Monday, August 30, 2010

THE BEST Chocolate Cake. No joke.

I've been having the darnedest time trying to find a chocolate cake that I actually want other people to eat. Trying to find a chocolate cake I actually want to eat. THIS IS IT. It is moist. It is chocolate-y. It is soft. It is dark. I don't think I have any problem with this cake. It is my favorite and I will use it forever and ever. I've even bought it a best friend necklace (hope no-one chokes on it trying to steal it).

This is where I got the recipe from (kudos to them):

Heavenly ingredients:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 & 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (I was going to use cake flour, but I decided to follow the recipe on this one.)
3/4 cups Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable (veggie) oil or canola
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water

1. Mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in the handy dandy electric mixer.
2. Added eggs, milk, oil and vanilla (tried to do this all at once, but the oil being so anti-social it didn't work out too well)
3. Mix until mixed :)
4. Stir in boiling water - this created a super thin batter at which point I decided that I'll never be able to make a good cake and that this could not possibly work... but it did!
5. Put into prepared pans (used veggie oil and flour - and the cakes still suck to the bottom of the pan... maybe this is just an unavoidable kind of thing)
6. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes in my oven (gas oven). The recipe recommended 35-40 minutes, but I knew that was charring levels - and I was NOT about to char my cake.

Leveling the cake off with the wire leveler:

The result was amazing. I did not expect this at all. I think it has something to do with the boiling water with the baking soda and powder. It's so fluffy and cake-like. I can't say better things about this recipe. I highly doubt I'll be making many other chocolate cakes that this one. Well, that's not true, but I'm going to have to make really impressive cakes to trump this one. Hard to beat.

I used the "Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting" (because I have so much of it to get rid of) to cover both cakes and put in the freezer to set. I'm going to make a trial run of a s'mores cake to see if I like it and see how it holds up.

After the cakes were done freezing I put a pint of vanilla ice cream on top of one:

-- I also added Hershey's chocolate syrup (lite), graham crackers (low fat), and marshmallows:

Then put the top layer and put it in the freezer to set:

When everything was frozen, I did one more coat of buttercream frosting and put a chocolate ganache on top:

Then I decorated the outside with marshmallow fluff, marshmallows, and broken graham crackers.

I cut a slice.

Then I ate it. :)

Yellow Cake: We meet again...

My very first attempt to bake resulted in soft rock shaped yellow cake (I tried to make cupcakes). Not this time! I tried a different recipe (from: and used my electric mixer. This is how:

2.5 cups flour (I used cake flour instead)
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup butter (unsalted)
2 eggs
1.25 cups milk (I used 1%)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.75 cups sugar (granulated)
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. I prepared by 9 inch cake pans with some butter and flour. Probably not the most efficient method. Also, the cake stuck pretty well to the pan (after cooling)... not sure why.
2. Mixed flour, baking powder and salt together.
4. Beat butter in the electric mixer to fluff it up!
5. Added the sugar and vanilla to the butter for good flavor.
6. Added the eggs one at a time. This looked really cool. Next time I'll take a picture.
7. Added the flour mixture and milk to the butter mix alternately - mixed on a low speed until just combined. Everything looks really promising at this point.
8. Poured the batter into the cake pans.
9. Baked at 375F for about 25-ish minutes. The recipe calls for 30-35 minutes, but I really didn't want to burn the cake.

I went ahead and made the fail-safe "Quick Vanilla Buttercream Frosting" from an earlier blog ( I used this lovely mix on the two layers of yellow cake and put them in the freezer to set!

The cakes look good so far! They seem a little too bubbly, though. As they were baking, the golden color forming on top was looking highly irregular, and it is because of these bubbly-bumps forming on top (and I'm assuming all through the cake). What I think happened is that it didn't get mixed too well. I know! Even with my electric mixer I didn't mix it very well. I decided to try out a little piece, so I cut off the edges of the cake (crispy crust!) and ate those. I must have cooked it for too long to get those crispy edges. I digress. The cake actually tastes pretty good! *BUT* it's still not fluffy enough for me. I really want a fluffy amazing yellow cake. Really really really badly.

The yellowish cake will soon be covered in my marshmallow fondant into all sorts of fun patterns!

Fondant covering (used an exacto to cut out the designs) was really really thin this time, but the decorative fondant I put on top (the leaf-y design) makes the thinness of the first layer of fondant hard to see - yay!:

Alen (my wonderful boyfriend) and I just ate some yellow cake (slices missing shown below) all covered in fondant and such, and it tastes really good. Like awesome, really good awesome. *takes a bow*

Friday, August 27, 2010


I love La Madeleine. I don't always have a craving for it, but it seems like a good default place to eat at. You can never go wrong with their soups, chicken ceasar salad, and their sachertorte. This sacher that they make just blows my mind. The cake melts in your mouth and the chocolate covering on the outside is just to die for. So. I'm going to make it.

