Tuesday, September 21, 2010

50 years of marriage deserves a crooked cake

Vanilla Cake
(adapted from the Raspberry Laced Vanilla Cake recipe on the Softasilk Cake Flour Box)

3 cups Pillsbury SOFTASILK® Cake Flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons clear vanilla
4 large eggs

1. HEAT oven to 350°F. Spray three 9-inch round cake pans generously with flour no-stick cooking spray. I used a tiered baking set of 4 pans, lined the bottoms with parchment and spray them with Pam for Baking.
2. MIX cake flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; set aside. Beat 1 1/2 cups butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed until fluffy. Beat in flour mixture, milk, vanilla and eggs on medium speed until blended, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat 2 minutes longer. Spread batter evenly into prepared pans.
(I used the reverse-creaming method. I mixed all the dry ingredients and sugar together and beat that with the softened butter. Then I mixed the wet ingredients and slowly incorporated it into the dry ingredients + butter).
3. BAKE 19 to 23 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire rack. Cool completely.

I used Easy Buttercream for the frosting. The color is natural from the butter and the good vanilla I used. I free-styled a similar frosting for the filling, using only butter, no shortening and adding some melted bittersweet chocolate.

It was kind of last minute decision to make this cake for my parent's 50th wedding anniversary so I didn't have a lot of time to plan. I had picked up a cute set of vintage tiered pans at a yard sale earlier this summer and I've been itching to use them. I think they were all the rage at one point because when I tried to Google a picture of them for you, I found several sets that were sold by different manufacturers. Mine were made by Vitality but I couldn't find a good picture for you and I'm too lazy to take one myself.

I can see the attraction - there is something about a tiered cake that is enticing. They look very impressive. However, I can also see why they were probably just a passing fad for the home cook.

They are a bit of pain to bake since all four pans bake at different rates.

They are a bitch to make level when you stack them. My first two layers were fine but the third layer was completely wonky.

This style of cake doesn't give you much room for decorating or writing. Fortunately I didn't need to do much of either for this cake.

This cake was slightly difficult to transport. Since I added filling to each layer, this cake was just a bit too tall for my cake box. I had to transport it in a large cardboard box

They are pretty right up until you start cutting into them and then you have instant ugliness. Maybe there is a better way but I cut it starting at the top and working my way down the layers.

Would I make a tiered cake again? Sure. They are kind of fun even with all the quirks.

As for this particular cake, I was originally going to make my chocolate fudge cake but I was hesitant since I've always made that in disposable sheet cake pans and it's very moist. I wasn't sure how it would work for a layer cake like this (even though it's a recipe for a layer cake in it's original form). Then I spotted this recipe on the cake flour box and saw that it was the perfect size (the cake pans all together take batter that equals 1 1/2 boxes of cake mix or 3 regular sized layers). I added a chocolate filling and frosted it with buttercream.

I used the reverse creaming method but with the filling and all it was hard to tell what affect that had on the final result. It didn't hurt.

The cake was butt-ugly after I frosted it. I didn't have time to smooth the frosting as much as I would have liked. It was crooked too. I was starting to think about making a sheet cake but I got out my handy-dandy Pampered Chef Accent Decorator, piped on more frosting, added some gold dragees, topped it with an unattractive topper (all I could find on short notice - apparently most couple married this long score professional cakes), and I don't think it looked too bad.

The flavor was good but there was so much going on with the frosting and filling that it was hard to say just how good (or not) the cake itself was.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Random Ramblings

Random Rambling #1: My ability to free-style dinner is no better than it was before I started following all these recipes. It's still very hit and miss. There are lots of misses.

Random Rambling #2:
Working within the constraints of time and money, I am coming up with very few dinner ideas. They just aren't coming to me.

Random Rambling #3: I want more Country Bob's All-Purpose sauce! I won some from Annie way back when but I can't get it locally. I know I could order it online but I really try not to resort to that for food. Although I have gone that route on occasion. I ordered several McCormick Pizza Seasoning Grinders from ebay when they were discontinued. I ordered garlic olive oil potato chips from Good Health Natural Foods (although they weren't as good as when they were sold under the Solea brand). I was also overcome with curiosity and had to order coffee syrup from Rhode Island (not as coffee-y as I had hoped).

Random Rambling #4: I've finally found creme fraiche locally now that Alouette is making it. It's one of those ingredients I really NEVER saw anywhere. It's not that different from sour cream, but it is.

Random Rambling #5: I've got recipes to tell you about: anniversary cake, chocolate chip cookies, lemon bundt cake, and some older recipes that I will probably never get around to sharing. I'm just not in the mood. None of the recipes are very exciting (good maybe but not exciting) so you're not missing out on much.

Random Rambling #6: I think I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I'll let you know how that turns out.