Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Perfece Cake, period.

Boy was I shocked to start visiting peoples blogs, only to realize today was the day to post the daring baker's challenge!

Well, I'm sure you know by now this months recipe Is the Perfect Party Cake, hosted by Morven.

The original recipe is a 4 layer white cake, with raspberry jam filling and white buttercream frosting, with a hint of lemon. Our hostess, Morven, let us take are creativity and do what we wanted with the cake. I was really excited since it didn't sound quite like my sort of cake.

I decided to keep the white cake, eliminating the lemon and using just vanilla extract, I then brushed each layer with a simple syrup spiked with a little rum. On each layer I used pastry cream and cover that with chocolate ganache. I added cocoa powder and melted semi-sweet and milk chocolate to the buttercream to make it chocolate, since cake isn't the same without chocolate frosting. (unless it's cream cheese, which was my second idea I never got to try)


Thanks SO MUCH Morven!!

Original recipe:
Perfect Party Cake:
For the Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour (updated 25 March)
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves.
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.

The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Brunch & Dessert at Auntie Regina's

Yesterday was the brunch and I had so much fun! Me and my mom got up at 5:45 in the morning to prepare everything and get ready for Easter Mass. I pulled my dinner rolls from the fridge and shaped them, mom boiled the ham so she could bake it later. We straightened the house a bit and got ready for mass, which was at 7:30. By the time we got home it was already 8:30 and we had work to do!

First, we got all the meats cooked:

Roast Beef- I didn't get a close up, since I'm not a roast beef fan...

And mine, Roast Pork-

All the meat on the table:


Then we had to set the cinnamon rolls out:

Bake the French toast casserole(bad picture alert! Mom kept yelling at me because the guests were hungry...and it was SOOOO good, definitely one of my favorite!!):

The rolls didn't come out looking as good as I'd hope, but they tasted delicious. We had a lot of other thing in the oven, the doors were being opened and closed a lot to check on the other things, so I blame that, partially. You can see the tops didn't brown very well:

Even after we were totally stuffed from our own food, (which we had at 11:00 AM) We went to my amazing aunt's for dessert!
She served a torte cover with whipped cream and layered with coffee icing:

A delicious Babka, which I'm pretty sure is from my new favorite book by Carole Walter ^_-


A Banana bundt cake with chocolate chips, whic I didn't have the pleasure of trying because I was to stuffed:

And strawberry cupcakes, cute and delicious!

Overall I think the guests had a great time. The really, really loved the food and everyone went back for seconds, some thirds. I enjoyed everything and it's sad it has to end. We have a tone of leftovers though, so it'll last for a few days! Haha....I think I'm going to skip cereal for breakfast today and eat a cinnamon bun, since it's still sort of a holiday...<3

But wait! I can't leave without giving the recipe for the Blueberry Cream cheese Coffee cake, since I was asked. It was YUMMY by the way. Everyone loved it, especially my brother and sister, and cousin

Taken from Sunset magazine, 2005:

1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed, or frozen blueberries
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. water
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 stick cold butter, cut into chunks
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
3/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 egg
1/2 cup sliced almonds

In a small saucepan, bring the blueberries and apple juice to a boil. Lower heat, and cook until blueberries pop, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tsp. of water. Add to the popped blueberries, and stir until blueberries are thick.

In another bowl, whisk together flour and sugar. Add the butter chunks and cut in butter, with either a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the mixture looks crumbly. Save half a cup of this mixture and set aside for later use.
To the larger half of the mixture, add baking powder, baking soda, salt and grated lemon peel.

In a seperate bowl, mix together yogurt, 1 egg and vanilla until well blended. Stir into flour/baking powder mixture just until incorperated, and the flour is all moisterized. Spread batter in the buttered 9-inch springform pan evenly.

Nows the time to take that 1/2 cup of the flour mixture. To the mixture, add cream cheese, 1 egg, sugar and lemon juice. Mix well with a fork. Spread cream cheese mixture over batter. Spread blueberry mixture over cream cheese mixture, leaving some of the cream cheese visible. Bake for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees. About 30 minutes through, or when the cake only has 10 minutes left, open the oven on spread streusel around the edges of the pan, with only a thin layer in the middle. Bake the rest of the way.

Streusel topping (from Carole Walter, because the part in the magazine made NO sense!! Tjis way it came out great)

3-4 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2cup sliced almonds, if desired

Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt in a bowl using a whisk. Add almond, floding well until incorperated. Melt buter in a saucepan of med-low heat, keeping an eye that the butter doesn't burn. Let butter cool slightly. Add flour mixture to the butter and use a fork to stir until crumbly.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Prepping for Easter Brunch: Part 3


Does it even need words? Seriously. I really wish I could upload smells to this blog, it would be so popular then! I nose was driving me crazy the whole time I was baking today, and I can't wait to eat it all up tomorrow!


