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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Alright… I have to first say, I tried to make a batch of GF cinnamon rolls using a King Arthur recipe. In general, KA recipes are pretty solid and a great basis for a base recipe ready for modifications. I have made a lot of their recipes – from breads to crackers to cakes… the cinnamon rolls were the most epic failure imaginable. Okay, hyperbole, thy name is Nicole. They tasted great. They smelled great. But they were cinnamon roll “muffins,” which were actually more cinnamon roll “lava cakes” when the filling pooled to the bottom of the pan during baking (and leaked over the top). I’m a pretty capable baker… but those were so bakermuch work for something that wasn’t even what I was making. I know it may seem like I’m picky, but for me, when I intend to make a roll… it needs to be a roll.

Of course, during the process of making the KA cinnamon rolls, I could see where it was heading. The dough was a loose batter, the loose batter was sticky, and the filling was so stiff I had to pinch pieces to drop it on the dough. The entire prep, including rising time, was about 2 hours before getting to baking. Then… cinnamon lava-cake muffins. This baker was peeeeeeeeved. All I could think was… how embarassing. If I were making these for my in-laws… I would have simply been ashamed. No hyperbole there.

So, off I went in search of another recipe. I found one that claimed to be a copycat Cinnabon recipe. Now that is a tall order… to make a gluten free cinnamon roll taste like the heaven you get at Cinnabon? No way. But, I looked at the pictures she had up, I watched her video (where the dough behaved like a dough – imagine that), and decided that for the adoring looks I might gain from my Celiac husband… I’d try it.

Holy. Crap.

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Witchery in the first degree… because what came out of my oven tonight was MAGIC. The cinnamon rolls baked like “real” cinnamon rolls, they browned like beautiful little rolls of heaven, and they tasted utterly indistinguishable from a gluten-yes cinnamon roll. And… crowning glory… like what you’d get at the mall from Cinnabon.

Do yourself a favor… if you like cinnamon rolls from scratch that make you feel as though you never left gluten behind? Make these. Make them now. I promise you… you will not regret it. I five starred these babies so fast my head spun, and even as I sit here writing about it… I’m thinking about a second helping. Oh the guilt. As my husband said, the only problem with the recipe is that you need more – more rolls, more pans… mindblowing.

To Rachel from Recreating Happiness, I doff my cap and give a bow. This recipe is absolutely perfect.Β  http://recreatinghappiness.com/breakfast-recipes/gluten-free-cinnabon-copycat-cinnamon-roll-recipe-updated-and-now-easier-to-make

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The complete devastation and aftermath of delicious rolls being decimated.

Of note: I did have to substitute the almond flour for sorghum, which worked fine, as well as adding about 3 tbsps of milk to the icing to make it thin enough to drizzle. All else was by the book and man… what a tasty book. Total prep time was roughly 45 minutes to an hour, including a 15 minute rise time.

I recommend these to ANYONE – gluten free or not. Fluffy, gooey, tender… I think I hear another cinnamon roll in the kitchen calling my name. Until next time. πŸ™‚

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Posted by on January 31, 2017 in baking, gluten free

 

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Heaven in Seconds…

Heaven in Seconds…

Have you ever wondered what happens when you die? This post won’t be about food or religion, but something that I ponder from time to time. Some feel you go to heaven (or the equivalent in their religion), some feel you are reincarnated, some feel you hang out as a ghost doing ethereal things until you decide you’re done. But I have to state, for all the speculation, it’s all coming from the side of the living.

The honest, hard, cold fact is – we don’t know what happens when we die because once you’re dead – you can’t come back to let anyone else know. Sure, there are “near death” experiences, people who have “technically” died and been resuscitated, but those people were still alive. They didn’t endure cellular death and body breakdown, nor absolute brain death. Their bodies were still ready for a continuity of life.

Doctors have figured out that often, if you cool the body, you slow that process of death – the one that you don’t come back from, when your cells decide to die. I’ve read about it, there’s a certain point where your cells are so damaged, there is no return. That is why you can’t just die and be frozen, then be returned to life. Currently, we have no way to reverse that point when your body betrays your spirit. That is death.

So with that as my definition, I don’t believe the people who have come back as reliable bearers of what it’s like to be dead. After all, they never truly were. If they were, they’d be in a box under the ground. Not that their experience isn’t valuable or valid – I am definitely not discounting what they endured, I’m just saying – it comes from a living mind – even when it seems that person is not.

With brain death… those are people who don’t come back – their brain is gone, there is no captain to steer the vessel. You can do all the tests you wish – cold water in the ears, pin pricks on the soles of feet, swabs on corneas – no reaction. Once your brain stops working complete, it doesn’t matter how alive the rest of you is. You… what you know as you… has flown on to greener pastures.

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But are there greener pastures? I’ve been put under anesthetic for two surgeries now. Do you know what I remember? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I remember getting groggy as I was wheeled into the operating room. I remember hearing Tchaikovsky – the Nutcracker Suite – and laughing to myself. I remember saying, “Tchaikovsky!” and then waking up. Maybe that doesn’t prove anything, but maybe it’s a reliable indicator of what is to come.

Please, don’t get discouraged while reading this. I just need to explain how I am coming to the point, the idea, that I’m about to make. You see, I thought about that darkness of surgery. Then I thought about how it is that when I’m dreaming, when I’ve fallen back to sleep for the five minutes after my alarm has gone off and I’ve hit snooze, that I can have an entire experience that lasted for hours in my mind. Minutes in real life that are hours in my brain.

So I have a theory – it may be right, it may be wrong. It comes from someone who has seen ghosts (I’ll share some of those experiences below, which I can’t explain). Someone who believes there is life in everything because the vibrations of atoms and molecules are energy and that means even rocks have life, though not consciousness.

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Alex Grey – “Creativity”

My theory is that we experience our heavens and hells in seconds. From the point that you stop breathing until the point that your cells betray you – be that minutes or moments – you experience your life end. You might go to heaven and see all the relatives you’ve lost, you might walk the world, you might become a new person, you might burn in fire, you might become an angel, you might blow over the land as wind, become a star, travel the entire universe, or crawl in an insect’s body. But then, you die – and like the anesthetic that turns the world to black, you sleep eternally.

Honestly, I’m okay with that – if my theory is correct. Sure, it may mean I don’t live on forever, but if I’m right with myself at that last moment, my dying mind will give me a glorious ending. In those moments, I may live hundreds of years more. I may agree to enter darkness after those hundreds of years because I would like to finally sleep. Either way, I think how we are to others and ourselves allows our minds to create our final end. So long as we have a beautiful end… isn’t that all we ALL want? (Except those of you who want to live forever… πŸ˜€ )

I mentioned above that I’ve had paranormal experiences. I can’t account for those in my theory. And I’m not talking about looking for them on some ghost tour, or trying to conjure up spirits in seance – I’m talking about going about my business and being confronted with something that isn’t there. Some examples:

