Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Not Everything I Make is Awesome

This is what I try to tell my co-workers. They don't believe me. Ever since I joined the team, I've been bringing in baked goods quite often and they think I'm amazing. I guess I can let them keep thinking that. But I'll let you in on my secrets.
It was 9pm tonight when I remembered that one of my fellow associates has a birthday tomorrow and I had promised cake. Yikes! A quick scan of my refrigerator showed that I had no ingredients for awesome cake. You know, buttermilk, sour cream, any of that. I had to make it simple.

While I was lacking many key ingredients for awesome, I saw that I did have Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa. That HAS to lead to amazing, right? I stuck with Hershey's and used a recipe I found online for Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake. I had all the stuff on hand and it didn't seem too labor intensive. It was go time.

Look at how perfectly dark and chocolately that looks. So far, so good...

Even Bailey is helping. I was trying to get done quickly and was a bit overzealous with my mixing. She soaked up all the flour that would have fallen to the ground. No sweeping, yay!

OK, so here's where I start confessing how not awesome I am. How can you call yourself a baker and not have Baker's Joy in the house? Seriously. I got lazy and did not butter and flour my pan (did I mention I was in a hurry?) but instead used Pam. I know, I know. You can't see me, but I'm hanging my head in shame.  Hopefully no one will miss those little chunks of cake.

So here's "I'm not awesome" part 2. I had no powdered sugar in my house either and don't realize this until 10pm. I can almost hear the gasps from people who bake on a regular basis. No powdered sugar. This is actually not going to be a surprise to people who know me, I pull stuff like this ALL the time. 
I honestly had no idea you COULD make frosting without it until I googled "chocolate frosting without powdered sugar". This is what I got. It's super runny, but I made do. I'm pretending it's a fancy pants cake and that mess you see above is ganache. What do you think?

So what did I learn today?

  1. Keep your kitchen stocked with the basics. Seriously Brandi. What is wrong with you?
  2. Never use Pam for your cakes. Stop being too lazy to butter and flour. 
  3. Use technology. I have a number of ways to remind myself to do things before it gets late. Time to join this decade, girl. 
Let's hope they like it!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Delicious Lemon Cupcakes for Easter

Jessica here, while Brandi was slaving over a peep cake and chick cupcakes AND egg cake balls(coughcoughshowoffcoughcough) I went simple with lemon cupcakes with strawberry lemon cream cheese frosting. For most occasions I try and stick with cupcakes. I used to go big and crazy and do elaborate cakes but...cupcakes are so much more simple and no one is ever afraid to eat them. Plus the husband (aka the man that cleans the kitchen) is not as annoyed about the mess as he was with the giant elaborate cakes.

You'll have to excuse my fancy cupcake carriers, as I lost my cupcake carrier in a tragic cat on the counter accident and decided to just keep buying plastic shells from grocery store bakeries so I no longer had to stress over getting my cupcake carriers back

I included the recipe for both the cupcakes and the frosting below (but please be warned my frosting recipe includes things like "dump sugar in until you think it's enough sugar"). The only tweaks I made to the cupcake recipe were instead of measuring out lemon zest and lemon juice I just juiced and zested three large lemons and called it a day. I like lemon. As I was zesting/complaining the husband reminded me that we have an old box of lemon cake mix in the cake pantry (yes an entire pantry full of cake supplies) and I could always just use that. Cha! As if! I am not above using a mix (especially for elaborate cakes!) but I'm blogging here, I can't just write a blog post that goes "open box, dump in bowl etc". So onward I trudged/zested. The results were fairly delicious and super lemony.

The frosting ended up with way more strawberry than necessary so it involved a lot of powdered sugar and it still never was as firm as I would have liked. I also went overboard and made....well enough for a second batch of cupcakes. Contemplating what to do with all the frosting (discarded ideas included eating with a spoon and using as a facial mask) I decided to break out the box of lemon cake mix (and discovered it was a month away from expiring) and make cupcakes for the husband to take to work with him. He's a diabetic and the two small children in this house do not need more cupcakes so they cannot stay in this house. Although I suppose as a pregnant woman I have the right to eat an entire batch of cupcakes with delicious frosting I think it’s better to just send them away.

