Olive Oil Cake with Limoncello Mascarpone Cream

I have to be honest. I didn’t come up with this combination.

I was visiting a friend of mine in Lethbridge, and we went on a dinner date to a new Italian restaurant in town. We split one of their desserts: an olive oil cake with a limoncello mascarpone cream sauce. It was absolutely heavenly.

Well, my friend Jericka told me I HAD to try and recreate the cake at home, and I was up for the challenge. I mean, it was just an olive oil cake. The cream part was a little more complicated. I wasn’t sure about all of the meshing of the flavours, but then sure enough, Jericka found a recipe for just the cream we were looking for.

The original recipe for the cake was found here, and the recipe for the cream was here. Not going to lie, I made a few changes that I have reflected below in the recipe. Looking at the comments for the cake, I reduced the amount of olive oil ever so slightly, and switched out the orange flavourings for lemon. For the cream, I just used the cream part of the recipe, and whipped it by hand for about 5 minutes. I didn’t want a full-on whipped cream, so I stopped when it was thicker, at just barely soft peaks.

The cake and the cream paired perfectly together, and reminded me exactly of the cake I was attempting to recreate. I call that a success!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch round cake or 1 10 inch Bundt with cream

For the cake:

2 c. flour
1¾ c. sugar
1½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 c. olive oil
1¼ c. milk
3 eggs
1½ tbsp. grated lemon zest (or ½ tsp. lemon extract)
¼ c. lemon juice
¼ c. limoncello liqueur

For the cream:

¾ c. chilled whipping cream
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. limoncello liqueur

To make the cake, preheat oven to 350°F. Liberally grease a 9 inch cake pan that is at least two inches tall. If you don’t have a pan that tall, use a springform pan or a Bundt pan. Make sure every corner is sprayed down with oil. If using a circular pan, line the bottom with parchment. If using a Bundt pan, use A LOT of oil to make sure that the cake comes out. (Mine stuck a bit… just warning you.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs, lemon juice, lemon zest (or extract), and limoncello. Add in the dry ingredients, and whisk together until just combined.

Transfer batter to cake pan, and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from oven, and cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove from cake pan, and allow to cool completely.

To make the limoncello cream, in a medium bowl, whisk together the cream, sugar, limoncello, and cheese. Whisk vigorously until mixture thickens to soft peaks, about 5-7 minutes.

To serve, slice cake, and top with cream.

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Classic Cream Puffs

I’ve been intimidated by cream puffs for a while now. I thought they had to be extremely hard, because of the fluffy pastry and the cream filling.

I was so very wrong, and I am happy at how wrong I was! These cream puffs are actually quite simple, and that is a dangerous thing. With how easy they are to make, I have a feeling that I will be making many more of these bad boys.

The base of a cream puff is the pate a choux, or choux (pronounced shoe) pastry. It is a light, airy dough of (I believe) French or Italian origin. The dough is quite basic, only having a few ingredients.

I mean… it’s so easy! I was blown away by how easy the dough was. The hardest part (for me) was filling the piping bag with the choux pastry. I followed this recipe pretty much exactly, and just filled the cream puffs with a basic vanilla whipped cream. However, now that I know how easy choux pastry is to make, you might start seeing a lot of experimentation… eclairs, other cream puff fillings, the sky is the limit now!

Ingredients

Yield: Approx. 2 dozen cream puffs

For the choux pastry:

1 c. water
½ c. butter, cut into cubes
Large pinch kosher salt
2 tbsp. sugar
1 c. flour
4 large eggs, room temperature

For the cream filling:

1½ c. heavy cream, cold
3 tbsp. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

To make the pate a choux, in a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, sugar, and salt over medium high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine, until butter is melted and the mixture is coming to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium, and immediately add the flour into the butter mixture, stirring constantly to make sure the flour becomes evenly incorporated. Continue to stir over medium heat until the dough begins to pull away from the sides and form a ball. This should take about a minute.

Take off the heat and transfer the dough into the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Leave to cool for about 5 minutes (so you don’t cook the eggs when they are added).

With the mixer on low speed, add in the eggs, one at a time. Do not add the next egg until the previous one is completely incorporated. The batter will look smooth and glossy when it is ready after all the eggs have been added.

Fill a pastry bag with a large round tip, followed by the choux pastry. Hold the pastry bag over the prepared pans, and squeeze the pastry bag until you have a small round of dough about 2 inches wide. Swirl the tip and stop the pressure to finish piping, and continue until all dough has been piped, about 2 inches apart from each other. Pipe no more than 12 dough rounds onto a baking sheet. If they have little peaks on top, tap the peaks down gently with a wet finger.

Place one pan at a time (I learned the hard way – only cook 1 pan at a time in the center of your oven or you will burn the bottoms!) in the preheated oven, and immediately turn the heat up to 450°F. The increase in heat helps them puff more.

Bake at 450°F for 10 minutes, WITHOUT OPENING THE OVEN DOOR, then turn down the heat to 350°F for 13-15 minutes, until pastry is puffed and golden brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling.

