hi everyone. it’s been a hot minute! new year, new theme (still in the works, but i couldn’t hold off on posting any longer). a lot of other new things as well such as a new job, a new outlook, and the trip i’ve literally been waiting for my entire life.
there are a million things i want to do this year, and every year, but i have a feeling this year is different. for the first time, i’m starting to see a different life for myself than i’ve always envisioned. i’m starting to feel like i’m growing into myself and i’m becoming the person i want to be. i’m worried that i’m a little late to the game, but i’m certain i started this year off in the right direction.
first order of business: to be a smarter cook. i’m becoming hyper-aware of where my food is coming from; what i’m putting in my body and how what i’m buying is contributing to my carbon footprint. i’m also much more aware of the food i waste. i want to be able to pride myself on being a nose-to-tail eater (i’m actually eating so much less meat, but lets apply that term to veggies too). that doesn’t mean i’m not going to make delicious things like this cake just because i feel like it – i’m just going to be smarter about where i get my ingredients, and making sure that not a crumb is wasted.
second order of business: i enrolled in italian classes and i’m going to italy this summer! BAM! this is HUGE news. first, i’ve always wished that i had learned italian when i was a child – my dad, nona and aunt all speak and no one ever taught me. i’ve been talking about taking classes for years now, but i never had the money, and then once i had the money it was working at a job where i could never leave at a decent hour (hence why this blog has been so sporadic the last year). earlier this month i started at a much better job where i leave when the day is supposed to be over and i’m not exhausted with stress. as soon as i realized i could have a life outside of work, i enrolled in continuing education classes and will know the basics of italian by april!
part two is that mr copper and i (quick side note – i’ve mentioned my boyfriend over the past couple years blogging but never committed to using a cutie name for him. he owns a copper recycling company, so we’re going to refer to him as mr copper from now on and see if that sticks) booked a trip to italy. i had been saying that this is the summer i finally go to the homeland for some time now, and about a week ago we just said f it and booked our flights. 3 days in london then fly to venice then train to rome then rent a car and drive south, stopping in positano, pompeii, almafi and then meeting my nona (who’s flying in!!!!) and the rest of my family i’ve never gotten to meet in salerno. so as a disclaimer – expect this to be the majority of what i talk about for the next 14o days!
okay, we should talk about this masterpiece before i keep rambling on. i made it on new years and it turned out beautifully. the cake was made with half flour and half walnut meal and a touch of cardamom – very light but sturdy at the same time, it was perfect for decorating. for frosting i used mascarpone – how amazing is cheese, though. i was just about to write about how much i swoon over soft cheese like mascarpone, ricotta and burrata and their versatility; but then i stopped and thought about how much i adore aged provolone (not the rubbery grocery store stuff, but the good stuff), manchego, parm and percorino and oh dear! the obssession is real and i’m off topic again – whipped cream.
back to my darling cake! i iced it naked because i rather like the look, and i made a towering 4 layers with plenty of icing in between. topped with pistachios and figs (what a colour combo!), and served drizzled with a ribbon of honey, it was really beautiful.
i’m really happy to be back writing, full of energy and inspiration. it’s a feeling i haven’t had in while – the desire to just do a million things but actually start accomplishing them. i know i’m a little late, but happy new year everyone! thank you for reading and i wish you all an amazing 2016. xoxo
walnut cake + mascarpone whipped cream icing + fresh figs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts meal (just grind walnuts in food processor until very very fine)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 Cup sour cream
1 container of mascarpone
1/3 cup heavy cream, very cold
2 tablespoons sugar (you can add more depending on how sweet you would like the icing)
• preheat the oven to 350 degrees & butter two 7 inch cake pans and layer the bottom with parchment paper (i do this by tracing around the bottom of the pan on the parchment paper, then cutting it out).
• whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.
• using a stand mixer or hand mixer (i finally got a stand mixer for christmas and i’m head over heels) beat butter and both types of sugar until light and fluffy.
• add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. add vanilla and mix again.
• fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream in two additions. be mindful to not overmix! a couple streaks of flour should remain.
• distribute evenly in the pans and bake for about 40 minutes, or until tester comes out clean.
• cool cakes on a wire rack, then carefully flip out of their pans and let rest until completely cooled
• to make your icing, beat the very cold whipping cream (use a steel whisk attachment if you’re using a hand mixer, and a metal bowl, chilled) until soft peaks form. add the mascarpone and sugar and continue to whip until light, fluffy and creamy.
• to assemble your cake: very carefully, at eye level and using a bread knife, slice the layers of the cake in half horizontally so you end up with 4 even pieces.
• add first layer to cake stand and generously slather icing on the top. gently place the second layer and repeat until all layers are together. add a thin layer to the outside of the cake, scraping any excess to achieve that “naked” look. add generous amounts to the top of the cake, and top with chopped pistachios, fresh figs and honey to serve.