Category Archives: Cake

French Apple Cake

I think it’s been 6 months since I last posted. I even thought about giving up my little blog. In the end, though, I think I’ll keep going.

I’ve been wanting to this cake for weeks. It’s simple, custardy, and more apple than cake. Here’s the link to the recipe. It’s delicious and super fruity. Make it. Oh, an eat it with ice cream.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

When I think red velvet, I think Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara—sitting in a grand dining hall, dressed in ball gowns AND eating red velvet cake. Well, Rhett wouldn’t have worn a dress, but they could have eaten cupcakes.

For my first experience with this cake, I have to admit slight disappointment. At least I can cross it off my list of “Must Try” foods. Without the frosting, all I taste is a cavity waiting to happen. Taste aside, however, as a cake or cupcake, they’re absolutely gorgeous, like seriously stunning. The deep, intense red is so sexy. I loooove it!

So I followed the recipe exactly, except for the frosting, to which I added a cup of coconut flakes—because coconut makes everything taste better. This makes 24 cupcakes, but I halved the amounts and just made 12.

Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (ever so slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated via Gonna Want Seconds)

printable recipe

Makes 24 cupcakes or two 9-inch cake layers

INGREDIENTS

Cake

2 1/4 cups (11 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of table salt

1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup whole or reduced-fat milk plus 1 tbsp lemon juice (let sit for at least 10 min.)

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder

1-1 ounce bottle red food coloring

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

4 cups (16 ounces) confectioner’s sugar

16 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 8 pieces

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

pinch of table salt

1 cup dried, unsweetened grated coconut, optional

METHOD

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans or line cupcake pans with liners.
  2. In a medium bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In another bowl add buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla and eggs and whisk to combine.
  4. Sift cocoa into a small bowl the mix with food coloring until it forms a paste.
  5. Beat butter and sugar together, in a standing mixer, set on medium, for 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl.
  6. Add 1/3 of flour mixture and and beat on medium speed just until it’s incorporated. Add 1/2 the buttermilk mixture and beat on low until combined.  Scrape down the bowl. Add 1/3 of flour mixture and beat on medium until incorporate. Add the rest of buttermilk mixture beat on low until combine. Add last 1/3 of flour mixture and beat on medium until just combined.  Scrape down the bowl.
  7. Add the cocoa paste mixture and beat on medium until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl and make sure the bottom of the batter is incorporating as well. Give the batter a final good stir with a rubber spoonula to mix completely and pour into prepared pans.
  8. Bake cake/cupcakes in preheated oven about 25 minutes for cake and 20 minutes for cupcakes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (18 would’ve sufficed for me.) Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

Frosting

  1. In a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time, and beat until incorporate. Beat in vanilla, salt and if using, grated coconut. Spread or pipe on completely cooled cakes/cupcakes.

Carrot Cake with Dulce de Leche Buttercream

A lot of things got put on hold after I left for Peru, including this blog! But now I am back and so is Little Baker SF 🙂 I made this cake for someone’s birthday a few months back, but never got around to posting it…probably because the only picture I took I ended up trashing. It looked like someone had attacked it with claws! Actually, “it” was 50 hungry birthday guests 😛 I’m taking it as a compliment!

In making this, I pulled from two sources: Vanilla Sugar for the cake itself and Joy the Baker for the buttercream and for assembly help. Both awesome recipes (and amazing blogs), I’m really pleased with the way they paired together in the final product. (Not that there could ever be anything wrong with carrot cake, dulce de leche and frosting—together or apart.)

The cake has everything a carrot cake should: sweetness from the carrots and raisins, spice from the cinnamon and nutmeg and crunch from the pecans. And the dulce de leche buttercream…dreamy.

Make it. You’ll love it.

Believe me.

Birthday Carrot Cake with Dulce De Leche Buttercream

Makes 1 two-layer 23 cm cake

INGREDIENTS

Carrot Cake (via Vanilla Sugar)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves (I omitted this.)

1/2 tsp table salt

1 lb. medium carrots (about 6-7), peeled

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar (I omitted this too.)

