Hazelnut & Blood Orange Cake

This Gourmet Traveller recipe has been on my ‘to try’ list for a ridiculous amount of time. The problem was always the scarcity of the two main ingredients here in Michigan. Blood oranges are available here around January & hazelnuts are hard to find reliably (at a reasonable price), let alone hazelnut meal*.

However recently my friend told me that Trader Joes stock raw hazelnuts on a pretty regular basis, so this year when I saw blood oranges at the supermarket I decided to give this recipe a whirl.

I’m glad I did, this was really a lovely cake to make. It was super easy to make & tasted fantastic. I followed the instructions exactly. My only note is that I probably poured too much of the syrup into the pan before putting the butter on, it didn’t really affect the cake so much, but because I had a springform pan it leaked a little & left a bit of a gooey mess on the drip tray. I also didn’t have much syrup left over to pour on the cake to serve which is a shame because it was pretty tasty.

The end result was a very moist cake, not too sweet & not too tart – a perfect treat for afternoon tea. I’d happily recommend this recipe & will definitely be making it again next January.

*To make hazelnut meal myself, I just blitz hazelnuts in a food processor. It doesn’t come out as fine or as soft as a commercially bought meal but for most recipes it does the trick.

Kyivskiy Dream Torte

Fresh cherries are always a part of our families Christmas meals in Australia. So when my in laws brought back a box of fresh sour cherries from the Red Hill Cherry Farm two days before Ukrainian Christmas I had the perfect opportunity to experiment with a version of one of my favourite cherry cakes, a Kyivskiy Torte. Basically it’s hazelnut meringue layered with cherries and chocolate buttercream. Whilst you can get versions of it in Detroit, none of them come close to what we used to get from Cakes of Fantasy in Ormond (Melbourne, Australia), and as a result I’ve been missing it terribly.

I didn’t really want to recreate that cake exactly, (it’s a lot of work) but I did want something with similar tastes and textures. 

I started with this recipe from Gourmet Traveller for a Lemon Dream Cake and this recipe from The Women’s Weekly for a hazelnut cake.

There was a mismatch between the cooking times of the hazelnut cake and the original cake. So I tried to offset this by cooking the cake by itself for a little first. This also helped with the differences in consistency of the cakes, the dream cake batter is much stiffer and easier to spread the meringue on, while the hazelnut cake batter was quite sloppy.

Unfortunately this step, meant that the meringue didn’t really ‘stick’ to the top of the cake like it does with the dream cake. The other problem was that I used tins that were probably a little small so the cakes were VERY thick and took longer than expected to cook through. It was also not possible to layer them how I normally would.

Instead of layering the cakes with the cream and cherries in between I chose to fill the area under the meringue with cream and cherries. Unfortunately this meant the ratio of cherries and cream to cake was a little low.

For the cherries I simply cooked fresh sour cherries together with sugar and water (1 tsp of sugar for every 4 cherries). I also added a little gelatine to thicken it but I didn’t want it to be jelly so I didn’t add too much. I think next time I might try using something like Xantham gum for a better mouthfeel. I want it to be more like the texture of a lemon curd but don’t want to make a curd as the butter and eggs in the curd make it a little rich. If you have any suggestions for how I can best achieve this let me know in the comments.

For the cream I mixed double cream with a bit of nutella. Next time I think I’ll just use regular whipping cream as this mixture ended up a bit thick. I might try a couple of different ways of combining them together too so I can get a nice smooth texture.

On the whole this was a pretty good experiment. For all the issues I listed above the cakes tasted quite nice, I just need to to a little more work to get the ratios and textures right. The flavours were definitely spot on so I was really happy with that. I’ll definitely be making this one again sometime soon.

2017 Make Nine

These pictures are more inspiration for things I want to make/do this year, rather than specifics, but anyway, here are the 9 things I want to make this year.
1. Something off the shoulder
After seeing so many gorgeous off the shoulder tops that i couldn’t fit into while pregnant, I would love to make one thay i can wear for the summer. I love the Seed top in this picture, but might also end up making something less ornate.

2. Kyivsky Torte version of Flour and Stone’s Lemon Dream Cake

I’ve made this cake so many times now and it’s always a huge success, so I thought I’d try to make some new versions of it. The first one I’m going to try will be to combine the textures and layers of this cake with the flavours of another one of my favourite cakes, the Kyivskiy Torte (a layer cake with hazelnut meringue, chocolate butter cream and cherries).

3. Vyshyvanka for my husband

I have been promising to make my husband a Vyshyvanka for YEARS. This is likely to be a year long project and even then I can’t guarantee I’ll finish it!

4. Work Clothes

Later this year I finish up my maternity leave and head back to work full time. To motivate me into looking forward to work, I’ll most likely make some new clothes for work.

5. A Halloween Costume for the baby

How cute is this pineapple costume???!!! Whilst I doubt I’ll make this exact costume, I’ll definitely be making something for the bub, I have a few ideas including a couple of father/son ideas, but more on that later.

6. Some fun clothes for the bub

This will be a big challenge. It’s not only easy to make beautiful girls clothes, but it’s a lot of fun. Boys clothes on the other hand, whilst beautiful, can be a pain in the butt to make, they’re often very fiddly (i.e. shirts or good pants) and bit annoying to be honest, so I’ve been on the lookout for ideas for fun things to make like these dino/dragon hoodies. If you have any suggestions leave a comment below!

7. Decorated Cakes

Whilst I’m pretty good at making things taste good, I am rubbish at making them look good. This year I might try to improve my decorating skills. Mum gave me a couple of Australian Women’s Weekly Birthday Cake books (this one and this one). If you have kids and want to make cakes for them, then you should check these out, they are seriously good, there’s even a ‘cheats’ version out there if you’re not big on baking.

8. Coats

Shortly after moving to the US I found that pretty much all of my coats were grossly inadequate for Michigan winters. Needless to say I bought a couple of super warm down jackets, but I’ve wanted a couple of nice wool coats for the evening or for work. I love the Stella McCartney coat and I have a few Marfy patterns that I want to try so hopefully they work out. 

9. Curtains

The reality is we need curtains in some of the rooms in our house and my husband and I don’t want to pay someone a fortune to essentially sew a large rectangle of fabric. We made our own ripplefold curtains last year for the living room, which whilst it was an epic exercise (the curtain was something crazy like 10m long), it worked out really well. I think we’ll make some more later in the year for the dining room.