Would you believe that this 12-layer chocolate cake was made with a single 9-inch cake pan? You better believe it! Rich layers of buttercream sandwiched between moist chocolate cake, my Baking Therapy dessert is a chocolate lover’s dream. Plus, making it is a piece of cake!
12-Layer Chocolate Cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rest Time: 30 to 60 minutes
Bake Time: 38 to 42 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes to 2 hours
Servings: 6 to 8
2/3 cup cocoa powder
¾ cup freshly brewed coffee
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
2 ½ cups icing sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
1 ¼ cup (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
2 to 3 Tbsp heavy cream
¾ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease a 9-inch round cake pan, dust with cocoa powder, set aside.
2. In a bowl, whisk together cocoa powder and hot coffee. Let sit for a couple minutes. Stir in milk, sour cream, vanilla extract and salt.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and baking soda.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until creamy and light. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix well after each addition. With the mixer on low, add the wet ingredients and dry ingredients in two additions, ending with the dry. Making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake pan. Bake for 38 to 42 minutes until a toothpick, when inserted, comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Then invert, remove from pan and let cool completely.
1. Sift together the icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the butter for 2 minutes until light and creamy. On low speed, add the icing sugar mixture in two batches. Add the melted chocolate, cream and vanilla. Whip on medium-high for 1-2 minutes until light and creamy.
Tip: You can make the buttercream ahead of time and store in the fridge. Before you’re ready to use, bring the buttercream to room temperature, rewhip for 1-2 minutes until light and creamy.
1. Prepare the milk soak by mixing the milk and vanilla extract. Transfer the chocolate buttercream to a piping bag, with or without a tip works.
2. Using a cake leveler or serrated knife, level off the top of the cake. Cut the cake in half and then cut each half into three even layers. Finally, cut the cake into quarters, this will give you 12 layers/triangles.
3. Start with one layer, brush on the milk soak, pipe on one even layer of chocolate buttercream and layer on the next layer of cake. Continue layering cake, milk soak, buttercream, ending with the cake layer. Chill in the fridge for 15 to 30 minutes to firm up the buttercream. With the remaining buttercream, ice the outside of the cake. Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes to set. Slice and enjoy!
Although most home bakers are working on a smaller scale than the sky-high creations seen on The Big Bake, there’s still a lot of pressure around the holidays, especially when it comes to baking family favourites and traditional holiday treats. Set yourself up for baking success by choosing the right type of flour for a number of applications, from homemade cookies to gingerbread houses. This expert advice will cover some helpful tricks and recipes to help take the stress out of holiday baking. Please remember to have fun and make holiday baking a family event. Also, always ensure that safe food handling of flour is followed. Enjoy!
In general, paying attention to the protein level in flour and applying it accordingly will give you the best results, as the higher the protein content, the more structure the final product will have. Hard winter wheat and hard spring wheat flour are primarily used for yeast leavened products like breads, pizzas and tortillas. You may see this flour called All-purpose, bread, pizza or no-time dough. Soft wheat flour is primarily used for sweet baked goods like cakes, cookies, muffins, cake donuts and biscuits and is often called pastry flour, cake flour or hi-ratio cake flour.
A large batch of cookies is the perfect plan-ahead project to have stashed away for unexpected company, gifts, office cookie exchanges, or just enjoying in front of the fire (don’t forget to save some for Santa!). Typically for cookies where a tender touch is required such as the traditional Linzer cookie, softer varieties such as a cake or pastry flour are used to give a lighter, melt-in-your-mouth tender texture that still has enough structure to hold a filling like jam or icing.
For sturdier cookies, like those used for constructing gingerbread houses (like this very Canadian gingerbread cabin) a lower protein hard wheat flour, like All-purpose flour can be helpful.
Tip: Most cookies will freeze well, making them a true timesaver for the busy holidays. Make large batches early and freeze them in airtight containers to ice or decorate later. You can also prepare the cookie dough ahead of time and freeze, to quickly bake fresh, as needed.
