Saturday, September 21, 2013

Fourth of Jul...CUPCAKES!

I *always* have to work on the 4th of July.  I've been gone on the 4th of July pretty much every year for my entire life.  When I was young, we went to summer camp on the week surrounding the 4th.  As an adult, I got a job that ensured I would always be gone.

Except this year.  Every once in a while, I score that day off.  It happens so infrequently (seriously, I've been in Cincinnati on the 4th of July like 2x my entire life), that I have no idea what normal people even do on that day.

We got invited to a picnic, so we went!  And I made cupcakes.  From the only book I ever seem to cook out of.  :)

 Cupcakes are great picnic food because you can grab them and run back off to a frisbee game, and the wrapper makes it so you don't have to get your hands dirty.  Or it keeps your dirty hands off your cupcake.  However you want to look at it.

I made Mississippi Mud Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting from Julie Richardson's Vintage Cakes book.  It's a fudgy cupcake with pecans in it, topped with marshmallow frosting.  I had to learn a new technique, which means that I made the frosting twice :)
See those pecans there?  This is me taking a picture and forgetting to toast them.  Whoops!  I think its a critical step for the tastiness of this recipe so I will make sure I do it next time. 

Since I mostly make cakes and I didn't actually read the recipe all the way through before I started (see above re: not toasting pecans), I didn't realize I needed 2 muffin tins to bake these bad boys.  Luckily my roommate has one.  That'd be the one in the picture that looks like its only been used once.
This batter made 2 dozen cupcakes, plus enough for nearly a dozen mini muffins.  Those didn't last long.  I gobbled them right up.  These babies are delicious straight out of the oven, nice and warm.  After they baked, I realized that I probably should have filled the muffin tins up higher. C'est La Vie.
There are no pictures of me making the frosting.  It was getting late and I was tired.  It involved a candy thermometer and egg whites, and making the frosting a second time after I failed to successfully whip the egg whites.  You live, you learn.  At the very least, you have unfrosted delicious cupcakes. 
Here is me with the finished product.  At home first, then at the picnic.
Noms.  I bring noms.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Pink Cake

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been taking a cake decorating class through Michael's.  It's the Wilton method.  I've been making a WHOLE LOT of cakes over the past few months.  Its been a couple busy baking months for my oven!

I wanted a super delicious cake to take to a Labor Day Fireworks party, so I turned to my trusty cookbook, Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson.   There is a definite chance that I will cook every recipe from this book within a years time...everything from the book is just so delicious!  For a girl that finds most of her recipes on the internet, this is really saying something.  I've even made one of the recipes twice!  Honey Bee Cake, I'm looking at you!

The Pink Cake is a classic party cake.  It's chocolate layer cake with raspberry buttercream.  It is absolutely heavenly. 

This picture cracks me up because I'm wearing the same outfit I had on for Pilates earlier that day.  Something just not right about making desserts while wearing your gym clothes!
Doesn't this look like I'm squeezing blood out of a heart? eewww!
I had a bit of trouble with the raspberries.  I used the frozen kind, as recommended, and I knew I didn't want the seeds in the frosting, so I layered some cheesecloth over a metal strainer.  This unfortunately kept all of the berry bits out with the seeds, so all I had was the liquid.  I wasn't willing to pick through the remnants to get the seeds out, so only the juice made it into the frosting instead of actual raspberry puree.  When I combined it with the buttercream, it looked like brains!
Cutting out the puree part of the raspberries made the consistency much too liquidy.  I added a bunch of powdered sugar to fix it up.  Quite delicious.  I can think of quite a few things I would slather this frosting on and gobble up!
You like my cake frosting tip and featherweight bag?  Remarkably quicker and easier than the way I used to frost my cakes.  And I think my frosting sits a lot more evenly now too.  I need to get one of those fancy cake turntables.

Speaking of wish lists, I own exactly one apron.  I got in on clearance after Halloween one year and figured I would wear it once a year while prepping for our annual Halloween bash.  Except its my only apron, so I wear it all the time.  I'm comfortable with this level of dorkiness.

After I got the cake iced, it was time to whip out some ribbon roses from my cake decorating class!
I made the yellow decorating icing a tad too thick, so I'm squeezing the bag really hard in this picture!

Silly pose with the completed cake..I swear, one of these days I'm going to drop one of these and be horrified.  I'll probably sit down and eat it off my floor while I cry.
Here's the inside.
Need a good party cake?  I definitely recommend this one.  The recipe is available on Epicurious, though I really do think you should buy this lady's book.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cherry Chip Cake

Guess who dropped out of grad school and signed up for a cake decorating class instead?  This girl.  No joke.

The cake I'm sharing today is the Cherry Chip Cake, another delight from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson.  This was actually the first cake I made from the book, and was right before the busiest time period I've ever had in my entire life.  I'm glad I got to bake a cake first :)
So, cherry chip cake.  I've always wondered why people choose eclectic flavors for things.  It would just never dawn on me that I should make a non-standard cake flavor.   I mean, cherry is totally a non-standard cake flavor, right?
This is probably the first time I've ever purchased cake flour, if you can believe that.
This cake was also the first time I ever used my food scale to weigh cake ingredients.  I'm hooked on that now, because it seems so smart!  I even weighed the batter in each pan to get even layers!  I had a little panic when I realized I didn't have 3 8" cake pans.  Luckily my springform was the right size.  Accounted for in the weighing process, of course!!
The frosting for the cake was Cherry Buttercream, with a little bit of Kirschwasser, a colorless cherry brandy, mixed in.  The recipe also calls for dried cherries to be reconsituted and mixed in to a basic buttercream recipe.  I was happy that my boyfriend was able to find a tiny bottle so we don't have it sitting on the shelf for years and years.
I thought that the icing was a really gross brown tint from adding in the dried and reconstituted cherries.  So I added some red food coloring to make the cake pink.  Here are the before and after colors.  Pink was a good call, right?

Not that it needed any more awesomeness, but to add some extra awesome in there anyway, each cake layer is topped with chocolate ganache.  I didn't let it cool enough, which was a bit of a problem when I tried to put frosting between the layers.  Luckily it didn't seem to matter too much.  I worked it out.
Since this was prior to my cake decorating class, I wasn't schooled in the lessons of cake leveling, nor did I own a cake leveler.  As evidenced here!
Actually, the leveling doesn't look too bad with the icing on there!
One of my baking traditions is to take a picture of myself making a 'bite face' with my cake.  This cake led to the most epic, most amazing bite face ever. 
No comment...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sneak Preview: Christian Moerlein Brewery Tours @ Taste of Cincinnati

Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. is opening its doors to visitors during Taste of Cincinnati.  They are currently putting the finishing touches on their Tap Room and will be opening up their cavernous beer cellars to curious visitors.

They advertised for volunteer "Beer Meisters" to lead the tours, and I jumped at the chance.  I'm all about Cincinnati, and I happen to really enjoy their beer as well.  One perk of attending Beer Meister Orientation?  Beer samples!!!  Here is a picture of me with a sample of their Hefeweizen ale, which is called 7.  It's a south German style wheat beer with a hint of banana. Quite delicious and definitely my favorite. 

I don't have much in the way of pictures because I was focused on listening and learning the content and the expectations of the tour guides.  But, I couldn't help but take a couple pics.
Want to see more pictures?  There are plenty of images on the web.  Here are a few links that show images of some of the things you will see on the tour.

Tap Room
Beer Cellars

You can't truly experience this unless you come out in person.  Want the details?

Christian Moerlein Brewery is located at 1621 Moore St in Over the Rhine.  They are offering tours during Taste of Cincinnati 2013, and will have their new Tap Room open with beer for sale.

During Taste, busses will provide transportation between Fountain Square and the brewery.  You can register for the tour at the Christian Moerlein Beer Garden on Fountain Square.

Tours are free of charge and are estimated to take about half an hour (allow an hour for travel time if taking the free bus shuttle).  They are running tours from noon to 8pm on both Saturday and Sunday, and from noon-6pm on Monday/Memorial Day.  Bring money for beer.  I promise you'll want some.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Black and White Cake

Yeah, I'm still around.  Grad school has been eating my soul.  And I've been eating cake. 

This is the Black and White Cake from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson, with a vanilla bean buttercream.

Since I last updated, I've lost 35 lbs (ok, maybe I haven't been eating all that much cake) and dyed my hair blonde.  I still prefer to go barefoot though.

Back to the food...I like to host Mother's Day brunch for my family.  My sister and boyfriend were coerced into helping me cook.  Many a joke about sweatshop kitchens ensued.  In the picture below, He is cutting challah for bread pudding, she is slicing strawberries for fruit cocktail, and I am working on the cake batter.

This cake was for my mom, specifically chosen because it is dark chocolate.  I thought it was very similar to oreo cookies.

This cookbook tells you the weight the batter should be in each part of the cake.  Never thought about weighing the cake pans.  It was a pretty good strategy, because the two layers ended up being pretty much the same size.  And that's the point, right?

I had to make the icing twice, and I still wasn't terribly happy with it.  The icing was tasty, but hard to work with.  Not sure if I did something wrong or if it was the recipe.  The basic buttercream recipe from the book worked fine on another cake that I made from the book.  I'm sure I'll make this recipe again (it was VERY good), so time will tell.

A big benefit of kitchen visitors is that you get more pictures of yourself cooking!  Here is the finished icing.

One of the cakes had a pretty big dome that I cut off, so I used a cup as a biscuit cutter to make some little samples for us to nibble on.  I made a mini batch of cake balls too!  No pictures of those...they were gone super quickly!

After our mini snack cakes, it was assembly time!

I tried to make chocolate ganache 'kisses' on top of the finished cake, but through a tragic combination of too warm ganache and too big of a hole in my ziploc, I had to use a 'modern' decorating style.  :)  My sister was a big help on this part.

Luckily, my mom loved the cake, and she didn't think anything was off about the decorating style.  I didn't mention that we took 100 photos of the cake.

And here I am with no shoes...

The cake was terrific.  It really did taste like oreos, but with a higher quality cream in the center.  Yum.