Tag Archives: cake

cat cake

We made a cat shaped cake for a friend’s birthday a couple weekends ago. Not only was it cat shaped, it also was checkered inside! When cut, it looks pretty impressive, but really it is quite simple to do, provided that you have the proper tools. The cakes used were a simple vanilla/yellow cake and a delicious chocolate cake, with a thin layer of raspberry filling (just some thinned out jam) and vanilla buttercream. In order to cut and shape the cake easily, I recommend freezing, or at the very least heavily chilling the layers. The best results will come with the use of a stencil, easily made by a manilla folder, an x-acto, and  a straightedge, the last two items are best acquired over 6 years of architecture school.

I really liked the chocolate cake that I wound up using. The crumb was tender and moist, even after a lot of fridge time, flavorful enough to be eaten sans frosting and held up to the flipping, flopping, and shaping. Using some raspberry jam brushed onto the cake will ensure some moisture, so I highly recommend doing that, especially with all of the freezing. I wish I could have let the crumb coat set on the cake a bit longer, as a result, the final icing was a bit messy, but maybe that just added some interest to the final cat.

If anyone is interested in a “how to” tutorial about making the layers and shaping, leave a comment and I will write up a more detailed post. If you don’t want to attempt a cake cat, this chocolate cake, served with some chocolate frosting or vanilla buttercream, is sure to disappear at your next summertime gathering.

We celebrated at Delancey, the pizza joint run by Orangette and her husband. It was DELICIOUS and the staff was so awesome and accommodating that they stored the cake in the fridge, and took it out in time for it to come up to room temp. They even stuck candles in for eyes! Hooray!

(Photos from Stephanie)

Chocolate Layer Cake

adapted lightly from gourmet, via smitten kitchen

This recipe is sized for 2 10 inch round layers; I made 1 9×13 sheet and 6-7 cupcakes out of this recipe. Nothing wrong with having extra cake!

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups hot coffee

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups cocoa powder (not dutch processed)

2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp fine salt

3 lrg eggs, room temp

3/4 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup of yogurt and 1 cup of soymilk, well mixed)

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 300. Baking at a lower temp for longer results in flatter, more even layers. Flatter layers=less leveling. Grease and line pans with parchment and then grease again.

In a heat proof bowl, combine the unsweetened chocolate and hot coffee and let it sit until melted. Meanwhile, sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs until they lighten in color and become a bit thicker (3-5 minutes with an electric beater) stream in the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. Then add the melted chocolate mixture. Do this slowly. Beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until the batter is just mixed.

Divide into the awaiting pans. I usually drop the filled pans onto the counter from a few inches to let any air bubbles rise to the surface and pop. Bake in the middle of the oven until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. This will differ based on your pan size and oven. Cool in pans and then flip out onto a rack, if needed, or just frost in the pan and enjoy.

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(birthday) carrot cake

i love birthdays and birthday cakes.  to me, everyone should get a homemade birthday cake every year.  birthday cakes don’t have to be fancy or even multi layered (see this), but something that looks homemade and is, most importantly, very tasty.  for this person’s big day, i made a carrot cake.  most carrot cakes are made using the muffin method or dump and stir method, but i wanted something with a lighter, tighter crumb.  i accomplished this by creaming soft butter and sugar together instead of using oil for the batter and by grating the carrots very, very, very finely by hand instead of with a food processor (this alone shows your love and devotion).

the resulting cake was lighter than your standard carrot cake and using butter instead of oil helped bring in a little more flavor.  however, to me, the best part about carrot cake is the cream cheese frosting.  i used neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese to save a few calories and you couldn’t tell any difference.  you could also flavor the cream cheese frosting with a little maple syrup, but i like the classic tart flavor to cut through the richness of the cake.  all in all, baking a birthday cake isn’t too much work or time but tastes much, much sweeter.

carrot cake

2 cup all purpose flour

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp cardamon (optional)

1 tsp ground ginger

2.5 sticks (1 1/2 cups) butter, at room temp

1 3/4 cup sugar (i used turbinado or sugar in the raw and it was fine)

4 large eggs

1/2 cup milk

3 cups finely grated carrots (this took maybe 8 or 9 smallish carrots for me)

up to 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

preheat oven to 350 and butter 2 9 inch round cake pans.  cut a circle of parchment or wax paper to fit the pans and butter and flour those too.

combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices.  in a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy (this took me about 6-8 minutes).  gradually add the eggs, one at a time, until well combined.  add about a 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until it is just absorbed; add 1/4 cup of the milk and beat until just  absorbed.  repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk, ending with the flour.  fold in the carrots, nuts, and raisins, if using, and divide evenly into the two prepared cake pans.  bake for about 40 minutes or until the cakes are done.  cool on racks completely before frosting.

cream cheese frosting

2 8 oz packages of softened cream cheese or neufchatel cheese

1 stick softened butter

2 1/4 cup shifted confectioners’ sugar

tiny pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla

2-3 tsp lemon juice

beat together the cream cheese and butter until fluffy.  gradually add the confectioner’s sugar and beat until smooth.  add the pinch of salt, vanilla, and lemon juice and beat again until smooth.  it helps to let this frosting set up a little bit in the fridge before you start assembly.

to assemble:

trim the cake layers if they are a bit uneven with a long serrated knife.  on the cake plate, place on layer top facing up.  spread a generous layer of the cream cheese frosting.  place the second layer top side facing down, resulting in a flat bottom facing up.  put the remaining frosting on top of the cake and frost the cake generously, making sure not to get too many crumbs into the frosting.  i coated the sides of my cake with some finely chopped toasted walnuts but you could leave it plain or pipe some frosting carrots on top if that is your sort of thing.  add candles, light, make a wish, and enjoy.

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