Wednesday, November 28, 2012

So it's been a while...

After returning to school and, subsequently, my 8 ft by 8 ft box of a kitchen in my college apartment, I haven't blogged. It's not that I don't bake (just ask my roommates), but that I can't seem to get any half decent pictures of what I bake. Which wouldn't be an issue for any normal food blogger, but it bothers this slightly neurotic perfectionist. But at my father's repeated pleads, I will give the people what they want.

A birthday cake for a sweet 14 year old

My birthday-cake-baking began years ago, when my father requested a homemade carrot cake for his birthday. I've since lost that recipe, but have found and tested many more. This particular cake, while drenched in chocolatey goodness, is pure vanilla on the inside. I love Magnolia's vanilla cake recipe. It's easy and reliable and dense but still moist and cakey. 

vanilla chocolate chip filling

The filling is any regular vanilla frosting (or marshmallow filling, if ya wanna get fancy) with mini chocolate chips. The light brown frosting around the outside of the cake is just some of the vanilla frosting mixed with some of the chocolate ganache that's poured over the top of the cake. This same recipe will also make around 24 cupcakes. For a two layer cake (with each layer sliced in half like I did), you'll need two 9-inch pans. Also, if you don't have self-rising flour, or don't know what it is, it's just one cup of all-purpose flour with 1.5 tsp of baking powder and .5 tsp salt.

Magnolia's Vanilla Cake Recipe
(adapted from a Food Network recipe that was pulled from Magnolia's cookbook)
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract (not imitation vanilla)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside.

In a large bowl, on medium speed of an electric mixer (or with a wooden spoon and a strong arm), cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and beat them together until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. After each addition, beat until ingredients are combined but be careful not to over mix. Divide the batter between the two greased cake pans and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean).

If you want to bake the cakes the night before, cool the cakes completely and remove from pans. Wrap in plastic wrap and freeze overnight. Cakes will be easier to slice and frost in the morning.

Chocolate Ganache
12 ounces chocolate (I always use semisweet), chopped into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream

Put the chopped chocolate in a large bowl

Heat the cream in a saucepan on medium high until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Allow the mixture to sit for a minute, and then stir until the chocolate is completely mixed and glossy. Let the ganache cool before pouring it over the cake, or let it cool completely (in the fridge helps) before whipping into a frosting.

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