Monday, July 22, 2013

Cake Experiment Summary

IT IS DONE!!!

I have made a summary of the cakes with links to the recipe, pictures and summary.

Definitely Make Again

TOP TEN


2. Carrot Ginger Layer Cake with Orange CreamCheese Frosting

Monday, July 8, 2013

Montclair Martha's Red Velvet Cake

Montclair Martha's Red Velvet Cake

Cupcake Ranking: 3 Cupcakes



Red Velvet cake is always a curiosity for me.  It isn't chocolate and it isn't vanilla and it is red.  People either love it or are indifferent.   I am in the indifferent category.  This cake was good.  It was moist, spongey and had a great texture.  If I was to do it again, I would double the icing recipe (but I am an icing fan).  The cake had simple ingredients and was very basic.  Shrug.  Nothing spectacular but easy to make.




Ingredients
3/4 C unsalted Butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 C Cake flour (not self-rising), sifted, plus more for pans

3 Tbs unsweetened Cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp Baking powder
2 C Sugar 
3 large Eggs
1 tsp pure Vanilla extract 
1/4 tsp Salt
2 one-ounce bottles liquid Red food coloring 
3 Tbs lukewarm Water
1 C Buttermilk 
1 tsp Baking soda
1 Tbs White vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans (I used one 8 inch spring form pan). Line with parchment paper, and butter again. Dust with flour, and tap out the excess; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa, and baking powder; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar, and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, salt, food coloring, and water; beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until well combined. Add reserved dry ingredients in additions, alternating with the buttermilk; beat on low speed until well combined.

In a small bowl, stir together baking soda and vinegar; add to batter. Beat on medium speed for 10 seconds. Be sure not to overbeat. Divide batter between prepared pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
 
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 (8-ounce) bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
 (The original recipe called for Walnuts.  I omitted these).

Place butter in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese, and beat until well combined and fluffy, about 2 minutes more. Add sugar and vanilla, and beat until combined, about 2 minutes.  


Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes so surfaces are level. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread about 1/3 of the frosting over top. Place the second layer on top, and spread with the remaining frosting over the tops and sides of assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill until ready to serve.
 





Rach's Review: Like I said above, this cake was good.  Nothing too exciting, but okay.  The cake had a perfect texture.  The icing was very mild.   If you prefer a sweeter cream cheese frosting, see the Orange Cream cheese frosting recipe or the cream cheese frosting with the Carrot cake recipe.






















Monday, July 1, 2013

One Bowl Chocolate Cake

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
 
 
Cupcake Ranking:  4 Cupcakes
 
 

 
This cake was so simple I was hoping it was going to be good.  And, it absolutely was delicious.  It just goes along with my theory that simple ingredients make the best food.  The cake was moist, spongey and chocolatey.  It was great.  The frosting was interesting.  It was more of a mousse than an icing.  I would use it again to put in between layers but not necessarily for an "all-over" icing.  I think a chocolate buttercream would be heavenly!

 
 
Ingredients
 
 
Unsalted butter, softened, for pans
3/4 C unsweetened Dutch Cocoa powder, plus more for pans
1 1/2 C All-purpose flour
1 1/2 C Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Baking soda
3/4 tsp Baking powder
3/4 tsp Salt
2 large Eggs
3/4 C low-fat Buttermilk
3/4 c Warm water
3 Tbs Safflower oil
1 tsp pure Vanilla extract
 
 
Chocolate Icing
 
2 1/4 C Confectioners' sugar
1/4 C unsweetened Cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
6 oz Cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 sticks unsalted Butter, softened
9 oz Bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 C Sour cream
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep) (I used an 8 inch springform pan); dust with cocoa. Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.
 
Divide batter between pans. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out from pans. Transfer, faceup, to wire racks. Let cool completely.
 
Icing Directions: Sift together sugar, cocoa, and salt.  Beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Reduce speed to medium-low; gradually add sugar-cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Pour in chocolate in a slow, steady stream. Add creme fraiche; beat until combined.
 
Spread 2 cups chocolate frosting onto top of 1 cooled layer. Top with remaining layer; frost top and sides with remaining 2 cups frosting.
 
 
 
Rach's Review: This cake was yummy.  It was chocolatey and spongey and EASY.  Perfect!  I will definetley use a buttercream next time.  It was DELICIOUS!!
 
 


Orange Almond Cake

Orange Almond Cake
 
 
Cupcake Ranking: 2 Cupcakes
 
 
 
I had high hopes for this cake.  It sounded delicious.  It ended up mediocre.  At best.  The taste of the cake was fine but it was kinda bland and very dry.  I put an orange cream cheese frosting on it, but I think all in all this cake would be a better breakfast cake with a streusal on top. Like I said, it was ok, but nothing fantastic. I actually preferred the orange icing on top over the cake.
 
Ingredients
 
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted Butter, melted and cooled, plus more for pans
1 1/2 C sifted Cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pans
1 C plus 3 Tbs Sugar
6 large Eggs, separated
Grated zest of 2 Oranges
2/3 C strained, freshly squeezed Orange juice
1/2 tsp pure Almond extract
1 1/2 C finely ground Blanched almonds
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Butter parchment and flour cake pans; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together 1 cup of sugar and egg yolks until light and fluffy. Add orange zest, juice, and almond extract; mix until well combined. Turn mixer off. Remove the whisk and add the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium, slowly add ground almonds, followed by flour; mix cake batter until well combined.

In a large bowl, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add salt and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar; beat until stiff but not dry. Set aside.

Fold melted butter into cake batter, a little at a time. Gently fold in egg white mixture, taking care not to deflate whites. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans. (I would add streusal at this point).Transfer to oven and bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Transfer cake layers to a wire rack to cool completely.

Invert cakes to remove from pan and remove parchment paper; reinvert cakes. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Add frosting if that is what you choose.

Rach's Review: Again, this cake was okay.  Nothing fantastic with not a lot of taste.  The texture reminded me of coffee cake, which is why I think streusal would be great on top.  Overall Meh.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Three Tier Candied Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Pears

Three Tier Candied Pecan Cake with Brown Butter Pears

Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcake


The idea of this cake sounded good, but pears don't have a lot of taste so was skeptical.  However, this cake was homey, comforting and delicious.  The cake reminded me of an Italian Panettone and Mom's Sunday Fruit crisp. The texture was great and the candied pecans added a nice sweet taste to the moist cake.

Ingredients


2 C Chopped pecans, toasted
3 Tbs unsalted Butter, room temperature
1/4 C packed light-Brown sugar
1 Tbs pure Vanilla extract
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 1/2 sticks unsalted Butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
3 C all-purpose Flour, plus more for pans
2 tsp Baking powder
Coarse salt
1 3/4 C Granulated sugar
1 C plus 2 Tbs Whole milk
3 large Egg whites

4 Tbs Unsalted butter
4 Anjou pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch wedges, and tossed with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 C Chilled heavy cream
2 Tbs Bourbon (optional) (I used Orange juice)
2 tsp Confectioners' sugar
Garnish: 1/3 C Chopped Pecans

Candy the pecans: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss toasted pecans with butter, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring to coat halfway through, until toasted, about 10 minutes. Let cool.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Butter three 8-inch round cake pans, and dust with flour, tapping out excess (I used a 8 inch springform pan.  I placed all of the batter in one pan.  Many reviewers complained of dryness.  Mine wasn't dry at all.  I think that having it bake for longer in one pan helped with the moisture factor.) Sift flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a bowl. Beat butter and 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in candied pecans.

Beat egg whites in a clean bowl with a mixer on high speed until frothy. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold one-third of the egg whites into the batter using a rubber spatula. Fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions.

Divide batter among pans. Bake until cakes are set and a toothpick inserted into the center of each comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (In one pan it took about 45 minutes) Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks, and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the pear filling: Brown butter in a skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Cook pears, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes.

(Only do this step right before serving the cake) Make the bourbon whipped cream: Whisk cream, bourbon (or orange juice), and confectioners' sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.

