Happy Lunar New Year!
Thank you to Wilton Cakes for sponsoring this post, and for their desire to diversify their content while continuing to include collaborators of colour! In partnership with my friends at Wilton, I made this milk tea buttercream cake to celebrate the Lunar New Year! The cake is infused with milk tea flavour from all angles – it features a milk tea cake soak, a tea-infused buttercream and even steeped milk for the cake batter! Admittedly, after I frosted and decorated the cake, I sat down and dunked a bunch of leftover cake scraps into the creamy milky tea soak leftovers and chowed down, haha.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year for our family is usually a big feast of delicious delights at my mom and dad’s place with lots of laughs and heaps of dishes. Crisp iceberg lettuce laid out for sang choy bao, shiny noodles representing long life, piles of soft white char siu and veggie bao, and a dessert table heaped with glistening sesame balls, steamed glutinous rice cake and apple tarts from New Town Bakery. Crisp, red laisee bags containing “lucky money” are placed into the eager hands of our children. This year, due to the stinkin’ pandemic we’re hoping to do a laisee and treats exchange at a nearby park.
What are your favourite treats to eat to celebrate Lunar New Year? For the first time, I made my own nian gao following this simple recipe (pictured above), whisking together the thick batter and steam-cooking it on the stovetop. I love the soft, warm pieces when freshly steamed, but I especially love the sweet, chewy and browned pieces after a good fry-up in a sautée pan. I wrote about some New Year traditions (don’t wash your hair! All your good luck for the year might go down the drain!) and how to celebrate with Lunar New Year desserts over on the Wilton blog!
Milk tea buttercream cake
Now on to the cake recipe. You can use either loose black tea, or good old grocery store tea bags for this cake (just snip the top of the tea bags and empty the contents) – the most important tool however is a fine mesh strainer for straining out the leaves once steeped. We will be steeping a milk and melted butter mixture for the cake. We will also be making a milk tea soak to soak into the baked cake layers once cooled. Finally, we will be making a tea-steeped butter for the Swiss meringue buttercream! We’re going to do a lot of steeping, but it will be well worth it. MILK TEA FLAVOUR BLAST!
Milk Tea Buttercream Cake
12-16 lucky slices
For The Cake
- 2 cups all purpose flour (300 grams)
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs at room temperature (50 grams each – 200 grams)
- 2 cups granulated white sugar (300 grams)
- ½ cup unsalted butter (115 grams)
- 250 ml whole milk
- 1/8 cup loose black tea of your choice (16 grams)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
For The Milk Tea Soak
- 1 354 ml can of evaporated milk
- 1/8 cup loose black tea of your choice (16 grams)
- ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
For The Milk Tea Buttercream
- 2 cups unsalted butter at room temperature (454 grams)
- ¼ cup loose black tea of your choice (32 grams)
- 1 ¼ cup sugar
- ½ cup plus two tablespoons egg whites (150 ml)
- 11/2 teapsoons pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons steeped milk mixture
Make The Cake
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Butter three 7×2 inch round pans and line with parchment paper circles.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the all purpose flour, baking powder and salt.
- Start the steeped milk and butter mixture: place a small saucepan on the stovetop and heat the milk and butter together until liquefied and hot, but not boiling. Add the loose tea and steep on low for five minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk together the eggs and white sugar on medium high speed until tripled in volume and light yellow in color, about five to seven minutes.
- When the egg mixture is whipped, add the flour in short bursts on low speed to incorporate, careful not to overmix.
- Pour the steeped tea hot milk mixture, vanilla extract and vegetable oil into a medium bowl. Carefully add two cups of the egg batter into the milk mixture, whisking to combine. Add this mixture slowly back into the rest of the egg batter on low speed until just combined, scraping down the bowl if needed and doing a few folds with a spatula to finish.
- Distribute batter evenly into the three prepared cake pans.
- Bake for 23-25 minutes until tanned and golden, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with moist crumbs. Be careful not to overbake.
- Note: while the cake is in the oven, begin to prepare the Swiss Meringue Buttercream steeped butter. In a small saucepan set on the stovetop over medium heat, melt one cup of butter with the ¼ cup of loose black tea leaves. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for five minutes, steeping the tea in the butter. Remove from heat, and allow to steep for five minutes further before straining butter through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Little flecks of tea may remain but not to worry. Refrigerate the melted steeped butter for 20 minutes or so to firm it up to the consistency of room temperature butter. It may appear to be a shade of green at this point but will change to light tea colour once whipped.
