Sunday, March 21, 2010

Red, Lemon, and Cheesecake all over!

This has been a very topsy-turvy week - my pastry head adjusted our schedule mid-week so that we would have more days together, thus enabling us to get more Easter themed desserts out ahead of time. So this week I have had not one, but two weekends! I had Wednesday and Thursday off, and now Sunday and Monday. No complaints here, I've really needed the time off to relax. I've been dealing with some nasty heartburn and general tummy troubles. Suspecting that my high consumption of caffeine could be the culprit, I've completely cut it out to see if it would have any effect. It's been quite a few days and no heartburn! Though I have to say, my caffeine addiction runs deep - the headaches are quite bad and the fatigue even worst. However, today is day 6 and it's getting a little easier. Will I ever drink coffee again? Of course, but only after Easter has passed and my stress levels go down as a result.

On to the cakes! My most loyal client, 107 4th Avenue Wine Bar wanted something different for one of the two orders for this week, so I suggested Red Velvet cake with Vanilla Bean buttercream. Of course, this is delicious. I'm not the biggest fan of using so much dye, and I actually might take some out because it does get quite scary red! I also didn't have buttermilk on hand, but several sources said that you substitute sour cream and yoghurt for the buttermilk, so I did just that! However, this makes for a much thicker batter, and also makes the cake a little more dense, and this cake is dense to begin with!

Of course, I had a little batter left over for cupcakes ;D.

I've had very little editing to do on these photos so far - the natural light seems to be my friend this week!

Next up, cheesecake! I had my parents over for dinner tonight and I wanted to make a nice dessert for them as they so rarely get to fully taste the fruits of my education they so lovingly paid for. I had leftover cheesecake batter, so with a little coffee extract and a teaspoon of cinnamon I created a delightful cinnamon coffee New York cheesecake with chocolate cookie crumb base.

The ratio of cheesecake to crust in my first run was vastly different, so this time I kind of overcompensated... oh well, it was delicious!

And wine! Because this one is going to replace the Fuzion that I've been drinking for months and months. Wonderful body and depth of flavour for a good price, around $10 a bottle I believe?

For those that read this blog I would like share with you the recipe for Lemon Polenta cakes that I found in Delicious magazine. These are seriously the easiest things in the world to make and are the biggest crowd pleaser ever!

Lemon Polenta Cakes

225 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
225 g caster sugar (I used regular granulated)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
110 g ground almonds
110 g shredded coconut
110 g fine polenta (and by polenta they mean cornmeal)
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 2 1/2 tbs lemon juice (hah, I forgot the lemon juice, which actually made for a nice subtle lemon taste)
1 tsp baking powder (don't be silly like me and accidentally put 1 TABLESPOON! eeeek!)
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (I put in a tablespoon... again by accident... but it tasted fantastic!)


225 g icing sugar, sieved
2 tbs lemon juice

NOTE: I didn't make this icing this time around, but I'm sure it's ok, albeit a bit too much lemon, unless you like that.

Preheat the oven to 150 C (my sketchy mental conversion says this is actually 300 F, and that worked fine!). Grease 36 holes in 2 mini muffin trays well (I made regular muffins/cupcakes... so methinks this actually yields about 20-24, depending on how full you fill the cups).

Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 2 minutes or until lump free (it doesn't need to be light and fluffy). Slowly beat in eggs, then fold in ground almonds, coconut, polenta, lemon zest, lemons juice, baking powder and vanilla. Divide among muffin pans, then baked for 20-30 minutes until the cakes are golden. Cool in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack or plate.

For the icing, mix the sugar and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth. Spoon over the cakes, letting the icing dribble down the sides a little. Leave the icing to set before gobbling up with your friends.

Pretty much anything goes with these cakes. First I put some blackcurrant cream on them, then on this batch I put on some leftover caramel buttercream. These little cakes are so adaptable and delicious with whatever topping you want!

I find myself quite jaded with baked goods at times, but these cakes made me feel like I was indulging in desserts for the very first time again. My innocence returned! The angels sang! And I ate three of these in a row!

Next post will be a detailed description on how to make my (and by 'my', I mean I took it from my Cordon Bleu coursework) lemon meringue tart. I am a firm believer that everyone needs a good lemon meringue tart in their dessert arsenal! Spring has finally sprung (despite the snow that the Weather Network is trying to dangle over our heads), so let's break out the fresh and bright flavours!

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