Thursday, December 29, 2005

THE Cake Lady Is Cool And Stuff

I wrote to RLB whining about my ganache mishaps. That shit is the bane of my existence. She has fast turnaround; I whined to her only yesterday.

Read my whine and her reply here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Well, I'm Back

I have no new baking to report upon.

I just thought I'd post something new.

My mother, betrayer of betrayers, got a freaking Costco sheet cake for the night of a million zillion pilipinos. A Costco sheet cake! Oh my god!

So I put my mom's kitchenaid back in the corner, closed my battered copy of The Cake Bible, and ate See's Candies with my sister. While lounging on the chaise. With our little drop-kick dogs. While getting fanned by the servants.

On a happier note, my Uncle Karlin (technically my cousin's husband's father, but we like to shorten that to "uncle") brought his yummy Kahlua cake. I had second helpings of that. And several thousand toron. Toron is a sweetened plantian or a banana sliced the long way, wrapped in lumpia wrapper (which is like a very very thin eggroll wrapper, usually made of just cornstarch and water) and deep fried until golden brown and crispy. Dust with a titch of powdered sugar and drizzle a teeny bit of chocolate sauce and you have a freakin, freakin, good dessert.

And, yes, I did have a piece of the Costco cake, which was like "typical" cake--too too sweet, but not bad. I have to say I harbor a guilty liking for that horrible grocery store frosting--you know, the kind where it is sort of crispy on the outside yet fluffy on the inside and 100% sugary, and if you get a corner piece you usually shove all the extra frosting to the side. Well I am the one that reaches over to your plate and eats all the extra frosting. And promptly passes out from insulin shock.

Christmas dinner was great and we had over John and Rita; Rita is this awesome and funny Austrian woman who likes to bake, and she bakes european-like. Which means yummy genoise cakes (ie sponge cakes--but genoise sounds more eurotrash, no?) spiked with lots of liqueur. Hell yeah. She baked us a Buche de Noel (hope I'm spelling that right) and she even candied her own orange peels for the filling. That is a woman after my own heart.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

This Is Why I Love These People

me and the crazyheads

Those crazyheads. You know what they got me for Christmas? Cookie rocked my world and got me a ROTATING CAKE STAND. Hell yeah!! My cakes will become eviller and eviller, muhahahah. (I'm sure eviller is a word, shutup.) Hole got me this soft and comfy blanket that is almost as nice as cuddling with the Stinky. I call it "the surrogate." Who knew that at age 32 I'd find my binky.

In a few short hours I'm going to drive to my parent's house 700 miles away. While in Los Altos this holiday, I aim to:

1. not go crazy
2. eat chocolate and cookies in the pantry in the middle of the night with my sister (holiday tradition)
3. see all my pilipino relatives (6 aunts and uncles, 5,000 cousins plus their husbands/wives and 200 children, random people I'm probably related to in some roundabout fashion, ie: in-laws of cousins, cousins of cousins, friends of cousins, and one big roasted-in-the-ground pig, which I'm sure I'm related to somehow, but don't remember)
4. bake for my relatives
5. get a pie crust lesson from my momma
6. not go crazy (worth reinforcing)

me, auntie, cousin, cousins' cousin, momma, cousin's wife
and etc.....

Happy holidays everyone. I hope you spend it with people you love, and don't you go crazy.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Why Do I Love These People

I just came from the House of Tran where I was trying to bake cookies with my two best friends from college. We met on our very first day of school, awww. We take a weekend trip to somewhere every year, just the three of us, where we usually drink WAY too much and smoke WAY too much and stay up until the wee hours of the night, and we never ever see the sights of the town.

I say I was trying to bake cookies, because there was only one mixer, and I had to wait for Hole to finish dirtying up the entire counter before I could squeeze my way in. My cookies, pilfered from an Oregonian article from the FoodDay issue that trumpeted the gloriousness of butterfat to the sky (in the form of european style butter), didn't take long to put together but had to rest up in the refrgerator TWICE and they weren't ready to be baked until 1 am...two hours ago....

I was too tired to bake at that point so I brought home the chilled dough and I'll bake tomorrow.

Tomorrow:

I rolled the chilled logs o' dough in colored sugar, but what I didn't know was that all the chemicals that go into coloring sugar make it taste BITTER and generally unpleasant. Next time I'll use beets. Also, the cookies were like little shortbreads in texture, and for all the glorious eurotrash butter, the cookies didn't taste all that buttery. WTF?

Anyway. What I will remember about the cookie "baking" party at the The House of Tran won't be the cookies, it will be how weird Cookie and Hole are. Hole was making Nipple Cookies--you know, the peanut butter cookies that 3/4 of the way through baking you smash a hershey's kiss on top which doesn't melt--and he anally had all his little chocolate kisses unwrapped and arranged on the table. Cookie reached over and began to stuff kiss by chocolate kiss into her mouth until about half of his stash had disappeared.

She did this once before when we were sitting on the floor at the airport waiting to send Hole back to Montana. She grabbed his pack of eclipse gum, which comes packaged in trays of eight to ten or so, and quickly shoved 90% of the tray of gum into her mouth. She was chomping away like a cow with her mouth open and all you could see in there was a big mass of white stuff; tears were pouring down her reddening face, the corners of her gum stuffed mouth were turned down, her eyes were big and sad and her brow was furrowed. She had the face of a sad clown, a sad clown who has shoved a shitload of spearmint flavored eclipse gum into her mouth and realised there are no midget firemen who will come driving up in a midget firetruck to squirt water into her mouth and put out the minty fire. With tears falling, she whined, "it's hot," but of course it came out more like "isth haaawwwwtttt" and all you could see was GUM when she opened her mouth wider to try to enunciate. She kept that damn gum in her mouth for about 5 more minutes, open mouthed chomping, crying, red sad clown face, with me and Hole laughing so hard I almost peed.

Well with the chocolate kisses her mouth was still wide open and the corners were still turned down, but instead of a minty white mass it was a shit colored brown mass. No tears, but Tran had the same sad clown expression and she kept her head tilted up, as if all that chocolate was threatening to spill out at any moment. Again she tried to talk to us, and what it sounded like she whined was, "isssth too sthwwweeett." After much pointing and laughing at the Sad Tran Clown, Hole started unwrapping more kisses and she tried to grab them, as if her gaping cakehole had any more room.

Later on she sneaks over to Hole's Nipple Cookies and smashes down one of the kisses so the nipple is all deformed.

Hole's other cookie he chose to bake was the Nutty Butter Balls. Need I say more.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Obsession

There were a few little caramels left over from yesterday's Turtle Cake.

They were fucking, FUCKING good.

I have a new obsession.

I could put caramel on EVERYTHING, including my doorknobs, in the bottom of all my glasses, inside all christmas cards, like little mints on the pillows here at the clinic, instead of toilet paper (hmm maybe not that one), wrapped around marshmallows, nuts, kholrabi, curds.

Caramel. I would like to replace my blood with caramel. It has natural clotting agents. It is a great source of energy. It even sounds nicer than blood. caramel. blood. caramel. blood.

Caramel wins, hands down.

Turtles Make Good Cake

Coleen had her birthday party at the Portland City Grill, you know, the restaurant at the top of Big Pink. Awesome views of downtown. Packed with lonely worker droids looking for love in all the wrong places. Our corner of the bar was very aptly manned by Ludwig (I swear, his real name). Makes a good lemon drop. And a good spanish coffee.

There is a lot more to tell about tonight: the birthday girl and her wild, wild past, the guests and how much I love them, the bar and the droids who occupy, the conversations about what happens when you start a life with your sweetheart and how it changes both of you often in unexpected ways, the attempt to leave being thwarted by drunken meanderings to the bathroom (those were the 50-somethings, us 30-somethings were much more sober), and much, much more. However I am cranky and heartsore and am going to fume in bed/go to sleep.

Oh yeah, the fuckin cake. I had a vision for this cake and it worked. When I put it all together and looked at it, I felt really satisfied. And it tasted pretty good, too.

Dec 15, 2005
Coleen’s Birthday
Jen’s Turtle Cake
2 layers choc fudge cake
filled and topped with gooey caramel and toasted pecans

Like a turtle cake, but better than the one recipe I have. That recipe is BAD. It calls for a cake mix. BAD, BAD, cake recipe.

The choc fudge cake calls for brown sugar, and I got the raddest brown sugar ever: light muscovado. I FREAKIN love the muscovado brown sugar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!

The mishap (there is always a mishap in the jensteele baking experience) came after I took those lovely lovelies out of the oven and let them cool on the rack. They were sooo pretty. Soo black, so nicely risen, so irresistible smelling, so light and moist and pretty. Aaahhhh. Then it was time to turn them out of their pans and let them cool completely to room temp. That’s when I tried to be cool about turning them out of the pans and BOTH cakes split in two. DAMMIT. Normally this wouldn’t be such a problem because I’d be filling and frosting the cake so no one would know the cake split. But I was planning on exposing most of the cake so that everybody could love and appreciate the chocolate fudge cake as I do. And so we could have gooey caramel without it being too, too sweet. So now what? Do I still do it? I still want to.

I’m doing it anyway. Fuck it.

And fuck yeah, that caramel is the fuckingest fucking shit! And so easy to make!

The cake went over well. Someone suggested chopping up the pecans before toasting so that more surface area would get toasty. Someone else preferred a bit of some serious raspberry liqueur over the cake. I thought it might have been a tad on the dry side. But the caramel to cake ratio I thought was good. The ice cream helped—maybe a little crème anglaise next time?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Coward

Dec 14, 2005
Bear Moon
Too Many Sagittarians
Coconut-Raspberry-Lemon Cake
2 layers white cake (split to make 4 layers)
filled with raspberry preserves, lemon buttercream
frosted with lemon buttercream and coated in coconut flakes

This cake was a celebration of mediocrity. All you could taste was the raspberry, and the most prevailing texture was the coconut flakes. You couldn’t taste the cake or the lemon. The frosting was just a buttery texture with no flavor.

