Elvis Opera Cake

Cakes, Fussy

If anyone deserves an opera cake, it’s Elvis. It is one of the classiest desserts out there, for one heck of a class act. Taking Care of Business indeed.

Jaconde:

  • 32g flour
  • 50g almond flour
  • 140g egg yolks
  • 180g egg whites
  • 170g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Peanut Butter French Buttercream:

  • 100g sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 227g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 80g creamy salted peanut butter

Bananas Foster:

  • 2 bananas, thinly sliced
  • 42 g butter
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 TBSP dark rum

Ganache:

  • 227g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 240 ml heavy cream
  • 57g unsalted butter, room temperature

Glaze:

  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 25g unsalted butter

Make jaconde: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 12×17″ jelly roll pan. Line with wax paper and grease and flour the paper.

Whisk flour and almond flour together and set aside. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, beat egg yolks, 1/4 cup whites and 100g sugar until thick and fluffy, about 5-10 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Fold in flour gently. In a second mixing bowl, beat remaining egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks. Gradually add remaining sugar and beat to stiff peaks. Fold into batter gently. Smooth in prepared pan and bake 7-10 minutes, until light golden brown and springs back in the center. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then flip onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Make buttercream: Cut butter into tablespoons and let sit at room temperature. In stand mixer bowl over a pot of simmering water, combine yolks, sugar, rum, vanilla and salt. Stir constantly until 155 degrees on thermometer – about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and beat with whisk attachment until fluffy and cooled completely to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Add butter, one tablespoon at a time until all butter is incorporated and buttercream is thick and smooth. Add peanut butter, one tablespoon at a time and mix to incorporate.

Make bananas foster: Melt butter and brown sugar in large saucepan. Add sliced bananas. Add heavy cream and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until bananas are cooked through and start to caramelize. Remove from heat and stir in rum.

Make ganache: Place chopped chocolate in small bowl. Heat heavy cream in saucepan or microwave until warm. Pour over chocolate and let sit 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add butter and stir to incorporate.

Assemble Opera Cake: Cut jaconde into 3 even pieces, trimming sides first if necessary. Layer 1/3 of peanut butter buttercream on first layer of cake. Refrigerate 10 minutes too firm. Top buttercream with sliced bananas and syrup. Top with 2nd layer of cake. layer 1/3 buttercream. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Pour ganache over buttercream and smooth. Refrigerate. Top ganache with bananas. Place last cake layer on top. Spread remaining buttercream on cake and smooth. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes.

Make chocolate glaze: melt 50g chocolate and butter together in a double boiler. Remove from heat and stir in 25g chocolate until smooth. Pour over chilled buttercream and smooth. Refrigerate until firm. Trim all sides.

Decorate as desired, preferably with TCB lightning bolts.

Pan O’ Raisins

Breakfast, Fussy

I firmly believe there is a time and a place for raisins: the oatmeal raisin cookie, rice pudding, and the (underrated) French pastry, Pain Aux Raisins – which I prefer to pronounce “Pan O’ Raisins” because I might as well double down on my horrific french pronunciation.

  • Danish dough:
  • 1/3 cup warm milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp rapid-rise yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Butter square:
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
  • Filling:
  • 1 cups whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 TBSP cornstarch
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 TBSP butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup raisins

Take butter out of fridge to let soften a bit while you mix the dough.

For the dough: Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and slat in stand mixer fitted with dough hook. Combine milk and egg in a liquid measuring cup. Add to dry ingredients with mixer on low and mix until dough comes together. Increase speed and knead until the dough comes together. You will need to scrape the bowl a few times. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Cut one stick of butter in half so you have 3 even pieces. On a piece of plastic wrap, sprinkle half of the tablespoon of dough and place the butter on top. Sprinkle remaining half tablespoon flour on top. Cover lightly with plastic wrap. Gently pound the butter with a rolling pin until it is pliable, then roll it out to a 5-inch square. Refrigerate.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is a 9-inch square. Place the butter square diagonally on the dough square. Fold the corners of the dough in so they meet in the middle and cover the butter diamond entirely. Gently roll the dough out to a 14″ square. Fold the dough in thirds to form a rectangle, then fold the rectangle in thirds to form a square. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Remove the dough and let soften for 10 minutes. Roll the dough out again for the second “turn” to a 14″ square and fold again, as you did previously. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours again.

For the filling: Pour boiling water over the raisins to cover and let soften for at least 30 minutes. Combine sugar and cornstarch in small saucepan. Combine yolks and milk in a measuring cup. Whisk milk into sugar mixture and heat over medium-low heat until the mixture starts to thicken. Continue whisking until the mixture is very thick and at least one bubble has popped. Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Strain, if you like (I don’t), into a bowl. Cut butter into pieces and whisk in butter a piece at a time until fully incorporated. Drain raisins and stir into pastry cream. Refrigerate until needed, stir vigorously to soften before using.

Roll out danish dough into a very large rectangle – about 12″ by 16″. Spread raisin cream evenly on top, leaving a 1-inch border on the long edge. Beat an egg in a small bowl and brush the exposed edge with egg wash to help seal (save egg wash). Roll up loosely and seal at the long edge. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to firm it up a bit.

Cut the roll into 1/3-1/2-inch slices – the pastry cream will ooze a bit, just do your best to keep it in shape. Place on a lined baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. It can also be frozen at this time for a later date. Let come to room temperature (both if you freeze it or if it’s from the fridge) and let rise until it has gotten a little puffy (it won’t get super puffy, and it may take an hour or more, depending on how cold your kitchen is).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush tops and sides with reserved egg wash. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Eat them immediately.

Danish dough recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Steamed Persimmon Pudding (for Halloween)

Fussy

“If you’ve been searching for a great persimmon pudding, search no more- this one is the best” – The Fanny Farmer Cookbook

  • 1 cup pureed persimmons (about 3, with skins removed)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 2 TBSP rum
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup raisins

Butter a 2-quart pudding mold thoroughly. Fill a stock pot with water, to reach halfway up the sides of the pudding mold and put a layer of Mason jar rings on the bottom. Let the water come to a simmer while assembling the pudding.

Combine the persimmon puree and baking soda in a small bowl and set aside. It will get quite stiff.

Cream the butter and sugar, add the eggs, lemon juice, and rum and beat well. Add flour, cinnamon and salt and stir to blend. Beat in the persimmon mixture until well-mixed. Stir in the nuts and raisins. Spoon batter into the mold, cover with lid, and steam for 2 hours in simmering water.

Remove from pot, let rest for 5 minutes, turn onto serving plate. Serve warm with practically unsweetened whipped cream. (Tentacles optional)

Coffee Birthday Cake

Food Hoarding Confessions, Fussy

I make my birthday cake every year – it’s my favorite cake to make because no one gives me any guff for putting coffee or nuts or raisins in it. I went with coffee this year and used some freezer cake layers and bits of leftover chocolate as decoration. After decorating it, I immediately cut myself a piece and ate it with no fanfare. So there.

  • 2 layers white cake from freezer, cut in half (see passionfruit cheesecake recipe)
  • Coffee Diplomat:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 TBSP instant espresso powder
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 3 TBSP butter, room temperature, cut into TBSPs
  • 115g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 272g heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Bring milk to a simmer in medium saucepan. Add espresso powder and dissolve. Whisk yolks, sugar and cornstarch together in small bowl. Add milk, a little at a time to temper the egg yolks, them pour yolk mixture into saucepan and whisk over medium-low heat until very thick, letting a few large bubbles pop before removing from heat. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes, then whisk in butter until incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap touching the surface, and cool.

Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Slowly pour in heavy cream, and beat until very stiff.

Whisk coffee cream until very smooth, then fold in whipped cream until incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.

  • Chocolate Crumb:
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 TBS melted butter

Combine all ingredients except butter in the mixer and stir to blend. Add butter and stir until there are no dry spots left. Spread out crumbs on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring twice. Let cool.

