29 November 2008

Daring Bakers and the Caramel Cake

We're back for another month of sugar-inducing delight, and this challenge definitely had us all on a sugar high. From Shuna Fish Lydon comes a recipe for Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting, recipe found on Bay Area Bites. Co-hosting with our hostess-of-the-month Dolores, Culinary Curiosity, are Alex, Blondie and Brownie, and Jenny, Foray into Food. Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go helped with the gluten-free variations.

The components that interested me the most was the caramel syrup (the leftovers of which I have yet to use) and brown butter in the buttercream (you'll find out how I used those leftovers tomorrow). We were given liberty to bake it in the size we preferred, and also to add different flavorings if we desired. I wanted to taste the flavor itself so I chose to follow the recipe as written.

I didn't read the instructions for the caramel syrup clearly the first time, and consequently ended up with sugar syrup. The second go went without any issues and the proper amount of sugar and water. Unfortunately, I didn't think that since the saucepan was dark the color of the syrup would be darker than it was. The finished syrup resulted in a light honey color instead of dark amber. My concern was that the caramel flavor wouldn't come through in the cake and the frosting.

But what's really important about caramel making: Don't rush a caramel. You rush a caramel and you get rotten caramel.

Instead of a round cake like I made for the last two cakes, I settled on a four-layer rectangular cake. I'm unsure if the cake rose as high as I thought it would have, but it worked out well for how high it did rise.

I didn't take a picture of the icing alone, but I can tell you that it was incredible! You'll probably read many Daring Bakers say that the icing was tooth-achingly sweet, and it was, but the ratio of icing-to-cake I used kept it from putting you into a coma since it wasn't thickly spread. Also, eat with a black cup of coffee or tea.

As for flavoring, the brown butter taste was the highlight for me. The caramel didn't really come through, not that I was surprised, so I really only tasted the brown butter. The recipe says to stir in coarse salt at the end and that really gave it another dimension, as well as cutting into the sweetness.

Icing the cake went just well because the frosting was the right consistency. A crumb coating is essential to achieving a smooth surface on the outside. Ever since I learned it a long time ago I always do it, and I'm always rewarded with a mostly smooth surface. It wasn't as smooth as I wanted, but dipping the offset spatula in hot water and lightly drying it off before smoothing the icing helped greatly.

That's supposed to be two balloons next to the 'y' on 'happy'. The icing tip was a large shell tip, but the icing didn't want to come out and I ended up with dots.

I chose to make this as my mom's second birthday cake. She was very surprised at how good this tasted and couldn't decide which was better, this or her first birthday cake, but it's impossible to choose between two completely different cakes (it's like choosing between a delicious bass and a mostly dead steak -- there is a big difference between mostly dead and and all dead, as mostly dead is still slightly alive). In the end, this made it on the 'cakes to make again' list (it's an informal list, actually).

Drizzled with remaining caramel syrup

My mom drizzled some juice from macerated strawberries on her slice (not shown) and not only did it help to further cut the sweetness, it also tasted great with the caramel-brown butter. However you say it, kăr'ə-məl, -mĕl', or kär'məl, this cake is a winner.

Don't forget to read the other Daring Bakers' posts. Browse through the blogroll to see some truly stunning creations.

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting
From Shuna Fish Lydon
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Caramel Syrup


  • 2 cups sugar

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)


  1. In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber. (My note: It takes a while, you know, a watched pot never boils, so prep something else while keeping an eye on the pot, because once it does 'turn color' it doesn't take long before it reaches the correct color. And make sure you test the color on a light surface.)

  2. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water through a piece of foil with a smallish hole in the center. Caramel will jump and sputter about, and the foil keeps it from getting on surfaces and on you.

  3. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.} My note: It doesn't need to be as sticky as honey because it will thicken upon standing, but it should feel slightly tacky.

    If the syrup crystallizes, reheat the amount you need in a small saucepan on medium low, stirring often until it returns to a liquid state.

Caramel Cake


  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup caramel syrup

  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature

  • Splash vanilla extract

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan. (Or cake pan of choice.<)/li>
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (I just used a large bowl and a hand-held mixer), cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

  4. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

  5. Sift flour and baking powder.

  6. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

  7. Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

  8. Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

    Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

Caramelized Butter Icing


  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted

  • 4-6 tablespoons heavy cream (I used milk)

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup

  • Kosher or sea salt to taste


  1. Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

  2. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

  3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioners' sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and/or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioners' sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

    Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
    To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

Use your imagination when it comes to how you want the finished cake to look. Keep it simple by icing just the top, ice the sides, slice the cake into layers, whatever idea you come up with. Who says you can't play with food!

