Tag Archives: cake

year of cake (+ the january cake)

23 Jan

For far too long, we as a society have been eating terrible cake. Dry cake. Cake with canned frosting. Cake that has no flavor. Frosting that is so sweet it rots your teeth upon contact.

And I won’t stand for it any longer! I won’t!

Thus, I have declared 2020 to be the Year of Cake. As I did with the Year of Pie in 2019, I am committing to baking a new (to me) cake every month. (Maybe more, if I’m feeling frisky.) (Probably not.) (But a girl can dream.) And like the 2019 Year of Pie, I can’t guarantee that I’ll tell you about all the cakes here, because…well, I just can’t. (However, it’s inevitable that I will post about them on the Insta, as the kids say. Or is it the ‘Gram? I have no idea what anyone says these days. I don’t even know what I’m saying right now, for the love of all that is holy. And WTF is Tik Tok?)

You’re welcome.

Not sure what for, but you’re welcome.

But wait, there’s more

I’m not just here to tell you what I’ve declared 2020 to be. I’m also here to tell you that I’VE ALREADY MADE MY JANUARY CAKE.

AND IT WAS GOOD.

Here’s how this magical moment happened: On New Year’s Day, we did our usual Salonica breakfast/Powell’s Bookstore trip, and it was while perusing Powell’s that I came across a Maida Heatter cake cookbook. I’ve been lurking in baking circles for long enough to know that Maida Heatter is Not To Be Questioned. And that her cakes Are Where It’s At. So naturally I grabbed the book and ran up to the counter, threw money at the clerk and ran out the door screaming, “IT’S MIIIIIIINE!”*

And then last week, some friends were coming over for a visit, and I thought, what better time to make a cake than when I can pawn the leftovers off on unsuspecting friends because otherwise my children will harass me to eat nothing but cake for the next 12 hours until I give in and then have to somehow explain to myself, my husband, and my God that said children are crabby and hysterical because they’re crashing from sugar so high it would make the Sears Tower weep. After a quick flip through the Maida Heatter book, I came across her recipe for orange chiffon cake with chocolate whipped cream frosting and thought to myself, “This looks delicious and mildly terrifying. I think I’ll make it for my guests.”

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Nudie-tudie cake.

The mildly terrifying experience of cake making

If you’re wondering what, exactly, makes a cake mildly terrifying, I shall tell you.

  1. It’s made in a tube pan, which comes in two parts, which in my head posed the risk of cake leaking out the bottom, and thus stinking up my kitchen with the smell of burned cake batter. (None of which happened.)
  2. It involves whipping egg whites to a stiff peak, and then whipping them a minute more because THE ENTIRE FLUFFINESS OF THIS CAKE RESTS ON HOW WELL I CAN WHIP THE DAMN EGGS. Also, you don’t want to whip them too much, lest you dry them out, which I didn’t even know was a thing but apparently it is and OMG how do you know if egg whites are too dry and this is how I end up staring fixedly at my mixer as it goes round and round and round and round in the egg whites and OMG it’s a cake, get a life, lady.
  3. It also involves hanging the pan upside down on a bottle immediately when it comes out of the oven, and you just let it…hang there…until it is completely cool. Fun fact: Every bottle in my house was too wide for me to hang the tube pan on, and I feared my cake was doomed until Swede grabbed some blocks from our toddler’s train set and we were able to prop the cake up that way.
  4. The instructions for getting the cake out of the pan read quite complicated and involve shoving a knife between the edge of the cake and the pan on both the outer rim and inner tube, and then under the bottom of the cake, which then becomes the top of the cake. It seemed the perfect storm for me to do something stupid, like somehow manage to saw a chunk out of the cake somehow, or manage to leave a wodge of cake stuck to the pan, a la most of my bundt cakes. (Miraculously, neither of these scenarios played out, and the cake came out easy peasy.)

It was just a little stressful, okay?

But in the end, it was worth it. The cake was loverly, and had a fantastic orange flavor. In truth it may have been overbaked slightly, but honestly I don’t think anyone much cared because we were all too busy falling in love with the chocolate whipped cream frosting.**

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Chocolate whipped cream frosting is where it’s at. 

Interwebers, I’m going to give it to you straight: that frosting is like the ranch dressing of desserts. I want to put it on everything. And it makes an enormous amount. So much that as you’re slathering it on the cake, you’ll inevitably think to yourself, “Surely this is too much frosting. It will without a doubt overwhelm the cake.” To which I say, “No. No it won’t. And also, when has too much frosting ever been a problem?”**

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The ideal cake-to-frosting ratio. The tiny human shoving her face in the background agrees. 

Cake, ho!

So, my friends, to sum up:

  1. I made a cake in January.
  2. It was delicious.
  3. I still don’t know what constitutes dry whipped egg whites.

I don’t plan on every cake I make this year to be a Maida Heatter cake, though I’m not opposed to it. I actually have a list of cakes I’d like to make, but if you’ve read me for any length of time you know that I adore making lists but when it comes down to actually following them I also adore throwing them out the window and going down a completely antithetical path. I guess we’ll just see what the next 11 months bring. But for now, January Cake: SUCCESS.

 

*It possibly was more civil and more restrained than that IRL.

**It possibly was just me and my 3-year-old who were falling in love. And by love I mean we were not above licking clean the bowl in which the frosting was made.

***When the frosting is shitty, that’s when. But that is not a problem in this scenario.

from the file pit: rocky road cake

29 Jul

Sometimes you have an idea, and before you can stop yourself you tell other people about this idea, and then later, once you have time to reflect, you’re honestly not sure if your idea is a good one, or if maybe next time you should shut the hell up and not tell the Internets that you’re going to do something, because now you have to do it whether you like it or not.

Unless you’re talking about training for a half marathon.

But! When I finally reached into the file pit because I was so fed up with myself and was just like, “OH FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY AND DECENT, JUST PICK A F*&$ING RECIPE ALREADY AND GET ON WITH IT,” this recipe was literally the first one in the pile, which I am taking to be a sign that this idea of working my way through the recipe files my younger self hoarded many moons ago was a good one. Also, the fact that there even exists a recipe for Rocky Road Cake is proof that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit all love me and want me to be happy. Add that to the fact that it was on top of all the other hundreds of recipes, and well, clearly I am brilliant.

The recipe is so simple, though, that I’m not actually sure it constitutes as a recipe. It’s basically like, “mix together some boxed devil’s food cake, some water, some other stuff, and beat that for a couple of minutes, then stir in the chocolate chips and marshmallows and peanuts and WAA-LAA YOU HAVE A CAKE AND YOU CAN EAT IT TOO, SUCK IT, MARIE ANTOINETTE.”

Sorry for the crappy photos taken on my phone.

Sorry for the crappy photos taken on my phone.

I have no idea where I found this recipe, but I have a hunch that my old boss had a book of cake recipes that she brought in for me to check out once, which I did, as evidenced by the fact that there are several similar-looking Xeroxed pages in my file pit, all with different, luscious cake recipes. If this recipe did not come from my old boss, then your guess is as good as mine from whence it came. Maybe it came from the Holy Spirit. I dunno, I’ve never been super clear on what He/She/It actually does, but maybe part of its heavenly mission is to drop cake recipes into unsuspecting file pits. I’m not going to claim I know what goes on beyond my eyes and human limitations.

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably already seen this photo. Oh well.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably already seen this photo. Oh well.

With the addition of the chocolate chips, this cake has a fabulously soft and moist crumb. The peanuts add a nice salty crunch, and work better than I think almonds would, as in a traditional rocky road ice cream. Also, it’s a bundt cake, and who doesn’t love a good bundt? What is incredibly disappointing, however, is that the mini marshmallows melt completely into the cake (adding to that good crumb) so you have none of the lovely bits of mallow like you get in the ice cream. Which, coincidentally, is my favorite part of the ice cream.

Would I make this again? Yes, because it’s too easy not to. Would I figure out a way next time to get the marshmallows to not melt into oblivion? For sure. Do I think Young McPolish was right to throw this recipe in the file pit? Absolutely.

Again with the crappy, cell phon photo. So sorry.

