Straight Down the Middle

As we near the end (of some peoples playing season,) one of my golf buddies invited our foursome and families over for a patio dinner before the weather starts turning cold(er). I offered to bring a cake along to the dinner. This is what I made this morning

It’s my extreme chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.

The trees are gum-paste cones made by wrapping thin gum-paste around a form, then set to dry overnight.

Of course, I rarely hit it straight down the middle!!

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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.

 

Take Me Out to the Ball… Park

For her birthday all Fran wanted was one of my cakes. For the woman who starts counting the days until pitchers and catchers report from the last out of the World Series (114 days) I thought a baseball themed cake would be perfect. I mulled it over for a while, discarding baseballs, gloves and bats before deciding on a baseball park.BB Stadium 3

As I often do, I searched Google images for ideas of a design for a baseball park cake. Not finding any that caught my eye or attention, I designed my own. The first thing I discovered is it is very difficult to make a small cake with any detail. I compromised and used M&M’s for fans and Peanut M&M’s for players. The scoreboard is a Hershey bar (one of Fran’s favs) with a Happy Birthday message piped with royal icing. You can tell I did that, the piping is mediocre and the penmanship is atrocious. The BB Stadium 4playing field is chocolate cake with the outfield carved into a curved radius and grand stands are white velvet cake baked in a bread loaf pan then cut at an angle to make parallel triangular wedges for the grand stands. Everything was crumb coated with white butter cream frosting, chilled overnight and a finish frosting coat added the next day.

The infield was made from green dyed butter cream and piped onto the cake with a grass tip (Wilton #233.) M&M’s were placed strategically around the ball park and the scoreboard on top of the right field grand stand.

Recipes for all cakes, frostings and icings can be found in other posts in my blog.

Break the Fast 2012

Welcome to 5773! Did anyone else see the giant matzo ball slide down the tower into the huge bowl of soup in Tel Aviv last week? Totally awesome this year! Great light show, spectacular music! Don’t miss it next year!!!

Following tradition Fran and I broke the fast last night at a bagel dinner with friends, hosted by Ilayne and Amy. I was asked to bring a cake, so keeping with the dinner theme, I made a bagel cake. This cake is white velvet frosted with crusting chocolate butter cream and filled with a combination of white and “salmon” colored butter cream frosting. The lettuce is thin rolled gum paste where the edges were rolled with a round ended modeling tool. The lettuce and flowers were airbrushed in the appropriate colors. The spices on the top of the cake to make it look kind of “ET”ish (onion, garlic and seeds) are Duff’s Smores Sugar Sprinkles

East is left and West is right

and who-da-thought they would meet for Thanksgiving at our house in 2011. Faced with the dilemma of having Republican political consultants and still newly weds Daniel and Frances home for Thanksgiving and tree-hugging lefty pinko liberal Fran’s birthday the same week, what cake do I make for their anniversary and birthday? Not having been born just yesterday I realized I needed to make two cakes.

The elephant cake for Daniel and Frances was my standard chocolate cake crumb coated with butter cream frosting and covered with white fondant.

The donkey (see how nice I am to use that descriptor?) was white velvet again crumb coated with butter cream and covered with fondant.

The emblems were carved from fondant and painted the traditional colors.

The stars both on the emblems and around the base were piped with red, white and blue colored butter cream frosting

The white velvet cake recipe are found at: I am not on the white velvet ropes yet!

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 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

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

I am not on the (white velvet) ropes yet!

I received a very nice comment on the white velvet cake I made as part of Daniel and Frances’ wedding cake. She wanted the recipe, the nicest form of flattery.The cake here is another one using the same recipe

Recipe:

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 2 round 8 inch pans. 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 two 8-inch pans.
  • 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.