THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN TURNS 11!

Eleven years ago I hit “publish” on my very first post, got a huge thrill when I did it, and right after went through many bouts of anxiety as I waited and waited… how many people would read what I just wrote? Could I keep the blog going for 6 months? For a year? Well, eleven years have passed, I went from cake-o-phobe to tent-baker, met a ton of wonderful people through this site, and have absolutely no desire to stop writing. I never get tired of it, it is always exciting to share stuff I make. Like this Blog-Birthday cake. I wanted it to have tropical flavors. Passion fruit and coconut sounded good. And I also wanted it to be colorful and fun. Buttercream and sugar work to the rescue!

BEWITCHING PASSION FRUIT AND COCONUT CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the cake:
280 g  all-purpose flour
300 g granulated sugar
2 + 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup full-fat milk + squirt of lemon juice
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tsp Amoretti passion fruit flavor
½ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup grapeseed oil

For the buttercream:
340 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
750 g confectioners’ sugar, sifted (you might not use the full amount)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
pinch of salt

for the coconut pastry cream:
(adapted from a recipe from Martha Stewart)
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup cream of coconut
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch of salt

for drip icing:
2 tbsp white chocolate chips
100 g candy melts
43 g tbsp heavy cream (about 3 tablespoons)

for the sugar decorations:
(following Kim-Joy’s youtube tutorial)
glucose
food gel dye, any color you like

Butter and flour three 6-inch cake pans. Melt the butter gently and reserve. Mix the milk with lemon juice and let it sit for a few minutes (congrats, you just made full-fat buttermilk). Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and passion fruit flavor. Pour the liquid mixture into the flour. Whisk the ingredients together to combine. Pour in the melted butter and oil. Stir everything together until the batter is smooth.

Divide the batter into the three prepared pans. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before removing from the pans. If making the cakes in advance, you can freeze them or keep in the fridge, they are easier to work with if completely cold.

Make the coconut pastry cream (preferably the day before assembling the cake). Bring milk, cream of coconut, coconut, and vanilla to a simmer in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat. Cover and let it sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Put egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Whisk with a hand-held blender until thick, about 5 minutes. Heat the coconut infused milk mixture until very hot. With mixer on medium-low speed, slowly pour in milk mixture. Transfer to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until boiling, and boil for a couple of minutes. Strain through a sieve. Let cool completely and store in fridge until assembling the cake (cover surface with plastic to prevent a skin from forming).

Make the buttercream. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. With the mixer running on low, slowly add all but 1 cup (125 g) of the confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Once incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix for 3 to 5 minutes, until the buttercream is white, fluffy, and smooth. Add the remaining cup of confectioners’ sugar as needed, a small amount at a time (I used about half of it), until it reaches good spreadable consistency.  Keep half of it white, divide the other half in four small bowls and use food dye to make four colors of your choice. Reserve.

Assemble the cake. Place one cake layer on a cake board over a turntable. Spread half of the coconut pastry cream. Top with a second cake layer and repeat. Place the final cake layer on top. Crumb coat the cake with white buttercream and chill in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Add splashes of the different colors of buttercream and work them with a bench or cake scraper as you rotate the cake. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Made the drip icing. Chop the chocolate chips into small pieces. Add the chips and candy melts to microwave safe bowl and pour heavy cream on top. Microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring in between each interval, until all the chocolate is melted. Let sit for 15-30 minutes, until it reaches 90 F. Pour over chilled cake, spreading towards the outside of the cake with the back of a spoon or small spatula so that it drips. Put back in the fridge to chill until ready to finish decorating. Transfer to a serving stand before adding the final sugar decorations on top.

Make the sugar decorations (can be made a couple of weeks in advance). Pour small amounts of glucose over a half-sheet lined with Silpat. Add drops of food gel dye, keep in mind a little goes a long way.  Bake at 300F for about 1 hour. Let it cool, break into pieces and use to decorate the cake.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Social isolation makes baking pretty tricky. I can still bake for homeless meals on Fridays but everything must be individually wrapped for take-out, so that limits a lot what I can make. No frostings, no mousse cakes, no mirror glazes… I wasn’t even sure I should bake a cake for the Bewitching anniversary because we eat at most one slice each, sometimes we just share a single slice and call it a day. Our departmental colleagues enjoy most of it. But at the present time, no sharing food is permitted in our building. Problem solved: our two graduate students agreed to do the sacrifice and help us with this pressing matter. It was my first time doing this type of watercolor design, so I kept the buttercream recipe simple. It is a fun technique and I intend to do it again in the future, perhaps with more pastel tones and using Swiss meringue buttercream. The real fun part was making the sugar decorations. Interestingly enough, the cake baking started with them. I subscribe to Kim-Joy’s youtube channel and on May 15th she uploaded that tutorial. I was so smitten by the whole idea, I made them later that same day.

I made two batches, the first one definitely using more dye than needed, the second batch using a lot less. With less dye, you get the subtle effect shown on the right picture of the composite above.  You can play with colors and amounts, it is amazing to see the changes the whole thing goes through during baking. At first you will think it’s all going to be ruined. Just trust Kim-Joy, let the oven do its thing, it will all settle into a nice outcome. Make sure to watch her video to get a better idea of the whole method.

The sculpture was a gift from my sister Nyrma, during a trip to Brazil many years ago. I thought it matched the sugar decorations quite well…   And no, it was not intentional at all  😉

The sugar decorations change quite a bit depending on the light, which I find fascinating. And they hold so well! I made them without any precise goal about how or when to use them, but then realized that the blog would turn 11 soon, and a cake was needed. I hoped they would last long enough for that, and they did, just sitting at room temperature, in a single layer. Exposed to the air, not in a box or anything.  Keep that in mind if you want to include sugar decorations on cupcakes or other concoctions. You can make them way in advance.

I loved the cake, the flavor from Amoretti does a good job when you cannot have fresh passion fruit pulp to use. It paired well with the coconut pastry cream. I actually added back to the pastry cream some of the shredded coconut sieved out, just to add a bit of extra texture, but you don’t have to do that, as most of the flavor will have infused the milk anyway. Your call.

So here I am, at the beginning of the 12th  year of my blogging life. It does feel like yesterday, but it also feels it all started a lifetime ago. I don’t have any special plans for the future. This site is just a reflex of my daily life. I am sure year number 12 will continue with a lot of baking, but also regular cooking.  I’ve been exploring a bit more vegetarian and vegan options, not with intentions of changing my eating habits, but for the challenge they represent, particularly in baking.  I found out last year that one of the graduate students in our department is allergic to eggs. That means she could never enjoy any of the bakes I shared with our colleagues in the “Mondays with Sweetness.”  It made me so sad. At some point I will be able to bake again for the department, and intend to get some bakes especially for her. Who knows when it will be? But I am practicing and getting my baking mojo ready for it…

 


To my readers, thank you for being here, your support is truly what makes it all so special for me, it’s the fuel that keeps my blogging engine going…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns 10, and a Giveaway…

TWO YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns 9!

THREE YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns eight!

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Seven!

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bewitching Kitchen Turns Six!

SIX YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Five!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Four!

EIGHT YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Three! 

NINE YEARS AGO:  The Bewitching Kitchen turns Two!

TEN YEARS AGO:  Bewitching Birthday!

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Welcome to my blog!

 

 

 

 

ORANGE STREUSEL CAKE & THE JOYS OF BAKING BOOK REVIEW

I will never write a cookbook. Having said that, IF I ever wrote one, I would like it to be along the lines of The Joys of Baking, by Samantha Seneviratne. As Dorie Greenspan writes in her endorsement: A sweet meditation on why we bake… the book is a delight.

I couldn’t have said it better, Dorie summarized it all. I contacted Samantha and she gave me permission to publish one recipe on the blog. I had quite a hard time choosing which one to share, but decided to go with her Orange Streusel Cake, because its preparation is quite unusual and the cake turned out absolutely perfect for my taste.  But I will also show you pictures of another recipe from the book, Samantha’s  Mascarpone Gingerbread Bars. Because… ginger…

ORANGE STREUSEL CAKE
(from The Joys of Baking, published with permission from Samantha Seneviratne)

For the streusel:
½ cup (65g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, melted (I used half the butter)
1/2 cup (15g) sliced almonds

for the cake:
6 tablespoons (85 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 entire navel orange (about 280 g), seeded, cut into large chunks
¼ cup (60g) sour cream, at room temperature
1 +1/2 cups (195g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (200g) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

for the glaze:
3 to 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice
¾ cup (90g) powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Prepare the streusel: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and stir to incorporate. The mixture should clump together when squeezed. Toss in the almonds. Prepare the cake: Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 opposite sides. Butter the parchment.

Place the orange in a blender and process until it is the texture of applesauce. It’s okay if you have a few larger pieces. You should have about 1 cup of orange purée. Add the sour cream and stir to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined. Beat in the orange mixture, then beat in the remaining half of the flour mixture.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Top with the streusel mixture. Squeeze the streusel to form a range of differently sized clumps. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with moist crumbs attached, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Then, using the parchment overhang as handles, transfer the cake to a wire rack to cool completely.

Prepare the glaze (if using): In a small bowl, whisk the orange juice into the confectioners’ sugar, adding a little less juice for a thicker glaze that will look lovely on top of the cake, or a little more for a thinner glaze that will soak in. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I am very fond of marinades that use a whole lemon instead of its juice or zest, so the moment I saw that the cake called for a full orange turned into a pulp in the food processor, I knew I had to give it a try. You cannot get much more orange-y than that. And the drizzle of icing sugar/orange juice beautifully seals the deal. The cake is moist, feels rich but light at the same time, if at all possible.

Do you notice the little bits of orange throughout the crumb?
Absolute yumminess.

Now let me share with you a little teaser of a recipe. Originally I was going to focus the blog post on this one, because it was a huge hit when I took it to the Common Table meal (meals for homeless in our town). Mascarpone Gingerbread Bars…

It starts as a very smooth batter, pretty much like a brownie, a one-bowl deal.

Then you swirl a mascarpone cream into it, and marvel at the way it looks.

The crumb is tight, full of gingerbread flavor, and you get that delicious sharp contrast of the mascarpone every now and then. This will please anyone.

Now, a virtual tour of Samantha’s book.

From her introductory chapter, I cut and paste her words…

Cooking is a necessity. Everyone needs to eat. Preparing a special meal can be a joy, of course, but often it feels like a chore, just another item on an endless list of things that must get done. Baking is different. Baking is a choice. Baking is never a necessity. No one needs a chocolate cake to survive. Except, sometimes, a chocolate cake is exactly what you need to survive. Sometimes, a chocolate cake is the only thing you need in the world. This is a book about and for those times.

I was touched by this paragraph, it really echoes with the way I view baking. She then moved to talk about the tragic life story of Irma Rombauer,  the woman behind the most classic American cookbook of all times, The Joy of Cooking. I was unaware of it, and once again Samantha’s words touched me.

The Joys of Baking is inspired by the book that Irma Rombauer could have written. It’s the story of baking my way through my own heartbreak—of what happened when the parts of my life I thought would be the best turned out to be the worst, and when the things I thought would make me happy almost wrecked me, and why they didn’t.

The book is divided in chapters that have nothing to do with baking categories. They are: Courage, Grace, Bliss, Love, and Wisdom.  Each chapter and each recipe starts with a small paragraph that is like a tiny little window into Samantha’s soul. The window might be tiny, but the image it shows is very bright. 

From this chapter, many recipes tempted me to get into the kitchen and start baking. Coconut and Passion Fruit Pound Cake, a breathtakingly gorgeous Chocolate Cardamon Babka, Earl Grey Pain au Chocolat, the Mascarpone Gingerbread Bars (photo included in this post), and a Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bun with Browned Butter Cream Cheese Glaze (wow!).

The chapter opens with Salted Chocolate-Covered Chocolate Caramels. Of course, when a person wears braces, she will be fiercely drawn towards caramels, brittles, and nougats, even if before having braces those items were rarely part of her life. Anyway, I will make these babies the moment I get rid of my torture devices. Coffee Creme Bundt Cake, is beautiful and preceded by a heart-warming bit about her Dad. As always, just a little paragraph, just enough to make you smile and wonder if you haven’t been too narrow-minded about your thoughts about food.  Next comes a recipe I really wanted to feature in the blog, but did not have a chance to make yet. Ready to dream? Creme Brulle Tart with Pears and Chocolate. Yes, this will be in our kitchen at some point in the near future.  Danish Sugar Cookies with Currants and LemonPistachio and Praline PuffsSunshine Wreath (a thing of beauty!).

From this chapter the first thing that caught my eye was a shortbread, a recent weakness of mine. Her version is a Chocolate Almond Spelt Shortbread. Looks really tasty. Brownie Cake with Candied Hazelnuts and Whipped Cream...  Coconut BunsGingered Cashew Nut Brittle (blame it on the braces)…  Graham Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting (just adorable)…  Another heavy contender to be featured is We are Nuts About Nuts Cookies. Little sugar cookie rectangles dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with ground pistachio nuts. Just lovely. Orange Streusel Cake, featured today, is also in this chapter.


The chapter opens with my favorite little story of her book. Just a few thoughts about JFK Airport in New York City. More specifically about the arrivals gate.  “Where shopping and dining isn’t the point. It’s all about the crowd along the barriers.”  Just perfect.

From this final chapter, I would gladly try her Apple Snack Cake...  Barley Oat BiscuitsCinnamon Raisin Soft Pretzels (the picture is enough to make your heart missed a few beats)… Lemon Lime Earl Grey Sables...  Maple Cream Pie…  Orange Pistachio BunsSaffron and Chocolate Tea Cake…  and the very last recipe of the book, Unorthodox Challah with Dates and Cocoa.

I hope you enjoyed my little review and consider inviting this gem of a cookbook into your home. Samantha, thank you for allowing me to share a recipe with my readers. I look forward to baking more goodies from your book, and reading again and again your stories behind each one.

ONE YEAR AGO: Pink Praline Brioche

TWO YEARS AGO: A Spinach Salad to Write Home About

THREE YEARS AGO: Karen’s Four Hour French Country Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Siren’s Song of the Royal Icing

FIVE YEARS AGO: Blog-worthy Roasted Butternut Squash

SIX YEARS AGO: Chocolate Currant Sourdough Loaf & Roasted Beet Hummus

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flax Seed Sourdough

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Spanakopita Meatballs

NINE YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

TEN YEARS AGO: Pain de Mie au Levain

 

STRAWBERRY MINI-CAKES FOR BAKE PINK PROJECT

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and I am joining Chef Colette Christian in her Bake Pink Project. I don’t know how many dear friends and acquaintances of mine have been affected by breast (and other) cancers, but far too many.  In fact, one in eight women will be diagnosed in their lifetime, with early detection being KEY to survival. In other words, get screened annually, and talk to all your friends to make sure they do the same.

I’ve never met Chef Colette in person. But I know for a fact she is one of the nicest human beings around. I will talk more about it in a few months, for reasons that will become clear by then. For now, let me just say she is a fantastic online instructor who is responsible for me finally conquering macarons a few years ago (check her 6 classes at Bluprint, all pretty amazing). Once I got addicted to baking macarons, my horizons were opened to other kinds of patisserie. In many ways, I think Colette is the person who helped me go from cake-o-phobe to passionate baker.  She is winning her own battle with breast cancer, and I am absolutely thrilled to join her BAKE PINK project. Today I share a recipe for a cake I recently enjoyed at Ottolenghi’s cafe in London.  It is pink, it is delicious, and quite simple to put together.

STRAWBERRY-VANILLA MINI-CAKES
(slightly modified from Ottolenghi’s Sweet)

recipe also available online here

for the cake:
250 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250 g granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
4 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
120 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
140 g almond flour
15 oz fresh strawberries, hulled cut in half
1 T olive oil
2 T maple syrup
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

for the strawberry icing:
55 g fresh strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
300 g icing sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1/8 tsp vanilla paste

to decorate:
whole strawberries
freeze-dried strawberries
sprinkles

Heat the oven to 400°F.

Start by making the roasted strawberries, preferably many hours in advance, or the day before.  Mix the strawberries with olive oil, maple syrup and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl, add to a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until the edges start to get dark and the liquid gets thick. Do not let the strawberries burn or get too dry.  Reserve. Dice before using in the recipe. If there is excessive liquid, drain it.

Prepare four mini-loaf pans by coating them with butter and flour or using a baking spray.

Make the cake batter. Place the butter, sugar, and vanilla paste in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until light, then add the eggs, a little at a time. Continue to beat until fully combined. Sift the flour and salt into a bowl, then stir in the almond flour. Turn the speed of the mixer to medium-low, then add the dry ingredients in three batches and finally fold in the diced roasted strawberries.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pans.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of one of the cakes comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the strawberry icing, place all the icing ingredients in a food processor and process together until smooth. Drizzle the tops of the upside-down cakes with the icing, allowing it to drip down the sides. Garnish and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: While in London, I really wanted to stop by Ottolenghi’s place, but since my schedule was quite tight, I was worried it would not happen. So one afternoon I was all by myself and realized I barely had the time to catch the tube and get to the cafe before closing time. When I got there, I could not sit down for an early dinner because they were just getting ready to call it a day, so I was a bit frantic trying to decide what to get. From the corner of my eye I saw some cute mini-loaf cakes, and that’s what I bought. My plan was to travel back to the hotel and have it as my dinner. But it could not hurt to take a test-bite as I walked back to the metro station, right?  Right. Problem is, I could not stop eating it. Moist, sweet, but also tangy with the strawberry taste. It was so so good… The sweetest walk ever through Notting Hill.

