White Cake with Strawberry and Lemon Frostings

Other people’s birthday’s can often be very difficult for me, as I am sure they are for many others. I never seem to know what someone truly wants to do and how to ensure that they feel important on that day. Are they the type to want a long and thoughtful card or do they just want a really good gift? Do they want to just spend the day chilling or do they want a crazy, spontaneous day filled with surprises?

When trying to figure out what to do for birthdays, I seem to always find myself going back to the cake. I feel like if I know someone well enough, I can make a flavor and ‘genre’ of cake that will make them feel like I both took the time to think of them and worked to make their Birthday feel special. The other day was my family friend’s birthday and I ultimately decided to spend the day making her a cake.

After talking to her husband, I decided that since my friend was more of a fruity and sweet person than a warm and chocolatey and savory person, that I would make a simple white cake with fruity frosting. My friend loves the summer (who doesn’t), so I decided to make a summery cake, filled with lemon frosting and topped with fresh strawberry frosting. The middle layer of the cake was a tie-dye purple and pink pattern and the top was topped with a simple but bright sprinkle decoration. My friend and the rest of the people who came to our house to celebrate raved about the cake.

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Ingredients

1 cup white sugar

3/4 cup butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

FRESH STRAWBERRY FROSTING

4 cups of Powdered Sugar

1 cup Butter (We use Salted Sweet Cream Butter)

1/2 cup Pureed Fresh Strawberries

1/2 tsp vanilla

LEMON ICING

1/2 cup Butter

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups of confectioners sugar

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9×9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter for 7-9 minutes (the timing is very important!). Beat in the eggs one at a time for 3 minutes each, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, sift and add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven. For cupcakes, bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch.
  4. Meanwhile, make the strawberry frosting and lemon icing.
    1.  For the strawberry frosting blend the butter and sugar for around 5 minutes and then add the vanilla and strawberry puree.
    2. For the lemon icing, Combine all ingredients and beet until fluffy (3 minutes). Add more confectioner’s sugar, or lemon juice to adjust the consistency as needed. For stronger lemon flavor, add a little lemon test.
  5. Frost the white cake with both frostings and enjoy!!

Love,

Ally

** I tripled the recipe to make a three-layer cake.

My 16th, Gluten-Free Vanilla Birthday Cake!!

So, October 25th was my 16th birthday and I decided that this year that I didn’t want to go out of my way to celebrate. I had a bat-mitzvah a few years ago, and I think that was big enough of a party. But, I did end up having a really really unique day. I had a volleyball game at my school (which we won of course) and afterwards my dad brought doughnuts from down the street. My team and I all sat around and hung out for a little while. I was able to get my massive amounts of homework done ahead of time, so I just had a fun, relaxing night.

After the volleyball game, my dad and I took the train to 84th and Amsterdam, where we ate at an incredible restaurant called Jacob’s Pickles. We ordered fried artichokes as a starter and they were amazing. I decided to order a warm and perfectly seasoned salmon salad for dinner, while my dad ate a chicken sandwich. Obviously, being a big foodie, I couldn’t have been happier to try such perfectly cooked and savory foods.

On the way home from the resturant, we stopped at the Ben and Jerry’s across from our apartment on 103rd and Broadway to buy my beloved ice cream cake, but soon realized that all the cakes ‘may contain nuts’. So we walked up to 107th and bought a java chip and dulce de leche cake that made my love for ice cream cakes only grow. After eating cake and opening presents, I ended my day by watching an episode of House MD.

🙂

The following weekend, on the 29th, my family threw a little party with some family friends, and I couldn’t wait to make my halloween themed birthday cake. I decided that I wanted to try just making a simple white cake with a sweet and flavorful lemon, cream cheese, buttercream frosting. The cake turned out perfect, both internally, eternally and flavorfully. I hope you enjoy!!!

**I added a bunch of sprinkles into the batter before putting the batter onto the prepared pans. It comes out really cute and I would definitely reccomend it for a fun cake.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups  all purpose gluten free flour blend

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (unless your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

4 egg whites + 1 whole egg , at room temperature

1 1/3 cups (10 2/3 fluid ounces) buttermilk, at room temperature

*To halve the recipe, use 3 egg whites (75 g) in place of the 4 egg whites and 1 whole egg.

