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Layered

Naramata Peach Spice Cake

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It has to be tasted to be believed. This rustic-looking cake belies its simple appearance. It is a toothsome combination of ingredients such as cocoa, cinnamon, fresh-ground nutmeg made light and moist with fresh eggs, butter, grapeseed oil and buttermilk. The smell from the oven is as enticing as it gets. Take it up a notch by soaking the cakes in a glaze made with peach jam and spices. Blow it into orbit with a fluffy caramel cream cheese frosting and give it some delicious crunch with rosemary toasted pine nuts and fresh summer flavours with dynamite organic peaches from Naramata’s T NT Farm and you have something worth the afternoon it will take you to bake it and a run-on sentence worth running on about.

This amazing creation, which I Naramatified, is from British Columbian Tessa Huff and her spectacular Layered cookbook. In a Julie and Julia type scenario I’ve been baking my way through her cake cookbook, adding a few custom touches here and there and sourcing my ingredients locally. This recipe gets a 12 out 10. Enough hyperbole…let’s get cracking. There are six separate recipes to tackle…none of them hard: Spice cake, peach glaze, rosemary pine nuts, salted caramel sauce and Swiss meringue buttercream. You will need a two 8-inch cake pans for this beauty that serves 12 to 15 peeps.

 

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Spice Cake ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cut grapeseed oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 4 large eggs (I walk out to my yard, and get them from my chickens Maria and The Baroness…bragging a little)
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (from the store…I don’t have a cow yet)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F, grease and flour two 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment rounds.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter on medium. Add the oil and sugar. Turn the mixer to medium high and mix for 3 minutes. Turn mixer to low, add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl.

Turn mixer to low and add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk in three batches. Only mix for 30 seconds or until just combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. While the cakes are baking work on the peach glaze as you will need to spread it over the cakes as soon as they come out of the oven.

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Peach glaze ingredients

  • 1 cup peach jam
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

Directions

Combine the jam, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a saucepan. Heat over medium until the jam melts…five minutes or so. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve set over a bowl to remove any solids. Evenly pour the warm peach glaze over the top of the two cakes just after they come out of the oven. Let them cool completely on a wire rack before removing the cakes from their pans. Do not turn the cakes upside down to remove as the tops will be sticky. Rather pry them up with the parchment or a lifter.

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Cakes just out of the oven with their glaze.

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Rosemary pine nuts ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon Okanagan honey
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary (you can use dried)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and dry-roast the nuts for about three minutes. Add the honey, rosemary and salt and stir until nuts are evenly coated. Cook, stirring for another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and spread on piece of parchment paper to cool and dry … about 10 minutes.

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Salted caramel sauce ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste which I use exclusively as it’s better…Nielsen-Massey is great.)

Directions

Place the sugar, corn syrup and 2 tablespoons of water in a heavy-bottomed small saucepan. Stir. Heat over high heat, stirring occasionally swirling the pan, until in turns a medium golden amber colour…8 to 10 minutes. The sugar mixture will begin to rapidly boil before slowing down and darkening in colour. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cream. Be careful as it will foam up and sputter. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the salt and vanilla and stir. Pour into heat-safe container and let if cool or refrigerate. It will thicken as it cools.

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Vanilla swiss meringue buttercream

  • 1/2 cup plus egg whites
  • 1  cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (very important that it be at room temperature or it won’t combine properly) cubed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

Directions
Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Make a double boiler by filling a medium pot filled with water over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the pot. The bottom of the pot should not touch the water.

Whisk intermittently and heat the egg mixture to 160F (candy thermometer) or until it is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer and whip with the wire attachment on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. The bowl should be back to room temperature at this point. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.

With the mixer on low, add the cubed butter, a few tablespoons at a time then the vanilla. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

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Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting ingredients

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups vanilla swiss meringue buttercream
  • 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce

Directions

In the bowl of stand mixer with the paddle, beat the cream cheese on medium until smooth, add the buttercream and caramel sauce and mix until combined.

Some assembly required

Level the layers. Place a layer on a cake plate and spread half of the frosting over it. Top with the next layer of cake and frost the top with the remaining frosting. Arrange peach slices from one or two peaches on top (I resorted to frozen peaches from T NT as it will be August before nice new fresh ones are ready) and garnish with a generous handful of the rosemary pine nuts.

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Bodacious red wine chocolate blackberry cake

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Juicy blackberries from our berry farm, red wine and chocolate give this cake a rich flavour punch.

The blackberries are the last of our berry crops and one of the most beautiful. Their size and juiciness is a marvel enjoyed by us and our bear visitors so picking as soon as they are ripe is important. This very Naramata cake recipe combines our berries with red wine and was a perfect late summer cake for my good pal Janet’s birthday.

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Succulent blackberries before picking.
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Mis en place for the red wine cake with my new antique cupboard from Arundel, England in the background.

Lips that touch wine will never touch mine. Come on, who wrote that nonsense. I suppose they don’t like cake or chocolate either.