I am a bit miffed because the buttercream on its own was VERY lemony. I guess when you invite raspberry to the party it interrupts all conversations to talk about itself. Not a team player, unless the party host is chocolate. Then raspberry plays along. Is it true love, or cowardice?

I vote cowardice.

If You Don't Eat Any Meat, You Break Out In Vaginas

I just saw this episode of South Park and damn that's a good lesson to learn.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Chocolate Meat Isn't Just For Breakfast Anymore

My darling roommate wants a recipe for chocolate meat.

Now, don't get as excited as you think you should be, folks. Chocolate meat is a Filipino dish made from meat, innards, and coated in a dark brown saucy stuff that looks like chocolate, but is really BLOOD!

It is the dish we most like to encourage non-Philippinos to eat when they come to one of our parties. Heh heh.

And even though everyone (even the fooled) says it is a tasty dish, and I have heard that blood is kind of sweet tasting, I don't eat it. I'll eat 5,000 lumpias (5,000 times better than an eggroll, but compared to all the same) but I won't eat the chocolate meat.

For you brave/curious people, here is a recipe.

AND, as I was searching the internet for said recipe, I found this very funny, very true list of "you know you are Philippino when..." Take a peek my dear readers, and learn a little more about where half of me comes from...

A TEST FOR FILIPINO-NESS: Are You Really Filipino?

Monday, December 12, 2005

This Is Why I Love My Job

Zetta rocks. If you haven't read this yet, DO IT NOW. If you have already read it, DO IT AGAIN.

Thanks. I'm baking at least 2 cakes and 2 dozen cookies by Saturday, so stay tuned.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Dude! Sweet!

Now that I have discovered RLB's blog its about all I can talk about. She posted this mondo essay on sugar the other day where I learned new words like jaggery and finally found out what treacle is:

[as pilfered directly from her site] Black Treacle: Containing 18 percent water, this dark, thick liquid is obtained from the residual molasses which is drained from the molds used in the sugar refining process. The flavor of molasses varies considerably depending on the source and origin of the raw sugar. It is generally considered too bitter or pronounced for culinary use but by blending with other intermediate refinery liquors and then evaporated and filtered it is valued in the U.K. for baking and the confectionery where a rich flavor, dark color, and moist texture are required such as in gingerbread and fruit cakes, and liquorice, which contains 20% or more treacle for flavor, moisture and sheen. As it contains only about 65% sugars and 4 to 9 percent minerals, it is far less sweet than sugar. It is considered to be of a higher quality than molasses. (It is a good source of iron, containing more than spinach and also calcium, containing more than milk. it is also high in potassium.)

And etc. God love her, I sure do.

July 2, 2004
Becky’s 44th birthday
It’s from scratch!
2 layers yellow butter cake with mini chocolate chips
Filled and frosted with classic egg white chocolate buttercream

I tell you, good cake pans and fresh baking powder a great cake make. But, the crumb was a little bigger and not so fine; is that d/t the choc chips? I tossed them in a little flour and then mixed them in at the very end, right before scraping the batter into the pans.

Everybody liked the cake and gave me complements, but I think it was too sweet. I reduced the sugar in the cake by ¼ cup to compensate for the chips, but maybe I should have reduced it more than that?

(8/8: !! doesn’t the sugar dissolving make a contribution to the crumb of the cake?? Would the decrease in sugar be the reason why the cake seemed to have a bigger crumb? Why am I not a food chemist?!)

(8/9: So of course I read up in The Book and on page 472, she states that “sugar contributes flavor [sweetness] and facilitates the incorporation of air into the fat….In a batter containing a large amount of sugar, the gas cells expand more before the batter sets b/c the sugar elevates the temperature at which the egg protein and the starch granules gelatinize. This creates a more open texture, weakening the cake’s structure and making it melt faster in the mouth.” And on page 23, “the butter cake derives its light texture from the air bubbles produced by creaming the sugar and fat and by the leavening—which enlarges these bubbles during baking.” So yes, it seems that decreasing the sugar would lead to a bigger crumb. I love science!!!)

Also, I used a not so bitter bittersweet chocolate for the majority of the choc in the frosting, so it was sweeter than usual. But that frosting has a real milk chocolate flavor to it; I think it would make a great mocha frosting. An easy buttercream to make, and I had all those egg whites left over from baking the cake, so it was good to use some of them.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Woe Unto Thee, Little Egg Yolk

NOTE TO SELF:
According to The Book
(this is why I love The Book)
1 large egg white = 2 tbsp, 30 g
1 large egg yolk = 3.5 tsp, 18.6 g


There is an egg yolk conspiracy.

I noticed something was fishy after I got a scale and began to weigh my ingredients. I thought that weighing everything would solve all my baking problems. You see, pre-scale my cakes would turn out a little dry and a bit dense. Still tender and fine, tasty and not too sweet, but not moist and airy. And that bugged the shit out of me. So when that scale entered my life I thought all my problems would be solved.

Alas, it was not meant to be. The cakes undoubtedly improved, but there was still something wrong. Especially with the chocolate cakes. There was no improvement in texture in the chocolate cakes.

The truth slowly began to dawn on me, starting in March with my first perfect cake:

March 5, 2005
Allie’s Birthday
A Classic Cake Combination
2 layers yellow butter cake
choc ganache filling and frosting
fresh raspberries in the filling

The cake itself was the best cake I’ve ever made. It was light, airy, flavorful, but not too sweet. I love that about these cake recipes, the main flavor of the cake isn’t sweet. The cakes from a box just taste sweet. They don’t have any other flavor than that. The cake was moist, which is something I’ve had a problem with in the past—most have come out a little dry and dense.

The difference? Besides the mistakes I made regarding mixing, I used the scale for everything. Including the eggs, which I think made a big difference.

March 12, 2005
Deer moon
Lemon Chiffon Cake

The cake came out fine. But I was supposed to use 7 egg yolks but I had to use 8 to get the proper weight. And less than 8 whites. Something about these eggs….

March 19, 2005
Lisa’s Experiment
Your Cake is On Fire!!
One layer yellow butter cake
Frosted with classic egg white chocolate buttercream

And the cake was good. The crumb is more open than with the choc cake. I am wondering if it has to do with the eggs I use; I have noticed that these eggs have more egg white than yolk—in terms of when I am weighing out yolks I need to use about ½ yolk more to get the proper weight, but I don’t need as many whites. But in a choc cake I’m using the whole egg [and hence not weighing]—so there is probably more white and less yolk than needed. Hmmm.

July 7, 2005
Stacey’s Birthday
German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting Take Two
2 layers chocolate butter cake
filled and frosted with the goop

Good cake. Best choc butter cake I’ve made yet. I’ve really got the texture thing down. It all comes down to measuring the eggs separately (whites and yolks). The cake was moist, chocolaty, good, open crumb but not coarse…damn that was good stuff!

September 17, 2005
Punkins Love Each Other
Chocolate LOG (aka Giant Gourmet Ho-Ho)
A flourless chocolate soufflé rolled around mocha whipped cream with toasted hazelnuts
A serious dusting of cocoa powder

I think there is an egg conspiracy. I always need more yolks than the number of eggs she calls for—this time I needed eight egg yolks to get the proper grams of what should have been 6 yolks. I think chicken keepers are getting their girls to lay eggs with less yolk so that they can make eggs look healthier in nutrition facts. That’s my theory.

My newer theory is this: I use eggs from chickens that get to run around and eat a more natural diet. Back in the day when RLB was putting The Book together, maybe she was using standard eggs from chickens who ate a shittier diet? Maybe the tiny egg yolk is actually more normal and the big yolk of our past is the abomination?

My other theory lies in the general public's assumption that fat is bad, and egg yolks are evil. So maybe chickens were bred to produce smaller yolks and this is the result.

Anyhoo, I am a little giddy as I found out that RLB talked about the egg yolk conspiracy on her blog back in October (read it!). Just recently she posted a bunch of letters she recieved and a woman brought up the egg yolk conspiracy again. I posted a little comment, and she wrote back to me! Just a two sentence email, but I feel special!

And here it is, my cherished email from the one and only cake lady (I am but a tiny minion):

thank you!!! i was beginning to feel like i was imagining things. no one else seemed to notice this.

On 4 Dec 2005 21:10:11 -0000, [me] wrote:
Aha--the egg yolk conspiracy (as I like to call it) has gone public! I've noticed that extra large egg yolks are closer in weight to what was once a large egg yolk. So now I separate and weigh out the yolks and whites (because obviously there is way too much egg white in an extra large egg). Its a good thing egg whites freeze so well. Can't wait for your new cake book!


Sigh. Her email means as much to me as did Felicia's ABBA turd that she wore in a vial around her neck.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Consolation Prize

So I'm sitting here in the kitchen after an amazingly lazy Sunday and I decided to try out my consolation prize. This is the 7 in cheesecake made with the leftover cheesecake batter from the birthday boys' flourless chocolate cake.

It is a tasty cheesecake, but it seems too creamy, if that's possible. Like a little undercooked. I think I put too much water in the water bath. I know that can slow down the baking process.

The Grand Marnier is barely detectable, but that's okay. I just know now that I would need to put a lot more than 3 tbsp to make a drunken cheesecake.

At the birthday shindig we got into a discussion about savory cheesecakes: breakfast bacon cheesecakes, sausage-leek-caramelized onion cheesecakes, etc. Then we got really creative and talked about a cheetos crust for said savory cake. People got really excited about that possibility. Hmm.

me and stinky Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Tonight Isn't As Much Fun Anymore

I'm just feeling whiny because I'm not going to see my man this weekend.

The flourless cake is well on its way to being complete.

I need to remember that I cannot bake a cake and have a deep conversation with someone. My dear friend Annmarie called from Spain as I was beating the crap out of the eggs and so I spent time talking to her instead of getting the cake mixed and into the oven without deflating the eggs too much. Then after I put the cake in the oven I realised I forgot the cheesecake layer!! The cheesecake batter was sitting all nice and pretty off to the side, totally neglected. (Kind of how I feel right now....not really, just being dramatic.) So instead of having a layer of cheesecake in the middle, there's a layer of cheesecake on top. Oh well.

I substituted Grand Marnier for the lemon juice in the cheesecake. The uncooked batter didn't have a strong Grand Marnier taste to it, but you could tell there was a little somethin somethin in the background. We'll see how it turns out cooked.

How it turned out cooked:

Tasty. I thought the Grand Marnier was noticable, but faint. The problem was that the cheesecake didn't get to firm up like it wanted to. It would have liked 24 hours in the refrigerator, which I didn't really understand. So when I unmolded the cake after 3 hours and inverted it onto a plate, I noticed that the cheesecake layer started sagging and oozing. Oops. Quickly I reinverted it and reapplied all the cheesecake that had stuck to the plate. So it was more like a cheesecakey frosting. Which isn't a bad thing. It spooged a bit down the sides of the cake as I drove over to the party. I kept my cool, unlike the last time I made a birthday cake for the same group of people and the cake totally fell apart on the drive over which completely unhinged me. I was totally, dramatically pissed off. However, this time--no problem!

I thought the raspberry sauce was a little too strong for the cake, but maybe that's because I dumped a lot of it right on top of my slice. Maybe a little bit on the side would have been better.

I used 200 g Lindt extra bittersweet and 254 g Scharffenberger 70% this time. The Scharffenberger chocolate seems to have more of a cocoa flavor compared to Lindt. Lindt has this wonderful caramel undertone. Schaffenberger chocolate also tends to make a drier torte, go figure.

Have I mentioned how easy this cake is? You just need the chocolate, 2 sticks of butter and 6 eggs. That's it. You melt the chocolate and the butter in a double boiler. You put the eggs over simmering water and beat/whisk the shit out of them until they are warm to the touch. Once warmed, you take them off the stove and continue to beat them until they triple in volume. Then you fold half of the eggs into the chocolate/butter. Then you incorporate the rest of the eggs, scrape into a 8 in springform, tuck it into a water bath, and bake at 425 for ten minutes. You let the cake cool at room temp for 45 minutes, then chill it for 3 hours. Before serving you should bring the cake back up to room temperature and that's it. Crazy easy.

Even though my night didn't turn out as planned, I still enjoyed myself immensely, and I got to eat a tasty braised pork shoulder. So I'll quit my whining, waah wahhh waaaaaah.

Consolation prize: I have a nice little 7 inch cheesecake in my refrigerator (getting its 24 hour chill time). It's not the same as cuddling with the Stinky, but it'll do.

Today Is A Good Day (So Far)

Once I get my lazy ass out of bed I will be baking up that flourless chocolate cake with the cheesecake layer and the raspberry sauce.

But in the meantime I have been enjoying my pirated wireless internet connection from my comfy bed and found out that my dear cake mistress and mentor, Rose Levy Beranbaum, has recently started A CAKE BLOG! It's mainly a question and answer forum for desperate bakers like myself obsessed with her many books. But still!

(OH MY GOD this is why I LOVE her!!!!!!!!!!)

For all of you who don't know, pretty much every cake I bake comes from her book, The Cake Bible. My battered, trashed, falling apart copy of The Book is my constant companion in times of woe. I am trying to gather up the funds to have Kinko's laminate the pages and spiral bind the book since all the pages are beginning to fall out. Please donate to my worthy cause. Help the children.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Geekfest

Nethack will suck you in and never let you go. It's a great game.

Something Flourless This Way Comes

I have been invited to a birthday shindig this weekend and since the birthday boy is attached to someone whom I owe cake, I am hoping to make one cake and have it count for both of them! (Hope you don't mind, kids.) They shouldn't complain, they are getting the flourless chocolate torte with the layer of cheesecake in the middle with lightly sweetened raspberry sauce on the side.

That frickin torte is three ingredients: chocolate, butter, eggs. It doesn't get any better than that.

On another note, this shitty winter weather makes me want to play nethack all day long. That game fuckin rocks.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Money Makes The World Go Crazy

Some more digging around about the american revolution and post war reconstruction and the like has reaffirmed my belief that:

its all about economics and who has what and who is pissed off enough about what they wish they had and who has a lot to loose and therefore drives the government machine

Post revolution there were three main rebellions that consisted of poor farmers and sometimes disgruntled military men: Shay's Rebellion, the Whiskey Rebellion (I was right!), and...oh no...one other rebellion that I've already forgotten. Mr Squellati and Mr Dienger would be oh so disappointed in me. Shay's Rebellion and the Whiskey Rebellion were put down rather forcibly. Things like the Riot Act and the Sedition Act (a forerunner of the Patriot Act) were written. Land was seized and parceled mainly out to the already rich landed gentry and little bit to the middle class. No consideration was given to women, non landowners, native americans, slaves, freed slaves.

Anyway, enough about things that are not cake.

Once I get back home (currently at parent's house in former homeland of Los Altos ) I am looking forward to seeing my fuzzy kitties, getting back to my practice, driving to Olympia to see my man, and baking some seriously serious cakes. Seriously.

I'm thinking about a turtle cake...two layers of the chocolate cake made with the muscovado sugar and layering it with toasted pecans and homemade caramel. No frosting other than oozy caramel.

Also the truffle cake with the cheesecake layer. Gotta do that one.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Let Them Eat Cake!

Watched Dr Zhivago for the first time last night (I know, I know, as a Russian major in undergrad I should have seen the damn film over ten years ago, but hey, how many of you can say you've read Crime and Punishment twice). And so it got me wondering....it seems as though after every "successful" revolution there invaribly comes time for the purge.

And that got me thinking about the American Revolution, and was there any sort of purge/terror/squashing of the loyalists? I certainly can't remember. I may have also been a history major, but my focus was on modern european history. And that was all more than ten years ago. So my rusty little brain can't remember these things anymore.

And if the newly instated us gov't didn't have to silence the opposition, then why?? What made this revolution different?

Since I can't remember anything like a purge...except maybe something to do with the whiskey rebellion....or was that pre-revolution....can't remember....oh soo rusty. Well, anyway.

All I can pull out of my little rusty brain is that, unlike most revolutions, this one was done by the landed gentry. The men with the education and the money, instead of the idealistic students or the angry poor. That's all I can come up with.

So, I thought I'd put this question out to all of you two people who read my blog...do you guys have any idea??

I will poke around on the internet for answers, but just thought I'd ask you first.

See, I have more on my mind than cake...but in a twisted way this has everything to do with cake. Off with your head.

________

Hmm. I'm so tired I just want to cry myself to sleep, but here's an interesting take on american history and The Plight Of The American People: http://www.hermes-press.com/completing.htm

Goodnight my friends and relations.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"Make Me Something With Chocolate!"

I get that request a lot.

What if I coat a piece of shit in chocolate? Does that count?

Sorry, I'm a little sick today.

I can't stand death by chocolate anything. I don't get it. People order the death by chocolate and then they take two bites and complain about how rich it is and can't finish it! Dumbasses!! Then they just want more and more bites of my pleasantly chocolately, but not deathly, dessert, which they won't get! Fools. Go accept the responsibility for what you have ordered and eat that fuckin abomination of chocolate and deal with your insulin shock.

I have two requests for a chocolate something out there that I will take care of after Thanksgiving, and thankfully neither of them wants death by anything. Maybe one of them will get the chocolate truffle cake with the layer of cheesecake. That was some good chocolate shit.

August 20, 2005
Annmarie’s Goodbye Barbeque
Flourless Decadence
Chocolate Truffle Cake with a layer of Cheesecake
Served with lightly sweetened vanilla whipped cream and raspberry puree

Annmarie was worried that the Truffle Cake on its own would be too much—so she was wondering what we could do about that. She suggested a layer of whipped cream but I told her that it wouldn’t work. (You can’t bake whipped cream…what would that do, anyway?) So she suggested cream cheese and I thought—YES!!! A layer of cheesecake would be EXCELLENT. So that is what we did.

For the truffle cake, I used 200g extra bittersweet Lindt chocolate and 254g 70% bittersweet. Good combination. Good texture, too. I didn’t do the anal egg measuring. I didn’t think it was that important for a truffle cake.

I made the cheesecake exactly like The Book calls for, and I was worried that the lemon juice wouldn’t marry well with the chocolate, but it was okay. It would have been better without. Maybe with Grand Marnier or even just more vanilla. I really didn’t need to make the entire cheesecake recipe but I decided that hey, why not? Then we can have little cheesecakes. Glutton.

I made the cheesecake batter first, since it didn’t need any eggs to help it rise. It sat nicely nearby as I made the chocolate cake. I was very pleased with my multitasking…things got done very quickly…after running to the store for more sugar…and more sour cream… (well Annmarie went to the store for sour cream).

I spooned the cheesecake batter in and I didn’t want more than one inch but I did more than that, which really was okay. Then I spooned the chocolate truffle over that and spread it over in a nice layer and then baked it according to the truffle directions…which is a lot less than the cheesecake directions so I was worried that the cheesecake would be really soft and runny. It is soft, but not runny.

With the cheesecake layer the whipped cream was superfluous but the raspberry sauce/puree was still really important.

The chocolate cake was really nice and fluffy and wonderfully flavored. Yum!

Friday, November 11, 2005

I Know Sometimes I Suck

I am trying to find all my film that I need to develop because I have over a year of cake pictures that need to be seen!

