Our little family of four (including Orion the Cat) has come around full circle and just as expected, we find ourselves in the same predicament followed by all the right emotions. Back at it again, on round two of the nesting syndrome only this time with a toddler in tow, a little busier than three years ago, and with just as much excitement as the first time. The gift of life, and the appreciation of it thereof, is as universal as the flurry of emotions that follow a masterfully played tune, the sun beating down on our backs, the euphoria produced when a cool breeze caresses the skin. No one can deny that, I don't think.
We’ve been trying to stay in the moment as much as possible; family days at the beach and evening walks on the pier during full moon have been the norm, or as normal as the norm can be. Running away from the crashing waves without putting much thought to our childish ways for the entirety of an hour might seem so minuscule to some, but it truly is the little things that bring us joy in life! Admittedly, we’re a bit apprehensive about having to share our attention with multiple children, and so our time with Selah has been more intentional as she makes this noteworthy transition of becoming a big sister in just short of eight days.
So without further ado since there's much to be done, here I leave you with a cake inspired by one of my utmost favorite bakeries in the world! 85 Degree Bakery & Café which also happened to birth my fondness of sweet & savory coffee. They are renowned for their Taiwanese and Japanese baking influence and thus, their pastries and cakes boast an unbelievably moist and flavorful quality—full of character and timeless originality. That place is a trove of inspiration for any aspiring baker in my opinion, so be sure to find a location near you as they're constantly expanding their venues. Their sea salt coffee brulee cake is generally what the name describes; it's a chiffon cake layered with fluffy whipped cream characterized by hints of sea salt flavoring, generously dusted with espresso and crunchy chocolate shavings studded in the mix.
Pregnancy hormones and the excitement of welcoming little Tabitha may be responsible for this, but I randomly decided to make a grizzly bear shaped cake kind of similar to the one in the Bear Books collection by Karma Wilson--of which Selah has become a fan rather quickly.
The process in making this cake is a bit on the tedious side; I suggest baking the chiffon a day in advance and to make the workload a bit easier, making the egg custard layer a day prior to that may be a good idea. Other than that, it can be fun and therapeutic to cut the chiffon into smaller layers, frosting the cake, and finishing it off with the remainder of the chiffon crumbs. I hope you decide to give this a try and if so, have fun and let me know how it goes!
Bear Shaped Sea Salt Brulee Cake Like 85 Degrees Bakery
makes 1 eight inch dome cake \\ inspired by 85 Degrees Bakery & Cafe
time \\ 3 hours including baking, cooling, assembling
tools \\ 3 eight inch round aluminum cake pans (or make in advance if you don't own 3 pans), parchment paper, a round cake pan larger than 8 inches for bain-marie, stand mixer with mixing bowl and whisk or handheld beater instead, long serrated knife, offset spatula
Ingredients for custard
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 tbsp flour
drop of vanilla extract
enough water for bain-marie
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Vigorously whisk all the custard ingredients until sugar and flour are dissolved completely. Line an 8-inch cake pan with a piece of parchment paper, making sure it is as perfectly tucked into the bottom corners as much as possible. This step will help with easy removal of the custard.
Pour the custard mixture into the lined cake pan and place it inside a larger cake pan. Pour enough water in the larger pan so as to make sure it comes up to where the top of the custard is; this helps it bake evenly through and through. Bake for approximately 27-32 minutes, set aside and refrigerate until ready to use.
Ingredients for chiffon
6 large egg yolks at room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
10 tbsp milk
2 tbsp super fine espresso powder (I use this kind)
6 large egg whites at room temp
6 tbsp sugar
2 cup sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
This recipe will be good for two whole layers of chiffon, which we will later cut into half, making it four thinner layers to work with.
Keep eggs at room temperature ahead of time. If you're in a pinch, dunk them in hot water until the water becomes lukewarm (about 5-10 minutes).
