Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Baking

Since I'm not good at updating regularly, and the theme of this is all things beauty, meaning pretty things, and I'm a total glutton; I baked a cake! A Valentine's Day pound cake to be exact. It was super easy, but not super quick. Like most baking projects, it takes me a couple days.

So what did I make?

Drum roll please....

A Hidden Heart Pound Cake!

I got the idea from a page on Facebook. (If you Google "hidden heard pound cake" you'll get a ton of results as well as other hidden shape ideas - I want to try the pumpkin one come the holidays.) The link to the recipe used box pound cake. Blasphemy! Call me a baking snob if you want. Once you start baking from scratch, you can tell and appreciate the difference. Not all baked goods from scratch are good. I've had my fair share of nasty bakery goods.

For the pound cake I used the recipe from my favorite cookbook of all time CakeLove by Warren Brown. The recipe can be found here. I know this because this is the recipe I used. We're in the process of moving, so my copy is already packed. :( I made the non-alcohol version, but still including the (homemade) vanilla extract and did not subtract any of the milk used to substitute for the alcohol. And I did not add the lemon zest. Why no alcohol? We are too broke for that right now. Otherwise I would. I usually weigh out my ingredients with a food scale. I did not sift the flour. I didn't want to make another thing dirty, and I'm lazy. And the cake came out just fine. And I used regular sugar instead of extra-fine sugar (bakers sugar for those of you who don't know what extra-fine sugar is).

The frosting is Ghirardelli's White Chocolate Frosting recipe. That's right. When I say from scratch, I mean it! I made a half batch. Mostly because I had 2 egg whites leftover from the pound cake, and because a full batch makes WAY TOO MUCH! Seriously! They claim it makes enough to frost the 14 cupcakes the recipe yields (it makes more cupcakes than that, I can't remember how many now though). I made these for a coworkers going away party and I put a generous amount of frosting on each cupcake as pictured on the site and I still had a 3 cup tupper of it left! It's really easy to make. I think the instructions can sound intimidating at first. The only thing is that it says it will take a couple minutes to heat up the egg whites and sugar. Not on an electric stove. More like 5+  minutes. Full batch - more like 10. And FYI: The recipe starts with the 4 lg egg whites. The web page doesn't make the distinction between which ingredients are for what, it's just one solid list.

Besides being time consuming, this cake is actually really easy to make. You just need enough ingredients for 2 cakes, pans, frosting ingredients if you want (I was debating frosting, but the cakes overflowed because I filled the pans to high, so it needs it for aesthetic reasons, and it's yummy), and a cooling rack. Having a mixer of course helps immensely. We have a KitchenAid. And you need a cookie cutter in your desired shape. In my case a heart for V-Day.

And now how to do it. I'm probably going to make this sound way more complicated than it is with all my side commentary. It's super easy - says "Little Miss Betty Crocker" as the family puts it.

All you do is mix up a batch of pound cake, add your desired color of food coloring, bake and cool. The website I got the instructions from said to bake the cake 10 minutes less than the recipe called for. This didn't work for me because my oven temp was off (I live in the most horrible shithole in this town - but not for long, yay!) and the cake still turned out just fine. Once your cake(s) (the CL recipe yielded 2 cakes), are cool, slice then no thicker than your cookie cutter. I didn't take any pictures of this (you can find plenty through Google). Posting this was more of an after thought, I don't know where my good camera is (all pics in this post were taking with my phone), and our kitchen light is out (thus the closet door background for the next pic). And punch out the middle of each slice with your cookie cutter. Next mix up another batch of cake batter, sans food coloring. Put some in the bottom of your pan(s). I probably put about a half inch. Then put in your cutout pieces of cake down the middle of the pan. I was surprised with how easy this step was. Next pour more batter down the sides (mine was thick enough I could spoon it on with a spatula) and over the top. Bake according to the directions. Let cook for 5 minutes, de-pan and let cool fully. Frost if desired (I didn't frost my cakes before cutting. I'm frosting each individual piece as it's cut because I only have ziplocks to put the cake in). And Enjoy!

 But wait! What about the leftover cake from the first 2 cakes? Jess surprised me with his suggestion: cake pops.