Friday, September 18, 2009

A Little Hiatus

I'm sorry to inform everyone that my baking challenge is going to be put on hold for a few weeks. My schedule has been a little nuts with no time for blogs. boo-hoo. I am making a wedding cake and traveling to a wedding next week; the following week I have another wedding that I'm baking for and the week after that I'm going to be in Europe for a week. Busy Busy. That being said, I will have a lot of catching up to do. I will have missed 4 weeks of challenges! That means when I get back, I will have to do 5 challenges to put myself back on schedule. Holy Baking Extravaganza! I also have a new cupcake bake shop review that I need to post as well. So, stay tuned my Friends...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Baking Challenge #6: Tomato Soup Cake

I don't know about you but I LOVE Tomato Soup especially with a grilled cheese sandwich to dunk in it. So when I saw this recipe, I immediately wanted to try it. It comes from the book called, Southern Cakes.

There was a bit of calamity that I need to state up front as this recipe made me want to scream and throw a small tantrum! I have no gripes with the cake. The cake is wonderful but the frosting SUCKS! I have decided to totally leave out the frosting from this recipe because it isn't worth mentioning and it will make you hate the cake. This cake is practically perfect in taste, texture, and moistness. It reminds me of a cross between carrot cake and gingerbread. The vanilla frosting was way too sugary and completely overpowered the cake. I could hardly taste the cake because it was too sweet and the flavor didn't pair well with the flavors of the cake. The frosting had a slight nuttiness in flavor because its made with some brown sugar. That being said, I don't want to deter you away from making the Tomato Soup Cake as there is a way to make it perfect. It states in the book that you can also use cream cheese frosting for this cake. Duh! This is what I should have used instead of using the vanilla frosting that was designated to the cake. Everyone loves cream cheese frosting with carrot cake and this cake has a lot of the same flavors so that would work great. You can also bake it in a 13x9-inch pan and cut the cake into squares dusting the tops with powder sugar. I will definitely bake this cake again because it was so yummy!

Tomato Soup Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
One 10 3/4-ounce can condensed Campbell's cream of tomato soup
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup water

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease two 8-inch cake pans or a 13x9-inch pan

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, allspice, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves, and stir with a fork to mix everything together well. Add the tomato soup, butter, eggs, and water to the bowl. Using a whisk or mixer at low speed, beat all the ingredients into a smooth batter, stopping to scrape down the bowl occasionally.

Divide the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, until the cakes are golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the center, and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans.

Let cakes cool and then frost.

I would recommend not slicing your layers–just level the 2 cakes and fill. I tried to slice each cake in half to make four layers but the cake was too fragile and the frosting was too heavy causing my cake to be blob around the sides. So I tried to fix the cake by cutting it in a square to get rid of the edges and that didn't work so great either. Well, now you've learned from my mistakes and you can make this cake the best that it can be!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nesting Themed Cupcakes

In between my weekly baking challenges, my latest cupcake job was for a baby shower that was doing a nesting themed shower. I can't take credit for the baby birds in a nest idea as it was found on the Internet but I did add my own speckled eggs as a new edition to the idea. I made all the decorations out of fondant so that they would remain somewhat soft to eat and toasted coconut to make a nice pleasant nest. The speckled eggs I splattered with diluted food coloring. Lots of fun!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Baking Challenge #5: Double-Crumble Hot Apple Pies

"If you are going to the trouble of making pie, why make only one when it's just as easy to make two?"

This is what is stated at the beginning of the recipe. I love it! Why not 2? This weeks recipe is from this really cutely designed book called "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Goey" by Jill O'Connor. Although there is a bunch of steps to this recipe, it is really simple to follow and make.

Double-Crumble Hot Apple Pies

Pie Crust Recipe
makes enough dough for 2 single-crust 8 or 9 inch pies
This pie crust was great–flaky and buttery!

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, each stick cut into small pieces frozen (I didn't freeze mine, but I kept it cut up in the fridge till ready to use and it worked fine)
6 tablespoons solid coconut oil, cut into small bits and chilled (I couldn't find solid coconut oil, you can most likely get it at a health food store. I used 6 tablespoons of shortening instead which was just as good)
6-8 tablespoons ice water
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 large egg yolk, beaten

Sift flour, sugar, and salt together in a large metal mixing bowl. Cut the frozen butter and shortening (or coconut oil) into the flour until it resembles coarse meal combined with little pea-sized bits of flour. You can use a food processor with a metal blade by pulsing these ingredients or you can use a pastry blender and do it by hand. I used the pastry blender.

Whisk together 6 tablespoons of ice water, the lemon juice and the beaten egg yolk. Dribble the liquid into the flour mixture and stir together with a fork, using a light touch so as not to blend the larger bits of fat into the flour. Stir with the fork until the dough comes together into a moist but not sticky, ball. Use your hands to gentle gather the dough into a ball. You should still see some tiny butter pieces.

Divide the dough into two balls and flatten each ball into a round disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to overnight. You can also store this wrapped dough in a zip lock bag and freeze for up to 1 month.

For the Crumble:
2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (you can use ground nutmeg too if you don't have fresh ones)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

For the Apple Filling:
6 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 -inch thick
6 medium Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 -inch thick
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (you can use ground nutmeg too if you don't have fresh ones)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
I also added a teaspoon of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Roll out each round of pie dough into a 12-inch circle. Gently fit each round in a 9 or 8 inch pie pan. Gently fit each round in the pie pans, allowing the excess dough to hang over the edge of the pie pan. Set aside.
It is suggested that if you have a glass pan, use that so that you can gauge how well the crust is browning. I realized that out of all my baking supplies, I didn't have a pie pan! How is that possible! So I had to use a metal one and it seemed to work just as good.

To make the Crumble: Combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl. Add the melted butter and stir together until the dry mixture is moistened with the melted butter and is crumbly. Refrigerate until needed.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, toss together the sliced apples with the lemon juice, flour, sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Divide the apples between the dough-lined pie pans. Trim the edges of the dough and fold them under and crimp with your fingers to make a decorative border.
See Ex. 1.

Divide the crumble between the two pies and spread evenly over the apples. You should have a generous amount of crumble for each pie. See Ex. 2.

Bake until the crust and crumble are golden brown and the apples are tender and bubbling, 60-75 minutes. My pies were down at 60 minutes but every oven is different so just check up on your pie towards the end.

This is one of the first recipes that I have made where there is more than enough of the "good stuff" (crumble). I find that I always have to add or make more chocolate, more drizzle, more frosting, etc. than what the recipe calls for. This pie recipe had plenty of crumble and that made me extremely happy! As for the taste, it was absolutely scrumptious! Every bite was a little bit of wonderful and the crumb topping was amazing! So if you love apple pies or pies in general–this recipe is for you!