Spring Garden Cake

Dessert, Uncategorized

Spring Garden CakeThis is a great dessert to make around this time of year when you have a special dinner AND either a weekend to dedicate to it or several evenings after work (with a little help from some friends)

I’ve been meaning to make this cake since we started the blog – which is almost 2 years ago now – and finally, for a spring dinner last week I made it with the help of my über talented friend Megan.

The Spring Garden cake first appeared in a Martha Stewart magazine probably 20 years ago. My mom had a collection of Martha Stewart books and magazines and one Easter when I was young we attempted a version of this cake. The result of our efforts was a little less refined then my second attempt, as shown above, but all that mattered was I had so much fun making all of the marzipan vegetables with my mom. I enjoyed making the vegetables just as much this time, 20 years later as an adult. My friend Megan and I spent close to 5 hours dying the marzipan, rolling it out and marking it up to make the tray of fruits and vegetables you see below.

5 hours of work

One tip – think small. The amount of marzipan you need for a single carrot is very little and radishes and cabbage leaves need even less. Take less than you think you will need and add to it if necessary.

A Carrot cake works well as a base for this spring garden cake and the version we have included here is one we have been making for years.  I first started making this carrot cake several years ago when I was in Bolivia.  With coconut, pineapple and plenty of grated carrot, this is a moist and sweet carrot cake that tastes incredible covered in cream cheese frosting. The crushed cookies and marzipan vegetables are a delicious bonus.

Spring Garden Cake

This cake would make a great centerpiece at an Easter dinner and while this is certainly a weekend project – it works best if you make the different components over a few days – the most fun will come when the cake is made, the cookies are crushed, the frosting is whipped, the fence has been cut, the vegetables have been molded (Yes… this cake really is this much work) and you finally get to assemble it all together and present it to family and friends. Like most great food and dessert – this is one to share.

Enjoy! and Happy Easter!

Ingredients / Ingredientes

Carrot cake with Pineapple and coconut / Torta de Zanahoria con Piña y Coco

  • 3 cups flour / tazas de harina
  • 3 tsp baking soda / cucharillas de bicarbonato de soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder / cucharillas de levadura en polvo
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt / cucharillas de sal
  • 3 tsp cinnamon / cucharillas de canela
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg / cucharillas de nuez moscada
  • 1 cup brown sugar / taza de azúcar morena
  • 1 cup white sugar / taza de azúcar
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil / tazas de aceite vegetal
  • 4 eggs plus one yolk / huevos y una yema
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla / cucharillas de vainilla
  • 3 cups grated carrots / tazas de zanahoria rayada
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple / tazas de piña
  • 3/4 cup coconut / taza de coco

Cream Cheese Frosting / Glaseado de Queso Crema

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened / taza de mantequilla a temperatura ambiente
  • 8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened / onzas de queso crema a temperatura ambiente
  • 4 cups powdered sugar / tazas de azúcar impalpable
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract / cucharilla de vainilla

Mix butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer until combined, add powdered sugar and vanilla and mix into a thick frosting / mezclar mantequilla y queso crema en una batidora de pie, agregar azúcar impalpable y vainilla hasta que el glaseado este listo a su gusto.

Pastillage Ingredients / Pastillaje Ingredientes

  • 4 cups powdered sugar sifted / tazas de azúcar impalpable colada
  • 6 tbsp corn starch / cucharadas de almidón de maíz
  • 2 tbsp water / cucharadas de agua
  • 1 packet gelatin / paquete de gelatina
  • 1 egg white / clara de huevo
  • 1 tbsp water / cucharada de agua

The Martha Stewart website has a great video outlining how to make the pastillage as well as precise measurements regarding how to cut the fence / Puedes ver este video de Martha Stewart para hacer la cerca

Marzipan / Mazapán

  • SEE ‘Battenburg cake’ recipe – you will use approximately half of this amount of marzipan to make enough fruits and veggies to cover a 10 inch cake. / Ver nuestra receta de la Torta Battenburg – debes usar apróximadamente la mitad de esta receta.

‘Dirt’ / Tierra

  • SEE ‘Homemade Oreos’ recipe / Ver nuestra receta de las galletas de chocolates Oreos.
  • Crush 6 chocolate shortbread cookies in a food processor or blender until fine.Triturar 6 galletas en un procesador de comidas.

Decoration Instructions / Instrucciones

  • Prepare the Marzipan vegetables and Pastillage fence at least one day before you plan to assemble the cake / Preparar los vegetables de mazapán y la cerca de pastillaje por lo menos un día antes de asamblar la torta

Pastillage fence

  • Some useful tools for assembling the marzipan fruits and veggies are shown in the photo below / Algunos instrumentos que te ayudarán a hacer las furtas y vegetables de mazapán están en la foto abajo.

