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Yellow Jacket Cake 0

Posted on June 11, 2011 by crankycheryl

Considering how he’s not really a foodie, E. invents an awful lot of new recipes.  There have been cheese soup suggestions, a lobster and strawberry thing, a hotdog and watermelon soup, and there are always ideas for cakes.  I slightly wish I was one of the moms who let their kids make whatever they dream up, could indulge all of his imaginings, but I can’t afford fantasy groceries.  And I hate wasted food.

Z. is different, a guy who likes to access information he knows is good.  When he asked for oatmeal the other morning, he was excited to run to our Fairy Tale Feasts book and find the recipe associated with it before running off for his little step-stool so he could watch it bubble away on the stove.  He nodded in satisfaction when it tasted right.

Every now and then we all agree on something that E. has dreamed up, and that’s how we came to make the Yellow Jacket Cake he’s been suggesting for some months now.    He kept telling me about the yellow lemon cake that had “sugar … milk … and eggs.  And flour, mommy.  And it looks like a yellow jacket.”  We needed a cake for our big school spring event, something that would have great kid appeal, but not send me into a state of cringe with its ingredients.  The usual thing is to make one from a box, cover it with frosting from a can, and then dump leftover candy all over the top.  (The tip from other moms is that it’s your ticket to moving out all the leftover Easter candy you still have around.)  But cake is easy, and I don’t like to bake from a mix unless I’m cooking for a highly allergic type person and I need to make sure that there’s been absolutely no contamination from offending ingredients.

Buzz buzz.  This recipe made one single-layer lemon-marshmallow cake and a half-dozen cupcakes for home.  E took a look at the cake  and said, “It’s okay, but I was expecting it to be a lot taller.  Next time: five layers, Mommy.”  I nodded.  Maybe.  But I noted that our cake was among the first ones chosen at the big school shindig, so I’m declaring it officially good enough.

Yellow Jacket Cake
Serves 8-plus
I made mine as one single-layer cake and six cupcakes, but for simplicity’s sake am writing this as if for a double layer cake.

Lemon Cake:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t. fresh lemon zest or 1/2 t. dried lemon peel
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp. milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Grease and flour 2 8-inch layer pans with removable bottoms.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in egg yolks, then lemon juice and zest.
  3. Mix together flour and baking powder. Add to butter mixture. Add milk and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Spread batter into pans, then bake 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  5. (While cake is baking, make the ridiculously easy and vaguely naughty frosting below.)
  6. Remove cake from pans and cool on racks.

Lemon-Marshmallow Frosting

  • 3 c. Fluff (or Ricemellow, if you’d like to be reasonably pure)
  • 1 1/2 c. organic non-hydrogenated palm frosting
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • pinch of lemon zest or dried lemon peel
  • Optional: tiny dash of yellow food coloring
  • Optional: black and yellow colored sugars and yellow and black candy
  1. Beat all ingredients together until fluffy and thoroughly combined.  Taste and adjust flavor to your palate, with more fluff or lemon juice as necessary.
  2. Frost the cooled cakes:  place one upside down on a large plate, and spread a layer of frosting over the top of it.  Place the other layer, upside down, on top.  Spread a thin layer of frosting on the top and sides of the cake – this is your crumb coat, so don’t worry if it does in fact have crumbs and bits of cake in it.  Then cover that first coat with the remaining frosting, making it as swirly and fluffy as you like.
  3. To make it yellow jacket-ish, sprinkle black and yellow sugars in stripes across the top, then toss on any appropriately colored leftover stale crappy candy you can’t even believe you bought in the first place.   Voila.

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Strawberries + Marzipan + Inspired = Fraisier for Mother’s Day 3

Posted on May 11, 2010 by crankycheryl

I’ve long wanted to make this cake,  which I first had years ago at a celebration dinner with friends.  But  though it combines two of my very favorite flavors (strawberries and almonds), I was intimidated by making genoise, the classic European sponge cake that provides its layers.

My mother inspired me recently though, telling me that even though she didn’t think of herself as much of a cook, she could do fairly complex things because she knows how to follow the steps of a recipe.

I thought, I want to do that too.  And before I knew it it was Mother’s Day, and since these are tastes my mother also loves, Z. & I got in the kitchen.  We followed the recipe, making it just a bit healthier, and it was very, very good.

Fraisier Cake
(adapted from Joy of Cooking)
12 servings

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease and flour the bottoms of two 9 x 2″ round pans.

