Tag Archives: torte

Peach Upside-Down Cake

Peach Upside-Down CakeI have a long history of hating cooked peaches—something about the texture—but I am coming around. I mean, peach is never going to be my first-choice flavor for anything, but I’ve embraced a peach tart, so maybe miracles do happen.Peach Upside-Down CakeOne peach dessert that I am crazy about? This Peach Upside-Down Cake. Not only is it very delicious and very peachy, but it couldn’t be easier to make.Peach Upside-Down CakeMelt some butter and brown sugar together and lay some thin slices of peach on top in any design you like. I overlapped mine slightly because I didn’t want much “plain” cake peeking through. There’s no need to get too fussy with it, as the peaches release quite a bit of liquid during baking and lose some definition.Peach Upside-Down CakeNext up, spoon some cake batter over the top of your peaches. I’ve used a brown sugary version of my vanilla layer cake batter in past upside-down cakes, but changed it up with a simple vanilla-almond torte batter this time and…well, I don’t think I’m ever going back. The batter is a snap to make, and produces a thin, buttery layer of cake that nestles perfectly into the peaches.

You’ll notice that I left pie spices out of this cake completely. I tried the tiniest pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg in both the topping and cake batter, but they overwhelmed the fresh peach flavor. No, thanks—peaches or bust! The only flavor I added to this dessert is the tiniest bit of almond extract in the cake batter. Rest assured, it only enhances the fruit, rather than detracting from it.Peach Upside-Down CakePeach Upside-Down CakeThis cake bakes up in about 40 minutes and only needs to rest for fifteen before it’s flipped onto a serving plate. Again, don’t worry if your peach slices aren’t perfectly defined—mine certainly weren’t but they were still gorgeous and dang delicious.Peach Upside-Down CakeOnce your cake is out of the pan, it’s up to you whether you want to enjoy it warm, room temperature or cold. I personally like a warm room temperature slice, so that the cake slices cleanly and the brown sugar topping is pleasantly gooey. Whatever you do though, don’t skip the ice cream or whipped cream. I mean, I forgot them here and everything was still good, but there’s something about cold creamy anything and peach cake that is simply not to be missed.Peach Upside-Down Cake

Peach Upside-Down Cake
makes 1 9-inch round cake

For the peaches:
3-4 large ripe peaches (or 5-6 medium peaches)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup light or dark brown sugar, packed
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

For serving (optional):
vanilla ice cream
whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9-inch round cake pan. Set aside.

Slice peaches in 1/4-inch slices. No need to peel.

In a small saucepan, combine butter and dark brown sugar. Place over medium-low heat and stir constantly until butter and sugar are melted and fully homogeneous, 3-5 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Pour mixture into a 9-inch round cake pan, using a silicone spatula to spread it over the entire bottom of the pan.

Top the brown sugar mixture with single layer of sliced peaches, slightly overlapping them for the prettiest effect, in any design you like. Set aside.

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

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until very light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in granulated sugar. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and almond extracts. With the mixer on low, mix in dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.

Drop batter in spoonfuls over the peaches. Use an offset icing knife or the back of a spoon to spread it in an even layer. Tap the pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge a couple of times. Place a cake stand or large serving plate upside down over the top of the pan. Holding on to the plate and pan with oven mitts, quickly invert them so that the plate is right-side-up and the pan is now upside-down. Tap the top of the pan a time or two to help the cake release. Lift off the empty pan. If any fruit sticks to the pan, just nudge it back onto the cake with your fingers or a spoon.

Serve cake warm, room temperature, or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Cake is best the day it’s baked, but will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Peach Upside-Down CakePeach Upside-Down Cake

Blueberry Torte

Blueberry TorteI love an everyday cake, although I guess that’s technically a misnomer here. This blueberry beauty is a torte, which essentially means that it’s a cake made with little (or sometimes no) flour.Blueberry TorteSo…I guess it is a cake? Not all cakes are tortes, but all tortes are cakes. So yes, Blueberry Torte is a cake. Glad we got that sorted.

