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January…

… Means an awful lot this year! To name a few things…

  • New decade! Repeat of the roaring twenties?
  • New challenge! TWELVE PIES.
  • New connection! http://www.studiolnl.com is live!

I feel the first two items are self-explanatory. DM me if this is false. However, the third point could use a few details.

In real life, I practice as a speech-language pathologist. This actually covers many areas-not just helping kids who don’t have their S’s and R’s yet (be honest, that’s all you knew about SLP’s). In fact, I actually work with adults, and here are a few things I specialize in treating:

  • Word finding difficulty
  • Memory loss
  • Voice disorders
  • Trouble swallowing

Surprised? Confused? You are not alone! Until the services of an SLP are needed, most people are unaware of the job’s skill set. All that said, this year I opened a studio where I offer voice lessons in addition to various consultation services. In my professional practice, I’ve realized that sometimes altered diets are a long-term commitment. If you are living at home, not a facility, this can be difficult to manage! So, I decided to add a component to SingingChef to try and help such individuals and their families make meals that taste great and are safe to eat. So! Not only is this the year of making pies, it’s about learning how to cook different textures in ways that are still appealing.

That’s a lot of information/housekeeping. Let’s get to the fun stuff: the first pie of the year! It’s from Rachael Ray’s November issue of Every Day from last year, and I’m not going to lie. While I was making it, I was not convinced it was going to turn out. So, if you like this blog for its crummy photos, you will be disappointed in this post, as I decided not to take many step-by-steps along the way. However! I was beyond wrong! This poached pear pie is absolutely delicious and you need to make it. Ready, assemble!

Crust:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. ice water
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • Filling:
  • 1 bottle Zinfandel (fruity red wine)
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 3 lb. firm but ripe pears—peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • Flour, for rolling out the crusts
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten until blended
  • Whipped cream, for topping
  • Make the filling the night before. Combine the wine, one cup sugar, fennel, and peppercorns. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, and bring to a boil. Add the pears, then return to a boil. Knock the heat back to a simmer and let the pears go until tender, 10-15 minutes. Stir every so often. Then, transfer the pears to a bowl (brush off any spices) and strain the syrup into a large bowl. Let everything cool to room temp, then return the pears to the syrup, cover, and refrigerate for 12 hours.
  • Use your food processor to pulse the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter and pulse a couple of times until small pieces form. Don’t forget to keep your butter very cold until you add it, or it will melt and you will not have a flaky result.
  • In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and ice water. Pour mixture over the flour and pulse until bigger clumps form. Dump the mixture onto your counter and knead very slightly just to bring it together. Divide the dough in half, and roll each half into a ball. Flatten slightly into a disc, wrap tightly with plastic wrap, and into the fridge for at least an hour!
  • Flour the counter and roll out a disc of pastry (keep the other in the fridge!) into a 12 inch round. Fit it into a 9 inch pie dish, and crimp the edges as desired (I have a LONG way to go, here).
  • Cut the remaining disc into a nine inch circle and use cookie cutters to create a pattern. Move to a baking sheet, cover both crusts with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about an hour.
  • Heat the oven to 400. Strain the pears from the cooking liquid. Whisk together the cornstarch and 1/4 cup liquid from the pears. Save the rest for cocktails, etc.-it’s delicious! Add this mixture to the pears and toss to coat. Add all of this mixture to the pie dish, then top with the decorative crust. Fear not-it doesn’t look like much filling! But it actually will fill the pie completely while baking. Brush thoroughly with the egg, then sprinkle with 1tbsp sugar. Bake until the filling bubbles and the crust is golden, about an hour. Do turn the pie halfway through for even cooking, and tent of it browns too quickly. Cool, then top with whipped cream, and enjoy!

This pie is just lovely. Somehow, there is no soggy bottom, and as I said, the filling did somehow expand. It’s sweet and deep with flavors from the spices, all in a flaky, buttery crust.

It’s going to be a good year.

