Tag Archives: cake

Pear pie with cake filling

What is one to do with too much time on one’s hands and some very ripe pears plus a roll of shortcrust pastry that desperately needs to be used up in the fridge? That’s right, turn them into pear pie. The sliced pears (you could use apples or other fruit as well)  give this pie a refined look while really, it’s so easy to make.

Ingredients:

one roll of ready-made shortcrust pastry (quite easy to make yourself as well, if you have time! I have a recipe here, or use one of Martha Stewart’s)
185 gr soft butter
185 gr sugar
3 eggs (preferably at room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
185 gr self-rising flour (or regular flour + baking powder)
4 ripe pears (I used Durondeau, but any kind will do)

1 pie plate (+/- 25 cm)

pear pie with cake filling

How to:

Take the shortcrust pastry out of the fridge, let it rest for a little bit, roll out or spread out and line the pie plate with the dough. If it’s home made, use butter and flour first to prevent sticking. Using a fork, poke some holes in the pastry.

Combine  butter and sugar in a large bowl. Use an electric whisk or stand mixer to beat them together until white and airy, don’t stop too soon. Add in the vanilla extract and eggs one by one and keep beating until combined.

Sieve the flour into the bowl and combine, don’t mix for too long this time, to prevent the dough from getting too ‘heavy’. Pour the dough into the prepared pie plate and distribute evenly with a spoon or spatula.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Peel the pears, cut into four quarters, remove the core and slice lengthwise. Arrange the pear slices in a circle, pressing them into the cake dough. Start with one circle on the outside and then move on to the inside. I arranged the inner circle in the other direction for aesthetic reasons, though I doubt there’s a big difference in the end product. You may have to shift the outer circle a bit to fit in the inner one, depending on the size of the pie plate and the slices. When ready, pop into the oven for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean of the cake center of the pie. The baking time may depend on your oven and on the juiciness of the pears. If it turns too dark, cover with some foil.

Let the pie cool on a rack, in its plate. Enjoy!

 

Guest Post: Victoria Sponge Wedding Cake

Guest post: Victoria Sponge Wedding Cake

I have a little secret to tell you: my little sister and I share a love for baking. In fact, she’s probably a better patissier than I am. I’ve been trying to convince her to share her Mississippi Mud Pie or lemon squares as a guest post but it just hasn’t happened so far (don’t worry, I haven’t given up yet!). But when I got married three months ago, she baked my wedding cake and it was just too awesome not to share. So here it is: the story of my Victoria sponge wedding cake by my sister Eline.

Eline cake

When my sister told me she was getting married last year, I laughingly suggested that I could make her wedding cake as a contribution to all of the wedding planning madness. Little did I know what kind of project I was taking upon myself…

Now, I am quite an experienced amateur baker and have made my fair share of baked goods – mostly cookies, cakes and pies, but I’d never even attempted any sort of multi-layer cake, so this was quite a big project. After months of sending each other pictures of wedding cakes and Aude Pinteresting every monstrosity of a cake she could find, we still hadn’t settled on what it should be. 3, 4 or 5 layers? Chocolate cake, vanilla cake, fruit cake, biscuit (a firm favorite of our mom’s, it can be compared to a very light, fluffy angel food cake), or some other type? We pored over blogs and cookbooks endlessly and in my kitchen in Dublin I tried a few recipes. Luckily I still had a whole summer to figure out what this cake would end up looking like, so I wasn’t too worried yet.

As I don’t have any experience with fondant, I thought covering  a 4-layer cake with it would be too much of a challenge, so we settled on buttercream frosting and fresh flowers or fruit to decorate. However, after several tasting sessions with different types of cake and frosting including one crumbly frosting disaster, I was covered in frosting from head to toe and ready to throw in the towel. We all came to the conclusion that we’re simply not much of a buttercream family, and buttercream was ruled out. So on I went, experimenting with vanilla powder, gelatin and whipped cream to come up with a more stable frosting. Even though everyone was enjoying the endless stream of test cakes, it seemed about time to settle on something definite.

Then, one Sunday afternoon in August, I wanted to make a very basic cake and, as my mom and I have fallen in love with Victoria sponge cake ever since we’ve started taking trips to the UK, I settled on a Victoria sponge cake, the quintessential British icon, and looked up a good recipe. I came across a few pictures of stacked, gorgeous-looking sponge cakes and started googling some more. According to some wedding blogs, sponge cakes were all the rage; apparently they were the wedding cake vintage hype of the year (thank you once again, Pinterest). As Aude didn’t mind the cake looking rustic and homemade, and I was much more comfortable with this than with  some frosted monster, we’d finally figured it out!

As you might imagine, the following weekends were spent trying out different sponge cake recipes and frostings, and finally, on September 6th, I produced the largest cake I’ll probably ever make (never say never though, I guess). Without further ado: here’s the recipe for the ultimate Victoria sponge cake!

Victoria Sponge Wedding Cake

Victoria Sponge Wedding Cake

Proportions are for a normal afternoon tea (21cm cake), not a wedding. Further down, I give you some basic tips on how to multiply the quantities and stack the cakes – but do test this beforehand.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large eggs

  • weight of the 3 eggs in self-rising flour, unsalted butter and fine sugar

  • 1,5 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 3 tablespoons milk

Filling

  • crème de framboise liquor or another fruity liquor (optional)

  • raspberry jam

  • Frozen fruit (mix of berries or raspberries), defrosted and mixed with few spoonfuls of sugar OR fresh fruit if available

  • 250 grams mascarpone

  • 250 ml whipped cream

  • bag of vanilla sugar or vanilla extract

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • powdered sugar for decoration

  • fresh fruit for decoration (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 21 cm spring-form and put in a circle as large as the bottom of your tin, cut out from baking paper. Put the butter and sugar into a food mixer, or use a hand mixer to combine until light and really fluffy, this can take a few minutes. Add the eggs to the mixture one at a time while beating very well until everything is properly mixed, again this can take a while. Scrape down the sides of your bowl to make sure all ingredients are mixed properly.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix this in properly. Then add the milk, making sure the dough is still firm but will easily drop off your mixer when you shake it. Don’t over-handle the dough, as this will make the cake less fluffy. Put the dough into the pan, smooth the top and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake is golden, has risen and a toothpick comes out clean. Then let the cake cool for a while in the tin, open it and let it cool further on a grid.

If you want a perfect-looking cake (or you need it to be flat for stacking several layers), cut off the top when it’s completely cooled to make it perfectly flat. If a homemade look suits you better, leave it on. Then cut your cake through the middle, take the bottom half and sprinkle the top with the crème de framboise so it’s well soaked. Spread a thick layer of raspberry jam on top.

Mix the mascarpone cream and whipped cream with a tablespoon of sugar and a bag of vanilla sugar or a few drops of vanilla extract. Beat with an electric mixer until it becomes very stiff and looks like thick whipped cream. Then take the defrosted frozen fruit or fresh fruit and spread a thick layer on top of the bottom cake. Top this with the mascarpone mixture until the whole of your cake layer is covered, then lay the top half of your cake on top. Dust with powdered sugar and decorate with fresh fruit if you like. Enjoy (as the British do, during some fine afternoon tea)!

(read on for the wedding cake instructions)

the cutting of the cake

 

If a simple Victoria sponge just doesn’t satisfy your inside megalomaniac and you’re ready to take on the challenge of making a 4-tiered (wedding) cake, here’s how I made mine, good for about 80 small portions:

The cake as seen in the picture consists of 4 layers, so you need 4 different spring forms: 30 cm, 26 cm, 21 cm and 16 cm.

Basically, you can recalculate the ingredients for the cake on the basis of the number of eggs, since you use the eggs to weight the other ingredients. Take 0,5 tablespoon baking powder per egg, one tablespoon of milk per egg and add a slight pinch of salt (don’t exaggerate with the salt). Use 2 eggs for a 16cm cake, 4 eggs for a 26 cm cake and 5 or 6 eggs for the 30 cm bottom cake. The filling isn’t as easy to multiply accurately, but if you’re going to make a large stacked cake you’ll need at least 1kg of mascarpone and 1 liter of cream, and you can easily make more from there.

When it comes to stacking, you essentially need two things: something that acts as a dowel to put inside the cake, and those golden cardboard pie plates to put underneath every layer (you can buy these at paper specialty stores, craft stores, large food or patisserie supply stores or ask you baker). Because I couldn’t find any real dowels, I used those plastic firm sticks they use to attach balloons to (can be found at party/craft stores). Some bloggers suggest plastic straws, but I’m not quite sure if these are strong enough – remember, the bottom cake carries the weight of all the others combined .

