Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lemon White Cake with Lemon Filling and Lemon Strawberry Topping

This week I have been doing a lot of experimenting with strawberry cakes for my own interests and friend's requests.  I had one tasty flop and one nice texture that lacked flavor.  Now I have a better idea which direction to take those experiments.  The nice thing about being the baker with the birthday is that today I get to choose my favorite flavors and whims to play around with for my cake.  I have been trying to find a white or yellow cake that makes me as happy as my favorite chocolate cake recipe.  Light and fluffy but still scratch.  This one turned out pretty nicely for a spelt flour cake.  Firm, but not too dense or gummy.  It was actually quite fluffy when it cooled down, but I stuck it in the freezer overnight to make it easier to frost and that firms things up a bit.  I made the lemon curd and the cake yesterday and the frosting tonight.  The cake recipe I tried was this one, minus the sprinkles.  And instead of cake flour I used 1¾ cups light spelt, ¼ cup tapioca starch and ¼ cup potato starch.  Might have been lighter with all tapioca or arrowroot, but still tasty.  The girls happily ate up their slices and hubby too.  R asked for seconds.  What a sweet tooth!  I might give it another try with cake flour some day since I was pleased enough with how it turned out with non cake flour.  For the filling, I combined about ½ cup lemon curd and ½ cup frosting for a lemon cream filling.  I didn't chill it before filling, but it would have been less inclined to slide that way.  It still held up nicely on a flat surface.

I made a double batch of cream cheese frosting, though it turns out a single batch would have done.  After frosting the cake, I let it firm up just a touch in the fridge for 5 minutes and then spread some more lemon curd over the top.  Then I arranged fresh strawberries around the edges.  I LOVE this time of year.  Our own berries are starting to be ripe right about now too.  So for me, I loved how my cake turned out.  Strawberry and lemon curd, cake and cream cheese frosting are all awesome together.  I would be happy serving this to friends as well.

What flavors would you pick for your perfect birthday cake?  My brother would take a fruity tart or pie over cake any day, but I think he wouldn't have minded this one for just a little slice.  ☺

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Throwback Thursday Chocolate Cupcakes

These are so good, I just had to share them again.  Especially since I made 15 for the weekend's birthday celebration and have none left.  I will be making another batch for next week's 2nd school birthday this month.  I'm thinking mini cupcakes for that...  There was not a crumb left on the plates at the recent birthday party and some girls had seconds.  Gotta love a cupcake that good.  The above photo is how the latest batch turned out, I still used the easy vanilla bean buttercream, just piped it this time.  Note: I only used ¼ tsp of espresso powder for the kids' cupcakes!


July 2011

We have two months of mega birthdays in our family.  Four birthdays in June (three in this household) and five birthdays in September.  I have done cakes in the past but our most recent round of birthdays spawned a request for chocolate cupcakes.  And I found my most favorite ever chocolate cupcake recipe.  The recipe easily halves so you can get just six cupcakes for a small family celebration, or the standard dozen for a small party.  My daughter's seventh birthday was the first round of these beauties and I would say that 90% of the cupcakes were eaten down to the wrapper.  I did have some vanilla too, but 8 out of 9 kids chose the chocolate.  I was very pleased with the results as I tend to see lots of picked at plates of cake at most parties.  These are so great, they bake up with perfect little domes, are wonderfully moist and last very well.  They are also firm enough to stand up to frosting with a knife.  Oh yes, no mixer required.  These come together with just a whisk. 

This last round for my youngest was the fourth time I've made them now.  This is practically a no fail recipe.  I threw it together before dinner and frosted afterward for our birthday song.  Big sister talked little sis into yellow icing and I managed to find a box of natural vegetable based food colors - $19.  OUCH.  They are subtle and take more liquid to color but the result was a pleasing pale yellow.  The same company makes the natural dyed sugar sprinkles too.  India Tree.  Ruddy expensive though.  I am putting my colors in the fridge for longer keeping now.  I absolutely adore Brown Eyed Baker's super easy recipe for vanilla bean buttercream.  It is so fluffy and silky and will not form a crust even when left out for 12 or more hours.  But depending on the frosting, these little cakes can be dairy free if you wish.  The cupcake recipe is a simplified version of a Cook's Illustrated recipe for chocolate ganache cupcakes.  Which I'm sure must be out of this world since the plain ones turn out so stellar.