*sc

December…

… Is the last cake of the year and heck, the decade! And what a year it’s been. But more of that later. The final cake of this resolution was a roll cake of sorts from none other than my favorite baking magazine, Bake from Scratch. If you love to bake, do yourself a favor and subscribe. I was introduced to the company/editor when we went to the Charleston Wine and Food Festival this year (seriously, move that the TOP of your life list), and it is a delightful and inspiring publication. Anyway, all that aside, the last cake of the year is a gingerbread buche de Noel, and is a lovely cake indeed.

For the cake:

  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup cake flour
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Heat the oven to 350. Spray a baking sheet (they recommend 18×13, rimmed) with cooking spray, then line with parchment and spray again.

Melt the butter over medium in a saucepan. Take it off the heat and add the molasses, fresh ginger, and vanilla.

Use a whisk to mix the eggs, brown sugar, and egg yolk in the bowl of a stand mixer. Put the bowl over a pot of simmering water (yes it’s awkward, grab an oven mitts) and whisk constantly until your thermometer reads 110 degrees. Hook the bowl up in your stand mixer and beat at high speed with the whisk attachment until the mixture is thick and 3 times its original size.

Put about one cup of the egg mixture in a bowl and fold in the warm butter concoction you made.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, ground ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Gently fold the dry ingredients in two additions into the remaining egg mixture using a balloon whisk (air is crucial in this recipe to give the cake some rise). Stir only enough to combine. Fold in the butter mixture, then spread onto the prepared pan. An offset spatula is helpful. Bake until the cake pulls away from the edges, about 12 minutes. Let cool all the way.

Make some molasses syrup. You need:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp molasses

Bring sugar and when to a boil over medium-high, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Take it off the heat and mix in the molasses. Let cool completely.

While you’re at it, let’s make brown sugar buttercream:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups unsalted butter (cubed, softened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt

Whisk together the egg whites and sugars. Put this bowl over a pot of simmering water and cook (whisk the whole time) until a thermometer reads 155.

Transfer mixture to the stand mixer with the whisk attachment and beat at high speed until the bowl is cool when you touch it. Add the butter, 2 tbsp at a time, until all is well combined. Beat in the vanilla and salt.

May as well make your bark!

  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate
  • 2 cups white chocolate

Melt the chocolates separately over a pot of simmering water.

Draw a 14×5 inch rectangle on 2 pieces of parchment. Turn parchment over and place on two baking sheets.

Using a food safe brush (I used an unused makeup brush), paint need dark chocolate as desired in each rectangle. Refrigerate until set, about 5 minutes.

Pour half of the melted chocolate on each rectangle and spread evenly with an offset spatula. Refrigerate until set, about 10 minutes. Cut into small rectangles.

Cut the cake into 4 rectangles (we actually didn’t do this right… But it was fine!). Make sure to cut all the way through, including the parchment. Remove from the pan.

Brush each piece with molasses syrup, then spread about 2/3 cup icing on each rectangle.

Roll up a rectangle in jelly roll style. Place on the center of your cake plate/serving device and remove the parchment. Wrap a second piece of cake tightly around the first, and repeat with your remaining pieces to create a spiral. Remove the parchment as you go. If needed, trim the final edge with a serrated knife to make it flush with the outer edge of the cake.

Eh….”flush”.

Spread the rest of the buttercream on the outside of the cake. Spread little bits of buttercream that poke through the top (don’t add extra).

Add the bark pieces vertically to the cake, pressing slightly to adhere. Pieces should overlap. Cover your masterpiece and refrigerate at least 2 hours in order to set, then let stand at room temperature for an hour before serving.

Tada! What a piece to look at, right? And the taste is lovely and gingery. It’s a nice change from the typical Christmas Yule log. It’s the end of the year and holiday season, but why not try it as a seasonal winter cake?

What a delicious year it’s been! A couple things learned…

  • Baking with two cats is… Challenging.
  • Having a reliable oven makes a difference!
  • Better baking gear=better product
  • Why buy salted butter anymore?! NO.
  • Baking=good motivation to work out.
  • A stand mixer really is a baker’s best friend.
  • Tennis cake=ridiculously fun.
  • Always stock extra butter.
  • I just love to bake.

Join me in 2020 for a year of pies!

