Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cake Slice: Zebra Cake

First of all... I actually baked and now I am blogging... and to my knowledge hell hasn't frozen over :-P
So this months cake was Zebra Cake. I loved this cake! It was super moist and there are a lot of fun possibilities with all the color options and flavors you can try. Obviously I still need to get the hang of the layering but I don't mind having to "practice".
To go along with the recipe and picture, I have a cautionary tale to share.

Once upon a time there was a young (ish), fun mother. One night while she was lovingly making dinner for her family, she decided "What the heck, I have all the ingredients for this cake I need to make, might as well throw it together now."

Things were going relatively well. She managed to start the cake baking; start pasta boiling; stop naughty children from fighting; and give the 3 year old carrots so he would stop crying and tugging on her leg. All of a sudden the timers for the pasta and the cake went off. So she drained the pasta and took the cake out. Because she was trying to hurry, she put the cake on the stove top for a minute. Suddenly she smelled burning sugar and saw a small line of smoke coming from the cake pan. That's right, she forgot to turn off the burner :(

Quickly the cake was loosened from the pan and (this next step is probably the most important) while turning it upside down on to a cooling rack, she prayed silently to the, God of Cakes, "Please don't let this cake be completely ruined", at least three times.
So how did her sorry tale end? The bottom stuck to the pan but the side and everything else came out remarkably well. It was slightly worse for wear, but no one would have guessed how close the cake came to being food for the garbage bin.

So I guess the moral is to not multitask and the a secondary moral is to stay on good terms with the Cake God...

Zebra Cake
Makes one 9 inch round cake
(Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman)
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup whole or 2% milk
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
½ cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 inch pan, line with a circle of parchment paper, grease the parchment and dust with flour.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
Combine the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, stir in the milk, butter,oil and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice as necessary.
Stir in the flour mixture, ½ cup at a time.
Transfer a third of the batter into another bowl and whisk in the cocoa powder.
Place a quarter cup of the vanilla batter into the centre of the pan and let it stand for a few seconds so it spreads out slightly. Place 2 tablespoons of the chocolate batter right on top of the vanilla and wait another few seconds until it spreads. Continue alternating vanilla and chocolate until you have used up all the batter and it has spread to the edges of the pan.
Bake until the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a cutting board. Peel away the parchment paper. Re-invert onto a wire rack and cool completely. Slice and serve.
Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for 3 days.

To see much prettier cakes than mine, go here
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cake Slice: Chocolate Cream Pound Cake

Wow, that month seems to just fly by. It is cake posting time already. My family and I really loved the flavor of this cake and I appreciated that it is a pretty easy recipe to follow. Also I had all of the ingredients on hand, except for the cream, so that was a bonus. The only thing I didn't love about this cake is that it was deformed. It was sunken in, in the middle and it had a crust on it. None of this seemed to negatively affect the flavor but I had to serve it upside down for it to look semi-normal. Not sure if this was due to some error on my part but I have never had this happen with a cake before. Anyway I highly recommend it with ice cream; tastes yummy and hides flaws. To check out the adventures of the other Cake Slice Bakers, go here.

Makes one 9x5 inch loaf cake

March’s Cake: Chocolate Cream Pound Cake
(Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes by Lauren Chattman)
6 tbsp unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
¼ cup heavy cream
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ cup (1stick) unsalted butter, softened
1½ cups sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 325F. Grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan and dust with flour.
Sift the cocoa powder into a heatproof bowl. Place the cream in a microwavable bowl and heat for 30-60 seconds until just boiling. Pour the hot cream over the cocoa and stir and mash with a spoon to make a thick paste. Set aside to cool.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
Combine the butter and sugar in a large bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bow once or twice as necessary. Beat in the cocoa powder paste until smooth.
With the mixer on medium-low speed add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.
Turn the mixer to low speed and add the flour mixture, ½ cup at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add the last addition, mix for 30 seconds on medium speed.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Invert it onto a wire rack and then turn it right side up on the rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.
Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.

SMS: Irish Soda Bread

I loved, loved, loved this bread! I would not even hesitate to make it again (and again and again... okay you get the idea) and that is really saying something because there was a small period of time while I was making this that I thought I would be less stressed trying to shop with all three of my kids (not fun). It really was an easy recipe except for the fact that it was way too liquidy (that might be a word) and I had to keep adding flour to keep it from adhering to my counter top. The only other change I made was to the baking time. I had to add about 10 more minutes. The recipe had the option of adding caraway seeds which I have but in the end I chose not to add them. They smelled great to me and I wanted to try them but I thought the kids may not go for it, so I played it safe and left the caraway seeds out. Next time....
Go check out the recipe on our host's blog, Little bit of Everything. If you don't have a favorite Soda Bread recipe (or even if you do) this may be the ONE :) Also take a little time to see how the other bakers fared. I hope everyone loves this as much as I do!
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hello blog, it's been awhile...

I have definitely neglected this poor blog! Let me just say, by way of excusing my laziness, I have been sick almost without a break from November until January. I am now doing much better and hope to get back into the swing of things. Some days I just feel so tired that even getting my camera out and trying to take a picture seems like too much work. But here I am and I am excited to get back in the swing of things.

