Flour Child Bakery opens in Virginia Beach!

My mom and I just opened a bakery in Virginia Beach!! "Like" us to stay updated! If you care to read our blog, it's flourchildbakery.blogspot.com.



Tuesday, June 30, 2009

HTEAC Does Business: "Over the Hill!" 40th Birthday Cake

I'm gonna start a new grouping of posts for my paid orders. I'm calling it HTEAC Does Business (sticking with the theme from my HTEAC Does Dinner section). One of our loyal wing nighters asked me to do her boyfriend John's 40th birthday cake. She wanted to do the "Over the Hill" theme with lots of black frosting. Thank goodness he likes chocolate because it is SO awful trying to make black vanilla buttercream. She told me he loves Reese's and asked me to do a cake and cupcakes using chocolate and peanut butter as the main flavors. For the cake, I used a peanut butter cake recipe from a book I recently got, Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott, and I added some mini chocolate chips to the batter. For the frosting, I used regular decorator's buttercream for the colors. And for the black frosting I made chocolate peanut butter frosting. I hate decorating cakes, and if I didn't have help from my mom (who took a gazillion Wilton classes back in the day and can decorate character cakes in her sleep) this cake would've looked terrible. We teamed up and did a pretty awesome job, considering my mom hasn't done a cake in over 10 years and I absolutely loathe cake decorating.

And if you suck at making flowers like I do, try this method. Use a small star tip (I think I used #18) and make a swirl from the inside out. It looks sorta like a flower!
Now let me talk a little more about this cake recipe. It uses the mixing method of coating the flour with fat before adding the wet ingredients. This prevents the flour from absorbing the wet ingredients and thus prevents the development of gluten. Meaning, you can stop worrying so much about over-mixing your cake batter. At first, this method always made me nervous because it's pounded into our heads that we should never over-mix the batter after the flour is added. But after a bit of practice, I actually prefer this mixing method. This particular recipe is mixed for over 2 1/2 minutes and the cake comes out perfectly soft and moist! It's like a cake miracle! :D

PS: If you only wanna make 6 or 7 cupcakes, make 1/4 of the recipe. (It works, I tried it!)

James McNair's Peanut Cake (from Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott)
Makes 2 9-inch round layers; or about 28 cupcakes [1/4 recipe in green makes about 7 cupcakes]
4 eggs (1 egg)
1 cup milk (1/4 cup)
1/4 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil (1 Tbsp)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)
3 cups all-purpose flour (3/4 cup)
1 tablespoon baking powder (3/4 tsp)
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit)
2 cups sugar (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (2 Tbsp)
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not "natural" peanut butter) (2 Tbsp)
3/4 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (my own addition) (1/4 cup)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking pans. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla and whisk to blend well. Set aside.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl of a mixer, and stir with a fork to mix well. Add the sugar and use the mixer at low speed or a fork to mix these dry ingredients together well, about 30 seconds. Add the butter and peanut butter and beat at medium speed until the mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs, about 45 seconds. Add about 1 1/4 cups of the milk mixture and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes, and then stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining milk mixture, beat for 30 seconds, stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat again until creamy smooth, about 30 seconds more. (Fold in the chocolate chips, if using.)
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a rubber spatula. Bake for 25-30 minutes (or 15-17 minutes for cupcakes), until the cake springs back when touched gently in the center and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks or folded kitchen towel for 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn out the cakes onto the racks to cool completely.

Friday, June 26, 2009

White Chocolate Raspberry-Swirl Gelato

Remember a few posts ago when I mentioned the 6 egg yolks I needed to use? Well, how about some gelato?! I was flipping through the pages in Frozen Desserts from Williams-Sonoma and as soon as I saw "6 egg yolks" as an ingredient I stopped. The result: White Chocolate Gelato! But I can't just settle for that. I made fresh raspberry sauce to swirl throughout it! The raspberries at the grocery store were HUGE and gorgeous. I couldn't resist the Buy 1 Get 1 Free sign! (Btw, Josh ate the other container of raspberries by himself!)

The verdict: In my opinion, this gelato is about a 4 out of 5. Josh gave it a 5. Actually after his first bite, he gave me the look that said it was a 5. I didn't think it tasted like white chocolate. Maybe I didn't use the right white chocolate. Next time I'll go for Lindt (my fave white chocolate). Also, after about the third bite, my mouth was totally numb and I could barely taste anything. I think a pinch of salt would help wake my tastebuds up. Other than that, it's creamy and delicious!



This photo wouldn't be possible without Photoshop. My good camera is still at the campground, so I'm using my old one.This is what it looked like before I Photoshopped it! =\
PS: Can someone explain to me the difference between ice cream and gelato?? Thanks! :P

UPDATE: Okay, thanks to the varying facts and contradicting answers I got on the ice cream vs. gelato topic, I decided to do some reading and quote an answer from a trusted source. From The Dessert Bible by Chris Kimball:
"Ice cream and gelato are almost the same thing—basically just flavored, frozen egg custards—except gelato has more intense flavor and a lower sugar level. Gelatos are most often made with assertive flavors such as hazelnut, coffee, chocolate, or combinations... In the end, I decided that gelato is nothing more than the Italian word for ice cream, with one twist—the flavors are intense, much more so than with American ice cream, which is mildly flavored by comparison."
In that case, this gelato desparately needs its white chocolate flavor bumped up! :D

White Chocolate Raspberry-Swirl Gelato (adapted from Frozen Desserts by Williams-Sonoma)
Makes about 1 quart
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
4 oz. white chocolate, chopped (next time I'd use 6 oz.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange-flower water or rose water, optional

Raspberry Swirl Sauce (my own recipe)
1 6-oz. container of fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon Chambord or any berry liqueur
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

In a saucepan, whisk together milk, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, and sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream until blended.

Place the saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves and small bubbles form around the edges, 4-5 minutes. Do not allow to come to a boil. Begin whisking the yolks while slowly pouring 1/4 of the hot liquid into the yolks. Then whisk the yolk mixture back into the saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (160-170 degrees F), 4-5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Sprinkle the chopped white chocolate over the top of the custard and let stand 1 minute. Stir gently until the chocolate is melted and the custard is smooth. Stir in vanilla extract and flower water, if using. Pour the hot custard through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl and cool completely in an ice bath, 30-45 minutes. Once the custard has cooled to room temperature, remove it from the ice bath. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a “skin” from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

While custard chills, prepare the raspberry swirl sauce. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce and pulse until well blended. Pour through a fine mesh sieve, and discard the seeds. Refrigerate until needed.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Gelato is finished when it reaches the consistency of thick whipped cream. Pour 1/4 of the gelato into a plastic freezer container. Drizzle some of the raspberry liquid over the gelato and swirl with a toothpick. Continue layering gelato and raspberry sauce, ending with the sauce. Cover tightly and freeze for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

These muffins were super random. I woke up to find some lovely bananas laying on the kitchen table. Fruit doesn't last long in our house because I always find something to bake with it. As soon as I saw the bananas, I knew I wanted to FINALLY try the banana muffins in Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito that I've heard so much about . My thoughts? All the reviews are true! These muffins are insane! They are packed with flavor. They're very moist, thanks to the bananas. And the coffee really accents the flavor of the chocolate chips. I didn't have espresso powder, so I used extra instant coffee. I think next time I'll add a bit more to make the coffee flavor really stand out. Other than that, these muffins are perfect. They'll definitely get you going in the morning, but don't think you'll be reaching for one as a substitute for a healthy breakfast. They're definitely not in the healthy-muffin category!

Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins (from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking)
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 medium)
1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cups whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant espresso
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 12 cup pan muffin with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl stir together the bananas, sugars, butter, milk, and egg. Set aside.
In another medium bowl whisk together the flour, espresso, baking soda, and salt together. Make a well in the center of the flour bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the well and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate.
Divide the batter among the muffin pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pan for 15 minutes before removing. Then finishing cooling on a wire rack. Muffins can be kept in an airtight container for 2 days.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pain Pesto (Pesto Swirl Bread)

UPDATE: I'm happy to say that it's only day 2, and the whole loaf is almost gone. Embarrassingly, I'm responsible for about half of it! ;D

I've been in the mood to bake bread this week. I set out to choose a bread recipe to use the 6 egg yolks I have in the fridge, but when I found this recipe for pesto bread in A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman, I could practically hear my basil plant screaming "yeeaahh pick that one!!" How can I say no to talking botanicals?? The recipes calls for a jar of prepared pesto, and I'm sure Buitoni would've done a fine job. But, HELLO!?!? It's summer! Pretty much the only thing I get excited about in the summer is Stephanie coming to visit and making my own pesto! I found the pesto recipe in the newest addition to my bookshelf, Eating the Greek Way by Fedon Alexander Lindberg, M.D. (got it for a whopping $3.99 at Ross). I couldn't stop eating the pesto by itself, but I knew I had to save at least 1/2 cup of it for the bread. Speaking of the bread...

Ohhh bread... what did I do wrong? I felt I was being so gentle and kind to you. I patiently waited for you to rise. I handled you tenderly when I rolled you out. I bathed you in glorious pesto. I tucked you into a nice warm oven. And you came out looking like the puniest swirl bread I've ever seen. Were you not fond of me halving your recipe? Did I roll you too thinly? Did I squeeze you too tightly? Did I possibly over-proof you? Will I ever know? Don't worry though, bread, because your puny layers were still delicious. We will meet again soon, and hopefully you won't be so deformed next time. Until then, I wish you a safe journey as you travel down the esophagi of my family and friends. Tata for now!