(Sorry.)Blueberry TorteAnyway…this Blueberry Torte is easy peasy and so good, you’re going to want to make it all summer long. And you absolutely should! It’s got a soft center, slightly chewy edges, and is literally bursting with fresh blueberries—what’s not to love?!Blueberry TorteThis is a spin on one of my favorite holiday desserts, Pear & Cranberry Torte. It’s so super delicious that I wanted to make a spring/summer appropriate version and, well, here we are.Blueberry TorteThe recipe begins with a simple cake batter. You’ll find many of the usual suspects here (softened butter, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs), plus light brown sugar and the tiniest bit of lemon zest.Blueberry TorteBlueberry TorteBlueberry TorteOne ingredient you won’t find? Milk. There’s none in this recipe, so the batter is pretty thick for a cake…er, torte. This lack of liquid is also what gives us the almost cookie-like edges. Yesssss. If you’re worrying about this leading to a dry product, never fear—this torte stays plenty moist thanks to the butter and eggs, small amount of flour, and two full cups (12 ounces!) of blueberries that are pressed into the top before baking. They soften and sink into the batter while the torte bakes and become jammy and fragrant and it is stupid good and why aren’t you actively walking to the kitchen right now???

(Sorry again.)Blueberry TorteBlueberry TorteBlueberry Torte doesn’t require any frosting or other flourishes and can be served up while it’s still warm. If, however, you want to jazz it up for a dinner party or you’re feeling fancy, you can give it a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, a dollop of whipped cream or a smattering of fresh blueberries. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need all three.Blueberry TorteSorry, not sorry.Blueberry Torte

Blueberry Torte
one 9-inch cake, about 8 servings

2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest (about 1 medium lemon)
1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon, for sprinkling
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 ounces (about 2 cups) fresh blueberries

For serving (optional):
confectioners sugar
whipped cream
fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

Combine lemon zest, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and light brown sugar in a small bowl. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar to release the oils. Set aside.

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

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until very light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in sugar mixture. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. With the mixer on low, mix in dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.

Spread batter into the prepared pan. Scatter blueberries over the top and lightly press them into the batter. Sprinkle the additional tablespoon of granulated sugar over the top. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with only a few moist crumbs. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge and releasing the springform.

Serve warm or room temperature with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar, whipped cream and/or fresh blueberries, if desired. Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for a few days.Blueberry TorteBlueberry Torte

Pear & Cranberry Torte

Updated 11/15/2018 to add better photos.Pear & Cranberry TorteEverybody has their holiday mainstay dish. For some it’s tamales, for others, a glazed ham. For me, it’s this Pear & Cranberry Torte. I found the recipe for a simple cranberry version years ago when I was just learning to bake, and I’ve made it ever since. I made it as written many times, but as I gained more knowledge and confidence in my baking, I made a few adjustments and have had it in my holiday repertoire ever since.Pear & Cranberry TorteWhat’s the difference between a torte and a cake? Besides just sounding fancier than regular cake, tortes are made with minimal to no flour, relying on eggs, sugar, and sometimes leaveners to give them structure. I’ve put one other torte recipe on here, my grain-free version of Molly Wizenberg’s Winning Hearts & Minds Cake. If you or your guests are way into chocolate (or gluten-free!), throw that recipe on your menu.
Pear & Cranberry TorteBut back to today’s torte. It’s a buttery, light vanilla-almond cake full of soft pieces of pear and tart whole cranberries–it definitely tastes like the holidays. Where a lot of holiday desserts are time consuming and require ingredients you don’t use for the other 11 months of the year, this one is simple. With the exception of the pear and the cranberries, you probably have all the ingredients in your home right now.

The cake base comes together in minutes. Cream some butter, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar. Beat in a couple of eggs, some vanilla, and a hint of almond extract. Mix in a mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt before spreading the batter into a buttered springform pan. That’s it! Then just dot the top with chunks of pear (you’ll want to use one that’s ripe but not mushy) and scatter on some cranberries. Dust it all with a tablespoon of sugar before baking for 40 minutes or so.Pear & Cranberry TorteOnce baked, Pear & Cranberry Torte has a very rustic appearance. The pieces of pear will buckle into the batter while the cranberries dot the golden brown top crust. The torte may be served warm or at room temperature, and is just as good with whipped cream or a dusting of confectioner’s sugar as it is by its lonesome.

I hope this Pear & Cranberry Torte becomes a holiday mainstay for you. The buttery vanilla-almond cake and seasonal fruit are a delightful end to any holiday meal. And if you’re the kind of person who gives cakes as gifts, this torte is easy to pack and your friends will love it.Pear & Cranberry Torte

Pear & Cranberry Torte
adapted from Lottie & Doof
one 9-inch cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon, for sprinkling
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 medium pear, cored, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced (about 1 cup cubes)
3/4 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

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

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until very light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in granulated and light brown sugars. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and almond extracts. With the mixer on low, mix in dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.