So I know I suck for not being able to find any of my undeveloped film, but love me for who I am, not who you think I am.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Baking is Part of a Good Health Regimen

We've done three open house/art openings for our clinic and I've tried several different ways to present the cakes...the first time I made a ton of cakelettes that were baked up in this cake pan that make six little flower-shaped cakes. The challenge with those was making cakes that were interesting enough not to need frosting. But then we cut each cakelette into quarters to strech out the servings which ruined the pretty little flower designs. So the next time (see The Week of Too Many Cakes) I made a bunch of 8x8 squares and we cut them up before serving them. That worked out better, but it was labor intensive. This last time I made cupcakes and I think I have found the winner.

I didn't make the red velvet cupcakes for the art opening after all...but I did make them a week or two later for our Feng Shui Consult. That's already been posted--look for Why Would I Use Beets When I Could Use Chemicals in the October archives.

By the way, I love you for reading my blog. Whoever you are.

October 1, 2005
MHC’s 3rd Art Opening and One Year Anniversary
MHC Cupcakes
Choc fudge cakes with egg white choc bc
[Red velvet cakes with cream cheese frosting]
Vanilla-orange cakes with orange blossom frosting
Gingerbread with chestnut mousse cream

(9/26) oh shit I only have 5 days to bake a thousand and one cupcakes. Hey—that would be fun—to have a thousand and one cupcake party. File that away.

I am thinking that I will make a little chart that will decipher which cupcakes are what flavors. The frostings can be the tell-all. Like the white frosted cupcakes can be the cream cheese frosted red velvet cupcakes. And the blue frosted cupcakes can be the yellow cupcakes with vanilla frosting. Etc.

(9/27) okay. I have a game plan. I will go shopping at trader joe’s for all the eggs and butter. And maybe the cream cheese. And the milk. And the whipping cream and buttermilk. Then, to zupan’s to get the flour, sugar, chestnuts, molasses, muscovado sugar, etc. I will not cry. I will not stay up way too late. This will be a fun experience. Somewhere I need to get the foil cupcake cups. And another cupcake baking pan would be a good idea.

The gingerbread cake is supposed to be baked in a 8 by 8 square pan so I don’t think I’m going to get many cupcakes out of one batch…I may be okay with that but I may not be. Perhaps I will bake that batch up first so that if by the time I come around to the end and I feel I need more, I can go back and make more. Does that make sense? I’m not sure it does.

(9/28) The world is a crazy place. I can’t get over it sometimes.

Anyway…I bought chestnut puree, so I don’t have to cook the chestnuts in milk and puree them. So there goes tonight’s plan. So I thought I could prep for the vanilla-orange cupcakes by getting the zest into the yolk mixture and letting it sit together overnight. Makes it more orangey. Last time I used 4 tbsp for a 10 in cake, so I thought I’d just use 3 tbsp this time. Then I can measure up the rest of the dry ingredients like I did last time, making it easier to bake up tomorrow. I would bake tonight, but I forgot to buy foil cupcake liners and now I don’t want to go to the store.

Also, couldn’t find orange blossom water and tang at the freakin Zupan’s, so I decided to do what I did last time and use some orange juice and a little zest. Maybe a little food coloring to make it more orange? Hmm.

(9/29) OF COURSE, the day I set aside to bake like a mad fool in my kitchen is the day that the maintenance people decide to tear up my kitchen to replace the fuses. FUUUUCK!! So I hauled most of my baking crap down to MHC to bake the night away. I forgot my measuring cup and my strainer so I went to Fred’s and bought them, and luckily I got one of them free! They were having a buy one get one on kitchen gadgets and tools. Yay for me. And just now I realize I forgot the corn syrup. Can’t make frosting. DAMMIT! So, should I make another round of cupcakes or go home and finish up there? Sigh.

The orange cupcakes taste great and are ready to be frosted. I decided to frost them with plain ol vanilla buttercream. The choc ones are baking away. I found out that foil cupcake cups rock because you don’t need a cupcake pan to bake them in! I just put a bunch on a cookie sheet and off they went. SO nice.

Wow, those 2 batches of cupcakes yielded 30 cupcakes per…I don’t think I need to do four batches. Crazy. I think I’ll do the gingerbread one, mainly because it’s a smaller recipe and I’ve already opened up the chestnut puree so I can’t return it. The stuff for the red velvet cake, I bought on the company card, so I have to either make it for the team or return all the stuff.

Did I mention I have solved the egg yolk conspiracy?? Extra large eggs—the yolks are comparable to what she thinks a large egg should have. However, waaaay too much egg white. The egg white collection in my freezer continues to grow, despite my efforts.

(10/1) I made the gingerbread cupcakes this morning and they are tasty! The batter was really runny so I was worried that they wouldn’t rise very well but they did. The cupcakes on the cookie sheet actually overflowed. They were on the bottom rack in the oven—maybe that was why? I filled each cup about 2/3 to ¾ full and the ones in the cupcake tin on the top shelf didn’t overflow, they just rose to a point like a normal cupcake! The batter made almost 2 dozen cupcakes, so I decided not to make the red velvet cupcakes. I already have 80 cupcakes…and I am running out of time. Oh well!

(10/2) well, things went well. I don’t know why I decided to frost the freaking gingerbread cupcakes right before leaving to go to the clinic—there was no time to refrigerate them so the frosting would get hard—much of it stuck to the saran wrap. And they were harder to transport b/c I had to worry about all that frosting. Also, whipped cream frosting doesn’t look good after a couple of hours. Maybe it would have looked better if I had used the powdered sugar…or gelatinized it…or maybe that’s just the problem with chestnut puree, it makes whipped cream look funky after a few hours at room temp. I think my favorite were the gingerbread-chestnut. And frosting with the back of a spoon looked better than piping it on, since I don’t really know how to pipe. One of these days.

Hey!! After all those setbacks and craziness, I didn’t cry!! Yay!!!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Post Post Party Report

Okay. I ate the last piece of white/white cake today and I have a better opinion of it. I guess it (or I) needed to mellow out a bit.

The cake was actually tasty! It wasn't dry, it was lovely and had a nice vanilla scent and taste. The frosting wasn't too greasy/buttery. I don't know what my problem was last night.

Sorry, cake.

Tips And Tricks For Cakes That Rock (or, Finding Your Inner Baking Powder)

This is for Jason. (see how much you mean to this acupunk broad?)

1. If you are going to make a cake that everybody goes ga-ga for, you HAVE to throw out the idealistic fairy tale that you can make a healthy cake that people will love. Nobody loves whole wheat pastry flour like they love bleached cake flour. Honey is nice, but finely granulated white sugar makes for a better texture. Just deal with it. Its not like you eat cake everyday. Do you?

1a. If you are having trouble with rule #1, then here is your mantra: "I am eating cake. Cake is not healthy. I am going to embrace all the health risks involved and LOVE IT."

1b. If you are still having trouble, go back to your dense, dry, coarse, date sugar, raisin studded, sad-excuse-for-a-treat hippie cakes and leave me alone.

Back to the tips and tricks:

2. Go buy some cake flour. It makes for a way better cake. If you want that fine, light texture, you want cake flour. All purpose flour is for bread and pastries. Harumph.

3. Go buy fine-grained sugar, like bakers sugar or bar sugar or whatever that stuff is called. It dissolves better and creates a more open crumb.

4. You really need kick ass vanilla extract. Don't buy fake crap unless you want to insult your loved ones. Nielson-Massey is my current favorite (see yesterday's post).

5. Margarine is for killing yourself. Use REAL butter, and learn to love butterfat for all its glory. Your body doesn't even know what to do with margarine, so it stores the stuff in your arteries! Get it away!! Stop insulting your loved ones!

6. Good baking pans make a huge difference. Accept the fact that you are going to be using aluminum pans and move on. Refer back to rule #1 if you keep thinking about all the health risks you are taking.

7. You are going to need some sort of electric mixing device. Unless you really want to buff up those forearms.

8. You need a timer. Don't think you don't. You do.

9. Weighing your ingredients will give you much better results than measuring, and it is much faster. You can throw a cake together and get it in the oven in 30 minutes instead of an hour. I started hitting perfect cake status once I began to weigh everything, inlcuding the yolks and whites. I'm not saying, but I'm saying.

10. If you are going to need chocolate, use the best chocolate that you can find. The Best. Using a hershey's bar will only suck balls. Don't do it. Don't insult your loved ones like that.

11. And of course, pour a whole lot of love into that cake and everything will be fine.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Post Party Report

Well, I have the last little piece left in my hands, so I guess people really liked it.

Hmm. I thought the cake was a little dry and the frosting was a little too much; too greasy/buttery, too sweet, too something. Meh.

Cake dissatisfaction. I hate that.

The Frosting.

Well, the frosting is tasty, but I don't think it is what she was talking about when she said "white frosting." But that's okay.

You have to use a whole box of butter to make this frosting. That's good times.

So we shall see how this cake goes over with the peeps and homies. They always say nice things about my cakes, but the real test is if they go for seconds or take some home.

I will report back post party.

Anxiety.

The cakes were in the oven a little too long....but I'm sure that's okay. Also, they didn't rise very high...I'm sure that's okay too.

anxiety.

anxiety.

it will be fine.

i'm sure it will be fine.

right???????

time to make frosting.

How Lucky For You!

Nov 1 2005
River's Birthday
The Boring (Yet Tasty) Cake
2 layers white cake
frosted with vanilla buttercream

This is a real-time cake post, people. How lucky for you!

I have my teacher's white cake in the oven baking away as we speak. I know, her birthday was yesterday but we are celebrating tonight during class. So there.

I have mild cake anxiety about this one (okay, fine, I ALWAYS have mild cake anxiety). The texture of the batter seemed a little off, a little grainy. And as I was scraping down the bowl I noticed the sides seemed a little greasy, as if the butter didn't really incorporate very well. I'm not sure why this would be. The egg whites were a little old (were frozen a year ago) and the baking powder is getting old...but would that be the reason why the texture would be off and the butter seem to not be incorporated?