Again with the crappy cell phone photo. So sorry.

csb february: lemon velvet squares, or, i made this cake a long time ago and forgot to take notes and now i can’t remember a damn thing

26 Feb

Let the record show that I made this cake right away. Like, immediately after it was announced. Like, the SECOND it was announced.

Okay, maybe it was a few days after that. Or a week. Or it was Super Bowl Sunday. Whatever, the point is, I made this cake a long time ago, and was so busy patting myself on the back for a job well done and getting another cake made on time that I A) forgot to take notes while I did this cake write up—though I most likely said to myself, “Oh, I’ll just make mental notes! Mental notes are fiiiiine! I’ll totally remember this experience!” and 2) I never actually wrote the post.

And here we are.

GAH.

Needless to say, the Super Bowl was many several weeks ago, and since then I’ve been very busy with, errrm, hmm. Well, I’m sure whatever it was I’ve been busy with it was terribly important. (House of Cards.) (And cheese popcorn.) And as such, I have been picking through my brain to remember my thoughts on these lemon velvet squares, and here’s what I can recall:

I added extra lemon juice to the batter because I was worried that the orange juice also in the batter would overpower and dilute the lemon flavor. And these are supposed to be lemon velvet squares, yes? Yes. And good thing I added that extra juice, because I was right—I definitely was getting more orange flavor than lemon. That was kind of disappointing, I’m not going to lie. Historically I was never a big fan of lemon, but in the past couple of years I’ve really turned a corner and want to shout lemon’s name from the rooftops. So when I’m eating something that has lemon in the title, I want to taste the lemon. Not orange. (I love orange, don’t get me wrong, but calling something lemon and then tasting orange is just screwing with my brain and tastebuds.)

The cake was pretty good, but it was not what I had pictured in my head. You say lemon squares, I think of those gooey on top, powdered sugar-coated squares/bars, you know what I mean? And this is definitely a cake, not a bar. That’s not a bad thing! But the simple topping of powdered sugar on top did kind of get lost on it, so were I to make this again I’d A) up the lemon juice quotient and decrease the amount of orange juice and 2) top it with the suggested lemon glaze.

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I’m not sure what is supposed to be velvety about this cake. The crumb? The crumb was good—not too dry, not too sticky—but soft, luxurious, and velvet-like I would say not. It was certainly better than some of the other cakes we’ve baked so far from this book, so maybe that’s a point in its favor? We’ll go with a point in its favor. But next time: More lemon! Less orange!

Bake on, bakers.

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csb cake december 2013: streusel squares, or, i kept confusing this with strudel, which was a huge disappointment

27 Dec

The day after Christmas I was left alone to my own devices while Swede took his nephews to see The Hobbit 2, Hobbitier Than Before. I was sitting on the couch, binge-watching White Collar Season 4 (More art forgery! More sneaky times!), when I realized I hadn’t made the December cake.

So I did something so very, very bold.

Instead of skipping this month’s confection, I hit pause on the Netflix and got my ass off the couch and made the cake.

December 2013 Cake 1

At which point I realized some things about this cake. In no particular order:

One: It’s streusel, not strudel. And in case you were wondering, there is a difference the size of the Grand Canyon. And I was on the wrong side of it. To say I was disappointed when I finally got it straightened out in my head is an understatement. I blame the confusion on the holiday madness we just weathered. Trust me, I won’t make the same mistake again.

Two: I shouldn’t have bothered making this cake. It would have been time better spent, IMHO, if I had stayed planted on the couch watching Neal Caffrey and Agent Burke fight white collar crime. I don’t mean to sound so cynical, but at best this cake was meh. The streusel topping was rather flavorless and seemed to contain an obscene amount of flour, and the cake itself was kind of bland. It was nice and dense, though, I’ll give the cake that.

Three: The way the directions are written makes me think that the author has WAY too much time on her hands. Six to eight minutes to beat in sugar a tablespoon at a time? Are you fucking kidding me? Listen, lady, I have things to do and television to watch. And there is just absolutely no need to beat in sugar for six to eight minutes, one tablespoon at a time. If you have time for that, bully for you. But this case of sculpture forgery isn’t going to solve itself, sister.