Useful tools...

  • Shortening – for your hands – to keep the marzipan from sticking and drying out as you are working with it. / Manteca – para que tus manos no se pegen al mazapán y para que el mazapán no se seque.
  • Plastic wrap – keep the marzipan wrapped in plastic and only remove what you will be using – marzipan dries out quickly / Plástico – mantener el mazapán envuelto en plástico , sacar lo que necesites y dejar cubierto en plástico pues el mazapán se seca muy rápido.
  • A small paintbrush and water – useful to help adhere leaves to stalks and joining the cabbage/lettuce leaves together if the marzipan is not tacky enough / Un pequeño pincel y agua – útil para adherir las hojas a las lechugas y tambien si es que el mazapán está muy pegajoso.
  • Toothpicks – for applying food coloring and for creating holes and creases in the marzipan / palillos de dientes – para la aplicación de colorante y para la creación de agujeros y grietas en el mazapán.
  • A roller ball tool – for smoothing edges / herramienta de bola rodante – para suavizar los bordes
  • Small scissors – for cutting the leaves of the artichokes / pequeña tijera – para cortar las hojas de las alcachofa

Marzipan carrots

  • Carrots – Mix orange, red and a little brown / Zanahorias – Mezcla de naranja, rojo y un poco de marrón
  • Leaves – Mix leaf green, yellow and a touch of brown / Hojas – Mezclar color hoja verde, amarillo y un toque de color marrón

Marzipan artichokes

  • Artichokes – Green and brown marzipan / Alcachofas -verde con marrón

Rhubarb and tomatoes

  • Rhubarb, Radishes and tomatoes – Mix Red with a touch of black and same leaf green as with the carrots / Rábanos y ruibarbo – Mezclar rojo con un toque de negro y el mismo verde que arriba. 

Marzipan watermelon

  • Watermelon – light green – mix light green with white. Dark green – straight dark green. and pink – mix pink with a touch of red. / Sandía – verde claro – mezclar el color verde claro con blanco. Verde oscuro – verde oscuro puro, sin mezclar con nada más, y Rosado – mezclar rosa con un toque de rojo.

Marzipan cabbage

  • Cauliflower – Leaf green and plain marzipan (no color) / Coliflor – Verde hoja y mazapán sin colorante

Instructions / Instrucciones

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F / Calentar el horno a 350 grados
  • Butter the bottom and edges of a 10 inch cake pan. We are using a springform pan (because that is the only circular pan we have) Cut a round of parchment and place on the bottom of the pan and butter it as well. / Poner mantequilla alrededor de el molde donde vas a hornear la torta, cortar papel pergamino y colocarlo en la parte inferior del molde, agregar encima del papel un poco de mantequilla.
  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl (flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg) / Mezclar los ingredientes secos en un recipiente ( hariana, levadura en polvo, bicarbonato de soda, sal, canela, nuez moscada)
  • Mix the eggs, brown sugar, white sugar, oil, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer and blend until well combined. / Mezclar los huevos, azúcar morena, azúcar, aceite y vainilla en una batidora de pie hasta que estén bien mezclados.
  • Grate Carrots, dice pineapple, and measure out coconut. / Rayar las zanahorias, cortar la piña en cuadritos y medir el coco.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the egg, sugar, oil mixture in two additions, mixing until just combined between additions. / Agregar los ingredientes secos a la mezcla de huevos, azúcar y aceite en dos adiciones, es decir primero agregar la mitad de la mezcla y mezclar bien en la batidora hsta que este todo incorporado y después agregar la otra mitad.

Carrot cake

  • Add the carrots, diced pineapple and coconut and fold together with a spatula until evenly distributed. / Agregar las zanahorias, piña y coco y mezclar todo con una espátula hasta que esté todo bien incorporado.
  • Pour into the cake pan and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes – or until a cake tester comes out clean. / Poner la mezcla al molde y hornear la torta por 1 hora y 15 minutos o hasta que esté lista.
  • Cool on a rack for a few minutes then turn out and allow to cool completely. / Sacar la torta del molde y dejar enfriar completamente.
  • Wrap in plastic and freeze. This will make torting the cake (slicing off the irregular top) and dividing the cake in half much easier. / Envolver la torta en plástico y colocar en el congelador. Esto hará más fácil el cortar la torta por la mitad.

