There is way too much cake in my house. There was two last week and two this week if I count shattered one that stuck to the pan.
That brings me to my next point. This week I had some major issues trying to get the cake out of the pan. First, I used nonstick cooking spray, and I tried then buttering and flouring it. Both didn't work very well however, the butter and flour worked better.
This brings me to a point: parchment paper is a must for flat bottomed pans. Based on what I have been reading butter the bottom, then a layer of parchment paper, and the butter and flour the parchment, should work best.

However, the recipe this week is a great cake for any occasion. It's pretty light, and has a great amount of flavor.

Vanilla Blackberry Mascarpone Cake

From with edits to: Erica's Sweet Tooth
Yields 1 9 inch cake

For the cake:
2-1/4 cups cake flour
1 cup milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 tsp almond extract
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter 2 9" cake pans. Place a layer of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, and butter and flour the top of the parchment.
In a medium bowl, combine milk, egg whites, almond extract, and vanilla extract and beat with a fork or whisk until blended. In the bowl of an electric mixer on low speed, mix the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the cubes of butter a few at a time, continuing to beat on low speed for another 2-3 minutes.
Slowly add all but 1/2 cup of the milk to the flour mixture and increase speed to medium for 1-2 minutes. Add the rest of the milk and continue to beat for another minute. Pour batter evenly among the cake pans. Bake the cake for about 27 to 30 minutes and the cupcakes for 20-23, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the blackberry mascarpone filling:
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/2 pint blackberries
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the mascarpone cheese and blackberries on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar slowly, add the vanilla, and then beat for another 2-3 minutes. 

For the vanilla buttercream:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 to 4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time and beat well until completely mixed. Add the vanilla and continue to beat for another 1-2 minutes until smooth. Add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time, until the desired consistency is reached. (You want it to be easily movable, but still thick.)

For assembly:
Level your cake layers and transfer the bottom layer to a cake circle or cake plate. With a large round tip, pipe an outline of vanilla buttercream on top of the layer and then fill the circle in with the blackberry mascarpone filling. The buttercream creates a nice dam for the filling so it doesn't leak out.
Stack the other layer on top and apply a crumb coat of buttercream frosting to the entire cake. Place in the fridge for 5-10 minutes, then complete your final layer of frosting.

Here is a video on crumb coating if you need some instruction.

Hope you enjoy!
Until next week!

It's staring to become spring, a very welcome season change. A few days ago, as well, we had an amaryllis plant that just bloomed for the first time. I thought I would share it just because it is such a beautiful flower.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to take a cooking class at a great cooking school in Minneapolis called Kitchen Window. The class was cake decorating, and I learned a ton! Of, course my piping isn't super great yet, and trying to smooth out a cake just makes me put more craters in it, but I am definitely coming along.
I learned some basic borders, flowers, and designs to do with the spatula. Then, the class continued on with advanced flowers, proper filling techniques, and how to properly pour fudge onto a cake to get a perfect drizzled edge. I loved working with the instructor who was very knowledgeable and really helped me with some issues that I had during the class with piping.

But, if this seems interesting to you, I would highly recommend taking a cake decorating class as a great jumping off point into cake design.
There are plenty of online classes too you can sign up for, if you can't make it to a class!

Here if one of the cakes I made during the class:

I only had time for some quick snapshots this week, cause it has been very busy.
Until next week!
Mmmm, what better way to spend breakfast than with a nice piece of freshly baked bread with a hint of chocolate. It's been a busy week here for me, so I needed some fresh warm bread to help me wind down.

I'm also very excited to take a cake decorating course next weekend, so there isn't going to be a dessert, but I will write about the experiences I had at the course.

But back to the warm chocolate bread...
Brioche is, in my opinion, a great morning bread. It warm, soft, sweet, and just hits the spot.
This recipe can be made the night before, and the baked in the morning for a perfect breakfast.

Chocolate Brioche

Makes 12 small brioches
From (with small edits): Foodagraphy

For the dough:
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp instant yeast
1/2+2tbs cup whole milk
1 egg
1/4 cup butter, diced and at room temperature

For the filling:
5 1/2 tbsps milk
1 egg white
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsps flour
1 1/2 tbsps cocoa powder
1 tbsp butter

In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the butter and mix until it forms a rough dough. On an unfloured surface, start kneading the dough incorporating the butter as you do so until it forms a smooth ball; around 8 minutes. Dough may seem extremely buttery initially while you are kneading the butter in but don’t worry, as you continue to knead, the buttery dough will become become soft and pillowy. Place the dough back into the bowl— cover with a light cloth— and leave in a warm place for 2 hours or until double in size. Here’s where you can leave them overnight to proof.

