The Friday Five: Rustic Bathrooms

These stone sinks are impressive vessels, aren’t they? While I can’t quite see one in a suburban home, I can definitely imagine a beautiful stone sink in a gorgeous Italian villa! Can’t you?

via My Paradissi

via Carla Aston

Coqui Coqui Residence and Spa, via Remodelista

via My Domaine

via One Kin Design

Have a great weekend!

Trivia Thursday: The Springform Pan

On Monday I shared my experience baking a Schichttorte cake. An essential tool for this cake is a springform pan because once the cake has been cooked, you can release it easily with this type of pan. If you used a closed pan, I’m sure you’d make a mess of the cake.

A springform pan has a clamp that is used to tighten the side around the base to form a seal. After a cake has been baked, you release the clamp to release the side. All that remains is the cake on the base. It’s very useful when baking thinks like cheesecakes, tarts, and, of course, a Schichttorte!

Springform pans comes in an array of sizes, so it’s best to have a few on hand for different recipes.

springform pan, $12.57 USD, Amazon

springform pan, $39.95 USD, Williams Sonoma

springform pan, $30+ USD, Le Creuset

 

Furniture: The D Shop

I came across the D Pages and the D Shop on one of my tours around the Internet, and I was drawn right on in. D Pages features beautiful interiors and architecture in all of my favourite shades of white. D Shop is an extension of that design inspiration and carries a collection of the most beautiful pieces of furniture, lighting, and home accessories. There is so much that caught my attention which is why I’m sharing so much of it here today.

Mategot Natasaki chair, $639 USD

Sereno marble coffee table, $3600 USD

Beetle stool, $559 USD

Pacha lounge chair, $2369 USD

Shepherd’s chair, $3500 USD

Amare salt and pepper set, $195 USD

Dearborn large bowl, $80 USD

Signal globe, $1645 USD

Two for Tuesday: Lace

Who tuned into the wedding between Chiara Ferragni (fashion blogger, CEO and more!) and Fedez (Italian rapper)? It was magical. And extravagant. And extra large! Chiara’s first wedding dress (why have one when you can have two? Designed by Dior!) was made up of a lace bodysuit and a massive tulle skirt. The hours and skill that went into this dress are impressive.

Chiara Ferragni’s wedding dress fitting at Dior

It seems that lace – and lace circle shapes – may be something we’ll see quite a bit of in the months ahead. Here’s just one sample of the design in a pair of affordable tights.

tights, $15 USD, Modcloth

Food: The Schichttorte 20 Layer German Cake

While I was in Florida, I watched many (many) episodes of The Great British Bake Off. Have you heard of it? Seen it? In brief, it’s a baking competition show from the UK. My friend Shannon and I were hooked! The hosts – Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry – really made us laugh, and we were rooting for so many contestants along the way. And the baking! Oh the baking! Each week, the bakers were given challenges for both savoury and sweet baking, and some of the items I had just never even heard of! In one technical challenge, the contestants had to make a Schichttorte. This is a 20-layer German cake that looks absolutely cool!

photos from the Daily Mail UK

Aren’t those layers beautiful? I wanted to make it. So this past weekend, I did. I was invited to a dinner party, and I knew my friends would appreciate it.

I used a combination of two recipes. The main cake recipe is from the BBC, and the icing recipe is from Paté Smith. I’ve shared it below with measurements in cups.

Here’s how my cake making went down.

I prepared all of my ingredients in advance.

I mixed the egg yolks until they were creamy. I added the butter and sugar mixture as well as the flour mixture as per the recipe.

I whipped up the egg whites until they formed stiff peaks.

I carefully folded the egg whites into the egg/butter/sugar/flour mixture. I greased my spring form pan and lined the bottom with parchment paper.

As per the recipe, I spread one layer at a time. I used my crepe spreader to evenly distribute the batter for my Schichttorte.

I tried to carefully keep track of the layers and timing as I put each new layer under the broiler, but I failed at this. I completely lost track. I watched the oven like a hawk during the cooking process. My timing wasn’t too consistent. You’re supposed to alternate between light and dark(er) layers by adjusting the baking time, but my baking time was inconsistent. I left the spring form pan in the oven anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes for each layer. As per the recipe, the pan was right under my broiler (about 4″ or 10cm).

It looked golden and delicious when all the layers were done, and I released it from the spring form pan. I brushed melted apricot jam on the cake once it had cooled a bit.

I made the chocolate glaze and covered the top and sides of the Schichttorte.

Once that had dried a bit, I decorated the top with vanilla glaze. I was too lazy to pull out my piping bag, so I put the vanilla glaze into a Ziploc bag and snipped the end off for a DIY piping bag. In this way, it was easy to drizzle the vanilla glaze over the chocolate.

