{Bake!} Strawberry Chantilly Cake with {Mod Bak} Yellow Cake Layers

It’s Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages & King Cakes. Six days of posts featuring this delicious fruit in all of its height-of-the-season goodness. Monday began with an amazing Strawberry Shortcake, followed on Tuesday by a not-so-amazing French Strawberry Cake (hey, they can’t all be winners).

After my French Strawberry Cake disaster, I was ready to make a tried and true strawberry cake. Mom and Dad were coming, and it was Mom’s birthday, so I decided to revisit the Strawberry Chantilly Cake recipe from Nick Malgieri’s Bake! that we made last year for Easter and my friend Kayte’s birthday.

Since we recently started the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge, I decided to use the Yellow Cake Layers from The Modern Baker for this recipe.

I began by creaming butter, sugar, and vanilla in the electric mixer until the mixture was light and fluffy.

I added the eggs one at a time and mixed well after each addition. Next I mixed in half the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt), then the buttermilk, and finally the rest of the flour mixture. I beat the batter for 3 minutes to lighten it.

I divided the batter between two 9-inch cake pans and smoothed the top.

I baked the cake layers in a 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, until they were golden and baked through. I let the cakes cool completely before assembling the Chantilly cake.

As noted in my original strawberry Chantilly cake post, the recipe is really more a set of assembly instructions than a recipe. I began by putting one of the cake layers right side up on a cake cardboard. I tucked pieces of waxed paper under the edges of the cake to keep the cardboard clean. I spread a layer of freshly whipped cream on the top of the cake, followed by sliced strawberries.

I topped this — carefully — with another layer of whipped cream.

I turned the second cake layer upside down and put it on top of the first layer.

I spread whipped cream on the top and sides of the cake, then smoothed it with an offset spatula.

I learned from making this cake before that it tastes better the next day, so at this point, I wrapped the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerated it overnight. The next day, I finished the cake with sliced strawberries.

We celebrated Mom’s birthday with this cake for dessert after dinner. It was better than I remembered, and everyone had seconds.

This is a great way to use fresh, height-of-the-season strawberries. In fact, I may just have to make this cake again before the good berries are gone for the year.

In addition to the Strawberry Shortcake and French Strawberry Cake linked above, the following recipes will be featured in the next few days:

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Perfect Pound Cake {ModBak}

The first entry in the Cakes section of The Modern Baker is a recipe that Nick Malgieri got from his aunt. Even though I don’t bake the recipes in each section strictly in order, I do at least like to start at the beginning. And this time, that was easy to do, as I love pound cake.

I have made two of Nick’s other pound cake recipes — New Orleans Praline Pound Cake (pralines being another love of mine) and Vanilla Bean Pound Cake. Both of these recipe were from Nick’s more recent book, Bake!, and both were easy and delicious. This recipe was a bit more complicated, but promised to be worth the effort.

What makes this batter more work to make is the mixing method. First, egg yolks are whisked by hand, then sugar is whisked in slowly, followed by vanilla and lemon extracts.

This mixture is then beat with a stand mixer until it is light and well-aerated.

While the egg yolk mixture was whipping away, I mixed the dry ingredients — cake flour and baking powder. Or I would have, if there had been any cake flour in the cupboard. But there wasn’t. So I made my own.

If, like me, you ever find yourself lacking cake flour for a recipe, don’t despair. And don’t run out to the store. It’s easy to make a perfectly acceptable substitute for cake flour using all-purpose flour and cornstarch. For every cup of flour in the recipe, measure 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into a 1-cup measure. Fill the rest of the way with AP flour. That’s it. Just use it in place of 1 cup cake flour, and you’re all set.

Now, where were we? Oh, yes. We just finished beating the egg yolk mixture. I scraped the mixture into a large bowl, then, without washing the mixing bowl, beat the butter for a minute to lighten it. Then I added the flour mixture to the butter and beat until it made a smooth paste.

I scraped the butter-flour mixture over the egg yolk mixture and stirred it all together with a rubber spatula.

Then, I had to wash the mixing bowl in hot, soapy water, as the next step was whipping egg whites, which wouldn’t work unless the mixing bowl was perfectly clean.

I beat the egg whites to a firm peak.

Now. to the tell the truth, I don’t really understand the whole whipped egg whites thing in this recipe. After carefully beating the whites to just the right consistency, you usually continue to treat them with care, folding them gently into the batter and being careful not to break them. Not so with this recipe. After beating the whites, they are unceremoniously stirred — not folded, stirred — into the batter.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the whole thing is then returned to the mixer and beat — yes, I said “beat”, sir — for 5 minutes. This seemed to completely destroy the integrity of the egg whites. But I have to admit that the resulting batter was light, airy, and beautiful.

I baked the pound cake for about an hour, which, incidentally, was about how long it took to wash all the dishes this masterpiece created.

It smelled great baking and came out of the oven looking great. I cooled the cake in the pan for about 5 minutes, then unmolded it and let it cool before slicing into it.

Many people will tell you that pound cake is best if it is allowed to dry out for a day or so. That may well be true, but I’ve never put it to the test. I’m doing well if I can wait until it cools. Or mostly cools. Or cools to the point that it won’t burn my fingers and tongue.

