Sunday, 28 June 2015

Strawberry Cheesecake Cake

This one’s been in the blog bank for a while - since Mother’s Day to be exact. I wanted to bring a cake to a family potluck for mother’s day. The Huz’s family has 5 aunts (and one uncle) so they like to celebrate Mother’s Day together. Instead of bringing a cheesecake, why not make a cake that plays on a cheesecake? I’m really into desserts that are like other desserts (e.g., a cake that’s a take on a pie, an ice cream that tastes like birthday cake, a doughnut that tastes like root beer, etc). It’s confusing and awesome.

This cake has many components, so I premade the cake layers and froze them and kept the graham crunch in an airtight container until assembly day.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Graham Crunch
adapted from Milk Bar Cookbook
¾ cup graham crumbs
2 Tablespoons milk powder
1 Tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt in a bowl to combine.
  3. Pour in butter and cream and toss to combine.
  4. Spread on a baking sheet and break apart large chunks. Bake for 25 minutes tossing halfway through.
  5. Cool completely. Break apart and big pieces. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

Vanilla Cake
From Anna Olson.
Baked in 3, 6-inch cake pans. 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
If the cakes dome, cut off to make them flat (and you can eat the best part of the cake!)

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup cream cheese, softened
½ teaspoon lemon juice
½ cup icing sugar
3 Tablespoons strawberry jam
pinch of salt

  1. Beat butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer to combine.
  2. Add lemon juice, icing sugar, jam, and salt and beat until fluffy.

Cream Cheese Marshmallow Frosting
½ cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 jar marshmallow cream
pinch of salt
pink food colouring

  1. Beat cream cheese and butter together with a stand mixer (paddle attachment) to combine. Add icing sugar and vanilla and beat to combine.
  2. Add marshmallow cream and salt and beat to combine.
  3. For an ombre decorating effect, colour ⅓ of the frosting with a dark pink and the remaining ⅔ light pink (less food colouring).
*note that this frosting won’t be completely smooth - it’ll look a little bit curdled. I know, not ideal for a frosting, but it does taste great.

  1. 1 cup thinly sliced strawberries
  2. Vanilla cake layers
  3. Strawberry jam
  4. Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
  5. Cream Cheese Marshmallow Frosting

  1. Smear a small dollop of strawberry cream cheese filling on you cake plate or cake board. Ideally, use a turntable for easier decorating. Place the first layer of cake on top.
  2. Spread strawberry jam. Top with strawberry slices.
  3. Spread the strawberry cream cheese filling and sprinkle the graham crumbs on top.
  4. Place next cake layer and repeat. Finish with the final layer.
  5. Frost the entire cake with the light pink cream cheese marshmallow frosting. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes to firm up.
  6. Spread the dark pink frosting on the bottom ⅓ of the cake. Smooth out with a large spatula, blending the line between the two colours as you twirl the cake around.
  7. Add graham crumbs along the bottom. Decorate to your liking. Keep in the fridge until an hour before serving.

Verdict: I really liked the flavours of this cake - really reminiscent of a strawberry cheesecake. The crunch of the graham crumbs on the outside gave the cake an interesting texture. Too bad that the graham inside the cake turned soft. It was definitely a crowd pleaser!

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Banana Nut Crunch Layer Cake

I have a friend again! My friend who moved to Toronto 8 years ago came back to Vancouver for good just recently. I’ve never made her a birthday cake, because, well, the whole transporting a cake to Toronto is a tad difficult. But with her back in town, I finally had the chance to make her one.

It was a no-brainer as to which cake I was going to make. Ever since I bought the Milk Bar cookbook a few years ago, I’ve been eyeing the banana cake recipe. My friend really likes bananas (which I find interesting as I don’t know anyone else who would put bananas in their top 5 list. ps. she also likes rocks, which I find interesting. And maps.)

So here’s the cake! It’s a pretty intensive cake with recipes within recipes. Check out the verdict at the end of the post.

Banana Cake
slightly adapted from Milk Bar Cookbook

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 Tablespoons oil (I used canola)
½ teaspoon banana extract (I omitted and the flavour was still there)
2 very ripe bananas
1 ⅓ cup flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line the bottom of 2, 5-inch cake pans with parchment (or use 3, 6-inch and omit slicing in half after baking). Grease the sides with oil or butter and add a thin layer of flour
  2. Beat butter and sugar with the paddle attachment of a standmixer for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides,  add egg, and beat for another 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides.
  3. To the buttermilk, add the oil and banana extract (if using) and stir. With the mixer on low, stream in the buttermilk mixture a little at a time. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until doubled in size and light in colour (6 min). If after 6 minutes it doesn’t look homogenous, keep beating. Scrape down bowl.
  4. Add banana and mix on low for 60 seconds.
  5. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and mix on low for 60 sec just until things come together.
  6. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the toothpick test come out clean. This will depend on your oven and the size of your cake pan.
  7. Cool for 10 minutes before popping them out and cooling completely. Torte, or cut the cakes in half to make 4 layers (no need if you baked in 3 pans).