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November…

… Was a while back, yes. But cake 11 is finally here for the posting! Because I’ve seen it on The Great British Baking Show so many times, I decided to go with Mary Berry’s classic Victoria Sponge. And classic, it is.

For this traditional cake, you need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 225g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (check Fresh Market)
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 225g unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • Quality jam of your choice
  • Whipped cream (please make it yourself!)

Bakers, you have 2 hours to complete your signature challenge.

Let’s start by preheating the oven to 350. Grease 2 8 inch cake pans and line with parchment. Then, crack the eggs into a large bowl. Add your flour, sugar, baking powder, and softened butter, and mix just until will combined.

I used my stand mixer. And for the first time in 11 cakes, flour went flying everywhere. Maybe do it by hand, just for safe keeping…

Don’t over-mix, or your car will be tough and crumbly. The batter should drape off a spoon; it’s ok if it looks a bit curdled-sometimes eggs, sugar, and flour look a little… Unpleasant.

Pour even amounts of batter into your prepared cake tins. Smooth out any peaks and level the surface better than I did.

Bake on the middle rack of your oven for 25 minutes. After about 20 minutes, look through the door to check them (don’t open the door, as they will fall!). You’re looking for golden-brown cakes that have shrunk a bit from the sides of the pan. They should spring back easily when lightly pressed. When you’re there, get the pans out of the oven and cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then turn them out to cool completely on a rack. If you want a totally smooth cake, put a towel over the rack first.

When the cakes have cooled, place the less attractive of the two upside down on you serving vessel. Spread a layer of jam on top. I really should have done this cake earlier in the year so berries would be readily available to make homemade jam. Lesson learned.

Pipe whipped cream on top of the jelly in a pattern of your choice.

Place the remaining layer right side up, then dust with caster sugar.


See what I mean about the towel? I didn’t really mind the stripes, though. Also. Buttercream would be a welcome change to plain whipped cream. This is a good cake, but honestly, it wasn’t particularly special. Especially after 10 other cakes that have been quite exciting to make and eat. Alas, cake is cake, and not a scrap went to waste.

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October…

… Brought a world of delicious chocolate cupcakes into our home. And two cats who are apparently coco for cuckoopoops (does anyone remember 30 Rock?) Read on to find out about a triple chocolate threat from America’s Test Kitchen. It’s a three-parter (obviously), where you make ganache, then a perfect chocolate cupcake, and top it with chocolate frosting.

Let’s start with ganache. You need:.

  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 20-30 seconds, until warm to the touch. Whisk until smooth, then refrigerate until chilled. Don’t leave it in there for more than 30 minutes, or a chocolate brick ye shall have.

For fudgy, deep chocolate cupcakes that don’t crumble in your hand, you need:

  • 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup hot coffee
  • 3/4 cup bread flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Put the oven rack in the middle and set the oven at good old 350. Line a muffin tin with liners. Also, set out 12 tbsp unsalted butter to soften for your frosting. Then, let’s actually cook! Combine the cocoa and chopped chocolate in a bowl, then pour the hot coffee over. Whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes, until completely cool.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Whisk into the cooled cocoa mixture until smooth.

Pour even amounts of batter into the muffin cups. Place a slightly rounded tsp of ganache on top of each cupcake.

Bake until set and barely firm to the touch, about 17-19 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove cupcakes to a rack and let cool completely.

While in cooling land, make your final component: frosting. You need:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites
  • A pinch of salt
  • 12 tbsp softened unsalted butter, cut 12 pieces
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate (chopped, then melted and cooled)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix the sugar, egg whites, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, then place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. I mean, use your double boiler if you want, but why wash another pot? Whisk the mixture gently and constantly until it reaches 150 degrees and is slightly thickened/foamy.

Beat the mixture using the whisk attachment on medium until it looks like shaving cream and is a bit cooled. Add the butter, one piece at a time, until very smooth and creamy. Don’t worry when it goes through a phase where the mixture looks chunky/curdled; it will work out. When all the butter is incorporated, add the cooled chocolate and vanilla, and mix to combine. Bump the speed up to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy (about 30 more seconds). Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Once everything has set and cooled, dollop 2-3 tbsp of frosting onto each cupcake and spread with an offset spatula.

