Thursday, July 30, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake! - 7/30/2009

Cake class at Durham Tech just wrapped up this week and it's time I update on the wide and varied cakes I've been making.

Surf-day Cake 1

Surf-day Cake 2

My PI had a birthday a couple weeks ago, so I had to find out some more about him for his cake. I heard he liked surfing and had transient obsessions with Goldfish crackers. So from that I came up with this surf-day cake. The cake was vanilla with a chocolate buttercream. The sand for the beach was a combination of brown sugar and confectioners' sugar with a touch of white sprinkles. The surfboard to the side was made of gumpaste. I felt the Duke D came out nicely, but the trade-off was that my goldfish were a little rough. I think this cake was my most creative in decoration of the entire class and it went over well at our birthday get-together.

Hydrangea Cake

Last week was how to build multi-layered cakes (>3 layers). There are some architectural features that are involved in this process, such as stabilizing the layers with extra pieces of cardboard and vertical supports through lower layers. Most people in the class made cupcake-shaped cakes. I chose instead to make hydrangeas in a basket. The hardest part is determining when you're done when trimming up the cake. I would have definitely cut mine down too much if I didn't have input from my classmates. The cake was chocolate with a touch of mint. The filling was mint chocolate chip and the flowers were vanilla buttercream. Even though this cake was twice as tall as usual, almost all of it went in one day when I brought it into lab.

Sequencing Cake

My labmates loved the chocolate cake from the previous week so much, that this past week I decided to use the same recipe (scroll down for the cake recipes), except I mixed raspberry jam into the cake. For the filling I used the previous week's chocolate buttercream and mixed in some more raspberry jam and some pine nuts for a nice, soft crunch. Then I frosted the cake in vanilla buttercream. Our summer undergraduate student is leaving this week, so I decorated the cake with DNA sequence tracings as a farewell. As promised, below are the cake recipes as well as my basic buttercream recipe that can be retooled any number of ways:

Vanilla Cake - makes 3x9" round cakes

2 cups cake flour
1.75 cups + 1.5 tsp all purpose flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter
3 cups granulated sugar
0.75 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (from ~7 eggs)
1.5 cups milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray pans with nonstick cooking spray, line bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Sift together flours, baking powder and salt. Combine butter and sugar in a mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add the vanilla. Set mixer on low and gradually add the egg whites. Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk in two batches beginning with the flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl between each addition and beat just until everything is mixed together. Divide batter between pans and bake about one hour or until a tester comes out clean. Allow cakes to cool about 20 minutes then remove from pans. Wrap and store.

Chocolate Cake - makes 3x9" round cakes

2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1.25 cups + 2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1.25 cups strong coffee

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray pans with nonstick cooking spray, line bottom with parchment paper and spray again. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, combine the sour cream and extracts. In the bowl of a standing mixer beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Set mixer on low, add eggs one at a time. Alternately add the sour cream mixture and the flour mixture starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape the sides of bowl down between additions. Slowly add the coffee. Scrape down the bowl, and beat thoroughly until combined. Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake about an hour or until the toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool about 20 minutes, then remove from pans. Wrap and store.

Basic Buttercream - makes 2.75 cups

1 stick butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt
16 oz powdered sugar
3-5 tbsp milk

Beat the first 3 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add powdered sugar alternately with 3 tbsp milk (1 tbsp at a time), beating at low speed until blended and smooth after each addition. Beat in up to 2 tbsp of additional milk for desired consistency.

No comments: