Monday, April 13, 2009

A Whole New Meaning

I cannot believe it. My sister, my BABY sister, just turned 18. I have no idea how time managed to slip past us so fast: now she's officially an adult and no longer can she be called a stubborn child. Nope, now she's an "uncomprimising individual" haha.

She lives up to that name too. Case in point - her birthday cake. Now, I usually make all the cakes / cookies that we have in our home, and generally they are well-recieved by both family and guests. After all, not many people seem to bother doing things from scratch anymore, let alone baking. Of course, I exclude us food bloggers - seems we do nothing but cooking and baking from the ground up! You would think, with someone ready and willing to put together a "real" cake from start to finish, my sister would jump at the chance for her Red Velvet cake or another Chocolate Guinness concoction. Alas, it is not to be. I have been silently deemed "unfit" for preparing her sweets from scratch, and she insists that we go buy a box mix of Chocolate Fudge, a can of chocolate frosting and enough decorating icing to feed the entire US Armed Forces (hence the "Teaghan Zone" of the cake slathered in the stuff). After the cake is served to everyone, rather than eat her slice immediately, Teaghan will pop off to our pantry and scour the shelves for the leftover decorating frosting. Provided she finds a tube, she'll proceed to smear as much as she can fit onto the unfrosted inner crumb before digging in.

There is no stopping her, but thankfully (for her arteries) she only gets cake two or three times a year.

The white coconut covered cake is my re-make of the Pumpkin - Coconut Spice Cake. This time, the treat was for Andrew - he offered to buy a cake from me after I said that I had been commisioned to making one for an Autism research / support auction and of course I said yes!

The main event for my weekend was putting together, decorating and delivering my dad and Martha's joint birthday cake. Well before their actual birthdays (on March 22nd / 23rd respectively), I had already been toying with flavour combinations in my head and scouring the blogs, recipe databases and my own cookbooks for basic recipes that I could just tweak a little to make them my own. You see, I got it into my head that this year's cake would be a Neopolitan affair: a delightful combination of chocolate, French vanilla and strawberry all wrapped up in buttercream and topped with an ice cream cone!

Sound crazy? Yeah, I thought so too. But it sounded like a great challenge, and an excuse to flex my cake-decorating wings.

I started off with the bottom layer. I knew I needed something dense enough to hold up the other cake and I found a winner on Allrecipes: Chocolate Sour Cream cake. I modified it to suit what I was after in the cake, and baked it in a 9" springform pan to avoid the possibility of the batter exploding in the oven (which happened once while making banana bread!). The result was exactly what I was going for - a moist, yet sturdy crumb, a flat top and it didn't self-destruct when I went to unmould it! I think the trick is to cool this completely in the pan, since the metal sides will cause a bit of sugar crystallization and therefore, a "crust". If you really don't like that aspect of home made cakes, you can always trim around after it's released. Ironically, while this was baking it smelled exactly like a Betty Crocker cake, even causing my sister to eye it with a hint of jealousy.

Midnight Dream Sour Cream Cake
Serves 12 - one 9" layer
3/4 cup unsweetened (preferably Dutch-process) cocoa powder
1/2 cup boiling water
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease and line a 9" springform pan.
  2. Combine cocoa and water, whisking smooth. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  5. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.
  6. Beat in cocoa mixture until completely blended.
  7. Starting and ending with the flour, alternate additions with sour cream.
  8. Bake 28-30 minutes, until tests done. Do not overbake.
  9. Cool completely in tin before unmoulding.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 231.8
Total Fat: 12.1 g
Cholesterol: 61.4 mg
Sodium: 73.2 mg
Total Carbs: 30.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g
Protein: 3.9 g

The middle layer that you can barely see in the left-hand photo was just a plain buttercream recipe that I added a shot of my real vanilla extract to along with some instant custard powder for a rich, "French vanilla" mouthfeel and taste. I did go a bit shy with the filling mixture, only because I knew that both cakes would be rich, not to mention the whole concoction would be covered with two layers of frosting (crumb coat and final) before getting it's chocolate topping

The vibrant pink strawberry layer (based on an old recipe of my grandma's (or great grandma's, who knows?) baked up a lot higher than the chocolate one did, but if possible it smelled even better in the oven than the chocolate one did (though that could be a result of the two flavours mingling - I baked one right after the other). Being that it isn't quite strawberry season around here, I opted to use a 100% fruit jam and a bottle of LorAnn concentrated strawberry flavour in place of the "fresh hulled and milled" berries called for. Once the crops start coming out in June/July, I will definitely be trying this recipe with the reccommended ingredient! I may even add a touch of lemon zest and bake it in a Bundt pan to turn the cake into a Strawberry-Lemon ring!

Rich Strawberry Jam Cake
Serves 12 - 1 (thick) layer
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 1/2 oz unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup thick, plain yogurt
1/4 cup strawberry jam
3/4 tsp (1 dram) LorAnn Gourmet Strawberry Flavour Concentrate (or 1 tbsp strawberry extract)
1 tsp red food colouring, optional
1/3 cup milk (I used 1%, whatever you have should be fine)
  1. Preheat oven to 325F, grease and line a 9" springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar until fluffy.
  4. Beat in eggs, yogurt and extract until well blended.
  5. Add flour mixture 1/2 cup at a time, beating just until blended.
  6. Bake about 45 minutes, until tests done.
  7. Cool completely before unmoulding.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 224.9
Total Fat: 7.6 g
Cholesterol: 86.7 mg
Sodium: 69.8 mg
Total Carbs: 34.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.6 g
Protein: 5.1 g

I wound up making the decoration in almost a "cop-out" fashion - I am so shoddy with frosting and decorating skills that it would never make it to the light of day - so instead I made a quick triangle mould with some tin foil and spread some melted chocolate into it. I pressed chopped peanuts into the "cone" to make it look a bit more wafer-y, then let it set up overnight. When I began the assembly, I decided that rather than piling buttercream blobs on top of the same rich frosting I would use some confectioner candy melting wafers as the ice cream itself.

My dad and Martha both polished off their slices lickety split, so this was the only shot of a cutaway I could get!

1 comment :

Ricki said...

Love the two-tone cake! I'll have to set this recipe aside for my honey (he LOVES coconut). I used to be just like your sister (watch out, all that fake stuff can get ya in the end!)