However, the batter tasted great. I am using Nielson-Massey's Tahitian Vanilla Extract and this stuff ROCKS. I am in love with this vanilla extract. I would like to take a bath in it.

For the frosting I was planning on making the fancy buttercream with the creme anglaise and italian meringue, but it called for a vanilla bean and I couldn't afford it because I needed to buy another battery for the scale. Priorities. I wanted the scale to work more than I wanted to make the fancy frosting, and money is tight. I'll just make the classic buttercream and dump in some of this lovely vanilla extract. That will just have to do.

More later.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Sneaking in Lemon Curd Would Be Wrong

My teacher's birthday is on Halloween, which to those of us who know her, makes a lot of sense. She would be born on Halloween.

I am making her a cake, of course, and as per her request I am making a white cake with white frosting.

BORING

I am fighting the urge to sneak something interesting into her cake, like a crunchy meringue disc, or raspberry jam or lemon curd, or white chocolate chips, or something, ANYTHING interesting, PLEASE....

She is allergic to chocolate and I love her and respect her and I will happily bake her a fabulous white cake with white frosting, but I get to complain just a little. In all fairness, she also said a banana nut cake would also be good, and I do make a killer sour cream banana cake (nuts would be easy to add) but what do you frost a killer banana cake with but sour cream ganache? Are you seeing the problem here people?

In my teacher's case I totally understand the white/white request, but for all you other white/white lovers who have no dietary reason to choose to enjoy something so boring and unimaginative, I ask you all, WHY? Why you kill me softly with your boring taste?

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Cake That Started It All

I started planning my 31st birthday cake maybe about a month before the actual day, and one day I realised that I really should be keeping notes on all my musings. Hence, the cake journal was born, and from that, this most excellent blog.

May 27 2004
Jen’s 31st birthday (The Mad Hatter Tea Party)
The Grand Cake Extravaganza
2 layers perfect all American chocolate butter cake (10 in)
strawberry mousseline buttercream
caramel cheesecake with almond flour crust (7 in)
chocolate sheets encasing and undulating over both tiers

I want a tiered cake, just to see if I can do it. Not that many people are coming (not enough I mean to warrant a tiered cake) but dash it all. I’m doing it.

Botom tier: 2 layer choc butter cake filled and frosted with strawberry mousseline buttercream. 9 in.
Top tier: cheesecake, toasted almond flour crust and toasted chopped almonds and caramel top. Caramel might have to be swirled in to prevent oozing.
Tier the sucker, heat the bathroom, and encase both top and bottom in choc praline sheets!!! It will be like a chocolate mountain! Or a volcano! What could be better than that?!?!?

I’m slightly concerned about the cheesecake because I’m not sure how high to fill the pan and the last couple of times I tried her cheesecake recipe it didn’t fully cook. But I’ll try anyway. And also; should I omit the lemon juice since I’m doing caramel? Will they clash? You know what might be cool: a hard caramel disc to place upon the cheesecake. Like a crème brulee topping. Oh my god. That could be EXCELLENT. Or, I could pulverize the caramel in the food processor and stir it in with the batter so that there would be little crunchy bits of caramel in the cake. That would go with the chocolate praline sheets. But gooey caramel sounds good, doesn’t it? Yum. Kind of a dulce de leche cheesecake. Yum. Excellent.

(5/24) so I went to the Decorette shop looking for cake pans today and discovered that a 6 in pan is teeny—too teeny for a cheesecake that more than one person will want to eat…so I decided to make the bottom tier 10 in and the top tier 7 in. This will truly be a mad cake: a 2 layer 10 in cake can feed about 50 people and I only need to feed about 15!!!! MAD, I tell you, MAD…

I’ve decided that if indeed the cake ends up looking like a volcano I’ll go back to the store and get some dancing teenagers to position on the cake to make it look like they are about to fall in the volcano. Not typically a mad hatter theme, more Polynesian, but its still mad. And dammit its MY birthday, I get to make the rules!! Off with your head!!

I made the mousseline buttercream tonight and something weird happened with the sugar syrup…you make this sugar syrup with ¼ cup water and ¾ cup sugar that you bring to a boil, take off the heat, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks, then you put the syrup back on the stove and let it boil until it gets to the soft ball stage…which I think I did, and I immediately transferred the syrup to the glass measuring cup and then I got distracted and gave the cats another round of food and put the pot in the sink and filled it up with cold water. By then the syrup had begun to harden and crystallize! So I went immediately to task with adding the “syrup” and beating the eggs furiously, etc. There were little crunchy sounds being made by the beaters…and there was a lot of “syrup” (now looking more like big sugar chunks—like rock candy kind of, or if the sugar came out of solution and chunked up) left in the cup. But after adding all the butter (which had oversoftened and I had to throw it back in the fridge to firm up—was beginning to separate) I tasted the buttercream and it was fine—very buttery and faintly sweet. The recipe said not to add more than ¾ cup lightly sweetened strawberry puree but I ended up using more like 1 ¾ cup puree. I guess that’s the advantage of using butter with a lower moisture content and not adding liquor to this buttercream—there’s plenty of leeway to dump in tons of puree. Which I did. And it is good. There isn’t this overpowering hit of strawberries when you taste it, but then the aftertaste is all strawberry goodness. Maybe four days in the fridge will encourage all of the flavors to come together.

I have to say it would be much easier to do these things with a nice little saucier and a good candy thermo and A DIGITAL SCALE.

I was reading up in The Book and she made her cheesecake layers 3 in high for a tiered wedding cake…plus she gives the instructions on how long to bake it…so I guess I’ll do the same thing…fill the pan close to the top and bake it for the prescribed time. I think I’ll make the regular recipe and bake the rest of the batter as little cheesecake cupcake thingys. We’ll see.

(5/28) Made the cheesecake yesterday. Note to self: 3 cups of sour cream means 24 oz! I had to go get more sour cream.

The cheesecake recipe is crazy easy; esp if everything is at room temp. The caramel recipe is the one from Julia Child that I got out of the FoodDay and it rocks. Really easy, totally yummy. So I poured about 1/3 of the cheesecake batter into the pan (I didn’t grease it) and then I poured half of the caramel and then 1/3 of the cheesecake batter then the rest of the caramel and then the rest of the cheesecake batter, right up to the top of the pan. Then I used a butter knife to swirl in the caramel; I hope it didn’t all sink to the bottom, but that wouldn’t be bad either. Then I baked the sucker in a water bath. I forgot to take it out in time (I really could use a timer!) and it baked for 10 minutes longer than it needed and it had already pulled away from the sides and cracked something serious across the top. But oh well. At least I hope this means its totally baked all the way through. I have fears of the bottom not releasing from the pan, but I don’t think that will happen…I hope. At least this time the cheesecake didn’t sink. Didn’t get the chopped toasted almonds on top. I was worried if I put them on at the beginning of the bake they would burn. Then by the end of the bake the cake was so set the nuts wouldn’t have set in the cake like I had wanted. Maybe I should have tried anyway. Oh well.

(What I’ve failed to mention so far is that I had MAJOR cheesecake trauma the last time I tried to bake a cheesecake. In my west-facing oven of a kitchen, in the middle of a serious heat wave. In the middle of the night. The stupid cheesecake looked super undercooked after its prescribed bake time and I stuck it out on the back stoop to hopefully cool it better…and a little bit later I open the back door to see my damn cat eating the freakin cheesecake—right from the center!! Which was still undercooked!! Fuckin!!)

I baked the cakes this am after premeasuring everything last night. That is a really good system. The butter and eggs come up to room temp and all the dry ingredients are all measured out and ready to go in the mixer; the chocolate was measured out and ready to go in another bowl; I just had to grease up the pans and preheat the oven and begin mixing. Way easy. I got those cakes mixed up and the first pan in the oven in minutes instead of an hour later.

And amazing—with the right pan and fresh baking powder the cake layers are actually 1 ½ inches high like they’re supposed to be! Miracle!

Again, if I had a digital scale, things would have been a little easier, and faster. A timer would be good, too. I think I just need a battery for the one that I have. The frosting is chilled solid; won’t be able to frost until this evening. I’ve got to get the chocolate today for the sheets.

(5/29) Almost forgot to buy chocolate. One thing I forgot about that damn frosting is that it is SO emulsified that the butter will fall out of suspension just by thinking about agitating it. Which means I had to pull out the mixer and beat the frosting back into submission and it never really was the same again. So next time I use mousseline buttercream, esp if I am going to add a shitload of fruit puree, frost the cake right away. Don’t save it up. Frosting the cake was kind of a trial. But, I have to say, even though one of the cake layers isn’t thoroughly baked and the other one got dry and fell apart, the cake looks good. It is the appropriate height. Each layer is 1.5 inches high, just like they are supposed to be. Between the proper pans and fresh baking powder, I am pleased.

The cheesecake came out of the pan easily enough. The almond crust is totally soggy. But that’s okay. I used the straw technique to stabilize the cake for the cheesecake and it seems to have worked fine. Even though I forgot to even the top layer of the cake so everything is a little crooked, I guess that’s fine since it’s a mad party. I should have made it even more crooked!

The chocolate sheets were easy enough to make, but I think I didn’t temper it that well at all. I wasn’t really being super diligent about the tempering. I used the big one to spread out the choc to make the sheets. I made them thinner than ¼ inch but I think that was a good decision. They melted and were pliable much quicker. I preheated the bathroom. But still the bathroom wasn’t warm enough and I had to crank up the heat. I think the buttercream took a beating being under all that heat. I think it began to melt under the chocolate. But the choc sheets undulated nicely. And I have to remember NOT TO TOUCH THE CHOC WITH MY FINGERS when coaxing the choc to bend nicely. I made all sorts of fingerprints and discolorations from playing with the choc. That’s why I think I didn’t temper it so well. I don’t remember that happening to such a degree last time.

And I left it on the counter last night and went to bed happy, and this morning as I get up to look at it there are little pools of amber colored liquid around the base of the cake. And I don’t know if the cheesecake is dripping, or if the buttercream started to separate and that’s strawberry juice or what, so I put the cake back in the fridge for now. I’ll take it out around noon. I am a little bummed. I guess I should have put it in the fridge last night after doing the sheets and exposing this heat sensitive cake to heat. Lesson learned.

So now that it’s “over” I would say
mousseline buttercream should be used right away
maybe stick to regular butter to come closer to the right proportions of fat to liquid
fresh baking powder and proper cake pans make a HUGE difference
for bigger cakes a scale would have been nice
prepping and premeasuring the ingredients the night before baking is WONDERFUL
cornstarch in the cheesecake might have helped the sogginess
pay attention when tempering the chocolate (do it properly)
stop touching the sheets with your fingers!!!
maybe choc sheets melting over buttercream and cheesecake isn’t such a great idea
tiered cakes are fun
don’t let butter cakes lay around in the air for long. Wrap them up as soon as they are cool!!!!!!!!
a timer is a good invention that I should take advantage of
when to put nuts on the top of a cheesecake?
organic strawberries look nicer, and let them defrost completely
I should put the cake in the fridge after exposing buttercream and cheesecake to heat so that it can firm up again

(5/30) Post Cake Notes To Self
1. the strawberry-chocolate sensation would have been more appreciated if I had split each layer in half—now to do that, would I need more buttercream? Probably. Maybe in that case I could do alternating layers of strawberry buttercream and whipped cream with fresh strawberry slices—just to not over buttercream the whole experience.
2. the caramel note to the cheesecake was a little understated, but on the whole the cake was really rich, and kind of too sweet. Maybe the caramel was a little underburnt?
3. when removing the top tier, the buttercream on the top of the bottom layer stuck to the bottom of the cake round and came off…how to prevent that?
4. a lot of cake is gone for a cake that was supposed to be enough for 50 people.
5. the chocolate factor was good. Still, the cakes seemed a little dry.
6. the one cake layer that seemed a little undercooked wasn’t too terribly undercooked. Barely noticeable.
7. the sheets are a fancy way to present a cake. Lots of oohs and ahhs and how did you do thats?
8. still don’t know what was oozing…but both cardboard rounds were totally soaked through…

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Evil Bakers Incorporated


I have joked that Evil Pie Man and myself should get together and open up a bakery called Evil Bakers Incorporated. We are only evil in that we get you to eat way more cake pie and ice cream than you reasonably should in one sitting. Secretly you love us.

August 7, 2004
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Party
Blackberry-Orange Cake
Two layers 10 in yellow cake with blackberries and orange zest
Filled and frosted with orange neoclassic buttercream
(this was supposed to be the bottom layer of a three tier cake; the other layers were baked by Allie and Evil Pie Man)

So, I did it again. I totally messed up; the directions for yellow cake almost always throw me off; I poured all of the milk into the egg yolks, when I was supposed to add only a quarter of the milk. I’m supposed to add ¾ of the milk when I mix in the butter, and then add the egg yolks, vanilla, and the last ¼ of milk in three parts later on. Oops. This may make a difference in the final cake. I seem to remember that it did last time I made this mistake. And we’re talking ten egg yolks, and 2.5 cups of milk. If I just keep going, there is a chance that the cakes will suck and I will have to do it all over again, and get another carton of milk and another dozen eggs….and another box of butter…and maybe even more flour….if I risk it. If I don’t risk it and go get more eggs and milk, then what do I do with all those eggs and milk and vanilla (and orange zest, but I’ll get to that in a minute)??? I guess I could also buy a loaf of French bread and make a lot of French toast. Hmm. A possibility.

So to make this a blackberry-orange cake I’ve decided to fold in 2-3 pints of fresh blackberries (that I mildly squashed on the way home) into the batter right before scraping into the pans. And I added 4 teaspoons of orange zest to the yolk mixture...and I’ll add orange zest and squeezed orange juice to the frosting mix, like you would add liquor. We’ll see what happens. Last time I made orange frosting, it was for my birthday last year and I used frozen orange juice concentrate. That turned out pretty good too. But I don’t want the orange flavor in the frosting to overpower the cake. I am finding that the frosting tends to overpower the cake--and what you taste is frosting with the cake in the background; like my complaint about rice with something big and flavorful over it; the rice just serves to hold it together and add a texture and dimension, but it remains far in the background (when in my opinion the rice is just as important).

So it sounds like I am heading off to the store to get a dozen more eggs, another carton of milk, two more oranges, and a loaf of French bread. It could be worse, I guess. I could have two layers of very fallen cake. That would drive me batty.

Mmm, good French toast. That was a good idea.

The batter was so heavy with all those blackberries (I used all three pints, minus the moldy ones) that I had leftover batter (I didn’t want to overfill the pans—no more than half full). I am going to bake up nine cupcakes in a few minutes!

I think b/c of the orange zest (which made the batter taste awesome—you can still taste the vanilla, and the orange…can’t wait to try a cupcake!!!!) the batter was too acidic; it looked curdled. I guess I should have used or added some baking soda—that neutralizes acidity. The problem would be figuring out how much to add. I wonder if the cake will be off in texture or taste w/o baking soda….

I think all that French toast and turkey breakfast sausage made me sleepy.

The cakes seem especially tender and on the verge of falling apart; I have to be careful when layering this cake…is it b/c of all the berries? Decreases stability (less batter to hold it together)? It smells awesome. I am excited. Hopefully those cupcakes will rock.

The cupcakes DO rock—the orange flavor is light and remains in the background…like the first hit is the blackberry, then the vanilla, then the orange…EXCELLENT. The crumb is still tender and fine. I am pleased.

Now I am supposed to paint the basement, but I would rather eat another cupcake and take a nap. Damn.

Cake was good. Got good reviews too. Not too sweet. Frosting wasn’t overpowering. Blackberries stayed in the foreground. Moist. Orange stayed as a hint in the background. I bet tomorrow the frosting will be even more orangier. Wonder if that will be better. Blackberries did sink to the bottom of the cake. Maybe next time I’ll place the bottom layer upside down so that it will look like cake-berries-filling-berries-cake. I wonder if tossing them in flour was helpful to keep them from being too spoogy? It certainly didn’t accomplish what I had hoped for; to keep the all the berries from sinking to the bottom of the cakes.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Zen Buddhism Isn't Always So Stuffy


This is a carrot cake from a recipe book that I got at a Zendo in the Catskill Mountains. I was there for a shiatsu seminar and the place is amazing--so beautiful! The chef had a reputation for being a great cook, and he wrote a cookbook which I ended up buying. In the dessert section he has this recipe for a healthier carrot cake. So I decided to try it out. Its pretty tasty, and really decadent. Not that we had carrot cake when we were there. There wasn't anything so fancy when we were there; still the food was excellent.

August 29, 2004
Green Corn Full Moon Ceremony
Coconut-Pecan Carrot Cake
3 layers coconut-pecan carrot cake (recipe from 3 Bowls)
filled and frosted with orange-cream cheese frosting

Okay, dumbass, a 9 x 13 inch pan is the big rectangular pan….the same amount of batter that will fill that will fill two round 9 in cake pans. So next time you decide you want to make a 2 layer carrot cake based on the recipe from 3 Bowls, you don’t have to double the batter!!

Hence, I am making a four layer carrot cake.

I used half graham flour and half WWPF [whole wheat pastry flour](supposed to use all WWPF) and the cakes rose quite nicely, smell good, aren’t sinking as they cool (keep your fingers crossed).

For a recipe from a zendo, this cake really gilds the lily. We got toasted coconut, toasted pecans, carrots, cinnamon, vanilla, orange zest, whole wheat, honey, maple syrup…good lord, sensory overload yet? But I am very excited to see what this cake tastes like.

Next I need to figure out how much frosting I am going to need to make. Doubling the batch from the book probably won’t be enough, but of course, I don’t know how much one batch will make. Enough to frost a 9 x 13 in cake obviously. But if we are talking a four layer carrot cake, that’s three layers of filling, and each layer is usually about ¾ cup of frosting, and so we are already talking 2 ¼ cups…right? I suck so bad at math. Maybe I will fill it and frost the top, but leave the sides bare. Just to not overdo it. Like I haven’t done that already.

This cake takes a lot of prep time. You have to toast the coconut and the pecans and the wheat germ. You have to zest the oranges, grate the carrots…oi. (and when you’re a dumbass and double the recipe, you have to do a lot more of each)
Some cool things to know:
One standard orange will yield about 2 tsp of grated zest
One 24 oz jar of applesauce will yield 2 ½ cups (dry cups)
One typical sized jar of honey is a little more than 1 ¼ cups
The cakes are super moist; they felt underdone when the time was up and the cake tester came out clean and they were beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. So keep that in mind; they won’t spring back like a butter cake would but when they begin to pull away from the pans and its been about 40 minutes, they are done.

I am a little surprised how nicely they rose, considering there’s no butter-baking powder reaction to poof up the cake. (that’s the reaction, right?) And I didn’t meringue the eggs or anything like that either. In fact, I didn’t even pull out the mixer. Too lazy. I beat it all up with the lovely balloon whisk which seemed to have done a great job. So, the question is, is it really all about the baking powder and the pans?

The next two cakes are baking in my air bake pans: the not as great ones that take a little longer to bake up than the regular aluminum pans that unfortunately I love because they work so well. So perhaps that will give me a clue as to the preceding question—is it all about the baking powder and the pans?

Well, they seemed to have risen quite nicely as well, but maybe not as high…nope, not as high. The cakes from the air bake pans are ¼ in shorter than the cakes from the aluminum pans. So, the pans will influence the height of the cake.

