Splatter Paint Cake

I kind of lost my love for baking these past few months. It was a stressful and emotional winter, and the kitchen was not its usual place of relaxation.

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However, I’m happy to report that I’m back in action! I baked a multitude of treats for my friend’s birthday last week and enjoyed every single second of it.

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This cake is inspired by one of my favorite bloggers, Molly Yeh, and is basically one big art project. When I texted my dad a picture, he said it was too pretty to eat, but my friends had no problem digging in. They even devoured every last drop of ‘paint’ on the parchment:)

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Combine a perfectly chocolaty cake x3 with creamy marscapone icing, plus a pretty top coat of springy colors, and you’re sure to have a winner!

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Chocolate Cake

adapted from Molly Yeh’s Basil Marscapone Buttercream Frosted Cake

2 1/2 cups + 2 T granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups + 2 T all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 T vanilla
1 cup + 2 T boiling water

Vanilla Marscapone Buttercream

3 sticks butter, softened
8 oz. marscapone, softened
5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Splatter Paint

for each color:
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon milk
food coloring

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Preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 8 inch round cake plans and line with circles of parchment paper. In your stand mixer bowl, beat eggs and sugar. Add vanilla. Add cocoa and oil and mix until combined. Add baking soda, baking powder, salt, and flour, alternating with the buttermilk. Stir in the boiling water very slowly, as the batter will be quite thin at this point.

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Distribute the batter evenly between the three cake pans and bake until the center of the cakes bounce back after a gentle poke. Begin checking them around 28 minutes.

Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Flip onto cooling racks to cool completely.

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To make the icing, beat together the butter and marscapone until smooth. Add the vanilla and salt. Add the powdered sugar incrementally until the desired texture and taste are achieved.

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Once your cakes are totally cooled, level the tops with a knife to make them as flat as possible. Spread a thick layer of frosting on the bottom cake, place the middle layer on, spread more frosting, and place the top layer on. Cover the entire cake in a crumb coat and refrigerate for about 15 minutes to set.

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Frost the cake smoothly and generously. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes to firm up. Use a fork or spoon to drizzle your paint all over the cake!

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Spring Strawberry Cake

This cake was my birthday icing decoration project.

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It is an adapted amalgamation of recipes from two of my favorite food blogs – Smitten Kitchen and My Name is Yeh!

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I doubled¬†the amounts for Deb’s cake so I could make a second layer but only placed the strawberries in the bottom cake so that they’d serve as a sort of filling. I combined this cake with Molly’s icing (because she has mad, gorgeous skills), and the results were magical.

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It received the seal of approval from aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, and my brother. And they’ll be straight with you if it’s nothing special… we’ve eaten our fair share of desserts. They kept asking if there was some secret ingredient to make it so moist and have the perfect texture and sweetness. This is just one of those cases where simple flavors are amazingly delicious:)

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Strawberry Vanilla Cake

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar + 2 Tablespoons (for sprinkling the strawberries at the end)
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350¬įF. Prepare two 9 inch cake pans by lining with parchment paper and then buttering.

In electric mixer, beat butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Add in egg and beat again. Mix in milk and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until just combined and smooth.

Distribute batter amongst two pans, placing slightly less in the one of them. In this pan with slightly less batter, arrange strawberries, cut side down, as closely as possible in a single later. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cakes for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack.

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Vanilla cream cheese buttercream frosting

from My Name is Yeh!

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
4 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Cream all ingredients together.

To assemble the cake, place the strawberry layer on the plate. Spread a thin layer of the icing and place the other cake layer on top. Spread on a thin crumb coat and then refrigerate for about an hour until it firms up. Fill a large piping bag fitted with a petal decorating tip. Starting at the bottom and working your way up, pipe around the outside of the cake with the wider end of tip up against the cake. Do the same thing on the top of the cake, and voila!

New Year’s Pretzel

Growing up, we would make New Year’s Pretzels and give them to friends and neighbors to celebrate the new year. The dough is straight forward and easy to make. The fun comes when rolling the dough and making a pretzel. We had one of our nephews helping to make them this year. Its a great activity for the family as everyone can make their pretzel a little different.

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New Years Pretzel Dough

1 package (2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 deg F)
2/3 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup melter butter
2 eggs
1 cup lukewarm mashed potatoes
7 to 7/12 cups flour

Icing

1 cup confection sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

To start, zap the water for about a minute in the microwave so that it is warm to the touch, about 110 degrees F.  Add in the yeast and whisk slightly to dissolve the yeast.  Add the water/yeast mixture to your mixing bowl and add the next 5 ingredients mixing as you go. Using mashed potatoes helps to make the dough firm and moist. Then, add in about 5 cups of flour. Switch to a dough hook and add the remaining flour and knead with the dough hook or by hand for about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours.

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When you are ready to make the pretzels, cut the dough into 4 to 6 pieces depending on how big you want each pretzel. I did 6 for this one and was able to make each about 12″ in diameter. You will need a wide space to start rolling out the dough. You need only a little flour as too much flour will cause the dough to slide on your work surface and it will be hard to roll.

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Roll one piece until it is 36″ to 48″ long and abut 3/4 to 1″ in diameter.

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I’ve discovered you always have to make it longer than you think and don’t forget the dough will increase in diameter by 2 to 3 times, so if it looks thin, that’s OK.

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Place the center portion on a greased tray

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and then flip the two ends once twice and then attach the ends on the sides of the big loop.

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Next we have to let the pretzel rise in a warm space with lots of humidity.  I like to warm the oven slightly (around 100 deg F) and place a jelly roll pan in the bottom with a cup or two of boiling water to keep the humidity nice and high in the oven. Perfect! Let the pretzels rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  You can see in the photo above how much the diameter increased.  Then bake at 400 degrees (375 convection) for 9 to 11 minutes, just until the crust is a golden brown.

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Cool on wire racks.

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Mix up the icing so that it is firm and not too runny. I like to use a pastry bag or zip lock bag with a corner cut off,¬† to decorate the pretzel with the year and what ever else you want to write – this is your pretzel! The ones you get in the stores typically coat the entire top with icing, if you like icing, that’s a good way to go.¬† Me- I like to eat them with a little butter. Ymmm…

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There is nothing like some tasty New Year Pretzel to start the new year.

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Beats the cold outside every time.

Christmas Eve Confection

Happy holidays to all! I love creating a special dessert to bring to my aunt’s annual Christmas Eve feast of the seven fishes. This vanilla and raspberry cake with mascarpone frosting was my contribution to the party this year.

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Last year, I had a so much fun assembling a croquembouche, which was actually our very first post on the blog. (Happy birthday to you Baking Genes!) I’ve made quite a few Christmas Eve Buche de Noels in the past, but I decided to mix it up a little bit this time. The flavors in this cake are simple but blend magically together. I promise it tastes even better than it looks!

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Inspired by the gift of a beautiful antique cake knife, I actually made a version of this cake a few months ago. But other than being shared via Instagram, that beauty pretty much stayed in my apartment, with no opportunity to be devoured by family and friends at a party. When my family saw the photographs, they not so secretly hinted that I should bake it for them in the near future. Looks like their wish came true! I thought the festive colors and sparkle of this cake would be perfect for the holidays:) It may just become a new tradition… I hope you and your loved ones enjoy it, too!

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Vanilla cake with raspberry preserves and mascarpone frosting

(adapted from Molly Yeh’s Pony Cake)

Vanilla cake

2  1/2 + 1/8 cups cake flour*
3/4 teaspoon salt
2  1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1  1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1  1/2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3/8 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk

*I didn’t have cake flour, so I substituted the above with 2 1/4 + 1/8 cups all-purpose flour plus 4 Tablespoons of corn starch. Make sure you sift it well!

Frosting

8 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened
18 oz. butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk

For assembly

~3/4 cup raspberry preserves
fresh raspberries for garnish
turbinado sugar for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease three 8″ round cake pans with butter. Cut out a circle of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan and grease again with butter.

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Sift together the cake flour (or your substitute mixture), salt, baking powder, and baking soda into a bowl. In a stand mixer or separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar for a few minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time; mix until pale and fluffy. Then, add in the vanilla extract, yogurt, and oil. Alternate adding in some of the dry ingredient mixture and pouring in the milk. Beat until smooth.

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Divide the batter evenly between the three pans. Bake the cakes, rotating halfway through for about 18-24 minutes. When done, a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean or if you lightly press down in the center, it should easily bounce back up. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 5 minutes then allow to cool completely on racks.

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For the frosting, beat the butter, mascarpone, and vanilla in a stand mixer bowl until well combined. Add in the powdered sugar and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy. Add in a little bit of milk until you achieve the desired consistency. I made my frosting on the thicker side so it would be more pliable for decorating the outside of the cake.

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For assembly, place one cake layer on a cake plate. Spread a thick layer of frosting on top and a thin layer of the raspberry preserves on top of that. I spread the frosting to the edge but left a little 1/2 inch margin when I spread the preserves so that the red color wouldn’t leak out the sides. Repeat the same procedure with the second layer cake and then place the third layer on top.

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To frost it, first cover the cake with a very thin layer of frosting to create your crumb coat. Refrigerate it for a few hours to let it set. Then, frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting. Decorate and cover with garnishes as desired.

 

Nona’s Chocolate Cake

Birthday cakes are really important to us. They might even be the most important birthday decision, and they are definitely the most delicious present. In our family, my Nona’s chocolate cake is often the birthday treat of choice. Boston Cream Pie or berry trifle sometimes make an appearance, but this cake celebrates birthdays with us at least a couple of times a year. We don’t know exactly where the recipe came from, but my Nona (grandmother) used to make it for me all of the time when I helped out at her house as a kid.

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While it may look like your average chocolate cake, this recipe is truly the ultimate. The cake is incredibly moist, perfectly chocolately, and destined to be paired with delectable cream cheese frosting. We have tired to make it in different types of pans, but the tube pan is the only one that does justice to our favorite chocolate cake. Continue reading Nona’s Chocolate Cake