White Cake Recipe

I have spent years looking for a white cake recipe that I liked; every one I had encountered had been either dry, flavorless, or had a strange texture. This recipe is out of Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes and is about as close to wonderful as I think I will come across. The cake is snow white, soft, fluffy, perfectly moist, and most importantly sweet but it doesn’t taste like a boxed cake mix.

I am also going to include the Fluffy Vanilla Frosting recipe out of this book because it is very easy to work with. It is sort of a cross between a meringue buttercream and a simple buttercream in that it is sweet like a simple buttercream recipe but it stays soft like a meringue buttercream. Simple buttercream tends to form a thin shell making it hard to sprinkle if you don’t do so soon after frosting.

White Cake

yield: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

3 1/4 cups sifted cake flour

1 1/2 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup plus 2 tbsp milk

1 tbsp real vanilla (it’s the predominant flavor so splurge)

1/2 cup plus 6 tbsp (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

1 3/4 cups sugar

5 large egg whites, room temp

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir vanilla into milk.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Scrape.

3. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of milk, beating until just combined after each.

4. In another bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form (do not over mix).

5. Fold one-third of the egg whites into batter to lighten. Gently fold in remaining whites in two batches.

6. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Firmly tap the tins once on the countertop to release any air bubbles. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 min.

7. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temp, or frozen for up to 2 months in air tight containers.

 

Fluffy Vanilla Frosting

Yield: 4 cups or about 12 cupcakes if you ice like a bakery does (meaning a fair about of frosting)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

1 lb (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 to 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions

1. With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. If your butter isn’t quite to room temp it is fine, it will just take longer to reach this stage.

2. Reduce the speed to medium or low. Add the powdered sugar in 3 additions, scraping well after each addition. Raise speed to high and beat until very pale and fluffy.

3. Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth. If not using immediately, frosting can be refrigerated for up to 10 days in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature, and beat on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.

 

Chocolate Cake with Caramel buttercream

I really love the combo of chocolate and caramel, especially these recipes.

I took the cake out of my apartment to take pictures of it and was immediately mobbed by every kid within eyesight. Of course they all begged me for a piece. And I gave in, I mean who can resist a bunch of kids who ❤ cake.

They loved it!!!

I think I made some new friends!

And they have signed me up to make all of their birthday cakes, whether I or their parents want me too. Now whenever I see them they tell me what kind of cake they want for their birthday, and guess what, it’s different every time.

I used Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe but I changed a couple of things: I used buttermilk instead of milk and I used coffee instead of boiling water.

If you are going to use milk instead of buttermilk I would recommend using whole milk not 2%. I like using coffee instead of boiling water because coffee enhances the chocolate flavor of the cake without making it taste like a mocha. It really makes a big difference.

Hershey’s Chocolate Cake recipe

Makes 1 8 in cake

Ingredients

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup hot coffee

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
  2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; With a mixer, beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Carefully, stir in boiling water. The batter will be very thin. Pour batter into prepared cake pans.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Swiss Caramel Buttercream

Makes enough to frost and decorate 1 8 in cake.
Make the caramel sauce at least 1 hr before adding  the buttercream.

Ingredients

5 large egg whites
pinch salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 pound (4 sticks) room temp unsalted butter, cut into tbsp
 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp lemon juice (makes caramel brighter)
1/4 salt
*caramel sauce recipe

Directions

  1. Place sugar and egg whites in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water (water should be able to touch the bottom of the bowl), and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it should feel completely smooth. (kind of like snot, gross I know but still)
  2. Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until mixture has cooled completely and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated after each addition. Don’t worry if the buttercream appears curdled after all the butter has been added; it will become smooth again with continued beating. Add vanilla, and beat just until combined. Mix in caramel sauce.
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes. If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

If you are like me and never remember to set out your buttercream a head of time, you can soften a portion (less than a third) in the microwave and add it back in as you re-whip the buttercream. Re-whip using the whisk attachment not the paddle attachment.

