Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fondant-Covered Purse Cake

Yup, I made this cake! It's my first attempt at a fondant-covered cake since I took the basic fondant course at Jo-Ann's two years ago. It's not perfect, but I'm pretty proud of it! Inside is four layers of chocolate cake filled with raspberry buttercream and frosted with vanilla buttercream under white rolled fondant.

I can't take all the credit. Melissa at My Cake School designed this cake and taught me how to make it. Melissa and her mother, BeBe, have been decorating cakes for years, and now they are teaching others their skills through a series of video tutorials - clear precise videos with lots of helpful tips.

In order to access the videos, you need to become a member. Membership is $30 a year - probably less than one course at JoAnn's - and besides learning a ton about all kinds of cake decorating, you can ask Melissa any of your cake decorating questions and get a prompt response, and read about what other members are doing. Well worth $30 in my opinion!

To see the collection of video tutorials from My Cake School, check it out here.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cauliflower Soup

Recently, I found myself with a refrigerator full of cauliflower. You may be wondering how, exactly, one finds themselves with a boatload of cauliflower. Well, I belong to a CSA and this year, I volunteered to be one of their drop-off sites where people from my area come once a week to pick up their box of local organic vegetables.

Once in a while, a CSA member will not pick up their box of veggies and I am left to give it away or use it. You may think this is a great deal for me - it is, except when you find that you have more cauliflower (and apples and acorn squash) than your family can eat (just one head of cauliflower is probably more than my family wants to eat)!

I hate to waste anything and start trying to find ways that I can cook with it and/or freeze it so I can enjoy the produce right through the long months of winter. Making soup is the perfect solution and, although I'm not a huge fan of cauliflower, I absolutely loved this soup and I've made two double batches of it so far!

I've eaten this soup for dinner, I've eaten it for lunch, and I've even eaten it for breakfast! Soup is a surprisingly satisfying mid-morning breakfast served with a piece of buttered multi-grain toast. Hey - don't knock it 'til you try it!

And don't be surprised if you see a few more soup recipes here in the future. I've got some good ones to share with you.

Anyone have a good recipe for acorn squash??

Cauliflower Soup
from Ree Drummond at Pioneer Woman Cooks

1 stick Butter, Divided
1/2 whole Onion, Finely Diced
1 whole Carrot Finely Diced
1 stalk Celery, Finely Diced
1 whole (to 2 Whole) Cauliflower Heads (roughly Chopped)
2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley (chopped)
2 quarts Low-sodium Chicken Broth Or Stock
6 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red cayenne pepper, to taste
2 cups Whole Milk
1 cup Half-and-half
2 teaspoons To 4 Teaspoons Salt, To Taste
1 cup (heaping) Sour Cream, Room Temperature (optional, I omitted)
Shredded cheese for garnish (also optional)

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes, or until it starts to turn brown.

Add the carrots and celery and cook an additional couple of minutes. Add cauliflower and parsley and stir to combine.

Cover and cook over very low heat for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour in chicken stock or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Whisk in the flour and cook about one minute. Add the milk and half and half and whisk to combine. Add mixture to the simmering soup and allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Check seasoning and add more salt or pepper if necessary. Blend with a stick blender to desired consistency.

Optional additions: Just before serving, place the sour cream in a serving bowl or soup tureen. Add two to three ladles of hot soup into the tureen and stir to combine with the sour cream. Pour in remaining soup and stir.

Or sprinkle some grated cheese or croutons on top.

Serve immediately, for breakfast even!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake

If you're looking for a quick, easy and delicious cake to have for breakfast or tea, look no further. This is a delicious cake that from start to finish took less than an hour, and only requires about 15 minutes of active time.

It's seriously one of the easiest things I've ever made. And this little cake is so versatile. Substitute any berry or fruit you desire, or add a little lemon zest if you want. Dust with powdered sugar, or leave it plain. Any way you make it, you'll love this cake!

Raspberry Buttermilk Cake
from Melissa Robert's recipe in Gourmet | June 2009

Serves 8-10

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 cup fresh raspberries (about 5 ounces)
1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sugar such as turbinado or raw sugar

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and 2/3 cup sugar with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in vanilla. Add egg and beat well.

At low speed, mix in flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, and mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into cake pan, smoothing top. Scatter raspberries evenly over top and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack and cool to warm, 10 to 15 minutes more. Invert onto a plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.


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