nlbarber: (heavenlycakes)
New posts for the Heavenly Cake bake-along are up on my "cake blog". If you're using a feed reader, you might have seen the Catalán Salt Pinch Cake here, or the first version of it. I thought MarsEdit had eaten the post, when it actually had sent it to LJ, not Blogspot. Oh, well.

Woody's Lemon Luxury Layer Cake

Catalán Salt Pinch Cake
nlbarber: (Default)
I could easily spend hours reading food blogs, and I find my old habit of clipping newspaper recipes has been supplanted by bookmarking and/or printing blog entries. Not that this stops me from continuing to acquire cookbooks.

Anyway, my recipe collections to tend to the dessert side, and I have quite a pile of untried treats. However, Deb of Smitten Kitchen recently referred to a cake she'd made a while back, and the timing was just right to catch my attention for my birthday cake. I make my own, you see, because that way I get just what I want. Most of the time. :)

So, the recipe is for Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze, and originally came from Sky High: Irresistable Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman. I'm not that fond of peanut butter so I decided to try substituting almond butter. Worked great, even though the Trader Joe's almond butter was pretty runny and not, of course, homogenized. The recipe's caution about the oil separating out was unneeded...or maybe the cake just didn't stay around long enough for that to be a problem. I did add a little more powdered sugar to the frosting to stiffen it a little, and also kicked in a little almond extract because almond butter is a less assertive flavor than peanut butter.

More and pictures behind the cut )
nlbarber: (Default)
Most of today has been consumed by baking...no, preparing...another birthday cake for younger niece. Party (and cake) history of late )
This cake goes away from the decorated-party-cake type to looks-like-it-will-taste-marvelous territory. It's a Chocolate Raspberry Bavarian, from Chocolate by Nick Maglieri. Cake description, and the hockey puck first attempt... )
Oh, yes, final touches. After the kitchen marathon I was not inclined to cook dinner, so I headed to Mama Fu's for Thai green beans with beef, then to the grocery store for fresh raspberries for garnish. Egad! Those berries cost $5.99 for each 6 oz. container--and I wanted 3. I decided I was committed and spent the money, but that's well past my usual choke point for berries. I generally buy raspberries when they're going for $2-$3 for those little containers.
nlbarber: (Default)

Chocolate Cloud Cake and the Forest Lizard Bowl

The birthday cake came out well--maybe not quite as dramatic as intended (I think I overbaked it slightly so the middle didn't fall as much as the recipe seems to indicate) but wonderful eating nonetheless. I used the optional Grand Marnier and grated orange rind, but if I do it again I think I'll try it without, or perhaps just with cognac as a flavoring. The orange is just a little too much there.


I also used only 2/3 of the whipped cream called for, in the interests of saving a few calories without a great sacrifice. Not that I can't eat gobs of whipped cream, you understand, but I can also cut back on it without feeling horribly deprived. And as you can see on a picture of a slice of cake, there was still quite a cloud of cream.

The cake is being guarded by my forest dragon bowl, made by my cousin Hat and given to me when we visited last month. I haven't decided if the bowl will live in the kitchen permanently, but for the moment it's providing a wonderful decorative touch to the back counter.


nlbarber: (Default)
The cake was a big hit, both for the decorating (from everyone) and the cake itself (from the kids). I and my s-i-l thought the cake was a little dry and definitely too sweet, but the other moms who tried some more marveled that a low-sugar cake tasted OK at all.

Pictures behind some cuts:

The front view... )

The drawbridge "planks" are gum, the green things are jellybeans, the larger yellow and pink are hard candies, and the little dots on the crenellations are candy dots. The tall flags are also candles--I only set one of them on fire while lighting the candles... :(

Looking down from the top... )

Pink squares inside are a different kind of gum. The Playmobile figure scaling the walls is there because the party was at a rock-climbing facility, so a climber was needed. The rope is a Twizzler. For those with long memories, last year's party was at the same place, with a rock-climbing themed cake.

close-up with climber )

Niece made most of the decisions on candy placement, raiding her sugar-free collection for the candies and gum. I spotted the dots at a store this morning and added those at the last minute. Flags were printed on the computer, glued to the tall candles, and curled around pens overnight to get the waving effect. A little powdered sugar added the "snow", plus helped to show up the details of the castle.

The best part of the party was watching niece deal with the cake. She asked if she could cut it, and after offering advice on how to go about it, I let her take over. And it almost ran like an auction: "who wants half a tower?" "I want the gum!" "Can I have the front?" The gum seemed to be in great demand, to my surprise, but the hottest ticket (so to speak) were the 3 surviving flags. Those were finally handed out by niece doing 3 rounds of eenie-meenie-minie-moe among the 12 (I think) guests. Anyway, she had a great time running the whole show, and the adults all stood back with a smile.
nlbarber: (Default)
The rock-climbing-themed birthday cake was completed this afternoon, and was hauled to Altanta Rocks! for the party. The cake was much admired by the staff, I must say. (Though they'd have preferred it if the cake surface had been vertical...)

The party went well--very low effort for the parents, as the staff handles all the kids while they are climbing. After they'd all been at it for an hour and a half, sis-in-law rounded them up and herded 'em back to a party room where we cut the cake, added ice cream, and passed out additional sugar in various forms. Then passed said kids back to their various parental units in time for everyone to get home for dinner and the SuperBowl kickoff.

Cake pictures

Yes, the doll does have her face in the ganache--the action figure turned out to have a pretty small range of motion, and our options for posing her were limited.
nlbarber: (Default)
The birthday party with friends (as opposed to the one with grandparents, and the one at home with family) for my younger niece is tomorrow, at an indoor rock-climbing facility. Tonight we started on the birthday cake--really a birthday brownie.

Using the rock-climbing theme, we found an action figure of Tori Allen, who is, apparently, a famous female climber. (This is not a sport I have any exposure to.) The idea is to pose the doll on top of the cake as if she's climbing, and then put small candies to be handholds and footholds. I talked the niece into the brownie instead of cake so we didn't have to worry about the doll sinking into the cake.

So, we picked out a turtle brownie mix and baked it in a 13x9 inch pan. Made sour cream ganache with good bittersweet chocolate to use as frosting (yes, I'm planning to have a piece of this, why do you ask?) and frosted it. Tomorrow before the party we'll do the decorating: put the doll on top, add candy handholds, some Twizzler strands for climbing rope, etc. The doll comes with a climbing rope, but I figure while the doll itself can be washed, the rope might not survive contact with ganache.

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