early autumn could be baked into a cake, it would be this Orange Cardamom beauty. It’s got plenty of brightness and tang from a triple hit of fresh orange, a little warmth from ground cardamom, and a moist, tight crumb that’ll have you going back for seconds.Orange Cardamom CakeIt’s like the joyful feeling you get when you finally get to break out your chunky sweaters after a long, hot summer. You’re so happy to be wearing a sweater that you don’t even care that you’re wearing it with cut-offs and sandals.Orange Cardamom CakeBut you know, it’s cake. Really, really good cake. The sort of cake you eat when you’re not ready to go all-pumpkin/apple/pear all the time, but if you have to eat one more berry anything, you’ll scream.

Maybe that’s just me. Anyway…Orange Cardamom CakeOrange Cardamom CakeOrange Cardamom CakeThis cake is stupid easy to make. Yesssssss. It requires a mixer, but just one bowl and three steps.

  1. Put all the ingredients in one mixing bowl.
  2. Mix ‘em on low for 30 seconds.
  3. Turn up the speed to medium and mix for another three minutes.

Orange Cardamom CakeOrange Cardamom CakeOrange Cardamom CakeSeriously, that’s it. Put the batter in the pan and bake it for a little more than an hour.Orange Cardamom CakeOnce it’s cool, paint the cake with a fresh orange glaze.Orange Cardamom CakeOrange Cardamom CakeTop it with a thick orange icing. That’s the stuff.Orange Cardamom CakeMake yourself a pot of tea, cut yourself a slice, cozy up, and enjoy.Orange Cardamom CakeOrange Cardamom CakeChunky sweater optional, but encouraged.Orange Cardamom Cake

Orange Cardamom Cake
makes one 10 cup capacity bundt

Cake:
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon fresh orange zest
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature

Glaze:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1 orange)
2/3 cup granulated sugar

Icing:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 orange)
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 325F. Heavily grease a bundt pan with softened butter (or shortening) and dust with flour. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around all exposed edges. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and let cake cool completely. Cake may be made up to a day in advance; it will keep double-wrapped in plastic wrap.

Set the cooled cake, still on the rack, over a rimmed baking sheet. Make the glaze. Combine orange juice and sugar in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, just until the sugar granules dissolve. Alternatively, this may be done in a small pot on the stove.

Use a pastry brush to paint glaze all over the cake. Continue brushing until you’ve used all the glaze. Some will run off onto the rimmed baking sheet—that is okay. Let cake sit for 30 minutes to absorb the glaze.

Make the icing. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioners sugar, 2 tablespoons of orange juice, and salt. Mixture should be very thick, but pourable. If it’s too thick, add more orange juice by the teaspoon up to 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon). Pour over cake. Let sit for 20 minutes to set. Move cake to a serving plate before slicing and serving.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days or in the refrigerator for up to five.
Orange Cardamom CakeOrange Cardamom Cake

