Friday, August 15, 2014

Happy 11th Birthday, Vegan Son #2

When I asked Son #2 what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he did not hesitate in requesting The Lord of the Rings.  We threw around a few ideas (Bilbo's hobbit hole was a contender, but I thought that would require way too much fondant), and then settled on the map of middle earth.  I will admit to pushing for the map because I thought it would be pretty easy.  Ha!  So, sorry out there to all the super fans for the inaccuracies.  Buttercream is harder than you think!  The cake is a triple recipe of my vanilla cake, baked in an 11x15x2 pan. Standard buttercream frosting, chocolate chip mountains, and diluted Wilton gel colours painted on for the coloured accents.





Friday, August 1, 2014

Ultimate Boston Cream Pie

This is the second to last instalment of my vanilla cake series.  Boston Cream Pie is the first multi-component dessert I learned to make.  My mom had a wooden recipe box with handwritten recipes from my great grandmother.  I was fascinated by her cursive style, and by the prodigious amounts of sugar and butter each recipe called for.  My mom had scribbled reductions in the margins but I always tried to follow the original recipes for maximum effect.  I think I was about 12 years old when I started making Boston Cream Pies for the family.  This recipe has all the classic components but has a little fancier presentation.

INGREDIENTS
- 1 recipe vanilla cake

Cream Filling
INGREDIENTS
- 1/2 cup sugar 
- 1/2 tsp agar powder 
- 2.5 tbsp cornstarch 
- large pinch of turmeric 

- 2 cups plain soy milk
- 1 vanilla bean, slit and scraped 
- 1 tbsp margarine 


METHOD
1. Whisk together agar, sugar, cornstarch, and turmeric in a saucepan until well blended.  Slowly whisk in soy milk until well bended. Add vanilla bean scrapings and bean pod.
2. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to bubbling, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Once bubbling, cook for two mins, stirring constantly.
3. Remove from heat, remove vanilla bean pod, and add margarine.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap with holes poked into it.  Refrigerate until completely cold.
4. Whisk the cold pastry cream until smooth before putting it into the cake.


Ganache
INGREDIENTS
- 1/2 cup light coconut milk
- 200g bittersweet vegan chocolate chips
- 2 tbsp margarine


METHOD
1. Heat coconut milk to bubbling in a small saucepan over medium heat. 
2. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips and margarine.  Stir until everything is melted and smooth.  Set aside to cool completely.  


TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
I find it easiest to assemble this cake on a cake plate with a lid so that it can easily go in and out of the fridge.
1. Cut each cake in half laterally.  Spread one third of the cooled cream filling in between each of the internal layers (i.e. not on the top).  Cover and place in the fridge for 30 mins to firm up.
2. The next step relies on the ganache being completely cooled down, even a little cold.  Place it in the fridge if necessary.  When cooled, cover the entire cake in a thin layer of ganache, cover, and place back in the fridge.  Some ganache may get spilled on the plate during all this.  No worries, you can clean it up at the end.
3. Add a second think layer to the sides of the cake, and put the rest on the top.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Lemon Raspberry Cake

I am going to stick with the cake theme for a bit to show you a few variations that are sure to please everyone.  The lemon juice and baking soda action gives this cake a nice rise and a wonderful crumb.  The zing of the lemon with the tartness of the raspberries and the sweetness of the frosting are absolutely perfect.  I made this with jam I had made just the day before from the raspberry canes in our  yard.  Summer perfection!

INGREDIENTS
- 150g cake flour

- 150g all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup plain soy milk
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp lemon liqueur (i.e. Limoncello), or 2 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp lemon extract


- 1 cup raspberry jam (preferably homemade)
- fresh raspberries for garnish
- lemon buttercream (recipe follows)

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 convection
1. Grease two 8 inch round cake pans.  Cut out two circles of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pans.  Put the parchment papers in the bottom of the pans and grease it.  Flour both pans.
2. Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk soy milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to blend.
3. Add dry ingredients and gently whisk until blended and mostly smooth.
4. Divide batter evenly between the two pans.
5. Bake for 22-24 mins (convection), or 26-28 mins (non-convection), or until a toothpick comes out clean and cakes are golden.
6. Cool on wire racks for 10 mins, loosen cake from edges of the pan, then flip the pans over the remove the cake.  Remove the parchment paper.  Cover the cakes with a lightly damp towel and let them fully cool.


Lemon Buttercream Frosting
INGREDIENTS
- 1/4 cup margarine, room temperature
- 1/4 vegetable shortening, room temperature
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 cups icing sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon liqueur 
- soy milk as needed

METHOD
1. Blend together margarine and shortening with a hand blender until fluffy.  Add lemon juice and zest and blend until smooth.
2. Add icing sugar and blend until fluffy.  Add liqueur and blend more.  Add soy milk, if needed, to get the desired consistency.  

