April 18, 2014
New beginnings and a neapolitan cake
Spring is here! When the cherry blossom trees are in full bloom, you know it is spring for sure. For me, spring is the start of something new and it always leaves me feeling inspired and thankful.
I have been imagining this cake for a few weeks now. That's where I get most of my ideas nowadays, from my imagination (and I always say my imagination is the worst). Sometimes I feel like a little kid, daydreaming about all the cakes I'm going to make. Usually it begins with a picture of what the cake is supposed to look like in my head. I must say, it turned out even better than imagined. Pretty and delicious. Win win!
While on the subject of starting new, you know that other blog I had? I gave that up. Call me cupcake is my baby so I'll be spendning all my blogging time here from now on. That feels really, really good. I love putting all my effort into one blogpost (such as this one, a monster post!) and honestly, sometimes it takes me 2-3 days or more to put together one post. It definitely feels like a new start as I have been feeling very guilty about neglecting the blog (not because I have to blog, but because I LOVE to blog).
I still haven't figured out whether or not I'm going to write recipes in Swedish on here, so please let me know if you have any ideas or suggestions. I'm still struggling with the measurements!
Did I tell you I have a new stove and oven by the way? I didn't know I was getting one, but suddenly there it was outside my door (well, and the men who were going to install it too of course). I was a bit worried about the oven, what if I suddenly sucked at baking?? You never know. Luckily that wasn't the case. I made macarons, and they turned out a bit wonky (I think my new oven is very.. damp), but still pretty ok looking.
To new beginnings!
Neapolitan cake with macarons
chocolate and vanilla cake and strawberry buttercream
Recipe adapted from the Cookies n' cream cake from my book Lomelinos tårtor
Notes on this cake, before you begin
-This cake is pretty awesome, but it also does take some time to make. Therefore I suggest making it over a couple of days. You can bake the cake layers one day and make macarons (if you're making macarons that is) and buttercream the next day, for example.
-Remember to bring all ingredients to room temperature before baking!
-I wanted to use the buttercream on the cake for the macarons aswell so if you will have any filling left depends on how much you use for the cake. I had enough leftover to fill all my macarons, but if you don't you can always freeze the leftover macaron shells as you only need 8-10 macarons.
-The vanilla cake is best baked in two cake pans. I tried baking all the batter in one pan and it turned out really dense and flat. The chocolate cake batter is much lighter and can therefore be baked in just one pan.
-The chocolate cake layer can be quite crumbly, so it's better to either let it rest in cling film in room temperature overnight before cutting it in half. If you don't have that much time, put it in the freezer for 30-40 minutes or so before cutting it. Use a serrated knife.
50 g (barely 1/2 stick) softened butter
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp (180 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (150 g) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg white
1. Heat oven to 175°C (350F).
2. Prepare two 15 cm (6 inch) baking pans by greasing them with butter and dusting them with flour.
3. Beat butter and sugar until light and crumbly.
4. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl.
5. Add flour mixture and milk in batches to the butter mixture and beat until just combined.
6. Add vanilla and the egg white and mix until smooth.
7. Divide batter among the pans and bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
8. Let cakes cool in their pans for 15 minutes before inverting them onto a cooling rack.
25 g (barely 1/4 stick) butter
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp (90 g) all purpose flour
3 tbsp + 1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup (113 g) granulated sugar
1 medium egg
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp milk
3 tbsp + 1 tsp boiling water
1. Heat oven to 175°C (350F).
2. Prepare one 15 cm (6 inch) baking pan by greasing it with butter and dusting it with flour.
3. Melt the butter and let cool.
4. Mix flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add butter, egg, milk and water to the mix and beat or stir by hand until combined. Pour batter in the prepared cake pan and bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
5. Let cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting it onto a cooling rack.
Strawberry swiss meringue buttercream
I know a lot of people struggle with swiss meringue buttercream (smbc). Actually, the very first time I made smbc it curdled and I thought "there must be something wrong with this recipe". I piped the curdled buttercream onto the cupcakes anyway. Not a good idea. So here are some tips:
-Smbc is definitely easier to make if you have a stand mixer. An electric mixer works too, but it'll take you a little longer.
-Your smbc will likely become either soupy or curdled when adding the butter. This is actually quite normal and happens almost every time I make it. The important thing to remember is to NOT THROW IT AWAY! Please don't. You probably didn't do anything wrong. It's just that the egg whites and the fats in the butter really aren't meant to come together that easily.
-First try beating the crap out of it (I mean for a long time, like 10-15 minutes if needed). If the buttercream is too cold, just put the bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water again for a few seconds and beat until smooth again. If it’s too hot, just put it in the fridge for a few minutes and beat again. If that doesn't work, leave it at room temperature and go do something else for a while, then try again.
-Smbc actually freezes well! Remember to bring it to room temperature before whipping it smooth again.
5 large egg whites
1 cup + 2 tbsp (250 g) granulated sugar
300 g (about 2 3/4 sticks) butter, softened and cut in cubes
150 g strawberries, frozen or fresh, pureed (makes approximately 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp puree)
Pink food coloring (optional)
1. Pour egg whites and sugar in a clean and heat proof bowl (preferably stainless steel or glass). Put the bowl over a sauce pan with simmering water. The bowl should fit snugly, and the water should not be touching the bowl.
2. Whisk the sugar end eggs with a whisk constantly until the mixture reaches about 65°C (about 140-150 F). If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, just rub some mixture between your fingers. If the sugar has melted and mixture is hot to the touch, it's ready.
3. Remove the bowl from the heat, whip until white, fluffy and cool with a stand- or electric mixer. This step can take a 5-10 minutes.
4. When the bowl feels cool to the touch, start adding the butter, piece by piece. Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled and soupy (look above for a remedy). Add pureed strawberries to the buttercream and whip until smooth. Add food coloring if desired.
1. Cut chocolate layer in half so you have two chocolate layers.
2. Put the first layer, either chocolate or vanilla, on a cake stand or serving platter
3. Spread a layer of buttercream on the first layer (I used about 1 dl / 100 ml / 0.42 of a cup for each layer).
4. Put the next layer on top. Repeat step 3 until you have used all layers.
5. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the cake to secure any crumbs. Put the cake in the fridge (but leave the bowl of buttercream in room temperature) for 10 minutes. Remove cake from the fridge and spread another, slightly thicker layer on the cake.
Makes approximately 35 whole macarons
All ingredients are measured in weight since this recipe is very precise!
100 g blanched, ground almonds (make sure to grind more than 100 grams) or almond flour
200 g powdered sugar
110 g egg whites (about 3 large egg whites), preferably aged 1 day at room temperature covered with cling film
50 g granulated sugar
Pink food coloring (optional)
1. Grind the almonds in a food processor or blender. Sift to get rid of any large pieces or lumps. Mix the powdered sugar with the ground almonds and give it another pulse in the food processor or blender.
2. In a large bowl (preferably stainless steel or glass, not plastic), whip the egg whites with a stand- or electric mixer. As the egg whites start to foam, add the granulated sugar one tablespoon at a time and continue whipping until the mixture is glossy and stiff. You should be able to hold the bowl upside down without the meringue sliding out.
3. Fold in the almond mixture carefully and slowly into the meringue using a spatula. Add food coloring if desired, and stir until fully mixed. Don’t overmix! The mixture should flow like a ribbon when you hold up the spatula. If you want to test if the batter has good consistency, just put a dollop of batter on a piece of parchment paper. If the dollop slowly “flattens”, you’re good to go. If not, keep folding.
4. Fill your piping bag and pipe the macarons onto baking sheets. Remember that the shells will “flatten” once you’ve piped, so don’t make them too big. About 2,5-3 cm (1 inch) is enough. Let macaron shells set for 60 minutes to form a dry skin.
5. Preheat oven to 150° C (300F). Bake for about 9-13 minutes. You can test if they are done by touching the tip of a macaron, if it “wobbles” it’s not done. Let cool completely, then fill and sandwich together. Store in airtight container in the fridge, preferably for a day or two before eating.