Tag Archives: cake

Mazurek – Polish Easter Cake

27 Apr

For those of you that celebrated Easter this past weekend I hope it was fabulous for you! It certainly was for me! It was nice to see family, eat some fabulous food, play some wiffleball (even hubby’s grandmother has a few swings!) and go on an Easter Egg Hunt! We managed to lose one of the eggs. It’s a good thing we used plastic eggs otherwise the back yard would start to smell!

It’s not too late to post about Easter food, right? I mean, even though this cake is traditionally served for Easter, it’s a cake that can and should be enjoyed year round. I had a lot of fun making this cake, and you can definitely make it your own by changing up the design.

I was originally going to write Happy Easter in Polish (which is Wesołych Świąt in case you were wondering) but I was literally baking and/or cooking for 6 hours straight on Friday night and about 2-3 hours Saturday morning that I was too lazy to write it out. But I like the simple design on this, and there were a lot of compliments.

The reason I picked out this cake was not only because it is traditionally served on Easter, but also because since my husband’s family is Polish, I pretty much HAD to make this cake. And they loved it!

Aren't they (we?) a nice looking family

Mazurek

From A World of Cake

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 orange
  • 9 egg whites
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. The original recipe calls for a 10″ square or round baking pan. I used a 9″ round and it came out fine, I just let it bake for a few extra minutes. Butter and flour your pan and set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add ground almonds, vanilla and orange. Gently stir in the flour until combined. Pour into another bowl and set aside.
Make sure you wash and dry your stand mixer thoroughly before doing the egg whites. With the whisk attachment, add the eggs and beat on medium speed until frothy. Then bump it up to the highest setting and whisk until stiff peaks form.
Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until just combined. Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned. If you press your finger in the middle, it should bounce back.
Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and let cool on a wire rack.
Chocolate Ganache
  • 2.5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 8oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Using a double boiler, or a small sauce pan with a stainless steel bowl on top, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the chocolate chips and honey and stir until the chocolate has completely melted. Remove from heat and stir the vanilla.
At this point I let the ganache cool slightly and then using a spoon I spooned the ganache onto the cooled cake and spread evenly.
At this point, the rest is up to you! You can decorate however you want. I used pumpkin seeds, slivered almonds and candied orange peel. But feel free to use cookies, icing, different nuts, dried fruit, whatever you can think of! You are only limited by your imagination! My only advice is that if you are planning on using icing, make sure the ganache has cooled overnight before piping.
Don’t forget! Bloggers Bake for Hope Virtual Bake Sale is May 2-4. I’m making a Cream Cheese Coffee Cake from America’s Test Kitchen and there are TONS of other delicious offerings! Don’t forget to check it out!!!!

BCAE: Let’s Bake a Cake!

21 Apr

I have to be honest, I’m definitely a better cook than baker. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come a LONG way in my baking skills, but they still need some work.

Take cake for instance. I’m always frustrated when I make a cake. I get cake envy from those brilliant bloggers I read that can make huge thick layers of cake. My cakes never turn out like they do in the pictures. Their always sad and small.

So I decided to sign up for a cake baking class at the Boston Center for Adult Education. I had previously taken a cooking basics class there and really enjoyed it so I thought with a 3 hour cake baking class I could figure out just what the hell was wrong with me and cakes.

Our teacher was Michelle, and she has an extensive and impressive background. She is a former bakery owner, went to culinary school and is currently earning her Master’s degree at BU. I was definitely impressed.

The first thing she taught us was how to make a simple syrup. It was crazy easy. You basically add sugar and water, leave it along, and voila,  simple syrup is made.

Then it was time to make cake! We made 2 different kinds, a traditional vanilla cake and a chocolate cake. I learned that you can basically mix the crap out of the cake for as long as you want until you add the flour, then you want to make sure you don’t over mix. By mixing the butter and sugar thoroughly, you incorporate air, which makes the cake big and tender. I think this was step 1 in my cake problem.

I think we mixed the butter and sugar for at least 5 minutes. I know that I’ve never done that when I make cakes, so I know the next time I make cake I’ll let my mixer go for a LONG time. Michelle basically said to mix it for longer than you think.

Both cakes called for the milk/flour or sour cream/flour alternating technique. At this point we mixed the batter until it almost came together. Then, using a spatula, we incorporated the rest.

We made them into cupcakes because they don’t take as long as a cake, and the cake wouldn’t have cooled down enough for us to frost it. But don’t worry, she baked extra.

