Sunday, August 29, 2010

cake time!

This cake is buttery tasting and due to the whole eggs, a pretty pale yellow color. 
It goes well with a variety of fillings and frostings.
It does have a tendency to be a little dry so I add a simple moistening syrup just before I frost the cakes.

Makes two 8x2 inch round cake layers:
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp cut into tablespoon sized pieces
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs, at room temp
3/4 cup whole milk, at room temp

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spray two 8x2 inch round pans with nonstick spray, line with parchment, then give the parchment a quick spray as well.

2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

3. Beat the butter using the flat beater attachment until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar gradually and beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl once or twice, and then beat in the vanilla.

4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down after each addition, allowing each egg to be absorbed before continuing. Add the flour mixture in 4 additions, alternately with the milk. Begin and end with the flour mixture and beat briefly until smooth on low-medium speed after each addition.

5. Divide batter evenly between the pans and smooth the tops with an offset spatula. Bake for about 23 minutes, or until a toothpick shows a few moist crumbs. The cake will be tinged with light golden brown around the edges and top and will have begun to come away from the sides of the pan.

6. Cool on racks in pans for 8 minutes. Unmold directly onto racks, peel off parchment, and allow cakes to cool completely. 


2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir to wet the sugar. Add the split vanilla bean and all the seeds, if using. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
2. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer for 1 minute. Make sure all sugar is dissolved.
3. remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. (Whisk in vanilla extract, if using, at this point.) Remove the vanilla bean and seeds and refrigerate in an airtight container.

And here is the final product.
I used hydrangeas to decorate the cake because that is what J will be carrying in her bridal bouquet.
It was a big hit at the shower! 
It was a labor of love and took me a few late nights to finish it.
But J loved it and that was my goal!

Friday, August 27, 2010

yummy butter cream frosting!

One of my close friends, J, is getting married in September and I am one of her bridesmaids!
We threw her a bridal shower last Saturday and I baked the cake for it. 
This is the frosting that I used and I always get great compliments on the taste. 
It is not as sweet as a traditional buttercream and it has a great texture especially for decorating.
I know the recipe can look a little daunting but it is not as complicated as it seems.


Makes 7 cups
1 & 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
8 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 & 1/2 pounds(6 sticks) unsalted butter, at room
temp, cut into small pieces

1.  Place the 1&1/4 cups of sugar and water in a small
saucepan. Stir to wet all of the sugar. Bring to a
boil over medium-high heat, swirling the pan
occasionally to help dissolve sugar. Dip a pastry
brush in cold water and wash down sugar crystals from
the sides of the pot once or twice. Turn down the heat
so the mixture simmers gently. You want to be able to
bring the syrup to a rapid boil when needed. 
2.  Meanwhile, place the whites in your clean,
grease-free mixing bowl and whip until frothy on low
speed using the wire whip attachment. Add the cream of
tartar and turn the speed up to medium-high. When soft
peaks form, add the 1/3 cup sugar gradually.  Continue
whipping until stiff, glossy peaks form. This is the
meringue part of the butter cream.

  3.  Return the sugar/water mixture to a rapid boil and
cook until it reaches 248-250 degrees. The trick here
is to have to syrup ready at the same time as the
glossy meringue. If the meringue is done before the
syrup, turn the mixer speed down to the lowest setting
so that the whites are continuously moving, but not
highly agitated. If the syrup is done first add a bit
of hot water to lower the temperature and continue to
cook until meringue is ready.
4.  While the syrup is cooking at a rapid boil, there
are many visual clues to use to see how it is
progressing. It starts out thin with many small
bubbles over the entire surface. As it cooks, the
water evaporates and the mixture will become thicker.
The bubbles get larger and do not rise to the surface
so rapidly. The bubbles will become thick and sticky
and pop open more slowly as well. At this point, the
syrup definitely looks thickened, but it has not begun
to color, which would mean it is about to turn into
caramel. The stage you want, called the firm ball
stage, is right before the sugar starts to color. If
you drop a bit of the syrup into a glass of cold water
it will harden into a ball. When you squeeze the ball
between your fingertips, it will feel firm.

5.  When the syrup is ready, with the mixer running on
medium-high speed, pour in the syrup in a steady
stream, without getting any on the rotating whip or
the sides of the bowl. If it does, the syrup will
harden and cling and not make it down into the
meringue mixture. Turn off the machine to add the
syrup if you find it easier. You just do not want to
let the meringue sit still for longer than a few
6.  The meringue must be whipped until it cools, which
may take as long as 15 minutes, depending on the
ambient temperature. At this point, beat the meringue
on high speed. Occasionally touch the outside bottom
of the bowl; you should be able to feel it cooling
down. When the bowl is no longer warm, stop the
machine and touch the surface of the meringue with
your finger to double-check that it is indeed cooled.
If you add the butter while the meringue is warm, the
butter will melt and ruin the texture of the
butter cream by turning it liquidy. It will also
decrease the volume of the final product.

7.  When the meringue is cool, turn the machine down
to a medium speed and begin to add the butter, a
couple tablespoons at a time. The meringue will
change the moment the butter becomes incorporated; the
texture becomes thicker, creamy, and smooth as it
turns into butter cream. Continue to whip the
butter cream, adding the remaining butter. Keep beating
until the butter cream is completely smooth.  If at any
time the mixture looks lumpy or separated, just
continue to beat; it will come together.

8.  After butter cream is completely smooth you can add
1 tablespoon of flavoring (ex. vanilla), if desired.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

birthday fun!

My birthday was Wednesday!
I like to keep my b-day's pretty low key.

So, Wednesday night we had ice cream cake and I opened gifts.
I got the first two seasons of Torchwood and a gift card to Starbucks!!!
Oh...and I bought myself the complete Stargate Atlantis series;) 

The wonderful folks at work bought the whole office cupcakes for my bday. 
They were the size of my face and super YUMMY!

Then yesterday we went to my favorite restaurant CHIPOTLE.
We decided to go to the one in Jacksonville, Fl instead of Atlanta.
{Jacksonville is actually closer to Savannah}

We then walked around the mall and just had a fun day window shopping!
I have had a couple of great days celebrating my birthday and not too much fuss was made about it.
I have the greatest friends!!

Monday, August 2, 2010


...crazy college apartment complex!!

After a LONG weekend, we have officially moved in to our new house!
I will have to post pics later this week because internet has not been connected at the new house yet.

Goodbye to:
drunken college parties that last until dawn
upstairs neighboors that apparently only know how to stomp
loud music playing at all hours of the night
having to testify in the eventual murder trial involving the couple from 724B
{seriously just break up already}
the streetlight directly in front of my bedroom window
the worst apartment management company I have EVER dealt with


I already love the new place!

{click for source}

I had a pretty eventful start to the moving process.
I will never use U-Haul again.
I reserved a truck over a month before the move.
They were supposed to contact me within 24 hours of the pick up time to let me know where to pick up the truck.
Well, that 24 hour deadline came and went without a call.
So, there ensued an ENTIRE day on the phone with U-Haul.
Eventually, I was told my reservation was guaranteed and that someone WOULD definitely be calling me with the specific details.

A little side note.
If we were not out of our apartment by Noon on Saturday then we all 3 had to pay a penalty equal to 2 months rent.
That is $2,700.00.
This is why it was imperative that we get the U-Haul by 10am.

Well, 9am Saturday morning rolls around and I still had not heard from them.
I called and explained the situation to the customer service lady.
I was trying my best not to be rude but seriously they are a national corporation.
She said she would give me a call back when she found out something.
Never heard from her!!

I decide to just go the one of the U-Haul places in town.
The gentleman there told us that our reservation was never scheduled.
By this point, I am ready to blow a gasket.
But the guy here is really nice and is going out of his way to try and help us.
He did not have any U-Haul trucks that would fit our reservation, but he did have a truck that he rented out personally that he let us get for a way better price!!

So, everything worked out with the truck.
We got everything moved out of the apartment and had our keys turned in by 11:30!
We spent all day yesterday unpacking.
The entire house is now unpacked and in order.
There are only a few pictures left to hang.

And let me tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed the silence last night!!!
It made me want to do a happy dance!

{click for source}