Dark Chocolate Cake

IMG_9724Chocolate cake, one of our culture’s go-to desserts for celebrations, or the cake that sits waiting for the family to come home to from a long day hike, is deservedly legendary. Moist layers of chocolaty crumb, layered and topped with creamy icing make it decadent and yet simple, while a thin sliver satisfies, a big slice is a worthy treat.IMG_9732

This is a great recipe that can be used for a three layer over-the-top fancy cake, or just a simple sheet cake to serve with a bit of ice cream and some sauce. It is incredibly versatile, and will work with many desserts that require a cake base. Continue reading

Fluffy Lemon Buttercream

IMG_7668Every year at this time, our community celebrates a woman who has quietly volunteered to make our community a better place. Whether it’s through education, seniors outreach, communication, the environment, or many other facets, it all gets done by volunteers.

The program started a decade or so ago, and now the past recipients make a surprise visit to the woman’s home, ready to celebrate her with a cake, and a bottle of bubbly. Or two.

Usually I make the cake, mostly because I love doing it. I’m sure someone else will happily step up if the need arises. Cakes used to be served to celebrate any occasion, but as we’re more aware of the value of calories we consume we’re more selective on when to serve one. Consequently, they’re even more of a treat.

For this year’s event, I decided to do a 3-layer white buttermilk cake, filled with seedless raspberry preserves, and frosted with a fluffy and very lemony buttercream.

We enjoyed the cake, while sipping on bubbly, and chatting with each other through the evening. Ten women from very diverse backgrounds makes for very good conversation.

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Gâteau au Chocolat Épicé

IMG_6434I’ve always loved the exotic combination of chilies & chocolate.  The two flavours are perfect together, and have been used together for far longer than I’m sure the history books show.  Whether it’s adding a bit of cocoa to a robust chili con carne, or having a chili infused piece of chocolate, it all works for me.

I was working on a Mexican menu for an event once, and needed to finish with a cake.  Starting with a basic flourless cake recipe, I added different amounts of various spices until I finalized the recipe with this mix.  Because it is flourless, it stands well as the gluten-free dessert selection on a buffet.  It is a grown-up cake, and is good as part of a menu that requires something less sweet, that is also intriguing.

Usually I serve the cake precut into wedges, with raspberry coulis and a bowl of whipped cream alongside.   When you’re done, remember to thank the Mayans. Continue reading

Lemon Coconut Chiffon Cake

IMG_3659There is something very special about a light and fluffy chiffon cake.  Usually they are fragrantly laced with citrus, and are beautiful when served simply with some fresh macerated fruit with the juices wicking into the crumb.

They also work really well when you want to make a great presentation cake.  This recipe uses coconut right in the batter.  Once cooked, it is cut into layers and filled with lemon curd.  Top it off with a light and fluffy coconut icing (with a built in stabilizer), and it has become an amazingly pretty cake, that is light and not too filling.

There may seem to be a lot of instruction, but just read it through first, and you’ll see that it really is a very basic cake, and not hard to succeed at!

Find a small glass or jar to fit into the center hole of the cake, to put in a small posy or a larger blossom.  Just wrap the stems in damp paper towel, and put the flowers in the glass.  Slice the cake with a serrated blade to make a tidy cut. Continue reading

Citrus Chiffon Cake with Glaze

IMG_3490Here we are in the middle of a beautiful spring.  The grass is rampant, the front field hosts a herd of deer in the evenings, and the outdoors beckons.  While walking today I heard the cries of eaglets, searched and found the large nest in the top of a nearby Douglas Fir.  On our daily hike with the dogs, we found tiny Fairyslippers in the dappled light.

We start to eat lighter foods, the grill gets cleaned up and ready for a season of easy, fresh eating.  So as we enter the season of great salads, and al fresco (in the fresh air) dining, it’s nice to know we can still enjoy baking that compliments these lighter meals.

Chiffon cake is so light, and the orange and lemon flavours in this recipe go well with the season.  Of course, they also go well with the deep dark days of winter that can use a little cheering up!  Keep it on file, and make it when you need a little something to brighten your day. Continue reading