- Let cake cool completely before frosting.
Make The Milk Tea Soak
- In a small saucepan set on the stovetop over medium heat, combine the evaporated milk and loose tea leaves until hot but not boiling, a low simmer.
- Steep the leaves for ten minutes in the milk then strain into a liquid measuring cup. Add 3 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk, or more to taste.
- Set aside to soak cake layers and use for Swiss meringue buttercream.
Make The Buttercream
- Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisking to combine. Set the bowl on top of a medium saucepan filled with a few inches of water on the stovetop – creating a bain-marie to gently heat together the egg whites and sugar, heating on medium-high heat, whisking throughout, until mixture registers 160F (70C) on a candy thermometer.
- Carefully remove the bowl from the saucepan and place back into stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg white mixture on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stop the mixer, and swap out the whisk for the paddle attachment.
- With the mixer on low speed, add the tea-steeped butter and other cup of butter a tablespoon at a time. Add the vanilla extract, increase the speed to medium high and beat until thickened and silky smooth. Add the steeped milk mixture, one tablespoon at a time, continue beating another minute to incorporate.
Assemble The Cake
- I used a gold 10 inch round cake board for the cake to add some Lunar New Year flair. Place a cake board or plate on your cake turntable. Add a dab of buttercream to the center and add the first cake layer. Using a serrated knife, evenly level your cake by trimming off dome shape. Using a spoon, evenly soak the first layer of cake with around six tablespoons of steeped milk mixture.
- Fill your first layer with milk tea buttercream.
- Trim the second layer, and carefully soak the top and bottom of the cake layer with the milk tea mixture. Place cut-side-down on top of the first layer. Repeat with the third layer.
- Using an offset spatula, frost the entire exterior of the cake, using a cake bench scraper to smooth your first layer of buttercream. Chill the cake in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes to set. Frost the cake with a second layer of milk tea buttercream, using the cake bench scraper to smooth to your liking.
- Time to decorate! Fill a piping bag fitted with a large multi-pronged open star tip such as Wilton 6B with remaining milk tea buttercream. Decorate the top and sides of the cake with alternating drop stars with fresh red raspberries or any other red berry, along with gold foil chocolate coins. Place a gold ball dragée sprinkle on top of the piped drop stars or dust the cake with gold sprinkles. You could also decorate with mini sesame balls, mini almond cookies or edible gold leaf.
- The Milk tea buttercream cake is best enjoyed fresh, but it can be covered well and refrigerated for up to three days. Bring cake to room temperature to enjoy!
Fluffy, soft cake slices fragrant with milk tea, layered in not-too-sweet buttercream and bursting with milk tea flavour! Hope you enjoy this cake. Wishing you a happy Lunar New Year – many wishes for good health, prosperity and good luck for the year of the Ox! BYYYYYEEE 2020. xo Lyndsay
Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
Toffee chocolate chip cookies are everything you need to emotional eat your days away into weight gain oblivion. What is your favourite type of chocolate chip cookie? Flat, crisp and chewy? Puffy, soft and cakey? I’ve been making cookies for … decades? Haha… they are so comforting to me, like a baked miniature chocolate pooled crispy chewy pillow. I just want to snuggle up to a million cookies.
Kate of Rage Bake’s toffee chocolate chip cookie is my usual fave to bake up, eat myself and gift away. But recently, I made Erin of Cloudy Kitchen’s chocolate chip cookies and it also encompasses everything I love about a CCC. Puddles of chocolate, a beautiful sandy texture which I’ve been looking for forever, a gentle ripple of crispy and chewy, flakes of Maldon sea salt to balance the sweet. SANDY TEXTURED COOKIES! I love em. I always thought it was the role of some grainy flour that was causing that mouthfeel, but now I see it was TURBINADO SUGAR all along. Rev up your sugar collection – the addition of raw sugar might make your cookie life.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Hacks
In my many years of home baking chocolate chip cookies, I’ve gathered some little hacks along the way. Here are my top chocolate chip cookie hacks!
One: I like to pan-bang, but with these cookies, just one slam after they’re out of the oven will do. I just drop the cookie sheet onto the stovetop from about an inch. The cookies ripple outward and flatten.
Two: I am anal cookie retentive about roundness. I use a small offset spatula and gently pat the cookies back into a round shape, should they be a little too oblong or football-like in appearance.
Three: Once my cookies are baked and out of the oven, I like to squash down any puff that may have occurred in the cookie baking. With the same offset spatula, I give my cookies a gentle squash-down before adding my sprinkle of Maldon flaky salt to finish.
Four: High quality chocolate is gonna upgrade these babies to outer space territory. I used Callebaut 811, which you can find in block or “callet” form (their version of chocolate chips). The callets melt into layered chocolatey pools, unlike a typical grocery store chocolate chip, which will keep its general form.
Five: Using a scale to measure ingredients will ensure you don’t over puff or over sugar your cookies. Exactitude can be fun!
That’s me, patting my cookies back into roundy territory. Many thanks to the brilliant, cat-loving baker Erin of Cloudy Kitchen, who came up with this recipe! All I did was dump in half a bag of my favourite toffee bits.
Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
For The Cookies
- 225g Unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 170g Dark Brown Sugar
- 100g Granulated / White Sugar
- 50g Raw / Turbinado Sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 300g All-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 350 g good quality dark chocolate in chopped or callet form
- 100 g toffee bits
- Flaky Sea Salt such as Maldon for finishing
Make The Cookies
Preheat the oven to 350°f / 180°c. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars on high speed until pale, light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. With the mixer off, pour the dry ingredients into the mixing bowl. Pulse for a few seconds to gently combine and not cause a flour dust storm, then mix on low just to combine, ten or so seconds.
- Add the chocolate and toffee bits and pulse a few times to combine the dough without over mixing.
- If you want large round cookies, use a 2 tbs retractable cookie scoop to dole out even balls of cookie dough. I also used a 1 tbs scoop for some of the cookie dough to make them perfect kid’s lunchbox size! Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets, leaving room for the cookies to spread. You can freeze any leftover dough balls and save to bake later.
- Bake the cookies between 11 and 14 minutes, depending on your oven (mine has a fan so I used a slightly shorter baking time) until cookies are lightly golden. Remove from oven, pan-bang as noted above if desired, reform any cookies with an offset spatula back into round shapes if desired, then sprinkle each with a generous pinch of flaky sea salt. Note: you can let the dough rest for an hour, as per Erin’s recipe in the fridge, to help hydrate the dough and develop flavour. Or, you can be a hungry cookie pig and bake them off straight away with similar amounts of deliciousness.
What’s your go-to chocolate chip recipe, or favourite cookie hacks? Erin has a really great one, using a circle cookie cutter that’s slightly larger than your cookie, and “scooting” them into perfect round cookie shapes. Cookie hacks are like the Photoshop of chocolate chip cookies. No cookie looks that perfect on its own straight outta the oven!? Some of my other favourite cookie recipes are this brown butter chocolate chip cookie, this bonkers rye-cranberry chocolate chip poppyseed cookie, and this brilliant, simple vegan chocolate chip cookie that is a crowd favourite, vegan or not. Happy baking, sweet pals! xo Lyndsay
My baking pal Lauren Ko busted out a pretty spectacular pie book this past fall – Pieometry! Her pie designs are so precise, geometric and modern, and the recipes are total bangers – like cardamom coffee cream tart, or pumpkin black sesame pie, or basil lemon! Or, go the savoury route – tomatillo short rib pie, or a caramelized onion and potato tart. You getting hungry yet? Not only is the cookbook loaded with incredible recipes, step by step photos and pie basics, it is also beautiful to look at – you’ll be proud to have this one on your coffee table!
My wonderful mom turned 76 this month. I was hoping to have her over for her favourite fancy pizza, but alas, gathering restrictions were renewed again. However, pitch and putt golf is currently allowed – so we masked up and got in some winter casual golf instead! The THWOCK of a golf club clocking a golf ball into the air sure is a satisfying sound, hehe. It was a muddy and chilly affair, but there was no one else on the golf course and we laughed and sloshed our way through nine holes and had a blast. Rich described my golf look as “longshore fisherman” but I prefer “longshore fisher person”.
I made my mom this bright and cheery Pieometry lemon tart – as high tea lemon tarts are one of her favourite treats! It was very simple to make – I followed Lauren’s instructions for her cookie shortbread crust, made the lemon curd filling on the stovetop, filled the crust with the curd, baked it again for a few minutes to set. While the tart was setting, I whipped up some meringue using the leftover egg whites from the curd, piped it onto the cooled tart and then brought out the old handheld kitchen blowtorch to toast it up. Finished it with fresh raspberries for pops of colour! The recipe in Pieometry is called “Life of the Tarty” and is a lemon basil curd, but I omitted the basil this time around!
Lemon Meringue Tart
For The Shortbread Crust
- 1 cup (142 grams) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (57 grams) powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick/113 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
For The Lemon Curd
- 1 cup (198 grams) granulated sugar
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 1 cup (237 milliliters) fresh lemon juice, from about 8 lemons
- 4 large eggs plus 4 egg yolks
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
For The Meringue
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup of sugar
- pinch of salt
Make The Crust
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture by smushing the cubes with your fingers, working until a homogenous dough forms. The resulting dough should be smooth and supple.
- Press the dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, using your palm to flatten it into an even layer. Place the tart on a baking sheet to catch any butter drips that occur during baking and to provide stability as you transfer the tart shell in and out of the oven.
- Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely.
Make The Lemon Curd
- Lower the oven temperature to 350ºF.
- Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and massage together, making sugar very fragrant.
- Pour the sugar into a 2-quart saucepan. Add the lemon juice, eggs, egg yolks and salt and whisk to combine. Cook over medium heat so mixture is warmed through. Add the butter gradually and stir until all the butter has melted. Continue cooking over medium heat until mixture is thick enough to coat a spatula, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping the corners of the saucepan. Remove from the heat and strain the curd through a fine-mesh-sieve.
- Keep the baked tart crust in the tart pan on its baking sheet. Pour the curd into the tart crust and smooth the surface using an offset spatula.
- Bake the tart for 5 to 10 minutes, just to set the filling. The edges should be solid while the center retains the slightest of jiggles.
- Cool completely before adding meringue.
Make The Meringue
- Set the metal bowl of your stand mixer fitted on top of a small sauce pan filled a quarter full with water, making sure the bowl does not touch the water.
- Place on stovetop and heat the water to a gentle boil on medium heat.
- Add the egg whites and sugar to the bowl, whisking to combine.
- Continue to heat the egg white mixture until a digital thermometer inserted into mixture reads 160ºF.
- Carefully remove the metal bowl from the saucepan and place into stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
- Whisk the mixture on low speed for one minute until frothy. Add a pinch of salt.
- Increase the speed to medium-high speed and whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with an open star tip with the meringue.
Assemble The Tart
- Pipe drop stars or a decorative border on top of the cooled lemon curd tart. You can fill the entire tart or leave some bright yellow tart visible.
- Using a handheld kitchen blowtorch, toast the meringue until lightly browned. You may also broil it in the oven, but watch it like a hawk – 30-60 seconds, or until toasted brown.
- Finish the tart with fresh raspberries if desired.
- Extra meringue can be piped onto a parchment covered baking sheet and baked for one hour at 200º until crispy and dry.
Keep the tart refrigerated until serving! We made parfaits with the leftover lemon curd, baked meringue and raspberries, with scoops of frozen yogurt. Never trash your leftover fillings, frostings and accoutrements! Haha. If you want to pick up a copy of Pieometry, order it through your local indie bookstore – they could definitely use the support during these Covid times. And… Happy birthday, Mom! Glad you could have a fun day despite the ding dong pandemic. xo Lyndsay
Bûche de Noël recipe
LOG JAM 2020! I conquered my Christmas 2020 baking goal, which was to make a Bûche de Noël aka LOG JAM aka Yule Log Cake. Life felt pretty jammed there for awhile, didn’t it. Now, with the vaccine on the horizon, things feel a little more hopeful for 2021 – the thought of hugs, gatherings, dinner and cocktails out with friends, DOING STUFF TOGETHER again – could it be possible! I hope and pray for a brighter new year, and health and happiness for all.
There is something very deep 1980s about LOG JAM. Maybe it reminds me of the Christmases of my childhood – a dusting of icing sugar, lil shroom zoomie mushroom buddies, candied rosemary and tart cranberries… I imagine it on a dessert table at my childhood home on a vintage silver platter, next to a cut crystal dish filled with my mom’s chocolate almond brittle, foil-wrapped chocolate bells in red and green, my Poh-poh’s Christmas pudding topped with brandy sauce and whipped cream – being without family this year for Christmas is making me feel extra nostalgic.
Teddy and I have been watching The Great Canadian Baking Show together – it’s our new little ritual. When the opening credits pop up, it’s my job to remark “OOOH, NANAIMO BARS!!” and we share a nerdy little chuckle. It’s peaked his interest in baking, and it’s renewed mine, too – which is a nice feeling after a year of anxiety and squashing of creative juices. Bûche de Noël was one of the challenges in the first season and it got me stoked to finally try making one!
I read so many recipes and tutorials on how to make a yule log cake – I was going to do a chocolate one, but at the last minute (uh, this morning) I decided I would try my friend Sprinkle Bakes’ recipe for pumpkin sponge cake! Check out her bonkers birch bark yule log cake – she is one of my favourite creatives in the baking community, her work is always so precise yet with a vintage/cartoony feel which I love. I filled the cake with a cream cheese whipped cream, and the exterior log is frosted with a simple Nutella chocolate buttercream.
Meringue Mushrooms are my fave
I had originally made some little tiny toadstool mushroom sugar cookies for my Bûche de Noël project – but when I iced them, they looked awful, so I switched gears to the classic meringue mushroom. I really love the toadstool mushroom look, so I tinted half of the meringue red for the mushroom caps! I added a little dusting of icing sugar (because, snow.) I did a truly garbage job of putting the caps onto the stems however – I tried melting white chocolate to use as my glue, but it clumped up – so I used a chopstick to kinda smear some of it onto the underside of the cap, then literally JAMMED (log jammed?) the stem up into the cap. I do not recommend my method as it was sketchy as heck, but you could be smart and melt chocolate properly, or you could use a dollop of the Nutella buttercream to adhere the cap to the stem.
Bûche de Noël
For The Pumpkin Sponge Cake
- 3/4 cup cake flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
For The Creamcheese Whipped Cream
- 8 ounces (1 pkg) full fat cream cheese, cold
- 1 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For The Nutella Buttercream
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 11/2 cups icing sugar
- 1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
For The Meringue Mushrooms
- 4 large egg whites
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
Make The Cake
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a 15″ x 10″ jelly roll pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper to prevent sticking.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; whisk thoroughly to combine.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until thick and pale.
- Add pumpkin puree and and mix on low for a few seconds to combine.
- Add flour and mix on low speed until combined, about twenty seconds.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly using an offset spatula.
- Bake for 13 minutes, or until the cake springs back when touched in the center – be careful not to overbake.
- Remove the cake from oven and let it cool for just a few minutes. You want to roll the cake while it is still warm!
- Spread a large tea towel out on a work surface and sprinkle the towel with the powdered sugar. Use your hands to spread the sugar evenly over the towel. Immediately turn the baked cake out onto the tea towel and roll the cake and towel together starting at a short end. Let cool completely before filling.
Make The Whipped Cream
- Start with a cold mixing bowl – place the bowl of your stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the fridge or freezer to chill, 5-10 minutes.
- Using the paddle attachment, beat the creamcheese until smooth and free of any lumps, scraping down the sides of the bowl when needed.
- Swap the paddle attachment for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, slowly stream the heavy cream into the bowl until everything combines and appears liquid.
- Beat on medium high speed until soft peaks form.
- Add the icing sugar and pinch of salt and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
- Place in refrigerator until ready to use. Leftovers can be dolloped on Sunday morning waffles.
Make The Nutella Buttercream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, icing sugar, cocoa powder, Nutella, vanilla extract and pinch of salt on low speed to combine.
- Once incorporated, beat on high speed until doubled in volume, about three minutes.
Make The Meringue Mushrooms
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Pour the egg whites and sugar into a heatproof bowl. Place it on top of a double boiler over a pot of simmering water. Whisk continually until the mixture reaches 150 degrees Farenheit or the sugar crystals have dissolved.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the mixture on medium speed until soft peaks form. Raise it up to high speed until stiff, glossy and durable – about 3 minutes.
- Divide meringue into two separate bowls.
- In one bowl, gently fold in red gel food colouring until you get your desired shade.
- Fill two piping bags fitted with an open circle tip – one with the white meringue for the mushroom stems, and one with the red meringue for the caps.
- Pipe mushroom stems by squeezing piping bag then pulling upward.
- Pipe mushroom caps by piping a meringue kiss-like shape, then using a dampened finger to press gently on it to remove any point.
- Bake for 1 hour in the oven; turn off oven and let them dry out for another hour. If you find they are still seeming sticky, leave them in the oven with the oven turned off for 2-3 hours more (but be careful they don’t end up browning too much). Do not open the oven while the meringues are baking. Any variation in temperature can make the meringues crack. Store meringues in an airtight container for one week.
To assemble the cake, get a large cutting board ready.
- Unroll your pumpkin sponge cake and spread it with an inch thick layer or whipped cream.
- Carefully re-roll the cake and refrigerate until firm, about ten minutes.
- Remove cake from fridge and trim the log by making a diagonal cut, about four inches of cake.
- Place your cake and the cut piece on your serving platter, pressing the cut piece against the main log to create a little branch situation.
- Carefully frost the whole cake with the Nutella buttercream using an offset spatula. Using a fork or your offset spatula, drag your fork along the log to create bark ridges.
- Dust the cake with icing sugar (SNOW!) and decorate with the meringue mushrooms and candied rosemary and cranberries, if desired.
For a visual guide, Sprinkle Bakes details how to roll your sponge cake – folks, it’s easier than you think! It was my first time making a roulade and I was sweatin’. But, as long as your cake recipe is spongey and pliable, and you roll the cake into its shape while it’s still warm, you’ll be A-ok! Happy end of 2020, world. LOG JAMMED! May 2021 shine bright with hope! xo Lyndsay
How’s your year going? Yeah. I hear ya. I don’t think I’ve been the only one in a braindead, uncreative funk. What, with a pandemic to worry about and all. BUT – December 2020! It’s frigging Christmas again! So here we are, keeping to ourselves, with provincial health protocols banning social gatherings of any kind, inside or outside – and we’ve got a gingerbread house or three to bake, build and decorate. It was a weekend long project – but what else is there to do!? It’s kind of the best time to upgrade your ginge-b making skills!
I’ve been wanting to try the whole “melted Jolly Rancher candies as stained glass windows” effect for years. Last year I bought the candies, made the dough … but was so pooped out by the holiday season the dang houses never got made, let alone the cool candy windows. The Jolly Ranchers ended up being little power pellets on our long, solitary daily walks through the Spring Covid months. Teddy’s tongue would be blue or green or purple, but at least we got to see cherry blossoms and get fresh air, hehe.
Is that a gingerbread house door with a gumdrop doorknob just lying there strewn in some sugary snow? It sure is. BUT LOOK AT THOSE WINDOWS! It’s as simple as can be – before you bake your house, punch out windows in your gingerbread house panels. After you’ve done your initial baking of your gingerbread house pieces, drop a few candies into each window hole and bake at 375 degrees for around three to six minutes – the candy melts, fills the hole and … WINDOW PARTY! Let cool completely before assembling your house.
Now onto Rich’s amazing little Hospital on Fire gingerbread house! He did a LOT of windows, which I recommend, because the effect is shiny and cool. (Did I mention Jolly Rancher windows? Haha). One tip: make sure you have a big enough entrance way (door, archway) somewhere on your house to easily insert those little battery powered flickering tealight candles. Or, jam a bunch of fairy lights into the gingerbread house holes like I did for these photos.
Okay, on to Teddy’s ADORABLE gingerbread house! He had the idea to make a sugar moat around the house with gummy fish floating in the water (leftover Halloween candy, yay!). We turned to the internet to teach us how to turn regular old white sugar blue – super duper easy. Dump a few cups of white sugar into a zip top plastic bag. Squeeze a drop or two of blue gel food colouring into the bag, seal it up – then gently knead the colouring into the sugar. Took about two minutes to turn blue.
We have a very exciting plan for these houses. We are going to… eat them. Throw on a Christmas movie, each sit with our houses in our laps… chomp chomp. I’m an idiot for not adding any caramel M&M’s or much candy to my house. No, I won’t eat my plastic horse. I asked Teddy how many days it would take him to eat his house. He said three. I don’t think I’ll be able to get through too much of mine, but – CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE.
I got the delightful gingerbread recipe AND templates from my awesome friend Erin Gardner from her book Procrastibaking! The book is absolutely jammed with so many delicious easy recipes, and it’s kinda the perfect book to bake through during these stay-at-home-and-gain-pandemic-weight times. She loves crunchy sweet and salty peanutty caramelly things like me, and I’ve dog-eared the whole darn book. Isn’t her gingerbread house ADORABLE!? Honestly, staring at my ginge house is bringing me some quiet joy. Like, yesterday I just tripped out on the house, staring at it dreamily, imagining I was in some Bavarian Christmas Fantasy on a brisk but pleasant evening.
I’m not sure if I’ll get around to posting anything else before 2020 is over but my other Christmas plan is to make a pretty rippin’ Buche De Noël – found this recipe that looks like a blast! If I happen to photograph my buche I’ll post it. Otherwise, I am wishing you all health, happiness and peace through this holiday season, and into 2021. xo Lyndsay
You’re confused, I know. A vegan fried chicken recipe on a cake blog?? Yep. I’ve been experimenting with vegan cooking, eating and baking over the last several years and this vegan fried chicken recipe blew my fragile little mind and I felt the need to share. Especially since everyone loves a crappily lit iPhone photo! Crispy, salty, flavourful, juicy?? How could tofu do this. HOW. Well, the fine folks at Sweet Simple Vegan came up with it, and the “chickeny” texture of the actual tofu comes from one easy hack – freezing the tofu, TWICE, before using. The tofu freezing method is a trick they learned from Mary’s Test Kitchen and it is so … cool, hehe.
The great thing about this recipe is you can use whateverrrr spice mix situation you want. Karaage vibes? Garlic, ginger, sugar, soy, salt and pepper. KFC vibes? Follow Sweet Simple Vegan’s exact spice mix for their vegan KFC fried chicken. I went with whatever I had in the cupboard, which happened to be garlic powder, ginger powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Just be warned – once you make this, you won’t be able to stop. Serve on top of brown rice and salad to pretend you’re being a bit healthy. Or slam into a burger bun with hot sauce and pickles. (Note, you will get your fingers coated in batter-y-ness when prepping this dish, but fear not – you can wash your hands.)
Vegan Fried Chicken
For The Tofu
- 1 16 oz package of medium firm tofu
- Two cups of Faux chicken broth or Vegetable broth such as Better Than Bouillon
For The Buttermilk
- 11/2 cups plant milk (I used unsweetened soy milk)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
For The Coating
- 11/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup of panko bread crumbs
- Flakey sea salt and more fresh ground pepper to finish
Enough vegetable oil for a shallow fry-up! 4 cups or so.
Prepare The Tofu
- You need to freeze and defrost your tofu twice to get the right texture, so really you could just keep blocks of tofu in the freezer until needed.
- Once the tofu is thawed for the second time, press the excess liquid from it by laying the tofu between two cutting boards. Use paper towel to blot up any more liquid.
- Gently apart the tofu into chicken wing-esque pieces – don’t worry if you end up with some weird small pieces, you can batter and fry those too.
- Place the broken up tofu piece carefully into the vegetable broth to marinate, about 15 minutes.
- Now it’s time to set up the dredging stations! In one shallow medium bowl, stir together the plant milk and apple cider vinegar. It will begin to thicken quickly, forming your “buttermilk.”
- In another medium sized bowl, combine the flour, seasonings and panko crumbs.
- Side by side, line up the marinating tofu, the buttermilk, the flour mixture and an additional plate to lay the finished pieces.
- Carefully remove the marinated tofu and submerge into buttermilk, then place into the flour mixture to coat. Place finished pieces on the plate. Once you are finished coating all the pieces, you can repeat the process for extra coating crunch!
- If your tofu falls apart, don’t fret – just squish the pieces back together as best you can, and once it hits the hot oil, carefully press pieces together using metal tongs to reform shapes.
Fry The Tofu
- Heat your vegetable frying oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot until it reaches 350-375 degrees.
- Carefully place your coated pieces into the oil to crisp and brown, turning pieces as needed.