Assembling the spring garden cake

  • Assemble the cake with cream cheese frosting in between the layers as well as over the top and sides. / Montar el pastel con glaseado de queso crema entre las capas y también sobre la parte superior y los lados.
  • Mound about 1/2 cup of ground chocolate wafers onto the center of the cake once it has been frosted and gently spread to the outer layers of the cake – taking care not to push the crumbs down the sides of the cake. / Colocar alreadedor de 1/2 taza de las galletas de chocolate trituradas encima de la torta, con mucho cuidado.
  • Divide the plot into quarters and ‘rake’ with a fork in alternating directions / Dividir la parte superior de la torta en cuatro lados y con un tenedor, como si fuera un rastrillo mover en direcciones alternas

Planting the garden...

  • ‘Plant’ the garden with the pre-made marzipan fruits and vegetables / Agregar las furtas y vegetales de mazapán.

Pastillage fence

  • Apply pastillage fence to the outer layer of the cake – use the pre made 1/4 plots as a guide. Each quarter of the cake will have 8 pieces of fence and be divided by a fence post / Agregar la cerca hecha de pastillaje (como el la foto). Cada cuarto de la torta tendrá 8 piezas de la cerca

The cake is finished

  • Distribute Candy rocks around the outside and the cake is ready to serve or present at the table. / Colocar piedras o rocas de chocolates alrededor de la tora para una presentación increíble.
  • Enjoy! / A disfrutar!

Spring garden cake… Provecho!



Paska (Easter Bread)

Dessert, Snack

PaskaEaster = Paska bread or should I say Paska bread = Easter? for me the two are inextricably connected.  Growing up with half of my family coming from a Mennonite background, Easter always included Paska… Paska is the sweet citrus filled enriched bread that you see above.  It is always served during this week of the year, and as a result, the aroma and taste of this bread has a nostalgic effect on me.  I remember enjoying this bread as a kid during the family reunions we had at Easter time.  Easter was one of the few times of the year that we had the chance to see my Dad’s extended family, and my Grandma or my Aunts always prepared the most delicious Paska.

I made Paska myself for the first time just a few years ago, and now that I have, it just wouldn’t feel right to let Easter pass by without making a batch.  Previously, I have made this recipe into loaves, free formed buns, and placed the dough in muffin tins for Paska muffins and they have all turned out wonderfully.  This year however, seeing as Paska is like the Mennonite version of Brioche (and I have to say – a better version), and I just happened to have recently scored an incredible deal on a full set of Brioche molds, I let the Paska rise in these metal tins that are designed to create the ridged edges that are typical of Brioche buns.  What we end up with are Paska buns that look like Brioche yet taste like Paska, and all that is left to do once they are baked and cooled is to cover them with cream cheese frosting, add some sprinkles, and Enjoy!


Recipe adapted from Mennonite Girls can Cook by Lovella

Ingredients / Ingredientes

  • 2 tbsp yeast / cucharadas de levadura
  • 1 cup warm water / taza de agua tibia
  • 1 tsp sugar / cucharillas de azúcar
  • 1 orange / naranja
  • 1 lemon / limón
  • 1 1/4 cup milk  / taza de leche
  • 1/2 cup butter / taza de mantequilla
  • 2 eggs / huevos
  • 3/4 cup sugar / taza de azúcar
  • 1 tsp salt / cucharilla de sal
  • * 7 cups of flour / tazas de harina

* This recipe will require approximately 7 cups of flour (potentially up to 1/2 cup more).  When adding flour after the initial 7 cups, add little by little and keep the dough on the sticky side / Esta receta va a usar aproximadamente 7 tazas de harina (y tal vez media taza más) Despues de las primeras 7 tazas, agregar poco a poco, no olvides de mantener la masa pegajosa.

Instructions / Instrucciones

  • In a large bowl, mix together the yeast, warm water and sugar and set aside until foamy, while you prepare the orange and lemon.  / En un recipiente mezclar juntos el agua, la levadura y el azúcar, dejar a un lado hasta que se vuelva espumoso.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, peel the skin off of the orange and the lemon.  If the underside of the skin has a lot of white, use a sharp knife to carefully slice it off of the skin.  Place the orange and lemon peel in a blender / Usando un pelador de verduras pelar las cáscaras de la naranja y del limón. Las cáscaras no deben tener nada blanco ya que esto tornará todo amargo. Agregar todo esto a la licuadora.
  • Remove as much of the white rind as possible from the orange and lemon and chop the lemon and orange enough to remove the seeds.  Add the lemon and orange to the blender as well. / Cortar el limón y naranja en pedazos (sin nada blanco) y remover las semillas. Agregar todo eso a la licuadora junto a las cáscaras.
  • Heat the butter and milk in a saucepan until the butter is completely melted, then add to the blender as well / Calentar la leche con la matequilla en una olla hasta que todo este derretido, agregar a la licuadora también.

