Sunday, 23 October 2011

Lemon Vanilla Pound Cake

I had sour cream left over from a previous baking project that I wanted to use up.  How about a pound cake?  I found a potentially good recipe for a lemon pound cake that I wanted to tweak in healthy way.  So I replaced some of the flour with whole wheat pastry flour and halved the sugar and replaced it with sucanat (pure dried cane juice – unrefined sugar).  I wondered how it would turn out...

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Lemon Vanilla Pound Cake
Inspired from here.

1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup salted butter, room temperature
¾ cup sucanat
3 eggs, room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
½ tablespoon lemon zest
½ cup sour cream

1.       Line a (smaller) tube pan with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2.       Sift flours, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
3.       In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy.
4.       Add sugar and beat for 5 minutes.
5.       Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
6.       Beat in vanilla, lemon juice, and zest.
7.       Using a spatula, mix in dry ingredients.
8.       Mix in sour cream.
9.       Pour into pan and bake for 1 hour (or until a cake tester comes out clean).
10.   Lift the cake out of pan by the parchment paper, and cool on rack.

Before baking.

After baking.


Verdict: This pound cake was delicious, if I do say so myself! It was flavourful and moist!  The sucanat gave a nice flavour, as did the lemon and vanilla.  And the great thing about the whole wheat pastry flour is that it didn’t give it a gritty texture! A nice afternoon snack that I’ll be making again.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Thomas the Tank Engine Cupcakes

It was my friend’s son’s 3rd birthday, and he was having a Thomas the Tank Engine themed party at a school gym with lots of kids.  Last year, I made him a devil’s food Yo-Gabba Gabba Brobee cake.

This year, we went with cupcakes as it’s easier to serve to kids. I thought that vanilla cupcakes with sprinkles would be a crowd pleaser.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Sprinkle Cupcakes
Adapted from here.
Makes 23 cupcakes

1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon vanilla paste
2/3 cup whole milk

1.       Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Line cupcake pans with liners.
2.       In a bowl, sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3.       Add butter and mix on until you get fine crumbs.
4.       In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream, oil, vanilla paste, and vanilla extract, until smooth.
5.       Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and beat until just combined.
6.       Add milk and mix until just combined.  The batter will be liquid. 
7.       Fill cupcake liners just over 1/2 full.
8.       Add sprinkles to each cupcake and give a gentle swirl.
9.       Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Before baking.

After baking.

I used 2 types of frostings:
Buttercream Frosting – with orange gel colouring
Mix 1 cup of softened salted butter, 4 cups of icing sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and 2 Tbsp milk until whipped.

Marshmallow Frosting – with blue gel colouring
Stir 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of water, and ¼ tsp of cream of tartar in a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until the soft-ball stage.
In a big bowl, whip 2 egg whites and 1 tsp vanilla to a soft peak.  Gradually add the sugar syrup while whipping to stiff peaks (may take 7-10 minutes).

With sprinkles.

Thomas flags
Cut out construction paper circles and place Thomas the Tank Engine stickers in the center.
Glue 2 of the circles together with a candy stick in the middle.
Insert flags in the cupcakes after piping frosting.

Verdict:  These cupcake were interesting.  They were not overly sweet, which was nice because it balanced out the sweet frosting.  The kids and parents seemed to enjoy them!

The birthday boy!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Whoopie Pies

My friend had a (Canadian) Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends.  I wanted to bring something small that the guests could eat even after a large turkey dinner - and it was a HUGE dinner (2 turkeys, ham, salmon, ribs, 2 brussels spout dishes, beans, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, dressing, bread, vegetarian pie, 2 gravies, and 2 tables to lay it out on!). A cake seemed too much, and I figured that there would already be a pie (and yes, there were 2 huge pumpkin pies).  So I thought about whoopie pies!  I had never made them before, but I love saying “whoopie pie”! Plus, they are fairly bite size and cute!

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Whoopie Pies
Adapted from here.
Makes 19 whoopie pies.

2 cups flour
½ cup cocoa
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk – shaken
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup salted butter – room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg

1.       Preheat oven 350 degrees.
2.       Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
3.       In a bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt
4.       In a cup, mix buttermilk and vanilla
5.       In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until fluffy.
6.       Add egg and beat until mixed.
7.       Add flour mixture to butter mixture in 3 parts, alternating with buttermilk, and mixing between additions.
8.       Spoon (2 Tablespoon sized portions) onto cookie sheet and bake for 9 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
9. Cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

Before baking.

After baking.

Pipe filling on a cookie and sandwich it with another cookie.  I used left over frosting from other baking projects (vanilla buttercream, raspberry buttercream, cream cheese frosting, and peanut butter cream cheese frosting), but next time I’ll try this boiled frosting. Add sprinkles to the exposed frosting.

Frosting in piping bags and sprinkles.

Clockwise from top right: vanilla buttercream, raspberry buttercream, cream cheese frosting, peanut butter cream cheese frosting.

Verdict: These were pretty delicious with a variety of fillings for people to choose from. The chocolate layers had great flavour and moist texture.  Next time, I’ll pipe the layers so that they’re all the same size and shape!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Jar Cakes

I’ve always wanted to try making jar cakes – cake in jars.  They’re so easy to transport!  Since it was my friend Rica’s birthday, I decided to make them for her.  I coupled a peach cake with a strawberry cream cheese frosting.  Instead of cutting out circles to place in the jars, I used muffin tins!

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Peach Cake
Adapted from a post comment.
Makes 12 jar cake layers to fill 3 small jars.

1/4 cup peach puree*
3/4 cup flour
0.5 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
0.5 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/8 cup milk

*peel a peach and puree in a blender.  In a saucepan, simmer over low heat to reduce.

1.       Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2.       Grease and flour muffin tray.
3.       Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together.
4.       Beat butter and sugar.
5.       Add vanilla, egg, and peach puree.
6.       Mix in milk.
7.       Mix in flour.
8.       Fill muffin tins ¼-1/3 full.
9.       Add any remaining puree on each cake layer.
10.   Bake for 13 minutes.

Peach puree.

Before baking.

After baking.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Filling
Adapted from here.
Makes 1 cup

1/2 packages of cream cheese (4 ounces), room temperature
1 Tbs + 1 tsp butter, room temperature
Heaping 1/3 cup icing sugar
1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup strawberries

1.       In a large bowl, mix cream cheese, butter, and sugar until creamy.
2.       Mix in vanilla.
3.       Pure strawberries in a blender or food processor.  Mix into cream cheese mixture.
4.       Add more sugar if it is too runny.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

1.       Place a cake layer in a jar. 
2.       Pipe frosting on top.
3.       Place next cake layer on top of frosting, and repeat until full.
4.       Sprinkle top layer with sprinkles.

Step 1: place cake in jar

Step 2: add frosting

Step 3: repeat

Replace lids with nice fabric or paper

Add ribbon and spoons

Verdict:   These turned out pretty!  I wished that the peach flavor was more pronounced – adding peach flavoring would have helped with this.  Adding cut up fruit as a layer would also have been delicious too!  I decorated with ribbon and added a spoon that made them ready to transport and ready to eat!