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Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

We bought a truck load of grapefruits from Costco the other day, and I finally had my excuse to make this cake that I saw on another blog not too long ago.  I find grapefruits to be hit or miss, so as I sliced one of the many, in half, I hoped that it would be a sweet one. The recipe calls for pink grapefruit, and although my grapefruits were not especially pink, they still gave this cake a citrusy punch. 

I have seen variations of this cake floating around out there, but this one also called for yogurt, which I still had remaining from previous recipes (and which was about to be past its due date shortly).  This cake was very easy to put together.  I gathered all my dry ingredients and whisked them up.  I smashed grapefruit zest and sugar together with a fork to produce a “fragrant sugar”, as promised by a fellow food blogger.  This zest and sugar combination was my favorite thing about making this cake.   I beat eggs with this beautifully scented sugar concoction, until pale yellow and thick. I added whole milk yogurt, oil, and vanilla to the pretty yellow liquid and stirred it up. I poured the dry ingredients into the wet ones, and combined.  Perfectly simple.  My batter went into a Bundt pan, although a springform pan or loaf pan would work too, and cooked for 30 minutes.

When the timer went off at 30 minutes, I tested the cake with a wooden toothpick.  The toothpick came out clean, but the top of my cake did not look done-it was white in color (not golden by any means), and it looked a bit wet.  I believe the toothpick doesn’t lie, so I pulled out the cake and let it cool completely.  Once cooled, I turned it over and plopped it onto a dish.  The top, which is now the bottom of the cake, was so sticky that the cake refused to move on the plate, but this sticky top now bottom added texture to this cake.  I totally recommend letting it stay a little sticky on top and remove before it turns golden brown for three reasons.  One, the cake was extremely moist throughout and I fear that any additional time in the oven would have resulted in a dry cake, which commonly occurs with these citrus based cakes.  Two, the rest of the cake is a perfect golden brown.  Third, the sticky bottom of the cake has a great consistency-chewy and light, and it nicely contrasts with the rest of the cake’s texture.

Now that I have overly explained the aspects of this cake, it is necessary to discuss the glaze.  I would not call this a glaze by any means, although it did make the cake glisten.  You boil juice from one grapefruit and three tablespoons of confectioner’s sugar, then let simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Sounds easy enough, but the liquid never got very thick.  The juice continued to reduce, and I was afraid that I would be left with very little to glaze with, so I removed it from the heat and poured it over the cake from the saucepan.  This was a slightly messy process, so I recommend pouring the glaze into something like a small pitcher to pour over the cake or use a brush to brush it on.  Although the glaze did not resemble your typical glaze, it brightened up the cake and provided a lovely sheen as well as a strong citrus sweetener. 

When I took a bite of my cake I had two thoughts-that I couldn’t really tell that it was grapefruit, but it definitely tasted like a citrus fruit and that it would be a great breakfast cake (yes, you can have this cake for breakfast since it has fruit in it 🙂 )   

 Pink Grapefruit Yogurt Cake (replicated from JoytheBaker, The Greyston Bakery Cookbook)

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Juice and zest of 1 pink grapefruit.  (1/2 cup of juice and 1 tablespoon of zest) 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a Bundt pan (springform pan or loaf pan)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  On a plate or medium bowl, combine granulated sugar and zest.  Using a fork, rub the zest into the sugar. 

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and grapefruit sugar until the eggs are thick and pale yellow.  Add the yogurt, oil, 1 tablespoon of grapefruit juice and vanilla extract.  Stir well to combine.  Add the flour mixture and stir to combine.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool, then remove cake from pan. 

In a small saucepan, combine the powdered sugar and the remaining grapefruit juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes while stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, pour glaze into a small pitcher to pour over cake or use a brush to brush onto cake.

