LEMON ALMOND CAKE WITH CRANBERRY GLAZE

Fifteen years ago, if you arrived in our place anytime during the weekend, chances are the FoodTV would be on. Great selection of wonderful shows, a lot to learn in a very entertaining way. Not the case anymore. Even my favorite show, The Kitchen – which I still watch every Saturday – caters more and more to grocery store shortcuts, in a kind of indirect advertisement that irritates me. I am 99% sure Chef Geoffrey Zakarian does not fall for the stuff promoted in the show. It was not the case in the beginning, but obviously money speaks loud. Why do I still tune in? I like those four people together, they have a nice chemistry going on, and every once in a while I find a gem of a recipe (like Jeff Mauro’s eggplant parmigiana). But coming back to what matters, there is one show on the Food Network I like a lot: Girl Meets Farm, with Molly Yeh, a beautiful, super energetic and fun-loving girl who cooks pretty eclectic food, influenced by her Chinese and Jewish backgrounds.  And, she loves to bake. From scratch. No cake mixes and shortcuts. There you go. This delicious example came straight from one episode I watched last year. You know, back in 2018.

LEMON ALMOND CAKE WITH CRANBERRY GLAZE
(slightly modified from Girl Meets Farm)

for the cake:
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (180 g)
1/2 cup almond flour (48 g)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt (185 g)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
1 + 1/4 cups granulated sugar (250 g)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (about 160 g)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

for the glaze:
1/2 cup (50 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more if necessary
Pinch kosher salt
sprinkles to decorate (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. I used a Silikomart mold called Water Drop, and 4 small cupcake type molds.

Whisk together the flour, almond flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, salt, baking soda and zest in a medium bowl. Mix the yogurt and lemon juice in a separate small bowl until very smooth. Whisk together the granulated sugar and olive oil in a large bowl until well combined. Add the eggs to the olive oil mixture, one at a time, whisking very well after each, then stir in the almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and yogurt mixture to the olive oil mixture in three alternating additions, whisking after each until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the cranberry glaze: Combine the cranberries with 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until the cranberries start to break down and release their juices, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the cranberries and their juices into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Press the mixture through the sieve with a spatula, making sure to scrape off the bottom of the sieve and adding that to the bowl as well. Add the powdered sugar and salt to the bowl and mix until it comes together into a spreadable glaze.  If the glaze is too thick, add a couple drops of water until it’s thin enough to spread. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar. Pour over the cooled cake.

Decorate with sprinkles or slivered almonds, if you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is a recipe for cake-o-phobes, simple, no need to even get your KitchenAid out to play. The cake is moist, satisfying, and don’t even think about omitting the glaze, it is just fantastic. The type of glaze that tempts you to go at it with a small knife when no one is looking and turn any leftover cake into its naked self. No, I did not do it. Just considered it. Very seriously so.

My glaze was a bit thick, so it did not show the ridges on the baking pans too well, but I still like the delicate effect, the suggestion of a pattern underneath. Lemon, almond, cranberries and poppy seeds. Keep this combination in mind, it’s a real winner!

Molds used in this bake: Silikomart Water Drop and Silikomart Parfum. If you have information on programs for recovering silicone mold-addicts, please be so kind and leave me their number in a comment.  Thank you.

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APPLE & SOBACHA-CARAMEL DOME CAKE


I absolutely adore individual dome cakes. They are small, cute, and if you gild the lily with a mirror-glaze, they have the potential to seriously awe your guests. For this version, I paired two classic flavors, apple and caramel, but the caramel was perfumed with sobacha tea. As I mentioned not too long ago, I am (still) in a Japanese-ingredient obsessive mode, which explains why sobacha made its way into our kitchen. I have to share another little obsession with you: online classes from Savour.com, an Australian website that is simply amazing. My favorite instructor is Kirsten Tibballs, but they have classes by other chefs, all worth every minute of your spare time. The sobacha caramel was an idea from Chef Jerome Landrieu, another instructor from Savour. I paired that with an apple compote, and a white chocolate mousse. All sitting together over a hazelnut sable cookie.

The fun can be spread over three days. On the first day, make the cookies and the apple-yuzu insert. On the second day, make the sobacha-caramel, the white chocolate mousse, assemble the cakes and freeze them. On the third day, make the mirror glaze and coat the cakes. Keep them in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.

