March 30, 2010

Mom's Birthday Cake

We had a surprise party for my mom’s birthday. Tim smoked some chicken and pork for the meal, and I was in charge of the dessert. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to try out my limited cake decorating skills, and use Mom’s hockey team, Sting, as the theme.

When I smoothly asked “what type of cake she would want if for whatever reason she would be having a birthday cake,” Mom responded that her favorite cake was white “wedding cake” with buttercream frosting. I found the below recipe, which produces a somewhat dense, but moist white cake.

White Butter Cake

1 3/4 c. (175 grams) Sifted Cake Flour
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 c. (113 grams) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 c. (200 grams) Granulated White Sugar, divided
2 Large Eggs, separated
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 c. (120 ml) Milk
1/8 tsp Cream of Tartar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Grease and flour two 8 inch (20 cm) round cake pans. Alternatively spray pan with Baker's Joy. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper and grease and flour parchment paper. Set aside.

While eggs are still cold separate the eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the two bowls with plastic wrap and allow the eggs to come to room temperature before using (about 30 minutes).

In a mixing bowl sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer, beat the butter until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add 3/4 cup (150 grams) of the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour.

In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula gently fold a little of the whites into the batter to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining whites until combined. Do not over mix the batter or it will deflate.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 20 - 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, lifting off the pan. Once the cakes have completely cooled, wrap in plastic and place the cake layers in the freezer for at least an hour. (This is done to make filling and frosting the cakes easier.)

Source: Purdy, Susan G. ' A Piece of Cake'. Collier Books. New York: 1989.

To smooth the icing, rub the hardened icing with a non-designed paper towel.

Buttercream Frosting

1/3 c. Soft Butter
4 c. Sifted Confectioners’ Sugar
1/8 tsp. Salt
3 to 4 Tbsp. Milk
1 ½ tsp. Vanilla*

With an electric mixer cream the butter. Add sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla. Moisten the ingredients on a low speed, and then whip on a high speed for 2 minutes.

Fills and frosts 2 (8 or 9 inch layers).

For chocolate frosting, add 2 Tbsp cocoa.

*To achieve pure white icing, use clear vanilla extract. This is available at most craft stores and the baking isle of most grocery stores.

Cheesy "Red Lobster" Biscuits

My favorite item at Red Lobster has always been the amazing biscuits. They are the perfect combination of garlic butter and cheese. This recipe is a pretty good imitation and is super easy to make.

“Red Lobster” Biscuits

2 c. Bisquik Baking Mix
2/3 c. Milk
1 c. Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
¼ c. Butter, Melted
½ tsp. Garlic Powder

Preheat oven to 450°. Mix baking mix, milk, and cheese until well blended. Drop by heaping spoonful onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, mix butter and garlic powder. Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush them with the butter mix before removing them from the cookie sheet. Serve immediately.

Tim took this picture, so please excuse the crazy angle :)

Grandma Gator's Banana Bread

Some of my fondest memories growing up were of skipping school and spending the afternoon with my Grandma Gator. She was a wonderful baker (her chocolate pie has yet to be duplicated), and we would often bake together. I would make mini loaves of this banana bread while she made the full sized ones.

The original recipe calls for nuts to be included, but I left them out of this batch. Although Tim likes nuts, he claims that when they are in baked goods, they make his teeth itch. I would also suggest that you don’t double the batch unless you have an industrial mixer. I had to transfer the batter into a large bowl and mix in the flour by hand, as my KitchenAid mixer was going to overflow. My double batch yielded four mini loaves, one medium loaf, and three large loaves.

Banana Bread

1 c. Shortening
3 c. Sugar
4 Eggs
2 tsp Baking Soda
4 c. Flour
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 c. Sour Milk*
2 c. Bananas, Smashed
Nuts (Optional)

March 20, 2010

Chocolate Waffles

I wanted to do something fun for breakfast this morning, since we were both awake in time for breakfast (which is rare). The first thing that I thought of was chocolate waffles!

Chocolate Waffles
1 ½ c. Bisquick Baking Mix
1 c. Sugar
1/3 c. Cocoa Powder
¾ c. Water
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs