Cooking with Alison

Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

Steamed Cranberry Pudding with Warm Vanilla Butter Sauce (A Traditional Christmas Dessert)

In Cakes, Other Desserts on December 21, 2014 at am

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I was first introduced to this traditional Christmas dessert at a craft show where I sampled Cranberry Creek Baking Co.‘s cranberry pudding.  I immediately fell in love with it, because it is dense, moist, slightly chewy, and almost savoury.  The tartness of the cranberries in the pudding, which is more cake-like in texture, is contrasted nicely with the sweet and warm butter sauce.  Also, I like that this dessert uses molasses instead of more processed sugars.  Since this dessert is steamed, it was perfect for our Christmas meal in 2013 when our oven was broken.

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Delicious Rhubarb Cake Recipe

In Cakes, Desserts on September 7, 2014 at am

I made this rhubarb cake for a friend’s birthday camping trip and everyone loved it.  This is my new go-to rhubarb cake recipe.  It’s easy to make, it’s moist and delicious, and the tart rhubarb contrasts the slightly sweet cake perfectly.  This recipe makes a lot of cake, but don’t worry, because the cake is freezer friendly.

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Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake Recipe

In Cakes, Desserts on April 15, 2014 at am

This is another great recipe from the cookbook, The Modern Baker.  At first, I was doubtful that this cake would be flavourful enough for my taste, but I was very pleasantly surprised.  This sophisticated, citrusy cake is a great finish to a heavy meal.  I made it for Thanksgiving dinner.  Everyone that tried it really enjoyed it.  Even John’s mom, who isn’t normally a fan of cake, liked it.  I love that this cake is moist, easy to make, and relatively healthy since it uses olive oil as opposed to butter or vegetable oil.  Also, I love the crunchy and slightly sticky crust.  This is served as a one-layer cake, but the recipe makes two layers, so you can make these in advance and freeze them for future dinner parties.

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and the delicious cakes just keep getting… uglier (Strawberry and Vanilla Cake Recipe)

In Cakes, Desserts on September 24, 2013 at am

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After incredible success with turning Sweetapolita’s vanilla birthday cake into a lemon layer cake (recipe here), I knew that I had to try her fluffy vanilla cake with whipped vanilla frosting as originally intended.  Especially after she validated my preference for homemade vanilla cake that resembles boxed cake mix!  But since I only like vanilla cake that has fruit in it, I couldn’t help but add some fresh strawberries.  The tartness of the strawberries contrasted the not-too-sweet vanilla frosting beautifully.  You could always omit the strawberries and whipped cream filling.  I made this for my sister’s surprise 28th birthday party.  In my opinion, it was quite ugly up close.  John said that it was even uglier than the cake I made for his birthday (see photo here), haha.  🙂  Personally, I like the lemon cake more (probably because it uses lard in the cake batter), but the flavour and texture of this strawberry vanilla cake won’t disappoint, as long as you don’t overbake it.

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Favourite Lemon Layer Cake Recipe

In Cakes, Desserts on September 20, 2013 at am

Although this may be the ugliest cake I’ve ever made, it is the best lemon layer cake that I have ever 1. eaten and 2. made.  This triple-lemon cake consists of four layers of cake, two layers of lemon curd, one layer of whipped cream and fresh blueberries, and a covering of whipped frosting.  There is lemon in the frosting, the cake layers, and, of course, the lemon curd filling.  I know it sounds like a lot of work, but many of the components can be made days in advance and it truly is worth it.

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Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake Recipe

In Cakes on July 6, 2012 at am

I love making baked goods that use sour cream, because I always have trouble finishing a tub of sour cream.  It also happens to give cake a great moist texture.  I made this sour cream chocolate chip coffee cake for co-workers and the flavour and texture received great reviews.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with coffee cake, coffee cake doesn’t necessarily contain coffee.  It is often simply served with a cup of coffee.