Both all-purpose flour and cake flour play a part in cake baking. To get Bundt cakes (such as this festive orange-cranberry version) to stand tall and withstand a filling of vibrant berries, all-purpose flour helps add heft. A bûche de noël (yule log), on the other hand, requires that the cake be soft enough to roll around a creamy filling without cracking, which is where cake flour shines.
When baking gluten-free cakes (like this gluten-free marble pound cake) there are many options in terms of gluten-free flour, including naturally gluten-free ancient-grains such as amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff available from The Annex by Ardent Mills. Or you may consider using an organic flour to replace the conventional flour in the recipe. Ardent Mills has organic offerings under the brand Simply Milled by Ardent Mills™ in both all-purpose or pastry flour that are suitable for cakes. This will certainly appeal to the health-conscious members of your family to bake cakes made with organic flour, without having to adjust the entire recipe.
Tip: Be sure to cool cakes completely before adding frosting to avoid runny icing and peeling tops. Chill cakes and ensure frosting is firm before wrapping and freezing to avoid ruining decorations.
Depending on which side of the pond you hail from, pudding can mean either a post-meal sweet, a cake-like sponge or a custardy creation. Steamed British-style puddings — such as the plum and figgy pudding made famous through Christmas carols — use trusty all-purpose flour and a bain-marie (water bath) to keep them moist throughout baking. Often referred to as “instant-blending” flour, granular flour can be used to thicken custards and other pudding-style confections, without creating lumps or the need for a roux.
Tip: Puddings are perfect to make ahead for the holidays. Try this luscious caramel and salted butter pudding, which uses a boil and chill setting method, as an easy plating or topping option.
The smell of freshly baked bread wafting through the air makes any home feel cozy for the holidays. Bread flour packs a powerhouse of protein and plenty of stretchy gluten, making sure your loaf has a firm interior and crispy brown crust. Ciabatta bread takes advantage of this stickiness to produce an artisan bread with a chewy texture. Whole wheat, whole grain, rye and barley flours can also be used in bread baking, producing a loaf with a deep flavour and dense crumb.
For sweet breads, such as the perennial holiday favourite panettone, a lighter texture is preferred. All-purpose flour can be used to help the dough create the distinctive and desired dome-shaped structure.
Tip: Bake your festive creations ahead of time (be sure that you have a lot of room in the freezer) and defrost the bread in a low temperature oven for an easy savoury or sweet fruit-studded snack.
Perfect pie crust is an obsession for many bakers and with good reason — it is often viewed as both a science and an art. Although one of the many debates tends to be about whether to use lard, butter or shortening for the crust, the type of flour can also make a difference. Some recipes, such as this sugar pie, call for unbleached flour, according to the taste preferences of the baker. Pastry flour, which is often confused with cake flour, differs due to its slightly higher protein content. The added protein in this flour lends a bit more support for baked goods that need to have some structure while keeping the flaky texture, making it perfect for filled pies such as this mincemeat pie.
Tip: Prepare pie dough ahead of time and freeze in pre-portioned containers ready to thaw and roll out. The filling can also be prepared ahead of time to use later, or, depending on the pie, the crust can be blind baked, filled and frozen.
Safe food handling of flour
For safe food handling of flour, please make sure to follow these safety tips.
- Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
- Bake products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
- Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.
Looking for more holiday baking ideas? Check out full episodes of The Big Bake.
When it comes to baking, nobody is perfect. Even expert bakers have bad days in the kitchen, but the best part about messing up is learning from those mistakes.
Whether you’re baking a cake, whipping up a batch of cookies, or trying your hand at homemade pie dough, the next time you head into the kitchen, let Anna Olson show you how to fix your biggest baking fails.
1. Why do my chocolate chip cookies spread too much when baking?
There are two main reasons why your cookies all meld together into one giant sheet while baking. The first is that your butter could be too soft. An easy fix for that is to scoop the dough onto a pan, and then chill it for an hour before baking.
Your cookies could also fall flat if you use too much sugar or not enough flour. Even a seemingly harmless extra tablespoon of sugar could cause the cookies to spread because sugar liquefies as it bakes. Be sure to use measuring spoons and cups and follow the instructions for the best results.
Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Luscious Lemon Coconut Cake.
2. How do I stop my cake from sinking in the centre?
A common culprit that causes your cake to sink is an incorrect oven temperature. Just because your oven beeps and the display indicates that it’s 350ºF doesn’t mean that the temperature is accurate. An oven that runs too hot may make your cake look done when it really isn’t, or if the temperature oscillates, your ingredients can’t set at the right time and the cake sinks. The best solution is to purchase an oven thermometer and manually adjust how you set your oven.
Another cause is inactive baking powder or baking soda. If you don’t bake on a regular basis, always be sure to check the expiry date on your baking powder. For baking soda, replace it every three to four months and use the older box in the fridge as a deodorizer.
3. What causes my cheesecake to crack in the centre?
There are a few key steps to remember when baking a cheesecake. First, when adding eggs to your batter, mix them in on a low speed to prevent air working into the batter. Second, run a palette knife around the inside edge of the pan within 15 minutes of the cheesecake coming out of the oven. That way, if the cheesecake contracts, it will easily pull away from the sides without causing it to crack or tear in the centre. Finally, be sure to cool the cheesecake completely to room temperature before chilling. Your cheesecake can be refrigerated when the bottom of the pan is cool to the touch, not the sides.
Making a cheesecake? Try Anna Olson’s recipe for Classic New York Style Cheesecake.
Try Anna Olson’s Chocolate Banana Muffins.
4. How do I prevent peaked tops on muffins?
When your muffins come out of the oven with peaked tops, this is a sign of overmixing. To get those perfect muffin tops, mix your batter by hand instead of using electric beaters. When hand mixing, use a gentle stirring motion until the point where flour is no longer visible.
5. Can I still use curdled custard?
Curdled custard means that the eggs in the custard have overcooked, but don’t throw it away and start over. While still hot, put the custard into a food processor or blender, and puree on high speed. Strain the custard into a dish, cool and chill as usual, and no one will even know – it’ll be smooth and perfect!
Put your baking skills to use with Anna Olson’s Peach Raspberry Custard Tart.
6. What is seized chocolate, and how do I avoid it?
If your chocolate has seized, it will take on a dull, curdled look, it will not be smooth, and some oil (which is actually cocoa butter) will be floating. To prevent seizing, melt your chocolate in a metal bowl placed over a pot filled with an inch of barely simmering water while slowly stirring. The steam from the water gently melts the chocolate. Try and avoid using the microwave to melt your chocolate, but if you must, use a lower heat setting.
If your chocolate seizes, remove it from the heat and add a few drops of tepid water. Stir slowly and gently with a spatula where the water was added, then increase the radius of your stirring motion to return the chocolate to its smooth state.
Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Pie.
7. Why does my pie dough crack when rolled or shrink when baked?
Dough cracking while rolling may not be a sign of anything wrong with the dough itself. It is often that the butter within the dough is too cold, causing the cracking. To prevent this, try pulling out the dough 30 minutes before rolling. It will roll out with less cracking (and far less effort).
If your dough shrinks when rolled or after baking, it’s a sign that it needed “relaxing.” The proteins (gluten) in flour become elastic when “exercised,” i.e. making and rolling the dough, and time is the only fix. If your dough springs back when rolling, pop it back into the fridge to rest for 20 to 45 minutes. To avoid a crust that shrinks when baking, chill the lined pie shell for 30 minutes before baking.
8. Is there a way to prevent a cake from breaking when it’s turned out of the pan?
All baked goods, including cakes, tarts, cookies and muffins, are fragile directly out of the oven. Be sure to wait 15 to 20 minutes before turning them out to cool.
If you suspect that the problem may be caused by the pan (cake will stick to a scratched pan even if it’s greased), then line the pan with parchment paper. Have the parchment hang just above the edges of the pan so you can use it to easily lift out the cake.
Test your baking abilities with Anna Olson’s Carrot Cake.
9. Is there a secret to preventing butter tart filling from bubbling over or sinking in the centre?
Butter tart filling bubbles over or sinks in the centre due to over-mixed filling. The eggs hold in the air which rises in the oven, causing the filling to overflow while baking and then sink immediately when taken out of the oven. The secret is to whisk the filling by hand until it’s evenly blended.
Sugar crystals in the bottom of the tarts are also caused by over-mixing, causing the sugar to separate from the eggs as the filling bakes. Adding a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to the filling ensures the sugar will completely dissolve as the filling bakes.
Anna Olson shows you how to impress your guests with a butter tart buffet.
10. How can I avoid lemon square filling from seeping under the crust base?
The key to making squares with a fluid filling poured over a base, such as lemon squares, is how you mix the base. It should feel crumbly, so don’t over-mix it. Gently press the base into the pan, and make sure a bit of it comes up the edges and goes into the corners. Do not pack it in firmly or it will pull away from the edges while it bakes, leaving a gap for the fluid lemon filling to seep underneath.
Give Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Squares a try.
Looking for more? Try Anna Olson’s Best New Desserts.
Dreamed of being a cake boss? From simple coffee cakes to elaborately layered tortes, it’s all within the realm of “yes, you can!” if you master the recipe and technique. When baking at home, follow Anna Olson’s step-by-step methods to creating beautiful and delicious cakes dressed to impress.
Stacking Cake Layers
Don’t be intimidated: it only takes three simple tools to successfully stack two cakes on top of each another. Plus, Anna’s easy instructions make it a cinch.
As Anna says, grab your measuring tape, wooden doweling, and a serrated knife, and give it a go at home.
How to Fill a Cake
For filling a cake, think beyond the usual frosting-cake combination: spoon lemon curd, strawberries stirred with jam, chocolate mousse, or whatever you fancy between the cake layers. Follow Anna’s step-by-step instructions and your cake will slice perfectly without squishing or sliding.
To recap, the steps are to create a stabilizing “dam” – a ring of buttercream frosting around the edges and a secret slicing ring in the centre – and then spoon filling into the gap and pop on the next layer. Repeat until you’ve got a towering masterpiece ready to be decorated.
Masking a Layer Cake
Once you learn the icing essentials, “masking” or frosting a cake is a snap.
Remember these essential tips from Anna when masking your cake:
- Start by using more frosting than you need
- Always mask at the top of the cake first, and then move onto the sides
- Always connect the next addition of frosting to the first
- When polishing the cake, start with the sides and finish with the top
- Use a bowl scraper to achieve clean edges on your cake
- Chill the cake for 30 minutes before decorating
Covering a Cake with Fondant
Why not fancify your baked creation with a little fondant? Working with this edible icing, used to sculpt or decorate cake, is easier than you think.
Remember, the key steps are:
- Ice the cake.
- Roll the fondant into a thin but stable layer.
- Using the rolling pin, drape the fondant over the cake.
- Gently press out any air bubbles.
- Trim the edges.
- With the palm of your hand, rub the fondant until it feels satiny.
Looking for more cake inspiration? Check out Anna Olson’s Best-Ever Cake Recipes.
When the wedding cake is unveiled for the nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, we can expect a grand confection, modernized, calling back to the elaborate official royal cake created for the wedding of Harry’s mother and father, Princess Diana and Prince Charles. Diana and Charles’ was a fruitcake over five feet tall, adorned with both Charles’ coat of arms and Diana’s family crest, all topped with a spray of blooms.
We can thank Harry’s great-great-great grandmother Queen Victoria for the appearance of modern, and extravagant, wedding cakes. Hers, a large tiered cake with white icing, was crafted for her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840, which measured nine feet in circumference and weighed nearly 300 pounds. But the history of wedding cakes transcends the royal family.
Wedding Cake Origins
The origins of the wedding cake dates back to ancient Rome, when weddings concluded with the groom breaking a loaf of barley bread over the bride’s head, symbolizing fertility. Guests would scramble to pick up the crumbs in order to take home some of that good luck.
