Saturday, January 17, 2015

Vignettes of My Day, My Daughter, the Talented Baker + Tender White Cake and Buttercream Frosting

My dear friend Natalie and her husband are celebrating their 21st wedding anniversary today. Natalie planned a big day. Their family will have dinner at The Briarwood (one of my favorite restaurants), then back home for a special dessert (the cake made by my talented daughter) and then a night at the Golden Hotel.

She made the roses out of fondant. They are orange since it is the official color for the 21st anniversary. It was the first white cake with white frosting that she has created. It was a bit more challenging than cakes with colored frosting. I think it is really beautiful. She is so talented!

Our day started pretty early. I had plans to sleep in after such an intense week, but I was woken by the sound of texts coming in from Ethan who was on a train. He landed in Bankok, Thailand yesterday, meeting Emily and Alec. They took a boat ride, saw a temple and then called from the train that they are taking to the Phuket where they will stay in a dorm and go rock climbing. The sky had just a hint of the approaching dawn. Moxy was situated on the edge of the bed purring. He was there being my official kitty alarm clock. I laid back, petting Moxy with one hand, my other hand holding Larr's as he reads me the texts from Ethan and typing our responses back. It was such a nice way to start the day.

Ellie and I watched, "Music and Lyrics" together. It is a chick flick with Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant. It was cheesy, predictable and fun. I started a new hat for Ethan. It features super chunky brown yarn. I worry that Ethan might look like he is wearing a wig when he wears it. We'll see how it turns out.

For dinner we had rib-eye steak that I grilled in the oven, roasted fingerling potatoes with garlic, basil, rosemary and Parmesan cheese. We also had pickled beets and a white cake I made, similar to the one Ellie made, but not decorated. She was sure that it would be a real treat for Kohlton.


Tender White Cake
via: King Arthur Flour Blog

2 3/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend
1 2/3 cups sugar; superfine sugar is best
1 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs whites plus 1 whole large egg
1 cup full-fat vanilla yogurt or 1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 8" x 2" or 9" x 2" round pans; a 9" x 13" pan; or 2 standard cupcake pans (20 to 24 cupcakes) by greasing and flouring; or lining with parchment, then greasing the parchment. Note: Make sure your 8" round pans are at least 2" deep; if they're not, use one of the other pan options.

2) Mix all of the dry ingredients on slow speed to blend. Add the soft butter and mix until evenly crumbly, like fine damp sand. It may form a paste, depending on the temperature of the butter, how much it's mixed, and granulation of the sugar used.

3) Add the egg whites one at a time, then the whole egg, beating well after each addition to begin building the structure of the cake. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl after each addition.

4) In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt (or milk) with the vanilla and almond extracts. Add this mixture, 1/3 at a time, to the batter. Beat 1 to 2 minutes after each addition, until fluffy. Be sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

5) Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes for 8" or 9" rounds; 23 to 26 minutes for a 9" x 13" x 2" sheet cake; or 20 minutes for cupcakes. A toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean when done. Remove from the oven, remove from the pan, if desired (not advisable for a 9" x 13" sheet cake), cool on a rack, and frost.

Yield: Two 8" or 9" round layers; one 9"x 13" x 2" sheet cake, or 20 to 24 cupcakes.

Notes from King Arthur Flour:

* To make the raspberry cake pictured above, ice with your favorite butter cream, fill with raspberry jam, and arrange one pint of raspberries on top. You can find complete photos and instructions at our Bakers' Banter blog.
* To make a classic yellow cake, use 3 whole eggs and 2 egg whites instead of 4 egg whites and one large egg. Delicious with rich chocolate icing!
* This cake is very tender. We advise handling layers with care when turning them out of the pans; and if you've made a 9" x 13" sheet cake, it's best served straight from the pan, to avoid crumbling.

* They have an excellent blog posting on Flourish. It is worth your time to check it out if you are planning on making this cake.

* “Do I really have to mix the dry ingredients for 2 minutes?” Simple answer, yes. Light and tender cakes are based on incorporation of air. No air = flat heavy cakes. So turn the mixer on, and imagine yourself on the beach, or relive your first kiss for 2 minutes. Next, add the softened butter.


Quick Buttercream Frosting
via: King Arthur Flour

You may use all butter in this quick buttercream, but using vegetable shortening makes a frosting that will be a little firmer in warmer temperatures. Also, using the optional meringue powder, while not necessary, will help your frosting holds its shape. This amount of frosting is fine to frost the top of a 9" x 13" cake. If you're frosting a layer cake, double the recipe to have enough frosting to pipe decorations.

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter or non-transfat vegetable shortening (we used 1/4 cup of each)
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon meringue powder, optional, for "holding power"
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 to 3 cups (10 to 12 ounces) confectioners' sugar or glazing sugar
2 to 4 tablespoons (1 to 2 ounces) milk

Cream the butter and/or shortening until fluffy. Beat in the salt, meringue powder, and the vanilla. Add the confectioners' or glazing sugar, 2 tablespoons of the milk, and beat well.

Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Adjust the consistency of the frosting as needed by adding more confectioners' sugar or milk. If you're not going to use the frosting right away, keep it at room temperature, covered, to prevent it from developing a dry crust. Yield: 2 1/2 cups.

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