Sunday, July 31, 2011

Classic Yellow Cake

I went back and forth on what sort of cake to make for my final Wilton class this week. I went looking through my new King Arthur Flour cookbook and found this recipe for classic yellow cake. Hmmm, a yellow cake from scratch? Sounds like a delicious way to spend an afternoon. If only it wasn't 105 degrees outside it would be that much better. On a side note, can we please please please get some rain??????? I am totally dying in this heat and cake baking is just so hard when it's this hot and dry. I think I need a summer home in a place that's not so hot. Anyone got any recommendations? :) j/k I love my little town just maybe I would love it a lot more if it rained (at all) and was say below 100 occasionally. I'm not picky just hot.

Alright enough of my rambling about this heat and onto the cake recipe. It really is a delicious cake that isn't overly sweet and has a fine grain like a cake from a bakery. Definitely a keeper in my book. :)


Classic Yellow Cake
King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:
  • 1 and 1/2 sticks butter (12 tbsp)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, buttermilk, or yogurt

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the pans.
  • In a large stand mixer, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, and vanilla extract until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the eggs to the butter mixture one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Alternately add 1/3 of flour, 1/2 of milk, 1/3 flour, rest of milk, and rest of flour into butter mixture, beating after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl throughout the entire process.
  • Pour batter into two 8 inch greased cake pans.
  • Bake at 350 for 25- 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes clean.
  • Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wilton Class 3

This is more of a traditional decorated cake. It reminds me a lot of a traditional Wilton cake. I had fun making all the drop flowers and roses. And learned just how important it is to use Amerigel Super red food color to get that beautiful red color.

I am amazed at how far I have come in terms of icing and making flowers in just three short weeks. And I just learned how to make the roses in the final class so I feel very proud of those.



A view from the top. :)


Stay tuned for Course 2 pictures next week. :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Zebra Print Purse Cake

Here's a picture of the cake I made in class today. It was my first time using fondant ever. I had so much fun and came home with a super cute cake. :)


The handle still has to dry in order to completely set on top of the cake since it's made with gum paste and we only had about 3 hours for the class. Ideally, it needs about a day to dry but I just had to share a picture of the cake with you all. :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Banana Bread

I have been craving some banana bread since I got Joanne Chang's cookbook for my birthday. The pictures in her cookbook are so mouth-watering, I want to make everything! But I had to choose one to start with and I chose this amazing banana bread and it was amazing. A perfect first choice to make. It is moist and has the perfect texture of a sweet bread. It just melts in your mouth. 
 

Banana Bread
by Joanne Chang

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 1/2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped

Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 325.
  • Thoroughly grease a 9x5 loaf pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, soda, cinnamon, and salt together. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer with the whip attachment, beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for roughly 5 minutes until light and fluffy.
  • Put mixer on low speed and gradually drizzle in oil. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn't deflate all the air you just whipped into the eggs. 
  • Add the bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla and continue to mix until just incorporated.
  • Using a spatula, flour in the flour mixture and nuts until just combined. No flour streaks should be visible. 
  • Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
  • Bake at 325 for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The center should spring back when you press on it. 
  • Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. 
Enjoy! 


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Creme Fraiche

As I was reading my new cookbook, Flour by Joanne Chang, I felt like I was getting an education in french dessert making. The book is written to both inform and inspire you in your everyday baking.

One secret I absolutely loved was to use creme fraiche in your baking, it will make all the difference.  Creme fraiche is popular in France but not so much in America. I have never heard of it before receiving this book. I trusted Joanne when she wrote that this is a "magic" ingredient in her baking. And you know what, she's right. It's that little touch that takes your food from great to fabulous. It's so easy to make too, love that!

Creme Fraiche:
recipe from Joanne Chang

Ingredients:
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons buttermilk
Directions:
  • Just add 4 tablespoons of buttermilk to a quart of heavy cream. 
  • Let stand at warm room temperature overnight (or at least 10 hours). 
  • Stir in the morning and it should be rich and creamy. 
  • If it's still liquidy, re-cover and continue to let it sit in a warm spot. Check every hour or so until it thickens. 
  • When it has a good thick but easy to stir consistency, cover it tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
That's it, super easy!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wilton Class 2

Here are a couple of pictures of the flower cupcakes we made in class this morning. I love how our instructor changed up the colors and we got to make sunflowers this morning.



 Up close and personal with the cupcakes...





Here is a picture of all the cupcakes I made. I attempted to make a lamb, a fish, and a teddy bear as well as the flowers. I do think they need some icing on the top of the cupcake before the animals. Perhaps next time. :)


 Stay tuned for my two tier cake next week! :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Skinny White/Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Long name for a cookie, huh? But whatever you call them, they won't disappoint! These bite-size little darlings are soft on the inside and have a nice crunchy bottom, making them a hit in my book. I do hope you find the time to try them yourself!

