Thursday, June 19, 2014

Absolutely the Best Yellow Cake...?

a sweet, baked, breadlike food, made with or without shortening, and usually containing flour, sugar, baking powder or soda, eggs, and liquid flavoring.

Or as I would define it...


nounom nom nom nom

I have been on a quest for the basics.  I want recipes in the front of my binder that are my 'go tos'.   A chocolate cake that I know will always be just the right amount of chocolate, a lemon bar that makes you pucker then mmmm as you take another bite, a coconut cream pie that is so good that you don't care if you have a little sumtin' on the edge of your lip because you just shoved a huge bite into your mouth.  And a yellow cake that can be delicate and delightful but at the same time hold its own when filled or topped.

The Cake Slice Bakers have changed things up a bit and now offer three or four choices to us each month from the current cookbook ~ Great Cakes by Carole Walter.   Our choices this month were Absolutely the Best Yellow Cake, Sour Cream Chocolate Cake, Bing Cherry Kuchen and Streusel Lemon Torte.

You would have thought I would jump at the chocolate cake but I spied that yellow cake and thought that I should give it a go.... would this be THE one?

Well the recipe says that it is the best... let's find out.

Cupcakes again?  Yes, dear.
Cupcakes are easy to give away!  
Plus if you eat a whole cake you just ate one item... if you eat several cupcakes then you just stuffed in your face multiple food items and that is baaaaad.  So yes, cupcakes.

Cream your softened butter and sugar together to form that light and fluffy stuff that you should not dip your pinky into on accident and then lick off because the paper towels are just too far down the counter.

Add in your vanilla extract.  Now you want to add your eggs.

I hate to wash extra dishes but this is one of those things you shouldn't shortcut.... do not crack your egg directly into the mixing bowl.  At some point you will drop a shell.  If you are lucky you will see it, dig it out and just waste time.  Bu there will be that time when you find out because someone you love will crunch down on it and blahhhh!
Instead simply crack your eggs into a small bowl, then dump into the mixing bowl from there.  It is worth the extra dish to wash.

Your creaming items are all fluffy and now to do the wet/dry dance.

Add in part of your dry ingredients, followed by part of your wet then mix until just incorporated and repeat until all your stuff is mixed together.

This batter came out rather nicely and was very silky but I could see that it wanted to break a bit if left to sit.

I made half a recipe and was able to (over) fill 12 cupcakes and had I scrapped the bowl could have filled one more.  Into the 350 degree oven they went.

While they were baking I decided that indeed we needed a bit of chocolate with these cupcakes.... yeah, yeah, I know!  So.....
I decided I would dip the tops into ganache. 
Please tell me you know what ganache is!!  Well in case you don't know what it is I will tell you...  ganache is the chocolate be all end all in my book!  You can do so many things with it other than eating it straight out of the bowl.  And the best part is it is so dang simple to make.
I am using 3/4 cup of heavy cream and 8 ounces of (good)chocolate (chips or chopped) for this round of ganache.  Its a little on the thick side but since I am dipping I wanted that.

Place your chocolate into a heat proof bowl.
Heat your cream on the stove top until the stream just starts to rise and you see little bubbles along the edges.  
Pour the cream over the chocolate.

Wiggle the bowl so that all of the chocolate is covered by the cream.

Now walk away.  Just go... for about 5 minutes.

Time to make magic happen.  Whisk it.

Well that isn't looking so pretty.  Just keep going, I promise it will come together... just... like... that!

Oh yeah.

Timer goes off and the cupcakes are done.
I baked them for about 17 minutes, until they reached 205 degrees internally.
But they are flat and the edges stuck to my pan.  I was hoping for a bit of a dome on top for dipping in.

They smell good and they look good, just flat.

I changed ideas and decided to just spread the ganache on top.

"Oh please don't spread chocolate ganache on top of that cupcake" ~ said no one ever!

Was it the best?  Sadly no.  It was quite tasty!  It has a delicate texture... actually the texture was almost too delicate.  I think that may be one of its downfalls.  Also there was no salt in the recipe and it called for unsalted butter plus it tasted just a bit eggy to me.  I think I may just have to give this one a go again to see if we can get it to be the best.  Keep your eyes peeled for a part two of this adventure.

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*I didn't publish the recipe because it comes from a copyrighted cookbook.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Coconut (not a) Layer Cake

It's time! It's time! 
The Cake Slice Bakers voted to bake the Coconut Layer Cake for April! 

 We are baking from Great Cakes by Carole Walter. 

As usual I didn't make it by the book. My layer cake turned into cupcakes because I wanted to serve them with our Easter dinner. I also didn't use the recommended frosting because I had not made a frosting as the book listed and chose to use a tried and true swiss buttercream instead.

This coconut cake was a bit different because it called for the coconut to be steeped in scaled milk for half an hour.  Then you put the milk and coconut into a food processor and blitzed until the coconut was broken down.  