In medieval England, small spiced buns were organized into a huge pile, with the bride and groom expected to share a kiss over the towering bread pile. If they could kiss without knocking the tower over, the belief was that they’d enjoy a lifetime of prosperity together.
Wedding Pies and Dessert Superstitions
Interestingly enough, it was pies, not cakes, that were typically associated with weddings. The earliest recorded recipe created specifically for a wedding is for Bride’s Pye, detailed in the 1685 edition of The Accomplisht Cook, which describes a large, elaborately decorated pie filled with an array of savoury meats, offal and spices. Sometimes rings would be hidden inside these wedding pies, superstition holding that the woman who found it would be the next to marry.
Other wedding confection superstitions include: the belief that sharing the cake with wedding guests will lead to increased prosperity and fruitfulness; fear that bad luck will befall a bride who bakes her own wedding cake; a bride who tastes the wedding cake ahead of the wedding will lose her husband’s love; and every guest must eat a bit of the cake to ensure the couple will be blessed with children.
Cakes and Royal Icing Come Into Fashion
Eventually, wedding cakes outpaced wedding pies in popularity. By the middle of the 16th century, sugar had become widely available throughout Britain, with white sugar seen as the most prestigious, as it underwent more refinement. Pure white icing on a wedding cake was seen as a status symbol and a nod to purity. Queen Victoria’s wedding continued this tradition, which led to white icing being called Royal Icing, a term that’s still used today.
Queen Elizabeth II’s Wedding Cake
Royal wedding cakes have long set the standard by which all others are measured, and that certainly held true of the magnificent cake created for Harry’s grandmother. For the Queen’s wedding to Prince Philip, Scottish biscuit-maker McVitie & Price baked a four-tiered, nine-foot-tall, 500-pound cake using ingredients provided as wedding gifts from overseas, as wartime rationing in the UK was still in place. The couple cut the first slice using Prince Philip’s sword.
Record-Breaking Wedding Cakes
- The most expensive wedding cake was valued at $52 million, adorned with 4,000 diamonds.
- The world’s largest wedding cake stood 17 feet tall and weighed in at 15,032 pounds. It was created for the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino for a 2004 bridal showcase.
- The most expensive slice of wedding cake was taken from the 1937 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, which sold at auction in 1998 for $29,900 (USD).
If you’re ambitious (and not superstitious), try making your own contemporary “Naked” Wedding Cake with our step-by-step guide.
If baking is a science, then this is an experiment you’re going to love. We’ve created a one easy vanilla cake recipe that bakes up into a moist, buttery dessert. But the real beauty of this batter is that a few ingredients additions, and it can be transformed into an entirely different dessert.
Bake this master recipe into a cinnamon swirl coffee cake, a chocolate and vanilla marble loaf or maybe even a rustic rhubarb upside-down cake. You’d never guess that each of these delectable desserts starts with the same batter. Get ready to add this astoundingly versatile recipe to your baking repertoire.
Basic Buttermilk Batter
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Cooling Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Makes: 1 cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer or sturdy wooden spoon, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
4. Add in one-third of flour mixture followed by one-third of buttermilk. Repeat additions, ending with buttermilk. Mix until batter is just combined. Do not over-mix.
5. Proceed with any one of the three cake variations below.
Variation 1: Chocolate and Vanilla Marble Loaf
Divide Basic Buttermilk Batter (recipe above) evenly between two mixing bowls. In one bowl, mix in 2 Tbsp cocoa powder and 1 Tbsp sugar; leave the other batter as is. Grease a 9-inch (23 cm) loaf pan. Pour one-third basic batter into pan lengthwise, covering only one side. Pour one-third chocolate batter into pan beside basic batter for two long strips of cake batter. Repeat additions, forming a checkerboard pattern, finishing with chocolate batter. Run a small wooden spoon side to side through loaf to create the marble effect. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Remove cake from pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Slice and serve.
