A passion for food + fashion

Posts Tagged ‘Cake’

Calling All Superheroes

In Baby Love on July 19, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Last weekend not-so Tiny G turned four. FOUR! And like most four-year-old boys he is obsessed with all things superheroes. Which is how I found myself up at 2am hand-painting these damn peg dolls for every kid in his preschool class. Spiderman was very nearly my waterloo. I admit, the 6-hour process was somewhat addictive in a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest sort of way, first drawing in pencil each superhero’s details on the wooden pegs, then painting one color at a time and letting dry before adding the next detail.

Tiny G nearly lost his mind when he saw them the next morning. For the gift bags, I found these little natural cotton muslin drawstring bags and decorated them with a handmade Spiderman rubber stamp that I ordered from Etsy. When it comes to kids birthday parties, Etsy.com—filled with people far more creative than I—is truly a girl’s best friend.

Tiny G handed out a superhero goodie bag to each of his preschool classmates yesterday. Etsy was also the source for these awesome cupcake toppers that can be personalized (however, you’ll have to speak to my sister about baking you some of these AMAZING chocolate cupcakes):

Since he turned four while we were in Vermont, we had his actual party back east last week with his cousins. Each cousin got a personalized superhero cape.

Even Tiny G’s brand new baby brother got in on the action. Because there is nothing babies love more than a cape.

I made this dreadful chocolate cake impaled with a spiderman action figure. I’m having PTSD just thinking about how much red food coloring I used in the frosting.

The highlight of the party had to be this awesome Spiderman piñata—another Etsy find. I filled it with noisemakers and packets of Annie’s organic gummy bunnies mostly as a PR stunt to atone for the toxicity of the birthday cake.

After the party’s over, piñatas also double as excellent scarecrows. Here’s to my super boy turning 4!

Let Him Eat Cake

In Food on January 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

My husband married me with the clear understanding that ours would a cakeless union. I can count on one hand the number of cakes I’ve baked in my life. But sometimes in a marriage, expectations change and you suddenly find yourself standing over a double boiler whipping egg whites and sugar for your very first Seven Minute Frosting.

Coconut cake is our mutual favorite, and for other people’s birthdays we often order an exemplary version from Sweet Lady Jane on Melrose. For the inaugural run on a coconut cake of my very own, I consulted Martha, Alton, Epicurious et al, but in the end let’s cut the crap. Do I need to be splitting coconuts with a screwdriver? I do not. And if we’re going to be totally honest here, who do we really think makes the best coconut cake? I put my money on Paula Deen. When it comes to butter, sugar and more of both, Paula doesn’t disappoint. Her recipe for Jamie’s Coconut Cake uses a basic cake recipe, subbing in rich coconut milk for regular. (I saved the leftover coconut milk with the design of making a Thai iced coffee for an afternoon indulgence. I mean, if you’re going to go out in a caloric supernova, why stop at cake?) It’s a three-layer situation, which makes icing the thing a little tricky.

I love Paula’s method of poking holes in the cake with the end of a wooden spoon so that the sour cream-coconut filling really seeps into the cake’s layers.

What resulted was pure moist and rich coconut goodness. Even better for breakfast the next morning. Happy belated birthday, my love!

Next up: dealing with my frosting technique.

This One Takes the Cake

In Food on June 2, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I was feeling the foggy effects of the previous night’s gin and tonic(s) on Sunday when my sister, Claire, casually mentioned that she was going to bake a birthday cake for our friend Vincent. This one? I asked, looking at a cookbook photo of an intimidating confection that Julia Child calls her “Chocolate Ruffle Cake.” Never in a million years would I have les oeufs to tackle something like that, and I’ve repeatedly documented that I haven’t the patience nor precision for baking anything let alone hand-crafting chocolate freaking ruffles. And so I watched in awe as Claire melted chocolate, spread it on jellyroll pans, chilled and then went to work on her avant-gard frills, and the creme fraiche and cocoa filling dotted with raspberries between layers. She riffed on Julia’s cake by replacing the hard chocolate icing that wraps around the cake with a chocolate whipped cream frosting, which she topped with the afore-mentioned ruffles and fresh raspberries. That night, the birthday boy declared it “a true fashion cake.” It was, he said, the poustiest cake he’d ever seen. And it tasted just fabulous.

Meanwhile, back stage, here she is folding the cocoa powder into whipped eggs to make the genoise (pronounced jen-wahz) cake, which is so light.

Once the cake is baked, she sliced it into three layers. Each layer got topped with a framboise syrup, cocoa crème fraîche and fresh raspberries, which you chill in a cake pan w/ a removable bottom for several hours:

Here’s a close-up of those chic ruffles that she tucked into the top of the cake. It looked like something straight off the Marchesa runway!

