Archive for the ‘Cakes & Cupcakes’ Category

Bake 52 Week 36: Tunnel of Fudge Cake

September 5, 2012

I nearly skipped this week.  I felt about as much excitement to make this cake as I did the Chocolate Blackout Cake back in week 15.  I can’t help it…I just don’t like chocolate that much.  Plus, when I looked at the picture included with this recipe, I was sure that it was going to be a pretty involved process.  Thankfully, I was wrong on that point.  It was not much more involved than baking a regular cake….the amazing thing is that somehow, the middle stays all fudgy after it bakes (which I didn’t take a picture of…you’ll have to bake it to see it!).  And isn’t it pretty??

I was glad to have procrastinated this time around because Janet mentioned in her post that she used semisweet chocolate for the glaze and was happy with how that worked out.  When I got to the store to buy my ingredients, I discovered that semisweet chocolate was 1/3 the price of bittersweet.  Since I’m all for saving a buck, I bought the bittersweet for the cake and the semisweet for the glaze.  She also mentioned that she would leave the nuts out next time….and you all know I would have left them out regardless!

In spite of my dislike for chocolate, I did have a couple of bites of the finished product and it was actually pretty good.  Joseph loved it (and he’s not huge on chocolate either).  If you are a chocolate lover, this is the recipe for you!  Thanks Janet for such a fun pick….check out her blog for the recipe!

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Bake 52 Week 19: New York-Style Crumb Cake

May 9, 2012

This was my week to host and as I browsed through the cookbook trying to decide what to choose, I really had no direction.  I wasn’t in the mood for anything in particular, so I just marked a few recipes that looked good to me and hoped one would stand out.  When I came to the recipe for New York-Style Crumb Cake, I knew it would be my pick.  I’m not a huge fan of cake in general, but I do love a good crumb cake, so I was excited to try this recipe out.

Unfortunately, I think it was a fail.

I attempted the recipe twice.  The first time, I had no dark brown sugar, so the cake came out of the oven looking like it was covered in raw sausage.  Yum.  The cake was also rather dry and unsatisfying. I used powdered buttermilk in this attempt and wondered if that might have had an effect.  I also had to bake the cake a good 10 minutes longer than the recipe suggested.

Knowing that my good friend Tiffany, who gives me my weekly progesterone shot, also loves crumb cake, I decided to make another attempt and let her help me taste test.  This time I tried cupcakes and used dark brown sugar.    I don’t think the crumbs came out looking anywhere near as dark as those in the picture in the cookbook, but they were slightly less raw-sausage-ish than my first cake.  The cake was still on the dry side though, in spite of using liquid buttermilk in place of powder.  And the cupcakes themselves baked up kind of weird and most of the crumbs drown in batter.  They weren’t pretty, but they at least tasted better than the first cake.

Sadly, I think I’m going to have to stick with my Krusteez crumb cake mix in favor of this recipe.  I hope everyone else had better success than I did (and in looking at the blogs today, it appears that they did)!  If you want to make an attempt yourself, here’s the recipe:

New York-Style Crumb Cake

Don’t be tempted to substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour, as doing so will make a dry, tough cake.  Be sure not to press the crumbs into the batter, but rather, let them just rest on top.  This cake can be served warm or at room temperature.

Crumb Topping

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
8 TB unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 3/4 cups cake flour

Cake

1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 salt
6 TB unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and softened
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk, room temperature
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting

1. For the topping: Whisk the granulated and brown sugars, cinnamon, salt, and melted butter together in a medium bowl to combine. Stir in the flour until the mixture resembles a thick, cohesive dough. Let the crumb topping mixture rest at room temperature until needed.

2. For the cake: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325°. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a foil sling and grease the foil.

3. Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time, about 30 seconds. Continue to beat the mixture until it resembles moist crumbs, 1 to 3 minutes.

4. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds. Beat in the buttermilk until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter until smooth and fluffy, about 1 minute.

5. Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure it is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and gently tap the pan on the counter to settle the batter. Break apart the crumb topping mixture into large pea-sized pieces and sprinkle it in an even layer over the batter, beginning at the edges and working toward the center.

6. Bake the cake until the crumbs are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few most crumbs attached, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.

7. Let the cake cool slightly in the pan, about 30 minutes. If desired, remove the cake from the pan using the foil, then dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

I was so underwhelmed that I didn’t even take the time to stage a nice picture with a slice of the cake.  The kids thought it was good and ate it anyway…but a good share of this went into the trash.  Bummer!

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Bake 52 Week 15: Chocolate Blackout Cake

April 11, 2012

Wow! Can you believe we are 15 weeks into the year? I can’t. I also can’t believe that I have baked something every week for 15 weeks straight….that’s more than I’ve baked in probably the last 5 years combined!

This week’s host was Courtney, and since I know that she doesn’t really care much for chocolate either, I know I won’t offend her when I say that my excitement level to make this cake was non-existent. When you add my distaste for chocolate to the fact that I don’t really love cake much either, this week’s pick left me sorely lacking motivation. But, being the stalwart that I am, I made it anyway.

I knew that the only day I had to make this week’s recipe was Tuesday. The busiest day of my week. The day that I had to get Emmy to ballet, eat lunch at school with Ryan for Birthday Table, attend two IEP meetings, and go to a parent’s meeting for the spring track season….all in between the everyday duties of being a wife a mother (I only accomplished one load of laundry, unfortunately).

I did have time late Monday night to make the pudding. Turns out that the most important ingredient for me that night was burn cream and a bandaid. The recipe said to bring the pudding to a simmer, but for me it went from no hint of a bubble to exploding boiling without any warning. And my arm took the brunt of that explosion. Ouch! Thankfully this burn cream is amazing and I was out of pain in no time flat and there will be no blistering.

The cake was fairly simple to whip up. It was a pretty runny batter, but the recipe specified that it should be, so I knew I was on the right track. I don’t have any 8-inch cake pans, so I improvised with my 9-inch springform pan. My layers are a little thinner because of that, but it worked just fine.

One thing I was grateful for with this cake is that it is covered in cake crumbs. For me, that meant covering up my botched frosting job. My pudding was a little lumpy and I would love to know the secret of frosting a cake without having the cake go crumbly….I have yet to master that art!

The crumb topping made for an interesting presentation….not sure I really found it pretty, but it was definitely interesting to look at….kind of like the cake was fuzzy.

As for flavor…it was chocolate overload. The recipe called for a cup of coffee to bring out the chocolate flavor. On principle, I substituted water instead, so maybe that altered the taste some, but I can’t imagine it being any more chocolatey than it was. I actually do enjoy chocolate pudding, but the pudding in this recipe didn’t really wow me….it wasn’t quite sweet enough for my taste buds. I was able to eat one little bite and felt that met my chocolate quota for the next 5 years or so.  My kids gobbled up their slices in under a minute, so they are either seriously chocolate-deprived, or the cake was actually good.

If you are a chocolate-lover, I would bet that you’ll love this cake.  I was anticipating a much more difficult recipe to put together, but it really wasn’t too bad, nor was it as expensive as I thought a chocolatey-chocolate cake would cost.  If you want the recipe, check out Courtney’s blog.

 

Bake 52 Week 14: Tres Leches Cake

April 4, 2012

First off, I must apologize for my lack of pictures with this post.  Sometimes my house seems like chaos when I’m trying to bake and picking up the camera for a picture or three would simply put me over the edge!

Even with my limited Spanish, I knew right off that this cake was going to have plenty of milk in it. After reading the recipe, I figured there was a good chance that it would be too rich for my taste buds, but the whipped topping sure did look yummy!

I wish the recipe would have suggested using a saucepan to make the milk mixture. My sweetened condensed bubbled up and overflowed in the microwave, making a HUGE sticky mess. An hour or so later, my sister called with a question on the recipe and said the same thing happened to her. I think it would have been just as effective to do that step on the stove and MUCH easier to monitor!

The cake itself turned out quite nicely. I’ve not had the best luck in the past making homemade cake, so I was a little apprehensive this time too. It took the full 35 minutes for mine to bake all the way through, but it didn’t fall flat or look weird when it was done.

The cake smelled sooooo yummy when it came out of the oven and it kind of pained me to pour the milk mixture over it. But I did it anyway. And then gagged a little over how soggy I was sure it would be when it came time to eat.

After 3 or so hours in the fridge, I pulled the cake out for our FHE treat. While the kids played “Mother May I?” I whipped (and whipped, and whipped, and whipped….2 minutes was NOT enough to get the soft peaks the recipe called for) up the topping and spread it on the cake. We cut up some strawberries to top each slice.

I was a bit apprehensive about the soggy cake, but I was excited about the whipped topping. As it turned out, the cake was delicious (a little soggy in parts, but overall not bad) and the whipped topping made me want to puke. I did NOT care for it….and I’m not sure if it was the recipe itself or an issue with my cream (afterall, it took more like 10 minutes to whip up right). I would have been happier with Cool Whip on top! The cake was rich, so I couldn’t finish an entire piece, but everyone else ate 2, with moans and groans about how good it was.

Joseph took the remainder to work the next morning and by 10:00 I had the following text: “Your cake is being hailed as your best dessert yet :)”.  So I guess it was pretty good.  One of his co-workers spent some time in Guatamala and had eaten authentic Tres Leches cake several times and said that it’s too soggy for her taste in South America, but this cake was just right.  I’d call this one a hit…and simple enough to make over and over!

Amanda stepped up to the plate and hosted this week even though it wasn’t her turn….thank you Amanda!  Check out her blog for the yummy recipe!