I couldn't find a recipe for the La Madeleine sachertorte, but I decided to go with this one from

4 oz couverture (high quality chocolate that has 32-39% cocoa butter content)
1/2 cup soft butter
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
6 eggs, separated
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup flour, sifted

Frosting included with this recipe I didn't use. Please read below to find out why:

I couldn't find that percentage of cocoa butter (either too high or too low) and decided to purchase their 31% (this was at All in One Bake Shop). This place is awesome. I told them what I was making and they were actually able to help me figure out one major component of the cake that I was kind of dreading: the frosting. This sacher cake does not go with buttercream. In fact, buttercream would destroy it (not that I really know this, but I can't imagine eating it with buttercream). They showed me to chocolate chips that contained about 52% cocoa butter (really goodness). The saleswoman explained to me the most awesome way to make a chocolate frosting. Heat one pint of heavy cream to every 16 oz bag that I purchased (I purchased one), then add that heavy cream to the chocolate chips and mix, then pour over sachertorte. After hearing that I couldn't wait to make it! So easy!

Side note: How do I measure an ounce? This doesn't seem possible. Oh but it is. Thanks to this lovely website I can do anything:

Back to the cake making (concentrate):
1. To make the batter, melt the couverture in a double boiler over hot water.

2. Cream the soft butter and confectioners' sugar with the couverture tempered at 89F. (I did not do this. I heated the coverture in a double boiler until everything melted. I touched the melted chocolate and if it didn't burn my hand, then I thought it was good.)
3. Stir in the egg yolks one at a time. (This was really fun. I did it in my electric mixer. As I added the yolks the chocolate with sugar started to get fluffier.)
4. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites and sugar until stiff. (There was no way I was going to do this by hand with my kitchenaid by my side. I put it on speed 10 and let it whip - literally. Well, at first I worried because the whip wasn't developing stiff peaks. So I googled it (of course). I decided after reading one website that I should add a pinch of cream of tartar. It became the most beautiful whipped egg whites ever.)
5. Combine the two mixtures and fold in the sifted flour.

6. Line the base of a springform pan with parchment paper.

7. Spoon in the batter (I dumped it in there) and smooth the top.
8. Bake for 55 minutes at 350 degrees. (I think this totally up to your oven. I think my cake took about 30 minutes to produce a clean knife. Good thing I checked or else I would of had crunchy torte. I love crunch. Don't get me wrong. Cake is the ONLY exception to this. I HATE crunchy cake. It's just wrong.)
9. Spread apricot jam all over cake (suppose to keep the cake moist and the chocolate cover glossy)... make sure you eat the apricot pieces away or else you'll have a really really bumpy cake.
10. Make the chocolate covering as per "all in one" baker directions and pour over generously... then contain yourself from eating it all at once - and put it in the fridge to set and look really pretty.

Beth. This is your cake. With ice cream in the middle.


Read more: Recipe: Sachertorte

Fondant *shrieks*

I wanted to try something different to decorate the last chocolate cake I made. So, I decided to bite the bullet and try and make some fondant. But first I had to prepare the cake for this adventure.

So first, I had to cut the cake. I had baked it in a large rectangular pan, so I cut it right down the middle. I then made a vanilla buttercream frosting. Instead of using the same recipe I had before, I decided to try out a frosting that incorporated Crisco (something I've also never wanted to use before in baking).

The frosting recipe calls for (courtesy of
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tbs. milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening

1. I creamed vegetable shortening and butter together in my mixer
2. Added vanilla
3. While mixing, slowly added confectioner's sugar (about 1/2 a cup at a time)
4. While mixing, added milk (instead of using 2 tablespoons milk, I used 1 tablespoon milk and 1 tablespoon whipping heavy cream)
5. I put it in the fridge per recipe recommendations

I iced the cake after cutting it to size and then put it in my freezer so that the buttercream would harden. It would make the cake a better mold for the fondant to fit over.

But which fondant recipe to follow?

This lady from The Twisted Sifter has an awesome make to make fondant, and it involves my kitenaid mixer. The fondant doesn't taste too horrible either! She explains that commercial fondant is usually not that tasty, but the stuff she makes is made with marshmallows... yum yum!

3 tablespoons water
1 bag small marshmallows (16oz)
1/2 cup crisco
2 pounds sifted powder sugar (I could only manage to sift about 1 cup of powdered sugar before my arm wanted to fall off, so I decided to not sift the rest... and I think it turned out really great!)

1. Put 1/2 cup crisco in mixer
2. Add 2 lbs powdered sugar
3. Put water in marshmallows and then put in microwave
4. Mix marshmallows (they should be melted) and put into kitchenaid
5. Mix everything together in kitchenaid using the dough hook
6. Almost everything should be mixed.
7. Put on kitchen counter dusted with lots of powdered sugar and start kneading like dough using powder sugar as needed to make it not sticky.
8. When the consistency is not too sticky cover it in saran wrap and set aside. If not using it for a while go ahead and put it in the refrigerator. When you need to use it again slowly warm it up in the microwave and it will soften.

I flattened the fondant on my counter with my rolling pin and lots of corn starch (I sprinkled the corn starch multiple times on the counter so that the fondant wouldn't stick.) I cut out little designs with an exacto blade and stuck them onto the cake by painting the backs of the designs with a mixture of water and corn starch. This was the was on the funnest parts.

This is the final creation! The cake tastes good, the frosting tastes good, and the fondant tastes like fondant. 3 yums.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Third attempt (to bake): "Ever so rich" Chocolate Cake

I really have a strong desire to make a great chocolate cake (partly because I want to make a great chocolate cake and partly due to the fact that I'm trying to make something wonderfully chocolate-y for my friend Beth).

I decided to google to get this recipe: "Ever so rich chocolate cake" from
I really like how their recipes appear simple. This one is really simple - I'm realizing that could be a good or bad thing.

The delightful roster:

1 stick butter (used unsalted and room temperature)
1 cup sugar
1 cup self rising flour (contains salt and baking powder)
4 eggs
16 oz. chocolate syrup (which I realized when I bought it - had high fructose corn syrup, my mortal/immortal? enemy)
1 teaspoon vanilla

I can't say worse things about high fructose corn syrup, and it makes me really sad that Hersey's would use it to make a syrup for me. I'm pretty sure I'm allergic to it, but I won't go into an anaphylactic reaction, so since I had committed to this simple recipe prior to seeing the label, I decided to continue making it. I don't think anyone else will have a problem with it.

What I want to know, is how did Hersey's make chocolate syrup before the creation of high fructose corn syrup (which I will now refer to as: "hfcs"). I'm under the clear understanding that hfcs was made in the seventies as a means to make foods sweeter, taste better, increase shelf life, and create generations of people who are addicted to junk food. I could talk about this more, but I'll spread it out throughout the blogs.

Okay! Back to the cake people!

The directions on reads: "mix first 6 ingredients; bake in sheet pan at 325 degrees until done."

This wasn't good enough for me. So:

1. Creamed the butter and sugar together in the mixer. For some reason I thought it would be a great idea to use the whisk attachment - and it looked good at that moment.
2. Added eggs - and continued to use the whisk attachment... uh-oh. Do not do that unless you want whipped butter, sugar with eggs. I swiftly changed it to the flat beater attachment. Things started looking more normal - not all bubbly.
3. Added vanilla, then the chocolate syrup.
Side note: I kept most of my mixing speeds below 6.
5. I added the self-rising flour 1/4 cup at a time and mixed well.
6. The batter looks good - really "normal" looking... like not to thin, not too thick "normal."
7. My next step was to do "325 degrees until done." Honestly, this is a complete guessing game for me. I kept a close watch on the cake. I baked for 20 minutes, and checked every 5 minutes after that by sticking a knife in random areas hoping nothing would stick (ie: done baking).

Looks good so far! The cake was only a little puffy in the middle. Instead of using my handy cake leveler, all I did was wet a clean kitchen cloth and press the puffy part in the middle down. It's a really flat cake now! I don't think I have to take anything off the top to make it flat... because it's really really flat.

Tomorrow I'm going to make fondant out of marshmallows... I will then use that fondant on top of this chocolate cake and make a marvelous creation.

"Healthy"-ish Banana Bread

I love when my bananas go bad - it's a great excuse to bake some bread. I decided to do some things different this time. As you will notice, the title of this post has a cute little "Healthy" written in it. Which comes to difference #1:

I used applesauce to sweeten instead of all sugar.

Difference #2 (you might ask):

Instead of one really big loaf - I baked little square loaves. I know it's not right to call them this, but I have a strong urge to call them "baby cakes." They're just so cute!

After googling for a good recipe, I found this one on

3 ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour

I used my kitchen aid to mix everything (even mash the bananas).

1. I mashed the bananas! FuN!
2. Added sugar to the bananas - and mixed!
3. Waited 15 minutes (in the actual instructions - I decided to go to the grocery store at this point and get the rest of the ingredients I was lacking).
4. Added applesauce and eggs - mixed!
5. Added baking soda, baking powder, salt, vanilla, gradually added flour (I did this 1/4 cup at a time).
6. I poured it into a glass loaf pan, then realized I was going to make my baby cakes and put the batter into my square cupcake pan.
7. Baked at 350 for around 30-45 minutes, I'm not sure how long it took. I took them out when they started browning on the top.
8. I tried removing the baby cakes when they were still hot, and decided that I needed to wait...

I've just tried one and realized I totally forgot the most awesome part! I forgot the chopped walnuts *frown*. They're good though! They're not as soft as I imagined, but I suppose that is because of the small baking area for each mini loaf. I may have waited a few minutes too long before taking them out of the oven as well. The bottom of the baby loaves are a little too brown.

They taste healthy... yummy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Second Attempt: Chocolate Cake

Lets start off with the most successful part: the frosting. The frosting was easy! I think I could make frosting like this all day long if I really had to. Here it goes:

Quick Vanilla Buttercream frosting:

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup butter (I used one stick salted & one unsalted - and it turned out fine... both at room temperature.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

At one point I had heard/read a tip about sifting things to make them fluffier, so I tried doing that with the powdered sugar - but that didn't last long, I thought my arm was going to fall off. So with half the sugar sifted - I put the sugar and butter in the mixer with the wire whip attachment, started off slow and went up to about speed 4 for a few minutes. At first it just looked like my butter was globbing up with the sugar, but I just had to adjust the level of the wire whip attachment (to properly mix the ingredients from the bottom of the bowl). Soon after adjusting my mixer, it looked like frosting (as seen above)! I started adding the vanilla and used about 1.5 tablespoons of whipping cream. I think it came out really good!

Okay, now for the more interesting part: the chocolate cake. I used this recipe I found online for "Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake."

1 cup butter (I read somewhere you should only use unsalted - so that's what I did.)
1 cup water
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs, beaten (I had forgotten to beat them...)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour (I read somewhere you should use cake flour because it's finer, so I did that instead)
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

I melted the butter, water and cocoa powder together on the stovetop - then put it aside to cool off. In another mixing bowl I put the buttermilk & baking soda together, then added the 2 eggs and vanilla. I then mixed the buttermilk concoction and the cocoa liquid together. In yet another bowl(!) I sifted the flour, sugar, cinnamon, and salt together, created a well in the mix, and put the buttermilk - cocoa liquid in the well and mixed well. For some reason I decided to not use my awesome electric mixer... which I will end up finding out was a mistake.

I baked two nine inch circles in 350F for almost 30 minutes each. The first cake was completely unbalanced and had a crunchy crust (crispness shown in picture above the right side of the cake), so I used a cake leveler and cut off the crust before frosting it. The second cake was much more level, but still a little off kilter. So, instead of using the leveler, I instead used a damp cloth to press down the middle part that was poofing up! I don't think I pressed hard enough, but I think it's a pretty good method. The second cake had a crunchy crust as well, but I didn't know that until I had starting frosting it (or else I would have cut it off too!). The cakes look like they have uneven texture - something I'm thinking could have been prevented by using my super mixer.

I put an "X" on the cake that I thought would turn out worse. It's the first cake, the one with the crispy crust that I had cut off, but honestly I think it tastes better. Here is the second cake that I leveled by hand with a wet cloth:

I'm not exactly sure why I got a crispy crust, but I think it has something to do with 1) amount of batter in the pan 2) hotness of the oven 3) sugar 4) baking time?

I'll try again tomorrow!

Baking: First Attempt

I would like to preface all of this by saying that I do not have experience baking. I have a feeling most of this will end up being trial and error. Hopefully, though, I will end up making some pretty darn good cakes.

With that said...

My first attempt was making yellow cake cupcakes. FAIL. The above is a picture of Gizmo staring at them.

I know I should have kept the recipe, but I decided to close the window when I saw the outcome. They were hard cupcakes. Like little stones. What I think happened is that I mixed the butter and the sugar incorrectly. I was doing it by hand and and it wasn't fluffy at all. So, I got a mixer!

Also, the first recipe I used to make frosting was a FAIL. Again, the above is a picture of Gizmo staring at them. I had used a recipe that required sugar, water, and eggs on a double broiler. All I ended up with was whipped eggs and some liquid at the bottom (what I can only assume was sugar water with vanilla extract). I don't really like that recipe either.

On to the next!