I know there is a lot to this caramel recipe but I tried to make it as idiot proof as possible. In theory anyone should be able to make it and not crystallize or burn it. Oh and keep in mind the temp range I listed is just the level of darkness that I like. Caramel temps range from 320- 350 degrees.

Caramel Sauce

For my caramel buttercream I used 1 1/2 times this recipe. But add as much or as little caramel as you’d like.

You can dbl this recipe

Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon corn syrup (dark or light)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream, heated until warm
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

*1/8 tsp lemon juice (optional)

*1 tsp vanilla (optional)

Directions

  1.  In a *clean heavy saucepan (at least 5 cup capacity), stir together the sugar, syrup, lemon juice, and water until the sugar is completely moistened. It should look like wet sand. If you got any sugar on the sides of the pan while stirring either use your fingers or a very clean pastry brush dipped in hot water to “wash” down the sides. You don’t want any sugar on the sides. Warm your cream and have an oven mitt near by because you wont have time to do it once your caramel gets close to temp/the darkness you like.
  2. At this point you can do one of two things: You can put your candy thermometer into the pot and cook on medium heat, *stirring or swirling the pot occasionally until the sugar dissolves and is completely clear. Or you can put a *lid on your sugar mixture and cook on medium heat until the sugar mixture is dissolved and completely clear. Stir or swirl occasionally. Once clear put in your candy thermometer.
  3. Once sugar mixture is clear, allow it to boil undisturbed until it starts to darken, *swirl the pot every once in a while. The caramel will be done at about 340-342 degrees fahrenheit (I find it easier to watch the caramel temp in celsius; so it should be 172-174 degrees celsius). It may take a while at first but trust me, the last 10 degrees happens fast! Immediately remove it from the heat and slowly and carefully whisk in the warm cream into the caramel. It will bubble up furiously. This is where I use the oven mitt. I have gotten many a steam burn from making caramel.
  4. Lightly whisk the mixture until smooth. If any lumps develop, return the pan to the heat and stir until they dissolve. Stir in the butter, salt and vanilla.
  5. Allow caramel to cool completely before adding to buttercream. It should also be *stirred or emersion blended before adding.

Tips and tricks

  1. When I say clean I mean really clean. You don’t want anything that could come loose and cause crystallization. In fact everything you are putting in the caramel should be very clean. Caramel doesn’t start to darken or turn into caramel until all of the liquid has evaporated out of the sugar mixture. So technically you can make caramel without water, you just have to know what you are doing. Corn syrup is an invert sugar meaning it will resist crystallization. Lemon juice (in small amounts) will also help prevent crystallization.
  2. Too much stirring can sometimes cause crystallization, so I prefer a gentle swirl. If you do stir occasionally keep your spoon in a cup or bowl of hot water so that you don’t introduce crystals. The reason for putting the lid on is because as the sugar mixture warms up, water will condensate on the lid and wash away any potential crystals that form.
  3. Swirl more often than you did before. If you don’t swirl the pot, one spot may get too dark. If one area of the caramel burns then all of it will be burnt. Ie. the darkest spot in your caramel is the color your caramel will end up being.
  4. I have noticed the caramel sauce has a tendency to separate as it cools but once it is re-mixed it wont happen again.

Test run/Setting up a Wedding Cake DIY Wedding Cake part 2

Once you know what flavors of cake, the size, and design they want it is a great idea to do a test run. Test all of your recipes, make sure you are comfortable with them and know how much they yield. The last thing you’d want when making the final cake is to not have enough cake or icing.

6 in-Red velvet w/cream cheese filling

8 in-Chocolate w/caramel buttercream filling

10 in-vanilla w/raspberry jam filling

Covered in vanilla buttercream icing

Right now I am doing all of my test runs. It has been a while since I have iced a whole wedding cake, let alone a square one so I decided to do a test run. I chose not to test the actual cake flavors that I am going to use for the final cake because of the cost, so I chose to use cake mix. This way I would be able to check the over-all stability of the cake and my icing skills. And how long it would take me to ice the cake; which when you are a perfectionist like me, can take a while.

Here is a picture of my test run. This is not what the final cake is going to look like! This is no the correct ribbon and I ended up not buying enough cake mix to make all of the layers tall enough. I also didn’t have the right sized pans, I just cut out the sizes from the pans I had, which meant  a lot of left over pieces.

That is an important decision whether or not you are going to cut out the cake or if you are going to buy cake pans. Are you going to use those cake pans again or are you ok wasting that much cake.

How to Set up a Wedding Cake

      1. Bake all of your cake layers, make all of your fillings, and make the icing. If you are cutting out your layers have your stencils ready (preferably out of cardboard). As well as other tools you will need such as: ruler, piping bag (ziplock bag ok too), round tip, metal spatula, bench scraper, 8 skewers or straws, and a serrated knife.
      2. Cut out the cake layers (if you are using pans, skip this step)
      3. Cut each cake layer in half horizontally and put the first layer on a cardboard square (or what ever size and shape of cake you are making, as they should be the same size). I recommend starting with the largest (bottom) layer.
      4. Fill a piping bag fitted with a round tip with the buttercream you are icing the cake with. And pipe a “dam” of buttercream around the edge of the first layer. It really only needs to be between a 1/4 in and 1/2 in wide and it is ok if it goes over the edge of the cake.
      5. Fill the “dam” with the cake filling. The filling should not be too thick, approx. 1/8 in thick. If the filling is too thick, the cake might slide around.
      6. Cover with the next layer of cake 
      7. Repeat steps 4-6 until you have reached the correct height. I each of my cake layers will be 4 in tall. As you can see in the picture this layer is not 4 in tall. If you are making a standard wedding cake it is very important that your cake layers are all the same height, so check.
      8.  If you are doing a cake where the layers are not supposed to be all the same height, then it doesn’t matter.
      9. Crumb coat the cake. This means to completely coat the cake in a thin layer of icing. This step will seal the cake and prevent crumbs from getting in your final layer of icing: do this using your metal spatula, as shown in the picture below. Coat the top of the cake as well.
      10. Refrigerate each layer before starting on the next. Buttercream hardens in the refrigerator so this will make your final icing easier. Complete steps 3-9 until all of your cake layers are done.
      11. Use your metal spatula, cover the cake in icing. The final layer should be about 1/4 in thick. But as long as the final product is consistent and no cake shows through, it doesn’t really matter.
      12. Use the bench scraper to smooth out the icing. Start just before one of the corners holding the bench scraper parallel to the cake, with a fluid motion pull the bench scraper towards you. Slightly cutting into the buttercream, just enough to make the buttercream even and smooth.
      13. Check to see if the side of the cake and the board form a 90 degree angle.
      14. If there are any gaps in the side, then fill in the pocket or hole with more buttercream and repeat this step. If you are having issues getting the buttercream completely smooth, try dipping the edge of the bench scraper in hot water before pulling the bench scraper towards you. The heat will slightly melt and smooth out the buttercream.
      15. Repeat this step for all 4 sides. If you notice that your corners are not nice and square/sharp, put on a little more icing and go over the corner as the pictures show below.

        Add more icing on to the corner before trying to fix it

        Take the edge of the of either your bench scraper or your metal spatula and scrape off the excess towards you

        Do the same on the other side of the corner

         

      16. Smooth out the top of the cake layer. Using the edge of your metal spatula start at one of the corners and lightly cut into the icing and push away from you, repeat all along the edge of the cake.
      17. Repeat steps 10-14 for each layer of cake. If you have to drive the cake any where. Stop here. Once at the location continue to the next step.
      18. Use 2 metal spatulas and slide them under the bottom layer of the cake carefully pick up the cake and place it on the cake stand.
      19. Cut 4 skewers or straws (non-bendy end) to the same height as the cake layer and stick them into the top of the cake, as evenly as possible. They should be level with the icing, not stick above. These skewers increase the cakes stability as more cake layers are added. Think of it as the bones of a building.
      20. Pick up the next cake and place on top the corners should line up. The cake that I am doing is going to be off set, so the corners don’t need to line up.
      21. Again cut the skewers and stick them in the cake.
      22. Pick up the next cake and place on top.
      23. Edit and fix any spots that may have gotten hurt in the moving process.
      24. Put the ribbon around the base of each layer. I cut my ribbon as I went. But it may help to have it precut, just make sure that there is a few inches extra. Just in case you miss calculate.

        Always start the ribbon on the “back” of the cake

         

      25. If you are putting flowers or a topper on you can do that now. Voila, you are done!

        Final shot of the test cake with ribbon and flowers

Take a break, you deserve it. 🙂

Come back next week for the recipe for the middle layer. Chocolate cake with caramel buttercream, so tasty!

DIY Wedding Cake part 1

I am super excited to announce that a friend of my family asked me to do their wedding cake. I was very touched that they thought of me, and I am very excited to make my first wedding cake from scratch. I have done bits and pieces of wedding cakes in the past, but this will my first from start to finish.

So I figured I would walk you guys through my process. The things I am thinking about, the issues I have, and the things I am thinking about. And for those of you who don’t want to make your own wedding cake, it will be good for you to know what actually goes into making a cake.

Step 1 Basic Information

  • Talk with the bride and get a feel for the theme or the ideas they have for the wedding – This is important so that you can get a feel for what they are looking for/expecting. Because they are probably not going to want a modern cake if they plan to have a country style or an out door wedding.
  • How many guests they are expecting – This will help figure out how large of a cake to make, such as how many tiers
  • When the date is-This is important for design and color ideas. Also because fondant tends to sag if left out in warm weather. So it isn’t a great option for out door receptions.
  • Where it is-It is important to know how far the cake is going to have to travel, is it 20 minutes away? 40? Even more? This will also help you figure out how you plan to transport it, whether in your car completed but layers separated and you will put it together at the site, or if it can be stacked and transported. Or if you are lucky and it being held in your back yard, you could make it there.
  • Other good questions to ask-What time is the ceremony starting? What time is the reception starting/what time do they want you to be there? And of course contact information

Step 2 Cake details

Some of this aren’t necessary, but are good things to think about, if the bride isn’t sure what she wants.

  • Cake flavors/fillings-It is of course a good idea to give them samples to try but this is a little harder if you aren’t in a bakery. Also ask if they have a preference which flavor is each layer.
  • Icing/Fondant-Do they want a simple buttercream, meringue buttercream, or fondant? I do not recommend icing in cream cheese. It is hard to get sharp edges and it droops when it gets soft. Offering a cream cheese filling is a great compromise, especially if they want red velvet.
  • Do they have pictures for inspiration?-Pictures are a great help, but don’t forget to think about what level your abilities are at? Don’t go promising gum paste flowers if you can’t deliver. It is their wedding day, i.e. one of the most important days of her life.
  • Cake shape-Do they want a square cake, round, heart shaped. Etc Do they want it centered, centered toward the back, so that one corner or one side is lined up or off set?
  • Colors-Do they want to incorporate their wedding colors, or something different.
  • Fresh Flowers-Yes or no. If yes, where do they want them, are they going to provide them or are you. What kind? etc…
  • Topper- Yes or no, how big is it?
  • How do they want the cake displayed?-on a cake stand, on a platform? This of course depends on what size of cake they are getting

What my Bride/Groom wants

Basic info

  • Feeling/theme-back yard ceremony/reception
  • Number of guests-Approx 50-60
  • Date of wedding-August
  • Location-My parents house-approx 40 min away
I was going to take the day off of work. To prep but apparently it is a popular weekend for weddings because we are over booked at work which means I will be a busy lady. So that will create an interesting challenge.
  • Cake flavors– Red velvet with cream cheese filling, and vanilla with raspberry filling
  • Icing-Vanilla swiss meringue buttercream
  • Size-8 in, 6 in, and 4 in cake tiers. Each tier will be 4 in tall
  • Shape-Square, off set
  • Design-Simple: white icing, with black ribbon around the base, and hot pink fresh flowers.
  • Colors-Black, white, and hot pink
  • Topper-No
  • Display-Undecided

One last tidbit of information. When actually buying a wedding cake, plan ahead. Cakes are generally requested to be paid in full at least 2 months before the wedding.  Making an appointment and reserving your wedding date is especially important for a summer wedding or holidays, because it is wedding season and dates fill up fast. You could find your dream cake shop or decorator but they could be booked for the date of your wedding.

Of course things are a little different if you are making your own cake, or if a friend is making it for you. But still be courteous and plan ahead.

How to Make a Xbox Controller cake xbox cake part 3

1. I made marshmallow fondant. And dyed it the colors I needed it to be. I also bought decorators gel for the clear buttons in the top right hand corner and it dyed it the colors I needed. Don’t forget to test the colors out on the color of fondant you are using. Because they will be lighter in color once they are on the white fondant.

Marshmallow Fondant Recipe

*note: this recipe makes WAY more than you really need to make this cake. But can be good to have extra to practice colors with.

Ingredients

1/4 cup butter

1 (16 ounce) package miniature marshmallows

4 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, divided

Directions

  1. Place the butter in a shallow bowl, and set aside.
  2. Place the marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on High for 30 seconds to 1 minute to start melting the marshmallows. Carefully stir the water and vanilla extract into the hot marshmallows, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, a cup at a time, until you have a sticky dough. Reserve 1 cup of powdered sugar for kneading. The dough will be very stiff.
  3. Rub your hands thoroughly with butter, and begin kneading the sticky dough. As you knead, the dough will become workable and pliable. Turn the dough out onto a working surface lightly greased with crisco and dusted with confectioners’ sugar and continue kneading until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky to the touch, 5 to 10 minutes*.
  4. Form the fondant into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. To use, allow the fondant to come to room temperature, and roll it out onto a flat surface dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Try to work quickly if you work too slowly your fondant will get what I like to call “elephant butt” which means it will get crackly and wrinkly and you wont be able to get it back.

Note: It may take longer than 5-1o minutes, so if after 10 minutes your dough is still tacky, keep adding confectioners’ sugar and kneading.

2. I baked the cake in a 6 in round pan. Using the red velvet cake recipe from the previous post. Ps I apologize about the photos, these were just supposed to be for reference if I made it again.

3. I made a sketch of the controller, and used it as a stencil to cut out the cake.

4.  Then I cut it in half and filled the cake. You don’t necessarily have to fill it if you don’t want to, but if you don’t fill it then you should make the cake taller.

5. I froze the cake so that it would be easier to carve out the details

6. I started carving the cake. If you have access to a controller, I would recommend using it as a guide rather than using pictures . The final cake will be more accurate. If you want to just use pictures and you can’t find the correct angles or sides, just comment this post and I will post all of the pictures I took.

7. I crumb coated the cake with cream cheese frosting.

here are the different views of the cake

side

top

front view

8. I double checked to make sure the cake was sculpted the way I wanted it. Then I refrigerated the cake while I rolled out the fondant. I shaped pieces of fondant to go under the fondant cover.

9. I covered the cake in fondant. And cut away the extra at the bottom.

10. I shaped the xbox logo and dusted it with silver luster dust. If you want you can mix luster dust with vodka and paint it on. I chose not to do that because it wasn’t opaque enough.

11. I shaped the area in the top center where the xbox logo goes. I shaped all of the buttons, knobs, and lettering to go under the gel. I wish I had a picture the knobs but I don’t. I shaped the knobs on toothpicks so it would be easy to put them on the cake later.

12. I did all of the final details right before the party. Including putting the knobs on, putting the gel (for the buttons) on the cake, putting the buttons on the top of the controller, and lettering.

13. You’re Done! yay, now you can relax and bask in the praise you are about to get for all of your hard work.

Coconut Southern Comfort Layer Cake

From the very first time of seeing this cake in the February edition of bon appetit magazine I have wanted to make it. It just looked beautiful! Plus I love coconut almost as much as I love chocolate, and this cake is all coconut. I had been holding off making it for a while because it has some fairly unusual ingredients in it (meaning they weren’t ingredients that I could go to the baking aisle and pick up). And it meant taking a trip to the liquor store to find Southern Comfort. But don’t let that detour you from making this cake, it was worth ever bit of effort! I am adding this cake to my repertoire.

I took it to work because it is too much cake for my roommate and I. If you just started reading this blog, I work in a cupcake shop. It is really easy to get my co-workers to try a bite but they rarely eat more than that. When you are surrounded by cake all day, the last thing you really want to eat is more cake. So I was really surprised when they started taking slices, and then asking to take slices home! I’d say that means it is pretty good.

Coconut Southern Comfort Layer Cake

9 in cake or an 8 inch if you don’t have 9 inch pans (I made it in 8 inch pans and  it turned out great)
Makes 16-20 servings

Cake Ingredients

nonstick vegetable oil spray (or butter) to coat pans

2 3/4 cups cake flour plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut (not flaked coconut)
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
5 large eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil, warmed to melt (i recommend using refined oil because it can be heated to 360 degrees)
1 cup buttermilk

Frosting and Assembly

4 cups unsweetened coconut chips
2 8oz packages cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 1/2 tbsp plus 1/4 cup Southern Comfort1/2 tsp salt
5 cups sifted powdered sugar

So if you decide to make this cake note: that you may be able to find these ingredients at your local grocery store but you are better off going to a store like Whole Foods (which is a natural food store). I was able to find coconut oil and unsweetened shredded coconut at my local Fred Meyer. But I had to go Whole Foods to find unsweetened coconut chips.

Cake Directions

Arrange racks in top and bottom thirds of oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Coat cake pans with nonstick spray or butter, and coat with flour. Whisk 2 3/4 cups flour and next three ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter at medium speed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until smooth, 3-4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

Gradually beat in oil. Beat in dry ingredients at low speed in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Divide among four 9in cake pans* (about 2 generous cups batter per pan); smooth tops with a spatula.

Bake until a tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 22-27 minutes. Transfer pans to wire racks; let cool in pans for 5 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks, remove pans, and let cakes cool completely.

Frosting and Assembly

This step can be a do ahead : Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place coconut chips in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toast until some of the chips are golden brown (some will remain white), 5-7 minutes;* let cool completely. If doing ahead of time store in an airtight container at room temp.

Using and electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter on high speed, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until smooth and creamy, 2-3 minutes. Add 1 1/2 tbsp Southern Comfort and salt; beat to blend, about 1 minute longer. Add sifted powdered sugar; beat on low speed to blend. Increase to high; beat until fluffy, 5-6 minutes.

Using a long serrated knife, cut each cake in half horizontally.* Place 1 layer, cut side up, on a cake stand or plate. Lightly brush with about 1/2 tbsp of Southern Comfort. Spread 1/2 cup frosting over layer.** Repeat with remaining 7 layers, Southern Comfort, and frosting. Chill cake for 30 minutes.* Leave the remaining frosting at room temp.

