Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake

This past weekend, women from all over the world visited New York City for the Cherry Bombe Jubilee, an annual gathering of women kicking butt and taking names in the culinary sphere.

 
Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

I, sadly, was not there =(

Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

Booooooooo.

Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

When I first realized the Cherry Bombe Jubilee was around the corner, I was too broke to buy a ticket. Then, by the time I had the cash, it was too late—all sold out!

What to do?? I decided to honor the gathering of strong women who rule the kitchen the best way I knew how. With cake!

Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

The Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake plays on the classic flavor combination of spumoni ice cream—pistachio, chocolate, and maraschino cherry, as I grew up eating it in San Francisco's Little Italy—and piles it into a creamy pillar of deliciousness.

When I think of the flavor spumoni, I think of decades past. I think of soda fountains, 50's pastels, and the domestic kitchen. When I created this cake, I wanted to take those impressions and push on them, remould them into a contemporary vision of my experience in the kitchen: brashly colorful, organic and flawed with rough patches peeking through, and yet all the more beautiful for it.

 
Cherry Bombe Cake Edited (21 of 35).jpg
 

Oh, and with a whoooooole lot of crazy going on inside!

Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

The moist, not-too-sweet chocolate cake is based on a recipe that came from the Cherry Bombe cookbook, the original version of which you can find here. The pistachio cake is my own variation of a very special cake from Erin Gardner's book Erin Bakes Cake, which you should purchase immediately. Seriously, SUCH a great book for bakers and decorators, love love love. 

The filling is a maraschino buttercream of my own concoction, as is the maraschino creme gelée insert! The frosting is a pistachio Italian meringue buttercream. All recipes (except the gelée—needs tweaking) follow!

Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

Fudgy chocolate cake

Adapted from the Cherry Bombe Cake Balls recipe in Cherry Bombe: The Cookbook

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups Dutch-process cocoa, sifted
1/2 cup whole milk powder (optional)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 baking soda
1 tsp kosher fine sea salt
2 eggs (at room temp)
1/2 cup sour cream (at room temp)
1/2 cup whole milk (at room temp)
3 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup water, boiling

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare three 6" cake pans.

Whisk dry ingredients to combine. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, sour cream, whole milk, and vanilla. Mixing on low with the paddle attachment, add in the dry ingredients a cup at a time until incorporated, then increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes.

Return the mixer to medium-low speed and slowly pour in the hot water. Mix until fully incorporated.

Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness by pressing on the middle of the top of the cake. It should bounce back; continue to bake for 5-minute intervals until done. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before de-panning.

Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

To-Die-For pistachio cake

Adapted from the Any Butter Cake in Erin Gardner's masterpiece Erin Bakes Cake. Seriously, buy this book, it will change the game for your cakes!!

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/3 cup whole milk powder (optional)
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temp)
12 oz pistachio butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
9 eggs at room temp
Green food coloring (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Prepare three 6" cake pans.

Whisk dry ingredients to combine. Set aside.

Place the butter, pistachio butter, sugar, and extracts into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Crack all of the eggs into a separate bowl so they're easier to handle and you don't risk getting shell in your batter. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly pour the eggs in one at a time, allowing each to incorporate fully before adding the next. Add your green food coloring, keeping in mind that the dry ingredients will lighten the color ever so slightly.

Reduce the mixer to the lowest speed and add the flour in two additions, mixing until there are no more streaks. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula, mix for just another few seconds.

Distribute the batter between cake pans and bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness by pressing on the middle of the top of the cake. It should bounce back; continue to bake for 5-minute intervals until done. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack before de-panning.

Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

Maraschino Cherry Buttercream

2 cups Italian Meringue Buttercream (or any buttercream you prefer) at room temp
1 cup maraschino cherry syrup

Place the maraschino syrup in a pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by at least half. This should take at least 10 minutes. The idea is to thicken the syrup so you're not adding too much moisture into the buttercream when you incorporate it.

Allow the syrup to cool to room temperature. It may become very thick and goopy, but don't worry—I have a trick for adding it to the buttercream with no lumps! "Temper" the syrup by adding just a dollop or two of buttercream at first and mixing it in to lighten it. Then add that lightened syrup back into the buttercream and mix on low with the paddle attachment for a couple minutes to fully incorporate and work out any bubbles.