4 large eggs

1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil

1 1/2 cups raisins

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

Dulche de Leche Buttercream (from The Pastry Queen via Joy the Baker)

1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened

3 tbsp heavy cream (I used reduced-fat milk)

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 cups powdered sugar

a pinch of salt

3/4 cup prepared dulce de leche (I used Nestle’s Manjar Blanco available in Peru)

METHOD

Cake

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 F / 175 C. Spray two 23 cm springform tins with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment and spray parchment.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in large bowl; set aside.
  3. Shred carrots, which should yield about 3 cups. Transfer the carrots to a bowl and set aside.
  4. With a whisk or hand mixer, process granulated and brown sugars and eggs until frothy and thoroughly combined, about 20 seconds. Still whisking or with the hand mixer running, add oil in a steady stream. Whisk or mix until the batter is light in color and well emulsified, about 20 seconds longer. Scrape mixture into medium bowl. Stir in carrots and dry ingredients until incorporated and no streaks of flour remain. Finally, gently stir in the raisins and chopped pecans until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 F / 175 C until toothpick or skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 45-50 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking time. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours. (If you omit raisins and nuts, reduce baking time by 10-15 minutes.)

Buttercream

  1. Cream together softened butter and powdered sugar on low using an electric mixer.
  2. Add the milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth and no lumps appear.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add the prepared dulce de leche and beat to incorporate.  Set aside until ready to use. (Do not refrigerate; it will harden and will not spread if you do.)

Assembly (adapted from Joy the Baker)

  1. On your cake platter or plate, lay the first cake layer top-side up. If uneven, use a serrated knife to trim.
  2. Put about 3/4 of the frosting into the center of the cake layer. Then with an frosting spatula, spread the frosting evenly around the cake surface until you reach the edges.
  3. On a second cake plate, lay the second cake layer, again, top-side up. As with the first layer, if it is uneven, trim with a serrated knife. Next, carefully lay it top-side down onto the first cake layer, onto the frosting.
  4. Gently press the top of the cake down to make sure it is even. Dollop about 1 cup of frosting onto the center of the top of the cake and, again, using your frosting spatula, spread the frosting evenly around the cake surface towards the edges of the cake. Smooth the center. (Frosting will accumulate at the edges if there is excess, which is fine. You will use it to frost the sides.)
  5. Run the frosting spatula under hot water. (This will help you smooth the icing out.) With your clean spatula, scoop up some frosting and spread it across the sides of the cake. Keep doing this until, turning the cake, until all sides are frosted and somewhat smooth. (Don’t worry if it’s not smooth; you will smooth it out the second time you apply frosting.)
  6. Clean your spatula again. With a light but firm touch, place the front edge of the icing spatula along the seam where the side of the cake meets the top of the cake.  (Icing has accumulated here and is creating a rough border to the cake.)  Hold the spatula firmly in one place along this icing seam and slowly being to rotate the revolving cake stand—moving the cake, but not the knife, to smooth the top.  You can leave the icing as rough and rustic, or smooth as you’d like. Clean any stray icing at the base of the cake, or on the cake board with a damp paper towel.

Summer Fruit Cake

Ah, summer in San Francisco. Only here on a warm 80 deg. day is it necessary to pack a sweater and scarf in your purse/bag just in case it gets chilly…and believe me, it always does.  The fickle nature of the weather here has made me truly appreciate those rare run-around-in-shorts days. This Saturday was one of those days. Sunday, too, actually.

I spent most of the weekend outside laying out in the sun, trying to make up for being cold for a year. The only time I was inside was when I was baking this cake. I went a little crazy at the Farmer’s Market—organic peaches and apricots for $0.75/lb. and cherries for $1/lb.? I couldn’t help myself—so had a lot of fruit to use up.

After looking at like 50 recipes for cakes, galettes, and pies, I finally decided on a Joy of Baking recipe for Cherry Cake. It’s a no-fuss, yet pretty cake that is texture-wise a cross between a cake and a clafoutis, i.e. it’s very moist. Flavor-wise, it’s mildly citrusy and sweet and super fruity. I love how the juice from the fruit flavors and sweetens the batter, and also, how you get a piece a fruit with every bite! Tastes like summer…yum.

Enjoy!

