Monday, May 11, 2009

Catching up with my baking

So this past week, I have been on a baking binge. I've just been baking away. First, I got a book from the library, so I wanted to try it out for my small group on Sunday. That's where the Banana-Caramel Cake came in. Then, it was Jacob and my 2nd anniversary, so naturally I wanted to make a cake for that. That's where the Black Magic Cake with Double Chocolate Frosting came in. And then I had a women's retreat that required a no-fridge dessert, where the Black Magic Cupcakes with Buttercream Dream Frosting came in. It was busy, busy, busy for me...and my kitchen was dirty, dirty, dirty.

Banana-Caramel Cake (although I will be omitting the caramel because I didn't like it)
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs

Preheat the over to 350 F. Butter two 9-by-2 inch round cake pans; line bottome sith parchment. Butter parchment and dust with four, tapping out excess; set aside. Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together mashe bananas, sour cream, and vanilla; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two parts, beating until combined after each, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the reserved banana mixture, being careful not to overmix.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cakes are golden drown and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto the rack; peel off the parchment. Reinvert cakes, and let them cool completely, top sides up.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of layers to make level. (This is where the caramel, talked about below, would have come in, but I say, fill the layers with more of the mascarpone frosting.) Using a large offset spatual, spread Mascarpone Frosting (below) over entire cake, swirling to completely cover.

Mascarpone Frosting
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1 pound mascarpone cheese
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixter fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the mascarpone, cream, and confectioners' sugar until medium-soft peaks form, 1 to 2 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat. (I was a little skeptical about this since it seemed really liquidy, but it worked out great and was sooo simple.)

This cake was a mix between a cake and banana bread. I made it at the request of Brother Frank. He's quite the character, and I wanted to make him something special. The only thing I would change is the filling. It's filled with caramelized banana slices, and I just didn't like it. I spent forever with my mandolin slicer getting the slices even, only to have them fall apart in the frying pan when I was coating them with the caramel. And the caramel did not have a very good flavor. It tasted burnt, which, I guess it could have been, but I just did not enjoy the middle at all, and it kind of ruined the flavor of the whole cake for me. I think next time I'm just put some of the mascarpone frosting in the middle. That was delicious and light.

Black Magic Cake
From My Baking Addiction

Dark Chocolate Frosting
From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

1 pound best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

6 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder

6 tablespoons boiling water

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

Pinch of salt

Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over simmer water. Turn off the heat; stir occasionally until chocolate has melted completely, about 15 minutes. Set bowl on countertop, and let chocolate cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cocoa powder and boiling water in a small bowl; stir until cocoa is dissolved.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluff, 3 to 4 minutes. Add melted choclate; beat on low speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as need. Beat in the cocoa mixture.

This was my anniversary cake. I tried to decorate it with some piping, but the frosting was a little soft. This frosting is very rich and heavy-tasting. It calls for a lot of butter, which gives you that butter feel in your mouth that kind of turns me off because it feels like I'm gaining weight. So I'm not in love with the frosting, but I am in love with the cake.

Black Magic Cupcakes

Buttercream Dream Frosting from My Baking Addiction

I made these for the ladies retreat, and I tried this new frosting. I actually liked this frosting a lot. I was afraid to add too much milk since I had had so much trouble with soft frosting so far, so this actually ended up being a little stiff. But in the end, the stiffness made the frosting look a little more like roses, so I was pleased. Especially with me decorating it at 1 in the morning, I was glad they turned out so well.

So that takes care of what I've been baking. Some sucesses, some not so much. But they are all getting eaten just the same!