MyTake: What We Learned This Week—6/4 to 6/8
Cake, cake, cake, cake.
This week at MyRecipes was all about how to make fun and easy summer cakes. We took a deep dive into the dos and don’ts of making frostings and, more importantly, how to sustain a frosted cake during the warm summer months. Look, frosting can be finicky—this is a fact of life. Take it from writer Arielle Weg, who ventured outside of her baking comfort zone to make our Tahini-Blueberry Sheet Cake with Strawberry Buttercream, only to hit a snag at the frosting stage. After mourning the not-so-delicious appearance of her highly delicious dessert, she committed to figuring out how to master the sugary spread in order to avoid similar missteps in future baking adventures. Here are some of her insights:
- Let your cake completely cool before frosting it.
- Overbeating your frosting will result in a grainy, undesirable texture.
- For a neat and tidy finished cake, make a crumb coat layer first.
- An offset spatula is the key to a picture-perfect frosting application.
- Sift your confectioners’ sugar for a velvety and lump-free frosting.
A few more points about frosting—don’t let the weather outside sabotage your frosted cake. There are a few precautionary measures that you can take to protect your cakes in the heat. The major factor is going to be the type of frosting that you use. “Cooked” buttercreams are more stable; these include French, Italian, and Swiss varieties, all of which involve some variation of eggs and butter tempered with hot sugar syrup. You can also opt for the easier American-style buttercream and simply add stabilizers to the mix to make a sturdier frosting.
Of course, you can also avoid the icing headache altogether by swapping frosting for fresh summer fruit. We had three stellar upside-down cake recipes come out of the test kitchen this week that would be utterly insulted by the idea of frosting (but a scoop of vanilla ice cream is another story). Grab your cherry pitter (or chopsticks and an empty wine bottle) and get to pitting because this Cherry-Thyme Upside Down Cake is worth the effort. The combination of Bing and Rainier cherries, along with fresh thyme leaves, makes for a beautiful multi-color design when the cake is flipped over. This cake is all kinds of elegant. Our Blueberry-Peach Upside Down Cake celebrates the marriage of (in my opinion) the best fruits of the summer. The contrasting color pairing between the bright peach slices and the dark blueberries makes a truly majestic arrangement. The cake offers a slightly denser crumb due to the addition of cornmeal in the batter. Serve it at breakfast or dessert, you can enjoy this cake at any point in the day. It’s that good. This Pineapple-Lime Upside Down Cake is a twist on a classic recipe that brings together two tangy tropical flavors. Lime zest accents the sweet batter, infusing the zippy flavor delicately throughout the cake.
Besides going cake-crazy, a few informative reads from the week include How to Build a Keto Pantry, Basic Kitchen Skills You Should Learn in Your Twenties, How to Set a Realistic Grocery List, and How to Shop for a Quick, Low Effort Meal That’s Not a Frozen Dinner.
And above all today, we reflect on lessons learned in food, compassion, and connectivity as we mourn the loss of culinary icon Anthony Bourdain. He took us across the globe, exploring food and culture in a way that the world hadn’t seen before. To say he will be missed immensely hardly feels enough. Our hearts go out to Bourdain’s family, companions, and all who have been inspired by his work. As this tragic loss sheds an evermore relevant light on the conversation surrounding mental health and wellness, please remember to show compassion—to friends and strangers alike; be human.
If you or anyone that you know is having thoughts of suicide or harming yourself/themselves, we encourage you not to be afraid to ask for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is of service to you.