What? You say I was talking to the bread? Nooo! I'd never do that. I'm not a lunatic who talks to various inanimate objects such as televions, stoplights, and food! *subject change* Here's the recipe... ;)

Pain Pesto (from A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman)
Makes 1 large loaf

1 1/4 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon rapid rise yeast
4 cups, approximately, bread flour
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 teaspoons sugar
2 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 (10 oz) jar of prepared pesto (a generous cup)
Dustings of salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and parsley

Stack two baking sheets together and line top sheet with parchment paper.
In mixing bowl, hand whisk water and yeast together and let stand 3 minutes to dissolve yeast. Add one cup of flour and stir briefly. Then stir in oil, sugar, salt, and most of remaining flour. Mix ingredients and then attach dough hook and knead on lowest speed 6 to 8 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding more flour as required.
Remove dough hook from machine and spray dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover entire mixer with clear plastic bag. (Or remove the bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in a turned-off, warm oven [below 200 degrees F].) Let rise 45 to 90 minutes or until almost doubled.
Gently deflate dough on lightly floured surface. Let rest 10 minutes and then roll out into 20x20 inch shape. If dough resists, let it rest a few more minutes and roll out gently. Drizzle some additional olive oil on dough and then smear pesto all over surface. Roll up jelly roll style. Shape into "S" shape on prepared baking sheet.
Drizzle olive oil on top and dust with salt, pepper, Parmesan, and parsley. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Press bread down slightly before it goes into the oven. Bake until it is well browned, about 35 to 45 minutes. Cool to warm on baking sheets before cutting.

Pesto Sauce (from Eating the Greek Way by Fedon Alexander Lindberg, M.D.)
Makes 1 cup; 6 to 8 servings

3 tablespoons pine nuts (I used a handful of walnuts)
1 ¼ cups fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
¼ cup olive oil (I added 2 extra tablespoons to loosen it up)
Salt and pepper

Toast the nuts lightly in a dry skillet over medium heat until just golden but not browned, 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Put the nuts in a food processor or blender, add the basil, garlic, Parmesan, and oil, and purée to make a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper. (I added about ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt and a few turns of the pepper mill.)

Almond Joy Ice Cream

While Stephanie was here I showed her how to make homemade ice cream. I let her pick the flavor, but I suggested that we choose something to use up the coconut milk we had leftover from the Piña Colada Cake. Since she LOVES all things chocolate, we both decided to make Almond Joy ice cream. We started with a recipe for coconut ice cream in Williams-Sonoma's Frozen Desserts. To that we added a bit of dark cocoa powder; 3 tablespoons was the perfect amount to deliver a perfect chocolate punch without taking away from the coconut flavor. We mixed cream of coconut with flaked coconut to make that sticky coconut filling you find in an Almond Joy. Then I found some cocoa-roasted almonds in my mom's secret snack drawer. She always hides the good stuff! When the ice cream was complete, it tasted just like an Almond Joy! It wasn't too sweet or too rich, which is a complaint I have with most homemade ice cream recipes. The chocolate flavor was just right, and the random dollops of coconut filling and chopped almonds were perfect! This recipe is a total keeper. Thanks, Stephanie, for helping me make AND eat this ice cream! <33333Almond Joy Ice Cream (based very loosely on the Coconut Ice Cream recipe in Williams-Sonoma’s Frozen Desserts)
Makes about 1 quart

1 ½ cups heavy cream, divided
1 cup whole milk
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons dark cocoa powder
1 ¼ cups sweetened or unsweetened flaked dried coconut, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cream of coconut
¼ teaspoon coconut extract
pinch of salt
½ cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped

In a small saucepan, whisk together 1 cup of heavy cream, whole milk, coconut milk, sugar, and cocoa powder. Stir in ½ cup of dried coconut and vanilla. Warm over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves and small bubbles form around the edges, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a clean saucepan to remove all the flaked coconut. Press on the coconut to extract as much liquid as possible.

Warm the coconut-milk mixture over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining ½ cup of heavy cream until blended. Whisk ¼ of the coconut-milk mixture into the yolks. Then whisk the yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining coconut-milk mixture. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4-5 minutes.

Pour the hot custard into a bowl and cool completely in an ice bath, 30-45 minutes. Once the custard has cooled to room temperature, remove it from the ice bath. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a “skin” from forming. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. While mixture is churning, stir together the remaining ¾ cup dried coconut, cream of coconut, coconut extract, and a pinch of salt. Refrigerate until the ice cream is finished churning. When the ice cream reaches the consistency of thick whipped cream, pour it out of the ice cream maker and into a shallow pan. Dollop the coconut mixture over the top and sprinkle with chopped almonds. Without stirring, transfer the ice cream into a plastic freezer container. Cover tightly and freeze for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

IronCupcake_011: Not-So-Blue-Berry Cupcakes

Iron Cupcake:Earth_011
Theme: Summer Berries
My entry: Not-So-Blue-Berry Cupcakes
Voting begins: Sunday, June 28 @ http://www.ironcupcakemilwaukee.com/ and will be open through Monday, July 6 at 12 noon Central.

This post is about blueberry cupcakes, but I need to get this rant off my chest first. It's directed to supermarket butter brands. Most people who use butter often have noticed that brands distinguish their salted butter from their unsalted butter by making the writing on the wrappers either red or blue. But why is it that some brands use red on unsalted butter and other brands use blue on unsalted butter?? It gets extremely confusing when I have more than one brand of butter in the fridge. Here's an example: While I was making these blueberry cupcakes I reached in the fridge and grabbed a stick of unsalted butter (not in it's box). The writing was red, and I clearly saw UNSALTED BUTTER on the label. So when I went to make the frosting I grabbed the other two sticks with red writing on them. I assume they're also unsalted because they're red. How shocked was I when I tasted the frosting and it was SALTY!?!?! I looked in the trash can, and sure enough, it was a different brand of butter and it was salted. So, supermarket butter brands, I urge you to please do your part to prevent future baking disasters. Create a general rule that all unsalted butter will be in a blue wrapper, and all salted butter will be in a red wrapper. THANKS!