The outside of the cake made for a pretty presentation, but the true test was when we cut into the cake. Would the layers appear? Would the be distinct? Well, the suspense is over!

Layers! Distinct layers! I call this a successful first Schichttorte attempt!

And here are a few more photos if you’d like to see.

   

I’m so pleased that the cake turned out. All cake eaters (n=6) were impressed by the layers, the decoration, and the chocolate glaze. The same number of cake eaters were surprised by the cake’s density. Post-eating Googling revealed that the Schichttorte is in fact on the dense side, so I baked it as it should have been baked. Phew! Good to know, right?

If you’re like to challenge yourself, go ahead and bake a Schichttorte. The ingredients are easy, and the overall process is easy. The trickiest part was keeping track of the oven and time.

Recipe
(adapted from the BBC and Pate Smith)

Ingredients

The Cake

  • 10 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup (100g/3½oz ) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (150g/5½oz) caster sugar (I used granulated sugar)
  • zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (150g/5½oz) flour, sifted
  • 1/3 cup (65g/2¼oz) cornstarch, sifted
  • oil, for greasing
  • 6 tbsp apricot jam

Chocolate Glaze

  • 1 cup (150g) icing (confectioners’) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Vanilla Glaze

  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter

Method

  1. Whisk the egg yolks in the bowl of a freestanding mixer on a high speed for five minutes, until pale, thick and creamy.

  2. In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract and mix well. Add the whisked egg yolks and beat well. Add the flour and cornstarch and mix.

  3. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Stir one-third of the egg whites into the batter to loosen the consistency. Then gently fold the remaining egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.

  4. Preheat the broiler to high.

  5. Grease a 20cm/8in round springform pan with oil and line the base with parchment paper.

  6. Spoon some of the batter into the base of the cake tin and spread evenly across the bottom. Give the tin a gentle side-to-side shake to even out the top of the batter. Place on a shelf 10cm/4in below the grill and cook for two minutes, or until light golden-brown.

  7. Remove from the oven, add another spoonful of batter, spread it out, and place under the broiler for three minutes, or until dark golden-brown. Continue layering and baking under the broiler until you have 20 layers alternating in colour from light golden-brown to dark golden-brown. (Or continue until you have used all the batter.)

  8. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the pan for five minutes. Carefully release from the pan and turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

  9. Melt the apricot jam in a small pan over a low heat. Pass through a fine sieve, then brush the top and sides of the cake with jam. This will help the glaze stick to the cake.

  10. To make the chocolate glaze, sift together icing/confectioners’ sugar and cocoa powder into a bowl. Stir in milk and vanilla extract and mix until smooth. If it is too thick, heat it up over a small pan. Pour evenly over cake.

  11. To make the vanilla glaze, melt butter and add in icing/confectioners’ sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Add more milk (very little at a time) if necessary. Pour into a squeeze bottle or icing bag and drizzle over cake.

A few extra notes:

  • The full process (including kitchen clean up) took 2.5 hours. Not that bad, in my opinion. If I make it again, I know I’ll be a little faster, too.
  • I used a 9″ spring form pan because I didn’t have an 8″. I didn’t think this was a problem although I did have fewer than 20 layers.
  • This is a dense and eggy cake. If you’re looking for something light and airy, this isn’t it.
  • I used granulated sugar as I thought that it was a fine replacement for caster sugar, but the next time I make this recipe, I’m going to use caster sugar to see if there’s a difference.

The Friday Five: Things on my Mind

Here are a five things that have been on my mind this week.

1. I learned that apparently Justin Bieber bought a $5M house in Puslinch, Ontario (a short ride from Waterloo). In fact, I features the home two years on my blog because, yes, it’s super white!

2. I gave a talk about blogging at Sheridan College in Oakville earlier this week (#WhiteCabanaGoestoSheridan). I met with students who are studying industrial design, ceramics, furniture design, glass, and textiles. Gosh, they’re creative! Every time I go to Sheridan, I feel like enrolling in a class. I’m inspired to see what’s offered a little closer to home.

3. After devouring hours and hours of The Great British Bake Off while I was in Florida, I took the plunge and made this cake last night for a dinner party tonight. I’ll let you know if it is in fact delicious. And if there are 20 layers.

4. I enjoyed reading this Fundamentals of Team article (via Swiss Miss).

5. I just started an audio book that is making me laugh out loud. It’s called Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin. If you need something interesting and entertaining about life in New York City (so far, it completely mimics my sister’s life as a mother when she lived there), you might want to check it out.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Trivia Thursday: The Standard Chair

Jean Prouvé was a French industrial designer and architect. While he may not be as well known as designers like Eames and Herman Miller, Prouvé certainly made his mark in the design world. One of his most recognizable works might be The Standard chair. I first came across the chair when I stayed in this Paris apartment. It was love at first sight! Not only do I like the design, but the chair is incredibly comfortable. It’s little wonder why it’s a sought-after piece by designers and collectors of beautiful design.

The Standard

photos via Vitra

Jean Prouvé chairs in the Rue Bonaparte apartment (where I stayed in 2014)

Galerie Miquel Alzueta, via Pastolux

Airhouse Design Office, via Contemporist

Paris apartment, via Architectural Digest

Travel: A Return to The Ritz Carlton Sarasota

I have been spending summers (or part of summers) in Florida since I was 7 years old. Most of this time has been lounging around the beach and pool in Madeira Beach, but in recent years, I’ve enjoyed a vacation-in-a-vacation at The Ritz Carlton Sarasota. In brief, it’s pure luxury. Not only is every detail of the hotel and its offerings well-considered, but the staff at this hotel are so kind and welcoming. The people are definitely what have helped me enjoy my stay each year.

I was in Florida once again with my friend Shannon, and while we love living a retiree-way-of-life in Madeira Beach, we love to get pampered at the Ritz Sarasota, too. We began this visit with a visit to the spa, which was a special treat from the Ritz. Shannon opted for a facial where her skin was treated with the best of the best serums and creams.

I was treated to the Sarasota Touch of Honey. During this 80-minute treatment, after an initial exfoliation of my feet, the massage therapist did reflexology whereby she applied pressure to specific points on my feet to heal aches and pains. In reflexology, pressure points on the feet correspond to organs and areas of the entire body. How did this turn out? Well, I was skeptical at first, if I’m being honest. But then when I could feel tension in my feet and the therapist trying to work out the pains, other areas of my body then acted up. I’m not making this up! At one point, my stomach was making all sorts of gurgling, digestive sounds. At another point, my mind seemed to just open up and become free and clear. If you’ve never had reflexology, I know this sounds kooky, but I’m sharing the truth about these reactions.

I’m all set for my 9am spa call!

After the reflexology, the therapist moved to my upper body and gave me a head, neck, and shoulder massage. It felt amazing!

Post-treatment, the therapist showed me the reflexology map, and gave me some feedback about what she experienced while she was working on my feet. She confirmed that the areas that were tight were also the areas where I was feeling reactions (e.g., gut, mind). Overall, I was glad to learn, my body is pretty balanced. Phew. Let’s hope it continues to be!

digestion, mental tension, and sinuses were on my reflexology menu

After the spa, we enjoyed lazy hours on end at the hotel’s beach club and at the main hotel pool.

I know there’s not much white in this photo, but the shades of blue are hard to resist!

there aren’t many outfit changes on my Florida vacations

The beach club restaurant – Ridley’s Porch – was recently renovated, and since it is filled with white, I had to share it here.

Beyond the outdoors, our hotel room was as it has been in the past – spacious and with the most glorious beds! We spoiled ourselves with room service breakfast on our balcony, too. In our Ritz Carlton robes, of course.

It was easy to fall asleep in this luxurious bed.

Thanks for the sweet white treats, Ritz Sarasota!

Breakfast on the balcony…don’t mind if I do!

light and bright in the room

I don’t usually meet brand partners while I’m wearing a bathing suit, but I also don’t bring many outfit options to Florida!

Because I’ve made repeat visits to The Ritz Carlton Sarasota, you probably already know that I enjoy it, I recommend it, and I will return.

Many thanks to Matthew and Kristine for arranging our visit.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. Read about my 2017 visit and my 2016 visit to The Ritz Carlton Sarasota.

Fashion: Polka Dot Shoes

Hello dear readers! I’m back! Did you miss your daily dose of white? I did! I took an extended blog break because after I got back from Florida, I was so busy with start of school year (I don’t have kids, but I do teach at the university) and my book that my one week blog break turned into two turned into three. But all that is in the past. I’m back, and I’m eager to return to my blogger way of life.

So Labour Day has come and gone. Does this mean there’s no room for white until Victoria Day in May? I think not! My love of white continues year-round, and I am all for breaking the “no white after labour day” rule for fashion and home decor. There are so many shades of white that the colour is great year-round! Just yesterday, in fact, I proudly wore my white sneakers while I shopped around Cambridge with a friend. Embrace white, I say!

Speaking of white shoes, my jaw dropped when I saw these party shoes on one of my favourite fashion bloggers – Blair Eadie (of Atlantic Pacific). They sure are fun!

polka dot and tulle pumps, $1115, Midnight

Here’s hoping these fun shoes are a sign of good things to come this school year!