Inspiration….. Silver Sea Tea Time

One of the great things when I was on the Silversea Cruise earlier this year was Tea Time.

Not only was there a spectacular view off the rear of the ship the pastries and sandwiches were excellent. The best part were the scones, clotted cream and jam. The scones, warm and tender, and the clotted cream thick and fresh just put the whole experience over the top.

Silver Spirit – Sandwiches…Pastries….and the View!
Silver Spirit – Plain and Raisin Scones, Jam, and Clotted Cream

Chocolate Cake Gone Bad But, Really Yummy!

As part of out summer entertaining we had another dinner party. Seven for Dinner. I decided to make a chocolate cake that incorporated the fresh local cherries that had just hit the stores.

I planned to make a chocolate cake I have made many times and fill it with 2 layers of whipped cream and cherries and one middle layer of chocolate frosting with chocolate frosting covering the whole cake.

I was going to use the chocolate cake recipe from “In Julia’s Kitchen with Master Chefs”. Chef Jim Dodge shares his recipe for Chocolate Buttermilk Fudge Cake. I was going to use the accompanying recipe for the frosting and wing it with the whipped cream and cherries.

Lets just say everything did not go to plan. The frosting both was not enough for the cake and it really did not work out for me*. I won’t share the frosting part.

Chocolate Cake – Stabilized for Chilling.

For the cake I used:

1/2 Cup Water
2 Tablespoons of Buttermilk Powder
1 Stick of Butter (8 ounces)
1/3 Cup of Cocoa Powder – dutch processed
1 Cup of Whey Low sugar substitute
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
1/2 Teaspoon Espresso Powder
5 Large Eggs
1 Cup of Cake Flour

For the filling & frosting I used:
2 Cups Whipping Cream (you should use 3)
1 Tablespoon of Icing Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla
Approx 1 pound of Pitted Cherries
1/3 Cup Kirsch
1 chocolate frosting recipe

More after the jump…….
I prepared the cake pans by greasing & flouring and lining with parchment rounds. I also used my prepared cake strips to avoid having to trim any dome that may occur while baking.

Chocolate Cake – Greased and Floured Pans with the Soaking Cake Strips
Chocolate Cake – Cake Strips Attached

I then heated the oven to 325˚.

I gathered up all my ingredients so that I was ready to go. This included separating the eggs.

Chocolate Cake – Eggs Ready to go
Chocolate Cake – All of the Ingredients
Chocolate Cake – The Calm before the Storm

I heated the butter in a small pan until it was melted. I added the water to this mixture.

In large bowl I missed the cocoa and 1/2 cup of sugar together and added the baking soda and vanilla and the butter/water mixture. I then added the buttermilk powder to this mixture and set this aside.

Chocolate Cake – Melting Chocolate
Chocolate Cake – Adding the Buttermilk Powder

Adding the buttermilk powder at this stage was incorrect. I should have added the buttermilk powder to the dry ingredient mixture. The cake turned out just fine.

In the clean bowl of my mixer I added the egg whites and whipped them until a foam started. I then slowly added the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. I continued until stiff peaks formed. I then set this aside for a minute.

Chocolate Cake -Lightly Whipped Egg Whites just before adding the Sugar
Chocolate Cake – Stiff Peaks

I took the bowl of chocolate mixture and added the egg yolks, whisking until filly incorporated. I then added the cake flour and gently whisked until this had been incorporated as well.

Chocolate Cake – Adding the Yolks
Chocolate Cake – Thoroughly mixed in Yolks
Chocolate Cake – Just 1 cup of Cake flour for 2 – 8″ Cakes
Chocolate Cake – After mixing in the Cake Flour

After the flour had been incorporated  I then added about 1/4 of the egg whites to the mixture. I quickly folded the mixture together until just light streaks of egg whites were visible. This was to lighten up the batter. I added the rest of the egg whites and carefully folded them in as well.

Chocolate Cake – Just a little bit of the Egg Whites
Chocolate Cake – Almost incorporated
Chocolate Cake – Adding the rest of the Egg Whites
Chocolate Cake – Just barely mixed in Egg Whites

I quickly split the batter between the 2 cake pans and got them into the oven. It took about 35 minutes for the cakes to bake.

Chocolate Cake – Batter split between the two pans and ready to go

Once baked I cooled the pans for 10 minutes on baking racks. After 10 minutes I removed the cakes from the pan and continued to cook them for about 45 more minutes.