Spread batter into the prepared pan. Scatter pear pieces and cranberries over the top and lightly press them into the batter. Sprinkle additional tablespoon of granulated sugar over the top. Bake 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge and releasing the springform.

Serve warm or room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.
Pear & Cranberry TortePear & Cranberry Torte

Winning Hearts and Minds Cake {Grain-Free}

 My little sister, Eliot (“E3”), came in town last week. While I’ve been busy trying to make my life happen in New York for the last eight or so years, she’s graduated from college, moved to Austin, worked as an engineer, become a yoga teacher, and applied and gotten into her top two choices for graduate school. One of them is Ivy League.

Sorry Eliot, had to brag…more. 

Out of all my immediate family, she has definitely visited me the most. Eliot’s probably been here fifteen times since I left Texas. As you can imagine, that means that we’ve been to every tourist attraction, hit a couple of Broadway shows, eaten at all the fancy restaurants, walked the Highline, and played a multi-hour game of mini-golf on Randall’s Island.

Tip: don’t challenge the captain of the high school golf team to a game of mini-golf. You will lose. You will lose hard

As Eliot’s come to see me so many times now, there’s not much touring left on her list. The entirety of what she wanted to do while she was here? Get some coffee at Sahadi’s, grab some Gorilla Coffee for our dad, and eat at MOB, a vegan restaurant in one of my old neighborhoods. And we did all of those things…but that didn’t take up much of our three days together, so we got creative instead. 

  We did a lot of weird stuff. She came to work with me twice (bless my amazing boss for giving me the kind of job where I can do that!). She tutored a nine year-old on fractions. We did cartwheels on the playground with said nine year-old. We swung on swings. We went thrifting and tried on vintage pearl snaps. We went to an impromptu St. Patrick’s Day dinner hosted by my friend, Claire. We ate barbecue with pretty much everyone I know. Heck, we even had a little dinner party. 

But in all that, we baked too. I had two cake orders while she was here: one carrot, and one of these Winning Hearts and Minds Cakes. Eliot isn’t much for carrot cake (she eats it mostly for the cream cheese frosting), but the girl loooooves chocolate. She was so enamored of the fudgy chocolate cake we delivered that I put it on the menu for our little dinner party. Paired with a double recipe of Everyday Cassoulet and a salad, it was a hit. 

 This cake is not even really a cake. Technically, it’s a torte. It’s completely grain-free, and made almost entirely of bittersweet chocolate, European butter, sugar, and eggs. It’s super rich and fudgy, best served in small slices with a spoonful of ice cream (E3’s recommendation) or whipped cream. The chocolate drizzle is optional, but I think it brings this already divine little cake over the top. It’s perfect for dinner parties, birthdays, holidays…Molly Wizenberg even served it at her wedding.

No matter when or why you make this cake, it’s sure to please. And if you get to make it (twice!) with your favorite person in the world, all the better. 

 Winning Hearts and Minds Cake {Grain-Free}
slightly adapted from Orangette
makes one 9-inch round cake

Cake:
7 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate*, chopped
7 ounces unsalted European-style butter*, cut into small pieces
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Chocolate Drizzle:
2 ounces good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil

For Serving:
lightly-sweetened whipped cream (optional)
vanilla or coffee ice cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter. Line the bottom with parchment, and grease with butter. Set aside.

In a double boiler or the microwave, melt dark chocolate and butter together, stirring occasionally, until smooth. Whisk in sugar. Allow to cool slightly.

Whisk in one egg at a time, combining completely after each addition. Stir in vanilla. Whisk in cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes.

Line a plate with aluminum foil. Turn cake onto lined plate. Place a serving plate top-down onto the bottom of the cake. Holding on tightly to both plates (but not so tightly as to crush the cake), flip the cake to be right side-up on the un-lined plate. Let cool completely at room temperature.

Make the chocolate drizzle. In a double boiler or the microwave, melt chocolate and coconut oil together until smooth. Using a squeeze bottle or a fork, drizzle over the top of the cooled cake. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes to set.

Serve cake in small slices, cold or at room temperature. Top with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

Cake will keep at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for three.

Notes:

1. You may use any good-quality bittersweet chocolate you like. I have used Guittard on many occasions, but am currently partial to Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% Dark Chocolate.
2. I use Kerrygold, Finlandia, or Lurpak, but use whichever European-style unsalted butter you prefer.