Thursday, March 27, 2008

Daring Baker Challenge for March

I joined the Daring Bakers Club last month but this was the first challenge i have been able to participate in. You have to make the recipe exactly as written no substitutions unless told. You have to keep the recipe seceret all month and post on the date told. It's kind of fun takes you out of your comfort Zone, is what some of the girls say. I had a lot of fun making this cake, Certainly can use some practice frosting, and expirementing with different flavors.

We were able to play with this cake a little. Mine turned out to be a Lemon cake and frosting with Strawberry filling.

March Challenge - Dorie's Perfect Party Cake
Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours (page 250).Posting date Sunday 30 March.
Introduction from MorvenI wanted to pick something that had potential for putting your personal stamp on. Although this is essentially a white cake I know there are some lemon haters among us so feel free to use your imagination. If you inner chef tells you that you need to make a chocolate layer cake then by all means do so. See Dorie’s words on playing around below for some flavour combination ideas.
Update on playing around. Yes you do what ever you want with this cake as long as you promise to use the basic cake recipe and the basic buttercream recipe. The filling/frosting flavours are completely up to you. If you don't feel like using Dorie's buttercream recipe (flavoured as you wish) she says whipped cream will do for the filling and I say... go for it.
I can't wait to see what combinations people come up with. You can leave out the lemon, put different flavours of preserves in the middle, leave off the coconut - it's your cake.
Words from DorieStick a bright-coloured Post-it to this page, so you’ll always know where to turn for a just-right cake for any celebration. The original recipe was given to me by my great dear friend Nick Malgieri, of baking fame, and since getting it, I’ve found endless opportunities to make it – you will too. The cake is snow white, with an elegant tight crumb and an easygoing nature: it always bakes up perfectly; it is delicate on the tongue but sturdy in the kitchen – no fussing when it comes to slicing the layers in half or cutting tall, beautiful wedges for serving; and, it tastes just as you’d want a party cake to taste – special. The base recipe is for a cake flavoured with lemon, layered with a little raspberry jam and filled and frosted with a classic (and so simple) pure white lemony hot-meringue buttercream but, because the elements are so fundamental, they lend themselves to variation (see Playing Around), making the cake not just perfect, but also versatile.
For the Cake2 ½ cups cake flour1 tablespoon baking powder½ teaspoon salt1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)4 large egg whites1 ½ cups sugar2 teaspoons grated lemon zest1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
For the Buttercream1 cup sugar4 large egg whites3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature¼ fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For Finishing2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadableAbout 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
Getting ReadyCentre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.
To Make the CakeSift together the flour, baking powder and salt.Whisk together the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed. Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients. Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated. Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out cleanTransfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).
To Make the ButtercreamPut the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.Remove the bowl from the heat.Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.
To Assemble the CakeUsing a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.Spread it with one third of the preserves.Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.
ServingThe cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.
StoringThe cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.
Playing AroundSince lemon is such a friendly flavour, feel free to make changes in the preserves: other red preserves – cherry or strawberry – look especially nice, but you can even use plum or blueberry jam.
Fresh Berry CakeIf you will be serving the cake the day it is made, cover each layer of buttercream with fresh berries – use whole raspberries, sliced or halved strawberries or whole blackberries, and match the preserves to the fruit. You can replace the coconut on top of the cake with a crown of berries, or use both coconut and berries. You can also replace the buttercream between the layers with fairly firmly whipped sweetened cream and then either frost the cake with buttercream (the contrast between the lighter whipped cream and the firmer buttercream is nice) or finish it with more whipped cream. If you use whipped cream, you’ll have to store the cake the in the refrigerator – let it sit for about 20 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Out of the Delaware County Historical Society Cookbook from my hometown in Iowa. I wasn't so sure about the sour cream in this recipe but i thought oh what the heck give it a try and see how they come out. they are so soft and great tasting. I didn't get any more than a couple dozen out of the recipe but i make big cookies!
1C Sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 C Raisins
2C Oatmeal
1C Shortening
1 C Sour Cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 C Broken nut meats (omitted)
2 C Flour
Bake on greased cookie seet for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes about 5 1/2 Dozen.

Cranberry-Pumpkin Cookies

I'm unsure where i found this recipe but i made them back in the fall as well. This time i thought i would add a little pumpkin spice, and maybe some cream cheese frosting to the top and see how good they come out.

1/2 C Butter Softened

1C white sugare

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 C Solid packed pumpkin

2 1/4 C Flour

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 C Cranberries

1 teaspoon Cinnamon

1 teaspoon orange zest (I omit)

1/2 C Chopped Walnuts

~2 teaspoon pumpkin spice, i didnt really measure, just to taste.

Preheat oven 375 degrees

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in Vanilla, egg, and pumpkin. sift together flour, baking soda, powder, salt, pumpking spice, and cinnamon. Stir in mix until well blended. Stir in Cranberries, walnuts, and orange zest.

drop on cooking pan. Bake 10-12 minutes. Topp with Cream Cheese frosting if you wish.