And speaking of smell, this cake smelt so good. The lemon with the cream cheese and blueberry is to die for! I have no idea how the cake tastes, but the batter before it cooks is so good I would eat over pudding any day. It sits all pretty on it's cake dome tomorrow:


And the extra frosting is so yummy to lick, me and my sister had a ball...

There are 45 cinnamon rolls in total, not including the tasters we baked in a muffin tin and ate today. :)


And last week when I wasn't baking I was sewing! I was working an Irish dance dress for St. Patricks Day. I don't think I've ever mentioned I'm an Irish dancer, but I am!

Here's a picture of me in my dress, in the kitchen where I do all my baking:

And with my sister, in the dress she made:


For now, Happy Easter!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Prepping for Easter Brunch: Part 2

Okay, so here's an update, with pictures! =3

We bought Easter yellow tulips and my dad finally made a (beautiful) coffee table for my mom, and my sister painted it:


We got Easter azaleas:


We got the cutest bunny salt and pepper shakers:


Are French Toast Casserole is soaking in the fridge, awaiting it's oh-so-buttery praline topping:


The Roast Pork is sitting in the fridge (and it smells so good!):



And I'm baking all day tomorrow, so I need a good night sleep! We rented August Rush, so I'm gonna sit down with Mommy and Daddy and watch it!

See you tomorrow with fresh baked cinnamon rolls, coffee cake and raisin bread!

Prepping for Easter Brunch

So, it starts today! 3 days of cooking and baking, all to get ready for Easter. We're and Easter brunch. There will be 14 people in total. My mother and father, 2 brothers and 1 sister, then my 3 cousin and 2 of their husbands and the one's fiance, then my aunt and uncle and myself.

So far, the cinnamon roll dough is sitting in the fridge. The dinner roll dough is sitting in the fridge. My mommy put the pineapples and cherries on tooth picks, getting them ready for the ham she's making. We've bought our favorite French bread for the French Toast Casserole. Tomorrow I'll bake the cinnamon rolls, a coffee cake, and I'm going to see if I can fit in some cinnamon-sugar swirl raisin bread in the evening, so it'll be fresh for Sunday morning.

I'll update later today or tomorrow when I have more.



And here's an update on the menu. We've made a few changes since I last posted it.

I'm making:
Cinnamon Rolls
Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake
Apple-Cranberry roasted Pork
Dinner Rolls
Cinnamon-sugar Swirl Raisin Bread

Mom's making:
French Toast Casserole
Roast Beef With Roasted Potatoes
Ham with Pineapples and Cherries
Green Bean Casserole
Canned Fruit cocktail
Canned Celery Gravy

Drinks: Coffee, Tea, Soda, Milk and Orange Juice

YUM! I can't wait!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Marbled Gifts

I have four friends, whom I love dearly. Two of them are sisters name Sarah and Heather, the sweetest girls you'll ever meet. The other two are a couple named Tom and Kris. Kris is sort of my adopted Godmother, as she was my sponsor when I made my Confirmation. Tom is a Deacon at my church, also adopted Godfather. I love them all so much, and what says I love you better than a home-baked gift? Especially one with chocolate!





All wrapped up and ready to be given! I can't wait to see if they like them tomorrow. This is the Marbled Pound Cake, from Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More. It has a shelf life of around 5 days, so I thought this would work best as a gift. It tastes great too. Had to save one for myself...ya'know, couldn't give something away not knowing if it tasted good or not!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Easy & Yummy Chocolate Bread Pudding

I feel awful having not updated my blog in over a week! I kept thinking about my poor blog, being neglected. I decided I needed to give it some love today, so I had to make some something chocolaty...ya'know, for the blog. -cough-

This bread pudding is yummy and chocolaty. It's slightly crisp on top, and pudding-like on the bottom, with melted chocolate all over and cinnamon-sugar goodness.



The recipe follows:

Easy & Yummy Chocolate Bread Pudding
Serves 2 (or one, if you're hungry!)
Calls for 6-inch round baking pan

3-4 slices white bread, such as Wonder Bread
2 1/2 - 3 tbs. butter, melted
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 tsp. cocoa powder (add 1/4 tsp. more for extra chocolate-ness)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 Chips Ahoy Chocolate Chip Cookies, finely crumbled (Or a similar crunchy CC cookie)
2/3 cup milk
1 egg, beaten with a fork
1 tsp. sugar
Semi-sweet choclate chips, as desired. (About a handful)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6-inch baking pan with butter or margarine.

In a bowl whisk together sugars, cocoa, cinnamon and cookie crumbs, until well distributed. Set aside.

Melt the butter. Using a toaster, toast the bread slices, then cut each piece of bread into fours.
One at a time, dip the first four mini-slices into the butter, then place in the bottom of pan. Sprinkle with sugar mixture, and about a tablespoon of the chocolate chips. Continue this until you've used all your bread.

In another bowl, beat the egg, then add the 1 tsp sugar and 2/3 cup milk.

