Tag Archives: cake

Partying with Penguins

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Today is my baby girl’s 9th birthday. We worked together to create this fun Penguin Cake. She has a delicious cotton candy belly.

Here is the penguin without the cotton candy:

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We love having Little J in our family. She is just as sweet as her penguin friend.

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Happy Birthday Little J

We love you always!

 

Inspiration for cake from an Australian Women’s World Cookbook magazine from 1998. Cake frosted with this Buttercream Frosting (with the addition of orange extract).

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Soccer Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing

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We had a slightly different cake planned for Little A’s birthday party, but with the unexpected hospital stay, we went with something much simpler: a rectangular cake make into a soccer field. The frosting is a Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It has a few steps, and does require a double boiler (or metal bowl over a pot of water) and a stand mixer. But the result is a wonderfully light, not too sweet frosting. You start with a cooked meringue (one whole cup of egg whites for a regular sized round cake; two cups for the cake we made). This is a fairly large cake (two layer 11×15” rectangle).

I had about a cup of egg whites left from making the Vanilla Custard for the Trifle, so I used that plus some reconstituted dried egg whites (Just Whites brand-available in the baking aisle of most grocery stores). Once the meringue has cooked, it is beaten until cool and glossy, then butter is beaten in to make a stable, spreadable frosting. I think this is my new favorite frosting. It was very easy to work with once it was beaten, and it is not too sweet. Now, almost a week later, the frosting is still soft (no crust) and delicious.

I love that this frosting gets most of it’s bulk from egg whites, and not sugar (that makes it almost healthy, right?). Just ignore the 4 sticks of butter when you answer that question.

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I made a raspberry filling for the cake by beating 1/2 cup Raspberry Jam into about 3 or 4 cups of the meringue frosting. It held up great, and did not ooze out at all when the top layer was added. This would make a great all-around frosting as well, if you are looking for a pink cake. I would just use either a seedless raspberry jam, or a lightly sweetened raspberry puree if I was going to put it on the outside of the cake. The little bits of pulp and seeds were fine for a filling, but I would prefer a uniform color for an outside-of-the-cake frosting.

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RECIPES:

Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing

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1 cup egg whites (about 8 large egg whites, or use “Just Whites” egg white powder, reconstituted, or refrigerated egg whites)
1 1/2 cups sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups unsalted butter (4 sticks), at room temperature**
2 tsp vanilla extract (or use small amounts of other flavored extracts)
Gel food coloring (for colored frosting)

In the top of a double boiler, stir together  egg whites, sugar and salt. Bring water in bottom of double boiler to a low simmer; cook until the temperature of the egg whites reaches 160°F and sugar is completely dissolved (rub mixture between fingertips-it should not feel gritty). Mixture will be foamy and not a uniform consistency.

Transfer the egg white mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip until meringue is completely cooled and glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. DO NOT ADD BUTTER UNTIL BOTH THE BOWL AND FROSTING ARE COMPLETELY COOL. Switch mixer attachment from the whisk to paddles. Add butter 1-2 Tablespoons at a time until incorporated. Mixture may appear curdled at times.  Continue beating until butter is fully incorporated and frosting is fluffy and smooth.  This will take about 10 minutes.  Add vanilla and beat smooth. Add gel food coloring and beat until color is uniform.

**BUTTER NOTE: butter should be room temperature soft, but not at the point of melting. If the butter is too cold, it will not incorporate well into the meringue, and you will have butter chunks. If the butter is over-soft, it will cause the frosting to curdle while beating-this is okay, it isn’t ruined: it will just take longer (more beating) for the frosting to become smooth.

Storage:  Store frosted cake at room temperature.  To store leftover icing: store in a covered container in the refrigerator.  When ready to use, bring to room temperature and beat until light and fluffy.

Yield: frosting for a two-layer round cake. For the cake above which is a double layer 11×15” rectangle, double the recipe.

Raspberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream Filling

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2 cups prepared Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing
1/4 cup raspberry jam or lightly sweetened raspberry puree

Beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread between cake layers.

To frost the entire cake with raspberry buttercream, use about 1 cup lightly sweetened raspberry puree or seedless jam (for a uniform pink color with no seeds or pulp pieces) with entire batch of icing above.

Makes enough filling for a 2-layer round cake.

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A Butterfly in Buttercream

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Today is my Little J’s 7th birthday. It is amazing how quickly time flies. My once-upon-a-time-baby is all grown up and decorating her own cakes now! I am glad she is still interested in fun little girl things like butterflies. Last year we made Cupcakes topped with Chocolate Butterflies for her 6th birthday. This year it was one great big butterfly cake.4911 071-1

Little J was in charge of design and decorations. She chose the color patterns of the icing sections, the sprinkles and the M&M borders (I love Easter-colored candies!). She also put on all of the M&Ms and sprinkles and shaped the antennae. She is very meticulous! My job was heavy construction: cake cutting and icing spreading.

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She carefully separated a rainbow mix of sprinkles into separate colors.

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If you look closely, the sprinkles are shaped like tiny butterflies. Little J says they are the baby butterflies and the big cake is the Mommy Butterfly.

