Strawberry Coconut Cake

June 17, 2012

 

Margaux says…

I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but I made a boxed cake today.  This is the first boxed cake I have bought since I was in high school, I think!  Ok, let’s start from the beginning: I pinned this cake on Pinterest, not even looking at the recipe first, because it was so pretty.  Who isn’t attracted to a bright pink cake?  Plus, I love coconut.  Then I realized that it was with a white cake mix and a package of jello, and I thought, well, I’ll just do it from scratch instead someday.  Fast forward to today, Father’s Day, and me asking my husband what he wants for his Father’s Day “treat.”  He didn’t really have any idea, so I took him to my “baking” pinboard on Pinterest, and he picked this cake!  (Shows what I know…I thought for sure he would pick a pie, or the ice cream cake that I’ve been dying to make.)  Ok, it’s 85 degrees outside, and I’m 7 months pregnant…boxed cake mix it is!  Plus, I realized that the original recipe is from Joy the Baker‘s website, who I trust for cakes (I’ve made quite a few of hers), so I figured, how bad could it be if she likes it?

The cake mix is seriously doctored, and the frosting is KILLER, so you can’t really tell it’s from a mix.  Well, actually, I could, but everyone else that was scarfing it down said they couldn’t.  I felt a little betrayed, actually.  All the hard work I put into my cakes, and my family loves the doctored-up cake mix just as much.

Strawberry Coconut Cake

adapted from Joy the Baker

1 (18.5 ounce) box white cake mix (without pudding)

1 (3 ounce) package strawberry jello

1 Tablespoon self rising flour

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1/2 cup water

1 tsp pure coconut extract

1/3 cup fresh strawberries, finely diced.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cake, combine to cake mix, Jello, flour and sugar in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the oil.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition  Add the water, coconut extract and strawberries and mix well.  Divide the batter evenly into three 8-inch round baking pans that have been oiled and floured.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the layers pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer the layers from the oven to wire racks.  Let them cool, still in their pans, for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, run a knife around the inside edge of each pan, then unmold each layer onto the racks to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

2 (1 pound) boxes powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp pure coconut extract

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

pink food coloring

4 sliced strawberries

To make the frosting, in a bowl combine the cream cheese and butter.  Beat until soft and pliable and no lumps remain.  Add one box of the powdered sugar, salt and coconut extract.  Beat until incorporated.  Add the second box of sugar and mix until incorporated.  If you would like a smoother consistency, and a slash of milk.  If you would like a thicker consistency, and a bit more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.

Put the coconut in a small bowl and sprinkle with two or three drops of pink die.  Mix with hands to distribute the color and wash hands immediately.  Once the cake is frosted, decorate the top of the cake with the shredded coconut and sliced strawberries.

Hummingbird Cake

June 10, 2012

Margaux says…

I came across this recipe on the Martha Stewart website last year, and have been looking for an excuse to make it.  Last weekend I got the opportunity…my Aunt Annie got married and we had a small outdoor reception for her, and it seemed the perfect venue for this cake.  I’m SO glad that I chose this cake, because I ended up only having a few hours in the morning to throw it together, and it’s one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made!!  It calls for self-rising flour, which I have never used in my life, but is apparently extremely popular in the South, especially for use in cakes.  I have to say, I’m sold on it.

Hummingbird cake is a very popular cake in the South…one of my aunts told me that she read that it is “Southern Living” magazine’s most requested recipe of all time–not cake recipe, but overall most requested recipe.  It’s said to have originated in Jamaica, where the hummingbird (or, Dr. Bird)  is one of the national symbols.   In 1978, a Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, N.C., submitted the recipe to Southern Living magazine, and the cake became renowned.  The true origin of the cake, or the cake name, is not known.  One theory is that it gets its name from being so sweet, that people are drawn to it the way hummingbirds are drawn to sweet sugared water.  On Martha Stewart’s website, it says that it might be so named because each bite “makes you hum with delight.”  It is quite often served at potlucks, or covered dish gatherings, because it’s so sweet that the servings need to be very small, so it serves plenty of people.  Most importantly, we all loved it, and I will definitely be making it again.  It indeed is extremely sweet, but absolutely delicious, and a great alternative for family get-togethers!  Another nice thing about it is that it is an oil cake rather than butter, so it can be refrigerated and not lose it’s original moist texture.  This makes it a great cake for summer, too!

Hummingbird Cake

Paula Deen’s recipe, found on MarthaStewart.com

  • For The Cake

    • Nonstick vegetable spray
    • All-purpose flour, for pans
    • 3 cups self-rising flour
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
    • 2 very ripe large bananas, mashed
    • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • For The Frosting

    • 1 pound (1 box) confectioners’ sugar
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon milk, or more if needed
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray and flour three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour; set aside.
  2. Prepare the cake; in a large bowl, stir to combine self-rising flour, sugar, oil, pecans, bananas, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs.
  3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertips, 26 to 28 minutes.
  4. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire rack. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.
  5. Prepare the frosting; in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk on medium speed until frosting is smooth. If needed, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to achieve the proper spreading consistency.
  6. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Spread the top of the first layer with 1/4 of the frosting. Place the second layer on top and repeat process with another 1/4 of the frosting. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer bottom side up. Spread entire cake with remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with pecans. Remove parchment paper strips; refrigerate until ready to serve.

RED Red Velvet Cake

February 17, 2012


Margaux says…

I realize that I’ve already posted a red velvet cake recipe, but I’ve found over the years that there are two red velvet cake camps: people who like their cake more chocolate-y, and people who want it to look very RED.  Well, actually, make that three camps…I’m in the very small and unpopular “red velvet cake is kind of silly” camp.  I personally don’t get the hype.  Plenty of cakes have cream cheese frosting on them, and besides, GIVE ME CHOCOLATE!  The other red velvet cake I posted is my favorite one, because it has more chocolate in it.  But I have to say, this recipe is also pretty stellar.  There is only a hint of chocolate, but the cake is so delicate and light, it just melts in your mouth.  So when a red velvet cake is requested by someone in the “RED” camp for their birthday, I make this one.  Just a warning, though…there is A LOT of red food dye in it.


The birthday girls that I made this for were born on Valentine’s Day, so of course a heart shaped cake is called for!

Before you really glob on the frosting, I highly recommend doing a thin layer of icing all over the cake first, which I’ve heard called “dirty icing” the cake. When frosting such a dark cake with white icing, it’s best to do this in order to get all the crumbs held into that first layer. Then when you add the second layer, the crumbs dont pop through. I normally don’t take time for such trivial things, but it’s really necessary with this cake, in order to have a nice looking finished cake.

My heart-shaped pans are only 8″, so we luckily had leftover batter to make cupcakes to give out as valentines. And to taste-test, of course!

He likes to eat cupcakes with a spoon-he’s always very careful not to get messy. Oh, and careful to get all the frosting!

RED Red Velvet Cake
adapted from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum

6 egg whites, room temperature
4 tablespoons red food color (two 1-oz. bottles)
3 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups sifted cake flour
2 cups superfine sugar
6 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup canola or safflower oil, room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup buttermilk

1. Grease bottom of two 9-inch heart-shaped or round cake pans; top with parchment paper cut to fit. Spray with baking spray with flour. Set oven rack in the lower third of the oven; heat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk egg whites, food color and vanilla in a medium bowl until lightly combined. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and salt in a medium bowl.
2. Mix oil and butter in bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, 1 minute (they won’t completely mix together, and that’s okay). Add flour mixture and buttermilk; mix on low until dry ingredients are moistened. Raise speed to medium; beat 1 ½ minutes. Lower speed to medium-low; beat in egg mixture in two parts, raise speed to medium and beat 30 seconds each. Pour batter into the prepared pan; smooth the surface evenly.
3. Bake until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and cake springs back when pressed lightly around the edges, 25-35 minutes. Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Carefully invert the cake onto a greased wire rack. Reinvert the cake so that the top side is up. Cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

I made a double recipe of this in order to ensure that I had enough to fill and frost the cake AND for my extra cupcakes I made. I ended up with a little too much. I think a single recipe would be enough for one 9″ cake, unless you like your frosting really slathered on…then maybe I would make a recipe and a half.

1 8oz package cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high until completely combined. Add powdered sugar and vanilla, and first beat on low until combined. Scrape down sides with rubber spatula, then mix on medium high until smooth.

For my son’s 3rd birthday, which was Spiderman themed, I made a red and blue velvet cake. I made each layer in a separate batch of cake batter, and in the blue velvet cake added almost 2 tbsp blue food coloring, and a few drops of violet, in place of the red. The few drops of violet give the cake that royal blue hue.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

October 30, 2011

Margaux says . . .

