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Monday, March 24, 2008

back in time for easter!!!!!!!!

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I know, I know.

WORST. BLOGGER. EVER.

But you have to understand, since my last post, I've been slowly going a bit insane. I finished renovating my house. I sold my house. I went to Cuba. I bought another house. I got a new job. and I'm having a GIRL!

So yeah, it's been a little busy!

But, things are starting to calm back down, the brand new kitchen we renovated is starting to get a little use, FINALLY.

My mother in law was kind enough to host Easter dinner, so I thought that the least I could do would be to offer to bring my dessert (especially given that I got out of making turkey and all the trimmings - a good thing considering I'm not supposed to lift anything!).

Anyway, since there were to be 11 people for dinner, many of whom had given up dessert for Lent, I thought I'd give people a bit of an option....something that seemed "light" (but TOTALLY wasn't) and something intensely decadent (you know my style, hehe).

So this is what I ended up making....

Raspberry Lemon Layer Cake

lemon raspberry layer cake

Cake: 3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (zest of 1 lemon)
5 large eggs, room temperature

Icing and Filling:
1 1/4 cups sugar
5 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch fine salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup seedless red raspberry jam
1/2 cup lemon curd (or purchased lemon spread....for the lazy!)

For the cakes:
1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

2. Lightly brush 2 (9-inch) round cake pans with shortening or butter. Line bottoms with buttered parchment paper and dust with flour. BTW, has anyone figured out WHY you can't buy rounds of parchment paper? I drive myself mental everytime, trying to trace the slippery stuff, and then trying to make sure I've cut off all the pen!

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt into a medium bowl; whisk to combine evenly. Sift - HAHHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH! I don't sift. This could be my problem, but I just don't do it.

4. Stir the sour cream, lemon juice and vanilla together in a liquid measuring cup, and set aside.

5. Beat the butter in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on high until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Stop and scrape butter off the sides of the bowl. Continue beating while gradually adding the sugar-- it should take a couple minutes to add all the sugar. Continue beating until very light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes more.

6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the lemon zest.

7. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.

8. At low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the sour cream in 2 parts, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.

9. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the top with a knife. (Lightly tap the pan on the counter so the batter settles evenly.)

10. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 20 minutes; then turn cakes out onto the rack to cool completely. I baked my cakes for about 30 minutes, and they ended up a touch overdone. I don't know if I need new pans, a new oven or both.....

For the Icing:
1. Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a mixer's bowl above the water.

2. Whisk the sugar, the egg whites, lemon juice, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl by hand.

3. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes.

4. Transfer the bowl to a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the whites at medium-high speed until they almost holds a stiff peak and are cool, about 10 minutes.

5. Beat in the butter, a little at a time, until the icing is smooth and spreadable. (If the icing separates, just keep beating and it will come back together.)

**Note - I was lukewarm about this icing. First, the recipe didn't really make enough to nicely ice the cake. It made enough to cover the cake, but (as you'll see in the final photo), there wasn't enough for it to be really smoothable on the sides. The taste was okay....I used vanilla sugar, but I think I just don't really like buttery icing. I think it should have been a lot fluffier....it was quite dense. BUT, I was thanking my lucky stars for the kitchenaid....if I'd had to stand with a stupid hand mixer for 15 minutes, the icing would have been tossed!


To assemble the cake:
1. Slice each cake in half horizontally with a serrated knife, to make 4 even layers, taking care that they are as flat and straight as possible. Believe it or not, the cake actually sliced really well. I was nervous, but the cake was easy to cut and stayed together pretty nicely. No complaints there.

2. Set a large flat plate on a large inverted bowl or bottom of a salad spinner (of course, if you have a cake stand, use that), dabbing a little frosting on the bottom of the plate to secure it. Seriously, I can't imagine trying to balance a plate on top of a wee little bowl.....I have a glass cake stand...it doesn't rotate or anything, but it works pretty well for this.

3. Place a cake layer top side up on the plate. Using an offset spatula, spread about half of the raspberry jam in a thin layer over the first cake layer, leaving about 1/4-inch border along the outside. On the top cake layer, spread a thin layer of the lemon spread/lemon curd. I bought the E.D. Smith stuff. It's tasty!