Flourless Almond Cake

Flourless Almond CakeThis is my third gluten-free recipe in a row. As far as my inspiration goes, when it rains, it pours.Flourless Almond CakeYou might think that since I kept it for last, it’s subpar in some way. Quite the opposite—Flourless Almond Cake is really something special. It’s one of those recipes you’ll want to have in your repertoire not only because it’s grain-free and relatively quick and simple, but because it can adapt to any occasion. It’s as perfect for a dinner party as it is for a cookout or taking to a friend who needs a pick-me-up. The holidays are still a while away, but I can imagine this cake being a welcome addition to any dessert spread.
Flourless Almond CakeBut it’s barely August and I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me show you how this cake comes together.Flourless Almond CakeIt starts by measuring out some blanched almond flour. I measure using the spoon & level method, as I do with all my dry ingredients. It’s just what it sounds like—spoon the almond flour into the measuring cup until it heaps over the top, then level it with the flat edge of a table knife.Flourless Almond CakeFlourless Almond Cake This may sound tedious if you’ve never done it before, but it only takes a few seconds longer than other common volume-based measuring techniques. While it’s appealing to scoop ingredients with a measuring cup directly, it may cause your final product to be too dense.Flourless Almond CakePut your almond flour in a large mixing bowl and mix in some light brown sugar, salt, and touches of cinnamon and nutmeg. Next come four egg yolks, vanilla and almond extracts, and a little butter. You may certainly just use plain melted butter here, but I like to use brown butter for the extra toasty flavor it imparts.Flourless Almond CakeNext up, wash and dry your mixer attachment and whip four egg whites to stiff peaks. Don’t skip the wash/dry step or your egg whites won’t whip, and you’ll be cursing my name while you separate four more eggs. I tried bypassing this step and using the egg whites as-is, and the result was a dense, flat cake. No, thanks.Flourless Almond CakeFlourless Almond CakeStir 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the almond mixture before gently folding in the rest.Flourless Almond CakePour the batter into a prepared pan, scatter sliced almonds over the top, and bake until the center is firm.Flourless Almond CakeFlourless Almond CakeTurn the cake out onto a serving platter and let it cool completely. Slice it up and serve it any way you see fit.Flourless Almond CakeLike Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, this cake toes the line between celebration cake and everyday cake, and it does it with style. The soft, sweet cake and elegant sliced almond top are party-ready on their own or with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar. Or you could add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzle caramel over the top. As you can see, I am partial to a little whipped cream and a side of seasonal fruit.Flourless Almond CakeNo matter which suggestion you go with, this simple little cake is sure to be a winner.Flourless Almond Cake

Flourless Almond Cake
makes one 8-inch round cake

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (measured by spoon & level)
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup raw sliced almonds

For Serving:
whipped cream
seasonal fruit

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch round pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Brown the butter. Place butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium heat. Let butter melt. Butter will bubble and crackle as the water content evaporates. Swirl the pan frequently for 3-6 minutes, keeping an eye on the color. When the solids are turning brown and the butter is nutty and fragrant, remove the pot from the heat and immediately transfer the brown butter into a small bowl. Set aside.

Separate egg yolks from whites. Set whites aside.

Combine almond flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer on low speed to mix the ingredients together—this will take all of 15 seconds. Add egg yolks, brown butter, vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined. It will be very thick, almost like cookie dough.

Wash and dry mixer attachments, along with a medium mixing bowl. I also like to wipe down the equipment with vinegar, just to ensure that everything is completely clean before I add the egg whites. There is no way to salvage this recipe if the egg whites are contaminated with oil, yolk, or even water.

Transfer egg whites to the very clean, dry medium mixing bowl. Use the very clean, dry electric mixer to whip them until stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

Stir 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the almond mixture. Gently fold half the remaining egg whites into the mixture, followed by the other half.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Scatter sliced almonds over the top. Bake for 21-23 minutes, or until firm in the center.

Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before running a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the cake. Invert cake onto a clean plate. Remove parchment. Revert onto a serving plate or cakestand. Let cool completely before slicing. Serve with whipped cream and fresh fruit, if desired.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Flourless Almond Cake

Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3: I Made a Wedding Cake

For Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 1, click here. For Vol. 2, click here.

I made a wedding cake, you guys!Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3I sort of expected to have a little cake assembly drama to tell you about, but the truth is that it basically went off without a hitch.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3When last we spoke, I painstakingly laid out my wedding weekend plan…and then I promptly changed it. After making the fillings on Friday morning, I started fearing that if I filled the cakes that night, the mocha and caramel puddings would soak into the layers too much by Sunday, leaving everything sort of…mushy. Gross.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3Instead, I chose to get up early on Saturday morning to torte, fill, and level the tiers. As you might have expected, the 14-inch base took the longest, clocking in at 1:40. The 10-inch center and 6-inch topper took 90 minutes combined. Each tier ended up being 3 1/2-inches tall.

