27 October 2011

Blaze of Glory

Summer has technically been over for a while but for me it's now officially over. I've picked all the veggies, brought tender plants inside, stopped hanging laundry out, and today I picked the last of the dahlias for a bouquet. I wish I could have left them outside where they brightened the yard but the temperature is supposed to drop tonight and I didn't want to risk them being killed by the cold. There's nothing quite as sad as seeing shriveled, blackened flowers in the garden. Anyway, they looked so pretty in the vase I thought I'd share some photos! As always, click to enlarge.

Photos by Domicile

24 October 2011

Cake of the Damned

It's not often I say I hate something I've baked. But I hate this cake. Martha Stewart really let me down with this one and Mrs. Milman (creator of the frosting) has some serious issues. If she's not in a sugar coma as we speak she must at least be suffering a serious case of Type 2 diabetes. If you make this cake with the full amount of frosting one slice will weigh you down with over 12oo calories, 84 g of sugar, and 86 g fat (hint, that's about as much fat as you should have in an entire day). I used eatracker.ca to figure this out but the fact that I couldn't even finish one third of one piece was just as informative. Hey, I'm all for splurging and enjoying your food but quite frankly something this bad for you shouldn't be classified as edible.

So now I'm stuck with a cake no one wants. I'm tempted to just Mr. Frost it (the part I'm referring to starts at the 3 minute mark of the clip) but that seems like such a waste. So I've cut it into slices and frozen it, hoping I'll have some inspiration or maybe some guests with a super sweet tooth and a healthy constitution. I'll probably end up throwing it away, though, after enough time has passed that it doesn't seem like a waste anymore.

Anyway, if you're still interested keep reading and click photos to enlarge...

The ingredients look innocuous enough:

I didn't have three 8" round cake pans so I used two and an 8" square pan, figuring I'd trim the corners off to make it round once it was baked:

Preparing the pans with parchment paper, butter, and cocoa powder:

Happy little mountain of cocoa powder:

After whisking with boiling water:

Action shot! Creaming the butter:

Light and fluffy goodness:

After all the other ingredients have been mixed in (I got a little distracted and forgot to photos of some of the middle steps):

Ready for the oven:

Enjoying an iced coffee in my cute new owl mug as the cakes bake :)

Fresh out of the oven:

After 15 minutes I removed them from the pans, peeled off the parchment and let them finish cooling:

Upside down:

Right way up (the creases on the edges show why you should be more careful lining your cake pans than I am):

Where it all starts going really bad: whipping cream + chocolate = ganache (think of the last chocolate truffle you had). This is your frosting.

The frosting took *forever* to set. I finally just gave up and used it when it was still too runny:

Eventually the frosting did set and I ended up with this. Not bad looking but not recommended for humans or other living beings:

(The skull is a bottle stopper but I thought it was highly appropriate here.)

Moist Devil's Food Cake with Mrs. Milman's Frosting
10 Servings

[my notes/changes in brackets]
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for pans
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/4 cups [granulated] sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk [I used 2%]
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange two racks in center of oven. Butter three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans; line bottoms with parchment. Dust bottoms and sides of pans with cocoa powder; tap out any excess. Sift cocoa into a medium bowl, and whisk in boiling water. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on low speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down sides twice. Beat in vanilla. Drizzle in eggs, a little at a time, beating between each addition until the batter is no longer slick, scraping down the sides twice.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Whisk milk into reserved cocoa mixture. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour and cocoa mixtures to the batter, a little of each at a time, starting and ending with flour mixture.

Divide batter evenly among the three prepared pans. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of each layer comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pans for even baking. Transfer layers to wire racks; let cool, 15 minutes. Turn out cakes, and return to racks, tops up, until completely cool.

Remove parchment from bottoms of cakes. Reserve the prettiest layer for the top. Place one cake layer on a serving platter; spread 1 1/2 cups chocolate frosting over the top. Add the second cake layer, and spread with another 1 1/2 cups frosting. Top with third cake layer. Cover outside of cake with the remaining 3 cups frosting. Serve.

The cake keeps well for several days stored on the counter: Cover with plastic wrap or a glass dome to keep the cake from drying out.

Mrs. Milman's Chocolate Frosting

  • 24 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels
  • 4 cups whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
[I made half the amount of frosting by halving all the ingredients]

Place chocolate morsels and cream in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until combined and thickened, between 20 and 25 minutes. Increase the heat to medium low; cook, stirring, 3 minutes more. Remove pan from heat.

Stir in corn syrup. Transfer frosting to a large metal bowl. Chill until cool enough to spread, about 2 hours [more like 5 or 6], checking and stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. Use immediately.

Original recipe here.

My Verdict

You already know how I feel. This cake is way too sweet, rich, and heavy. My SO had a couple of mouthfuls and was done. I couldn't finish a third of a piece. The cake is reasonably chocolatey and moist but it's a lot of work and ridiculously unhealthy. I don't think I'll make another Devil's Food cake ever again and definitely not this one.

Want to see what else I've made for my 2011 baking project?

January: Double-Chocolate Brownies
February: Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Sauce
March: Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies
April: Raspberry-Swirl Cheesecake
June: Cake Doughnuts
June: Espresso Granita
July: Honey-Lavender Ice Cream
August: Caramel Pots de Creme

Photos by Domicile

13 October 2011

Long Live the Monarchs

I am not the best gardener in the world. There are always too many weeds in my garden and too few flowers. My vegetable harvests are on the small side. I invariably forget to take care of time-sensitive tasks when they need to be done. I really wish this wasn't the case. But one thing I happily get right is making my garden inviting to critters. I love that we have birds and bunnies living in our hedge! I love watching the raccoons pass through the yard (as long as they don't cause trouble!) It gives me a little thrill to watch butterflies and dragonflies hanging around. I even like the squirrels, although they're more a pain than anything. And I was completely beside myself this morning when I spotted two Monarch butterflies flitting around and feeding on my zinnias! This is the first year I've grown zinnias and they are now officially keepers. I was even more excited that I managed to get some photos of them (click to enlarge)!

What kinds of wildlife visits your garden?

Photos by Domicile