Devour.

These are definitely one of my favorites this year. Rich, yet somehow not too sweet. Even my vanilla-loving husband thought they were excellent. Stock up on some quality bittersweet chocolate, and enjoy!

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September…

… Leads us to cake 9!

As far as recipes go, the cake is actually a repeat of the mermaid cake I did much earlier this year. However, the challenge of the resolution is all about trying different techniques, and this one was for another form of icing: hombre. I still have a long way to go in terms of achieving smooth finishes, but it was still an overall success.

For the cake, you need:

  • 14 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, room temp
  • 4 egg whites, room temp

Heat the oven to 350. Grease the sides and bottom of 2 9×2 inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment and grease the parchment, while you’re at it.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream the butter, vanilla, and 1 cup sugar. Start with the mixer on low to combine, then bump it up to medium high and go until the mixture is light and fluffy. Turn the speed back to low to lessen the mess, and beat in half the flour, then half the milk. Repeat once more with the other halves of the flour and milk. Increase the speed again to medium-high and go until the mixture is smooth and glossy, about a minute.

Beat those egg whites on medium-high (make sure your bowl and beaters are clean) until nice and foamy. Slowly add the leftover 1/3 cup of sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold half of these into the batter, then fold in the rest. Divide evenly between your 2 prepared pans.

Bake until lightly browned, the cakes begin to shrink from the sides, and the trusty tester comes out clean (25-35 minutes). Cool in the pans set on a rack for 15 minutes, then loosen edges and turn out onto the rack to cool completely. And don’t forget to peel off the parchment!

While cooling, make some heart-stopping buttercream. Also known as buttercream. You need:

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter (yup, that much)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

Beat the butter and salt on medium-high until smooth and fluffy. Turn it down to low, and beat in the sugar 1 cup at a time. When incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat in the remaining 4 cups. Go until fluffy, then beat in the milk and vanilla until smooth.

Let’s assemble! Level the cakes with a serrated knife. Then, cut the cakes in half to make a total of four layers. It helps to hold the serrated knife horizontally against the middle of the cake and just turn it on a turntable to score it, then you can just cut the cake all the way through using that line as a guide. Spread 2/3 cup frosting on one of the cakes with an offset spatula, then top with another layer. Repeat with the remaining layers, but turn the top layer upside down for a smooth finish. Spread a thin layer of icing over the entire cake-your crumb coat, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remember, doesn’t have to be pretty at this point.

Cover just the top with more plain frosting. Then, divide the icing among 3 bowls. Using your color of choice, tint a dark and light shade, leaving the third bowl white. Use an offset spatula and spread the dark frosting around the bottom of the cake. Repeat with the lighter shade, then finish with the white on top. Use a bench scraper or offset spatula to smooth the frosting together, spinning on a turntable as you go.

As I was saying, I still need to work toward totally smooth icing. However, the effect and, more importantly, the taste were there. Oh darn. An excuse to keep practicing…

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August…

… = you guessed it, cake 8! Since the end of summer and strawberry season is upon us, I decided to end summer with a classic fruity throwback-the chiffon cake. I’ve never eaten one (to my knowledge) and certainly never made one, but they are pretty much a snap. Break out your Pink Ladies jacket, and let’s get baking.

For a “Pretty in Pink” Chiffon Cake from Moosewood, you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 7 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 strained pureed strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated lemon peel

I would start by pureeing your chosen berries in the blender or food processor, then pressing them through a fine strainer.

Get the oven going to 325, and grease/flour a tube pan. If you’re unfamiliar, a tube pan is basically an angel food cake pan. You could probably use a Bundt, but it might be difficult to turn the cake out with all the nooks and crannies.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the egg yolks and oil, but don’t mix.

In your stand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and confectioners’ sugar, and beat until very stiff. However, stop before the whites get dry and flaky.

Beat the egg and flour mixture you made earlier, then slowly add the strawberry puree, lemon juice/peel and beat until just blended. It will look… Interesting.

