peanut.

via *Peanut

Back-to-school came so suddenly it feels. I knew it was coming, but actually getting back into it seems like such an abrupt process. Especially being on a new campus, I definitely feel like a newbie.

Needless to say my posting schedule will change. Between work and school I’ll be a busy lady, but I’m hoping to blog more frequently than not. Not to worry, I will still post beautiful little gems like this image from *Peanut.

parlez.vous.francais.

More importantly, parlez-vous chic?

Clara French of Clara French Ceramique definitely does.

French’s work has been featured on many a wedding blog and also in The New York Times by Amy Atlas of Amy Atlas Events. It’s no wonder though, her designs are beautiful, light and romantic.

ClaraFrench

Plus her website (link above) features the soundtrack of Amélie, which always pulls at my heartstrings.

paint.&.play.

Sorry for being MIA for a bit, but I have a good reason this time! I’m not Orthodox or anything, but usually for Yom Kippur I try to limit my computer time.

I have this lovely find, which I think kind of goes nicely with the whole idea that it’s a new year (for us Jews that is). I’ve loved The Avett Brothers for a time now, and their music video for Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise makes me love them even more. Artist Jason Ryan Mitcham did an amazing job on the animation, by altering one painting 2,600 times; with a whopping 10 alterations to the painting equaling one second of film.

running.in.slow.motion.

I took this video a while ago from the back of my lover’s motorcycle on the most perfect summer night. It’s pretty low quality considering the camera is a tiny point and shoot, but I kind of really loved that aspect.

This is a work in progress; I want to go out and take some more footage and edit it a bit more. I was simply proud of myself for having made a short film and I’m obscenely technologically challenged.

Enjoy!

layer.by.layer.

Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake

I recently celebrated my brother’s 24th birthday and my parents 28th wedding anniversary.

This Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake, featured in Bon Appétit‘s June Issue, seemed the perfect compliment to such a sweet occasion.

Of course I had to change the recipe a little bit, since my brother is allergic to wheat products and he prefers blackberries. I will share my revised recipe here, but the link above is for the original.

Chocolate-Raspberry Layer Cake

Yields 10 to 12 servings (but I think you can get more mileage out of it because it’s so rich)

Ingredients:

CAKE

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour*
  • 1.75 cups sugar
  • 0.75 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 0.25 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 0.75 cup buttermilk
  • 0.75 cup vegetable oil*
  • 3 large eggs

CHOCOLATE GANACHE AND RASPBERRY TOPPING

  • 18 ounces bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cocoa), chopped*
  • 2.25 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 6 table spoons seedless raspberry jam, stirred to loosen, divided*
  • 2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries*
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

* Because of my brother’s wheat allergy I used 1.75 cups of Spelt flour and 0.25 cup of Rice flour (the spelt is really dense and the rice flour helps lighten the consistency); we were fresh out of vegetable oil, so I melted down some margarine instead. I couldn’t find bittersweet chocolate without almonds or whatever else in it, so I used dark chocolate and instead of the fresh raspberries and jam, I used fresh-picked blackberries and marionberry jam.

Directions:

CAKE

  1. Position racks in top and bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F.
  2. Coat two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 2-inch-high-sides with nonstick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds; spray rounds. (You don’t have to do this step, my cakes didn’t stick too bad and came out pretty flat and lovely from the oven.)
  3. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl; mix together.
  4. Whisk water, buttermilk, oil and eggs into dry ingredients.
  5. Divide cake batter between prepared pans (about 3 cups each–it really did help to measure this out to insure cakes were even.)
  6. Bake cakes for 30 minutes. You will know cakes are done when the edges have started to pull away from the sides of the pan.
  7. If the cakes do form domes place a kitchen towel atop the cake and gently press with palm of hand to level. These can be made up to a day ahead of time.
  8. Cool completely in pans on cooling racks.

CHOCOLATE GANACHE AND RASPBERRY TOPPING

  1. Place chopped chocolate in medium bowl.
  2. Bring cream just to boil in heavy medium saucepan.
  3. Pour over chocolate. Let stand 1 minute then stir until ganache is melted and smooth.
  4. Transfer 1.25 cups ganache to small bowl; cover and refrigerate until ganache is thick enough to spread, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour. (TIP: I put the ganache in the fridge for an hour and it still hadn’t set, so I put it in the freezer and it set up faster. I would also put more of the ganache in the freezer than the recipe calls for because I found it a bit easier to work with in it’s frosting-like consistency than the messy-liquid ganache.)
  5. Let remaining ganache stand at room temperature to cool until barely lukewarm.

ASSEMBLY

  1. Release cakes from pans by carefully running knife around edges.
  2. Place 1 cake layer onto desired serving dish.
  3. Spread 3 tablespoons jam over top–make sure you loosen beforehand!
  4. Spoon dollops of chilled ganache over, the spread evenly.
  5. Invert second cake layer and carefully place onto frosted cake layer.
  6. Spread remaining 3 tablespoons raspberry jam over top of second cake layer.
  7. Pour half of barely lukewarm ganache over cake, spreading over sides to cover. Freeze until ganache sets, about 30 minutes. (TIP: it’s okay if the ganache doesn’t cover the sides at this point. When it freezes, the pools of ganache at the bottom can be scrapped up and spread over the sides of the cake, because of the frosting-like consistency.)
  8. Pour remaining ganache over cake, allowing to drip down sides and spreading over side if needed for even coverage and to smooth edges. Freeze to set ganache, about 30 minutes.
  9. Arrange berries in concentric circles atop cake; sift powdered sugar lightly over top and serve. (TIP: Berries will NOT stay in place, so if you’re planning on bringing this somewhere, assemble right before serving.)

The cake received great reviews, many said that it was rich, but the fresh fruit helped cut some of the richness. I personally found the actual cake part to be a bit underwhelming, it wasn’t particularly moist but that could have been because I was using spelt/rice flour.

Unfortunately I did not have an opportunity to photograph the cake, I was lucky to even get a piece before it disappeared, but it was quite beautiful. It was a lot of work, but for a big occasion, it was worth it.

Bon appétit!