So I celebrated a big one a few weeks ago. Yep, a whole year has passed. Since my brother and I were born on the same day, our birthdays were always a big deal. It all started when I was 6, and my brother was turning 1. Tell a six year old that they have to share their birthday after 5 years of flying solo, and well, it could’ve been a little rough. Instead my parents went over the top and had an all out celebration with a tiered cake, our whole family, and a clown who doubled as a magician. I still cheered when the clown told me he was going to make my brother disappear, but overall, I LOVED sharing a birthday.
This year was no different. It’s been pretty great being back in Ohio and being able to once again share birthdays with my favorite brother. I insisted on making the cake, because it’s the one time of the year I don’t feel bad about going all out with an over the top birthday cake. Six layers was obviously a necessity, but because I didn’t want to be eating leftover cake for weeks, I thought 6 inches was perfect. The only problem – I didn’t have any six inch cake pans. Thankfully whole foods came to my rescue. I noticed they sold 6-inch cakes and jokingly asked the baker if she had any pans for sale. Well it turns out they bake all their cakes in disposable paper rounds – and she gave me 3 for a buck, steal!
The initial recipe called only for the raspberry filling, which does make a beautiful contrasting interior, but I really wanted more chocolate, so I alternated a chocolate ganache frosting with the raspberry butter cream. It was not much more work because the ganache is just 2 ingredients, whipped to a fluffy consistency. But I will say the cake on it’s own is a moist, rich, dense chocolate cake, and could easily stand as the only chocolate in the cake if you want to double the strawberry buttercream instead. The whole thing is then topped with a rich chocolate ganache that drips down the sides and makes for a wonderful presentation. If your looking for some other wonderful birthday cakes, here’s a few I’ve made:
Six Layer Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Buttercream and Whipped Ganache
Makes 1- 6 layer, 6 inch cake.
For the Cake:
- 1-1/2 cups (180 g) all-purpose flour
- 1-1/3 cups (275 g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (60 g) dark cocoa powder
- 1-1/4 teaspoons (6 g) baking soda
- 1-1/4 teaspoons (6 g) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
- 140 ml (5 liquid oz) buttermilk
- 130 ml (4.5 liquid oz) espresso or strong, hot brewed coffee
- 75 ml vegetable oil
- 2 eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
For the Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream:
- 3 large, fresh egg whites (100 g)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 sticks butter, cut into cubes and cool
- 1/4 cup raspberry puree, strained to remove seeds
- few drops of pink food coloring (optional)
For the Whipped Chocolate Ganache Filling:
- 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
For the Chocolate Glaze:
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/3 c. heavy cream
- 2 T unsalted butter
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare three 6-inch round cake pans with butter, parchment paper rounds, and flour or cocoa powder. Tap out excess.
- In bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients.
- Add all remaining ingredients to bowl with the dry ingredients and with paddle attachment on mixer, mix for 2 minutes on medium speed (you may need the plastic splash-guard that comes with mixer) and pour into prepared pans. If possible, use digital kitchen scale and weigh pans for even layers. Batter will be liquidy.
- Bake for 20 minutes and then rotate pans in oven. Cakes are done when toothpick or skewer comes out with a few crumbs, about 30 minutes total. Try not to over-bake.
- Cool on wire racks for 20 minutes then gently invert onto racks until completely cool.
- If using raspberry puree, place a handful of fresh or frozen raspberries in a food processor, and process until a smooth. Press through a mess sieve to remove seeds and retain at least 1/4 cup to add to frosting.
- Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 160°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
- With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes or so). *Don’t begin adding butter until the bottom of the bowl feels neutral, and not warm.
- Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). *If mixture is too runny, refrigerate for about 15 minutes and continue mixing with paddle attachment until it comes together. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
- Add raspberry puree to taste and if desired a few fresh raspberries, and blend until combined. Add small amount of pink food coloring, if desired.
For the Whipped Chocolate Ganache.
- Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan until just before boiling.
- In a heat safe bowl, pour cream over chopped chocolate. Let sit for ~5 minutes, then stir to melt chocolate.
- Allow mixture to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (about 30-45 minutes). (Or place in the fridge for a few minutes at a time to expedite the process)
- Whip mixture on high until it becomes paler and fluffy, about 2-4 minutes.
- Place the chocolate, butter and heavy cream in a medium heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir the mixture using a rubber spatula until melted and smooth. *Be careful to not get even a droplet of water into your bowl of chocolate and butter.
- Slice the 1st cake layer in half horizontally, using a large serrated knife or dental floss and place cut side up on your cake board, pedestal, or plate.
- The general order of the cake starting from the bottom will be:
- Whipped Ganache
- Raspberry Buttercream
- Whipped Ganache
- Raspberry Buttercream
- Whipped Ganache
- Raspberry Buttercream
- Finish with layer of Chocolate Glaze
- Using a small offset palette knife, spread approximately 1/2 cup of whipped ganache evenly on top.
- Add a layer of cake and cover with about 1/2 cup raspberry buttercream.
- Repeat this with remaining cake layers, until you come to the final layer, which you will place face-down on the top of the cake.
- Place cake on a turntable (if possible), and using a small offset palette knife for the top of the cake, and medium straight palette knife for the sides, cover the cake in a thin layer of buttercream to seal in crumbs. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or more). *This does not need to be perfect, as that will come with the top “coat” of buttercream.
- Chill cake.
- If glazing the cake, make the glaze and set aside for a few moments to cool a bit. Pour glaze over chilled cake, smoothing the top with a clean small offset palette knife.
- Chill again to set, serve at cool room temperature.
I know you are probably up to your ears in left over Halloween candy, and the last thing you want to think about is making your own candy….but I promise you, these are worth it! This recipe has been circulating the internet for over a year, and despite coming from THE Smitten Kitchen, I was still a bit hesitant as to whether these would actually taste like apple cider. Well my friends, I can attest to ahhhmazingness of these caramels. Somehow, magically, they do indeed taste like apple cider. (Or maybe not so magically….you do use an entire quart of the stuff and boil it down to a mere 1/3 cup to infuse the caramel with cider flavor).
I actually had made these for our pumpkin carving party, but because of the unpredictable nature of intern year (and medicine in general), I was 2 hours late to my own party…. so instead, I have been enjoying these myself for the past 2 weeks. (Good thing I’m not the dentist in the family…) I also insist that everyone who comes to our house tries at least one – and the response is always the same….”ahhhhmazing.” So before cider is gone until next fall, make these. You won’t regret it.
Apple Cider Caramels
Makes 64 caramels
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, or less of a finer one
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
Boil the apple cider in a 3- to- 4- quart saucepan over high heat until it is reduced to a dark, thick syrup, between 1/3 and 1/2 cup in volume, stirring occasionally. This took about 1 hour on my stove.
Line the bottom and sides of an 8- inch straight- sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment, then butter. Set it aside. Stir the cinnamon and flaky salt together in a small dish.
Once you are finished reducing the apple cider, remove it from the heat and stir in the butter, sugars, and heavy cream. Return the pot to medium- high heat with a candy thermometer attached to the side, and let it boil until the thermometer reads 252 degrees, about 5 minutes. Do not take your eyes off it as it burns quickly.
Immediately remove caramel from heat, add the cinnamon- salt mixture, and give the caramel several stirs to distribute it evenly. Pour caramel into the prepared pan. Let it sit until cool and firm—about 2 hours, though it goes faster in the fridge. Once caramel is firm, use your parchment paper sling to transfer the block to a cutting board. Use a well- oiled or buttered knife to cut the caramel into 1-by-1-inch squares. Sprinkle with additional flaky sea salt if desired. Wrap each one in a 4-inch square of parchment or waxed paper twisting the sides to close. Caramels will be somewhat on the soft side at room temperature, and chewy/firm from the fridge.
Caramels keep, in an airtight container at room temperature.
Source: Smitten Kitchen
So, you know my previous obsession with California? Well, because we’ve had the most amazing weather for the last month, I’m starting to realize that Ohio is pretty awesome! The leaves are starting to change, there is fog over the valleys when I drive to work, and the sun has that autumn glow. It’s wonderful! Although you will surely need to remind me of this come February, when I cannot wait for winter to be over! To keep my California dream alive, my best friend from like the fourth grade just landed a coveted fellowship spot at UCLA, so I’m quite sure my love will be rekindled when I go to visit. But for now, I’m loving Ohio.
Now about these muffins. Obviously, they totally go with October, but they would be equally perfect for Thanksgiving breakfast. They are actually pretty healthy – chunks of apple and apple sauce keep them very moist without much fat. Then of course you add this browned butter glaze, which sort of ruins the healthy aspect, but you absolutely cannot leave it off. It is amazing. Together, these were best apple muffins I’ve ever had.
A few technical points…. First, you precook the apple with a bit of sugar and spice. This step gives the apples a pie-like texture, instead of the dehydrated apple you find in some baked goods. Additionally, I found out the hard way that there are so many liquid components to these, that they will seep if allowed to sit in an air tight container. I’m quite sure this didn’t make the best presentation when John brought them into class, but apparently they were still well loved. To avoid this, go a little lighter on the amount of apple in the batter, and store with a rack underneath. These muffins are just hearty enough that you can call them breakfast without too much guilt.