Cut the golden cardboard into circles the exact size of your cakes (if they’re too small they might not be supportive, but if they’re too large they will be visible). The dowels go into the ‘supporting’ cake at strategic points and are used to ensure the cake doesn’t cave under the weight. Put your bottom cake on a cardboard and then on a sturdy plate or pie stand. Always spread a little frosting on your cardboard circle before you put the cake on, this will make it less prone to sliding and moving around. Put the smaller cardboard circle on top of the supporting cake and put toothpicks right near the rim at four points so that they form a square. Remove the circle and carefully insert the dowel into the cake at about 1 cm inwards from the toothpick. Mark the top of the dowel with a food-safe pen and take the dowel out. Cut right under this mark and put the dowels back into the cake. Stack and fill the next layer on top, then repeat until you’re at the top layer (which doesn’t need to be done). Decorate the cake to your liking, I used more cream mixture and fresh berries (and of course the gazebo with the plastic wedding couple!).

 Jam layer

First layer

 

The stacking process

 

The fruit layer

 

IMG_0652

 

 

Layered spice cake (Kue lapis)

This is a pretty special cake recipe – the cake is grilled in tiny layers, instead of baked! The minute I saw this in the book ‘Warm Bread and Honey Cake’ by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra – a really cool baking book  with very traditionally Dutch and very exotic recipes that has also been translated into Dutch (Zelfgebakken) – I wanted to try this. So here it is! It’s not difficult, but it takes dedication and patience, as you basically have to stay very close to the oven for more than 40 minutes. In my experience, this amount of batter forms very very thin layers, so you can always go for  6 layers (2 times three) if you want more ‘visible’ colored layers, although the baking times will be a little different. The cake is quite heavy (cut small slices) but very yummy and spicy. Let me know if you give it a try!

Ingredients for a 20 cm tin:

250 grams of butter, at room temperature
200  grams of fine sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon of vanilla-extract
125 grams of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of ground clove (kruidnagel)
1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
50 grams of melted butter, for greasing

Beat the butter, with a machine mixer (handheld or standing) if you have one. Add 100 grams of sugar and keep beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks in small doses and the vanilla extract and mix everything well. Sieve the flour with the salt and set apart.

In a clean, grease-free bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Add the remaining sugar while beating, slowly but surely. Keep beating until you have good and sturdy egg white ‘blobs’ that don’t sag. Add a tablespoon of the egg whites to the butter mixture and spoon it through. Now slowly spoon the egg whites and flour through the butter, making large round movements with a spatula. Don’t mix for too long to preserve the fluffiness. Now, separate the dough in two bowls into two equal parts. Carefully mix the spices with one of the two bowls. Heat your oven’s grill. Grease the baking tin with some of the melted butter and add 1/4 of one of the bowls to the tin. Flatten the mixture with a palette knife and make sure no extra batter is sticking to the sides, as this will burn under the grill and distort your pretty layered pattern.

Put the tin under the hot grill until the top starts to ‘bulge’ and the batter is baked. The first layer will take about 5 minutes, depending on your oven and the distance from the grill. Take the tin out of the oven, using a brush, coat with a layer of melted butter and add another layer, from the other bowl (alternating light and dark batter). Repeat this process – the grilling will now take about 3 minutes for each layer. The layers have to rise, be golden brown and baked. You will have eight layers in total. Always spread the batter evenly and clean spilled batter, as this will burn. When all layers are grilled, carefully cut away from the sides of the tin and let the cake cool on a baking grid.

Mango speculoos no bake cheesecake

This cheesecake is one of the closest things I have to a ‘family recipe': I remember having it at birthdays and summer parties at home and helping my mother with the preparations. I first made it myself when I was studying abroad in Spain, because it’s such a refreshing and fruity summer dessert. Over time, I’ve created my own version, keeping the basics but substituting the ‘accessories’. The original recipe uses petit beurre biscuits that you arrange on the bottom (no crumbling) and canned abricots as fruit – in fact, I don’t think mangoes existed in the Belgian supermarkets when I was a kid. My version uses speculoos biscuits, fresh mangoes and passion fruit. Basically, you can use any kind of dry and sweet biscuits/cookies (no chocolate chips or any of the sort though) and fruit, I’ve also made it with strawberries for example. The recipe is not complicated, but there are some tricks you can apply to make it succeed, so follow the instructions. It takes about an hour to make and needs several hours to set properly, if possible you can make it a day ahead. Enjoy!