The first batch of cupcakes I attempted a rose swirl, but my frosting was not sturdy enough. With the rose swirl you also do not get as much frosting. So with the next batch I did a boring swirl which still did not hold up as well because I did not use enough powdered sugar to really make the frosting sturdy. The last batch (not pictured) I just slathered on with a knife and was done with it. I made the frosting on Sunday and a few days later after hanging out in the fridge it was even more delicious and tasted like strawberry ice cream and had the consistency of ice cream. I'd lie and say I didn't eat it with a spoon, but let's be real I totally did. I topped each batch with a variety of sprinkles. I know when you go to a fancy cupcake shop they don't put sprinkles on their fancy cupcakes but I don't think a cupcake is a cupcake without sprinkles. Plus I kind of really like to buy sprinkles. I have a few places I buy them from but that is for a different post.

And just for fun here is an awesome list of all the things I did wrong while I made cupcakes:

  • The first batch I did nothing wrong. Except for maybe when I squirted frosting in my mouth from the frosting bag, which isn't wrong, but speaks volumes about the type of person I am.
  • The second batch (Betty Crocker mix) I overfilled the cupcake liners (I like a tall cupcake) and ended up only making 19.
  • I forgot to take the empty liners out of the muffin tin and baked them empty, they got weird so I had to throw them out, such a waste.
  • The toddler and I ate a few of the warm cupcakes because they were delicious
  • Which brings me to the third batch (Duncan Hines mix as they were out of Betty Crocker Lemon) that I had to make because there weren't enough cupcakes...
  • I dropped a piece of eggshell in the batter and lost it and told the husband to tell anyone who gets the shell that they win a prize...he wasn't actually as amused as I was.
  • I couldn't get the batter smooth and there were a lot of little tiny lumps. I'm sure it'll be fine...right?
  • For one batch I didn't set the timer and got engrossed in an episode of Parking Wars but I did manage to get them out in time.
  • I made a giant mess which the husband also was not amused by.

Lemon Cupcakes:

Recipe from Baked Perfection

Makes 24-30 Cupcakes

1 cup butter softened

2 Cups sugar

3 eggs

4 teaspoons grated lemon zest

4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups sour cream

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla; mix well. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with sour cream (batter will be thick). Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 3/4 full with batter (I use a ice cream scoop for this). Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

Strawberry Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:

Recipe from Baby Got Cake

2 Sticks softened unsalted butter

2 sticks softened salted butter

1 brick softened cream cheese

1 pint strawberries, cleaned, chopped and pureed (if you dislike seeds feel free to run through strainer I generally do not bother)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 bag powdered sugar

Juice of 1 large lemon

In a stand-mixer with a paddle attachment cream butter and cream cheese until fully mixed and smooth. Add in strawberries, lemon juice & vanilla; mix thoroughly. Carefully pour in powdered sugar in 1 cup increments and mix thoroughly after each cup. Continue to add powdered sugar until frosting is the consistency you are looking for. Instead of pureed strawberries you could also use strawberry jam.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Peep Cake!

It's Easter! I decided to go nuts this year and make a Peep bunny cake. The idea came from a discussion I was having with my sister in law about leftover frosting. I baked a cake for a friend and totally bombed the frosting. The cake was supposed to be for her grandma and I went a little crazy with my coloring. I had 5 cups of hot pink mess. Probably OK for a Sweet Sixteen, not cool when Grandma is 94.
I do my best not to waste, so when I asked my sister in law what I should do with all of it, the Peep bunny idea came to be. I think she was joking, but I was intrigued. Tons of pink frosting on hand, as well as pink sugar...what else would I make? Plus, Peeps are one of my favorite things. Marshmallowy, sugary goodness. But this is about cake.

I'm quite embarrassed to admit that I used two of these ^^^. I can't even bring myself to say what it is. I totally think this is cheating, not to mention inferior to scratch cake. But as I said before, I don't like to waste. On this project, scratch cake would have meant wasted time. All that work, just to douse it in hot pink frosting and coat it with sugar? No, thank you. 

Unfortunately, I was this far before I remembered I was supposed to be taking pictures. With the two box mixes, I filled two 8 inch and two 6 inch pans. In retrospect, I might have put another 8 or 9 inch pan in there. I ended up filling the pans I had much too full. One 8 inch cake round was the body, the 6 inch round was the head and I cut his ears from the other 8 inch round.

There he is, all frosted and sugared. Not too shabby, eh?

Here's the finished Peep Cake! The eggs are cake balls that I made from the leftover cake. See? No waste! I made the cupcakes because I just had too. I saw them on Pinterest and they were too darling to pass up. Go here for a tutorial on those. Her execution is much better than mine. 

Things I learned today:
  • Measure your refrigerator before you go making a giant makeshift cake tray out of cardboard and aluminum foil.
  • Not all decorating tip kits come with a grass tip. No grass for this Easter bunny :( 

Happy Easter!