Today’s intro might be the hardest one I’ve ever written. I’ve written it, rewritten it, scrapped it completely and started again. How do you write an introduction for someone who’s inspired so many? Do I reminisce about watching Martha Stewart Living in for the first time in high school? Or how I used to consider it a good work day, straight out of college, if I was home in time to catch From Martha’s Kitchen at 5:30? (Yes, I’m showing my age and admitting that DVR’s were not a reality back then.) Do I recap my 2012 trip to the Martha Stewart headquarters in NYC and tell you how it’s a land of inspiration that I did not want to leave? Perhaps the most relative point is that my own wedding cake, back in 2001, was inspired by a design pulled from the pages of Martha Stewart Weddings. It was that very cake which first sparked my love of beautiful cakes and inspired me to try my hand at cake design. And now here we are, almost 13 years later.
But that’s the thing. We all have our stories, our Martha moments, our favorite projects and recipes inspired by Martha Stewart and her talented team at MSLO. Which is exactly why it’s such a honor to welcome Martha Stewart to the blog! Yes, today we’re Talking Cakes with Martha Stewart! She’s here for an exclusive interview, answering all of our cake questions (plus a few of the questions you asked on our Facebook page back in September) while sharing tips, tricks and advice for baking the perfect cake. Plus she dishes on a few personal questions like her favorite type of icing and must-have baking tools. And to top it all off, Martha is sharing a fabulous recipe for a Flourless Chocolate-Espresso Cake, pulled from the pages of her new book, Martha Stewart’s Cakes! Whew, let’s start with the interview…
Your new book, Martha Stewart’s Cakes, is your first book devoted solely to cakes and is filled tempting recipes and mouthwatering images. What all can we expect from this new book?
I’ve worked on 81 books over the years, and this is the first book we’ve done devoted entirely to every occasion cake-making. This book really covers the gamut and includes everything from bundts and loaves to cheesecakes and iceboxes. A homemade, home-baked, and handcrafted cake makes any occasion feel even more joyful, but you don’t even need to wait for a special celebration to bake a cake. Whether you want a good coffee cake to serve with your afternoon tea, or an impressive cake for a friend’s brunch, these recipes will help you make every moment in life special.
Frosting can be personal. From sweet Buttercream to smooth Swiss Meringue Buttercream, tangy cream-cheese icings, glazes and ganaches – everyone has a preference. What is your personal favorite?
My personal favorite is the Swiss meringue buttercream icing. It’s anyone’s go-to icing. In addition to piping like a dream, it’s ultra-rich and delicious and is suited to a variety of cake flavors.
You offer tips, techniques and advice in the book. What is your one golden rule of baking a delicious cake?
It’s very important to choose your ingredients wisely. Using the freshest, best-quality butter, eggs, chocolate, vanilla, and spices makes all the difference. It’s also crucial to read the recipe all the way through before you even begin, and to have all of your ingredients pre-measured and ready. Always plan ahead.
Which recipe is the best no-fail cake for a beginner?
Loaves, like the basic pound cake, are very light on effort but very satisfying. It’s a great thing to whip up and leave on your kitchen counter for your family and guests to have for breakfast, slice for snacks, or have in the afternoon with tea or coffee.
The book includes delectable recipes for layer cakes, bundt cakes, loaves, cheesecakes and more. If you had to pick just one recipe as your favorite, which would it be?
If I had to pick just one cake recipe, it would be the Lemon Meringue cake. I love anything lemon and anything meringue and it works for so many different types of celebrations and parties.
What are the top three tools in your baking toolkit?
Mixing bowls are important. You need to have a place to combine all of your ingredients, so they’re the starting point to a successful cake. Glass or stainless steel is best. An oven thermometer may not seem critical, but it is. Always adjust the temperature of your oven accordingly. Another essential is pastry bags and tips to make your cake an eye-catcher. The book has a section devoted to piping techniques and terms for those who have never tried it before.
As if we weren’t already thrilled to have Martha share her advice and guidance, she’s also sharing the recipe for this fabulous Flourless Chocolate-Espresso Cake! It comes to us (along with the other incredible cakes shown in this post) from the gorgeous pages of her new book, Martha Stewart’s Cakes. If you’ve caught yourself drooling, you should seriously see the rest of the book. This little slice of chocolate heaven is just one of the many tempting recipes you’ll find inside the cover. From baking basics to creative flavor combinations and decorative garnishes, Cakes has something for everyone to crave. It’s definitely a new staple in my kitchen library. We’ll pause here for just a moment while you add it to your holiday wish list…. okay, now let’s get to the recipe!
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE-ESPRESSO CAKE
a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cakes
For the cake
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70 percent cacao), chopped
- 6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the glaze
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- Ice cream (optional)
1. Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bottom of a 9-inch springform pan; line with a parchment round. Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, whisk egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Add espresso powder and salt; whisk about 1 minute. Add vanilla and the chocolate mixture; whisk about 1 minute more.
3. In the clean bowl of an electric mixer, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy. Raise mixer speed to high. Slowly add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, whisking until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Using a flexible spatula, fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 batches.
4. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until set, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove side of pan. Carefully transfer cake to a serving plate.
5. Make the glaze: Place chocolate, butter, and vanilla in a heatproof bowl. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and espresso powder; pour over chocolate mixture. Whisk until smooth. Serve cake with warm glaze and scoops of ice cream, if desired.
Reprinted from Martha Stewart’s Cakes. Copyright © 2013 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House LLC.