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Congratulations Little J on a cake well done!

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Happy 7th Birthday Little J. We love you lots!

RECIPE:

Buttercream Icing

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½ cup butter
½ cup shortening (or additional butter)
1 lb (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbs milk
1 tsp vanilla
dash salt
Additional milk to thin icing

Cream butter and shortening with a mixer. Beat in powdered sugar, 2 Tbs milk, vanilla and salt. This yields 3 CUPS STIFF icing (for piping borders and decorations).

For thinner icing (spreading on cake): Gradually beat in additional milk, 1 tsp at a time, until icing is desired consistency.

FOR CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM: Add 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled and additional 1 Tbs milk.

 

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Creamy Citrus Cheesecake

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For Brian’s birthday a couple of weeks ago we had this wonderful cheesecake. It is a very creamy cheesecake flavored with lemon and orange zest and juice. You can use blood oranges or regular naval oranges. Lime would also be a great flavor, instead of the lemon. The recipe comes from Aimée Bourque, who is the editor of Simple Bites and author of the blog Under the High Chair.

The original recipe did not have you bake the cheesecake in a water bath, but I did because I think it helps the cheesecake cook more uniformly, and reduces cracks on the top of the cheesecake. To prepare your pan for a waterbath, wrap the springform pan in a double layer of foil. Or: this time I did one layer of foil and then put the pan in an oven-safe bag (the kind used for roasting turkeys). Place wrapped pan in a larger roasting pan and add hot, almost boiling, water to the roasting pan to a level about halfway up the outside of the springform pan.

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If you are nervous about moving a pan full of boiling water: pull the oven rack out slightly from the hot oven. Place roasting pan on the oven rack, place springform pan in the roasting pan, and then add boiling water to the roasting pan. Carefully push oven rack back into the oven.3711 150-1

Just out of the oven-No Cracks!

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A citrus zest-spiked sour cream makes a perfect topping and hides any imperfections that develop in the top of the cheesecake as the cheesecake cools.

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I served this cheesecake with fresh blueberries and this fabulous homemade Blueberry Syrup.

It is flavorful enough that it could also be served on its own without any topping.

RECIPE:

Creamy Citrus Cheesecake

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Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 ½ Tbs granulated sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
3 pkg (24 oz) cream cheese
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup sour cream
Zest and juice of one lime or small lemon (wash before zesting)
Zest and juice of half an orange (wash before zesting; remaining half will be used in topping)
5 large eggs, room temperature

Topping:
1 cup sour cream
Zest and juice of half an orange
6 Tbs granulated sugar

Place oven rack on the lowest level of the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the crust:
In a small bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add melted butter and mix. Press onto the bottom of a nine-inch springform pan. Bake crust for 8-10 minutes until slightly golden. Cool. Wrap springform pan in a double layer of foil, or one layer of foil and then place in an oven bag (like the kind used for turkeys). Place springform pan in a larger roasting pan.

For the filling:
With a mixer, beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream, citrus zest and juice. Mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just incorporated.

Pour filling over crumb crust.  Fill roasting pan (not springform pan!) with very hot (almost boiling) water to about 2-inches deep.

Bake cheesecake in the water bath for about 60 minutes. The cheesecake will have puffed significantly, and the middle will still be slightly jiggly. Remove pan from water bath and run a sharp knife around the sides, but do not remove ring. Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack on the counter.

For the topping:
Combine sour cream, orange zest and juice, and sugar together in a small bowl. Pour over slightly cooled cheesecake and let stand for half an hour at room temperature.
Cover cheesecake pan tightly with plastic wrap, taking care not to disturb the surface of the cheesecake. Chill for at least four hours or overnight.

To serve:
Remove plastic wrap and lift off the outer edge of the spring form pan. If desired, slide a sharp knife under the crust and slide the cheesecake off the spring form base and onto a cake stand or serving platter.

Serve cheesecake alone, or topped with fresh berries or homemade blueberry syrup.

 

Recipe adapted from Aimée Bourque on Savory Sweet Life

 

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Jaws 2010

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A quick break from Thanksgiving Recipes to bring you Jaws 2010. Three creative young bakers put together this fabulous 3-D Jaws Cake (complete with dismembered Barbie) for a Retro Jaws Party last night.

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An open-mouthed shark (formed out of Rice Krispies Treats) filled with blood-stained teeth (piped white chocolate) all on a sea of Red Velvet Cake. After the cake was completed the girls had a whole new respect for Cake Boss!111210 010-1

A-M-A Bakers hard at work!

111210 013-1 Many thanks to Little J for sacrificing a Barbie for the project!

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Strawberries & Cream Sponge Cake Roll

As I mentioned yesterday, this is one of my very favorite cakes. I have been baking it since I was in high school. Back then, my main sources of recipe inspiration (in addition to a wonderful mother from whom I am still inspired) were two Southern Living Annual Cookbooks. From the 80s. I have adapted this recipe somewhat from the original recipe (and often make it sugar-free and whole grain), and I still love it just as much now as I did then.