Pistachio Buttercream

2 cups Italian Meringue Buttercream (or any buttercream you prefer) at room temp
6-8 oz pistachio paste (not pistachio butter, which is just ground pistachios)
OR
One 7 oz jar of Pistachio Cream (basically pistachio white chocolate nutella aka heaven)

Combine the buttercream and pistachio paste/cream in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on low for 2-3 minutes to combine completely and work out any bubbles.

 
Cherry Bombe Spumoni Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

Well that was fun! Happy baking, all, and I will see you next week!

Azara

Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake

Came through drippin...

Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 
Cardi B

Congratulations Cardi B on your album and baby-on-the-way! In honor of the release of Invasion of Privacy I took Cardi’s lit af album art as inspiration and created a cake fitting for the occasion.

 
Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

FYI, there is no fondant on this cake. Not even any crusting buttercream! This is 100% Italian Meringue Buttercream, hand-painted with Edible Art Paint in Black by Sweet Sticks AU. Who knew you could paint on meringue-based buttercream?? I’m learning new things every single day I spend in the kitchen.

The topper is gum paste, also painted with Edible Art Paint. 

Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

But the best part of this cake is definitely on the inside! The yellow of Cardi’s hair and the berry of her lips are represented too in a yummy, almost custard-flavored cake, raspberry buttercream, and a fluffy core of knock-your-socks-off marshmallow!!! I loooooove marshmallow, and was so surprised how well this special recipe worked in a layer cake. Definitely room to play around with this technique too; I am so happy with the result.

Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

On the reals, I am entirely surprised this cake came together. I took a bunch of risks trying out new recipes and an insane technique I came up with on the fly, and somehow everything worked out!

Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

Like Cardi B, I experienced difficult times with this cake and even contemplated giving up after a fallen cake base, seemingly overly-soft marshmallow, and tricky gum paste had me pulling my hair out on Saturday night. But no, this cake was meant for glory!

Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

I learned a huge amount about the capacities of my materials on this cake. Painting on meringue-based buttercream, creating a surprising shape on the inside of a slice... but mostly, I learned that marshmallow is super sticky and kind of wack to work with, but so weird and cool once it sets up.

Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

Case in point! Weird.

Also, does this look like a tongue to anybody else...? 

 
Cardi B Invasion of Privacy Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

8P!!!

Azara

Lemon Poppy Seed Pysanka Cake for Easter

 
Lemon Poppy Seed Pysanka Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

Happy Easter, to those who celebrate it, and a Happy Passover while we're at it!

Lemon Poppy Seed Pysanka Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

This year I wanted to make a cake with its flavor and design reflective of Ukranian traditions this time of year. The topper of my cake is meant to represent Pysanky, the incredibly beautiful painted Easter eggs that are made in Ukraine using a wax resist method. Google it; you won't be disappointed!

 
Lemon Poppy Seed Pysanka Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

My topper was just painted—no wax resist—but I drew influence from a number of beautiful designs I found on the interweb! I also piped a whole mess of buttercream poppies for this one, no easy feat! I've been loving the flower-piping lately though, it becomes relaxing once you fall into a groove.

 
Lemon Poppy Seed Pysanka Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

And now for the cake... Oh man, I was excited about this one! I mentioned a couple posts back that lemon cake is not my favorite; HOWEVER, I have been into lemon poppy seed muffins for my whole entire life. I realize that that doesn't make a ton of sense, but just roll with it because I'm about to grace you with the ill Lemon Poppy Seed Cake recipe below!

 
Lemon Poppy Seed Pysanka Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 
Lemon Poppy Seed Pysanka Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

500g (4 cups) all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp fine salt
Generous 1/4 tsp baking soda
60g (1/2 cup) whole milk powder (optional)
750g (3 3/4 cups sugar)
3 Tbsp lemon zest (from 3 large lemons)
275g (1 1/4 cups; 2 1/2 sticks) butter
8 eggs at room temp
350g (1 1/2) cups sour cream
1/3 (80 ml) cup lemon juice (from two large lemons)
2 tsp vanilla

Prepare four 6" round pans. Preheat your oven to 350°F/175°C.

Sift the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and milk powder (if using) into a bowl and whisk to combine thoroughly. 

