Friday, June 25, 2010
A Simply Lovely Birthday
Ever had that feeling that you're forgetting something? I was driving away from the house yesterday when I finally remembered what I had been forgetting -- my camera. Therefore, the only photo I have of my birthday cake is taken with my crummy cell phone camera. Better than nothing I suppose!
We had dinner with some friends at the Olive Garden restaurant last night (I had a gift card I had been saving). I knew I wanted to bring my own cake, but sometimes restaurants can be hinky about these things (Was it purchased at a licensed bakery? Will we have to cut and serve it? What about refrigeration?). Therefore, I got sneaky. I made a 6 inch square layer cake and put it on a plain foamcore cake platter. I then packed a box with a plastic bag, two blue ice packs, a dish towel, cake plates, forks, napkins, a sharp knife, candles, matches, another towel, and the cake. Then I WRAPPED it as a birthday present and had my husband carry it in. Now that's having your cake and eating it too.
I considered making a really fancy cake like this Mondrian layered cake, but I was only feeding a few people and really didn't want to work that hard anyways. Besides, take a look at an inside slice in the same style. Have you ever seen such incredible geometry and precision in a cake before? I'm jealous.
My birthday cake used a new recipe from Epicurious.com and is a good Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cake. It was almost just a pumpkin cake since I made the batter, poured it into the pans, put them in the oven, then took one more look at my recipe and said, "The chocolate chip!" I hastily whipped open the oven and ended up sprinkling the mini chips on the batter and stirring it in with a butter knife. It made for chips that weren't well distributed, but at least they made it in!
Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake
From Bon Appétit | November 2000
Yield: Makes 12 servings
1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (I used different spices*)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (skipped this on purpose)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Sift first 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar, then beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in pumpkin and vanilla. Beat dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture alternately with milk. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake loaf cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack; cool completely. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Wrap in plastic; store at room temperature.)
* I don't own pumpkin pie spice. I prefer to mix my own, so I used 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ginger, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves.
For the icing I wanted whipped cream frosting, but I wanted it to be stable enough for an hour long car ride and to sit in a cool box for the length of dinner without deflating. It was really interesting research, as I had no idea how many different ways there were to keep whipping cream stable. I ended up going with adding a bit of dissolved and heated gelatin from AllRecipes.com.
Stabilized Whipped Cream Icing
Submitted By: ETHELMERTZ, Photo By: momlovestocook
"If you want perfectly fluffy, whipped cream icing, this is the recipe to use. Unflavored gelatin performs the magic. It 's softened in water and poured slowly into the cream as it 's being whipped. This makes a splendid topping for a strawberry pie or the quintessential icing for a three-layer chocolate cake."
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon white sugar (I used 10x baker's sugar and a lot more of it)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used clear)
Chill mixing bowl and beaters for at least 15 minutes before using. Place water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over water and allow to soften 5 minutes.
Dissolve gelatin by microwaving for 3 minutes (only took me 1.5 minutes at half power at my higher altitude), stirring after every minute. Remove from microwave and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes; gelatin must be liquid but not warm when added to cream. Remove bowl and beaters from refrigerator and pour in cream, sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat together just until beater marks begin to show distinctly.
Add gelatin mixture to cream, pouring in a steady stream while beating constantly. Beat until stiff peaks form. Use immediately.
The coolest thing about this recipe was the way it spread and piped. I was really pleased with it. My daughter picked out some pink and purple sugar sprinkles to put on top (what else?) and I put a simple "42" on it with little borders. A good cake, good friends, and a very happy birthday. Who could want more?