Summer Fruit Cake

(adapted from a recipe found on Joy of Baking)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb (454 grams) fresh fruit (I used cherries, peaches and apricots)

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 large eggs

3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar (I used evaporated cane sugar)

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter,  melted and cooled

1/3 cup (80 ml) milk

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

Zest of 1 lemon

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F (205 deg. C).  Butter and flour an 9-inch (23 cm) spring form pan and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  2. Rinse, dry, and prepare the fruit however you see fit, i.e. peel, remove stone fruit pits, and slice. (I peeled the peaches, then halved and removed the pits from the peaches and apricots, and sliced. For the cherries, I used the end of a round-tipped chopstick to push out the pits, then cut each in half.)  Set aside about 1/2 of the prepped fruit and set aside for topping the cake later.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and lemon colored (about 3-5 minutes).  Add the melted butter, milk, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat just until incorporated.  (I warmed the milk in the microwave just slightly and added in the vanilla bean to infuse in more flavor.) Add the flour mixture and stir just until moistened.  Gently fold in the fruit (but not the half that you have reserved for the top of the cake).   Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven.   Quickly arrange the remaining fruit (cherries cut side down) on the top of the cake.  Return the cake to the oven and bake for a further 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake portion comes out clean. (Mine was not very golden, so I turned the broiler on high and let the cake brown for a minute or two.)
  6. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool slightly.
  7. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of softly whipped cream.

Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake

Calling this a cheesecake is a bit misleading. It’s really more like a cream cheese pound cake in flavor and somewhere in between pound cake and angel food cake in texture.

It’s light and airy like a souffle and modest in sweetness and cream cheese flavor. Quick to put together too! I’ve noted all my “tips” below 😛 I also only made half the recipe. Unfortunately, I realized too late that my brother still has my little springform bottom, so I had to use the full-size springform, which is why my cake looks so squat. Despite appearances, it came out perrrrfectly!

Enjoy!

Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake (Recipe adapted from The Little Teochew)

INGREDIENTS

140 g superfine sugar

6 egg whites

6 egg yolks

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

50 g unsalted butter

250 g cream cheese

100 ml milk (I used non-fat)

1 tbsp lemon juice (I skipped this)

60 g cake flour (I shouldn’t have, but I did—I used all-purpose, sifted 3 times, and it was fine. P.S. I bought cake flour today 😛)

20 g cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

8-inch cake pan or springform, lightly greased and bottom and sides lined with parchment paper

large baking tray (for the bain marie/water bath)

METHOD

  1. Melt the cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler; set aside. Once cooled, fold in the flour, corn starch, egg yolks, salt, and lemon juice until combined.
  2. Using a handmixer, whisk the egg whites until just foamy; add the cream of tartar and continue mixing for another 10 or so seconds. While mixing, gradually add in the sugar. Mix until soft peaks form. (Be careful not to overmix. Too stiff peaks will weigh down the batter and may cause your cake to collapse more during baking.)
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 325 C (160 C).
  4. With a rubber spatula, gently fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the cheese batter. (This will bring the batter consistency closer to that of the egg whites and result in less air loss.) Gently and quickly fold in the remaining egg whites until completely combined. Pour the batter into your prepared cake pan/springform. (If using a springform, rap the base of your cake tin with aluminium foil to prevent seepage.)
  5. Bake the cheesecake in the center of your oven in a water bath for 1 hour 10 minutes or until set and golden brown.
  6. Leave to cool in the oven with the door ajar for about 1 hour. (Sudden changes in temperature may cause the cake to cool too quickly and collapse.)

Chocolate Almond Torte

This. Is. Gooooood. Deep, dark and nutty, this cake is more intense than  chocolate cake yet less dense than a flourless torte.  The whole house has been nibbling on it all week—and it’s still moist and flavorful. I’m convinced even that it tastes better now than when I first tried it.

I made this on a whim last Sunday, brought in one-third to the office and served it on Tuesday for another roomie night. I will most definitely be making this again!