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each with a round of parchment paper (trace the perimeter of the cake pan on the parchment, then cut out the circle). Set the pans aside.

  2. Into a medium-size bowl, sift the flour, xanthan gum, cornstarch, baking soda and baking powder. Add the salt, and whisk to combine well. Set dry ingredients aside.

  3.  In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for at least 3 minutes, stopping at least once to scrape the entire mixture off the sides and bottom of the bowl. The mixture should be very light and fluffy.

  4. Separately, whisk together the egg whites, egg and buttermilk in a small bowl.

  5. Alternate adding the the dry ingredients with the buttermilk and egg mixture in 4 different parts, starting and ending with the dry. The batter may appear curdled at times.

  6. Once all of the ingredients have been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute on medium speed to ensure that everything is combined. Then turn over the batter a few times by hand. It should be very thickly pourable and relatively smooth.

  7. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared baking pans and smooth each into an even layer with an offset spatula. To remove air bubbles, bang each pan on the counter a few times.

  8. Place the baking pans in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes rotate the pans, and continue to bake until the cakes are lightly golden brown all over, and have began to pull away from the sides. This will be around another 10 minutes, baking for a total of about 30.

  9. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool in the pans for 15 minutes before turning out upside down onto a wire rack (and removing the parchment paper liners). Cool completely before frosting and serving.
  10. Here is the lemon, cream cheese buttercream frosting recipe. I will post my modified version at another time.(http://allrecipes.com/recipe/7556/lemon-cream-cheese-frosting/)

Love,

Ally

Cream Cheese Pound Cake

While I love going out with friends, exercising and spending the day outdoors, I definitely have way too many lazy, ‘never leave the house’ days. These days consist of reading, watching tv and of course cooking and baking. Yesterday was one of those days and besides going to gym class in the morning, I didn’t step foot outside my house.

I wanted to bake something for my great-grandmother who lives on the Upper West side, but only had the basic ingredients: flour sugar eggs butter salt vanilla and luckily cream cheese. The idea of having to change out of my sweats and walk the 0.1 miles to the grocery store was obviously ludicrous, so I decided I would work with what I had. I lucky found the perfect recipe for me. A simple cream cheese pound cake with amazing reviews on allrecipes. I had always found pound cake to be extremely bland and tedious to make, but I immensely enjoyed myself while making this cake. The cake was better than I ever expected and was exactly the kind of simple thing that my great-grandmother desired. In the long-run I was definitely glad that I was too lazy to leave my house. ENJOY!

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Ingredients:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese -at room temperature or slightly softened

1 1/2 cups butter- at room temperature or slightly softened

3 cups white sugar

6 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions                      

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) grease and flour a 10 inch tube pan.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs two at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the flour all at once and mix in. Add vanilla.
  4. Pour into a 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Baking time depends on the cake, so check for doneness at 1 hour. A toothpick or knife inserted into center of cake will come out clean.

Love,

Ally

N0-Bake Cheesecake

Since my brother is leaving for college in two weeks and we didn’t want an unnecessary bedroom sitting around, two weeks ago my family packed up our house in the village and moved to the Upper West Side. Don’t worry, my kitchen is still very tiny. I knew that I wanted the first thing I made in my new kitchen to be delish but my return from Costa Rica coincided with a 103 degree heat wave. Since it was so hot and we haven’t had air conditioning installed in our new apartment yet, I had to refrain from using the oven. I decided on making a no-bake, simple and classic cheesecake. The cheesecake turned out perfectly creamy and delicious. Since my family loves caramel, I decided to use a homemade caramel topping instead of cherry pie filling, but either works. ENJOY!
** In my pictures it may seem like the cheesecake is very thin. This is because I had to half the recipe since I didn’t have an entire pint of heavy cream. If the recipe is followed, the cheesecake should be about twice as thick.
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Ingredients

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese

1/3 cup butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 pint heavy whipping cream

1/3 cup white sugar

1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter and mix well.
  2. Press into the bottom of an 8 or 10 inch springform pan. Chill until firm.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and lemon juice until soft.
  4. Add whipping cream and beat with an electric mixer until batter becomes thick. Add the sugar and continue to beat until stiff.
  5. Pour into chilled crust, and top with pie filling. Chill several hours or overnight.
  6. Just before serving, remove the sides of the springform pan.

Love,

Ally

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Like many other bakers that I know, I LOVE decorating cakes and, although challenging, I immensely enjoy myself doing so. My brother’s high school graduation was in June and I was so excited to make a fun and creative cake for his party. I had sketches of how i wanted his cake to look and couldn’t wait. Since he is going to Brown University, I planned of the design centering around the Brown logo with the years he will be attending on the side.

Unfortunately our house was cleaned 3 days before the party and the kitchen was of limits for that week. So I was unable to make the cake for his official party. I decided a week later that I would make a belated graduation cake for my brother. I wanted my mom to have it, so i decided that i would find a gluten-free cake, and what is better than a rich, decedent flourless chocolate cake? This cake is so creamy but also so smooth and sensational. My brother loved it and I couldn’t of been more proud. This is one of my favorite gluten-free cakes and I was so glad that my entire family got to enjoy it.

I used a simple buttercream frosting recipe to make the cake more “birthday cake-like”, but I would highly recommend using a chocolate ganache as a glaze instead. ENJOY!

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder optional

1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

3 large eggs

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

 

Optional Chocolate Ganache Glaze

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup heavy cream

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan.
  2. To make the cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.
  4. Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.
  7. Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
  8. Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth. Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.

 

Love,

Ally

Caramel Chocolate Cake in a Mug

Made In a Mug Miniseries

One problem that often arises when I bake is the mess. Unless I am working extraordinary hard to be clean, the kitchen always ends up looking like a tornado blew through. After a couple years of making an absolute disaster, my parents came up with a checklist that I had to complete while cleaning up. If I don’t complete the checklist, than I can’t bake or cook for the rest of the week.

Another problem with baking so often is that there is no one to eat the leftovers. My family has next to no willpower; so whenever I bake something, they make me immediately take it to school, volleyball or give the treats to a friend.

So since I am tired of bringing my treats to school all the time, not being able to bake for a week,  and having to clean up for so long after I use the kitchen, I have decided to take a short break from ‘baking’. I decided that for the rest of the month, that I am going to do a “Made in a Mug miniseries.” Basically, I’ll only be posting recipes that are created in mugs and baked/cooked in the microwave. This allows me to cook single serving recipes for my brother or parents, minus the mess that baking usually creates.

I have loved making mug cakes, brownies, pies etc. since I got a book from our very close family friends. This book has a hundred really creative mug recipes. Before receiving the book, I tried making mug cakes and they seemed to always turn out either dry or overly sticky and have little flavor. So far every recipe that I have tried from this book has been so amazing and sometimes even better than a real cake.

Here is my first recipe in the miniseries; “Caramel Chocolate Cake in a Mug.” I gave both servings to my brother (after trying a bite of course), and he thought that it was sooooo delicious.

Caramel Chocolate Cake in a Mug

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Ingredients

1 egg

3 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

3 1/2 tbsp milk (skim, 2%, whole milk)

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/4 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup of flour

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch of Kosher Salt

5 tablespoons of caramel sauce (homemade preferred)

Caramel Sauce Recipe:  Add 2 cups of packed brown sugar, 1/2 cup of heavy cream and pinch of salt to a saucepan over medium-low heat. Combine with a wooden spoon or silicon spatula until completely mixed. Next, cut 1/2 cup of salted butter into pieces and and add to the pan. Allow the butter to melt completely. Cook while constantly stirring until the caramel sauce thickens, about 5 to 7 minutes, the mixture will reach a large simmer/small boil. Stir in 1 tbsp vanilla and cook for an additional minutes. Allow to cool in the saucepan for about 3 minutes and then transfer to a container and cool for 15 minutes before adding to the brownie.

Directions

  1. In a large mug or small bowl, whisk together the egg and oil with a fork. Stir in the milk, sugar and vanilla until combined.
  2. Add the cocoa, flour, and salt. Beat the batter until smooth.
  3. Stir in only 3 tbsp of the caramel sauce and divide the batter into two separate mugs.
  4. Microwave each mug separately for 1 to 2 minutes. When you take out the mug, the batter should look moist, but a fork should will come out clean. It is very easy to overcook because the cakes continue to cook in the mug after removing from the microwave. 
  5. Top each mug with one of the remaining 2 tbsp of caramel sauce. Let cool for 3-4 minutes and serve.

Love,

Ally