- Place on paper towel to drain and sprinkle generously with flakey sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Serve while hot and crispy!
Kinda fun, right? If you still want to make cake, here’s a vegan cake for you! Happy frying, friends! xo Lyndsay
SHEEEEEET CAKEEEEEE! The ultimate crowd pleaser at a family reunion, 100 guest-list birthday party, high school graduation, etc… often procured from megastores and supermarkets, frosted hastily by power-professionals churning them out by the icing-from-a-bucket dozen. Except this one is a perfectly cute little square, topped with a garden of buttercream roses, made on a very hot day in July, made to celebrate the adorable and awesome Amy Ho’s new baking book: Blooms And Baking! Amy is so talented – one look at her Instagram and you will fall under her whimsical, fantastical spell of perfectly rendered cupcakes, cream puffs, cakes and cookies. Blooms And Baking is jammed with beautiful photos, recipes, step-by-steps and decorating tutorials, all focused on adding unique floral flavours and design to your desserts!
Blooms and Baking!!! Amy of Constellation Inspiration is such a gem. I also love how she combines her Chinese heritage, her love of flowers and cakes and everything cute, into her amazing blog and Instagram.
Since I am on a deep plant-based tear right now, I gently swapped out just a few ingredients to make this a vegan buttercream rose cake! I used Ener-G brand egg replacer instead of one large egg. Note on egg replacers: I find that some egg replacers thicken up your batter toooo much – Bob’s Red Mill was a bust for me. But Ener-G stays loose and doesn’t make your batter into a thick gummy blob. Amy’s one bowl chocolate cake bakes up into a moist, springy delight, and topped with a myriad of buttercream roses?? You’ve got a flower-power winner.
Vegan Chocolate Cake with Piped Buttercream Roses
For The One Bowl Chocolate Cake
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- egg replacer equivalent to one large egg
- 1 cup cold coffee
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
For The Buttercream
- 1 cup of vegetable shortening
- 1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Melt Organics buttery sticks)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- splash of plant milk if needed
Make The Cake
Preheat the oven to 350 F (177 C). Spritz a 9 x 9 inch square cake pan with vegetable oil and line with parchment paper if desired.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the egg replacer, coffee, oil and vinegar and mix until no streaks of the flour mixture remain.
- Scrape down the side of the bowl to make sure no clumps remain.
- Pour batter into prepared cake pan.
- Bake the cake for 22-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.
Make The Buttercream
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening and vegan butter on high to combine, about one minute.
- Add the icing sugar and pure vanilla extract. Pulse mixer on lowest speed until combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about three minutes.
- Divide buttercream amongst bowls to colour individually for buttercream roses, drop stars and leaves.
Decorate The Cake
- Make a whole whack load of buttercream roses!
- You will need a large flower nail, parchment paper squares, piping bags and a few petal piping tips – Wilton #103 or #104.
- Cut 1×1 inch squares of parchment paper.
- Watch Amy pipe buttercream roses here!! Instead of a cupcake, add a dab of buttercream to a piping nail. Stick a piece of parchment paper on top of it. Then, create the center bud of the rose – then the petals!
- Freeze all of your buttercream roses until firm, about twenty minutes, before placing them onto your completely cooled cake.
- Fill in the gaps and holes with drop stars and piped leaves.
Happy baking, piping and eating, cake pals! xo Lyndsay
Do you like a rainbow top hat made of buttercream??? You are in luck!! Though I wouldn’t recommend wearing this on your head. However, if you wanted to make this rainbow buttercream cake for your next Pride or birthday party, I would definitely approve. A big old rainbow thumbs up.
I made this rainbow buttercream cake to celebrate PRIDE – it’s got all the classic hit colours of the rainbow flag, all piped in various cute shapes. I used my favourite piping tips – 1M open star tip, 4B multi pronged open star tip annnnnd my friend #234 fur/grass tip to pipe this rainbow beauty. Here’s another rainbow cake I made last year for Pride in a different colour palette. The options are endless for your rainbow buttercream cake!
Did you know I have a YouTube channel??? Yeah, I didn’t either. You can watch me frost this cake in a tiny dinkly iPhone video in hyperspeed below! Maybe there will be more extensive (and possibly more professionally filmed, hehe) videos in the future!
Happy piping, cake friends! xo Lyndsay