To make the cream filling, combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip together until stiff peaks form. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small or medium round tip with the whipped cream.

Take a small paring knife, and cut small “x’s” in the bottoms of each cooled dough puff. Push the pastry bag with the cream filling into each puff, then squeeze a generous amount of whipped cream inside. Don’t overfill, or they might explode on you! You can feel the cream puffs expand slightly when they are full.

Sprinkle with icing sugar for garnish, and serve.

Brioche Bread

Time for another foray back into the world of bread-baking!

Brioche is a classic French bread. Its main components are eggs and butter, and boy, is it rich. This baby has a whopping total of 9 eggs (including the egg wash egg), and a full cup of butter in the batter. It is not for the faint of heart.

I’ve been looking up recipes for Brioche for years. I’ve dabbled in the “Easy” the “Beginner’s” and “So-Good-It’s-Almost-Brioche” recipes. They’ve never been the winner for me.

This recipe has it all – I loved how easy it was to follow along. A lot of brioche recipes sounded quite confusing, or needed a ton of time, or just seemed too finicky. I mean, this recipe does take quite a bit of time. All of the prep time, the rising time, and the baking and cooling time adds up to quite a chunk of your day. I was always turned off by the amount of eggs that the dough uses.

But, I don’t know what happened. I was surfing around Pinterest last night, looking for a recipe, and BANG. This brioche recipe dropped into my lap. The picture pulled me in, and I read through Marta Antonia Rivera’s blog Sense and Edibility to find this recipe. 

Suddenly, brioche didn’t seem so daunting. And I had a sudden urge that YES, I want to make brioche.

So here we are.

Not going to lie, the recipe calls for bread flour, and I only have all purpose. I know, I know, bad baker, but we buy HUGE bags of all-purpose flour from Costco, so I can never quite justify going out and buying more flour than we already have. I bake a lot, okay?

Either way, I do not have the beautiful step-by-step pictures as the original recipe did, so if you want, head over to the site linked above and check out the step-by-step, and hopefully, brioche becomes easier to tackle because of today’s recipe!

I wish you could smell this bread through your computer screen. It is absolutely divine, and so soft! Trust me, go make this. It is completely worth the effort!

Ingredients

Yield: 2 loaves of bread

For the sponge:

¼ c. honey
2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. milk, warmed to 110°F
1 c. flour

For the dough:

½ c. sugar
4 tsp. salt
8 eggs (large)
5¾ c. flour
1 c. butter, cut into tablespoons

For the egg wash:

1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp. water

To make the sponge, pour the milk into a large mixing bowl. Add the honey and yeast to the milk and allow the yeast to bloom for 5 minutes. If the yeast does not get bubbly and foamy, it is dead. Open a fresh pack of yeast, and try everything again.

Whisk the flour into the yeast mixture. The sponge should look like a thick cake batter.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Leave in a warm, draft-free spot (like the oven with the light turned on) to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

To continue making the dough, transfer the sponge to the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix in the eggs, sugar, and salt. After incorporating, the mixture should look like a smooth, thick batter.

Slowly add the remaining flour into the dough. If it gets too hard to incorporate with the paddle attachment, switch to the dough hook.

Once the flour is incorporated, add in the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time. Add the next 2 tablespoons only when the previous 2 are completely incorporated into the batter, and save the wrapper from your butter.

Once all of the butter has been incorporated into the dough, it should be soft, smooth, and pliable. Remove the dough from the bowl, and grease the bowl with the leftover butter on the wrappers. Discard the wrappers.

Return the dough to the bowl and turn to coat in the butter lining the bowl.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise again in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Once the dough has finished rising, punch the dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured countertop. Divide in half.

Preheat oven to 375°F, and lightly grease two loaf pans.

Form the two halves of dough into logs roughly the same length as your loaf pans, and place them in the greased pans. Whisk together the egg and water of the egg wash and brush the loaves with the egg wash to prevent drying.

Place the pans in a warm, draft-free spot and allow to rise until the dough is about 1 inch away from the top of the pan. This should take 30 minutes to an hour.

Brush loaves again with egg wash, and if desired, cut the tops of the loaves into a decorative pattern.

Bake loaves in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.

Remove pans from the oven, and allow bread to cool in pans for 10 minutes.

Remove bread from pans, and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before slicing and serving.

Yorkshire Pudding

Yorkshire pudding is a classic British dish. It’s usually seen as a side dish served with a roast beef dinner.

Paul brought me home some braised beef and mashed potatoes from his job. He ate his when he got home, but I wanted to save it for lunch the next day. As I was contemplating this awesome meal, I had a really strong craving for Yorkshire puddings.

I have been contemplating making Yorkshire puddings for a long time. I found a Jamie Oliver video where he breaks down how to make proper Yorkshire puddings. After watching the video and keeping Jamie’s tips in mind, I found a Jamie Oliver inspired recipe.

These babies bake up in less than an hour, and are so good! I don’t have a popover or Yorkshire pudding pan, so I just used a muffin tin, and it still worked just fine.