Hubby and I were at Sprouts grocery store yesterday and I happened upon a barrel of swirled white and dark chocolate chips. I told him that I must have them to make cookies! He never objects when cookies are the final outcome. I do love that man.

Here are the chocolate chips I found. Kind of reminds me of zebra stripes. I guess I'm into black and white this month. :)


So I turned to my trusty Google Reader and went in search for some recipes. I love that Lisa from Sweet as Sugar Cookies ( Chocolate Chip Cookie Winner ) did a whole comparison of chocolate chip cookies recently but the winning recipe(s) make you wait overnight to let the dough meld together. I wasn't that patient today. :)
Joanne Chang's cookies are up next time when I have more patience. :)

I also saw a recipe for skinny chocolate chip cookies on Finding Joy in My Kitchen Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies.
You mean I could have my cookie fix and be somewhat healthy? Had to try that for sure. And no chilling time. Bonus!
So off we go...


Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed and divided
  • a little over 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • Cream butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar together.
  • Add the rest of the brown sugar (1/2 cup) to the mixer and mix to combine.
  • Add egg and vanilla and cream together until smooth.
  • Slowly add in flour mixture and mix until well-blended.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Scoop onto greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
  • Let cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wilton Class Number 1

So this is the cake we made in my Wilton decorating class this morning. My instructor is great and I can't wait to go back next week!
The main thing we focused on was learning how to properly ice a cake and get the icing the right consistency. I can't wait to decorate cupcakes next week and keep practicing all the fun techniques I'm learning.


I'm dying to make another cake now just to practice my icing skills. :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zebra (marbled) Cake

Oh the joys of cake baking.

For my birthday, I decided to make a zebra cake. The definition of the cake just looked too cool to pass up and I didn't want a plain cake this year. So I did all the pouring and alternating and the batter did look like a zebra cake. I put it in the oven thinking I got this. I rock. But about 10 minutes into it (I was peeking through the oven window), I see the outer layers melding together. UGH!! No distinct definition. But the middle looked like the stripes of a zebra. So I guess I got it half right. :)

My plan to drizzle it with chocolate ganache fell through when it came out of the oven all outer edges messed up. So I decorated it with vanilla buttercream decorated with buttercream swirled roses. Turned out pretty elegant. Gorgeous.


Zebra Cake
Adapted from Baking Bites

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp black cocoa

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Line a 9 inch round cake paper with parchment paper and grease the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together four, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  • Mix eggs and sugar together in mixer. Beat well until mixture is light and creamy and the sugar has mostly dissolved.
  • Stir in milk, vegetable oil, vanilla, and almond extract. Mix to combine.
  • Pour flour mixture into wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Measure out just over 2 cups of batter and place it back in the medium bowl.
  • Add black cocoa to the batter in the mixer and stir to combine. 
  • Put 3 tbsp of vanilla batter in the center of the prepared cake pan. Let it spread on its own. 
  • Put 3 tbsp of chocolate batter in the center of the vanilla batter. It will push the other batter out slightly and will spread itself. 
  • Alternate spoonfuls of the two batters, repeating until all the batter is used up. 
  • Bake for 38-42 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  • Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then turn out the cake and remove the parchment paper. Re-invert onto a wire rack and let cool before serving or frosting. 
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
I am Baker
  • 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 6 - 8 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (clear works best)
Directions:
  • Place the butter in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. 
  • On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes. 
  • Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar. 
  • Spread a crumb coat on top of the cake and refrigerate for about an hour.
  • Once frosted cake is cooled, add a second thin layer of icing to the crumb coat hiding all the crumbs. 
  • Using a 1M tip, pipe swirled roses on top of the icing. Start from the middle and swirl outward. Continue making roses on the cake until the cake is covered. If you have open spots, pipe a small swirl with the same tip.
  • If the cake gets too warm and the roses are melting, pop back in the fridge for 10 - 15 minutes to cool down. 
Here's I am Baker's tutorial on the rose cake if you want step by step pictures. :)
http://iammommy.typepad.com/i_am_baker/2011/02/rose-cake-tutorial.html


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy...

Birthday to me! And I couldn't resist trying out a new cake design to celebrate.Check out a few of the pictures while I head out to celebrate with a day of shopping at my favorite places with my favorite guy. :)



Isn't it so elegant and pretty? Just the birthday cake for this birthday girl.

Check back later for the cake and icing recipes.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cupcake Order

Just a few pictures of my latest cupcake order. I finally finished them this morning. My piping skills are getting better. :)

The gold ones are lemon poppy seed with vanilla buttercream frosting.

The pink ones are vanilla bean with raspberry filling and vanilla buttercream.

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes


The humidity did something to my cookies and caused my royal icing to bubble and pop as it dried. I tried to get all the air bubbles out but they kept forming. Argh!
Here's a picture of the cookies:




 

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