The Hummingbird cake is a beloved southern cake that incorporates both banana and pineapple into the mix making a moist and tropical treat that everybody loves. Toasted pecans give the cake a nutty depth of flavor and the whole thing is wrapped in cream cheese frosting. You can decorate with more pecans or apply a layer of pineapple flowers for a more dramatic effect. However you slice it this cake will have you humming with joy at each bite.
*Recipe adapted from Southern Living Magazine
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups Caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon (I like Vietnamese cinnamon)
3 large eggs beaten
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 (8oz) can crushed pineapple in juice
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 8oz packages cream cheese
1 cup of salted butter at room temperature
500g powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Dried pineapple flowers
Grease and flour three 8inch cake rounds. Preheat oven to 350° F. Whisk together your dry ingredients(flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, cinnamon) in a large bowl. Add eggs and oil and mix until just combined. Stir in vanilla, pineapple with the juice, mashed bananas, and pecans.
Divide batter evenly between your three prepared pans.
Bake until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing. Allow cakes to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Make cream frosting. Beat butter on medium speed until creamy, add in the cream cheese and continue to beat on medium until smooth. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and beat on low speed between additions. Stir in vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until fluffy.
Assemble the cake. Place the bottom layer on a cake stand or serving tray. Spread an even layer of frosting and top with the next cake layer. Spread another layer of frosting and top with the final cake layer. Spread remaining frosting on top and sides of the cake. If using pineapple flowers to decorate, place flowers around the cake and on top. Use kitchen scissors to cut additional flowers into segments to fill in any gaps on the cake.
I’ve teamed up with one of my most stylish friends, Ajiri Aki of Madame de la Maison to throw a festive apéro and give some tips on how to entertain with Parisian flair this holiday season. While Ajiri spent the afternoon setting the perfect rose and aubergine table I was busy in the kitchen putting the final touches on my cranberry white chocolate Bûche de Noël. Head over to Remodelista to see our tips for putting together your own French fête!
For a festive goûter this holiday season I made a gingerbread cake with cream cheese frosting. This cake is bursting with winter spices and rich molasses and everybody loves the smell of gingerbread baking in the oven. There are lots of decorating ideas you can incorporate into the design..I went with candied oranges, sugared cranberries and sparkling rosemary branches.
1. Preheat oven to 350° (178°c) Grease and flour three 8inch round cake pans. Sift together the flour, spices and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl whisk together the molasses, oil and boiling water and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Alternate adding the flour mixture with the molasses mixture into the butter mixture. Pour batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
2. Make cream cheese frosting while cakes cool on a wire rack. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter until pale and fluffy (2 minutes) Slowly add in the powdered sugar and beat for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add in the cream cheese and beat until combined.
3. For cake assembly, place the first cake layer on your cake stand. Add a few spoonfuls of frosting and smooth out with your palette knife. Place the next cake round on top and repeat. For the top cake layer increase the amount of frosting and smooth into thick swirls with your palette knife. Garnish your cake with candied oranges, cranberries and rosemary for a festive look.
After a brief second summer here in Paris, fall is finally setting in. It’s all about long walks underneath the gold and red leaves of the Tuileries followed by cups of chai tea in the gardens of the Palais Royal. One of my favorite fall cakes to make at home is cinnamon coffee cake. That layer of brown sugar and cinnamon and buttery streusel topping is an irresistible cake combination. This cake pairs well with cozy sweaters and big mugs of piping hot coffee!
I held my first cake decorating workshop last month which was a fun-filled frosting affair. The workshop started out with a lesson on how to make Italian meringue buttercream followed by a tutorial in assembling, filling, and crumb-coating a layer cake. September marks the transition from summer to fall so I decided to make a bright lemon curd to represent summer and black currant jam to lead us into fall. I invited Swiss-based photographer and friend Carolina Caruso to photograph the workshop and here is what she captured…
Assuring Olivia that yes indeed that is the correct amount of butter.
Explaining my love for Nielsen Massey vanilla to the class.
After the decorating tutorial students are given free reign to style their very own cake creations followed by a tea and champagne goûter!
It's fig season in France, which means gorgeous fig pastries start popping up all over Paris. Fig tarts are ubiquitous in pastry shop windows, and market stalls heave with the weight of both black and green fig varieties. I love to eat them fresh with a drizzle of honey atop greek yogurt for breakfast or in salads with goat cheese for a light supper.
