Deeply fudge chocolate bundt cake with a refreshing peppermint ganache glaze and whimsical details. Fresh mint leaves turn the simple piping into a festive wreath. Who says cute can’t be easy?!Read More
I wasn't sold on the idea of having a January baby at first (not that I really could have controlled it that much). I thought his birth would be too close to the holidays and that his birthdays would always be over-shaddowed by Christmas and New Years. But as I watch him light up with each new adventure and activity this season, I am glad that his first Christmas will be one he can actually enjoy (even if he doesn't remember). I may even be cured of the post-holiday blues knowing that we still have one last thing to celebrate each season - my dear, darling boy.
I try not to talk too much about my son - let's face it, you are all here mostly for the cake! However, there is nothing like seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child, and this cake reflects just that: pure MAGIC.
The holiday season in my twenties was nearly everything I could have wanted as an adult. I still spent and cherished each Christmas day with my family, but the weeks leading up were filled with friends, Christmas cocktails, smooches under the missile-toe with my boyfriend-turned-husband, my first grown-up tree, and hosting my own celebrations and dinner parties at our swanky townhouse.
To contrast the sequins, stilettos, and champagne (not that I was ever a huge party girl or anything, but hey - it's (or was) the holidays!), this year we went to the Santa Parade in our rubber rain boots, took Everett on his first carousel ride at the Vancouver Christmas Market, and I even had to borrow some heels from my stylish mom for Brett's work party since my current wardrobe was missing a decent pair. We spent last Friday night baking cookies with grandma and were home to tuck the little guy into bed by 8:30pm from the Vancouver Aquarium holiday party.
Every single aspect of my life has been changed since having a baby. The holiday season is no exception. And while I had fun celebrating in my glamorous twenties, I have a feeling that Christmas as a 31-year-old mommy will be even better.
I wasn't sure how much Everett would actually be able to absorb at only 11 months old, but I have been delightfully surprised. Watching his eyes light up when we decorated the tree and him trying to sing along to Christmas carols made my mommy heart nearly explode! We opened gifts with my parents over the weekend, and he definitely had fun with all the tissue paper. And just like they all say, he has found equal enjoyment out of playing with the boxes as his new toys (he is currently putting his new blocks into the big box that our new coffee maker came in as I type, hehe). He surely doesn't get the concept of Santa yet, but what a happy change it has already been to be celebrating the season with a little one in the house.
Happy 11-months and Merry 1st Christmas, baby boy!
Oh, about the cake! I almost got so carried away rambling about my little love-bug, that I nearly forget to talk about the fantastic flavours of this incredible cake. For my last cake of 2015, I wanted to create something extra special. And although the cake layers are only vanilla, they are anything but ordinary. This vanilla bean butter cake is the only white cake you will ever need. It is velvety, moist, and full of flavour!
For the filling, I made my own gingersnap cookie butter then folded into a delightfully whipped vanilla bean frosting. Did you hear that? Gingersnap Cookie Butter!!!! I got hooked on Trader Joe's cookie butter years before me moved to Canada. Since we don't have TJ's up here, I thought I'd make my own. For Christmas, I whizzed up some gingersnaps in the blender and turn them into a spiced cookie spread. Instead of stopping there, I turned it into a buttercream filling.
If you've been reading this blog for even just a few months, then you probably know how much I rave about Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It is so smooth and not too sweet - although fairly labor intensive. I've been making this type of buttercream ever since I ran my bakery, The Frosted Cake Shop, so I've gotten used to gently heating the egg whites and making meringue. I've always turned my nose up to American buttercream since I typically find it to be too sweet and the texture too thick. Well folks, something clicked and I have new found love for American Buttercream. They key factor? Letting it whip until light, fluffy perfection! Taking the time to let the air get worked in really lightens up the buttercream and makes it smooth enough to ice a cake.
My intention was to make an elegant, snowy winter wonderland cake. I wanted it to be more glamorous than whimsical. But when my white chocolate ganache ended up being too yellow (hello Tessa, white chocolate is hardly white at all), and then when that yellowish ganache turned teal instead of ice blue (again, Tessa: yellow + blue = green), the design for the cake took a turn towards funky town. By this point, I decided to embrace my inner Willy Wonka and go all Katherine Sabbath on it. And ya know what? I'm not complaining one bit about the final results!
I was inspired by some of my fellow cake artists for the design, including Lyndsay of Coco Cake Land, Clifford of Cakes by Cliff, and of course Katherine Sabbath as well as my favorite watercolour technique for the frosting. I blended in a touch of blue icing just before I was done smoothing out the cake completely so that is would be more of a marbled effect instead of just turning the cake light blue. The technicolor drip is made from white chocolate and the whole thing was topped with an array of meringues, dragees, and sprinkles.
Vanilla Bean Cake I used this recipe I created for The Cake Blog - baked in three 6-inch cake pans for about 24 to 26 minutes.
Whipped Vanilla Buttercream 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature 4 cups powdered sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1. Beat the butter with an electric mixer until very smooth. 2. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the remaining ingredients. 3. Once incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until light, fluffy, and very pale in color.
Gingersnap Cookie Butter 6 ounces gingersnap cookies 1/4 cup grapeseed oil 2 to 3 tablespoons water 1/4 cup powdered sugar
Crush the cookies up in a high-powdered blender or food processor. Add in the remaining ingredients and blend until a smooth, thick paste forms. Add more or less water and powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Store in a glass jar in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes before use.
Gingersnap Cookie Butter Buttercream 1/2 batch whipped vanilla buttercream 6 tablespoons gingersnap cookie butter
Re-mix the buttercream until fluffy, if necessary. Add in the cookie butter and mix until smooth.
White Chocolate Ganache Glaze 2 ounces heavy cream 2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
Gently heat the cream until just before a simmer. Pour over or add the white chocolate. Let sit for 20 seconds then stir until combined.
*Truthfully, I heated the cream at 1/2 power in the microwave then dumped in the chocolate. The chocolate did not completely melt, so I microwaved it all again at 1/2 power in intervals of 15-20 seconds. If you decided to follow this method, be sure not to microwave either the cream or the chocolate for too long or it may seize up or burn.
Meringue Kisses I used this recipe from the how-to post I created for The Kitchn, plus the seeds from 1/2 of a vanilla bean whipped in. I piped out about 2/3 of the meringue using various star tips. With the remaining 1/3, I tinted it blue, then added it to the used piping bags to create the swirls of color.
Assembly gel food coloring, optional sprinkles, dragees, sanding sugar meringues
1. Trim the cakes as necessary.
2. Fill and stack the cake with the gingersnap cookie butter buttercream (more detailed instructions here).
3. Use the remaining 1/2 of the vanilla buttercream to frost the cake (reserving and tinting about 1/4 cup of it blue)
4. Once you are nearly done smoothing out the cake, randomly swipe on the blue buttercream.
5. Continue to smooth out the cake to intregate the blue portions without blending it in completely (there should be watercolour-like patches vs. the whole cake turning pale blue). Chill in the refrigerator.
6. Make the white chocolate ganache glaze and tint it your color of choice. Set aside for about 10 minutes or until slightly cooled but still thick yet liquidy.
7. Begin dripping the ganache over the edges of the chilled cake. Start slow by dripping only a little bit at a time with a spoon. If the ganache runs everywhere, it's probably too hot. Try a few practice drips to determine the correct consistency/temperature (gently reheat as necessary).
8. Continue to add drips as desired around the entire cake - working in small amounts to help control the "drip."
9. Gently pour the remaining ganache into the center of the cake and smooth it out with the back of the spoon or small off-set spatula. The glaze should settle and smooth out more as it sets. If by this point the ganache is too cold, it may not smooth out. Gently re-heat as necessary.
10. Decorate to your heart's desire with the meringues, sprinkles, etc!
For as much as I love the holidays, it's crazy how anxious I get for nearly the entire month of December. I usually worry so much about Christmas coming too fast, that I almost miss everything in between. My love for Christmas time rivals my love for the Olympics (if you didn't know, I am kind of a fanatic for International sports competitions). And while I am spend so much time making sure the tree is trimmed just perfectly and all of our holiday actives are scheduled, somehow it all seems to swirl around me while I stand all wound-up in the middle, forgetting to live in the moment. Does anyone else get that way?
In typical Tessa fashion, I actually made this cake over a month ago with hopes of sharing it at the beginning of the season. You see, I have all these good intentions that include advanced planning to ensure some stress-free fun and more time to enjoy with my family, but sometimes things don't always go the way they were intended to (I'd totally be lying if I told you that I stick to a strict editorial calendar and purposefully saved this recipe for #CakeWeek).
For once, let's not be so hard on ourselves when things don't go exactly according to plan. So instead of worrying about all the things I still want get done (and those that were skipped over) this season or the recipes that didn't make it up on the blog in time, I'm going to remember the good times and great flavors that surround this cake.
I made this cake when my in-laws came to visit and graciously bought me this gorgeous new bundt pan. I haven't made too many bundt cakes in my day, but my husband remembers eating plenty of them with his family - especially lemon ones. With family around I try to have a fresh, delightful dessert for snacking and sharing - one that is not being repurposed from after a photo shoot or an okay-version leftover from recipe testing. When my in-laws are here, we tend to get so distracted with the baby and all the visiting that we try to jam into their quick trips that we usual just spend most of our time around the living room, ordering in for nearly all of our meals. After long days of baby giggles and tickles from the grandparents, a slice of this cake was the perfect treat to end the nights with.
I incorporated my husband's memories of lemony bundt cakes into this Lemon Gingerbread Bundt Cake for the holidays. Instead of other gingerbread cakes that tend to be a bit heavy, with deep, overpowering molasses flavours, I lightened this one up a bit. I used fizzy, zesty ginger beer (my favorite!) with the addition of baking soda to make things extra bubbly and fresh. Maple syrup was also used to cut some of the molasses. The tart and sweet lemon glaze pairs wonderfully with this lightened-up gingerbread bundt cake, as well as fresh, juicy raspberries.
Gingerbread Bundt Cake adapted from Anna Olson
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup ginger beer
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Liberally grease and flour a 10-12 cup bundt pan and set aside.
- Sift together the dry ingredients and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.
- Add in the oil and sugars. Mix until combined.
- Gradually add in the eggs, one at a time. Mix until blended (batter may appear a bit curdled at this point, so be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl).
- In two batches, mix in the dry ingredients until incorporated.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining liquid ingredients, plus the baking soda.
- Beat the liquid mixture into the batter until smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 55 to 65 minutes , or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with few to no crumbs.
- Cool on a wire rack until you can safely handle the cake pan (about 20 to 25 minutes).
- Run a soft silicone spatula around the edges (being extra careful not to cut into the sides of the cake). Place a large serving dish, cutting board, or cool rack on top of the pan and carefully flip it over to release the cake.
- Let cake continue to cool on a cooling rack.
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioner's sugar
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon milk
Whisk the ingredients together until smooth. The icing should be very thick but still be able to drip down the sides of the cake. It should fall in thick ribbons off of a spatula. Add more/less lemon and sugar until the correct consistency is achieved.
Calling all mint lovers!!
I love love mint, but I sometimes feel like I am the only one. Please correct me if I am wrong. Mint lovers, unite! Mint is likely not a hated flavour, but in a world of strawberry, cookie butter, and Nutella, it is probably low on most people's list of flavors they'd like to see turned into a cake.
Sometimes to you have to pull some pretty cheap tricks in the kitchen. Like hiding zucchini in brownies or pureed carrots in mac 'n cheese for picky kids - or whatever clever moms keep up their sleeves. Since I am skeptical of the world's enthusiasm for mint, I figured I'd better trash up this recipe to make sure everyone was on board. Make it totally irresistible. Something even mint cynics could not turn down. A twist that turns the classic combination of chocolate and mint into something totally outrageous and whimsical.
Time to pull out the big guns - Chocolate Sandwich Cookies! Better known as just plain ol' Oreos. And who can say no to Oreos? Nobody.
This Mint Cookies and Cream Cake exudes, even oozes FUN! Inthe way sprinkles make up a "Funfetti Cake," I threw crushed-up cookies straight into the batter and buttercream. Layers of cookie-studded vanilla cake are paired with a silky mint buttercream then smothered in minty, crushed cookie mint buttercream. Top take it over the top, I drizzled the frosted cake with chocolate glaze and finished it off with swirls of extra buttercream and mini Oreos.
Now who could resist a slice of this mint, chocolaty, COOKIE goodness? Find the recipe for this Mint Cookies and Cream Cake on The Cake Blog!
Did you ever notice that I post a lot of cake recipes on this blog, but not many (if any) bundt cakes? This is true because of a few reasons. 1) I lost my fancy bundt pan in our move a couple years ago, 2) Half of the bundt cakes I made in the past got stuck in the pan and split in half, and 3) I never used to understand why you would pick a bundt cake or a layer cake and miss out on all that extra filling and frosting. Well, clearly bundt cakes have stuck around for a reason. I might be a little late to the party, but now I see the appeal.
First of all, a good cake recipe doesn't need extra filling and frosting. Most of the time, I end up leaving gobs of frosting behind on my plate after trying to eat a slice of layer cake anyways. When made with fresh, real ingredients and an awesome recipe, bundt cakes can be extremely moist and flavourful all on their own. I also find then that they are perfectly suitable for breakfast or an afternoon tea. Don't you agree?
Secondly, they can be really pretty - especially when using a fancy, fluted pan. I snagged these mini pans and they completely changed my bundt cake game. I made this mocha bundt cake recipe and turned them into minis for my dad's birthday last month. My parents were heading out of town the day after we celebrated, so I thought individual mini cakes would be the way to go to minimize leftovers.
Lastly, you can still frost and flavor them up with different sauces, glazes, and even plain confectioner's sugar. I gave these mocha bundts a maple glaze bath and could not be happier with the results. Not too sweet and perfectly portioned. So, there you have it. My super quick run-down on why you might be seeing more bundt cake recipes around here. Hope you enjoy them!
Too much batter for your mini pans? Instead of over-filling them, bake extra batter in a regular cake or cupcake pan. I suggest placing all of the mini bunds on a large baking sheet for easier transport to/from the oven - and just in case the over-flow.