Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Cake #3: Apple Cake (recipe from here)
Cake number three! I made this a couple weeks ago, but life has been crazy and I don't see it slowing down anytime soon. The holidays are coming, my birthday is coming (!!!), and Jordan is sick. Boo. Also, I may have done something crazy that will leave me with a whole lot less free time, but it could also be exactly what I've been looking for since moving here. Cryptic, huh? Oh well. Time will tell, then so will I.
Notes: Before finding this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I would have never thought to put apples in a cake. Pie? Yes. Strudel? Of course. But cake? Seemed crazy, but everything Smitten Kitchen makes looks amazing so I thought it deserved a chance. The recipe says to make the cake in a tube pan, but I didn't have one, so I used a cheesecake pan. Pretty sure this is why the edges of my cake were overcooked. The cake baked for 1 1/2 hours as instructed and the inside was perfectly moist and done, but the edges turned out black. So next time, track down a tube pan. It was a pretty simple cake to make, and besides the apple chopping and lengthy baking time, quick as well.
Review: This cake is delicious warmed up just 20 seconds in the microwave and eaten for breakfast as a sort of coffee cake. The apples were perfectly spiced, and the cake was moist and flavorful. The outside edges were overcooked, but I just scooped out the warm insides and was more than satisfied. This cake is a perfect fall cake to make and a good way to use up all those apples you don't know what to do with.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Every night, a landline phone rings twice approximately every 5 minutes in the apartment above ours. We've become deaf to it, but guests always notice it and once you hear it, you can't unhear it. Our building turned on the heat this past week which means we now fall asleep to the sounds of our clanging radiator. It, too, becomes white noise, until it wakes you up at 3 in the morning and it won't. stop. whistling. At least you think it was the radiator that woke you up, until you realize it was actually the sound of a mouse (rat?) skittering around the ceiling above you. But it's all a blurry memory by the morning. Our apartment faces an alleyway of sorts, which is home to a couple of dogs and one very ornery cat. I think one of my least favorite sounds is that of a cat in heat, something I had never heard before living in Harlem. A saxophone-playing neighbor can often be heard serenading the alleyway through his open window. He practices mainly at night, but I don't mind. You can hear dance parties on the weekends, gospel music on the weeknights. The ever present noise of neighbors climbing the stairs outside our door. When you stop and listen, you can almost always hear a honking horn or a siren, but it's easy to tune out. These sounds have become the soundtrack of my home, quietly playing in the background of my life. This is New York as I hear it.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Cake #2: Pumpkin Dream Cake with Maple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe from here)
Notes: I halved the recipe to make a three-layer 6" cake instead of a 9" cake. The cakes baked for 45 minutes, which is actually a bit longer than the recipe called for. I was expecting them to take less time. The cakes also came out a bit dense. I might add a bit more baking soda next time to make the cake a bit lighter, but maybe I did something wrong? Not exactly sure.
Review: LOVED the frosting. I wanted to just sit down with a spoon and eat it straight out of the bowl. I'm dreaming of drizzling this over cinnamon rolls. Also pancakes, french toast... broccoli. Absolutely everything. The cake itself was good, but a bit boring on its own. The recipe doesn't call for any spices, which is okay when you're eating it with the frosting, but I think next time I would add a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg. The texture was a bit dense, like I mentioned earlier, and I would have preferred a lighter cake. But overall, the cake was excellent paired with the frosting and perfect to make for this time of year.
Two cakes down, thirty-eight to go!
Monday, October 14, 2013
Cake #1: Sweet Potato Cake with Molasses Buttercream (recipe from here)
Notes: The original recipe is for a three-layer 9" cake, but I decided to make a two-layer 6" cake instead. I halved the recipe which was pretty easy, although I did have a couple of mishaps in terms of the baking time. But thats the whole point of this project, right? Live and learn! Or something.
