Pavlova is Dancing in the Street

“They’ll be laughing and singing, music swinging
Dancing in the street”

Ballet dancing, actually. Specifically, Anna Pavlova, Russian prima ballerina who is most recognized for the creation of the role The Dying Swan. We saw pavlovas made on GBBO yesterday and as I have made meringue cups for years, this seemed like a natural extension. (Plus, I had egg whites left in the fridge from making crème pat earlier this week.)

The recipe was created in either Australia or pavlova_0001New Zealand and is a favorite around Christmas in the summer. Wait! Is it a Christmas treat, or a summer treat? Isn’t that a North American oxymoron? Ah, well, it is Christmas Eve, therefore, this time, it is a Christmas treat. (I just realized, I could have used the blueberries and made it a Chanukah treat in Israeli colors of white and blue.)

pavolva_0004Deceptively easy and insidiously versatile. You can top your pavlova with berries, nuts, chocolate, mocha, fruit, lemon curd or as King
Mongkut of Siam was fond of saying “etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.” It often depends what is in the fridge or what season it is, or whatever floats your current boat.

 

 

Ingredients

  • Meringue:
    • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract (clear to keep the meringue very white)
    • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 1½ Tbsp cornstarch
    • 1½ cups granulated sugar
    • ¾ cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
    • Pinch salt
  • Topping:
    • 2 pints fresh or frozen berries
    • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Whipped Cream for topping

Method

  1. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
  3. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla. Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Pipe the meringue into 8-10 large round bowl like mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. (I used a large 1M piping tip.) Leave an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
  6. Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white — not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.
  7. Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
  8. Served topped with your favorite filling – lemon curd, raspberry or blueberry sauce, and freshly whipped cream, etc, etc, etc.

Sauce or Filling Directions

If you want to make a berry sauce, heat a couple pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter cup of sugar. (I used a 4:1 berry to sugar ratio.)  Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling apart. Remove from heat and let cool.

Grace’s Baptism Cake

Saturday October 28, 2016 was our granddaughter Grace’s baptism. completed-cakeAround 60 family members and friends attended at a Catholic church in Roseville for a short but meaningful service, then gathered at Frances and Daniel’s for brunch. I was asked to provide a cake for 60 people. (This may be the largest cake I have made.) The specific request was for a layer cake with chocolate mousse filling and a quilted finish.

For 60 servings the cake needed to be about 4″ high and 11″ x 15″. Knowing I would lose a little from the edges to square the sides I assumed there would be at least a few sheetcakepeople who do not eat cake (friends of Marie Antionette, no doubt) and I could get away with this size. Therefore I needed two sheet cakes. (Note: about 10 slices were left at the end of the event.)

To have a decent thickness of mousse separatinbuttercream-dam-4g the cake layers I built a dam of crusting buttercream around the edges of the top crumb coated cake. Crusting buttercream has a little more body and will keep the mousse in place. Add a tablespoon of meringue powder to the confectioners sugar to make regular buttercream into crusting buttercream. After the second sheet cake is cool, add the buttercream-dam-2mousse to the damned 🙂 bottom cake. Top with the second layer, crumb coat the entire cake and refrigerate. stacked-layersA cold cake is easier to trim to make nice square edges and setting the mousse will retard the effects the moisture will have on the fondant coating.

I used an electric knife to trim the edges of the cake prior to covering with fondant. After trimming crumb coat the nice, straight smooth edges of the cake. stacked-and-cut-layers

I rolled out a 17″ x 22″ piece of fondant to have enough to cover the cake. Once it was covered and smoothed, 45 degree crisscrossed lines were embossed into the sides of the cake. Then it was dusted with pearl luster to add a little sparkle to the fondant and little pink rosettes were piped into each intersection of the quilt pattern.

Egraces-cake-quiltingarlier in the week I made the pink orchid, cross and text backing from gumpaste.graces-orchid I purchased the text from a company that makes sugar images and pasted it onto the backing gumpaste.

