I must start this post with a confession. I completely forgot to take a picture of the completed cake. It may have been partly due to the fact that I iced it when it was way too hot (yes, it was awhile ago that I made this and I keep blogging other things instead of catching up) and it was therefore not very pretty but I should have at least made sure to get a picture of inside the cake so you could see how pretty it looked to have the delicious raspberry curd layered between the fluffy lemon poppy seed cake. And then you could also see the fun flecks of vanilla bean in the buttercream. Instead you will have to picture it in your head! I have the pics of the building the “dam” to hold the curd in, and I have pictures of how I used the 2nd “layer” as a separate cake that I just piled high with raspberry curd & no buttercream but that is it. Oh well. This will have to do!
The important thing is actually how good it tasted anyways! The lemon was perfectly fluffy & lemony without being over powerful and the raspberry complimented it perfectly. And the buttercream had the sweetness to contrast with the sour of both the lemon and the raspberry. And more importantly, my friend’s lemon poppy seed obsession was quelled for a few days! We often have seminars at work that serve muffins and I have many coworkers that are seriously addicted to the lemon poppy seed muffin. Myself, I am quite loyal to the blueberry bran muffins but I understand that the lemon poppy seed ones are amazing. So for my friend’s birthday, I figured I had to make this cake!
Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
2 1/3 cup flour
- 2 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 Tablespoon poppy seeds
- 5 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 Tablepoons of lemon zest
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup milk
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- Grease cake pans: either one 13×9″ or two 8×8″ or two 9×9″ (I did one 9×9″ and one 7″ round and took them to separate parties that did not require big cakes!) Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds) in a medium bowl.
- In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until stiff.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, sugar, lemon extract and lemon zest until light and fluffy (4-5 minutes).
- With the beaters on low add 1/4 cup of the milk, then half of the dry ingredients, the rest of the milk, and finally the rest of the dry ingredients.
- Fold 1/4 of the egg whites carefully. Next, fold in half of the remaining egg whites. And finally the rest.
- Bake 24-26 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack at least 15 minutes before removing from pan(s) to cooling rack.
Note: As mentioned above, I made this cake for a birthday and took the other “layer” to another party. For the second layer I made raspberry curd in the same way I made strawberry curd previously and it turned out almost as good. Either one will work well – just depends if you want to use up those 5 yolks you just separated from the 5 egg whites above!
8 Tablespoons of butter
- 12 oz (1 pkg) raspberries
- 5 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add everything else while stirring.
- Mash the berries and continue to cook (stirring frequently) until thick, about 10 minutes.
- Strain into a heatproof bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Stir in 2-3 tsp of lemon juice.
Vanilla Bean Buttercream
- 1 cup butter, room temp
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 4 cups icing sugar
- 2-4 tablespoons of cream or milk
- In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter for 5 minutes on medium speed. The butter will become pale and creamy.
- Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time while the mixer is on low. Add vanilla and then enough cream until desired consistency is reached.
- Beat on medium for 5 minutes.
- Slice cake layer in half.
- Pipe a “dam” of buttercream around the edge of the layer. Add the raspberry curd to the centre and spread out evenly.
- Cover with next layer of cake. Repeat if you are using two layers for a tall cake.
- Cover entire cake with the rest of the buttercream & decorate as desired.
I was paid for my first cake recently! It was very exciting really. A friend from my gym was going to buy her daughter’s cake from the grocery store or something but realized instead she could buy it from me! I think she was almost as excited about the idea as I was! Her only real request was to decorate with strawberries – although not necessarily real. But it didn’t have to be strawberry flavoured. Well to me, it did have to have some strawberry flavour because I couldn’t just put strawberries on the outside and then make a chocolate cake or something! Anyways, I decided on trying one of the vanilla cakes from Sweetapolita that she keeps raving on about, pair it with a strawberry curd filling and cover it with fluffy vanilla buttercream.
Unfortunately I couldn’t actually take a picture of the inside of the cake so I made a mini one for me! (I needed to taste test it too!) I ran out of vanilla icing so I iced it with chocolate fudge icing that I had left from something else. It is one layer short of the real one but the picture still shows the inside. It was pretty tasty although next time I would make thicker cake layers rather than such thin ones as I did this time. I think this is an excellent vanilla cake but I don’t know if it is THE best as has been posted on Sweetapolita… I think I need to try a few others!