TO ASSEMBLE:
Cut each cake in half lengthwise and spread 1/3 cup of jam on each of the three internal layers.  Spread a very thin layer of icing over all the cake (i.e. a crumb coat) and place in the fridge to firm up.  Use the rest of the frosting to decorate the cake as you see fit.  There is not a ton of icing here--just enough for a thin layer and some fanciness on the edges.  No need to overpower this delicate cake with gobs of frosting.  Decorate with fresh berries.  Can stay in the fridge until ready to serve if it is a hot day. 


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vanilla Cake

This is a basic vanilla cake recipe that is perfect for layered cakes of all kinds (a slight variation of my chocolate cake recipe).  I like the mix of cake flour and all purpose flour--it makes the cake durable but still moist and tender.  You can change the ratio to your liking.  The flour measurements are in grams because I have found that weighing flour is the best way to get consistent results every time.  I find that this cake bakes evenly and so no trimming is required to make a layered cake. 

If you missed my live posting on Facebook of the birthday cake I made for Son #3 yesterday, I have included pictures of it here.  It is the vanilla cake recipe posted here (obviously) with what can only be described as an obscene amount of frosting.  We rode the sugar high for hours!  The fondant recipe I used really did not work well (despite the look of the final product).  I will try to develop one for future cakes. 

INGREDIENTS
- 150g cake flour

- 150g all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/4 cup plan soy milk
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract

- 1/2 tsp almond extract

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 convection
1. Grease two 8 inch round cake pans.  Cut out two circles of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of the pans.  Put the parchment papers in the bottom of the pans and grease it.  Flour both pans. 
2. Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk soy milk and vinegar together.  Add remaining ingredients and whisk well to blend. 
3. Add dry ingredients and gently whisk until blended and mostly smooth.
4. Divide batter evenly between the two pans.
5. Bake for 22-24 mins (convection), or 26-28 mins (non-convection), or until a toothpick comes out clean and cakes are golden.
6. Cool on wire racks for 10 mins, loosen cake from edges of the pan, then flip the pans over the remove the cake.  Remove the parchment paper.  Cover the cakes with a damp towel and let them fully cool.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer Trifle

This is a recipe born out of disaster.  The cake I baked for Vegan Daughter's birthday simply would not come out of the blasted Barbie shaped pan she wanted so badly.  I mangled it pretty badly and had to start again, but I tucked the disaster cake into the freezer rather than letting it go to waste.  So then I came up with this recipe.  Everything here is a rough guideline--put together whatever flavours and textures you want.  I included an easy pastry cream recipe, but if you want to use a vanilla bean then follow the method in this recipe. I like the combination of strawberries and raspberries in the sauce, but you can use whatever fruit is seasonal.  Or vanilla cake. As much as this is a "throw everything into a bowl" kind of recipe, it does take some planning unless you just happen to have extra cake lying around.  Finally, make sure everything is cold before you assemble the trifle.

COMPONENTS
- 3 cups cubed chocolate cake (a 1/2 recipe will do you with cake to spare)
- 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries (or more), tossed in 1 tbsp sugar
- pastry cream (recipe follows)
- whipped coconut cream (recipe follows)
- fruit sauce (recipe follows)

Easy Pastry Cream
INGREDIENTS
- 3/4 tsp agar powder 
- 3/4 cup sugar 
- 1/4 cup cornstarch 
- 1/8 tsp turmeric (optional)

- 3 cups plain soy milk (or other non dairy milk)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp margarine 

METHOD

1. Whisk together agar, sugar, cornstarch, and turmeric in a saucepan until well blended.  Slowly whisk in soy milk until well bended.
2. Place saucepan over medium heat and bring to bubbling, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Once bubbling, cook for two mins, stirring constantly.
3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and margarine.  Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap with holes poked into it.  Refrigerate until completely cold.
4. Whisk the cold pastry cream until smooth before putting it into the trifle.

Whipped Coconut Cream
Either this recipe, or this recipe (I used the second one).

Fruit Sauce
INGREDIENTS
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1.5 tsp corn starch
- 1.5 cups sliced strawberries (or strawberries and raspberries mixed)

METHOD
1. Whisk sugar and cornstarch together in a sauce pan.  Add berries and bring the whole mixture to bubbling over medium heat.  Add a splash of water if necessary.  Gently mash the berries once cooked, if needed, to smooth out the sauce.
2. Place in fridge to completely cool down.

ASSEMBLY (in a glass bowl):
Basically, the idea is to layer pastry cream, fruit sauce, fresh fruit, cake, and whipped coconut cream.  There really is no wrong way to do it. I only have the coconut cream in the middle layer and on the top.  Remember to reserve some of the fruit to make a design on the top, and some of the fruit sauce to ring the bowl if so desired.  

Cover and place in the fridge to set for a few hours before serving.