It’s been a happy couple of weeks in the Bowl household. We’re as susceptible to worries and stress and anxieties as the next people (okay, probably more), but in the worst of it we’ll still look at each other, tucked under a gigantically fluffy comforter in the soft weeknight darkness, and say, but you know … we have it so good. It’s so tempting to forget, but we do. Family, friends, good food, each other. These past few weeks have seen a couple snags — a nasty stomach bug, lingering springtime sniffles — but they’ve been packed with so many happy things that we’ve barely noticed. B2 gave me the biggest surprise of my life when he flew my brother in to visit for the weekend (I was so shocked, guys, I opened the door and didn’t recognize my little bro for like ten seconds) and we’ve been seeing our fair share of his side of the family too, cousins with gleeful toddlers and gummy-smile’d babies, aunts and uncles in town for Easter, brunches and laugh-filled dinners galore. I love it. I’m the sappiest, but family always makes me so happy.
Because cake goes hand-in-hand with happy times, here’s a little one for your Tuesday. It’s a birthday cake for TRB! Today marks two years since I first posted on this little space with a much-loved recipe for bibimbap that we still make all the time. Two years! It feels both longer and shorter than that. Sometimes it’s weird to think there was ever a time when I wasn’t constantly learning from and inspired by and celebrating food with you and this vibrant, technicolor blog-world of ours, but it’s also like, wait, scroll back just a few pages and I’m at the beginning? When pie crusts were a total mystery and I had no idea what kugel was, or how to make horchata, or why anyone would buy large eggs instead of jumbo. That’s wild. I won’t wax too lyrical, but thank you! I’m so glad that we’re here.
One more thing to thank you for before we talk about cake! Just as my brother was boarding his plane for one big surprise last week, another one arrived — it turns out that this now-toddling blog is a finalist in this year’s Saveur Blog Awards! Guys, I am so shocked, humbled, and grateful. So thank you, also, for making that happen. I’m still pinching myself. You can see the other finalists and vote for your favorites here.
And now (finally), cake!
As usual, this miniature almond cake makes just enough for two. It’s a riff on this olive oil number I posted back in December, and like most of the cakes I make, it’s baked in three 4-ounce ramekins and it’s egg-free. Instead, it gets its lift from a vinegar-baking soda one-two punch (very scientific am I), with a little Greek yogurt to add some support, for a crumb that’s slightly delicate but still moist and substantial. My favorite part about the cake, though, is this mascarpone frosting — whipping mascarpone with heavy cream makes an unbelievably dreamy, billowy frosting that’s decadent but not nearly as sweet as a buttercream, and infusing the cream in this frosting with rose petals gives it a fresh, fragrantly floral note that I can’t get enough of. Rose is one of my all-time favorite flavors, and paired with a subtly almond cake base, it made for one of my favorite desserts to date. Happy Tuesday!
Mascarpone frosting adapted from Call Me Cupcake.
- for the cake:
- 55 g (about 7 tbsp) all-purpose flour (if you don't have a kitchen scale, I would use 6 tbsp, fluffed, lightly scooped, and leveled; see Notes)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- pinch salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp white, apple cider, or rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp plus 2 tsp neutral-tasting oil
- 3 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp Greek or plain yogurt
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- for the rose mascarpone frosting:
- 4 oz (1/2 cup) heavy cream
- 1 tbsp organic dried rose petals, plus more for garnish* (see Notes)
- 4 oz (1/2 cup) Vermont Creamery mascarpone cheese
- 1-2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar (or more, to taste)
- Do ahead: Combine heavy cream and rose petals in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring continuously, just until hot -- do not let it come to a boil. Remove from heat and chill the mixture in the refrigerator until completely cold or overnight. (*Note*: If you don't have time to do this beforehand, substitute 1 tsp rosewater for the rose petals, and use petals only for garnish.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three 4-ounce or two 6-ounce porcelain ramekins with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda, and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, milk, yogurt, and almond extract. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just incorporated.
- Divide batter evenly between the ramekins and bake for 16-18 minutes, or until domes have set and bounce back when touched, and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- When ready to make the frosting, whisk the mascarpone and confectioners’ sugar together in a large bowl until smooth. Strain out the rose petals from the cream and add the cream to the mascarpone. (Alternatively, add 1 tsp rosewater instead of infusing the cream.) Using an electric mixer, beat the cream and mascarpone mixture together until it forms stiff peaks. Be careful not to overbeat -- the mixture will continue to set after you stop whipping. If the frosting turns grainy, just add a bit more cream, a tablespoon at a time, and whisk by hand to smooth it out.
- Frost the cake as desired. If frosting it "naked," like above, serve immediately. Enjoy!
The weight of the flour is more important here than usual because the scale of the cake is so small, and measuring flour by tablespoons can be a bit finicky weight-wise. When scooping by tablespoons instead of scooping into a cup and leveling, 6 tablespoons can add up to 1/2 cup of flour by weight (63 g) fairly easily, and will result in a denser cake, more like pound cake in texture, that stays pale even when fully baked. The amount above (55g) should be golden brown on top once baked, and is light and more delicate. Happily, both are delicious, just in different ways.
As noted in the instructions, if you don't have the time to infuse the cream with the rose petals beforehand, simply add 1 tsp rosewater to the cream and mascarpone before whipping and proceed as normal.