Cover the sides of chilled cake with frosting. Cover cake loosely with foil and chill overnight- I didn’t do this, I was to inpatient to wait overnight; I just wanted to try the cake. I frosted my cake and then covered the sides right away with toasted coconut chips. I believe the reason the recipe says to, is because it gives the Southern Comfort time to soak into the cake. But I thought it tasted great without this step. – Keep chilled. Let cake stand at room temp for at least 30 minutes. Gently pat handfuls of toasted coconut chips over sides and top of cake and serve.*

Tips and Tricks

1. If you don’t have 4 cake pans, just fill the number that you have, and then fill and bake the rest later.

2. I prefer to turn the coconut chips half way during the toasting process. So that the chips are all a little golden brown

3. Cake decorators cut cakes on a turn-table because it is easier to get a smooth even cut. I don’t have a turn table, so I just clean up my lazy susan and use that. It does the exact same thing for less money.

4. When frosting or filling a cake it is usually best to keep a blob if icing a head of where you are trying to spread it. This helps prevent getting cake crumbs in the frosting.

5. Ooooppps! I bet this has all happened to us. You are frosting a cake and you get hole in your frosting, just like the pic below. This actually happens because of the way you are holding your knife or spatula. You are frosting with the spatula level to the cake.  Try frosting with the edges of it in a back and forth motion. Almost like you would if you were trying to scrape the frosting off. Just don’t press too hard or you will. If that doesn’t work, try frosting with the top inch of the spatula. This tip works especially well while frosting a very dense filling.

6. Chilling a cake after you fill it is a great idea to do with all cakes. It will make the cake more sturdy and less likely to slide around on you when are frosting the outside.

7. I recommend sifting the coconut to get out the tiny pieces before you press it into the cake.

Happy Birthday Reed! red velvet xbox cake part 1

Today is my older brother Reed’s 30th Birthday!

Shhh… don’t tell any one, but his amazing girlfriend Katie is planning a surprise party for him tonight. A few months ago she asked me to make an extra special birthday cake for him. My brother works on video games for a living, so she asked if I could make a xbox controller cake. I am not by any means a gamer (not that I have anything against it), I just never got into it.

I really wanted to make this cake special, I mean it is his 30th b-day, kind of a big deal right? So I decided to make the cake life sized, thankfully I had a friend who generously lent me their controller for a few days, so I could have a visual aid. Because it has to be as perfect as possible for the birthday of someone who uses one every day. If you don’t know what a xbox controller looks like here is a pic:

I made a red velvet cake because it’s his favorite, the recipe I used is also the best red velvet cake recipe I have ever had. I can’t wait for him to see it! I hope he likes it.

Here is the cake before all of the bells and whistles.

and here it is finished! Next week I will post the step by step process so you can make your own xbox cake.

Check back tomorrow for pics of his reaction!

And here is my favorite recipe for red velvet cake. Red velvet cake recipes vary a lot in flavor, some are too chocolaty (for those of you who don’t know, yes it actually is considered a chocolate cake), some taste too much like buttermilk, or are too dry.

This one is just right. You can taste the chocolate, but not so much that it is like eating a chocolate cake, there is just enough buttermilk to add another layer of flavor, and as long as it isn’t over baked it is nice and moist with a fine crumb. These are the qualities that I think make red velvet so popular. I will be posting more on the history of red velvet next week, so don’t be a stranger.

Red Velvet Cake

I got the recipe from pinchmysalt.com

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)

2 oz. red food coloring

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 teaspoon white vinegar

1 teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or three 8-inch round cake pans.
  2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside.  In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go.  Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
  4. Make sure you have cake pans buttered, floured, and nearby.  In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda.  Yes, it will fizz!  Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine.  Working quickly, divide batter evenly between the cake pans and place them in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To remove the cakes from the pan, place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, then gently lift the pan.  Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting. Frost with buttercream or cream cheese icing (recipe below).

Tips and tricks

*Sift cake flour once before measuring, then sift again with the other dry ingredients per recipe instructions.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened

1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

pinch of salt

Directions

1. With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth.

2. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract.

3. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.  If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using (after frosting softens up, beat with mixer until smooth).