Chocolate Cupcakes
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
makes one dozen standard cupcakes

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (I know they say to use the best chocolate, but I use Enjoy life soy free mini chips with great results and no chopping necessary)
1/3 cup (1 oz) Dutch-processed cocoa (I use natural, there are only a few recipes where it really matters)
¾ cup hot coffee (instant coffee or espresso with hot water works as well)
¾ cup (4 1/8 oz) all purpose flour (I now use a scant cup of light spelt)
¾ cup (5¼ oz) evaporated cane sugar
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp baking soda
6 tbsp sunflower oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar as white vinegar is derived from corn)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a standard-sized muffin pan with cupcake papers. Place chocolate (or mini chips) and cocoa in medium bowl.  Pour hot coffee over mixture and let sit for a few minutes to allow chocolate to melt.  (Yes, you can omit the coffee and just use hot water if you desire, but really it just enhances the chocolate and you don't taste coffee unless you have a palate that is very sensitive to a certain flavor component of coffee.) Whisk until smooth.  Set aside to cool.  Whisk together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.  Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth.  Add to flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups.  Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, about 17 to 19 minutes.  Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack to cool completely - about an hour.  Frost as desired.

These are so good, I could eat them with just a dusting of powdered sugar.  But they are delicious with the buttercream too.  ☺  Now if only I could find a vanilla recipe I liked as well...

For various dairy free, corn free, soy free or other allergy friendly recipes, check out Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Musketeer Bites

Happy Birthday baby girl!  R is 9 now and loving one of her birthday treats.  I've been wanting to try out a chocolate divinity for a while now.  The idea appealed to me.  What it turns out to be is a nougat.  Not quite as ethereal as real divinity.  Now R went crazy over the regular caramel pecan divinity, so I asked her which she liked better.  These won.  Small wonder though, they are sweeter and more of a kid styled candy.  90% of her class liked them enough to want seconds if I had made enough, even though some were scared off from the zucchini spice cakes.  Kids are so funny.  ☺  I was pretty proud of the ones that were willing to take a tentative taste and decided they were indeed yummy.  LOL!  So since these chocolate bites were a hit, I am posting them.  I'd make them coffee flavored for my next rendition.  Yum.  This batter could easily be scraped into a lined pan to cure and then cut into bars or square bites before enrobing with chocolate to be more like the commercial version.  I chose the spoon drop method.  I like the little drizzle look.

Homemade Three Musketeers Bites
makes about 3 dozen candies

2 large egg whites (room temp)
2 oz (¼ c) granulated sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
1 lb (2 c) granulated sugar
6 oz (½ c) Lyle's Golden syrup (or tapioca syrup)
4 oz (½ c) water
Additions and Inclusions:
1½ tsp vanilla
½ scant tsp fine sea salt, maybe just a ¼ tsp for kids' palates
1 tbsp confectioner's sugar (without corn starch)
4 oz semisweet or dark chocolate, melted
Additional 3-4oz melted chocolate for drizzling on top or chocolate sprinkles

Line two baking sheets with parchment.  Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar for the meringue in a 5-quart mixer bowl with a whip attachment.  Don't whip yet.  (If you are using reconstituted dried egg whites, which I tend to do for this, bring it together enough to be foamy.)  Melt the chocolate in a small pan or dish and set aside.
Combine the sugar, golden syrup and water for the syrup in a 2 qt saucepan.  Heat over medium to boiling.  Cover and boil for 2 minutes.  Uncover, attach candy thermometer and cook without stirring to 230ºF.
When syrup reaches 230ºF, start whipping the egg whites on high speed.
Continue cooking the syrup to a final temp of 255-260ºF.
Pour the hot syrup into the whipping whites in a small, constant stream.  Aim for the outside so it won't splash off the whisk.  Continue whipping on high for 7 minutes.  Add vanilla, salt, confectioner's sugar and melted chocolate to the whipping egg whites to combine.  Scrape well to make sure it all gets incorporated.  Beat for another minute if the mixture seems too loose to hold its shape when dropped.  The more it cools, the stiffer it will get.

Drop candy by tablespoonfuls onto the lined baking sheets, using a clean finger to push and swirl off the spoon.  This batter is slightly stickier than standard divinity.  Allow to set for up to 2 hours before topping with melted chocolate or sprinkles and storing in an airtight container.  I suggest setting the chocolate drizzle quickly in the fridge to save time.  These candies will keep about a week at room temperature in an airtight container.

Check out Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love for more corn free or allergy friendly recipes.