This cake is light, full of fruit, and not overly sweet. I love whipped cream as a frosting because you can easily control how sweet it is without compromising texture. This is also a cake that is easy to make healthier with some simple substitutions (see recipe at end of post). By substituting a gluten free flour (oats, brown rice, etc) this is easily made gluten free as well.

A sponge cake is made mostly of eggs with just enough flour to stabilize it, and just enough sugar that it doesn’t taste like an omelet.

Roll cakes look much more complicated than they really are, so for those who may not be familiar with baking and putting together this kind of cake, I have included a few more process pictures. This technique can also be used to make jelly-rolls, pumpkin roll cakes (another of my favorites!), Christmas Yule logs, ice-cream filled roll cakes.

The one thing that my kids don’t like about this cake is that the beaters are no fun to lick! Large amounts of raw eggs, no matter how much they’ve been whipped and what other ingredients have been thrown in, still taste pretty bad. Luckily, something magical happens in the oven, leaving you with a moist, airy cake just begging for a creamy, fruity filling.

Start by beating 5 egg whites until stiff peaks form (with a little salt and cream of tartar-for stabilization). You should be able to turn your bowl upside down and have the egg whites not run onto the counter (just be careful testing this as you go along!)

Beat your egg yolks separately, then gently fold them into the egg whites with a little flour and powdered sugar. This is one cake that I do sift my powdered sugar and flour for. It makes a huge difference in being able to incorporate them quickly into the batter without lumps. I measure first, then sift them directly into the egg white bowl.

The batter should still be pretty thick when you are done, but will lose a little of the  volume.

Use wax paper to line a jelly-roll pan (baking pan that is about 10×15”, but you can use a size that is a little larger as well; 9×13” is too small). Leave some hanging over the edges. Spray the wax paper with baking spray (I use the kind for baking that has flour in it).

Spread your batter into the pan, making sure to spread it all the way to the edges. This batter will not melt or spread as it cooks, so try to get it even on the top.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until set. It should not brown. The cake below is actually just a little overdone (it still tasted great though!)

While the cake is baking lay a linen (or fuzz-free) dishtowel on the counter. Dust a small amount of powdered sugar onto the towel in a rectangle just larger than your baking pan (I use a sifter again-actually just a mesh strainer). Turn the hot cake upside down onto the towel (wax paper side up). Gently peel off the waxed paper.

Roll the cake up in the towel, beginning at the narrow end.

Cool completely on a rack.

Unroll cooled cake (leave on towel) and spread with sliced fruit. This is one quart of sliced strawberries mixed with 2 Tbs sugar. I like to let the fruit/sugar mixture sit for a few minutes before spreading it onto the cake so that the sugar dissolves.

Beat 2 cups of whipped cream until stiff. Sweeten to taste. Spread half of the whipped cream over the berries, until the berries are just barely covered. Leave a small section on one of the narrow ends uncovered. As you roll the cake, some of the filling will push to the end. This keeps too much from leaking out.

Beginning at the narrow end, roll cake again. Place on a serving platter, seam side down.

Frost with remaining whipped cream. Garnish with whole strawberries, if desired.

Slice and serve. Store in the refrigerator.

You could make this with different kinds of fruit; fresh berries work especially well.

Another use for the cake: Bake as directed and let cool without rolling. Cut cake into small squares and use as a base for an English Trifle.

RECIPE:

Strawberries and Cream Sponge Cake Roll

5 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
5 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup sifted powdered sugar
½ cup flour
Powdered Sugar
1 quart strawberries, sliced
2 Tbs sugar
2 cups whipping/heavy cream
½ tsp vanilla
2-3 Tbs powdered sugar
Whole strawberries for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 15×10” jellyroll pan (or cookie sheet with sides) with wax paper and spray with cooking spray (Cooking spray w/flour in it for baking works great).

Beat egg yolks until light and lemon colored. Stir in vanilla. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt, beating until stiff. Fold in ¾ cup powdered sugar. Fold in egg yolk mixture. Fold in flour. Spread batter in pan. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes (do not let cake brown).

Using a fine mesh strainer, sift a small amount of powdered sugar on a linen towel. Turn hot cake out onto towel. Carefully peel off waxed paper. Roll up cake in the towel. Cool on a wire rack.

Combine strawberries and 2 Tbs sugar; let sit for 5 minutes. Beat whipping cream until foamy. Add 2-3 Tbs powdered sugar and ½ tsp vanilla, beating until soft peaks form. Unroll cake. Spread cake with berries, then half of the whipped cream. Reroll cake. Place on a serving plate. Frost with remaining whipped cream. Garnish with whole strawberries. Chill until serving time.

Sugar Free/Whole Grain/Gluten Free Alternative: Substitute Stevia, Splenda, or erythritol for the sugar (use Splenda or erythritol in the cake; stevia does not provide the bulk the cake needs, but is fine for sweetening the filling), and oat flour, rice flour or finely ground whole wheat flour (white wheat, preferably) for the white flour. The whole wheat flour obviously isn’t gluten free, but you can substitute most other gluten free flours, or a blend of flours for the white flour.

 

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