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.
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Week 38: Cardamom-Pear Almond Cake

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There’s nothing I love more than opening up my pantry and having everything I need to make a cake. Of course, this is easily the case when you start from a box mix; however, the mix I used isn’t your ordinary box mix. Simple Mills cake mixes are gluten free, almond flour based and when baked up would make any Betty Crocker mix pale in comparison.

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Week 33: Cashew Cheese Cake (with a side of personal thoughts)

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I’ve never been much of a journaler, and I’m responsible for more than my fair share of abandoned notebooks with 1 to 2 pages of my personal thoughts and/or travel details; however, now that I’m over half way through the project I’ve come to notice that each week’s post has offered a quick glimpse into my personal life and thoughts during the given week.

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Week 32: Ice-Cream Cake

I believe the saying goes, “When life gives you a pile of crumbs, make ice-cream cake.”

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Because this is exactly what I did with last week’s disaster. If you’ve been following along, you would know that my plans to make Smitten Kitchen‘s triple berry summer buttermilk bundt cake did not go exactly as planned. I moved to a new kitchen a few weeks ago, so I’m still getting used to the subtleties of my less than professional oven.

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Week 22: Summer Pavlova with Fresh Grilled Berries

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For Memorial Day Weekend I took a little road trip to Michigan to visit my boyfriend’s family. And by little I mean approximately one hour and 45 minutes away. After living in the city, this seems like quite a distance in the car… anyways, after long car rides I typically find myself in the exact same place. The bathroom.

(They didn’t call me little tank on spring break for nothing).

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Week 21: Rhubarb, Candied-Hazelnut and Buckwheat Cake

I’ve mentioned or alluded to my favorite cake of the project so far several times. Very early on, week 8, I made the most divine plum pistachio and lemon cake from what’s become one of my favorite food blogs, The Brick Kitchen. I loved this cake so much, I’ve made my own adaptations and continued the unconventional trend of topping my cakes with fruit rather than frosting.

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This week’s cake gave week 8 a run for it’s money. Ok, ok week 8 still might be my favorite but this week’s rhubarb, candied-hazelnut and buckwheat cake was so so good.

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