cake

Apple Cake

The past week has been a very eventful and exciting one.  A week ago today, we headed to the hospital to welcome this little guy into the world.  Despite his surprise arrival eight days early, we could not be happier that he is finally here.

Since the arrival of Carson, I haven’t been doing much cooking or baking.  Carson was born on Sunday and Ben’s parents and my mom made it to Amarillo in time to be some of the first to meet him.  My parents have been here since then and my mom has been making breakfast, lunch and dinner for us as well as cleaning up and doing laundry for me.  I don’t know how we’re going to survive once they leave this afternoon!  Thankfully Ben’s parents and Aunt Claire will be here on Tuesday, so we won’t be on our own for long.

Last night Patti brought over a pork roast, rolls and gravy; my mom made mashed potatoes and a salad; and my mom and I made this apple cake.  It was a simple dessert and I’m planning to make it again for Thanksgiving.  The ingredient list is short, and there are no special skills required to make this cake…which is more tart- or pie-like, really.  I found the recipe here on A Whisk and a Spoon.

We ate the cake with a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream.  It was the perfect combination.

Apple Cake

Courtesy of A Whisk and a Spoon

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved
  • 1 1/4 pounds (3 to 4 small to medium) Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 cup AP flour, plus mor for dusting the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line the base of an 8-inch springform pan with parchment, then smear with thick layer of butter. Dust with flour; turn pan over and tap lightly to remove excess flour.  Melt butter in small saucepan (you can take it a step further and lightly brown it, if you like). Set aside.
  2. Beat together eggs and half the sugar in a bowl (it’s not hard to do by hand). Continue to beat while slowly adding remaining sugar until thick; it should form a ribbon when dropped from a spoon.  Add the vanilla seeds to the batter and add the pod to the melted butter.
  3. Peel, quarter and core apples, then trim ends and slice thinly.
  4. Remove vanilla pod from butter and stir butter into egg-sugar batter. Combine the flour and baking powder, then stir it into batter alternately with milk. Stir in apples, coating every piece with batter. Pour batter into pan, using fingers to pat top evenly.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, then rotate pan; bake for about 25 minutes more, until cake pulls away from pan and is brown on top; a thin-bladed knife inserted into center will come out clean when it is done. Cool 30 minutes on a rack.
  6. Remove the sides of the springform, cut the cake into wedges and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Cold Oven Pound Cake

Another recipe from America’s Best Lost Recipes that I received for my birthday and where I got the recipe for the peach puzzle.

The only unexpected thing about this pound cake is the baking process.  The pan goes into a cold, as in DO NOT PREHEAT, oven.  It then cooks for an hour and a half.  I’m not sure if the time the cake is sitting in the heating oven is what creates such a nice crusty exterior, but that crust is lovely.  Encased within the crust is the soft, sweet, buttery cake that just melts in your mouth.

I absolutely love plain pound cake.  It’s for the same reason I would rather have a plain slice of cheesecake than one with caramel, chocolate or fruit sauce.  Simple is just the only way to go sometimes, and with pound cake you can focus on the textures and delicate sweet vanilla flavors instead of whatever extras are interfering.  I know even while I type this that sometime very soon I will probably have to eat my words and fall in love with some fancy pants pound cake.  But, for today at least, I am a plain pound cake lover.

The only complaint I have with this cake is that it gave me some trouble coming out of the pan.  I can grease and flour a pan with the best of them, but it still stuck…not terribly, but it wasn’t exactly picture perfect.  Despite this minor imperfection in appearance, the cake is delicious and definitely worth trying.

Cold Oven Pound Cake

America’s Best Lost Recipes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup skim milk (or 1%)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 3 cups sugar

Directions

  1. Grease and flour a 12-cup tube pan.
  2. Whisk flour and salt in a medium bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk milk, vanilla and egg yolks.  In a separate bowl beat egg whites to soft peaks.
  3. In a separate bowl beat butter, shortening and sugar on medium high until fluffy.
  4. Reduce speed to low and flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, in 4 batches, beating after each addition until just combined.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the egg whites.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and place in a COLD oven.
  6. Heat the oven to 300 F and bake for 45 minutes.  Increase the temperature to 325 and bake for an additional 45 minutes.
  7. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes, run a knife around the edge, then turn the cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Serve plain or with fresh berries and whipped cream.

1-2-3-4 Cake with Caramel Frosting

Have you ever made a 1-2-3-4 cake?  I hadn’t, or maybe just not noticed that I had, until yesterday.  “What is a 1-2-3-4 cake?” you ask.  It’s simple really.

1- cup of butter

2- cups of sugar

3- cups of flour

4- eggs

Of course there are other ingredients that accompany these 4, such as baking powder, salt, vanilla and milk.  What a great way to remember a recipe.  It reminds me of pound cake, in its original form, where you are to use a pound of each ingredient; butter, sugar, flour and eggs.  I have never made pound cake this way, but I feel like I should just to say that I’ve tried it.

I searched a bit into each of these cakes, and both seem to have arrived on the culinary scene in the mid to late 1700’s.  At this time, many people could not read, and so recipes that had easy to memorize ratios were perfect.  Originally the other ingredients were not used.  It was just the butter, sugar, flour and eggs.  I think the milk adds some moisture, the baking powder helps the rise, of course, and the vanilla is a lovely flavoring.  I used vanilla paste, so you can see little specks of vanilla bean in the cake layers.

The frosting recipe below is 150% of the original.  I found the original amount to be a little stingy, but I like frosting, so you may want to use the recipe here if you are not quite the frosting nut that I am.  There is a rich caramel flavor in this frosting that I think would be good on chocolate cake or cupcakes as well.

I found the cake and frosting recipe on recipeland.com, a site I just stumbled upon the other day.  It has TONS of recipes that make it a little daunting to sift through.  This recipe had no reviews, so I was a little hesitant to try it.  I am glad that I did because it was not only easy, but pretty tasty as well.  The cake was pretty crumbly, but it was sturdy and had good flavor.  The frosting is delicious, but very sweet, so its not the kind of frosting you just lick off the spoon.  Other people do that, right?  Anyway…good cake.  Try it.

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Chocoflan Cake

My mom sent this recipe to me.  I discovered in talking with her today that the reason she sent it to me is because she was too scared to try it out herself.  I have become the recipe guinea pig, and I am totally OK with that.

There’s always a little bit of uncertainty when trying a new recipe and it helps to know that someone else has tried it with good results.  It really helps to know that someone you know and trust has tried it.  I am often skeptical of some online reviews because I don’t know if the people writing the reviews are clueless in the kitchen and totally botched a perfectly good recipe, OR if the person likes anything they eat because they lack good taste and taste buds.  So, send me your iffy recipes and I will try them and give you my honest opinion…if that means anything.

This cake is half chocolate cake and half flan.  Well, more like 60% chocolate cake and 40% flan.  Regardless, chocolate cake + flan = crazy delicious.  A bundt pan is filled with a thin layer of cajeta, topped with a chocolate cake batter and finished off with a flan type mixture that makes it way down to the bottom of the pan during the baking process.  This creates the layer of creamy flan on top of the cake which when inverted is topped with the sweet and decadent cajeta.

I topped the finished cake with toasted pecans.  It could be served with some sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  This cake was a hit at the small group we had at our house last night.  It was such a hit that we had a mere slice left over. (more…)

Hot Chocolate Layer Cake

A while back I lost my Canon camera in a horrific flood.  A water bottle mysteriously opened in my purse, drowning and destroying my camera.  Anyway, for a while I took pictures with my iPhone.  Not spectacular, but sufficient photos.  Then, Ben bought me a Sony camera that has served me well for the last 4 months.  Two days ago the screen went bright white resulting in a visit to Best Buy where they told me there was nothing they could do, and that I would have to send it in for repair.

I can still take pictures, but just can’t see what the pictures looks like until I load them onto my computer.  The photo below is the result of such a photo session.  Two usable photos out of about 25 total taken.  Not a great ratio.  I could not tell what was in the shot, how the lighting was, if I needed flash, if the zoom was too much, or how the focus turned out.  This is just not a way to take pictures!

Despite my camera woes, this cake was fun to make, not too terribly complicated, a great presentation cake, and quite delicious.  The marshmallows dusted with cocoa make the cake look like an actual mug of hot chocolate.

I absolutely love Fine Cooking magazine.  I have yet to make something from it that I haven’t liked.  This cake is on the cover of the current issue, and I could not resist its rich chocolate-y layers and fluffy white marshmallows.  I made it for Christmas dinner.  Here is the link to the recipe.

The cake is moist, the frosting is rich and creamy, and the marshmallows are heavenly, ooey-gooey goodness.  This is a rich and decadent cake.

The marshmallows are the most time consuming aspect of this dessert, but well worth the time and effort.  I considered buying pre-packaged mallows, but my wise mother-in-law convinced me to make the real thing.  It does make a difference, and the marshmallows are a lovely contrast to the rich chocolate cake and frosting.

Hot Chocolate Layer Cake

(courtesy of Fine Cooking magazine and Rebecca Rather)

For the cake

  • 6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 4-1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2-1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

For the frosting

  • 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
  • 6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 oz. (2 cups) natural unsweetened cocoa powder; more for decorating
  • 1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

For the marshmallows

  • Three 1/4-oz. envelopes unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar; more as needed

Make the cake

  1. Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 9×2-inch round cake pans and line each with a parchment round. Butter the parchment, then dust with flour and knock out the excess.
  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the butter, oil, chopped chocolate, and 1 cup water. Heat over medium heat until melted.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. Pour the hot chocolate mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk until combined.
  4. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.
  5. Set two pans on the top rack and the third on the lower rack. Stagger the pans on the oven racks so that no pan is directly over another. Bake, swapping and rotating the pans’ positions after 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on racks for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.

Make the frosting

  1. In a 4-quart saucepan over low heat, combine the cream, butter, and vanilla bean and seeds and stir until the butter is melted.
  2. Remove the vanilla bean and whisk in the chopped chocolate until melted.
  3. Whisk in the sugar, cocoa powder, syrup, and salt until smooth—be sure the cocoa powder dissolves completely.
  4. Pour into a 9×13-inch pan and freeze until firm, about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Make the marshmallows

  1. Pour 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment.
  2. Clip a candy thermometer to a 3-quart saucepan; don’t let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan. In the saucepan, boil the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water over medium heat without stirring until it reaches 234°F to 235°F, about 10 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin in a slow, thin stream.
  3. Add the vanilla, carefully increase the speed to high, and beat until the mixture has thickened and cooled, about 5 minutes (the bottom of the bowl should be just warm to the touch). Line a 9×13-inch pan with foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides. Sift 1 Tbs. of the confectioners’ sugar into the bottom of the pan, then pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan and sift another 1 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar on top. Let sit at room temperature until set, at least 2 hours.

Assemble the cake

  1. Remove the frosting from the freezer or refrigerator. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes to soften. Change to a whisk attachment and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Put a cake layer on a flat serving platter or a cake stand lined with strips of waxed paper to keep it clean while icing. Top the layer with 1-1/2 cups of the frosting, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula to the cake’s edge. Repeat with another cake layer and 1-1/2 cups frosting. Top with the last cake layer.
  3. Put 1-1/2 cups of the frosting in a small bowl. With an offset spatula, spread this frosting in a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake until the frosting firms enough to seal in the crumbs, 20 to 30 minutes.
  4. Spread the remaining frosting in a smooth layer over the top and sides of the cake. If necessary, you can rewhip the remaining frosting to loosen and lighten it. Remove the waxed paper strips.
  5. Use the foil overhang to lift the marshmallow from the pan. Using a knife that has been dipped in cold water, cut along the edge of the marshmallow to release it from the foil. Transfer to a cutting board and remove the foil.
  6. Put the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl.
  7. Cut the marshmallow into cubes of different sizes, from 1/4 to 3/4 inch (you will need to continue to dip the knife in cold water as you cut the marshmallows). The marshmallows will be very sticky—dip the cut edges in the confectioners’ sugar to make them easier to handle. As you work, toss a few cubes at a time in the sugar to coat, then shake in a strainer to remove the excess.
  8. Mound the marshmallows on top of the cake (you’ll need only a third to half of them). Sift some cocoa powder over the marshmallows.

Italian Cream Cake & “Happy Birthday Ben!”

I love my husband.  I love when he has a birthday because I get to shower him with gifts, and a special birthday dinner.  I really love that his favorite cake is Italian cream because that is also MY favorite cake!  What are the chances?  We were meant to be.  So, when November 30th rolls around I have a great reason to make this cake.  It is so perfect.

icc1I have several recipes for this cake.  All 3 are from mothers of my college friends.  They are hand written and marked with water, cake batter, and one is even scorched on the edge.  I love when recipes get like that.  I like to see the differences in recipes and figure out how those differences effect the end product.  With these recipes however, the ingredients and processes are almost identical.  This leaves me to conclude that over time this recipe has been perfected and therefore should not be messed with.

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Buttermilk Butternut Squash Spice Cake

squashcake12

Vegetables are so versatile.  They can be enjoyed raw, roasted, steamed, fried, sautéed, boiled, and surely a few ways I’ve neglected to mention.  One of my favorite things about vegetables is that they can be enjoyed as a savory side dish, an entrée or in a sweet baked good.  The butternut squash in this cake adds moisture and texture, and a very subtle flavor of squash that is a nice complement to the tart buttermilk and sweet vanilla and spices.

I used a traditional bundt pan, which I greased and sugared.  This is my new favorite way to prep a pan for baked goods.  I used this method on a pan of blondies yesterday that came out beautifully.  The two batches I tried before stuck like crazy, but this sugaring thing seems to be pretty foolproof.

The batter was smooth and smelled wonderful even before it was baked.  I used 3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice in the batter because I was out of ginger.  I think it worked well and still provided the fall spice flavor.

This is an easy recipe that can be prepared ahead of time since it needs to cool before applying the glaze.

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Raspberry Buttermilk Cake, My Cute Nephew and My Crazy Husband

The flavor of this cake was absolutely delicious, and slightly sweet.  The tartness of the raspberries is lovely.  The texture was wonderfully moist with a nice tender crumb.  I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen.  I was disappointed that mine did not end up looking as beautiful as hers, but I am sure I will make this cake again, so we’ll see if I can improve on the appearance.  I followed her recipe and instructions completely except that I added a cap-full, about 1/4 teaspoon, of almond extract just because I love the flavor of almond.  I served this cake when my parents came through Amarillo after dinner.

buttermilk1

It was a light cake, perfect all by itself, no whipped cream needed.  I used turbinado sugar instead of white granulated sugar and loved the crunch it provided.  This cake is so easy to prepare and has simple ingredients most people have on hand.  The buttermilk is also non-essential since you can make your own buttermilk in 10 minutes with regular milk and some lemon juice or vinegar.

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