Apple Cider Muffins with Browned Butter Glaze
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 2 -2 ½ honeycrisp apples, peeled and diced
- 3 tablespoons apple cider
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
- 1/4 cup apple cider
For the Glaze:
- 4 tablespoons browned butter, melted and cooled*
- 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider
- 1 cup powdered sugar
Begin by melting the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Continue to cook, swirling occasionally until the butter turns a deep golden brown. Be careful not to burn. *Repeat this step for the browned butter in the glaze.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a small skillet over medium-low heat and add diced apples with 3 tablespoons apple cider, and a pinch of cinnamon and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples are soft and caramely, about 8-10 minutes. In a bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside. Line a muffin tin with liners.
In a large bowl, whisk egg and brown sugar together until smooth and no lumps remain. Add in vanilla extract, butter, apple sauce and apple cider, whisking again until smooth. Gradually add in dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Fold in diced apples. Do not overmix. Fill each muffin liner 3/4 full to scantly full.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until tops slightly golden. When cool enough to handle, transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Brown Butter Apple Cider Glaze
In a medium bowl, combine browned butter, vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Whisk until the mixture comes together then add in 1 tablespoon of apple cider, continuing to mix. If it still doesn’t appear glaze-like, add in cider 1/2 tablespoon at a time and mix again. Don’t worry if it becomes too liquidy – just add a tiny bit of powdered sugar until you get the desired consistency. Spoon glaze on warm muffins or dip each top in the glaze, then serve.
Slightly Adapted from How Sweet It Is
Let me just profess how incredibly happy I am that it is October! Not only for the amazing weather, the change of leaves, and a special someone’s birthday, but also because my work schedule is much more manageable, and I actually have a few minutes to breathe. Of course at the top of my weekend to do list was celebrating the season by making baked goods! My friend Val also happens to be very found of October, seasonal festiveness and baking, so I knew pumpkin spice doughnuts would be right up her alley. I actually felt like a normal person, chit chatting on a Saturday afternoon, experimenting in the kitchen, and enjoying fall. It was so much fun!
Truth be told, I had bought a doughnut cutter specifically for these doughnuts more than a year ago, and had yet to use it. Fall passed me by, and making pumpkin doughnuts in December just seemed wrong. We found that the doughnuts “holes” made with the cutter were much larger than expected, so we ended up cutting them into fourths and making more snack size bites.
Now, I know people “bake” doughnuts, and that is much healthier, but let’s be honest, by definition doughnuts are fried. I’m not about to go redefining the very essentials of a doughnut by baking them, so yes, I fried these. Healthy? No. Guilty pleasure? Yes. I have only fried things one other time in my life, and it was pretty much the worst disaster I’ve had yet in the kitchen. (Picture an apartment so smoke filled you couldn’t reenter it for hours….). Happy to say this time went much more smoothly. The only difficult part is getting the oil to stay at the right temperature. Don’t be tempted to turn the heat to high – stick with medium – and use a heavy duty pan, like cast iron, that will keep consistent heat. Overall, these were considerably easier than I was expecting, but just as fun and festive as I was hoping.
Makes 14-16 doughnuts and doughnut holes
For the doughnuts:
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup canned pure pumpkin
- Canola or Peanut Oil (for deep-frying)
For the cinnamon-sugar:
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
For the spiced glaze:
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Dash of ground nutmeg
- Dash of ground ginger
- Dash of ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons milk
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the sugar and butter until well blended. Add egg, then yolks and vanilla. Add the pumpkin mixture and stir. Alternating buttermilk and flour mixture, continue to mix until all ingredients added and well blended. Cover the mixture and freeze for 1 hour, or refrigerate for 3.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and lightly flour your work surface. Gently roll dough to about 1 – 1.5 cm thickness. Using a floured doughnut cutter or 3-inch round cutter, cut out dough rounds. If needed, use a floured 1-inch cutter to remove the centers (or the bottom of a 1 m piping tip). Arrange the doughnuts and holes on the prepared baking sheets, and if possible chill until ready to fry. Gather dough scraps and continue cutting until all the dough is used.
Line a cooling rack with several paper towels. Add enough oil to a skillet or Dutch oven to reach a depth of 1 – 1½ inches. Heat oil until the temperature reaches 365º to 370º. Fry doughnuts a few at a time, adjusting heat as needed to maintain temperature, until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Fry doughnut holes in a couple batches, turning occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Use a strainer to transfer doughnuts to paper towels.
To make the cinnamon-sugar, whisk together the cinnamon and sugar in a small, shallow bowl until combined. When doughnuts are cool enough to touch, dip in cinnamon-sugar mixture and turn to coat completely.
Make the spiced glaze by combining powdered sugar and spices in a small bowl. Add the milk and whisk to combine, until a thick glaze is formed. Add more milk as needed to achieve desired consistency. Dip the remaining doughnuts in the glaze and allow to set before serving.
Source: Cook like a Champion