Four: Superfine sugar. This recipe calls for superfine sugar. Normally I get superfinely annoyed when I have to buy special ingredients in such large quantity (the sugar came in a package the size of a quart of milk), but for this one, I happily chucked the container in my cart. You know why? Bartending. It says right there on the container: Great for baked goods and cocktails. I’m happy I can bake, Swede is happy he can make liquory drinks, and I’m happy even more because I get to sample said liquory drinks. Mayhaps while I bake. Fun for everyone!

Five: Next. I’m ready for the next cake. And the next season of White Collar, for that matter.

December 2013 Cake 2

csb november: applesauce spice cake, or, yay!

20 Nov

Welcome to the kickoff cake to the 2013-2014 Cake Slice Bakers baking season, Interwebers. Excuse me while I pat myself on the back for not only getting this cake baked, but getting it baked and posted On. Time.

WOOT.

I believe this newfound sense of timely baking is definitely a foreshadowing of how the coming baking year will be. And in a word, that means it will be totallyphenomenalHFSdeliciousness.

Tell your friends.

We’re baking this year from Great Cakes by Carole Walter, which is quite possibly one of the most bizarre cookbooks I’ve ever encountered in that there are approximately five pictures total in the book. No page after page of luscious pictures of lovely cakes piled high with frothy whipped cream or some such enticing you to make baked good after baked good until your pants don’t fit.

cake book

Weird.

Anyshoes, this month the winning vote went to the Applesauce Spice Cake with optional brown sugar glaze. I don’t know why one wouldn’t opt for said glaze as A) It’s not frosting, and thus very, very easy, and 2) It involves the trifecta of baking goodness: Brown sugar, butter, and heavy cream.

It should also be noted that this recipe uses shortening which I didn’t know still existed and which I don’t like to think about too hard because let’s face it: Shortening is more than a little odd. It’s shelf-stable and….slippery. I mean, Velveeta is shelf-stable, too, but at least that has a vague cheese flavor. And it’s not nearly as slippery.

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It should also ALSO be noted that spice cake may just be my favorite kind of cake. And also also ALSO I went apple picking this fall and had all intention of using said apples in this recipe. Which I kind of did in the form of applesauce. (Though technically it was pear-applesauce.) But I totally had to buy a fresh apple for the grating/chopping (both directions were given, neither were clarified) (I went with grating) (which, have you ever grated an apple? Very juicy.) (also, also, also, ALSO because I was wary that chopped apples vs. grated apples wouldn’t meld nicely into the batter as it baked). Which is my way of saying I meant to make this cake earlier and then it got to be the night before our cake-posting day and well, here we are.

Instead of making a big huge bundt cake (does anyone else immediately think of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding when they hear the word bundt? “Oh! It’s a caaaaake!”) I broke this one out into mini bundt pans. And instead of drizzling the glaze artistically over each bundt, I simply filled the center well of the minis with glaze. (Because on a scale of 1 to 10, how artistically do you really think I can drizzle glaze? I’ve got 2:1 on -12.) Warm and soft (but not mushy), the cakes had a lovely spice flavor, though I couldn’t really detect all that much apple flavor.

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No matter. They were still delicious, and relatively easy to put together, minus the conundrum of whether to chop or grate the apple, and also—sorry to note this so late—directing bakers to beat in the sugar a tablespoon at a time over the course of three to four minutes.

Odd.

But it works.

Spatulas up, Interwebers. The baking has begun.

photo friday: cake, please

8 Mar

I have a confession.

Before this week, I’ve made Rice Krispie treats exactly once in my life.

It feels really good to get that off my chest.

But now, NOW! Now I’ve got two more makings under my belt. See, Mare Beh Beh of the Funeral Directors texted me last week and she was all, “Woman. Can you make a rice krispie cake?”

And I was all, “By you, do you mean a general you or me specifically?”

And she was all, “Both.”

And I was like, “Okay.”

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A quick turn to the googler turned up a couple of recipes, which were easier to make than you ever could imagine. And to be precise, I should clarify that these are cake batter flavored  rice krispie treats, not so much a cake that tastes like rice krispie treats. Though I bet that would be tasty, too. Anyway, I whipped up a batch for Beh Beh’s brother’s surprise party (as he’s not a fan of cake, but IS a fan of the treats), and then on Sunday, since I had half of a huge box of leftover Rice Krispies that would have gone stale if I didn’t do something with them….well.

