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4/24/14

"MINECRAFT" Devils Food Birthdsay Cake with White Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting a Tutorial with Pictures.

Happy Seventh Birthday Nate!




Who knew what "MINECRAFT" is?  Not I!  Well that is until a good friend text-ed me and asked if I could make a birthday cake for this Thursday for a little boy turning 7 years old.  After meeting with his Mother I have agreed to take this project on.  I plan to make two recipes of my Devil's food cake and bake each in a 9"x 13" pan with a creamy white filling between the two layers to form a two layer 9"x 13" cake.  Next I plan a butter cream tinted light green with the Minecraft logo in black atop the cake and a birthday greeting piped below.


And lets get started!

Ingredients for Devil's Food Cake:  This is the link to my recipe which I would normally bake in three layers.     thehiddenpantry.blogspot.com/2010/08/brians-red-devilsfood-birthday-cake.html

Sit the dish on top of the parchment and trace the bottom.

But, today I buttered a 9" x 13" baking dish and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom.  I pressed the parchment on top of the butter then proceeded to butter the parchment and well up all sides.  Lastly I dusted with flour and set the dish aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  (NOTE:  I save all of the butter wrappers as I unwrap sticks and place them in my freezer.  Then when I need to butter a dish or pan it is ready and I have no muss and no fuss.)

Use a sieve as a sifter.

Some of the habits I have developed in baking this cake and others are to let the eggs, butter, and buttermilk all come to room temperature before mixing.  I also like to place all of the ingredients that require sifting into a large sieve over a bowl and shake them through.

This is layer one turned onto a large glass tray.

After letting the cake cool for 10 minutes I turned it out onto a large serving platter.  Now I am ready to bake the second recipe for the second layer!

But first I will start the base for the whipped cream like filling by combining 1/4 C. flour and 1 C. milk in a heavy bottomed but small saucepan.  Bring to a biol while whisking constantly.  Continue whisking vigorously while boiling for about 4 minutes until a thick smooth paste forms.  Scrape the paste like mixture into a small clean bowl and fit a piece of plastic wrap down over the entire surface and refrigerate until very cold.

While it cools make a second devils food layer exactly the same way and the same size as the first.  After cooling the baked layer for 10 minutes invert it onto a cookie sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper.  Cool completely.

Creme filling for between the layers.

When everything is cold proceed with the filling.  Combine in the large bowl of a stand mixer 1 stick of margarine, i/2 C. Crisco, 1 C. powdered sugar, and 1 t. real vanilla and beat at the highest speed about 6 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice.  After it has turned very white and fluffy add the cold flour and milk paste and beat with the whisk attachment about 8 minutes scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.  The filling will be very smooth, light, and fluffy.

This looks just like a giant SUZY-Q.

Spread this over the first layer then top with the cooled second layer.  It will look a lot like a giant Suzy-Q and that is a good thing!

Wrapped to tuck away for the night.

Wrap well to store in the refrigerator.  I use a sheet of parchment to lightly cover the cake's surface then wrap the whole thing securely with wide foil and pop it into the refrigerator while starting the butter cream frosting.

Earlier today I went to Target to look for a Minecraft box with the logo and found an empty box that pictured a just the right size logo to use as a pattern.

Ingredients for White Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting:

8 ounces good quality white chocolate chopped (such as Lindt or Baker's)
1/2 C. whipping cream
2 C. room temperature butter (4 sticks)
1 C. egg whites (about 8)
2 1/4 C. granulated sugar
2 t. pure vanilla extract

White chocolate and heavy cream melted together.

Stir the white chocolate and the cream together in a glass bowl over simmering water until melted and stirred smooth.  Do not let the water touch the bottom of the bowl.  Set aside to cool. 

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy then set aside.  (Use a hand mixer and medium sized bowl for this as you will need the large stand mixer and bowl for the egg whites.)

Done as is French meringue egg whites and sugar is heated to 160 degrees before whipping.

Combine the egg whites and sugar in a large metal or glass bowl.  Set the bowl over a large pan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) .  Whisk until the sugar dissolves and a thermometer inserted into the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. (about 3-5 minutes).  Remove the bowl from over the water.  Using the very clean whisk attachment beat the egg whited with a stand mixer about 10 minutes until the meringue is cool, stiff, and shiny.

Beat the butter about 1/4 cup at a time into the meringue.  Blend well after each addition.  If the frosting starts to curdle place the bowl over hot water again and beat again to soften slightly. Repeat this as necessary.  (I have never had to do this.)

Gradually beat in the cooled white chocolate and add the vanilla.  Chill the butter cream about 30 minutes in the refrigerator before frosting the cake to firm a bit.

White chocolate butter cream tinted black.

Before refrigerating I took about a cup of the frosting and placed it in a small bowl.  I added a whole container of black cream food color and whisked it together.

Black frosting rolled between two layers of parchment and frozen.

Next I placed the black frosting onto a piece of parchment and put a second piece on the top and rolled it out about a quarter of an inch thick.  I slid a small cookie sheet under it and placed it in the bottom of my freezer.

Using the pattern to be sure the disk is rolled large enough.

I plan to cut out the little "MINECRAFT" man out from this with a pattern and a sharp knife!  So for now it freezes.  I found an empty box at Target and have laid it across the circle of frosting to be sure I have made it large enough.  I will cut him out of the cardboard and use it to trace into the frozen frosting making a pattern to guide a sharp knife.  I have worried how to make sharp lines and corners.

Frosting the top layer green.

Meanwhile I took about 3 C. of the butter cream and tinted it green with past food color and used it to frost the cake top.

And frosting the sides white.



Next I frosted the sides of this big 9" x13" double layer cake with the plain white chocolate butter cream frosting.

Storing extra frosting for the birthday greeting.



There is about a cup left and I will store it in a plastic bag for now to pipe on, "Happy Birthday Nate" after I affix the the '"MINECRAFT" man, using it like glue to slide it into position.

Cutting out the pattern.




The layer of black tinted butter cream is frozen and I removed it to sit at room temperature for a few minutes in hopes the pieces will not crack or break.  Meanwhile with my sharpest scissors I cut out my pattern.  Next I peeled of the parchment from one side of the frozen disk, loosely replaced it and flipped it over and removed the other side of parchment.  My purpose is to see if one side or the other looks better and so it will not stick so tightly that I will have issues removing it a it softens.


The "MINECRAFT" man is positioned on the cake.

After selecting the best side and positioning it face up without parchment on top, but only beneath, I placed the first piece of the pattern and carefully cut around it with a very thin bladed knife.  Then using a small offset spatula and a very small pancake turner in unison I lifted the first piece into position on the cake.  I repeated this process until all of the pieces of the little man were in place. Whew!  Was this nerve wracking!  And of course I did have a piece break and I did have a speck of the black get on the green!

It was not as difficult as I had supposed to correct by carefully using a clean butter knife and scraping a tiny bit away then smoothing a bit.  I am hopeful that while it is not perfect it will not disappoint!

Meanwhile I removed the white butter cream from the top shelf of my refrigerator to soften so I can finish up with "Happy Birthday Nate" across the cake.












4/19/14

Deviled Eggs & Red Potato Salad, Easy Last Minute Preparations for a Simplified Easter Dinner

Our family loves Deviled Eggs so I allow for about 3 per person.

Yesterday I dyed Easter Eggs and made three dozen hard cooked eggs altogether for the baskets, deviled eggs, and potato salad for Easter Dinner.  This Easter Menu is much simpler than the traditional one I usually prepare.  Because I've hurt my foot I am "cheating" and have ordered fried chicken from our local market.  It is delicious and I really don't think you can ever go wrong with fried chicken for Sunday dinner!

Easter Menu

Fried Chicken
Potato Salad
Baked Beans
Cole Slaw
Deviled Eggs
Vegetable Platter with Dip
Hot Rolls
Iced Tea
Strawberry Shortcake with Whipped Cream



So with the chicken ordered and the vegetables and dip in the refrigerator today I made the deviled eggs and potato salad.  Leaving only the slaw, baked beans, rolls, and strawberries to contend with tomorrow. The rolls are made up and in the freeze and the slaw is cut leaving only to be dressed.  I can slice the berries as the beans bake.


Ingredients for Deviled Eggs:

15 hard cooked eggs peeled and halved
1-1 1/4 C. Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
1 1/2 t. yellow mustard
1 1/2 T. pickle relish
1-2 t. sweet pickle juice
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
paprika for garnish

Place the halved eggs on a serving tray or large flat container for storing.


Place the Miracle Whip, yellow mustard, pickle relish, salt, and pepper in the bottom of the food processor on top of the chopping blade.  Next add the egg yolks and pulse until smooth.  Taste and add the sweet pickle juice until the desired consistency is reached.  (I do not like them "dry" and the juice helps.)

Using a spatula scrape the yolk mixture off into a gallon sized zipper bag and push to one corner.  Snip the corner forming a 3/8" to 1/2" hole and push the filling through the hole to fill the cavity of each egg. This really makes the filling of the eggs go quickly! If they are a little pointed just wet the end of your index finger with water and push down a little.  Sprinkle with paprika and store covered in the refrigerator until serving time.  Yield 30 deviled eggs.


This is a very simple but delicious potato salad.

Ingredients for Red Potato Salad:

3 pounds red potatoes. peel and quarter half the potatoes and leave peels on the other half quartering them also.  Boil in a covered pan in salted water until fork tender and drain well.
6 hard cooked eggs. peeled
3//4 C. diced celery
1/2 C. pickle relish
1-1 1/4 C. Hellman's Mayonnaise
1- 1 1/2 t. Grey French mustard
1-1 1/2 T. sugar
kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper

Place the cooled potatoes in a bowl dicing them to bite size as you go.  Add the celery, chopped eggs, and pickle relish.   This is a very basic and simple potato salad and the dressing just makes it!

Mix in a smaller bowl the Mayonnaise,  Grey French mustard, and sugar.  Poor the dressing over the salad, add the salt and pepper and toss well.  Taste and correct seasoning if needed. Refrigerate covered until serving time.  Yield 8-10 servings.


4/17/14

A Beautiful Day for Laying Low and Making up Easter Baskets and Eggs

Maundy Thursday 4/17/14 on the patio at home.

My saga began with forecast lows of 28 degrees F Tuesday night here in southern Indiana.  Of course I told Brian everyone could thank me for that one as I was sure it was because I'd jumped the gun and took all of my jungle of house plants outside to the patio on Saturday! And...he agreed!

Indoor plants blooming outdoors.
Not wishing to drag them all inside again or to lose them to freezing I hatched a plan.  Pulling them all back to the corner closest to the house and the most insulated by a brick wall I rigged up a trouble light and bulb.  The light was positioned down in the center of the plants and pulled back enough to insure that a sheet used to cover the entire debacle would not touch it in any way. (Avoiding the chance of starting a fire I hoped.)  Last of all I covered the entire lot with a king sized flannel sheet and anchored it's ends with logs.

Tropical plants outside.

Late that night, after midnight I would guess, (Brian was fast asleep.) I stumbled barefoot in pajamas, and in the dark down the back stairs to the landing with Molly faithful at my side.  I wanted to check to be sure she hadn't pulled my project apart or that the wind had not come up and blown it all a rye.  All was as I had left it but when I turned.  OUCH!  Somehow I had twisted my foot and a pain shot from my big toe through the arch of my foot.  So I hobbled back upstairs as quietly as I could as not to wake my sleeping husband.

These are Virginia Bluebells in bloom.

Even after reluctantly taking one of the pain pills prescribed for knee pain the pain did not leave me and I didn't sleep all night.  The next morning I found there was no swelling or discoloration and thought I must be a big wimp!  Surly it was not broken as there were no sign.  So.....I pulled out my big clunky walking shoes with the RX prosthetic inserts and there was no pain!  I could walk just fine.  Away I went!  The bank, gas station, grocery, and post office were all on my route.


 All was well until I removed the shoe then OUCH.

I just love these Virginia Bluebells!

Happily I had an easy soup supper planned and could just prop up my foot.  By this morning things are improved and I think if I take it easy today I might well have seen the worst of it.

The candy and baskets have already been gotten down and await me on the bed in the rear bedroom. A  quick visit to Harry Brown the egg man on Monday netted me an additional 5 dozen eggs.  I held back 3 dozen from my last purchase to hard cook for Easter as they will peel easier if the are not just laid.

Molly is checking out the fish pond.

But as I look out on such a lovely day I am certain I will enjoy sitting outside with Molly a good bit today.

The egg colors and a fresh bottle of white vinegar await me.  I am also contemplating an Easter Bunny cake.  More to follow on that one!  Happy Easter everyone.