Preheat oven to 350F (177C degrees) and make sure to use the rack at the lowest level or height in the oven. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, butter, milk, and espresso powder. Set aside. In the bowl of your stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or an electric beater if you don't have a stand mixer, mix the egg whites on medium speed, raising it to the highest speed so foam starts to form. When you see bubbles, slowly pour in the sugar and keep mixing on high speed until it forms stiff, fluffy peaks. Set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl, sift the cake flour and baking powder in a sifter at the same time. This will help even incorporation of baking powder. Add the salt. Add these dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and gently mix together until the big clumps disappear. Fold in the egg whites into the mixture and until well incorporated, but without over mixing because that will cause the leavening and form to "die out".
Trace and cut parchment paper into a circle to cover the bottom of your aluminum pan. DO NOT butter the sides of the pan as this will prevent the chiffon from rising properly since butter will make it too "slippery" for the batter to ride up the sides. Pour the batter in and bake for approximately 34 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean, top is golden, and the cake springs back up when you press it gently.
Flip the pan onto a ventilated surface like a cooling rack. Let it cool down for at least 25 minutes. It should be completely cool and when inverted to the right position, it shouldn't show the smallest sign of collapsing or shrinking. Unstick the side of the pan with a dull knife and invert cake onto a flat, clean surface. Slice into two equal layers with a serrated knife, brushing off messy crumbs.
Ingredients for simple syrup
2 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp water
Dissolve sugar in water completely. Set aside.
Ingredients for sea salt whipped cream
3 1/2 cups cold whipping cream
3/4 cup confectioner sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
First place the large mixing bowl and whisk in the freezer for a few minutes; the cold temperature helps whip up the best whipped cream into still peaks.
Start by beating the whipping cream on medium speed, slowly taking it to high speed until bubbles begin to form. About 3 minutes. Add sugar and keep beating on high until you see trails and marks on the cream, which means it's solidifying nicely. Then add sea salt. Keepbeating on high until still peaks form. Take about 1/4 cup of the cream for where the nose of the bear goes and refrigerate. Now add cocoa powder but DO NOT OVER BEAT or whipping cream will curdle up and begin to separate into a strange solid and liquid mixture. Place in the fridge until ready to use.
Ingredients for chocolate ears and nose
1/3 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate
1/2 tsp coconut oil
Melt both ingredients in the microwave in several increments of 20 seconds, mixing in between. Make sure it's nicely melted and glossy at the end. Gingerly pour the chocolate onto a piece of parchment paper and form two round ears, one small nose, and two small eyes. Place in the freezer until ready to use. It should even harden up within 5 minutes.
Once the chiffon is cool to the touch, slice both layers into half horizontally with a long serrated knife. Leave the bottom layer whole, but the other three layers will have to be cut on the edges with the lower layers being wider than the top ones so as to make a round pyramid style cake from bottom to top. Leaving the bottom (1st) layer whole, cut the next (2nd) layer about 3/4 of an inch smaller than the bottom one. Then cut the next (3rd) layer about 3/4 inches smaller than the previous one, and the top (and last) layer 3/4 inches smaller than the previous one. Brush all the messy crumbs off of each layer. Brush each layer with simple syrup.
Carefully remove from the cake pan the parchment where the custard was previously baked and cooled. Invert the bottom (1st) chiffon layer onto the custard so they both line up. Invert it again so the custard is on TOP of the chiffon. This step helps the custard from breaking apart so easily. Place the 2nd chiffon layer on the custard. Frost the top with the chocolate whipped cream. Cover with the 3rd chiffon layer, then frost with chocolate whipping cream. Cover with the 4th chiffon layer finally.
Now it is time to frost the sides and fill in all the gaps to create a dome shape, fixing loose ends and making it resemble a semi-circle as much as possible. Crumble the cut out pieces of chiffon without the edges since they're a lot darker than the rest of the chiffon to create the "furry" effect on the bear. Carefully cover the frosted cake with the crumbs. Pipe the nose area with the 1/4 cup of white whipped cream you previously set aside in the middle front of the cake. Place a small chocolate circle on the whipped cream. Place two small chocolate circles for the eyes, as well as the two large chocolate disks for the ears.