Fluffy Vanilla Cake (adapted from Sweetapolita) with Strawberry Curd and Whipped Vanilla Frosting
makes one 2-layer, 8 inch round cake
- 6 large egg whites, room temp
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean scraped (or increase vanilla to 2 1/4tsp)
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tb + 1tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup butter, room temp & cut into cubes
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease & line with parchment paper two 8″ cake pans
- In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir together the egg whites, 1/4 cup milk, and the vanilla.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or regular & use a hand mixer), combine the dry ingredients and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds.
- Add the butter and remaining 3/4 cup of milk and mix on low speed until moistened. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 90 seconds.
- Scrape down the bowl if needed. Add the egg mixture in 3 batches and beat on medium speed for 20 seconds after each.
- Divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans. Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.
Strawberry Curd (this works perfect for Raspberry Curd as well)
- ~15oz fresh strawberries, stems removed (or ~12oz raspberries)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 TB lime juice
- 5 tsp cornstarch
- In a small bowl, mix together the lime juice and cornstarch until mostly smooth.
- In a food processor or magic bullet, puree the berries with the sugar. Add the cornstarch/lime juice and puree again.
- Strain into a medium saucepan through a mesh seive.
- Cook over medium until it comes to a boil. Stir constantly and cook for another minute until somewhat thickened.
- Strain again into a heatproof contained and allow to cool to room temperature. Chill slightly to make sure it is thick before using in the cake.
Whipped Vanilla Frosting
- 1 1/2 cup butter, room temp
- 6 cups icing sugar
- 2tsp clear vanilla
- 3-5 Tb cream/milk
- In the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter for 8 minutes on medium speed. The butter will become pale and creamy.
- Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time while the mixer is on low. Add vanilla and cream until desired consistency is reached.
- Beat on medium for 6 minutes.
- I actually made this a 6 layer cake and made 3 9″ layers (I did an extra ‘half’ recipe on top of what is written. I think if I did it again, I would actually double the recipe for 3 thicker 9″ layers) and sliced each of the layers in half. I also used 2 cups of butter & 8 cups of sugar for this size of cake.
- I layered it as such: cake, vanilla frosting, cake, strawberry curd, cake, vanilla frosting, cake, strawberry curd, cake, vanilla frosting, cake. Cover the entire cake with frosting.
- When it comes to the layers with the curd, pipe a good “dam” around the outside of the cake prior to adding the curd. This will ensure that the curd doesn’t leak out.
I claim that I don’t really like pie and that is the reason that I don’t frequently make them. It is partly a lie though: I don’t like store bought pie crusts (they are either too crusty and dry or too soggy and mushy) and I have a phobia of making my own. This obviously makes it difficult to make a good pies! So when Martha Stewart (oh how I love Martha – she may not be the best person but she is the Queen of the kitchen!) came out with a new cookbook (finally! I had been waiting, even guessing which would be next in the series!) for Pies & Tarts that matches her amazing cookbooks for Cookies & Cupcakes, I figured it was time to get over my fears and dive into the world of pastry dough. Thankfully the book came out not long before my birthday and my friend, that I frequently have exchanged Martha’s books with for gifts previous years, gave me a copy along with a pastry cutter! Now I really had no excuse.
Even with Martha behind me, I started small: with Jumbleberry mini tarts. This was a sad excuse for a pie really as you don’t even have to roll out the dough or anything like that! You take a small piece of dough and push it into the bottom and sides of a mini muffin pan. This can be a bit tricky but I have a mini tart shaper that makes it pretty easy! I should point out that I like mini tarts and I wasn’t just being a wimp! They are cute and fun and tasty!
By the way, the dough has to sit for at least an hour in the fridge! And then another 30 min after they are formed into tarts.
The tarts turned out pretty well. They weren’t my favourite and I think I overworked the pastry but they were cute and filled with berry goodness!
Jumbleberry Mini Tarts with Crumb Topping
For the crust:
- 1 cup + 2Tb all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- pinch of salt
- 6 Tb cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 2-3 Tb ice water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tb cornstarch
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- pinch of salt
- 2 cups mixed berries (I thawed frozen blackberries, raspberries & blueberries)
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
Make the crust: using a pastry cutter, mix butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add water a little at a time until dough forms. Shape dough into a disk and refridgerate until firm – 1 hour or overnight.
- Divide the dough so that you can get at least 24 pieces. Now you have two choices. You can either flatten each piece into 3-inch circles and press a round into the bottom and up the sides of your mini muffin pan. Or you can shove a small roundish piece into the pan and then use your shaper to get it up the sides and evenly on the bottom. Refridgerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Make the filling bu stirring together everything but the berries. Add the berries and gently stir to coat.
- Make the topping: mix together the crumb topping (I made this up and forgot to record the exact numbers but this should be roughly right!)
- Fill the shells with the berry mixture ensuring that it is divided evenly. Spoon a little of the crumb topping over each.
- Bake until the crusts are golden and the berries are bubbling, about 25 minutes. Allow them to cool in the tins about 10 minutes before removing them carefully to a cooling rack.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cake
I am going to call this a “piggy-back” post on my last post.
I say that because I actually made the strawberry cupcakes for one real purpose that was not cupcakes at all: it was for this cake! I offered to make the cake for a friend’s birthday and asked his wife what some of his favourite dessert flavours are! Here is what I got: “chocolate in general, chocolate mint ice cream, Oreo or chocolate chip cookies and strawberry cheese quake blizzards”. So since I immediately eliminated the chocolate mint combo for reasons outlined here, I figured that a chocolate and strawberry cake with strawberry cream cheese icing might be tasty! So that was the real reason for making the strawberry cupcakes: to get a layer of cake to be sandwiched between two chocolate cake layers!
A few things went VERY wrong with this cake… and they were simple things that I knew better than to do. Quite stupid of me really. First: I took the strawberry cake out of the pan while it was still really hot just so I could get the next one baking earlier. I let it cool for about 20 minutes while I made the chocolate batter but then I took it out… and not that carefully. It is a rather dense cake so it was still QUITE hot. Result: it totally broke apart – right down the middle and then into several pieces beyond that. This would have been ok if I was using a buttercream for the filling since it is like cement but, no, I wanted the strawberry cream cheese filling which isn’t thick enough to glue in the same way. But I kept going anyways. So at one point I had this big mess of three layers of cake, the middle strawberry layer spilling over like its jeans were too tight (you know the mental picture I am getting at… think ‘muffin top’), pink strawberry cream cheesy goo spilling all over and a lopsided top. I kept going. I tried to cover it with reddish buttercream with hopes that it would glue it together now.
Well buttercream over gooey mess doesn’t work too well and since I didn’t actually make enough red buttercream it really wasn’t holding. So I had to make more which I knew wouldn’t be the right colour. So then I just went with white (although there was still some red left in the bowl so instead a lovely pink – for my guy friend’s birthday) and decided I would cover the whole thing with ganache rather than just have it run down the side artistically as I had planned. The buttercream worked this time since I gobbed so much on. It covered well, smoothed out well, and let me even out the top. I also carved off some of the “muffin-top” of strawberry cake (although this then compromised the circular shape of the cake). Good. Things were looking ok. Onto the ganache. I have made ganache enough times that I know how easy it is. But stupidly I used “melting chocolate” rather than baking chocolate or chocolate chips and melting chocolate is way too soft. So in the morning when I was hoping to just smooth it out I suddenly realized why it wouldn’t set! Which means that I couldn’t decorate on top of it because then the icing decorations would slide. So then I thought “oh I have some extra ganache left, why not melt some more chocolate and add it to
the ganache and smooth that over the top” (note: now four layers of icing on the outside: red buttercream, pink buttercream, sloppy ganache, thick ganache). Well think of the physics of thick, almost solid chocolate overtop of sloppy, liquidy chocolate. It slides. It looks awful! What a mess.
I should point out that this is why there is a lack of pictures of the process: while I did take pics of making the strawberry cake the mess that became the strawberry cake distracted me from taking proper pics of the chocolate cake (and I just forgot!)
The good news: when you put some decorations on the top and have it served outside after it is already dark with 32 candles on the top, everyone thinks it looks fantastic!
The other good news: I knew it would taste amazing!
For the recipe, I used the strawberry cupcakes recipe and strawberry cream cheese icing, a “black magic” cake recipe (below but you can find it online as well!) for the chocolate cake, and a basic buttercream icing for the top. I will not post any ganache recipe this time since it was such a fail!