Now on to the Not-So-Blue-Berry Cupcakes. I gave them that name because blueberries aren't really blue. They're purple. It's cool if you don't believe me. You probably missed that episode of Food Detectives. Anyway, these purple-berry cupcakes are absolutely delicious. I was afraid they would taste like a blueberry muffin with frosting on top, but they don't. They totally make a name for themselves as a cupcake. The frosting is Swiss meringue buttercream (of course) with Braswell's Select blueberry preserves mixed in. Btw, Braswell's Select is my favorite brand of all jams, jellies, preserves, marmalades, you name it! You can usually find it at Marshall's and TJ Maxx for a great price. My all time favorite is the seedless black raspberry. Mmm it's the best!

Anyway, I digress. This is my almost-late entry for IronCupcake:Earth_Summer Berries challenge! I realized it's not the most creative cupcake ever. I planned on using blackberries from the bush in our yard. I waited as long as I could, but the blackberries weren't quite ripe enough to make the deadline!
Blueberry Cupcakes (from Crazy About Cupcakes by Krystina Castella)
Makes 14-16 cupcakes
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Insert liners into a regular muffin pan.
With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs (one at a time) to the creamed mixture and beat well.
In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Beat portions of the dry ingredients into the cream mixture alternating with the milk. Mix for 3 minutes (I don’t know why the recipe says this. It’s not a good idea. I only mixed until the flour was almost fully incorporated.). With a spatula, fold in the vanilla and blueberries.
Fill cupcake liners 1/2 to 3/4 full with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes (mine were done at 18) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan.

Blueberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (my own recipe)
Makes enough to generously frost about 16 cupcakes
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but cool
1 cup blueberry preserves
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Put egg whites and sugar into the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, cook until sugar has dissolved and mixture is hot (about 160 degrees).
Pour heated egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg white mixture on high speed until it forms stiff peaks. Continue beating until fluffy and cooled, about 7 minutes. While mixture is beating, bring the blueberry preserves to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the pulp. Set aside the blueberry liquid to cool to room temperature.
Switch to the paddle attachment. With mixer on medium, add cool butter two tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. Increase speed to medium-high; continue beating until frosting appears thick, about 3 minutes. It may go through a soupy, curdled-looking phase, but it will come together. Reduce speed to low; add cooled blueberry liquid and vanilla extract and continue beating about 2 minutes to combine.


Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 5
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: 5 (even with salted butter!)



Prizes provided by Etsy artists:
A sweet cupcake ID bracelet by INSANEJELLYFISH
A groovy linocut piece from BLOCKHEAD PRESS
Also,
CAKESPY, who is now going to be doing a piece for our winner each month until further notice!
SWEET CUPPIN CAKES CUPCAKERY will be tossing in sweet surprise.
Corporate prize providers:
HEAD CHEFS by
FIESTA PRODUCTS
HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson
JESSIE STEELE APRONS
CUPCAKE COURIER
TASTE OF HOME books
UPWITHCUPCAKES.COM
Iron Cupcake:Earth is sponsored in part by 1-800-Flowers

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Cake Slice presents: Piña Colada Cake

For the June installment of The Cake Slice, the bakers made the Piña Colada Cake from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne. It's a brown sugar cake, filled with tangy pineapple filling, and frosted with coconut meringue buttercream (again, the recipe makes Italian meringue buttercream, but with a few changes I Swissed it up!). Stephanie from Cram It In Your Face is staying with me this week, and she helped me make it. If you remember from last month's Cake Slice recipe, I baked it at Stephanie's house and I did all the work! This time I put her to work! We omitted the rum soak because I don't like the flavor of alcohol when it's not cooked out a little. Stephanie and I both agreed that the cake needed more coconut flavor. I think next time I'd make extra coconut frosting and put some in the middle on top of the pineapple filling. Also, we felt that the coconut milk gave the frosting an "off" flavor. Next time, I'd leave that out and use coconut oil instead of coconut extract. But I'm the baker, so I'm the worst critic. The wing nighters loved it and gave it 5 stars!

See how the other bakers fared this month by clicking here!

Here's me measuring water (because I used buttermilk powder), but I wanted to show my newest fashion statement... pink hair! I put Stephanie to work this time!
I don't know how I could survive without my cake leveler!
Stephanie is the queen of action shots! ;)
Mmm that pineapple filling is BOMB!
Another action shot... and props to my cake turntable, thanks for the help!
Sorry for the lighting... it was so cloudy!!
Stephanie and I shared the first slice, the fruit of our labor!!
Piña Colada Cake
from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne

Brown Sugar Cake
3 3/4 cups cake flour
1 3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
5 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and line the base of three 9inch cake pans.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Whisk gently to combine. Add the brown sugar, butter and 1 1/2 cups of the buttermilk to the dry ingredients. With the mixer on low blend to incorporate. Raise the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Whisk the eggs with the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk and the vanilla and add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well and beating only long enough to incorporate between additions. Divide the batter between the 3 pans.
Bake for 25-28 minutes or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the layers cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper and allow to cool completely.

