Adventures of a Cake Diva

A Blog About Adventures in Baking and Cake Decorating

Coconut Pound Cake with Pineapple Swiss Meringue Buttercream 07/07/2013

   Coconut Poundcake with Pineapple Swiss Meringue Buttercream

   What inspires your baking?  I tend to get pretty excited by ingredients.  Often, I’ll challenge myself to make something using only the ingredients that I have on hand in my pantry and refrigerator.  I like to do this to flex my creative muscles, and quite honestly, I’m on a tight budget.  Because I’m budget conscious, I try very (very) hard to stick to my grocery list.  But, every once in a while, a special ingredient will catch my eye.  That’s what happened here.

Pineapple Curd via Adventures of a Cake Diva

   Fresh pineapples were on sale at the grocery store, so I decided to splurge.  By the time I hit the check-out line, I knew that I was going to make this pineapple curd.  After swiping a spoonful, I decided to pair it with a coconut pound cake.  After swiping a couple more spoonfuls, I was convinced that this creamy curd was begging to be blended into a light, dreamy Swiss meringue buttercream.

Coconut Pound Cake with Pineapple Curd

    While this cake looks somewhat impressive, it is not difficult to make.  Yes, there are several components.  Don’t become overwhelmed by them.  You can make the curd ahead of time, and it will keep refrigerated in a sealed, glass jar for up to one week.  (I made my curd on Saturday and baked on Sunday.)  After I pulled the cake from the oven, I toasted the shredded coconut.  While the cake was cooling, I made the buttercream.  Just have a game plan and work it.  No biggie.

Slice of Coconut Pound Cake with Pineapple Swiss Meringue Buttercream

   The flavors and textures of the cake and buttercream mingle beautifully.  This pound cake has a delicate coconut flavor.  The cake is moist, but dense, as you would expect with a pound cake.  I split the cake in half and slathered it with the pineapple Swiss meringue buttercream.  After I sandwiched the two layers together, I topped it off with another layer of buttercream.  Oh my, I could (but didn’t) eat the bowl of buttercream on its own.  It’s light and creamy with a slight tang from the pineapple curd.  On a whim, I tossed in a couple of small handfuls of toasted coconut to give it a little bit of a crunch.   As a finishing touch, I sprinkled the top of the cake with toasted coconut and added some dried pineapple as a garnish.  Simply put, this cake is so dang good that I can hardly stand it.

 

   What ingredients have you been inspired by recently?

 

Coconut Pound Cake

Inspired by Food.com

4 eggs, room temperature

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup reduced unsweetened coconut milk, room temperature – Take one 13-14 ounce can of coconut milk and place it in a large, deep saucepan.  Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low, and bring it to a boil until it has reduced to one cup.  This process takes about 15-20 minutes.  (Sorry that I forgot to snap photos.  It’s not hard.  I promise.)

1 3/4 cups super fine granulated sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

   Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare your 9 inch Bundt pan either with grease and flour or a non-stick spray for baking.  In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk together to combine and set bowl aside.  Next, using the bowl to your stand mixer, mix together the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, until well combined with the mixture.  Add the vanilla.  Then, alternate adding the flour mixture and coconut milk in three separate additions.  Pour the batter into the Bundt pan and bake for approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes.  Since oven temperatures vary, I started checking on my cake after one hour.  It took my cake 1 hour, 15 minutes to bake.

 

Pineapple Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Inspired by Anonymous on Cake Central

1 1/2 cup (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

5 egg whites

7 ounces (1 cup) super fine granulated sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup fresh pineapple curd – I used Alaska from Scratch’s Fresh Pineapple Curd recipe, and it was divine.  Click HERE for recipe.

   Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heat-proof bowl that will fit your stand mixer, and place the bowl over a pot of boiling water on your stove.  Stir continuously until this mixture reaches 160 degrees (use a candy thermometer) and the sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and place the bowl under your stand mixer with the whisk attachment in place.  Beat the mixture on high speed until it holds stiff peaks.  Continue beating the mixture until it is fluffy.  Then, remove the whisk attachment and place the paddle attachment onto your mixer.

