BornGrace

What I do while I figure out what to do next . . .

Archive for the category “Cakes”

I’ve Finally Lost My Head!!

I did this cake for my twin daughter’s 15th Birthday.  We were going into Sleepy Hollow and they wanted something “in theme”  I looked at lots of cakes for ideas but everything seemed “too dark” so I found a way to incorporate the theme and also use their favorite colors.  I’m just so happy with how it turned out. AND that it survived a 40 minute car ride on a twisty turny bumpy highway to get there!DSC_0134 DSC_0135 DSC_0136 DSC_0137  I used Colette Peter’s White Cake recipe because while it has a nice flavor it is also dense enough to support all this fondant.  I was somehow out of my usual cake supports so cut wooden dowels to size for each layer.   I also added 3 different fillings.  The top layer has Nutella, the middle lemon curd and the bottom is homemade crab apple jelly from our orchard. I piped the horseman onto a circle of yellow candy melts and added a fondant jack o’ lantern head.  I don’t think it would have fallen without, but I put a toothpick behind to support the topper “just in case”

Fabulous Pumpkin Cupcakes

Let me just start off my saying that these will now be my go-to fall cupcakes.  They are sort of a combination of sweet muffin and cupcake and they are absolutely fabulous!  I have used browned butter in my blueberry muffins and have completely fallen for the wonderful and deep flavor that it adds to baking and these cupcakes are no exception.  Combined them with a cinnamon cream cheese frosting and pretty much YUM is all I have to say.

adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
RECIPE:
Preheat oven to 325F
Line muffin tins with paper liners and set aside.  Batter will be enough for 12 cupcakes.  You could possibly make more if you do not eat as much batter as my family did.  It was worth it – I don’t think it is possible to ever make more than 12 in my family.
Brown butter.
Melt butter in small saucepan or medium heat.  This will take some time.  Expect around 10 minutes.  The first time I browned butter I kept wondering “is this it?”  You can walk away but the first time I would hang out stirring gently with a wooden spoon.  First the butter will foam up and then go clear.  When it is ready you will start to smell a wonderful nutty smell.
Then small rust-colored flakes will appear on the bottom of the saucepan. You are done. Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; let cool.
Grate the fresh nutmeg.
Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, and brown-butter mixture.
Add the flour mixture, and whisk until just combined.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.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe from Baked Perfection

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed with whisk attachment until fluffy

Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then cinnamon and vanilla; mix until smooth.

Put in pastry bag with large star tip and frost in a circular motion beginning on outside of cupcake and finishing in center.

Enjoy!!

To Lamb or not to Lamb

Well this lovely little cake was part experiment with a new cake and frosting recipe and part brain fart.  Excuse my language.  Every Easter for I don’t know how many years I have made and decorated various lamb or egg shaped cakes.  Kids vote – lamb usually wins.  One year I had thumb surgery on Good Friday and my 11 year old did the lamb cake.  It was lovely – it’s not that hard.  Well, unless you completely forget that it needs to be made with a very dense pound cake type of cake.  Guess what I forgot this year . . . I didn’t take a picture of the collapse.  Thankfully, it happened before I frosted it.   It was kind of like those abandoned buildings when they explode – it crumbled and disappeared within itself – would have actually been quite amusing if it had just exploded all over the kitchen instead.  Clearly I don’t get out enough . . . ANYWAY . . .

Lamb cake failure aside.  I had very conveniently also made 2 small rounds with the extra batter.  The recipe is awesome.  I absolutely LOVE the cake.  The frosting is a whipped white chocolate frosting and it is a really nice complement to the cake and I would absolutely make it again.  But it is not the Perfect Buttercream that I am searching for.  Also, the recipe said that if you refrigerate the cake it should be left at room temperature for 2 hours before being served.  We had it a room temperature day one.  But I really like the way the frosting tasted cold – so YMMV on that one.

 

Cake Recipe: (Adapted from Bake Me Blush)

  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg at reoom temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups ice water
  • 3 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Icing Recipe:

  • 6 oz white chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Prepare pans and set aside.  Because I was using an odd shaped pan I sprayed with baking Pam.  For the rounds the recipe states to add parchment paper and spray or butter.  I just sprayed and had no issues with sticking.

In a large bowl sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy 3 to 4 minutes.

Add sugar and vanilla and beat until fluffy, 3 minutes.

Scrape down bowl and add egg.  Beat until just incorporated.

Reduce speed to low.  Add flour mixture alternating with ice water in 3 separate additions. Scrape down and mix on low a few more seconds.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Take care not to overbeat.  Gently fold egg whites into batter.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans and smooth tops.  Bake 40-45 minutes until a toothpick in the center of each cake comes out clean.  DO NOT OVERBAKE.  The cakes will be gently pulling away from the sides of the pan.

 Transfer cakes to a wire rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes.

Invert cakes onto rack and remove from pans.  Allow to cool completely.

FROSTING DIRECTIONS:

In microwave at half power, melt white chocolate for 1 minute.  Stir and continue microwaving at 20 second increments until white chocolate is creamy.  Set aside.  Chocolate can also be melted on the stovetop in a glass bowl over gently simmering water.  Do not allow the bowl to touch the water.

In medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together sugar and flour.  Add milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly.  The recipe said to whisk occassionally.  Do not do that.  Put in the effort.  Don’t burn your sugar and have to start over.  Ask me how I know. . .  Actually, I didn’t start over, I just scooped out the brown bits and hoped for the best and it was fine 🙂   But still.  . . whisk until mixture has come to a boil and thickened.  About 20 minutes.  I’m not sure when the timing starts.  Certainly does not take 20 minutes to thicken after it comes to a boil.  Mine was completely thick from when I just began whisking to about 16 minutes.  I gave it the full 20 but really it didn’t change as far as I could see.  There was also no flour taste to cook off after that point either.

Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed until cool. You can feel the heat rising out of the bowl.  Just takes a few minutes to cool.

Reduce speed to low and add butter.  Mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Increase speed to medium high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy.   Add white chocolate and vanilla and continue mixing until combined.

Frost cakes and ENJOY!!!!

And please leave me your comments if you try this cake.  Or just think it looks like something fun to try. Or if you just want to be nice and let me know that you are out there 🙂

 

 

 

 

Birthdays are for the Birds

So, how cute is this cake??  It was for my husband’s birthday and he was out of town and I had NO IDEAS.  And I kept having NO IDEAS.  I had pretty much decided I was heading to the Cake Box and picking up 6 cupcakes the next day and calling it a night.  But at 10pm I found a recipe that I wanted to try.  I had all the ingredients.  It had glowing reviews (as are many people, I am in search of the perfect white cake).  When I made my girls’ 13th birthday cake (lemon, white and chocolate) I found a very strong white cake.  Absolutely perfect for fondant and we all liked it.  But hubby wasn’t sold.  Now remember, up until last year, this is the man who wanted the straight from a box, just add water Angel Food cake – so strong is not where is heart is.  So I was in search of light and airy tasting but with enough umph to hold up the fondant.  I know the cake would look soooo much better if it was big.  But I didn’t need big.  Also when you start baking at 10pm from scratch – well, let’s just say I’m too old to pull a cake all-nighter.  It also would have looked better with 2 layers of the square – but I only had one pan (and see earlier comments about lateness of hour and ingredients).  But back to perfect.  I love love love how it came out.  I found an inspiration picture and it just fit.  His favorite colors are red and blue.  He is a “bird guy” and we are both from Virginia (state bird Cardinal).  The cardinals are perfect.  I drew them free-hand on paper, cut them out, and then I traced around them with a knife in the red fondant.  Then I tweeked until they were right.  If they hadn’t been right nothing else would have mattered.  The tree branches and red petals are just piped free-hand with no particular plan.  I added the cardinals last.

The cake was wonderfully light.  And if I had had enough time to really let it cool and firm up it may have worked better, but I just popped it in the fridge with a crumb coat, threw in some hollow dowels for support and hoped for the best.  The lower layer in particular sagged a bit with just the fondant.  If it had been taller and I could have spread the weight of the fondant around more cake – may have been fine.   I really liked the taste (and I even messed up the recipe and added 2 sticks of butter rather than 1.5).  The frosting was an awesome whipped frosting.  Gorgeous, light, really tasty (well except to my one child who doesn’t like whipped cream – must be a texture thing).  If anyone wants the recipe – shoot me a comment and I will add it.

 

 

Perfectly Smooth Icing Tutorial

Perfectly Frosted Buttercream!!

Upside Down Icing Technique for Perfectly Smooth Icing Tutorial on Cake Central on Cakecentral.com.

So, I haven’t tried this.  But I saw it on www.cakecentral.com and thought hey. . . that’s an idea!  I am more than a little concerned about the FLIP.  But there is something oh so appealing about a perfectly smooth buttercream cake that makes me want to give it a go.  Especially since I have now seen two separate tutorials in the last 2 days about how to go about it.

The first one that I saw involved  VIVA paper towels and I just have a sinking suspicion that I would end up licking an awful lot of stuck buttercream off of a paper towel, and still have a crappy looking cake at the end of the day.

What does make me feel hopeful is that both methods involve a very hot spatula of some sort and I think I may be able to distill all the techniques down to that one simple element.

So, I’ll give it a go.  You give it a go.  And let’s meet back here to compare notes!

Enjoy!!

 

 

 

Not a Pie!

My husband felt that today’s post needed a recipe.  So as I sat here eating diet Jello Boston Cream Pie pudding (actually, quite good), I decided Boston Cream Pie recipe it is for the day.  I had never made one before his birthday last March.  I’m pretty sure that before I started my google search I thought he wanted me to make him a pie for his birthday.  My husband doesn’t make too many birthday requests so I tend to want to jump all over them when he does.  And if he wanted a pie, a pie it was.  After all, I had honored his request for years to make the same Angel Food cake from the box (just add water) that his mother made.  Whenever I’m in search of a no fail recipe (and have no time for testing) I tend to head either to Ina Garten or Martha Stewart.  I feel like they both vet their recipes quite thoroughly.  I don’t know if I couldn’t find a Contessa one — but Martha’s was SPECTACULAR!

So I thank you Martha!  You have come through for me again.

Enjoy!!!
Boston Cream Pie

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar, plus more for pan
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
  •  1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  •  3/4 teaspoon salt
  •  2 large eggs
  •  2 large egg yolks
  •  3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 7 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Pastry Cream Filling for Boston Cream Pie (recipe follows)

Directions

  1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make the cake: Lightly butter a 9-by-2-inch round cake pan, and line with parchment paper. Butter parchment, and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess; set aside.
  2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk eggs and egg yolks on medium speed for 1 minute. Gradually add sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat milk and butter until hot in a small saucepan over medium heat; being careful not to boil the milk. Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla. With mixer still running, slowly add hot milk to egg mixture. Gradually add flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, mixing until incorporated. Transfer to prepared pan.
  4. Bake until cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool for 15 minutes. Remove from pan, leaving the cake bottom-side up. Let cool completely.
  5. Make the glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring heavy cream to a boil. Place chocolate in a medium bowl, and pour cream over chocolate, stirring until chocolate is melted and well combined. Set aside to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.
  6. To assemble cake: Remove pastry cream from refrigerator. Beat with a stiff whisk until cream is smooth. Split cake in two even layers; spread bottom half with the pastry cream filling. Top with remaining layer. Pour glaze over center of cake, allowing it to spread, covering top and dripping down the sides. Chill cake for 20 minutes before serving.

Pastry Cream Filling

  •  2 cups milk
  •  1/2 cup sugar
  •  4 large egg yolks
  •  2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine milk and 1/4 cup sugar over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar until well combined. Whisk in vanilla and salt. Whisk in cornstarch, 1 tablespoon at a time, until fully incorporated. While whisking egg mixture constantly, slowly add 1 cup of the heated milk to the egg mixture. Strain this mixture into milk remaining in saucepan. Continue cooking over medium heat, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil, 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a medium bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, pressing wrap against the filling to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

 

 

 

Holy Chocolate Heaven Batman

I didn’t even use to LIKE chocolate and I CHOSE to drink Chardonnay.  But then you turn 40 and all of a sudden dark chocolate and Port start calling your name.  Why fight it?  It’s AWESOME.  So I went in search of the PERFECT CHOCOLATE CAKE.  You know the one.  The one that tastes better than the one out of a box that no one admits they use but that you actually do get to take credit for.  Yeah.  That one.  Found it.  Unfortunately, I am mostly convinced that the reason that it was so good was this tin of Godiva Dark Chocolate Truffle Hot Cocoa that I found in the cupboard – a hostess gift left undiscovered (ok maybe for years) so it may have magical properties than can never be duplicated.  But just know it really was worth the weight I put on.  And it is good enough and satisfying enough that you can eat one piece and be happy.  But I snuck back for extra slivers when no one was looking just cause . . .

I’m going to make it again.  A LOT.  But, I also going to change things.  First of all the cake kind of looks like a flat brownie out of the pan.  I like a little more height and PRESENCE.  So either I am going to make three  8″ layers instead of the two 9″ that the recipe called for.  Or I am going to go with the seriously small pans that make more of a statement with lots of layers and height.  Also I need a new cake stand.  That one is concave in the middle and it makes my cake look deflated.  Which bothers me.  I don’t think the couple of raspberries that I plopped in the middle (to disguise the divot) do the job.  Plus I have 4 kids and only 3 raspberries and, well, you know CONFLICT arose. 🙂

RECIPE:  Adapted slightly from Hershey’s Recipe

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup  BEST DARK CHOCOLATE COCOA THAT YOU CAN GET YOUR HANDS ON
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons  baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 2 extra large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup Canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare two 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper and nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Whisk dry ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer.
  4. Add eggs one at a time and mix lightly
  5. Add milk, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed 2 minutes.
  6. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).
  7. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  8. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Cool  10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.
  10. Cool completely.

CHOCOLATE FROSTING:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 2/3 cup SAME COCOA AS ABOVE
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon Pure vanilla extract

 Directions

  1. Melt butter and pour into bowl of stand mixer
  2. Stir in cocoa
  3. Alternate adding powdered sugar and milk
  4. Beat to spreading consistency
  5.  Stir in vanilla

ENJOY!!!

 

 

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