Saturday, March 3, 2012

I usually don't buy flowers but I could not resist these ranunculus at the farmer's market.  

Don't they look gorgeous?

I am not a fan of pink, but I love the light palette of pink of these flowers.

Peonies and hydrangeas are my favorite flowers, but I am definitely adding ranunculus to that list.

I snapped pictures after pictures.  

These flowers are quite captivating.

A sign that spring is finally approaching.  Good bye winter!

Blood Orange Cake

Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's March already!  Blood orange season is ending but I still see a few vendors selling them at the farmers market.  The two most popular varieties are Moro and Tarocco. Moro blood oranges are grown in California and are only available from winter to early spring.  They have dark flesh and taste tart with a deep berry undertone.  I was happy to grab these gems before the season is over.

I was craving for cake and decided to whip up a blood orange cake.  The cake recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s lemon curd cake. 

For the frosting, I used my own recipe.  A few years ago, I discovered that heavy cream and mascarpone cheese is a match made in kitchen heaven.  Since then, I have utilized this frosting as a base for different cakes and changing necessary ingredients to get the flavors I need. 

The cake was DELICIOUS.  

Blood Orange Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

1 stick of unsalted butter, cubed and room temperature
¾ cup of sugar
¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
2 egg yolks and 1 egg
1 tbsp blood orange zest
2 tbsps blood orange juice
½ cup sour cream

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F.  Butter the bottom of two 5-by-2-inch round cake pans with butter.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  Butter parchment and dust with flour.  Tap out any excess flour.
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, juice, and zest together.
4. In a bow of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium to high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add sugar and continue beating until the combination is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
5. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until well incorporated. 
6. With the mixer on slow speed, add the flour mixture in four parts, alternating with the sour cream mixture.  Beat until just combined.  Be careful not to over mix.   
7. Divide the batter into the pans and bake until the top of the cake is slightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.
8. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
9. Run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unmold them and peel off the parchment papers and cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Blood orange syrup
1/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of orange juice

1. Combine sugar and juice in a saucepan and boil on medium heat until volume is reduced by half.
2. Let the syrup cool to room temperature.

Blood orange frosting (my recipe)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup of powdered sugar
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup blood orange syrup

1. With an electric mixer, beat the cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form.  Add the powdered sugar and continue beating.
2. Add in the mascarpone cheese and beat until combined.
3. Gently fold in the blood orange syrup. Cover and refrigerate to let the cream mixture harden, about 1 hour.

1. Use a long serrated knife, slice off the top ¼ inch of the cakes to even out the top.  Slice each cake horizontally into 2 even layers.
2. Place the first piece of cake on a cake stand.  Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of  frosting evenly onto the cake.
3. Place another piece of cake on top of the frosting and repeat the previous steps with the remaining pieces of cake.
 4. Using an offset spatula, spread the side of the cake with the remaining blood orange frosting.