Sift together 3 times and return to the sifter:

  • 1 1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour or cake flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar

Melt in a small saucepan:

  • 1/3 c. clarified butter (I used 2 T. butter, and the rest olive oil)

Whisk together in a large heatproof bowl:

  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar


Set the bowl over a skillet of very lightly simmering water, and whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch (110 on a thermometer).  Remove bowl from the heat and and beat on high speed until very lightly colored and tripled in volume.  This will take about 5 minutes with the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, or 15 minutes with a hand-held beater.

In 3 additions, sift the flour mixture over the top and fold in with a rubber spatula.  (Unless your children relentlessly steal your rubber spatulas, no matter how many times you replace them, in which case you can use a wooden spoon like I did.)

Reheat butter until warm, and fold into

  • 1 1/2 c. of batter, with
  • 1 t. vanilla

until completely incorporated.

Fold into remaining egg mixture, then scrape into pans and spread evenly.  Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pans and top springs back when lightly pressed.  The JoC recipe says this should take about 15 minutes, but in my oven it took about 22.

Let cool on rack in pans for 10 minutes, then run knife carefully around edges to detach from pan, then let cool on rack completely.

While cakes are cooling, clean and slice in half:

  • 3 c. strawberries

Set aside and whip until fairly stiff:

  • 1 c. whipping cream
  • 1 t. sugar

Get a rolling pin, and roll out until nice and flat (alternately, if you can’ t find your rolling pin no matter how you try, you can get a nice big cutting board and use your hands to create a nice flat circle that’s the same size as your cake):

  • 1 tube of marzipan

Once cakes are cooled, place the marzipan disc (use a spatula to lift it from the board) on top of one cake.

Then place the strawberry halves, flat side down and cut side facing out, in concentric circles on top of the marzipan.

Place whipped cream on top, and then top with top layer of cake.  You can decorate the top with strawberries or extra marzipan or more whipped cream if you like.  It’s also traditional to drizzle some chocolate over the top.  I was told to put the plain round circle on there so that’s what I did.

And we ate it and were very happy.  Then Z. said it was time to, “put your hand way out and take a picture of ourselves hugging,” so I did that too.  Hope your Mother’s Day was just as sweet and silly.

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Sweet Potato-Pineapple-Chocolate Cardamom Baked Things 1

Posted on December 07, 2009 by crankycheryl

I’ve been finding myself thinking about muffin tops.  Mostly in an, “Nnnnnnrrr!  Mmph!  I don’t need to, grrr,  go up a size in jeans.  Zip, damnit!” sort of way.

And then last night my neighbor presented me with the last Thanksgiving leftovers – a whole pot filled with mashed sweet potatoes with pineapple.   It seemed like an easy thing to turn into some good food, so off I went with promises to share whatever resulted.

Since we had no baked goods around for snacking or behavior-related bribery, something in the sweet and yummy category seemed right.  So half of the sweet potatoes became:

Sweet Potato-Pineapple-Chocolate Cardamom Muffins & Bread
10 – 12 servings
Adapted from Joy of Cooking

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan or 12-cup muffin pan.

Whisk together thoroughly:

  • 1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 c. unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 t. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 t. nutmeg
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. baking powder

Combine in another bowl:

  • 1/3 c. water or milk
  • 1/2 t. vanilla

In a large bowl, beat until creamy:

  • 6 T. unsalted butter

Gradually add and beat until fluffy and light, about 3 minutes:

  • 1 c. sugar or brown sugar

Beat in, one at a time:

  • 2 large eggs

Add and beat on low speed just until blended:

  • 1 c. sweet potato (or pumpkin, or butternut squash) puree

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 parts, stirring with firm strokes just until blended but still lumpy.

Fold in:

  • 1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 c. crushed pineapple

Scrape into pan or muffin cups.  Bake about 30 minutes for muffins, or one hour for bread.  Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before removing to rack to cool completely.

And why did mine come out so flat?  Here are some ideas from Chowhound.  I don’t know why I can’t seem to remember that my oven’s so slow and I really have to set it 25 degrees higher.

The rest of the sweet potatoes is destined for my attempt to recreate the amazing Southwest Sweet Potato soup I had at (one of my workplaces) The Scuffer the other day.  Picturing cream, broth, chipotles en adobo, a little smoked paprika.  Of course I’ll be reporting back.

 

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