For the filling, bring the milk to the boil. While it’s heating, mix the egg white and sugar in a bowl until combined. Mix in the flour and cocoa powder and beat until incorporated. When the milk is boiling, pour it over the cocoa mixture, whisking as you go. Transfer back into the pan, and continue to cook on medium heat until thick. Mix in the butter. Spread it on a baking tray lined with plastic wrap or parchment. Freeze till firm, a least 1 hour.*

Remove any air from the brioche dough by gently patting it down, then roll it into a rectangle. Place the cocoa filling in the middle, then fold the dough over it, sealing the ends together. Roll into a longer rectangle and fold once more. Repeat the folding one more time, then roll the dough back into your original rectangle. Roll the dough onto itself to form a log. Trim the ends, then using a sharp knife, slice into 3cm-thick segments. Butter a muffin tin or biscuit cutters and place the slices into them, cut side up. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 30 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

Recipe Notes:

*Watch out while freezing the chocolate. Parts will be firm before others. Keep it in the freezer longer than you think you need. I didn't and ended up just spreading it on the dough. It made things a bit messier trying to roll out the dough, but it did work.

Until next week!
Completely new discovery fro me in photography this week. I dove headfirst into the basics of film photography and all of the developing aspects that come with it. I just started working in a darkroom at my school developing photos taken from a variety of film cameras.
Learning how to work with film has definitely given me more appreciation for this craft. The effort that goes into every single image makes me all the more grateful for every shot that emerges in the developer. Now days with cameras on cell phones that instantly show you an image, it's easy to rush and snap a ton of mediocre shots. (I myself have fallen into this routine many times.) Film has taught me to put effort into everything: composition, light, frame, styling, you name it, and it all has to be there in your first shot.
I really think developing film is something every photographer should do once and a while to remind themselves to slow down and put effort into their work.

But onto the kitchen...

This week I was think a bit of fun was in order. So, I turned up my music and went to work making a relatively simple dessert that was a brand new concept to me: cake bars. I is basically a pound cake stuck together with chocolate and endless other flavors. Overall, I was very pleased with some of my flavor experimentation, and everything went together nicely.

Chocolate Almond Toffee Cake Bars with Raspberry Topping

Cake bar recipe adapted from: Baker's Royale

For the Cake Bars:

11 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 cup toffee bits
1 finely cubed pound cake (I used this recipe.)*
1 cup (4oz) walnuts
1 cup raspberry (4oz) raspberry
2 tablespoons of silvered almonds
2 tablespoons toffee

Line 9x13 pan with a plastic wrap or foil sling. leaving a 1 inch overhang on each side.
Place chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once melted remove bowl from heat and stir in toffee bits Set aside 2/3 cup of mixture.
Add cubed pound cake and walnuts into chocolate mixture and fold to combine. Spread mixture into plastic or foiled lined pan.** Pour the remaining 2/3 cup of mixture on top as evenly as possible.
Sprinkle raspberry, almonds, and toffee on top. To finish, drizzle with melted white chocolate. Transfer fully assembled pan to refrigerator and chill until set. Once set, grab hold of plastic wrap or foil overhang and remove from pan and slice to serve.
Keep bars chilled until ready to serve (about 2 hours). Bars will keep for 3-4 day in a tightly covered container.

Recipe Notes:

*For the pound cake, I added about 1/2 a cup of toffee pieces right to the batter, and it added a bit more toffee flavor that really added to the dessert.

**Depending on how big or small you cut your cubed pound cake, it will decide whether or not you are actually going to have a clumpier bar or a smoother one. The smoother one looks better, but to be honest, I like the taste of the larger bites of cake. Your choice on this one though.

Finally, you can do anything with this dessert. White chocolate peppermint, citrus, strawberry. What ever you thing of. Experiment with different kinds of cake too! However, if the cake you use is crumbly freeze it before mixing in in with the chocolate. I didn't have this issue with the pound cake, however, so you're the judge as to if the cake is going to fall apart or not.

Until next Week!