Monday, February 7, 2011

lemon layer cake

i had a request for lemon or chocolate by a very special client, and after much debate we ended up going with this cake.  a yellow cake with lemon curd filling frosted with a 7 minute frosting.  the cake came out perfect!  the batter tasted pretty awesome.  as for the lemon filling, well i had some issue with that.  and i've made 7 minute frosting so many times now, you really just can't go wrong there.  the recipe is actually a paula deen recipe, but i saw it on smitten kitchen.  i also tried to take some step by step pictures, but naturally i forgot half way through.  you do get to enjoy the first few steps though !!

so here is the recipe as follows on smitten kitchen, i will tell you what i changed and add a different lemon curd recipe i find to be much easier to work with.

Lemon Layer Cake
from smitten kitchen
1-2-3-4 Cake
Adapted from several sources: this cake is a classic
This cake gets its name from its proportion of ingredients: 1 cup butter and milk, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs, and from cupcakes to layers cakes, as a basic, white cake, it does not fail.
Yield: 3 9-inch layers (for the purpose of this cake) or 24 cupcakes (good to know, eh?)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups sifted self-rising flour*
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350°F. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to cream well for 6 to 8 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4-inches above counter, then dropping flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean (start checking at 15 minutes if you are making cupcakes).
* Self-rising flour has both salt and baking powder in it, but you can make your own at home with the following formula: 1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup all-purpose flour, minus 2 teaspoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Lemon Curd
Adapted from The Joy of Cooking
From the Joy of Cooking: This makes a sensation filling for sponge rolls or an Angel Food Cake. You can also marble it into a cheesecake.
8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
3 lemons, zest grated and juiced
Place the ingredients in the double boiler over boiling water. Don’t let top pan touch the water. Cook and stir until mixture begins to gel or thicken ever-so-slightly. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate it to thicken.
This keeps, refrigerated, for about 1 week.

Seven-Minute Frosting
Adapted from Joy of Cooking
5 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 large eggs whites at room temperature
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 to 1 cup chopped nuts or shredded sweetened dried coconut (optional)
Whisk first five ingredients together in a large, stainless-steel bowl. Set the bowl in a wide, deep skillet filled with about 1 inch of simmering water. Make sure the water level is at least as high as the depth of the egg whites in the bowl. Beat the whites on low speed until the mixture reaches 140 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Do not stop beating while the bowl is in the skillet, or the egg whites will be overcooked. If you cannot hold the thermometer stem in the egg whites while continuing to beat, remove the bowl from the skillet just to read the thermometer, then return the bowl to the skillet, or yell “[Insert your husband/wife/sig-other's name here]!! Halp! Can you check the temperature of this for me!!!” It might or might not work.
Beat on high speed for exactly five minutes. Remove the bowl from the skillet and add vanilla, beating on high speed for two to three more minutes to cool. Stir in coconut or nuts, if you are using them.
Use this frosting the day it is made.

Lemon Layer Cake Assembly: Add 1 tablespoon of filling to the cake pedestal. Run hands along the side of the cake to remove excess crumbs. Place the cake layers on the pedestal, spreading filling between the layers and on top. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining filling. Frost top and sides of cake with frosting.

so first problem, the lemon curd was too runny.  i ended up adding cornstarch to mine to thicken it up and that worked fine but i really think you'd be better off using another recipe.  more specifically, look to my lemon meringue pie entry and use that lemon curd.  really, it tastes AMAZING.  and while a little thick, it would still be easier to spread than the runny mess this recipe provides.  if you look at smitten kitchen's photos you can see how runny it really is.  also the curd never really thickens like it is supposed to in the recipe, you wait and whisk and whisk and wait and finally you just say enough and cool it.  i also have another awesome lemon curd recipe from a lemon blueberry tart recipe in one of michael's tart books, but i am too lazy to type that up right now.  we have plans to make this tart again in the not too distant future, so check back for it!  i also should add that i take issue with any recipe that calls for "3 lemons" or 3 of fruit/veggie for that matter.  lemons are not all created equal!  recipes should always be more specific with quantities, and it would be really great if everything just went by weight instead because everyone had their own digital scale in their kitchen.

other issues/suggestions:  like smitten kitchen says, no need to buy self rising flour.  i happened to have some, but you really don't need to buy it.  also her 7 minute frosting recipe comes from the joy of cooking and i've always used paula deen's recipe.  while i know i have just complained about paula deen, i also have made this frosting so many times now and have never experienced any problem whatsoever it seems silly not to include the recipe.  a lot of times SMBC and 7 minute frosting call for a candy thermometer, which i have and do use from time to time, but i find that once you make something enough you can pretty much tell when to move on from step a to b.  also when you are whisking or beating, who really has enough hands to hold the bowl, beat the meringue and test the temperature.  i sure don't.  i also don't have a digital candy thermometer which might make it easier.  for 7 minute frosting, please just try paula's recipe.  as for SMBC i find a 3 minute whisk over the double boiler, 5 minute medium high beating in the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, followed by a 8 minute medium high beating with the paddle attachment always works.  maybe you need 4 minutes with your double boiler, but usually when it starts to look like foam on a latte, you are ready to move it over to the stand mixer.  so as promised, here is the paula deen 7 minute frosting recipe off of