APPLE & SOBACHA-CARAMEL DOME CAKES
(inspired by Savour.com and other sources)

makes six to eight individual portions

You will need: half-sphere silicone pans, large and small (I used this and this)
round cookie cutter for sable base

for the sable cookie:
50g hazelnut flour
160g unsalted butter, cold
250g all-purpose flour
50g powdered sugar
50g granulated sugar
40g whole eggs

for the apple-yuzu insert:
300g granny smith apples
30g yuzu juice (or substitute lemon juice)
1/2 tsp vanilla paste
35g granulated sugar
4g NH pectin

for the sobacha-caramel:
120g heavy whipping cream
10g sobacha tea
cream to bring up to volume after infusing
150 g maple syrup
110 g brown sugar
75g sweetened condensed milk (about 1/4 cup)
85 g corn syrup (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 

for the white chocolate mousse:
6 g gelatin (200 bloom)
30 g cold water
175 + 200 g heavy cream (divided)
190 g white chocolate, finely diced
1 T fresh lemon juice

for the mirror glaze:
2½ sheets (4g) of Platinum grade sheet gelatine
120ml water
150 g liquid glucose
150 g granulated or caster sugar
100 g condensed milk
150 g white chocolate, chopped fairly small
1/2 tsp titanium oxide
yellow and green gel food coloring (about 3 to 1)
caramel gel food coloring
golden sprinkles and milk covered hazelnuts for decoration

Make the sable cookies. Add the butter and the hazelnut flour into a food processor. Process a few times until the  mixture looks like sand. Add the rest of the dry ingredients, pulse a few times. Do not over-process to the point it will come together as a dough. Now add the egg (beat one egg and add the exact weight called for in the recipe). Pulse the processor two or three times, stop immediately and finish the dough by hand. You want to bring the dough together without over-working because now that liquid was added (through the egg), working the dough too much will develop gluten.

Roll the dough quickly on a lightly floured surface to cover more or less the extension of a quarter-sheet baking pan, the thickness should be around 3mm. Place the rolled dough in the fridge for about one hour, then cut circles of the exact diameter of the dome pan you will use for the cakes. This dough won’t spread or shrink, so you can exercise precision.  Place the cookies on a baking sheet (perforated, if available), and bake at 350 F for about 12 minutes. They do not need to develop color, just fully bake.  Reserve.

Make the apple-yuzu insert. Peel and dice the apples into 5 mm cubes. Combine the sugar and pectin in a small bowl and transfer to a saucepan. Add the yuzu or lemon juice to the saucepan and mix everything together. Turn the heat on to medium, add the apples and the vanilla. Cook very very gently with the lid on for 10 to 15 minutes or until the apples get translucent and start to melt down a bit. You will need to stir it often, so that the fruit does not burn at the bottom. Make sure the flame is really low for the whole cooking time. Place portions in a small mold that will work as an insert for the dome cake. You can alternatively spread the compote as a thick layer and cut small rounds to use as insert after it is frozen.  Freeze the molds containing the apple mixture for a few hours or overnight.

Make the sobacha-caramel.  Infuse the heavy cream with sobacha tea by bringing the heavy cream to almost a full boil and adding the tea. Turn the heat off, cover the pan and let it sit for 10 minutes. Drain the tea away, weigh the heavy cream and complete with fresh cream to restore the full 120g (some of it will be lost when the tea is sieved).

Combine the maple syrup, sugar, sobacha-cream, milk, corn syrup, and salt in a saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the mixture reaches 240 F (115 C). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let it cool until it has spreadable consistency. You can place it in a piping bag (no piping tip needed) or use a small spatula to spread a very thin layer over the sable cookies that will be the base of the dome cake. Reserve in the fridge until ready to assemble the dessert.

Make the white chocolate mousse. Mix the gelatin with water and allow it to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Heat 175 g of heavy cream in a saucepan until bubbles appear around the edges.  Pour over the white chocolate, add the bloomed gelatin, stir gently until chocolate is dissolved. Add the lemon juice and reserve. Whip the remaining 200 g of heavy cream (very cold from the fridge) until it reaches the consistency of melted ice cream. Fold gently into the reserved white chocolate mixture.

Assemble the dessert. Add a bit of mousse to the bottom of the large half-sphere mold. Place a frozen apple-yuzu insert on top, don’t press too hard, so that it won’t show on the surface. Fill almost to the top with mousse, then place the caramel-coated sable floating on top, with the caramel side down. Flatten everything well, if needed add additional mousse on the edges. Freeze overnight.

