Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ooey Gooey

I haven’t intentionally been neglecting my beloved blog all week. In fact, my lack of posting this past week hasn’t been for lack of baking. I’e been working on whittling down my collection of cake recipes and I didn’t want to post a recipe I wasn’t crazy about. I was just about to throw in my oven mitts when a friend and co-worked lent me the latest issues of Saveur magazine, the cover of which was adorned by a picture of a beautiful cake and several cake recipes inside that I could not wait to try. 
I started off with their recipe for a caramel cake and fell in love. The caramel frosting does take about 45 minutes to prepare but it is oewey, goewey, and delicious. The cake itself is a little more coarse than other white cake recipes I’ve tried but it is a perfect pairing with the frosting. 
I adapted the recipe slightly, but I would highly recommend picking up a copy of the magazine so you may try the other cake recipes also featured. 
The magazine says the cake serves 10-12 but myself and two friends managed to eat half the cake in one sitting.

Caramel Cake
Adapted from Saveur Magazine, Issue #145
For the Cake
2 stick (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
3 cups cake flour, sifted
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
For the Frosting
3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
30 oz. (2 1/2 cans) evaporated milk
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
Make the Cake
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 8” cake pans; set aside. 
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
In a small bowl, mix the milk and vanilla extract and set aside. 
4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and alternatively add dry ingredients in 3 batches and wet ingredients in 2 batches. Increase speed to high and beat until batter is smooth, about 10 seconds.

6. Divide the batter among prepared pans, smooth top with offset spatula, and drop the pan onto your countertop to burst any large air bubbles.

7. Bake cakes about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. I recommend rotating the pans halfway through.

8. Let cakes cool for about 15 minutes in pans; invert onto wire racks and let cool completely before frosting.

Make the Frosting
1.  Whisk together 3 cups sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and egg in 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven; set aside.

2. Heat remaining sugar in a small skillet over high heat, swirling often, until sugar melts and turns an amber color. Immediately pour caramel into milk mixture and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Attach a candy thermometer to side of pan and cook, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon, until thermometer reached 232 degrees, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately stir in vanilla and baking soda; let sit 1 minute.

3. Using a handheld mixer, beat caramel mixture on medium-low speed until the consistency of loose pudding, about 1 minute. Immediately place one cake on a cake stand and pour over 1/2 cup caramel icing; top with second layer and pour over 1/2 cup icing. Top with third cake layer and pour remaining icing around the top edge of cake and then over the center. Quickly spread icing over sides of cake; let icing cool completely before serving. Store at room temperature for up to three days. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy St. Patty's Day

I love that pretty much all holidays are an excuse to bake, including St. Patrick’s Day. Since I just made some Guinness chocolate sauce (which, by the way, makes the best hot chocolate ever), I decided to use bake something sweet with Baileys this week. While I opted for vanilla cupcakes, the Baileys frosting would be a great filling with a chocolate cake topped with chocolate ganache, too.

Just for fun, I used a tip I found on my newest addiction, Pinterest, and only filled the cupcake liners 2/3 full (instead of the usual 3/4 full) and preheated the oven to 350 degrees then lowered the oven to 325 degrees just before putting the cupcakes in the oven. As promised, the cupcakes did bake up higher than they usually do (I didn’t put much frosting on the cupcakes so they did rise pretty high). 

Vanilla Cupcakes 
Yield: About 15 cupcakes (12 if you fill the liners 3/4 full)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1 cup self-rising flour
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line muffin pan(s) with paper liners; set aside.
Scrape the seeds out of 1/2 vanilla bean into the milk and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
In a medium bowl, sift the two flours together.
At low speed, beat in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with milk in two additions.
Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake for about 22 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let stand in pan for about 10 minutes before removing cupcakes and placing them on rack to cool completely before frosting.
Baileys Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/4 cup Baileys
1 tablespoon milk
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and slowly add the confectioner’s sugar until incorporated with butter. Add Baileys and milk and beat on medium speed until well mixed, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to high and beat for about 1 minute to aerate.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Easy Ways to Recycle

I thought I'd pass along a few really easy ways to recycle:
1. Save your butter wrappers in a freezer bag for the next time you need to grease a cake pan;
2. Use your empty glass spice to hold buttons, toothpicks, safety pins; and
3. Don't throw away empty vanilla bean pods! Put the pods with some sugar in a small glass container and let after a few days you can use the yummy vanilla sugar in your coffee!
Happy baking :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Waffles Make Me Happy

Buying a Belgian waffle maker was either the best or worst decision of my life, depending on whether I can run enough to avoid an expanding waistline should my twice-a-week waffle fix continues.
I like my waffles crispy on the outside with a soft center and this recipe, adapted from a page I ripped out of a Gourmet magazine from a few years ago, does the trick. Topped with butter, powdered sugar, and fresh blueberries, these waffles actually make me look forward to getting out of my warm bed on a cold morning! 

Crispy Waffles
Yield: 4 Waffles
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk (whole or 2%)
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
Vegetable oil
Powdered sugar
Fresh berries
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk, 2 large eggs, and melted butter in medium bowl to blend. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients in large bowl and whisk until batter is smooth. Let batter stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
Heat waffle iron according to medium-high heat (I use setting number 4 on my waffle iron). Brush grids lightly with vegetable oil. Pour enough batter onto each waffle grid to cover generously. Close waffle iron and cook until waffles are golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 5 minutes or until steam subsides.
Dust with powdered sugar and top with plenty of fresh berries.