  1. My mother died when I was eight years old. I won’t go into how crushing that is right now, but I have only, just now, after thirty years, started to be okay with it. Of course as a child I thought I saw her at the foot of my bed, I can’t tell you whether that was true or not, but I can say that many a time when I was alone in my house after school, watching television, I’d hear footsteps. One of the times I heard the footsteps walking in my father’s room and grabbed a broom handle, ready to do battle. (Which honestly is comical – I was about as big as that broom handle.) I got upstairs and there was absolutely no one. Not in the closet, not under the bed. I checked the rest of the house when it dawned on me that I was hearing something that I shouldn’t have. I walked to my aunt’s house – a mile away.
  2. Coming up the stairs at my old house to go to bed one night, I hit the landing and looked up. In that house, from the landing, you could look up into the hallway and see my bedroom door and my father’s on the other side. Sitting on the edge of my dad’s bed was a greenish figure who had it’s head in it’s hands. It slowly looked over at me. I went back downstairs.
  3. Sobbing my eyes out when I was about 15 years old. I was cursing God, cursing the universe, cursing my mother for leaving me behind. (My life was one filled with abuse after her death – a story for another time.) I was crying so hard into my pillow I could barely breathe – there are times sorrow is so deep… so bitter… anyway… I hated everything at that moment including myself. As I wept, I felt a hand on my back, rubbing gently. I honestly thought my Dad had come into the room without me knowing it and was comforting me. I looked up and no one was there.
  4. Filming a short film at the old State Penitentiary here in New Mexico, sitehooded-figure of one of the worst prison riots in history. (There is a book called the Devil’s Butcher Shop… chilling.) We were filming in the medical wing, where I naively thought nothing had happened (I found out after that, indeed, several men had OD’s there). I wasn’t bothered by being there, I made peace and was respectful of the history and the prisoners who suffered there. At the end of the medical wing is a room with a window that looks out toward the new State Penn. I was all the way opposite from it and saw my friend standing at the window. So I start down the long wing calling his name, rankled that he wasn’t responding or turning around. I jogged the entire corridor as he turned and walked farther into the room where I couldn’t see him. When I got there, not only was it not Brian, no one was there. I heard my name and turned around to see Brian all the way back where I’d started out. He’d heard me shouting and come to find out what I’d wanted. And that figure was so dark as to have me believe it was solid, in silhouette from the daylight outside.
  5. Right before my surgery for my gallbladder removal, I was thinking about the worry on my husband’s face. I could do under and that be all, so goodbyes are crucial for that “just in case” scenario. Nothing over dramatic, but ‘I love you’ is a must. I was being a trooper, strong for him, when I felt what could only be described as a pair of arms encircle me from behind – like someone was standing behind me and hugging me. Calm swept over me. Of course, no one could fit behind the bed but the wall – no one was there… but I knew I’d be alright and I went calmly into my surgery.

There are many more instances in my life, but those are standouts. Those were moments that I was not thinking about ghosts, death, afterlife – just moments where I was going about my business or my grief or my apprehension and the ghosts/spirits came to me. I can’t tell you how that fits into the theory. I could say that regardless, those experiences are still filtered through my own mind and could have been manufactured by me. Psychosomatic experiences are real for those feeling them. Those visions sure were solid enough for me to react to them.

I can’t say I have any answers. I have a ton of theories and this is just one – if we are just fractals and the universe trying to understand itself, then who knows where we’re off to next or how our energy patterns will react with the whole. Regardless, the fact remains, the only way I’m ever going to know, is when that time finally comes for me and I go, “So this is what it is…” and turn around to tell the living… and can’t.

 

For what I *hope* to have happen – well, being able to travel the universe and go anywhere I wish would be amazing, but if our wispy souls are bound by laws of physics and gravity like the winds, I’ll settle for being a guardian angel. I like a good challenge. If I have to come back as someone new, I hope that I get to come into a family full of love to experience a childhood that I didn’t get to have before. I hope that my tenacity comes with me and that maybe I drive my new self to cure cancer. πŸ˜€ And, if after all is said and done, it truly is just darkness and eternal dreamless sleep – I just hope that I’ve done enough in this life to make a difference for someone else – be it helping them through a tough time, or simply giving them food for thought.

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Kenny Callicutt – “Light from the Beginning of Time”

Until next time.

 
 

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Grain Mills and Rachmaninoff

Grain Mills and Rachmaninoff

Hello and thank you for stopping by yet again to read my ramblings. What a wild topic, grain mills and Rachmaninoff, but I’m feeling very wonderful this evening from both of these things.

I’ll start with grain mills. I can’t tell you the hours, literally hours, I spent thinking about whether my baking was enough to justify the purchase of a grain mill. It does sound crazy, I know, especially when you start looking at just how much a legitimate mill costs – but when I realized I was spending about fifty dollars a month in flour, well – it was time for some serious consideration.

innovation-researchI went into looking at manual mills, electric mills, jerry-rigged mills (read: blenders and vitamixes). I watched countless YouTube videos on how to use mills and comparisons of different brands of mills. I read so many articles – from the simple ones written by people just enjoying having a mill in their kitchens, to articles so scientific it left me calculating moisture in grain. I looked up hooking up manual mills to bicycles, hand cranks, geared-down motors. I looked up particle sizes to figure out whether a mill could accomplish such a thing as “ultra fine rice flour” and realized I’d need sieves. I then learned about mesh sizes, mesh weaves… I literally went to bed many a night with mills in my dreams and the vision of having to sift to achieve some out-of-reach goal. I bought a 200 mesh sieve and about fainted when I saw the mesh (I definitely wanted nearly a powder quality and man… am I going to get it, just with a ton of work). Suffice it to say, after two weeks of continual research, I felt comfortable enough to winnow (see what I did there? Eh? Eh?) my choices down to two: a Country Living Grain Mill and the Grain Maker.

[Electric mills like the Komo were definitely at the top of my list, but the fact that they don’t want you to pass the grains through again was essentially the end of my quest with them. If I could only get gritty rice flour and not be able to remill it into a finer flour… I would have been really, really, really angry. Since I couldn’t find anything that discussed whether rice came though beautifully, and since everything I read talked about cleaning burrs by grinding rice… I wasn’t convinced that I’d get what I was looking for. I’m a pretty particular gal, I suppose, with pretty strict standards of acceptability when making a large purchase. Digression over, I shall continue!]

I’ll admit, the Grain Maker was cool. I mean, fire engine red. I like red things… two walls in my house are red. I have red shirts and sweaters. I have a candy apple red stand mixer… I was already sold. But – the goal was, ultimately, a mill that could grind a VERY fine flour as a springboard for me to then sift into an ultra fine rice flour. Let me back up for a moment and say this before continuing… if you’ve ever baked gluten free, you know that rice flour can make things very gritty if you don’t let your batter sit. Now, if you bake with ultra fine rice flour (ala Super Fine from Authentic Foods), you don’t need to let it sit. That flour is so wonderful because it is the texture of talcum powder, when makes it a beautiful pastry flour and a wonderful baking flour in general. So, back to the tale, I had read that the Country Living mill was capable of pastry flour straight from the mill. I couldn’t find anything for Grain Maker that said the same. I wrote the folks at Grain Maker.

I asked them specifically if the Grain Maker was capable of “Authenic Foods” style of Super Fine rice flour. What I got back was a response that… well… essentially said the Grain Maker could make nice flour and if I had any questions I could ask. Well… I had asked, and given that I couldn’t get a straight answer, I took that as a no. Not saying it can’t, but I wasn’t ready to plunk down 700 bucks if I couldn’t get a straight answer to a very specific question from the people running the business.

clgmI decided that I’d heed the articles saying that the Country Living Grain Mill was the only steel burr mill capable of a pastry flour straight out of the mill on the first pass. I resolved to buy one… and by resolved, I mean sat there for two days doing math over and over to determine when I’d break even if I spent the money for not just the mill, but the motorization kit to run it. (800 dollars total.) I hovered over the buy button for probably half an hour. Eight hundred dollars to buy a grain mill… and not even knowing if it would actually do what I wanted straight out of the gate. 15 days to decide if I liked it, if not, return shipping for a 50 pound item. I finally swallowed my doubts and nerves (I don’t exactly like shelling out money all that much either… I’m not a skinflint, but something about big purchases gives me butterflies and not in a good way), and bought the thing.

A snowstorm blew in to Washington and Oregon, which meant that I had an even longer wait. So I checked daily to see where the mill was according to UPS, and like a basket of nerves, I wondered every. single. day. if I did the right thing. What if it came and I hated it? What if it came and didn’t work? What if it came and I felt like an idiot for buying it? I had nightmares about it. (I think I’m beginning to see I’m a little bit of a worry-wart…)

Well, it came. This giant, fifty-pound box that I slid into the living room and opened. I was excited and nervous, too. I pulled out pieces bit by bit – corn and bean auger, check. Geared-down motor, check. V-belt, check. Mounting board, check. Flywheel, check. And then… I was looking at my white Country Living Grain Mill that promised me so much. I put it all together. I set it on my dining room table. I loaded the hopper with Calrose Botan rice… and I flipped the switch.

Magic… that’s what happened… or at least that’s how it felt. I adjusted it, set it on about the finest setting I could get and have it still run, and it was almost enough to make me cry. The rice flour came out at only a SLIGHT bit more grit than the Bob’s Red Mill white rice flour. On the first pass. I was absolutely – AM absolutely elated. I haven’t even milled it again, I haven’t yet sifted it. I have a mill, it works, and I watched the most glorious thing happen in my own home – I made flour for my family.

sergei_rachmaninoff_cph-3a40575Which brings me to Rachmaninoff. I am writing this as I listen to Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Opus 18. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJpJ8REjvqo) I’ve loved Rachmaninoff since I was a teen. The way he could zip through arpeggios, the bright and bold quality to his music, the richness and fullness of the orchestra… but this piece in particular is stunning – especially the second movement. It makes me think of winter fading, spring coming into bloom – the earnest hard work that life must do to simply repeat itself yet again. Flowers as they unfurl and call to the bees, buds growing into leaves… that moment when the world wakes up from winter’s sleep. Or… the beauty of being able to make something for your family in your home that is wholesome and healthy… the awe in the simplicity of grinding rice into flour (and knowing if the electricity goes out, you can still do it by hand). It’s a beautiful piece and I encourage you to take a listen at the link above. Masterful, thoughtful, incredibly stunning.

So… all this to say… 800 dollars well spent. With the cost of grains, and still having to buy starches, it will take me about 3.5 years to recoup my “losses” before I’m actually saving money again. That’s okay, really. I don’t mind playing the long game, because after three years… the money I’m saving is incredible by comparison (I just bought a 20 pound bag of rice for 11 dollars… come on!). And… best of all… I feel wonderful providing for my family.

Next time, I’ll tell you about the triple chocolate cake I baked tonight in between all my fretting… wonderful chocolate cake with chocolate custard between the layers and whipped chocolate ganache frosting… I died and went to chocolate heaven. Until then, my friends. πŸ™‚

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2017 in baking, gluten free, music

 

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Gluten Free Berry Chantilly Cake

Gluten Free Berry Chantilly Cake
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I can’t believe this came out of my kitchen… YESSSS!!!!

Happy New Year!!

My friends… oh my friends. It’s been a little bit since I posted last and during that time I’ve been trying and failing (sprinkled with succeeding) in my kitchen. I’ve experimented with gluten free crackers (still working on it) which came out like thin little pie crusts – fail. I experimented with strawberry cake and watched as I completely didn’t account for the pectin in the fruit puree and ended up with a gel cake – epic fail. I made sandwich bread where I did every step right, watched it brown to a beautiful shade, then had the center gummy because I’d added just a shade too much xanthan gum – *sigh* fail. I made danishes – now those worked like gang busters and were delicious to boot, but only after the first one came out like a kid on a bike with training wheels – only slightly close. The first one was at least edible, the second… heaven. I had to recalibrate my oven after figuring out things were failing also because… 25 degrees of difference is a HUGE deal… oy.

I suppose all the failures were moments of teaching… there’s nothing in the world more defeating than to have to dump two cakes down a sink. It really does make you feel like giving up baking because you just sent about twenty bucks down the drain. But… with my two guys both celiac, and the successes that made their faces light up… well, I couldn’t give up. It’s all a learning process.

