Evil Yumminess in the Land of Giant Cupcakes

October 20, 2010

Spice Cake…The Quest Continues!

Filed under: Cake,spice cake,Uncategorized — by queenofevilyumminess @ 10:48 AM
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Being obsessed with making the old spice cake recipe a success (see Spice Cake…The Quest), I made yet another batch of cupcakes. I also had buttermilk which was going out of date and needed used. I hate going to the local grocery store, the only option in town for buttermilk, and having said milk be out of date in like three days. Very, very annoying, but typical small town life, I guess. Anyway, I decided to add ton more spice into the recipe. Here is the original recipe:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk (aka buttermilk)
1 cup raisins, chopped (which I omitted because I despise raisins)
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (I used allspice since I didn’t have nutmeg)
1 tsp soda in sour milk
2 large cups flour

The second time I made it (after having raided my mom’s spice rack), I used the following recipe:

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp soda in sour milk
2 cups flour

I chose to replace half the white sugar with light brown sugar, hoping it would give the cake a richer taste. I added in the ginger, which made the cake taste a bit sweeter. Personally, I think the addition of the ginger made the biggest improvement on the flavor of the cake. This time, the cake was much darker in color, although still not as dark as the box mix cake. I didn’t take any pictures, unfortunately. This recipe was also not quite as intensely spiced as the box mix cake, so if you are wanting a really spiced cake, I would recommend adding larger portions of the spices. I would also recommend using cloves instead of just allspice. The allspice container says that 1 tsp of allspice equals 1 tsp of cloves, but I’m wondering if it would be better to use both 1/2 tsp of allspice and 1/2 tsp of ground cloves. I guess I’ll have to wait and try that the next time I make the cake from scratch.

Something else that occurs to me as I’m typing up this post is that some people may like (or need) the actual instructions for preparing the cake. I sometimes forget that not everyone is experienced enough in baking to NOT need the instructions. So, here are the instructions for how I mixed the cake.

  1. Cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer or stand mixer. Mix until light and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly eat time.*
  3. Add vanilla.
  4. Sift the flour and spices together into a separate bowl.
  5. Measure out the buttermilk and then add the baking soda to the buttermilk. Stir so that the soda is incorporated.
  6. Add 1/3 of the flour and spice mixture to the batter. Mix BY HAND** just until all flour is incorporated into the batter***. Then, add in 1/2 of the buttermilk, mixing again until incorporated. Repeat process, making sure to end with the addition of the remaining flour and spice mixture.
  7. Pour into a greased and floured pan. Bake at 350 degrees.

Please note: This recipe made only about 18 cupcakes instead of the usual amount of 24. So the batch is a little smaller than normal.

* Make sure that each egg is mixed thoroughly, meaning the batter shouldn’t be slimy looking, before adding the next egg. This is a good rule in general for preparing cake and cookie batter.

** I read somewhere that mixing in the flour and buttermilk by hand makes a difference in the texture of the cake. I’m not sure if this is true or not, but I choose to complete the mixing of the batter by hand.

*** I read somewhere, probably in the same place as the previous footnote, that it is really important not to add either buttermilk to a batter when then flour has not been totally mixed into the batter (and vice versa).

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October 12, 2010

Spice Cake…The Quest

Filed under: Cake,Cupcake,Halloween,spice cake,Uncategorized — by queenofevilyumminess @ 1:32 PM
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My best friend is planning her sister’s baby shower and enlisted my services for the cake. The sister notified her that the baby had been craving spice cake lately. So, naturally, the cake for the baby shower is going to be spice cake. I’ve never made a spice cake before. I don’t like spice cake at all and have no idea what a good spice cake tastes like. Neither the sister nor my friend live near enough to me that I can have them taste test for me. Luckily, I have a long list of friends and co-workers which I can call upon to participate in a taste test of this kind.