Chocolate Cake – Just out of the oven

While the cakes were cooling I pitted the cherries and cut them in half.

At the end of the cooling time I whipped the cream with a little bit of icing sugar and vanilla.

Once cooled, I cut the cakes in half preparing them for filling and frosting.

I placed the first layer on the cake stand then soaked it with Kirsch. I then topped the layer with whipped cream and a layer of cherry halves. I added the second layer of cake, soaked it with more kirsch, and topped it with a layer of chocolate frosting. I added another layer of cake and repeated the Kirsch, whipped cream, and cherry treatment.

Chocolate Cake – First layer ready to go
Chocolate Cake – Like Bacon… Kirsch makes everything better
Chocolate Cake – The first layer complete

I added the final cake layer and topped it with chocolate frosting.

I used my trusty turkey lifter to stabilize the whole cake in the fridge for 40 minutes ( should have been at least 90 minutes). I then added whipped cream to the outside sides of the cake.

Chocolate Cake – Awaiting the big chill

Sorry there is no picture of the final product. I was much too rushed to remember to take one.

While the cake had less than a stellar presentation appearance… it was darned good. Kirsch and chocolate make everything better!!!

Baker’s Notes:

  • no new recipes for company! I had a devil of a time with the frosting and it did not make enough. By the time I assembled the cake time was running short. I ran out of whipped cream and should have used more to cover the top of the cake as well
  • * turns out my new kitchen is very hot due to poor air circulation. Making frostings will require a fan in the kitchen in the future.
  • June 2020 – instead of Cake strips you can try to bake the cakes at 300 degrees and it will take a little longer to bake but turn out reasonably flat

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – Only Smaller

Just after settling into the new apartment we were inundated with guests for the first part of the summer. Our great friends from Germany arrived and stayed with us. We also had a friend from Paris staying at our neighbours on his way to Hornby Island. We also had a new friend, from our recent Silver Sea cruise, come and visit us from the San Francisco area.Given our new expansive deck we though we could handle the crowd easily. The only thing we did not count on was our wet spring continuing well into July.

Our dinners happened indoors which made for cozier company.

We had arranged to have 2 dinner parties close together so I need to make something for dessert for both events. A while back, I read a post over at Joy The Baker explaining that 4 – 6″ cake pans could be used in place of 2 – 8″ or 9″ cake pans and recipes. Great tip here…. Thank you Joy!

I decided to make a couple of carrot cakes. I had seen this cake on the Martha Stewart’s tv shoe several years ago when it was called John Barricelli’s Carrot Cake ( June 2020, no longer on-line) . It has since been renamed just Carrot Ginger Layer Cake (June 2020, this recipe no longer on line the current one uses butter – change for oil) I adapted the recipe a little. The original recipe included candied carrot for decoration. For these cakes I decided just the cake was enough. Thanks John! My hubby requests this cake frequently. I have to agree it is one of the best cake of any kind.

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake

For these 2 – 4 Layer cakes I used:

1 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 1/2 Cups Cake Flour
1 1/4 Tablespoons Buttermilk Powder
1 1/2 Cups Pecans – Toasted
1 Pound of Carrots – Peeled and Shredded
3 Eggs
1/3 Cup Water
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups of Whey Low Sugar Subustitute or Swerve Sweetner
1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Freshly Grated Ginger
2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon of Salt
1 Teaspoon of Cinnamon

For the frosting for 1 cake:

6 Tablespoons Softened Butter – 3/4 of a stick
12 Ounces of Softened Cream Cheese – Full Fat
3 Cups Icing Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons of Grated Orange Zest
1 Tablespoon of Freshly Grated Ginger
Pinch of Salt

I served 1 cake to 6 people and there were leftovers sent home with some of the guests.
I stored the other 2 cooled layers in the freezer for next dinner party a few days later.

More after the jump……..

This is a big flavoured cake with a lot of steps so here goes:

I started by heating the oven to 375 then spray oiling and flouring 4 – 6 inch cake pans then setting them aside.

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – The Pans

I then placed the pecans on a baking sheet and placed them in the pre-warmed oven for 7 or 8 minutes (your mileage may vary).

While the pecans were in the oven I grated 2 tablespoons of ginger reserving 1 tablespoon for the icing later.

