Sunday, June 23, 2013

Classic Yellow Vanilla Birthday Cake with Vanilla Frosting

Yesterday was my niece Alice's 1st birthday.  I offered to make the cake and then through a series of events suddenly had a supreme lack of time and ended up having exactly 3 1/2 hours to make cake for 40 + from scratch.  In case you are wondering this IS possible but it makes for not much time for artistic possibilities. The end results were definitely a little messy at first and then after sitting in a room with the same 40+ people through dinner a little messier still (and a bit melty) but it worked out.  The cake was good but a tiny bit dry if you didn't have much frosting--which if you got a middle piece you didn't because we were a bit low on frosting.

If you make this recipe combination, you should consider making more frosting--maybe two batches for each 1 cake recipe.  If you are making this cake recipe, you should consider separating it into 3 9-inch cake pans and make 3 layers because these layers nearly overflowed.  If you are making cupcakes have another pan ready because this cake recipe makes 24 cupcakes + 16 minis with a little overflow!

I made Smitten Kitchen's Yellow Cake recipe.  The only thing I changed was that I used 1/2 C milk in place of 1/2 C of the buttermilk in the cupcakes because I ran out of buttermilk.  I loved how she noted that the batter would look curdled at one point because it sure did and that's not what you expect of cake batter!  This batter is so thick, much thicker than box mix cake batter.  Again, this made more cake than I expected and I think if you wanted thinner, flatter layers you could easily separate this among three cake pans.  This also made more than 24 cupcakes. This batter continued to overflow in every place even though I didn't feel like I was over-filling anything.  FYI cupcakes take about 20 minutes to bake. Mini cupcakes take about 5-9.

Here's her cake recipe

For the frosting, I looked at 6 different recipes, one used simple syrup and egg whites. In the end though, due to lack of time to try something new, I used The Food Network's simple vanilla frosting. This is pretty much the first time I've successfully made frosting.  You know what the trick is?   Letting the mixer do all the work for ALL the minutes.  This recipe takes like 5 minutes total to make but the key is to actually let it mix for 3 whole minutes. It transforms the butter and sugar! It was amazing. And, shocker of shockers it tasted good too.

Here's the frosting recipe.

I also made this frosting 3 shades of purple and then pink and teal. I used gel food coloring. Gel food coloring is pretty easy to use and it makes these great vibrant colors. With gel food coloring definitely start with a little and add later.  To pipe two different colors of frosting, put one color on one side of the bag and one color on the other side of the bag and it makes a swirl.  To frost your cake in ombre style which we attempted, watch Sweetapolita do it and then try really hard to match helps if it is not 80+ degrees and you have a turntable and maybe you already did a crumb coat. We had neither but it still looked nice until it started melting.  As you can see we topped our cake with pinwheels made by Jenny.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Leek Scapes, not as asdvertised

Have you seen these at the Farmer's market lately? I was drawn to them as I picked up some tomatoes and berries at the Wednesday market in Santa Monica.  These are leek scapes.  They are not unlike garlic scapes in that they taste like leeks but not as strong.  These are the flower stalks that leek plants produce in the spring/early summer before going back to being leeks.

When I got my leek scapes they looked just like this but by the time we ate them on Friday the flower's at the top had bloomed, little bits of very onion-flavored flowers burst out in starbursts.  (where's the picture? I know, sorry). The farmer said I could cook these like I would asparagus. The internet said the same thing.  The farmer told me I can also eat the flowers.

I sauteed a bit of the flowers in some olive oil and then added 1 inch pieces of the scapes. Unfortunately, many of them were really woody and the ones that weren't tasted nothing like asparagus. I added some sugar..and they were okay-slightly sweet but I couldn't eat the whole bunch and  nothing I would pick up again.  Have you tried a vegetable you've never had before lately?