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After purchasing the jumbo bag of walnuts from Costco, I went in search of things to bake that included walnuts. One of my favorite sites had a walnut cake that sounded perfect.  After making the goodies for the bake sale, I wanted to bake something a little different.  Something that was a little more refined.  When I saw this cake, I thought…this looks like a grown-up cake.  Something to have with your coffee, while reading the paper.  For some reason, I didn’t think that it would be too sweet, and for some other reason, my husband was convinced it should have honey in it.  No honey, but it was actually really sweet.  I believe that this cake is best served in small slices because of the incredible sweetness each bite contains. 

 

After I removed the cake from the oven, it deflated as it cooled.  The top also got very sticky.  When I flipped it out of the cake pan, I placed it on a sheet a wax paper so that it would not stick to the plate.  The cake looks very dainty, small in height, and once the wild blueberry jam was spread on top it looked very dressed up.

 

 

Walnut Jam Cake with Whipped Topping (replicated from SmittenKitchen, adapted from Gourmet.com)
1 1/4 cups walnuts
2/3 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

½ cup jam of your preference (we chose wild blueberry preserves, but I think fig jam or raspberry would be great too)

Whipped topping (purchase cool whip like we did, or make your own)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place rack in middle of oven. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan. First, toast walnuts by placing them in a shallow baking pan at 350°F for 10 minutes.  Allow walnuts to cool.  Then add cooled walnuts and sugar to a food processor, and pulse until finely chopped.   Add butter and process until combined.  Then add eggs and vanilla and process until combined. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse just until incorporated.

Pour batter into your prepared cake pan.  Band the cake pan against the counter a few times to remove any air pockets.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes, and then remove from pan.  Then allow to cool completely before spreading jam on top of cake, and adding the whipped topping.  Refrigerate.

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We had a lot of leftover plain yogurt from a previous recipe, and I wanted to do something with it before it went bad.  I was thinking dessert, and I came across variations of chocolate yogurt muffins and cakes.  Some recipes included different extracts (vanilla and almond) and some included fresh mint.  I wanted to keep it simple, but I printed out several similar recipes for future use. 

Last night when I returned home, it was later than usual and I wanted something sweet.  I did not want to stay in the kitchen for hours, and so this recipe was the perfect fit.  It literally took minutes to create.  The only tools needed were two bowls, a spatula, and a spoon.  Easy clean up.  All the ingredients just flopped into their respective bowls, then they were combined, chocolate chips were added and the muffins went into the oven.  Thirty minutes later, we had light and fluffy chocolate muffins with spots of melted chocolate goodness (from the chips.)

You can use plain or vanilla yogurt for this recipe, but I am not sure if you could use Greek yogurt. My guess is that you could add it for a much stronger flavor-think added sourness, less sweetness.

Chocolate Yogurt Muffins (from CookieMadness)

¾ cup packed light brown sugar

½ cup melted unsalted butter

1 cup plain yogurt

1 egg

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

1 ¾ cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp baking powder

1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with paper muffin cups.

Stir brown sugar and melted butter together in a bowl.  Add yogurt, egg, and vanilla, and stir until completely blended.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.  Add wet ingredients to the flour mixture, stirring until blended.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into paper muffin cups.

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We had friends over on Saturday night, and I wanted to have some dessert on hand for after we returned from dinner.  Searching through one of my favorite sites, SmittenKitchen, I found many delicious-looking cake recipes, but one stood out as it was denoted as the “Best Birthday Cake”.  I thought to myself, that, well, if it is the best birthday cake, then I would have to try it.  However, it would not be a birthday cake tonight, but instead, it would be a “Friends Are Visiting So We Need Cake” cake.  Although the original recipe calls for a yellow cake with a Sour Cream Chocolate Frosting, I decide to forgo the sour cream, and instead, upon the recommendation of SmittenKitchen, tried the Instant Fudge Frosting (adapted from a Sky High recipe).    I have only made yellow cake from boxes, like Pillsbury or Duncan Hines, which I find hard to beat.  In fact, while searching for our wedding cake, we compared everything to our favorite Duncan Hines cakes.  So I attempted something new here.  Once again, I found a baking recipe that called for buttermilk, which I have never purchased or used, but today was the time to finally try it.  Give into the hype that is buttermilk and see what I have been missing.  I ran into a few snafus while making this cake. First, I did not have cake flour, but I remember running into an article on how to make cake flour from all purpose flour and cornstarch, as described below.  Then, I did not have enough unsweetened chocolate or confectioners’ sugar.  To solve those problems, I found a solution on the back of my cocoa powder box and sent my wonderful Husband to the store to purchase more confectioners’ sugar.  

