A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

TBO Library Committee Book Review of Albert Brooks’ 2030, March 26th, 10am. What to make, what to make? I know, we haven’t made a cake in months. I decided on personal, 2 layer cakes in both Heavenly White (recipe below) and the Extreme Chocolate cake. I made them in ramekins to keep them small, trimmed the edges, leveled the tops and did a crumb coat with buttercream frosting (see below) and let them sit overnight in the fridge. To make then as cylindrical as possible it is important to trim the sides. To allow them to stack as straight as possible be careful to level the top when you trim it. I did the final buttercream frosting this morning and made some gum paste flowers to decorate. I was going to make little books for each, but ran out of time. Along with my new “portion control” diet, I need better time use management in the bakery. (No to answer your question, I did not eat any cake and only tasted little bits to be sure I had the ingredient balance correct.

Recipe: Heavenly White Cake


  • 2 3/4 cups sifted cake flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg whites ( or substitute)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  2. In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add 1/2 cup sugar gradually, and continue beating only until meringue will hold up in soft peaks.
  3. Cream butter or margarine. Gradually add remaining 1 cup sugar, and cream together until light and fluffy. Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Mix in flavorings. Add meringue, and beat thoroughly into batter. Spread 6 greased and floured ramekins. Leave 1/2 to 1 inch from the top to allow for the cake rising.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool cake in ramekins for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. This cake may also be baked in two 9 inch round pans for 30 to 35 minutes, or in three 8 inch round pans for 25 to 30 minutes

Basic Crusting Buttercream


  • 1/2 cup solid high ratio shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1 tablespoon of meringue powder
  • 1 teaspoon Clear Vanilla Extract (or extract of choice)
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
  • 2 tablespoons milk

In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla and milk. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating on a slow speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. Keep bowl or covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Don’t overwhip or it will bring air to the icing and is impossible to smooth. If you have a kitchen Aid use white attachment, not whip attachment.

YIELD: Makes about 3 cups.


Anchors Aweigh… Until we meet once more

Yesterday I stepped outside of the box. Granted it was a baby step, but step none the less. For the first time I brewed a batch of beer without buying a brewing kit. With a brewing kit you have everything measured for you and all the grains, sugars and hops chosen. Yesterday I brewed 5 gallons of an Anchor Steam Beer clone from a recipe I found online.

It was an odd recipe. There was a relatively small amount of grains and LOTS of malt extract (sugar.) This made mixing the two with only one gallon of water somewhat bothersome, but not too difficult. (It required a lot of stirring.) What was unexpected was the amount of foam this created. The foam caused the ingredients to double in size. (I use a 5 gallon stainless steel brew tank.) This size tank provides adequate room for 2 gallons of a good rolling boil. But this time because my ingredients doubled and then increased again when they started to boil the surface of the boil was within an inch of the rim of the brewing tank for the entire first boil with hops.  What was even odder was if I stirred it the foam increased. I had to control the boil with temperature only. Very strange. After adding the second hops the foam settled down and with the third it was boiling and brewing normally.

So,  now it ferments for two weeks (until the specific gravity stabilizes,) then 10 days of conditioning as the beer carbonates in the bottle.  So, check back in about a month and see the results of this experiment.

Oh!! I almost forgot. The big experiment here is the use of lager (bottom fermenting) yeast  rather than ale (top fermenting) yeast. As you no doubt know lager fermentation temperature ranges 50-65 deg F and  Ale yeasts  thrive in the range of 55 – 80 F. (well within Florida room temperature.)  It turns out the yeast (San Francisco Lager Yeast) used for Anchor Steam (California Common) type beers will ferment in the range of  55-75 F which happens to be right about where my office (and fermentation room) temperature is maintained. This is the first time i will try a lager yeast at room temperature. Wish me luck!

For any hop heads who may stop by there is the recipe:


  • 7 pounds, John Bull plain light malt extract
  • 1/4-1/2 pound, crystal malt
  • 2 ounces, Northern Brewer hops (11 alpha) (boil)
  • 1 ounce, Cascade hops (5.6 alpha) (finish)
  • 2 packs, lager yeast

With 7 lbs of malt extract (that is a lot!) I went with the higher range (1/2 lb) of crystal malt (the grains.) The local brew supply shop did not have any Northern Brewer hops so i substituted Challenger for the Northern. Both are similar in alpha acids (Norther Brewer range from 6-10% and the Challenger range from 6.5-8.5%)

I used 1/3 of the Challenger for each the bitter, flavor and aromatic hops. (20 min boil for each.) Usually the finishing hops are added for the last 5 minutes or so of the boil, but this recipe called for them to be added at the end, after the boil time is over and between the time the wort is removed from the heat and cooled.

I also added 1/2 teaspoon of Irish Moss where there was 30 min left in the boil. I haven’t used this before but it is supposed to coagulate the unstable malt proteins so they will settle out of the wort. Presumably this will result in a cleaner less bitter beer.