One of my travel dreams came true last April when I visited Japan during Sakura season. April marks the beginning of the blossoming cherry trees throughout the country and many follow the pink trail from Tokyo to Kyoto in appreciation of these delicate blossoms.Read More
I love summer in France. The days get longer and Parisians start to linger along the Seine or on café terraces with a bottle of rosé and a wedge or two of a good cheese. Summer also means berry season is in full swing. White currants from Lorraine and wild strawberries from Provence start showing up in food stalls all over Paris. This invariably leads to thoughts about how best to bake with the season's variety of tart and sweet offerings.
Is there a more alluring combination than dark chocolate and practically any berry? Especially when talking about a double dark chocolate cake that's filled with both Dutch cocoa powder and an entire bar of 75% dark chocolate. To brighten up the cake and create an extra layer of delicious, I added a fresh whipped cream frosting to the mix.
For this cake I was inspired by the famous "Tomboy" cake from San Francisco's most darling cake shop Miette. I swapped out the buttercream frosting for a more summery whipped cream with a dollop of creme fraîche for more structure. I topped mine with a pile of summer berries but I imagine cherries or wild strawberries would be just as good.
Whipped Cream Frosting With Crème Fraîche
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1/3 cup of crème fraîche
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean)
- 2 tbs of icing sugar
- In a large bowl whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form
- In a small bowl whisk the crème fraîche, vanilla and icing sugar together
- Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the crème fraîche mixture into the whipped cream until smooth
*All photography by Joann Pai
Bundt cakes are filled with nostalgia for me as they are my mother's favorite cakes. Almost every family get-together ended with her brown sugar cinnamon bundt cake. I hoped to inherit the ease with which she made them, however each time I attempt one I'm filled with dread. I've had more than a few cracked, broken, or just plain stuck bundts in my pan that each time I vow to never bake one again.
Bundts are just so fun to glaze and decorate that I inevitably find myself staring back at that bundt pan in my pantry. I have picked up a few tips over the years that have helped me to attain a near perfect bundt release. About ten minutes prior to the bake time ending I place a dish towel in the sink and pour boiling water over it. When my bundt is done baking I then place the pan cake side up directly atop the soaking towel for fifteen minutes. The idea being that the steam should help release the cake from the sides of the pan. I still pace back and forth in my kitchen just before the final flip of the cake onto the cooling rack, accompanied by a happy dance when its comes out perfectly.
This citrus bundt is perfect for when blood oranges are in season and makes for a lovely afternoon tea cake. Also who doesn't love cake with a pink glaze?! This particular recipe was inspired by the fabulous Style Sweet CA.
Happy Bundt Baking!
* Photography by Joann Pai of Slice of Pai Photography
Have you ever dreamt of winter hibernation in a beautiful house in the French countryside? Quiet mornings spent brewing coffee to sip next to freshly made cinnamon rolls only to be followed by lazy afternoons reading fireside? This had been one of my dreams for many years and this past December all the winter stars aligned and pointed us south-west. We bundled up the dog, sorted out a stack of good reading material and packed a few baking essentials to head off for a week in Basse Normandie.
I decided to make classic American cinnamon buns never to be confused with their equally delicious Swedish counterpart, "kanelbullar". These are the buns that will rouse even the most ardent late sleepers with their buttery cinnamon drenched aroma. Topped with cream cheese frosting they make for a decadent morning bun served alongside your favorite brew.
I adapted the recipe for these cinnamon buns from the lovely cranberry-orange breakfast bun recipe found over on Smitten Kitchen I omitted the cranberries and made cream cheese frosting for my glaze. I'd suggest keeping the orange zest as it really brightened up the dough. I also used Vietnamese cinnamon which is known for being a very rich aromatic variety.
For more information on the beautiful manoir we stayed in head over to my friend Julie's website at The French Manoir
A couple of weeks ago I spent a wonderful morning baking and filming a cake story with my talented friend Haleigh I made a vanilla buttermilk cake with chocolate frosting to take to my neighborhood coffeeshop, the beloved Boot Café on Rue du Pont aux Choux. I hope you enjoy this little slice of my baking life.