Black Magic/Rich & Decadent Chocolate Cake
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup cocoa
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup strong hot black coffee
- 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line cake pans with parchment paper (I used 2 x 9″ but you could do an 11×13″)
- In mixer bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients (including sugar).
- Mix oil, buttermilk, eggs & vanilla in a smaller bowl.
- With the mixer on low, add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients until mixed pretty well. Add the hot coffee in a slow stream until just combined.
- Pour the liquidy batter into your prepared pans. Bake 20 min or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on racks about 30 min and then remove from pans to cool completely.
- 1 cup butter, room temp
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tb meringue powder
- 4 cups icing/confectioner’s sugar
- 3-4 tsp water/milk
- Beat butter until smooth. Add in vanilla and meringue powder.
- Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time. It ends up quite stiff.
- Add water until the desired consistency is reached (thin for icing the cake, medium for decorations).
Part of the reason I wanted to start a dessert blog was because I kept
coming across these contests and fun activities that different blogs do together and I wanted to participate! So this is my first one! I am pretty excited although looking at the competition (see the Cupcake Project’s Facebook page for other cupcakes!), I am realizing just how serious some of these bloggers are! There are some great creations out there and I am looking forward to browsing through more! The idea of the contest is to combine a great cupcake with ice cream in some way. So here is my cupcake!
The cupcakes I made are Strawberry Cupcakes based on a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes cookbook. I have made them before but I forgot just how delicious they are!
The ice cream was store bought (I dream of the day I own the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid but I also know how dangerous it would be for me! I love ice cream!) and was a white chocolate and dark chocolate swirl one. I decided to put two layers of ice cream in the middle for extra fun! On top, there is a layer of strawberry cream cheese icing and then some scraggly vanilla buttercream to finish it off. Of course a few sprinkles on top round it out! The recipes for the cupcakes and cream cheese filling are below!
- 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 Tb baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter, room temp
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3 large eggs plus 1 egg white
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups finely chopped strawberries
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease cupcake pans or line with papers.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
- In the stand of a mixer, beat butter, add in sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy and pale. Add eggs and the egg white one at a time.
- Reduce speed to low and add half the flour, then the milk, then the rest of the flour.
- Carefully fold in chopped strawberries.
- Scoop into prepared pans.
- (The ones not receiving the ice cream treatment actually were stuffed with a cheesecake like filling in them: I made a dent in them and then scooped in the filling – this I made by beating together 4 oz cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/4 cup sugar, 2-3 Tb sour cream – and baked the same.)
- Bake 25-30 min or until toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool 30 min before transferring them to a cooling rack and to cool completely.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
- 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese
- 1/2 cup butter
- 4 cups icing/confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 cup strawberries, chopped
Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake with Lemon Curd and Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
The time had come: it was time to try fondant! I have been watching all the fabulous cake shows on the Food Network and TLC for years but I had never tried it myself. Once, I bought a small package with intentions to try it but never did get around to it! I am not sure if it was out of fear of the unknown or just laziness? I think partly I just didn’t quite know what to do with it! So finally after these many years of baking, I learned how to at the cake decorating class. I went a little wild with the colours and would maybe tone it down next time but it was fun! Generally I find that I need more colour than I would expect to get the colour I want so cake covering I added quite a bit only to find that the pale green that I was hoping for was instead an intense shade that made the cake look like a play-do creation! Oh well! I made the flowers all ahead of time (and I wanted them to be intensely coloured) so it was just a matter of putting it all together.
I have to confess, by the time I was done, I wasn’t sold on fondant cakes. I do like how perfectly smooth the cake can look and some of the fun things you can do with it, but I sort of like the more rustic look of piping icing. And there is something fun about piping that you just don’t get from using cutters for flowers. Maybe this also stems from the fact that I don’t really like making cut cookies – the rolling, the cutting, the re-rolling, more cutting, the sticking, the flour everywhere… and on and on. It gets kind of irritating by the end so fondant flowers seem to feel about the same (except you feel like you have shortening everywhere instead of flour!)
