Bakealong Berry Blitz Tort

Its a new month which means a new bakealong challenge. Need a refresher on what that means? Check out this post for more info.

I know I’m pretty late on getting this month’s challenge, but I did just get married, so I feel like that’s a pretty good excuse (there’ll be a whole other post about my wedding).

I ended up making use of it for an inpromptu Memorial Day BBQ we had. It’s a little involved, but it’s nothing crazy hard, and definitely worth the work. The basic elements are pastry cream, butter cake and meringue, but you end up with an impressive looking cake. The flavors are great, especially if you’re a sucker for berries and cream like me. This would be a great dessert for any kind of summer get together.

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Ingredients

PASTRY CREAM FILLING

  • 20 ounces whole milk
  • 3 1/2 ounces sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/8 ounces cornstarch
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 large whole egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces heavy cream, whipped; optional
  • about 6 3/4 to 9 ounces fresh raspberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries
    *For a simple shortcut filling, see “tips,” below.

CAKE

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 3 1/2 ounces sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the topping)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 ounces milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 1/4 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

TOPPING

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 5 1/4 ounces Baker’s Special Sugar or granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 ounces sliced or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
  • 1/2 ounce sugar*
    *Substitute prepared cinnamon-sugar, if desired.

Instructions

  1. To make the filling: In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.IMG_0398
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, egg yolks, and whole egg with the remaining 1/2 cup milk.IMG_0397IMG_0397
  3. Whisk some of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks/cornstarch to temper the yolks. This keeps them from turning to scrambled eggs when you add them to the simmering milk. If you’ve never had to make anything with a hot milk/egg mixture, this step is very important. IMG_0399
  4. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk, pouring it through a strainer to capture any bits of egg. Bring to a boil over medium heat (this may happen very quickly), stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly; the mixture will thicken significantly.IMG_0400IMG_0401
  5. Remove from the heat, and stir in the vanilla extract.
  6. Transfer the filling to a heatproof storage container, and top it with a piece of buttered plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the filling so it doesn’t develop a skin). Refrigerate until cool, or for up to several days. I strained my mixture to get out any chunky bits.IMG_0402IMG_0403
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8″ round cake pans. Or lightly grease the pans, line with parchment rounds, and lightly grease the parchment as well. I only had 9″ pans but it worked fine, for the most part. Also, if you bake cakes frequently enough, pick up some parchment rounds in the size of your pans. They save a lot of time and energy.IMG_0404
  8. To make the cake: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, and egg yolks until well combined. Scrape the bowl, and beat briefly to incorporate any sticky residue.IMG_0405
  9. Beat in the vanilla, milk, baking powder, and flour; the batter will be stiff.
    Spread the batter in the prepared pans (it will barely cover the bottom of the pans; that’s OK).IMG_0406IMG_0407IMG_0410
  10. Using an electric mixer or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until foamy; gradually add the 3/4 cup sugar and continue to beat until the meringue is smooth, glossy, and somewhat stiff (but not stiff enough to form rigid stand-up points).IMG_0408IMG_0411
  11. Spread the meringue on the cake batter. Sprinkle the almonds over the meringue. Mix the cinnamon with the sugar, and dust on top.IMG_0412
  12. Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, until the almonds are lightly browned. The cakes will puff up significantly; don’t worry, they’ll settle as they cool. If you used a 9″ pan like me, I would recommend checking them at 20 to 25 minutes. I pulled mine a minute early and the bottoms were a bit over done.IMG_0413
  13. Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow them to cool for 15 minutes. Carefully and thoroughly loosen the edge of each cake, and gently turn it out onto a rack to cool completely. The best way to do this is to place a flat object (a giant spatula, a small baking sheet) atop the pan, and to turn everything over.IMG_0414
  14. Lift the cake pan off the cake, then place a cooling rack against the bottom of the cake. Turn everything back over again, so the rack is on the bottom. Some of the almonds will fall off during this process; just sprinkle them back on top. I used a sheet pan to turn the cakes out then flipped the cakes back over to the cooling rack.IMG_0415
  15. When you’re ready to finish the cake, remove the pastry cream from the refrigerator. Stir it gently, just to loosen it up enough to spread; stirring too vigorously can break it down and turn it watery. It’ll probably have a few lumps; that’s OK. For slightly richer filling with greater volume, whip 1/2 cup heavy cream to stiff peaks, and gently fold it into the pastry cream. Again, don’t beat the pastry cream; it’ll be a bit lumpy, but that won’t affect the taste. Add the cream, it’s totally worth it.IMG_0416IMG_0417
  16. To assemble the cake: Place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, on a serving plate. Spread with the filling. Add a layer of fresh berries. Top with the second cake layer, meringue-side up. I spread half my filling on the first layer, spread out the berries, then spread out the second half on top of the berries to keep the berries in place and secure the top layer of cake.IMG_0419IMG_0420
  17. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until serving time.IMG_0422

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Robins Egg Cake with Filo Nests

Some would say you shouldn’t have to make your own birthday cake, but a lot of the time I look at it as an opportunity to try something new. I’m especially inspired by the fact that my birthday’s in spring and close to Easter.

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This year I came up with the design based off of mini filo birds nests I made last year. I wanted to go big so I made a robins egg cake with a large filo nest. It took some experimenting but I’m happy with the results.

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For the nests I use shredded filo dough known as Kataifi. You won’t usually find this in a normal supermarket so it may take some searching but it’s worth it.