They also pair well with chocolate and make sublimely enticing cake decorations. For an afternoon goûter recently, I baked a dark chocolate cake with cocoa buttercream topped with ripe figs and purple pansies. The cake was a hit with my guests and seconds were requested all around. Fig season is relatively short so plan on indulging frequently. I think my next baking project will be to research home-made fig newtons!
Fig and Chocolate CakeIngredients
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup of Dutch processed cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups of caster sugar
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 tsp of Vanilla extract
1 cup of Buttermilk
1 cup of coffee
Set oven to 350 F or 178C. Grease and flour two 8inch cake rounds. (I like to use cocoa powder instead of flour to dust pans)
Make a cup of strong coffee and set aside.
Combine the buttermilk, oil and coffee with the dry ingredients using a whisk to blend together.
Add the eggs one a time mixing until well incorporated.
Mix in the vanilla last and pour batter into pans. Bake between 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
Cool cakes in pans for about 15minutes before turning out onto cooling rack to cool completely.
400grams of unsalted butter
400 grams of icing sugar
180 grams of dark chocolate
1/2 cup of cocoa powder
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Chop dark chocolate finely and melt using the double broiler method and set aside.
Cream butter and icing sugar using the paddle attachment. Mix until pale and fluffy about 5 minutes.
With the mixer on low add the melted chocolate and cocoa powder.
Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix until well combined and the frosting is creamy.
Temperatures have been soaring this summer all across Europe. Here in Paris we are even approaching one of the hottest days on record. Parisians have been keeping cool with iced drinks on shady terraces, window-shopping in air-conditioned department stores and even a few dips in the waters of La Seine. Enter my favorite summertime dessert, vacherin. A vacherin is the perfect treat to make in August with alternating layers of crunchy meringue, creamy vanilla ice cream and tart raspberry sorbet all topped with summer berries.
There are three parts to this recipe and its best to begin the day before you plan to serve to allow time for the vacherin to freeze properly.
300grams caster sugar
150grams egg whites
5 cups of fresh raspberries
1 cup of water
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp lemon juice
Vanilla Ice Cream
1 pint of your favorite vanilla ice cream
I have found the Meringue Girls recipe foolproof for perfect meringue. Preheat your oven to 200c. Line a small baking tray with baking parchment, pour in the caster sugar and heat it in the oven for 7 minutes. Heating the sugar helps to create a glossy, stable mixture. Pour the egg whites into a mixer and whisk them slowly, allowing small stabilising bubbles to form, then increase the speed until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
Take the sugar out of the oven, and turn oven down to 100’c (leave the door open to help speed this up.) With your mixer on full speed, very slowly spoon the hot sugar into the beaten egg whites, making sure the mixture comes back up to stiff peaks after each addition of sugar. Once you have added all the sugar, continue to whisk on full speed until you have a smooth, stiff and glossy mixture. You should continue to whisk for at least 5 minutes once sugar has incorporated. Feel a bit of the mixture between your fingers; if you can still feel the gritty sugar, keep whisking at full speed until it has dissolved and the mixture is smooth, stiff and glossy.
The meringue is ready to be spooned into your piping bag. Take a 10cm x 21cm loaf tin and trace the bottom of the pan onto parchment paper four times using a pencil. Pipe your meringue into 1cm thick rectangles using the template as a guide. You can smooth the top of rectangles with a palette knife. Bake your 4 meringue rectangles for about 35-45minutes or until they come clean off the parchment paper. Set aside to cool.
Raspberry Sorbet Method
Add raspberries and water to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth.
Place a sieve over a large bowl to strain the raspberry puree of any seeds using the back of a large spoon or spatula. I found doing this step twice creates a very smooth creamy sorbet free from any small seeds.
Add sugar, vanilla and lemon juice to the raspberry liquid and whisk until well combined.
Transfer to a shallow container and freeze for at least 2 hours before using.
