Spring is sorta here (despite that weird snowstorm we had a few weeks ago), and it seems that everybody is ready to play! After spending the winter inside, holed up at home in front of Netflix and ordering far too much takeout, I am making up for lost time. In the last few weeks I...
... enjoyed a bowl of poached eggs and butter fried English muffin croutons at a really cute Egg Shop with one of my blogging besties, Alana! She was in town for a super secret fun project that I'm very excited about! We rode the subway together and I showed her the Nutella bar at Eataly. She left us a box of her homemade furikake snax which Erlend and I promptly got into a fight over because it's so good and he was eating too much of it.
... feasted all the fried chicken at a restaurant of a former Top Chef chef with my friends Cale and Kyle! (The fried chicken was just okay though).
... grabbed a fancy dinner with Erlend and his parents at Cafe Altro Paradiso! I drank a lot of prosecco and have no regrets. I also ate a lot of delicious, buttery pasta and lived my best self (despite the rather horrifying number on my bathroom scale).
... made my own dim sum at Tuome with my new friends Matt and all my new friends! It turns out I am not very much of a siu mai folder, but it doesn't make the dumplings any less delicious.
... finally hung out and traded stories with Rachel, the awesome boss lady behind tahini/halva magic land, Seed + Mill! She gave me a giant box of halva samples and I died of deliciousness.
... ate my very first cronut! Even though I am several years behind the hype, I still had to pre-order it three weeks in advance and make a 40-minute detour on my commute to go pick them up. The flavor was blackberry brown sugar toffee!
And this weekend, I am blowing half a paycheck to dine at Eleven Madison Park! I'll report back, I promise.
With all the happenings, I am finding it very hard to find time to bake... with the exception of this cake! A few weeks ago, my friends at Vermont Creamery sent me a case of all their best ingredients, including tubs of my favorite vanilla bean crème fraîche. One of my favorite frostings of all time is this chocolate crème fraîche frosting — it's incredibly deep and silky, more akin to a ganache than traditional chocolate frosting. The last time I used it on a cake was in 2014, when I paired it with a chocolate cake for my mom's birthday. This time around, I wanted to pair it with a classic yellow one. It was delicious and I would do it again.
Some baker's notes:
- For the yellow cake recipe, I used Sarah Kieffer's recipe from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. To make this cake, Sarah uses the reverse creaming method. Unlike the standard creaming method where sugar and fat are beaten together to create air in the batter, the reverse creaming method calls for all the fat to be added to the dry ingredients at the start. Doing so creates a more delicate and tender crumb, as opposed to a lighter one. You can read more about the science over at The Cake Blog and this awesome post by Joe Pastry.
- If you're a close reader of my blog, you'll know that I've used this crème fraîche frosting before. It's one of my all time faves — it's deep and decadent, more similar to a chocolate ganache than a fluffy frosting. At first, it's super liquidy, but will solidify as it comes to room temperature. As it cools, there's a perfect point somewhere where the chocolate is still lukewarm and will be just perfect for spreading smooth surfaces. But if you wait too long, it can solidify fairly quickly and be too difficult to spread. If this happens, just pop it in the microwave for 5 to 10 second intervals until the mixture warms up again. And yes, in a pinch, you can use sour cream instead of crème fraîche for a slightly tangier flavor.
- I decorated the cake with these crunchy pearls (toasted rice cereal dipped in chocolate!) that Valrhona kindly sent me. I'm completely obsessed! They come in four flavors — dark chocolate, milk chocolate caramel, dulcey white chocolate (which I have a love affair with), and white chocolate. All are delicious and are totally worth seeking out to add an extra special crunch to your cake. I have totally been eating them by the handful by myself in a dark corner, pretending that calories don't exist. Ehem.