Tuesday, March 11, 2008
My good friends David and Tzviah recently got engaged. So over the weekend, David's mother, Linda, who is an undisputable master chef and baker, pulled off an incredible engagement party in her backyard. I can't think of a single thing that was not made in her kitchen from scratch. Okay fine, she bought the tortilla chips and she didn't grow the bell pepper. The event just so happened to be on David's birthday, as well. Double whammy celebration day.
To assist in the preparation, because there was MUCH to do, my sister and I came over both Saturday night and Sunday and one of my "tasks" (which is SO the wrong term since I get pleasure from this), was to decorate a birthday cake for David. I brought over some of my cake decorating equipment and frosting dyes, and set to work in a corner of the dining room. Silly me, I didn't start the project till midnight. Finished at 4am Sunday. And that's the worst kind of 4 a.m. because I drove home and then painfully, begrudgingly changed all my clocks to 5 a.m. for Daylight Savings. My all-nighter timing was impeccable, dontcha think?
The cake itself is uber moist, quite chocolaty, and yet doesn't have all the bad-for-you-ness that other recipes have. No eggs. No butter. The frosting used between the cake layers was a Mocha Buttercream. Be careful not to eat all of it straight out of the bowl. This is highly likely. And of course, to decorate the cake, I whipped up a couple of batches of Home Decorator Buttercream to dye in all sorts of fun colors. The key to the Decorator Buttercream is to make two versions: one with corn syrup, one without. The corn syrup makes the buttercream spreadable, so only use it for frosting the surface and sides of the cake (and inside if you opt not to use Mocha Buttercream, too). The version without corn syrup will make a stiffer frosting, perfect for piping onto cakes and keeping the shape of whatever you design. Nobody wants a "wilted" frosting rose or a crooked frosting nose; familiarize yourself with the purpose of corn syrup.
The cake was a big hit. Mazel Tov to David and Tzviah on their engagement and Happy Birthday David!
Amazon Chocolate Cake
Adapted from the Cafe Beaujolais cookbook by Margaret Fox
3 cups flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. corn oil
1 Tbsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
Mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Sift (though recipe will be fine if you don't). In separate bowl, mix together water, corn oil, vanilla, and vinegar. Whisk together the wet and dry mixtures. Pour through strainer into bowl, breaking up lumps and pressing them through strainer. Mix and pour into 2 greased 9 inch round cake pans or one 9x13x2" pan. Tap the edge of the pan against the edge of the counter, or drop from 6 inches several times to the counter to pop air bubbles. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 Tbsp. instant coffee powder
2 Tbsp. espresso (liquid)
1 cup unsalted margarine or butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg yolk
Melt chocolate, instant coffee, and espresso in the top of a double boiler or in a microwave. Let cool slightly. Place margarine or butter, sugar, and egg yolk in bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend thoroughly, and add chocolate and coffee mixture. Mix and chill to spreading consistency - about 15 minutes.
Home Decorator Buttercream
Recipe by my mommy
1 tsp. vanilla, clear is preferable
2 Tbsp. liquid (water, milk, whipping cream, etc.; I prefer milk)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter/margarine
1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp. white Karo syrup
Beat until fluffy. The Karo syrup increases the frosting's spreadability. Makes enough frosting to cover a 9-inch two layer cake or a 9x13x2" cake.
My mom's note, in her words: This is the decorator cream that I use to make the frosting to cover the entire cake, if it has the extra Karo syrup added. Without the Karo syrup, I use this frosting to make all the roses and decorations on top of the cake.
Step by Step in Pictures
First cake layer gets a slathering of Mocha Buttercream...
Second cake layer is very very carefully placed on top of the first...
I piped some musical notes around the sides of the cake...
And here it is again: the final product...