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.
I spent the the day with the WESTWING team filming a lovely feature on our apartment in Le Marais. There were lots of laughs, lots of cups of coffee poured and perhaps one or two shots for the blooper reel. At the end of the day we even had an impromptu cake and tea party to celebrate. I hope you enjoy a sneak peek into the home I share with my partner James and our adorably aloof pup Parker...
Sugared cranberries always signal the start of the festive holiday season for me. They are super easy to make and add that wonderful sparkle to your cakes, cocktails and holiday table-scapes. I used mine this year as decoration for a chocolate and caramel cake I created for a cafe here in Paris and I loved the effect. Check out the recipe below...
- 1 cup of fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup of caster sugar
- 1/2 cup of water
- In a small sauce pot stir the water and sugar to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in your cranberries until evenly coated. Cover and let them steep for about 10 minutes.
- Strain the cranberries over a bowl to collect the syrup. Place cranberries on a piece of parchment paper atop your cooling rack. Allow to dry for about 30 minutes.
- Place 3/4 cup of caster sugar into a shallow bowl. Roll each cranberry in the caster sugar to coat evenly. They are now ready to help your holiday cakes shine!
* I like to leave some cranberries uncoated for the contrast in color and texture.
Every year since moving to Paris we have hosted a Friendsgiving for those who might not have a place to indulge in all things pie-related. While we always make sure to have a few classic Thanksgiving staples, we also make room on the table for a few French classics. One year we included a traditional French cheese course which proved to be overkill after multiple servings of mashed potatoes. This year I have partnered with famed department store Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann to celebrate the delicious possibilities of Thanksgiving in Paris.
I gave a couple of French dessert classics a tiny Thanksgiving twist. Madeleines are a favorite treat of many here in France and can be prepared with various accents like lemon or orange blossom. For this version I added maple syrup, making for a perfect autumnal bite. If you happen to be cooking in the kitchen this year, they also provide a blissful sweet pause with your morning coffee or tea. I sourced most of my ingredients from Lafayette Gourmet which is now open on Sundays. For those of us living in Paris that's truly something to be thankful for this holiday season.
I borrowed inspiration from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco for my cranberry frangipane tart. It's the perfect balance of tart and tangy cranberries against the sweetness of almond cream. I created it for my Thanksgiving meal using a beautiful tart pan made by deBuyer who has been producing beautiful culinary objects since 1830! To finish up your holiday shopping and plan your next visit to Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann or Lafayette Gourmet click here.
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 1/3 cup of caster sugar
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup of butter
- 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
- Icing sugar for dusting
- Reheat oven to 375 degrees(190C) Butter and flour your madeleine pan thoroughly.
- Melt butter and let cool to room temperature.
- In a small bowl beat eggs, vanilla and salt at high speed until light in color.
- While continuing to beat, gradually add sugar and continue to beat on high until the mixture becomes thick and pale, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Sift flour into egg mixture in three additions, folding gently each time.
- Add maple syrup and the melted butter. Gently fold butter and syrup into batter. Spoon batter into the molds.
- Bake 15 to 17 minutes or until cakes are golden.
- Use the edge of a knife to loosen the cakes from the pan. Invert onto a cooling rack.
- Dust with icing sugar and eat immediately.
Cranberry Frangipane Tart
Ingredients for the cranberry sauce:
- 3 cups of fresh or frozen cranberries
- Orange zest
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of caster sugar
Ingredients for Frangipane:
- 1 cup (114grams) finely ground whole blanched almonds or almond flour
- 1/2 cup of caster sugar
- 3 tablespoons of all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs at room temperature
- zest of 1 orange
Ingredients for Pastry:
- 200 grams of all purpose flour
- 100 grams of cold butter, cubed
- 50 grams of caster sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 egg yolk
Directions: Heat Oven to 180c
- In a saucepan, combine half of the cranberries with orange zest, sugar and cinnamon. Cook on medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes until cranberries burst and it starts to thicken.
- Stir in remaining berries and cook for just two more minutes. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate.
- To make pastry combine flour, butter and a pinch of salt into a food processor. Pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the 50g of sugar and pulse again.
- Add the vanilla, egg yolk and 1 to 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse until the dough just comes together.
- Shape dough on a floured work surface into a disc and then roll out your pastry with a rolling pin.
- Line your loose-bottomed tart tin, pressing the dough up into the sides of tin. Chill for 30 minutes and start your frangipane.
- Using the paddle attachment beat the butter until creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue beating on medium high until light and fluffy.
- Gradually add in your eggs, beating well after each addition.
- Stir in your almonds, flour, orange zest and salt. Spoon the frangipane into the tart case and smooth over with a palette knife.
- Transfer to a baking tray and bake for 30 to 40 mins.
- Leave the tart to cool in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.. Spoon your cranberry mixture atop the tart and serve with freshly whipped cream.
No matter how many sophisticated pastries I've eaten over the years, and there have been many, my heart simply sings for a vanilla layer cake with buttercream frosting. Add funfetti to the mix and I start getting very starry-eyed indeed. I invited my baking bestie Jen back into the kitchen to create a cake with a bit of a personality disorder. We wanted the cake to have a soft and elegant exterior with a more playful side hidden underneath. We agreed a funfetti cake would be just the thing to bring the smiles upon cutting into that first slice. We filled the apartment with flowers in shades of violet for frosting inspiration et voilà....
Recipe For Violet Buttercream Frosting
- 300 grams unsalted butter
- 500 grams of (4 cups) icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon of heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- pinch of sea salt
- Wilton violet icing color gel
Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter for 4 to 5 minutes until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and beat until well incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add your coloring last. A small amount of gel paste goes a long way so add in small increments until you achieve your desired shade.
This summer we spent a week of french country bliss in the south-west region of France. Our tiny village, Floressas, was perched high above lush valleys and vineyards. This part of France is filled with medieval villages that cling precariously to rocky cliffs overlooking the river Lot. Days were filled with walks along the riverbank, château hopping and of course market runs for the best of the local summer produce.
The charming country roads were lined with lavender so for our last day I thought it might be fun to have a garden party using it as baking inspiration. Buttery shortbread biscuits are a classic tea time treat and the addition of lavender seemed like the perfect pairing for a floral country garden party for two.
I served the biscuits alongside a peach streusel tea cake and a pot of jasmine tea. From our little perch in the garden we enjoyed views overlooking the valley and the neighboring 17th century château which also happens to produce a very tasty Malbec wine. After tea we played a round of pétanque while trying to dissuade the dog (with little success) from chasing each silver ball that was thrown.
*While I did collect lavender from the garden to use in the biscuits I'd recommend buying edible grade dried lavender from your local market. This recipe makes about 15 biscuits.
- 50g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 1tsp dried lavender flowers
- 100g butter, room temperature
- 150g plain flour
- Put the lavender flowers and sugar in a food processor and blend until fine. Sieve.
- In a large mixing bowl add the butter to the lavender sugar and mix together, then add the flour, until the mixture forms a dough.
- Turn the dough onto a work surface, roll into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes.
- While your dough is chilling preheat the oven to 320°F(160°C)
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into your favorite biscuit shapes.
- Dust with sugar and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.
- Decorate with fresh lavender and enjoy.
Last month I got to welcome back to town my beautiful cake sister, Jen Drew! Most of our time was spent wandering around Paris and cake-storming over coffee at our favorite cafés. We got up to lots of baking projects including this sweet little vanilla cake with strawberry buttercream. As it happens a friend from Switzerland was also in town to document a day spent foraging for ingredients at the markets and flower shops of Le Marais!
I hope you enjoy following along on this special cake collaboration....
*All photos were taken by Carolina Caruso. You can find more of her beautiful photography here: Carolina Caruso
Summer has been in short supply this month in Paris. Luckily our farmers markets have been a bright reprieve with baskets of overflowing summer berries. Since moving here nearly four years ago I have tried with great pleasure to distinguish between all the different types of strawberries on offer. Varieties you might see include gariguette, mara des bois, anaïs and my personal favorite, lovely little fraise des bois. Each variety is slightly different in flavor and fragrance. I've paired some of them with rhubarb for a wonderful compote, making for an excellent cake filling, while others were used as a simple yet elegant garnish atop a frosted layer cake. Most recently I tried my hand at the classic Victoria Sponge which calls for a layer of strawberry jam sandwiched between two light as air sponge cakes and fresh whipped cream., Heavenly!
Here are a few of the cakes I've made this summer, starring that superb summer fruit, the strawberry. I hope you enjoy!
Double layer cake with rhubarb and strawberry compote filling.
Ah Paris, you wonderful purveyor of perfect pastry! The choices for satisfying your sweet tooth here are abundant. I have a long list of places all over the city where I'm happy to meet up with friends for my favorite time of day, l'heure du goûter, but there are only a few spots that I revisit on the regular for their delectable offerings. I've selected a few of my favorite addresses where I often go for their outstanding cakes and pastries made on site and with love, bien sûr!
Bontemps is located in Le Marais just across from the pretty Square du Temple. I pop in here to pick up cakes for tea or dinner parties when I'm not feeling up to baking at home. My favorites are the glazed lemon cake squares (miam!) and the kugelhof-shaped cake covered in gianduja. The shop is owned and run by Fiona and Fatina, sisters who are always on hand to serve up their exceptional sweet offerings with a smile. Don't forget to grab a handful of their mini sablés with a variety of indulgent fillings like passion fruit and Madagascan bourbon vanilla.
