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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Perfect Party Cake (and a Blogiversary)

Perfect Party Cake

Well whadya know? This little blog of mine is now one year old and I feel like celebrating! I even baked a cake! This little site which started as a hobby has turned into something amazing for me. I have met so many incredible people that I hope to meet in person someday and formed some amazing friendships. Unlike Julie Powell, I think food bloggers are some of the best people in the world.

I thought it would be a fun to take a trip down memory lane and highlight some of my favorite and popular posts from the past year. This is going to be long as there were over three hundred to pick from. Sit back and relax...

One of the best things about food blogging is getting to try new techniques and try things in the kitchen that I would not have done before. One of my favorite (and most delicious) experiments were successful French macarons. It took me a couple of tries, but look how delicious they turned out. I can't wait to make them again.

Macarons with Vanilla Bean Honey Buttercream

The Daring Bakers French yule log was quite a terrifying experience, but it in the end it was great to learn so many new techniques and made me really love and appreciate the stand mixer.

French Yule Log

I finally tried my hand at making my own ice cream both with and without a machine. Pomegranate ice cream without a machine:

Pomegranate Ice Cream

Star anise and vanilla bean ice cream with a machine (and check it, The Spice House loved my pic so much, they use it on their website):

Star Anise and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Not everything I make is difficult. Actually, most things I make are quite simple. Here are some of my simple favorites.

Bacon and Tomato Hash was so delicious, I think I made it four times in one weekend.

Bacon and Tomato Hash

Figs with Ricotta and Pistachios were a delicious way to use one of my favorite summer fruits.

Figs with Ricotta and Pistachios

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
brought back wonderful memories of cookies my friend's mom used to make when I was a kid.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I try to keep things mostly healthy around here, but I really can't resist an extravagant treat. Ever had chicken and waffles? If not, try this. You'll love them. I promise.

Chicken and Waffles

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
. Nuff said.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

One of my focuses on this site is local and sustainable food so I was very excited to attend one of the Taste Pavillions at Slow Food Nation last summer. I am looking forward to participating in more Slow Food events in the future.

Snail Bread at Slow Food Nation

After months of drooling over delicious dessert posts, I finally joined the Daring Bakers, and most recently the Daring Cooks. Some of the challenges have been amazing and actually pretty simple.

Vegan Lavash Crackers

And others, not so much
...

Chocolate Valentino with Star Anise Ice Cream

You guys have put up with me with some of my obsessions including figs, pomegranates, and Adele. I am lucky you indulge me and keep coming back.

As for this cake, I put out a request via Twitter for a good celebration cake. Many, many thanks to Hilda of Saffron & Blueberry for picking the winner! This was so fun to make and I am glad I had a chance to since it was a Daring Bakers pick before I joined. It also gave me a chance to try a swiss buttercream which was something I had never done before. I loved it although I do think it had a bit too much lemon juice. I love lemon and strawberries together. (Evidence) I used a strawberry perseves in the filling. Use good preserves in this cake, it makes a difference. Obviously my cake decorating and cutting skills need some work, but overall I thought it was pretty great. Alright, I think this is officially my longest post ever so I am going to stop talking now. Thanks for making it a great year and cheers for even better things to come!

Perfect Party Cake
(Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours)

Makes 1 4.5-inch cake

For the cake:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons, cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 large egg whites at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Buttercream:
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice*
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing:
1/3 cup seedless strawberry preserves, stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter two 4.5-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and, working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs, beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2-minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the tough – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them
and peel off the paper liners. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. (The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.)

To Make the Buttercream: Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or other large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6 to 10 minutes. During this time, the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny, smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake: Using a sharp, serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. Spread it with one third of the preserves. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with the third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream left over). Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.

Serving: The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but it’s best to let it set for a couple of hours in a cool room. Serve it at room temperature with anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.

*I found this a little too lemony, you may want to reduce the amount to 1 tablespoon for a small cake or use 2 tablespoons if doubling the recipe.
Printable Recipe

Perfect Party Cake

Perfect Party Cake Slice

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42 comments:

Maria said...

Congrats to you! I love your blog, keep the posts coming. All of that food is making me hungry:) The cake is gorgeous too!

The Food Librarian said...

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for your blog. I love it and read every post...even if I don't comment on each one. Your photography is so perfect I can taste the food. But more so, I know you treat the ingredients so well and appreciate the farmers who grew, harvested, and bred the makings of your creations. Knowing such a good person in is Los Angeles makes up for the occasional crazy person I run into on the streets and freeway! :) I hope we can meet up someday at the Farmer's Market! Happy Blogiversary to you Esi! - mary the food librarian

Hilda said...

Oh Esi, thank you for the acknowledgement but really the credit goes to one Dorie Greenspan for making that cake up to begin with. Congratulations on your blogiversary! I'm glad I finally started using my 2 year-old twitter account a few weeks ago or I don't think I would have met you properly though I definitely remember the picture of your log from the challenge. Your post is not as long as you think it is, or if you still think it is, check my post from hosting the yule log ;) Your blog is lovely, I'll be checking in on you regularly from now on.

Esi said...

Thank you ladies for your sweet words.

Maria, love your blog too!

Mary, thank YOU! I hope we can meet at a farmers market soon :)

Hilda, I am glad you started using your twitter account too, it's been fun getting to know you!

duodishes.com said...

Congratulations to you! We started reading your blog a few months ago and have enjoyed the ride ever since. You're a master in your kitchen.

Diana said...

Happy blogiversary to one of my most favorite bloggers out there! :) As you know, I adore your blog, and am always "delighted" by the amazing things you come up with. You are my cooking inspiration, my dear! And someday I will make those chicken and waffles!!!

Evan said...

Esi, I totally heart you and you super awesome blog! So glad to have met you and if I ever make it out that way I would love to take a tour of that farmer's market you are always going to...and the cute guy you always talk about that works there. Thanks for always making me drool.
Ev

Dawn said...

Esi, girl you know I love you, and am so glad to have met you via FOOD. LOL
I hope you do another fantastic year of cooking & baking. I always look forward to each new foodie post. I love that you are a healthy cook too (way better than I am).
And finally, I can't wait till I move my fat ass back to cali to finally meet you and hang out.
That has to be the cutest slice of cake ever. It's one of those things where you say "oh my God, it's soooo cute!"

Esi said...

I just have the hugest grin on my face today. You guys are amazing!

Duo Dishes, thank you.

Diana, pleeeasse try the chicken and waffles. Like Mary, I am so glad to have met cool people in this crazy town of ours.

Ev, you must call me up if you ever find yourself in LA!

Dawn, I just don't have the words to describe your awesomeness. I can't wait till you move back!

Pearl said...

happy blogiversary! everything looks so delicious and good! wow. professional!

Mary said...

Congratulations on your blogging anniversary. It's been a wonderful year for all of us. The recipes have been wonderful. I hope there are lots more to come.

Aleta said...

What a gorgeous Best Of! Congratulations on your year of dedication!! =D

daxphillips said...

Congratulations! One thing I hear often with people thinking about starting a blog is 'I don't have time'. Looks like you found the time and you can really see how passionate you are about the recipes, stories, and photography. Keep up the good work.

Juliana said...

Congratulation! Such a nice way to celebrate...with a perfect cake as well. Very nice pictures. By the way, thank you for visiting my site...since I am new in blogs I really appreciate all the support.

Erica said...

awwwwwwwwwwwwwww Happy Blog Birthday! Your know I love your blog and you DEF deserve a cake to celebrate!

Zahra said...

Hey there! Congrats on reaching the 1 year mark!:D Ive only had my blog for a few months but I can totally relate to the loving your blog part ;)

Congrats! Hope you have many more years on here!:D

_ts of [eatingclub] vancouver said...

Congrats! =D

Helene said...

Congratulations! I love the retro of recipes. Lot's of good ones.