So, how did this fussy pound cake stack up? It was good. Really good. No, it was delicious. Rich, buttery, with a moist crumb and just a touch of lemon flavor. I ate it warm, cold, and toasted the day it was made and over then next several days. I thought about serving it with crème anglaise on the third or fourth day, but it didn’t last that long.

However, even though this was a great pound cake, I don’t see myself making it again. As delicious as it was, it wasn’t that much better than other pound cake recipes that are half the work. I might use the ingredients and proportions from this recipe with a more modern, quicker mixing method. Now, that could be a winner.

This post is the first recipe in the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge. Check out the Challenge page to see what the other bakers are up to this week.

Ox Tongues {Bake!}

No, this isn’t a recipe for oxtail stew from the other end. Ox tongues are pastries, similar to elephant ears or palmiers, made by rolling puff pastry in sugar and baking until the sugar caramelizes.

The shape is what sets these pastries apart from their counterparts, and is also where they get their name. You begin by rolling out puff pastry dough, then cutting it into rounds. After chilling the rounds, you dredge the rounds in sugar, then roll them out in to an oblong shape, rather like an  ox’s tongue (use your imagination here, people!).

These were really good. They were almost more like a little cookie than elephant ears, which have layers of sugared pastry, but the taste was about the same.

I chose these Ox Tongues as my pick for our informal Bake! group, hosted by Kayte. I made them quite a while ago, but didn’t get around to posting them, as I somehow lost my photos. I thought I might make them again before time to post the recipe, but no such luck.

You’ll have to trust me that they were delicious and looked really good. And only slightly resembled an ox’s tongue.

Apple Tart with Lattice Crust {Bake!}

A small group of us have been working our way through Nick Malgieri’s Bake! at the slow steady pace of a few recipes per month. We took August off to catch up on any recipes we might have missed, or to get ahead on the next section. We started up again in September with Truffle Brownies, a great way to start, if you ask me.

This was the second recipe for September, chosen for us by Kayte. Yes, I said September. I actually made this recipe on time, I just didn’t get around to posting it until now. A month to catch up, and I’m already behind.

This was a fairly straightforward recipe. It’s basically an apple pie baked in a tart shell with a lattice crust.

The lattice topping is brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with sugar.

I had some filling leftover, so I baked it in a gratin dish with the extra crust from the lattice.

 This was a good pie, nothing extraordinary. Probably not one I’ll make again. But then, I have a lot of great apple pie, tart, and cake recipes to choose from.

Danish Cheese Pockets {ModBak}

This week’s Modern Baker Mondays recipe is a version of Danish cheese pockets. I recently made the classic version from Bake!, and I was interested to see how these would compare. The Modern Baker version uses puff pastry, rather than a traditional Danish pastry. And the Danish are baked in a muffin tin, which helps them hold their shape.

I began by rolling puff pastry in sugar, just like when I made elephant ears. Once the dough was the correct size and shape, I chilled it while I made the filling, which consisted of cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and egg yolks.

To form the pastries, I cut the dough into squares a few inches bigger than the muffin cups. I pressed the dough into the cups, letting the corners drape to the outside of the cup. I filled each Danish with cream cheese filling, then folded in the corners so they overlapped.

I baked the Danish in a 375-degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the pastry was baked through, the filling set, and the sugar nicely caramelized.

These Danish were really delicious, and would be especially attractive to someone who is nervous about shaping a classic Danish. Tastewise, they were fine; but not as good as the traditional Danish from Nick’s other recipe.

Truffle Brownies {Bake!}

The Bake! group is back in business after taking a break during August to catch up on missed recipes or just enjoy the final days of summer. Our first September recipe, chosen by Glennis, is Truffle Brownies. According to Nick Malgieri, these brownies derive their name from the fact that they are “almost as rich as chocolate truffles”.

Photograph “courtesy” of Margaret at http://www.teaandscones.wordpress.com

I had a computer breakdown last week and lost my photos of this recipe, so I borrowed the picture above from my friend Margaret’s blog.

 
The recipe for these brownies was fairly straightforward. It called for a lot of butter, brown sugar, and bittersweet chocolate, with just enough flour to hold it together. Nick wasn’t exaggerating about the flavor, either. They really did remind me of truffles.
 
These were by far the best brownies I’ve ever made, and probably the best I’ve ever tasted. The outside had just a bit of crunch to it, but the centers remained rich and gooey. These brownies would satisfy fudgy and cakelike brownie lovers alike.
 
The recipe says to cut the brownies the day after baking them, but we had a houseful of adolescent and teenage boys when I made these, so there was no chance of that happening. They were excellent shortly after baking. I can’t imagine them being better the next day (although I will definitely try them again to find out).
 
The Bake! bakers are a casual group of friends who make about two recipes per month from Nick’s book. Our Facebook page lists the upcoming recipes. Feel free to join in if you have the book!
 
Next up: Lattice-topped Apple Tart, chosen by Kayte.

Golden Sour Cream Cake {Bake!}

A group of us are taking turns picking recipes from Nick Malgieri’s most recent book, Bake! My friend Kayte came up with the idea, and we’ve grown to a small but dedicated group of about half-a-dozen bakers.

My most recent pick coincided with my birthday, so of course I was going to choose cake. And since my favorite cake is yellow cake with chocolate frosting, the choice was easy. I actually chose two recipes: golden sour cream layers (p. 125) and perfect meringue buttercream, in the baker’s choice of vanilla or chocolate (p. 156).

The kids were out of town on a visit to my parents’ house the weekend before my birthday, so I made the cake layers and double wrapped them in plastic wrap, planning to make the buttercream frosting the evening before or day of my birthday. A number of the other bakers reported issues with the meringue frosting, especially when adding chocolate, so I was anxious to see how it would work out for me. As it turned out, my mom had planned to bake me a cake while she was here, so she went ahead and frosted the cake layers using her tried-and-true frosting recipe.

I’ll try the frosting later, but the cake was delicious. The layers were a tad dry, but that may have been because I made them a few days ahead of time. In any case, the flavor was great, and I’ll make this cake again.

If you’d like to bake along with us, pick up a copy of Bake! and drop Kayte or me a line. We’re “rewinding” for the month of August, which means we’re not adding new recipes, and we’re using the month to catch up on recipes or posts we may have missed. Check out our Facebook page for the recipe lineup beginning in September.

In the meantime, check out what Kayte, Abby, and Margaret thought about this cake.

Cream Cheese Scones {Bake!}

This week’s Bake! selection is from our newest baker, Glennis, who chose these simple, delicious scones for her first pick. And a great pick it was.

The dough consisted of flour, sugar, baking powder, cream cheese, salt, butter, eggs, and milk, and came together very quickly in the food processor. After mixing the dough, I dumped it out on a floured board, kneaded it a few times, and divided it in two.

I shaped each piece of dough into a circle about six inches in diameter, then scored each one into six sections.

Although the recipe didn’t call for it, I topped each scone with sprinkling sugar. I baked the scones at 425°F for 20 minutes, let them cool a bit, then divided them.

I served the scones with red currant jelly. They were moist, not as crumbly as many scones, and really delicious.

This was such a simple and quick recipe. It took just over half-an-hour start to finish. Definitely one to make again and again.

Meeting Nancy

One of the things I like about being a member of several bake-and-blog-along groups (Modern Baker Challenge, French Fridays with Dorie, Bake!) is that I get to meet so many cool and interesting people. Of course, we “meet” by following each other’s blogs, Tweeting, e-mailing, etc. We keep up on each other’s baking and cooking adventures, for sure, but we also talk about our spouses, kids, jobs, other hobbies, you name it.  It’s amazing how well you can get to know someone 140 characters at a time.

It’s fun to have friends (and, yes, they are my friends) all over the world. But it’s also fun to meet them in person from time to time.

One of those opportunities came up the other day when my friend Nancy Tweeted to say she was passing through my area the next evening and would love to get together if I had the time. J had been out the day before, so she wasn’t up to hosting, but she didn’t mind if I went out. So the next evening, Nancy and I met at TGI Fridays.

I ask you, which one of us appears to have been on the road for 11 hours?

We spent an hour or two drinking Guinness milkshakes, chatting, laughing,  and getting to know one another better. We talked about our families, cooking, baking, and our other online friends. Even though this was our first in-person meeting, it was more like catching up with an old friend than meeting someone new.

 
Thanks for taking the time to stop by for a bit, Nancy. I enjoyed passing the evening with you. We’ll have to do it again soon.

Strawberry Chantilly Cake {Bake!}

My friend Kayte had a birthday recently. And in a budding Twitterbake tradition, she chose her own birthday cake from Bake! by Nick Malgieri. Kayte always has a cake with strawberries for her birthday, so this was a natural choice.

This was really more of a set of assembly instructions than a recipe. The directions referred to two other recipes — one for the cake layers and the other for sweetened whipped cream — which were combined with fresh strawberries to make this cake.

Assembling the cake was a breeze. The first layer was spread with whipped cream, layered with strawberries, and finished with more whipped cream. Then the top layer was placed on the cake, and the whole thing was spread with whipped cream. I decorated the top of the cake with sliced strawberries.

I served this cake on Easter, along with blueberry crumble pie and carrot cake. All three were bit hits, and I personally liked the blueberry pie the best. But this cake disappeared first. In fact, my 10-year-old nephew had about four pieces!

The cake layers were moist and light, and the whipped cream was so good I just wanted to eat it by the spoonful. It’s important to use really good strawberries for this recipe, as they add a lot to the overall flavor. There was a small piece of cake that escaped the Easter carnage, and I found that it was even better the next day. In fact, the next time I make this cake, I will assemble it a day ahead of time so the flavors have time to meld.

By the way, if you’re wondering why there are no pictures in the post, with all the excitement around here on Easter, I didn’t get any. You’ll just have to trust me that this cake was as beautiful as it was delicious. Or better yet, don’t take my word for it. Get a copy of Bake! and try it for yourself.

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