I decided to tackle this chantilly cake. A little background – my husband and I had this cake at our wedding (just celebrated 17 years!), back before he had his diagnosis of celiac disease. It’s one of those deserts he remembered loving, but hasn’t been able to have it in years. I think that’s probably one of the most terrible things for me, my son is one thing – he’s been celiac from birth and hasn’t ever had the opportunity to eat wheat-based products. He doesn’t miss it. My husband, on the other hand, does. I hate knowing he has these memories of great food that he can no longer eat. Imagine – your favorite cookie and never being able to eat it again. Constantly chasing that dragon as you plow through the sometimes bland and chalky world of gluten free sweets. I couldn’t give up.

I went on a search for a recipe that would work and finally found one on A Sue Chef (link at the bottom). Let me just start with this… I thought I understood how to substitute a regular recipe for a gluten free one. HA… ha ha ha ha ha ha *deep breath* AHAHAHA. To put it in a positive way – I’m still learning how to manage that one. Learning what a cake batter should look like, for example, and when there isn’t enough flour to help it even be a cake. Yeah, I subbed in 140g of flour per called cup and 1/4 tsp of xanthan and ended up with jello cakes. I watched my first two cakes slide down the sink, the disposall whirring with satisfaction as it pulverized them into goo. I then made the frosting and watched what happens when you whip cream too long… I had the best cottage cheese looking frosting ever… just… wasn’t what I was looking for. And no amount of microwave or extra cream could overcome it. I simply had to feed my sink again. I’m amazed it isn’t fat yet. Ha ha ha!

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Two slices down, my heavy-handed nature bowed out the icing in the middle of the cake. Well, I suppose it only needs to look pretty before you nosh it to nothingness! πŸ˜€

So, I started again tonight. I decided that I was going to modify the cake recipe I’ve been using to make a vanilla/almond yellow cake. I decided I was going to make that frosting over again… and voila… after what feels like a deep slump in my baking prowess… I summitted cake Everest!! There it was… moist, delicious, and perfect – perfect – perfect!!

I would like to share the recipe below, along with some tips so you can avoid my mistakes my first go round. Trust me when I say, no one would guess it was gluten free. It’s insane how – when things come together – you can make magic in the kitchen. And yes… you can make magic, too. Don’t give up, even on those days where the best thing you did after four hours was make berry syrup. *grin*

A few notes:

  • The cake itself is more of a pound cake. So it’s more dense than what you’d buy at Whole Foods, but it makes up for the density with powerful good flavor and incredible moistness. Feel free to sub in your own gluten free vanilla/yellow cake if you want a lighter version. (And feel free to share your recipe, I’d love to have more things that work!)
  • I use dairy and eggs in my recipes. If you choose to substitute for those items, I can’t vouch for how well it will come out. I personally haven’t tried it myself, as I’m lacto- ovo- vegetarian. [And what would I tell my hens if I didn’t eat their wonderful products? I can already see Grace now, tilting her head with a skeptical gaze. Just like me, my girls want people to eat what they’ve made! That’s what I tell myself, anyway. Ha ha!]
  • Again, my recipe is by weight. This is how I’ve learned to bake gluten free, and I urge everyone to do the same. Since flours can vary so much, the safest way to ensure you’re getting the same amount in your recipe, is by weight. I urge you to weigh your mixing bowl, so that when you divide up the recipe, you know exactly how much of the batter is half by simply subtracting your bowl weight and dividing it by two. Tare your cake pans and pour in half the batter and rest assured it’s precise!
  • A Sue Chef’s gluten version of this recipe can be found here.