Place sugar, cream of tartar or corn syrup, salt, water, and egg whites in the top of a double boiler. Beat with a handheld electric mixer for 1 minute. Place pan over boiling water, being sure that boiling water does not touch the bottom of the top pan. (If this happens, it could cause your frosting to become grainy). Beat constantly on high speed with electric mixer for 7 minutes. Beat in vanilla.

now here are my step by step pictures up until i forgot :(

 these are my buttered and parchment lined cake pans.  some people say you just need to grease/butter and flour them but i prefer the parchment bottom.  it has yet to fail me, whereas just the grease and flour has gotten stuck on me multiple times.

 here is the first step in any cake process, creaming the butter.  i won't lie, sometimes i skip this step and just mix the sugar and butter immediately but you should do as i say, not as i do.  but when you are making over a hundred cupcakes in one day, sometimes this step just seems tedious.

 next you add the sugar and beat it until it becomes fluffy!  what does fluffy mean?  well it looks like a frosting.  you can tell from picture 1 to picture 2 that it has gone up the edges quite a bit, so it has expanded in fluffiness?  i can't really describe it any better than that.  if your butter wasn't properly left out to room temperature, you will be able to tell at this step.  it just won't cream together the way it's supposed to.  i know from experience.  my kitchen is very cold because it has a lot of windows and i always have trouble getting my butter to room temperature in the winter, so i have come up with a solution.  i put it in front of the heater.  it never gets warm enough to melt it, but it does a fine job of making it spreadable.

now here i have added an egg, or maybe two.  i'm not really sure to be honest.  the important thing to remember in this step is scraping down the edges!  and adding the eggs ONE AT A TIME!!  i can't stress that enough.  please, for the love of your cakes and cupcakes do not add all of the eggs at once.

now here i where i forgot to take anymore pictures.  whoops!  i will answer your questions though if you have any, and i promise to try harder to remember to take pictures of the full process.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

vegan strawberry shortcake cupcakes

so it may have been a little late, but i finally had my secret santa gift exchange with michael's ohio city friend group.  it was the chinese new year though, so it seemed appropriate.  i had michael's friend noah, who, thanks to maria's queen bee knowledge, i found out is vegan.  what a great opportunity to try out a new vegan cupcake recipe.  i actually make a lot of my cupcakes vegan (shh!) because i find i prefer the lightness that vegan cupcakes have.  there is just a heaviness that comes with eggs and milk in baking and because i don't have a sweet tooth (again shh!) i like to keep it lighter (also the reason i don't pile on the frosting).  so i just made the same vegan chocolate cupcakes i always make and then used inspiration from food network's cupcake wars.  they had a chef on a few weeks, maybe months, back that actually won the competition by making vegan cupcakes.  it was pretty awesome.  her winning cupcake was a chocolate strawberry shortcake cupcake and as soon as maria told me noah was vegan, i just knew i had to try to make these!  the vegan frosting, well ..... ehhhhhhhh.  it just tasted like generic cupcake frosting to me, but i guess that's what happens when you use vegetable shortening instead of butter.  next time i might try margarine or coconut oil to see how that tastes.  i got tons of positive feedback on the extras i gave out of this cupcake, so i know the frosting couldn't have been as bad as i think, but i just don't like sweet frostings.  i actually left one chocolate cupcake aside without any frosting just for me.  that was an excellent breakfast friday morning ;)

Friday, February 4, 2011

apple palmiers

so last saturday michael and i went to the shaker square farmers market.  he rarely gets a saturday off and we always try to make it out there when that happens.  i finally got the beeswax lotion that i've wanted for months!  deanna black used it at a yoga class a few months ago and i was planning to get it the last time we went to the market, but i spent too much money on food and didn't have enough left over to buy some :(  i am hoping it will help with my allergies.  while i was busy buying lotion, michael bought lots of meats and lots of apples.  by the end of the week he had dealt with all of his meat, but the majority of the apples remained.  i debated between smitten kitchen's apple cake because i love using bundt & tube pans, and apple & cinnamon palmiers but my craving for a cinnamon roll made the decision pretty easy.  these came out pretty awesome and i love how they look like little hearts.  pretty perfect for valentine's day!  more importantly, they are EASY to make and it would make a great breakfast treat for your valentine.   the recipe is after the pictures :)

yes, that is my hand in the background and yes i know, pretty much a hand model.

Apple and Cinnamon Palmiers
from chocolate shavings

2 sheets of square puff pastry
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon of kosher
1 apple**

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix the sugar, salt and cinnamon. Spread 1/2 cup of sugar mixture onto your working area. Place one sheet of puff pastry on top of the sugar. Add another 1/4 cup of the mixture on top and gently press down with the palm of your hand. Using a small brush, brush off excess sugar.

Peel and grate the apple. Tightly press onto a kitchen towel to remove excess moisture. Sprinkle half of the grated apple onto the puff pastry. Lightly press them down with the palm of your hand. Fold 2 sides of the square puff pastry into the middle of the puff pastry surface. Fold the sides towards the middle again to create double-layered folds. Then, fold one of the sides onto the other (as if you were closing a book). Reserve and do the same with the second puff pastry sheet.

Slice the puff pastry into 3/8 inch slices and place cut side up on a parchment-line baking sheet. Bake for 6 minutes, turn the palmiers over, and cook for another 3-6 minutes or until perfectly golden. Let cool on a cooling rack. Enjoy! 

**i used two apples per pastry sheet(4 total) because we had smaller apples & 1 apple just didn't seem like enough.  i also tried grating one batch and shredding the other.  michael & i decided we preferred the grated apple version.