Sunday, July 21, 2013

strawberry cream cake

In my quest last year to a recipe for the perfect vanilla cake (for my friend Helen's baby shower cake), I tried out one for America's Test Kitchen's strawberry cream cake.  The recipe described the cake as a "chiffon-style cake that combined the rich flavor of a butter cake with the light-yet-sturdy texture of a sponge cake", which sounded perfect!

Like a chiffon cake, the recipe called for folding in whipped egg whites into the cake batter, to give the cake a light and airy texture.

When it came out of the oven, the cake was definitely light, yet sturdy at the same time.  So I sliced it in half horizontally, and then layered on the whipped cream and fresh strawberries, and included sliced strawberries inside the ring of halved strawberries (which is not pictured here).
Note: the recipe actually called for mashing the strawberries and cooking it down with kirch in a saucepan, but I skipped that step.

Then came more whipped cream, followed by the second half of the cake layer, then another layer of whipped cream, and fresh strawberries to decorate the top of the cake.

Although I didn't end up using this cake recipe for the baby shower, I thought the cake was actually pretty good, and kept well in the fridge without hardening.  And who can go wrong with strawberries and whipped cream!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

flower surprise inside cake with dried pineapple flower topper for mother's day

Since I didn't do any baking at all during our month in Hawaii, I decided to show you the cake that I made for Mother's Day back in May.  After seeing this post at Tide and Thyme on making dried pineapple flowers as cupcake toppers, I had decided that I wanted to try making some to decorate a cake instead!  I followed this tutorial at Annie's Eats, and ended up with these beautiful dried pineapple flowers!

For the cake, I wanted a simple vanilla cake, but with a twist - I wanted it to have a red velvet flower "surprise" inside the cake!  To do this, I baked up a red velvet cake and then let it firm up in the fridge.  Then I used a flower shaped cookie cutter to cut out my flower shapes.

Next I made a vanilla cake using this recipe at Sweetapolita, filled up the cake pans halfway with batter, and then dropped in the red velvet flowers before filling the cake pans with the rest of the batter! (I actually first saw this technique at A Cup of Sugar A Pinch of Salt)

After the cake layers were baked and cooled, I filled it with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, since I wanted something light and airy and not too sweet, and then frosted it with whipped cream as well.

Finally I added a piped beaded border on the bottom, and finished it off with a dried pineapple flower!

And the best part about the cake, the surprise inside!

Happy belated Mother's Day! :)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

red white and blue flag tart for july fourth, with fresh blueberries and strawberries

I'm back!!!  It's been a long time since I've posted anything, but I've been busy with the three kids! Plus, we decided to take a long vacation while I was still on maternity leave, so we went to Hawaii to visit my husband's family and hang out for a while ... in fact we were there for a month!  We stayed with my in-laws, so it was nice to have the extra help with the kids as well.

Anyhow, the first thing that I baked when we got back was for a July 4th BBQ at my cousin's house.  I didn't have a lot of time to bake since it was my first week back at work, so I decided to make a simple tart with fresh fruit on top.  Inspired by Martha Stewart's flag cake (that I've been wanting to make for ages), I decorated my tart to look like the American flag!

First I made my favorite all-butter pie crust, rolled it out and fitted it into a rectangular tart pan, then blind baked in the oven and let it cool.

For the filling, I found this Martha Stewart recipe for a no-bake cheesecake, and then I topped the tart with fresh blueberries and sliced strawberries.

The tart turned out to be perfect for a bbq on a hot summer day - crispy flaky crust, light and creamy filling, and fresh fruit!  I served it with my red, white, and blue ice cream (almond-scented ice cream with fresh blueberries and strawberries), which made a great combo! 

And now I'll leave you with some of my favorite pictures taken during our month in Hawaii.  Enjoy!