Ingredients for a 26 cm cake tin

8 gelatin sheets (I prefer these to powder, but powder will probably work too. If you’re a strict vegetarian you could use agar agar, but I have no experience with that. 8 gelatin sheets are about 13 grams.)
200-250 ml of (tropical) fruit juice/pineapple juice
juice of one orange
3 passion fruits
200 grams of sugar
500 ml of heavy whipping cream
4 bags of vanilla sugar
500 grams of no-fat fresh white cheese/quark/plattekaas (this is a very basic product in Belgium, but somehow it’s not always available in other countries. Use a fresh, soft, white, unsalted cheese, for example ricotta, if you can’t find it.)
200 grams of dry biscuits of your choice (I used Vermeiren speculoos)
75 grams of unsalted very soft butter (not melted!), use only if you’re going to crumble the bottom
2 mangoes

Soak the gelatin sheets in cold water. Squeeze out the orange into a measuring cup and add the contents of two passion fruits. Fill up with fruit juice (pineapple, tropical…) until you have 300 ml. Heat the juice with the sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Squeeze out the gelatin and add into the warm juice, stir well. While this is cooling down, stir every now and then so the gelatin doesn’t set too much yet.

Whip up the cream with the vanilla sugar in a large bowl until stiff. Mix in the fresh cheese in large round motions, using a spatula or spoon. While the juice is still cooling down, crumble the biscuits, using a mortar or in a food processor. They don’t have to be completely crumbled, you can leave some small chunks. Mix with the soft butter and spread out over the bottom of a 26 cm spring cake tin. Cut a mango and one half into wedges and cover the biscuits with them.

When the juice is sufficiently cooled down (it can still be a little warm but not hot), add it slowly into the cream mixture. Start with a few spoons, mix well, and continue like this. It is really important to mix in the liquid very well, or you will have jelly-like inclusions in your cake later on (which are also yummy, but not very pleasing to the eye). Now comes the most crucial part: pour the cream-juice mix over the mangoes, but do this very slowly, or the mango wedges will come floating up (once again, just as tasty but not the intention!). Slowly keep pouring until you have poured out all of the mixture. Cover with plastic wrap or a cover if your cake tin has one and let it sit in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours.

To test if the cheesecake is ready, wiggle the tin a little bit. The white top part should move as one solid mass. You can decorate the top with leftover mango wedges and the extra passion fruit. Carefully cut around the sides with a sharp knife and then remove the sides parts of the tin. Don’t keep the cake out of the fridge for too long, or it will start to get wobbly again, and possibly collapse. Enjoy!

(the pictures below are my first version of the cheesecake and the one I made for my bake sale party, as you can see they’re always a little different)


 

Pineapple upside down cake

Ever since Bree Van de Kamp made this wonderful cake in Desperate Housewives (there’s quite a funny scene about Gaby and Bree making the cake, watch it here), I’d been wanting to try it myself. I finally had the opportunity at my charity bake sale last Sunday. The cake turned out quite well and was a lot of people’s favorite! My most important advice: if you have a regular cake tin instead of a spring cake tin, use it – the caramel on the bottom will run a little during baking, no matter how good of a spring cake tin you have. I didn’t have a full bottom cake tin and the cake still came out fine, but who knows, it might have been even better…

Ingredients (for a 26-cm cake tin), serves at least 8 hungry people:

One can of pineapple slices in juice (not syrup)
100 grams of butter, melted
100 grams of light brown sugar (or dark brown)
7 red sugar cherries (maraschino)
150 grams of butter, at room temperature
210 grams of sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
280 grams of flour, sieved
10 grams of baking powder, sieved (a bag of Dr. Oetker is 16 grams, you can also take one large tablespoon)
45 grams of ground coconut

Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Pour the melted butter in a closed cake tin and brush the sides of the tin with butter as well. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter. Let the pineapple drain and keep 150 ml of the juice. Spread the pineapple slices over the bottom of the tin in the butter-sugar mixture (one in the middle and the six others around it) and put a cherry in the middle of every slice.

Beat the butter soft in a big bowl (either by hand with a wooden spoon or with a hand mixer). Beat in the sugar and keep going until the mixture is fluffy and creamy. Add the eggs one by one and mix well. Add the vanilla extract. Now slowly add in the flour and baking powder, the coconut and the leftover pineapple juice. Stir with a metal spoon until the batter is smooth, stop when it’s all mixed well.

