Friday, June 27, 2008

Good Morning Angel

I love orange juice in the morning, I love orange angel food cake with mandarin orange whip cream and orange syrup even better. I wish I had an exciting tale of mystery and adventure to find this recipe, or maybe a heart-wrenching drama soaked story of one of my good friends. But the truth is, I worked late last night, and decided that I would bake an Angel Food cake and go for a stationary bike ride in the get-skinny-room (aka the gym) to relieve the stress. I love baking Angel Food cake, it allows you to feel very accomplished as a baker by a very unmerited means. Also, it just happens that my work out and cake clocks are roughly the same 35 minutes is about my max for both. The inspiration for the topping came from… where else… orange juice this morning.

Orange Angel Food Cake

1 3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cake flour, sifted
1 ¼ cup of egg whites (12 eggs if you do it the old fashioned way but I bought the egg whites in a carton)
1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon orange extract, or extract of your choice
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Crank it (Preheat oven) 350 degrees F. In your handy-dandy electric chopper (food processor) blitz sugar about 2 minutes until it is superfine. Divide your spun sugar in half: 1) bowl sift half of the sugar with the salt the cake flour, 2) in the other bowl save the slashed sugar to sprinkle in a minute.

In mother’s little helper (your electric mixing stand) with the large bowl and the whisk attachment on: add the egg whites, water, orange extract, and cream of tartar. Spin on medium speed for about 2 minutes, or just enough time to put everything back where it belongs. (I know no precision what so ever my analytical chemistry teacher would be horrified.) Slowly add in the reserved sugar and whip on high for a few minutes until those alpine white soft peaks are formed. This is the hard part; I have a weakness for meringue. But I was strong and I folded in the flour/sugar/salt mix. The second everything is wet, not fully mixed, just wet enough to pour, use the same spatula and pour the mixture into ungreased (no pam, no butter, nada) tube pan. You want one that the bottom comes out otherwise… cake unleashing drama later.

Immediately, put in the oven to bake for a bike ride or 35 minutes. You never want to under bake an angel food cake it ends up looking like a sad soufflé and tasting even more depressing. The top will be browned and crackled, the house will smell like a candy shop, and a tooth pick will come out clean.

Voila, your very own Angel Food Cake. Now, turn the cake upside down and let it cool there for an hour or so. I let mine stay out all night… wild thing. Then using a sharp knife cut around the edges to release.

Orange Syrup

3 cups fresh orange juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange peel
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon orange extract

Pour everything save the butter and extract into a heavy bottomed pan on high heat. Let the delicious syrup-to-be come to boil and stir occasionally. After about 20 minutes or so, the flavors will concentrate and the juices reduced. Turn off the stove top and add the butter and extract. Whisk-it baby and then pour.

Mandarin Orange Whipped Cream

Couldn’t be easier take a tub of whipped topping or whip the cream yourself, add a can of drained mandarin oranges. Fold in and serve…

Deliciouso… Well, I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and maybe just maybe make something yummy for breakfast tomorrow. As always, much love and happy baking!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer Camp Cookies

As the New Kids on the Block sing summertime, I too am rejoicing this summer with ROCK’S BEACH WEEK! Sun, fun, praise and worship! Could this be more awesome?

The ROCK aka McLean Bible Church Senior High Ministry just came back from Myrtle Beach for Beach Week… Holla! It was awesome to see 375 students sing praises to the Lord and truly be changed by one week away from home. The only drawback is the ridiculously long bus ride to South Carolina. How do you fix this… “What a girl wants” and Peanut Butter with Chocolate Chip Cookies.
So this is a super easy recipe and it makes 50-60 cookies, but feel free to cut it in half if you are not feeding a bus full of beach-bound teenagers.

1 c. butter
1 c. peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 beaten egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. flour
10 oz or a full package of chocolate chips

Crank that oven to 350 F.

This is super fast in your mixer but you can do it by hand too. Plop all your ingredients into your mixer; I threw everything including the chips. On a foil wrapped and Pam sprayed cookie sheets I used my handy dandy mini scooper to dollop out teaspoonfuls of deliciously decadent cookie batter morsels. Then with a fork I made the archetypal crisscross pattern a top.

Bake until gracefully browned about 10 minutes later, the house was infused with the scent of delicious peanut butter delights. The cookies will still be very soft but a chill out period on some wire racks will bestow the perfect consistency of slightly crisp edges and gooey centers. As the cookies cooled on racks I could already catch a glimpse of my happy hyper adolescent automobile riders… off to the beach.

Much love, happy baking, and happy beaching.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Blythe’s Honey Cake

So my great friend Blythe is taking her honey to the chapel of love in August. In celebration of her fabulousness and her soon to be nuptials all the girls got together to shower her with love and best wishes. But since we were talking about the birds and the bees what could be more appropriate then a honey bee hive cake. What makes this delightful sweet is not the cake itself, but the honey lavender glaze.

The cake:

2 sticks organic unsalted butter, left out overnight
3 cups sugar bowl sugar
1 cup sour cream (full fat, full stop)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Crank it (oven) to 325 degrees F. Pam spray (or butter for you work-harders) and flour your baking receptacle of choice and set aside. I have the cutest bee hive mold that I got Williams and Sonoma, but any cake pan will work.

In your electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together until it is a light and airy consistency maybe 5 minutes on high. So as my brother says, “drive it like you stole it.” Slow the mixers down to add the indulgent amount of os sour cream, in one glorious dollop of tart cream. Add your eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Add extracts and stir to combine. Sift flour and baking soda together and add to creamed mixture. Decant the happy concoction into your prepared pan and bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Cool cake in pan until it is cool enough to handle, and then turn out onto a wire rack. Cakes are like hockey players, when their hot, you can’t do anything with them, so let it cool.

Honey Lavender Glaze

½ cup of sugar bowl sugar
½ cup of honey (I love that little bear)
½ cup of filtered water
1 tablespoon of edible grade lavender
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan add all the ingredients and stir until slightly thickened and all of the sugar has melted. Maybe 3-4 minutes, but not much longer otherwise you will have a caramel, which is not necessarily bad and maybe a good idea for next time. Let it cool on the stove for a few minutes and then pass through as sieve to discard the lavender petals. Pour warm over the cake to soak in.
You don’t need to be singing “How sweet it is to be loved by you” when you are making the cake, but it kind of helps. You also don’t need a friend who is getting married; I made an extra batch to bring one into the office so we could spread the love around.
Cheers to you Blythe! Congratulations, much love, much laughter, healthy children, and happily ever after.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Meg’s Birthday Cake

So last Friday night Meg's Fan Club, aka her husband and friends, toasted our birthday girl in celebration of her lastest spectacular achievement: surviving another crazy year in this mad, mad world. Here is a peak at the cake: Chocolate Buttercream Cake with Milk Chocolate and Contrieau Frosting. If you have a friend named Meg, and it is her birthday, please also make her this delicious cake (very yummy batter, very yummy frosting.) Also I encourage you to make this cake even if you have no friends named Meg and it is indeed not her birthday.
Word of caution: This recipe is gi-normous. I was afraid it wouldn’t fit in my mixer. It yields 2 very large 9 in cake layers, and 8 cupcakes. I would say feel free to ½ the recipe. Or more so… feel free to indulge.
The usual suspects:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose regular flour
2 cups good cocoa powder (apparently there is a difference in processing, so like dating, go Dutch, well atleast until you know him better)
1 tablespoon baking soda (soda, not powder, how many times…)
1/2 teaspoon free flow table salt (if you are using sea salt, add after sifting)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) good unsalted butter, at apartment temperature
1 1/3 cups regular, sugar-bowl sugar
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar, oppressed until submission into the bottom of the measuring cup
4 extra-large eggs, at kitchen temperature
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 cups buttermilk, at counter temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup brewed coffee, not hot

So first things first, before bed fish out all you need for this cake, you can choose to measure it out or not, but leave it all out, overnight, on the counter. It won’t spoil, just leave it out, the temperature difference inhibit proper combination in the mixing process. Wow, sorry, can you tell I’m a technical writer for the benjamins. What I mean, like Nike, just do it, it will make a difference in the cake tasting yummyness factor.

In the a.m. make yourself a cup-a-joe and reserve a quarter cup for the cake.

Crank the oven to 350 degrees F. Pam spray your baking vessels. I used two round 8X3in cake a pans and a cupcake mold for the leftovers.
Ok now the dry’s… dry ingredients are like men or subcontractors, they need their own special treatment, sifting, fluffing, and pampering for them to work. Take the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl, on a piece of parchment paper so you can funnel it to your mixer. I learned the parchment paper trick from Bobby Flay…ahhh, starry eyes and cartoon hearts popping over head (just kidding).

In your favorite electric mixer with paddle attachment…ahhh, starry eyes and cartoon hearts popping over head (I’m serious). On high speed, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy like an indie film cloud. Break open the eggs and vanilla and add to your creamed sugar and butter, then add in the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. Slow down your mixer and then add the flour mixture. I can not count how many times I have left it on high, and engulfed myself and my kitchen in a tsunami like wave of white powder. Let the mixer go just until everyone is acquainted, if you wait too long… the Cake Nazi says, “No rise for you, make another cake!
Pour the batter into your baking vehicles and send to the oven for a good cooking. It took mine a good hour and 20 minutes. But it is worth it. Cool it on a wire rack. I baked this before work, and iced after, so plenty of time for the frosting not to melt and do a one-cake homage to melting face in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when they open the Ark.

Now the super good stuff: the Cointreau Icing

1 bag or a full pound (16 oz.) milk chocolate
3/4 of a bag or so of hazelnut chocolate
3/4 cup egg whites, I use the pasteurized version, but 4 egg whites from the more natural shelled persuasion should do you choose
1 1/2 cups sugar-bowl sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon table free-flow salt
3 sticks of good quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 teaspoons instant coffee, Taster’s Choice, whatever…
3 tablespoons Cointreau

This is a 3 step process: 1) melt chocolate, 2) make meringue, 3) take chocolate, meringue, and butter to make buttercream.

1) This is a lot of chocolate, and while normally I big proponent of the microwave method, I made double boiler with a metal bowl and a pot of boiling water, because of the shear amount. Chop the chocolates and add to your improvised double boiler. Stir deliciousness until almost completely melted and set aside to cool. Leave the water pan to simmer.

2) In another heat proof bowl, this time I used the mixing bowl of my kitchenade. Mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl, and whisk. Place over your simmering water, (I love double duty), and let it heat up until sugar melts into the liquid. The concoction will turn a light white, continue to mix, touching the sugar goo every few seconds. In about 3 minutes, or when the good is warm to the finger tip, put back on your electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip it into high gear for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak. I like to take this opportunity to dance around the kitchen to Devo’s Whip It.

3) Slow down the party and take your mixture to medium speed. Add the butter, a tablespoon or so at a time. You will have to scrape down the bowl, to fully incorporate. Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and Cointreau. I was icing a lot of cake, so I let the mixer beat air into the buttercream for about 5 minutes. But please stop when your frosting has reached your desired consistency.

Also, ancient Sandy trick to frosting: Sandy say, “If runny, you must add powdered sugar. If too thick, you must add water. No recipe can tell how much, only finger.”

Happy Birthday Meg! Cheers to you my wonderful friend. I am grateful that Providence saw to bless me with such a good, fun, funny, and kind friend. I hope you get your birthday wish!

To all of you, much love, Happy Birthday, and happy baking.