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Chocolate Malt Cake Recipe

In Cakes on February 9, 2012 at am

As a child, my favourite comfort drink was the malted milk drink, Horlicks.  When I grew up, it became hot chocolate.  Now I am revisiting malted milk by baking with it, and everyone around me is falling in love with it all over again (or for the first time).  (See my malted chocolate chip cookies recipe here.)  I made this delicious, 3-layer, chocolate malt cake for my sister’s birthday.  My family really liked it even though they’re not normally fans of chocolate cake.  My mom kept picking the Maltesers off the cake and my sister kept stealing them from other peoples’ plates, so the next time I make this cake, I may cover the entire top of it with Maltesers.  🙂

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My First Wedding Cake (and the Sugar Shack that Anthony Bourdain went to in No Reservations)

In Cake Decorating, Cakes, Reviews on September 17, 2011 at am

Two of my good friends got married on September 10, 2011 at Sucrerie de la Montagne in Quebec, Canada.  On a side note, Chef Anthony Bourdain went to this very sugar shack for his television show, No Reservations.  My friends had an intimate wedding and invited their friends and family to bring cakes for dessert.  So I took this opportunity to make my first wedding cake.  It was a one-tier, two-layer chocolate cake with strawberry raspberry jam and vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream.  It was covered with marshmallow fondant and topped with fresh, fall coloured flowers.  I was very happy with how it turned out and people loved the way that it tasted.  My cake decorating skills have come a LONG way since my Michael’s cake decorating course.  🙂  This cake was surprisingly easy to make.  See below for the recipes and a few tips.

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Fondant Recipe

In Cake Decorating, Cakes, Cookie Decorating, Cookies, Cupcakes on September 16, 2011 at am

Fondant is used for decorating cakes (especially wedding cakes), cupcakes, and fancy cookies.  It creates a beautiful and smooth covering that makes your homemade desserts look professionally made.  Fondant is actually quite easy to work with, but store bought fondant is expensive and, in my opinion, doesn’t taste good.  Homemade marshmallow fondant, however, is easy to make, is much more affordable, and tastes good.  Thanks to the step-by-step photo instructions from this website, I was able to make my first wedding cake.

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Swiss Meringue Buttercream with Flavour Variations

In Cake Decorating, Cakes, Cupcakes, Other Desserts on September 15, 2011 at am

Swiss merginue buttercream is so good and versatile that it truly deserves its own post.  Think of it in this way:  swiss meringue buttercream is to buttercream frosting as Egyptian cotton is to 200 thread count bed sheets.  Swiss meringue buttercream is stiff enough for piping and cake decorating, but it feels and tastes light, satiny, smooth, elegant, and luxurious.  I love it when people taste it for the first time and turn to me with wide, adoring eyes, to ask, “What is this?”.  🙂  This is the stuff that the professionals use and you can easily make it yourself.  It will take your baking to a whole new level.  Although swiss meringue buttercream is slightly tedious and time consuming to make, it is definitely worth the effort.  You can make a large batch and store it in the refrigerator or freezer.

I have used swiss meringue buttercream for strawberry cupcakes, mini chocolate cupcakes, chocolate cake, and a wedding cake with great success.  I originally shared the recipes for strawberry and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream in my yellow cupcakes and favourite moist chocolate cake posts, respectively.  I recently made chocolate swiss meringue buttercream for my dad’s chocolate birthday cake and it instantly became my new favourite chocolate frosting.

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Cream Cheese Pound Cake Recipe (with a Lemon Variation)

In Cakes on June 27, 2011 at am

Ed went through a phase where he thought that trifles were his favourite dessert.  I didn’t understand it and I was grateful when he finally realized how wrong he was, but I made them for him nonetheless.  I made large trifles (see the ugly strawberry one below; recipe here), individual sized trifles (see my wild blueberry trifle below) and miniature trifles using small dollar store stemmed cups (unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of those). 

Tip:  I use one of the serving cups/glasses like a cookie cutter for the pound cake so my cake layers are even and the right shape.

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Apple Cranberry Cake Served with Hot Cream Sauce

In Cakes, Sides and Sauces on February 25, 2011 at am


After a successful [first time] use of fresh cranberries in a cranberry sauce, I became obsessed with them.  I  baked cranberry bran muffins, two cranberry almond cakes, and a cranberry walnut tart.  By the time the grocery stores stopped carrying fresh cranberries, I only had 1 cup left.  I was hesitant to use my last cranberries on just any recipe, so I was very excited when I discovered this German apple cranberry cake from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook.  The cake is simple, moist, and nicely dense.  Although the cake is good on its own, I just love the comfort and indulgence of the warm sauce.

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