Both sets of cupcakes came out fantastic! The crumb was tender and moist, and I had a hard time not eating them all!!

Next up we made an Italian Meringue Buttercream. And when I say butter, I mean butter. This frosting has almost 2 POUNDS of butter in it. They aren’t kidding around.

This buttercream involved making another simple syrup, but this time it had to be brought to a specific temperature (242 degrees). I had never made this kind of frosting before, and it was a really interesting process. Basically you whisk the egg whites until frothy, add sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Then, you turn the mixer to medium low and pour the sugar syrup in. Then you stir on high until the mixing bowl is cool to the touch. And believe me, it gets hot!!! A tip she gave us is that if you don’t have a ton of time, you can use a wet towel to cool the bowl.

Congratulations, you’ve just made Italian Meringue!!

Now, in order to make it into a buttercream, you start adding in butter. And more butter. And more butter. Adding small chunks and incorporating them until the buttercream “breaks” (like shown above). You’ll know that the buttercrea has broken because one second it’ll be nice and smooth and the next second it’s all choppy. Turn off your mixer baby, because you’re done!!

At this point, we learned how to assemble our cake! Michelle demonstrated how to cut off the top of your cake (and I volunteered to cut the second!). Basically you want to plant your hand on top of the cake, and glue your elbow to your side (the one holding the knife). Try not to move your hand that is holding the knife, but guide the knife all the way around the cake. By keeping your elbow as close to you as possible, the more straight the cut will be!

At this point we were running out of time, but she gave us a quick overview about the crumb coat. Basically you need to a) use an off set spatula b) never put your spatula into the frosting if it is covered in crumbs! Use a regular spatula to plop the frosting on c) use an edge to get as close to the cake as possible and get rid of excess frosting and d) refrigerate for a couple of hours before putting on the second coat. We didn’t have enough time for that so she went onto the next stage!

At this point she slathered on more and more frosting and evened it off until it looked pretty. Then she took some crushed candy bars and added them to the side of the cake. Hurray! Finished! And it was of course, delicious!

I definitely learned A TON from this class and I’m quite certain that my next foray into cake baking will be more successful. The BCAE is so wonderful and I’ve really enjoyed all the classes I’ve taken. In fact, I’ve just signed up for their bread baking class in June and I’m very excited! Can’t wait to report on that class as well!

Not Your Average Birthday Cake

10 Jul

This past Thursday (7/8) was my husband’s birthday and I wanted to bake him a cake this year (He did turn the big 2-5 this year!). Let me tell you, I felt like I was on Iron Chef because I was trying to get it done before he got home from work. Not to mention it was a billion degrees inside the apartment because of the intense heat wave Boston is going through this week. I’ve decided that I would fail miserably if I was on Iron Chef because I can’t seem to process more than 2 things at a time. Or maybe it was because I though my brain was going to melt from the heat.

Anyway, my husband loves beer. So when I found this recipe for Chocolate Stout Cake I knew it was the birthday cake for him. I tweaked it just a little bit by using Sam Smith’s Nut Brown Ale instead of the Guinness. It made it taste kind of like banana bread. It had a lot of complex flavors, and I was happy that my husband liked it so much! I was in so much of a rush that I didn’t even write happy birthday on it, but I figured he was ok with that! So next time you want to step away from the traditional birthday cake, go ahead and try this one!

Not Your Average Birthday Cake (A.K.A. Chocolate Beer Cake)

Adapted from Chocolate Stout Cake by And Now for Something Completely Delicious

For the cake:

  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup beer (I used Sam Smith’s Nut Brown Ale)
  • 2/3 cup freshly brewed coffee, at room temperature

For the chocolate ganache icing:

  • 8oz bittersweet chocolate chopped
  • 1 cups heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two nine-inch round cake pans lined with parchment paper.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, stirring until smooth. Set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each (Read this part a few times. I was wondering why the hell my butter and eggs weren’t becoming light and fluffy when I realized I HADN’T ADDED THE SUGAR. Massive FAIL). Add the chocolate, stout and then the coffee (the batter will look curdled at this point, that’s okay). Add the flour in two additions and beat thoroughly until smooth and creamy.

Pour batter evenly into the prepared cake pans and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Leave the cake in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. If cake layers are domed on top, trim with a knife.

To make the icing, heat the cream to boiling and then pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Slather it on the cake and between each later and then enjoy!

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