Filo birds nests

  • 3/4 box Kataifi
  • 6 oz melted butter plus more for the pan
  • 1/4 c cinnamon sugar
  • mini Cadbury eggs

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  1. Place the Kataifi in a bowl. Wrap up the rest and freeze for later use.
  2. Pour the melted butter and cinnamon sugar over Kataifi and mix until it is evenly coated.IMG_0264
  3. For the large nest, use a 7″ ring mold or draw a 7 inch diameter circle in parchment to form the mixture in to a ring around the 7″ circle that will fit around the cake. Remove the ring mold before baking.
  4. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.IMG_0268
  5. Once cooled, carefully slide the nest on to a 10″ cake board.
  6. For mini nests butter 2 cupcake tins.
  7. place enough mixture to fill each tin 3/4 of the way up.
  8. Using your finger form a well in the middle, but leaving some of the mixture still on the bottom. IMG_0267
  9. Bake at 350 for 15-25 minutes, until golden brown. IMG_0269
  10. Once cooled, use a small offset spatula to lift he nests out of the tins. Transfer nests to a plate or sheet pan.IMG_0278
  11. Place 3 mini eggs in each nest.IMG_0279

Robins egg cake

  • 6″ cake of your choice, crumb coated (I went with raspberry and cream, yum!)
  • Robins egg blue tinted buttercream
  • brown petal dust
  • vodka
  • A stuff brush
  • large Kataifi nest on a 10″ cake board
  • Fresh violas
  • mini nests for plating

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  1. Final coat the cake in the blue butter creamIMG_0272
  2. Place the cake on an extra 8″ board and cool until firm.
  3. Mix together about 1/4 tsp brown petal dust, and just enough vodka so the mixture is thinned out and not a paste. IMG_0275
  4. Place the cooled cake on a turn table. Cover the surrounding area in paper so the splatter doesn’t cover everything in the surrounding area. Trust me.IMG_0276
  5. Dip the tip of the stuff brush in the brown mixture, and using your finger, splatter the cake until lightly covered, slowly rotating the cake as you go. Cover the side and top. Splatter in action.IMG_0277
  6. Carefully transfer the cake on to the board with the nest, being carefully not to crush the nest.IMG_0281
  7. Decorate nest and cake with violas. IMG_0282
  8. When serving the cake, place a mini nest on each plate.IMG_0285

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The mini nests can also be used to top cupcakes. I filled the pests I made last year with marshmallow and sugar cookie mini eggs as well as the Cadbury eggs.

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Now enjoy!

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Mardi Gras King Cake with Praline Filling

New Orleans is one of my absolute favorite places to visit. Since my first visit in 2015, I’ve managed to get back out there once a year. I love it so much that I’m even planning on getting married there.

I’ve experienced a lot there, but I’ve yet to make it out for Mardi Gras yet. Since I can’t make it out this year, I figured I could still celebrate, by making my own king cake. This is my first time making, one and I think it came out pretty good. I wanted to give it a flavor reminiscent of another New Orleans treat, so I made a praline filling. You can fill it was anything you usually put in breads, or it’s tasty on it’s own.

 

Cake:

  • 1 c warm milk, about 110°F
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 Tbsp dry yeast
  • 3 3/4 c AP flour
  • 1 c butter, melted
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt

Filling:

  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 T water
  • 6oz pecans

Frosting:

  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 1/2 c condensed milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 T water
  • Purple, green, and gold/yellow sprinkles

Process:

1. To make the dough, pour the warm milk into the bowl of a mixer. Whisk in the granulated sugar, yeast, and a tablespoon of the flour, mixing until the sugar and the yeast have dissolved.

2. Once the mixture begins to look foamy, whisk in the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add the remaining flour and salt, place in the mixer with the dough hook.

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What the yeast mixture should look like when it’s ready

3.  After the dough comes together, mix until it is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.

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Dough ready to proof

4. Keep the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place to let it rise for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough has doubled in volume.

5. While the dough is proofing make the filling. Place the brown sugar, vanilla, water and salt in a saute pan. Cook until bubble and the sugar has dissolved. Stir in pecans until coated. Spread out on a greased cookie sheet to cool. Once the nuts are cool, pulse in a wood processor until finely chopped.

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Cooking the sugar mixture
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Cooling candied pecans
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Finished filling

6. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough in to a 24in. by 8in. rectangle. Spread 1/3 of the filling on to each rectangle, then roll each piece lengthwise in to a long log.  Braid the 3 logs around one another and then form the braid into a circle, pinching ends together to seal. Gently lay the braided dough on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let it rise until it doubles in size, about 30 minutes.

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Dividing dough before rolling
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Rolled dough spread with filling
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Rolled up log
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Starting the braid
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Braided logs
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Forming the braid into a ring

7. Once it’s doubled in size, place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake until the braid is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven, and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

8. While the cake is cooling make the frosting. Whisk together the powdered sugar, condensed milk, water and lemon juice in a bowl until the icing is smooth and very spreadable. If the icing is too thick, add a bit more water, if it’s a too loose, add a little more powdered sugar.

9. Once the cake has cooled, spread the icing over the top of the cake and sprinkle with purple, green and gold/yellow sprinkles while the icing is still wet. If you have a plastic baby, tuck it under the cake. Carefully move to a large platter to serve.

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Finished king cake slice