Chocolate Almond Torte (original recipe from Joy of Baking)

INGREDIENTS

7 oz (200 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

11 tbsp (150 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar, divided

4 large eggs, separated

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup (100 g) finely ground almonds

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place oven rack in the middle of the oven.  Place the sliced or blanched almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Once completely cooled, place the nuts in a blender or small food processor and process until finely ground. Note:  The almonds need to be at room temperature before grinding to prevent them from clumping.  If you find the almonds still clump when you ground them, add about 1 tablespoon (13 grams) of the sugar from the recipe.  The sugar will help prevent clumping as it absorbs any oil exuded from the almonds.
  2. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and line an 8 inch (20 cm) springform pan with parchment paper.  Set aside.
  3. Separate the cold eggs, placing the egg yolks in one bowl and the egg whites in another.   Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until they reach room temperature (about 30 minutes).
  4. Melt the chopped chocolate and butter in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water.  Once melted, remove from heat.
  5. Meanwhile place the egg yolks and 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.  Cream the yolks and sugar until pale and thick (about 2 to 3 minutes).  Beat in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla extract.  Fold in the ground almonds.
  6. In a clean bowl, place the egg whites and whisk until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking until soft peaks form.  Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar and whisk until stiff peak forms.  Fold about 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate batter to lighten it.  Quickly fold in the rest of the whites and mix only until incorporated.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 to 50 (40 was sufficient for me) minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake has a few moist crumbs.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.  The cake will rise during baking but falls during cooling, leaving a crisp and cracked crust.  Once cool, run a spatula around the inside of the pan before releasing the sides.  If not serving immediately, cover and place in the refrigerator.   Serve cold or at room temperature.  Dust with powdered (icing or confectioners) sugar.

Can’t Sleep Banana Almond Cake

It’s late, and I’m exhausted—got some disappointing news at work, was distracted at yoga and am just a little sad that the person I want most by my side is not. Seems like a day to sleep off and forget about.

I wish.

Tonight is not that night. I can’t sleep. And the only thing I can think to do instead is bake.

So that’s just what I’ve done.

Three ugly, black bananas have been sitting in the fridge for God knows how long. They’re not mine, but somehow I don’t think either L. or M. will mind. Rescued from near death and brought back to life in the form of a banana almond cake. I could’ve made banana bread—predictable. boring. I thought about banana upside down cake—But slicing? Right now? No. So this slightly more creative than quickbread and slightly less fussy than upside down cake recipe fit the bill for my sleepless night.

The original recipe (from Zomtbakes) called for topping the cake with a honey-mascarpone-pistachio frosting. This sounds great, but who ever “just happens to have” a tub of mascarpone in their fridge? Not me. Also, if I were to put on my food purist hat, I would say that the frosting—as is often the case—is unnecessary as it would corrupt the natural aroma of the bananas. Then again, who doesn’t love frosting (not gross Safeway frosting but smooth, creamy, ever so mildly tart mascarpone frosting)?

In the end, I just needed something to fill the hours of this sleepless night. This was good. Try it.

(Posting pics tomorrow morning. I’m sleepy! Yay!)


Banana Almond Cake (adapted from Zomtbakes)

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp butter, at room temp., plus a little extra for greasing

160 g (3/4 cup) soft brown sugar

1 egg, at room temp.

1 tsp almond extract

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup almond meal

3 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup flaked almonds, plus a little extra for topping.

METHOD

  1. Beat together the butter and brown sugar until smooth and creamy. Add the egg and almond extract and continue to beat until smooth. Then beat through the mashed up banana; don’t worry if there are some banana chunks in there.
  2. Combine the whole wheat flour, ground almonds & baking powder. With a spatula, fold the flour mixture into the banana mixture until smooth. Then fold through the milk until all smooth.
  3. Spoon the batter into a greased springform, tapping the side with a wooden spoon, in order to get a smooth surface. Sprinkle a small handful of flaked almonds over the top.
  4. Bake at 170 C (ca. 340) for around 40-45 minutes. Check it at the 30 minute mark as you don’t want to over cook this. The top should be nice and golden. (I had to bake mine for an additional 10 minutes before the cake was finally cooked all the way through.)

Pastel de Tres Leches (Three-Milk Cake)

I’ve been wanting to make Pastel de Tres Leches (Three-Milk Cake) for weeks now. But cake is not one of those desserts you can make just because. So since before Christmas, I’ve been waiting for a good reason to make this. And tonight, I got one.

