Showing posts with label frosting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label frosting. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cake Decorating for Werewolves

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.

Mocha Buttercream

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...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Mother of All Cupcakes

Today is my cousin Jessica's 28th birthday. Happy Birthday, Jess! Translate that to: Another excuse to bake! W00t! (please tell me you know that very 21st century was named 2007's Word of the Year by Merriam-Webster Online)

My mom recently gave me a giant cupcake pan and all kinds of fun accessories to dress up the final product. Today, it was time to premiere it. What's cool about this pan is, you've got your top and you've got your bottom. Slather a little frosting between the two parts, assemble, frost the top, and voila! The mother of all cupcakes!

A couple of tips: Be sure to grease and flour your pan well, or you might end up with a headless horseman of a cupcake, or a bottomless one. Neither is a good scenario. Also, you'll probably need to use a bread knife and cut off the rounded top of each of the two parts so you have flat surfaces. You need the spiral top to lie snug on the bottom. Finally, be sure to select a cake recipe that is sturdy enough to withstand so much weight. Having a top resting on a bottom requires a firmer cake. I had to forgo the chocolate cake I usually make for birthdays for fear it would sink when I placed the spiral top on it. I opted for a devil's food cake by Lori Longbotham. Her Luscious Chocolate Desserts cookbook is one of my all-time favorites. I am working my way through the entire thing.

Divine Devil's Food Cake
Recipe by Lori Longbotham in Luscious Chocolate Desserts
Serves 8.

2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2/3 cup natural cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup water
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

7 1/2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9x2 inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with aluminum foil, and butter the foil.

To make the cake: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Stir together the buttermilk and water in a small bowl.

Beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for 3 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and add the cocoa mixture alternately with the buttermilk mixture in 3 batches, beating just until well blended. Transfer the batter to the pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Carefully invert onto the racks, turn right-side up, and let cool completely. Remove the foil.

To make the frosting: Melt the chocolate with the cream in a heatproof medium deep bowl set over a saucepan of about 1 1/2 inches of nearly simmering water, whisking until smooth. Add the butter and whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, for 15 minutes.

Beat the frosting with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for about 8 minutes, until thick enough to spread.

To assemble the cake: Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate. Spread about 1 cup of the frosting evenly over the layer. Top with the remaining cake layer and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until the frosting sets.

Serve cut into wedges.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bert's Chocolate Cake: Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. All good birthdays involve chocolate cake. Using the transitive property, if A=B and B=C, then A=C, today involves chocolate cake. Now don't laugh. Don't call me pathetic. Yes, I baked my own birthday cake. But before you judge me, hear me out. Three reasons why it makes perfect sense that I made my own:

1. I love baking and this was an enjoyable project.
2. It is a tradition in my family to have this specific chocolate cake recipe, and with my mom (the one who normally makes it for us kids) living 400 miles away, I can't expect her to show up at my doorstep with the cake.
3. This is the chocolate cake recipe to outdo all other chocolate cake recipes. Why settle for a bakery's cake when I can have my grandma Bert's?

This is a very special recipe. It's the cake made at every single birthday in my family. I make it for my sister now that we live in Los Angeles. Growing up, four of the five of us in my immediate family had birthdays in January. That meant my mom would make 4 of these cakes in January. I am not kidding. And we never tired of it. Well, maybe temporarily by January 31st.

So here goes, the best chocolate cake on the planet. And happy birthday to me!

~Bert's Chocolate Cake~

1 (4-oz.) German chocolate bar (Baker's)
1/2 c. hot water
1/2 c. butter
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. cake flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla

Blend chocolate into water and set aside to cool. Cream together the butter with the brown and white sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time. Now add chocolate carefully so it doesn't splatter. Mix the flour, soda, and salt together. Add these dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix well. Add the vanilla. Pour into two well-greased and floured 9-inch round pans or a 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. To remove from the pans, put hot pans on cooling rack for 10 minutes. Then remove from pans and put onto rack to cool right-side up.

~Elegant Chocolate Frosting~

1 1/4 c. sugar
1 c. evaporated milk or heavy cream (I prefer cream)
5 (1-oz.) squares Baker's unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine sugar and milk in large heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer 6 minutes without stirring. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir to blend. Stir in butter and vanilla. Chill until mixture begins to thicken (or if you're short on time, place the bowl over an ice bath). Beat until thick and creamy. Makes enough to fill and frost an 8- or 9-inch layer cake.

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