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Vanilla and Strawberry Baseball Cake

2 Aug

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This, as you can see, is a cake, decorated like a baseball. Of all the things I have ever created in my lifetime, the cream puff fanciness, the three-layered cakes piled with fruit and other dreamy things, the vegan Thanksgiving entrée that was so good it could convince a grizzly bear to go off meat, this cake might be the greatest. Because it is a cake decorated like a baseball.

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I actually made this cake several weeks ago, as a Father’s Day gift for my dad, a fellow baseball fanatic and appreciator of cake. For quite some time, I was not sure if I would ever share it on this site, being as though both the cake and frosting recipes are direct takes from America’s Test Kitchen (the only change being that I, as per usual, cut the sugar in the cake by 1/3), and I generally like to feature things on this site that lean towards the original, or at least have more of a personal twist to them.

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But what, I ask you, could have a more personal twist on it than a cake decorated like a baseball? I mean, for a lady who spends what some might consider an unreasonable amount of time making cakes and thinking about/watching/obsessing over baseball, this cake is pretty much my own personal mic drop. Will I ever be able to make a cake that tops this one? I really don’t know. But, luckily, the only way to find out is to make more cakes.

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Last Year: Peach and Ginger Brown Sugar Shortcakes and No Recipe: I Ate This

Vanilla and Strawberry Baseball Cake

Classic White Layer Cake

Slightly adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

6 large egg whites, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 ¼ cups (9 ounces) cake flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces) granulated sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

4 cups vanilla frosting (recipe follows)

about 1 cup of strawberries, smaller berries preferred

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 8-or-9-inch round cake pans, and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, egg whites, and vanilla and almond extracts.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Using an electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on medium-low speed beat the butter into the flour mixture, one piece at a time, about 30 seconds. Continue to beat the mixture until it resembles moist crumbs, about 1 to 3 minutes.

Beat in all but ½ cup of the milk mixture, then increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until smooth, light, and fluffy, 1 to 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly beat in the remaining 12 cup milk mixture until the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.

Give the batter a final stir with a rubber spatula to make sure everything is thoroughly combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, smooth the tops, and gently tap the cake pans on the counter to settle the batter. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Run a small knife around the edges of the cakes, then flip them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the parchment paper, flip the cakes right side up, and let cool completely before frosting, at least 2 hours.

Vanilla Frosting

From The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

3 sticks unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened

3 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

2 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon salt

3 cups (12 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, cream, vanilla, and salt together on medium-high speed until smooth 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, slowly add the confectioner’s sugar, and beat until incorporated and smooth, 4 to 6 minutes. Increase mixer speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, 5 to 10 minutes.

Makes about 4 cups of frosting.

To make the baseball cake:

When the cake has cooled completely, frost the entire cake, smoothing out the frosting as much as possible.

Hull the strawberries, then slice each one in half from top to bottom. Slice each half into thin strips of roughly equal size.

Use the rim of a large bowl to mark the curve of your strawberry stitching by gently placing the rim about 1/3 of the way across the cake on both the right and left sides. This will make a pattern on which you can place your strawberry stitches. Place strawberry slices on the diagonal on either side of the curved pattern. If necessary, consult an actual baseball in order to get an idea of how to make your stitching look just right.

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Coconut Cake with Orange Cream Frosting

18 Apr

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It is with very little fanfare that I present this delicious cake to you without any accompanying photos, sans the one you see above. You see, I did not initially plan on sharing this cake with you all. This was a cake made for a birthday, and I went about creating it with simply the desires of the birthday person in mind, and not the requirements of a certain food-based website in mind. I baked it like I used to bake everything: without a camera at the ready.

And yet, please believe me when I tell you that this cake, this burst of coconut delight and citrusy cream, is one of the best cakes I have ever made. The yogurt and extra egg whites in the cake make for an especially light crumb, and the surrounding cloak of orange zest infused whipped cream provides the perfect amount of decadence without any element of heaviness. It’s what I always tend to think of as a grown up cake, meaning, the type of cake that a child would reject in a second (and, in this case, most did), but an adult would welcome with open arms (and open mouth). No matter, of course. Whatever the kids don’t eat, that just leaves more for the rest of us.

