High Country Baking: Give your Valentine a yummy tummy | SummitDaily.com

High Country Baking: Give your Valentine a yummy tummy

Special to the DailySweethearts

Honoring our sweethearts…that’s what Valentine’s Day is all about. And these pretty baby cakes with a tasty raspberry-lemon filling are a delightful way to do it. The lovely play between the sweet jam and the citrus whipped cream, cradled between two layers of vanilla cake will make almost anyone feel special.

The dessert is made in two stages, so you can start preparing it well in advance. Bake the cake first; it can be wrapped airtight and chilled for a day or frozen for a week; just defrost it before proceeding with the recipe. Then, prepare and add the filling on the day you serve it.

Unfamiliar with lemon curd? It’s a rich, thick lemon custard that the English spoon onto everything from toast to tart shells. You can find it in our grocery stores, usually in either the jam section or the baking section. If you don’t have time to whip the cream for the filling, just slather a little lemon curd on the raspberry jam; it will be quite good by itself.

I like to sprinkle a few fresh raspberries, moistened with raspberry liqueur, on the plate when I serve the Sweethearts.

Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at veradawson1@gmail.com.

Adjusted for altitudes between 8,000 and 10,000 feet. Makes nine 3-inch cakes or four

4-inch cakes. Make in a 12X18-inch baking sheet with sides that are at least one inch high.

Cake Ingredients

2-1/4 (two and a fourth) cups of flour (spoon and level in cup)

1/2 (one half) teaspoon

of baking powder

3/4 (three fourth) teaspoon

of salt, preferably kosher

4 (four) large eggs,

at room temperature

2 (two) cups of granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s

1-1/4 (one and a fourth) teaspoons of vanilla extract

8 (eight) tablespoons

(one stick) of unsalted butter, melted but still slightly warm

1 (one) cup of whole milk

Filling Ingredients

About 1/3 (one third) cup

of seedless raspberry jam

1/4 (one fourth) cup

of heavy whipping cream

1 (one) teaspoon

of granulated sugar

1/4 (one fourth) teaspoon

of vanilla

1/4 (one fourth) cup

of lemon curd, commercial

or homemade

Optional decoration

Fresh raspberries

Raspberry liqueur

Step One: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Line the baking pan with Reynold’s non-stick aluminum foil or with parchment paper, letting the foil/paper extend several inches beyond the pan on two sides to use as handles when removing the cake. If any part of the pan is not covered by the lining, grease it well.

Step two: Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Set the bowl aside. Combine the room-temperature eggs, the sugar and the vanilla in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until very pale and thick enough to make a ribbon when the beaters are raised. (This takes about

4-5 minutes with my standing mixer; it will probably take longer with a handheld mixer.) With the mixer at medium-low speed, drizzle in the melted butter, then the milk until thoroughly mixed. Stop the mixer, add the flour mixture and, on low speed, beat only until the batter is combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, filling it half full (even if you have some batter left over). Bake until the cake colors on top and a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean; this takes from 25-28 minutes in my oven. Remove the cake to a cooling rack and cool completely. At this point you can cover the cake and chill it for several hours or overnight before continuing with the recipe.

Step three: Using a 3-inch or a 4-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many hearts as you can from the cooled cake. Try not to twist the cookie cutter as you cut the hearts as it may cause them to break or crack. Using the foil/paper handles, carefully remove the cake from the pan. Gently separate hearts from surrounding cake and with a metal spatula lift and place them on wax paper.

Step four: Make the filling: Stir raspberry jam until it’s fluid and spreadable. If necessary, warm slightly. Spread jam on the bottom of each of the hearts and return to waxed paper, jam side up. Whip the cream with sugar and vanilla until it forms firm peaks. Add two tablespoons lemon curd and stir to combine. Taste filling and decide if sufficiently tart.

If desirable, add more lemon curd. Spread about a teaspoon (for 3-inch hearts; a little more for 4-inch hearts) over the raspberry jam on half of the hearts. You may have some

of the whipped cream mixture left over. Top this with another heart, raspberry-jam-side down. Serve immediately

or refrigerate for up to a day before doing so. Sieve powdered sugar over each heart before serving. Decorate with fresh raspberries bathed, quickly, in raspberry liqueur (optional).

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