Monday, September 3, 2012

Clouds, A Cake, and Apricot Jam

The following cake recipe is dedicated to all of the fluffy, beautiful clouds that we see during the summertime here in New Mexico. Throughout the month of August (when clouds seemed to be the most dramatic)  I accumulated a great number of cloud photos, here are just a few of the (literally) hundreds that I took.

I also want to dedicate this post to a local jam making company called Urban Orchards. I recently discovered them at the farmer's market, and now I anxiously wait to try each new flavor that they create. I came up with the idea for a vanilla bean cake with apricot jam, chocolate ganache, and mascarpone whipped cream long ago. But when I bought Urban Orchard's apricot sauce, I knew it would be perfect for the cake. It is like pure sunshine in a jar.

Urban Orchards is also a very special company. Their goal is to help harvest the fruit of the thousands of trees in the city of Albuquerque that usually goes unused, and make it into delicious jams and sauces. Any homeowner who has a fruit tree in their back yard can become an Urban Orchards member. The crew will pick the fruit, make it into jam and give the owner 10 percent of their tree's harvest back in jam form. I think it is a brilliant and tasty idea.

I actually do not make cake very often. But this cake had an excelent harmony of flavors. It is very airy, especially for a gluten free cake, the chocolate very dark and smooth and the apricot jam a burst of light. I also love the vanilla bean, which is fragrant and inhances all the other elements nicely.

The reason for using mascarpone in the whipped cream is simply because it is amazing :) but also because it holds up better than regular whipped cream.

I am really looking forward to using more flavors of Urban Orchards jams in future recipes. I just purchased two new flavors that I am sure I will showcase in recipes because they are so beautiful and rich in color and flavor. So here is to fluffy clouds, a yummy cake, and local fruit. And happy September! (wait, September already?)

Printable version of recipe:

Cloud Cake: Vanilla Bean Cake with Apricot Jam, Chocolate Ganache, and Mascarpone Whipped Cream (GF)

Vanilla Bean Cake (GF)
makes two 8- inch rounds (I made two 6 inch and an extra 4 inch)

4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup Earth Balance (vegan buttery sticks) or vegetable shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups Jeanne's All Purpose gluten free flour blend (see Lavender Peach Crostada post)
1/2 cup half and half

1. Whip egg whites with an electric mixer on medium- high until foamy. Add cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar while continuing to beat until stiff, shiny peaks form. Set aside.
2. Beat the Earth Balance on medium until creamy. Add sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes until no longer crumbly. Add sour cream and baking powder- beat for another minute.
3. Mix together cornstarch and flour blend. Slit the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds into a small bowl with milk. Whisk together.
4. Add the flour mixture and vanilla milk to the mixer alternately in 3 additions each. Mix until well combined.
5. With a spatula fold in egg whites- gently, until completely combined.
6. Line baking pans with parchment, then grease with nonstick spray. Pour half the batter into each pan. Bake at 300 for 40-50 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 5-10 minutes in pan before taking out to cool completely on a wire rack.

Cake recipe slightly adapted from Dough Puncher!

Chocolate Ganache

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 ounces semisweet dark chocolate

1. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Stir until smooth.
2. Let ganache sit in refrigerator for about an hour to thicken. Stir again before using.

Cake Assembly

1. Cut the rounds equally in half. Place half a round on a plate and spread a layer of  apricot jam or chocolate ganache. Place another half a round on top and continue to spread the jam and ganache, alternating the layers. Once cake is assembled, make the whipped cream.

Mascarpone Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese

1. Whip cold cream with an electric mixer. When it starts to hold shape, add both sugars and salt. When whipped cream becomes more stiff, add mascarpone and whip until evenly combined. Frost the cake generously. Keep frosted cake in refrigerator.

Whipped cream recipe slightly adapted from Sprouted Kitchen


  1. You have such a lovely blog, Lauren...beautiful photos and writing...and I'm looking forward to trying some of the recipes! Following here and on on Pinterest, too!

    1. Thank you! I am so happy to have you follow my blog and my pinterest! It was nice of you to take the time to comment.

  2. Your cake looks divine - what a lovely recipe! I'm so happy to have discovered your lovely blog (via Aunt B of Aunt B's Kitchen). Your photographs are beautiful too.

    1. It is so great to receive such nice feedback from people, like yourself, who have been doing this for awhile. I checked out your blog, and know I will get some inspiration from it. Thank you!