Pineapple Filling
1 can (20 ounce) crushed pineapple in juice (no added sugar)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 one-inch piece of vanilla bean split in half (We used 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)

Combine the pineapple, sugar and lime juice in a pan. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the pan too. Warm over a medium-low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, 2 to 3 minutes.
Raise the het to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the juices have almost completely evaporated and its turned jam-like in consistency (This took us about 10 minutes). Let the filling cool completely before using. (Can be made a day in advance and refrigerated)

Coconut Buttercream
3 eggs whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water (We omitted this)
2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature (We reduced this to 2 sticks)
2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract

(We changed this to make it Swiss meringue buttercream. Whisk the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes, or until mixture is fluffy and cool to the touch. Switch to the paddle attachment. On medium speed, add butter a few tablespoons at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture becomes very thick and smooth, about 3 minutes.)

Put the eggs whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment so they are ready to go.
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil and cook without stirring until the syrup reaches the sold boil stage, 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Beat the egg whites briefly at medium speed. Slowly add the hot syrup in a thin stream, being careful to avoid the beaters. Continue to whip until the meringue has cooled to body temperature.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the butter, several tablespoons at a time and continue to beat until a smooth fluffy frosting forms.
Add the coconut milk in several additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl well after each addition. Add the coconut extract and mix until smooth.

To assemble
9 tbsp rum – light, amber or dark
Coconut flakes and thin slices of pineapple

Place one layer flat side up on a cake stand. Sprinkle a generous 3 tbsp rum over the cake. Spread half of the pineapple filling over the layer, leaving a small gap around the edge. Add the second layer, sprinkle with more rum and cover with the remaining pineapple filling.
Top with the third layer and sprinkle with the remaining rum. Frost the top and sides of the cake with the coconut buttercream.
Decorate with some thin shreds of coconut and slices of pineapple if wished.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'm still here!

Just wanted to write a quick post to let you all know I'm still alive! My cousin, Stephanie, is staying with me this week. We've been keeping ourselves busy, so I haven't had time to post anything. We're working at the Cock Island Race this weekend in Downtown Portsmouth (any locals should come find me and say hey! I'll be under a red and white tent!).

We have been baking a lot, so get ready for a flood of posts next week! Thank you to all who were concerned and sent e-mails. I appreciate it!

Be back soon! :D
<3 Cassie

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Zucchini Bars w/ Spiced Brown Butter Frosting

Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and welcome my guest for this post, zucchini!!! Umm... you, yeah you, why aren't you standing? What, you don't like zucchini?? My friend, obviously you have not met these zucchini bars! One bite and I promise you and zucchini will be BFFs!! You don't believe me? Well, I wish I could tempt you with a mouth-watering photograph, but sadly my good camera is sitting in our camper at a campground about 45 minutes away! You'll have to take my word for it that these are totally delicious! It doesn't taste like scary vegetables. It tastes like perfectly moist, extremely flavorful cake with a bit of crunch from some chopped walnuts. It's more like a cake than a "bar." And since it's filled with shredded zucchini, you can forget about all the butter and sugar that's in it and pretend like you're eating healthy! According to my mom, it's in her top 10 best things I've ever baked. I tweaked the frosting a bit by browning the butter first. That really takes the flavor to a new level, but it's just too sweet for my taste. Next time, I'd reduce the frosting recipe by half and just drizzle it on. But other than that, this recipe from The Taste of Home Baking Book is definitely worthy of an A+!
C'mon, you know me! Have I ever put writing on any of my photos? I mean, unless it was for a promo (like for my Christmas Cookie Caper). But other than that, I never put text on my photos because I think it's extremely distracting. Well, in this case that's exactly why I did it. I had to use my old camera for this entry, and it is NOT good for food photography! The best I could do was distract you with words! How 'bout that recipe!!!...

Frosted Cinnamon Zucchini Bars (from The Taste of Home Baking Book)
Yields a 1-inch high cake in a 13-x9-inch pan
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
(I added 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt)
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini**)
1 cup flaked coconut (I left this out because I didn't want any flavors competing with the zucchini)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

FROSTING:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I bumped it up to 4 tablespoons and browned it in a saucepan)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

(**Put your shredded zucchini into a lint-free dish towel and squeeze out the excess water. The recipe doesn't say to do this, but if you don't you'll get a soggy cake.)
1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beating well (at least 15 seconds) after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, (and salt); gradually add to the creamed mixture. (Mix just until a few streaks of flour remain.) Stir in zucchini, coconut, and nuts. Spread into a greased 15-x10-x1-inch baking pan (I baked mine in a 13x9 and my cake was only 1-inch high. If you bake it in the 15x10 pan your cake is gonna be paper thin!).
2. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. For frosting, combine confectioners' sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in the butter, vanilla, and enough milk to achieve spreading consistency. Frost bars before cutting.