YELLOW SHEET CAKE – SERVES 60

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 1/2 cups (570g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cup (460g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 3/4 cups (700g) granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (240g) sour cream, at room temperature
  • 2 cup (480ml) whole milk, at room temperature

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Generously grease and lightly flour a 12×17 inch half sheet/jelly roll pan. The pan should be at least 2″ deep. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed for 3 full minutes until creamed together. The mixture should be a light yellow color. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. On medium-high speed, add 1 egg at a time, beating well after each addition until both are mixed in. On high speed, beat in the vanilla extract and sour cream. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  3. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients alternating with the milk. Start and end with the dry ingredients. Mix each addition just until incorporated. Do not overmix this batter. The batter will be smooth, velvety, and slightly thick.
  4. Spread the cake batter into the prepared pan. Smooth it out into a thin, even layer. Bake for 20-22 minutes (less for a half recipe or 35-40 minutes for a double. Actual times depend on pan used, less time for shallow pan, more for deeper, or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Make sure you rotate the cake pan once or twice during bake time if your oven has hot spots. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the pan placed on a wire rack. As the cake is cooling, make the frosting.
  5. Make ahead tip: Cake can be made 1 -2 days in advance, covered tightly at room temperature.

BUTTERCREAM FROSTING – I made several batches of this frosting

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups of powdered sugar (or 1 box)
  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) of softened butter
  • 2-3 teaspoons of vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons of milk
  • Violet food coloring

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add powdered sugar to mixing bowl.
  2. Add softened sticks of butter
  3. Add vanilla. If you want white buttercream use clear imitation vanilla.
  4. Add 1 tbsp of milk.
  5. Beat on low until powdered sugar is incorporated. Then move mixer up to medium-high speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When completely mixed the frosting may appear dry.
  6. Add more milk, a little bit at a time until frosting is the proper consistency.
  7. Again, for white frosting now add a little violet food coloring. I use the end of a toothpick and add just a little at a time. Mix thoroughly.

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • 1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ cups whipping (heavy) cream

DIRECTIONS

  1. Beat egg yolks in small bowl with electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until thick and lemon colored, then gradually beat in sugar.
  2. Heat 1 cup whipping cream in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until hot. Temper the eggs by gradually (i.e. slowly, a little at a time) stirring (rapidly) at least half of the hot whipping cream into egg yolk mixture; stir back into hot cream in saucepan. Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens (do not boil). Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, just until chilled.
  3. Beat 1 ½ cups whipping cream in chilled medium bowl with electric mixer on high speed until stiff. By hand fold chocolate mixture into whipped cream to not collapse the whipped cream. Pipe or spoon mixture into serving bowls. Immediately refrigerate any remaining dessert after serving.

Small Batch Berry Jam

Confession here: I like seeds in my berry jam. I don’t know why, either some trauma forced on me by my older brother, or perhaps faded memories of my mother making jams or even some totally unrelated reason. The point is my berry jam must have seeds. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find blackberry jam with seeds? Raspberry? No Blackberry Jamproblem, but find a jar of blackberry without that insidious word “seedless” on the label? Good luck. Either you spend an inordinate amount of time searching your supermarket, or go to a farm or specialty market and shell out twice the cash. I look for BOGO’s on berries. It’s like getting jam free, almost.
Or….
Google (the worlds 42) “small batch jam” and find 461,000 results in 0.44 seconds.
I read a lot of them and boiled it down (bad pun) to this:

  • Measure equal weights (not volumes) washed berries and granulated sugar. Obviously for sweeter jam add more sugar, tarter, less. Duh.
  • Mash berries in a saucepan, heat then add sugar in small aliquots. Use a large enough saucepan or you will end up washing two of them. Been there, done that, no t-shirt.
  • Cook at a moderate boil until the temperature reaches 220 deg. and it begins to thicken. Cook less for thinner (think dessert topping) or more for thicker.
  • Skim the light colored foam off the top as it boils.
  • While it is cooking put a canning jar (about a pint size for a pint of berries, go figure) filled to about an inch from of the top with water into the microwave and cook until boiling vigorously.
  • Pour the boiling water out into a small bowl containing your canning lid and funnel.
  • Wait a minute. You aren’t really sterilizing because you will just keep this in the fridge for quick use.
  • Pour the still very hot jam into the jar using the funnel, put on the lids, screw on the top and you are done, except for the clean up. One pan, one spoon and a funnel.
  • Total time, less than 30 min.

