Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Birthday? (Raspberry Lemonade Cake)

Yes, I baked THREE birthday cakes in one weekend.  One for Nik on Friday, one for Michaela on Saturday, and one for Lisa on Sunday.  I hate March.  There are too many birthdays.  Needless to say, after a very busy weekend of cake baking and celebrating, I was exhausted, and not 100% devoted to this cake.  However, I wasn't going to let Lisa's birthday slip away without giving her a birthday cake.

When I thought about what kind of cake to make for Lisa, I had to think about what kind of person she is.  Lisa is a very happy girl with a very calm demeanor.  On occasion you see her a little stressed out, but for the most part, she's pretty peaceful.  Her personality kind of reminds me of springtime.  When I thought about what flavors go along with spring, I decided on a Raspberry Lemonade cake.

Raspberry Lemonade Cake: Lemon Cake filled with Raspberry Jam, topped with Raspberry Lemon Buttercream
Recipe adapted from Cherry Tea Cakes.
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbs lemon zest
3 large eggs
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cups All-Purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk

In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar
Beat until smooth (not like this).  Add lemon zest and juice, then eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
In separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.

Slowly add dry ingredients to wet and beat on medium speed until smooth.
Pour into 2 well-greased and floured 9" cake pans and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.  Cool in pans on wire racks.

I was exhausted by the time it came to make the frosting at 8:30pm, so forgive me if I don't post it.  I combined the leftover lemon buttercream from Nik's cake with a small batch of new buttercream with 2 Tbs of raspberry jam mixed in.

Decorated with a raspberry drop and lemon peel petals
Inside the center was a thick layer of raspberry jam
I really feel badly for not putting my full heart and effort into this cake/post, but three cakes was probably too much for me in one weekend.  Not to mention the fact that my friend from home came to visit, and got sick, so I spent a considerable amount of time taking care of him.  I didn't exactly get my homework done, nor get enough sleep, and I woke up this morning with my friend's stomach bug.  Just my luck, right?

Hope your weekend was slightly less exhausting.

Love and cookies,

Decadence and Nostalgia (Devil's Food Cake w/ Baileys & Ghirardelli Frosting)

One of my best friends and fellow foodie, Michaela, celebrated her 21st birthday over Spring Break.  I wasn't let her going to get away with not having a cake from her twin/bestie, so I decided to have a little get-together for her with cake and wine.  Now, Michaela is a very classy girl, and also a bit of a food snob like me, so I could only make the best for her.  I decided on something very classic yet decadent: a rich devil's food cake.  I really wanted to make her a boozed-up frosting to celebrate 21, so I decided to add some Bailey's Irish Cream and Ghirardelli chocolate to make the flavor a little more complex than your traditional chocolate frosting.

Devil's Food Cake with Baileys & Ghirardelli Chocolate Frosting
Cake recipe adapted from the pastry affair.

3 eggs (preferably at room temperature)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbs baking soda
2 1/2 cups All-Purpose flour
1/4 salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup fresh brewed coffee

In medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients except sugar and set aside
In a large mixing bowl, beat together eggs and sugar until fluffy
Whisk together remaining wet ingredients
You should have about 2 cups liquid total
Alternately add dry and wet ingredients to the egg mixture, starting and ending with dry, until smooth.  Do not overbeat.
Pour into two well greased and floured 9" cake pans.  Bake at 325°F for 30-40 minutes.

Baileys & Ghiradelli Chocolate Frosting
For some reason, I can never seem to stick to a frosting recipe and get it to come out as I like it.  I ended up mangling the recipe from Milk & Honey.
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup cocoa powder
4-5 cups confectioners' sugar
Baileys Irish Cream
whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 squares of a Ghirardelli Bakers Chocolate Bar

Ingredients (minus the Ghirardelli chocolate)
1.  Melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat.
2.  Add cocoa powder and chocolate squares (broken into small pieces)
3.  Add Baileys (to taste- I used about 7 Tbs) and vanilla
4.  Add confectioners' sugar and tablespoons of milk as needed until you have a smooth, spreadable consistency

My cakes rose considerably, so I had to do a lot of leveling.
Decorated with raspberry drops and slivered almonds
Michaela's nostalgic birthday party, signaling her transition into adulthood
The birthday girl cutting her cake
The inside was a little crumbly, but had a rich, chocolate flavor

Michaela invited over a few of her close friends, we had cake and wine, and watched Michaela beat a Backyardigans piƱata.  All in all, I'd say the cake and her belated party were a success.

Love and cookies,

Birthday Blues (Blueberry Chiffon Cake w/ Lemon Buttercream)

Wednesday was my friend Nik's 21st birthday.  He has been one of my closest friends since freshman year and was my roommate last year.  Nik's favorite color is blue, and everything in his room is blue, so his housemates decided to throw him a blue birthday party.  The cake was to be no exception.  But you know me, I never like to choose the conventional route with my friends' birthday cakes, so instead of making some unsightly blue frosting, I decided to surprise Nik by making a white frosting on a blue cake.  That's right, I said it: BLUE CAKE.  It took me about 40 drops of food coloring to get it that way to keep it from being green (because of all the egg yolks), but in the end, it was blue.  If you're ever brave enough to attempt it yourself, (or maybe you'd never touch this recipe with a ten foot pole but are still curious), here's what I did:

Blueberry Chiffon Cake with Lemon Buttercream
Recipe adapted from Kirbie's Cravings.
Cake Ingredients:
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup pureed fresh blueberries
1/4 cup milk (I used whole)
2 tsp vanilla extract
Blue food coloring
6 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar

Sift together dry ingredients in large mixing bowl
Combine blueberry puree and milk
Whisk together egg yolks, vanilla, oil, and blueberry mixture
Add as much food coloring as desired to make mixture blue
Add wet ingredients to dry and beat on medium speed until smooth (Mixture will be thick)
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until you have soft peaks.  Gently fold in 3/4 cup sugar.
Gently fold egg whites into cake batter, 1/3 at a time
Divide into two well-greased and floured 9" cake pans.  Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes.  Cool in pans on wire racks.
I did want something blue on the outside of the cake, but wanted to avoid piping colored buttercream, so I went to the candy section of our campus grocery store and decided to get creative.

Blue Raspberry Jolly Rancher Circles
About a dozen blue Jolly Ranchers
1/2 cup water

Chop up Jolly Ranchers as best as you can
Boil water and Jolly Ranchers over medium heat, stirring constantly for 8-10 minutes. 
Once mixture has reached a thick, bubbly consistency, pour into desired molds (I used a silicone mini-muffin pan).  Let cool in refrigerator for several hours until set.
When I leveled the cake, I was pleasantly surprised to find this color inside
Lemon Buttercream
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 cups confectioners' sugar

Cream together shortening and butter until smooth
Add rest of ingredients and beat until fluffy and smooth
Spread a small layer of buttercream on the bottom cake
Top with fresh blueberries
Add second leveled cake layer and push down gently
Frost rest of cake, starting at the top and working your way out and down the sides
The final product
All blue
Me and the birthday boy, cutting his cake
Discovering that the inside of the cake is blue!
It doesn't look very appetizing, but if you can get past its color, it's really tasty!

In the end, we had a great time dancing at Nik's party, and we beat the birthday blues.  Hope you had an equally great weekend!

Love and cookies,