Variation 2: Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake
Toss 2 cups of chopped fresh rhubarb in a large bowl with 3 Tbsp granulated sugar. Let rhubarb and sugar stand for 2 minutes. Grease an 8-inch (20 cm) round cake pan. Chop 2 Tbsp unsalted butter into small pieces and arrange over the bottom of cake pan. Add rhubarb to cake pan in an even layer over butter. Pour Basic Buttermilk Batter (recipe above) over rhubarb and smooth top. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate so the rhubarb is on top and remove pan. Cool, slice and serve.
Variation 3: Glazed Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake
In a small bowl, mix 1 cup of brown sugar with 2 tsp ground cinnamon. Pour half the prepared Basic Buttermilk Batter (recipe above) into a greased Bundt pan. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over top. Pour remaining batter into Bundt pan and smooth top. Bake in preheated 350ºF oven until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Remove cake from pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool. To make the glaze, mix 1 cup icing sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon and 3 Tbsp buttermilk. Add more buttermilk if necessary to reach a thinner consistency. Pour glaze over cooled cake. Slice and serve.
Eager to keep baking? Try these Best Birthday Cake Recipes.
Impress your guests with this show stopper of a cake that celebrates Easter and the coming of spring. Not only does this dessert make a stunning centrepiece, the buttery, fluffy sponge cake is a light and tasty treat that gets added texture and flavour thanks to the toasted almonds and coconut. Don’t forget the egg-cellent chocolate filling!
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cup icing sugar
2-3 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup desiccated coconut, toasted
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup of chocolate mini eggs
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter with sugar, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add in eggs 1 at a time and then vanilla. Continue to beat until mixture is fluffy.
5. Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 the buttermilk. Repeat, then stir in last 1/3 of flour mixture. Stir just until combined.
Pour batter into a greased 10 cup Bundt pan.
6. Bake in oven until golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 55 minutes.
7. Let cool for 15 minutes then invert pan to release cake.
8. To make glaze, whisk milk with icing sugar. Add more milk to thin if necessary. Drizzle glaze over cooled cake. Sprinkle coconut and almonds over glaze. Fill centre of the Bundt with chocolate mini eggs.
Looking for more delicious Easter ideas? Try our 50 Fantastic Easter Desserts from Anna Olson.
There are certain desserts that suit any season: chocolate or vanilla layer cake, cheesecake, lemon or chocolate tarts, to name a few. Almost any neutral dessert can be the foundation for a gorgeous plate, and playing with seasonal accents gives you countless options. You could serve the same dessert to the same guests on separate occasions, and they likely wouldn’t notice because you’ve changed the toppers (or maybe they just had a little too much wine with dinner!).
Seasonal plating gives any dessert a distinctly Canadian feel; very few countries have four distinct seasons the way we do, and with that comes not only a variation of ingredients, but preparation variations as well.
For my Maple Chiffon Cakes (which happen to be gluten-free), I have four plating styles to show you, to give you a sense of how to change up your accents for each season.
Now that we’re into cozy sweater season, treat your desserts with the same sense of warmth. Try a warm caramel sauce drizzled over the cake with a crispy topper of maple toasted almonds, and you’ve got a perfect plate for this time of year.
Winter gives us the greatest plating flexibility since we have fewer local ingredients to access, and using tropical fruits or citrus can really brighten up any dessert on a frosty day. Here, I’ve gone with one of my favourite flavour combinations: chocolate and orange. The addition of a warm chocolate sauce and candied orange zest gives you gloss and vibrancy in a plated dessert.
When plating desserts in spring, you should try to lighten things up a little. A nice rhubarb or strawberry sauce would be perfect, or even a simple lemon glaze with edible flowers makes for a fresh arrangement on your plate.
Fruits flourish in summer, so take advantage of the brief warm season. A cream cheese frosting adds richness to any dessert, and would contrast well with a mix of berries or even berry preserves. If it’s really hot outside, you can’t go wrong with a scoop of ice cream to cool things down a bit.
Get the recipe for my Seasonal Garnishes.