Ben the Baker

Just a guy trying to get his kids to eat

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Archive for the ‘Cake’ Category

A very chocolate passover

Posted by osakaben41 on March 29, 2010

From the bottom up: Flourless Chocolate Cake, Matzo praline, espresso chocolate cheesecake, praline, flourless cake, ganache glaze, surrounded by chocolate mousse

Dad, am I a Jew?” says the little girl.  No honey, you’re just ‘jew-ish’. 

Such are the stale jokes of yet another mixed-faith couple.  Easter to me as a young boy meant pounds and pounds of chocolate, and gorging on enough jellybeans to swear me off the stuff for good.  Passover was when the lucky kids at school didn’t have to eat the ‘Sloppy Joes’ on soggy white bread.  What I’m saying is, we’re not that observant. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Cake, Chocolate, mousse | 2 Comments »

Lemon-Chevre Cheescake

Posted by osakaben41 on March 1, 2010

(Updated below)

One of the first ‘high end’ restaurants my wife and I tried in Boston, Rialto, stood out for two reasons.  It was her introduction to how good a well built martini could taste, and I discovered goat-cheese cheesecake.  Many years then pass before Helen at Tartelette casually throws one out there, bringing me right back to that night.  The other night some friends – for us, they happened to be big fans of all things lemon, so really what choice did I actually have?  What a perfect thank you gift. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Fruit, Lemon | Leave a Comment »

Butterfly Birthday Cupcakes

Posted by osakaben41 on February 21, 2010

My daughter is now 4, how did this happen?  We had a small party this morning, and I got to bake something for a crowd of kids.  She didn’t want a big cake, it had to involve the color pink, and she likes butterflies.  

Knowing she wasn’t up for anything funky like an olive oil buttercream, we went with a simple raspberry swirl with straight pink buttercream.  To make it a bit less ordinary, I piped some butterfly wings in milk chocolate onto parchment paper the other night, let them set, then topped each cupcake with a pair.  For this I get a two second, “wow cool” before it all gets smeared on faces hands and the floor, but that two seconds was certainly worth it.

Worth a smile

Posted in Cake, cupcake, Jam | 3 Comments »

Cherry Almond Financier

Posted by osakaben41 on January 23, 2010

For better or worse the January Daring Bakers Challenge (to be posted on the 27th, the official “reveal date”) took a lot out of me, lots of components, new techniques, big fun.  I love these large complicated projects, but needed something ‘one-note’ to clean the palette.

The hope was to try to recreate what I thought was a new idea, but as with so many things had already been done, and done better by Aran at Cannelle et Vanilla, Candied Kumquat and Pistachio Financiers.  For some reason though I’ve had the hardest time finding Kumquats.  After the 5th place I tried over three days proved fruitless (bad pun intended), I abandoned the plan and went instead with an Almond Cherry approach.   Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Fruit | 3 Comments »

Chestnut Buche de Noel

Posted by osakaben41 on January 1, 2010

My apologies for going dark there for the last month or so.  The long story made short, a few weeks back I was commissioned to make cakes for a local company for a charity event serving over 300 people.  Awash with pride and excitement I killed myself for a week, staying up late each night, ruining our kitchen, and going through more than 50 eggs to make the deadline.  At the end of it all, the overall sense was that the cake was too dry.  And they were right, I didn’t use enough syrup on my genoise, and knew it at the time but charged ahead anyway.  After having a ball making little tarts and the occasional ice cream I tried to take it to the next level and was rightly smacked down for my hubris.  I’ll probably get back up on that horse sometime soon, if the opportunity presents itself again, but had to retreat temporarily and lick some wounds, if not just catch up on some sleep. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Chocolate, mousse | Leave a Comment »

Apple Cider Madelines

Posted by osakaben41 on October 14, 2009


Something about the fall makes my wife and I crazy for apple cider donuts.  We haven’t gotten around to the annual apple picking family excursion yet, but when we do, while the kids look forward to the hay rides, and general outdoorsy fun, we head right for the donuts.

