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Hint of Vanilla by Megan Voigt - 10M ago

Look at this bad boy! I set out to make an over-the-top cake and here it is! I couldn't fit another thing onto the top of that cake even if I wanted to. Honestly, it's too much for my personal tastes (I like minimalist and elegant) but I think it looks pretty cool. And it was a lot of fun to do. I thought I had finished a couple times, but then I went and added more stuff. But I finally stopped and thought, "Okay, that's it...? I think? Sure...."

I love this oat crumble, by the way. I eat this straight from the container, shoving handfuls into my mouth while standing over the sink. It tastes like a warm cozy breakfast but BETTER. Put this on ice cream, in yogurt, on cakes, on waffles, on anything and everything. I think it pairs great with any and all kinds of berries and fruit because it's pretty basic in terms of flavour (oats and cinnamon) but it's crunchy and sweet and just delightful. 

I feel like I could've stopped just after this stage of the cake. Maybe add a few chocolate curls, a raspberry or two, a couple orange slices, and it would've been a really nice elegant cake, fit for a chill wedding or a really nice party. Respectable. 

But no, I just kept going.

But hey, all my other cakes have been pretty understated and minimalist. I wanted to see what it would look like if I went cray-cray on a cake! And here it is! A little trashy, a little classy, a lot going on, but the flavours all work and that's the key.

Rhubarb and Orange Cake

Vanilla Bean Cake
Makes 3 6-inch layers
Recipe adapted from Call me Cupcake 

300 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
195 g granulated sugar
225 g eggs, lightly beaten
65 g whole milk
6 g vanilla paste
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
337 g all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 g salt

Rhubarb Compote

300 g fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
75 g granulated sugar
1 orange, zested and juiced

Oat Crumble

80 g unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
80 g granulated sugar
80 g all-purpose flour
56 g rolled oats
1 g salt
1 g vanilla powder
1 g ground cinnamon

Vanilla Buttercream

90 g egg whites
130 g granulated sugar
295 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 g vanilla paste

White Chocolate Sail/Curls/Decor

75 g white chocolate, finely chopped

Swiss Meringue

50 g egg whites
100 g granulated sugar



To start, make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray three 6-inch cake rings with non-stick spray, then line with parchment paper and spray again. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs a little bit at a time, beating after each addition, until fully incorporate. Combine the milk, vanilla paste, and vanilla extract and add it to the mixture, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Beat again for 2 minutes. 

Sift the dry ingredients and add to the mixture, mixing on low until just incorporated. Divide evenly between the three cake rings and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the middle of each cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert the cakes and cool completely.

For the rhubarb compote, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the rhubarb has broken down and the mixture looks thick and saucey. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a container and cool completely in the fridge.

For the oat crumble, combine the sugar, flour, oats, salt, vanilla powder, and cinnamon in a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse on low speed until the mixture starts to come together and form small clumps. Refrigerate the crumble until hard, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Pour the crumble on a parchment lined baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes to make sure everything browns evenly.

Remove from the oven and cool completely. Store in an airtight container. This recipe makes much, much more than you need but this stuff is so good sprinkled over ice cream or in yogurt, so you're welcome.

For the buttercream, combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer set over a bain-marie and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture reads 60 C or is no longer gritty when rubbed between your fingers. Transfer to the stand mixer and whip until glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. 

Add the butter a few pieces at a time and whip until the buttercream is creamy and smooth. Add the vanilla paste and whip for 20 seconds to combine. Transfer about 1/4 of the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a small circular tip.

To assemble the cake, first trim the tops of each cake layer so they are flat and even. Place one round on a cake turntable and use the piping bag to pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge of the cake. Spoon the rhubarb compote into the contained area, being generous as the compote will seep into the cake. Refrigerate until the buttercream ring is firm, about 10 minutes. Top with a second cake round and repeat. For the last layer, place the top of the cake onto the buttercream so that the flat bottom of the cake is now the very top of the whole cake. This will ensure that your cake has a very nice and flat top and corners.

If you need to make sure the sides of the cake are even, patch it up with some buttercream.

Refrigerate the cake until firm, about 15 minutes.

Mask the cake with a very thin layer of the vanilla bean buttercream, then refrigerate for 15 minutes. Spread almost all the remaining vanilla buttercream over the cake. Using a hot offset spatula dipped in very hot water and then dried, smooth the surface of the buttercream on the sides and top. With the small amount of remaining buttercream, lightly smear it onto the cake using a small offset spatula to create the rustic look. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes.

For the white chocolate sail, temper the white chocolate and spread it out onto a silpat. Using your hands or objects to hold it up, gently fold the silpat to create waves into the chocolate. Let set completely before gently peeling the silpat away.

For the curls, cut 2 pieces of acetate 6 inches long. Spread the tempered white chocolate on the acetate and use a pastry comb to create the lines down the acetate. Using a mold or similar household object, curl the acetate to create a loop-de-loop. Let set until firm, then very gently peel the acetate away.

For the "cigarettes", spread the white chocolate on a marble surface or back of a baking sheet pan. Let set almost completely, then use a scraper to scrape the chocolate away from you and form the cigarettes. 

For the swiss meringue, combine the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer set over a bain-marie and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture reads 60 C or is no longer gritty when rubbed between your fingers. Transfer to the stand mixer and whip until glossy peaks form, about 6 minutes. 

When the cake is completely firm, transfer to a cake stand. Spoon the meringue onto the top of the cake and down one side, creating peaks and swirls with a spoon. using a handheld butane torch, torch the meringue until nice and golden brown. Be careful not to melt the buttercream around the meringue.

Arrange the chocolate sail, chocolate decor, oat crumble, orange slices, raspberries, and/or any other decor you wish to use. 

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Hint of Vanilla by Megan Voigt - 10M ago

I know this isn't really a spring dessert and it is (or should be) well into spring by now. But! I made this dessert back at the end of January (!!) and I have yet to post it because I have been getting outside! Yes, the outside world, outside of the kitchen and my computer. If you've read the last few posts, you know this is nothing new and I won't really go on and on about it. But a little update that yes! I am still no longer working in kitchens and not really working on the blog anymore so I'm sorry to the many people that have had their emails go unanswered or comments unreplied! I've read them, I really have! I mean to reply to everyone, but then I go to work and I forget and then I get home and all I want to do is plan what hike I'm going to do on the weekend.

Despite the fact that it's the end of April, the weather here in Vancouver only turned spring-like in the past week or so. Before that was just rain and rain and cold and rain. Usually we have at least a little fake spring in March where it's nice and sunny and makes us hopeful. Then back to rain and our hopes are crushed. We didn't even get that!

But hey, I'm Canadian so maple is in our blood and anything can be maple-d at any time during the year. It goes well with everything, everyone, always. Just....maple, you guys. Maple sugar! ugh, maple sugar. I discovered it a few years ago and it's changed so much in my baking! And good quality maple syrup...ohhhh you gotta get the good stuff. I know it's expensive and everyone always drenches their pancakes in so much maple syrup and it's hard to justify spending $20 on a fancy-labelled artisanal hand-crafted small-batch fair trade blah blah blah thing of maple syrup but just do it. Do it. Or have the good maple syrup for the special occasions and mediocre maple syrup for turning your pancakes into soaking wet sugar sponges. 

Maple Crème Brûlée

250 g heavy cream
100 g whole milk
75 g egg yolks
25 g maple sugar
20 g maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 200 F.

Combine the cream and milk in a saucepan set over medium heat. Place the egg yolks and maple sugar in a medium sized bowl and whisk until slightly paler in colour.

Once the cream mixture has scalded, pour a small amount of the cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly. Slowly add all of the cream mixture, whisking as you do so. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve.

Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to let any bubbles rise to the surface. Skim off any foam or bubbles. Transfer to a pitcher or something similar so it is easier to pour cleanly.

Prepare 4-6 glasses or ramekins. Fill the glasses 3/4 of the way up and transfer the glasses or ramekins to a high sided baking pan or casserole dish. Pour hot water into the dish until it comes halfway up the sides of the glasses or ramekins. 

Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the custard has a slight jiggle in the center. Remove from the oven, remove from the water bath, and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until completely cool or overnight.

When ready, sprinkle a small amount of sugar onto the top of the crème brûlée and use a handheld torch to caramelize it. Serve immediately. 

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