Tag Archives: Cake

Apple Pecan Cake

This past weekend I finally crossed of #8 on my 30 before 31 list! I completed my 12th recipe from cookbooks I already owned. It actually turned out to be a more difficult challenge than I’d anticipated: I am much more inclined to check out what is in my pantry then bake accordingly than I am to go buy all of the ingredients and then have a set bake day. Regardless, I did it, going out on one of my favorite recipes of this whole thing, a quick and easy Apple Pecan Cake.

Notes:

  • I made a couple of changes to the basic recipe to really bring this cake home. First of all, I used brown sugar instead of white for that rich molasses-y taste that pairs so well with apples. Next I cut out the allspice (since I don’t really care for it) and doubled the cinnamon. I also added a tablespoon of vanilla extract, I don’t know that it made much of a difference, but…..it’s what I did.
  • The mix was a bit unusual, so much apple! You couldn’t really pour it into the plan, you had to plop it out in chunks and press it as level as a possible so that it can bake evenly.
  • I bake pretty regularly, but this recipe got the most enthusiastic response out of Andy that I’ve seen in a while. He ate four pieces the day I baked it. Clearly I need to add this to my regular rotation.

I am putting in a little extra effort these days to get as many items crossed off as I can, although there will be a couple that I know I won’t be achieving. Keep your fingers crossed for me!


I Made A Cake!!!!

Monday I got an email from my husband asking if I would be willing to make this birthday cake for one of his coworkers. My knee jerk reaction was “mmmmm, I don’t think so”, but then he told me it was a surprise birthday cake for the lady who had sweetly sent me my beloved “Baking the World a Better Place” kitchen sign. There was no way I could say “no” to something for the nice lady who gave me presents, right? So I told him I’d try. The rest of the conversation went like this: When did they need it? Wednesday. Next Wednesday? Nope, this Wednesday. Okay then, emergency run to the grocery store it is.

Here’s how things went down.

l1Tuesday night I baked three layers of triple chocolate cake, sandwiched chocolate chocolate chip buttercream between the inner layers, and dirty iced the outside with vanilla buttercream. After all that was done, I placed it carefully in the fridge so it could “set up” over night. l2Tuesday, I made another batch of vanilla buttercream and gave the set cake its final coat of frosting using a icing smoother and the Viva towel method to smooth things out a bit but still maintain the charm of classic buttercream. Then I made my very first drip glaze for the top and side of the cake.  l5There was a minor set back; the Dunkin Donuts near my house was out of pink frosted donuts, plus they had no alternative colors with the required sprinkles. So I bought plain white frosted, took them home, brushed them with a little heavy whipping cream, and dipped them in my own damn sprinkles. That’s right people, I Tim Gunn’ed the thing 😉 l4The rest was really easy. Stack donuts, cookies, and roses, and finish with a handful of sprinkles to tie everything in. Andy was even kind enough to drive me back to his office so I could guarantee that my precious cake baby arrived safely. l3So, will I be taking up cake decorating as a new profession? Probably not, but I did better than I though I would, and Andy said his coworkers were very pleased with the results. I’m gonna chalk it up as a win, and now I have a couple more tools in my baking arsenal.


Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting

I bake quite a bit, and I am always on the look out for tips and tricks that will make the process easier… especially when it comes to baking for people with dietary restrictions (vegan, gluten intolerant, etc.). I’ve noticed many bakers regard specialty baking as overly complicated and unsatisfying, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Nor should it be regarded as something you shouldn’t try unless you’re already a skilled baker. One of the best things I discovered while trying out gluten free baking was that my favorite brand of flour (King Arthur) had a whole line of gluten free products. Everything from all purpose baking mix to actual cake and cookie mixes, and you know what? They are pretty awesome. Most of my taste testers firmly assert that they can’t even tell the difference. So when my gluten intolerant friend requested something chocolate, with fudge and berries for her birthday I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

C1

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

  • King Arthur Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

Fudge Filling (adapted from this recipe):

  • 5 oz semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 6 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 2 tbsp plus 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1½ tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract

Blackberry Frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 all purpose gluten free flour (I used King Arthur)
  • 1 cup blackberry juice
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 sticks up butter cut into cubes

Directions:

Cupcakes:

  • Combine ingredients and bake according to the box’s instructions.

