Archive for the 'cake' Category

Strawberry Birthday Cake

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I wish I knew how to decorate a cake. Like actually pipe frosting on in pretty patterns. I have all the equipment to make it happen, but never the time or the patience to attempt it. So instead I cop out and decorate with nuts or fruit or chocolate shavings or whatever else you can accessorize a cake with that happens to not be colored frosting.

I made this strawberry cake for Marlo’s second birthday. It’s void of the number “2”. It’s void of her name. There are no sugar flowers. No Care Bears. But it’s pink inside. And I think that counts for something.

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The original recipe on Smitten Kitchen calls for traditional cream cheese frosting, instead I used a recipe I’ve shared here before for white chocolate cream cheese frosting. I did this because I’m not certain I’ve tasted a cream cheese frosting that I like better than it, and I thought that the hint of white chocolate would complement the strawberry cake nicely. It really did.

This was a perfect little cake for a perfect little girl.

Strawberry Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 1/2 cups cake flour
3 cups sugar
5 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (16 oz bag) pureed frozen strawberries (thawed)
8 egg whites
2/3 cup milk
1 to 2 drops red food dye (makes the cake a little more pink)

*This recipe makes a lot of batter. Enough for 3 9″ layers. I don’t have 3 cake pans, so I just made 2 layers and had a lot left over. I recommend following SK’s advice and butter the pans along as well as lining the bottom of the pan with wax paper.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl using a whisk.
2. Using a stand mixer, cream butter for a minute until fluffy.
3. Add pureed strawberries to butter and mix until well incorporated.
4. Add flour mixture in 3-4 additions to the butter and strawberries.
5. Beat eggs with milk and red dye in separate bowl and add to batter in 2-3 additions, and mix only until well incorporated.
6. Pour the batter evenly into prepared pans and bake in preheated oven for 30-34 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Let cakes cool in pans for about 10 minutes before removing from pans and letting cool on wire racks completely before frosting.

Find White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting recipe here.

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Caramel Pecan Layer Cake

My mom is an excellent cook. She’s also an excellent baker. She does both of these things quite a bit, and she rarely has either of these things done for her.

Her birthday was Tuesday. I forgot to call her.

I’m not exactly paralyzed with guilt though, because we celebrated her birthday all last weekend. Marlo and I drove to Ohio and my sister flew in from New York. We took her to one of Findlay’s finest restaurants, the Bistro on Main, and the next day I baked her this cake. See? I remembered in advance. I’m excused, right?

I found this recipe in her More From Magnolia cookbook and realized I could make this from scratch without having to run to the store for an odd ingredient. This is how I make most of my decisions. While my mother seems to enjoy making multiple trips to the grocery store in one day, I loathe having to make more than two trips in one week. Having a one year old may have something to do with this.

Regardless, this cake was easy and absolutely wonderful. If I could rename it, I would call it Caramel Corn Cake, because it couldn’t possibly taste any more similar to caramel popcorn.

I made a few changes to the original recipe, both unintentionally. The original recipe called (very indiscreetly) for 3 cake layers. While reading through, I overlooked this and only baked two layers. Obviously, the layers were thicker and I had to bake a bit longer. This was not a problem; the cake did not overflow nor did it burn. Everything was fine. Also, I didn’t have self-rising flour so I used the conversion found on this page and again, the cake was perfect.

Caramel Pecan Layer Cake
Adapted from More from Magnolia by Allysa Torey

For the Cake
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (see note above)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups of sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

For the Icing
(The book says to make this a day ahead of time so the brown sugar blends better and the texture isn’t grainy. I didn’t do this and I didn’t notice a grainy texture.)

2 cups unsalted butter, softened
5 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. dark corn syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9 inch round cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper.

Spread pecans on baking sheet and toast in oven 10-15 minutes, until fragrant.

Meanwhile, begin preparing the cake batter. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours and set aside. In bowl of stand mixer, add butter and beat until light and fluffy. Slowly add sugar and beat for 3 more minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each additions. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended.