Scoop the batter out over the pineapple slices and smooth the top of the cake, which will later become the bottom. Make a bit of a hole with the back of a spoon in the middle, to prevent it from rising too much in the middle.  Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean of the middle. Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it over on a large plate to cool down. Enjoy!

Spongy, spicy, dried-fruit-and-rum cake

Last Sunday, I was itching to bake something. A few days earlier I’d made Jamie Oliver’s hot toddy from the latest number of delicious. magazine and the rum-soaked raisins tasted like more, so I figured I’d do something with dried fruit and rum (how can you ever go wrong with something that’s soaked in rum?). I ended up tweaking another delicious. recipe from a piece they did on Surinamese food in February 2011. In the article, the cake is called keksi and made with Dutch gin (jenever) and amaretto. Since I had neither of these, I used rum instead. In addition to raisins, I added dried abricots and dates. I also split the recipe in half, since it was originally for 20 servings and there’s just two of us. As a last addition, I substituted the regular sugar for coarse cane sugar (in the spirit of Jamie Oliver’s fantastic toddy).

The result was very nice. The cake is very fluffy, sponge-like even. To reach this effect, it’s important to use many eggs and beat them long enough, as instructed. The earthy spices, rum and dried fruit make it a very autumn-worthy cake. Since the recipe was still fit for 10 servings, we both took some to share at work, where it disappeared quickly.

This is the recipe I ended up using:

125 grams of butter (+ extra for buttering the cake tin)

125 grams of regular flour (+ extra for the cake tin)

6 large eggs

150 grams of cane sugar

1 tbsp of ground cinnamon

1/2 tbsp of ground nutmeg (I didn’t split the cinnamon and nutmeg in half, in fact I always use more spices than indicated in a recipe)

2 tbsp of vanilla aroma (I’ve been making my own using vodka and vanilla beans – easy and way cheaper)

1 tbsp of almond aroma (I used a few drops of almond essence instead)

200 grams of mixed dried fruits such as raisons, abricots and dates, larger fruits cut into smaller pieces

100 ml of brown rum + more for the cake

 

Start in advance by soaking the dried fruit in rum: put the fruit in a bowl and top with rum until it is entirely covered. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius. Grease a 21 cm cake tin with butter, sprinkle with flour. In the original recipe they recommend not using a springform pan (the kind that’s in two pieces) because the batter is very liquid and it might run. I ignored this advice since I had no other useful tin and it worked fine, you just have to be a bit more careful. Don’t use if you know in advance that yours is leaky.

Clarify the butter by heating it slowly in a saucepan. When it has completely melted, you will notice that there are some white things floating on top and some white stuff on the bottom. This is the protein that’s in the butter. Using a spoon or a slotted spoon, carefully skim the white parts off. When this is done, pour over the liquid butter into a bowl, being careful to withhold the bottom white protein parts. Don’t throw this away, it can be kept in the fridge and it’s a tasteful addition to mashed potatoes, for example.

Mix the eggs in a clean, large bowl with a hand mixer or in a kitchen robot. Add in the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and almond aromas (this is where I discovered I have no special grater for nutmeg and had to use my coarse cheese grater – whoops). Keep on mixing for at least 10 minutes, until the mixture runs from a spoon like a ribbon and has grown a lot bigger and airier. Slow the mixer down and add in the flour little by little, add a pinch of salt. Mix shortly until the flour is blended in and pour the batter into the tin.

Using a big spoon, drizzle in all but 3 tbsp of the clarified butter and blend it shortly with a spatula. Try not to lose the airiness of the batter. Lastly, put the soaked dried fruit through a sieve above a bowl (keep the rum in the bowl for later) then distribute it over the batter. I just dropped it in, which made it go straight to the bottom. Therefore, what later became the upside of my cake was covered with a dried fruit layer. If you want them spread throughout the cake, roll them in flour first and they won’t sink all the way to the bottom.

Bake the cake in the oven for 35 minutes. Then, cover the cake with the 3 extra tablespoons of clarified butter and put it back in the oven for 5 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Take the cake out of the oven and flip it upside down on a plate, take the cake tin off. You don’t have to flip it necessarily, but if your fruit has sunken to the bottom this has a nice effect. Drizzle with the leftover rum from the fruit and some extra to taste. Enjoy!