Thursday, September 17, 2009

Vanilla Bean Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream

My grandma called a few weeks ago and asked if I could make her a cake for a function she was attending at Methodist Hospital. She said since everything I bake is always so good, she thought she would see if I had the time. Well how could I say no to that?

The last cake I made for her was chocolate so this time I wanted to do something vanilla. And when I saw the Vanilla Bean Recipe in Sky High, I knew I had to make it!

Remember I won all of those yummy vanilla beans from My Baking Addiction's giveaway! This was a perfect time to dip into them. They are from Beanilla, and they are awesome. This time I used the Tahitian Vanilla Bean. It smelled amazing. After using the seeds for the cake, I put the pod in a tupperware with sugar, and made vanilla sugar.

Vanilla Bean Cake with White Chocolate Buttercream from Sky High
(makes an 8 inch triple layer cake, I used 2 9 inch cakes and had enough to fill a 6 inch square pan as well)

3 cups cake flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise(I used Tahitian Vanilla Bean from Beanilla)
2 sticks, plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/3 cups milk
5 egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom of pans. Line each with a round of parchment paper, butter the paper.

Place the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixer bowl. With the mixer on low speed, blend well. With the tip of a small knife, scrape out the seeds from inside the vanilla bean into the bowl. Add the butter and 1 cup of milk and mix to blend. Raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until batter is light and fluffy, about 2 mins. In a mixing bowl, whisk egg whites with the vanilla extract and the remaining 1/3 cup of milk. Add this to the batter in 2 to 3 additions, scraping down the bowl well and mixing only to incorporate. Divide among your pans.

Bake for about 30 mins. Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire racks. Remove the paper and cool completely, about an hour.

White Chocolate Buttercream from Sky High
3 egg whites
4 ounces good quality white chocolate
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temp

Put the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer. Melt the white chocolate about halfway in a double boiler. Remove from heat , stir until smooth , and set aside to cool.

Combine the sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan. Set over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook without stirring, until the syrup reaches the soft-ball stage 238 degree F on a candy thermometer.

Immediately start beating the egg whites on medium low speed. Slowly add the syrup in a thin stream, taking care not to hit the beaters. Continue to whip until the mixture is body temperature and stuff meringue has formed.

Reduced the speed to low and add the butter 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time. When the butter is incorporated, beat on medium speed until the frosting appears to curdle. Continue to whip and it will suddenly come together. Add the white chocolate and mix well.

To add some color, I decorated with chocolate shavings! It looked so delicious it was hard to hand it off and not know how it tasted. Soo....

I had a little extra batter left over from the cake and baked it in a 6 inch square cake pan. I cut it diagonally and layered the 2 triangles. I took this part to work for my co-workers to try, and I might have tasted some too! ( I thought I got a photo of it, but apparently I took it on my blackberry and its not the greatest photo.)

This cake was fabulous! I got some many compliments on the frosting, I am really excited to try it again on something else. The cake had a tender crumb and was very moist!

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tiffany's Cakes for Sharon's Bridal Shower

My best friend, Sharon, had her bridal shower this last weekend and the theme for the shower was Breakfast at Tiffany's. Early on we had discussed I would do some sort of mini cakes as favors for the guests. But once the theme was chosen I knew I needed to make Tiffany's Box Cakes.
I planned for several weeks and ordered all the necessary items, such as the boxes, mini cakeboards and the 3 inch mini square cake pan set. I got them from Confectionary House along with the 3 3/4 inch cakeboards.

About a week before the shower I started baking the cakes, she was having 22 guests so that meant 44 cakes. Hmm it was going to be a long week :)

I made about 15 cakes a night for 3 nights straight. After they had cooled I triple wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer. After I was done with the cakes, the next night I made a large batch of marshmallow fondant. I found the recipe via Playing with Sugar which she got from What's Cooking America. It was my first time making fondant on my own. I thought it tasted good and went fairly smooth. It was quite sticky but using lots of Crisco helped! After I was done kneading the marshmallow fondant I wrapped in plastic wrapped and sealed in a bag overnight.