Gluten Free Berry Chantilly Cake


Cake (makesΒ  TWOΒ  8″ round cakes):

  • 8 oz GF flour (I use a mix of 20% millet, 20% sorghum, 30% super fine sweet white rice flour, 30% tapioca flour)
  • 4 oz superfine sweet rice flour
  • 2 oz tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 12 oz granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 8 large eggs
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 8 oz melted butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line your cake pans with parchment paper (you can buy round parchment precut to fit, I simply put the parchment over my pan and trimmed it to fit, leaving two tabs on either side that stick up above the pan. This will allow you to pull the cake up a little once it’s baked).
  2. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the dry ingredients (except sugar). [Flour through xanthan gum.]
  3. Place the sugar, extracts, eggs, and cream cheese in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Slowly add in the butter to the mixture, pulsing as you go.
  4. Pour wet into another bowl and whisk the dry ingredients into the wet until smooth.
  5. Divide and pour mix into prepared pans and bake for 15 minutes.
  6. Reduce the oven temperature to 325F and bake for another 20 minutes. Turn the cake.
  7. Bake for another 20 minutes or until your tester comes out clean.
  8. Allow cakes to cool for 15 minutes before running a knife around the edge, and pulling the cakes out of the pans to transferring to a cooling rack.
  9. Allow cakes to cool **completely**.

Chantilly Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter (room temperature)
  • 16 oz mascarpone cheese (room temperature). [TIP: I made this with mascarpone the first time, and a quick substitute the second time… I literally could not tell the difference. So if you can’t find mascarpone or simply don’t want to spend the money to buy it – 16 oz cream cheese, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup whipping cream. Boom. Mascarpone.]
  • 8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (cold)
  • 1 tsp almond extract

Directions:

  1. Cream your butter. [Just the butter. When I did this the first time, the directions I followed had you cream everything together… well, my butter ended up lumpy and that is why I threw everything out of whack. Cream it first, you’ll thank me.]
  2. Cream the butter with the cream cheese and mascarpone until light and fluffy.
  3. Add salt and extract and thoroughly blend.
  4. Add in the confectioner’s sugar a bit at a time, creaming it in while trying to avoid lumps.
  5. In a separate bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. [DON’T overmix!! Literally, you will go from stiff peaks to cottage cheese in what feels like seconds, so check your whip often. If it looks like cool whip, you’re good to go. If you overmix, slowly add in very cold heavy cream a tbsp at a time and hand STIR with a whisk until you’re back on track.]
  6. Gently fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone cream cheese mix until fully incorporated.
  7. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate. If you are using it from the fridge, take it out 10 minutes prior to use to let it warm back to room temp.

Berry Syrup

You’ll be using this on any lower layers of cake to seal in moisture (and frankly, add in a little kick of berry flavor).

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries (or 2 tbsps of berry jam if you want super sweet).

Directions:

  1. In a small sauce pot, place all your ingredients.
  2. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved and your berries are looking translucent. (If you used jam, just reduce by half and let it cool. You are done!)
  3. Pour the mix through a strainer and smash down the strawberries. You should have a nice red liquid.
  4. Cook until it reduces by half and you have a nice syrup. Leave out to cool to room temperature, or refrigerate for later. (If you’re using it later, pull it out and let it come back to room temperature.)

Assembly!

  1. Using a bread knife, trim your bottom cake to be flat on the top (chop the top off!). [You may need to go around the edges as well to line them up, but it depends on how pretty you want your cake. I did not trim the edges nor did I take the top off of the top layer of cake. I left a dome on mine, which means the upper layer is thicker than the bottom. You can also slice your rounds in half to make four layers.]
  2. Spread a layer of berry syrup on the top of the first layer of cake.
  3. Spread a thin layer of icing on top of the berry syrup.
  4. Place as many sliced berries as you wish on the cake. I used blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
  5. Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat steps 2-3 until the last layer. You don’t want to put berry syrup on the top of the cake because it is difficult to spread!
  6. Frost the rest of your cake. [You can choose to cool the cake and ice on top of your first layer if you want a smoother look. I did not do this.]
  7. Garnish the top with fresh berries. I used blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
  8. [Optional Step] You can glaze the berries on top with a simple syrup or apricot glaze if you want them to shine!
  9. Refrigerate until serving and enjoy. Delicious!
 
 

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