They are also super easy to make, and only have four ingredients! If you have eggs, flour, milk, and salt, you can make these Yorkshire puddings!

Ingredients

Yield: 12 Yorkshire puddings

1 c. milk
3 eggs, at room temperature
4 oz. (approx. 1 c.) flour
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 450°F. In a 12-sectioned muffin tin, fill three of the muffin tins on the end with oil. Tip the muffin tin so that the oil flows into the rest of the sections. There should be about 1 centimeter of oil in each tin.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs together until lightly frothy. Add in the salt and milk, and whisk again. Add the flour, and whisk again until there are no lumps, and the batter coats the back of a spoon.

Let the batter rest for 15 minutes. Put the oil-filled muffin tin on a baking sheet, and place in the preheated oven while the batter rests.

After resting the batter, take the muffin tin out of the oven, and very carefully pour the batter into the oil-filled cavities. Use a spoon to minimize spills between muffin tin cavities.

Once the muffin tin is full, place back into the hot oven for 20 minutes, or until dark golden brown and puffy.

Serve immediately.

Fluffy Japanese Cheesecake

Hello lovelies!!

This is a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for a VERY long time, and I’ve finally gotten around to it! (Thank goodness being a teacher in the summertime!)

So, I love cheesecake. And in my downtime, I shamelessly watch a lot of YouTube videos, focusing mostly on Buzzfeed, and more specifically, their Tasty Videos. Now Buzzfeed’s Tasty (from what I can glean from watching their videos) is a bunch of cooks and chefs that pump out videos about FOOD. All the food. They do sweet, savoury, quick, slow, and all the food hacks you might ever need.

One of my favourite videos, and one of the most intriguing, was this fluffy Japanese cheesecake. It looked AMAZING. Tall, fluffy, soft, dark top, light sides…. It just looked great. So when I saw it, I was immediately interested because of Paul. You see, I love cheesecake. Love it. But Paul? Not so much. He is not a huge fan of the texture of cheesecake (but I still love him! Everyone has faults! Ha!), so I began thinking about whether or not he would like this specific cheesecake.

Because it has so much less cream cheese, and so much more meringue and air in it, I knew that the texture would be a whole different ball game. There was a chance I could be successful!

Oh my word, guys. The only thing I changed from the recipe was add about a half-teaspoon of lemon extract, because I wanted the cheesecake to have a little bit of flavour.

**Update: I made a Mocha version of this cheesecake, and it turned out beautifully! I followed the exact same base recipe, except added 2 tbsp. espresso powder in with the milk, cream cheese and butter mixture, and ½ c. of cocoa powder in with the flour and cornstarch. It turned out a luscious, chocolatey, hit-of-coffee confection. I’ve added a picture of this version below. **

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9-inch cheesecake

½ c. milk
4 oz. cream cheese (half a block)
7 tbsp. butter
8 egg yolks
¼ c. flour
¼ c. cornstarch
13 egg whites
2/3 c. sugar
½ tsp. lemon or vanilla extract (depending on flavour preference)
Icing sugar, for garnish.

Preheat oven to 320°F.

Line the bottom and sides of a springform pan or 3 inch tall cake pan with parchment paper. (If the parchment paper is curling badly, I’ll rub a TINY amount of margarine on the side of the paper that will face the pan edges.) Set aside. If you use a springform pan, wrap the bottom in 2-3 layers of aluminum foil to keep out the water.

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream cheese, and butter on medium heat, and whisk until smooth and combined. Take off the heat and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until incorporated. Slowly whisk in the cooled cream cheese mixture until incorporated and smooth. Sift in the flour and cornstarch, and whisk again, making sure there are no lumps. If using lemon or vanilla extract, add to the yolk mixture, and whisk again.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly start adding the sugar, a little bit at a time, and whip on high until stiff peaks form.

Add ¼ of the egg whites to the egg yolk mixture, and fold in gently with a spatula, until you have a cohesive batter. Be gentle, because we want to keep the air we just beat into the batter!

Repeat with the remaining egg whites, until you have a smooth batter with all the egg whites combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Tap once or twice, gently, on the counter to pop any large air bubbles.

Use a baking pan or dish that is larger than the cake pan you are using, and place two paper towels on the bottom. Put the cake pan in the middle of the paper-towel lined pan, and fill with hot water, no more than an inch up the sides.

An easier way to do this is place the baking dish in the oven with the paper towels and your cake pan, then add the hot water into the pan while the oven door is open. This reduces the risk of hot water burns.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, then turn down the heat to 280°F, and bake for an additional 55 minutes.

Remove from the oven, and carefully, invert the cake onto your dominant hand to remove it from the pan, and take the paper off, then revert back onto a cooling rack.

If you are using a springform pan, just remove the foil and the sides. Leave the cake to cool before trying to invert and remove the paper from the bottom. (I learned the hard way. I tried the original way, suggested above, and deflated my cake a bit. 😦 Sad day.)

Sprinkle icing sugar on the top of the cheesecake for garnish.

Slice, and enjoy! Many people say to enjoy a slice of this warm or cool, so it’s your choice!