I then took the pecans out of the oven to cool then I lightly chopped them.

I reduced the oven temperature to 300.

I peeled the carrots and removed the tips and stems and cut them into 4″ or 5″ lengths for the food processor. I shred the carrots using the smallest holes available.

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – Assembling the ingredients

In the bowl of my mixer I put the carrots, eggs, water, vanilla, Whey Low sugar substitute, vegetable oil, and ginger in a bowl and briefly mixed them together on low speed.

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – All of the wet ingredients including Whey low
Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – And the mix

In another bowl I sifted the flours, the buttermilk powder, the baking powder, the baking soda, the salt, and cinnamon. I then added this flour mixture to the carrot mixture and briefly mixed the whole mixture on low again. Just until the flour was almost mixed in.

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – The Dry Ingredients
Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – the Dry ingredients Combined
Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – Adding the Dry to the Wet
Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – Just barely Mixed

Off the mixer I hand mixed the batter until everything was fully incorporated. I then folded in the pecans.

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – Final hand mixing
Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – Folding in the Pecans

I split the batter between the 4 pans, tapped the air bubbles out, and baked the cakes checking them at 45 minutes. My cakes took the full hour (60 minutes).

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – In the Oven

When the cakes were finished in the oven I moved the 4 pans to a cooling rack for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes I tapped out the cakes onto the cooling racks. They took about 90 minutes to cool completely.

When the cakes had cooled I wrapped 2 for the freezer for a later date. I split the remaining 2 cakes in half to assemble the layer cake.

While the cakes were cooling I started in on the frosting.

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – Frosting Ingredients

I beat the butter in the mixer for a couple of minutes until light and fluffy. I added the cream cheese and beat the mixture for a couple of more minutes. I added the icing sugar, orange zest, ginger, and salt to the butter mixture, then I let the machine do its work for 5 minutes on medium speed.

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – Whipping the butter

To frost the cake, I took the first layer and put it on a regular dinner plate. I then added 1/4 of the frosting and made a nice layer. I repeated with the next 3 layers.

Now the challenge, I had to chill the cake until the frosting was firm while trying to keep it from sliding apart. In the past I have used skewers. Unfortunately my skewers were tossed in the move so I searched through my drawers for something to stabilize the cake in the fridge. I came up with a turkey lifter. It worked perfectly.

Carrot Ginger Layer Cake – The Turkey Lifter Scene

During the cake’s time in the fridge one of my guests opened the fridge and started laughing. He saw the turkey lifter at work.

After 2 hours the cake had solidified enough to continue the frosting. After the rest of the frosting was applied I put the cake back into the fridge for a final chilling.

Man I love this cake.

Baker’s Notes:

  •  When using 4 – 6 ” cake pans the cooking time could be slow
  •  You can easily use a sugar substitute here – I use Whey Low
  •  Low fat cream cheese just doesn’t work. It ends up sliding off of the cake before you serve it
  •  Low fat cream cheese can be used in the filling if you want to go that route – just not the outside coating
  •  Bake all 4 pans at once. Baking 2 pans then 2 pans will result in the second 2 cakes being more dense due to the buttermilk’s power having been used up while the batter rested
  • June 2020 – this recipe is no longer on the site listed

Undocumented Events – Mostly

With the move this summer, this year has been a complete blur.  Here a couple of items that I made that exist only in finished (or partially eaten) picture form. Enjoy…. We did!!

Rainbow Cake
Rainbow Cake at the House Warming
Pecan Tart ( Pecan Pie baked in tart form)

Inspiration….. Victoria, BC – Smoken Bones

Recently I had the opportunity to go to Victoria BC. Living in Vancouver, Victoria is just a short ferry ride away.During our stay we searched for a place for dinner one night. Not know the city, we drove around looking for a restaurant. We came across Smoken Bones. The restaurant passed our test of a restaurant actually having customers! At 5:30 PM the restaurant was hopping. We knew it was good.

We had a great meal.

Then it came time to decide on dessert. We were full but noticed Bacon Ice Cream in the menu. We hummed and hawed and decided that we were not going to have any dessert. When our server returned she asked us for our order. We explained that dessert was not in the cards for us that night but asked about the bacon ice cream.

Our server explained it was really great! We declined. Then our server said she would bring us a taste! WOW.