And here’s a peek inside. Look at those luscious layers. I can tell you this cake is every bit as good for breakfast the next morning…

In the Pink

In Drink, Food on November 16, 2009 at 10:53 am

pink champagne

Here’s a toast to everyone who made my birthday so special last week! Like my sister, Claire, who drove all the way down to Redondo Beach to pick up my favorite chocolate cake with buttercream layers and whipped cream icing topped with macarons!

macaron cake

It was just lovely with a glass of 2004 Louis Roederer Rosé Champagne, served in some pink vintage coupes my friend Brooke gave me for Christmas several years ago. Crazily, Claire followed this generous act up with a totally decadent lunch on the patio at Spago. Generally I’m a little bah humbug about celebrating my birthday, but this old bird says THANK YOU to my wonderful famiy and fabby friends for making this one extra special! I’m one lucky girl.

Happy Birthday, Claire!

In Food on September 27, 2009 at 8:30 pm

birthday cake

It’s been a weekend of celebrating, kicking off on Friday night with a birthday dinner for my sister, Claire, at CUT. (I am still obsessing about the dry aged ribeye with bone marrow, and the blackberry and spice of the Breggo Pinot Noir. Oh lordy.) Last night we continued the birthday bonanza with a bbq, for which Mr. Foodinista grilled carne asada, I made Spanish rice (more on that later this week), my friend Katie made the BEST spicy beans (will try to get recipe), our neighbor Alyssa brought a divine pasta salad, Martha her legendary guacamole, Adam a bottle of Corzo tequila from which he was passing out shots, and then the pièce de resistance, cake! Claire and I drove all the way down to Yellow Vase Bakery in Redondo Beach yesterday morning to pick up this masterpiece for the party. Is any cake worth a three-hour roundtrip drive? You bet your macaron, it is. This one is decadent chocolate with vanilla buttercream layers and whipped cream frosting, and then topped with perfectly chewy and fresh macarons. What I love is that it is not overly sweet. It’s a cake that will break even the most disciplined dieters (which, let’s be clear, I am not). Get more cake than you think you’ll need; it is particularly great for breakfast the next morning with coffee…

Whisky River…

In Drink, Food on August 23, 2009 at 9:10 am


Last night was boozy and brilliant. My sister, Claire, is town, and we were joined by our friends Lizzie, Katie, two Matts, and a trio of Scotch. Katie brought over three different single malts from Scotland—Ardbeg, Oban and Glenrothes—for us to try for dessert. In anticipation I made a Reine de Saba from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, subbing in Makers Mark bourbon for rum as I thought it would be more user-friendly paired with the Scotch. Seriously—Julia would be proud. I think I might have a serious crush on Oban, by the way. Here’s Lizzie topping me up.


Thank you, Katie, for sharing your best bottles! Frankly I think she was trying to get Mr. Foodinista drunk so she could beat the madras shorts off him at tennis this morning. They’re in Griffith Park, volleying as we speak… Who will win? Cast your votes…

Let Me Eat Cake!

In Food on August 9, 2009 at 9:59 am


Yesterday my friend Jill and I hosted a baby shower for our friend Selena. Jill discovered this totally amazing cake from a bakery in Redondo Beach called Yellow Vase. Seriously I need someone else to get knocked up or engaged STAT—any viable excuse to order another one of these! Oh, wait! My sister’s birthday is coming up. (Claire, you want this cake, right???)

Inside is a rich chocolate cake with the best ever buttercream layers, frosted with pale blue whipped cream (not too sweet, just perfect), and then topped with colorful macarons. What a great idea in general though, to use macarons to decorate a cake. Jill said when she was picking up at the bakery, they had a wedding cake covered in macarons. How fun is that? Too bad we didn’t have an extra slice for this guy, who showed up at the brunch uninvited…


Tea Pound Cake and Strawberry Sorbet

In Food, Recipes on July 14, 2009 at 8:01 am


The above dessert was served at my friend Booth’s Fourth of July barbecue in Vermont by her longtime family friend, Sidney Kenyon. Have you ever seen sorbet that red? It was just gorgeous. And the pound cake had a crunchy crust, which was to die for. Sidney was kind enough to share her Tea Party Pound Cake and Strawberry Sorbet recipes. The Fourth of July may have come and gone, but we have plenty of summer left—and plenty of strawberries. Thanks, Sidney!!!

Tea Party Pound Cake

This cake is best when made one to two days before serving.

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

½ cup solid vegetable shortening (Crisco)

3 cups sugar

5 eggs, at room temperature

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking powder

1 cup milk

1 ¼ tsp. lemon extract

1 ¼ tsp. vanilla extract

1 ¼ tsp. almond extract

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and shortening together with an electric mixer. Add the sugar, one cup at a time, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and baking powder together.

