team usa cake!

two. days. until. the. olympics!!!!!!!!!!! have you been following all of the ig stories of all of the skaters flying to korea and going through team processing and getting all of their fancy team outfits and rings and stuff?? it is so fun, i love looking behind the scenes.

but starting thursday, everybody please keep your voices down, i have to focus on every single figure skating event and also hockey and some speed skating and chloe kim and her great hair. it's going to be great. it's all in my ical.

please enjoy this cake that is my ode to team usa!! it's basically a big soft loaf of an italian almond cookie that's been shaped into an american flag and and topped with a marzipan olympic-y logo. it's sooo rich and almondy and requires so much butter (!!!!!). you're going to think that your stand mixer is gonna overflow, but don't worry, it won't (it shouldn't if you have at least a 5 qt), and this recipe makes two cakes so you can enjoy one during the opening ceremony and one during the closing ceremony. or share one with a friend who is equally excited about team usa figure skating. (are you that friend?? can you also be my friend? i think my friends are sick of me talking their ears off about axels.)

i thought it'd be easiest to show you how to build this cake rather than try to write down every direction, so my friend paul and i made the above video that will walk you through the steps! and the music is by my super cool bro-in-law, john cwiok! everybody check out his tunesthanks, paul and john!!! also big thanks to eggboy who did his best to be the rafael arutyunyan of this scenario. 


team usa cake

makes 2 loaf cakes

ingredients

6 large eggs, separated (see note)

1/4 c (50g) plus 1 1/4 c (250g) sugar

2 c (450g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

16 oz (450g) almond paste, chopped or torn into pieces

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tb lemon juice

1 tsp almond extract

3 c (384g) all-purpose flour

1 c (240g) whole milk

1 tsp blue liquid food coloring or a few drops of gel

1 tsp red liquid food coloring or a few drops of gel

1/2 c (150g) apricot or raspberry jam

 

Ganache

10 oz semisweet or dark chocolate chips

1 c (240g) heavy whipping cream

 

Topping

Marzipan kneaded with food coloring

Gold sprinkles

clues

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease two 8” by 12” quarter sheet pans and one 8” by 4” loaf pan and line them with parchment paper that comes at least 2 inches up two of the sides of the pan.

in a large bowl or in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. with the mixer running on medium, gradually add the 1/4 cup of sugar. increase the speed to medium-high and beat to stiff peaks. set them aside (see note). in a large bowl or in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, almond paste, salt, and remaining 1 1/4 cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. reduce the speed to medium and add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. beat in the lemon juice and almond extract, then reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the flour and milk in 2 or 3 alternating additions. mix to combine. use a rubber spatula to fold in the whites.

transfer 780g of the mixture to one of the quarter sheet pans and use a small offset spatula to spread it out evenly. transfer 525g of the mixture to a separate bowl and fold in the blue food coloring and spread evenly it in the loaf pan. fold the red food coloring into the remaining third and transfer it to the other quarter sheet pan, spreading it out evenly.

bake until the tops are just set and no longer shiny. begin checking for doneness at 15 minutes. the blue layer will need at least 5 more minutes than the other layers since it's quite a bit thicker. let cool in the pans.

refer to the above video on how to assemble, spreading the jam between each of the layers. wrap the loaf firmly in plastic wrap, weigh them down with a big cookbook, and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight. tip: placing the loaf cakes on rectangles of cardboard will make transferring them easier!

trim the edges of the cakes and place them on a wire rack that's been place on top of a sheet pan. make the ganache: place the chocolate chips in a large heat safe bowl or measuring cup. bring the heavy cream to a boil in a medium saucepan (keep a close eye on it and remove it from heat as soon as it starts to boil otherwise it will boil over), pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for about 30 seconds. then stir it up until you have a smooth ganache. Pour it over the cake, allowing any excess ganache to drip down onto the sheet pan (you can reuse the ganache, reheating it if it firms up), and using an offset spatula to smooth it all over.

Top it with marzipan olympic rings and sprinkles. Enjoy immediately or stick it in the fridge for a few minutes for the ganache to firm up.

Leftovers will keep at room temp for a few days or in the refrigerator for a little longer.

Note: with any recipe that calls for beating something else in the same mixer, I do a few steps to cut down on dishes and ensure that my egg whites don't have any bit of yolk in them, which will cause them not to beat to stiff peaks. I first separate an egg into 2 medium bowls. I then pour the white into my mixer bowl. then I repeat for each egg, adding the whites one by one so that if one gets contaminated, they're not all ruined. and then i beat the whites to stiff peaks first, scoop them out of the mixer bowl, and then use the mixer bowl for the next step. if you use a rubber spatula to get 95 percent of the whites out, there's really no need to rinse the mixer bowl for the yolk step.


-yeh!

orange blossom almond cake

by the time that she's old enough to date i think i'll be so far removed from junior high drama that any advice that i may be able to offer my little sister would be completely unqualified and terrible. same for anything pertaining to fashion and applying eye shadow. but as her trusty middle older sister, i can definitely educate her on the value of sprinkle tweezers and the proper fluffiness of a cake batter. and if her enthusiasm now for baking (and—get this, cleaning up) is any indication of her future, i think that sprinkle tweezers will take her much further than eyebrow tweezers.

all of her birthday and holiday presents for the past few years have been baking centric: cake in a crate boxes, decorating classes with alekka (including one all about buttercream roses!!) and this year i was gonna go for the big piping set but apparently stoopie beat me to it. last week she did baking camp!

when i was her age i was into my tamagotchi flock and doing math, i thought i wanted to be a math teacher when i grew up. now i practically have to use a calculator to compute how many bagels a double batch of 12 will yield. so i realize that the chances are not unlikely that mia will probably get serious about a million other things before she grows up but i do selfishly have this fantasy that she’ll turn into an ivenoven or bk floral delight so the tables can turn and i can go visit her for buttercream flower advice. 

speaking of that, i don’t know what i’m doing on my computer right now, i should really be doing some crumb coats for the eggsister wedding. two days until show time!!!! i just really really wanted to show you these pictures and this cake before the big day! mia came for a visit a couple of weeks ago and, like the rest of our family, has a strong pull toward almond things (yass!!) so we made this almond cake that’s based on the pistachio cake from molly on the range. to keep with eggsister’s floral theme we added a tiny splash of orange blossom water that isn’t easy to detect on its own but it adds a complexity that’s just slightly bitter and fancy. mia chose all of the buttercream colors out of my new fun nifty fifty set. at first i was horrified at the mix of neon and pastel colors that she chose but i love how they turned out! and i enjoyed playing with colors that i otherwise wouldn’t have used. chantell and brett came to take some photos and mia brought out all of her sia-inspired hair bows to choose from. don't be fooled by our very serious concentration faces, it was the best day!!!! 

a couple of notes on this cake: it is so dense and packed full of nuts that it functions best as a one-layer cake (its original form is a loaf, so feel free to go that route if you'd like). it will look super ugly and like a meteor has crashed on top when it comes out of the oven but flip it over and it will be nice and smooth and have a slight dip in the center, which is best for holding a pool of glaze. i’ve included some brief buttercream rose directions below, one of which is to watch a million instagram and youtube videos, and at my current skill level that’s the best advice i can offer. i know i said i was going to try german buttercream this time but we ate all the eggs. oops. 


orange blossom almond cake

makes one 9" cake

Ingredients

2 c (224g) almond flour
1/2 c (56g) all-purpose flour or gluten free all-purpose flour with 1/4 tsp xantham gum
1 tsp kosher salt
1 c (225g) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c (300g) sugar
4 large eggs
zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp almond extract
3/4 tsp orange blossom water

For decorating

Powdered sugar glaze (a couple cups powdered sugar mixed with milk, cream, or water until creamy and spreadable)
Buttercream roses

Clues

Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease and line the bottom of a 9” round cake pan and set it aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, all-purpose flour, and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each, and then add the lemon zest, almond extract, and orange blossom water. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Scrape into pan and bake until browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the edges are just slightly pulling in from the pan. begin checking for doneness at 55 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

To decorate, pour the glaze over the top of the cake. Watch a million instagram and youtube videos for how to pipe buttercream roses. Pipe them onto little parchment squares and place them on a sheet pan. Freeze the sheet pan for about 15 minutes or until the frosting is firm, and then peel them off the parchment and stick them on the cake. Fill in any spaces with buttercream leaves and sprinkles, if desired.

