Thursday, December 30, 2010

The first 3-layer cake!

As soon as I heard I had a special event to bake for I asked if I could bake the cake!  Guess what?  The answer was yes and I had no clue what kind of cake to make and had never made a layer cake completely from scratch.. frosting, filling and all!  

After asking D's sister what kind of cake she'd like she told me chocolate... From there I searched food blog after food blog for the perfect cake... A bunch of blogs had different recipes from the book, Sky High Cakes: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes, I knew the cake had to be from this book!  (PS- I ordered the book this past weekend and just got it in the mail last night!!)  I read the recipe and kept thinking Mayo??  MAYO??  In a cake??  Trust me it works!  This was the most moist and amazing chocolate cake I've ever eaten.. and I DESPISE chocolate cake!  Also, if you don't like coffee you won't even know its in this cake, I didn't even taste a hint of coffee.

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake from Sky High Cakes
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 ¼ cups hot, strongly brewed coffee
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (not low fat or fat free)
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 9 inch round cake pans. Line the base of each pan with parchment.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring the milk to a simmer. Pour the hot coffee and milk over the chocolate. Let stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth. Let the mocha liquid cool slightly.
In a mixer bowl, beat together the eggs, mayonnaise and vanilla until well blended. Gradually beat in the sugar. Add the dry ingredients and mocha liquid alternately in 2 or 3 additions, beating until smooth and well blended. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.
Bake for 25 to 28 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out almost clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10-15 minutes before un-molding onto a wire rack and carefully peeling off the paper. Leave to cool completely.
NOTE: Do not use salad dressing, Miracle Whip or Lite Mayo. I used Hellman's or Best Foods Real Mayonnaise.

Here is what one of the layers looked like prior to filling and frosting...

Speaking of filling and frosting....After finding the perfect cake I was at a loss for what type of filling and frosting...  After asking K what she liked I went with an Oreo filling.

Oreo Butter cream Frosting

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1-4 Tbs.  Milk or cream
  • ~4 cups Powdered Sugar
  • Crushed Oreos
Beat butter and vanilla until smooth.  Add powdered sugar until combined.  Add milk until frosting is right consistency.  Add in crushed Oreos (I used half a bag because I wanted it to be really OREO).

MMM.. Oreo frosting... Nothing could be better!  I used the Oreo filling between the layers and also used it to crumb coat my cake.

Finally, I needed a frosting for the outside of the cake... I decided to stick with the frosting featured with the Chocolate cake..  The frosting was a Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting.. 

Sour Cream Chocolate Icing
  • 12 ounces bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • ¼ cup half-and-half at room temperature
  • ½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
Melt the chocolate with the butter and corn syrup in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Remove from the heat and whisk until smooth.
Whisk in the half-and-half and sour cream. Use while still soft.

I used a lot of tips from Smitten Kitchen when assembling my cake.  This cake took a long time from beginning to calling it done, but most of that time the cake spent in the freezer or fridge.  I wanted to pipe frosting along the bottom of the cake but I ran out of frosting!  I also had left over crushed Oreos so I patted them onto the sides of the cake so everyone would know Oreos were inside!   AND NOW FOR THE FINAL PRODUCT!!  WARNING:  This cake is not for the faint of heart... or stomach... It is insanely rich!

Christmas Baking Part 2: Cranberry Bliss Bars

I love dried cranberries and I love white chocolate.  Combined they are even better!!  I also love the Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bars.. however, I haven't had them in years.  I can't justify the cost of the little bar you get! 

Anyway... I had been contemplating what cookies to take home with us to Michigan while doing my nightly cooking/baking blog surfing, when I came across the Cranberry Bliss Bar copy cat recipe.  This started my search to find the exact recipe I wanted to use.. After searching and searching and finding only small differences between the various recipes I decided on this one from Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats.

Here are my notes:
  • I only used the vanilla extract in the cake.. Other websites said to use both vanilla and orange extract.  This recipe says "or"..  I didn't have any orange extract...
  • After trying to find candied ginger at 2 stores I gave up and decided not to add it.
  • For the cake I used white chocolate chips instead of cutting up a bar
  • Frosting-  I used the lemon juice.. at first I thought it tasted too Lemony... but as these bars sat in fridge the tasted mellowed out.
  • Drizzle Icing-  I used the white chocolate chips melted because this is how I remember the actual bar from Starbucks..  This makes these bars pretty difficult to cut... so you  may want to cut them before the chocolate is completely hard.
  • Also I used the trick of melting the white chocolate and shortening in the Ziplock that you are going to use to drizzle.. AMAZING!  Never thought of it before!!

  • The recipe says 16 servings.. I got way way more!!  I cut these rather small.. they are really rich!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Baking Part 1: Molasses Softies

After a year of healthy cooking and dedicated gym attendance, a baking extravaganza was in order!  This Holiday season began with an over the top Thanksgiving meal and continued with every baking session that took place.. Thinking back I can't even count the pounds of butter that made it through this house!  Let alone the amount of sugar and flour.  It makes me slightly ill thinking about all the baking we did.. but we both enjoyed every second of it!  Expect to see a few posts over the next few days about our Holiday baking, because there was too much for just one post!

We had some leftover Molasses from Thanksgiving (I will post about that later...) so I really wanted to make some sort of Molasses or Gingerbread cookie.  I searched the internet for what felt like hours for the perfect recipe to constantly realize I was missing an ingredient (I had already been in a grocery store 3 times that day and was not going to head out again).  Finally I remembered I had received a collection of Christmas Cookie Exchange recipes at my wedding shower.  This book is amazing it was made by a group of friends (one of which was a student of my moms when she first started teaching) that have a cookie exchange every year.  These are tried and true recipes!  The book had exactly what I was looking for...... Molasses Softies.  These cookies were perfectly tender and soft and chewy!  Yumm...  

Now finally for the recipe!

Molasses Softies  (from Sweet Traditions)

1 cup Butter (room temperature)
1 1/3 cup Sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup Molasses
3 T Light Corn Syrup
2 T Milk
4 C.  All-purpose Flour  
2 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
1 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
Sugar for Coating

Preheat oven to 350.  In large bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and egg until light and fluffy.  Beat in molasses, corn syrup, and milk until blended.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, beating until well blended.  It will be a very stiff dough.  Shape into 1-inch balls.  Roll balls in sugar to lightly coat.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving some space between cookies for them to spread as they bake.   Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden.  Do NOT over-bake.  Cool 1-2 minutes on baking sheets and then remove to racks to cool.

  • The cookies spread quite a bit, make sure to leave more space then you expect.
  • Do NOT flatten the cookies (like you would peanut butter cookies)  they spread out enough. See picture below of my cookies in the oven to see how they started before they spread. 

New Year.... Baking and Cooking Challenge

After enjoying a Holiday season full of cooking and baking, D and I have decided we needed a cooking & baking challenge for the new year!  This challenge was going to be to cook a something new out of the cookbooks we had around the house each month... Then I discovered the Daring Kitchen.  A cooking group that all follow the same recipe for a dish and post the results..  There are two cooking groups Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers.  We've decided to join both groups!  A double challenge!  Twice a month we will be cooking and baking a new item along the other members and posting our pictures and our experience with the recipe on this blog.  We look forward to the success of these 24 new dishes!  Check out Daring Kitchen to see the past challenges for both Daring Cooks & Daring Bakers and to learn more about the cooking challenge!