Last Year: Honey Cream, Strawberry, and Chocolate Pizza and Vegetable Pakoras

Coconut Cake with Orange Cream Frosting

Coconut Cake

2 ¼ cups sifted cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 large egg whites

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup plain nonfat yogurt

½ cup unsweetened coconut milk

½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Orange Cream Frosting

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon powdered sugar

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

finely grated zest of 1 large orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, then line the bottoms of the pans with rounds of parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, or in the bowl of stand mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 60 seconds. Slowly add the sugar, and beat together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. One at a time, add the egg, then the egg whites, beating about 15 seconds in between each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if things resist mixing together. Beat in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then beat in the yogurt. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the coconut milk. Add in the last of the flour mixture, then mix until just combined. Beat in the coconut until just incorporated, about 10 seconds. You don’t want to overmix the cake batter, so use a gentle hand with all the incorporating of the ingredients.

Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake in the center of the oven for 22 to 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.The cakes will be done when a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of a cake emerges somewhat clean, with just a crumb or two attached.

Allow the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a wire rack to continue cooling completely.

To make the frosting, in a stand mixer, or using an electric mixer, beat the cream on high speed until it just begins to thicken. Drizzle in the powdered sugar, then vanilla, and continue to beat until the cream forms soft peaks. Add in the orange zest, and beat in until just combined. You can beat the cream until it forms firm peaks, as I did here, if you will need the cake to sit for a bit before eating it. However, if you will be eating the cake right away, and the cream will not be in danger of weeping, I’d go for light and soft peaks in the whipped cream.

When the cakes have cooled completely, frost with orange cream frosting as you would any other two-layer cake.

Cinnamon Apple Cake

9 Jan

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Sometimes the simplest things can be the best things. It’s not that a cherpumple or a three-layer chocolate cake are bad things (although, truth be told, my personal jury is still out on that cherpumple), but, amongst all the fanciness and multiple layers of many things, it is often times quite nice to just roll with something straightforward, humble, and nearly perfect in its simplicity.

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It may seem far-fetched, but a similar line of thinking could also be applied to friendships. My best friend’s husband once asked her why she and I rarely go out together, and her response was hilarious in its point-blank frankness, “It’s not what we do,” she told him. And it’s true. When she and I hang out, we are almost always on her couch (because we never, ever hang out at my house, only hers, because, again, hanging out at my house is “not what we do”), there is almost always something horrible on the television, and there is always a running commentary going on that concerns how bad everything is on that television. Someone once told us that there should be a television show about the two of us watching television, and, after thinking about it for a bit, we sort of agreed. Of course we agreed. We are best friends. We can center an entire evening around one couch, and we don’t even need to involve any alcohol. With respect to our spouses, we’ve had a comfortable, married-type relationship for well over 15 years, and I don’t care how boring that sounds to other people, because my super-mellow relationship with my best friend is one of my most favorite things about life.

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And here is where my cake comparison comes into play. While a super fancy cake can be a nice thing, more often than not, the most satisfying cake you can have is a simple, beautiful, everyday type of cake. This apple cake is my take on the classic and somewhat legendary New York Times recipe for Teddie’s Apple Cake, circa 1973. The cake was meant to be a proven example of how not all cakes needed to be laborious, time-consuming affairs. This apple cake was about as straightforward as you could make a cake: you chopped, you mixed, you baked, you were done. Though nearly perfect in its original form, I’ve made this cake a number of times, and each time I do, I change a little something here and there. Predictably, I have reduced the sugar, and swapped out a bit of the regular sugar for brown sugar. I’ve added more spices, used an apple with a bit more bite to it, and, inspired by my son’s desire to have more cinnamon in everything at all times, I’ve added a crunchy cinnamon sugar lid that, while subtle, adds a lovely dimension to each bite. I may have made the cake evolve a bit, but, at its core, it’s still the same, simple, endlessly pleasing cake.

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Fittingly, for no reason at all, except because everyone needs some cake once in a while, I gave this cake to my best friend. When I told her I wanted to make her a cake, she was delighted. When I asked her what she wanted, she requested something not too big, and rather simple. Of course she did. She knows.

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This cake is part of my Go Mighty goal of making 50 cakes for 50 people. You can read more about it here.

Cinnamon Apple Cake

Adapted from Teddie’s Apple Cake, in the New York Times

Butter for greasing pan

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting pan

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

½ teaspoon ground ginger

pinch of nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced tart apples, such as Granny Smith

For sprinkling on top of cake:

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugars together in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or beat in a large bowl using an electric mixer. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.

In a large bowl, toss the apple chunks with 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, then set aside.

Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla. Fold in the cinnamon apples.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared tube pan pan. Combine the ½ teaspoon of cinnamon with 1 teaspoon of sugar, and sprinkle evenly over top of cake. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve cinnamon-sugar-side-up, at room temperature.

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