Sunday, October 25, 2009

German Chocolate Cake

Although I have indulged in my share of German Chocolate Cake...I'd never attempted it.  Reetsyburger's German themed birthday party was the perfect excuse to make this cake. 

Before making the cake I thought I should learn the meaning behind the name.  Per wikipedia:
Contrary to popular belief, this cake did not originate in Germany. Instead, the name derives from Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate, which was created in 1852 by an Englishman named Samuel German for the Baker's Chocolate brand. The original recipe for "German's Chocolate Cake" was sent by a Dallas, Texas homemaker to a local newspaper in 1957. The cake became quite popular and General Foods — which owned the brand at the time — distributed the recipe to other newspapers in the country, and sales of Baker's Chocolate are said to have increased by as much as 73%. The possessive form (German's) was dropped in subsequent publications, forming the "German Chocolate Cake" identity we know today.
So, not so German after all...but pretty darn good nontheless!

Cake Ingredients
1 (4-oz) package of Bakers Sweetened Chocolate
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup salted butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs - whites seperated from yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups sifted baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk

Roughly chop chocolate and mix with 1/2 cup boiling water.  (I know...it seems counterintuitive to mix water and chocolate...but it works!).  Allow it to cool to room temperature.  Combine butter and sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy (5-7 minutes) Add egg yolks while slowly and mix until incorporated. Add cooled chocolate liquid and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Sift flour, baking soda and salt. Add milk and flour to the mixture (alternating between the two) and mix until incorporated. Add egg whites to a clean mixing bowl.  Make sure no egg yolk is mixed into the egg whites.  Mix on high speed until you have stiff peaks (about 5 minutes). Fold the egg whites into the cake batter SLOWLY.  Resist the urge to just stir it in, your patience will be rewarded! Line three 8-inch round cake pans with parchment.  Butter and flour the sides to prevent sticking.  This is sort of a pain, but if you've ever had a cake stick will agree it's worth the extra effort. Pour equal amounts of batter into each cake pan and level batter as much as possible. Bake for 30-40 minutes (or until cake tester or toothpick comes out clean). Cool in pans for 15 minutes then transfer to cooling racks and allow to cool completly

I decided to do the traditional coconut pecan frosting between the layers and a chocolate buttercream frosting on top of the cake.  Since I couldn't really see myself making two different frostings from scratch, I took a shortcut and used Pillsbury's Coconut Pecan.  It probably wasn't as good as making it from scratch, but it was quite tasty! 


For the buttecream, I used this Ina Garten recipe. I'm not sure what exactly Ina was intending to frost with all this buttercream, but I made a half recipe and still had a good amount to spare.















I frosted the cake and topped it off with some Dagoba chocolate shavings.















I must say that the result was quite tasty!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Apple Spice Cake

Recently, I was given about 20 pounds of apples, and I need to use them up soon! I've already made an apple pie and a crisp.... so, making an apple cake seemed like a good progression.

I found this Fuji Apple Spice Cake with cream cheese frosting in the October Bon App├ętit magazine. In general I don't really like cakes with fruit and nuts in it...but the cream cheese frosting sounded amazing and I liked the rustic look of the cake.

I substituted the Fuji apples for Haralsons (becuase I'm certainly not going to buy more apples at this point!) and used rum.  I also chopped the pecans that went into the cake so they were very fine.  Otherwise I followed the recipe to a T.

Amazing cream cheese frosting
















The finished product

The verdict? Haralsons are more tart than Fuji, so the cake was not as sweet as some may like it....but I thought it balanced well with the cream cheese frosting. For some reason I seem to have issues making frosting, but this one was super easy and was one of the best cream cheese frostings that I have ever tasted!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Brioche

Something about the the crisp fall weather brings out the inner baker in me.  Now that the heat of summer has passed, I want to turn on the oven again.  With a basement full of wedding gifts, including many kitchen gadgets, I'm feeling inspired to bake up a storm. 

In 1998 I tasted brioche for the first time in Paris.  I was an angsty 18 year old then...so I'm not sure I appreciated it as much as I would today, but I'll never forget that first bite.  There is something so unique and delicious about this rich bread that is unforgettable. 

When I stumbled across Dorie Greenspan's article Brioche Made Easy in October's Bon Appetite magazine I decided that I would attempt to make my own.

I doubled the recipe and used half to make the beautiful bubble-top brioches she describes and used the remaining dough to make some amazing cinnamon rolls.  I'm not the most patient person in the world, so this recipe tested my patience.

The goods before rising



After rising




After about 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven





The result?  While it wasn't the best brioche I've ever tasted, it was pretty dang good!  Personally, I think I preferred the cinnamon rolls.  To make them I rolled out the dough to about 1/3", brushed it with about 3 tablespoons of butter (yes, more butter!), and sprinkled with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.  Then simply roll it up and cut into 1" pieces and let rise.  I made a simple glaze of powdered sugar, milk and vanilla for a little added sweetness. 

Will I make it again?  Most definitely!