We have a real problem of loving things that we know are bad for us.  There really doesn’t need to be 3 oz. of red food dye in these cupcakes….they would be just as wonderful without it.  But we still do it, and it’s still one of the most popular cupcake flavors out there.  Every bakery I go to has red velvet, front and center, and I’m willing to bet they’re a best seller.  We taste with our eyes first, and that’s what makes these so tempting (and knowing that yummy cream cheese frosting is on top helps, too).

I’ve tried several different red velvet recipes, and I think this one is the best.  It has more cocoa in it than other recipes, which I prefer.  Because of the extra cocoa, it also has more dye, though, but you could definitely use less if you want.

I think red velvet is a perfect Halloween cupcake flavor…you’re biting into bloody cake, and the topping is white, so there are all kinds of decorating options.  I decided on skeletons this year, to match my son’s costume.  They turned out pretty cute, thanks to my mom, and with the help of Desi.  🙂

Red Velvet Cupcakes

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 36 cupcakes

3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups superfine sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of room temp. water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with cupcake papers.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 18 to 24 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Then remove from pans, and cool completely on cooling racks.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

 

sweet and savory kitchens chocolate guinness cake

Margaux says…

I’m a sucker for recipes that have ingredients you wouldn’t normally put together, like this one.  So when Aunt Suzy told me about this cake last year, I had to try it!  And oh, is it heavenly.  It’s rich, dense and chocolatey, and the frosting is fluffy, tangy and light…a perfect combination!  It’s always a hit with everyone.  It’s also a good dessert for St. Patrick’s day…for obvious reasons!  🙂

Sweet and Savory Kitchens Chocolate Guinness Cake

Aunt Suzy says . . .

Our friend Pat Eaton, of Madison, Wisconsin, served this when we were visiting them a couple of years ago.   I made it very shortly after returning home for a card party and it was a hit.  This is a very easy cake to make, with a method similar to Texas Cake.  I don’t have a spring form pan, so I used an 8×8 cake pan after researching Joy of Cooking for options.  It turned out nicely, but didn’t look nearly as good as the round shape, which is supposed to simulate a glass of Guinness with that beautiful foam.  I have also thought about making cupcakes with this recipe – they would be like mini-glasses of Guinness.  Have you ever tried making this as cupcakes, Margaux?

Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I made them as cupcakes for this St. Patrick’s day, and they were great!  I actually made them as jumbo cupcakes, and they made 11.  If you make them as regular sized cupcakes, they will make 22.  See instructions below for bake times.

This gives “butterbeer” a whole new meaning!  Yum!

Adding the sour cream/egg mixture creates a beautiful swirl…

I also made this last weekend for company, and accidentally forgot to add baking soda.  I put what I thought was baking soda in it, which ended up being extra fine sugar (it was in a matching container to the soda, but not labeled!)  That’s what I get for being lazy and not labeling everything in my pantry.  Needless to say, the cake was a flop (literally).  Hopefully the friends I made it for will trust me that it’s really delicious and make it again for themselves!  This time it turned out perfectly…I wish they didn’t live in Pittsburg so that I could share it with them.

sweet and savory kitchens

This cake is actually very easy to make, and you can do it pretty quickly because you don’t have to let the ingredients get to room temperature before mixing the batter (they all get cooked in the saucepan together before baking).

Chocolate Guinness Cake

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper, or line muffin tins with paper cups.

1 cup Guinness stout
1 stick unsalted butter, sliced
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups superfine granulated sugar (Aunt Suzy uses about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Pour Guinness into a large saucepan, add butter and heat until melted. Whisk in cocoa powder and sugar.

In a small bowl, beat sour cream with eggs and vanilla and then pour into brown, buttery, beery mixture and finally whisk in dry ingredients.
Pour cake batter into greased and lined pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until a toothpick inserted at center comes out clean (check at 45 minutes for doneness). Leave to cool completely in pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

For jumbo cupcakes, bake 24-27 minutes. For regular cupcakes, bake 18-22 minutes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place cream cheese and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl, and whip with an electric beater until smooth. (You may also do this with a food processor.) Add cream and beat again until you have a spreadable consistency, and it’s light and fluffy.

Frost top of cake, starting at the middle and fanning out, so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

sweet and savory kitchens chocolate guinness cake