Friday, 17 June 2016

Devil's Food Cake with Espresso Fudge Frosting (x Food Network Canada)

This month has been a bit crazy. I started a new job (yay adulting!), I organized my closet (which is a huge accomplishment, actually), took terrible photos of a cake, and then kept my mind off that cake by making this cake! I'm extra excited about this cake because it is a small little collaboration between Food Network Canada and yours truly. I collaborated with them a while back during the winter holidays and made this winter wonderland cake. Apparently they didn't hate it so they reached out earlier this month and asked if I would like to create another cake for them.

So whenever I receive an email from Food Network, my mind is going "omgomgomgomogmogomg." When I opened the email to scroll to the details I saw that they wanted the cake to be somehow tied into the Calgary Stampede. Okay. So if you don't know me, you wouldn't know that I'm this little sheltered I-need-to-be-in-a-big-city-probably-NYC kinda girl. Not saying Calgary isn' a big city; I would actually love to visit Calgary someday and lurk around in Phil & Sebastian. But I've never been to Calgary, let alone the Stampede. Soooooooo what I'm trying to say is that...I don't know what I'm doing. "Oh hi Food Network, I don't know what I'm doing." Of course I didn't say that...but I guess it's out there now.

One thing I did know was that I didn't want the cake to be covered in cowboy hats and whatever one might find at the Stampede. I still wanted to show off my style (whatever that is). After a tad bit of brainstorming and a whole lot of going at it blindly, I came up with this! A chocolate on chocolate situation that's both decadent and homey. It is a devil's food cake with an espresso fudge frosting! I topped the cake off with some horses, sugared rosemary sprigs, and bunting that says 'yeehaw.' Does this accurately depict the Stampede? Will Calgarians laugh at me for being so uneducated? 

You will find the recipe for this cake situation over at Food Network:

Here are some additional photos I took for your viewing pleasure.

Yeehaw...! (I think)

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Citrus Olive Oil Cake with Honey and Figs

I am a bit embarrassed to admit this but I only had my first fig two years ago. My coworker brought in a box of figs and offered me one. I was put off by its weird wrinkly matte skin so I bit into it with this unattractive wrinkled up nose kind of look on my face, with much resemblance to the fig itself. As I continued eating, I was getting so intrigued by its vibrant and fleshy interior. Then I lost it. I lost all control and downed the other four in the box. Before I continue talking all things fig cake, can we take a moment to talk about how come figs come in a box of only five or six figs but can still cost to an upwards of $7? What is this devil magic. But real talk, take my money. Give me the figs.

Let's back track a little. Why olive oil cake? Why not stick to butter since it is an ingredient of the gods? To answer that question, I have to talk about May 2014. I was in New York and was eating everything the city had to offer. When I was en route to Central Park, I stopped by Abraço for a quick morning snack. I saw the olive oil cake in the pastry case and remembered reading somewhere that it is a must-try. I ordered it along with an iced latte and sat down on one of the wooden benches by the storefront. The olive oil cake looked unassuming but after the first bite, I was in love. It was so incredible moist, flavourful, and had the most tender crumb. I promised myself that I would look up the recipe or the recipe for something similar when I got back to Vancouver.

Luckily there were many versions of olive oil cake on the internet, but I managed to find the Abraço recipe that Bon Appetit published. I have made the cake in loaf forms quite a few times but found that it was never as flavourful as I remembered it being. The citrus flavours were never strong enough for someone to notice it. The recipe calls for adding the citrus zest in with the olive oil but the last time I made it I used my fingers to rub the zest with the sugar first, before adding it to the olive oil. It actually made quite a difference and the citrus became much more prominent! A bite of this cake sends me right back to the blistery hot summery day when I first had this cake on the wooden benches of Abraço.