Divide the batter among the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

When the layers have cooled completely, ice the cake by filling between the layers first with Caramel Frosting and then sprinkling with half of the pecans. Then ice the top and sides, and sprinkle the top with the remaining pecans.

To make the icing, in a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the milk, syrup, and vanilla, and beat until smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes. Use immediately or store, covered, at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

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I promised I’d share this recipe with you a few weeks ago.

This was another treat we served at Marlo’s first birthday, and I’d have to say they were the most popular, perhaps solely based on intrigue.

A cupcake that tastes like a cookie? Yep! And these did taste just like snickerdoodles. Cinnamony and sweet and perfectly topped with delicious cream cheese frosting and crunchy demerara sugar. Try them!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour (not self- rising), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together both flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
4. Pipe with frosting (recipe below) and sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Sophistimom

2 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Using a mixer, mix the cream cheese can butter until thoroughly combined.
2. Add the vanilla extract and combine well.
3. Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth and creamy.

Devil’s Food Cupcakes with White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

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Yeah they were just as good as they sound.

My dad can testify to that. I think he had about 4 or 5, maybe over the course of a day or two, maybe not..

I served these at Marlo’s birthday party along with Strawberry Glazed cupcakes and Snickerdoodle cupcakes, which I will share the recipe for in a few days. They were moist and chocolaty, but not too rich. In other words, they were perfect. The cream cheese frosting was the perfect pairing. I’m not one to normally go for cream cheese frosting, but I liked this recipe a lot and I think you will too. Try these for your next cupcake occasion. Neither Martha Stewart nor I would ever let you down (I hope that’s the way it goes).

Devil’s Food Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart

3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)
Chocolate Curls, for decorating (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
2. Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three- quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
4. To finish, use a small offset spatula to spread cupcakes with frosting. Refrigerate up to 3 days in airtight containers; bring to room temperature and garnish with chocolate curls just before serving.

Makes about 32 standard cupcakes.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Baking Bites

8-oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2-oz white chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tsp milk or cream
4-6 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese, butter and melted white chocolate. Beat in vanilla and milk, then add in the confectioners’ sugar gradually until the frosting reaches your desired consistency (make it a bit stiffer if you wish to pipe it onto the cupcakes instead of spreading it with a knife).
Spread frosting onto cupcakes with a knife, or transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with shaved chocolate. **Tip: to make chocolate easier to shave warm it up SLIGHTLY in the microwave at 5 second increments until it’s a little tacky.

Mini Strawberry Marscapone Cupcakes

These were so easy, but still really special. They would be great for any birthday celebration – at school, at work, or at home.

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Mini Strawberry Marscapone Cupcakes
Adapted from Food Network

8 ounces mascarpone cheese (about 1 cup), softened
2 egg whites
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 box white cake mix
1 cup water
1/3 cup frozen strawberries, thawed and drained (this is about 5 frozen strawberries)
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the mini tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, egg whites and vegetable oil. Using a hand mixer, beat the ingredients until combined and creamy. Add the cake mix and water and mix until smooth, about 3 minutes. Fill the mini cups to just below the rim and bake until puffed and golden, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly in the tin then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack.

Meanwhile, puree the strawberries in a blender or small food processor. Place the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Pour in the strawberry puree and whisk until smooth. Top the cooled cupcakes with the strawberry glaze. Let the cupcakes sit for a few minutes for the glaze to firm up, then serve.

Makes 48 mini cupcakes.

A Tale of Two Chocolate Cakes

I love cake. No joke. My favorite part of weddings is the cake, and I’m a fierce critic. I know how much wedding cakes cost, so in my mind, it better be perfect. I honestly don’t care what you serve me for dinner, or how awesome your DJ was, your wedding cake makes or breaks the whole shabang in my mind. When Jeff and I got married, I took the cake very seriously. I wanted it to look memorable and interesting, but I wanted the taste to be just as memorable and interesting. I’m quite taken by the look of fondant icing (who isn’t) but I loathe the taste. When I met our baker, and she said she can make butter cream look like fondant, I fell in love with her. She wasn’t lying and managed to make a gorgeous cake inspired by our invitations. I remember very little from my wedding day, it was all a whirlwind, but I can recall the taste of our cake as if I had just had some for lunch. One layer, my choice, was spice cake with an caramel apple filling, and the second layer, Jeff’s choice, was dark chocolate with chocolate fudge filling.

