Friday, April 29, 2011

Easter Cake

I got a last minute order for an Easter cake last week. She wanted yellow cake with chocolate icing and fun Easter decorations that a 3 year old would like. Since I have a 3 year old, I knew exactly what to do, and I think it was super cute. I know my 3 year old daughter loved it!

I decided to decorate the cake with a big Easter bunny, some grass, and jelly beans. What kid doesn't love jelly beans, right? I made an outline of an Easter bunny's face on the cake, and did the rest freehand. I planned to do grass around the border with a tip with several holes to make lots of blades of grass at one time. I could not find that tip anywhere. I ended up just using a tip with one hole so it took me 3 times longer than it should have, but it turned out just fine. I know my daughter wanted to keep the cake, so I know any 3 year old would have loved it!

Jelly beans first known appearance was during the American Civil War when a man from Boston named William Schrafft promoted sending them to the soldier fighting in the Union Army. It was not until around 1930 that jelly beans became a popular Easter candy most likely due to their resemblance to Easter eggs.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chocolate Chocolate Cake

I had an order for chocolate cake with chocolate icing. This is one of my most popular cakes. It is very rich, but oh so delicious! I had complete freedom in decorating. My husband had to climb a fire escape with the cake and my 3 1/2 year old to deliver it too!

I love chocolate cake and so does my husband. My chocolate cake is super moist. Being the pastry snob that I am, I often find other chocolate cakes to be dry. I have been making this cake for many, many years now. It is a favorite among my customers and family :) I prefer French buttercream with my chocolate cake, or with any cake for that matter, but my husband LOVES all things chocolate, including chocolate buttercream. I generally do not prefer icings made with powdered sugar. They are often far too sweet and take away from the cake, in my opinion. It is a very decadent cake, but this chocolate buttercream does pair very nicely with my standard chocolate cake.

Do you have a recipe for icing with powdered sugar that you find too sweet? Well, here is a tip for you. The more you mix it, the less sweet it tastes. The longer you mix icing, the more air you are incorporating into it. This makes the icing taste lighter and less sweet. I often end up mixing icings with powdered sugar upwards of 10 minutes sometimes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Half Moons

I really love to bake with my little girl. She loves helping and watching. And I really like to think that she will one day love baking as much as I do. She may not, and that is ok, but I enjoy passing my knowledge and skills on nonetheless. When the baby was napping today, we decided to make some cookies. I tried a brand new recipe that I found!

My daughter is obsessed with this one specific episode of Mister Rogers . It is an opera with a character that she loves called Half Moon. I saw this recipe and knew immediately that she would want to make them because of the name. They were basically a simple peanut butter cookie with chocolate chips. You could use peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, or any combination. I just used chocolate chips. The recipe said that the cookies would be soft when they come out of the oven and to be very careful not to overbake them. Well, soft was an understatement. They were so soft, I had to let them cool for several minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. They are called half moon cookies because you are supposed to dip half of them in a chocolate glaze. We decided against it because they were way too soft to dip. I know that the half that I was dipping would have just crumbled. Also, we wanted to try one so badly that we didn't want to wait for them to cool, then dip them, then let them set. And they were so yummy as they were, they did not need the extra chocolate.

A lot of recipes tell you to move cookies from the baking pan onto a cooling rack a few minutes after they are out of the oven. Usually, cookies have to set when they come out of the oven before you can move them. If you try to move cookies (that have not been overbaked) too soon, they will fall apart. Leaving the cookies on the hot pan for too long though can cause them to be overbaked because the hot pan can continue to bake the cookies. There is just a perfect amount of time to leave the cookies on the tray. It is different for every cookie. You just have to experiment and see what works for you!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

In my MOMS Club, we have breakfast bunch once a month. This month we were meeting at someone's house and having a potluck breakfast. These are always my favorite because the kids can get down and play while the moms can (kind of) enjoy their breakfast in peace. I always try to see what everyone else is making before I decide what to take. I often end up making a quiche or something savory instead of something sweet because everyone signs up for sweets. This month, I was able to make a coffee cake. I tried a new recipe, and it was really tasty.

I really like breakfast sweets. Donuts, muffins, quick breads, cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes. It doesn't matter. I love them all. I decided to just make a pretty straight forward sour cream coffee cake. The recipe called for a tube pan, but I could not find my tube pan anywhere, so I used a pretty bundt pan. I just made sure that I generously greased and floured the pan so that the cake would come out easily. There was a streusel that went in the middle and on top of the batter. After the cake was cooled, I made a simple glaze of powdered sugar and real maple syrup and added enough water to make it pourable. It really was perfect with a hot cup of coffee.

Coffee cake is a class of cakes meant to be eaten with coffee. They do not necessarily contain coffee. Coffee cakes are most often flavored with cinnamon, nuts and fruits. They often have a crumb filling and/or topping (streusel) and a glaze drizzle. It was not until the late 19th century that the term "coffee cake" became a common term. Up until that point, "tea cakes" were much more common.