Trim tops of cakes to create a level surface using a serrated knife. Transfer 1 cake to a platter. Spread half the pears over the top. Top with another cake. Spread remaining pears over the top. Top with remaining cake. Spread whipped cream over the top. Garnish with chopped pecans.

Rach's Review: This cake was really delicious and super comforting.  It would be a great winter, fall or winter cake.  The cake was moist, the pecans added a sweet crunch, and the pears provided a fruity taste and texture.  This reminded me of cold winter Idaho nights, sitting at home, playing games with my family eating hot fruit crisp with whipping cream.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sweet Potato Cake?!

Sweet Potato Cake
 
Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcakes
 
 

Soo, when I first saw this recipe, I laughed.  Mmmm, kay. Sweet potato? Like yams or sweet potato fries? Isn't that the anti-sweet? But, in my quest I wanted and in fact needed to try it. And, was more than pleasantly surprised.  I took a first, hesitant, bite and the spices and flavor burst in my mouth. I don't like pumpkin pie.  The texture is funky. However, this was like a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie that was spilling over with flavor minus the baby food texture.  I definetely want to make it again, but try it as a pie instead of a cake.  The frosting was a little funky because it was white chocolate mixed with cream.  In pie form, I will drizzle it with white chocolate and leave out the nuts.  Delish!

Ingredients



2 lb (about 3) Sweet potatoes (I had three big sweet potatoes and it was WAY to much. Go for 2 big ones or 3 small ones)
1 1/4 C Vegetable oil
Unsalted butter, for pans
2 C Cake flour, (not self-rising), plus more for pans
4 Large eggs
2 C Sugar
2 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbs ground Cinnamon
1 tsp ground Nutmeg
2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
3 Tbs Brandy (or equal amounts of fruit juice.  I used orange.)
1 1/2 C unsalted Macadamia nuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
1 lb White chocolate
2 C Heavy cream
 
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat potatoes with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and place on baking sheet. Bake until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin, and mash flesh with a fork into coarse puree.
 
Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Butter two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans (I'm not sure where they are coming from but I used one 10 inch springform pan and it FILLED the whole thing.  This makes a big cake), dust with flour, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup vegetable oil; beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the cooled sweet potatoes; mix until combined.
 
Sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; mix into sweet potato mixture. Mix in vanilla and brandy (or fruit juice) until combined. Remove batter from mixer; fold in 1 cup macadamia nuts by hand.
 
Evenly distribute cake batter into prepared pans, and transfer to the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack; cool completely, about 1 1/4 hours.
 
Meanwhile, chop white chocolate into small pieces; set aside. Bring 1 cup cream to a boil; pour over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Chill for 30 to 40 minutes.
 
When chocolate mixture has cooled, pour remaining cup cream into an electric mixer; whip on medium until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture until fully incorporated.
 
Cut each cake layer in half horizontally, creating four layers. Spread 2/3 cup chocolate frosting on one layer, then stack next layer on top, and frost. Repeat frosting-and-stacking process until each layer is frosted. Spread remaining frosting on sides and top of cake. Arrange remaining 1/2 cup macadamia nuts on top of cake, and serve.
 
 
 
Rach's Notes:
 
This cake is really yummy.  I had serious doubts but it was delicious!  I highly recommend it and am excited to try it in pie form.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Chiffon Cake with Strawberries and Cream

Chiffon Cake with Strawberries and Cream
 
 
Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcakes
 

 
 
Because of the other white cakes in this series, my hopes were not high for this cake.  It ended up being amazing! The cake was spongey and light.  If you didn't want to make an angel food cake, this would be a perfect substitute.  The fruit and cream were perfect companions for this cake.  However, I do not think buttercream would work.  The texture of the icing and the cake would be too similar and not feel right in the mouth of the endulgee.
 
Ingredients
 
 
 
For the Cake
 
2 1/4 C Cake flour (not self-rising)
1 1/2 C Granulated sugar, divided
2 1/4 tsp Baking powder
3/4 tsp Salt
1/2 C Safflower oil
7 large Egg yolks plus 9 large Egg whites
3/4 C Whole milk (I used canned milk)
1/2 tsp Cream of tartar
1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Berries and Cream
 
2 pounds Strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered (about 5 cups), plus more for serving
1/2 C Granulated sugar
1 Tbs fresh Lemon juice
Pinch of salt
2 C cold Heavy cream
1/4 C Confectioners' sugar, plus more for sprinkling
 
Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, the baking powder, and salt. Whisk together oil, egg yolks, and milk in a large bowl. Whisk flour mixture into egg-yolk mixture.
 
Beat egg whites with a mixer on high speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and vanilla seeds or extract, and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Whisk one-third of the egg-white mixture into batter. Gently but thoroughly fold in remaining egg-white mixture with a rubber spatula.
 
Transfer batter to tube pan. Bake until top of cake springs back when touched, 52 to 55 minutes (Mine took 45 minutes and that was more than plenty). Let cool upside down 1 hour. (I made the cake the day before and it was absolutely fine in plastic wrap).
 
Make the berries and cream: While cake is baking and cooling, combine strawberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice, and salt, and let sit, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Just before assembling, beat cream and confectioners' sugar until medium peaks form.
 
Slide a paring knife around edges of tube and side of pan; release cake. Cut cake horizontally into 3 layers with a serrated knife. Transfer bottom layer to a cake plate or platter. Spread with half the berries, and drizzle with juices. Spread half the whipped cream over berries, then top with middle cake layer. Spread with remaining berries and whipped cream. Top with remaining cake layer. Refrigerate cake 1 hour. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, and serve with berries.
 
 
Rach's Notes: This cake was really yummy.  The cake was light but both spongey and moist.  The fruit and the cream were perfect compliments to the cake.  This would be great for a summer picnic or dessert.   Happy baking!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Cupcake Ranking: 1 Cupcake




This cake was DISAPPOINTING with a capital "D."  Maybe it was the fact that there was 11 egg whites in this cake that made me think "this better be good."  The cake was dense and tasteless.  I used a buttercream instead of the fudge frosting the recipe originally called for, and I am so glad.  I wouldn't have been able to lift it if I had used the fudge frosting.  The cake was heavy and dense.  It might, and emphasize might, be good for a strawberry short cake.

Ingredients




1 1/2 C (3 sticks) unsalted Butter, plus more for pans
2 2/3 C Sugar
1 Tbs pure Vanilla extract
4 C Cake flour, (not self-rising), plus more for pans
1 Tbs Baking powder
1 1/3 C Milk
11 large Egg whites
Pinch of salt

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-3-inch cake pans (I used 9x2). In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium speed, cream together butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Sift together flour and baking powder. With the mixer set on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, alternating with milk, starting and ending with flour; scrape down sides twice.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites with pinch of salt on high speed until stiff peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in a large spoonful of the beaten whites into the batter to lighten the mixture. Fold the lightened batter into the remaining egg whites. Divide the batter equally among the prepared pans. Bake until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Remove the pans to a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire rack to cool completely.

If cakes are not level, use a serrated knife to trim tops off. Carefully slice each cake horizontally into three equal layers, about 3/4 inch thick. (You will have six layers.) (I just cut it in half horizontally). To assemble, place one sliced layer on an 8-inch cardboard cake round. Spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Repeat with remaining layers, placing the final layer bottom side up. Cover cake with remaining frosting. Serve immediately.





Rach's Review:

This cake was not my favorite.  Instead of spongey and light the cake was dense and not taste-ful. I can't recommend making this.  It would be cheaper and taste better to make a pound cake or buy one at the store.  Very NOT good.






 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wrestling.

One minute they are playing computer games while I make dinner, the next minute this is what I walk into.


WWF Pit.  Funny thing is that I don't know who won.  The things Nick misses.

Rob.

I am...tightly wound.  And, Ami has inherited this blessing.  Robbie is not.  He is funny, light hearted, and always good for a laugh.  Joker.



Peep Contest

This year, Amelia's elementary school had a peep contest.  It was a literature theme.  Here was our entry.

James and the Giant Peep

Yeah, I admit it.  I like things "tidy."  I love that Amelia has my number AND is polite about it.
We got an honorable mention.  I personally think ours was the best.  I'm humble too.

Easter (It is only May right?)

I love Virginia.  Even though Easter was in MARCH this year, it was still pretty springy and warmish.  Yeah, it snowed in Idaho.  Last week.  Oh right.  It is the second week of May.  Anywhoo, Easter is always super fun.  Yummy candy, cute clothes, oh and the spiritual rejuvenation.:)

Here are some pictures from our day.  (I didn't take pictures of the kids in their Easter clothes so that will have to be next week.

Do da da dooo!  Very proud
Easter Basket Loot
A little.  Excited.  Go Soccer
We had a great day at church.  Easter music and lessons on resurrection.  I love the reminder of who we are, what we can do and what we can become.  And why we are who we are.  Happy Easter!


Monday, May 6, 2013

Genoise Layer cake with Rum Syrup and Whipped Cream Frosting

Genoise Layer cake with Rum Syrup and Whipped Cream Frosting

Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcakes


I have to admit, I was doubtful with this cake.  So many of the other vanilla cakes have been a disappointment, but this was delicious.  The cake was super spongey.  It reminded me almost of an angel food cake texture and smell.  After the cake was cooled, you brush the layers with a rum syrup and then alternate with a vanilla custard and whipping cream.  Super great taste and amazing textures so your mouth doesn't get bored. 

Ingredients


1/4 C (1/2 stick) Unsalted butter, melted, plus more, softened, for pans
9 large Eggs, separated
1 1/2 C Sugar, plus 1 cup for syrup
1 tsp pure Vanilla extract
1 1/2 C Cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
Pinch of Salt
2 Tbs light Rum (I used 1 Tbs of Rum Extract)
3 1/2 C Heavy cream
1/4 C Confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
Pastry Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-by-2-inch cake pans. Line bottoms with parchment paper; set aside. Whisk egg yolks and 1 cup sugar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water until sugar has dissolved and mixture is warm, 3 to 4 minutes.

Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add vanilla and salt. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is pale and thick, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Put egg whites into the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form.

Fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the yolk mixture. Fold in remaining egg white mixture. Fold in flour, then melted butter, until just combined.

Divide batter between prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into centers comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Turn out cakes onto racks; remove parchment. Reinvert; let cool completely.

Make the syrup: Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in rum. Let cool completely.

Make the Pastry Cream.

 2 C Whole milk
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 Vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
Pinch of salt
4 large Egg yolks
4 Tbs Cornstarch
2 Tbs unsalted Butter, cut into pieces

In a medium saucepan, combine milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla-bean scrapings and pod, and salt. Place over medium heat, and bring to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Using a measuring cup or a ladle, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg-yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Continue adding milk mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, until it has all been added. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture returns to a simmer and thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove and discard the vanilla-bean pod.

Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter, and beat on medium until the butter melts and mixture cools, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl from mixer, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream; this will prevent a skin from forming. Transfer to refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days. Just before using, remove from refrigerator and return to mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and beat until smooth, or whisk by hand until smooth.

 Right before assembling the cake, make the whipped cream: Put cream, sugar, and vanilla into the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until medium peaks form.
Assemble the cake: Put pastry cream into the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-low speed until smooth. Trim tops of cakes to be flat. Halve each horizontally. Place 1 layer on a 9-inch cake round. Brush top with syrup; spread with half the pastry cream. Top with second cake layer. Brush with syrup; top with a 1/4-inch-thick layer of whipped cream. Top with third cake layer. Brush with syrup; spread with remaining pastry cream. Top with final cake layer, and brush with syrup. Insert a wooden skewer through center to hold layers together. Using kitchen shears, cut skewer flush with top of cake. Spread whipped cream all over cake. Refrigerate 1 to 4 hours. Decorate cake plate with leaves, if desired. Discard skewer after slicing cake.