If you couldn’t guess, Jeff’s favorite cake is chocolate cake, and so is his dad’s (at least I heard that somewhere, sorry Scott, if I’m mistaken). When we made plans to eat dinner at the in-laws a few weeks ago, I wanted to bring a dessert, and it absolutely had to be a cake. See, I don’t get to satisfy my affinity for cake often. I bake a lot, but usually it’s things that last longer than a day or two (most cakes croak in 48 hours) or things that are easily shared, i.e. thrown in a plastic bag and sent to work with Jeff. So, I seized this opportunity and looked for a classic chocolate Bundt cake recipe online. I found what I needed from Martha Stewart.

Chocolate Bundt Cake

I found this cake to be quite nice. In the words of Jamie Oliver, “it’s not going to change your life” , but I was very satisfied with the results of my effort. The glaze is really the star, so don’t skip or skimp on it. I did not add booze to my chocolate glaze, certainly not because I have anything against that – just that I don’t really have a whole lot of hard liquor hanging around. Instead I added instant coffee, and I’m glad I did. By all means, go for the Cognac, but I really recommend the coffee. Also, a note, the recipe asks for a 14 cup Bundt cake pan, I don’t have one that large and just used my 10 cup Bundt pan and baked it for 55 minutes. It turned out perfect.

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream (4 ounces)
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional, but I think you should – it made the cake more interesting)

For the glaze:

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Cognac or rum (optional)
OR
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules

Make the cake: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 14-cup Bundt pan. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Mix milk and sour cream in a small bowl.

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add flour mixture, alternating with milk mixture, ending with flour. Fold in walnuts, if using. Spoon batter into pan. Bake until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Invert cake. (Cake will keep for up to 1 day.)

Make the glaze: Place chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering, if using coffee – mix into the milk now, then pour over chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes. Add butter and Cognac or rum, if using, and mix until smooth. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Pour glaze over cooled cake.

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Sounds good, you say? What else you got, you say? How about a chocolate cake that is just like eating a wedge of dark chocolate fudge. This cake isn’t for the chocolate faint at heart. You feel just so-so about chocolate? Take a pass on this one. Do you have dreams of bathing in a claw foot tub filled to the brim with ganache (ahem, Borislava)? You might consider making this next cake, like right now.

As mentioned in the last entry, my parents and my sister made their way down to Indiana last weekend. My sister has found herself under a lot of stress lately, so I wanted to have a special dessert for her the night of our big dinner. Endless options? Not really. She follows a gluten-free diet so that creates a few obstacles when baking. Her favorite gluten-free dessert when dining out is a flourless chocolate cake. I thought this would be quite an endeavor to find a recipe for, not to mention actually making it. I was wrong. I found this great recipe on Whole Foods Market’s website and this cake seriously takes very little equipment and expertise. The result, however, like bathing in a claw foot tub filled to the brim with ganache. Enjoy!

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) plus 3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
1 1/4 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper. Spray the paper with cooking spray, too, then set the pan aside.

Place two-thirds (8 ounces) of the chocolate and 1 cup (2 sticks) of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Stirring often, melt chocolate with butter until completely blended. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. (Alternatively, you may use your microwave to melt the butter with the chocolate, if desired). Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Sift cocoa into bowl and stir until just blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cake has risen and top has formed a thin crust. The cake should be just firm in the center when done. Cool for 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate, removing sides of springform pan. Remove and discard parchment paper and set cake aside to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze. Melt remaining 4 ounces chocolate and 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, then stir in milk, honey and vanilla. Set aside to cool slightly.

When cake has cooled, pour glaze onto the center. Using a spatula or the back of a spoon, very gently smooth glaze along the top and sides of the cake. Chill cake, uncovered, for 30 to 60 minutes before serving to set the glaze and make the cake easier to slice.



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