The next day I started to roll the fondant out and started to make all the pieces for the bows. First I started with the loops, then the tails of the ribbon and lastly the middle ribbon that wrapped around the loops. I let everything sit out on the counter and get firm as I continued to work. I even had my girls over to help a little :)

Next came the leveling of the cakes, then the crumb coating and finally the frosting. I make this last line sound fairly simple but let me tell was the most time consuming. Let's just say days of work. To be fair, she did help me frost a few one night :)

Lastly I added the bows and dotted them with white frosting around the edges. Here is a quick picture before they went into the boxes.

I think they turned out adorable. Of course there are always things you would do differently next time.

For the cakes I used Billy's Vanilla Cupcake Recipe paired with my favorite vanilla buttercream.

Billy's Vanilla Cupcakes ( I made 3 batches of this batter)

1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising*
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes (Room Temperature)
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat min cake pans in nonstick spray with flour; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour. Consistency will be crumbly.

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

Pour about 1/3 cup of batter in each mini cake pan , filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Buttercrean (I made 2 double batches of the recipe below) from Bakerella

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 box (1 lb) 10x powdered sugar
1-3 tablespoons milk
Teal gel paste food coloring

Using a mixer, cream softened butter and vanilla until smooth. Add sugar gradually, allowing butter and sugar to cream together before adding more. If you want your frosting a little creamier, add a teaspoon of milk at a time and beat on high until you get the right texture. Then, just add gel colors to tint the frosting the color of your choice.
Here are the cakes are packaged up and ready to go!
This was the table all set up! Isn't it so cute! I loved it! The middle cake was made by another person. And it was so yum!!

So what do you guys think? I think half way through the process I thought I was nuts for taking on this project, but in all I think everything worked out. And the bride loved them so that's all that really mattered to me :) Print This

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chocolate Cake Present with Dulce de Leche Cream Filling

Last weekend my family threw a party for my grandmothers 80ths birthday. They wanted to order one vanilla cake for the celebration and asked if I would do a chocolate cake to supplement. So after browsing through some of my favorite cake books, I decided I would do a chocolate cake from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes. I choose to use the chocolate butter cake. But I wasn't set for sure on the filling. After several experiments with white chocolate mousse, chocolate pudding, chocolate bavarian cream and dulce de leche cream I choose the dulce de leche cream. The recipe is also from the same book, but from another recipe for the Dulce de Leche Cake.

I baked the 3 10 inch square layers earlier in the week and froze them. The dulce de leche I made the night before and refrigerated until was ready to make the dulce de leche cream. (Pull out and bring to room temperature before use.)

Chocolate Butter Cake from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes (makes 3 10 inch square cakes)

4 cups cake flour

4 cups sugar

2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, not Dutch process

4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound unsalted butter, at room temp

2 cups buttermilk

4 eggs

2 cups freshly brewed coffee, cooled to room temp

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 10 inch square cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

In a large mixer bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. With electric mixer on low speed, blend for about 30 seconds. Add the butter and buttermilk and blend on low until moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy. About 2 to 3 minutes.

Whisk the eggs and coffee together, and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl and beating only until blended after each addition. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans, each 10 inch pan will take about 4 1/2 cups of batter.

Bake the layers for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for about 15 mins. Carefully turn them onto wire racks and allow to cool completely. Remove the paper liners only when they are cool.

Dulce de Leche Cream from Sky High

1 1/3 cups whole milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cups light corn syrup

1 small cinnamon stick

1 one inch piece of vanilla bean, split lengthwise

3 cups heavy whipping cream

Place the milk, sugar, corn syrup, and cinnamon stick in a heavy medium size saucepan. With the tip of a knife scrape the tiny seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean into the pot; toss in the pod as well. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat; stirring to dissolve sugar. Continue to simmer; stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden or silicone spatula, until the liquid turns a light amber color, about 45 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring more frequently as the milk darkens and the mixture reduces and thickens, until the color reaches a rich milk caramel, 45-60 minutes. Watch carefully and stir often near the end, because the milk caramel can burn quickly.