There are equal amounts baking powder to baking soda in this cake, probably b/c of the applesauce? I couldn’t figure it out. Maybe that is helping the cake to rise so nicely, considering I didn’t have any butter and sugar to cream and I didn’t use the mixer to incorporate tons of air and I didn’t whip up the eggs into an airy mass and I used coarse flours (incl wheat germ!). But I did sift the dry ingredients a couple of times! Its just like The Sphinx, it goes right up to the point of being confusing. Terribly mysterious.

Seppo says to grease the pans, but I went ahead and floured them too. I am glad I did that. Would have been helpful to have lined the bottoms of the pans with parchment. As much as I dislike that step. The first 2 layers of cake didn’t really stick to the bottom of the pans, but they did a little. Parchment paper. The very last cake I unmolded stuck to the pan. Like really stuck to the pan. It came out in two pieces; not too disastrous. So yeah. Two words (say it with me, kids!): parchment paper.

do i talk too much? it’s my cake journal.

I am soo tired, its 2:35 am, I am going to go to bed. I don’t think the cakes will dry out overnight; they are so moist! I am not waiting for them to cool completely so I can wrap them airtight. I am going to bed and leaving them on the counter to finish cooling. Goodnight to you.

(8/30) I am not so excited about the cream cheese frosting. Its too cream cheesy. And I upped the honey quotient and the vanilla and orange quotients and its still just too cream cheesy. And I doubled the batch and it made just under four cups of frosting. Not enough to fill and frost a four layer cake. Not even enough to fill and top a four layer cake. So I have a three layer cake that is filled and topped. Good enough. But still displeased about that frosting. We’ll see how it holds up tonight. What the peeps and homies say.

They loved it. But I am not so pleased. But I’m glad the Cake Whore [that was my prototype name; abandoned it for evil cake lady] came through yet again.

(9/8) kinda creepy…but I’ve still got part of the abandoned cake layer in the fridge and it hasn’t spoiled yet! Wiggy!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Week Of Too Many Cakes

This extravaganza happened in the last week of April through the first week of May. Two birthdays, one art opening and a wedding. Now don't get excited, I didn't bake the wedding cake, but as part of the bride's attache' I was mighty busy. I'm really not sure how I got this all done. Never again!

The bride in question is a huge bavarian cream fan, and as she is just about to move back to Portland she feels she deserves a welcome back cake. Preferably with bavarian cream. And she requested I post a photo of her wedding cake, even though I didn't bake it. I told her if I ever got around to developing my film I just might post her cake...

Note to reader: this is a huge fatty of a post, so curl up in chair and get readin'

April 28, 2005
Bridal Shower Prototypes
Bavarian Cream “Cakelettes”
Bavarian Cream with Grand Marnier

Okay so I didn’t use a vanilla bean. These are just prototypes to see if one can really use Bavarian cream in a mold without using cake. But I did add Grand Marnier. This is my thought: I could use the leftover Grand Marnier sauce from the Golden Grand Marnier cakes to drizzle over each “cakelette.”

Okay so the problem is that I didn’t grease the molds b/c I was worried the grease would interfere with the taste of the creams. And I really wanted to see just how nonstick this nonstick finish is. And I can’t get the creams out of the pan. Hmm.

I guess I could have lined each mold very carefully with plastic wrap, but I’m not sure if I could successfully line each mold with plastic wrap and still have the flower design come out well. Next time I make prototypes.

Also I wonder: if I seriously pressed in a small round of biscuit, like put it in there and then put something heavy in there to press out the flower design, would it work? And then make a bunch of little charlottes?

After leaving them to warm up to room temp and much shaking of the pan, the little guys fell out one by one. And none of them look great. But they taste good. Very creamy. I think it’s a better texture than the first round. But after licking my fingers and picking out a little bit of the cream left in the pan I am coughing and phlegmy. No cream for me. Damn.

(5/1) The Grand Marnier was a great touch, esp if the cream isn’t made with a vanilla bean. Never tried the sauce to go with it. Oh well.

April 30, 2005
Regenia’s Birthday
Birthday By Chocolate, Gluten Free Style
Two layers gluten free chocolate spice cake (doctored mix)
Two cocoa meringue discs
Chai chocolate buttercream
Chocolate Chip Whip Cream
Chocolate cream glaze

(4/28) I can already feel myself passing out from all that chocolate…..

So far I have only baked the two cake layers. I used a gluten free mix, to which I added vanilla extract (can you believe none was called for? Heathens.) and cinnamon and cloves. Makes it a little spicy. I debated on cardamom, but chickened out. But cardamom will be in the glaze, oh yes it will. These gluten free cake mixes turned out two nice cakes. They rose well and have a dark glossy look to them. Smelled good. Texture, we’ll see. I wrapped them up separately in lightly greased plastic wrap and heavy duty foil and stuck them in the fridge. Hope that they will be fine until Sat.

I wanted to assemble the whole cake ahead of time, but because I insist on putting whipped cream in the middle, I can’t pre assemble. I just think that for all that chocolate, it will be nice to have a little dairy in the middle to temper everything. Am I imposing my tastes on Regenia? Perhaps. I am willing to admit that perhaps I am doing that.

I bought chocolate chai bars from Dagoba with which I was going to make the glaze, but I just noticed that they are milk choc bars…won’t do. The proportions would be all off and I am not prepared to sit down and figure them out. But, I am totally going to steep the cream in cardamom pods and cinnamon and ginger etc. This choc bar may become my favorite. It is damn good.

I have some light whipped ganache in the freezer leftover from Allie’s birthday cake, and I hope I have enough. As long as I use it sparingly, I have enough. Yikes. Maybe I should make a choc buttercream….give the cake that silky texture…then we’ll have a crunchy, creamy, dense, silky thing going on. I like that. Maybe I can use that dagoba choc after all. Hmmmmmmm.

I was really reluctant to make the meringue discs but they were really easy to make. I made them a little stiffer, using 100% granulated sugar. Cause I didn’t have any powdered. However, I think that one recipe should make one meringue disc; I think that I am not letting the meringue ooze properly from the bag. I made one and a 1/3 disc with one batch. Then when I was piping out the rest of the disc with the second batch I was letting it ooze better (I think) b/c it was a thicker ring. Then I made a bunch of kisses with the rest of the meringue. Either I can use them on top of the cake or crumble them into the whipped cream or I can eat them myself. Whatever. At this point I am too sugared out to care. Off to bed.

(5/1) I made the chai choc buttercream and it kicked ass. I used the really easy milk choc buttercream recipe—basically you whip up the butter and melt the choc (½ milk and ½ bitter) and then beat it into the butter. I love that. No sugar syrup, no separated eggs…good times. The bc was strong enough to perfume the entire cake.

The whipped cream was the kind with the gelatin to stabilze it…I added chopped choc chips to it. I was reluctant to make this recipe b/c I thought it would be difficult, but it was really easy. And it held its shape well and never watered out, even after being at room temp for 12 hours.

The cakes shrunk in diameter more than the usual ¼ inch. I had to recut the meringue discs. In fact, the second disc that was from two different batches never really held its shape well and fell apart. So I just pieced it together. But interesting. The second batch of meringue didn’t dry as hard as the first batch did. Curious.

The glaze should have been fine but as I began to pour it over the cake, I noticed that it was beginning to separate. I think I have figured out why: I stir and agitate it too much. If this is a super-saturated solution, which it is kinda, then the more agitation, the more likely it will fall out of suspension. But once it dried, you couldn’t tell. Glazing the cake was a pain in the ass. But it looked great. And I can’t think of a better way to finish off the cake—more buttercream would have been way too much. WAY too much.

This cake was like 5 ½ inches high! It was also really heavy. I had eaten meringue pieces and choc and bc and whipped cream etc all day, so once I got my piece of cake, I just couldn’t finish it. It was even hard for me to enjoy it. Just way too much. Also, I didn’t like the texture of the cakes. It was grainy—not even a coarse crumb, but literally grainy as if things didn’t dissolve or incorporate. But the flavor was fine. You couldn’t really taste the cinnamon and cloves in the cake—at least not that I can remember. Jenn said it’s the best cake I’ve made yet! Thanks, Jenn.

Wrapping the cakes in lightly greased saran wrap was a great idea. I am glad I thought of it! Oh—and the freaking buttercream—letting it sit out at room temp it got totally hard!! I guess my house isn’t “room temp.” I started to remelt it over a double boiler but then decided just to beat the crap out of it. And even then, once it rested and I stopped paying attention to it, HARDENING. And Regenia said the whipped cream layer saved the cake from being way too much. I agree. I just can’t handle too much choc.

The shittiest part about this cake experience was having to wash the mixing bowl and beaters after every step and having to cut up all the choc by hand. So things I am now coveting are: a real cuisinart, and another mixing bowl.

May 4, 2005
MHC Second Art Opening
Cakes and cakes and cakes

(4/28)
Yes, I have been obsessed with cakes lately.

These are my thoughts for the mhc cakes: make 8x8 squares, possibly fill and definitely frost the tops, make a bunch of different kinds, cut them up into squares, and just put one out at a time. Make it simpler. Once we cut up those little flower cakelettes, the prettiness was ruined. Plus it took a lot of work to do all of those cakelettes. So I am going to try it this way. I figure each 8x8 square can yield 16 to 25 servings. So four cakes would give me 64-100 servings. Maybe I’ll do five cakes. I am thinking of asking Alma choc if she would give me some choc to make ganache with or something.

This is the menu thus far:
1. Yellow cake with mascarpone frosting and fresh strawberries
2. Spice cake (like flower prototypes)
3. Lemon-lavender cake
4. Banana cake with sour cream ganache
5. German choc with coconut pecan frosting?

Maybe cakes 2 and 3 could be made in a nice bundt pan and then just cut real thin. That could work too. Hmmm.

