April 7, 2021

Lemon Bundt Cake

Spring is in full swing in the Bay Area and I am here for it.  After the marathon baking I did in preparation for Easter I was looking for something delicious, yet simple to make and this Lemon Bundt Cake fits the bill.  I've made quite a few lemon cakes for this blog but surprisingly this recipe from Cook's Illustrated was one that I hadn't made before.   The cakes I've made previously had sour cream or cream cheese as an ingredient but this one has buttermilk which helps to create a tender texture. 

As is the case with any bundt cake,  a key to its success is ensuring the baked cake releases nicely from the pan.  I made sure to grease my fleur de lis pan really well with shortening and then coat it generously with a dusting of flour.  My cake released beautifully and you could really see the beautiful design too. 

This cake is really delicious and really doesn't want for anything.  The crumb was light and tender and there was plenty of lemon flavor.   I am definitely going to be making this again.

March 29, 2021

Tangzhong Hot Cross Buns


When Easter rolls around there's nothing better than a really good hot cross bun.  You can't beat the combination of a bread roll spiced with cinnamon and studded with raisins.  My only complaint about traditional buns is the flour and water paste that adorns the top.  When it bakes up I've found it to be too hard and too tasteless.  I made this comment recently on Instagram and someone suggested making the cross out of an Asian bun topping.  It was such a brilliant idea that I wish I had thought of it myself.

I was then inspired make Tangzhong Hot Cross Buns, a variation of the traditional Easter bread made with tangzhong dough.  I started with my favorite tangzhong dough from Cook's Illustrated and simply added cinnamon, nutmeg and raisins. For the cross that goes on top I used a modified version of the sugary topping for pineapple buns, another favorite from Cook's Illustrated.   

When the buns baked up the cross on top wasn't as clearly distinct as you would find in other buns, but I was more than ok with that because they tasted amazing!!  Tangzhong breads are popular because of their soft and fluffy texture and these buns had it in spades.  Add in spice and raisin and I think I've found the perfect hot cross bun.  I'll definitely be making these every year.


March 28, 2021

Bunny-Themed Easter Table


Easter 2021 seems a lot more hopeful than last year as COVID-19 vaccines are more broadly rolled out in the US.  I wanted my Easter decor to reflect an uplifting mood and I hope I've achieved that.  Decorating for the holidays, be it Easter or Christmas (my other favorite holiday), brings me so much joy and who doesn't need some of that right now?

Bunnies, bunnies and more bunnies.  These cute furry creatures were the inspiration for my Bunny-Themed Easter Table this year.  It all started with the floral meadow tablecloth and embroidered napkins I bought from Williams-Sonoma and after that the ideas just multiplied, much like their namesake animal! 

Since last year I started collecting Easter bunnies and this year's additions to the fluffle are moss covered bunnies I picked up from Mrs. Alice, a UK-based tablescape retailer that's become a new favorite of mine.   Everything they sell is absolutely gorgeous!

By way of desserts I made a spreckled egg cake, raspberry and lemon petits fours, jam-filled thumbprint shortbread and iced sugar cookies.  Colors of pastel pink, blue, yellow and green were used throughout the room to complement the Easter theme yet these cool tones were warmed up by using  rattan and wood elements such as the placemats and napkin rings.

Easter candy is a requirement and I filled gingham Easter basket party favors with lollipops, chocolates and marshmallows.  Ceramic bunny bowls brimming with jelly beans and malted milk balls were placed on the dining table.  They made an extra sweet addition to the tablescape.

Wishing you a wonderful Easter (or spring or Passover)!
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March 26, 2021

Speckled Egg Cake


The centerpiece for my Easter dessert table this year is a Speckled Egg Cake.   Around spring time you'll see cakes similar to this as it's perfect for the Easter holiday or spring season.  Even better, it couldn't be simpler to make.  All you need is a frosted layer cake along with some vodka and brown food coloring for the "speckles."

I made four cake layers (by doubling this recipe of Martha Stewart's one-bowl chocolate cake) and then filled and frosted them with blue-tinted Swiss meringue buttercream.  To achieve the "speckled" effect I mixed a little bit of vodka with brown food coloring and used a pastry brush to splatter the mixture all over the cake. 

If you don't want to use vodka I've also seen recipes that used 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract mixed with 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder.  For the cute bird's nest topping I combined about 1 cup of toasted coconut flakes with 1/3 cup of melted chocolate chips.  Form into a nest shape and place a few Cadbury's mini eggs in the center.  Chill until firm and then place at the top of the cake.


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