I started searching on the internet and found a ton of recipes, but I decided to ask my mom to delve into her recipe book cache to see if you should find a old recipe that might work. When I got home from work, she had about six cookbooks of various origins and age sitting on the table for me. One of these books was a very old, musty, dirty binder with typed recipes. No name, no date, nothing. I asked Mom what the deal was with it and was delighted to find that I was holding my great-grandmother’s recipes. Apparently, her uncle had typed them up a very long time ago so that they would all be in one place. THANK YOU GREAT-UNCLE L!

This cookbook is old and the recipes in it are even older. Many of the recipes do not include instructions. Some of them do not even have measurements. They’ll just say, “add enough flour to get a stiff dough” or “add flour until you get a dough that you are just able to handle.” Temperature settings are more likely than not to be “moderate,” “slightly fast,” etc. Obviously these recipes were from someone who knew how to bake in the first place. Some recipes even instruct you to take the pan out of the fire. Nice, huh!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to try the Spice Cake recipe and compare it to a cake mix to see which was better. Unfortunately, I did not own all the spices needed.  As I said, I don’t like spice cake, so I didn’t have nutmeg, cloves, ginger, or allspice. I went to the store and had a heart attack over the price of spices (once again). I decided to just buy the allspice and see how it went. Turns out, it wasn’t enough, but that comes later.

Being me, I had forgotten about the family weenie roast last Sunday until my husband came home at 2:30 and reminded me. He wasn’t sure if we were going to go until around 3:15 and at that point I didn’t have anything to take with us. We have to leave at 4:30. Perfect time to make up these spice cupcakes, right? I thought so. Also being me, I decided that I should be able to get two batched, one from scratch and one from a mix, baked and iced in an hour.  Imagine my distress when my hubby declared at 4:15 that it was time to go. I just laughed…he did not. I did get them done, but I was taking the last batch out of the oven when it was time to actually leave at 4:30. Hubby was annoyed; he hates to be late. I got enough of them iced using store bought cream cheese frosting (sad face) to take to the weenie roast. The rest I stuck in a container for later.

Now for the comparison…

On the left is my great-grandma’s recipe and on the right is the box mix. You can tell in the picture that one is much lighter in color than the other. The from from-scratch recipe was a little less moist, was spongier, and not as flavorful. the lack of flavor was expected, though, since all I used was cinnamon and allspice to flavor it. The box mix was moister and denser. It also smelled much better. So far, the reviews have been mixed. Some like one and some like the other.

I robbed my Mom’s spices and came away with cloves, ginger, and nutmeg, so I plan to do another trial on the recipe to see if it is any better. In addition to the extra spices, I plan to use a little brown sugar to see if that will help the flavor and color at all.

Here’s the recipe:

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 cup sour milk (aka buttermilk)
1 cup raisins, chopped (which I omitted because I despise raisins)
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp soda in sour milk
2 large cups flour

One can only presume to know exactly what this recipe means by “large cups flour.” I just measured it out like I usually do (Stir flour, spoon into measuring cup, and level with spoon). Just another joy in the quest for an excellent spice cake! This recipe only make 19 cupcakes instead of the usual 24, too.

By the way, I do NOT recommend trying to make two batches of cupcakes in an hour and expect to get them iced, especially if one recipe if from scratch. It was a sketchy business, to be sure!

September 22, 2010

Amazing Banana Nut Bread

Filed under: banana,banana bread,bread,Uncategorized,walnut — by queenofevilyumminess @ 12:03 PM
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My coworker (Tanya the Enabler) and I always try to make goodies for the birthday’s of the office’s staff members. This is a good excuse for us to bake, not that we really need much of an excuse, but it helps get us off the hook with our significant others when they think we’ve already been doing too much baking (which is always). The current birthday person requested banana bread.

I’ve only baked banana bread once before, but the recipe is one of my mother’s which means it is going to be totally yummy! It makes two good sized loaves of bread. This was a good thing since I NEEDED to do a quality check on the bread before I took it in to work. You can translate that “NEEDED” however you like, but what it really means is that I couldn’t wait an extra day to eat some. I’m impatient! It is torture to bake something as yummy looking and fantastic smelling as banana walnut bread from scratch and then be forced to wait over 24 hours before eating any of it! I just couldn’t do it.

I mean, MMMMMMMMM, look at that bread! Who could resist?

Something I find interesting about baking this bread is that it doesn’t brown up until right before it is done. The first time I baked it, I was totally freaking out because it wasn’t getting brown at all. I had to call my mother and ask her if I’d done something wrong. She assured me that everything would come out okay, and, of course, she was correct. The bread came out a nice brown color, was moist, and was in general fantastic. Her recipe also comes with a Banana Glaze/Icing made with real butter and ripe banana. Slurp, excuse me. I had to wipe up the drool.

Unfortunately, the lighting in my kitchen is quite poor, so the color of the bread didn’t really come through in this last picture. They were not as dark as they appear. The first picture shows the true color of the bread. The loaf pans that I had on hand were a bit wider than I would have liked so the bread turned out rather short. I would have preferred to have a narrower pan that produced a taller loaf.

I asked my mother who gave her this recipe, but she had no idea. There was no name on the card and it was written in her handwriting. She just said she knew it was an old on, but not from my grandma. The title on the card is actually called “Banana Walnut Cake.” Cake, bread…whatever, it is still a great recipe!

Banana Walnut Bread

2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
3 cup flour
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
8 to 10 tbsp buttermilk (I used 10)
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing just until incorporated (not slimy looking). Mix in flour and salt. Measure out the buttermilk into a small bowl and then stir the baking soda into the buttermilk before adding the mixture to the batter. Next peel and mash the bananas before adding it to the batter. Add the chopped nuts last and stir gently to distribute them in the batter.

Pour batter immediately into the prepared pans, dividing evenly between the two pans, and bake for about an hour, or until golden brown. Toothpick should come out clean.

Speedy Banana Frosting

1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 pound powdered sugar (they still sell 1 pound boxes of powdered sugar; or 1 pound = about 4 cups unsifted)
1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas
1/2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

Combine butter and powdered sugar. Mix until smooth. Add in the bananas and the lemon juice. Mix until incorporated and smooth. Frosting can be added to bread either when it is still warm or when it has totally cooled. Your choice.

September 20, 2010

Candy Corn and Peanut Butter Cookies

Filed under: Candy Corn,Cookies,Halloween,peanut butter,Uncategorized — by queenofevilyumminess @ 4:44 PM
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Ever had candy corn and salty peanuts mixed together like a trial mix? Well, this post is all about the cookie version of that combination. There was a little bit of trial and error, but I ended up with a pretty good representation of the flavors I was seeking!

I knew from previous experience (Urg!)  that when you melt candy corn, it cools into a hard mass of sugar. You basically turn it from a soft chewy piece of candy into hard candy. Not exactly what I was trying to accomplish here. Still, I wondered what would happen if I put it inside cookies. So, I baked my first batch of cookies with chopped candy corn in the batter. As I expected, the candy corn that was outside the batter turned into hard candy. The candy corn that was inside the batter, got really chewy. The visual result of the cookie was not good at all and the taste of the candy corn was almost completely lost. Now, obsessed with getting the proper result, I consulted with my mother, and decided to make another batch of cookies.

This time, as per my mother’s advice, I decided to put the candy corn on top of the cookies immediately after I removed them from the oven. I had some minor complications, mainly the peanuts not letting the candy corn be pressed down into the cookie and some of the candy corn pieces not sticking to the cookie, but over all the result was very good.  There is only a small window of opportunity to get the candy corn onto the cookie since they flatten out as they cool. Sadly, I was running out of candy corn at this point since the local grocery store only sold the “Autumn Mix” and not just a big bag of regular candy corn. I had to use pieces of candy corn instead of the full specimen, and some of the cookies ended up with half a pumpkin candy on them, which also turned out looking rather nice.

Without any further ado, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup Skippy Natural Super Chunk Peanut Butter
  • 1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (I usually use a pinch of salt since I use salted butter)
  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • candy corn

Directions

1. Heat oven to 375°F.

2. Beat butter, peanut butter, brown sugar, milk and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Add egg; beat just until blended. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture. Stir in 1 cup nuts. DO NOT ADD CANDY CORN AT THIS POINT!

3. Drop by heaping teaspoons about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

4. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set. Do not over bake (see note #1 at bottom). Place candy corn onto cookies as soon as you remove them from the oven. Press each piece of candy gently into the cookie. Cool 2 minutes. Remove to wire rack. Cool completely. About 3 dozen cookies.

NOTE #1: The original recipe recommends a cooking time of 7-8 minutes. I have have to bake my cookies, even the smaller ones, for 10-11 minutes. I recommend starting to check your first sheet of cookies at around 7 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges begin to brown ever so slightly. You will need to leave the cookies on the sheet for a few minutes since they are very soft. If you try to move them immediately, you’ll most likely end up with a huge mess.

NOTE #2: These cookies were quite as salty as I would have liked. The next time I bake them, I may try sprinkling the tops of the unbaked cookies with some of pretzel salt and see how that turns out. Might be good, might not.

July 21, 2010

Tiramisu Cake = Mmmmm!!!

Filed under: Cake,coffee,mascarpone,tiramisu — by queenofevilyumminess @ 3:37 PM
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My mom LOVES tiramisu, but I’ve never made it before because frankly it looks like a pain in the rear. So, when I found a recipe for a tiramisu cake, I was thrilled. It looked way easier than making a real tiramisu. I did still have a couple of obstacles, though, because I don’t drink coffee and I don’t drink alcohol (not much anyway). So, I didn’t have any coffee or coffee flavored alcohol. Luckily, a quick trip to the supermarket fixed both problems. I bought some instant coffee and the only coffee flavored alcohol the store had. I was so excited! I couldn’t wait to make this cake.

The next set back was that I bought an instant coffee that wasn’t in a powdered form. It was more like granules that needed to dissolve, but it actually turned out well in the end. I chose to kind of follow the directions as far as the baking went. I divided out one third of the batter and added the coffee. The directions say to cook the cake in three separate pans. I didn’t have three round pans that were the same size, so I just baked the white cake part in one pan then split it after it was cooled. The only issue with this is that you have to watch the coffee flavored one because it will get done sooner.

I think the cake is better once is has had a chance to sit in the fridge for a day or so. The cake gets more moist and everything  just kind of gets to know each other better. This is one rich, decadent cake. In my opinion, it could have used more of the mascarpone filling. I also opted to leave off the garnish since I appear to be incapable of making chocolate shavings/curls.

The picture just does not do it justice. This cake is totally awesome!!!

Ingredients

CAKE:

  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package moist white cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
  • 1/4 cup coffee
  • 1 tablespoon coffee flavored liqueur
  • FILLING:

  • 1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur
  • FROSTING:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur
  • GARNISH:
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 (1 ounce) square semisweet chocolate
  • Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour 3 (9 inch) pans.
    2. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Divide two thirds of batter between 2 pans. Stir instant coffee into remaining batter; pour into remaining pan.
    3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. In a measuring cup, combine brewed coffee and 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur; set aside.
    4. To make the filling: In a small bowl, using an electric mixer set on low speed, combine mascarpone, 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur; beat just until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
    5. To make the frosting: In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the cream, 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons coffee liqueur until stiff. Fold 1/2 cup of cream mixture into filling mixture.
    6. To assemble the cake: Place one plain cake layer on a serving plate. Using a thin skewer, poke holes in cake, about 1 inch apart. Pour one third of reserved coffee mixture over cake, then spread with half of the filling mixture. Top with coffee-flavored cake layer; poke holes in cake. Pour another third of the coffee mixture over the second layer and spread with the remaining filling. Top with remaining cake layer; poke holes in cake. Pour remaining coffee mixture on top. Spread sides and top of cake with frosting. Place cocoa in a sieve and lightly dust top of cake. Garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
    7. To make the chocolate curls, use a vegetable peeler and run it down the edge of the chocolate bar.
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