seeing red

working with food color is not a favorite task of mine. inevitably i end up getting it all over my hands-even with gloves, don’t ask how. so it shouldn’t be a surprise that i was never a big fan of the southern classic, red velvet cake. why would anyone want to flavor a cake with food color? then i found myself staring at the name of that cake on my to do list. (insert a long groan here) here comes another cakewreck. my kitchen will be showing the stains of my efforts for weeks. honestly, it has never appealed to me because the recipe is either made with shortening or oil, has hardly enough cocoa powder to make a difference and contains enough artificial color to paint an elephant. does it have to be this way? not if i am the person controlling this fantasy…

and so it starts
seeing red all over
forgot the gloves, big surprise
red cake with a hint of cocoa
southern belle, all dressed and ready for the party
too dark for good photos, redneck cake dome keeps it moist and safe for the night
probably why the health department frowns on pets in the kitchen. honestly, this cat has a cake magnet-ginger mooch, dessert detective.
daylight is better for photos
and i did not eat that cake slice…i only tasted it, just a couple of bites…put down the plate and step away from the table!!! after a few minor substitutions and additions, i am no longer afraid of the cake and i will eat it, this recipe anyway.

nevermind waldo, where’s the baker…

not only can she bake, she can make messes too! big big messes and in no time flat…

honestly, i know where everything is. no really, i do…i think i do.
somebody find those elves and fast…

and in the midst of all of this confusion, i am trying not to step on the cat. she has this idea that if she is cute and cuddly(something she isn’t most of the time) i will stop what i am doing and feed her, 10 times a day…

you can’t possibly be talking about me, sweet lu, i would never play you like that. don’t believe a word those little eyes are trying to convey. lucy, or twitch whichever name you like, is a pro at making herself look innocent when she is hungry.
somehow while all of that was going on; cat dancing, kitchen wrecking, and a major clean up, gladys sang on. “oh i heard it through the grapevine”…sorry otis, take a seat ccr, nobody sings it better than gladys knight and the pips. in the end, a beautiful coconut cake with 7 minute frosting emerged from the rubble…

missing in action

actually, i’m not missing. i’m right here at the computer, typing away as you read this. with chapter two completed, the testing part of it anyway, i am now formatting the recipes so i can send them to susan. she will edit them and then we will go over them line by line correcting any mistakes in them and rewriting them as needed. sounds like fun doesn’t it? in between my gardening and bee keeping classes, i will get to work on the next chapter.

as i format my notes into coherent recipes, it is increasingly obvious that i am a scatterbrained ditz on occasion. i make so many notes on my recipe sheets that sometimes, they are hard to follow. more than once i have discovered that i have multiple copies of the same recipe, each slightly different and just different enough to confuse me and nothing is marked “final version”. luckily, i am capable of deciphering the notes and what i send to susan looks nothing like what i have tucked into my binder.
now what shall it be, more cakes, cupcakes or ??? decisions, decisions…

now for the fun part

sorry, no photos today. why you ask, i’ll tell you why. i didn’t bake anything today. nope, not a thing. the cakes for chapter two have all been baked, they’ve been eaten too. now comes the fun part-formatting them and editing them…

what was that sound? that thunk, it was so loud. oh that. it was my head hitting the keyboard. after a long and stressful week, sitting and typing is not something i can do today. i’m heading out to the demo garden with my fellow master gardeners where we will pull weeds and plot beds for this year’s garden. and tomorrow, i will do it again but i will also spend a few hours with the beekeepers as my husband and i get ready to add bees to our own garden. after a short break to do all of the typing/editing it is on to chapter 3. rock on you crazy diamond…

just another sponge bath…

life has handed me lemons this week…the computer went out on my car and it took the transmission with it… two of my cats cannot decide which litter box to use so they have opted not to use any of them… my mother in law thinks i am mad at her… it is very likely that i will miss my deadline for chapter two tomorrow. so what’s a girl to do? throw open the windows and let some fresh air in. load the cd player with tom jones, cher, pat boone and motowns greatest hits and play them at a loud volume. and finally, zest a lemon and bake a cake…

sponge cake to be exact. whip the eggs to a ribbon stage with some lemon zest and sugar. be sure to sing along and dance badly to half breed.
while pat boone does a bang up job on stairway to heaven, sift the flour over the eggs and gently fold it in.
whip the egg whites with some sugar until they are almost stiff-they should droop a bit when the beater is raised. this allows the cake to expand during the baking without collapsing. whats new pussycat, sing it tom
fold those whites into the mix and pour it into an ungreased tube pan. you don’t want to grease it because the cake needs to stick to the pan in order to set the structure properly. gypsies, tramps and thieves…
the two timers at work while i sing and dance. good thing nobody is home with me…
sponge cake, its not unusual now is it…

upside down

Upside down
Boy, you turn me
Inside out
And round and round
Upside down
Boy, you turn me
Inside out
And round and round
oh the golden age of disco…sing it diana, sing it!!! in the mean time, i’m baking pineapple upside down cakes. two rounds today and i am pleased with the results. while not a difficult cake to make, it does take some organization. if you let the syrup get cold in the skillet, it takes longer to bake the cake and the result is a syrup that can burn and a cake that can be dry.
once again i am forcing you to drag that old skillet out of the cupboard. cook the syrup until it boils.
arrange the pineapple slices over the syrup in a neat pattern so that it looks pretty when you turn it out of the pan
carefully spread the cake over the pineapple slices and syrup. do this gently or you will rearrange the pattern.
place an empty pan under the skillet in the oven to catch any syrup that boils up and over the sides of the skillet
pretty caramelized pineapple slices over a tender cake, warm and gooey from the oven.
Upside down You’re turnin’ me…

pound cake

it all starts with some butter, sugar and ground costa rican french roast coffee
then comes the melted bittersweet chocolate and eggs

fold in the flour

and into the oven they go…this is as close as you will get to a self portrait. me, hovering around the oven with a camera, waiting ever so patiently…

little loaves of pound cake. good stuff but not exactly what i hoped for. looks like i will be making this again. imagine that

play with your food

it was date night-imagine that. darry and i gathered ourselves together and headed out to one of our favorite haunts, just the two of us. and where did we go you ask, why the grocery store of course. it has been a little joke between us for quite some time that the only time we could go out, just the two of us, was when we needed groceries. but there we were wandering through the produce section in search of who knows what; and search we did until we found it. what it is, i am not quite sure. the sticker claimed they were angel food cakes and we were both standing there gawking and pointing and wondering why would somebody do this to a cake…
candidates for cakewrecks-truly hideous and yet, something occurred to me. i could do something different to the angel food cake that i was testing.
i had some cherry juice and i reduced it by simmering it. after it cooled, i added it to the batter and the result was a soft pink color and a hint of cherry flavor. best part, no airbrush system was needed.
while rummaging, i found some blackberries that had been living in the freezer. i juiced them, reduced the juice and voila-lavender cake!
trial and error led me to the conclusion that the cheap steak knife cut the cake better than the expensive serrated blade.
all this talk of rainbow cakes left me thinking of the angel food cake that appeared every so often during my childhood. my mother was not the type to bake a cake unless it was a mix. she would make angel food cakes and she always had a trick up her sleeve…
no mix for me, egg whites whipping with the sugar spilling in ever so slowly
not too stiff or the cake will shrink after it is baked
that trick i mentioned, it was grated unsweetened chocolate. mom is not a big chocolate fan but she does like it in angel food cakes
gently fold in the flakes of chocolate
sift the dry ingredients over the bowl and fold them in gently too
into the pan it goes
i use two timers when i test recipes. one to count down the anticipated time and one to count up the total time it takes
out of the oven and upside down until it cools completely or it will sink
the best way to loosen the cake from the pan-a skewer. run it around the cake to loosen it.
little bits of chocolate confetti and a trip back to my childhood

where’ve ya been?

and no, i haven’t been to london to visit the queen. oh wait, were you asking me or the cat? it’s been a busy week for me. we always try to do something for valentines day and this year, we hosted a dinner party for the girls. if you want to call a party, mainly it was just a dinner with a fancy dessert.
but before i was temporarily sidetracked, i was working on a cake for chapter two. i am really embracing the concept of simple when it comes to the cakes. using some sort of tube/bundt pan really makes it easy to decorate-just pour a glaze over it and be done with it. while working on this one, i was reminded of that scene in my big fat greek wedding when ian’s mom, harry, presents thula’s mother with the bundt cake. it’s a cake with a hole in it…who serves a cake with a hole in it???
my thrift shopping obsession has given me a chance to find a few interesting pans and when you add that to the tubes and bundts from my days as a bakery owner and the pans from my uncle, i have plenty to choose from.
the ever growing collection
so here is another attempt at this weeks challenge, root beer float cake. (at this point i should mention that i forgot to flour the pan after greasing it and this is the result) i did this in the cafe a while back but did not like it with boylan’s root beer soda; it was way to sweet and mild with no flavor of root beer.
a trip to the grocery store had me stocked with a natural, micro brew root beer that had things like sarsparilla and bourbon vanilla in it. the best part, it left me with absolutely no need for the root beer concentrate that every recipe i looked at called for. it made a tasty drink as well as a tasty cake! (that whitish look to the cake-i remembered the flour after greasing the pan)
a simple vanilla glaze and there you have it, root beer float in a bundt cake. drink up y’all!