Wednesday, February 20, 2013

RVC = Red Velvet Cake

When this cake came up as the next cake to be made for Cake Slice Bakers I was not... happy.  Yes I am one of THOSE people.  I loathe today's RVC.  I am one of THOSE people that can taste the chemical flavoring of the red dye.  But I am one of THOSE people that really wants to be a team player so we make the RVC!!  Even though there will be some tweaking.  No. not tweeting, I am not one of THOSE people.

This month we are making the Red Velvet Cake with Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting.  I have read here and there about the origins of the RVC, about the red being the result of a reaction between vinegar, buttermilk and the cocoa used.  Another way of making the cake reddish was by using beets and or beet juice in the cake.  I am not trying to completely change this recipe so I discarded the idea of causing a reaction, instead I wanted to use beets to achieve the color.  I really had no desire to make a beet cake either.  I simply did not want to use the food coloring so I decided I would swap out the food coloring for beet juice.

I started off by pureeing a small can of sliced beets.  Poured them into a strainer and let them sit to get as much of the juice out of the puree.

I then put the juice into a sauce pan and simmered it for about 10 minutes until it reduced down to a syrup.

Set it off to cool and moved to making the cake.
Start by preparing your cake pans.  I choose to use two rounds.  It is quite helpful to line the bottom of your cake pans with parchment.  Remember making paper snowflakes?  Yep, you got it, like that! But without the frilly cuts.

Once you have your circles cut you need to butter the pan and it is helpful for removal later to butter the cake side of the parchment too.  Using your empty butter wrapper go to town on the pans.

Now open up your circle, place it in your pan and rub it down.  Grab an edge and turn it over, there you have both sides buttered. *wink*

Sift together your dry ingredients and set aside.

Next cream together your butter and sugar until it is fluffy.  While it is fluffing, crack your eggs into a bowl and in an other bowl mix together the oil, vanilla and your coloring.  I added in the beet juice - about 2 tablespoons.  Once you achieve fluff slowly add your oil mixture then your eggs one at a time.

Well it is slightly pink.  Yep that is it - with all the extra work and I get slightly pink.  Oh well let's proceed and see how it turns out.

On a low speed add in the dry ingredients and buttermilk, alternating between the two until all is incorporated.

A side note... I was given a scrapper paddle.

It is a love - hate relationship! I love that I don't have to stop and scrape down the sides as often but I hate the mess it makes!  It kicks out huge amounts of stuff when you turn on the mixer - at the lowest speed even.  Plus the scrapper edge gets gunked up so you do have to scrape off that part pretty often.

Verdict is still out on this tool...

Yes that messy!

Alrighty then!  All mixed and poured into your pans, ready for the oven.  Looking brown not pink or even red-ish.

Cooked the cakes to 200 degree internal temperature but was not real happy with the slight dark edge on the top - easily gotten rid of thankfully because this just became a birthday cake for my cousin.

Let the layers cool and got busy on the frosting.  This was a pretty straight forward frosting, fluff, sweeten and flavor.  It came out quite tasty and not overly sweet.  I made a double batch because I decided to split the layers.

Started off by leveling the layer. Using a sharp bread knife just slice off the bump.  Try to avoid any downward pressure, if you press down it will get wonky.

Put a small blob of frosting on your cake plate before placing your first layer.  This will help your keep your cake from sliding around.

Many years ago I was taught an easy way to split a layer is with floss.  You read that correctly, dental floss.  Just be sure it isn't flavored!  Take a long piece of floss, wrap it around the layer, make sure it is in the middle all the way around. Now holding both ends in one hand and steadying the cake with the other hand, pull the floss right through the cake.

Brush the loose crumbs off of the cake and place your first layer onto the cake plate and give it a nice coating of frosting.

Repeat with the rest of the layers.

Red Velvet Cake with Mascarpone Cream Cheese Frosting
can be found in the cookbook Vintage Cakes.

This cake turned out well even if it lacked the red color.  It was very moist and not overly sweet.  Try it!

Happy Birthday to my cousin Heather!!

Sorry for the not great slice pic - it was a quicky shot and then gone.


