Foodie Blog

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jen vs. the birthday cake

Cake - 1, Jen - 0.5

I give this round to the cake since it did throw me for a loop.  I know, it doesn't make sense.  Creme brulee doesn't scare me, neither does cheesecake.  I laugh in the face of meringue!  And souffle doesn't intimidate me.  But cake!  It has always been my downfall.  It always ends up looking like some Frankenstein-inspired monster.  Not appetizing to the eyes at all.  I was extremely tempted to go the cupcake route.  Cupcakes are cute and innocent, nothing like the behemoth that is a cake.  But I was determined to conquer my long time foe.

I had the upper hand while combining the ingredients.  I forgot to soften the butter, so I stuck it in the microwave for 10 second increments until it was properly softened.  I used cake flour.  I shook the buttermilk.  And the pre-baked product looked gorgeous.  It tasted really really good too.

But my downfall came when it was time to pour it into the cake pans.  I had buttered, placed the buttered parchment rounds in the bottom, and then poured my mix in.  However, instead of searching for my tried and true cake pans, I chose to use the shorter cake pans that were within easy reach.  These had a 1 1/2 inch depth instead of the 2 inches required.  I beg of you, for all that is holy, please use the 9 inch cake pans with a 2 inch depth!  I suspected there might be some spill over.  So I placed a cookie sheet on the rack below just in case.  I was not prepared for the lava-like flow that came out of my poor cakes.

Luckily, I was able to salvage them somewhat.  Frosting covers everything.  But still, I would know about the folly that took place in the oven.  And now you know my shame.

We shall meet again cake.  You haven't heard the last from me!

Yellow cake with sour cream chocolate frosting
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Picky requested a yellow cake, so that is what I made.  This tastes almost like the yellow cake mix, except way better since it doesn't have that artificial taste.  I would definitely make this again.  Maybe in cupcake form though.

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
Adapted from The Dessert Bible

Picky said he hated buttercream frosting so  I searched for a frosting that would appeal to him.  If you prefer less of a sugar taste and more chocolate, this is for you.  I didn't find it sour, just very rich tasting.

Only cooking note: Be sure that your sour cream is at room temperature before you make the frosting.

Makes 5 cups of frosting, or enough to frost and fill a two layer 9-inch cake

15 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso (optional, but can be used to pick up the flavor of average chocolate)
2 1/4 cups sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 to 1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the chocolate and espresso powder, if using, in the top of a double-boiler or in a heatproof bowl over simmering water. Stir until the chocolate is melted. (Alternately, you can melt the chocolate in a microwave for 30 seconds, stirring well, and then heating in 15 second increments, stirring between each, until the chocolate is melted.) Remove from heat and let chocolate cool until tepid.
Whisk together the sour cream, 1/4 cup of the corn syrup and vanilla extract until combined. Add the tepid chocolate slowly and stir quickly until the mixture is uniform. Taste for sweetness, and if needed, add additional corn syrup in one tablespoon increments until desired level of sweetness is achieved.
Let cool in the refrigerator until the frosting is a spreadable consistency. This should not take more than 30 minutes. Should the frosting become too thick or stiff, just leave it out until it softens again.

No comments: