Strawberry Cream Cake

Strawberry Cream Cake

Strawberry shortcake is one of my favorite desserts. You can’t go wrong with pound cake, whipped cream and fresh, juicy berries. Sadly, this dessert has to be assembled right before serving, because the juices from the berries usually makes the cake soggy and the whipped cream deflates fairly quickly.

However, leave it to Cooks Illustrated to come up with a way to solve the common problems that strawberry shortcake presents. This whipped cream contains cream cheese, which keeps the whipped cream from deflating, and after macerating the berries, the recipe calls for you to reduce the juice to a syrup to avoid the standard soggy shortcake.

The results? This dessert ended up tasting fantastic. I brought it to a BBQ, and it wasn’t served until a few hours later, and it still tasted just like freshly assembled shortcake. Perfection. I wish I made this back when it was strawberry season out here. As you can see in the picture, the strawberries definitely were not local. :-(

Strawberry Cream Cake
Source: Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup sugar (7 ounces)
  • 5 large eggs (2 whole and 3 separated), room temperature
  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter , melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Strawberry Filling:

  • 2 lbs. fresh strawberries (medium or large, about 2 quarts), washed, dried, and stemmed
  • 4 – 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. Kirsch (Note: I didn’t use this ingredient and the cake came out fine)
  • pinch salt

Whipped Cream

  • 8 oz. cream cheese , room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Directions:

  1. For the cake, move the oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a round 9 by 2-inch cake pan or a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and all but 3 tablespoons sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk in 2 whole eggs and 3 yolks (reserving whites for later), butter, water, and vanilla; whisk until smooth.
  3. In clean bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat remaining 3 egg whites at medium-low speed until frothy, 1 to 2 minutes. With machine running, gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until soft peaks form, 60 to 90 seconds. Stir one-third of whites into batter to lighten. Then, add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto greased wire rack; peel off and discard parchment. Invert cake again; cool completely, about 2 hours.
  5. For the strawberry filling, halve 24 of best-looking berries and reserve for later. Quarter remaining berries; toss with 4 to 6 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of berries) in medium bowl and let sit 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Strain juices from berries and reserve (you should have about 1/2 cup). In a food processor fitted with metal blade, give macerated berries five 1-second pulses (you should have about 1 1/2 cups). In small saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer reserved juices and Kirsch until syrupy and reduced to about 3 tablespoons, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour reduced syrup over macerated berries, add pinch of salt, and toss to combine. Set aside until cake is cooled.
  7. For the whipped cream, when the cake has fully cooled, place the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk the mixture at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in the heavy cream. When almost fully combined, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture holds stiff peaks, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more, scraping bowl as needed (you should have about 4 1/2 cups).
  8. To assemble the cake, using large serrated knife, carefully slice cake into three even layers.
  9. Place bottom layer of cake on a cardboard round or cake plate and arrange ring of 20 strawberry halves, cut sides down and stem ends facing out, around perimeter of cake layer. Pour one half of pureed berry mixture (about 3/4 cup) in center, then spread to cover any exposed cake. Gently spread about one-third of whipped cream (about 1 1/2 cups) over berry layer, leaving 1/2-inch border from edge. Place middle cake layer on top and press down gently (whipped cream layer should become flush with cake edge). Repeat with 20 additional strawberry halves, remaining berry mixture, and half of remaining whipped cream; gently press last cake layer on top. Spread remaining whipped cream over top; decorate with remaining cut strawberries. Serve, or chill for up to 4 hours.

Gooey Butter Cake

Gooey Butter Cake

When I was researching recipes that St. Louis was known for, I remember consistently seeing gooey butter cake. I thought, gooey and butter? This has to be on the menu! It sounded like it would be a fabulous dessert for the party we held!

I have to admit, I was a little thrown because part of the cake involves yeast. I’ve honestly never baked a cake with yeast before, so I was worried about how this cake would taste. Yeast just screamed bread to me, and bread isn’t really what I would consider to be dessert. However, this cake wasn’t bread-like at all in the end! The bottom yeasty layer was more like a cookie with a warm gooey layer of sweet goodness on top. It was especially fabulous with a scoop of ice cream, and I think this cake would even be more amazing with summer berries!

Gooey Butter Cake
Source: Smitten Kitchen, from The New York Times

Ingredients:

For the cake

  • 3 tablespoons milk at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping

  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for sprinkling.