I love visiting your blog.

Christina Kim said...

I make those same pumpkin choc chip cookies!! They are my absolute favorite cookies on the planet. Your photos are so lovely, and all this food looks amazing!! Congrats on your blogoversary!

Chef Fresco said...

Happy blogiversary! What a cute little cake!

christine @ moneyfunk.net said...

Happy Blogiversary! Its been a delight to have you as a blogger friend with you wonderful dishes. I definitely look forward to more of your recipes and creations ending up in my mail box.

BTW, I think Tillamook just hasn't made the call to you yet. ;)

A Baked Creation said...

Congratulations on your blogiversary!

Susan @ SGCC said...

Happy Blogiversary, Esi! You've had an amazingly delicious year! I look forward to many more!

Reeni♥ said...

The cake looks so pretty! And delicious! You've made so many wonderful things! Happy Blogoversary!!!

The Cooking Photographer said...

Happy blogiversary Esi! I really enjoyed this celebratory post. It was fun to see what some of your favorites have been over the last year.

Have a piece of cake for me!

~Laura

Donna-FFW said...

Congratulations to you.. Your blog is so wonderful and I always enjoy reading it. Your cooking is an inspiration. And that cake is beyond delelctable!

Esi said...

Thank you all so much! You really made my day :)

Sophie said...

Congrats for your 1st blog anniversary!

I wish you happy food blogging & keep up with the excellent & lovely recipes!!
I love your way of cooking, testing & creating fun dishes!
Healthy with a twist! MMMMMM....

Engineer Baker said...

Happy first bloggy birthday! Love the adorable little cake, but those pumpkin cinnamon rolls? Scuse me while I go add a couple inches to my hips... :)

Melissa said...

I found your site through Tastespotting a few weeks ago, and now I check it regularly. It's a lovely, lovely site!

I made the perfect party cake for Obama's inauguration, and I too used strawberries (hate raspberries). That cake was AMAZING, but I found the swiss buttercream to be A) too buttery, and B) a pain in the ass to make! I think next time I'd do boiled icing, or sub orange for the lemon and put chocolate icing on it.

Looking forward to more great things to come! :)

Marta said...

Happy Birthday Dishing Up Delights!!!
Thanks for treating us to a round-up of your favourite recipes and lovely photos!
I'm glad you made cake to celebrate this nice event! Sometimes we must just focus on the possitive when everything else around is gloomy :)

Hayley said...

Happy Blogiversary! Everything looks beautiful, I can't wait to go make something!

Jo said...

Happy blogiversary and many more to come. I can relate about getting caught up with blogging the longer you are at it. I too just celebrated my 1st year at blogging as well.

Ben said...

Oh wow! Congratulations for your first blogaversary! I agree that bloggers are clannish and slightly evil people! LOL just kidding! We food bloggers are the best of the best and we should celebrate with food like this all year long :-p

ttfn300 said...

Happy blogiversary!!! That cake is amazing, as are the rest of the goodies :) have you ever taken photography classes or are you just that talented? I have been thinking i should learn some more... amazing girl, here's to even more amazing eats!!!

lisaiscooking said...

Happy Anniversary! Your cake looks so delicious--as does all the other food you've shown here!

Mindy said...

Happy blogiversary! That cake looks so delicious!

SJ said...

Happy blogiversary! This is my first time visiting but I'll be back. The cake is gorgeous.

Esi said...

I'm still overhwhelmed by all the support. Thanks again to everyone and those that are new, I hope you like what you see and keep coming back :)

Kerstin said...

Congrats! So many amazing dishes - I always enjoy your posts :)

Foodycat said...

Happy blogoversary, and may you have many more! That was such a great recap of some wonderful posts. I am making that bacon hash for breakfast tomorrow, I think!

Mama Bear said...

Goodness, I so love your blog. If not for the amazing images but for the recipes and how you write your posts.

I very much look up to you!

Beautiful cake - bookmarking what sounds like a fabulous recipe.

Happy blogiversary!