Monday, June 20, 2011

Two Birthdays and a Father's Day

For my mom and brother's birthday, and father's day,I wanted to make a cake, but I wanted it to be super awesome.  The first thing that came to mind was a vertical stripes cake (because horizontal is borinnnggg...).  I was searching online for the best way to do it, and I remembered that my brother's girlfriend knew about this awesome blog called: i am baker. You must check her out because she makes some of the most awesome cakes ever.

SO, in one of her blogs she made a vertical stripe cake, which I thought was totally awesome, but I would have had to make four 9" cake rounds, and I don't want to do that.  Instead, I baked one chocolate round and one white cake round (using handy-dandy cake mix from my fave: All In One Bake Shop).  The cake mix I used produces a heavier cake - something easier to manipulate than heavenly fluffy boxed cakes. mmmMMMmmm.

1. Bake cake.  They must be different colors for this to work (chocolate and white cake, for example).
Black and yellow (black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow).
2. Level those cakes!

3. Use your handy dandy stencils to cut out circles, and then switch out every other layer:
Handy dandy stencils (the pink circles) and my highly scientific way of measuring them out.
Cake circles cut out (with a knife...).  Then switch out every other layer. 

4. Stack the two cakes, lovingly wrap up in plastic wrap and place in the freezer.  NOTE: if you want the layers to stick together you must lightly mist the cake layers with some sugar water and then freeze.  That way they will freeze together, and when they thaw out together, they will stick together (isn't that sweet?).  Your cake will not be soggy, it will be moist and soft.  Generally, if you freeze a cake right after baking it (like, for a day), it will be softer after you unfreeze it (this is good!). 

5.  Cover in frosting and decorate to your heart's content.

6. Then cut it open and bask in the glory.  (*sound of angels*) Phew.  I'm really glad it worked!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Grown Up Mac & Cheese

There a few foods that fall into my "Favorite" category.

1. Pizza
2. Pizza
3. Mac & Cheese

I know... I'm really sophisticated.  I've had some really good pizza and some really bad pizza (some of which was not made by me).  I've had some really awesome mac & cheese and some not so awesome mac & cheese.  I feel like I'm rambling.  What I'm really trying to say is that most of the mac & cheese I've eaten has been the product of a strange orange powder and thin elbow pasta... the kind that cook within a few minutes.  I graduated to wheat mac & cheese and thought this was an upgrade... another step closer to adulthood.  Well.   Tonight.  I'm an adult. *eek* I've made a grown up version of mac & cheese - thanks to Alton Brown!

I chose his recipe because it was the first recipe to show up on my google search when I searched mac & cheese.  It's pretty good.  I'm just happy that it came out of the oven tasting like mac & cheese.  I'm also happy that I have dinner and lunch for the remainder of the week planned out. yum.

First, go to the grocery store and by all these dang ingredients (it's what responsible adults do, geeze).

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter (I used salted)
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk (I used 2%)
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced (I bought the smallest one)
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg (I'm pretty sure my egg was medium sized)
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt (Uhm, how about table salt?  I think this actually could have made a difference... please just use kosher salt.)
Fresh Black pepper (seems like the pre-made stuff will do!)

1. Boil ze pasta, until al dente:

2. Melt butter in saucepan, add flour and mustard powder until there are no lumps... for about 5 min.

3.  Add the milk, paprika, bay leaf, onion - let simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Temper the egg by slowly adding small amounts of the hot concoction in #3 until it's warmed up enough to be totally added into the above mixture without curdling and making your mac & cheese, scrambled eggs.  (Yay!  Now we all know what tempering is.)

5. Mix in about 3/4's of the cheddar cheese then add the macaroni to it:

6. Put into a casserole dish and bake at 350F for 30 minutes... and put breadcrumbs on top of it if you really want to. Alton Brown suggested that I saute some panko with butter then put it on top of the mac & cheese to bake... but that was too much work and I didn't find any panko crumbs at the grocery store...  So, instead I just sprinkled breadcrumbs on top of this.

7.  I get a coronary just looking at it.  Yum!  Good news:  I still feel like a kid.