Summertime, And The Livin’ is Easy

It’s summertime again. Actually, it is the end of May and summer is still 3 weeks away but if you live in South Florida summer began months ago. I needed a cake for a dinner party this weekend and said to myself, “Self, what springs to mind when you think about summer?” After a moment, I replied, “Well, after a long hot winter I want to fall into a cool, refreshing cake that shrieks summer.” I decided on a Watermelon Cake. It doesn’t taste like watermelon (it is actually a white cake dyed reddy/pink) but sure looks like one. IMG_1421[1]

Bake the cake in a greased and flowered Wilton Egg Pan (because I own one.) Fill the pan to within an inch of the top and be sure to put a cookie sheet under it while baking as it will overflow the pan. My oven is slow so I baked it for an hour at 350 F. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Trying to remove the cake while warm will destroy it.

After the cake is completely cool, (I know, the cake is very cool, but in this case I mean the temperature) cut the excess cake along the edge of the Egg Pan to make a perfectly flat side then turn it out onto a wire rack. If necessary loosen the edges of the cake from the pan with a flexible spatula.

Frost the cake with a heavy IMG_1422[1]layer of white crusting butter cream frosting (I made a double recipe of the below) and place in the freezer. When the frosting is set, about an hour, coat with another layer of white frosting making it as smooth as possible, returning to the freezer. This makes the thicker white watermelon rind. While the twice white frosted cake is again setting add some green food coloring to the remaining frosting. This green should be the background green of the watermelon, not the dark green lines. Add a little additional milk to reduce the viscosity, or to the non-scientists among us, reduce the “thickness.” After the frosting on the cake is set, smooth a layer of the light, thinner green frosting over the entire cake and return to the freezer. After the now light green cake is set, remove from the freezer and smooth the surface. I like to use a latex gloved hand wetted by holding it under the faucet. A bowl of water would also work but then you have to clean another bowl. You will have to clean and re-wet your hand a few times to smooth the entire cake. Once the light green frosted cake is smooth, guess what? Return it to the freezer to set.
IMG_1427[1]Remove the smooth light green frosted cake from the freezer and paint the dark green stripes. I used Duff green airbrush dye and a 3/8″ brush (because I own them.) If you are the artistic type with a good eye and imagination this is no biggie. If you are the more analytical, fallen chemist type, set your iPad with a picture of a watermelon next to your cake and copy to the best of your limited artistic ability.

BTW, here is a tip I found online: to disperse the chocolate chips and not have them settle to the bottom of the cake batter mix them into the flour mixture being sure the are well coated with flour. This seems to help them “float” in the cake batter as it bakes.

Here is another tip: don’t let the cake with the thick frosting warm up in the car ride to your party. Soften or melted rind signficantly affects the overall impression of the cake.

Recipe: Heavenly White (Watermelon Colored) Cake

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 1/2 cup of chocolate chips
  • Red dye

Directions

  1. Measure sifted flour, baking powder, and salt; sift together three times.
  2. Add chocolate chips and mix being sure the chips are well coated with the flour mixture
  3. 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. Add red dye to approximate a watermelon color.
  4. 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. Add red food dye until the same watermelon pinky/red is achieved. Mix in flavorings. Add colored meringue, and beat thoroughly into batter.  Pour into well greased and floured Egg Pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for about 60 minutes. Check the springiness of the cake after about 45 min. Guess when it is done (when the depression caused by your finger is anti-depressed, or springs back up.) Leave the cake in pans until completely cool, then trim the bumpy puffed up cake above the rim of the Egg Pan and remove and transfer to a wire rack.

Basic Crusting Butter Cream

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • Green food color (add after cake is frosted with the white frosting)

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.

 

M&Mmmmmmmm Cake

M&M 3

If it works, don’t fix it. My chocolate cake is probably the best cake I make (In My Not So HO). The Heavenly White is a very close second, but I really think the chocolate is #1.

Anyway, when invited to Robin’s open house, and knowing Robin has some sort of M&M obsession (in the nicest sense of the word), and being asked to inform them if I was bringing a

MM 1 Small

dessert, I had some initial anxiety deciding on a “theme” for the cake (between a Robin’s Egg Blue cake, which could have been Heavenly White, or an M&M cake, which HAD to be chocolate) I ultimately chose the M&M cake. (Please see my Facebook “Chicken and Egg” post for a further discussion of life’s anxieties.)

I used a Wilton’s 3D Egg Pan which I found on eBay for $6. This is a very versatile pan if you want to make egg (bird, chicken, bunny, Fabrege, etc) or football, or even Peanut M&M shaped cakes. It is very important to allow the cake to cool completely. I untied the two pans and left them in place overnight, otherwise they are hard to remove from the pans and will break apart. Crumb coat the ovoid cake with a relatively thin version of the butter cream frosting. Add a little milk if it is too thick. Let the butter cream set for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. After it is set, put on some latex gloves and smooth the entire cake.eggpan 1 small eggpan 3 small

Roll out some red fondant and lay it over the cake, tucking it in and under the sides and smoothing as best you can. I am not good with rounded ends and can never get them smooth enough to satisfy me. If anyone has some tips here I would love to hear them. I do the typical stretch, smooth etc etc etc but it still wrinkles.

To make the “M” use the Rockwell font which is similar to what is found on the candy and print it about 2″ high. Cut the “M” our and use as a stencil. Roll out some gum-paste, lay the stencil over it and cut out the “M” using an Exacto knife. Wet the area backside of the the “M” and stick it in place on the cake.

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour the two Wilton 3D Egg cake pans. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the one half of the egg pan. It should almost overflow. Place the empty half over the filled half, tie both halves together tightly with string and place in the oven balanced on one of the stabilizing ovals.

Basic Butter Cream

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup solid high ratio shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 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.

Chicken Scallopini with Whatever You Find in Your Pantry

While grocery shopping this weekend I “impulse bought” a pound of  boneless, skinless, thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets, knowing for the two of us this would be enough for dinner for both of us and one lunch. (If they ended up good, my lunch, if not…)

I found this recipe on AllRecipes.Com but made just a few changes. At the same time I started cooking the onions I added some sliced green peppers, skipped the wine (didn’t have any) and added a teaspoon of capers. I also didn’t measure anything, just added some of this and some of that until it looked about right.

I was going to serve it over a bed or rice, but I forgot to impulse buy any. I had some egg noodles that worked well.

I have lunch today!!

Ingredients (All approximate)

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded 1/2-inch thick
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup white wine (skipped this)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 green pepper, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp, or so of capers

Directions

  1. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken breasts with salt and black pepper. Arrange the chicken in the skillet and pan fry until golden brown, no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes on each side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Transfer the chicken to a large platter, and cover with aluminum foil.
  2. Return the skillet to the stove and reduce heat to medium. Stir in the garlic and onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the white wine and scrape up any brown bits from the skillet with a spatula. Add the chicken stock, and continue to cook and stir until the liquid has reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and flour; cook and stir until thickened. Top the chicken with the sauce before serving.