For the cake itself, I went with a recipe from one of my new favourite blogs. I say “new favourites” when in reality I have just recently actually started following people’s blogs more. I had used recipes from blogs before but I have never actually subscribed to any or frequently checked any one in particular. Anyways, my new favourite one for phenomenal cakes is Sweetapolita. She makes these amazing looking cakes with beautiful layers and takes gorgeous pictures of each of them. Although I am pretty sure my cakes taste as fantastic as hers, I need to learn a lot from her about taking pictures! Mostly I have figured out that I need some white kitchenware! And I need to pay attention to the backgrounds that I use to take the pictures. Although I took the pictures of the process at home (at night… with a light bulb burnt out), the final product was only photographed at work so there wasn’t too many options for backdrops!
Now onto the baking. As I said, the cake recipe is from Sweetapolita (slightly modified) and can be found here. It varies ever so slightly from a recipe found on Epicurious. I filled the cake with lemon curd. For the icing, I went with a Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream rather than my usual buttercream as often people find buttercream too sweet. I am going to say now that this was a delicious cake! Super moist and the lemon curd was amazing (although I already knew it would be!)
So to start: the ingredients. Normally I wouldn’t have whole milk but I bought some for baking purposes. Plus the full-fat sour cream and an organic lemon. I used to buy low fat only but have decided that if you are baking, what difference does it make if you buy low fat or high fat? It is DESSERT! May as well make it to its best!
For the Lemon Curd and the Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream, I went to Martha… the recipes are adapted from her cupcake cookbook.
Here is how I did it – although you could definitely do it differently. I decided to make three 9″ layers and put blueberries in 2 of them while leaving the third just lemon. You could do 8″ pans and you could do just 2 layers as mine were pretty thin. With the cooled cakes, I then wrapped them tightly in Saran Wrap and put them in the freezer for awhile. I think this is supposed to make them so they aren’t as crumbly when you ice them. I left them too long though and so they were so cold that when I went to ice them, the buttercream went harder than I would have liked. Anyways, start with the bottom layer, then pipe a layer of buttercream around the outside to create a dam to hold the lemon curd in. Scoop in half the lemon curd. Top with your next layer and repeat the dam/lemon curd treatment. Top it off with your final layer and then ice the entire cake. From there you can decorate it however you wish! Like I said, I went with the fondant!
Lemon-Blueberry Layer Cake
- 2 cups plus 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon pure lemon extract
- ~1tsp lemon zest from one lemon
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 4 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter (and use parchment paper if your pans stick frequently) three 9″ round cake pans.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) in a medium bowl.
- In another bowl, put your washed blueberries and then add 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture and stir to coat them. This keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the pan I think!
- Stir together milk, sour cream, extracts and lemon zest. It doesn’t matter if it is perfectly mixed though.
- In a stand mixer (or with hand beaters), beat butter briefly and then add sugar. Beat a few minutes until pale yellow and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well combined.
- Mix in flour mixture alternating with milk mixture. Add the flour in 3 batches and the milk in 2 (so add flour, then milk, then flour, then milk, then end with flour). Mix until just combined.
- Gently fold in blueberries (I divided my batter into 3 and added the blueberries to only 2/3 as mentioned above but you can do it as you wish).
- Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake 20-25 minutes until a toothpick poked into the centre comes out clean.
- Cool cakes in pans on racks for 10-20 minutes and then remove from pans to cool completely.
- 2 whole eggs plus 8 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (or mix of fresh and bottled)
- 2 Tb unsalted butter, room temp, cut into small pieces
- Combine eggs, yolks, sugar & lemon juice in a bowl of a double boiler. Set over simmering water.
- Cook whisking constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove from heat and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Stir well between each addition.
- Cover with plastic wrap – pressing it directly against the surface to prevent a film from forming – and refrigerate several hours.
Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Note: Sweetapolita has some great tips for Swiss Meringue Buttercream
- 1 cup + 2 Tb sugar
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 3/4 cups unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp lemon extract
- 1/2 cup lemon curd
- In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, heat the sugar and egg whites. Whisk while heating until 140°F. Remove from heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
- Whip the meringue by beating on low to start, until foamy, and then increasing the speed. Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form and the mixture is cooled completely (test by touching the outside of the metal bowl). This takes about 10 minutes.
- Mix in the butter a few tablespoons at a time. Beat between each addition until the butter is fully incorporated.
- Don’t worry if it looks kind of curdled during the process, keep beating as it will come together at the end.
- Beat in the extracts and lemon curd.
- To finish, switch to the paddle attachment and beat a few extra minutes to reduce air bubbles.