26 November 2008

Thanksgiving Prep, Two

Monday & Tuesday

On Monday, I diced all the vegetables for the two stuffings, and on Tuesday my mom and I mixed them together. We decided to prepare it two days early since the flavors seem to come out better the longer it sets, but the stuffing won't be cooked until tomorrow.

All those apples were peeled and sliced for the pie. That's 10 rather large apples, hopefully for a mile-high apple pie, Martha Stewart style (except I found her recipe, which just called for cinnamon as the lone spice, to be rather bland so I added other spices and a bit of almond extract, as well as the grated zest of one lemon).

Unfortunately, I didn't decide to make this type of pie until right before the peeling of the apples. When Martha Stewart makes this pie she uses a recipe-and-a-half together, dividing the pieces so one disc is larger than the other. The larger piece is the top crust, rolled out to 18-inches so it can fit over the tall pile of apples. Oh well, that just means my pie is a '3/4-Mile-High Apple Pie'.

Glazed with a beaten egg yolk mixed with milk and sprinkled with granulated and sanding sugar, the pie baked into a golden-brown, sparkly glory. Nothing beats the aroma of a spicy apple while it's baking!

Tigger's Apple Pie, which I make every year, didn't come out as well. I mean, it'll taste great, but it won't be winning any awards for beauty. (I'll probably have an easier time convincing people that it was Tigger who actually made it, though!)

See? That's a classic example of crust fail. But I already know that I should make pies more than twice a year because I don't exactly have the technique down. Also, the recipe doesn't call for pre-baking the crust, and I don't think I did last year, but I should probably do it from now on because it does shrink. (That might just be my fault.)

Please don't send me notes of pity, as I'm not looking for any (I'm sure you can relate, though). There's more to Thanksgiving than perfect pies (I'm saying this as the perfectionist that I am), which I do realize, no matter how slightly annoying it is.

This place is a tomb. I'm going to the Nut Shop where it's fun.

I can't believe what I've been missing all these years. I don't know how I've ever gotten along without snacking on 'Sweet & Spicy Cashews' before. Not only is the taste incredible, but it's very easy to make. Need a last-minute appetizer? Is your family already at your home and you want to give them something quick to snack on? You must make these. Cashews aren't necessary; in fact, the original recipe called for almonds, but I only have cashews.

Unlike many recipes, the only baking required for this recipe is the toasting of whatever nut you choose. A simple, light glaze is heated in a skillet, which the nuts are added to and coated thoroughly before dumping into a bowl with the coating of sugar, cayenne pepper, and salt. Make the recipe your own by adding lime zest (which I'm going to add to my next batch momentarily), and you don't have to add the full teaspoon of cayenne pepper if you don't want it too hot. I only used half, and the slight heat comes through just as well.

I may update later today with everything else we're finishing, but if not I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving, and I'll see you on Friday!

Sweet & Spicy Almonds
Recipe from Everyday Food, December 2004

Makes 2½ cups


  • 2½ cups ublanched almonds, or nuts of your choice

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon honey and water

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spread 2½ cups almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine sugar, kosher salt, and cayenne pepper.

  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook honey and water with olive oil, stirring, until combined, 1 minute. Add almonds; toss to coat.

  3. Transfer nuts to sugar mixture (do not scrape extra glaze into bowl); toss to coat. Cool in a single later.

These nuts will keep for up to 2 weeks; let cool completely, then store in an airtight container.


24 November 2008

Eleven-O'Clockish Honey Buns

Or, what Winnie the Pooh would have for elevenses.

Again from The Little Big Book of Pooh was a recipe for honey buns that has been on my mind for a while. We all like cinnamon rolls, but the idea of an enriched (with honey, of course) dough with honey seeped into the layers and glazed on top wouldn't leave my mind.

The dough was really soft, but held its shape and workable with a little flour. After the mixing, kneading, and rising I patted it out and spread with the honey glaze.

The dough was really tender, so the easiest way to cut the slices was with a strand of dental floss. More of the glaze is spread onto each roll before letting it rise.

A watched pot never boils, and watched bread dough never rises, but eventually (after the third check) these did and reached just above cups.

It baked into a golden glory with the honey glaze, which caramelized in the oven. What I forgot to do was take it out halfway and spread with the remaining glaze, but it didn't hurt to spread it after it was done and pop it back in the oven for a few minutes.

These were exactly what I expected. The filling on the inside seeped into the moist, soft dough, and the top had a slight crunch to it. The flavor of honey came through nicely, but it wasn't too sweet. A nice change from cinnamon rolls!

Pooh Bear would suggest a nice cup of sweetened condensed milk alongside a honey bun, but I prefer to stick with black coffee or tea.

Eleven-O'Clockish Honey Buns
From The Little Big Book of Pooh
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Makes twelve

Ingredients for Buns:

  • 2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (I used SAF Instant and it worked)

  • ¼ cup warm water (100°F to 115°F)

  • ¼ cup honey

  • 2½ cups bread flour (Me: To this I added 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten)

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • ½ cup milk (room temperature)

  • ½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • ½ stick butter

  • ⅔ cup confectioners' sugar


  1. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and stir in ½ teaspoon honey. Let stand until foamy (about 5 minutes).

  2. Gradually add remaining honey, flour, salt, egg yolks, and milk to yeast mixture and stir until blended. Stir in melted butter and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth, though it may still be slightly tacky. (Add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, if needed.)

  3. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough has doubled in size (about 1 hour).

  4. Prepare glaze. In small saucepan, heat glaze ingredients until butter is melted. Remove from heat and cover. Keep warm.

  5. Punch dough dough. Roll onto floured surface into a 9"x11" square and brush a bit less than ⅔ glaze on surface. Roll up dough lengthwise, jelly roll style. (Me: If you want more layers, roll out the dough until 9"x13".) Cut into 12 equal pieces and transfer to greased baking sheet (or whatever type of dish you prefer). Brush half of the remaining glaze on rolls. Cover with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).

  6. Preheat oven to 350°F.

  7. Heat remaining glaze. Bake buns 15 to 20 minutes, brushing with glaze halfway through, or until golden. Immediately transfer to wire rack to cool.


23 November 2008

Thanksgiving Prep, One

Saturday -

Thanksgiving preparation started on Saturday with the bread for the dressing. Along with the white bread I made cornbread for the cornbread dressing (which also has regular bread in it).

From Baking with Julia, the recipe for 'white loaves' is what I have been using for the past few years. It's a straight dough, though I sometimes let it sponge at the beginning, and I always add two tablespoons of vital wheat gluten. The dough is made in the way of a brioche in that the four tablespoons of butter are kneaded in after the initial kneading, resulting in a very smooth, satiny dough. Two loaves are made from this recipe, and that's exactly enough for the amount of bread cubes needed. I can't help but to nibble on the crusts and a few of the bread cubes because this is better than Wonderbread.

Sunday -

What better way to start the day than with buttermilk pancakes and pumpkin syrup? There's no direction, just mix in a 2:1 ratio syrup and pumpkin puree, a tablespoon of butter, and a splash of lemon juice. Heat in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove until simmering. Stir, check to see if it's thoroughly heated, and pour over your pancakes. This would also be great on oatmeal and many other things. I didn't add spices because I like the taste with just the pumpkin and syrup.

From the same cookbook I mentioned above, I used the recipe for 'flaky pie dough', or something like that. It has both butter and shortening, which I like because it has that unbeatable taste only butter can give, and it's flaky due to the shortening.

Since the full recipe makes enough for two double-crust pies, I have to make it by hand because my food processor isn't large enough. I didn't add the full cup of ice water, but I probably should have added two more tablespoons from the remaining 1/4 cup so the finished dough would be more like how it was when I made pumpkin pasties. Not that I didn't add enough water, I just would have liked it a bit more moist. Hm.

I'm planning on making one pumpkin pie and one apple pie, along with a pumpkin roll. I thought about making three dough discs and using the doubled amount for an open-faced apple pie with long pleated edges, but I'll save that for a time when I can experiment.

What kind of pies are you going to make?

Day two of Thanksgiving Prep is over, but it's only going to get busier from here!

Recap of Dinners

This is my mom's favorite recipe for shepherd's pie. Mashed sweet potatoes get a smoky kick from chopped chipotles in adobo sauce. The beef-vegetable mixture is flavorful and light with a light gravy made by the ingredients and not a roux.

My mom's go-to recipe for potato soup, which she added tilapia to and made it into a potato fish chowder. She also added a splash of kirsch in towards the end that really added to the flavor. Accompanied by no-knead bread I made earlier, this was a perfect meal for colder weather.

Chicken quesadillas with refried beans, diced green bell peppers inside, and guacamole on the side.