Visit the other Cake Slice Bakers here.


Friday, February 15, 2013

My Heart Cookies

Valentine's Day was right around the corner.  We didn't really have plans then my mother invited us for dinner.  She din't want us to bring anything - this was her treat for us. Since my mother is a good cook I knew that whatever she made would be yummy!  

I hemmed and hawed about what to get everyone and was just not too inspired this year.  I then decided I would make big heart cookies.  Simple decorations and then they could be munched on at leisure.

Dug out my favorite cut out cookie recipe - KA's Holiday Butter Cookies - and went to work.  I made up the dough in the afternoon with the intentions *wink wink* of cutting out and baking the cookies that night.

Of course I didn't cut them out and bake them that night, instead we watched a movie.  So the next morning I had to get busy!  Didn't have a cookie cutter as big as I wanted.  I simply drew one, printed it and cut it out.  Inst-o cookie stencil.  Using a sharp knife cut around the stencil.  If it isn't perfect who cares?! Cookies made with love and crookedness are most tasty.

This recipe is nice because the cookies hold their shape and don't spread much during cooking.  They can be placed close together on the baking sheet.

I put the sheets of cookies into the fridge for about 10 minutes before baking.  Then bake until the edges of the cookies just get that light golden color to them.

Let them cool completely on a rack before icing the cookies.  I hand cut a dozen of the large hearts and then used the smaller cutter on the rest of the dough.  I made a double batch of dough and got a total of 12 large (5") and 36 medium (3") hearts.

Mixed up a double batch of icing.  I made white, light pink and darker pink.  I used a couple of squeeze bottles for the pinks. Coated the big hearts in white then drew simple designs on them with the pinks.

Took the rest of the icings and coated the small hearts.

Really like this icing.  It is very forgiving by smoothing out so nicely.

Waited for the icing - apparently not quite long enough though - to set up then put the cookies into cello bags with sticker tags.

Made a few cupid stops with the packages of small hearts.  Then gave the big hearts to my family last night at dinner.  Even though the icing stuck to the bags a bit on the big hearts we got rave reviews. 

Holiday Butter Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur

Cookies ~
5 ounces confectioners' sugar
9 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/8 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia or flavor of choice
11 1/2 ounces King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

With a mixer cream together the sugar, butter, yolk, salt, vanilla and flavoring.  Once creamy and smooth add in the flour and mix until it comes together in a ball.
Divide the dough in half and flatten each into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least two hours.

When you are ready to roll out the dough, take out your dough and allow to rest on the counter for about 20 minutes until it feels pliable but still cold.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line your baking sheets with parchment paper for best results.

Using a little flour, roll out to the desired thickness, 1/4 inch seems to be a good thickness for this dough.  Cut out your cookies and place on the sheets.  Brush off the tops of the cookies to get rid of extra flour.  Place your filled sheets in the fridge for about 10 minutes before baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for 11-14 minutes, until the edges just start to get golden.  Let the cookies cool on the pan for a few minutes then remove to a rack to cool completely before icing.

Icing ~
10 ounces confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar
1 1/4 ounces light corn syrup
2 tablespoons +/-; enough to make a spreadable icing
food coloring, optional

Combine the sugar, milk, and corn syrup to make a soft, spreadable icing, adding more milk if necessary.  You don't want the icing to be too thin so it covers nicely so go easy on the milk.
Divide the icing and tint the icing with food color if you wish.
Spread icing on cookies, using a knife. an off-set spatula, or even your finger.  Spread it all the way to the edges. Decorate with colored icing, sugars or sprinkles.

Allow the icing to harden before storing the cookies. *wink wink*

Have fun making cookies & enjoy!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Gluten what?

I have to admit that the gluten-free "thing" is a complete mystery to me.  But since my sister has asked that we have some gluten-free options on the menu I figured it was time to solve the mystery.  

I have never made a galette aka a free form pie.  This may not be exactly what others know a galette to be but it is what I know it to be so bear with me.  First thing to do is find a well rated recipe for a g-f pastry crust.  For that I hopped over to King Arthur Flour, which kind of made sense because I had their g-f flour sitting on my shelf.  Now peruse some recipes for galettes and yep I think I got what to do in my brain.