First, because I only made two layers, the batter filled 3/4 of each pan before going in the oven and I should have planned on them taking longer to bake. That's the tricky part about changing the pan size/number of layers - you really have to keep an eye on when the cakes are done. I took them out too soon, after about 35 minutes. They weren't completely done so I stuck them back in the oven for another 20 minutes. But because I had kept them out too long to cool between baking, they sunk in a bit. I think the cake was a little more dense than it should have been, but the flavor was still great. Next time, I'll make 3 layers and make certain the cake is actually finished baking before removing it from the oven.
Next time I make this frosting, I think I'll start with half the amount of molasses. Turns out I'm not a super big fan of molasses and I ended up adding an extra cup of powdered sugar and a splash of milk to help dilute the taste a bit.
Review: I loved the sweet potato cake. Great blend of fall spices and sweet potatoes, and it tasted a bit like an apple cake. The frosting was good, but I think next time I'll pair this cake with a cream cheese frosting instead. I'll admit that the molasses frosting grew on me when I tried it together with the cake, but the flavor was just a bit too strong for my liking.
Thumbs up for the first of many cakes to be baked this next year! I've already got plans for another fall-related cake this weekend :)
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
I've been craving a good project lately, one I can really sink my teeth into (punny). I have a lot of free time now that Jordan is in class at night and I've been finding myself on my couch watching Netflix night after night. Basically, I need something more to live for than new episodes of Nashville. I wanted to do something that would help me improve one of my skills, thus the idea of 40 Cakes was born. I love making cakes just as much as I like eating them, but can't say that I'm any sort of professional. Yet ;)
Starting this weekend, I am going to attempt to make 40 different cakes in 365 days. This averages out to be 3-4 cakes per month, and although that sounds a bit intimidating, I am so excited I can hardly wait to begin. I plan on making as many different kinds of cakes as possible: layer cakes, cheesecakes, ice cream cakes, pound cakes, fondant cakes. If you have a recipe that I should try, send it this way! My goal is that one year from now, I'll be a more skillful and diverse baker. So here we go.
One mint-colored Kitchenaid.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Thursday was Jordan's birthday so we celebrated all. weekend. long. I'm completely exhausted today, but my stomach is saying "WORTH IT". Jordan had class on his birthday until 10 pm so I had dinner waiting for him when he got home (he requested these, excellent choice) and a big ole pile of donuts stacked with candles. He's not the biggest fan of cakes, so this year I just embraced his love for donuts and stopped by Donut Pub on the way home. I cleaned them fresh out of their Boston Cremes because those are his favorite. Also, did you know that donuts are becoming a "thing?" They're the totally the new cupcake and man is it getting hard to find a decently priced and non-over-hyped donut these days. I digress.
After dinner and presents and donut-inhaling, we jumped into bed and started Season 3 of Walking Dead (now on Netflix!) on Jordan's iPad until 2 in the morning. It was low-key but I just have to say, it feels completely luxerious to watch a movie in bed. You can turn the lights off, drift off when your eyes refuse to stay open anymore, and you don't have to move rooms once the movie's over. A dream come true for this chronic movie-sleeper. Usually, we're both sprawled across our one couch and fighting for legroom. First world problems, eh? ;)
Friday night we took the train to White Plains where we met Jordan's family for dinner at Cheesecake Factory. It's proooobably (one of?) our favorite place(s) to eat and I'm incredibly angry/confused/surprised that there isn't one in the city. How rude to make us leave this food mecca in search of 2,000 calorie salads and 50 choices of cheesecake. I mean, come on already. We ordered our favorites and got cheesecake to go. We stayed in CT Friday night and chilled with the family Saturday while watching conference. Then we headed back into the city later that night and celebrated with burgers and shakes with some friends at Shake Shack. We covered alllll our bases to make sure this birthday was properly celebrated ;)
Congratulations on turning 25, Jordan! Thanks for paving the way for me. I hope 25 looks just as wonderful on me next month.