   Start your mixer on medium-low speed (4 on your Kitchen Aid), and add several butter tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition.  After all of the butter has been added, the frosting will appear to separate.  Bump up the speed on your mixer to a medium high speed (6 on your Kitchen Aid), and keep beating for about 3-4 minutes.  It will come together beautifully. Then, add the pineapple curd and reduce your mixer speed to the lowest setting (2 on your Kitchen Aid) until combined.  Finally, stir with a spatula until the frosting is smooth.

 

Banana Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream: My Kind of Comfort Food 06/30/2013

Filed under: Baking,Cupcakes,Recipes — acakediva @ 9:45 PM
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Banana Cupcakes with Mocha Buttercream

   I had a vision for these cupcakes.  I knew exactly how I wanted someone to feel when they ate one. Comfy. Cozy. And a bit nostalgic. This banana cupcake, at least in my mind, is the perfect comfort food.  With every bite, it reminds me of coming home after school as a kid and enjoying a piece of snack cake.

Banana Cupcake with Mocha Buttercream2

   But, I also wanted to add a bit of a spin to it, too. Something that is a bit unexpected for a banana cake. Here’s where the mocha comes into play.  The flavor of the buttercream is a bit of a tease.  It smells like chocolate.  When it first crosses your palate, it tastes like chocolate, but then the hints of mocha begin to tickle your taste buds.  And the cupcake?  Let me tell you about this cupcake….

Blog2

   I’ve tried many banana cake recipes, but they have always been a major disappointment.  I’ve even tried to create a couple of my own versions, with no luck.  With all of these other recipes, I’ve always felt like I was eating a piece of banana bread.  Way too dense.  Rest assured that this recipe has the taste and texture of a cake with a good banana flavor.  Come to think of it, this recipe would make a lovely little snack cake with a Penuche frosting, too.  I’ll have to give that one a try, sometime very soon.

Banana Cupcakes

For the cupcakes, I used the “Best Ever Banana Cake” recipe by Rhonda J on Food.com.  CLICK HERE for recipe.  I didn’t change a thing, which is pretty rare for me.

Mocha Buttercream

A Cakediva Original Recipe

1/4 cup milk

1 1/2 teaspoons of instant coffee granules

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

3 cups powdered sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

4 tablespoons of shortening

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

In a small bowl, combine milk and instant coffee granules, stir, and set aside.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder.  Whisk together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Set aside.  In the mixing bowl of your KitchenAid fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and shortening until they are smooth and creamy.  Turn down the speed of your KitchenAid to a 2 or 3.  Add the extracts.  Add the powdered sugar/cocoa mixture, one cup at a time.  Using a spatula, scrape down after each addition.  Add 3-4 tablespoons of the milk/coffee mixture until it has combined with the buttercream.  (Do not add all of the milk mixture!)  Lastly, take a wooden spoon or spatula and stir (by hand) to eliminate any air bubbles.

 

Gingerbread Scones: They never stood a chance of seeing Christmas morning. 12/25/2012

Filed under: Baking,Recipes — acakediva @ 10:48 PM
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Gingerbread Scones via Adventures of a Cake Diva

   I went to my parents’ home in Ohio for Christmas.  For a little while, I was worried that I wouldn’t make it there.  My story of sitting in a Michigan auto shop waiting room on Christmas Eve is best told, I think, over a pitcher of (strong) margaritas.  So, I’ll save that one for another day.

Gingerbread Scones via Adventures of a Cake Diva

   I thought we would enjoy these Gingerbread Scones this morning, as we sipped coffee and exchanged gifts.  I thought wrong.  Instead, we polished them off last night as we sipped decaf (Is this a sign I’m getting older?) and played a highly competitive game of Kwizniac against my folks.  (My sis, brother-in-law, and I totally have bragging rights, by the way.)

   Hope you are having a very Merry Christmas!  What special treats did you bake for this morning?

