Well whadya know? This little blog of mine is now one year old and I feel like celebrating! I even baked a cake! This little site which started as a hobby has turned into something amazing for me. I have met so many incredible people that I hope to meet in person someday and formed some amazing friendships. Unlike Julie Powell, I think food bloggers are some of the best people in the world.
I thought it would be a fun to take a trip down memory lane and highlight some of my favorite and popular posts from the past year. This is going to be long as there were over three hundred to pick from. Sit back and relax...
One of the best things about food blogging is getting to try new techniques and try things in the kitchen that I would not have done before. One of my favorite (and most delicious) experiments were successful French macarons. It took me a couple of tries, but look how delicious they turned out. I can't wait to make them again.
The Daring Bakers French yule log was quite a terrifying experience, but it in the end it was great to learn so many new techniques and made me really love and appreciate the stand mixer.
I finally tried my hand at making my own ice cream both with and without a machine. Pomegranate ice cream without a machine:
Star anise and vanilla bean ice cream with a machine (and check it, The Spice House loved my pic so much, they use it on their website):
Not everything I make is difficult. Actually, most things I make are quite simple. Here are some of my simple favorites.
Bacon and Tomato Hash was so delicious, I think I made it four times in one weekend.
Figs with Ricotta and Pistachios were a delicious way to use one of my favorite summer fruits.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies brought back wonderful memories of cookies my friend's mom used to make when I was a kid.
I try to keep things mostly healthy around here, but I really can't resist an extravagant treat. Ever had chicken and waffles? If not, try this. You'll love them. I promise.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. Nuff said.
One of my focuses on this site is local and sustainable food so I was very excited to attend one of the Taste Pavillions at Slow Food Nation last summer. I am looking forward to participating in more Slow Food events in the future.
After months of drooling over delicious dessert posts, I finally joined the Daring Bakers, and most recently the Daring Cooks. Some of the challenges have been amazing and actually pretty simple.
And others, not so much...
You guys have put up with me with some of my obsessions including figs, pomegranates, and Adele. I am lucky you indulge me and keep coming back.
As for this cake, I put out a request via Twitter for a good celebration cake. Many, many thanks to Hilda of Saffron & Blueberry for picking the winner! This was so fun to make and I am glad I had a chance to since it was a Daring Bakers pick before I joined. It also gave me a chance to try a swiss buttercream which was something I had never done before. I loved it although I do think it had a bit too much lemon juice. I love lemon and strawberries together. (Evidence) I used a strawberry perseves in the filling. Use good preserves in this cake, it makes a difference. Obviously my cake decorating and cutting skills need some work, but overall I thought it was pretty great. Alright, I think this is officially my longest post ever so I am going to stop talking now. Thanks for making it a great year and cheers for even better things to come!
Perfect Party Cake
(Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours)
Makes 1 4.5-inch cake
For the cake:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the Buttercream:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice*
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup seedless strawberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter two 4.5-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them
and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)
To Make the Buttercream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the Cake: Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
Serving: The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but it’s best to let it set for a couple of hours in a cool room. Serve it at room temperature with anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.
*I found this a little too lemony, you may want to reduce the amount to 1 tablespoon for a small cake or use 2 tablespoons if doubling the recipe.