Smoken Bones
Smoken Bones – Bacon Ice Cream

The Ice Cream was really great. Vanilla Ice Cream coated with finely crumbled bacon and probably pork cracklings. WOW! A great blend of sweet & salty. Now to figure out when to have this at home.

June 2020 – Sadly Smokin’ Bones has closed for business

Travel Plans…..

I am just making some final travel plans for a little jaunt around the Northern hemisphere. I am hoping to hear about your favorite places to check out in:London, England
Munich, Germany
Bangkok, Thailand
Seoul, South Korea

Seoul – London – Munich – Bangkok
Seoul – London – Munich – Bangkok

Your recommendations are much appreciated!

Macarons Part 1 – Martha Stewart

A little while back I mentioned that I was going to try my hand at Macaron’s, a known finicky confection to make. I love them but hate to shell out $2.50 for one at the pastry shop. Frozen ones just don’t do it for me either.So I set out to try my hand at them. How hard could it be? I normally have great success at almost everything I try to bake.

I chose three recipes and the first one is from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook page 137.

My success wasn’t the best but here goes:

For this recipe I used:

1 1/4 Cups Icing Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Almond Flour
3 Large Egg Whites
Pinch of Salt
1/4 Cup Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Macaron – The Book

More after the jump…..
I did not end up filling the macarons so I have not listed a filling.

I started by lining 2 baking sheets with silicon liners and marking out circles (to late be filled) with flour and a cookie cutter.

Macaron  – The marked pans

I then mixed the almond flour and icing sugar together in a small bowl.  Next I heated the oven to 350˚.

Macaron – Icing Sugar and Almonds

Using the whisk attachment on my mixer I beat the egg whites slowly and added the salt. I then added the sugar a little at a time until the reached the soft peak stage.

Macaron  – Whisking the Egg Whites

I sprinkled some of the almond mixture over the egg whites and carefully folded it in. I repeated with the rest of the almond mixture and the vanilla.

Macaron  – Adding the Almond Mixture and Vanilla

I loaded a pastry bag and filled the circles on the baking pans and baked them for 20 minutes rotating once.

Macaron  – In the Oven

Well…. these did not work out for me. Only a few had the “Pied” and fewer yet had a full “Pied”.

Macaron  – Finished and Cooled

A couple of things occurred….
– I was working with an oven I was unfamiliar with. My new oven is a full size conventional floor oven while my previous one was a 24″ convection wall oven.  It’s going to take me a bit to get used to this one one.
–  I used 2 pans in the oven rather than 1. As it is a conventional oven 1 pan is probably best.
–  I did not have a big enough pastry bag tip. I had to struggle a bit to get the mixture in the circles
–  I baked the macaron’s too long and did not remove them from the baking sheet to cool.

A bunch of problems…..

Well time to try again!

The spoils were tasty……

Macaron  – The Ingredients
Macaron  – Just the Egg Whites
Macaron  – Cooling

Bakers Notes:

  • Since making this recipe for the first time I have learned it is virtually impossible to over whip egg whites with sugar in them

Inspiration….. Silversea Silver Spirit Transatlantic Part 4

Another great stop we had was at Casablanca. We took a tour to Marrakesh. From Casablanca the bus trip was just over 3 hours on way.Our tour included a lunch stop. Dessert was a 2 course event. Fruit then pastries.

Silver Spirit – Marrakesh
Silver Spirit – Marrakesh
Silver Spirit – Marrakesh

During the day tour we saw other sights that might be of interest:

Silver Spirit – Marrakesh – Marzipan
Silver Spirit – Marrakesh – Nut Pastes
Silver Spirit – Marrakesh – Nut Vendor

Inspiration….. Silversea Silver Spirit Transatlantic Part 3

Another stop we made was on the Island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. It was a great day. We had a very long walk – 15 miles. Sadly it was a Sunday and 95% of the island was closed up.On the high street we did pass a great bakery – Mendoza – with interesting goodies:

Silver Spirit – Gran Canaria
Silver Spirit – Gran Canaria

Inspiration….. Silversea Silver Spirit Transatlantic Part 2

One great stop we made on the cruise was the island of Santo Antao – Cape Verde. A very small, very poor island. The tour we were on stopped in a town called Ponta dol Sol. A very small town on the opposite side of the island from where we docked.We stopped in a small restaurant for a fish and chicken lunch.

Desert was one of the best we had on the trip. A caramel flan with local bananas and apples. Yum!

Simple yet awesome.

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