I sent The Handyman off to the Naramata store for a bottle of red with a good price point for it’s cake ingredient fate and he came back with a $10 bottle which I was worried was too good to be true…even for a cake. Surprisingly, Bodacious was pretty darn good in the cake and in the chef’s glass.

This recipe makes one three-layer 6-inch cakes that served our party of 10 perfectly with no left-overs.

Red wine cake

  • 1  1/2 all purpose flour
  • 1/2 plus 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (I like Droste, amazing chocolate…)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (never skip the room temperature step…if you don’t have time…put the butter in a bowl in a warm water bath in your sink to soften it up)
  • 1  1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup full-bodied red wine

Pre-heat the oven to 350F and grease and flour three 6-inch cake pans and set aside. I did it the hard way and used my one and only 6-inch pan and made the cake in three batches.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until smooth. Add the sugar and mix on medium-high until the butter is light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the red wine, while taking sips from your wine glass in between, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds.

Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

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Blackberry ganache ingredients.

Blackberry ganache

  • 3 cups whole fresh blackberries
  • 2 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 cup chopped good quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Place the blackberries and granulated sugar in a saucepan. Heat over medium-high until the berries start to break down and expel their juices, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain the juice through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard the solids.

Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside. Reheat 6 tablespoons of the blackberry juice in the saucepan until it begins to simmer (reserve the remaining blackberry juice for finishing the cake). The simmering juice smells amazing p.s. Pour the hot juice over the chocolate. Let sit for 30 seconds, then whisk until combined. Set aside until the ganache cools to room temperature but is still spreadable.

Once the ganache has cooled, whisk to loosen it and stir in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth.

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A Naramata evening walk while the cake cools. This view of the lake is on our regular walking route. Never gets old.

Some assembly required

Once the cakes have cooled completely, level them and choose which layer will at the bottom. Generously brush the layers with the remaining blackberry juice. Place the bottom layer on a cake plate or serving dish. Spread about 1/3 cup of the blackberry ganache with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat with the ganache, finishing with the final layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake with remaining ganache and top with the whole blackberries.

Review

This is an excellent cake from a few standpoints. It’s relatively easy to make as the filling between the layers and the icing is one recipe. It looks great with the blackberry topping and doesn’t involve mad piping skills. Verdict on the taste was a 10 at the party it was served at…”rich, moist, earthy and chocolatey”. I will make this one again.

This recipe comes from fellow Canadian’s Tessa Huff’s amazing book, Layered. Every cake I’ve made from this book has been stellar. Her easy to follow instructions will make you a better baker. As Tessa says, “layer cakes are the ideal vehicle for both creative expression and deliciousness…And let’s fact it — everyone loves a layer cake…It’s time to toss the cake mix and canned frosting and reach the height of your cake-baking potential!” Cheers to that.

Gwen Chiffani strawberry shortcake

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Just like Gwen, this cake’s got a little twist

It’s strawberry time in the Valley and this cake is a celebration of just-picked, ripe, red berries smothered in a basil-infused whipped cream slathered between the lightest, fluffiest chiffon sponge cake you will ever baked. I don’t even feel like I’ve oversold it.

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I’ve never used grapeseed oil in a cake before and was skeptical. Colour me wrong. I knew as soon as the batter started to come together that it would be super light and produce a wonderful sponge and it’s wine country here. What a perfect use for a by-product…

Chiffon cake ingredients

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 8 large egg whites (from my neighbour Lucy’s chickens)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and line the bottoms of two 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the oil and 1 1/4 cups of the sugar on medium speed for one minute. Add the vanilla and egg yolks, one at a time and mix for about three minutes. The mixture will increase in volume (I told you) and be pale in colour. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds after the last streaks of dry ingredients are combined. Pour the batter into a large bowl and set aside.

Clean the mixer bowl and paddle and dry well. In the clean bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium-low speed until foamy. Add the remaining two tablespoons of sugar and the cream of tartar and whisk on high until stiff peaks form.

Stop the mixer and fold the egg whites into the cake better. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Let them rest on a wire rack until cool before running a paring knife around the edges of the cakes and removing them from their pans.

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The basil-infused whipping cream gives the cake an extra something. The basil flavour pairs beautifully with strawberries. The Handyman, whose heart is only really moved by chocolate, says he would have skipped this whole basil step but my other food critics disagreed. I feel Gwen Stefani would be cool with it too.

Basil-infused whipped cream ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Slowly heat 2 cups of the cream in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until it begins to simmer. Meanwhile, gently muddle the basil leaves with mortar and pestle (or crush them up a bit with your hands if you are short of kitchen equipment.)

Once the cream begins to steam and simmer, remove the pan from the heat and add the basil leaves, cover and let them steep for 30 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a container and refrigerate until cold.

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Strain out the basil leaves, re-measure the cream and top it off with more cream if necessary so you have a total of 2 cups. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, whisk the cream on medium speed until it begins to thicken. Add the sugar and vanilla and whisk on high until it forms medium peaks. For best results, store the whipped cream in the fridge and assemble the cake just before serving.