Okay onto the reason for the post.

I am a few days late but I did make the Cake Slice cake for this month and I even did it on time (just lost track of the fact that Sunday was the 20th, the day to post, oops). This months cake was Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Cake. It was okay but not a favorite of mine. My family liked it and it was eaten pretty quickly but for me it was just so-so. I did sub out the coffee (we don't drink coffee) with Pero and the flavor of the batter was really good (I know, naughty me) but it was a little downhill from there. This probably sounds more negative than I mean for it to. It wasn't bad tasting, and it was really simple to make, just not good enough to tempt me to make it again. I took my cake out 5 minutes early when I realized it was looking slightly overdone. Check out the other Cake Slice Bakers, some of them really liked it so maybe it is just personal preference. Anyway, without further ado here is the recipe-

Coffee-Heath Bar Crunch Cake (Recipe from Cake Keeper Cakes)
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients - Cake
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour (I added an extra ¼ cup of flour)
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder (I used same amount of Pero)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk

Ingredients - Streusel
  • 4 Heath bars (1.4ounces each), chopped or 1 cup of pre-chopped Heath Bits
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened

Preparation – Streusel
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Grease a 9inch round springform pan.
  3. Combine the Heath bars, brown sugar, flour and butter in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Work the mixture with your fingers until it resembles large crumbs.
  5. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preparation – Cake
  1. Combine the flour, espresso powder, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Combine the butter and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl and cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. With the mixer on low speed, add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla.
  3. With the mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour mixture and then half the milk, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Repeat, alternating the flour and milk, ending with the flour.
  4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth into an even layer with a spatula.
  5. Scatter the streusel onto the batter, distributing it evenly over the cake.
  6. Bake the cake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 50 to 60 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
  7. Release the sides of the pan and use a large spatula to slide the cake from the pan bottom to onto a wire rack.
  8. Cool completely, cut into wedges and serve.
  9. Store uneaten cake in a cake keeper or wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 3 days.
  10. Makes one 9 inch round cake.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

CEiMB- Apple Brown Betty

Oh my, I loved this. It was so easy to make and the flavor was excellent. I will definitely be making this again. The whole family loved it and I didn't feel too guilty while eating because it is really pretty healthy. Now I did make it a little bit less healthy by adding an extra tablespoon of brown sugar and an extra tablespoon of butter to the topping, but I figure for each serving that only adds a negligible amount of fat and calories. To get the recipe and try this yourself you can buy the book So Easy by Ellie Krieger or you can visit Jessica of Learning to Love Vegetables.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Farewell Food

The group I heart cooking clubs focuses on one chef for a period of 6 months and then moves on to a new chef. It is really such a great way to get to know new chefs and to push yourself to try new things. I will be honest, before joining the group, I really had no idea who Mark Bittman was. Now his recipes have become a staple in my home and even when I don't follow a recipe exactly, I will still grab my big, red How to Cook Everything book to see what the best way is to slice some fruit or how to prepare some other fill-in-the-blank. So for me this isn't really goodbye because Mr. Bittman is here to stay! Which is really what this group is about. I have found a new favorite that I don't think I would have found otherwise.
However in keeping with the farewell theme, I decided to say farewell to summer as well as Mark Bittman. I found a tasty and simple recipe that has become another meatless favorite!

Pasta with Corn, Zucchini, and Tomatoes

  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup corn kernels (from 2 or 3 ears)
  • 1 cup diced zucchini or summer squash (from 2 or 3 small vegetables)
  • 1 medium onion or 3 or 4 shallots, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic, optional
  • 1 sprigs tarragon
  • 4 plum or 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 pound cut pasta, like penne, rigatoni, or fusilli
  • 1. Set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn begins to brown. Add zucchini and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini begins to brown.
  • 2. Add onion or shallots and garlic if you are using it. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add tarragon and cook for 30 seconds, then tomatoes. Put pasta in boiling water and cook until tender but not mushy, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • 3. While pasta cooks continue to cook sauce, reducing heat when tomatoes begin to break down. If sauce dries out (with plum tomatoes, this is likely), add some pasta cooking water, about 1/2 cup at a time. When pasta is done, drain it, toss with sauce and remaining oil or butter, and serve immediately.

Friday, October 1, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Gougeres

French Fridays with Dorie is a blogging group focusing on Dorie Greenspan lovely new cookbook, Around My French Table. I love Dorie and I am loving this new cookbook. Her books are the most entertaining cookbooks I own. Not only can the women really whip up a great dish but she also know how to dish, as in spin an entertaining story. I can actually curl up with her cookbooks like I would a novel and enjoy the stories. I would definitely recommend checking out this book!

This weeks recipe was Gougeres. Until yesterday I had never made these wonderful little pastries but I can guarantee I will be making them again. They are so amazingly quick and easy. You can seriously have them to the table in just over 30 minutes, which in my opinion, makes them as convenient as biscuits but with a more sophisticated flavor. We all really loved these and definitely ate more than is probably recommended. I ended up just using some sharp cheddar that I had in the fridge this time. I can't wait to experiment with some other types of cheese!