Meyer Lemon and Blackberry Layer Cake

I do not often make layer cakes, but the other day I was watching Master Chef (you can judge me, I know it is a terrible show), and they were challenged to make one.   Watching all those cakes made me want to eat one, which meant I had to make one.  So I looked through a few cook books and came across one from Dorie Greenspan that I had always wanted to eat.  This cake isn’t exactly that cake but it is based on it.  It is very good, but there is one warning.  The frosting base is a meringue, so if you do not like meringue all that much, this cake probably is not for you.  Or you could replace the frosting with a normal butter cream too.

The cake:

2 1/2 cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk (I used whole milk because that is what I had on hand.  I actually think I would have preferred buttermilk.)

4 large egg whites

1 1/2 cups sugar

zest of one Meyer lemon

1 stick butter, room temp.

juice of the Meyer lemon

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together; set aside.  Whisk the milk and egg whites together; set aside.

Put the sugar and the lemon zest in a bowl, and rub it together until the sugar is nice and fragrant.  Add the butter and beat until the mixture is very light.  Beat in the lemon juice.  Then add in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 of the milk mixture.  Continue in this fashion, back and forth, until everything is incorporated.  Once everything has mixed together well, divide the batter into two well-greased 9″ round cake pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes at 350 degrees.  Once the cake is done, remove from oven and place the pans on cooling racks.  After about 15 minutes take the cakes out of the pans to let them cool completely.

The frosting:

1 cup sugar

4 large egg whites

3 sticks of butter at room temp.

1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the sugar and eggs together in a double boiler over medium-high heat.  Whisk constantly as the mixture is heating.  It should take about 3-5 minutes to get the mixture to look white, fluffy, and shiny (a little like marshmallow cream actually). Pull the mixture into an electric mixer.  Beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes–the mixture should now be cooled down.  Add the butter, one stick at a time until completely incorporated.  Turn up the mixer to medium-high and beat for 6-10 minutes, until the mixture is very light and fluffy.  Add in the juice and the extract, beat until incorporated.

The blackberry layer: 

This is the easier part by far.  Warm about 1/2-2/3 cup blackberry preserves until easily spreadable.  That is it.  You could use any preserves really.  I used seedless preserves for this cake.

Assembly:

Once the cake layers have cooled, use a sharp knife and slice in half horizontally–you will end up with 4 cake rounds at this point. Obviously you need a sharp and long  knife, but it is easier to do than I expected.  Now you will start the layering process.  Lay the first cake round down on a cake stand or plate.  Spread a thin layer of the preserves on it.  Then spread the frosting over the preserves.  Try to keep the layers from mixing together here.

Once the frosting is spread, add the next cake layer and repeat with the preserves and the frosting. Do this with the bottom three cake layers.

Place the forth layer on top; now it is time to cover the entire cake with the remainder of the frosting.

Now it is ready to cut and enjoy.

I topped the cake with a few raspberries from the yard.  It would be great with some actual blackberries too.

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Flourless Chocolate Cake

I have been terribly busy with the end of my semester so I haven’t been cooking or posting as much as usual.  The good news is that I am almost done.  The bad news is that I still have about three weeks left of stress.  So, here is a recipe that I made a while ago but was keeping for a rainy day.

Flourless Chocolate Cake is both incredibly easy and incredibly tasty.  It looks good when guests come over too.  You do need to make it over two days, so you need to plan ahead, but otherwise it is a breeze.

This recipe is  slightly modified from the America’s Test Kitchen actually.  I have made it a couple of times because Alec loves it, and it is often what he suggests for desserts.  Feel free to dress it up with some whip cream or fresh berries.  It is a real treat.

Ingredients:

8 eggs

1 pound bitter-sweet chocolate

2 sticks of butter

1/4 cup coffee (I use espresso)

Method:

The recipe says to melt the chocolate, butter, and espresso in the microwave until smooth.  I found this to be a terrible method.  I melted it in a double-boiler.  If money weren’t an issue I would do this with really nice chocolate. However, I am not made of money here so I made it with regular old chocolate chips.  It still tastes good.  Let it cool slightly.

Meanwhile whip the eggs in an electric mixer until very light yellow and fluffy.

Mix the eggs into the chocolate–put about 1/3 of the eggs in at each time.

Try not to over mix the cake batter.

Once it is combined, put the chocolate mixture into a greased spring foam pan that has been wrapped in tin foil.

The cake is going to bake at 325 in a water bath.  So put the spring foam pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water around.  I find it easiest to put the pan into the oven before I pour in the water.  The water should come up about an inch and a half around the pan.

Note: you should probably use a bigger pan for the water bath.  I just don’t have one.

If you are using a 8″ pan bake for 22-25.  If you are using a 9″ pan, bake for 18-21 minutes.

Once the cake is done baking, pull it out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature.  Then put it in the fridge and let it cool overnight.

Then you can eat some for breakfast the next day! I am kidding, though I am occasionally known to eat dessert for breakfast.

Weird Recipe of Yesteryear: Tomato Soup Cake, actually less gross than you would imagine

My friend Anna found a bunch of old recipes in a drawer she bought at a thrift shop a while back.  A couple of the recipes were dated from 1940, so we are assuming most are from about that time.  Many of the recipes are huge, enough servings to serve 100 people or more.  Perhaps they are from a church kitchen? A number of the recipes are also weird.  We are going to make a recipe from this collection probably once a month and post it on here.  We decided to start with one of the strangest recipes in there: Tomato Soup Cake.  The only problem was, it wasn’t so much a recipe as a list of ingredients.  However, we have made enough cakes to guess how it went together.  The big question was how long to bake it and what type of pan it should go in.  We ended up doing a 9 inch round pan, and it baked for about 4o-45 minutes.

The end result was similar to pumpkin spice cake, but not as good.  I am not sure if you could tell the difference if you didn’t know about the soup.  After we had made it, I went online to see if other people made this cake (not sure why I didn’t try this before).  I did find similar recipes, believe it or not.  The recipe originates from 1925–it was an invention of the Campbell’s Soup Corporation, no surprise there.  Campbell’s still has a modified recipe on their website!  I think we probably should have made the cake in a loaf pan–that seems to be a more common way to make it.  I was pleased to see that topping it with cream cheese frosting was also common, which we decided to do just looking at the ingredient list.

All in all it was a fun adventure.  Will I start making this cake on a regular basis? No.  It was not that good.  It was better than I thought it would be though, and it would be a good conversation starter I suppose.  Or maybe if there is a big run on pumpkin someday, and you really want a pumpkin spice cake, you can look this up and make it.

Ingredients:

1/4 pound shortening (we used butter instead, and it worked fine)

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 can or tomato soup

1 teaspoon baking soda–put in the soup

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

2 teaspoons baking powder

Method:

We started by creaming the butter until nice and fluffy.  Add the sugar and mix well.  Add the egg and mix well.  Put in the tomato soup/baking soda combo.

Meanwhile we mixed all the dry ingredients together.  Once the wet ingredients were well mixed.

Lucy was helping out with the cake too

Bake the cake at 350 degrees.  The baking time will vary on your choice of pan.  For a 9″ round bake for about 40 minutes.  If you do a loaf pan, maybe try about an hour?

Now for the frosting:

The frosting was really good, and it made the cake better I think.  Mix up 3 ounces of cream cheese (at room temp), half stick of butter (at room temp), 2 teaspoons of vanilla, and 2 cups of powdered sugar.  Blend together until light and fluffy.  I found this recipe from my Better Homes and Garden’s Baking book–a classic.

Once the cake has cooled, put on the frosting:

And finally, cut a slice and enjoy…