Citrus Olive Oil Cake with Honey and Figs
Yields: Two layer 6 inch cake

Citrus Olive Oil Cake
Heavily adapted from Abraco's Olive Oil Cake recipe seen in Bon Appetit Magazine 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon finely grated orange, lemon, or grapefruit zest
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mild-flavoured olive oil

Honey Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup honey 

Optional: pistachios for garnish

Citrus Olive Oil Cake
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease two 6 inch cake pans.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

With your hands, rub the citrus zest with the one cup of granulated sugar. I found this produced a more fragrant citrus note compared to mixing the zest in the olive oil as the recipe suggests. Add in the remaining wet ingredients to this sugar mixture.

Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently mix the batter until everything is just incorporated. 

Divide batter evenly into the two cake pans and bake for 30 - 33 minutes until tester inserted in the centre comes out clean. 

Note: alternatively you can bake this as a loaf (like how Abraco does it!). Baking it in a standard loaf pan (roughly 9x5x3 inches) will take around 50-60 minutes at 325F.

Honey Whipped Cream
In a standing or hand mixer, whisk whipping cream until soft peaks form. Gradually pour in the honey and mix well.

Note: I find this cake much more delicious at room temperature.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Chocolate Strawberry Icebox Cake (Aka. A Lazy Girl's Cake)

Sometimes I just want to make a cake and have it ready in a pinch for some party, potluck, or just to satisfy my true gluttonous nature. Sometimes I don't want to have to wait for the butter to soften, or for the cake layers to cool, or the cake to set. Sometimes I need cake right at that moment. This is when an icebox cake is the answer to all my cake prayers. If an icebox cake had a second name, it would be called the lazy girl's cake. It is so incredible easy to make and can be whipped up in fifteen minutes or less. It is a great summer cake since it has to be served chilled. It has a the consistency of a light mousse and can be topped with whatever fruits are in season.

So why did I make an icebox cake? Which of the aforementioned reasons led me to create this overly easy but still decent looking cake? Well, none of the reasons above. I made it because...I had a whole big carton of whipping cream to use up before its expiring date. I feel like that is the driving force of many of my baking endeavours. Oh I have a lot of yeast to use up? Let's make bread for days. Oh the cream cheese is expiring soon? Cheesecake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I like to believe that I am a pretty responsible person and will not let stuff go to waste.

On a completely different note, I just want to talk about how happy I have so much more time to make cakes and work on my blog now. I am getting more comfortable using a self-time and tripod for my blog photos. I also found that my favourite time to take blog photos is sometime between 10am and noon. After 12pm the sun hits my bright yellow fence at some weird angle and reflects all the yellow light onto my cake and white wall. To be honest, I haven't been too happy with my photos from the last two posts. I keep going back to them and contemplating taking them off the blog or whatnot. You can expect Constellation Inspiration to be updated more regularly (I actually just finished writing up another post for after this one!!) but it will be a learning experience. You might have to suffer through some not-so-great photos until I can produce something really pin-worthy. Thank you for always being so supportive and I can't wait to share more cakes and goodies with you!

Chocolate Strawberry Icebox Cake
Yields: One eight-inch cake

2 packs large lady fingers (~20-24 cookies)
1/2 cup cold coffee

1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, chunks, or disks
1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Remove the lady fingers from the packing and cut off the rounded bottom of each cookie with a knife. You want the lady fingers to be roughly the height of your spring form pan. 

Line an eight-inch spring form pan with lady fingers with the top side of the cookie pressed against the rim of the pan. Cover the bottom of the cake pan with more lady fingers. You might need to trim and cut some lady fingers so that they fit snuggly at the bottom of the pan. Brush the layer of lady fingers with coffee. You can omit this step but brushing some coffee on the lady fingers make these cookies softer. Set aside.

In a small pot on low-medium heat, mix together the water, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips. Stir frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Once the chocolate has melted, set aside this chocolate mixture so it cools off.

With a hand mixer or standing mixer, whip the cream, sugar, and salt until soft peaks form.

Using the same mixer, fold the chocolate mixture into the whipped cream until no white streaks remain. The chocolate cream mixture should have the consistency of mousse!

Carefully pour the chocolate cream into the cake pan lined with lady fingers. Smooth out the top with a spatula.

Cover the pan with saran wrap and chill the cake overnight. The cream with soften the lady fingers and create a cake-like base for the chocolate cream. Serve chilled.