I used coconut milk hoping for a stronger coconut flavor in the cake...*

The cake mixed up in the usual fashion - cream together the butter and sugar, add in the eggs then add in the dry ingredients alternating with the coconut milk.

Scooped the batter into the cupcake liners and into the 350 degree oven they went.  For reference ~ the recipe made 22 cupcakes and they were done in about 13 minutes.

Working in a leveled oven has sure been nice!  Ha!  The cupcakes rose with a nice round dome.

I let the cupcakes cool over night then went to work on them with the buttercream, which I flavored with just a hint of coconut flavoring.

And then topped with toasted coconut.

These cupcakes turn out nicely and we got good reviews of them at Easter dinner.  They have a nice airy texture and baked up well as cupcakes.

*I personally thought they could have used much more coconut flavor.  Since I added the coconut milk I am guessing that a small amount of good coconut flavoring would help boost the flavor.

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*I didn't publish the recipe because it comes from a copyrighted cookbook.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lemon Velvet Squares

'Tis that time again!  Time for the Cake Slice Bakers to reveal the cake baked for February!  We are baking from Great Cakes by Carole Walter.  The cake for February is the Lemon Velvet Squares.  Mine aren't going to be very square since I elected to bake my cake in a new mini bundt pan.

This cake starts out on the right note...

Fresh citrus zest is usually a good thing and then add in butter - ok yum!

Get your sugar, eggs, liquids and dry ingredients incorporated and you get a silky smooth batter.

Even though my mini bundt pan is new and a non-stick I chose to spray (which I hardly ever do) and sugar the pan.  Put my batter into the pan and had some left over so I sprayed and sugared a nine inch round pan also.

The cakes baked up nicely with a bit of golden brown to the edges.

Let the cakes cool for about ten minutes and then it was time to unmold them.... 


Well that was not part of the plan.
Ok no problem!  The glaze will cover up the "specialness" of these minis.

Time to whip up the glaze.

Well ok, that is not a glaze consistency in my mind.  Glaze should be pour-able.  This is more like a frosting.  Spreadable, which would be fine if I had made the 9"x13" cake the recipe specifies.  But I didn't so...  time to thin it down a bit.

I added about one tablespoon of additional lemon juice and it broke.  As long as you kept stirring the glaze it was fine but as soon as you stopped it started to separate.

The glaze tasted fine and since these were served to my family I just went for it.

Still not glaze thin + not spreadable cake surface  = a quite unattractive dessert.  Well that's a bummer!

This cake and glaze combination was pretty tasty if you like citrus.  The cake crumb texture was light and soft but does need the extra kick of the glaze.
The cake would be best baked in and served from the same pan.  Spread the glaze on while still warm and enjoy!

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*I didn't publish the recipe because it comes from a copyrighted cookbook.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Old-Fashioned Pound Cake

Happy New Year!  Hope y'all are doing well so far this year.  This year is looking to be one of exciting things for my family.

Time for the Cake Slice Bakers to reveal the cake baked for January!  We are baking from Great Cakes by Carole Walter.  The cake for January is the Old-Fashioned Pound Cake.  There are several variations given in the cookbook and I decided to go the 'Spirited' route with our pound cake.  I also added a butter vanilla glaze to the pound cake.

My sous-chef Nick is joining me on this bake.  I always love to have my boys help out in the kitchen.

The cookbook calls for a parchment lined pan but I seem to be even more old-fashioned... my pound cakes need to have that sugar crust on the outside.  So Nick buttered the pan and then coated with sugar.

I don't usually sift my flour.  One f the main reasons for sifting in the old days was to make sure there were no foreign objects in the flour.  With today's standards we should be pretty safe from finding odd things in our dry goods.  

Since Nick was helping I had him "sift" the dry ingredients.  It's good practice.

Cream together the butter and sugar, beating until the color has lightened.

Since we chose the "Spirited" cake we added half milk and half bourbon.

Added in half our dry ingredients then the milk/bourbon, followed by the rest of the dry.

This batter comes out very velvety smooth.

Into the prepared pan and baked in a low oven for just over an hour.  Out comes a perfectly golden brown cake.

As it sits on the counter and cools can you smell the buttery goodness with a back note of bourbon?

Now prepare the glaze.

Butter Vanilla Glaze ~ melt 1/4 cup salted butter, whisk in 1 cup confectioners' sugar until smooth.  Add in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 to 2 tablespoons milk, depending on how thick or thin you want it.  Drizzle over your cake a little while before serving.

We found this cake to be quite tasty but did not feel that it was a pound cake.  It was light and fluffy with a soft crumb, which is nice but that is not what a pound cake is.  I may make this again knowing what it is like but not expecting a pound cake.

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I'll just leave you with this...



*I didn't publish the recipe because it comes from a copyrighted cookbook.