Well, it’ll taste good…

I made chocolate cake for our Mother’s Day dinner. (All the mothers did a little cooking, Steve is grilling.) As you know, I bake a lot and I’m not sure why, but this cake fought back.

FrankensteinCake-1

I made the cake layers yesterday. The recipe starts with melted, un-sweetened chocolate pieces. After that cools, you add it and the vanilla to the batter in the mixer. I added the vanilla to the lukewarm chocolate thinking that would make adding them to the batter easier. Not so much… the chocolate got stiff (I believe the term is ‘seized up’). I managed to blend it all and the batter looked normal so I put the cake in the overn. The layers didn’t rise as much as usual and the cake was a little crumbly but I figured that that would be OK.

Today I made the frosting. It calls for a box of powdered sugar. I didn’t have a box, I had a bag, so I measured the sugar (4 scant cups). I must has used too much because the frosting got hard not long after I started spreading it. In fact, it didn’t take long before it started tearing the cake apart. I gave up on it when I made one obvious divot in the top edge. Sigh.

FrankensteinCake-3

I made another half-batch of frosting and it hardened pretty fast too. Mom says it could be the humidity in the air.

FrankensteinCake-2

Honestly, while it isn’t a show-stopper, the finished cake has kind of a nice texture… tree-bark-ish. I know that it will taste good and that’s what really matters.

I did think, though, that if I were a new cook and this happened I might be tempted to give up on making cakes from scratch. If that’s you, please don’t let one cake stop you from baking. These things happen :-).

Silicone baking cups!

The New York Baking Company contacted me to see if I would like to write an honest review of their silicone baking cups. It took me a while to realize that they probably contacted me because of my blog name, piece o’ cake, rather than the fact that I sometimes write about baking but that’s OK because I do, in fact, sometimes write about baking!

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I’ve seen these silicone baking cups before but had never bought them. Not because they are too expensive (they aren’t), but rather because I wasn’t sure how they would work. Well, I can honestly say that they work great!

I made the Birthday Cupcakes from The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. The problem with gluten free cupcakes is that they have a tendency to fall apart as you peel them out of the papers or try to remove them from a cupcake pan—more so than cupcakes made with wheat flour do. Using the silicone baking cups for GF cupcakes provides a good test for this product.

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The baking cup released the cupcake without tearing it up! I didn’t coat the silicone baking cups with butter, oil, or a spray.

Our grandson, Jack, was spending the night so I decided to frost the cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. Jack loves peanut butter! I used a new recipe which said to blend together 4 tbls butter, 1/2 cup honey, 1 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter. I added chocolate chips.

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This frosting is not stiff because you don’t add powdered sugar. Once I realized that I re-read the recipe and it said to place the frosted cake (cupcakes for me) 2 1/2″ beneath a hot broiler for about 1 minute. It would never have occurred to me to do that with a frosted cake but what the heck… I decided to give it a try. (And, no, this is not an April Fool suggestion :-).)

Luckily Lorna was with me. She said silicone does not like to broil and sure enough, the package says not to heat the silicone baking cups above 475°. I carefully removed the frosted cupcakes from the baking cups which was a lot easier than I thought it would be. The baking cups sort of turned inside-out, ejecting the cupcakes. I placed the cupcakes on a baking sheet and slid that under the hot broiler.

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The recipe said to watch the cake carefully and pull it out when the frosting bubbled, but before it burned. That took less than a minute and even so, some of my cupcakes are browner than I would like. The frosting didn’t exactly harden, but it did get less soft once the cupcakes cooled. They are pretty on the plate and they were so very tasty!

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I did put the silicon baking cups back on the cupcakes that were not immediately eaten to keep them from drying out. That, too, worked like a charm.

My honest review of the Silicone Baking Cups from The New York Baking Company is that they are truly wonderful! I have 12, I’m going to get 12-24 more because I know I’m going to be using them a lot.

Side Notes:

  • The cookbook from ATK is a wonderful, marvelous cookbook! I made the flax bread too (twice!) but that’s another story.
  • This frosting would be very tasty on bread—broiled or not.
  • And now that I think of it, baby marshmallows would be a nice addition to this frosting.

 

Easiest pie crust, ever—and it’s gluten free!

We take part in the Bountiful Baskets food co-op most weeks. We sign up on Monday and pick up on Saturday. While there are a variety of foods available, we most often sign up for the fruit and vegetable box. Every week is different and you never know what you are going to get. On Saturday we got several granny smith apples. Time for pie!

Now that I have a good pie crust recipe, I like making pie. This recipe is by Annalise G. Roberts, from her cookbook, Gluten-Free Baking Classics. Her website is here. I buy the GF Classical Blend flour by Authentic Foods that Ms Roberts recommends. I like it better than any other GF flour. It tastes as good as any wheat-based crust that I’ve ever tried.

Download Traditional Pie Crust

(If you are not interested in gluten-free baking, click here to read a post with an excellent pie crust that is as easy to make.)

My pie-baking experience Sunday morning was not without a couple of hiccups. I was distracted and mis-measured the ingredients for the crust not once, but twice! It hurt to throw out the 1st and 2nd attempts but, thankfully, the third time was the charm.

ApplePie

Steve and I each ate one small slice. Mom wanted two as well (one for today, one for tomorrow). The rest of the pie went to Chris and Lorna.

Lorna does not eat white sugar. Honey is fine, as is crystalized coconut or palm sugars. Steve and I eat very little processed sugar and so learning to bake without it is fine by me. The little bit of processed white sugar in the crust recipe was so small that Lorna and I figure it’s OK.

I substituted 2/3 cup honey for the 3/4 cup of combined white and brown sugars called for in the filling recipe. I used coconut sugar in the crumb topping. 

Coconut sugar is brown and has a different consistency. The crumb topping looks different than it would have with white sugar, but it tastes just fine :-).


ApplePie-Slice

FYI—The apple filling recipe came from GF Baking Classics as well. Honestly, this is my go-to dessert cookbook. The cakes are fantastic!