Friday, June 5, 2009

10 Honest Things

Meme alert! I don't ever want to fill my blog up with self-indulgent meme's, but every now and then I get tagged to do a great one. Alicia from The Red Deer tagged me to write 10 honest things about myself. I like this one because it gives a chance to tell any 10 things about ourselves we want. Of course I'm gonna pick 10 awesome things. So here are 10 things that make me seem great! Lol ;P

1. I'm gonna come out of the gate with the same #1 as Alicia. I LOVE ZOMBIE MOVIES! Any and all zombie movies, new or old, crappy or brilliant. So far my favorite is Shaun of the Dead.

2. My boyfriend of 1 1/2 years is my best friend of almost 7 years! Josh is honestly the best person I know. And without a shadow of a doubt I can say that I'm going to marry him some day! :D

3. I have my Associates Degree in Social Science framed and hanging on my bedroom wall as a reminder of the 3 years I wasted in community college before realizing that baking is my passion. Thank goodness for financial aid!

4. I am usually a happy, positive person. I laugh A LOT, and I tend to see the brighter side of most situations.

5. I typically do not like the share the kitchen. If I need help, I'll ask for it. Otherwise, don't take the lids off my pots to see what I'm cooking. And most definitely DO NOT open my oven door!

6. My cat, Thomas, is pretty much my other boyfriend. We found him when he was a kitten, and now he's about 14 or 15 years old. He's still extremely youthful, minus his gruesome old meow!

7. My 16 yr old cousin, Stephanie, is my best girlfriend in the whole wide world! She lives about 4 1/2 hours away, and we only see each other a few times a year. But when we get together, we send each other into a 24/7 fit of laughter. Hopefully she'll move to VA after she graduates!

8. My goal for the future is to own my own bakery and call it "Flour Child Bakery & Dessert Cafe!" I don't have a back-up plan, and some may think that's foolish. However, I know I'm going to succeed, and I won't stop working until I make it!

9. I hate making the same recipe twice! With so many recipes and cookbooks out there, it just wouldn't feel right to settle! I do have a few exceptions: Dorie's Kugelhopf, Alton Brown's Pizza Dough, Martha's Lime Meltaways, Lee Bailey's Coffee Ice Cream, ATK's Low-Fat Blueberry Muffins, Nancy Baggett's Marshmallows, and Paula's Potato Soup! Those are my all-time favorite recipes that will never be replaced!

10. I love learning about 1960's counterculture. If a genie gave me a whole lot of wishes, one of them would be to go to the 60's and be a tree hugger! :D

Okay, now it's my turn to tag 10 people! I'll make it easy and choose first 10 from the top of my Google reader right now:

Technicolor Kitchen
Annie's Eats
Obsessed With Baking
Dessert First
Joy the Baker
The Food Librarian
Culinary Concoctions by Peabody
Honey & Jam
Vanilla Sugar
Cookie Baker Lynn

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

POM Wonderful Chocolate Cupcakes

I know what you're thinking... "Ummm where are the cupcakes? All I see is this freakin bundt!" Well, SORRY! I made the cupcakes, but THEY ALL GOT EATEN! The wing-nighters went buck wild on 'em! I don't know if they were just curious about the pomegranate, or maybe they just really love all things chocolate, or maybe the cupcakes were just that good! I didn't stand a chance telling them to back off while I took 20 pictures just to pick 1 or 2 blogworthy shots. But I did snap a few quick photos of the small bundt cake I made with the leftover batter. My dad's description of the cake was given after a few beers, so I can't quote him word for word (or else I'd have to change my blog rating to "adult content" if you get what I'm saying!). Let's just say he felt very strongly that these cupcakes would fly off the bakery shelves if I ever got a place of my own! Lol ;D

I made these cupcakes because a few months ago I was contacted by POM Wonderful asking if I'd be interested in some pomegranate juice in exchange for saying a few things about it on my blog. I was already a long time fan of pomegranates and their juice, so of course I said yeah! I've had 8 little bottles of POM sitting in my fridge ever since then, just waiting to get put into one of their suggested recipes. So this week when you guys chose pomegranate cupcakes as the poll winner, I was super happy! I used POM's recipe for chocolate cupcakes. The cake itself was a little gummy because of all the water in the recipe, but none of the wing-nighters noticed. At first, the frosting was looking more like a glaze... that is until I bad-mouthed it into becoming spreadable. It only took a few minutes in the fridge and some "Come on, stupid frosting, whip!" pep talks, and that frosting became just as spreadable as it was edible! Then I melted it back down and poured it over the bundt cake. Yeah, I like to do things backwards. Ya wanna fight about it? Anyway, the pomegranate flavor was indistinguishable in the cake itself, but there was a distinct sour, slightly btiter aftertaste to the frosting. I think the POM was really there to accent the flavor of the chocolate. Overall I'd say this recipe is a 8.5, but all the wing-nighters gave it a 10!!
POM Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting (Click here for printable recipe)
Makes 24 cupcakes
Juice from 2-3 large POM Wonderful Pomegranates, or 1 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water, heated to boiling
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vinegar (not wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon vanilla


Pomegranate Chocolate Frosting
Juice from 1 large POM Wonderful Pomegranate,* or 1/2 cup POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice
6 tablespoons butter
1 6-oz. package chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
12 tablespoons whole milk (You definitely don't need this)

1. Preheat oven to 350F with rack in the center.
2. Place a paper baking cup in each of 24 regular sized muffin cups.
3. Whisk together the dry ingredients to combine well.
4. In a large measuring cup, combine pomegranate juice and boiling water.
5. Add oil, vinegar and vanilla to the pomegranate juice mixture.
6. Add to the flour mixture all at once and whisk to combine (batter will be lumpy).
7. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups (about half full).
8. Bake 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and free of crumbs (Mine were done around 16-18 minutes).
9. Let cool. Frost with pomegranate chocolate frosting and decorate with arils.