Gingerbread Scones  

Adapted from: The Domestic Mama & The Village Cook

For the Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

4 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

zest from one orange

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 egg yolk (reserve the white)

1/3 cup molasses

1/2 cup of milk

granulated sugar for sprinkling the tops of scones

   Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. In the bowl to your stand mixer, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Whisk to combine dry ingredients.  Then, in a separate bowl, mix the vanilla, orange zest, butter, egg yolk, molasses, and milk.  Slowly add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients.  Mix on medium-low setting (4 on Kitchen Aid) until combined.  Do not over-mix.

   Remove the dough from your bowl.  Place on a sheet of parchment paper and flatten (or roll out with pin) into a circle, approximately one inch thick.  Using a bench/dough scraper or knife, cut the circle into eight triangle slices.  Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about one inch apart.  Brush with reserved egg white and sprinkle with granulated sugar.  Bake for 8-12 minutes; remove while slightly soft.  Cool completely before glazing.  Store in air-tight container.

For the Glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons milk

   Mix the sugar, butter, and vanilla.  Slowly add milk until you reach the desired consistency.  Top cooled scones with glaze by dipping them or drizzling with a spoon.  (I used a squeeze bottle.  That will work, too.)  Allow glaze to set before serving.

 

Dark Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes 12/02/2012

Dark Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

   Sometimes, I think food (much like art), imitates life.  Or, maybe it’s just that these Dark Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes seem to imitate my life at this moment.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Cupcake

   There are some things that, at first blush, might not make sense together.  Take, for example, dark chocolate and coconut.  These flavors aren’t paired together frequently. But, as I took a bite of one of these dreamy cupcakes, I wondered how dark chocolate has gotten along all this time without coconut by its side.  Yes, I’m still taking about cupcakes.

Trio of Dark Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

   These rich, but not too rich, dark chocolate cupcakes are very moist.  They are perfectly paired with this creamy coconut buttercream.  I can’t decide what I love more about this frosting—the creamy depth of the coconut milk, or the earthy, crunchy bits of toasted coconut mixed with sweet shredded coconut. Each of these flavors stand on its own beautifully.  Yet, when you put them together, holy smokes.  They just make delicious sense.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Adapted from: Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup dark cocoa (I used Hershey’s “Special Dark” Cocoa)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup hot, freshly brewed coffee

   Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Whisk together in a large bowl the sugar, flour, dark cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Then, add the eggs, sour cream, oil, and vanilla.  Beat the batter with your mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes.  Lastly, stir in the hot coffee.  Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full with batter.  (Do not over-fill.)  Bake the cupcakes for 20-22 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting the cupcakes.

Coconut Buttercream
 Adapted from: Baked Perfection

2 sticks of butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

5 cups powdered sugar, sifted

6 tablespoons coconut milk

pinch of salt

   Beat the butter, vanilla, and almond extract until creamy.  Continue beating the mixture while adding the salt and coconut milk.  Then, add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.  Lastly, before using, take a rubber spatula and stir the frosting thoroughly to eliminate any air bubbles.

Coconut Garnish

3/4 cup of toasted coconut  (Click HERE to learn how.)

3/4 shredded coconut

   Place both types of coconut into a bowl and toss with your hands.  Place a generous amount on top of frosted cupcakes.  Enjoy!

 

Super Quick Tip: How to Toast Shredded Coconut

Filed under: Recipes,Science of Baking / Baking Tips — acakediva @ 9:01 PM
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Beautifully toasted coconut

   Don’t be like me.  Don’t avoid recipes with toasted coconut, because you think it’s too tricky or that you might burn your house down.  That’s just silly.  Instead, be brave,  Try something new.  Surprise yourself.  It’s not too tricky, and you won’t burn your house down.  (Where did those silly thoughts come from, anyway?)

   Here’s the run-down:  Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Take one cup of shredded coconut and spread it out on the sheet.  Place the sheet in the oven for 3 minutes.  Then, pull it out of the oven and stir it around, keeping it evenly spread on the sheet.  (It won’t have browned yet.  That’s okay.  You’ll get there.)

