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Saturday, October 18, 2014

chocolate peanut butter cake; another birthday, another version



Yes, I've posted this cake before so why post it again?  Because this time, it's different; the cake is a vertically positioned roll rather than the standard stacked layers.

Every year, I bake cakes for my girls on their birthdays or as close as I can get to the actual day.  Last year, I made this cake for Alix but made the traditional stacked layer version and the link to that post with the complete recipe is here.  For this version, the only thing I changed was the cake.  Because I was planning on rolling the cake up, I chose to make a sponge-like cake so that it would be easier to work with.

For those of you who are interested, please visit the link to read the full history on this cake.  It is one that I am proud of and probably the best cake in my first book, Sky High.

The cake recipe worked out fairly well.  It was not hard to roll but I do think that because I made this in stages, the cake dried out a little and some cracking occurred.  In the future, I will make my frosting ahead of time so that the cake can be rolled up while it is still fresh.

So the shape was not perfectly round, but most of that was hidden in the frosting/glazing.

 This version made a 6 inch round cake and would easily have served 8 people.  We snacked on that cake all week by slicing little slivers at a time.  Don't worry, even though the slices were thin, this cake packed quite the punch in flavor and it was so rich that we didn't attempt thick slices.

 Don't you just love the vertical stripes?  This was so much fun that I will try this again with other cake recipes.  It looked like a regular cake on the outside, my daughter expected stacked layers and surprise, surprise!

 Honestly, with this configuration, the ratio of frosting to cake is very different.  With this method you get more frosting which is great for frosting lovers.

 Creamy peanut butter frosting and dark chocolate ganache-heavenly!

To make the stacked layer cake, visit the original post.  To make this version, the adjusted recipes follow.

Chocolate-Peanut Sponge Roll Cake
Cake recipe is adapted from Chocolate Cloud Roll recipe in The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum, frosting and glaze recipes are from Sky High

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
6 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
peanut butter frosting, recipe follows
chocolate glaze, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a half sheet pan (17 inches x 12 inches) with parchment and spray grease, set aside.  Melt the chocolate and set aside.

To grind the peanuts, place them in a food processor with a tablespoon of sugar and pulse until finely ground.  Do this carefully so that you do not make peanut butter.  Whisk the yolks with 3 tablespoons sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Fold the chocolate and peanuts into the egg yolks.  Sift the cocoa over the top of the batter and gently fold in, set aside while you prepare the whites.

Whip the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue whipping until peaks start to form.  Gradually add the sugar as you continue to whip and whip until the peaks are almost completely stiff.  Do not take them as far as they will go, they need to be just a little soft at the bottom of the bowl.  This will allow the air bubbles to expand in the oven; taking the mixture to the stiffest point will not allow for the bubbles to expand and can actually make the cake collapse.

To finish mixing the batter, fold 1/4 of the whites into the batter to lighten it and then gently fold the remaining whites in.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a pick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 15-18 minutes.  Allow the cake to cool and use immediately.

Cut the cake into three equal strips, lengthwise.  Spread 1/2 cup of frosting over one strip and begin rolling it up from one short side.  Spread another 1/2 cup of frosting over the second strip and place the rolled cake on top of the layer at one short side and roll it up.  Repeat this with the last strip.  Place the cake onto a flat plate and freeze until very firm.  Ice the outside of the cake with the remaining frosting and freeze it to firm up the frosting.

Decorate the cake by spreading small amounts of glaze over the top so that it slides down the side of the cake in large drips.  Chill to firm the ganache.  Keep cake refrigerated but do set it out at least 30 minutes before serving for the best flavor.  To get neat slices, dip the knife in hot water, wipe it dry and slice it with the hot knife, clean the knife between slices.  Top with mini peanut butter cups just before serving, if desired.

Peanut Butter Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temp 
3 ounces unsalted butter, at room temp 
4 cups confectioners sugar, sift after measuring if lumpy 
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter 

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the confectioners sugar, 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often.  Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate Glaze
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped coarsely
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/3 cup half-and-half


In the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter and corn syrup.  Heat, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth.  Use while still warm.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Early Fall at the Williamsburg Farmers Market

Visiting the Williamsburg Farmers Market has become a favorite thing of mine.  Every Saturday morning I head to the Historic District to walk the market held in Merchants Square and it is such a beautiful setting.  It truly feels like a community event, almost like a neighborhood block party held in the middle of the colonial village.  The farmers and producers selling at the market each week are usually the same but sometimes, they skip a week so be sure to check the website as it is updated weekly.


There is nothing worse than going to a market and discovering that the venders are simply reselling produce they bought.  This market is a producers only market and all venders are subject to management approval before they can sell at the market.  Honestly, this is the perfect way to know your food.  Want to know about the vegetables or seafood, ask the person selling it; they work for the farm and can tell you just about anything you might need to know.

Fresh beans waiting to be shelled

 Beautiful eggplants

 It wouldn't be fall without hard squash; Cushaw and Blue Hubbards as well as Butternut and Acorn.

 Not only do you get the vegetables freshly picked, you get the name of the variety.


 Amazing sheep milk cheeses from Everona Dairy.

The folks at Bacon's Castle Supply love to talk about their peanut farm.  We asked about the bouquet hanging and got a lesson on how the plants produce peanuts.

 And of course, heirloom pumpkins

 Peppers love the hot, dry weather of late summer and early fall and are plentiful at the market.

 Sweet potatoes are a fall favorite too

 Being so close to the Chesapeake Bay means oysters are plentiful too and these are Crassostrea virginica the native species.  King Corrotoman Oysters brings them in fresh but be sure to check the schedule, they do not come every week.


 Everywhere you go, signs of fall.  Love the use of persimmons in this bouquet.

 Radishes are a quick crop to produce and it is easy to see why farmers would offer them for sale; they are so colorful.  Did you know that radishes are just as good roasted as they are raw and the greens are pretty tasty when cooked too!  Click here for my recipe for roasted radishes and wilted greens.
Mountains of Tuscan kale just waiting to be sauteed or added to salads and it has me dreaming about my new garden next spring...

This post is participating in the Virginia Bloggers Friday Favorites linkup.  Be sure to check out the links posted by other members and visitors to the website.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

sunny side up pastries; a tuesdays with dorie post

Well, we made it to Virginia.  It was a long drive that took two days and numerous stops.  If anybody asks, traveling with three cats and a dog is not any easier than traveling with kids.  Trust me, I have done both of these things and can honestly say that I really hope to never do that again.

We closed on our house two weeks ago and have moved in.  Now the only thing to do is finish unpacking and I am actively looking for ways to get out of that task.  Making a batch of tiny little pastries was just the diversion I was looking for!

If you recall, I am part of a group of people baking their way through the wonderful book, Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  We have been at it for quite a while now and having missed the last few months, I am happy to be back at it.  For our first recipe in October, we chose the Sunny-side-up Apricot Pastries which first required making a batch of puff pastry or mille feuilles in French and both recipes were contributed to the book by Michel Richard.  To see Julia and Michel make these recipes, watch the video by following this link!

Michel's recipe for the dough is a little different than most.  He instructs you to make a soft dough in the food processor and then rest it in the fridge before incorporating the butter.

my new house has lots of light but it also has walls the color of butter.  Nice and neutral I suppose but the make taking photos tricky.  The light always seems to be a bit on the yellow side.

 Puff pastry is one of those recipes that seems so intimidating but in truth, it is a simple recipe that just has a few rules that should never be broken.  Follow those rules and you will have a skill envied by those that think it is a difficult item to make.

 Seal the butter into the dough to make sure that it does not ooze out during the rolling process.

Flour is your friend; use lots, it is easier to brush off flour than to scrape the dough off the table.

Bakers trick, mark the dough with your finger tips; one indent per roll/fold.  Michel's recipe calls for making the folds two at a time.  This means that you roll the dough out, brush off the flour, fold it and repeat the process.  Be sure to rest it in the fridge between steps so that the butter does not get too soft and the gluten can relax.

 Four down, two more to go!

 Done!!!

 The view from the kitchen.

 My begonians traveled well and are liking the new window.

 The book calls for poaching apricots and cooking a batch of pastry cream.  Both of those ideas did not appeal to me.  We had some Cortland apples on the counter and I thought apples and frangipane sounded better.

 Although I have no idea which boxes contain what, I do know where all of my cutters are.  Priorities people, priorities!

 My half sized pastries with a tiny scoop of frangipane and a few slices of apples.

 Learning to shoot in this house is going to take some time.  The light is lovely but those walls...

 Just out of the oven.  The frangipane spread more than pastry cream would have but I like the flavor combination.

 We have a skylight and it lets in so much light.  Now I just need to learn to work with light from overhead!

 So far, I am liking my new place.  The neighbors I have met are all very friendly.  The only one with a problem is The Captain.  Remember him?  Our outdoor cat?  Well, he is now an indoor cat and let's just say we are both adjusting to (his)life indoors...
Be sure to visit the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see how the other bakers did with this recipe.