Frosting:
1. In a saucepan, bring pomegranate juice and butter to a boil.
2. Remove from heat; blend in chocolate chips.
3. Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar. Beat until frosting is of spreading consistency. If frosting is too stiff, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk to thin. (Mine never got thick. I stuck it in the fridge for 5 minutes, and then whipped the heck out of it until it lightened in color and became spreadable.)

(For the glaze, mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar with about 2 capfuls of POM. It should be thick. Drizzle it on top with a whisk or put it into a ziploc bag and cut the corner to use it as a piping bag.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf)

Until very recently, I considered myself a baker of things such as cakes, pies, muffins, etc... I had dabled in bread baking before, with things like Kugelhopf and Hot Cross Buns, but I never ventured into the dark, scary world of bread baking. I thought only psycho-passionate "bread-lovers" could make good bread. I thought it took years of skill and practice to master. I thought it took hours, if not days, to create bread by hand, and that it would have to be a special occasion if I ever took the time to make any. Those thoughts packed up and said "peace out!" to my brain when I received the books Kneadlessly Simple: Fabulous, Fuss-Free, No-Knead Breads by Nancy Baggett and Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. Flipping through their pages, I realized that bread is something that normal people can make every single day... I'm talking 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year (assuming you're really into carbs!). Not only is it simple, there's hardly any labor involved in this new no-knead method that relies on high-moisture dough and a long-slow rise. The result is deliciously tasty bread that will deliver so much pride when you present fresh bread to your family and friends and tell them YOU made it!

So, if you can't tell, I recommend both of these books highly! I've made the master recipe boule from ABin5 about 4 times now. My family always goes crazy over it. We call it "craigslist bread" because one time I made some for my dad before I went out of town. A few hours after I left, he called me and said he was gonna sell it on craigslist and make us rich! Lol :D Just last night, I made the dough AND baked it onlya few hours before dinner! If you still think you can't possibly learn how to make good bread, watch these videos. If I can do it, YOU can do it! I pinky promise! ;D



Here is the recipe from ABin5, but I highly recommend you buy the book for yourself. It is SO worth it!

The Master Recipe: Boule (Artisan Free-Form Loaf) (from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François)
Makes four 1-pound loaves. The recipe is easily doubled or halved.

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt
6 1/2 cups (approximately 2 lbs.) unsifted, unbleached, all-purpose white flour*, measured with the scoop-and-sweep method
Cornmeal for pizza peel
*(If using bread flour, reduce amount to 6 1/4 cups)

Mixing and Storing the Dough
1. Warm the water slightly: It should feel just a little warmer than body temperature, about 100°F. Warm water will rise the dough to the right point for storage in about 2 hours. You can use cold tap water and get an identical final result; then the first rising will take 3 or even 4 hours. That won't be too great a difference, as you will only be doing this once per stored batch.

2. Add yeast and salt to the water in a 5-quart bowl or, preferably, in a resealable, lidded (not airtight) plastic food container or food-grade bucket. Don't worry about getting it all to dissolve.

3. Mix in the flour—kneading is unnecessary: Add all of the flour at once, measuring it in with dry-ingredient measuring cups, by gently scooping up flour, then sweeping the top level with a knife or spatula; don't press down into the flour as you scoop or you'll throw off the measurement by compressing. Mix with a wooden spoon, a high ­capacity food processor (14 cups or larger) fitted with the dough attachment, or a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. If you're hand-mixing and it becomes too difficult to incorporate all the flour with the spoon, you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don't knead! It isn't necessary. You're finished when everything is uniformly moist, without dry patches. This step is done in a matter of minutes, and will yield a dough that is wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container.

4. Allow to rise: Cover with a lid (not airtight) that fits well to the container you're using. Do not use screw-topped bottles or Mason jars, which could explode from the trapped gases. Lidded plastic buckets designed for dough storage are readily available. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flattens on the top), approximately 2 hours, depending on the room's temperature and the initial water temperature. Longer rising times, up to about 5 hours, will not harm the result. You can use a portion of the dough any time after this period. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and is easier to work with than dough at room temperature. So, the first time you try our method, it's best to refrigerate the dough overnight (or at least 3 hours), before shaping a loaf.

On Baking Day
5. The gluten cloak: Don't knead, just "cloak" and shape a loaf in 30 to 60 seconds. First, prepare a pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal (or whatever your recipe calls for) to prevent your loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. (I put the cloaked dough ball on a piece of parchment that has been dusted with flour or cornmeal.) Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, using a serrated knife. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won't stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. (I prefer to roll the dough between my hands on a dry, non-floured work surface, much like making pizza dough. See my video for more details.) Most of the dusting flour will fall off; it's not intended to be incorporated into the dough. The bottom of the loaf may appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but it will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking. The correctly shaped final product will be smooth and cohesive. (When you poke it with your finger, the dough should pop back instead of leaving a deep indentation.) The entire process should take no more than 30 to 60 seconds.