Stirring coconut while toasting   Put the sheet back into the oven for 3 more minutes.  Pull it out of the oven, and stir it around again.  (See how it’s starting to brown?)  Put it back into the oven, this time for 2 minutes.  Since oven temperatures slightly vary, it might be done now.  Or, you might need to stir it around again and put it back into your oven for another minute or so.  Watch it carefully, though.  Once the coconut starts to brown, it can quickly burn.  As long as you keep a close eye on it, you should be good to go.

   Isn’t it fun to try new things?  Have you ever shied away from baking something because you weren’t sure how to go about preparing one of the components, like toasted coconut?

 

Ginger Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting 11/23/2012

     A couple of years ago, I received a blank journal from my sister.  It’s become my cake journal, where I collect some of the ideas that are floating around in my head.  For a while, I’ve had penned in this book to take my favorite carrot cake recipe and add freshly grated ginger.  But, it wasn’t until this week that I knew it was time to give this a try.

    Sometimes, inspiration strikes in the most unlikely of places.  Earlier this week, I went for a run (jog, really) after work.  It was dark and turning fairly chilly outside.  Ugh.  As I trudged along my usual route, my mind began to drift.  Out of seemingly nowhere, the idea of orange cream cheese frosting popped into my head.  By the time I got home, I knew that I had a gem of an idea.  Ginger Carrot Cupcakes with Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.

     The beauty of this cupcake is that it’s a pure carrot cake with just a hint of ginger.  No nuts, raisins, or anything extraneous that might be found in a “classic” carrot cake recipe.  It doesn’t need any of that stuff.  (I promise.)  The orange zest and fresh juice add a slight tang to the rich and creamy frosting.  Yet, in every other way, this frosting remains the familiar favorite that is so well loved (and expected) with a carrot cake.  I’ve got to tell you, I love this slight twist to the traditional flavors.  This recipe is a keeper, for sure.

Ginger Carrot Cupcakes

Yield:  2 dozen cupcakes

Adapted from:  Mary Mary Quite Contrary

2 cups (11 ounces) all-purpose flour, sifted

2 cups (14 ounces) ultra-fine sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or 3/4-1 teaspoon ground ginger)

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

6 egg whites (use large eggs)

3 cups peeled, grated carrots

   Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Add all of the dry ingredients to the bowl of your stand mixer.  Using a whisk, mix and combine the dry ingredients in the bowl.  Add the applesauce, oil, and vanilla.  Start your mixer on low speed.  Add the egg whites.  Stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the grated carrots.  Beat on medium speed for two (2) minutes.  Using your spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Divide the batter evenly into the cupcake liners/muffin tin.  Bake 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

Adapted from: Spinach Tiger

12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

orange zest from one orange

3 tablespoons orange juice , freshly squeezed

5 cups powdered sugar, sifted

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

   Mix the orange zest and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl.  Set aside.  Using the paddle attachment to your stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth.  Add the orange juice and vanilla.  Then, add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula after each addition.  Lastly, before using, take a rubber spatula and stir the frosting thoroughly to eliminate any air bubbles.  Enjoy!

 

How to Bake with Tea: Apple Chai Spice Cake with Honey Vanilla Buttercream 10/13/2012

Nothing warms me up like a cup of tea.  Last Saturday, I made a pot of Chai Spice tea after a chilly morning of apple picking.  With every sip, I marveled at how the black tea, peppered with cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and cardamom, ignited my taste buds.

I started thinking about what I might do with the peck of apples I had gathered. Then, inspiration struck. Apple Chai Spice Cake.  Oh, my…

My past attempts to bake with tea have been a bit disappointing.  I’ve struggled to capture anything more than a subtle tea flavor.  After a little research, I’ve learned the best way to infuse my cakes with a potent (but not overpowering) tea flavor and aroma is really quite simple.  Steep the tea in butter.

It’s best to use loose leaf tea, since the tea leaves are a bit bigger.  If you’re a true tea connoisseur (I’m not), you’ll probably shudder at my suggestion that you can use bagged tea for this recipe.  I had plenty of good quality Chai Spice tea bags in my cupboard, so I cut these bags open and used the leaves.  If you don’t mind that some of the tea leaves will, inevitably, make their way into the cake batter, I say go for it.

Place 2 1/2 sticks (20 tablespoons) of unsalted butter into a saucepan over low heat.  Add 6-8 teaspoons of Chai Spice tea leaves.  Melt the butter and tea leaves, stirring occasionally.  (This is different from the tea to butter ratio suggested in the above link.  Don’t worry, the tea flavor is splendid.)  Once the melted butter starts to darken from the tea leaves (about 6-7 minutes), remove the saucepan from your stove.  Place the saucepan on a trivet or other heat-safe surface, and allow the tea to steep for about 7-8 minutes.

Place a sieve over a bowl.  Pour the tea butter mixture into the sieve.  Most of the liquid will strain through the sieve.  Since I used bagged tea leaves (smaller than loose leaf tea), I poured the tea butter through the strainer twice to minimize the amount of leaves remaining in the butter.  If you use loose leaf tea, you may have to use a wooden spoon to press the leaves against the fine mesh.  Allow the tea butter to come to room temperature.  It’s now ready to use.

I like to use some of the cake’s ingredients as a garnish.  I think it’s a bit of a teaser of the cake that my guests are about to partake.  I decided to sprinkle a few Chai Spice leaves all over this cake and then top it off with a couple of cinnamon sticks.  It was simple, yet elegant, cake that smelled absolutely amazing.  It tasted even better.

Have you ever baked with tea? What did you make?

Apple Chai Spice Cake

An Original Cakediva Recipe

Yield: Two 9″ round cakes

2 ¾ cups (10 ounces) of all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1 cup (8 ounces) of tea butter – See recipe, above.  I used 2 ½ sticks of butter to make the tea butter, since some of the butter will stick to the tea leaves remaining in your sieve.

2 cups (14 ounces) of ultrafine granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract

5 large eggs

1 cup (8 ounces) of milk

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of cinnamon

½ teaspoon of ground cloves

½ teaspoon of ground ginger

½ teaspoon of cardamom

2-3 apples – cored, peeled and grated (about 1 cup, heaping)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare your cake pans by spraying them with a non-stick baking spray.  Sift the flour into a large bowl.  Add the baking powder, salt, and spices, and use a whisk to combine them with the flour.  Set aside.  Next, put the sugar and tea butter into the bowl of your standing mixer with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed (4 on your Kitchen Aid) until light and fluffy.  This may take a bit longer than usual, since the tea butter is not firm.  Turn your mixer down to a low setting (2 on your Kitchen Aid) and slowly add the vanilla and eggs, one egg at a time.  Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, and re-start your mixer on low to fully combine the ingredients.

Next, alternate adding the dry ingredient mixture and the milk into the butter mixture, stirring well after each addition.  Then, bump up the speed on your mixer to medium-high (8 on your Kitchen Aid) for about 15 seconds.  Turn off the mixer.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer.  Slowly fold the grated apples into the cake batter until well combined.  Pour the batter into cake pans.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.  Cool on wire cake racks.

Honey Vanilla Buttercream

An Original Cakediva Recipe

2 sticks of butter, unsalted – chilled, but not straight from the fridge

4 tablespoons of all-vegetable shortening

3-4 tablespoons of milk

2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of pure honey

dash of salt

4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted

In a large bowl, beat the butter and shortening until smooth.  Next, while you continue to beat the mixture, add the vanilla, honey, and salt.  Then, add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time.  When your mixer starts to strain, add one tablespoon of milk at a time, until the buttercream reaches your preferred consistency.  (The more milk you add, the creamier the frosting.)  Beat until smooth.  If the frosting is too sweet for your liking, add another dash of salt and mix until combined.  (Keep doing this until it reaches the desired amount of sweetness.)  Lastly, before using, take a rubber spatula and stir the frosting thoroughly to eliminate any air bubbles.

 

 
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