Pour milk mixture into pan, letting it fall over each piece of bread. Place the pan on a baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 23 minutes.

(You may have leftover sugar mixture, but it tastes very good on toast!)

And just because I haven't posted in a week it doesn't mean I didn't bake anything! Last saturday I made a delicious coffee cake from my new book. Unfortunately the camera wouldn't cooperate with me and I couldn't get a good, clear picture. Here's an idea of what it looked like though. You can tell it sunk in the middle a bit. It certainly didn't take away from the taste!


Happy ST. Patrick's day everyone!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Swedish Tea Ring

I did it. I went out and bought Carole Walter's Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More. After seeing it at my aunts house I knew I had to have it! It such a wonderful book. My family and I will be eating well for quite a while! Good thing we're all passed the sugar making us hyper.
Swedish Tea Ring

Yesterday I put together the Rich Sour Cream Dough, that needs to sit in the fridge overnight. Today I turned it into the Swedish Tea Ringe, and because I so wanted to try one of the streusel toppings, and made that too, and threw it on before baking. Topping it all off, I used her Orange Glaze instead of vanilla, because I love orange!

Swedish Tea Ring (please ignore the background in this photo)
Swedish Tea Ring

Here's the recipe. Now, the swedish tea ring doesn't call for the streusel, but that's what I used, and if you use only half the dough, you only need half the recipe for the streusel. It also calls for vanilla glaze, but I liked the orange. This took forever to type!

The Following recipes are taken from Carole Walter's Book: Great Coffee Cakes, Sticky Buns, Muffins & More. Please support her by buying the book! It's definitely worth every penny.
Rich Sour Cream Dough

4 tablespoon of sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour spooned and leveled, (plus 1/4 cup for hand method)
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, plus 1 tsp soft butter for brush top of dough
2 larg eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla exctract

In a large bowl, whisk together the 3 cups of flour, 3 tablespoons of the sugar, and salt. Add the cubed butter. Using you hands or a pastry blender, work in the butter until the mixture looks like fine meal. Make a well in the center.
Disolve the yeast and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in the warm water, making sure it's activated. Using a fork blend together sour cream, eggs, vanilla. Poor the cream mixture and the yeast mixture into the well. Using a wooden spoon, slowly work the crumbs into the liquids, mixing until all the ingedients are incorporated and a rough dough is formed. Sprinkle the work surface with 2 tablespoom flour. Turn the dough onto the floured surface, add the remaining 2 tablespoons flour and knead until smooth. Note: This is a soft dough!

Lightly butter a bowl for storing the dough. Place the dough into the bowl and brush the top with soft butter. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator over night. This dough may be kept in the fridge tightly covered for up to 3 days.

Swedish Tea Ring (Note: This recipe only uses half the rich sour cream dough. I doubled the following so I could use all my dough. Mine took long to bake, and I had to cover with tin foil for the last 10 minutes or so.)

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 recipe rich sour cream dough
about 1 tablespoon melted butter

In a bowl, combine the sugars and cinnamon. Set aside. Removce the dough from the refrigerator and knead the cold dough 6-8 times. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 9 x 16 inch rectangle, with the 16 inch side parallel to the counter. Brush the dough with butter and sprinkle with sugar mixture, leaving a 1 inch border in the far side, and gently pat them into the dough. Beginning with the side closest to you, roll the dough tightly, jelly roll style, to form a log. As you roll, be sure to square the ends of the log with a dough scraper to even the thickness of the log. Pinch the seem, sealing it well, and gently roll the log back and forth, elongating it until it measures 16 to 18 inches long. Place the log seam side down on the prepared cookie sheet and form it into a circle, 7 to 8 inches round. To make the ring, brush one of the ends with butter was and seal it to the opposite ends by pinching them together. Place a greased, inverted heat-proof bowl into the center of the ring, to help hold the shape. using sharp scissors, cut 16 to 8 slits about 3 quarters of the way through the dough, spacing them about 1 inches apart. Turn the slices out, so that they lay somewhat flat on the pan. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and a towl, and let rise for 45 to 60 minutes, or until puffy and almost doubled.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the top of the dough with soft butter and cover with streusel topping*. bake in the oven for 25 to 28 minutes.

Streusel topping:
Carole's Favorite Streusel:
6-7 tablespoon melted unsalted butter(I used margerine)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tso salt
3 tablespoon finely chopped walnuts
with a fork, combine all the ingredients until crumb forms.
While dough is baking, prepare the orange glaze.

Orange Glaze:
1 cupe powdered sugar, 4 to 5 tablespoon hot orange juice, 1 1/2 tsp light corn syrup, 1/3 tsp orange oil, 1/8 tsp vanilla extract. Apply while the dough is hot!

I'm editing this post to add a picture I did for this blog. Sadly it won't fit on the side like I wanted because all the layouts just don't work that way...but I still wanted to post it, since it sort of has to do with baking...sorry it's so big!
CBwhat copy