Almond Lemon Tea Cake

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Aly’s friend Lulu made this cake once. It was so delicious that she was inspired to try it as well. It turned out well but Aly learned that she really didn’t enjoy working with almond paste. Even after using her friend’s tip of softening it in the microwave before working with it, it was very hard to break up. She tried her best but had to bake the cake with a few clumps. After it baked one could see the slight discoloration of where the paste didn’t break up, but thankfully it wasn’t too noticeable in taste.

The recipe is a copy from Tartine’s cookbook, but with a few modifications. Aly used all purpose flour instead of cake flour and had to make due with an electric mixer (that could be part of the reason why the almond paste was difficult to break up). She mixed for around 5-7 min after adding the butter and eggs in an attempt to make the batter smooth. In her oven the cake was done in around 40 minutes versus 60. For the glaze she used raw sugar instead of granulated white sugar to give it a slight crunch on the top.

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup cake flour (I used all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup almond paste
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons orange juice
3/4 cup sugar (I used sugar in the raw)

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla and whisk together just to combine.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste on low speed until it breaks up. This can take up to a minute, depending on how soft and warm it is. Slowly add the sugar, beating until incorporated.

4. Cut the butter into 1-tablespoon pieces. Continue on low speed while adding the butter, a tablespoon at a time, for about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Then turn on the mixer to medium speed and beat until the mixture is light in color and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. With the mixer still on medium speed, add the eggs in a very slow, steady stream and mix until incorporated. Stop the mixer and again scrape down the sides of the bowl. Turn on the mixer again to medium speed and mix for 30 seconds more.

5. Add the citrus zests and mix. Add the flour mixture in two batches, stirring after each addition until incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

6. Bake until the top is golden brown and the center comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes. Let the cake cool then add the glaze.

7. To make the glaze, stir together the lemon and orange juices and sugar in a small bowl. Run the tip of a small knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the pan and flip onto a plate. Brush the entire cake with the glaze, and let it set.

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Nutella Cheesecake

Once upon a time, something magical happened. Nutella was created in the 1940s by Mr. Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero company. At the time, there was very little chocolate because cocoa was in short supply due to World War II rationing. Mr. Ferrero used hazelnuts to extend the chocolate supply.

Aly loved to use this magical creation to make crepes, milkshakes, and smores. One day she experimented to make nutella cheesecake. Thanks World War II!

Ingredients:

1 cup of graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup melted butter

2 eight ounce packs of cream cheese

1/2 cup of sugar

1 cup nutella

2 eggs

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Press down into cupcake holders and bake for about 8 minutes. Then take out and cool for 5 minutes.

3. While crusts bake, mix cream cheese with sugar until smooth.

4. Add nutella, vanilla extract, and eggs, and mix.

5. Fill cupcake holders with mixture.

6. Bake at the same temperature for about 20-25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

7. Cool and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

* Nutella flavor was not as strong as I had hoped. I topped the cupcakes with whipped cream and hazelnuts but next time I would add ferrero rocher pieces instead.

* For peanut butter lovers you can substitute nutella for 1/2 cup of peanut butter and add 1 cup of Reeses peanut butter cup crumble.

Aloha Cake

Aly looked in her pantry to find something to bake. She saw a box of funfetti cake mix and a can of pineapples and decided to make a pineapple upside down cake. To make it more fun… she made it Hawaiian and substituted coconut oil for regular oil.

Ingredients:

1 Box of funfetti cake mix (yellow cake is standard)

3 eggs

1/3 cup coconut oil

3 tablespoons of butter

1/3 cup of brown sugar

1 20 ounce can of pineapples

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make cake according to box but substitute coconut oil for regular oil.

3. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in 9 in round pan in the oven.

4. Sprinkle 1/3 cup brown sugar on top of melted butter and then add pineapple slices.

5. Add cake batter on top.

6. Bake for about 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

7. Place serving plate upside down over pan; turn plate and pan over. Leave pan over cake a few minutes so brown sugar mixture can drizzle over cake and then remove the pan.

* Batter was enough to make 9″ round pan as well as 2 small ramekins. If you don’t have ramekins you can also use a cupcake pan.

* Coconut flavor was too subtle but gave the cake a good consistency. Next time I will also substitute coconut milk for the water in the cake batter as well.

Hunger Games Bakeshop

There was only one day left until the Hunger Games movie premiere! Aly got pretty hungry while she counted down so she decided to make Hunger Games inspired desserts: Mockingjay Cake, Prim’s Goat Cheese Cheesecake, Girl on Fire Cupcakes, and Peeta’s Lavender Shortbread. The Mockingjay Cake is a 5″ x 5″ piece of red velvet cake, covered with buttercream frosting and black sprinkles, and the symbol is made out of shortbread. Same cake and frosting for the Girl on Fire Cupcakes; also decorated with shortbread. See below for recipes. Enjoy and may the odds be ever in your favor when you bake!

Prim’s Goat Cheese Cheesecake

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

1/3 cup butter

16 ounces cream cheese (softened)

8 ounces goat cheese from Prim’s goat Lady

8 ounces sour cream

4 eggs (room temperature)

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Directions

1. Mix graham cracker crumbs with butter and press it onto the bottom and about a third way up the sides of your pan.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Beat the cream cheese and goat cheese with an electric mixer on low until light and fluffy.

4. Add sour cream and continue mixing on low. Then add eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract and mix.

5. Pour filling into the crust and bake for about 45-50 minutes. Cool and then refrigerate for at least a few hours before serving.

Shortbread

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 stick of butter (softened)

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 egg yolk

Directions

1. Combine flour with salt and set aside.

2. Mix butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Then add flour and mix.

3. Separate dough depending on how many colors you want to use for decor.

4. To make the Mockingjay symbol I added yellow food coloring and used a knife to cut the circle, bird, and arrow. Then I layered each piece on top of the cake which was frosted and covered with black sprinkles.

5.  For the fire design on the cupcakes, I used red and yellow food coloring and layered the yellow piece on top of the red and baked them as one piece.

6. Bake at 350 for about 7-9 minutes depending on how thick you rolled your designs.

* To make Peeta’s Lavendar Shortbread, add 1 tablespoon of lavender extract and 2 tablespoons of honey to the recipe above and use purple food coloring.