4. Lay the second cake layer on top, stacking it as straight as possible. Using an offset spatula spread about 1 cup of the icing on the top layer.

5. Place a third cake layer on top. Spread remaining red raspberry jam over the cake layer, then spread the lemon curd over the fourth layer. Place the final layer on top, pressing down lightly to secure all 4 layers together. Spread about 3/4 of the remaining icing around the sides with a knife or offset spatula, then ice the top of the cake.

6. Use an offset spatula to smooth icing as much as possible. I have a nifty icing smoother thingamabob that I got to use for the first time. Of course, this is AFTER hubs stole it to use for tile adhesive....who knew kitchen implements could be so versatile???? He swears he washed it well. I washed it again, just to be safe. I kinda bungled up the icing a bit (there wasn't quite enough, and I just kinda suck at it anyway). I happened to have some pink buttercream in the freezer (froze it on a whim just to see if it would freeze). I defrosted it and used it to make the cake look snazzier. I think I need an icing course, but it still turned out cute! Canadian ladies, bulk barn is your friend for cake decoration stuff - it's cheap, you can buy only as much as you need and they have fun colours!

The final result: Looks - despite my mediocre icing job, it turned out really cute! Taste - BUT, I found the cake texture to be too hard and too dense. I think I am still in search of a nice moist, soft cake recipe. Preferably one that doesn't come out of a box. Let me know if you find one!

So yeah, that cake was a bit of a labour of love. It served REALLY well though - four layers always makes you look like a ktichen genius. Definitely WAY more work than the second cake. This second cake is chocolatey indulgence at its best. If you are someone who loves a rich, dark chocolate cheesecake.....this is for you. It is rich, silky and just incredible. Hubs is not a fan, but that makes my preggo butt happy, because there is all the more for me. :)

The technique might seem a bit weird at first, but it works really well, and it's my first cheesecake without a fissure the size of the grand canyon!!!!!!

Double Chocolate Cheesecake
(stolen and lightly adapted from www.epicurious.com)

double chocolate cheesecake

For crust:
1 9-ounce box chocolate wafer cookies
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For filling:
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1 rounded teaspoon instant coffee powder
12 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used a bar of 70%, a bar of 85% and one of 60%)

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup sour cream
2 T kahlua
3 large eggs

Make crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Wrap outside of 9.5-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides with double thickness of foil (this recipe would be fine with a 10 inch pan too - the cake was quite high)

3. Spray bottom of pan with vegetable oil spray. Finely grind cookies in food processor. Add butter and process until blended. Press mixture onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Refrigerate while preparing filling. I liked that, FOR ONCE, there was actually enough crust to easily cover the bottom of the pan. I like to use a flat bottomed potato masher to squish it all down evenly....I always bugger it up with my fingers.

Make filling:
1. Combine cream and coffee powder in medium saucepan.Stir over medium heat until coffee powder dissolves. Reduce heat to low. Add chocolate; whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth. Cool 10 minutes.

2. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar in large bowl until well blended.Beat in cornstarch.

3. Add sour cream and kahlua; beat well.

4. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.

5. Whisk 1 cup cheese mixture into chocolate mixture. ***IF you want to make a pretty, swirly top, take about 1/3 cup of the white cheese mixture in a measuring cup and just set it aside. Swirls are pretty and make you look like a superstar and they take ZERO talent to actually do. :) Totally my style.

6. Return chocolate mixture to remaining cheese mixture; whisk until smooth.

7. Pour batter into crust. ***If you're making swirls, take a small spoon and drip/dollop the white cheese mixture over the chocolate mixture. Use a butter knife and swirl it all around. Don't try to be too orderly - this stuff swirls really nicely by just using a random pattern!

8. Place springform pan in large baking pan. (I had to use my turkey roaster)
Add enough hot water to baking pan to cone halfway up sides of springform pan. Bake cheesecake until softly set and slightly puffed around edges, about 1 hour.

9. Turn off oven. Let cake stand in oven 45 minutes. Transfer springform pan t0 rack and cool. Cover; chill cake overnight.

***IF I am somehow a cheesecake goddess and if for some reason your cake cracks, there are a few tried and true tactics - 1. Cover your cake with whipped cream, then melt some chocolate and drizzle artistically. 2. Melt an equal amount of whipping cream and chocolate (1/2 cup cream, 4 oz chocolate) to make a ganache. Pour it over and let it set for 1-2 hours.

Using a knife, cut around sides of pan to loosen cake.Remove pan sides. Cut into wedges and serve.

This cake totally rocks. It looks nice, but tastes absolutely AMAZING. YUMMY.

Thanks so much for reading! Who knows, if I get a few comments, you may even convince me to post a preggo pic.... :) I'm nearly 22 weeks now!

19 comments:

Candice said...

Tisk tisk, we're taking away your foodie badge for not posting for so long.

Haha, of course I'm kidding.

That cheesecake looks AMAZING.

Would love to see a belly picture if you don't mind showing one off!

Janice said...

Congratulations on your little girl! I'd love to see a side shot of the 4 layer cake...

Oh, and my secret for great cheesecake crusts is to buy a sleve of no-name Oreos and put them in the food processor. The icing makes them sticky and I always find that butter runs in the oven.

Mochachocolata Rita said...

gosh u really have been so busy..this looks YUMMMMMMM

i need to go to nearest cafe to get my cake fix before i can manage to make one of these

HumanUnit said...

PREGGO PIC! PREGGO PIC!!

Thanks for posting! I have been driving myself up the wall trying to find a good springy dessert for a dinner party I'm having this weekend, and it's really hard because my husband doesn't like lemon, coconut or nuts (I know)! I'm going to make that layer cake at some point though!

And you're having a GIRL!!! That is so exciting! Congrats!! I think I saw a picture of you with belly on beach in Cuba on FB and it was super cute. You're more than halfway there! *happy dance*

- Sultana

Jaime said...

I just ran across your blog and the cheesecake looks so good! I am also a pregnant food blogger. I'm due in June with a boy. Congrats on your little girl!

Jenn Black said...

MOUTH.IS.WATERING.
Mind if I steal them?!?!?!

Congratulations, also, on having a girl!!!!! You must be thrilled!!

Deborah said...

I'm glad to see you're back to blogging - wow you've been busy!

Both cakes look amazing - especially the chocolate one!

Steph said...

Oh, post a pic! Please!
What were you doing in Cuba?

Steph said...

Oh, post a pic! Please!
What were you doing in Cuba?

Lesley said...

Pic Pic Pic! Please! :)

Congrats on having a girl!! So exciting!

And the desserts look yummy.. cheesecake. mmmmm.

eviedee said...

Happy to see you back, ESPECIALLY since you brought cheesecake!

Trish Singh said...

Thanks for posting - it's been way too long!!!! Both cakes looked delish!

Christie said...

yay! We're having guests over in two weeks and I wanted to use my cake dome - which dessert would go better with Chicago deep dish pizza???

Bambie said...

A girl, that's awesome!!! Congrats! Would love to see a photo of your belly!
These are great recipes, thanks for putting so much effort into them. I'm always up for trying something new.
Oh, and, my cheesecake always cracks on top!!! I dunno why!

Anonymous said...

crBeautiful looking cakes sweetheart! I'm glad you're finding a minute to blog. You are the busiest person I know. Just once I'd love to be there when you make these yummy desserts! However, as long as you continue to make your yummy beef curry wrap for me I won't mind at all ;) Meat over sweets anyday....sacrilege I know to a dyed in the wool chocoholic like yourself, but there it is ...

Mama xoxo

The Baker & The Curry Maker said...

Congrats on a girl coming your way! Your cake looks wonderful!

Tartelette said...

Congrats on the baby girl!! The cheesecake is absolutely gorgeous!
Hope thigs settle down for you!

Christina said...

Congrats on the baby girl! She'll definitely not go hungry in your house. :)

Both cakes look delicious. I like the marbling on top of the cheesecake.

Jenny said...

Welcome back!
I figured you might take advantage of the timing and make the DB cake, but hey, you are back and cooking and all is good!
Congrats on the new house, the trip and the girl!

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