Citrus, milk, butter

  • Blend the citrus, milk, butter mixture on high for a couple minutes, or until the mixture is smooth.  Depending on your blender this may take 30 seconds or several minutes / Licuar hasta que todo este triturado y suave, puede tardar algunos minutos.
  • Add the eggs, sugar and salt to the blender and blend once again until the mixture is smooth and everything is incorporated together. / Agregar los huevos, azúcar y sal a la licuadora y licuar hasta que todo este mezclado.
  • Pour the mixture out into the bowl of a stand mixer and measure as you go, so that you have an idea of how much liquid you have – it should be 4 1/2 cups – possibly a little more or less.  / Agregar la mezcla al contenedor de una batidora de pie. La mezcla  debe ser entre  4 1/2 tazas de líquido.
  • Add the proofed yeast to the bowl as well / Agregar la levadura y agua al recipiente.
  • Attach a dough hook to the mixer and on low speed begin to mix adding one cup of flour at a time until the previous one has been completely incorporated / Adjuntar un gancho para masa a la batidora,  y en baja velocidad y empezar a mezclar añadiendo una taza de harina primeramente y esperar hasta que todo este incorporado y luego agregar otra taza de harina. En esta receta usé 7 tazas de harina.

Paska dough

  • Once all the flour has been incorporated, continue to mix for 8-10 minutes.  If the dough is still sticky but holds its shape then it is done.  This batch the dough was still a bit too sticky after adding the initial 7 cups and so I kneaded it by hand on the counter using about 1/2 cup more flour until the dough was able to hold its shape but still remained quite sticky  / Cuando todas las tazas estén incorporadas, tienes que dejar la máquina mezclando todo por 8 a 10 minutos más. Si la masa aún sigue muy pegajosa agregar más harina poco a poco y amasar la masa con las manos hasta que quede menos pegajosa. Yo usé 1/2 taza más de harina.
  • Place the dough in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel and set side until it has doubled – about an hour and a half / Poner la masa sobre un recipiende y cubir, dejar a un lado hasta que la masa crezca el doble (como una hora y media).
  • After the dough has doubled in size, punch the dough down, allowing the gas to escape, and set aside for another 10 minutes while you prepare the pans for baking the Paska / Después de esto con el puño golpear la masa una vez y dejar a un lado por 10 minutos, esto hará que el gas de la masa salga.
  • Spray either loaf pans, muffin tins, baking sheets, or as we have here brioche molds with non stick spray and then separate the dough into pieces, and place them in your desired mold, or pan.  Keep in mind the size of the dough that you place in your mold will double as it rises and rise a little more while baking / Colocar aceite o un spray antiadherente en los recipientes que vas a usar para hornear la masa. Colocar la masa de la Paska en los contenedores, tienes que tener en cuenta que la masa crecera el doble.

Paska dough rising

  • Allow the prepared loaves or buns to rise for another hour to an hour and a half, until they have doubled in size, then bake in a 350 degree F oven for approximately 20 minutes / En los recipientes dejar la masa por 30  minutos para que sigan creciendo luego meterlos al horno de 350 grados y hornearlos por 20 minutos
  • Once the buns are completely cool, ice with frosting and serve or place the buns in freezer bags and freeze for another day / Después de que  las masitas de Paska esten frías agregar la crema o glaseado. También puedes ponerlos en plástico y colocarlos a la nevera para otro día.

Cream cheese frosting / El glaseado de crema de queso

  • 1 8 ounce package of cream cheese (softened) / Paquete de 8 onzas de crema de queso
  • 1/2 cup butter (softened) / taza de mantequilla (blanda)
  • 1 tsp vanilla / cucharilla de vainilla
  • Icing sugar – about 3 cups / 3 tazas de azúcar impalpable o en polvo

In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the cream cheese and butter together until light and fluffy.  Add the vanilla and begin to add icing sugar – sifting into the bowl 1/3 cup at a time, and mixing to incorporate fully, continuing until the desired consistency is reached.  A soft icing that can just hold its shape is ideal / En una batidora mezclar la crema de queso y la mantequilla hasta que estén bien incorporadas. Agregar la vainilla y la azúcar colada en 1/3 tazas hasta que incorpores las 3 tazas. Mezlcar hasta lograr la consistencia perfecta, ni tan suave ni tampoco tan dura.

Paska... Provecho!