My first BSI , I decided to make pumpkin potstickers. The filling is a creamy pumpkin-tofu mixture with oregano, a bit of paprika, garlic, brown butter, kosher salt, and finely chopped spinach for color contrast.

(Recipe below)

A frozen tray of pumpkin potstickers

Everyone really enjoyed these. The texture of the pumpkin flavor was very creamy and flavorful with a hint of pumpkin. If you are skeptical about using tofu, don't be. Tofu takes on the flavor of the ingredients with it, especially if you use ingredients with pronounced flavors.

Pumpkin Tofu Filling
My variation on Tofu Basil Ricotta


  • 1 pound firm tofu, pressed

  • 3 tablespoons brown butter

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • ⅓ cup + 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree

  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese

  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt

  • ½ teaspoon oregano

  • ¼ teaspoon paprika

  • ½ cup finely chopped baby spinach leaves


  1. Place tofu in a bowl and mash with a fork until crumbly.

  2. Add remaining ingredients and mash again until the mixture resembles ricotta cheese. Check for seasonings. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to give the flavors time to meld.

Use as a filling for wontons or potstickers, calzones, in lasagne, a topping on pizza, etc.


22 November 2008


With all the snow that fell overnight on Friday everything outside was frosted, as were the cookies I made that day. It reminds me of the song in White Christmas where the four main characters are singing about snow on the train. It would have been the perfect movie to watch today except I have a rule about not listening to or watching anything with a Christmas theme until after Thanksgiving. (It's similar to seeing bathing suits in the stores in January. Right, I know that many people go on spring break trips and are in need of a new swimsuit each year, but unlike them I don't want to think about summer while I'm still enjoying the snow. I might be alone on that.)

These sugar cookies are soft and somewhat chewy, sort of like the kind you see at the stores that are iced, but these taste much better. Since the recipe calls for oil instead of butter you can bake a batch of these on a whim. Better yet, you can make the dough by hand.

Freshly grated nutmeg goes into the batter, and although it's not pronounced it comes through enough to pair well with the flavor of the frosting, a brown butter buttercream. The frosting was quite sweet, but the cookie itself wasn't intensely sweet and made the perfect platform. On the other hand, it's sweet enough to top with a chocolate icing, or just melted chocolate.

(Recipe at the end of post)

For an added touch, I sprinkled the tops with edible gold glitter flakes and orange-colored sugar (keeping in the theme of fall, of course).

If you ever are in need of a quick treat that tastes delicious, this is the perfect recipe to turn to. But you don't have to take my word for it!

Print this recipe

Sugar Drop Cookies with Oil
Recipe from Joy of Cooking
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Makes about 32


2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Granulated sugar
Your favorite icing and/or decorative sugar

  1. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, then whisk in nutmeg in a medium-sized bowl.

  2. Combine the sugar and the oil together in another bowl and whisk together for a minute. Add to this mixture the egg and vanilla, and beat well. Add the flour mixture all at once and beat well. Transfer the dough to a container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You don't have to, but the dough is sticky and a short chilling time helps. (Preheat the oven to 375° 15 minutes into the cooling time, or before preparing the dough if not chilling.)

  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Measure out 1 tablespoon portions of dough and scoop out with a spoon onto the baking sheet, about 2 inches apart (I was able to get exactly 16 cookies.) The dough will still be sticky, so you need to plop out the dough balls on the exact spot you want to place it. Wetting your fingertips a bit will help keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. Lightly coat the back of a drinking glass with cooking spray, then dip it into a bowl filled with with a few tablespoons of granulated sugar. Press the cookies out 2½ inches in diameter, dipping the glass back in the sugar each time. (Sprinkle again with colored decorating sugar now if that's all you want to do.)

  4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the top of the cookies are set but still look pale. Remove sheet from oven and let cookies cool for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

  5. Once cooled, frost with your favorite frosting and decorate the tops with colored sugar or sprinkles.


20 November 2008

Everybody's Changing

People always say that change is a good thing, but what it really means is that something that you didn't want to happen, has happened.

There's no denying that we, the people, look to politicians for guidance, and that's what I did. They say that we need change, so in the vain of politicians I decided to spin the situation in a way that would most benefit my eating companions and myself, and instead of a Chinese buffet on election day, we would exercise our right to change by going to a Mexican restaurant. La Esperanza, to be a little more precise. (Where we saw a girl of Asian decent with a friend, who was Caucasian, who ordered a, and I quote, "A Mexican-style burrito." I didn't hear it when he first said it, but my brother and dad did. It struck us all as odd to order a 'Mexican-style' burrito in a Mexican restaurant, but I looked at the menu and there was a 'Burrito Mexicano', which I'm going to assume is what he meant.)

We, my dad, brother, and I, started out with a complimentary basket of tortilla chips and salsa. I think the tortilla chips are made at the restaurant, but if not they get it somewhere that makes it authentically. No fake chips here. The salsa was really good, sort of a puréed mixture instead of a chunky salsa, well-flavored, and on the medium-hot side.

My brother ordered the 'Tamal Meal', which consists of two pork tamales with a side of beans and rice, garnished with shredded lettuce. That lettuce is a garnish, and while garnishes aren't meant to be eaten, we view shredded lettuce as a faux salad. I remember my brother enjoying it, and I don't recall him saying that the filling or masa shell were dry.

Dad ordered a chimichanga with chicken filling. (I'm assuming that meant he voted against Summer, because Summer doesn't think cafeterias should serve chimineychangas.) It also came with a side of beans, rice, and the garnish of shredded lettuce. He enjoyed it.

I ordered the 'Burrito Especial', which:
An adventure in itself, if you are ready to take a risk. Our Burrito Especial is the feature burrito that continuously transforms; it's our burrito of the day.

So I went in knowing not what was going on in the heart of the burrito. But whatever, I like this restaurant, I've been here before, and I know that whatever I got it would taste good.

Which it did, but it wasn't what I expected (as you can't really tell from the very unphotogenic innards). It was mostly sautéed vegetables, I think there might have been some shredded chicken, and upon further excavating I found why I didn't get a side of rice, beans, and a garnish of lettuce (besides the fact that it didn't say it came with any on the menu). It was all inside, but not as much or in a very high ratio compared to the vegetables. Bummer, because I was hungry and I wanted something with more protein. Thankfully, my dad and brother shared their wealth of rice and beans (no garnish), because that's just the type of people they are.

Go to La Esperanza. The prices are affordable, there is a wide variety without being overkill, and I know you'll love it.

La Esperanza
1639 N. Ironwood Drive
South Bend, IN 46635

Phone: (574) 273-0345

18 November 2008


As I've talked about in previous posts, a family tradition is to make birthday crepes for each person in our family. I wouldn't say we look forward to it more than the birthday cake, but just as much.

You know how they say that the first pancake should always be tossed? I don't know what they're talking about; it never happens to me. But the first crepe of the batch always is more wonky compared to the rest, though I manage to keep it from turning into a disaster zone and it's a usable crepe in the end.

Now this is a practically perfect crepe.

I managed to get exactly fifteen crepes out of all the batter, enough for everyone to have three crepes each. That, my foodie friends, is what I call an epic situation.

I'm in the middle of a project that needs... tweaking. That's right, T-w-e-a-k-i-n-g. Usually, I roll up the crepes like a Cuban cigar, but for the future's sake I thought that it should have a different look. For this plate, I folded the crepes into a triangular shape. I like the way it looks and I'll probably do it like this for everyone from now on.

Speaking of which, what is your favorite type of crepe and how do you like to eat it?

P.S., I forgot to mention that Key Ingredient was kind enough to feature the recipe I used for baked oatmeal on their blog, The Back Burner, thus the Key Ingredient badge under on the left sidebar. Hayley wrote a very nice article, so thank you once again!

17 November 2008

Let the Celebrations Begin

The beginning of the upcoming holiday season starts early for my family, and that would be my mom's birthday. I always like to get really creative when it comes to her cake because of all the years she made mine (and those were brilliant). Last year I made her a spice cake with 7-minute frosting and poached mini pears.

This year I wanted something to make her a cake that wasn't like that, so I chose a chocolate layer cake with strawberry icing.

From The Little Big Book of Pooh by Monique Peterson, that was given to my mom by one of my brothers as a birthday gift last year, is a simple recipe for a cake that is the epitome of a birthday cake. Made in the way of a white cake with the addition of melted chocolate, the cake is moist, flavorful, and not too sweet. The icing is a traditional buttercream tinted pink, so I figured I might as well add strawberry extract.

It really becomes a Winnie the Pooh cake with on top of this cake stand!

Mom really enjoyed this cake, and she thought the pink icing made it pretty. It does look like a merry cake, which really is the point of all things Pooh Bear! (Actually, this is the cake everyone made for Eeyore's party, which is why it looks so cheery.)

Care for some cake?

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