Monday, September 24, 2012

Chocolate Addicts Unite

Moist Devil's Food Cake
Rating: 4 Cupcakes

I've decided to start rating the cake so you can get an idea of how good it is.
1 Cupcake: "Meh. Don't know if I will make it again"
2 Cupcakes: "Pretty Good. I like it but there were a few wierdie things about it."
3 Cupcakes: "Good. I like it and will make it again."
4 Cupcakes: "Crazy, wow, oh my gosh. This is going on my list."

This cake is completely OFF LIMITS for a chocoholics anonymous meeting.  It is dark chocolate cake with a dark chocolate ganache frosting.  Waoe.


1 1/2 Cups (3 sticks) unsalted Butter, plus more for pans
3/4 cup Dutch-process Cocoa powder, plus more for pans
1/2 Cup Boiling water
2 1/4 Cups Sugar
1 Tbs pure Vanilla extract
4 large Eggs, lightly beaten
3 Cups sifted Cake flour (not self-rising)
1 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Cup Milk
Mrs. Millman's Chocolate Frosting

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in center of oven. Butter two 9-by-3-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment. Dust bottoms and sides of pans with cocoa powder; tap out any excess. Sift cocoa into a medium bowl, and whisk in boiling water. Set aside to cool.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on low speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides twice. Beat in vanilla. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating between each addition until the batter is no longer slick, scraping down the sides twice.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk milk into reserved cocoa mixture. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa mixtures to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with flour mixture.
Divide batter evenly among the two prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of each layer comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes, (25 in my oven) rotating the pans for even baking. Transfer layers to wire racks; let cool, 15 minutes. Turn out cakes, and return to racks, tops up, until completely cool.
Remove parchment from bottoms of cakes. Reserve the prettiest layer for the top. Add frosting to initial layer and add second layer. (Frosting recipe below). Finish frosting the cake.
Mrs. Millman's Frosting Recipe
24 ounces Nestle semisweet chocolate morsels
4 Cups Whipping cream
1 tsp light Corn syrup
Place chocolate morsels and cream in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until combined and thickened, between 20 and 25 minutes. Increase the heat to medium low; cook, stirring, 3 minutes more. Remove pan from heat.
Stir in corn syrup. Transfer frosting to a large metal bowl. Chill until cool enough to spread, about 2 hours, checking and stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. Use immediately. (The frosting will scare you because it seems very runny.  After it cooled completely, stir very well and it magically thickens up to normal frosting consistency).
Rach's Tips
This cake was DELICIOUS!  Even the day after I frosted it, the cake seemed yummier.  However, there are a few things I would do differently next time.
1.  Instead of regular milk I would use buttermilk or yogurt.  I think this would make it more fluffy and not as dense.
2.  The original recipe calls for 3 layers using 8x2 pans.  I used two 9x3.  Next time I will divide the layers so the cake will be a 4 layer cake.  That way the cake/frosting ratio may be a little bit better.
3.  A scoop of vanilla makes this cake rocket into outer space. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

First Day of School

I have reached the pinnacle of motherhood.  Both kids are in school.  Did I cry.  Nope.  Did I do a hop, skip and a jump after they left.  Maybe.  They were both super excited.

Ahh cute girl!

Does he like to harass his sister.  Yes, yes he does.

Watch out preschool.  Here comes the Puck-meister.

Basic Vanilla Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I have a confession.  On this cake, I didn't stick completely to Martha's recipe, in two ways.  The first way was I wanted to give the cake a little taste boost and used an actual vanilla bean (it was hard to find: Whole Foods) instead of vanilla extract.  It definetely paid off.

The second change was the website recipe called for the egg white frosting (holy smokes.  Again!  Really!  That frosting is foul!)  I made my own go-to chocolate frosting.  And, it also paid off in a big way.  My poor 6 year old (sarcasm).  I said "A" do you want some cake?  No.  I replied, "I put my frosting on it."  She quickly said, "OK then."  It is sad when my sweet tooth kid will turn down cake because of the last few weeks experience with the Martha Frosting.  Whoo!  ANYWAY, the chocolate frosting and the vanilla tasting cake was OUT OF THE PARK.  The cake was gone by Wednesday.

Cake Ingredients

1 Cup (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 Cups all-purpose Flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Cups Sugar
2 large Eggs
3 large Egg yolks
2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
1 Cup low-fat Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in vanilla (I just used the amazing vanilla bean). Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.
Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. (Mine took about 18-20 minutes in the volcano oven).  Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
Place one cake, bottom side up, on a cake stand. Tuck strips of parchment paper underneath. Using an offset-spatula or table knife, spread top with Frosting of choice (recipe below). Top with remaining cake; frost top, then sides.
Chocolate Frosting
4 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/2 Cup Shortening
5 Tbs Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
1/2 Cup Baking Cocoa
Mix shortening, milk and vanilla together.  Add powdered sugar and baking cocoa until smooth.  You may need to add more milk to get the frosting to the desired thickness.  (This recipe is super great for sugar cookies also).
Rach's Tips
This cake truly was yummy.  It was straight forward and with a different frosting was perfect.  If you don't have buttermilk, you could use sour cream or yogurt as a substitute.  I don't ever have buttermilk but use regular milk with a little bit of lemon juice in it.  Happy baking!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

"John's Three Layer Apple Cake"

This cake is the sole reason behind my cake quest.  I love spice cakes and was super excited for it.  The cake itself didn't disappoint.  I think because it is an old fashioned cake recipe it is delightfully simple.  Simple ingredients, simple techniques and a glorious baked smell.  For some reason my Great Grandma Gladys was in my heart and on my mind while making this cake.  After I sneaked a taste before frosting it, child hood memories came flooding back to me along with her warm spirit. 

Then I frosted it and my like button turned to dislike and I was frustratingly disappointed.  But I digress, Here's what it took.


For the Frosting
4 Large egg whites
1 Cup Packed light-brown sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) Unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
For the Cake
1/2 Cup (1 stick) Unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pans
2 Cups all-purpose Flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 tsp Baking powder
2 tsp Ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground Ginger
3/4 tsp Salt
2 Cups packed light-Brown sugar
2 Large Eggs
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, two coarsely grated and two diced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8-inch-round cake pans (I only had two pans so I divided the baked cakes into two so I had four layers.  You could also easily just have two layers); line bottoms with parchment paper. Butter, then flour paper and sides (tapping out excess); set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, sugar, and eggs until well combined; fold in grated and diced apples. Add flour mixture; mix just until combined. Divide batter among prepared pans; smooth tops.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool cakes in pans 20 minutes, then invert onto wire racks; peel off parchment. Invert cakes again, and let cool completely on racks.
Make buttercream: In a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt until sugar has dissolved; remove from heat. Using an electric mixer on medium, beat mixture until fluffy and cooled, about 15 minutes. Increase to high; beat until stiff peaks form. Reduce to medium-low; gradually add butter, beating until fully incorporated, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Assemble cake: Place one layer on a serving plate; spread top with buttercream. Top with another layer; spread top with buttercream. Top with third layer; spread remaining buttercream over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (or up to 4 days). To serve, bring cake to room temperature; slice with a serrated knife.

Rach's Tips

The cake is truly delicious, moist, aromatic, and has an old fashioned taste.  I WOULD NOT use the frosting again.  It tastes like butter.  Nothing else, just butter.  It literally tasted like I frosted the cake with a stick o' butter.  We peeled the frosting off and ate the cake.  A cream cheese frosting or even just a vanilla frosting would be delicious. 

I also wouldn't divide the cake layers again.  The reason they used three cake pans is that because the cake is super moist it falls apart easily.  Two pans would be great, look nice and taste yummy.

Thus far the frostings from the various cakes have been really disappointing.  Unless the frosting recipe looks like it would be lip smacking good, I'm going my own route and making my own frosting recipe.  Whoever compiled this list is obsessed with egg white frosting.  Why?  Who knows.  But, all in the puruit of greatness right??