Posts Tagged ‘Cake’

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An Anniversary Challenge

January 27, 2012

I feel like I was lost in a time-warp for a bit and poof, here I am in the future…errr present actually. Whoa! I have been writing and cooking but just not posting (oops). Expect new content from us much more frequently, and *gasp* tasty leftovers of course. <(^_^)>

Sooooo my parents had their anniversary celebration this past year and it was a big one. I mean the 25th is quite the milestone (it is silver and all)! Wahoo! My gift to my parents (and personal challenge) was catering the event for them. It wasn’t massive, just an afternoon of light appetizers and dranks for about 25-30. I was pretty stoked and planned out a fun menu of classy appetizers and also sorta recreated their wedding cake. (P.S. in case you are curious/old soul at heart, here are the breakdowns of what each anniversary means).

The menu that Josie and I assembled included the following: Miniature beef Wellingtons, Asparagus spirals (familiar no?), basil & feta sweet potato cakes, and of course artisan crudite & cheese platters. I’m certain we will share all these recipes soon, but today I wanted to share the recipe for the cake.

When I asked for details about the original wedding cake there were some mixed stories. Most remembered it was a banana cake, the jury was out on the type of frosting and fillings. Hmm yes, they were kind of vague. So having this framework to work with I devised a plan. The cake would be banana of course, and I immediately thought of using this fantastic brown sugar frosting that I had made in the past. The cake came out wonderful. It was super moist and had a great flavor to it (the rum didn’t hurt either). So here is the final result:

Thoughts:

-I scaled back the recipe to be more fitting for 24 cupcakes or a 2 layer cake.

-You can easily make your own oatmeal flour by putting rolled oats into the food processor. It adds a wonderful warmth to just about any recipe.

-Using salted butter in the frosting really helps to balance out the sweetness.

-As stated before, not a fan of cinnamon, so I went pretty light on it for the frosting. Adjust to your taste preference ^_^

-Josie and I always use this simple marshmallow fondant found here. It is so easy, tints beautifully, and tastes pretty great for fondant. NOTE: Using this fondant will make your cake non-vegan friendly as there is gelatin in the marshmallows >_<

Bananas Foster Anniversary Cake

My parents love the tropics so I brought it to them with cheerfully bright flowers and bright teal fondant with swirling waves!

Banana-Rum Cake

  • 1 cup of ripe banana, well mashed (3-4 bananas)
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup of oatmeal flour (easily made by putting rolled oats in a food processor)
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups of sugar
  • 2/3  cup canola oil
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 1/3 cup dark rum
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Extra Rum (optional…but is it really?)

Preheat your oven to 350 F. To make the banana smoother, put it through the blender or food processor. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In a separate bowl, whisk together the bananas, soymilk, oil, rum and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix just to combine.

For cupcakes, fill two-thirds full and bake for 20-24 minutes. For layer cake, fill 2 greased 8 inch cake pans evenly and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool slightly then carefully stab cake/cupcakes with a toothpick (don’t go all Psycho on it) then drizzle a dash of dark rum and let it seep in.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup of soymilk
  • 2 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tsp of cinnamon (depending on your taste)

In a saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar. Bring sugar mixture to a boil and lower the heat to medium low stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Add the milk and whisk until it is all incorporated. Cool to lukewarm then using an electric mixer  gradually add in the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Continue to beat until thick enough to spread. If it is too thick, add a little hot soymilk. Frost cake/cupcakes immediately as frosting hardens quickly.

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Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: The Case of the Reverse Red Velvet

February 24, 2011

So recently I was really craving some red velvet in my life. The problem is I get bored of the same things over and over again. For example, my dad absolutely loves chocolate chip cookies. He also likes most of the random cookies I’ve pieced together like Tazo Passion Chips, Triple Chocolate Tangelo, and White Chocolate Pistachio, but always defaults to requesting chocolate chip. Sure they are wonderful and delicious and homey, don’t get me wrong, but what they lack to me is a challenge. I’ve realized I like challenges. A lot.

Which brings me back to my dilemma; I wanted something that filled the void of being red velvet, without being red velvet per se. Thus came the idea for a reversed red velvet cake. In my head this cake would be cream-cheesy in the center and red chocolaty goodness on the outside. I feel this cake does just that, but left me a little “whelmed.” It turned out quite tasty and I was so happy to make a red icing without having to use a whole lot of dye (Pure red can be a quite the task to make, as more often than not it comes out pink or really fake nuclear red). The downside though, is that it just became a vanilla cake with a creamy filling and red chocolate frosting. It wasn’t as exciting as I had imagined.

Not all my ideas work out 100% of the time. At this point I’d like to quote one of my favorite teachers of all time.

“Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!” ~Ms. Frizzle

In baking and cooking, it’s important not to just have ideas, but to run with them. Make them into a reality. Worst-case scenario is that you make a wonderful mistake of a recipe (see here) or you learn how to improve your recipes slash realize they are awful. <(^_^)>

I may have lost this challenge to myself, but as a result I have even more new ideas that I want to try out.

Thoughts:

-If you don’t want to use cake mix in the frosting, you can substitute in a 2-3 Tbsp cocoa powder, an extra cup of powdered sugar, and red food coloring until you reach your desired level of crimson to chocolate ratio. Warning: You may need a LOT of red dye.

-This cream cheese pastry cream is fantastic! It reminds me a bit of the filling inside of those cheap and tasty Costco cakes, but hey — you can make it yourself! Woot woot!

-Trying out the cheesecake flavor of LorAnn oil I have discovered an essential flavor for my pantry. It tastes more like cake-batter than anything else. I foresee a lot of cake-batter flavored sweets and treats in the future.

-Next time I would cut each of the 8 inch cakes in half to have a total of 3 layers of pastry cream. That stuff is good. I could seriously eat it like pudding…well it kinda is just that.  <(>.>)>

Reverse Red Velvet Cake

Cake:

  • 2 c soymilk
  • 2 tsp. vinegar (apple cider variety if you have)
  • 2 ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. canola oil
  • 1 ¼ c. sugar
  • 2 drops of cheesecake flavor LorAnne oil (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 8-inch cake pans.

Mix together the soy milk + vinegar and set aside to curdle for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile in a large bowl sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Add the oil, sugar, and flavoring to the curdled soymilk and beat together. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until the lumpiness is gone.

Separate into the 2 cake pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.

Cream Cheese Pastry Cream

  • 2 c. soymilk (or milk)
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ½ c. sugar
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 6 oz. cream cheese (¾ of a brick)
  • ½ tsp vanilla ( I used vanilla bean paste for some flecks)

In a medium saucepan warm the milk until scalding. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until light in color. In a small bowl, heat the cream cheese in the microwave for 30-45 seconds until melted and smooth. Now, slowly whisk the milk into the egg mixture until it all comes together. Return to saucepan over medium-high heat. Continue whisking for 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Whisk for 1 additional minute then remove from the heat. Fold in the cream cheese, cover with some plastic wrap, poke some holes and refrigerate for an hour or until chilled (The plastic wrap should touch the surface of the cream, so a skin doesn’t form while chilling).

Red Velvet Frosting

  • 1 c. butter or margarine (softened at room temp)
  • 1 ½ c sifted red velvet cake mix
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • ¾ c. soymilk or milk (more may be necessary)

Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Sift in the cake mix along with ¼ c. of the milk. Slowly alternate additions of the powdered sugar and the milk. The resulting frosting should be a nice spreading consistency. If too thick add more milk, if too thin add more sugar.

To assemble: fill layer(s) with the pastry cream, frost and enjoy!

~Erik <(^_^)>

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A Cake for Chocoholics and Celiacs

January 29, 2011

Sitting down to write this post has got me thinking about food trends.  You know the kind of thing I’m talking about – stuff that your grandparents (and in some cases even your parents) have never heard of (and certainly didn’t find in their Betty Crocker or Better Homes and Gardens Cookbooks growing up) but are all the rage in trendy restaurants and specialty grocery stores.  Stuff like chorizo, chipotle seasoning, pomegranates, and bacon in desserts.  Sure, they’ve always been around, but were never hot items like they are now (the way jell-o molds, fondue, and various meat and seafood mousses were in the 70’s).  Of course, all this boils down to is my observation that food trends change almost as often  as clothing, music, and hair trends.  Plus it serves as an elegant segue into the topic of this post, and one of the top trending foods of our day:  the flourless chocolate cake.

