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cakes Recipe

Almond Dream Cake: Naturally Gluten-Free!

Let me start by saying… this cake is WONDERFUL! I was visiting my mom in Western New York recently and she invited me to join her for her Ladies’ Club annual picnic.  Each year she and about 12 of her friends have a luncheon under a tent by a lake in Linwood, NY. They each bring a dish to pass. The only rule is that the dish has to be a SALAD.  I think it’s such a sweet idea!

Not to be one to follow too many rules, I decided that since I was a special guest I could bring a cake instead.  I wanted something light since I knew there would be so many food options at the luncheon. I also wanted something that would hold up well in the heat of the day. My final requirement was that it had to be a real show-stopper! I always try to cook up something that will impress this group of ladies!

My Almond Dream Cake checks off all the boxes I mentioned above! It’s made of the lightest sponge cake made with 9 eggs and almond meal instead of all-purpose flour. I make it extra moist by soaking each layer with almond-flavored simple syrup. The filling is simply whipped cream and berries. My trick with the whipped cream is to use a stabilizer powder to make sure it can stand-up to a hot day. An added plus is that this cake is naturally gluten-free! I wasn’t trying for that, but the almond flour does that trick!

I have to say, the cake really didn’t disappoint!  Everyone had a big piece, and we sent the leftovers home with two of the ladies.

The almond cake is based on the King Arthur Flour almond cake roll recipe that can be found here.

Here are the powders I used to help with my whipped cream:

Almond Dream Cake

An almond, whipped cream, and berry layer cake that's naturally gluten-free!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword almond, almond flour, best dessert, cake, cake recipe, gluten-free, whipped cream
Servings 12
Author we are all magic

Ingredients

almond sponge cake:

  • 2 1/4 cups almond flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 9 eggs seperated size large, and at room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp almond extract

almond simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp almond extract

filling:

  • 1 quart heavy whipping cream
  • 2 packets whipped cream stabalizer
  • 2 packets vanilla sugar
  • 2 pints fresh berries

Instructions

almond sponge cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.

  2. Line a half-sheet jellyroll pan (13"x18")with parchment and grease the bottom and sides.

  3. Mix together the almond flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

  4. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and brown sugar until the color is light and the consistency is thick and silky. It's very pretty!

  5. Add the extract and dry ingredients and mix well.

  6. In a new bowl beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.  Be sure the bowl and your beaters are very clean and dry before starting to beat the egg whites.

  7. Stir a few large scoops of the beaten whites into the yolk mixture. After it's fully incorporated, gently fold the remaining whites into the batter until it's JUST incorporated. Try not to over-mix so your sponge stays light and fluffy!

  8. Pour the batter into the prepped pan and even it out to the edges.

  9. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is beautiful and golden.

  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

almond simple syrup:

  1. Dissolve the sugar into the water over medium heat until the mixture is totally clear. Add almond extract and mix well.

  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

whipped cream:

  1. In a large bowl beat the whipping cream and powder packets until it's light and fluffy.

to assemble:

  1. When the cake is cool, cut it into three even segments. Place the first third onto your serving plate and spoon on the almond simple syrup evenly over the top of the layer. Add berries evenly over the whipped cream. Top with the next third of the cake and repeat the process until the cake is fully built.

Recipe Notes

You can make the whipped cream your own favorite way and omit the stabilizer and powdered vanilla sugar.

VARIATION: Make egg white meringues and crunch them up and add them to each layer and the top of the cake for a little extra texture! 

This lovely layer cake is made from light almondy sponge, simple syrup, whipped cream, and fresh berries! It's also naturally gluten-free!

This lovely layer cake is made from light almondy sponge, simple syrup, whipped cream, and fresh berries! It’s also naturally gluten-free!

cakes Recipe

Cuppa Cuppa Cobbler

Cuppa Cuppa Cobbler

I adore CUPPA CUPPA recipes! They’re recipes that have equal parts of many of the ingredients. My mother-in-law’s coconut flan recipe is sort of a cuppa recipe. You use a can of condensed milk, and then use the can to measure out all the other ingredients. It’s so easy to commit these recipes to memory.  I also remember making the cuppa cuppa cuppa recipe that Truvy (Dolly Parton) recited in Steel Magnolias. Her recipe was just a cuppa sugar, a cuppa flour, and a cuppa fruit cocktail with the juice. This recipe I’m making today has a few more ingredients, but I think it produces a wonderful cobbler that people just love!