Remove and discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla pod and pour the caramel into a heatproof bowl. Let the dulce de leche cool slightly, then cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming and let cool completely.

In large chilled mixer bowl with chilled beaters, combine the cream with the dulce de leche. Beat on low to combine and dissolve the dulce de leche. Raise the mixer to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form.

(I reserved a little dulce de leche before the creaming process to coat the layers before adding the cream. Although I am not really sure you could taste the difference)

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting from Bakerella ( I doubled this recipe)

1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature

8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I used Ghirardelli Unsweetened Cocoa)

1 box (1 lb) confectioner's sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1-3 Tbsp milk

Cream the butter and cream cheese with a mixer.
Add the cocoa and vanilla.
Add the confectioner's sugar in small batches and blend on low until combined. Scrape down sides with each addition.
Add 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until you get the consistency you desire.

When you are ready to assemble your cake, take the layers from the freezer and level any layers necessary. I put a little frosting on the cake board before placing the first layer down just to secure the cake. On top of the first layer I used a layer of dulce de leche, then the dulce de leche cream, next cake layer, dulce de leche, dulce de leche cream and then the final layer. I crumb coated the cake and let it sit in the freezer over night. This helped the next day when I was icing the cake everything stayed in place and wasn't moving around.

One of the 3 layers cooling before I triple wrapped them and put them in the freezer.

The cake was going to be a cake present with white fondant loop bow. This was the first time I have made this type of bow, so I was a little nervous. But a few days before the party I rolled out the fondant to 1/8 inch thick and cut strips 1 inch by 6 inches and formed the loops below. I left them out to dry for a few days and assembled the bow the morning of the party.

A shot of the bow loops drying.

My pretty bow all put together! I used white candy melts to "glue" it together.

Frosting the cake....Notice the wax paper pieces under the cake so I didn't mess up the cake board.

All put together....

After seeing a few places missing frosting after removing the wax paper, I decided to pipe some dots around the bottom of the cake.

A picture of the dessert tables. My chocolate cake on the left and the beautiful cake from Cakes by Gina on the right.

A little closer up!

Let me know what you think. All in all I think the bow turned out great but the icing was definitely not what I wanted. I wanted a smooth finish frosting and this was a little more whipped than I was going for. Anyone have a great chocolate frosting recipe?

Oh and the cake was awesome, I got tons of compliments on it and I think the dulce de leche cream was a perfect pairing with the chocolate cake. I need to work on my leveling cake skills cause this one was far from perfect but a pretty decent start. :)
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Snickerdoodle Cookies

A few weeks ago I was helping my cousin over the phone with the snickerdoodle blondies, and it made me crave snickerdoodles myself. So I decided to test out a new snickerdoodle cookie recipe I had. I gathered everything together and whipped a batch of these cookies up! They turned out fantastic, they were soft in the centers with a slight crisp around the edges, in my opinion...perfection! These stayed fresh for several days, my work friends and some of my family got to enjoy them as well. This is my new favorite cookie recipe!

Soft Snickerdoodle Cookies from Recipezaar

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1.Preheat oven to 350°F.
2.Mix butter, 1 1/2 cups sugar and eggs thoroughly in a large bowl.
3.Combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
4.Blend dry ingredients into butter mixture.
5.Chill dough, and chill an ungreased cookie sheet for about 10-15 minutes in the fridge.
6.Meanwhile, mix 3 tablespoons sugar, and 3 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl.
7.Scoop 1 inch globs of dough into the sugar/ cinnamon mixture.
8.Coat by gently rolling balls of dough in the sugar mixture.
9.Place on chilled ungreased cookie sheet, and bake 10 minutes. (I took mine about about 8 1/2 mins just to make sure they stayed soft and chewy!)

10.Remove from pan immediately. Place on cooling rack.

Try these cookies, you will not be sorry!
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