my journey to bake the perfect cake

A Bella Cake Home

cake is speech

Anyone who makes cake knows this: cake’s a labour of love. Cake is an expression of oneself. Cake’s a work of art.  Cake is more than butter-sugar-flour deliciousness:  Cake is speech. After years of attacks and legal battles facing bakers and bakeries, the US Department of Justice  has issued a brief stating, in part, that …

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A Good Time For Cake

When you think cake: well, most of the time, you think, Yum!  And then you think, a party! or a celebration! or a commemoration of something good — something big!

When new friends came over for dinner last night, I was sure glad I’d made a cake.  I made it bcz it’s my husband’s favourite cake and so, I wanted to serve it for dessert as a blessing to him (and to share with the new friends, of course).  Well, I now have a new reason to be ready with cake!

We’d been talking in our living room, sharing pictures of our family and stories of days gone by.  They saw a picture of us that caught their eye… it was a picture on the railroad track where there’s a 37.4 mile marker post in the foreground.  We commented that we were married that long in the picture.  Our friend said, that’s us today! Thirty seven years!
What?!?  Today? Today’s your anniversary?? Yes, they said.  Well, how ’bout that! When my husband invited the friend, and he accepted the invitation to come over, he didn’t mention it was a special occasion for them.  But from that moment and for the rest of the evening, we made it a celebration here!  It reminded me that a party without cake is just a meeting!   How thankful I am this morning… looking back on last evening’s special time.  And, I’m so glad I’d made cake!  It was a good time for cake! 🙂 ♥

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Succulents ‘Naked’ Cake

A “naked” cake.  A “succulents” cake.  I have to smile when I think of this recent cake.  Not only bcz I love who I made it for, but my little backstory.   For all the months/years of this  “naked cake” or “succulents” cake craze, I’ve been shaking my head and wondering when the fad would pass (and if I’d ever get caught up in it before it did).  I even thought, if there’s a cake I don’t want to make, it’s that.  And if there are decos I don’t want to make, it’s succulents.

You know those conversations you look back on with tremendous relief that you didn’t blurt out your thoughts prior to someone else sharing theirs?  Well, there for the grace of God go I.  Our precious friends were in that delightful “planning the wedding” time and they came for a visit to talk over their cake ideas.  I always listen intently to couples sharing their ideas/dreams so that I can get a feel for just what they’re envisioning for their cake and decorations.  It’s one of my favourite things, to just “get it!”  It’s a lot easier to do this than to have a couple say they “don’t have a preference, just surprise us!”  Really, it is.

So here’s where the grace came in… we were talking and then looking at images on her Pinterest pages.  I’m seeing all sorts of elegant pictures, soft rustic elegance.  Scrolling down I begin to see… yep, succulents.  Scrolling further, we get to the cakes.  Ahhhhh, more succulents.  [Ah, Oooo…. naked cakes.]  Ah, yes, yes, I get what you’re wanting, I say.
[In my head:  Oōōōōō, succulents on “naked cakes” Oōōō my! Oōōō my!]

And so… that began my quest to make the cake of their dreams.
I thought on it and thought on it…. over and over, I thought on it.  And then determined I’d love it, too.  So, I bought a succulent at the store… set it on my kitchen windowsill above my sink; stared at it for two weeks.  I did this so I could “get it.” I did it so it would be in my head.
I made the fondant…
 
After dividing it into several pieces and colouring each piece different “succulent” shades of grayed out greens, and streaking some burgundy and pinks into some pieces, I went to work making the succulents.

  

When they were all made (over a couple of days) I made the cakes, wrapped them well, and froze them.

On the wedding day, I made the the almond paste filling (a blend of 2/3 almond paste and 1/3 almond buttercream) and whipped up the almond buttercream frosting.


I used syrup to ‘crumb-coat’ the cakes so that they’d remain moist for serving at the wedding reception.  It seals the cake and gives it a nice sheen.

Then I added a tad bit more frosting to give the “naked cakes” a finished look.   These are the middle and top tiers filled with almond filling and frosted.


I’m so thankful I got to make this cake and —seriously— am looking forward to another request to make a “naked cake”  and/or a succulents cake. ♥

Celebration Cakes

Triple Chocolate Celebration Cake

anauctioncakeThe Triple Chocolate Celebration Cake is probably one of my favourite cakes to make.  It’s also the most tedious and most exasperating cake to make, too!  But, it’s worth it!  Isn’t that the case with most delightful things or experiences?  Such things often take time, effort, patience, expense, and attention to detail!

For this cake,  there are no superfluous steps — and the recipe must be read very carefully and the components ordered for plenty of time in advance – in fact, it’s probably best to make this cake a day in advance (except for the final topping with fresh fruit.