(5/1) Oh my god, I have so much work to do and I haven’t started yet…was so busy with Regenia’s cake and her and Meredith’s bday parties, and Lisa’s wedding prep….may I get through this week with grace and health…and may these cakes come together effortlessly in a good way!

(5/3) I am soooo tired. One more cake left….then its frosting time….I can do it….help……

First cake: yellow cake, baked in a 9x9x2 square pan. Had extra batter so I made five cupcakes. I cut out my own cardboard squares to support the cakes. Pain in the butt. That’s a great cake, such good vanilla, buttery flavor.

Second cake: Lemon-lavender poundcake. I used the recipe in The Book for the big cake, enough to feed 40 ppl, baked in a 12 cup bundt or a 9 cup kugelhupf (?). I had to go to the Decorette shop to get a bundt pan. And more cardboards and boxes. It was nice to go outside for a little bit. I didn’t put enough lavender in the syrup, but you can still taste as like an aftertaste the lavender in the cake. I only used 3 tbsp of lavender in the syrup instead of the gazillions of tbsp that were called for. Maybe double what I had would have been good. I think I put 2 tbsp to soak in the milk for the cake. I can’t remember now. Its all been a blur of cakeage. The cake’s bottom was all lopsided and as much as I tried to level it, the cake still slopes to one side. Oh well. People will still eat it. I brushed too much syrup on the bottom of the cake—where there wasn’t a crust—so it may be a little structurally unsound. We shall see. More syrup should go where there is a crust, or at least on the top of the cake and not the bottom. I have learned my lesson. Probably.

(5/4) Third cake: banana cake. This came off pretty well. Such a cute little layer—considerably thinner than the yellow cake, but the batter only makes one 9 in layer. So there. It smells good. I hope I get some.

Fourth cake: white spice pound cake. Here there were math issues. Doubling the recipe would make a freaking huge cake—and it would be the cake with the most amounts of each ingredient—which didn’t make sense to me. So I decided to multiply the recipe by 1.5—which comes out just right it turns out. As for the baking powder, I added +1 to the regular amount. The cake rose really super well so we’ll see about the texture.

Fifth cake: by this time, I was super super tired. This was the turtle cake. Again, a little hesitation—supposed to put it in a 9x13, but I could put it in the 9x9 square pan and have leftovers….finally I decided to make the bigger sized cake. I decided not to put choc chips in the middle filling and instead of melting choc chips to spread over the top (a dumb idea anyway) I am going to soften the leftover glaze I used on Regenia’s cake and use that. And put pecans on top.

By the way, what I refer to as "a little hesitation" was really at least 20 minutes of sitting on a step stool in the middle of the night and debating with myself about which pan to put the cake in and what would happen if I just went to bed and would there be enough cake and if I don't make the cake what do I do with the extra ingredients and if I do make the cake which pan should I put the cake in....

I organized this much better this time. I premeasured all the dry ingredients for all the cakes and set them aside in plastic tubs labeled. Everything but the baking powder. So when I needed to bake up a cake, I could just grab the premeasured ingredients and dump them in the mixer, add the baking powder and get the liquids and butter ready. Everything was much faster. And b/c I was baking two different sized cakes, while a square cake was baking I could mix up one of the pound cakes and take out the square cake and pop in the pound cake etc. That worked out most excellently. And the freaking washing. Every 20 min it seemed like. But somehow that went fairly well too.

(5/6) Still exhausted. The mascarpone cream frosting came together without a hitch. It didn’t curdle or anything like The Book warned. And it is very yummy. The strawberries looked great against the cream frosting and tasted excellent. The glaze remelted well but remained separated/curdled. There was just enough to glaze the turtle cake. I even used a piece of dental floss to mark all the cut lines as the glaze cooled and I put a half a pecan on each slice. I finally went with a herringbone pattern with the pecans after laying them all one direction and then alternating rows of vertical-horizontal. Because of the glaze and the pecan per slice they looked the most like petit fours. And the most “professional.” The sour cream ganache came together really well too—but freakin ganache always hardens up before you are done with it. Is my house too cold? I don’t think I keep my house at “room temperature.” Unfortunately later that night as I was resoftening it to scrape out of the pan and into a tub for freezing the ganache began to separate/curdle. I added more sour cream which helped that choc cream glaze I used last year…but it didn’t work. So I let it harden up in the tub and put it in the freezer. What is wrong with me and ganache? Why does it always do that?

The white spice pound cake was a little dense and chewy and not terribly moist. But it was still good. The yellow cake came out fine. The turtle cake was a little funky at first, next time I should make my own caramel, but it was great. The banana cake was awesome. And I love the mascarpone. I didn’t get to try the lemon pound cake but Allison said that the bottom was really intensely lemony. Where all the lemon syrup was. I will work on that. His favorite was the banana b/c the texture was the most perfect. Moist, tender, light, airy, etc. I would say that the yellow cake is like that too.

You know what would have been good for the lemon pound cake? To unmold it, pour in half the syrup, and stick the cake back in. Would it make it too mushy?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Why Would I Use Beets When I Can Use Chemicals?

Okay, okay. Here's what I baked up for today. You'll just have to deal with all the baking escapades being out of chronological order. Actually, I am probably the only freak who has issues with the chronological order thing.

A couple of my coworkers were a little shocked that I used food coloring instead of something natural like beets, but I think that when you are already using white sugar (a chemical, bascially) and cake flour (absolutely no nutritional value whatsoever) then who cares if a whole bottle of red food coloring went into the cake! You're still gonna eat it! And they did!

October 12, 2005
MHC’s Feng Shui Consult
There’s No Funk In My Shui
Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Wow, I’ve already eaten like four of those cupcakes (one frosted) and they are mighty tasty. They are basically a light chocolate cupcake with a lot of red food coloring. Good stuff. When I brush my teeth after eating one, my toothbrush is pink. Good stuff.

The mix was really easy and pretty quick to make. I used one tbsp regular cocoa and one even bigger tbsp special dark cocoa…maybe that’s why the cupcakes came out really dark—more maroon-ish. Also, I didn’t realize that the recipe called for two little bottles of red food coloring—dude! So I added to the one red bottle some of the red food paste/gel stuff that Cookie gave me. Thick stuff. A little goes a long way. I didn’t use much of it, but like I said, the cakes came out a dark red/maroon color. Very pretty. The texture reminds me a lot of a cake mix…lots of big air holes in the cakes. Relatively speaking. We aren’t talking huge craters or anything, but you can tell where the big air pockets were.

I only used 1 cup of sugar for the frosting (instead of the 3 cups called for) and it is just fine. Just a little sweet, but not out of control. Creamy, tangy, perfect. That rocks. I wonder if cream cheese frosting freezes well? I also froze the chestnut whipped cream…wonder if that was a good idea. Huh.

Crap. I didn’t take any pictures of the cakes. Maybe I’ll remember my camera later…

You know what? I frosted those suckers and refrigerated them for a couple of hours and when I pulled them out to come up to room temperature, the frosting looked all satiny and lovely. I got such a kick out of just looking at how pretty they were. I swear it was like they had this iridescent glow and it wasn’t because they were from a nuclear power plant. That's good times.

Peepariffic Party Playtime

the peeps are alive with the sound of music

I'm posting this one only because I love how the cake looks. I began hoarding peeps right after Easter so that I could get them cheap (cheep?). The majority of them were really hard by the time I put them on the cake--nobody really ate the peeps. But everybody took a turn throwing them all over the yard. Who knew peeps could provide hours of entertainment?

April 24 2004
Meredith’s Birthday
Peeps and Fluff Cake (its peepariffic!)
2 layers chocolate fudge cake
filled with marshmallow fluff
frosted with light whipped ganache
peeps bunnies in blue and purple along the sides of the cake and peep chicks in yellow in a circle on the top

I baked the cake layers a couple of days early and didn’t cover them well in the refrigerator; they got dry. They also didn’t rise very high; maybe I need new baking powder. Or better cake pans. I really want better cake pans.

The freakin marshmallow fluff fools you into thinking it would make good cake filling, but the awful truth is that it can’t take the pressure and oozed out the sides of the cake until I finally frosted the damn thing. There was fluff everywhere. And I used an entire jar to fill the cake! It also encouraged the top layer to try and slide off the bottom one. Note to self: if you are going to fill a cake with fluff, you have to frost right away! When it was served, there was barely any fluff to distinguish the layers.

The ganache hardened quicker than I was ready for it; but boy it stopped that cake from sliding apart! I think I had a little left over; ate it a month later with fresh strawberries, yum.

It was peeparific!

Eat This

Okay people. This is how it goes: For the last two years I have been obsessively keeping a cake journal of every cake I bake. I bake a lot of freakin cakes for no good reason except that it gives me an excuse to eat a lot of raw batter.

Friends and family love my cakes and so I get asked to bake cakes for them for their birthdays, potlucks, parties, etc. Its great fun and it gives me a chance to experiment...and eat more raw cake batter.

I take no credit for my cake success; I pilfer pretty much every recipe from THE CAKE BIBLE by Rose Levy Beranbaum (hereafter known as The Book). My sister got The Book for me three years ago for Christmas and now my copy is completely beat up: notes in the margins, frosting smeared over pages, pages falling out. I had two pages stuck together with meringue for several months before I ripped them apart to get to a recipe.

I don't make fancy cakes, I don't know how to pipe icing to save my life, I don't work with fondant or sugar flowers or any kind of hoohah like that. I just make good, damn good, cakes with tasty frostings.

So this blog is all about my cakes: what I baked, why I baked, how it tasted, tricks I've learned, info to pass on, incessant rambling about nothing in particular, etc etc etc. Like I said I have two years worth of cakes that I may try to post here...maybe I won't. I'm new to this blogging thing. Maybe I should obsessively keep a journal about blogging.