Bake Bunny Surprise
|Add the batter|
|Bake, then cool down|
|Sneak a sample|
|Fill with frosting|
|Bring it together|
|Add a finishing touch|
|Serve up a surprise|
A towering, decadent, showstopping cake is the best way to celebrate a special occasion, whether it’s Easter Sunday or a spring birthday. Here are our best tips for pulling off your most memorable dessert yet!
make it easy to bake each layer, and with their pretty scalloped edges, you don’t even need to frost the sides before serving! Our Test Kitchen cooks love these pans because they work with almost any batter:, other prepared mixes or a scratch white or . Whether you’re using the layer cake pans or a regular , be sure to brush the pans with melted butter and dust with flour before baking, then cool them on a before frosting.
If you’re using a standard cake pan, you’ll need to slice it in half horizontally. Hold a ruler up to the side of the cake base and, using toothpicks, mark the midpoint at regular intervals around the cake. Using a long, thin serrated, split the cake horizontally into even layers. Put one layer, cut side up, on a cardboard circle. Place the other layer, cut side down, on a sheet of plastic wrap.
When filling a layer cake, jams should be spread thinly, while rich fillings, such as curd, pastry cream or buttercream, should be thicker. Lighter fillings like mousse should be thick, but never thicker than the cake layer. Mound the filling in the center of the layer and, using an, spread it to the edge. Flip the other layer over onto the filling, cut side up. Gently push the layer evenly into place. Repeat with remaining layers (remember, you can make as many as you want)!
Before you start frosting, you need to make a crumb coat — a thin layer of frosting that sticks to the crumbs so they don’t mess up the surface. Place the filled cake on a work surface and put a small amount of frosting on top. Using an icing spatula, smooth a thin layer of frosting over the cake. The crumb coating should be thin and even, covering the entire surface of the cake. Refrigerate until firm, 15 to 20 minutes, before frosting.
To frost, mound the frosting in the center of the cake and use an icing spatula to smooth it gently and evenly over the top. Smooth down the frosting with broad strokes; be sure not to touch the spatula to the cake without icing on it, or you could pick up crumbs.
Dip the spatula in warm water and wipe clean with a damp kitchen towel as needed. The top of the cake should be flat. Whether you frost the sides is up to you — leaving them bare gives you a more casual dessert, while frosting them looks a little fancier.
Think of this cake when you need a sweet treat to serve a crowd. It’s great for an after-school snack or play dates at your house, as well as for a casual get-together with friends. Use a soft, tart apple, such as Gravenstein or McIntosh. Pippin or Granny Smith apples work well, too.
Frosted Apple Cake
For the cake:
2 cups (10 oz./315 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (12 oz./375 g) sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) buttermilk, at room temperature
2 cups (8 oz./250 g) diced, peeled apples (about 2 1/2 apples)
1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
For the frosting:
1 lb. (500 g) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
6 Tbs. (3 oz./90 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups (5 oz./155 g) confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat an oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) baking pan with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the sides by several inches.
To make the cake, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt onto a sheet of parchment paper; set aside.
Using an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the buttermilk in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Then fold in the apples and walnuts, if using. Using a light lifting motion and turning the bowl continuously, fold in until the batter is smooth and the flour is thoroughly incorporated. Do not fold too vigorously or the cake will be tough. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
Bake until the top is brown and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. When the cake is cool, grasp the edges of the parchment paper and lift up to remove the cake from the pan. Place the cake on a work surface.
To make the frosting, using an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to low, add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla.
Using a long cake spatula, spread the frosting over the surface of the cake. Cut the cake into squares and serve. Serves 12.
Most people would find it tough to choose a favorite pie, but banana cream pie would surely be on many short lists. The diner classic shines even more brightly when made at home, as each bite features a heavenly medley of buttery crust, velvety vanilla filling, rich whipped cream and slices of ripe, sweet banana.
Banana Cream Pie
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups (6 1/2 oz/220 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
5 Tbs. (2 1/2 oz./75 g) cold unsalted butter
2 Tbs. vegetable shortening, chilled
About 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) ice water
For the filling:
3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) whole milk
1/3 cup (1 1/3 oz./40 g) cornstarch
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g) sugar
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
1 vanilla bean
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
2 large bananas, peeled and thinly sliced
For the chocolate curls (optional):
About 6 oz. (185 g) semisweet chocolate, in a single piece
For the whipped cream:
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) heavy cream
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
To make the crust, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter and shortening into chunks and scatter over the flour mixture. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter and shortening into the flour mixture just until the mixture forms large, coarse crumbs the size of peas.
Drizzle the ice water over the flour mixture and toss with a fork until the dough forms moist clumps. If the dough seems too crumbly, add a little more ice water.
Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Or, overwrap with aluminum foil and freeze for up to 1 month, then thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Place the unwrapped dough on a floured work surface and dust with flour. (If the dough is cold, let it stand for a few minutes to soften.) Roll out into a round about 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter and 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Transfer to a 9-inch (23-cm) pie dish, fitting the dough into the bottom and sides. Trim the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch (2-cm) overhang. Fold the overhang under, then flute the edge. Using a fork, pierce the dough all over, then line with aluminum foil and freeze for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375°F (190°C). Place the dough-lined pan on a baking sheet and fill the foil with pie weights. Bake until the dough looks dry and is barely golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights. Continue baking until the crust is golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes more. Transfer to a rack and cool completely.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the milk and the cornstarch. In a heatproof bowl, beat the yolks until blended. Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the yolks.
In a saucepan, combine the remaining 2 1/2 cups (20 fl. oz./625 ml) milk, the sugar and salt. Using a paring knife, slit the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape out the seeds into the saucepan and add the pod. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, then return to the saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, whisking constantly.
Reduce the heat to low and let bubble for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into a stainless-steel bowl to remove any bits of cooked egg white and the vanilla pod. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling, and pierce the plastic a few times with a knife tip to allow the steam to escape. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and let cool until lukewarm.
Spread the banana slices in the cooled pie crust. Spread the filling on top. Press a clean piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
When ready to serve, make the chocolate curls and whipped cream. To make the chocolate curls, warm the chocolate in a microwave oven on medium-low (30 percent) to soften just slightly, about 15 seconds. Using a vegetable peeler, shave curls from the chocolate onto a sheet of parchment paper. Refrigerate the curls to firm them slightly before using, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a chilled bowl, combine the cream, sugar and vanilla. Using a mixer on medium-high speed, beat until soft peaks form.
To serve, remove the plastic wrap from the pie and spread and swirl the whipped cream over the filling. Scatter the chocolate curls over the whipped cream, cut into wedges and serve. Serves 8.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs, oil, buttermilk and vinegar. Beat on medium speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the cake mix and beat until blended and smooth, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat on medium speed for 30 seconds more.
It’s National Pancake Day! What better excuse to treat yourself to your favorite childhood breakfast? A big stack of fluffy, comforting pancakes — complete with your favorite topping — is an easy way to please the whole family (and they’re just as good for dinner). Here are some of our favorite recipes.
|Buttermilk Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup
Buttermilk makes these pancakes light and fluffy — you can also add fresh blueberries to the batter for double-berry flavor.
|Sweet Potato Pancakes with Walnuts
Here, vitamin-rich sweet potatoes star along with crunchy walnuts in a modern take on traditional pancakes, dense with nutrition and full of flavor.
|Bacon-and-Cheddar Cornmeal Johnnycakes
The subtle crunch of cornmeal gives johnnycakes a bit of heft. Our version, embellished with crisp bits of bacon and sharp cheddar cheese and served with honey or syrup, makes a delicious sweet-and-salty treat.
|Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Berry ompoteC
Ricotta cheese lends a delicate, airy texture to these mini pancakes, and freshly grated lemon zest adds a hint of citrus flavor. They’re served with a warm compote of fresh tart-sweet berries.
|Caramelized Pear Oven Pancake
This beautiful oven pancake makes an impressive presentation, but it’s actually super simple to prepare. It’s also a quick way to make pancakes for a group! Tip: you can serve the pancake as a dessert, too — just add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
This recipe features bananas in two ways: a ripe one is mashed into the batter for added texture and flavor, and slices of fresh bananas are served on top. It’s a great meal to make with kids.
These apple pancakes are flavored with warm spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Grated apple is blended into the batter, then a thin apple slice is cooked inside each pancake for a pretty presentation.
Buckwheat flour lends flavor and whole-grain goodness to this classic pancake recipe, while tart-sweet blueberries give the tender pancakes bursts of fruit flavor.
|Sweet Potato Pancakes with Pecans and Brown Sugar Sauce
These gently spiced sweet potato pancakes represent the best of Southern down-home cooking, with a topping of toasted pecans and a drizzle of buttery brown sugar sauce. They’re the perfect treat for a cozy weekend morning with family.
These pancakes get an extra boost rolled oats and buttermilk, and you can use whatever mix of fresh and dried fruits and toasted nuts you like. Try sliced strawberries, chopped dried apples and almonds.