Leave out one component, and you’ll probably still have a delicious cake but you won’t have the “Triple Chocolate Celebration Cake!”

This is the Epicurious recipe — I try to follow it *pretty closely when I make it.  I do use Hershey’s chocolate chips for the *semi-sweet chocolate when called for in the recipe .  Otherwise, the cost is too exorbitant to make the cake.  Pfeil & Holing Transfer sheets, Amazon.

 

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Recipes

Lemon Butter

♥ Very Best Lemon Butter  {Lemon Curd}

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tblsp. Lemon zest {2-3 lemons}
1/2 cup lemon juice {4-6 fresh lemons}
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter {cold/room temp}

Equipment:
⇒Sturdy Whisk
⇒Stainless steel bowl
⇒Pot of water on the stove set to boil {this will be the bottom pot for a “double boiler” so choose a pot that will allow your bowl to touch the boiling water}
⇒SS mesh strainer

This recipe takes time… so be prepared to take your time.  🙂
Assemble your ingredients… Before you juice your lemons, zest them first!  It’s too hard to do this after they’re juiced.  You’ll know this from previous preps for lemon meringue pie!!  Place all but the butter into the bowl {it will become the “top” to your “double boiler”}.

Whisk-whisk-whisk the ingredients – all but the butter.  Set the bowl on top of the boiling water pot.  Whisk. Whisk.  Whisk.  You’ll be whisking this continually for the next ten to 12 minutes or so.  At around five or six minutes it will begin to thicken, keep on whisking it… at about the ten minute mark, it will have become nice and thick… go ahead and whisk it a tad more.  You may need pot holders to grip the bowl or the stream will burn your fingers!

Remove the bowl from the stove pot; set it on a towel on your counter, begin adding butter a scoop at a time, over and over whisking it like crazy!   Add and whisk, add and whisk, add and whisk in the butter until it’s all smoothly incorporated.

⇒ NLemon Butter1ow put your ⇒strainer over a clean bowl, pour your Lemon Butter into the strainer and press with a wide spoon all over the sides until all you have left in the mesh strainer is the lemon zest (and perhaps bits of lemon or bits of cooked egg).

Lemon Butter1a  Lemon Butter2

Scrape off the outer side of the strainer.  Lick the spoon.  Yum.   Cover the bowl with plastic film, let it cool completely and then refrigerate it.  Or eat some of it warm and put the rest in the fridge to thicken.  When you want to use it in a recipe or serve it with tightly whipped cream and scones/biscuits/tea cake, just stir the Lemon Butter {lemon curd} a bit before putting it into your serving dish.

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♥ This recipe works well in multiples for larger quantity cooking/recipes.  It works very well for the lemon base to Lemon Cheesecake Mousse.  I’ll post that recipe on another page. This Lemon Butter {curd} recipe is the base for it.

♥ After revising this a few times, I much prefer this recipe for “Lemon Butter” {lemon curd} to Rose’s Lemon Curd (p. 205 of  Rose’s Heavenly Cakes).  Very, very rarely would I tell you I prefer another version of one of her recipes.  This would be one of those very rare occasions.

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CuppyCakes

More CuppyCakes

lemondreamcupcakes        
mochadreamcupcakes
For a recent, very casual,  family birthday celebration, I decided to attempt to please my not-so-interested-in-cake family with these cuppycakes in couple of flavours-delish!  And, since our family is sort of divided regarding what flavour is the best for desserts in general, I tried to accommodate them all by making two known favourites: lemon and mocha.

So, I had some leftover lemon curd—I know, right?!??! Who has leftover lemon curd?!  I baked an extra large batch of cupcakes (almond sour-cream) and used what have become my very favourite baking cups — the dark brown oil resistant cupcake cups… they’re always just perfect and they’re tall, too, so they can accommodate making a tad bit larger cupcake baked in the same standard size pan.

When the cuppycakes were cooled, I put lemon curd in a pastry bag fitted with a long slender frosting tip – it looks like this one which is typically used for bismarks.  I inserted the tip down into the cupcake, applying pressure to the bag and slowly pulling the frosting tip out of the each cupcake until I could see that each cupcake was filled evenly to the top with lemon curd.  This process is very simple and cupcakes can easily be filled with whatever your choice of filling, buttercream or chocolate ganache.

I made basic buttercream frosting and frosted the filled “lemondream” cuppycakes first.  Then to make the “mochadream frosting” I added a bit more butter & cream, a couple of Starbucks Via instant coffee packets and a cup of dark chocolate cocoa powder and whipped it for several minutes in my mixer.

To the top of the lemondreams, I piped the lemon squiggle — and to the top of the mochadreams, I added a few chocolate covered espresso beans.  See how easy it is to make a variety with very few additions?!

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