Pour the milk into a measuring cup and add the extracts to the milk. It will look muddy, but do not let the color concern you!

Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the creamed mixture. Mix well after each addition. The batter should be very thick.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for an hour and a half or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean (be careful not to over-bake). The top of the cake will have a crusty texture. Transfer to a wire rack and glaze as directed.


1 tsp. lemon extract

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. almond extract

1 cup sugar

½ cup water

While the cake is baking, combine the extracts, sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil until the sugar syrup thickens slightly. Pour half of the glaze over the cake when it comes out of the oven, letting the glaze seep down the side of the pan. Let the cake rest for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto a serving plate and drizzle the rest of the glaze over the cake.

Strawberry Sorbet

Sidney says “I make this in a Braun automatic ice cream maker. Whatever type you use, make sure the bowl is thoroughly frozen according to manufacturer’s instructions. It is essential to use only fresh, local strawberries. Any other berries (frozen or out-of-season) will not have the intense flavor that local, in-season berries impart!”

1 quart local strawberries

Juice of ½ lemon

2/3 cup sugar

2/3 cup water

Make a simple syrup. Bring the water and sugar to a boil and boil until the mixture thickens. Cool the syrup completely.

Hull the strawberries and slice them in half. Place in the bowl of a food processor, add the lemon juice, and process until the berries are pureed. Add as much or little simple syrup as needed to sweeten the berries.

Pour the pureed mixture into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator.

Pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of an automatic ice cream maker and process for about 15 to 20 minutes or until mixture has thickened. It will be soft and creamy–not hard–at this stage.

Pour mixture into a freezer container and freeze overnight.

Reasons To Cheat

In Food, Recipes on March 19, 2009 at 8:29 am


So far the whole no-desserts-for-lent thing has been going pretty well. I’ve resisted confections at The Bazaar, skipped out on my all-time favorite butterscotch budino at Pizzeria Mozza, and even withstood my friend Adam’s homemade vanilla ice cream (though truth be told, there is some waiting for me in the freezer). But then I was hosting book club last night with the girls, and made a polenta cake topped with mascarpone whipped cream and berries soaked in grappa. My downfall was the Moorea vanilla bean brought back from French Polynesia by my friend Kathleen. Even as I mixed the intoxicating seeds into the batter, I knew I wouldn’t be able to resist, so it was fairly premeditated. I’m back on the wagon today, but seriously. Polenta + mascarpone + berries + grappa…no court would convict me.


Polenta Cake with Mascarpone Whipped Cream and Blackberry Grappa Compote

Adapted from Gourmet

For cake
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean
4 large whole eggs
2 large egg yolks
2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup coarse polenta
For compote
10-ounce bag frozen berries, such as blackberries or marionberries
2-3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup grappa
For mascarpone cream
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream

To make cake, preheat oven to 325° F. and butter and flour a 12-inch spring-form cake pan.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat together butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Split vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape seeds from pod and add to butter mixture. Beat in whole eggs and egg yolks 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, and fold in flour and cornmeal. Pour batter into pan and bake cake in middle of oven 1 hour and 25 minutes, or until golden. Release springform edge, and cool completely. Transfer cake to a large platter.

To make compote, place frozen berries in a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar, and douse in grappa. Allow to sit while cake bakes.

To make mascarpone cream, in a bowl with an electric mixer beat mascarpone and cream until mixture holds soft peaks.

Slice cake and top with mascarpone cream and a spoonful of berries. Serve.


Crazy for Polenta Pudding Cake!

In Drink, Food on December 13, 2008 at 12:26 am


I’m never sure whether to take this as a compliment or an insult, but my husband claims this Polenta Pudding Cake with Blackberry Compote and Mascarpone Cream was a motivating factor in our moving in together.  I think his grandmother’s Georg Jensen Mitra flatware, circa 1941 (see fork above), didn’t hurt either. What makes this cake so great, besides being quick to assemble, is that the polenta in a dessert format is a total surprise—I like to use a mix of 1/3 cup of coarser Golden Pheasant Polenta for a crunchy element mixed with 2/3 cup of finer stone-ground cornmeal, such as Arrowhead Mills. Adding mascarpone to whipped cream is heavenly, and it adds texture. Where I divert from the recipe: I cook for 1 hour 20 mins.  This recipe calls for stewing blackberries, but forget it. I use a bag of frozen Oregon marionberries, which you can occasionally find in the frozen section at Whole Foods, sprinkle a little sugar over and douse in grappa and let sit while the cake bakes and then serve over warm cake with cream. But you probably shouldn’t use the beautifully smooth  Jacopo Poli Vespaiolo Grappa ($75), like the bottle my dad gave me. Because that would be crazy.