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Bake 52 Week 4: Light New York Cheesecake

January 19, 2012

Whew! Baking from scratch is a LOT of work! Once again, I merely skimmed the recipe and didn’t realize that if I couldn’t find yogurt cheese at the store, I would need to strain plain yogurt for 10-12 hours to make it myself. Ack! Not an option when I needed to make the cheesecake that day! So, I opted for Greek yogurt, which I hoped would be strained enough to sub for yogurt cheese.

Then, I didn’t read that the cake would need to cool for 3 hours and then chill for 3 more before it could be removed from the pan. Since I didn’t start the whole process until 5pm, it was a loooooong night!

I decided to make the raspberry sauce on page 514 to top the cheesecake. I would have preferred strawberry, but the only strawberry recipe in the book did not recommend frozen strawberries, which was all I had.  The raspberry sauce was quick and easy to make.

Joseph took the cheesecake to work the next morning and by 7:30 I had a phone call with reviews from the piping group. Overall, the opinions were pretty favorable.

Brittany–liked the texture, liked the raspberry sauce, but thought it was a little too lemony.

Terry–prefers a more traditional cheesecake texture, but liked the flavor.

Earl–liked the texture, not crazy about the raspberry sauce, but liked the lemon flavor.

Joseph–same as Terry, though he tried a piece later without the raspberry sauce and said he liked it much better.

I saved a piece for the kids and I to share. Ryan was not a fan at all (though I think that was partially due to the fact that he didn’t want to try it in the first place), but Owen and Emmy loved it! I did NOT care for the texture at all and it was enough to keep me from having more than one bite. However, I really liked the flavor. I liked the lemon paired with the raspberry sauce, but I tend to like things on the tart side in general.

As soon as he finished the last bite, Owen asked me to make more.  I think next time I’ll look for a traditional cheesecake recipe. I mean really….if you’re going to eat cheesecake, you might as well skip this light stuff and go for the full monty.

If you’re interested in trying the light version, the recipe can be found on the blog of this week’s host, Talesha.

Bake 52 Week 3: Boston Cream Cupcakes

January 16, 2012

I’m quickly learning some things about myself as a baker. First of all, I tend to skim recipes and then dive in. Not a good idea, as I usually find something important that I missed. For example, today’s recipe calls for whole milk. I have 1%. I can add some half and half to make whole milk, but I don’t have any of that. Which brings me to my next realization. I don’t have the best stocked pantry or refrigerator for baking. Which is fine….but it’s proving to be a hinderance to my baking. And yet, it’s not like I’m going to keep whole milk or half and half on-hand “just in case”. I guess that brings me back to “read the recipe” before starting to bake. And that brings me to my next realization. When I’m ready to bake, I want to bake. Had I read today’s recipe, I would have known that I would need to leave the eggs and milk on the counter for a couple of hours so that they would be room temperature. And that meant I had to get busy mopping the floor or doing some other chore that I was planning to put off in favor of baking cupcakes.

All that aside, my cupcakes finally did get made. Minus the whole milk (hope the 1% didn’t ruin all my hard work…I suppose we’ll never know the difference). I’ve decided that I need a new muffin tin. I had enough batter to make 15 cupcakes, so I had to use my half-size muffin tin in addition to my regular one. The smaller tin is a dark, non-stick tin and there was a marked difference in the appearance of the cupcakes that came out of that compared to those in my light-colored tin….they looked much more appetizing. See the difference?

When I pulled the cupcakes out of the tin to cool, their weight and texture reminded me of my favorite French breakfast muffins….a little heavy and kind of springy. Which made me wonder if the French muffin recipe would work just as well for the cupcake portion of the Boston Cream Cupcakes…..it’s certainly easier to make!

I should have taken a picture before I poured the chocolate on to show how the recipe suggested filling the center of the cupcake.  It was very simple to do, much easier than force filling from the bottom of the cupcake.  I used a pastry bag with a large cake decorating tip to fill the cupcakes and that worked very well.  I had a little bit of trouble getting the chocolate to spread over the top and drip down the sides. I even warmed it up a bit more so that it would pour more easily, but it seemed to just clump on the top. I had to use a spatula to spread it out, which made them look not quite as pretty as the picture in the cookbook.

I’m not much of a fan of chocolate (I know….commence with the tomato throwing), so I skipped eating one that had been topped. I was a little nervous to take a bite because the filling didn’t smell very good to me when I was whipping it up and I was worried it would taste like it smelled. Thankfully, it didn’t. It was delicious! The kids gobbled them up as fast as they could! Joseph felt like the bittersweet chocolate was maybe a little too strong and overpowering, but the filling made up for it!

This is a little bit of a labor intensive recipe. I can’t see making these again just for the heck of it (on top of being labor intensive, they aren’t cheap!), but I think they would make a really great dessert to take to a party that will be a real crowd-pleaser.

This week’s host was Amanda…a quick stop by her blog will get you the recipe and more detailed directions!