Thanksgiving 2013 or Another Step on the Road to Gluttony

OK, Turkey Day 4 is over and I am officially done. Turkey, sides and desserts 4 days in a row beat me. Of course, it is also Chanukah! I could tell because the one bottle of London Pub Ale miraculously transformed into eight bottles to last all eight days. (Claiming literary license here as I am only drinking one bottle per week these days.) Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Cake The pumpkin pie is actually a chocolate cake in disguise. Use about 1/3 of the batter and spread it out in a pie plate that was baked along with the rest of the batter which was put into two 6″ cake pans with their bottoms covered with quick release silicone sheets, greased and floured. (Only fill the pie platter a little less than half full or the cake will rise over the top.) Make a double batch of butter cream frosting. One cup was diluted slightly to make it easily spreadable and dyed with a mixture of orange and brown food coloring to match the color of the traditional pumpkin pie Fran made. This was spread over the top of the cake. Another cup was dyed to match the crust (more brown, less orange.) Use a #125 petal, or similar,  tip to pipe the darker brown frosting around the edge to form the crust and an open star tip to form the whipped cream from the balance of the white butter cream. (Save a little white buttber cream for later.) Dreidle Cake While the small chocolate cakes are baking, make a batch of chocolate frosting. You will need lots of chocolate frosting. Don’t be afraid to make a double batch here. It will not go to waste. Any left-over makes an excellent side for lunch or even a wonderful breakfast dessert. The two 6″ round chocolate cakes were cooled and one of the layers was cut into two thinner disks. One of the thinner disks was stacked on top of the full layer which was topped with a chocolate frosting cover, then the entire small cake was frosted. The remaining thin disk of cake was crumbled, mixed with a little chocolate frosting, shaped to resemble a turkey body, neck and head and then frozen. Don’t use all the chocolate frosting as you will need more than a cup for the turkey cake. While the oven is still hot make the Heavenly White cake in two 9″ parchment paper bottom lined round cake pans. While it is baking, make another (double) recipe of butter cream frosting. Dye 1/4 cup green, 1/4 cup blue, about 3/4 cup yellow and the rest dark orange. When cool, crumb coat the double layer Heavenly White cake and refrigerate. Use multiple piping bags as some colors will need to be used more than once. Use the blue frosting to pipe the outline and fill the dreidel. Smooth it with a spatula and use a petal tip or other ribbon making tip to pipe one of the Hebrew letters on the blue dreidel. (I made a Hei, it seemed the easiest.) This cake is complete. TurkeyCake1 Add about a tablespoon of milk to a cup of white butter cream and mix well to thin it. Use the thin frosting to coat the white cake with a smooth outer shell. I used a star tip to pipe the outer dark chocolate turkey feathers. Start about 2″ from the edge of the cake. As you squeeze the piping bag move slowly toward the edge then back towards the beginning point, releasing pressure as you go. Repeat as necessary to cover about 200 degrees of the perimeter of the cake. (I am basically a scientist. Deal with it.) Next use the dark orange butter cream and same tip form the next layer of feathers using the same technique. While you have the orange in the bag pipe the perimeter around the bottom of the cake. Pipe some of the yellow frosting inside the orange feathers and save the rest in the bag. Use the green frosting with a #233 grass tip to make the grass. Coat the frozen chocolate turkey-looking-thing with chocolate frosting, shaping it to be a little more turkey-ish. Lay it inside the semi-circle of yellow feathers and across the grass. Use the remaining yellow frosting to pipe the turkey feet. Use some remaining chocolate frosting to make the wings and dye a little left over white butter cream red to make the beak and comb. Taa-daa!

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 5 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the frosting, use the second set of ingredients. Cream butter until light and fluffy. Stir in the cocoa and confectioners’ sugar alternately with the milk and vanilla. Beat to a spreading consistency.

Recipe: Heavenly White Cake

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  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 into cake pans with parchment paper lining the bottom.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool cake in pans for 10 minutes, then remove and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Basic Crusting Butter Cream

Ingredients:

  • 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.

Break The Fast 2013

BreakTheFast2013InvitationSmall

Ilayne’s Break The Fast Invitation

Each year I make a “themed cake” for Break the Fast. This year, I was so blown away by the incredible invitation we received I decided I had to take homage to Ilayne’s talent. Her invitation used lace for borders and the silverware was punched out of used (and cleaned) soda cans. Absolutely amazing.

BreaktheFastCake2013 InvitationSmall

Dave’s 2013 Break The Fast Cake

The cake I made was a simple white velvet, two layer 9′ x 13″ cake, roughly the same aspect ratio of the invitation. I used a crusting dark chocolate frosting, substituting 6 tbs dark cocoa plus 3 tbs vegetable oil for 3 bittersweet chocolate squares to darken the color of the frosting. Nuke the chocolate, oil and 1 cup butter until almost melted then add 1 tsp vanilla. Stir 1 cup of milk into 2 lbs confectioners’ sugar, add the chocolate mixture and stir. The frosting will harden as it cools. Add more milk to make it spreading consistency. (Warm the milk if you think you need more time before spreading the frosting.)  Frost the bottom layer, stack the second layer and frost completely. To evenly smooth the frosting, heat a long spatula in boiling water, wipe dry and use the warm spatula  to smooth the top and sides of the cake. (Thank you Patty Beck for that great hint.)

BreaktheFastCakeLace2013 InvitationSmall

Gum Past Lace

Roll out white gumpaste to a large thin layer. Cut one piece into a strip 1″ wide and 13″ long and allow to dry flat. Cut another piece into an isosceles  triangle 4″ high with an 8″ base and allow to dry flat.  (In Euclidean geometry, the isosceles triangle theorem, also known as the pons asinorum, states that the angles opposite the two equal sides of an isosceles triangle are equal. It is, in essence, the content of proposition 5 in Book I of Euclid’s Elements.) When dry, cover the cut, white gumpaste with a lace paper doily and airbrush with black edible airbrush paint. (Use alcohol as the solvent. I use vodka, purchased in the little bottles airlines use. They are inexpensive and do not require much storage space.) The round place mat was cut from the same gumpaste using two round lids as templates. The larger circle was airbrushed silver, the other left white. The words “Dig In” were sugar sheet punch-out letters. I wish I could have done script, but I only had block letters and my piping skills are not adequate to small script lettering.

BreaktheFastCakeSilverwarewith template2013 Invitation

Gumpaste Silverware and Template Image

Make the silverware by cutting gumpaste in the shape of a knife, fork and spoon. Lay the cut gumpaste on a similar sized real knife, fork and spoon so the gumpaste utensils conform to, and 3 dimensionally take the shape of the real silverware. (Note 1: 3 tines are much easier than 4.) (Note 2: Do not set heavy objects on the dried, completed gumpaste silverware. It causes bad language to be spoke out loud.)


RECIPES:

White Velvet Cake (Requires two cakes this size)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ pan. Sift the flour and salt together and set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix well. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Alternately add flour and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour. Pour into the 9″ x 13″ inch pan.
  • Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for about 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing. Each finished cake should be 1″ to 1.5″ high, slightly dense and very moist.

Chocolate Fudge Frosting

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 6 tbl dark chocolate cocoa
  • 3 tbl vegetable oil
  • 2 pound confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 – 1.5 cup milk

Directions

Melt chocolate and butter in the microwave, or in the top of a double boiler. In a large bowl, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and 1/2 of the milk. Blend in the melted chocolate mixture. Add remaining milk, a little at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
Let stand until spreadable (frosting will thicken as it cools).

“Cheese” Cake

Fran saw this recipe in a magazine that was dedicated to cooking with cheese. It’s primary audience is vegetarians, not carnivores like Fran and me, however, there were some very good ideas to be had from the “dark” side.

This cake uses the “not-me David” yellow cake as a base. The two 8″ round cakes were then frozen. 24 hrs later I removed the cakes from the freezer and carved one edge of each to round it off. I crumb coated it with some yellow tinted butter-cream  to try to match the color of the frosting to Gouda cheese. Reserve a few tablespoons of frosting. Stack the two cakes with frosting between them and the Chese Cakeun-carved sides touching. It goes back into the refrigerator until the night before it is to be used. Erev-eating (that means the night before it is to be eater) The cake is removed from the fridge and smoothed. I wear a latex glove and smooth the frosting so the fondant will look nice and smooth after it is applied. Speaking of which, I rolled a small piece of fondant out to about 1/8″ thick. Using a plate about the same diameter as the cake I cut a circle out and put in on a plate. Place the cake on the circle of fondant and roll out a large piece of fondant to end up about 15″ diameter. If the crumb-coat is still moist just lay the fondant over the cake. If the crumb-coat has set up, spray it with a fine mist of water. This helps the fondant adhere. I always have trouble covering round cakes with fondant and not having wrinkles. It requires pulling, stretching and smoothing, but it is an art I have not quite mastered.

Cut a piece of the finished cake (about 1/4th the entire cake) out and set on its side. Carefully frost the 3 visible sides of the cake (the wedge removed and both inside edges of where it was removed) with the reserved frosting. If you plan correctly there should be one large tablespoon of frosting left for you to eat.

Coat the fondant with a light layer of vegetable oil to make it shiny. Brush a bunch of grapes with slightly beaten egg whites and coat with granulated sugar. Let the grapes dry for at least an hour then arrange on the platter and add a few crackers for effect.

I was working on the railroad…. err kitchen, yeah!! that’s the ticket… kitchen!!

Remember the yellow cake with meringue frosting from a couple of weeks ago. I bet you didn’t realize that was just a practice cake! The real one was for Fran’s work where they are working on a strategic plan. I used David’s Yellow Cake (that is just a name. It could just as easily been Ralph’s Yellow Cake, its just someone named David published the recipe first) as the basis of a commemorative cake for the City of Tamarac.Tamarac Cake

The difference between this cake and the original Yellow Cake is I used fondant to cover this cake and gum paste to make all the emblems and logos. I cheated and used sugar letters to spell “Team 4 Information Management”. My piping skills to write that much just aren’t there… yet. As usual, everything is cake or candy and edible.