Of course, it is often problematic to try to match the great things we stumble upon like that. But I have to say, the ones I baked at home were pretty close to that level of goodness. I opted to roast the strawberries because at this time of the year they are not at their peak, and also because roasting will always intensify the flavor, so why not? It is just a small additional step that I think pays off big time here.

Chef Colette, thank you for Baking Pink, and for all the help and advice you’ve given me this past few months.  You are a sweet and bright person…

And for all my readers and fellow bloggers, let’s do all we can to raise awareness about breast cancer, it is a serious killer that can be tamed by early detection.

ONE YEAR AGO: Bourbon-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pea Pesto

TWO YEARS AGO: Chocolate Chip Cookies from Naturally Sweet

THREE YEARS AGO: Little Bites of Paradise

FOUR YEARS AGO: Maple-Glazed Pumpkin Bread

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, October 2014

SIX YEARS AGO: Grilled Steelhead Trout

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Tomato Salad

EIGHT YEARS AGO:  Spelt and Cornmeal Rolls

NINE YEARS AGO: Roasted Potato and Olive Focaccia

TEN YEARS AGO: Multigrain Bread Extraordinaire

 

COMMON TABLE, SOMETHING NEW IN MY LIFE

It is quite obvious that I love to bake. From cakes to cookies, from bread to pies, I love it all. Last year I got a lot more serious about my hobby, as I went through the process of screening for the Great American Baking Show (you can read about it here, in case you missed it).  When that did not materialize I kept searching for an outlet for my baking, something that would keep me focused on it and help me improve. It took a bit long, but I’ve finally found it: Common Table, a meal for homeless people organized by volunteers and churches from our town.  They serve meals a few times each week, I’ve been taking my bakes on Fridays. It is the most rewarding and satisfying thing I’ve done in a while. I enjoy everything about it, planning what to take, baking, and finally delivering my bakes in the meal room, at 17:45hs, when folks are starting to arrive. I had no idea so many people rely on this type of charity to get by. Probably the only chance they have for a decent meal. I feel lucky to be able to help.

I share today the recipe I took on my first participation (April 26th) and after that a list of what I’ve made so far.  It would be pointless to blog on each of them, unless I wanted my blog to turn into a baking site at the expense of general cooking, which is not my intention.

COCONUT TRES LECHES CAKE
(adapted from this recipe)

for the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour (130 g)
1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 whole eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar, divided (215 g)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk (82 g)

for soaking after baking:
6 oz coconut milk (1/2 can, well-shaken)
1 can sweetened, condensed milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

for the icing:
1 pint heavy cream
3 Tablespoons Sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high-speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high-speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

Combine condensed milk, coconut milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1/3 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. I actually allowed it to sit in the fridge overnight, lightly covered with aluminum foil. To ice the cake, whip the heavy cream with the sugar until thick and spreadable.

Spread over the surface of the cake, you might not need all the amount made, but a thick layer of icing should be your goal. Decorate cake if you like, with toppings of your choice. Cut into squares and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I chose this cake for my first contribution to Common Table because it was by far the most popular cake I’ve ever made to our department. I was curious about adding a hint of coconut to it, and when I tried a bit of the cake trimmings, I knew it was going to be another winner.  It was very well-received in that meal. If you like Tres Leches, try this version, you won’t be disappointed.

And now, let me share the bakes I’ve made since then…

Millionaire’s Shortbread Bars
(May 3rd)

 

Raspberry-Rose Petit Fours
(May 10th)

 


Chocolate Cake Pops

(May 17th)

 

Chocolate Raspberry Celebration Cake
(a smaller version of this one)

(May 24th)

Chocolate Blood Orange Curd Cake
(May 31st)

 

Come to think of it, it’s clear I’ve been playing the chocolate tune quite strongly…
Must add a bit more variety from now on.
😉

ONE YEAR AGO: The Daisy, a Bread with Brioche Alter-Ego

TWO YEARS AGO: Pork Tenderloin, Braciole Style

THREE YEARS AGO: Raspberry Buckle

FOUR YEARS AGO: Seafood Gratin for a Special Dinner

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-Vide: Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Loin

SIX YEARS AGO:  Farewell to a Bewitching Kitchen

SEVEN YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen. June 2012

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Goodbye L.A.

NINE YEARS AGO: 7-6-5 Pork Tenderloin

 

A BRAZILIAN HUMMINGBIRD

Hummingbird Cake is a classic concotion quite common in Southern regions of the US. Today I share with you my Brazilian take on this classic, which I am calling Beija-Flor Cake. As you may have guessed, Beija-Flor is Portuguese for hummingbird. A three-layer cake very moist with banana, mango, and passion fruit, with a bit of texture given by Brazil nuts. Everyone loved it, including the resident critic, grandson and son of fantastic bakers, the man I married 19 years ago.  He actually said (and I should have captured it in a video) that the frosting was as good as his Grandma’s.  My heart missed 3 beats in a row. Obviously, I am very happy with this bake!

BEIJA-FLOR CAKE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by this recipe)

recipe is enough for 4 cakes,  only 3 cake layers were used for the final dessert)

1 + 1/4 cup chopped Brazil nuts
3 cups (370g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 and 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice (or use cinnamon plus a touch of cloves)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup mango coarsely pureed
½ cup passionfruit pulp
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup (200g) packed brown sugar
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla paste   

Heat the oven to 300°F. Spread Brazil nuts onto a lined baking pan. Toast for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Turn oven up to 350°F, then grease and lightly flour four 6-inch cake pans.

Whisk the flour, baking soda, mixed spice and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the rest of the cake ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Fold in the nuts. Spread batter evenly between the 4 prepared cake pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove cakes from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. Once completely cooled, remove cakes from pan and level the tops off if necessary to make them completely flat.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
(adapted from Sweet Bake Shop)  

2 cups (450 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup (110 g) cream cheese, softened
5½ cups (700 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 to 3 drops yellow and orange gel food dye
¾ cup yellow and orange sprinkles

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.

With the mixer running on low-speed, slowly add the confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla, then turn the mixer up to medium speed and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then beat again on medium speed again for a few seconds. Use immediately or store in the fridge for a couple of days.

CAKE ASSEMBLY:  Place 3/4 cup frosting in a small bowl and dye it yellow. Place 3/4 frosting in another small bowl and dye it orange. Prepare two small piping bags (with no icing tips) containing the two colors, each in one bag. Carefully cut the tips with scissors, and place them delicately in a larger piping bag fitted with a 1M tip or any other tip of your choice. Make sure the opening of both bags are at the same distance of the 1M tip. Test that both colors are coming out together. Reserve.  Add sprinkles to the rest of the frosting that was not dyed.

Place the first cake on a board, cut side up.  Add a layer of frosting with sprinkles. Add another cake on top, cut side up.  Spread a bit more frosting, top with the final cake, cut side down (this makes sure that the top will be smooth and leveled).  Add a thin layer of frosting and refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, or place in the freezer for about 10 minutes to set the frosting.

Frost the cake, top and sides, then use the two-color frosting to pipe decorative swirls on the bottom and top.  Refrigerate and bring to room temperature 30 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Hummingbird Cake originated in Jamaica, containing banana and pineapple as the main flavors, plus pecans and spices such as cinnamon and cloves. It is normally covered with cream cheese frosting. I wanted to make a version with Brazilian flavors, so I used mangos and passionfruit. I kept the banana component since I imagined it would be important in the texture of the cake.  Brazil nuts seemed a natural choice, and with that in mind, my “Beija-Flor Cake” was born. In the composite below, you can see that the cake is not as massive as it might seem.  It is not a small cake, but definitely not humongous. See the little yogurt bottle next to it for perspective.

Traditionally, Hummingbird Cakes have a homey, rustic look which I find quite appealing, but I wanted to try something a bit different, and opted for a smooth frosting with yellow and orange sprinkles to reflect the fruits used in the cake. A small amount of sprinkle-free frosting was dyed in the same two colors and used for piping. The frosting is very easy to make and much more forgiving to spread than a classic buttercream, so if you are absolutely paranoid about a bit afraid of frosting a cake, this is a very good starting point.

My apologies for not showing the picture of a slice. We cut one slice to “test-taste” it the evening before, but the first slice never cuts too well. We took the cake to the department next morning, and I completely forgot all about it. By the time I got to the mail room hoping to snap a picture, it was too late. It was a big hit with our colleagues and graduate students. I liked how moist and flavorful it turned out, but in my opinion the passionfruit flavor was not prominent enough. Next time I will skip the banana, and maybe stick with two fruits only, for instance mango and passionfruit. Those are the ideas floating in my mind for a new version. The frosting will stay exactly the same.  A total winner, that will show up again in future bakings. You can count on that.

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