Peach Bubbly Cake with Swiss Buttercream and Peach Filling

Happy Belated Mother's Day! Sending much love and respect to all the amazing mothers and mommy's-to-be out there! I am lucky to be surrounded by so many strong women who have served as mentors and confidants. It's surreal to watch them take that first insane brave step into motherhood and grow as a parent. The journey is beautiful, terrifying, and rewarding. You ladies definitely deserve a day of recognition! 

To celebrate our own wonderful mom, Joey and I cooked up some Portuguese classics for lunch. The brother killed it on the grill and the husband came to the rescue by rushing out to a busy grocery store to buy the right kind of rice. It's not a real meal if there isn't rice and beans! In all seriousness, there's no way that Joey and I can repay her for being such a great mother and person; hopefully these small tokens of appreciation will add up! 

Naturally, I had dibs on making the cake.

This design from Cake Geek Magazine has been on my mind for several months. The grouping of tiny flowers captured my heart and I knew that nossa mãe would love it. She is a monster gardener with an affinity for roses, specifically the Mr. Lincoln. The base is a white cake modified from America's Test Kitchen that I have re-purposed several times including the Thai Iced and Blue Moon cupcakes. It is a bullet-proof base recipe that results in a light, airy cake. The filling is simple as a peach and the frosting is a smooth swiss buttercream from Smitten Kitchen.

If you want to frost the cake in the same style, hop on over to Cake Geek Magazine for step-by step directions! Please note that instead of using the Wilton 80 U-shaped Tip, I went with a "drop flower tip" Wilton 225 for the main flower.  Additionally, I used a Wilton 7 Tip instead of a 6 for the border. I didn't do two shades of green for the leaves because let's face it.... at this point I was running late to lunch! Make it your own and work with what you have!

Muito obrigada mulher por tudo o que tu fazes para a nossa família! Te amo muito!

PS. You're next, mother-in-law!
PSS. Sorry for camera-phone shots- that's what we had on hand!

Peach Bubble Cake with Swiss Buttercream and Peach Filling

2 3/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cup champagne
1/4 cup peach shnappes
6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool

Smitten Kitchen's Swiss Buttercream (9 inch cake measurements)
If you want to frost in the same style, hop on over to Cake Geek Magazine for step-by step direction! 

1 medium peach, thinly sliced

NOTE: this recipe is for 8-9 inch round cake pans; I used two 6-inch rounds since it was serving only four. The remaining batter was used to make mini-cupcakes to bring into work. 

For the cake: Set oven rack in middle position. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 6-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.

Pour champagne, peach shnappes, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

Add all but 1/2 cup of champagne mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of champagne mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart.  Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.

Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

For the frosting: If you want to frost in the same style, hop on over to Cake Geek Magazine for step-by step directions! 

Prepare the frosting per Smitten's Directions. 

Assembly: Thinly frost the top of one layer of cake; arrange thin slices of peaches from the center forming a ring and working your way out leaving about 1/2 inch wide free around the perimeter. Pipe outer perimeter with frosting and top with second layer of cake. Frost the cake as desired.

Potatoes and Peas Samosas

Let me tell you... making samosas from scratch... is an incredibly frustrating and rewarding experience. When I first saw this recipe for Potatoes and Peas Samosas from Playful Cooking, I thought, "well that doesn't sound so bad." I've made empanadas and dumplings before, how bad can it be? 

Three attempts later and I am still baffled. 

The filling is not the issue; that part is actually easy. We used the filling from the Picky Eater Blog because it sounded more like our kind of party with the addition of red onion and fresh ginger. We like our samosas to be bold. Mike made the filling the first time and were both eating it by the spoonful from the bowl. Always a good sign! Adjust accordingly to the amount of dough you're making and flavor to your spice level.

The dough takes patience. It can be stiff so keep adding water until it's manageable. We had a small adventure locating "carom seeds" and found them at an international market. There are plenty of recipes that do not incorporate the seeds into the dough but I surprisingly enjoyed the flavor.  They smell like thyme and give a slight edge to the flavor similar to anise. 

Ensuring that the samosas hold their form while frying is the issue. A big issue. 

During round one, I let the dough rest for way too long and it became incredibly tough and elastic. Most of the samosas fell apart in the oil which was deserved. Only a handful survived and our Nepali friends kindly raved about them. Their words of encouragement fueled my determination.

The second round is the one pictured in this post. I let the dough rest the exact amount of time and was not shy about adding water. Following Playful Cooking's directions, the oil started at room temperature.  I sealed the seams meticulously with a lil extra water and pinched, pinched, pinched! I was generous with the overlap of the dough and didn't heat the oil until after the samosas were added. 

As you can see, it turned out quite lovely! Perfect, crispy samosas. My work here is done!

Not so fast, young grasshopper. The third time I made these, my ego got checked. I followed the directions to the letter and did exactly what I had done the time prior. Over half of them opened while frying thus ruining the filling and oil. What a mess! How is this possible!? There's nothing worse than watching the oil bubbles seep into the seams of the dough and gently, relentlessly push them apart. Gurus of the Samosa world, I implore you... tell me what I keep doing wrong to incur the wrath of the evil vegetable oil? 

Maybe next time, I will use a different recipe for the dough to see if there's a difference. Another option is to bake them which is healthier... and I'm sure less stressful. Until the next episode!

For the tasty combination that is "Potatoes and Peas Samosas," check out the dough and methodology from Playful Cooking and the filling from Picky Eater Blog.

Basic Hummus

There are very few places that serve hummus that I genuinely enjoy. Every time the hubby and I have bought it from the grocery store, we lived to regret it. It's hard to pin point what exactly is so unappealing; sometimes there's an unpleasant after taste... other times the vendor's attempt to "jazz" it up backfires.

I decided to take a stab at making it from scratch and was surprised by the simplicity of the ingredients and process. Chickpeas. Lemon juice. Tahini. Pinch of salt. Garlic. Zoom zoom zoom in the food processor. 

Creamy, dreamy hummus heaven.

The biggest debate that I have seen about hummus is the chickpea: is there a difference between canned and dried? It's a divided subject. Some swear there's none; others feverishly implore the use of dried beans. 

In my tiny brain, it only made sense that using the dried variety would optimize freshness. Granted, it requires a little more planning because the peas have to soak for several hours. Heck, I left them soaking for two nights out of negligence (woops). In the interest of quality, it's worth using dried beans.

The best part of making your own hummus is you're in control. This recipe truly is the most basic recipe possible and is the perfect canvas for modifications. Like it thick? Go easy on the water. Love garlic? Throw a few more cloves in there - you've earned it. Surprisingly, the second time that I made it, the hubby actually liked not having all the chickpeas totally crushed because it added texture. 

Personally... my indulgences included an extra splash of olive oil and lemon juice followed by a touch of smokey paprika on top. Serve with pita chips as an appetizer at a party, with cucumbers as a healthy snack, or as the base of a wrap/shwarma

For this recipe and several others, purchase, "Jerusalem: A Cookbook" by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. It's an awesome book! It's the source for sinful Chocolate Krantz Cake and an incredible Salmon with Chraimeh Sauce. If your curiosity stops at the hummus, you can find the recipe here