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Some assembly required

  • Four cups fresh strawberries

With the assistance of my son’s lovely fiancé, the cake was easy to assemble. Hull and slice the fresh strawberries 1/4 inch thick until you have about four cups of sliced berries. Reserve a few whole berries with their tops on for decoration.

Once the cakes have cooled completely, carefully halve them horizontally to create four even layers. Level the cakes and choose which layer will be the bottom. Place it on a cake plate and spread on one-quarter of the basil-infused whipped cream and one cup of the berries.

IMG_2421Top with the next layer of cake and repeat. Place the reserved strawberries on top of the last layer to decorate.

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Eat your Gwen Chiffani immediately or keep refrigerated for up to two days.

This recipe, with some re-branding, came from Layered by Tessa Huff, a fellow British Columbian. My new mission in life is to make every single cake in this amazing cook book.

“Love is like a good cake; you never know when it’s coming, but you’d better eat it when it does.” Joybell C

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Ta Da. Riesling rhubarb crisp cake

“Here’s the basic difference between Morelli and me. My first thought was always of cake. His first thought was always of sex. Don’t get me wrong. I like sex…a lot. But it’s never going to replace cake.” Janet Evanovich, Eleven on Top.

Your mission Mr. Phelps:

  1. Celebrate an adventurous (she has done Ultraman…twice) friend’s and English Channel swim team mate’s birthday by baking a worthy layer cake.
  2. Try a bold challenge that requires piping.
  3. Have an excuse to buy a cake turntable for decorating.
  4. Have an excuse to buy yet another cookbook…Layered by fellow British Columbian Tessa Huff. (I came to order the book thanks to the blogosphere. Joy the Baker recommended Layered in her cookbook roundup. I’m a huge Joy fan.)
  5. Find a recipe where you can drink wine while baking.FullSizeRender

I accept the mission Mr. Phelps.

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Mis en place for the cake portion of the recipe

Ingredients for the Reisling cake:

  • 3 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup room temperature unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg whites (I buy mine from Lucy, a neighbour with happy free run chickens)
  • 1 1/2 cup sweet Riesling plus 1 glassful for sipping while you bake

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside

In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the sugar and mix on medium-high until the butter is light and fluffily, 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Turn the mixer to medium-low and gradually add the vanilla and egg whites until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

Turn the mixer to low and add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the Riesling, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix on medium for no more than 30 seconds after the last streaks of flour are combined.

Evenly divide the batter among the prepared pans. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

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The rhubarb is from my garden but the it’s too early for my strawberries so these are Californian.

While the cakes are baking, make the rhubarb strawberry compote.

  • 1 3/4 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1 cup fresh rhubarb cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

IMG_8539.JPGCombine the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan and cook over medium-high head, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the juices start to bubble. Reduce the heat and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and let cool.

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I had to make the cakes in two batches as I only have two 8-inch pans.

Make the oat crumble.

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  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/4 almonds
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted room temperature butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 375F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Mix the oats, almonds, brown sugar, flour, butter, honey, cinnamon and salt with a wooden spoon and sprinkle over the lined baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let it cool and crumble the mixture into smaller pieces.

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“A party without cake is just a meeting.” Julia Child. “With enough butter, anything is good.” Julia Child.

You will need to make two batches of this vanilla swiss meringue buttercream:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons egg whites
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter (very important that it be at room temperature or it won’t combine properly) cubed
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Make a double boiler by filling a medium pot filled with water over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the pot. The bottom of the pot should not touch the water.

Whisk intermittently and heat the egg mixture to 160F (candy thermometer) or until it is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer and whip with the wire attachment on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. The bowl should be back to room temperature at this point. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.

With the mixer on low, add the cubed butter, a few tablespoons at a time then the vanilla. Once incorporated, turn up the mixer speed to medium-high and beat until the buttercream is silky smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

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Making the rhubarb buttercream

Two more quick steps and you are ready to assemble the masterpiece.

Make the rhubarb buttercream by mixing two cups of the buttercream with 1/2 cup of the cooled rhubarb compote and mix on medium with the paddle attachment in a stand-mixer until combined. Remove from mixer and set aside in a bowl.

Add a few drops of pink gel food colouring to the remaining butter cream and mix until combined.

IMG_8581.JPGTo assemble, level the cakes by removing any domes with a serrated knife run parallel to your work surface. Choose a sturdy layer for the bottom. Place it on a cake plate or board and spread 1 cup or half of the rhubarb buttercream with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with half of the oat crumble mixture. Top the next layer of the cake and repeat with the rhubarb buttercream and crumble. Finish with the final layer.

Frost the top and sides with the pink buttercream. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and then add another layer of icing to the top of the cake and using a petal tip, fill a pastry bag with buttercream. Starting at the top of the cake, pipe rows of ruffle swags by keeping the narrow end of the petal tip facing upward.

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I added some strawberries and pansies (remove the flowers before serving)
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This cake was in the adventurous cake section of Layered. Perfect my adventurous friend.
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Voila. Happy Birthday lovely Charlie. We celebrated with four members of our English Channel swim relay team. Carb loading. That water will be cold right?

 

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“But how will I eat cake if my head is over there, and my hands are over here?”  Marie Antoinette

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