Gently fold in a small amount of the egg whites into the glowing pink batter. Then, over the course of 5-6 additions, fold this batter into your bowl with the egg whites. It should look light and bubbly; visible remaining egg whites are encouraged.

Slowly pour the batter into your pan and bake for 25 minutes. Then, bump up the heat to 350 and bake another 20-25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. The cake should rise nicely, and its crazy pink hue will lessen considerably.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool to the touch. When it has done so, let it cool completely on your serving plate.

Meantime, make some easy sauce.

Combine two cups sliced strawberries, 1 tbsp lemon juice (I ended up using lime in the sauce-delicious), and as much sugar as you like (less is more…) in a bowl. Let it sit at room temp for at least half an hour while the cake cools.

Slice up your cake and top with whipped cream and strawberry sauce.

Nostalgia aside, this definitely tops the strawberry shortcake I grew up with that used those premade, tiny, gummy cakes. For an end of summer treat, it’s hard to go wrong with strawberries and cake that is light as air thanks to all those egg whites- gumminess be gone! Buy yourself a dozen eggs and get cracking (and make a giant omelet, while you’re at it).

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July…

… Means the most epic cake yet this year. We are fans of The Great British Bake Off, and when we saw the episode featuring an epic creation called Tennis Cake, I knew it had to make the list for this year’s challenge.

A word of warning. If you are a standard home baker who is comfortable in the kitchen, this will still take forever. How the contestants do it on the clock, I clearly will never know.

However, the end result is actually delicious. I took leftovers to work and apparently made the mistake of telling coworkers it is a very delicious fruitcake. Did anyone except my professional kindred spirit/dear friend try it? Nope. That said, my friend did love it, and agreed the others were missing out.

Do not be afraid of the amount of dried fruits in here. You’ve got the glory of homemade almond paste, fondant, and sugary royal icing topping what is a truly yummy, moist cake. Also, the tennis net (yes, you read that correctly) is really no big deal, either. Every component is fun to make, though I might not have said so if I hadn’t had Schatzi to help roll out that fondant-it’s a beast all its own!

So before I list the dozens of ingredients required for this masterpiece, a few words of advice. This is a British classic-the recipe dates back to the 1800s, with Mary Berry’s genius of today added. That said, I had to go to Amazon for a few of the ingredients, as my average hometown did not carry them at the store. You’ll want to use your trusty kitchen scale for measurements, as most of them are in grams. I also purchased a sweet cake pan that you can adjust to make any size cake you desire (this one is weird, 6×9). You can find it at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000GW89M8/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_tBFpDbHBDVV58

Alright! Let’s get baking.

Love, all.

For the cake, you need:

  • 350 grams glace cherries, quartered (Amazon)
  • 225 grams canned pineapple, drained and chopped
  • 350 grams dried apricots, chopped
  • 100 grams blanched almonds, chopped
  • 350 grams sultanas
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 250 grams unsalted butter, softened
  • 250 grams caster sugar (look for it at Fresh Market, etc.)
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 250 grams self-rising flour
  • 75 grams almond meal

Start by heating the oven to 320. Grease a 6×9 inch baking pan and line it with a double layer of parchment. Don’t be like me and wimp out on stuffing the paper into the corners-as you will see, I was lazy and ended up with a cake that was a bit rounded like a boat. Your want to really push it into the corners for a crisp finish. Also, a word on the cherries that you have likely purchased from Amazon. You’ve quartered them, now put them in a strainer and rinse, rinse, rinse that weird juice away. Let them strain completely and then dry them along with the pineapple as thoroughly as you can on a towel. Wet fruits sink in your cake. Dry cherries do not, and I’ll prove it. Now that you’ve prepped the fruit, plop it in a bowl with the lemon zest and remaining fruits, and acquaint everyone.


You’ll know you’ve dried your fruits properly when you pick them up and they sprinkle, like this:


Quality photography there. đŸ˜‚ Mary Berry suggests adding some of the flour to this mixture to help keep fruit from sinking. I forgot, and as you will see, it turned out fine because the fruit was dried well.

