Monday, March 31, 2008


Six months have passed since I first joined "The Daring Bakers" and the recipes submitted never cease to be challenging. I mean, no matter how simple they look, you can be sure that there will be something tricky lurking around the corner and waiting, ready to leap, during the baking process. That's exactly what makes it all the more interesting as, in that way, you learn a whole lot more through the inevitable trials and error than if everything would go comfortably, without trouble!

Somehow, this challenge started with a startling disappointement as my cakes were kind of sturdy and didn't rise as much as I expected. Ok, they were very smooth and fluffy, but, unfortunately, they looked far too flat to be satisfying (in my opinion, at least). As Dorie Greenspan didn't give any information regarding that matter, I assumed that it was my fault if they haden't risen enough. But, after I had read what the other "Daring Bakers" wrote on that subject, I felt more confident about my cakes and came to the conclusion that they were meant to be in that way and that nothing was wrong with them...

Anyway, I didn't want to call it a day, so I decided to give it another try. Instead of taking milk, I used buttermilk and replaced some of the all-purpose flour by cornstarch in order to obtain a similar result as if I had baked my cakes with "cake flour" (we can't find it in Switzerland). My second essay wasn't really more concluding as the cakes came out pretty much the same. They did look good, but weren't really much thicker (only ever so slightly). Anyhow, I wasn't going to bake those cakes for the third time, I chose to stick with the second batch.

In fact, I stressed for no real reason at all, because, finally, ever
ything went perfectly well. No matter how thin the cakes were, I had no trouble halving them as they were sort of sturdy. The buttercream was easy to make and didn't curdle (contrarily to what happened with the "Yule Log"). The cakes were just great and the assembling/decorating was quite botherless, although I am not much of an expert in that field (I still have to learn how to decorate cakes in an artistic way...).

I've always loved rich layer cakes, so this snow white "Perfect Party Cake" had everything to please me as it was highly fulfilling texture- and taste-wise. This delicious, elegant and refined cake had a pleasant lemony flavor that paired wonderfully well with the not overly sweet (nor sickly), slightly tart and extremely fluffy hot-meringue buttercream and the nectariousness of the red currant jam. The cake had a somewhat tight crumb, but was, at the same time, very moist, smooth and soft. Delicious!

This luscious cake is delicate on the tongue, but is fuss-free to make. A great outcome is guaranteed whether you focus on it's final looks or it's delightful palatebleness!

Thanks to Morven at "Food Arts And Random Thoughts" (New Zealand) for having chosen that gorgeous recipe!!!

~ Perfect Party Cake ~
Recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s "Baking from My Home to Yours".

Ingredients for the cake:
2 1/4 Cups Cake flour (see remarks)
1 Tbs Baking powder

1/2 Rsp Salt

1 1/4 Cups Whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with t
he lemon)
4 Large Egg whites
1 1/2 Cups Castor sugar

2 Tsps Grated lemon zest

1 Stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) Unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 Tsp Pure lemon extract

Ingredients for the buttercream:
1 Cup Castor sugar

4 Large Egg whites

3 Sticks (12 ounces) Unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/4 Cup Fresh lemon juice (from 2
large lemons)
1 Tsp Pure vanilla extract
Ingredients for the finishing:
2/3 Cup Seedless raspberry preserves (see remarks) stirred vigorously or warmed
gently until spreadable in consistency
About 1 1/2 Cups Sweetened shredded coconut (or roasted, sliced/slivered almonds)

Getting ready:
I. Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).
II. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper.
III. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

Method for the cake:
1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.

3. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
4. Add the butter and w
orking with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.

5. Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
6. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.

7. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
8. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure t
hat it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
9. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
10. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and spring
y to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.
11. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes,
then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
12. Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up.

Method for the buttercream:
13. Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.

14. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like sh
iny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
15. Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, be
at the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
16. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the bu
tter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
17. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high
speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes (during this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again).
18. On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, wait
ing until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
19. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

Method for assembling the cake:
20. Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
21. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a ca
ke plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
22. Spread it with one third of the preserves.
23. Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the but
24. Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercrea
m and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
25. Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
26. Press the coconut (or sliced almonds) into the frosting, patting it gently
all over the sides and top.

You can leave out the lemon and replace it by another flavor (orange, vanilla, banana, etc...).
The cakes won't rise much, so don't worry! They'll be smooth, but will stay quite thin.
If you don't have any cake flour, here's what you can do:
Use 2 1/4 Cups minus 4 1/2 Tbs all-purpose flour and replace those 4 1/2 Tbs by the same amount of cornstarch. For a better result, I worked everything by hand (no handmixer or Kitchen Aid): Fistly I beat the butter until smooth, then I added the sugar mixture and beat the butter/sugar mixture for a few more minutes, until pale and fluffy. After that, I processed as written in the recipe...
The cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months.
Since lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum, blueberry or red currant jam (the one I choose).
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold.

The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.
The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation, making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.

"Fresh Berry Cake" version:
If you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit.
You can replace the coconut/almonds on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries.

You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Serving suggestions:
Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.

Etant donné la longueur du texte original, je n'ai malheureusement pas pu faire une traduction française de ce billet et je m'en excuse auprès de tous mes amis lecteurs et blogueurs francophones!!!

Je vous suggère de vous rendre sur les blogs mentionnés ci-dessous. Vous y trouverez cette recette en version française:

Chez Vibi de "La Casserole Carrée" (Canada)
Chez Isa de "Les Gourmandises d'Isa" (Canada)

Sunday, March 30, 2008


This week, the beautiful Amar and Luna at "CatSynth.Com" (USA) are happy to announce that they are hosting Weekend Cat Blogging #147...

To submit your kitty picture(s), you can either leave a message in their blog's comment section (with your permalinks) or contact them via e-mail without forgetting to give all the needed information.

~ In Memoriam ~
Today, Fridolin is grief-stricken as he has just learnt about Upsie's sudden passing away.

He really admired her for being unique and ever so elegant.
In fact, he was secretly in love with her.

She was his ideal woman...
A very sad day.

R.I.P Upsie...
Your were such a sweet soul and a wonderful kitty!

Friday, March 28, 2008


As the Salève is a very interesting place and as it never stops revealing new aspects of itself to us, this post will once again be centered around the flanks of this enigmatic mountain...

There is a break-neck and beaten down old path which snakes up the Petit Salève and which leads to a little village called Monnetier. This is a very popu
lar walk, although it is not the easiest if you are not well-equipped (good shoes and walking sticks) for the ride. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to go up all the way, because it is somehow quite dangerous and not very secure. Anyway, I went far enough in order to have a taste of what this route offers.

The Petit Salève is covered in thick, gloomy forest that, somehow, confers an eerie as well as a prehistoric atmosphere to this track. As if haunted, you can sense the spirits of the people who walked up this path for thousands of years. It is impregnated with history, events and the lives of our predecessors/ancestors. One feels totally transported by the heavy energy of the place... A very special spot!

By the way those pictures (click on the photos to enlarge) were taken a few weeks ago. Now, everything looks more spring-like and flowery.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


It is amazing to see how colorful food has the ability to attract the light and how it can create stunning contrasts when placed on certain backgrounds/supports. The pictures taken are then magnified and there is no need to make a fuss over the photographic subject in order to capture a stunning flick ...

I must say that orange (whether it is food or matter) pairs extremely well with dark colors (black and tea green) as well as with paler colors (soft yellow or cream-white). I really love the shock effect such contrasts produce on us!

Pasta VS Orange Dish.
Red Lentils VS Black Plate.
Pu-Erh Tea VS Orange Dish.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


This week, the super cute Kashim and Othello at "The Catboys Realm" (Austria) are happy to announce that they are hosting Weekend Cat Blogging #146...

To submit your kitty picture(s), you can either leave a message in their blog's comment section (with your permalinks) or contact them via e-mail without forgetting to give all the needed information.

Maruschka, very much like her mom and Fridolin, is feeling extremely lazy and exhausted.
Since it is Easter, she is taking a few days break from blogging...
This means that we will be back next week.
See you again on the 26th of March!
So, don't panic, we aren't letting you down....

Friday, March 21, 2008


Approximately 7 minutes away from my house (building block more exactly), on the other side of the Franco-Swiss border (on the French side), you'll find a cable car (see link) which goes up to the top of the Salève mountain (1375 meters high)...

They depart every 12 minutes and transport loads of tourists as well as hikers. It is a popular weekend destination for the Geneva people as once you are up there, you can dine in the little panoramic restaurant, admire the spectacular view, discover a mountain that is well-preserved, paraglide, hike, rock climb, delta fly or even visit the arboretum.

Please click on the pictures to enlarge!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Happy Easter!
Joyeuse Pâques!

On Sunday the 23rd of March, it will be Easter, the most important religious feast in the Christian liturgical year during which the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated.

It is interesting to learn that this celebration (like most of those we know) takes it's roots in Paganism. In fact, in order to convert Heathens, the Church adapted the Old Religion's traditions into Christianity (see link I & link II & link III for more infos), so this is why many of the Christian religious rituals have similitudes (dates, signification, etc...) with those of our pre-Christian ancestors' customs. Easter was, at the origin, a festivity that was linked to the Spring Equinox which symbolized the beginning of spring, the rebirth of life, fertility and reproduction...

In order for you to celebrate as peacefully as possible, I've decided to offer you a few helpful links to sites that contain useful recipes as well as links that will lead you to my
own recipes. In that way, you might be able to find recipes for your menu without having to stress and while still being able to have fun with your relatives and/or friends, thus relaxing and keeping things in hand.

Have a great time and eat well, my friends!!!

Easter recipe links:
My recipes for Easter:

Monday, March 17, 2008


For centuries, oat has been cultivated in the Noth of Scotland and it has always represented a healthy source of nourishment for Highlanders. This versatile cereal is very practical as it can be cooked/baked in many ways (bread, porridge, granola, cookies, patties, etc...). It has long been considered a poor people's/farmer's staple, but now, it is gaining unawaited popularity (within the gourmet world/culinary community) and has somehow become a little trendy as more and more food lovers are recognizing it's uncomparable culinary qualities, fascinating nutritional values and special flavor...

"Oatcakes" or "Bannocks" are a humble, yet delicious Scottish culinary speciality that is nearly entirely made of oats. Those tasty crackers nearly replace bread in Scotland (at least, in the past they did...).In a way, they can be compared to the American "Johnnycakes", although the latter is made entirely of corn. In England (North Staffordshire and Derbyshire), there also exists a kind of pancake which shares the same name as those biscuits, but which is more similar to an oatmeal crêpe. "Oatcakes" have always been very popular and appreciated. Even the Romans who invaded Britain adopted this traditional food andbaked them while they were occupying Scotland.

"Oatcakes" are like the Scottish cuisine, substantial and simple, yet delightful. Both are made to brave this country's vivifying air and harsh weather. Those dry and coarse savory "cookies" might, at first, look very ordinary, but, in reality, they are extremely addictive and pleasant as they have a unique flavor that makes them extremely enjoyable. Contrarily to what you might think, "Oatcakes" don't taste at all like "Oat Cookies". With their interesting and refined nutty aroma as well as their characteristic lardy savor, they capture all our attention. Not to mention that their flaky and crisp texture is just simply wonderful!

A great cracker that can be eaten with butter or jam and which can be served as a vehicle to meat, fish and cheese!

~ Otacakes ~
Recipe taken from "Cuisine De Saison", November 2001 and adapted by Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums

Makes about 12 "crackers".

150g Oatmeal
60g Wholewheat (wholemeal) flour
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Baking powder
1 Tsp Light brown sugar
60g Lard
2-4 Tbs Hot water

1. In a bowl, mix together the oatmeal, flour, salt, baking powder and sugar.
2. In a pan, melt the lard.
3. Incorporate it the the oatmeal/flour mixture while stirring and cutting well.
4. Add as much water as needed in order to get a workable dough that is neither too sticky nor too dry.
5. Cut the dough in half and roll each half (on a baking sheet) in order to get two rounds of 0.5cm (0.2 inches) in thickness and 15cm (6 inches) in diameter.
6. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes at room temperature.
7. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).
8. With a sharp knife, incise the surface of each round in order to obtain 6 equal triangles (I decided to make rectangles instead).
9. Bake them in the lower part of the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden and crisp.
10. Out of the oven, let them cool on the baking pan for 10 minutes and then put them on a rack so that they cool completely.
11. Break each triangle, following the incisions.

Replace the lard by melted butter if you wish.

If you don't get a ball of dough which can be manipulated easily, then add a little flour or water, depending on the dryness or stickiness of your dough.
You can use white flour instead of wholewheat flour or castor sugar instead of light brown sugar, but it will somehow affect their taste.

Serving suggestions:
Those crackers can be eaten with smoked salmon, sour cream, salty butter and cottage cheese ("Crowdie") or with honey ham

They are also delicious with any good cheese (cream cheese, Cheddar, Brie, etc...) or pate.
"Oatcakes" can be served as accompaniment to soups as well as with meat and fish dishes.


~ Otacakes (Palets A l'Avoine) ~
Recette tirée de "Cuisine De Saison", novembre 2001 et adaptée par Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums

Pour environ 12 palets.

150g de Gruau d'avoine
60g de Farine complète/bise
1 CC de Sel
1/2 CC de Poudre à lever
1 CC de Sucre brun clair
60g de Saindoux
2-4 CS d'Eau bouillante

1. Dans un grand bol, mélanger le gruau d'avoine, la farine, le sel, la poudre à lever et le sucre.
2. Faire fondre le saindoux dans une casserole.
3. L'incorporer au mélange précédent en tournant.
4. Ajouter l'eau chaude afin d'obtenir une pâte ni trop collante ni trop sèche.
5. Partager la pâte en deux et abaisser chaque portion sur du papier sulfurisé en cercle de 0.5cm (0.2 inches) d'épaisseur et 15cm (6 inches) de diamètre.
6. Laisser reposer 15 minutes à température ambiante.
7. Préchauffer le four à 180° C (350° F).
8. Avec un couteau, inciser la surface afin d'obtenir 6 triangles égaux (J'ai fait des rectangles).
9. Les faire cuire 15 minutes dans le bas du four, jusqu'à ce qu'ils soient dorés.
10. Les sortir et les laisser reposer au moins 10 minutes sur la plaque, puis les poser sur une grille et les faire refroidir.
11. Casser les palets é l'aide des incisions.

A la place du saindoux, vous pouvez utiliser du beurre fondu.
Si vous n'obtenez pas une boule de pâte qui se tient correctement, alors ajoutez un peu de farine (si c'est trop collant) et d'eau (si c'est trop sec).
Si vous voulez, vous pouvez remplacer la farine complète par de la farine blanche/fleur et le sucre brun par du sucre cristallisé, mais le goût en sera changé.

Idées de présentation:
Ces palets se mangent avec du saumon fumé, de la crème fraîche, du beurre salé et du cottage cheese ("Crowdie") ou avec du jambon au miel.
Ces biscuits sont aussi délicieux avec du bon fromage (Cheddar, Brie, Cream cheese, etc...) ou du pâté.