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, mix the milk with 2 tablespoons warm water. Add the yeast and stir gently until the mixture dissolves. The mixture should slightly foam while mixing.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar and salt in a mixer, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg. Once that is mixed in, alternate between adding the flour and the milk mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition. Once everything is well mixed, switch to a dough hook on your mixer and knead the dough for an additional 7 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stretch and spread dough by hand into a buttered 9×13 glass dish. Lightly cover dish with plastic wrap or clean towel, put in a warm place, and allow to rise until doubled, which is about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  5. To prepare the gooey butter topping, in a small bowl, whisk corn syrup with 2 tablespoons water and the vanilla. Cream butter, sugar and salt in a mixer until light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the egg. Once the egg is mixed in, alternate between adding the flour and corn syrup mixture, scraping down sides of bowl between each addition.
  6. Using a spoon, add the topping in large dollops over the risen cake layer, and use an offset spatula to gently spread it in an even layer. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it has a golden brown top. The cake will still be liquid in the center when it is done baking. Once the cake is cool in the pan, sprinkle on confectioners’ sugar and enjoy!

Foodbuzz 24×24: A Culinary Journey Down the Muddy Mississippi

When I was a little kid, I had such trouble spelling “Mississippi”. Was it too many “s”s or the double “p” that threw me for a loop? I just couldn’t get it. My house was less than a tenth of a mile away from the river, and I just couldn’t spell it. That bothered me. My parents taught us a little fun way to spell it eventually, and now I can’t ever spell Mississippi wrong. When in doubt, I tell myself “M-i-s-s… I-s-s…i.P.P.i”. There was an emphasis on the cap letters, so it became a bit of a rhythm to say it in my head that way before spelling it out.

Since I grew up living so close to the Mississippi, I’ve seen the river have its ups and downs. Literally. When the river gets high in the Spring, boats appear like they are floating on the levee. And of course, when it gets low, you’ll barely see the tops of the boats. It’s crazy how much it varies, and this year was no exception. For the first time in almost 40 years, the river was so high that the Corps of Engineers had to open a spillway north of Baton Rouge in order to save New Orleans and Baton Rouge from catastrophic flooding. Sadly, this spillway isn’t just land. People actually built their homes and farms in the spillway, so they had to evacuate. While I’m glad that nothing catastrophic happened to our big cities, it still hurts to know that some people suffered from this.

While I was watching a news segment about the river one night, I couldn’t help but think about the massive journey that the water takes. All the way north from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. There are so many different cities that the river just flows by, and my husband had the greatest idea. A culinary journey down the river–from Minneapolis all the way to New Orleans. Our party idea featured foods that are notorious in the major cities along the river: Minneapolis, St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans. I was so stoked when Foodbuzz let me know that our party proposal had been accepted for this month’s 24×24, so I called up our families and had them over for this awesome party!

For Minneapolis, we grilled up the famous Juicy Lucy burger! You can’t go wrong with a cheese stuffed burger, and this burger was one of the favorites of the meal!

Jucy Lucy

For St. Louis, we baked a gooey butter cake. We served it with ice cream and various summer fruit sorbets. The cake is a yeast based batter on the bottom and of course, a gooey butter base layer on top. Many of us (myself included) have never had a gooey butter cake, but it was a great hit! I think next time, this would go perfectly with some fresh fruit.

Gooey Butter Cake

For Memphis, we made some fabulous BBQ Baby Back ribs. This was my first time ever working with ribs, and it really wasn’t that bad. These were very flavorful ribs and super tender, since they were in an oven for a good part of the morning before finishing off on the grill!

BBQ Baby Back Ribs

And of course, for New Orleans, we made some grilled corn grits. Grits are a favorite around here, and in one of our favorite restaurants, this is how they make the grits. It’s fabulously rich and flavorful! You probably don’t want to know how much heavy cream and butter are in these grits, but I’ll tell you anyway later when I post the recipe! :-)

Corn Grits

Oh, and since we’re all from Louisiana, we had to add in a little lagniappe for NOLA: Hurricanes. I mean, how could you NOT? For a hot, summer day, these are always a hit!

Hurricane

*all recipes will be shared on the blog at a later date*

It was so wonderful to spend time with our families, and I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the food. You know it was a good party when people ask for the leftovers and recipes as they’re leaving! :-)

Dessert Time

Family

Thanks so much to Foodbuzz for making this party happen! We really enjoyed the different foods from cities along the river, and also had a blast spending time together!

 

Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes

Birthday Cupcakes

So, my husband turned 29 last week. The big 2-9. I always joke around with him that he robbed the cradle (I’m 27), and now I can joke with him that he’s turning 30 next year bwahaha! :-P (No offense to those of you over the age of 30…I really don’t think 30 is old!)

Every year, I offer to make him a cake, but usually, we meet up with his parents and they get him a cake from his favorite bakery. Double the cake just isn’t necessary. However, this year, we won’t be celebrating his birthday for a couple of weeks with his parents, so the opportunity opened for this baking addict to make him some birthday cake! I asked him what he would like, and my husband is very simple…he wanted a yellow cake with either lemon or pineapple filling.

So, the search for a good yellow cake was on. Of course, I had to refer to The Way the Cookie Crumbles first. Bridget posts these awesome recipe comparisons that take all of the guess work out of wondering which recipe would be the best, and thankfully, she already did the work of comparing yellow cake recipes!

I ended up making the recipe from Cooks Illustrated. I have to say, this cake came out great! It had a great, buttery flavor and were, as the recipe claims, very fluffy. It was also fairly easy to make, and I really think the whipped egg whites lend to the light texture that the cupcakes had. After they cooled, I filled them with lemon curd using the cone method and frosted them with easy vanilla buttercream.

Oh, and pardon the cupcake pictures. I made these cupcakes late at night, and the foil I wrapped them lightly in (or so I thought) ended up messing up the tops. Oh well..still yummy!

Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes
Source: Cooks Illustrated, found on The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups (10 ounces) cake flour, plus extra for dusting pans
  • 1¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • 1¾ cups (12.25 ounces) sugar
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 6 large egg yolks plus 3 large egg whites, at room temperature

Directions:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake papers in the cupcake pan.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1½ cups (10.5 ounces) sugar together in a large bowl. In a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and yolks.
  3. In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, gradually add the remaining ¼ cup (1.75 ounces) sugar; continue to beat until stiff peaks just form, 30 to 60 seconds (whites should hold peak but mixture should appear moist). Transfer to another bowl and set aside.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the now-empty mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment. With the mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in the butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape the whisk and sides of the bowl. Return the mixer to medium-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10 to 15 seconds.
  5. Using rubber spatula, stir ⅓ of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add the remaining whites and gently fold into the batter until no white streaks remain. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared cake pans. Lightly tap the pans against the counter 2 or 3 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.
  6. Bake for about 15-18 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out cleanly.. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack until cooled.

Lemon Curd

Lemon Curd

Curd is such a weird word. It reminds me of curdle, which is rather unappetizing, and when I mentioned it on Twitter, some people said curd reminded them of turd. Haha! Wait, did I just say turd on a food blog? Why yes, yes I did.

However, curd tastes nothing like a turd. Not that I’ve ever tasted a turd. Ok…back to this curd.

I’ve always been curious about making a citrus curd, but I’m not a fan of desserts where lemon or lime is main component. However, my husband loves lemon. At our wedding, his groom’s cake was a tiered king cake, with the main tier having lemon filling. Blech…

So, for my husband’s birthday, I asked him what he’d like to have on his birthday. He requested yellow cake with pineapple or lemon filling. Well, I decided to make lemon filled cupcakes this time around, since I selfishly wanted to make a curd. :-) This was the perfect filling for the cupcakes that I made (which I’ll blog about soon). It was thick enough for a filling, and according to my husband and his coworkers, this tasted delicious!

Lemon Curd
Source: Williams-Sonoma

Ingredients:

  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine the egg yolks and sugar and whisk for 1 minute.
  2. Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk for 1 minute more. Set the pan over low heat and cook gently, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Cover tightly and allow to refrigerate fully before serving. Makes about 1 cup.

Cooking for Kids

Diet Cupcakes

When I was a kid, I jumped at every chance to help my mom cook or bake. I found it so cool to be a part of making dinner or baking goodies, so I know one day when I have kids, they will get as many chances as I did to be a little sous chef.

Frigidaire has a website featuring a Kids’ Cooking Academy, which encourages families to come together in the kitchen and make the meal happen together. I think this is a great idea, since cooking can be such a blast for kids!

When I was an education major at one point in my indecisive college career, I realized how much kids LOVE color. They go crazy over colorful things. So, I wanted to share with you this  fun idea for rainbow cupcakes that will probably bring out the kid in you, and heck, if you have a kid, they would enjoy throwing these together with you, too!

I made mine in Valentine’s Day colors, but you can go all out with a full rainbow if you’d like.

I usually use this white cake recipe for cupcakes, but since I’m trying to lose weight, I used an old stand-by cupcake recipe that is pretty popular at Weight Watchers meetings. This also explains why my cupcakes are naked…buttercream isn’t very Weight Watchers friendly. :-(

Diet Cupcakes
Source: not sure, but someone at Weight Watchers is a genius

Ingredients:

  • 1 box cake mix (any flavor)
  • 1 1/4 cup of diet soda (any flavor)

Directions:

  1. Mix cake mix and soda together. Place in cupcake tins and bake as directed.

King Cake

King Cake

As of January 6th, it’s now the Carnival season! Of course, this means king cakes are back in stores. I absolutely love king cake. It’s a sweet, yeast bread with cinnamon and topped with icing and colored sugars (I made mine in black/gold for the Saints game on Saturday.). They make king cakes with so many fillings too, from cream cheese to apple to bavarian cream! This time, I made a plain king cake, since people are pretty particular about what fillings they like with king cake. :)

I’ve made king cake before, and it turned out tasting like bread. It was NOT king cake. This recipe, however, is MUCH better. This recipe actually comes from Haydel’s Bakery, which is where we had our wedding cake and groom’s cake (which was a tiered king cake) made. I found it fairly easy to make too, however, I think their recipe would be much better if you ice and sugar after baking, which is different than what their recipe suggested. When I made it their way (bake with sugar already sprinkled on), most of us just pulled the chunks of sugar off of the king cake while eating it.

King Cake
Source: adapted from WWLTV via Haydel’s Bakery

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup all purpose shortening
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 lg. eggs
  • 1 cup milk (room temperature)
  • 2 sm. packs active dry yeast
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp orange zest
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp butter extract
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

For the icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. water

For the colored sugars:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar for each color that you want to make
  • assorted food coloring

Directions:

  1. In a mixer at first speed combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar, salt, and shortening until well creamed. Add eggs and continue to cream.
  2. Dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the flavors. Once dissolved add to creamed mixture and continue to mix.
  3. Add flour a cup at a time and mix until dough tightens.
  4. Remove from mixer and knead into a ball. At this point sprinkle some flour on top and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest for 1½ hours.
  5. While the dough is resting mix your colored sugars and icing. Mix the 1/2 cup of sugar with a few drops of food coloring until the color you reach is desired.
  6. For the icing, whisk the confectioners sugar with the water and vanilla.
  7. When dough has rested roll out into an oblong piece. Brush on canola oil covering the entire piece. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar liberally over the whole piece.
  8. Once the dough is covered with the cinnamon sugar and oil, fold it in half lengthwise. Cut into 3 strips and braid the dough. Gently roll the dough by starting at one end and working all the way down to the other end. This will make the dough a nice long piece that can then be shaped into a circle. Once shaped place on a baking pan covered with piece of parchment.
  9. Allow the dough to rest again until it doubles in size. Bake at 370 degrees F for 12-15 minutes until dough is golden brown.
  10. Let the cake cool and spread the icing on top. Then, sprinkle with your colored sugars. Enjoy!

Blueberry Cupcakes w/ Maple Brown Butter Frosting

Blueberry Cupcakes with Maple Browned Butter Icing

I haven’t baked much lately. With the Summer being so dang hot, I just didn’t want to use the oven much at all. Now that the weather is starting to lend us small glimpses into the Fall, I decided that it was time to start baking again.

Would you believe me if I told you that I literally have 1/4 cup of flour left in my house and maybe a cup of sugar after this recipe was done? I’m usually very well stocked on the baking staples, but like I said, I haven’t been baking. I guess it’s time to hit the store sometime soon…oops!

About a week or so ago, I read about a Bake -N- Blog challenge that Jesstagirl and her Officer was organizing. I thought this would serve as a great way to get back into baking. Cupcakes are quick and easy. I got to choose out of ALL of these cupcakes. When it came to choosing, I avoided chocolate, caramel, peanut butter…all the things that I love, but my husband does not. I chose #19: Blueberry Cupcakes with Maple Brown Butter Frosting, because I know my husband likes blueberries and if worse comes to worse, I can skip the icing on a couple in case he isn’t such a fan of it. :)

This cupcake was very simple to put together and pretty darn tasty! The icing reminds me a lot of a butterscotch candy, which was fine on its own, but together, I found that the cupcake/icing combination just wasn’t quite right. I think for next time, I would make a blueberry buttercream or plain buttercream with these cupcakes.

Blueberry Cupcakes w/ Maple Brown Butter Frosting
Source: Ming Makes Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp. maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix flour, granulated sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the 1/2 cup of (cooled) melted butter with the egg and add the buttermilk and milk. Mix well.
  3. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix until blended. Fold in blueberries.
  4. Scoop into a cupcake pan and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool.
  5. For the icing: Put the 1 stick of butter in a small pot and cook on low/medium low until it it a golden brown color. Be careful not to burn the butter.
  6. Place the butter in a bowl and add the confectioners sugar. Mix well.
  7. Add the milk and maple syrup and mix until smooth.

Strawberry Cake

Strawberry Cake

I was very surprised to see that most of you were curious about the strawberry cake recipe. It’s probably the easiest thing to make out of the menu, but also a refreshing crowd pleaser!

I got this idea from a local bakery. In fact, I wanted to buy this cake since my party menu was ambitious enough. I had a Groupon type of gift card to redeem there for anything in the bakery case, and when I got there, sure enough, there were already made strawberry cakes in the case. However, my dreams of having one less thing to worry about came to a halt when the employee, who probably can’t legally drive a car yet, told me that the refrigerator case isn’t ::technically:: their bakery case, so I’d have to buy the cake for $31. I was totally aggravated that there were buttercream cakes in what she considered the “bakery case”, but the whipped topping strawberry cake that was in a different case, because it needed to be at a colder temperature, was not the “bakery case”. Seriously folks, what the heck?!

So, this cake is NOT entirely from scratch folks. This recipe involves boxed cake mix. I would have driven myself batty making a cake from scratch with everything else I was working on. Not one guest seemed to mind, and trust me, you won’t either. The whipped topping makes this cake!

Strawberry Cake
inspired by a local bakery that has a ridiculous definition for a “bakery case”

Ingredients:

  • Duncan Hines french vanilla cake mix
  • 1 1/3 Cups Water
  • 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Bake cake in two 8″ or 9″ pans according to instructions. Allow layers to completely cool.
  2. Take 10 of the strawberries and puree them in a blender or food processor. Hull and slice the rest of the strawberries into fairly thin slices.
  3. Put heavy whipping cream in a mixer and just mix until it starts to thicken and barely form peaks. Add in confectioners sugar and mix until the whipped cream makes stiff peaks. Be careful not to overmix.
  4. Fold in 3 tbsp. of the strawberry puree and vanilla extract and allow to set in the fridge for a few minutes, while you carve the cake layers to be flat.
  5. Take the whipped cream out and carefully fold in sliced strawberries.
  6. Ice cake with the whipped cream/strawberry mixture. Allow to set in the fridge and serve immediately.

Note: This cake does really well  if you individually freeze leftover slices and allow to defrost at room temperature until ready to eat. That is, IF you have leftovers!

4th of July Cupcakes

4th of July Cupcakes

Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope y’all have a great holiday with family and friends!

Today, hubs and I are headed over to the in-laws for a seafood feast. I cannot wait! We volunteered to bring dessert, and I knew this would be the perfect opportunity to make some cute cupcakes!

I’ve been wanting to make a white cupcake from scratch for a while now, and when it came to finding the perfect recipe, a fellow blogger (The Way the Cookie Crumbles) wrote an amazing post comparing white cake recipes to find the best one! In the end, Cook’s Illustrated’s version was one of the front runners (no surprise there).

I decided to go all festive and make red, white and blue batter. Why not?

Festive Cake Batter

I had some fun assembling these cupcakes too. I tried layering (top cupcake) and marbling lightly with a toothpick (bottom cupcake). Both are equally fun and cute!

Cupcakes Dissected

I’ll admit, this recipe is very yummy! It wasn’t overwhelming, like wedding cake, and was surprisingly very moist as well. I topped the cupcakes with frosting that was another recommendation from The Way the Cookie Crumbles. It kicks Wilton frosting’s booty, for sure! Just really yummy and simple to make. I wouldn’t recommend this frosting for making decorations since it is very soft, but for spreading over a cake, heck yes! This is my new favorite. :)

Classic White Cupcakes
Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles (originally from Cooks Illustrated)

Ingredients:

  • 2¼ cups cake flour (9 ounces)
  • 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites (¾ cup), at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1¾ cups granulated sugar (12¼ ounces)
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), softened but still cool

Directions:

  1. Set oven rack in middle position. (If oven is too small to cook both layers on a single rack, set racks in upper-middle and lower-middle positions.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put cupcake liners in cupcake pan/pans.
  2. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.
  3. Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
  4. Add all but ½ cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1½ minutes. Add remaining ½ cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
  5. Scoop batter into cupcake liners until 2/3 full. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 14-18 minutes.
  6. Let cupcakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and place on cooling rack. Let cool completely, about 1½ hours.

Easy Vanilla Buttercream
Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles (originally from Cooks Illustrated)

Ingredients:

  • 20 tablespoons (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2½ cups Confectioners’ sugar (10 ounces)
  • 1/8 tablespoons table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:

  1. In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl.
  3. Add vanilla and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.