First make the crust.  This is pretty straight forward - just like making a regular crust except the KA recipe has an egg in it.  You can find the recipe I am using here.

Whisk together the dry ingredients.  Then using a pastry cutter blend in the butter.  You want to have small pea sized bit of butter through your crust mixture.

Mix together the egg and vinegar then incorporate it into your dry ingredients.  Mixing only enough to get the crust to hold together.  Squish it together and place it in plastic wrap.  Let it chill for an hour in the fridge.

Roll out your dough between two pieces of plastic wrap.  You use less flour and it is easy to move around.  I rolled it out to about 8 inches in diameter, maybe a bit bigger than that.

At this point I should have put the crust back into the fridge to chill while I worked on preparing my apples but I didn't and it will be a slight issue later... lesson learned.

Peel, core and slice your apples nice and thin.  I used my mandolin set at 1/8" and am happy with the end result.  You want your slices thin so that they will bake rather quickly.  Placed the slices in a bowl then tossed them with the cinnamon and sugar.

Transfer your crust to a piece of parchment paper.  Lay out your apples in the center of your crust leaving about an inch to an inch and a half of crust all the way around.  You can lay out your apples how ever you like - try different patterns to see what you like but don't take too long because the butter in your crust is softening minute by minute.  Yes another lesson learned. 

You want even layers so that the apples will bake evenly.

Break up your butter and put small pieces all over the top of the apples.

Now using the parchment fold the edge up and over the apples.  Do a small section at a time.
This is where I got into trouble with the time my pastry sat out - the butter had softened too much and the dough was rather sticky and very stuck to the parchment.  This made folding it over rather difficult.  I think had I put it in the fridge while working on the apples it would have been easier to work with.

Don't worry about the folds being perfect - this is a rustic dessert.  Free form is great tasting!

Sprinkled the top of the crust with a bit more of the cinnamon sugar.  Moved it to a sheet pan and popped it into a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Turned the oven down to 375 degrees, loosely covered it with foil and baked for 25 minutes more. I like a bit of a texture to my apples so next time I would probably only cook it for about 15 to 20 minutes at the turned down temperature.  It really does depend on how you like your apples to be done.

Took it out of the oven and cooled it on a rack for about 15 minutes.  Then sliced and served it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

We all thought it quite tasty!  But the crust did seem a bit grainy compared to a typical pastry crust.  I have read that this usual (or if too much, a problem).  I realized I have nothing to compare it to!  Since I have never had a gluten-free pastry crust before.  I also realized that I had no one to test it.  The only person I know that eats gluten-free lives four states away ha!  Guess I only surround myself with a bunch of gluteneaters!

I will be trying more items with gluten-free in mind to find some good things to offer on the menu.  If you give this a try let me know what you think.

Apple Galette
by My Sister's Table


1 pie crust, ready to roll ~ I used KA's gluten-free recipe found
2 apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar mix*
1 tablespoon butter


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Roll out your pie crust to about 8 -9 inches round.  Lay the rolled out dough onto parchment paper.
Toss your sliced apples with the cinnamon sugar.  Arrange the slices in the center of the dough leaving about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of dough around the edge.  Try to layer the apples evenly.  Break up the butter into small pieces and place the all over the apples.
Fold the edge of the dough up and over the apples.  Fold up small sections to get a nice pleated look.  Don't worry about it being perfect - this is a rustic dessert.  Free form is great tasting!  Once all the edges are folded up you will still have an open center showing off your apple slices.  If you wish, sprinkle a bit more cinnamon sugar on top of the crust.
Move the galette on the parchment to a baking sheet.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 375 degrees.  Cover the galette loosely with foil and continue baking for 15 to 25 minutes depending on how done you like your apples.
Cool on a rack for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 large servings.

*A good cinnamon sugar mixture is 1 teaspoon cinnamon to each tablespoon sugar.  If you like it cinnamonier add a bit more to the mixture.