  • Milk Chocolate Ganache:
  • 240g milk chocolate, chopped fine
  • 120g heavy cream
  • 1 TBSP instant espresso powder

Heat cream, add espresso powder to dissolve. Pour over milk chocolate and let sit 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Let sit to room temperature. Whip with whisk attachment of mixer until light and fluffy.

Build cake: Put base layer in a 8″ cake pan. Spread 1/3 of the coffee diplomat and top with a layer of chocolate crumb on each of the layers, using acetate to build up past the top of the cake pan. Top with last cake layer. Frost with a crumb coat of ganache and refrigerate to set the ganache. Frost with remaining ganache and decorate as desired.

Note: This cake would be just as good as a naked cake – omit the ganache and serve with the layers showing.

Passion Fruit (Cheese)Cake

Cakes, Fussy

I really thought I had moved on to fall baking, but then I came into some passion fruit puree, as one does (I saw it at the store, and I bought it). Luckily, one of the 43 cookbooks I have checked out from the library right now was a Sherry Yard cookbook that had a delicious looking passion fruit cheesecake. It uses a thin layer of white cake as a base, which I thought was interesting. Normally, I like my cheesecakes to be heavy on the cream cheese and baked until the cheesecake is on the dry side. This cheesecake is extremely creamy, not dry at all. But with the cake base (that comes out unscathed after being baked twice) it works beautifully. There were clean plates all around.

I suppose it’s a little crazy (safe space) to bake an entire cake just to stick most of it in the freezer for another time. But, if you’re like me, you don’t mind having cake layers in the freezer. You could make this with a graham cracker or cookie crust if you’re not as party as me.

  • Buttermilk White Chocolate Cake:
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 3 oz white chocolate
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease, flour, and line with parchment two 8″ round cake pans and one 9″ round cake pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, soda, and salt.
Melt white chocolate in microwave at 50-percent power, or in a bowl over simmering water.
In a stand mixer, cream the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar until fluffy. Whisk a little of the butter/sugar into the white chocolate to blend. Add back to bowl and beat on low speed. Add egg yolks in 2 additions, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla.
On low speed, add dry ingredients and buttermilk, alternating, in 4 additions.
In a separate bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks, add remaining 1/4 cup sugar gradually and beat until stiff and glossy. Fold egg whites into batter in 2 additions.
Scrape batter into prepared pans – a thinner layer of batter into the 9″ pan (about 1/2 inch deep). Divide remaining batter between the two 8″ pans.
Bake the 9″ cake for 20 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.
Bake 8″ cakes for 30 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.
Cool cakes in pans.
Wrap the two 8″ rounds in wax paper and foil and freeze for another happy day.

  • Passion Fruit Cheesecake:
  • 1 1/2 cups passion fruit puree
  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Butter the sides and bottom of a 8″ round springform pan. Using the 8″ base, cut the 9″ cake round to fit and place inside. Wrap pan tightly in foil.

Place 1 cup passion fruit puree in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to 1/2 cup, stirring regularly and remove from heat. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup puree.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, scraping the bowl as necessary, blend cream cheese and sugar on low speed, do not beat. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, blending well. Add sour cream and blend. Add the passion fruit puree in a slow stream with mixer still on low speed.

Pour into prepared pan. Place cheesecake pan into a larger cake pan or roasting pan, and add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake for 1 hour, until the cheesecake is set. Remove from water bath, cool, and chill.

  • For the Passion Fruit Glaze:
  • 1/4 cup water (plus 2 TBSP for gelatin)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup fruit puree
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 pkg gelatin

Soften gelatin in 2 TBS water. Combine 1/4 water and sugar over low heat, stir to dissolve. Stir in puree and lemon juice. Remove from heat. Add softened gelatin and stir until completely melted. Cool until thickened slightly, but still pourable.

Top cheesecake with passion fruit glaze. Chill to set. Unmold and top with fresh passion fruit to serve.