Monster Cookies

I use to make these all the time with my step-gramma when i was a kid. We would make tons and tons of cookies all year long and they are so tastey! I got this recipe out of the Delaware County Historical Society Cookbook, From my hometown, in Iowa.
1C Sugar
1C Brown Sugar
1/2C margarine
1C Peanut butter
3 eggs
2t baking soda
2t vanilla
4 1/2 C Oatmeal
1C M&M (i love using peanut M&M's)
1C chocolate Chips (I never use these)
Mix ingrediants in order given. Drop by teaspoon on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes on 350 oven. Don't overbake! This recipe takes NO FLOUR!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Peanut Butter Bars

I got this recipe from my friend Karen (Veniceforever) on It's super easy and they are absolutely wonderful bars.

1 1/2 Cups Graham Crackers Finely Crushed

2 Cups Powder Sugar

8 Tblsp butter, melted

1 Cup Peanut Butter

1 1/2 Cups Chocolate Chips

Mix Graham Cracker Crumbs and Sugar, Add Melted butter and Peanut Butter to Mix.

Mix well place in 9x13 OR 9x9 pan (I used 9x9, b/c i wanted thick cookies)

Melt chips and spread over bars, place in frig until hard, leave at room temp for 15 minutes before serving.

I used Carmel kisses instead of chocolate chips and it was really good.

Potato and Sun-Dried Tomato Au-Gratin

Well I got this recipe from Cooking Light . It was really good. Made it to go with Grilled Chicken I believe. Or any type of meat dish would be really good. I have a picture but it won't load it to the page for some reason. We had a lot left over so the second night we added some mushrooms to it and that was very good too. I think it could use more cheese, so load it up!
I only made 1/2 the recipe and it made a 8x8 baking dish full!

Soo good though!


4 Potatos
Wash well
Slice potatoes into thin pieces into a frying pan with Little bit of EVOO
Add little Oregano, Parsley, and Pepper for taste
flipping potaotes often. I chopped them into little smaller pieces while cooking with the spatula.
Cook til soft, slightly brown.

Grilled Tilapia

1 Piece Tilapia
1 Piece Tin Foil
Veggies of choice (we used peppers and Tomatoes)
Seasonings, if you wish would be good too.

Be Sure to Spray Foil With PAM!!!!
Place fish on foil sprinkle small amount EVOO on Fish and then place Veggies on top
Wrap Fish in Foil and place on grill Flipping Occassionally

Crock Pot Salsa Chicken

2 Chicken Breasts
1 Jar Salsa of Choice

Well I will put all good and bad on here. This wasn't as tastey as it sounded, Maybe it was the kind of Salsa we used? But basically you put a couple chicken breasts in the crockpot and pour salsa over it and let cook all day then serve with some rice. I got this recipe from the Girls on

Taco Pie

3 - 10 inch Flour Shells
1/2 Pound Hambergur meat Seasoned with Taco Seasonings of choice
1 can Fat Free Refried Beans
VEggies of choice (we used peppers, and onion, with the meat)
Top with shredded lettece, diced tomatos and Sour Cream
We have been making this recipe up as we go everytime. We always make it a little different. This time. We took a pie pan and 10 inch shells.
Spray the Pie pan and lay 1 shell in the pan. Top with Refried beans, Fat Free, that have been heated up on the stove so that they are easy to spread.
Lay another Shell ontop of the beans, and Add your taco meat, with added veggies that has been cooked throughly. Then top with another Shell, Top with Cheese of choice. Bake on 375 til cheese is melted and slightly brown on top.
Top with Veggies of Choice and Sour Cream

Red Velvet Cake

Good Ol Food Network Red Velvet Cake. Here are the changes that i made to the recipe. I made about 12 cupcakes and then turned the rest into a bundt cake. It sure was tastey!

Instead of the buttermilk I substitued Low-Fat Yogurt. I was using just Vanilla but i was a little bit short so i used some Strawberry. So the cake had a hint of strawberry flavor, it was really good that way.

I also substituted EVOO for the Vegetable Oil, because that is what i always do.

Skillet Stuffed Peppers

I found this recipe on Cooking light and thought it would be a good one to try. It wasn't too bad. I think i needed to season the meat more, I used some Mr's Dash Seasoning to keep the salt down on the recipe more and i dont think i used it enough. maybe i can talk Brad into letting me make it again.

Crab Alfredo Ravioli and Portabella Mushrooms

1/2 pks frozen ravioli, Cheese ones we used, cook as package directs
1 jar bartoli alfredo sauce
imitation crab meat. We prolly used 1 1/2 cups, (didn't measure so not sure)

heat up alfredo sauce and crab meat, when ravioli is cooked pour sauce over crab meat.

We had some huge portabella mushrooms from the market so we cut them into slices and breaded with Ians Panko Crumbs and then fried them in a little bit of EVOO.