 


-yeh!

all photos by chantell and brett quernemoen!

apron by enrich and endure

here are some more buttercream rose posts: 

valentine's day almond cake

well. you win some, you lose some, and sometimes you get possessed by an imaginary six-year-old while you’re decorating your annual valentine’s day cakes and they turn out looking like something that even a mask of seven vsco filters couldn't salvage. it's like valentine’s day of 2012 all over again. 

i’m cursed, i’m definitely cursed. not only do these look like [that] but they’re also kind of dry?! which is likely because i over whipped the egg whites, baked them for too long, and/or made miniature versions. and then after i baked these i went on to burn a loaf of challah in the oven. and then beyoncé didn't win album of the year. and then i lost my mandoline blades. someone please send help.

it all started when the dryness of these poor cakes set an ominous tone for the rest of the weekend. i baked them on saturday and they had such a hard time wiggling out of the muffin pans, so the outsides looked ugly because of it. i took one bite and they tasted like an icky sponge, not the moist almondy airy-yet-dense amazing perfect cake that i look forward to every year. i thought i could maybe save them with enough whipped cream, but still all of my inspiration was sucked out of me and all night that night i tossed and turned because i didn’t have a clear plan for how i would decorate them. i thought about making princess cakes, or mini versions of valentine’s cakes from past years, or committing to only using all-natural decorations (since i’ve been on a freeze dried berry kick, and because a whole box of quin candy arrived last week with the most delicious heart lollies and gumdrops), but i couldn’t decide and i tossed and turned until finally i was like,

molly, you’re being a stupid head for stressing out this much about cake decorations. it's supposed to be fun. 

so i just dove in on sunday morning with all of the pink things and heart things i had lying around, as well as the leftover frosting from saturday’s cookie decorating event at kittsona, and i had a lot of fun. and then when i took a step back to emerge for air, i was like, lol oh no these look like shit. oops? 

what do we learn from this:

-don’t make this cake miniature. it's clearly best when the soft innards are maximized. maybe some cakes that are slightly more prone to dryness are just not meant to be miniature. but if you must: use a jumbo muffin tin with parchment liners and be careful not to over bake them. i’m tempted to say add a little more sugar and less flour, too. but i’m too haunted by this experience to test it again, so for now i’m sticking with a regular 9" or 10" cake.

-don't over whip your egg whites.

-don't let this cake sit out uncovered for very long. if you need to bake it in advance, wrap it in plastic wrap as soon as it's cool and make sure it's air tight. freeze it if you need to bake it more than a day in advance. 

and how do we cure a case of dry cake:

-i’ve heard that brushing it with simple syrup helps, but this has always sounded too sticky to me.

-cover it with whipped cream or frosting. i did that and it did in fact help quite a bit. 

-rip it up and mix it into ice cream or a milk shake. i’m probably going to do this tonight. 

-make cake truffles. 

sigh. 

at least i had fun. 

for your reference, here are my valentine’s day cakes from past years. 2016's cake remains my favorite. 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011 / 2010


valentine's day almond cake

serves 10-12

ingredients

cake:

1/2 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
8 oz almond paste
6 large eggs, separated
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract

whipped cream:

1 1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract 

assembly:

marzipan kneaded with red, pink, and purple food coloring
sprinkles of all sorts

clues

preheat the oven to 350ºf. grease and line the bottom of a 10” springform pan and set aside.

in a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks and then gradually beat in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. continue beating to stiff peaks and then set aside.

in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (i usually just scoop the whites out of the bowl and transfer them to a separate bowl and then reuse my stand mixer bowl for this step), combine the almond paste and egg yolks and beat on high for 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. mix in the vanilla and almond extract. gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture and then fold in the flour mixture. pour the batter into the pan and then bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.

cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes and then remove to the rack to cool fully.

to make the whipped cream, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, confectioners’ sugar, and almond extract to stiff peaks.

spread the whipped cream on top of the cake and decorate as desired!


-yeh!