Camille Reinecke found a sweet outlet for her creativity.
The director of youth theater programs at Scranton Cultural Center at The Masonic Temple, Reinecke started missing the artistic license she had while directing shows. To feed that need for expression, she turned to baking.
The Scranton resident had always loved to bake and began to hone her skills, creating gorgeous desserts for family and friends that looked as beautiful as they were delicious. She then began an Instagram account, @bakewithcamille, where followers can see the journey from an idea to an edible work of art.
Local Flavor couldn’t resist her sweet creations, including her recipe for Chocolate Almond Cake with Almond Swiss Meringue Buttercream, which earned her a $50 gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore.
Reinecke said she loves the flavors of chocolate and almond together, and the latter also is a traditional flavor in desserts and wedding cakes in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she is from and where most of her family still lives.
A Swiss meringue buttercream is a slightly less sweet option than traditional American buttercream. It’s also silkier and smoother, which makes it great for decorating, Reinecke said. She advised bakers to bring all ingredients to room temperature before making it, since that “can make or break your buttercream,” she said.
The frosting recipe can be a bit tricky, and Reinecke suggested that bakers look online for tips to master the technique, or they can reach out to her directly through Instagram for help. Bakers may use a traditional American buttercream instead of the Swiss meringue or swap in vanilla extract instead of almond extract in both the frosting and cake recipes. Above all, she hopes bakers have fun with it.
“It’s completely up to their taste with whatever they want to do,” she said. “It should be enjoyable and a time to let your creativity take over.”
Reinecke’s signature items also include brownies, cookies and cinnamon rolls as well as pavlovas, meringue-based desserts usually topped with fruit. Everything she bakes is a work of art to Reinecke, but her cakes give her creativity free reign. She usually begins by sketching the cake on paper. Then, she’ll compare the sketch to the finished product.
“I love that process of seeing that idea come to life in a way,” she said, adding it felt similar to the way she sketches out costume ideas or staging for a theater production.
While the cultural center has adapted through the pandemic to offer virtual theater camp sessions and events for young performers, she’s counting down the days until it’s safe to be on stage again. In the meantime, bakers can follow along on Reinecke’s social media to keep up with her latest confections or even to chat with her about recipes and ingredients.
“I love that food just brings people together,” she said.
Camille Reinecke’s Chocolate Almond Cake with Almond Swiss Meringue Buttercream
For the cake:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3 teaspoons almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line three 8-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Place flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small mixing bowl and whisk together.
Combine eggs, buttermilk, hot water, oil, almond extract and instant espresso powder in large mixing bowl and whisk together.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk together until combined, but don’t overmix.
Divide batter evenly (about 16 ounces per pan) into prepared pans. Bake for approximately 18 minutes. Cool pans on wire racks, then wrap cake layers in plastic wrap and chill before frosting.
For the frosting:
7 large egg whites, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons almond extract
Gel food coloring (optional)
In a medium pot, bring about 1 inch of water to a simmer. Combine egg whites and granulated sugar in a heat-proof mixing bowl. Place bowl on top of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Place a piece of crumpled tin foil in the water to hold up the mixing bowl if needed.) Use a rubber spatula to stir constantly for about 3 minutes. When mixture reaches 160 F, sugar should be fully dissolved and not gritty.
Place mixing bowl into stand mixer, and beat on medium-high using the whisk attachment for 10 minutes until stiff, glossy peaks form. Let bowl sit until it comes to room temperature.
Using paddle attachment, mix on medium speed and add in unsalted butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Add in salt, almond extract and gel food coloring and mix on low until fully incorporated. When butter is mixed in, scrape the sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula and continue mixing for about 3 minutes.
Frost cake and decorate as desired.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT