Sour Cream Coffee Cake

March 26, 2011

I have to admit that I am a huge sucker for baked goods with sour cream in it. I think sour cream adds that creaminess and a tang flavor that contrasts nicely the sweetness of any sugary treats. This recipe was especially attractive for me since it makes 2 rounds of cakes; and freezes well for future use. I love being able to pull out a dish like this on a weekend when I am tight on time but I still would love the goodness of something fresh out of the oven. This cake was really delightful with its delicate crumbs and covered in crispy and crunchy streusel topping. I am even more impressed that it still retains all of its winning features after stored in the freezer. Happy Baking!

Adapted from The Best of American Test Kitchen 2008

Ingredients
Cake
3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1-3/4 cups sour cream
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Streusel
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans, almonds, or walnuts, chopped

Directions

For the Streusel

Mix everything, except the nuts, into a small bowl. Crumble the ingredients using your fingers to resemble coarse meal. Add nuts, stir, and set aside.

For the Cake

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Adjust your oven rack to the middle position. Lightly oil 2 9-inch round cake pans with vegetable spray and set aside.

Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and ground cinnamon in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk sour cream, sugars, eggs, and melted butter together. Gently whisk the egg mixture into the dry flour ingredient in the large bowl until smooth (do not overmix).

Scrape the batter into the two prepared pans, and smooth top with rubber spatula. Divide the streusel into two, and sprinkle each half on top of each cake.

Bake until tops are golden or, a knife or a tooth pick inserted into the centers comes out with just a few crumbs attached, around 25-30 minutes. Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 15 minutes before serving.

If you choose to freeze one for later use, wrap pan tightly with saran wrap after sprinkling with streusel. It can be refrigerated up to 24 hours or frozen up to 1 month. Do not thaw frozen cake before thawing. Bake as directed, increasing the baking time to 30-35 minutes for refrigerated, or 40-45 for frozen.

Yield: 2-cakes, 6 pieces each


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Baby Shower Dessert Party

March 20, 2011

Recently, I hosted a dessert theme baby shower for a friend and co-worker. After a lot of discussions on theme and menu, we agreed on having a dessert and drink shower for a small group of her co-workers. There were only two desserts that she requested: carrot cake or cupcakes and lemon bars; and  I was basically left to go with the rest of the menu. I wanted to take more pictures of the party; but really ran out of time but here are a few pictures of the desserts I made. I thought that this was really a fun idea for a baby shower.

In addition to the desserts I listed below, her family made dessert crostini with ricotta spread, sliced strawberries and balsamic vinegar glaze and baked brie with apricot jelly, sugar cookies and Italian fried cookies (I have no recipes for those).  For drinks, we had coffee, iced tea, cold soft drinks, and bottled water.

Here are the desserts I made:

Carrot Cupcakes and Cream Cheese Frosting with Royal Icing Yellow and Purple Pansies


Chocolate Truffles

S’mores Pops (recipe coming up soon, I promise–these were divine!)

Lemon Bars (No pictures)

Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipster (No pictures)

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies (No pictures)


Praline Cookies

March 8, 2011

In honor of Mardi Gras, Red’s office sponsored a food day with a Mardi-Gras theme. First of all, I have never met a group of folks who love to eat as much as they do.  They have awesome food days, especially around Christmas time. I used to wander around and sample all of the goodies especially since I also contributed to it :-). I especially love it since I get to unload all of my baked goods with them. It really came in handy when I took my Wilton classes last year; all of those cakes didn’t go to waste! 🙂 I wanted something portable that Red can take to work and Red, the self-proclaimed cookie monster, wanted “some sort of cookies” that can fit into the theme. I thought these praline cookies while may not be the official Mardi Gras dessert, still sort of fit into the Southern team.

The cookie base is what I would call a perfect cookie dough; it is not sticky, or too crumbly or too wet. It just has the right consistency to be scooped into small balls, and baked beautifully into rounds of cookies. They spread just enough (not too much, not too little that you have to press them down with a fork!) into these perfect little brown cookies. I actually love them without the praline topping, although the topping really heightened the flavor. I caught myself munching on the un-frosted cookies–and told myself to stop. They were delicious. This may be my new favorite cookie. I also decided to make pecan pralines using the leftover topping, and yum… they were delicious. Happy Baking!

Adapted from From Martha Stewart Living, February 2000

Ingredients

1 -2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 -1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups light-brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup heavy cream, plus more if necessary
1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and broken into large pieces

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups light-brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until fully combined. Add dry ingredients, and beat on low speed until combined.

Drop batter in rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake until firm and barely golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies from pan to wire rack.

In a small saucepan, combine remaining 1 cup light-brown sugar and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add confectioners’ sugar, and whisk until smooth. (If frosting thickens, thin with cream.) Add pecan pieces. Place cookies on a cooling rack over a lined baking pan. Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon praline mixture onto each cookie.

Yield: 3 dozens of cookies


Red Velvet Cake Truffles

January 29, 2011

Since I discovered these addictive Oreo Truffles, I learned how easy it is to turn your favorite ingredient into these delightful little treats. And just about anything covered in chocolate has to be good right? Then I saw Jen from Beantown Baker turning her leftover slice of Red Velvet Cheesecake cake into truffles… brilliant!!! I didn’t quiet have a leftover cake, but I did have some trimmings from my Red Velvet cake when I tried to stack the layers together and some  cream cheese frosting left, so I went to work on making these! I brought these to work to the excitement of my co-workers who called them divine and dangerous… because they were quite addictive! There is really nothing that can go wrong with bits of red velvet cake mixed with cream cheese frosting, dipped in chocolate…  Many thanks to Jen for the inspiration.

Ingredients
3 cups of crumbled Red Velvet cake
1/4 cup of Cream Cheese Frosting
1/3 lb of melting chocolate

Directions
Mix all of the crumbled cake and cream cheese frosting together. Form them into a 1/2-inch diameter balls. Refrigerate for approximately 10 minutes.

In the meanwhile, melt chocolate either in microwave (at 50% power), or over double broiler.

Dip cake balls into melted chocolate. Let set for a few minutes and store them in airtight container in the refrigerator.

Yield: approximately 2 dozens


Red Velvet Cake

January 24, 2011

My friend Sarah was turning the big 3-0; but unfortunately I had to miss her birthday party. I invited her over for a birthday lunch the weekend after to celebrate and asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday cake. She requested a red velvet cake; which I have never made before–and I definitely didn’t have a recipe for; which is kind of odd considering this is my dad’s absolute favorite cake! I went looking for a recipe–and really wanted a special cake that would not dissapoint. After all, this was for my friend’s birthday milestone. I then learned that Bridget had blogged about comparison of the recipes from several sources! Score! I was excited by the opportunity to try making this from scratch using a recipe that has been tried and recommended. I decided to make the Saveur recipe, that was originally tested by Kelsey from Apple a Day.



This cake, I have to say, turned out so perfect… as a special birthday cake should be! It stood tall, proud and cut beautifully… the kind that looks incredible on a dessert plate at a party. The bright red color was stunning and elegant against the white creamy cream cheese frosting. The cake itself was moist, not overly sweet, along with a bit of tang. It was delicious! I had originally made only one batch of cream frosting from Smitten Kitchen’s version; and as soon I made it, I realized that I would not have had enough to fill three-layers cake, let alone frost the side and the top. Therefore, I went ahead and made another batch. The recipe version I had written below was doubled to reflect the actual amount that I used although I had about 1/4 cup of leftover. I had originally wanted to make caramelized pecans for decorations but ran out of time; so I just arranged some whole pecans on top.

Sarah was elated; and so was I. So I must say that we found ourselves a winner here. Many thanks to Bridget for test driving all of the recipes for us!

As seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles From Apple a Day, who adapted it from www.saveur.com

Ingredients

For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350°.

Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.

Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Divide batter evenly between 3 greased and floured 8×2″ round cake pans. Or, I used (1) 8×2″ and (1) 8×3″ which I split into two layers.

Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely.

For the frosting: (Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, yield ~ 6 cups of frosting)
Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, level off with a serrated knife, and spread one-quarter of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top, level, and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top, level, and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting.

Chill for 2 hours to set frosting.

Yield: (1) 8-inch 3-layer cake


Barefoot Bloggers: Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

September 27, 2009

Mary of Passionate Perseverance selected Beatty’s Chocolate Cake for our second Barefoot Blogger’s September recipe to celebrate her birthday. Happy Birthday Mary!

I must say that while I’m not necessarily a chocoholic, I had been eying this recipe for a while! My husband, Red, was having a birthday on September 24, so I thought this would be a great birthday cake to make for his surprise birthday party. Now, Red loves almost all dessert, but not necessarily chocolate cake. He was however, optimistic by the reviews on this recipe that he might actually change his mind about chocolate cake after all. We both were definitely game to make this recipe.

After reading some of the reviews on Food Network, I decided to not change any of the ingredients in this recipe. I really wanted to leave it the way it is and see how much we would like it (or not like it). I also don’t have two 8×2 inch round cake pans, so I used (2) 9×2-inch, and they were fine. When they were cooled, they were a bit flat, and the center fell a bit more than I had wanted.

My friends asked me if I would decorate this cake, since it was intended for a party, and I wasn’t sure how well this frosting would pipe. Lo and behold, I saw this post a few days ago, and was amazed by her gorgeous cake, and decided that maybe I should decorate this cake! Also, after realizing that there is a raw egg involved in Ina’s original frosting recipe,  I decided to use this chocolate sour cream frosting from Reservation Not Required. And I was literally licking the spatula, the spoon, and the piping bag. I was almost covered in chocolate by the time I got the cake done, which is not a typical kitchen experience for me.

Our friends really enjoyed this cake, and so was my very surprised husband!

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Ingredients
Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

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Directions
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting, recipe follows.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
As seen in Reservation Required, Adapted from the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

1 12 oz package (2 cups) semi-sweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup butter
1 8 oz carton sour cream
4 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

In a large saucepan melt chocolate and butter over low heat, stirring frequently. Cool for 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream.
Gradually, add powdered sugar, beating until smooth. Dissolve coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of very hot water and mix in to frosting.
This frosts the tops and sides of two 8 or 9 inch cake layers. (Halve the recipe to frost at 13x9x2 inch cake).
Cover and store frosted cake in the refrigerator.


Barefoot Bloggers: Birthday Sheet Cake

September 13, 2009

I must admit, when I first saw the birthday sheet cake selection for the first Barefoot Blogger’s recipe in September, I was a little bit apprehensive due to the reviews on Food Network. Susy of Everyday Gourmet was celebrating a birthday, so Happy Birthday Susy!

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I decided to make this recipe with a few tweaks… well, maybe more than a few. I figured that I needed some practice in my cake decorating skill that I picked up over the summer. I haven’t really decorated any more cakes since the class ended.

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Here are my revisions:

1. I halved the recipe
2. I used an 8-inchx3 round pan, which I used for my Wilton classes
3. I used the bake spray that was recommended by my Wilton instructor instead of shortening, or butter and flour
4. I used 3/4 of baking soda instead of 1
5. I omit the lemon zest, because I didn’t feel like grating a lemon
6. I used the Wilton butter cream frosting recipe so I could decorate the cake, which I also used as a filling.

The verdict: the cake was just okay for me. A little bit in the dry side, but there was nothing special. For a cake made from scratch (from her, too!) I would have expected a lot more.

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I probably will not make this again in the future.

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