57 Rue de Bretagne
W-F 11AM-2PM 3PM-7:30PM
Sunday 10AM-2PM 3PM-5PM
P +33 01 42 74 10 68
Broken Biscuits is located on a quaint passage in the 11th arrondissement near Square Gardette. Chris Wilson and Christine O'Sullivan have created a space that's perfect for a pastry pit stop in Paris. I've come here for both afternoon tea and cake and to feast on bowls of their handmade granola for breakfast. The café always smells of butter and freshly baked goods which is just heavenly and their recent acquisition of the sweetest mini Marzocco means you can now get a cappuccino to accompany your scones or carrot cake. They provide pastries for a number of specialty coffee shops throughout the city including two of my favorites, Honor and Fondation.
10 Passage Rochebrune
Mamie Gâteaux resides on the Rive Gauche just behind famed department store Le Bon Marché. I discovered this cakey gem back when I first moved to Paris in 2012. It's been much celebrated over the years for the beautiful cake selection and after tasting the chestnut cake dusted in powdered sugar I was a believer as well. I don't make it here too often but when I do its usually for a pot of cherry blossom tea and a slice of carrot or chestnut cake. Everything is made on site and there's even a small antique shop attached selling French country bowls and glass jars filled with brightly colored candy. J'adore!
66 Rue du Cherche-Midi
+33 01 42 22 32 15
Ten Belles is one of the few specialty coffee shops in Paris churning out their own daily cakes and pastries. I can never resist peeking into the kitchen to see what wonderful delights Anna Trattles and Isabelle Auzou are whipping up for the day. Bakewell tarts, clementine cakes and peanut butter brownies are a few of the treats you can gleefully grab to accompany your filter or flat white. In summertime you can pick up some cakes and coffee to go sit canal-side in perfect Parisian bliss.
10 Rue de la Grange aux Belles
P: +33 01 42 40 90 78
Dreaming of a deluxe and creamy chocolate buttercream frosting paired with an equally intense dark chocolate cake? This blackberry and chocolate layer cake will satisfy even the biggest chocoholics dreams. The cake itself has a wonderfully rich and complex profile thanks to the combination of buttermilk and coffee. I added blackberry jam in between the two layers of chocolate cake and the whole thing is enrobed in a fudge-like frosting. How delicious does that sound?
* The recipe for this cake was adapted from the wonderful Sweetapolita blog listed as, "Dark & Dreamy Chocolate Fudge Cake". Link to recipe below:
The busiest time of the year is behind us and in-between all the tree trimming, gift giving and chestnut roasting, I managed to bake one very festive holiday cake. Although I'm not exactly a chocolate cake kinda guy (can we still be friends?) I do love the combination of chocolate and peppermint. Think York Peppermint Patties, After Eights, or those infamous Thin Mints that are trotted out every year by Girl Scouts all across America. All delicious chocolate minty perfection.
This chocolate bundt cake is divinely decadent thanks in part to the addition of the loveliest crème fraîche from Normandie. I've used this recipe dozens of times for my chocolate cake-obsessed friends and it's one of the easiest to follow. I added pure peppermint oil to the icing sugar for that minty fresh glaze. For a little holiday flair and additional mint zing you can sprinkle broken bits of peppermint sticks over the glazed cake. I picked up a box of Red Bird Peppermint Sticks on my last trip to California since they can be difficult to track down here in Paris.
I delivered this particular cake to Café Oberkampf, where my cakes occasionally pop up on the weekends, so I wasn't able to take any slice shots this time around. Although the holidays are over this would still make for a fun winter-time cake nestled fireside with a good book and maybe a mug of cocoa.
- 1 cup of unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup of Dutch cocoa powder
- 1 Tsp of salt
- cup of water
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour or Type 55 here in France
- 1 3/4 cups of caster sugar
- 1 1/2 Tsps baking soda
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup of Crème Fraîche (or Greek Yogurt)
- 1 Tsp of Vanilla extract
For the mint glaze:
- 1 1/2 cups of icing sugar
- /2 Tsp of peppermint extract ( I recommend Nielsen & Massey)
- I added a splash of water depending on how thick you want your glaze.
For the crushed candy:
Peppermint sticks and a hammer or mallet! ;-)
- Heat oven to to 350 degrees F. or 175 degrees C.
- Butter and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan and set aside.
- Combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook and stir just until all the ingredients are combined then remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk together your flour, sugar and baking soda. Add half of the melted butter mixture to the bowl and blend. Once combined continue adding the rest of the butter mixture. Add eggs one at a time until, whisking until blended.Lastly add in the crème fraîche and vanilla extract. Whisk until mixture is completely smooth.
- Scrape batter into your prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let cake cool for 15 minutes then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- While the cake is cooling make the peppermint glaze. Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and add the peppermint extract. Using a whisk stir together adding a splash of water to reach desired consistency.
- Wrap peppermint sticks in a tea towel and using a hammer or kitchen mallet smash into bits. Drizzle the glaze over your cooled cake then sprinkle your candy pieces on top.
*Adapted from a recipe by Sam Mogannam and Dabny Gough which appears in the book, Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food
Beginning mid-June our local farmers market starts bursting at the seams with beautiful blueberries. I made countless blueberry muffins, blueberry buttermilk pancakes and yes even a blueberry cake! As we start heading into winter here in Paris I thought it would be lovely to revisit that summertime cake. It was such a hit with friends that I baked it multiple times throughout the summer adding new flourishes each time.
This particular cake calls for the blueberries to be cooked down along with cinnamon and sugar into a deliciously fragrant blueberry purée. It then gets divided into the cake batter making the prettiest purple swirl if done correctly. Mine didn't work out so well the first time around and I ended up with one giant purple blob inside the cake instead of the aforementioned swirl. Wonderful nonetheless!
Imagine the heady aroma of warm cinnamon and blueberries filling your entire home. The aroma once even tempted the gardienne of my building to come knocking and ask what I was getting up to in the kitchen! Once frosted the cake can be decorated as simply or extravagantly as you like. Since I was delivering this cake to a local café I chose to sugar blueberries for a little added sparkle and hid them among a selection of lavender and violet hued florals.
Happy Blueberry Baking!
*Photographs of me were taken by my friend Jesse Morgan. To see more of his work check out his link below!
I have an Australian cake sister named Jen who loves to bake cakes just as much as I do. We met while she was working at one of my favorite cafes here in Paris and our very first conversation was all about baking. We discussed buttery bundt cakes versus coconut encrusted lamingtons and the magic of melt-in-your-mouth meringue. We were destined to make sweet buttercream together.
Jen and I decided to host an afternoon tea party as the perfect excuse for a cake collaboration. We sent out invitations to a few of our favorite Parisiennes and started planning our cakey creation. We both were inspired by April Carter's White Rose Cake from her beautiful book Decorated. It had all sorts of fantastic features like ombré frosting and crystalized rose petals making it perfect for a romantic rose-infused afternoon in the city of lights.
For our version we agreed it would be fun to color the sponge itself a shade of pink for a prettier slice against the ombré buttercream. While she brushed each cake round with fragrant rose syrup I made sure our butter and sugar was whipped to perfection for the vanilla frosting. Crystallizing rose petals was my favorite part of this cake. I spent the evening before our party brushing egg whites onto dainty rose petals, then rolling them around in caster sugar. After seeing the magical effects I wanted to crystalize everything. Luckily Jen was there to reign in my extravagance and suggested we add white chocolate stuffed raspberries instead.
After all the obligatory cake snaps we sliced into it and served alongside a choice of jasmine green tea or classic English earl grey with a splash of milk and sugar. Although I think a glass of pink champagne would have been equally lovely. The cake was delicately floral and held up nicely next to the sugary vanilla buttercream. Its no secret that I adore anything Ispahan related so I really enjoyed the raspberry and rose flavor combination here. Everyone agreed that our cake collaboration was a sweet success. Jen has since moved back home to Australia but she did promise me that we would whisk together again soon. Either next to the palm fringed beaches of Sydney or the twinkling lights of Paris.
Vive La Vie en Rose!
I spotted these pretty pink pomelos at my local farmers' market and wanted to somehow incorporate them in a weekend baking project. Although Paris has entered autumn we have been experiencing a second summer these past few days which inspired me to bake something bright and zesty. After thumbing through a few of my favorite cookbooks I decided the pomelos might work as candied decor for a buttermilk lemon teacake. Having never candied my own citrus slices before, I turned to some online food blogs for a little guidance. I've experienced my fair share of highs and lows in the kitchen, especially when trying out a new recipe. I had imagined that these beautiful pink pomelo slices would turn translucent and shimmery, keeping their gorgeous pink and lime-green hues. Unfortunately I may have let them over-boil in their sugary syrup as they quickly went from magical to murky. I was able to save just a few slices and luckily had an orange on hand for another go. I lowered the heat significantly the second time around and it really made all the difference.
Lemon buttermilk teacake is a perfect afternoon cake and the white glaze allows the candied citrus to really pop. Candied lemon slices would look stunning as well for those die-hard lemon lovers out there!
Bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of granulated sugar to a boil in a medium pot. When sugar dissolves you can lower the heat and gently add your citrus slices. I used 1 navel orange and let the slices overlap slightly. Let them simmer for about 40 minutes turning slices over once or twice. Do not boil! Place a wire rack over a sheet of parchment paper. Transfer slices to let dry. I left mine out overnight and used them to decorate my cake in the morning.