Hazelnut Brittle (to use in Hazelnut Crunch) (make ahead of time)
from Milk Bar Cookbook
½ cup sugar
¼ cup hazelnuts

  1. Place silicone mat on a baking sheet.
  2. Put sugar in a small saucepan and heat on medium-high to caramelize. Stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to cook evenly. Get to a dark amber colour. Take off heat.
  3. Stir in hazelnuts and quickly spread out onto silicone mat. Cool completely
  4. Break into pieces and place in a ziplock bag. Crush with a meat pounder or rolling pin until you get rice size pieces.

Hazelnut Crunch (make ahead of time)
slightly adapted from Milk Bar Cookbook
3 Tablespoons hazelnut paste (I used almond butter because that’s what I had)
1/3 cup of the hazelnut brittle from above
½ cup feuilletine (you can find this in specialty stores or online. If in Vancouver, you can get it at Gourmet Warehouse)
1 Tablespoon icing sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer and paddle until combined. Store in an airtight container.

Banana cream (make ahead)
slightly adapted from Milk Bar Cookbook
1 very ripe banana
2 ½ Tablespoon heavy cream
2 Tablespoons milk
¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ egg yolks
½ teaspoon powdered gelatin
1 ½ Tablespoon butter
yellow food colouring
¼ cup + 2 Tablespoons heavy cream
½ cup icing sugar

  1. Puree banana, 2 ½ Tablespoons of heavy cream, and milk in a blender.
  2. Add sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolk and blend until smooth. Pour into a saucepan. Clean the blender.
  3. Bloom gelatin by sprinkling it over 2 Tablespoons of cold water in small cup. Allow it to sit for 3-5 minutes to soften.
  4. Place saucepan over medium-low heat and cook while whisking. Bring to a boil then continue whisking for 2 minutes until it comes to a thick glue consistency.
  5. Place contents of saucepan into the blender, add the gelatin, and blend until combined.
  6. Add food colouring and blend.
  7. Transfer to a bowl and cool in the refrigerator until completely cooled (1 hour).
  8. Whisk remaining heavy cream and icing sugar to medium-soft peak. Add banana mixture and slowly whisk until combined. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

150g dark chocolate, chopped
¾ cup heavy cream
½ Tablespoons corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoons butter, in cubes
½ teaspoon vanilla

1. Place chocolate in a bowl.
2. In a saucepan, combine cream, corn syrup, and salt, and bring to a boil.
3. Pour over chocolate and let stand for 1 minute.
4. Whisk to combine, from the middle slowly out to the outer edge.
5. Add butter and mix.
6. Cool before using. If you make ahead, keep wrapped in the fridge and microwave for 10 seconds to make pliable.

Buttercream Frosting
¼ cup butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
¼ teaspoon vanilla (or banana) extract
yellow food colouring

Combine all ingredients except for the food colouring and mix until smooth. You can add more cream if it’s too thick. Add food colouring to your desired hue.

Finished product with acetate.

  1. cake layers
  2. ganache
  3. hazelnut crunch
  4. banana cream
  5. frosting
  6. ¼ cup milk
  7. acetate 


  1. Place a little dollop of frosting or ganache on your plate or cake board. Place first cake layer on top.
  2. Using a pastry brush, brush milk over the surface and sides of cake.
  3. Spread on a layer of ganache.
  4. Sprinkle hazelnut crunch to completely cover the surface.
  5. Add banana cream and spread out with a small spoon.
  6. Place second cake layer on top.
  7. Wrap acetate tightly around the cake so that it creates a container around it that extend above it. Secure with tape. This will hold the remaining layers and make it easier to build.
  8. Repeat the layers until you end with the final cake layer.
  9. Spread the buttercream frosting on top. Decorate as you like.
  10. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Remember to peel of the acetate before serving.

Verdict: This cake was amazing! Moist, flavourful, with great texture from the hazelnut crunch. Definitely worth it to make, you just need to be very organized and start planning and prepping components days in advance because it’s too much to do in one day. I was on my honeymoon right before her bday, so I baked the cake beforehand and froze the layers. I made the ganache, banana cream, and hazelnut crunch the day before.