July 18, 2019

Triple Berry Cake


Full disclosure: I totally and completely copied the idea for this Triple Berry Cake from Sweet Lady Jane Bakery in Southern California.  I'd seen this particular  layer cake countless times in magazines and the internet because it seemed to be the birthday cake of choice by the likes of Taylor Swift and Gigi Hadid.  Celebrities aside, I was mainly drawn to the cake for its aesthetics.  I just love the beautiful fruit flowers and leaves set against the whipped cream background.  Absolutely gorgeous!


I did a google search and found a few YouTube videos that showed how the cake is made. What I especially loved was that it wasn't too sweet since the frosting was whipped cream.  Unfortunately Sweet Lady Jane's hasn't disclosed the cake recipe but if you break it down to its components it didn't seem that difficult: yellow cake, whipped cream and lots of fresh berries (strawberries, blackberries and raspberries).



Here's what I made my cake with:

Classic Yellow Cake from Stella Parks
Cream Cheese Whipped Cream from Cook's Illustrated  

Tips for next time: 
  1. Make at least 6 cups of sweetened whipped cream (using about 3 cups heavy cream) because I ran out at the end, thus the "naked" look on the sides of my cake.
  2. When applying the fresh berries between each cake layer fill the entire surface with tightly packed fruit!  I left gaps and when you cut in to the cake you have gaps...not pretty.

July 12, 2019

Animal Crackers


I saw these animal crackers cookie cutters on Amazon and had to buy them because they were so darn cute.  They reminded me so much of one of my childhood favorite cookies, Barnum's Animals Crackers, that come packaged in the little red box.  

Plunger style cookie cutters are perfect for intricate designs like these animals have.  The best cookie recipe I've used that really holds the detailed design of the cookie cutter is Rodda's clotted cream shortbread.  I've had success every time I've used it so I knew it was the perfect recipe for these animals.  Lucky for me I still had some of the clotted cream I brought back from London.


Aren't they the most adorable cookies?  The shortbread is crispy and not too sweet, just the way I like them.  If you're hosting an animal themed baby shower or kid's birthday party they would be a very fitting dessert to serve.

July 5, 2019

Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Brown-Sugar Pecan Streusel


I'm probably in the minority when I confess that I've never ever had a Starbucks Frappucino. What can I say?  Those blended drinks heaped with whipped cream have never appealed to me. Maybe it's also because I'm not much of a coffee drinker so my visits to the ubiquitous coffee chain are few and far between.   However, one thing that definitely will get me through a Starbucks door is their classic coffee cake
 

Imagine my absolute delight when I discovered that Cook's Illustrated Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Brown-Sugar Pecan Streusel is the baking doppelgänger to that beloved Starbucks cake.  The cake itself is the real star of the show.  Super moist with such a fantastic crumb.  Add to that a caramelized cinnamon sugar swirl and you've got yourself a slice of heaven.   Even better, since it's homemade you know exactly what it's made of, none of those additives or preservatives nonsense.  

 
Hosting a brunch?  You'll gain fans if you serve this coffee cake, trust me.  It can keep for several days so it's perfectly fine to make it in advance.  In fact, I'd venture to say it tastes even better a few days later.   


May 27, 2019

Buttermilk Biscuits by CHLB


Apparently National Buttermilk Biscuit Day was May 14 so I'm a bit late to the game this year.  I just returned from a trip down South, to Charleston, SC, and had to share some pictures of Callie's Hot Little Biscuits (or CHLB).   It's located in the tiniest sliver of a shop on Upper King Street but produces some of the best biscuits I've ever tasted.  The first day I visited was a bit of a queue but the promise of delicious southern biscuits made it worth the wait.


I love that on the wall of the shop they've literally painted the recipe for their famous buttermilk biscuits.  How cute is that?  Back in March I made their Cheese & Chive Biscuits so for this post I made the original buttermilk that started the CHLB phenomenon.  The employees were so kind when I bombarded them with questions.  They said the key was to use White Lily Unbleached Self-Rising Flour (with the red label!) and to work the flour and butter first, until it's like the texture of grated parmesan cheese, and THEN, work in the cream cheese.  Previously I'd mixed the butter and cream cheese together with the flour.



As is the custom whenever I travel I always try to bring back a baking souvenir.  On this trip I brought four 5-lb bags of the White Lily flour.  Yes, call me crazy, but it's so expensive to buy in the West Coast!  I literally had to go to several supermarkets to find the unbleached self-rising flour but eventually found success at a Walmart Supercenter in Mount Pleasant.




While Callie's biscuits are the ultimate, I think mine come pretty darn close.  I love to eat them warm with butter or homemade jam but I've also started to serve them with some pimento cheese.  You better believe I brought back some of that Southern delicacy with me as well!  

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