Monday, September 27, 2010
So it was the Bear's third birthday this month. We had celebrations all over the place - the Sunday prior to his birthday was a joint party with his cousin with the in laws; the day of his birthday the Bear and I had blueberry pancakes with birthday candles for breakfast and that evening Papa Bear, the Bear and I went out to dinner for a birthday pirate pack. Then just this past Sunday we had the big birthday bash with friends and relatives. Almost as busy as Christmas!
By the time we got home from our dinner out, it was far too late to give Bear a piece of his birthday cake so we had it the next night - and of course, he loved it. Takes after his Mama, that boy.
I used a Martha Stewart cake recipe from the Everyday Food magazine, which has been torn out and sitting in my recipe binder for well, awhile, and a chocolate frosting recipe I've used in the past with good results. My first priority was a batch of tiny cupcakes for the Bear's preschool class - they turned out so well. I used the mini baking cups from Bake It Pretty and am kicking myself for not snapping a quick picture!
With the remaining batter I made half a dozen regular sized cupcakes and a layered five inch round cake.
Ivonne from Cream Puffs in Venice hosts a semi regular event called Magazine Mondays that I'm submitting this post to - to get us all using the recipes we cut out or save in some way instead of letting them linger and collect dust.
Versatile Vanilla Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pans
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 8-by-2-inch cake pans, tapping out excess flour. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. With mixer on low, beat in eggs and yolks, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture; mix just until combined.
Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 32 to 35 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cakes onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.
Place one cake, bottom side up, on a cake stand. Tuck strips of parchment paper underneath. Using an offset-spatula or table knife, spread top with frosting. Top with remaining cake; frost top, then sides. (Store unfrosted cakes at room temperature up to 1 day. Once frosted, serve within a few hours.)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 2/3 cups icing sugar, sifted
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
CHOOSE ONE: 1/3 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 cup cocoa powder or 3/4 cup cocoa powder (depending on how light or dark you'd like your frosting to look and taste)
Sift together icing sugar and cocoa.
Cream butter. Blend in vanilla.
Alternate adding cocoa/sugar mixture with the cream, beginning and ending with dry mixture. Beat until desired texture is achieved.
Monday, September 13, 2010
It can be expensive to purchase sun dried tomatoes.
My tomato plants did not do well in my first garden. I've been saving as many cherry tomatoes as I could and oven-drying some of them. They'll keep forever in an airtight container, and will add a burst of flavor to cold winter nights meals.
Simple wash your tomatoes, slice in half, arrange on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Set in a 200F oven. Depending on the size of your tomatoes, the drying process could take up to twelve hours. Check on the tomatoes frequently and remove from the oven any that dry faster than others. They will shrivel and reduce in size. The perfectly dried tomato will be slightly flexible. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container.