Week 52: Pineapple Chiffon Cake

It’s here, it’s finally here! The Pièce de résistance , the crown jewel. The. Final. Cake.

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Before I get started, I know… this cake is several weeks late, but it was made within several days of my year long cake timeline, which put me comfortably in the realm of fashionably late. Besides, after a year’s worth of cakes I needed to take a step back to approach the final blog post with clarity. Cake brain is a very real thing.

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For the last cake I wanted to make something show stopping and delicious! I was gifted Sweet, by Yotam Ottelenghi and Helen Goh, for Christmas, and have been loving pouring over all his creative and gorgeous recipes. After flipping through several times, the loveliest pineapple chiffon cake, complete with homemade dried pineapple flowers, continued to catch my eye.

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While this cake wasn’t made for any particular occasion, I did have the pleasure of sharing it with my family while I was home for the holidays. I’ve never made a chiffon cake, and was appreciative of Ottelenghi’s detailed instruction. If you plan on making them, note that a lot of the technique for prepping and cooling the pan are counter intuitive, but it’s so important you stick to them!

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If you’re wondering, the cake was delicious! Soft like a cloud with the citric tang of pineapple blissfully married into the glaze and sponge. I was worried that it might dry out after a few days, but covered on the countertop, it was still fresh and moist several days after serving. The best part about it was the light as air texture that didn’t leave me feeling overly full or sugared out after a generous slice.

Once the last sweet bites of the project, were devoured I took a month to reflect on what I learned and where I see myself headed.

What I learned:

  • You don’t need a special occasion to bake and share something beautiful.
  • Beyond the sentimental, which I will get to, I actually ended up learning a lot of new baking techniques. I learned how to make a true butter cream, which is literally heaven, how to stiffen my egg whites, bake without leavening and so many other things having to do with the transformation of eggs, butter, flour and sugar!
  • Egg whites are a miracle food. Whip up a bowl of them, flip it over your head, and you’ll see what I mean.
  • Cake can bring people together, be the catalyst to great conversation and, above all else, make people happy. Because of this, I became the designated cake baker for all celebrations with family, friends and coworkers. A role which I hope lasts!
  • A lot of people made comments and asked questions about who was eating all these cakes. While I did have a slice of each bake, I had to work really hard creating balance with the other meals I made that week. My Instagram feed may have been full of sugar, but behind the scenes I still ate regular healthy-ish food, and did my best to refrain from other opportunities for treats. Definitely a practice in mindfulness and self-control. This being the case, I am so excited to try my hand at different varieties of baking and pastry and maybe even indulge in a few more treats from the cabinet at the coffee shop. So what did I learn from balance? That I can bake my cake and eat it too.
  • For the last few cakes I had my boyfriend film me making them. From this I learned that 1.) I can do things that scare me–like being in front of the camera, 2.) I care a lot less about what other people think than I used to, 3.) I actually enjoy sharing content in this way and have plans to do more like this in the future!
  • If I say I’m going to do something, i.e. spend a year baking 52 cakes, I have the ability to see that through. And that my friends has been incredibly empowering.

What’s Next?

  • I’ve already started exploring other dishes in my kitchen, some sweet, but mostly savory
  • Before I hop into my next venture, my plan is to work on my skills, learn new techniques, potentially purchase a kitchen torch (baked Alaska, anyone??) and dive into my own recipe development.
  • Overall, this project was such a positive experience. Baking all of the cakes made me want to pursue my skills, create more content and continue to share my culinary journeys. As I mentioned earlier, this project taught me that I can fulfill my goals and make my ideas actionable. I haven’t figured out a timeline or focus, but my next project is going to be tackling a cookbook! Stay tuned for more details and continue to follow my baking creations via Instagram.

Week 51: Caramel Apple Coffee Cake

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As I wrap up the challenge (and scrambled to make the last few cakes!) I wanted to reach for something simple and that I have yet to feature. I settled on a Caramel Apple Coffee Cake for week 51… however, true to the challenge, it wasn’t so simple.

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Week 46: Cranberry Cornmeal Cake

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. As much as I have enjoyed making all these cakes, I’ve been itching to challenge myself with other varieties of baking. With Thanksgiving last month, my will was tested not one, not two, but three times! For weeks 44 and 45 I stayed true to the challenge and brought, never the less, festive cakes to my pre-turkey day shindigs. For the big day, I swallowed my desires to make an apple pie, so as not to stray from making cakes.

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Week 42 & 43: Chocolate Cake with Cranberry Buttercream and Tipsy Apple Parsnip Cake with Sultanas and Cider Glaze

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Throughout the entire challenge, I’ve received comments and messages from family all over asking about the challenge, sharing recipes and in general, virtually drooling over all 41 of the cakes I’ve written about and photographed. This fall, when my grandpa turned 80, I got the opportunity to share the challenge with family from all over.

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