6. Rest the loaf and let it rise on a pizza peel: Place the shaped ball on the cornmeal-covered pizza peel. Allow the loaf to rest on the peel for about 40 minutes to 1 ½ hours. (It doesn't need to be covered during the rest period). Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking ("oven spring"). If you allow the dough to rise until it is slightly wobbly it will bake up with a very nice crumb. You can bake it after 40 minutes but the crumb may be denser.

7. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

8. Dust and slash: Unless otherwise indicated in a specific recipe, dust the top of the loaf liberally with flour, which will allow the slashing knife to pass without sticking. Slash a ¼-inch deep cross, "scallop," or tic-tac­-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife.

9. Baking with steam: After a 20-minute preheat, you're ready to bake, even though your oven thermometer won't yet be up to full temperature. With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the preheated baking stone. (Or just slide your dough sitting on parchment right onto the hot baking stone.) Quickly but carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Because you've used wet dough, there is little risk of drying out the interior, despite the dark crust. When you remove the loaf from the oven, it will audibly crackle, or "sing," when initially exposed to room­ temperature air. Allow to cool completely, preferably on a wire cooling rack, for best flavor, texture, and slicing. The perfect crust may initially soften, but will firm up again when cooled.

10. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days: You'll find that even one day's storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the 14-day storage period. The dough can also be frozen in 1-­pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Supermarket Yellow Cake ...AKA My NEW Go-To!!

If you know anything about baking, you know that the search continues for the perfect vanilla/yellow cake recipe. Everyone has a recipe they will suggest to someone in need, but most of us are always willing to try a new recipe in order to find the perfect vanilla cake! There is some debate about what defines "vanilla cake." Is is white? Is it yellow? Egg yolks or no egg yolks, that is the question! I used to work in a bakery that used cake mix, and people asked us all the time... "What is the difference between white and yellow?" Other than one has egg yolks and one uses just whites, we didn't really know what to tell them.

Well I'm here to offer my answer to the question! I think the terms "white" and "yellow cake" are most recognized as boxed cake mix flavors. (Tell me, Mr. Hines, since when is "white" a flavor? And what exactly does "yellow" taste like?) I think most of us have figured out that white = vanilla. But what does yellow equal? "Ohh I know! Pick me! I know!!" ...Yellow = vanilla butter nut!! I found this imitation flavoring called vanilla butter nut at Kroger . It's pretty much yellow cake mix in a bottle!! It tastes just like yellow cake mix, AND it's yellow! So now you can make homemade yellow cakes that really taste "yellow." Yes, it's artificial, and yes, it contains Yellow 5. But if you like yellow cake mix, I doubt you have a problem with either of those. I used it in this recipe for Supermarket Yellow Cake from A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman. It was wonderful! It has the moist, rich texture of a cake baked from scratch. And it has the flavor of yellow cake mix, without all the harsh chemical stabilizers and preservatives of cake mix!
Did I mention this it my new go-to for yellow cakes?? It's fantastic!! Both Josh and my dad kept eating hunks of it with no strawberries or whipped cream. They loved it plain! And it was still moist after the third day of sitting on the counter! Love it!!

So there's MY answer to the white cake/yellow cake debate. It's my understanding that people used to use vanilla butter nut all the time back in the day. It was the secret ingredient in many old-fashioned cakes. It's somewhat hard to find now. At Kroger I could only find the store brand. I've never seen it at Wal-mart or at our local grocery store, Farm Fresh. I have seen it at our cake supply store, Wine and Cake Hobbies, but it was in a huge bottle. If you look for it, leave me a comment and tell me where you find it! :D
How about a bite??
Supermarket Yellow Cake for Strawberry Shortcake (from A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman)
Makes 6 to 8 servings
“Whew--a long recipe name but a shorter-than-shortcake recipe to make. You know those tender, light yellow cake layers they sell in the supermarket to top with berries and whipped cream for shortcake? This recipe makes that sort of cake. It has cake-mix texture but homemade, from-scratch taste.”
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, finely pulverized*
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I used vanilla butter nut flavoring to give it that cake mix flavor and yellow color!)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm milk

Finishing Touches
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Whipped cream
Fresh berries, diced or whole

*Pulse sugar in a food processor 1 to 2 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with a circle of parchment paper. Put pan on a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
In a mixer bowl (or use a food processor), cream butter and sugar until &fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and blend well.
Fold in flour, baking powder, and salt. Drizzle in milk, blending well and ensuring that nothing is stuck in bottom of mixer.
Pour into prepared cake pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cake tests done when gently pressed with fingertips (Mine was done at 32 minutes in an 8 1/2-inch pan. Check it with a toothpick to make sure only a few dry crumbs stick.). Let cool 15 minutes. Remove from pan and place cake on a serving plate.
Dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with whipped cream and fresh diced strawberries, or ice cream and any mix of berries.