I’m not certain this is actually a true cobbler? I think it may be a more of a buckle, but the name sounds better when you call it a cobbler…. so please… nobody report me to the cobbler police! One thing’s for sure, the recipe is totally versatile! You can use just about any type of fruit in it! I’ve even used frozen fruit. Some variations I’ve made: strawberry, peach, donut peach, mixed berries, raspberry, plum, I’ve even made it with white chocolate and macadamia nuts! In this recipe I’m using the most wonderful cherries from Washington State. I also tend to swap out the flavor extracts that I add to this recipe. Sometimes I like vanilla, sometimes almond, or even something exotic like coconut! you should totally experiment with whatever you have fruit and extract wise!

Another trick that I love to use with this cobbler is Ina Garten’s faux crème anglaise. It’s so simple, you just let a pint of good vanilla ice cream melt overnight in the fridge. It’s so decadent! If that’s a little too rich for your blood you could also just top with cold heavy cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream or even a scoop of ice cream!

Cuppa Cuppa Cobbler

Use your favorite fruit or berry in this recipe! Whatever's abundant or in season, or even frozen!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cake, cobbler, dessert, easy recipe, recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8 people
Author we are all magic

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • .5 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp flavor extract I used almond extract here, but you can use vanilla or whatever else you want!
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit, clean and dry I used cherries, but you can use anything you want!
  • .25 cup sugar this is to top the cobbler before baking

For serving:

  • 1 pint melted vanilla ice cream

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a shallow tart pan or a 9x13 pan.

  2. Melt butter over low heat or in the microwave.

  3. Add dry ingredients to a bowl and whisk together.

  4. Add milk and whisk until incorporated.

  5. Add melted butter and flavor extract and whisk until fully incorporated.

  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and top with fruit. Sprinkle on 1/4 cup sugar.

  7. Bake until golden brown and the fruit is bubbly. I usually start checking for doneness at about 45 minutes.

  8. Serve warm with cold melted vanilla ice cream poured on top!

Cuppa Cuppa Cobbler

This is a wonderful and versatile recipe that uses a “cuppa” flour, a “cuppa” sugar, a “cuppa” milk etc. I love that you can use just about any fruit you want in it too! It’s perfect for last minute guests or for a potluck!

cakes Recipe

Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake is a three layer masterpiece of light sponge cakes with pecans,  and luscious cream cheese frosting with toasted coconut, and vanilla and almond flavors!

Italian Cream Cake

I’ve made several versions of this Italian Cream Cake over the last several months. I’ve toyed with my recipe a bit here and there. This version is mostly based on the recipe from Melissa’s Southern Style Kitchen.

I think this is a FABULOUS party cake! Three layers always impress guests. The almond, vanilla, pecan, and coconut makes this cake a little more sophisticated than your average chocolate or yellow cake. It’s so easy to decorate this cake too. It’s SO forgiving… the coconut and pecans hide any frosting mistakes.

I photographed this cake recently at my mom’s house. I perched it on her milk glass cake stand. I think it looks just stunning! I’ve got to get one of those cake stands for myself!

Italian Cream Cake

5 from 1 vote
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Italian Cream Cake

Italian Cream Cake is a three-layer masterpiece of light sponge cakes with pecans,  and luscious cream cheese frosting with toasted coconut, and vanilla and almond flavors!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 16 Slices
Author we are all magic

Ingredients

Toasted Pecans & Coconut:

  • 14 ounces sweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans

Cake:

  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened 1 cup, 225 grams
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 7 ounces toasted coconut (mentioned above)
  • 1 cup toasted chopped pecans (mentioned above)

Frosting:

  • 2 packages cream cheese Two 8 ounce packages
  • 2 sticks salted butter, softened 1 cup, 225 grams
  • 2 lbs confectioner's sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • remaining toasted coconut
  • remaining toasted pecans

Instructions

Toasted Pecans & Coconut:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/175C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Chop up the pecans, they don't need to be too small.

  3. Spread pecans evenly on one of the baking sheets and repeat with the coconut.

  4. Put both sheets in the hot oven and toast for 5-10 minutes. CHECK ON THEM FREQUENTLY! The coconut goes from toasted to burnt very quickly! I really like the toasted coconut because it gives a lot of texture to the cake, but I suppose you could skip the toasting part if you wanted. 

  5. Remove both sheets from oven and set aside to cool.

Cake:

  1. Grease and flour three 8-9 inch round cake pans. (I actually used aluminum disposable pans at my mom's house and the cake turned out fine!)

  2. In a large bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter and the sugars for about 5 minutes until light in color and fluffy.

  3. Add egg yolks and extracts to the butter/sugar and mix until incorporated.

  4. Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix into batter alternately with the buttermilk in a few parts.

  5. Add coconut and pecans and mix well.

  6. Beat egg whites to soft peaks and gently fold into the batter.

  7. Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow layers to cool completely before decorating.

Frosting:

  1. Cream together butter, extracts, and cream cheese in a large bowl or stand mixer.

  2. Slowly add confectioner's sugar a little bit at a time until it's all incorporated. Beat the frosting until light and fluffy.

Assembling the cake:

  1. Position first layer on a cake stand and top with a hefty dollop of frosting. Spread evenly across the layer. Top with the second and third layers in the same fashion.

  2. Frost the sides of the cake. Use all of the amazing frosting and make it really thick!  Don't worry about making it too pretty, the coconut and pecans will hide any mistakes.

  3. Pat handfulls of coconut onto the side of the cake. Sprinkle pecans on top of the cake.

Recipe Spain

Roscón de Reyes: Spanish Three Kings Cake

Roscon de Reyes

One of my favorite parts of celebrating the holidays in Santander, Spain with my inlaws is the day we get the Roscón de Reyes. In Spain, epiphany is the main Christmas holiday. On January 5th everyone goes to the city center to watch the parade. At the end of the parade the three kings, los reyes magos, each have their own float and they throw candy out to the kids along the route. Imagine a parade with Santa Claus x 3.  Each kid has their favorite king and they shout out their names as they pass by- “Melchor! Gaspar! Baltasar!”. Later that evening everyone in the family leaves a shoe out for the kings to fill with gifts… or… if you’ve been bad you’ll get carbon(coal).

Rosco de Reyes

My brother-in-law always gets two large cakes for us all to enjoy.  One of them is big and filled with sweetened whipped cream(nata), and the other is called a “borracho”(drunk) and has a streusel filling and the whole cake is dipped in a sweet fortified wine.  The roscónes in Spain always have a little prize inside. The prizes vary from bakery to bakery and city to city. In some parts of Spain there’s a lime bean inside, and sometimes it’s a little toy or figurine. Folks have different rules about what the winner of the prize needs to do. Sometimes it’s pay for the roscónes, or buy them the next year, or maybe host the celebration for Candlemas on February 2nd. In my family there are no rules, the person who finds the prize is just lucky!

Roscon de Reyes

My brother-in-law brought my husband and I to a legendary bakery in Santander that’s known for it’s roscónes (or roscos as they are sometimes called in Cantabria). Check out this video showing some images from our visit to La Gondola bakery:

There are thousands of authentic recipes for roscón de reyes online. I didn’t come across a recipe that I liked on any American blogs or sites. I based my recipe on a post on one of my favorite baking blogs in Spain, La Receta de la Felicidad.  I have two of Sandra Mangas’ cookbooks and have followed her work for years. I’ve even been luck enough to trade emails with her on a few occasions over the years.

Here are two of the beautiful roscónes on Sandra’s site:

Roscón de Reyes. Cómo preparar Roscón de Reyes casero.

Roscón de Reyes

One of the main things that makes the rosco different from other sweet breads is the orange blossom water(agua de azahar). It was a bit difficult for me to find this ingredient in the US, neither Whole Foods nor Wegmans had it, but I finally found it at my favorite specialty store in Brooklyn, Whisk.

Here are some links to order it on Amazon if you’re not able to find it locally:

Typically the roscos are decorated with orange blossom water flavored sugar, or pearl sugar, and almonds or candied fruit. There are tons of options for prizes online. Sometimes it could be a little baby Jesus or a little ceramic figurine or toy. I didn’t bake my prize into my cake, I added it in the whipped cream layer, but in Spain they’re often wrapped in plastic and baked into the cake.

I’m not being specific in my recipe as to how to make your whipped cream. I used a full quart of heavy cream to make mine. I also added a bit of confectioners sugar and vanilla. I also used some whipped cream stabilizer because you typically want the cakes to stay edible for more than just one day.

Here are a few other products that might help you out if you’re making this recipe:

4.5 from 2 votes
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Roscón de Reyes: Spanish Three Kings Cake

A traditional Spanish cake that's served to celebrate Epiphany on January 6th. This is based on a fabulous roscón recipe from the blog La Receta de la Felicidad.

Course Dessert
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 4 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time 17 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 57 minutes
Servings 2 Cakes
Author we are all magic

Ingredients

For the sponge:

  • 70 grams lukewarm whole milk 1/3 cup
  • 1 packet instant yeast 7 grams
  • 130 grams all-purpose flour 1 cup plus 1 tbsp
  • 1 tbsp sugar

For the dough:

  • the sponge made from the ingredients above
  • 450 grams all-purpose flour 2 1/4 cups
  • 120 grams confectioners sugar a scant cup
  • 1 packet instant yeast 7 grams
  • 1 pinch salt
  • zest of one orange
  • 60 grams lukewarm whole milk a scant half-cup
  • 2 eggs extra large
  • 30 ml orange-blossom water 2 tbsp
  • 70 grams salted butter 5 tbsp

To garnish:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • a few drops of orange-blossom water

To serve:

  • lots of fresh sweet whipped cream

Instructions

For the sponge:

  1. Mix all sponge ingredients together and form into a ball. Place the ball in a deep bowl and cover with lukewarm water. 

  2. Allow to proof until the ball doubles in size and floats to the surface of the water. It takes about 20-30 minutes for me usually. It depends on the ambient temperature and how active your yeast is.

To make the dough:

  1. Measure out your flour, yeast, sugar, zest, and salt and put it into the bowl of a stand mixer and mix for a second on low to incorporate everything.

  2. Remove your proofed sponge from the water bath and add it to the mixer along with the milk and orange-blossom water. Mix well.

  3. Add eggs one at a time mixing in between each egg.

  4. Knead the dough for 5 minutes in your stand mixer on low using the dough hook attachment. You can also knead by hand for 5-8 minutes.

  5. Add the butter to the stand mixer and knead on low for 10 minutes until the dough is elastic, soft, and all the butter is incorporated. You can also knead by hand for 10-13 minutes.

  6. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth and allow to proof in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

  7. After it's doubled in size, remove the dough from the bowl and divide into two halves.

  8. Shape each half into a ball and then form a ring from the ball. place the dough rings onto two baking sheets lined with parchment. (I also used silicon liners in my pans below the parchment.) The finished rings should be about 8-9 inches in diameter.

  9. Cover the rings loosely with plastic wrap and allow to proof in a warm place for about 2 hours, until they have about doubled in size.

  10. Preheat oven to 375F/190C.

  11. If you wish to garnish the rings with sugar, simply mix a few drops of orange-blossom water with sugar. Add the water a drop at a time until the sugar is the consistency of damp sand. Sprinkle the damp sugar around the rings.

  12. Bake the cakes one at a time for about 15 minutes each. They should be golden brown.

  13. Allow the cakes to cool completely on wire racks.

To serve:

  1. Make a big batch of your favorite whipped cream. I like to make mine SWEET and add a bit of vanilla too.

  2. Cut the rings in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Pipe a thick portion of whipped cream on top of the bottom half and then top it with the top half like a big whipped cream sandwich. 

  3. In Spain there is often a prize and/or lima bean hidden in the roscón.  In Spain it's often baked into the bread, but I like to wrap a little trinket in plastic wrap and hide it in the whipped cream layer.

Roscón de Reyes

Recipe

Gin & Tonic Pound Cake

gin and tonic cake hero shot

Gin and Tonic Pound Cake

I spend a lot of time in Santander in the North of Spain. There are a lot of drinks that are popular in Spain but BY FAR the gin & tonic is the most loved cocktail.  For this cake I’ve taken one of my favorite pound cake recipes and replaced the soda pop-leavening with tonic water.  There’s a subtle tonicy taste in each sweet and buttery bite and then there’s a bit of ZING from the lime.

Juniper Berries

Juniper berries are the dominant flavor in gin. In Spain it’s very common to put a few fresh or dried juniper berries in a glass of gin and tonic as garnish. They’re very fragrant and add to the experience!

You can order juniper berries HERE. I usually buy a bulk pack and keep them in the freezer until I’m ready to use them.

Gin Simple Syrup

I have used this gin-flavored simple syrup on ice cream, in milkshakes, and on bread pudding. It’s wonderful! I have a large collection of gins at home. My current favorites are Junipero, that I used in this recipe, and I also like Xorigur Mahon and Gin Mare from Spain.

Gin and Tonic Pound Cake Slice

Gin and Tonic Pound Cake

5 from 2 votes
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Gin & Tonic Pound Cake

The classic flavors of gin & tonic in cake-form!

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 people
Author we are all magic

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 3 sticks Butter 340g
  • 3 cups Sugar
  • 5 Eggs
  • Juice & Zest of 1 Lime
  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Tonic Water

For the gin syrup:

  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 1 handful Juniper Berries
  • 1/4 cup Gin You can adjust this quantity to taste.

Instructions

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F/160C and grease and flour a 10 cup Bundt pan.

  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. About 5 minutes.

  3. Add eggs one at a time mixing well between each egg.

  4. Add lime juice and zest and mix well.

  5. Add flour one cup at a time mixing between each cup.

  6. Add tonic water and mix well scraping down the sides of the bowl as you mix.

  7. Pour batter into prepared tube pan and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes until cake is not jiggly and a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

  8. Remove cake form oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes and then invert pan and allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack.

For the gin syrup:

  1. Combine sugar, water, and juniper berries in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

  2. Lower heat to low and simmer for 6 minutes.

  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

  4. Mix gin into cool syrup.

To serve:

  1. Cut a slice of cake and put it on your favorite plate and drizzle a ton of tasty gin syrup over your slice and enjoy!