In a separate bowl, work the lemon zest into the sugar by massaging with your fingertips, using the sharp sugar crystals to release the aromatic oils in the zest. Work the zest for a few minutes, then place the sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat for just a minute or two to soften, then add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 15-20 seconds after each addition. Beat for another 2 minutes; the mixture should be light and fluffy.

Combine the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla in a small bowl. With the beater on low, add to the butter mixture alternating with the dry mixture, starting and ending with the dry. Scrape down the bowl and beat on medium for about 5-10 seconds to make sure the batter is homogenous.

Divide the batter between your prepared pans and bake for about 50 minutes, at which point you should check the cake for doneness roughly every 5 minutes by poking the top: it should spring back. 

Cool the cakes in their pans. This cake is AMAZING for torting into tiny layers: it's the perfect consistency for getting clean cuts. Enjoy!!

 
Lemon Poppy Seed Pysanka Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

The filling is Honey Apricot Buttercream, which is simply five or six cups of Italian Meringue Buttercream mixed with a 12 oz (340g) container of dried apricots that I'd chopped up, poached for about 20 mins in a cup of water and 1/3 cup honey, and pureed in my Vitamix (a food processor would do the job as well). Warning: this apricot paste caused my Vitamix to shut off to prevent overheating, so do what I did and add a tablespoon or two of water to loosen things up if your machinery is getting grumpy. Totally worth it if you love apricot, because the flavor sings bright and clear through the buttercream! Oh maaaan this cake is so tasty, tart but not too zingy! And paired with that Honey Apricot Buttercream... don't even.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pysanka Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

Have a wonderful Sunday, I hope you get to eat some delicious food today while spending time with people you love!

 
Lemon Poppy Seed Pysanka Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

Yay, cake!

Azara

Yay Spring! Neapolitan Cake

 
Yay Spring Neapolitan Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

Hurray! It is officially spring and I'm starting to feel the shift both in the weather as well as in my own disposition. That euphoria, the lightening up of the chest we all experience on that first day spent outside that wouldn’t best be described as “bitter,” that was the inspiration behind this cake.

 
Yay Spring Neapolitan Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

Usually I design cakes around a more specific theme, like an event or a particular flavor, something that unifies every aspect of a given project. This, however... This design is pretty random to begin with, and it also has basically nothing to do with the flavor of the cake. 

This design is more about a feeling than anything else! Honestly, I just kind of thought that the colors would work together, and I’m happy to say that I think I was right.

 
Yay Spring Neapolitan Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

The lips are just for fun, an expression of joy as we move into the lighthearted season. I think they are inspired by art I saw a long time ago but I don’t quite remember. I actually originally conceived of this cake as a sheet cake design, which I might still try down the road! Fun fact: I frigging love sheet cakes. More on that to come!!

Yay Spring Neapolitan Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

As for the guts of the cake, when I poked around online I found out that Neapolitan has quite a long history in the US, first appearing in the late 19th century. That said, it mainly reminds me of diners and 1950s soda shoppe culture, so the bubblegum pink and blue combo sits right as an appropriate design pairing.

 
Yay Spring Neapolitan Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

Man, this cake cut clean. Satisfying, no? It’s a white cake and a chocolate cake that both used the same recipe as the base, with the white cake using the whites of the eggs and the chocolate cake the yolks. I wanted the consistency of the cakes to be... consistent, and plus I wouldn’t have extra yolks and/or whites laying around going bad.

Thought I was pretty smart for that!  You may have thought that being a cake decorator was all about creativity and art, but at the core of most great bakers and decorators lies a foundation of 100% pure Grade A practicality. As both a proud baker and a decorator, I am practical af.

Yay Spring Neapolitan Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
Yay Spring Neapolitan Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
Yay Spring Neapolitan Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen

The cake recipes do need more work before I release the recipe into the wild, but the filling was easy: I combined about six cups of Italian Meringue Buttercream with two bags of freeze dried strawberries added in after being reduced to a powder in my Vitamix. This technique continues to be my new favorite thing. I will say that the buttercream might feel a little gritty at first, but as the buttercream sits the fruit rehydrates a bit and the whole thing smooths out.

 
Yay Spring Neapolitan Cake by Milkmoon Kitchen
 

I am so excited for a beautiful spring, here in the big grey city. I also can’t wait to assemble my Easter cake, I have such plans! And poppy seeds, I also have quite a number of those...

Azara