Remove ice cream and sorbet from freezer to soften slightly. Line your loaf tin with a sheet of baking paper cut down to fit inside snugly. Place a meringue rectangle at the bottom. Spread a layer of vanilla ice cream over the meringue base to about 1cm thick. Place the next layer of meringue on top. Spread a layer of raspberry sorbet to about 1cm thick. Place the next rectangle of meringue atop the raspberry sorbet. Spread the last layer of vanilla ice cream on top. Add the final meringue rectangle on top. Wrap in foil and freeze overnight.
I like to pipe out a few meringue kisses with the leftover meringue to use as decoration on top of the vacherin. I included currants and fresh raspberries to finish it off. I love raspberry sorbet with vanilla but your favorite sorbet flavor would work just as well. I imagine mango or passion-fruit sorbet would be a brilliant substitute.
Milos is an island in the Aegean which boasts more than 70 unique beaches, some with the softest white sand and others with rocky outcrops from which to dive into the inviting sea. One beach even possesses a lunar-like surface called Sarakiniko. Although the beaches are beautiful, they are often overshadowed by the island's most famous beauty, the Venus de Milo, discovered in the recess of a wall by a French amateur archaeologist in 1820. While she now resides in the Louvre museum in Paris, it is still interesting to search for site where she was first discovered all those years ago which lies somewhere near the Hellenic amphitheater of Milos.
Tsigrado Beach, Milos. Accessible only by rope and ladder.
Firiplaka Beach, Milos
Our hideaway on Milos was called Skinopi Lodge a cluster of stone cottages sitting on a golden hillock overlooking a tiny fishing village. We liked to trek down the path to the sea below for a morning dip while watching the local fishermen emerge from their syrma, a two-level structure built at water-level and backed up into the rocky outcrop. After a day of beach-hopping, we would pick up some provisions to dine al fresco at the lodge and watch the sail boats lazily drift by, culminating in dramatic sunsets with Greek wine in-hand.
Skinopi Lodge blends into its surroundings.
While we chose to dine most nights at the lodge, we did have some wonderful lunches around the island, including a sea-side taverna called the Medusa at Mandrakia where fresh fish was the order of the day. After our brief stay on the island we caught a catamaran to Santorini to spend one last night in Greece before flying home to Paris. We chose to stay in Oia as we both really wanted to see what all the fuss was about. While theres no denying that the tiny village of Oia is pretty, it was no surprise that after spending time on smaller, less visited islands, Santorini was a bit of a shock. Its popularity is visible at all times and had us longing for the peacefulness of Sifnos and Milos. I can't wait to return to explore the rest of the Greek islands someday... Efcharistó Greece!
I just returned from my first visit and fell madly in love with the islands and their Grecian treasures. We swam in the Aegean at sunset, gorged ourselves on feta and freshly caught fish and traveled all the way back to the Hellenistic period in search of the goddess Venus. I jotted down a few of my favorite spots on the three islands we visited starting first with Sifnos...
Sifnos is a sparkling little gem in the Aegean known for its culinary prowess and laid back vibes. We stayed at Astra Verina , a quiet little cluster of villas perched high above the sea. Mornings began with hikes down a winding path towards the beach passing sheep clinging precariously onto cliffs while grazing in the sun. Our post-hike rewards were big bowls of greek yogurt and honey for breakfast followed by dips in the infinity pool. We pulled ourselves away in the afternoons to discover a few of the many white-washed villages with blue domes dotted all over the island.
The two most charming little towns on Sifnos, Artemonas and Apollonia were both within walking distance of our hotel, the former being home to the most famous bakery on the island. Theodorou's Sweet Shop was founded in 1933 and hasn't changed much since then. Blue shelves are stocked with trays of nougat wafers, bergamot scented candies and amydalota. (heavenly no-bake almond cookies rolled in sugar) We consumed these largely after long lunches filled with greek salads laced with locally grown capers. One of the best things we ate on the island was a block of baked feta with a sesame crust topped with Sifnean honey.
Theodorou's Sweet Shop
On our last night in Sifnos we made our way to a little beach-side taverna with a big reputation called Omega-3. It was worthy of all the praise as we dined on some of the most delicious grilled fish with views directly on the beach, chilled white wine in hand. We had also heard good things about a restaurant on the same beach called, Maiolica We had pita fresh from the oven served with an array of tahini, hummus and vegetable dips. It was difficult to leave this gorgeous little paradise behind especially the friends we made at our little home away from home at Astra Verina. However beach adventures were calling on the neighboring island of Milos...