Make the mirror glaze. Put the water, sugar and liquid glucose in a small pan and bring to simmering point, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and let it stand for about 5 minutes. This is the base syrup for the glaze. Meanwhile, soak the gelatin in some cold water for about 15 minutes. Squeeze out the excess water and stir into the hot water, sugar and liquid glucose mixture to dissolve. Stir in the condensed milk.

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour this hot mixture slowly over the chocolate, stirring gently to melt it, avoid making bubbles. A stick immersion blender works great, but you must keep the blades fully submerged at all times. If bubbles are present, pass the mixture through a fine sieve. Add 1/2 tsp titanium oxide to the mixture, divide in two portions, one very large, one about 1/3 cup. Color the large amount light green, trying to mimic the color of a Granny Smith apple. Start with 3:1 yellow to green and adjust as you mix. Color the smaller amount with a caramel tone, and place in a squirt bottle.  Reserve both until they reach pourable temperature. The ideal temperature to pour the glaze is 92 to 94 F.  Once they reach that temperature, remove the cakes from the freezer, un-mold them and set them over a rack placed on top of a baking sheet. Glaze them with the light green mirror glaze, then make a drizzle with the caramel color.

If you want, add sprinkles and a chocolate-covered hazelnut on top. Keep in the fridge for at least one hour up to overnight before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: I guess this is the longest recipe I’ve ever published, I am a bit tired just from reading it… The secret of this type of dessert that sounds like a culinary marathon, is dividing the work in several days. Once you do that, you wont’ feel overwhelmed at all. The toughest part of this recipe was dicing the apple, but it becomes a bit of a Zen thing. And when you look at the pieces later, it looks incredibly cool.

Yuzu juice. Tough to find, this time I had to resort to amazon, but if you live in a place with a well-stocked Japanese section, you might be able to get some. If you don’t have it, second best option would be Meyer lemon, or go for a mixture of lemon and lime juice (1:1) and call it a day. The yuzu adds a very intriguing citric flavor, so I advise you to try it at least once. As you can see from the first composite picture, I had two different sizes of molds for the inserts. The white one is a Silikomart “Stone”, and it ended up too big for the spheres I chose. Looking at the final dessert, I think that I could have made the insert even smaller, so that it would have more mousse. It’s a tough call. Phil liked it just the way it was.

Sobacha tea. It is a buckwheat product also not very easy to find (in other words, must amazon-it). I made some as a regular tea to try, it has a pretty unique flavor, a bit smoky, maybe. It was spectacular in the caramel, added a lot to it. If you don’t find it, just make a regular caramel without it. Now did you notice the bottom right picture? It is my new toy, a batter dispenser… I am so in love with it! It makes a very messy job a lot less messy, although to take a picture of the action I got in considerable amount of trouble. My beloved was not around and I had to use all my coordination to get that shot. Things were not always smooth. I will spare you of all sordid details, but it’s amazing what a little mousse can do on black boots. You can see my stylish dispenser better in this shot:


Isn’t it a thing of pure beauty and functionality? It has three different sizes of opening at the bottom, I used the largest one for this job. They can be twisted on and off, and stored on the handle. I will showcase it better in my next In My Kitchen post. Stay tuned.

Mirror glaze: The dome cakes un-molded perfectly and had a very smooth surface. The most important thing is to coat them right away, to prevent condensation to form  as they sit at room temperature. Pour from the top in a circular movement, and make sure you do a 360 degrees check, because sometimes small bits at the bottom might not get covered. There is some room for tweaking and the amount of glaze I shared is more than enough to cover six to eight cakes.


So here it is, my baby-dome cake sliced in half so you can see inside. I have a hard time deciding if the size of the insert is good as it is, or smaller would be better. The caramel layer is very sweet so a thin layer is all that you’ll need. The apple-yuzu compote stole the show… As you can see from the first composite picture, it made quite a few. In fact, I halved the recipe to share in this post, because it made so much. I have some ideas to use it in the future, will de-frost them and freeze again in a different size and shape for a future entremet type cake. For the time being, they are hibernating in the freezer, together with leftover mirror glaze. Best friends forever.

I hope you enjoyed this long post, and perhaps consider venturing in the world of mousse cakes. It is a lot of fun, the thrill of coating a cake with mirror glaze never seems to get old. I think it’s as addictive as baking macarons!

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