Fudge Filling:

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted and smooth. Whisk in the cocoa until dissolved, mixture with be very thick. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine together corn syrup, sugar, cream, water, and salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Cool the mixture slightly, about 2 minutes. Then whisk in the melted chocolate mixture until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly before using.
    *Can be made up to three days in advance.

C2

Frosting:

  1. Combine sugar, flour, cream and both juices in a sauce pan and place over medium heat. Whisk ingredients and allow them to cook, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the consistency of a soft pudding (roughly 10-15 minutes).
  2. Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and beat on high until cooled (6-8 minutes).
  3. Once mixture has cooled, reduce mixer speed to medium and start adding the butter a couple of cubes at a time until all the butter has been incorporated. (This will take forever, just stand there and let the mixer do it’s thing)
  4. Switch mixer back to high and whip frosting for 1-2 minutes.

C3

To Assemble:

  • Use a cupcake corer or knife to remove a shallow center section from each of the cupcakes.
  • Put the fudge filling in a sealed sandwich bag and snip off one of the corners. Pipe filling into each cupcake.
  • Pipe or spread frosting onto each cupcake being careful to cover the fudge filling so none is peaking through.
  • Garnish however you please; I used chocolate sprinkles and Mini Dark Chocolate Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares.

Enjoy!

*I have received no compensation for this post; the opinions expressed are 100% my own*

 


A Very Vanilla Sprinkle Cake

I have bought quite a few cookbooks over the last decade or so, but I hardly ever use them. I leaf through them every now and again and make mental notes of things I would like to make “soon”. Before you know it, the book is back on the shelf, and I’ve forgotten all about it. I made a pledge earlier this year to make a real effort to use these beautiful books for their intended purpose instead of using them as paperweights or coasters. On our recent trip to Disney, Andy bought me a copy of Baked Occasions, and I swore to myself that I would make at least one of the recipes before February was over. I’m cutting it a bit close, but I am proud to tell you that I have successfully made Very Vanilla cupcakes.B1 Food7 B2 B3

Notes:

  • As you can see from the photo, I decided to use this recipe for cupcakes instead of a layer cake (makes 30 cupcakes). The only problem is this recipe follows the low and slow methodology for baking that produces a nice level cake. Not what you want for cupcakes; you want them to be a little humped up in the center instead of flat across. I forgot to correct for this and had rows and rows of flat little cupcakes. Next time I’ll crank the baking temp to 350 and reduce the bake time to 20-25 minutes.
  • This very vanilla frosting is my new favorite, non ganache frosting recipe. So much better than standard butter cream! It tastes a lot liked whipped cream, but you don’t have to worry about melting. While I am usually not much of a frosting girl, I caught myself absentmindedly sticking my finger is the bowl of left over frosting while I was cleaning up. I can’t wait to try this recipe out with some other flavor options.
  • I have to admit I was a little intimidated by this recipe the first time I looked at it. The ingredient list is really long, there are so many different steps, and the idea of cooked frosting is still pretty new for me. Seeing it from the other side, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but it was a bit more labor intensive than I usually go for. I am a big fan of one bowl mixes. As far as the cake recipe goes, I would use it again, but probably only for a special occasion.

I am excited to try more things from this book. I think it’s going to force me to stretch a bit as a baker, which is never a bad thing.


Flowers & Glitter

A couple of weeks ago I did a feature on this amazing baker. How super cool she was and how I wanted to be able to decorate cakes just like she did. Some serious fan girl gushing. Well now I’ve found an additional source of inspiration, UK based company Cake of Dreams. The décor and styling is a bit more rustic, but the elements that I like are all there.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f3 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Cake4 Cake13

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with f1 preset

Cake8

 I actually did sit there with both galleries and go “hmmm, why do I like these so much?” It comes down to: flowers, glitter, fruit. The other elements like the shattered chocolate pieces on the first post, the animals and insects on the second, and meringue puffs on both are cool, but not what “makes” the cake for me. I know, glitter and flowers, shocking right? You guys didn’t see that coming at all. I am hoping to try a few of these ideas out when my mom is in town in August. She is a amazing kitchen helper, and she knows how to calm me down when we start to reach epic meltdown mode. I am almost 30, but I still have a hard time when I don’t feel like I am initially “good” at something. God forbid right? Completely realistic to shoot from beginner to kitchen wizard on the first try.