Olive Oil Ricotta Semolina Cake with Roasted Quince

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I’ve been playing around with this recipe for quite some time now and made several versions of it with different winter fruits. The addition of the semolina and high quality olive oil in the batter makes a tender and light cake that’s complex in flavor. It’s studded with quince, that’s slightly roasted in orange blossom water to keep it firm to the bite, and crunchy blanched almonds – adding yet another contrast of textures and flavors. In the cold long winter days, this fruit dessert is guaranteed to brighten and uplift your mood.

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Recipe extensively adapted from Food52

Roasted Quince:
2 large quince (450g)
80g sugar
25g water
Zest of a small lemon
1½ tablespoon orange blossom water

1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Peel quince and cut each into 8 thick slices (roughly 450g total). Place the slices in a baking pan. Cover with sugar, water, zest and orange blossom water.
3. Cover the tray with aluminum foil and cook for 35-40 minutes or until the quince is starting to soften.

Cake:
2 large eggs, room temperature
200g granulated sugar
245g ricotta cheese
80ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
180g flour
80g fine semolina flour
1½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
– Confectioner’s sugar and a handful of blanched almonds for decoration
1. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C). Butter and flour a 9″ (23cm) springform cake pan and line with parchment paper.
2. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and pale about 5 minutes. In another bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, oil and lemon zest. Pour the cheese mixture into the whipped eggs and mix until combined.
3. Sift all of the dry ingredients directly over the wet ingredients. Mix with a large spatula gently until just combined, using a folding motion.
4. Pour the batter into the cake pan and spreading it out evenly. Arrange the roasted quince slices in slightly overlapping concentric circles until the top of the cake batter is covered. Sprinkle with blanched almonds.
5. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, the edges are pulling away from the pan, and a cake tester or toothpick comes out of the cake cleanly. Cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out to finish cooling on a rack.
6. Dust with confectioner’s sugar, and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Strawberry & Blackberry Pie

I really love baking with berries. Not only do they taste fabulous in all baked fruit desserts, but they also add a wonderful pop of color in your kitchen.

Blackberry & Strawberry Pie
This pie recipe is pretty simple: the flaky and buttery dough is combined with a lightly sweetened filling of fresh strawberries and blackberries, then baked in the oven until bubbly and golden brown.

Blackberry & Strawberry Pie
I used the same dough recipe in my Apple Tart post before, and I basically doubled it to create a beautiful and elegant lattice top for the pie. The strawberry and blackberry filling can be varied or adjusted. Instead of the granulated sugar, you can use ½ a cup of honey, or add ginger, pecans, cinnamon… You can totally get creative! All of these ingredients only intensify and enhance the berry flavor. The addition of the cornstarch to the filling thickens all the juice oozing out of the berries when baked.

Blackberry & Strawberry Pie
I definitely recommend serving this pie with whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream – seriously, this is so easy to make and a very impressive dessert to whip up in a few hours.

Blackberry & Strawberry Pie

Ingredients:

Berry Filling:
3 cups fresh strawberries, cut into quarters
3 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Extras: (at the very end of the recipe)
1 egg
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
50 grams butter (about 4 tablespoons) cut into small cubes

Pie Dough:
Double this pie crust recipe. Cut the dough in half and shape into two disks before refrigerating.

Directions:

1. Prepare the pie dough, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
2. In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients for the filling together. Let stand for 20-30 minutes, mixing occasionally.
3. Preheat oven to 190ºC or 375ºF and place a baking sheet in the oven.
4. Take the first dough disk out of the fridge, unwrap it, and roll into a 25 cm (10 inch) circle on a floured working surface using a rolling pin.
5. Transfer to a 22 cm (9 inches) tart pan, and trim edges. Work quickly to keep the dough cold and to avoid stickiness.
6. Pour the berry mixture into the pie shell.
7. Roll out the second disk into a circle and place over the filling. Fold the top layer of dough under the edge of the bottom layer and press the edges together to form a seal. Flute the edge as desired and pierce the top of the dough in several places to allow steam to escape while baking. (To create a lattice pattern, simply cut the round dough into strips and arrange them on top of the filling – here’s a good tutorial).
8. Lightly beat the egg and brush on the top and edges of the pie (to get a golden crust).
9. Dot the top of the pie with the small butter cubes.
10. Place the pie on the hot baking sheet in the oven and bake until the filling is bubbling, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If the crust browns too quickly, cover it with foil and continue baking.
11. Cool on wire rack for 2-3 hours or the pie will fall apart when serving.
12. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream.

For storage, refrigerate the pie for up to 5 days.

Strawberries and Cream Sponge Cake

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My sister turned 25 this past weekend and she came all the way from Switzerland to celebrate her birthday with friends and family. And what was I supposed to do the day before her birthday? Oh yes. Bake my first layered cake. Did you think that I was going to let my mother buy a cake from a patisserie?

I always bake vanilla or chocolate cakes for birthdays, so I decided to try something completely new. I found this gorgeous Strawberry Shortcake recipe at The Candid Appetite. I must admit, I really enjoyed looking (gawking) at the step-by-step pictures. They were really helpful in understanding the process of whipping up the cake batter, baking it into two separate pans, making the syrup, then perfectly assembling the cake with whipped cream and strawberries. I read the whole post twice and I thought– hey this is easy, the cake will be done in no time! Well it was not that drama free. It took me about 4 hours to finish everything, but then again it is my first time baking a layered cake that I’ve never tested before– for a birthday party. I only had this one chance to make it perfect. You see, I don’t have all the equipments: just one mixing bowl, and one 23 cm (9 inch) cake pan. So I had to clean the mixing bowl about 3 times and bake the cake batter in two separate batches…  It’s definitely easier to have all the baking equipments and your ingredients ready before starting.

The sponge cakes required beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form then folding them into a sugar/egg yolk mixture. I’m so happy that they came out beautifully on my first try! Next, I had to evenly brush the Rum Syrup on the baked cakes. It might seem like a lot of syrup at first, but it really gives the cake a great flavor, so don’t skip this step! For the whipped cream, I put my metal whisk in the freezer for 15 minutes to make sure that the cold cream will whip up perfectly. Then I swathed the sponge cakes with dollops of whipped cream and slices of deep red strawberries. I finished it all off with more strawberries at the top (you can also add sliced almonds on the sides of the cake). Yum. It’s a really light and slightly sweet cake, perfect for the spring season!

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No birthday should pass without a fine bottle of champagne (Not bad huh?).
I thought it would be nice to share with you all a few pictures of the cake.

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Ingredients: (adapted from The Candid Appetite)

Sponge Cakes (yields two 23 cm-9 inch cakes)

  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 1 cup (200 gr) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (140 gr) cake flour, sifted (I used a substitute here)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • About 4 cups (600 gr) of fresh strawberries, rinsed and sliced (reserve 8 whole berries for the top)
  • 2 cups (90 gr) sliced almonds for decoration (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 160 degrees Celsius (325 F)
  2. Separate the eggs into two mixing bowls.
  3. Start by beating the egg yolks until very thick and lemon colored.
  4. Beat in sugar gradually.
  5. Add water and vanilla extract.
  6. Mix in the sifted cake flour/ or its substitute (above)
  7. In another bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Then add salt. Beat mixture until whites form stiff peaks.
  8. Fold the whipped egg whites mixture into yolk mixture, carefully, so as to not deflate the egg whites. Do not over-mix.
  9. Pour the batter into two 23 cm / 9 inch pans lined with parchment paper.
  10. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  11. Allow the cakes to cool on a cooling rack, then invert the cakes.
  12. Place one of the layers on a serving plate or stand. Brush on the Rum Syrup (recipe follows) evenly and heavily onto the first layer. Dollop with a spoonful of the whipped cream (recipe follows) and spread evenly over the cake layer. Arrange the strawberry slices over the cream. Top with another spoonful of cream and spread once again.
  13. Top with the second layer of sponge cake, and brush with more of the Rum Syrup. Place a large dollop of the whipped cream. Spread out evenly over the top. Using an offset spatula cover the cake completely with the whipped cream. Smooth it out, removing any excess cream.
  14. Cover the sides of the cake with the sliced almonds. Arrange reserved strawberries at top of cake. Store in the fridge.

Rum Syrup (yields 1 cup)

  • 1 cup water (250 ml)
  • 1 cup sugar (200 gr)
  • 1/4 cup rum (60 ml)
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and the water over medium-high heat.
  2. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Continue cooking, without stirring, until mixture reaches a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes more.
  4. Remove pan from heat, and stir in rum.
  5. Let cool to room temperature. Once it has cooled completely, the syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.

Whipped Cream (yields 3 cups)

  • 3 cups (750 ml) very cold heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (80 gr) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. In a large mixing bowl, pour the heavy cream and mix on low-medium speed for several minutes.
  2. Once the cream has frothed and slightly thickened, add the sugar and vanilla.
  3. Continue to whip on medium-high until soft peaks form. Don’t over mix or the cream will turn buttery.

Apple Swirl Cake

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I am going to share with you a great Apple Swirl Cake recipe that my grandmother and mother have been making for as long as I can remember. It’s a delicious cake that we always eat for breakfast or even for dessert with some whipped cream.
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I absolutely love baked apples: they’re sweet, tart and tender. My favorite part is their wonderful warming aroma that fills the house!2- Apple Swirl Cake | Brownie Box

The cake is spiced with cinnamon and swirled with chunks of sweet apples. It is also super moist: the addition of orange juice and yogurt to the batter gives the cake a wonderful texture. Can you believe that it gets better the second day? The spongy cake soaks the apple cinnamon juice to develop a deeper flavor.
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I’ve never been able to stop with just one slice!

Ingredients:
3 cups cored, peeled and chopped apples
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 + 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 medium eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup yogurt
2 teaspoons liquid vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Mix apples, sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.
2. In another large bowl combine sugar and oil.
3. Beat in eggs, orange juice, yogurt, and vanilla extract.
4. In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. Add to creamed mixture a little at a time until smooth.
6. Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F).
7. Grease and flour a bunt pan.
8. Pour 1/3 batter into a greased bunt pan. Add 1/2 of the apple mixture on top of the batter.
Add another 1/3 of the batter, then the rest of the apples. End with the remainder of the batter on top.
9. Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
10. Cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before turning the cake onto a wire rack.
11. Serve warm with whipped cream. Optional