Last weekend, I made a valentine cake. And it was delicious. I was impressed with myself.
I don’t typically make layer cakes. Mostly because transporting a layer cake is a huge pain-in-the-you-know-what, but also because…I am missing whatever gene is necessary to be a rockstar at fancy cake decorating. I am better at what we’ll call “rustic” cake decorating. My version of rustic cake decorating is 1 part legit creativity and 2 parts preschool-style artwork. I’m totally okay with it. I own it. And oddly, I’m a pretty baller cupcake decorator. It’s weird how that pans out, huh?
See what I did there with my new alphabet cookie cutters? So cheesy.
A few things about this cake:
- You should absolutely make your own almond paste. It is SO MUCH TASTIER than the store bought stuff. All you need is almonds, honey, water, and sugar. Here’s a link on how to do it — you can half the recipe and have way more than enough for this cake.
- If you want to have a chocolate-almond layer like I did, bake half your batter as stated in the recipe, and then fold 1/4 to 1/3 cup of cocoa powder into the remaining half before you bake. I actually ended up baking about 2/3 of the batter in round one (plain almond) and 1/3 of the batter in round 2 (chocolate-almond). My chocolate layer was much thinner. Which is fine, as I didn’t want to overpower the plain almond layers. If you want an even showing of chocolate-almond and plain almond cake, divide your batter in half.
- I baked my cake layers in an 8×8 square pan, and cut the layers in half to make a cake that was 8″ x 4″. If you do this, you’ll need to keep an eye on your cakes as your baking time might be a bit shorter.
- For chocolate hearts — melt chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave, put it in a piping bag or a ziploc bag with one of the corners snipped off, and pipe directly onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. I put mine in the freezer to help them solidify faster.
- I also made my own sprinkles. It was fun? But store bought ones are just fine, and probably won’t start disintegrating into the frosting 5 hours after you make it.
- According to Molly, this cake is not to be made at any other time of year than Valentine’s Day, but I can’t say that I’ll abide by that rule. It’s too good to wait a full year before making it again!
- I added a thin layer of blackberry jam between my layers (in addition to the frosting).
- The “frosting” on this cake is actually just whipped cream. It balances the cake out perfectly. Make sure you whip your cream thoroughly enough that it is structurally sound. Also, this means you can’t just leave this cake sitting out for long periods of time, lest your dairy spoil (ew) and whipped cream start to melt/un-whip itself (double ew).
recipe, adapted slightly, from My Name Is Yeh
for the cake:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz almond paste
6 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
pinch of salt
1/2 c sugar
for the “frosting”:
1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a few drops of food coloring, if you want to color your frosting (totally optional)
plus anything you want to use to decorate your cake! I used homemade sprinkles, edible glitter, and chocolate hearts.
- Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare your cake pans and set aside.
- Combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.
- Beat almond paste and egg yolks until well blended, mix in vanilla and almond extract, and set aside.
- In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Beat in sugar one tablespoon at a time and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then gradually fold in the flour mixture. pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, until a tooth pick comes out clean.
- Let cool completely. Sticking them in the freezer helps, and makes them easier to level and frost.
- For the frosting, whip up the whipping cream and add the extracts and food coloring.
- Level your cake layers (so you don’t end up with a leaning cake…unless you totally dig that kind of thing, and then more power to ya).
- Frost and decorate your cake!
If any of you subscribe to Bon Appetit, you for sure saw these gorgeous painted sugar cookies on the cover and immediately thought to yourself “I MUST DO THIS.” And then, if you’re smart and self-aware, you probably thought to yourself “ok no, just kidding, where the hell am I going to find luster powder, and my painting skills are not up to par for this challenge.”
I did not think those last two things, and jumped into this anyway. And then about 2 cookies in, I was like “man, my painting skills…” But I pressed on. I’m glad I did. They’re great for gifting — how many people can say they received hand-painted sugar cookies for the holidays? Even if they do look a little derpy…that’s a pretty personal touch, if you ask me.
This would be a really fun project for kids, if you can gather the materials and your kids are at an age where they can keep the “paint” ON the cookies. The cookies are still entirely edible when painted, so don’t be weirded out. These do take some time, but they’re actually really fun and provide a different twist on the whole royal icing thing. Continue reading
I rarely ever make cupcakes. Mostly because….they’re such a fad these days. They’re also a huge nuisance to transport, even if you have worlds best cupcake carrier or whatever.But, a coworker is about to go on maternity leave and we wanted to celebrate her soon-to-be mommyhood, and so cupcakes were on the menu.
I learned last week that I do NOT have worlds best cupcake carrier. I’M LOOKING AT YOU, MARTHA STEWART. Who makes their cupcake carrier so that the little round “rings” you’re supposed to set your cupcakes in don’t even fit a normal, standard sized cupcake??? Continue reading