Now let’s cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs one by one with a spoonful of flour to keep the mixture from curdling (mine did anyway… but maybe you’ll have better luck!)

Fold in the rest of the flour and the almond meal. Gently fold in the dried fruits and nuts, then pour into your prepped cake pan and smooth off the top. Bake for about 2 hours, until golden and a pick comes out clean. Halfway through the bake, cover the cake with foil to prevent over-browning.

Leave the cake in the pan to cook for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely (or stone-cold, as the expert would say).

Fifteen, love.

Let’s make the delicious almond paste! You need:

  • 250 grams almond meal
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • 150 grams powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Mix the dry ingredients, then stir in the egg and extract. Knead together in a bowl just until everything comes together and cover it in Saran wrap. It should be stiff, but don’t overdo it.

Thirty, love.

Now we make royal icing! You need:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 675 grams powdered sugar, sifted
  • Gel food coloring for yellow and pink (again, I went to Amazon)

Whisk the egg whites until nice and frothy (I did use my trusty stand mixer). Now, painstakingly mix in the sugar one tablespoon at a time until the final mixture is very stiff with peaks. Again, cover with Saran wrap.

Forty, love.

Last component! Fondant. Cursed fondant. This is why bakeries charge you more, people. Nancy Crockett, thank you endlessly for covering our beautiful wedding cake with fondant. I’m so sorry. But it was indeed beautiful. For this beast, you need:

  • Roughly 1.5 tbsp gelatin or 4 leaves gelatin
  • 4 tbsp liquid glucose
  • 1 1/2 tsp glycerine
  • 500 grams powdered sugar
  • Green gel food coloring

Use a double boiler with barely simmering water and add the gelatin with 2 tbsp water and the glucose and glycerine. Heat until everything is combined, but do not boil! Get it off the heat.

Sift half of the sugar into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the gelatin mixture into the well and mix together. Sift the remaining sugar onto the counter, and turn your new mixture onto it. Knead until smooth and pliable.

Keep a tiny piece of white fondant for the tennis ball, but slowly knead green dye into the remaining fondant until you can’t stand it or you get the color for your tennis court that you want. *Read, here’s where I needed help.* Guess what? Wrap it in Saran wrap. The key to these components is that we don’t want them to dry out before getting them on the cake.

Match! And it’s finally time to assemble! Can you believe?

Add some powdered sugar on top of some Silpat and roll the almond paste out into a rectangle slightly bigger than your cooled cake. Then, cut a 6×9 inch rectangle from it and place that on top of the cake. Stuff your face with the remaining almond paste because heck, it’s delicious protein.

Roll out the green fondant on the Silpat that has been re-dusted with sugar. Again, roll until a bit bigger than the cake, then cut down to 6×9 and place on top of the almond paste layer. Enjoy eating some extra fondant with your almond paste.

Divide the royal icing to make three colors: pink, yellow, and white. Put most of the white icing into a piping bag using a number 3 writing nozzle (the tips are numbered, just look!). Pipe a tennis court onto the fondant, and don’t be afraid to ask Google for a pattern. Try to leave about 3/4 inch around the edge.

Still with the number 3 nozzle, pipe two rackets and the outline of a tennis net that is the width of the cake onto a piece of parchment. Place the rest of the white icing in a bag with a number 2 writing nozzle, and pipe the strings into your rackets and tennis court. You can also pipe other sorta equipment as desired. Like a bike. Leave everyone to dry until easily lifted from the parchment.

Add the pink icing to a piping bag with a number 8 star nozzle, and the yellow to a bag with a number 7 star nozzle. Pipe a border around the court.

Pipe a line of white icing across the middle of the cake, and stand the net across it. Place the rackets and ball as you wish on the court.

My goodness! It’s the end of the day and you finally finished the cake! And look how much drying that fruit paid off:

I think this would actually pass the Paul and Mary judgement, if I do say so myself. I don’t even like fruitcake, but I would eat this any day! And it actually keeps well because it is nice and moist. It’s a marathon, but if you love a baking challenge, I recommend trying it.

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