Large pieces of thin cake are difficult to stack perfectly so, in addition to torteing the layers and leveling for height, I trimmed the sides a bit all the way around. I wrapped the tiers in plastic and put them in the refrigerator for about three hours while I popped over to the rehearsal luncheon in TriBeCa.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3When I returned home, I made a triple batch of Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I used a dozen egg whites (leftover from the fillings), which I had stored overnight in a very clean, dry mason jar. It was crazy humid here on Saturday so I had to give the frosting a few 15 minute chills to keep it workable. Crumb-coating, frosting, and doweling took about two hours, although I probably could have done it faster if I hadn’t been so tired from getting up so early. I refrigerated all the tiers uncovered overnight.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3On Sunday morning, I made a double batch (8 egg whites) of Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I divided it among four piping bags and refrigerated them while I went to have my hair done. #bridesmaidlife Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3I got home about an hour before the cake and I were scheduled to be picked up and taken to the venue. I scurried around my apartment, grabbing anything that seemed like it might be important. Think icing spatulas of every conceivable variety, loads of ziplock bags, scissors, tape, three piping bags fitted with couplers and star tips, extra cake dowels, a weight-bearing central dowel, a permanent marker for marking those extra dowels, a box of food safety gloves, and a dozen damp paper towels. And insulated cooler bags. And wax paper. And aprons.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3Also, a bridesmaid’s dress, four-inch heels (because I was too busy worrying about cake to get my dress tailored), makeup, deodorant, jewelry, and my trusty friend, VJ.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3We loaded all the tiers into the back of my friend, David’s Volvo station wagon and set off for the Central Park Boathouse.
Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3
Assembling the cake took about an hour. I mostly did it by myself, although VJ did help center the tiers. Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3My favorite part of assembling tiered cakes remains inserting the central dowel. I used a 3/8-inch dowel that I sharpened with a vegetable peeler, and it popped through the cake boards just fine. I couldn’t find much information on how thick the central dowel should be, so this diameter (1.5x the tier dowels) was a guess. I saw the cake lifted and moved three times without incident, so I suppose it was a good guess.
Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3
I was very happy to have my friends around for moral support, especially when the frosting started to separate while I was piping. Instead of panicking, we opened a second bag and used a new piping tip. It turned out that I had just overloaded the first bag—an easy fix. When I felt like crying, they made me laugh instead.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3
If I could go back and fix one aesthetic thing on this cake, it would be the piping. It was just a little uneven, mostly because I was nervous, but once the flower cascade was placed, nobody noticed. Expectations are the enemy of joy…or something.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3Once the cake was assembled, I got myself glammed up to be a bridesmaid. The ceremony and reception were beautiful.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3The cake was sliced at the end of the night and it looked just how I had hoped it would. I love those alternating stripes of filling!Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3I got loads of compliments on this cake. The guests loved the mix of flavors and that this wedding cake was lighter than most—a benefit of using puddings and Swiss Meringue Buttercream instead of all-butter American buttercream.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3There was also one peanut-allergic teenager who was so happy this cake was peanut-free that he gave me a bear hug and ate two slices! Who knew so many people have peanut butter wedding cakes?!Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3The bride and groom were happy with it too, and that is the most important part. I’ve known Ariella and Bob for several years now and love them both. Ariella, in particular, was a huge support when I began to take baking seriously, so I was really touched that she wanted an E2 cake for her big day. It was such an honor to be asked to participate in their wedding day as both a baker and a bridesmaid.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3
And now, the question that I’ve been asked multiple times since Sunday: will I ever consider making a wedding cake again?

Absolutely. I don’t think I’ll be putting Sylvia Weinstock out of business anytime soon, but I learned a ton during this process and had a great time baking and assembling my first tiered cake. I am going to need a bit of a breather though—it’s been an intense few weeks and I am exhausted in more ways than one! I’m taking this Friday off so I can enjoy some family time in Austin, but I’ll be back next week with some great new recipes.Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3
Thank you all for your support, encouragement, and excitement for this project! It wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without you ❤
Let’s Make a Wedding Cake, Vol. 3