Tag Archives: CSB 2014

csb june, or: let’s have a party with chocolate and sour cream

23 Jul

At the end of June, there was a conversation between me and my pal Beh Beh. It went something like this:

Beh Beh: Come over and sit on my porch with me and drink alcoholic beverages.

Me: Okay. I will bring popsicles made of booze.

Beh Beh: We are brilliant.

Except that in a frenzy of something-I-now-can’t-remember-so-clearly-it-was-major, my brilliance failed me, and I didn’t leave enough time to narrow down exactly which boozy popsicle I wanted to make, buy the ingredients, and freeze it all together.

Hence, our next conversation went something like this:

Me: You’re getting cupcakes instead. And prosecco.

Beh Beh: Yum.

I figured that for the cupcakes there was no time like the present—seeing as how I’d flagrantly failed to meet the June 20th deadline—to make the June CSB cake. And, it should be noted that since I’d last baked with the group, the rules had been altered slightly to allow bakers to choose from one of four cakes to bake, rather than everyone baking the same cake.

June 2014 Cake
I chose the sour cream chocolate cake, because I have an undying love for adding sour cream to baked goods; let’s just disregard the fact that it took me until almost July for the follow-through.

(Better late than never? Maybe?)

Anyway, as I will continue to champion until my dying days, sour cream in baked goods is marvy. It adds an almost whipped-like texture to the batter and more often than not results in a non-dry cake. If you don’t know about sour cream in baked goods, now you know. You’re welcome.

Cupcakes unfrosted 

Needless to say, these were an excellent accompaniment to our porch sitting and prosecco, particularly since I stuffed them with a strawberry whipped cream frosting (not in the book, a recipe I found online) that I would only change next time by adding more strawberry puree. And perhaps Frangelico. Or maybe bourbon. Or Bailey’s. Really, any one of those would work well because booze and whipped cream are MFEO just like Romeo and Julie, minus the depressing undertones of teenage suicide.

(WTF, Shakespeare?)

Unlike several of the recipes I’ve made from this book, I (obviously) really took to this recipe. I per usual disregarded the whole one tablespoon of sugar at a time because standing and mixing in sugar until your knees give out is no way to spend a Saturday and did you not read the part about the prosecco calling my name?

And if by chance you were wondering if I had to ask Swede if freeze-dried coffee is the same thing as instant coffee, showing both the age of this cake book and my ignorance of coffee-related nomenclature, well the answer is yes.

So come on over next time you’re around. We’ll go sit on Beh Beh’s porch and eat cupcakes and drink prosecco. And you can have some Sanka if you like, because don’t worry, I’ve got a whole jar, minus 2 teaspoons, in my freezer.

Cupcakes frosted

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.

DSC_0038

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.