Monday, March 26, 2007

Despite the last minute rush, a beautiful recipe

I made this cake in my head so many times. I had already made it for real once a few years ago, using the recipe in the first Magnolia cook book. My first attraction to it was because of its bright red colour, contrasting with the icing. When I joined the Daring Bakers group I got quite happy about the challenge of the month as I thought that it would be my chance to redeem myself and ice my cake really well. Plus make it well in advance.

As it turned out it did not happen quite like that and I am here just fighting against the clock, just waiting for the cake to cool so that I can post it. What a poor start. I am disappointed with myself. I had an unexpected visit from a friend on Saturday and ended up spending the whole day with him and another couple of friends. That was meant to be my baking day as on Sunday I had engagements.

I chose the recipe that Peabody used. I wanted to try something different from my original post. The icing is also Peabody’s recipe and I just loved it – couldn’t stop picking on it. The pecans just make it a delicious icing. Yum!!

Since I started the post there have been developments:

Cake has been iced, pictures have been taken and I have eaten a generous slice of it. I really liked the cake texture and the contrast with the crunchy and sweet icing. I did have to drink a big glass of water afterwards but it does not take away the yummy factor. I can see this cake being a big crowd pleaser. I have enjoyed this last minute stress though and even though I did not prepare a cake as gorgeous as I wanted I have just about managed to do it.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this experience – even though I am the very last person to post.

Peabody's recipe - which has been adpated from Mrs. Wilkes’ Boardinghouse Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from Her Savannah Table by Selma Wilkes:

Red Velvet Cake

2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar (270g)
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 tsp white vinegar ( I ended up using cider vinegar )

2 1/2 cups cake flour ( 315g)
1 tsp baking soda
2 to 3 TBSP cocoa powder
1 cup buttermilk ( 240ml)

1 tsp vanilla
5/8 ounce bottle red food coloring ( I had a bit less )

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cream the eggs, sugar, oil and vinegar. Sift the cake flour, baking soda, and cocoa together. Add the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients while beating.
Slowly add the buttermilk. While still beating, add the vanilla and the food coloring.

Pour into three 8-inch layer pans and bake for about 25 minutes. Press lightly;if the layers are spongy, then the cake is done. Frost the cooled layers, assemble and frost the top and sides.

Serves 12 to 14.

Red Velvet Cake Frosting

1(8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter
1 (1 pound) box confectioners sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine the cream cheese and butter and melt over very low heat. Add the sugar, pecans and vanilla and mix well. If the frosting becomes too thick, add a little milk. Frost one 8-inch or 9-inch layer cake.

Source: Adapted from Mrs. Wilkes’ Boardinghouse Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from Her Savannah Table by Selma Wilkes

Check out the other Daring Bakers - and by far more organized:

Peabody, Quellia, Mary, Ivonne, Elle, Morven, Hester, Brilynn, Lisa, Tanna, Helen, Jen,

Mary(Bread Chick), Veronica and Freya.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

couscous cakes

I am soooo behind with my posts here. Life is still hectic and they day doesn’t seem to have enough hours. Despite all my backlog of recipes that I yearn to share I have decided to start with this one baked just this morning. Reason being that it is just delicious.Delicious.

Flicking through one of Julie le Clerc’s books I saw the title: couscous cakes and it really did tickle my curiosity. Couscous is only for savoury things, right?!? my books, not any more. Then there was also this other ingredient: olive oil..attractive. I always wanted to do a lot of olive oil baking.. Someone had told me that they add such moisture to cakes.. Well, that was my chance. And I did not hesitate at 6 in the morning.

I am so very glad I gave it a go. This cake is really fantastic. The couscous gives it a beautifully grainy but not dry texture – moisture being added by the olive oil. It has just the right level of sweetness. A beaufitully moist and scrumptious cake. Lovely in the morning, afternoon..whenever takes your fancy. It was so lovely it made me happy !!

¼ cup rum or brandy

½ cup olive oil

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 oranges

1 cup couscous

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar

½ cup flour, sifted

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

¾ cup dried cranberries or sultanas

Preheat oven to 170oC. Grease and flour 12 individual cake or muffin tins or one 20cm spring-form cake tin.

In a saucepan heat rum or brancy, oil, orange zest and juice. Place couscous in a bowl and pour over hot liquid. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover and fluff up couscous with a fork.

Whisk eggs and sugar together until thick and pale. Stir this mixture into couscous along with remaining dry ingredients and cranberries or sultanas.

Spoon into prepared tins and bake for 15 minutes or until cakes spring back when touched.