The stove got a workout this long weekend, between baking dessert for my family's Easter supper (which we had on Good Friday) and Saturday night's dinner with friends.
On Thursday night I baked Walnut Layer Cake with Coffee Buttercream, from Regan Daley's In The Sweet Kitchen, for the family dinner on Friday. I was fortunate enough to interview Regan last week, and the former pastry chef is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to baking. I have a feeling her book could become my go-to baking resource, as it's full of delicious-sounding cakes, tarts, cookies, and bars for every imaginable occasion.
I will say that the walnut cake didn't turn out quite as I'd hoped it would, but I blame myself and not the recipe. My first mistake was leaving the cake layers in the oven too long. The baking time specified 30-35 minutes, and I left them in for the full 35. They definitely could've come out at 30. Also, it was quite late when the cakes came out so I left them to cool on racks and went to bed with the idea of making the buttercream in the morning. The end result was that the cake was dry. Too bad, because the coffee buttercream was wonderful. I've never made meringue buttercream before and it was wonderfully light and creamy -- not grainy and heavy as some icings can be. The key is that you're using only egg whites, and not yolks. With its intense coffee flavour, I imagine it would go perfectly with a dark chocolate cake.
On to the second dessert of the weekend, which followed a French bistro-style dinner of roast chicken, rosemary potatoes, and haricots verts. I went with another recipe from In The Sweet Kitchen, this time Spiked Double Apple Cake with Brown Sugar-Brandy Sauce (pictured). Wow. This one was absolutely spectacular, and there's no doubt I'll be making it again. Raisins and dried apples soaked in French brandy, cinnamon, brown sugar, fresh apples baked into a sheet cake that's chewy and spicy. The cake is delicious on its own, but with a generous pour of the brandy sauce on top it's sinfully delightful. I upped the decadence factor with a dollop of whipped cream. Vanilla ice cream would be great too I'm sure.
With both baking and cooking you're bound to have successes and failures -- the key is not to dwell on the failures, but to revel in the successes! (And hopefully there'll be more of those.)