Birthday cake icing

For years I have owned a checkerboard cake pan and finally decided to attempt to make this layer cake.  First and foremost, I want to emphasize–this takes time.  I planned two days to prepare the cake, chill the cake, and make and decorate the cake.

And by no means, am I any sort of expert.  I call myself a cooking and baking enthusiast.  But, over the years, I have developed confidence in trying many new recipes and experimenting with my own recipes and modifications.

This icing recipe is not an experiment.  It came directly from the pages of Martha’s American Food cookbook.  It was made exactly as she recommended.  And, it is an amazing recipe.  Although she does not say to chill the cake after icing, I highly recommend that step.

The icing is perfect consistency for spreading on a layer cake, but needs to firm up for serving.  I also feel that by chilling the cake prior to icing, allows the cake to firm up as well.  There is nothing worse than a layer cake that is sagging, tilting, or falling over.

If ever thinking of making a layer cake, consider this recipe, it is delicious. This recipe made 7 1/2 cups of icing.  I had about 1/2 cup left over after frosting three layers.  Certainly, the quantity could be changed based on your cake size.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds semi-sweet chocolate, 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, 1/2 cup plus 1 cup boiling water, 4 1/2 sticks unsalted butter SOFTENED, 3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, pinch of salt

Heat and melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  Remove from the heat and allow to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.  Combine the cocoa with the boiling water in a bowl. Dissolve.  Beat softened room temperature butter in a stand mixer, with the sugar and salt until fluffy.  Add melted chocolate slowly and then add in the cocoa mixture.

Use immediately.  The icing will be soft and free-flowing and covers the cake very well.  To firm up the icing, chill in the refrigerator.

And about the cake itself, the pan is the key to the checkerboard cake.  You can use any two types of cake mixes, or any of your favorite cake recipes.  The pan does the work.  I baked the cakes for 25 minutes, chilled, and leveled the tops prior to assembling the layer cake.  These pans provide an easy release and there were no worries with the results. I used a Chicago Metallic checkerboard cake pan, but many others are also available online, including one from Wilton.

I always have a nice feeling when I bake a cake for the one I love.

 

Valentine brownie

Chocolate desserts have to be the ultimate choice for Valentine’s Day.  Sometimes making a favorite recipe in a special serving dish can make the dessert seem extra special.

I have found over the years that I prefer to make my own Valentine’s Dinner.  I control the ingredients and the timing of the meal.  I can set the table with special dishes and even save some money.  I love to cook and by taking the time to make a nice meal for my husband, I show him how much I really care about him.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

And, usually if I set the menu with his favorite dishes, I cannot go wrong. This year, I made a couple of different desserts to celebrate the day.  I did not serve this dessert for our special dinner, but had it for him to enjoy at another time.

This brownie recipe was featured on the blog back in 2013, but is one of my all time favorites by Martha Stewart.  If you have not tried it yet, give it a try.  It can be frosted with your favorite chocolate icing, or simply use powdered sugar or whipped cream to accompany.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Here is the recipe:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Next, place a double boiler or glass bowl over boiling water and melt one stick of unsalted butter with six ounces of bittersweet chocolate.  Remove the bowl from the heat and gradually beat in 1 1/2 cups of sugar with an electric mixer.  Then, add three large eggs and 1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder.  Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 plus 2 tablespoons of flour and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the selected baking dish.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until firm without crumbs.  Test with a cake tester.  Cool at least 15 minutes before cutting or cool completely before icing with chocolate frosting.

coconut birthday cake

 for my mother’s 89th birthday this year, she asked for a coconut birthday layer cake.  one of the best decisions i made for this cake was to purchase this brand of unsweetened flaked coconut.  the large shaved coconut was perfect for the cake and added excellent flavor to the frosting. 

by having flat shaved pieces of coconut, compared to the fine wisps of coconut that i typically purchase at the market in the baking aisle, we experienced a much better tasting icing for the cake.  for this two layer cake, i used almost the entire bag of coconut.

in order to make this cake, i did not make the cake from a recipe, but used a white cake mix, and then my own icing recipe that i have published on the blog under maple icing  for this cake, however; i used vanilla flavor rather than the maple flavor on that posting.  once i frosted the first layer, i added coconut flakes to the center of the cake, and then continued with the frosting decoration.  after the cake was frosted, i added the coconut to the top and exterior of the cake, being very generous in the application.

birthday cake

for more than thirty years, i have always purchased a birthday cake for my husband brian. this year, i decided to make him a cake from martha’s stewart’s cooking school book. i made her white cake with easy chocolate buttercream. instead of making two layers, i divided the batter into four smaller layers, baking them for only 17 minutes each. the buttercream frosting was made with frango mint chocolate baking cocoa, so it has a distinct minty taste. the coconut decoration was my personal addition, since brian likes coconut. this frosting is not a glossy ganache, but a richer and sweeter buttercream. i believe it is labeled easy, since cocoa is used instead of melted chocolate, which would need to be incorporated into the mixture. the layers added height, and i had just enough icing, about five cups to decorate the cake. by using only two layers, i would have had additional icing to pipe decorations onto the cake. since this cake was well received, i am going to continue my baking attempts for future family celebrations.