This recipe in particular is one that I hadn’t even heard of until a couple years ago, and even after I had, didn’t have any particular interest in trying.  I imagined it would be a very dense (which it is), cheesecakey-tasting (which it’s not) concoction that would stick to the roof of your mouth and leave you feeling less-than-satisfied.  Think again.

Chopped butter and chocolate, ready for melting!

It’s a deliciously rich, dense, melt-in-your-mouth experience that satisfies even the most ferocious of chocolate cravings.  Plus, it’s topped with crème fraîche – a close relative of sour cream and my ultimate dairy vice – how could I resist?  I couldn’t.  So, I finally broke down and made it after it turned up in the November issue of Real Simple (and I was bored one Friday night) Original Recipe Here.  I made it 100% per the recipe the first time, but on subsequent trials altered the recipe slightly (see below).  It’s relatively simple to prep, doesn’t require too many ingredients, and only needs one piece of specialist equipment – a springform pan (generally not too pricey or difficult to come by).

Oh, and I haven’t even told you the best part about this cake!  Though, for those of you among us who know someone with Celiac Disease or have it yourself, you already know…it’s gluten-free!  This is certainly a good go-to dessert to have in your repertoire for entertaining occasions when, say, your gluten-intolerant aunt and your mom’s gluten-intolerant friend are coming to the same Tupperware party you’ve been asked to prepare food for (to give a random example, off the top of my head).

Melting the chocolate and butter.

The Recipe:

Cake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus more for the pan
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s Special Dark), plus more for the pan
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar

“Crème Fraîche”

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Heat oven to 350° F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter with ¼ cup of the heavy cream over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth; remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, granulated sugar, and cocoa powder; whisk in the chocolate mixture.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until puffed and set, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 1 hour. Run a knife around the edge of the cake before unmolding.

The eggs and sugar anxiously await the chocolate.

Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream with the sour cream and confectioners’ sugar until soft peaks form. Serve cake with crème fraîche.  Accept graciously the compliments of your guests, you deserve them!

The Finished Product: Yes, it's in its nature to look a little deflated and pathetic. No worries!

~Josie

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A Very Merry Bûche de Noël to All!

December 26, 2010

Now that I’ve survived the Christmas rush and a nasty bout of pneumonia, I am back and ready for action!  Nothing says Christmas baking to me like a beautiful Bûche de Noël, but first a little backstory…

In third grade, we were all assigned a project to interview our oldest living relative about their holiday traditions.  I chose to interview my mom’s mother (my Mémère), who was not the oldest, but perhaps the most interesting and (knowing me) most convenient.  Mémère was French, and what I remember from her interview about holiday traditions was this funny sounding thing called Bûche de Noël.  I didn’t know what it was, but I really couldn’t figure out why anyone would be excited about eating a log.  I imagined it being tough and woody.  Not good eats.  Ohhh, how naïve I was…

Now older and wiser, I understand that this coveted holiday treat is made of cake and deliciousness rather than bark and pine needles.  Part of the beauty of which is that it can be made in almost any flavor combination, as long as you’ve got the three basic components:  a spongy, rolled cake; a filling; and a frosting.  The possibilities are almost endless and can be tailored for your audience, but one thing’s certain:  everyone loves this elegant and easy holiday treat.

Notes:

The hardest part of this recipe is to get the sponge cake to turn out right.  Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out the first time.  My first batch completely stuck to the waxed paper and had to be scrapped.

When I made it, I went for triple chocolate (chocolate cake with chocolate filling and frosting), but I think in retrospect that’s awfully over-chocolatey-whelmy.  A white sponge cake would make the cake look more woody and cut down on the chocolate.  Also, a more custardy, pastry cream filling would be delicious.

It doesn’t take any specialist equipment to decorate the cake.  I used a fork and a butter knife to make decorative ridges in the frosting to make it look like bark.  I also sprinkled with powdered sugar to make it look like freshly fallen snow on the Christmas log.

I found some chocolate mushroom cookies at World Market that I used to make the log look like it had been colonized by fungi on the forest floor, though if you can’t find the storebought ones, there are plenty of recipes and instructions out there for making meringue or marzipan mushrooms.  Anything works though, get creative!

Garnish with holly leaves or berries!

Chocolate Sponge Cake

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cocoa
  • 1/2 c. sifted cake flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease jellyroll pan; line with greased waxed paper. Separate eggs and beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; set aside. Beat egg yolks until lemon colored. Add sugar and cocoa gradually to yolks; beat until thick. Blend in flour and salt. Fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites, taking care not to deflate egg whites too much.

Pour batter into prepared pan; spread evenly. Bake 15 minutes or until done. Loosen cake edges immediately; turn out onto clean dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar.

While still hot, roll up cake in dish towel. Cool rolled with seamside down. Unroll cake; spread with about 1/3 cup desired filling and reroll.  Frost with desired frosting and decorate.  Refrigerate overnight before serving. Let cake set at room temperature 30 minutes before slicing.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream

Place the semisweet chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl. Bring cream to a boil in heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat; pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 10 minutes; use rubber spatula to stir until smooth.  Let chocolate mixture cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Place mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium speed until ganache holds its shape and is slightly lightened in color.  I filled and frosted my cake with this ganache, but feel free to use a different filling.  Enjoy!

– Josie

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Let it Snowcake!

December 14, 2010

Last week I was asked to make a cake by my friend Ashley for her mom’s birthday. Woot woot!

From a lot of baking and tweaking I’ve finally come up with what I think to be the best Pumpkin Spice cake. It was this cake that I had made for Ashley’s Birthday back in October and she requested for her mom’s cake as well. It has a warm spiciness of ginger and sweet cinnamon accompanied by a pleasant citrus zing.

For Ashley’s cake I had focused on making it very fall via warm colors and making some chocolate leaves. So when she asked me to winterize her cake, I ended up making some royal icing snowflakes and iced the cake in a pale blue. I also included some cupcakes in her order, as she was hinting she wanted some pre-party cake. Here are the results and the recipe for my pumpkin cake.

Thoughts:

-I usually don’t do the whole product placement dance but I do love pampered chef cinnamon plus for a few reasons. 1.) I’m not the biggest fan of cinnamon as I feel it is overused a lot. 2.) This blend is pretty tasty as the cinnamony-ness has been cut with ginger, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, and orange peel. 3.) I could only think of two reasons. You could replace it with pumpkin pie spice.

-A classic cream cheese icing would be just as well.

Yah Autumn!

Half of the royal icing snowflakes...so. many. snowflakes.

Extra mini-snowcakes (Ashley was fearful she would snack on the cake during her commute).

Pumpkin Spice Cake Laced with Citrus

For Cake:

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon plus
  • ½ tsp fresh nutmeg (I’m kinda in love with fresh nutmeg)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Zest of ½ orange
  • 1 ½ c granulated sugar
  • ¾ c vegetable oil (or canola)
  • ½ c unsweetened applesauce
  • 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs

For Frosting:

  • 1 ½ stick cream cheese
  • ½ stick butter
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon plus
  • ¼ tsp fresh nutmeg
  • Zest of ½ orange

To make cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease and flour 2-8” or 9” pans. In a bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

In another bowl mix together the oil, applesauce, and the sugar. Using an electric mixer on low beat in the pumpkin, orange zest, and vanilla. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Now gradually add the flour mixture on low speed, beating until just combined.

Spread the batter into the baking pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 min then flip onto a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting or else you’ll have a sad melty cake.

Cake prior to frosting.

Love that color contrast: orange cake + blue frosting = ❤

To make the icing:

In a mixing bowl put the room temperature cream cheese and butter. Beat together until creamy. When they are incorporated add the orange zest, cinnamon, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Blend together until it is a good spreading consistency. Add more powdered sugar if too thin; add some milk if too thick. Frost cake and decorate to your desires. Enjoy!

The finished cake yah!

~Erik <(^_^)>