You do the math.

No, wait, don’t do the math. Unless you want to. Math was never my strong suit in school, and if you felt the same I don’t want to be responsible for sending you into a hyperventilating panic attack thinking I’m going to start demanding equations of you.

So  I’ll just leave it at Yay! Rice Krispie Treats! Cake!

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csb catch up: fresh strawberry cake, or, yet another awesome failure in the kitchen isweari’mnotasdumbasilook

25 Jul

Because of recent events, like moving and starting a new job, I totally fell off the motherfucking baking train.

(You didn’t know there was a baking train, did you? Well there is. And it smells like vanilla and pumpkin pie and unicorns. Ta daaa!)

Which is kind of a huge disappointment to me, because though I never expressed it on paper, in my head  I really wanted to achieve the goal of baking all 12 months of the Cake Slice Bakers this year. And I was on a pretty good track (here, here, here, here and here—WOW, there have been some epic failures) and then SPLAT. I moved. And am a bit vagabondish, without a kitchen to call my own.

But a few weekends ago I decided I could just as easily call someone else’s kitchen my own (NOBODY HAS TO KNOW! EXCEPT NOW YOU DO!). The Swede and I were watching the Chicken Nugget for the weekend, and on Saturday night, while Chicken Nugget snoozed soundly and The Swede jaunted off to the Mad Hatter’s Ball with a friend, I pulled out my sister’s Kitchenaid and various and sundry ingredients, and set to work to catch up on the cakes I’ve missed.

Erm, well, at least one cake I’ve missed.

Full disclosure: Post-goodnighting the Chicken Nugget and pre-departure for the ball, The Swede, His Pal Dave and I may have partaken of this, which The Swede and His Pal Dave picked up on their earlier afternoon outing to a local distillery:

Stand back! Wild turkey's a-foot!

I regret nothing. (Also, for the record, I only partook of the gin.) (WHAT?)

Though it may explain the phenomenal shitshow of a cake that would come later.

So anyway, I set about my merry baking way for the fresh strawberry cake with white chocolate chips which was the chosen cake for June. I scooped, I whisked, I sliced, I threw shit in a bowl, vaguely looking at the directions and measurements. Because it was Saturday night! I was living it up! F YOU, 2 teaspoons of vanilla! I can’t find you, SO I’M LEAVING YOU OUT!* One cup of white chocolate chips MY ASS! WE’RE ADDING THE WHOLE BAG! AND SOME GIN! FOR GOOD MEASURE! WHY ARE YOU YELLING AT THE MIXER? STOP YELLING AT THE MIXER OR YOU’LL WAKE THAT BABY UP. AND THAT WILL PUT A SERIOUS CRAMP IN YOUR BAKING. AND GIN. BECAUSE YOU KNOW HE’LL WANT TO SHARE.

And after all of that, I ended up with an oozy, falling apart hot mess that once again had to go BACK into the oven to finish baking, and even then it was served up was STILL a hot messandItotallyforgottotakepicturesofitIblamethegin. So instead you can have a picture of the luscious strawberries that went into the cake.


Surprisingly, it tasted pretty good. The Swede had some for breakfast the next morning, as did the Chicken Nugget.**

(Yes, I let him eat cake for breakfast. THERE WAS FRUIT IN IT. What are aunts for? Cake with a side of veggie sausage patties is a perfectly fine breakfast.)

But then again, that kid will eat anything, so I don’t really trust his judgment.

But here, have a picture of him anyway to make up for my lack of cake picture. He’s so disappointed in Aunt Molly and her shoddy cake-making skills as of late. Whatever, kid. Have another veggie patty, buck-o.

WTF, woman? Where's The Swede? There's got to be at least one responsible adult around here.

*Seriously, why can I never find/am always out of vanilla?

**Don’t worry, I didn’t actually put gin in the cake. We don’t start our kids on liquor-soaked baked goods until they’re at least three years old, so he’s still got another year to go.