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Archive for September, 2019

September…

… Leads us to cake 9!

As far as recipes go, the cake is actually a repeat of the mermaid cake I did much earlier this year. However, the challenge of the resolution is all about trying different techniques, and this one was for another form of icing: hombre. I still have a long way to go in terms of achieving smooth finishes, but it was still an overall success.

For the cake, you need:

  • 14 tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups milk, room temp
  • 4 egg whites, room temp

Heat the oven to 350. Grease the sides and bottom of 2 9×2 inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment and grease the parchment, while you’re at it.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream the butter, vanilla, and 1 cup sugar. Start with the mixer on low to combine, then bump it up to medium high and go until the mixture is light and fluffy. Turn the speed back to low to lessen the mess, and beat in half the flour, then half the milk. Repeat once more with the other halves of the flour and milk. Increase the speed again to medium-high and go until the mixture is smooth and glossy, about a minute.

Beat those egg whites on medium-high (make sure your bowl and beaters are clean) until nice and foamy. Slowly add the leftover 1/3 cup of sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold half of these into the batter, then fold in the rest. Divide evenly between your 2 prepared pans.

Bake until lightly browned, the cakes begin to shrink from the sides, and the trusty tester comes out clean (25-35 minutes). Cool in the pans set on a rack for 15 minutes, then loosen edges and turn out onto the rack to cool completely. And don’t forget to peel off the parchment!

While cooling, make some heart-stopping buttercream. Also known as buttercream. You need:

  • 4 sticks unsalted butter (yup, that much)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla

Beat the butter and salt on medium-high until smooth and fluffy. Turn it down to low, and beat in the sugar 1 cup at a time. When incorporated, increase the speed to medium-high and beat in the remaining 4 cups. Go until fluffy, then beat in the milk and vanilla until smooth.

Let’s assemble! Level the cakes with a serrated knife. Then, cut the cakes in half to make a total of four layers. It helps to hold the serrated knife horizontally against the middle of the cake and just turn it on a turntable to score it, then you can just cut the cake all the way through using that line as a guide. Spread 2/3 cup frosting on one of the cakes with an offset spatula, then top with another layer. Repeat with the remaining layers, but turn the top layer upside down for a smooth finish. Spread a thin layer of icing over the entire cake-your crumb coat, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remember, doesn’t have to be pretty at this point.

Cover just the top with more plain frosting. Then, divide the icing among 3 bowls. Using your color of choice, tint a dark and light shade, leaving the third bowl white. Use an offset spatula and spread the dark frosting around the bottom of the cake. Repeat with the lighter shade, then finish with the white on top. Use a bench scraper or offset spatula to smooth the frosting together, spinning on a turntable as you go.

As I was saying, I still need to work toward totally smooth icing. However, the effect and, more importantly, the taste were there. Oh darn. An excuse to keep practicing…

*sc

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August…

… = you guessed it, cake 8! Since the end of summer and strawberry season is upon us, I decided to end summer with a classic fruity throwback-the chiffon cake. I’ve never eaten one (to my knowledge) and certainly never made one, but they are pretty much a snap. Break out your Pink Ladies jacket, and let’s get baking.

For a “Pretty in Pink” Chiffon Cake from Moosewood, you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 7 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 strained pureed strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated lemon peel

I would start by pureeing your chosen berries in the blender or food processor, then pressing them through a fine strainer.

Get the oven going to 325, and grease/flour a tube pan. If you’re unfamiliar, a tube pan is basically an angel food cake pan. You could probably use a Bundt, but it might be difficult to turn the cake out with all the nooks and crannies.

Sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the egg yolks and oil, but don’t mix.

In your stand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and confectioners’ sugar, and beat until very stiff. However, stop before the whites get dry and flaky.

Beat the egg and flour mixture you made earlier, then slowly add the strawberry puree, lemon juice/peel and beat until just blended. It will look… Interesting.

Gently fold in a small amount of the egg whites into the glowing pink batter. Then, over the course of 5-6 additions, fold this batter into your bowl with the egg whites. It should look light and bubbly; visible remaining egg whites are encouraged.

Slowly pour the batter into your pan and bake for 25 minutes. Then, bump up the heat to 350 and bake another 20-25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. The cake should rise nicely, and its crazy pink hue will lessen considerably.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack to cool to the touch. When it has done so, let it cool completely on your serving plate.

Meantime, make some easy sauce.

Combine two cups sliced strawberries, 1 tbsp lemon juice (I ended up using lime in the sauce-delicious), and as much sugar as you like (less is more…) in a bowl. Let it sit at room temp for at least half an hour while the cake cools.

Slice up your cake and top with whipped cream and strawberry sauce.

Nostalgia aside, this definitely tops the strawberry shortcake I grew up with that used those premade, tiny, gummy cakes. For an end of summer treat, it’s hard to go wrong with strawberries and cake that is light as air thanks to all those egg whites- gumminess be gone! Buy yourself a dozen eggs and get cracking (and make a giant omelet, while you’re at it).

*sc

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