 

 

Just looking at these ingredients, you can tell that this cake is sinful…..5 sticks of butter, 4 eggs, and 4 ½ cups of confectioners’ sugar.  This cake is also gigantic!  It is so tall that after about a day the top slid off from the bottom, but it still tasted good.

 

Warning:  Make sure that you do not have anything planned after eating this cake, because it will put you into a cake coma.

The cake itself is not very sweet.  You can definitely taste the sourness of the buttermilk, but I found it to be a good match to the super sweet chocolate fudge frosting.  When tasting this frosting, you will not be able to mistake that it is chocolate.  I only had Valentine’s Day sprinkles, but they did their job in dressing up this tower of a cake. 

Yellow Cake (from SmittenKitchen)

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons cake flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, at room temperature

2 cups buttermilk, well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.  If you do not have cake flour, you can make it by using all purpose flour, removing two tablespoons for every cup of flour, and replacing it with two tablespoons of cornstarch.  Make sure to sift the flour and cornstarch multiple times so that they are entirely incorporated.   In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy.  Then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time and beat. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined. Add flour mixture, a little at a time, until all is incorporated. 

Pour batter into cake pans, and shake gently to even out batter.  Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.   Cool before for 10 minutes, then remove cakes from pans and allow to cool completely before frosting. 

Fudge Frosting (from SmittenKitchen and Sky High)

6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

6 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Most unsweetened chocolate bars come in 4 ounce bars.  However, if you do not wish to purchase another bar, or you did not realize this fact until you returned home and you did not wish to go back to the store, then you can make your own unsweetened chocolate using cocoa power and vegetable oil.  3 tablespoons of cocoa powder + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil=1 ounce unsweetened chocolate.

The recipe calls for placing all the ingredients into a food processor to incorporate, my food processor could not hold all the ingredients.  Instead, I threw all the ingredients into my electric stand mixer, and allowed it to mix until it was incorporated.  This required a few swipes down the sides of the bowl with a spatula to make sure all the ingredients were combining.

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Chiffon Cake is similar to Angelfood Cake.  It is light and airy and usually has some hint of flavor…lemon, orange, almond.  I never have had chiffon cake, but my sister professes that it is her favorite.  The pictures of the chiffon cakes online look very pretty, but I believe many of them have food coloring in them to give the cakes those fairy tale pastel colors.  My cake turned out yellow.  Not a pastel yellow or a bright and vibrant yellow, but a yellow that shows that I used 8 eggs in this recipe.  I think there may be a theme to my entries now regarding my surprise at the number of eggs each recipe requires.

This cake was fun to make because it calls for stiff egg whites, which requires you to beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form.  After beating the eggs for about 7 minutes, some peaks started to form, but I did not know if the egg whites were stiff enough.  One neat trick to determing whether the egg whites are stiff enough is to turn the bowl upside down, and if the egg whites do not fall out, then they are ready to go.  (Thank you other bloggers for referring me to this Julia Child trick).  It was also really fun to fold the egg whites into the lemon-flour-sugar mxture.  It looked so light and fluffy, like mousse, and good enough to eat right then (but do not eat at this point because there are 8 raw eggs in it).