Liam and I were invited over to his friend Amy’s house for dinner. She made this amazing picadillo-plaintain lasagne. And for dessert, I made my cake!

It’s a pretty basic, straightforward recipe, which takes zip time to put together and bake. The exciting part is mixing the tres leches together and then pouring the mixture over the cake. Like a sponge, the cake absorbs all that sweet, sticky goodness and becomes this rich, moist but not soggy pudding-cake. Seriously good stuff.

I loved eating this cake as much as I did making it.  I would’ve enjoyed a stronger vanilla flavor and a little less sugar, so next time I’ll probably make these adjustments.

Enjoy!

Pastel de Tres Leches / Tres Leches Cake (adapted from a recipe from The Pioneer Woman)

INGREDIENTS

Cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1  1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

5 whole eggs

1 cup sugar, divided

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup milk (I used whole, but I think non-fat could be substituted)

1 cup evaporated milk

1 cup sweetened, condensed milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

Icing (optional–I dusted the top with confectioners’ sugar instead)

1 pint heavy cream, for whipping

3 tbsp sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9×13 inch pan liberally until coated. (I used a 9-inch springform.)
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Separate the eggs. Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.
  4. Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until the egg whites are stiff but not dry.
  5. Fold the egg white mixture into the batter very gently, until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan and spread to even out the surface. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn the cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.
  6. Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When the cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle the milk mixture over the cake—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can. Allow the cake to absorb the liquid for 3o minutes (or overnight works too). (There was a little liquid left after 1 hour of soaking, which I poured out.)
  7. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tbsp sugar until thick and spreadable. Spread icing over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve. (If you don’t want icing, which I didn’t, just dust the top with confectioners’ sugar. The cake is definitely sweet and rich enough on its own.)

Christmas Cranberry Cheesecake

Christmas Day.

Liam and I are in Portland again for the long weekend. Getting together with my family—no matter how long we’ve been apart—is a frenzy – of stories being told, voices wanting to be heard and a lot of very different personalities trying to get through. It can be a little overwhelming. Actually, I’ve been trying to finish this post all day, but I just can’t. There’s too much going on, too much distraction. But all the good kind.

My sister Christine and I made this cheesecake together. I’m not used to sharing my…space…with others. I’m learning, though.

I adapted Dorie Greenspan’s Tall and Creamy Cheesecake recipe for tonight’s Christmas dinner. I’m not going to say too much about it—the pictures speak for themselves. Super rich and creamy cheesecake base, lovely tartness from the cranberries and holiday spice from the gingersnap base. Sugar, spice and everything nice!!

Happy Holidays! Enjoy!

Christmas Cranberry Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust (adapted from this recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours and this recipe from The Delicious Life)

Makes one gigantic 9-inch cheesecake

INGREDIENTS

Cranberry Sauce:

12 oz fresh cranberries

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

a pinch of salt

zest of 1/2 a medium orange

1 tsp cinnamon

Crust:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker or gingersnap crumbs

3 tbsp sugar

a pinch of salt

1/2 stick (4 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted

Filling:

2 lbs (four 8 oz boxes) cream cheese, at room temp.

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temp.

1 1/3 cups sour cream or heavy cream, or a combination of the two

1 tsp cinnamon

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the Cranberry Sauce:

  1. Wash cranberries and remove any wayward stems and mushy, brown/bruised berries.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat water and sugar over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add cranberries, increase heat, and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low and simmer cranberries until most of them have cracked or burst, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cinnamon and stir.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Cranberry sauce “gels” more as it cools.

Prepare the crust:

  1. Butter a 9-inch springform pan—choose one that has sides that are 2 3/4 inches high (if the sides are lower, you will have cheesecake batter leftover)—and wrap the bottom of the pan in a double layer of aluminum foil; put the pan on a baking sheet.
  2. Stir the crumbs, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour over the melted butter and stir until all of the dry ingredients are uniformly moist. (I do this with my fingers.) Turn the ingredients into the buttered springform pan and use your fingers to pat an even layer of crumbs along the bottom of the pan and about halfway up the sides. Don’t worry if the sides are not perfectly even or if the crumbs reach above or below the midway mark on the sides—this doesn’t have to be a precision job. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven.
  3. Center a rack in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the springform on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Set the crust aside to cool on a rack while you make the cheesecake.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

Make the cheesecake:

  1. Put a kettle of water on to boil.
  2. Working in a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese at medium speed until it is soft and lives up to the creamy part of its name, about 4 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar and salt and continue to beat another 4 minutes or so, until the cream cheese is light. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one by one, beating for a full minute after each addition—you want a well-aerated batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the sour cream and/or heavy cream.
  3. Put the foil-wrapped springform pan in the roaster pan.
  4. Spoon half the cranberry sauce over the bottom of the crust, spreading out evenly.
  5. Give the batter a few stirs with a rubber spatula, just to make sure that nothing has been left unmixed at the bottom of the bowl, and scrape the batter into the springform pan. The batter will reach the brim of the pan. (If you have a pan with lower sides and have leftover batter, you can bake the batter in a buttered ramekin or small soufflé mold.) Put the roasting pan in the oven and pour enough boiling water into the roaster to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.
  6. Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, at which point the top will be browned (and perhaps cracked) and may have risen just a little above the rim of the pan. Turn off the oven’s heat and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon. Allow the cheesecake to luxuriate in its water bath for another hour.
  7. After 1 hour, carefully pull the setup out of the oven, lift the springform pan out of the roaster—be careful, there may be some hot water in the aluminum foil—remove the foil. Let the cheesecake come to room temperature on a cooling rack.
  8. When the cake is cool, cover the top lightly and chill the cake for at least 4 hours, although overnight would be better.

To Serve:

Remove the sides of the springform pan and set the cake, still on the pan’s base, on a serving platter. Spread the remaining half of the cranberry sauce over the cheesecake. (You can also serve the sauce on the side.)

Tri-flavored Dutch Almond Buttercake (Amandel Boterkoek)

Yay! We have internet at home! F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. No more stealing, no more switching/tweaking/adjusting laptop positions and unlocked wireless networks in order to get connected. Some people (esp. Dennis) might not understand how we three girls have managed to live like this for already half a year (?!?!?!)—actually, now that we have internet, I don’t know how we ever lived without it!

I had already planned on making this Dutch Almond Buttercake before coming home tonight. But now it feels almost like a celebration cake! Calorie-wise, it’s definitely one worth saving for a special occasion.

The recipe is from Almost Bourdain. It really couldn’t have been easier to put together—short list of ingredients; little to no prep, no fancy utensils required and short bake-time. I adapted the original by adding a layer of filling in the middle before baking: 1 part blackberry jam, 1 part unsweetened chocolate and 1 part plain.

I’m not really sure how to categorize this cake. It’s definitely more pastry than cake—crumbly shortbread texture, buttery and firm. It reminds me of a similar French teacake called “Gateau Breton”. However you want to categorize it, this pastry/cake is DIVINE. It’s dense, crumbly and rich in texture—like eating marzipan!! And as for flavor, it’s mildly sweet and SUPER almondy. The added filling is a great addition to the original in my opinion. The tartness from the jam blends well with the buttery crust, as does the chocolate. I imagine that the flavors will continue to blend and improve over time. The filling also provides a pretty layer of color.

Tri-flavored Dutch Almond Buttercake (Amandel Boterkoek) (adapted from Almost Bourdain)

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp almond extract

1 egg, beaten (reserve 1 tsp)

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted

1/4 cup jam (I used blackberry, but any would flavor would do)

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and almond extract.
  2. Add the beaten egg, reserving 1 tsp for later.
  3. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add to the bowl with the wet ingredients.
  4. Layer half the dough in a greased 9-inch springform. Then, spread the melted chocolate onto 1/3 of the tart, repeating the same process for the second-third but with jam.
  5. Using a wet spatula and your fingers, carefully layer the remaining half of the dough in the springform until the filling is completely covered.
  6. Mix the reserved 1 tsp beaten egg with 1 tsp water. Brush this over the dough, smoothing over the surface of the cake.
  7. Bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes or until the cake surface is firm to the touch.
  8. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before cutting.