Rach's Tips: This cake was yummy.  My family thought it had too much of a rum taste, but I thought it was perfect.   The cake was spongey and the pastry cream was a great custard.  It does seem like a lot of whipping cream, but it is all needed.  It really adds to the texture of the cake and the sweetness of the pastry cream.  Just looking at the directions can seem overwhelming. But fear not!  Taken step by step it is a really simple cake.  Give yourself plenty of time.  I will make this again.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting

Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting
 
 
Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcakes
 
 
I wasn't sure about this cake.  I had my doubts; mostly because all of the chocolate cake in this series have been, well, awful.  This cake was delicious!  I am not a huge fan of coconut or nuts in cake (I think because of ptsd from past german chocolate cakes, but that is another story).  The cake was moist, spongey, and chocolatey.  The frosting is carmaley, nutty and sweet.  The combination of the cake and frosting was great.  We inhaled it!
 
Ingredients
 

Vegetable-oil cooking spray
2 C Cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pan
1 tsp Baking soda
3/4 tsp Salt
1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbs) Unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 C Sugar
3 large Eggs
1 1/2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
1 C Buttermilk
5 oz Semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 C Unsweetened shaved or flaked coconut, lightly toasted, for decorating
15 Pecan halves, toasted, for decorating
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment paper, and coat with cooking spray. Dust with flour, tapping out excess. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.
 
Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk. Beat in chocolate. Pour batter into prepared pan, and smooth top.

 
Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan, peel off parchment, and let cool completely on rack. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour (or overnight) to make it easier to slice.
Using a serrated knife, slice cake horizontally into 3 layers.
 
Coconut-Pecan Frosting
 
3 Large Egg Yolks
1 Can Evaporated Milk
1 1/4 C Light Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Sticks (12 Tbs) Butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/4 tsp Salt
2 2/3 C Flaked Coconut
1 1/2 C Pecans, toasted and chopped (I didn't toast the nuts and it still tasted great)
 
Combine Egg yolks, evaporated milk, and brown sugar ina saucepan.  Add butter, and cook until medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick, about 10 minutes.  Pour through a fine sieve into a bowl.
 
Stir in vanilla, salt, coconut, and pecans.  Let cool completely.  Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before using.
 
Spread 1/3 of the frosting over bottom layer. Repeat, layering cake and frosting, finishing with frosting. Mound coconut in center, and arrange pecan halves around edge.
 
 
 
Rach's Tips:
 
The cake itself was delicious.  Although, next time I would just use 2 nine inch pans instead of the springform pan.  By taking the cake and dividing into into three, the cake is hard to slice because it crumbles.  By using two nine inch pans you would avoid the crumbly-ness.  All in all, the texture of the cake and the carmel-nut taste of the icing was a perfect combination.  For sure make it again.



Monday, April 22, 2013

Orange Fudge Cake

Edward Kostyra's Birthday Cake
i.e. Orange Fudge Cake
 
Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcakes
 
 

 
Do you remember those chocolate oranges that are sold around Christmas time? You smack them on the table and they break into wedges....This cake tastes exactly like that.  If you haven't the foggiest what I am talking about, this cake is a delicate vanilla cake with orange curd in between the layers.  The frosting is a thick fudge.  Very delicious.  The longer the cake sits the better!
 
Ingredients
 

For the Frosting
 
16 oz Semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
2 2/3 C Heavy cream
1 tsp Light corn syrup

For the Cake
 
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted Butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1 1/2 C all-purpose Flour, plus more for pans
1 1/2 C Cake flour, not self-rising
1 Tbs Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
1 3/4 C Sugar
4 large Eggs
2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
1 1/4 C Milk

For the Orange Curd
 
12 large Egg yolks
Zest of 2 oranges
1/4 C plus 2 Tbs freshly squeezed Orange juice
1/2 C plus 1 Tbs freshly squeezed Lemon juice
1 1/2 C Sugar
1/4 tsp coarse Salt
1 C (2 sticks), plus 5 tablespoons unsalted Butter, cold, cut into small pieces
 
Make the frosting: Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Pour over chocolate and let sit, undisturbed, for 3 minutes. Gently whisk until combined and smooth. (A lot of the cake reviews complained that the frosting was runney.  So, just put the chocolate mixture back in the saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes.  You will be able to feel the chocolate thicken.  Be sure to stir the entire time or the chocolate will scorch.) Whisk in the corn syrup.
 
Let chocolate mixture cool to room temperature, then transfer ganache to refrigerator and chill, stirring frequently (like ever 20 minutes) and scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula, until slightly stiff and cool enough to spread, about 1 hour (More like 2 or until it is frosting texture). If frosting becomes too firm, briefly place bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until desired consistency is reached. Frosting should be smooth and spreadable, but not runny.

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch (I used 9x2 and it was fine) round cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter parchment and dust with flour, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
 
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined after each addition.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until the cakes are golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.
 
Make the orange curd: Combine yolks, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let mixture come to a vigorous simmer and cook, continually scraping sides of pan, for 2 minutes.
 
Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. If desired, strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl.(You are going to want to.  This is a TON OF ZEST.  Just put it in through a sieve and the curd is buttery, citrusey and really delicious). Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin forming. Refrigerate until chilled and very firm, at least 2 hours or up to 1 1/2 weeks.
 
Assemble cake: Using a serrated knife, trim the tops of the cakes to make level. Split each layer into two, for a total of four. Place bottom layer on a rotating cake stand and with an offset spatula, carefully top with 1/2 cup of orange curd, leaving a 1-inch border. Place the second cake layer on top, spread with another 3/4 cup of the orange curd. Repeat with the third layer; top with the final cake layer. Insert 3 wooden skewers into the top of the cake to secure.(This is a must.  The cake will slide everywhere. The skewers help secure it while the cake chills and stabalizes)
 
For the crumb coat, spread the entire cake with a thin coat of frosting using an offset spatula.
Spread the entire cake with remaining frosting, swirling to coat in a decorative fashion. Serve immediately, or refrigerate, covered with a cake dome. Let sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes before serving.
 
Rach's Review: This cake is really yummy.  If you want the curd thicker use a smaller pan (such as the 8x2).  I wouldn't go much smaller than and eight inch cake simply because the recipe makes a large amount of cake.  The fudge frosting combined with the citrus cake is really delicious.  I highly recommend this cake.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Butterscotch Pecan Cake!

Butterscotch-Pecan Cake
 
Cupcake Ranking: 4+ Cupcakes
 

Wow.  This cake is delicious!  I have never used Rum Extract before and I couldn't believe the impact of the taste.  It is amazing.  I used my own cream cheese frosting and the result was mouth-watering.

Ingredients


Cake

Cooking spray, for pans
3 3/4 C all-purpose Flour
1 1/4 tsp Baking powder
3/4 tsp Baking soda
2 1/2 tsp Coarse salt
10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted Butter, softened
2 1/2 C packed Dark-brown sugar
4 large Eggs, room temperature
1 Tbs plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp Rum, preferably golden or dark (I used 2 1/2 tsp Rum Extract)
1 1/4 C Buttermilk, room temperature
 
Butterscotch Sauce
 
2/3 C packed dark-Brown sugar
3 ounces (6 Tbs) Butter, cut into pieces
1/2 C light Corn syrup
1/4 tsp Coarse salt
1/2 C Heavy cream
2 C Pecan halves, toasted and chopped, plus more halves for garnish
 
Frosting
 
1 lb (16 ounces) Cream cheese, room temperature
2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
1 C (2 sticks) unsalted Butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
2 lb Confectioners' sugar, sifted
 
Make the cakes: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat three 8-by-2-inch (I used two 9 inch pans) round cake pans with cooking spray, line with parchment, and coat parchment. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
 
Beat butter and brown sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then add vanilla and rum (or rum extract). Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 2 additions, alternating with buttermilk. Raise speed to medium-high, and beat for 2 minutes. Divide batter among pans.

  • Bake cakes until golden brown and testers inserted in centers come out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer pans to wire racks, and let cool slightly. Invert cakes onto racks. Let cool.
  • Make the frosting: Melt 1 stick butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until dark golden brown, about 10 minutes. After the butter is browned, combine the butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Let cool.

  • Make the butterscotch sauce: Mix sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in cream. Return to heat, and cook for 2 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  • To assemble the cake: Trim tops of 2 cake layers and top and bottom of third (this will be the middle) to create flat exposed surfaces.(They really need to be flat.  I found out the hard way when my cake looked like the leaning tower of Pisa). Brush 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons butterscotch sauce on cut sides. Let cool. Spread 1 cup frosting on 1 layer, then place middle layer on top, sauce side down. Spread 1 cup frosting on middle layer, then place third layer on top, sauce side down. Spread 1 cup frosting on top and sides. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  • Using an offset spatula, spread remaining frosting on top and sides of cake. Press chopped pecans on sides, and garnish top with halves. Transfer cake to a serving plate or cake stand. Refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours (or up to 2 days, covered).

  •  
     
    Rach's Review: This cake was....I can't even express words.  We served it at a dinner gathering and none of us could stop eating it.  The cake was moist and spongey; the frosting was carmely, and the butterscotch sauce added a geweyness (it is a word now!).  I will for sure make it again.
     

    Monday, April 8, 2013

    Dolley Madison's Layer Cake

    Dolley Madison's Layer Cake
     
     
    Cupcake Ranking: 4 Cupcakes
     
     
     
    I have to admit; I was excited for this cake.  I love American History and this was one of those Historic recipes.  Granted it wasn't a dash of this and a lb of that, but it was translated and it worked out really well.  The frosting was really mapely and the cake was moist and spongey.  I am definetely going to use the frosting on donuts.  Yum.  And the cake will be great for strawberry shortcake.  It was fun!
     
     
     
     
    Ingredients
     
    1 C (2 sticks) unsalted Butter, plus more for pans
    8 large Egg whites
    2 1/2 C Sugar
    1 C Milk
    3 C all-purpose Flour
    3/4 C Cornstarch
    2 1/2 tsp pure Vanilla extract
     
     
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 8-by-2-inch (I did two 9 inch) round cake pans, set aside.
     
    Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form; set aside.
     
    In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. With the mixer running, slowly add milk; mix until well combined. Sift together flour and cornstarch; slowly add to mixer and beat until well combined. Add vanilla and mix well.
     
    Gently fold in reserved egg whites and divide evenly between prepared pans. Bake until cake springs back when lightly touched, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool in cake pans on wire racks, about 10 minutes.
     
    Remove from pans and let cool completely on wire racks.
     
    Caramel Icing Ingredients
     
    3 C light-Brown sugar
    1 C light Cream
    2 Tbs unsalted Butter
    1 tsp pure Vanilla extract
     
    Whisk together sugar, cream, and butter in a medium bowl. Set bowl over (but not touching) simmering water, cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove bowl from heat; stir in vanilla. Let cool. (After 20 minutes, the ingredients were still grainy.  So, I brought the ingredients up to a boil, on the stovetop, and the grainyness went away and the caramel sauce wasn't runny and DELICIOUS).
     
    Place 4 strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Pour over about 1/2 cup icing, spreading evenly to cover. Repeat process with 2 more layers. Repeat process with two more layers. Place the remaining layer on top of the third layer and cover cake completely with remaining icing.
     
     
     
     
    Rach's Tips: The cake was really yummy.  After I brought the icing up to a boil, I let it boil for about five minutes.  I shouldn't have.  The carmel sauce tasted great but was too thick.  It was like ice cream carmel sauce.  I think if you just bring it up to a boil, the ingredients won't be grainy and the sauce will be like a thick glaze.  This cake was truly delicious and has potential for many variations depending on the time of year (i.e. berries, whipoping cream etc).