If I were to change something about this recipe, I would add more lemon zest.  When we eat something with citrus, we want to taste the flavor.  We want that citrus zing to go to our heads.  The recipe as it stands provides a light lemony flavor, but next time I would add more zest for more of a kick.  I want the lemon in my cake to scream at me.  I want it to actually taste like lemon.  So next time I would definently add the zest from at least one more lemon. 

 

What you need…

2 cups sifted cake flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil

8 eggs, separated

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup water

2 1/2 tablespoons grated lemon peel

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325°F.  First, I poured the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt through a colander, shaking it all about, and sifting each into my large bowl.  Then, I again poured all the ingredients, already once sifted separately, into the colander for one last sifting, and into another bowl.  The mixture looked like a light snow.  Then I added the vegetable oil, egg yolks, lemon juice, water and lemon peel to the flour/sugar mixture and beat it all together until combined.  Two lemons will be sufficient for the juice and zest the recipe requires, which provides for a beautifully light lemon flavor. 

 Next beat the egg whites and cream of tartar in another bowl.  My saga with the egg whites begins with my electric hand mixer.  I waited paitiently for my egg whites to become stiff, but it was a slow process.  At minute 10, I step away to check the stove, and when I returned to the egg whites, they had lost their foaminess that I had struggled to achieve.  So, I decided to use the stand mixer, which was so much easier.  I just plopped the egg whites into the bowl for the mixer, and let it do its magic while I prepared the tube pan. 

 

Once the egg whites were stiff, fold 1/4 of the egg white mxture into the flour/sugar/lemon mixture.  Then fold in the rest.  “Be gentle folding.”  I love when recipes tell you to be gentle in doing a step.  I followed along and daintly took my spatula and made careful folds with the egg whites and the yellow mixture, until the two were no longer mixing and then I became a little more aggressive. 

Once combined, pour into a tube pan, and cook for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a tad golden on top and the cake is springy to the touch.  Serve in big wedges.  It looks substantial, and the cake itself is so light and fluffy, why not get a little extra.

        

 

  

        

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We hosted 17 people for Easter this year, and we were lucky enough that the main courses and many side items were taken care of by our guests.  However, we wanted to provide some desserts.  I wanted to make something that would not be as sweet as all the other goodies, since in the end, we had about 15 other desserts.  While browsing through one of my favorite food blogs, smittenkitchen.com, I found a recipe for Apple Cake.  Since my dad really likes this dessert, I decided to attempt the recipe, with some tweeks.  I have found that typically, apple cake or jewish apple cake, made for purchase in bakeries tend to skimp on the apples and can be quite dry.  I added a couple more apples than the recipe called for and I eased up on the cinnamon just a tad.

What you need….

7 apples (I chose McIntosh apples)
1 tablespoon cinnamon (I used a little less than 1 tablespoon).
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs

Tube pan (angel food cake pan)

First, you want to peel, core and chop apples into chunks. My father-in-law graciously assisted by peeling the apples for me.  I chose a combination of half inch and one inch chunks to have some variety in the texture.  Stir the cinnamon and sugar together in a bowl.  I used a fork to break up the cinnamon and blend the cinnamon and sugar.  Once, chopped, toss the apples with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients…flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients…oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones.  It will be a pretty thick mixture at this point.  Then add eggs, one at a time. 

Pour half of batter into prepared pan.  It may not look like much batter is in the pan at this point, but it is deceiving.  This cake will increase in size while cooking.  Then add half of apples to top of batter in the pan.  Pour the remaining batter over the apples and add the remaining apples on top. Again, looks are deceiving, and the batter and apples will look pretty short compared to the size of the pan. But I assure you that this is correct.  Bake for about 1 ½ hours.  It took about the full 1 ½ hours to cook.  To test that the cake is done, you will need something larger than a toothpick because the cake will have some depth.  I suggest using a wooden shish kabob skewer if you do not have another kind of tester.

The result….a delicious and moist apple cake!  The best I have ever had.

 

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