Northern Michigan Foodie: Kim Sperl, pastry chef of Cheboygan's Bella e Dolce
May through October sees pastry chef Kim Sperl creating wedding cake masterpieces for her business Bella e Dolce. From her gleaming wood, stainless and marble kitchen in Cheboygan, Kim transports her works of art to Mackinac Island and all over Northern Michigan. In November, the Le Cordon Bleu graduate—who is also a fully certified pastry chef of the famed Paris culinary school—breathes a sigh and relaxes. But December sees Kim back in the kitchen, baking for family and friends. Kim prefers using local ingredients—she and husband, Mike, have their own apiary—and eggs come from her sister’s chicken coop next door.
½ pound unsalted butter at room temperature
1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray loaf pan with baking spray and line bottom with parchment. Using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, cream the butter on medium speed. Add sugar and cream on medium high speed until light in color. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Add eggs one at a time to make sure that each egg is fully incorporated. Scrape bowl after all the eggs are incorporated. Add honey and mix again. Add lemon extract and mix well. Sift together the cake flour, salt and baking powder. Stir in lemon zest. Add the flour mixture to the batter and mix on low speed until just combined. With a rubber spatula, pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for approximately 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes and turn out onto a baking rack.
1 cup apple cider
1 cup dried cherries
1 ½ pounds fresh cherries or 20 ounces frozen pitted cherries halved
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Bring cider and dried cherries to a boil in a saucepan. Turn off heat, cover and let set for 15-20 minutes. Put saucepan back on heat and bring fresh (or frozen) cherries to simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes. Take out 1 tablespoon of juice and mix into cornstarch until dissolved. Pour mixture back into cherries. Cook over medium heat until boils and thickens (about 1 minute). Take out ½ of cherry compote and purée in a food processor until chunky then add back into the rest of the cherries. You may also use an immersion blender for this step. Serve over pound cake either chilled or warm.
This pound cake is delicious if sliced and grilled on a lightly buttered griddle. Serve warm with warm cherry compote and a scoop of ice cream.
Information on Kim Sperl’s wedding cakes: 231.625.8232, bellaedolce.com