Stack of Hearts and Clouds

comments: 72


Making good on my promise to try the mini-layer stack again, I went with chocolate, pastry cream, strawberries, and Mom's frosting. Angorian suggested that room temperature eggs might have been the key to success and non-sinking cakes, so I warmed mine up in a bowl of warm water, since I never plan far enough ahead to take things out of the fridge. To bring butter to room temp, I stick it in the microwave (on a plate) and nuke it for one minute at power level 1 and it seems to do the trick.


I had a few recipes in my recipe box. The provenance of the Dutch Chocolate Cake was sketchy, which proved to be a problem when I got to that last ingredient: "1/2 c. _________ ." Added alternately with flour mixture. Whoopsie. I decided it was sour cream, but that was just a guess.

Dutch Chocolate Cake

1 c. hot water, almost boiling
1/4 c. cocoa
1 c. softened butter
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. sour cream

Stir together hot water and cocoa and set aside. Cream butter and sugars together, then add eggs, one at a time. Add cocoa water and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt, then add alternately with sour cream, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Bake at 300 degrees F for 12 minutes.

Vcake4When you put the cocoa water in the butter-sugar mixture, something very . . . pebbly . . . happens. I did panic. This had the consistency of something you might throw up. All the butter turns into tiny nuggets, and you think it's lost. It really looks bad and gross.

Vcake5 But add the flour stuff and it all works out. PHEW. I was pretty much amazed, I must say. It turned into regular chocolate cake batter. Must have something to do with mixing water into solid-ish butter, it all kind of seizes up and freaks out.

Vcake7Again with the mini pans. This batter fills up only ten of them instead of twelve. I'll have recipes for you when I get back but I'm rushing out the door here in a minute so this'll be the short version but come back later or tomorrow for the details. Nigella, I love your little blue measuring cups. I didn't think I would, but I do.


Took these out after about twelve minutes when the toothpick came out clean. Cut the top off this one and found a molten core. But it turned out it was the only one like this, so it must have been in a weird place in the oven. I live in fear of burning cakes, so I always try to take them out a minute early. But not this early.

Vcake9Pastry cream: yum. Lots of recipes out there for this; mine is just basic. Then a run out to Safeway for strawberries. Got the third-to-last container of strawberries left at Safeway (it was 7 p.m. by this time) and they were really awful — not ripe, and bruised. So I salvaged what I could and sliced them really thin. Everyone on earth was buying strawberries and roses yesterday.


Whipped up some of Mom's frosting — light as a cloud. I'm going to call it "Cloudburst Frosting" instead of what we usually call it, "frosting with the milk and the flour stuff." I love this frosting so much.

Cloudburst Frosting

4 T. flour
1 c. whole milk
1 c. butter
1 t. almond
2 c. sifted confectioners sugar

In small pan, whisk together flour and milk. Simmer until thick over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool completely but NOT in refrigerator. Cream together butter and almond; add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add flour mixture and beat until fluffy. The frosting will appear to separate, but just keep beating on high until it whips up into smooth, fluffy clouds.

I have to say, the frosting is a bit temperamental — but it tastes sooooo good. It was really light, in a weird way. I mean, relatively speaking. I think it was much better than the vanilla-raspberry buttercream cakes I made last week.


I tinted the frosting a little bit pink, and then just did the blobs with the star tip.


Andy made Ina's Chicken with Morels and I dinked around with these cakes and got in his way. It was sooooo late by the time we finally got to the eatin'. I pretty much massacred this one. You have to cut little slices with a steak knife, or risk smooshing the whole thing. Dang, that cake was good. Took me 47 hours to make it, but it was good.


Those look fabulous, I so want to make them. I don't like buttercream frosting so I'm looking forward to your frosting recipe.

Yummy!! I would love to have your mama's frosting recipe. It look so very good!!

Amazing...I salute you!!


Amazing...I salute you!!


I need cake. NOW! :)

Oh, yum. And the Valentine in the last picture was sweet, too! Can't wait for the frosting recipe!

It looks so yummy!Can't wait to check out your mom's recipe.

Those cakes look sooooo good! And I completely understand what you mean about the "pukey" consistency. I make a Earl Grey Tea Cake that has that gross stage, and let me tell you- I was in a total panic the first time I made it and saw it turning to barf before my eyes! Agh! It all came out good in the end though! Thanks for the beautiful pictures once again! Have a lovely day, N-

Truly a feast for the eyes. And now my stomach wants some, too. Oh yum; oh sigh.

yum, crummy strawberries and all!

Ok, that's it. I'm so making little cakes. I can't take it anymore. Temptation is getting too much. I'm off to the store!

Beautiful confections !

I went through a phase where I was baking huge cakes for crowds of people. It was a situation where the cake had to be transported, and then sit for a couple hours. I was always nervous about it holding together, but I always required of myself to do some piped design, flowers etc.

I found a frosting recipe that stood up to all the shimmying. It had potato starch in it, of all things. You had to cook the starch to activate its gluey qualities, and then add the other ingredients. I remember the toughest part was mushing up the little globs that formed if I didn't cook it properly. I wouldn't say the frosting was the world's most delicious, but it was virtually indestructable. Really fun to do piping with, because it was very obedient.

You reminded me of that frosting, by mentioning your mom's frosting that has flour in it. I look forward to seeing the recipe :)

Oh that looks so yummy you've made me hungry! can't wait for the Cloudburst frosting looks and sounds delicious!

the colors of your cake are super appealing. i'd love a bite of this! great photos.

Lovely! Can't wait for those recipes!

Room temperature ingredients are totally the way to go when baking. Except pie crusts. Warming the eggs in water is brilliant!

I too love a complicated mess of a cake. When baking my Valentine's Day Red Velvet Cupcakes, I took over the whole kitchen, and the dining room, and tried my very best to get in my husband's way. This is the whole point of baking, no?

I cannot wait for the frosting recipe. It looks divine! Thanks in advance.

That looks like it totally turned out better than my attempt at a Valentines Day dessert. Would love to get that frosting recipe!

ha ha ha...i love it. you're so good at mixing delicate descriptions with the edges that come with all reality.

*sigh* Perfection!!

I think we're trying the chicken with morels this weekend now that I finally found some morels.

those cakes look like perfection!

This looks amazing! SO pretty.

wow - they look amazing. i hate when cake mix curdles - but they turned out perfectly!

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at