Knowing that somethings are always going to taste better bought than made, if only because the joy is partially in the apple-picking fun, I still wanted to try making these, if only to see how hard they might be.  Turns out, surprisingly easy.

Perhaps someday we’ll try the fried donut approach, but without a fry-daddy on hand, and not wanting to waste that much oil for a frivolous experiment, I found this baked donut recipe online.  As we were having friends over for dinner, and not wanting to give the kids a donut each, I just filled the Madeline tin instead.  

Oddly enough the one problem with this recipe was that they came out too cake-y and not dense like you’d expect a donut to be.  Accidentally then, it was ideal as a small tea cake.  At least the kids seemed to enjoy them, and sometimes it’s nice to spend no more than half an hour on a project.

Posted in Cake, Cookies, Recipes | Leave a Comment »

Chocolate Kahlua Birthday Cake

Posted by osakaben41 on September 13, 2009

C-K cakeI am just loving these birthday cake commissions.  A good friend asked for a chocolate cake for her 40th, more specifically a Chocolate-chocolate with a hint of chocolate cake.  No nuts, no coconut, no fruit, just that sweet dark embrace.

Other things worth considering, 1) she has three kids, so for her birthday no more ponies, rainbows, or princesses (but yes to the liquor). 2) she’s a legitimate rock star, performing at her own party, and lastly 3) there might be a whole bunch of people looking for their slice of cake.  So we set off on a search for a massive, alcoholic, musically themed cake.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Chocolate | 1 Comment »

Black Forest Cake

Posted by osakaben41 on September 11, 2009


This one was another birthday cake commission, which despite some trepidation ended up being a whole lot of fun to put together.  On it’s own a Black Forest Cake didn’t seem to offer much of an interesting challenge.  We’re talking about a fairly straightforward chocolate cake with cherries and whipped cream.  But in the spirit of making your own fun, lets try to find a way to get slightly offbeat while staying true to the basic premise.

Let’s stipulate off the bat that we’re going to stay true to the strict Chocolate, Cherry, Cream formula, and focus instead on presentation.  Flipping through flickr for ideas, the traditional approach looks to be slapping a good half inch of whipped cream on the sides, maybe throw a maraschino cherry or two on top, or just hose the whole thing down with chocolate shavings.  In short, the standard just felt ham-handed and inelegant. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Chocolate, Fruit | Leave a Comment »

Dobos Torte, August DB Challenge

Posted by osakaben41 on August 27, 2009


I’ve been waiting awhile to be able to post this, but the rules are the rules, and they are clear: no revealing the monthly challenge until the 27th.  With that said, The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus:  Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

The challenge here was to get thin, thin, thin layers of cake consistent enough that the final stack doesn’t lean too much.  This proved more challenging that I expected, with a number of air bubbles making the sponge resemble Swiss cheese.  I tried baking with parchment paper on top of each layer of batter, silpat on top, and uncovered, but just was not able to get layers that didn’t suffer from air pockets.  I may have whipped the egg whites too much, or perhaps the batter needed to rest for a few minutes before going in the oven, but it’s a problem I need to come back to later to solve.  (The earlier Lemon Layer Birthday cake was actually a test drive for this process)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Chocolate, DB Challenge, Recipes | 10 Comments »

Fresh Figs

Posted by osakaben41 on August 27, 2009


If you’re anything like me, you only experience with figs is in their Newton form.  Honestly, despite some amazing photography out there, I was a babe in the woods.  Do you peel them?  Is there a bitter pith like an orange?  And what do they really taste like?

This comes up as I found myself at our local exotic fruit mecca searching for inspiration.  It’s a dangerous thing to go shopping like that without a plan, particularly for items with a limited shelf life.  What passes for self restraint these days means I was able to leave without some very cool new toys.  That said, I still had a few pints of Black Mission Figs to go with my prized passion fruit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Cake, Fruit, Ice Cream | 2 Comments »