Oops! That was baking soda,
not baking powder

sodaI was making a carrot cake for my brother’s birthday over the weekend and after I added the baking powder into the mix, I realized the recipe called for baking soda.
At this point, it was too late to start over. The party was in a few hours and I didn’t have time to buy new ingredients.
I knew soda and powder were leaveners, but I didn’t know the difference. In a panic, I added the four teaspoons of baking soda listed in the recipe to the two teaspoons of baking powder already in the mix.
I poured the cake mixture into a pan and put it in the oven to cook for an hour. I immediatley started googling the subject to find out what to expect from using too much leavener.
Thanks to Simple RecipesI learned that baking soda is made of sodium bicarbonate and is a base. Baking powder is a baking soda mixed with an acid like cream of tartar. Apparently, I could have used three times the amount of baking powder (twelvet teaspoons) instead of using the baking soda.
As I watched the cake cooking, it looked great until about 10 minutes before it was done. Because there was too much leavener in the cake, it had risen a little too much and the middle collapse about a quarter of an inch.
carrot cakeFortunately, the flavor and texture were still great. The cream cheese frosting hid any of the imperfections and no one ever complains about having too much cream cheese frosting.

Lessons learned:

  • Read recipe closely
  • Baking soda needs acid in the recipe to work
  • Baking soda adds a slight salty flavor to a dish
  • You can replace baking soda with baking power, but you can’t replace packing powder with baking soda
  • When enough cream cheese frosting, almost anything is edible.

A lemon layer cake
with a sour disposition

I am not a fan of lemon bars, loaves or cakes primarily because I have had too many bad experiences eating lemonish flavored food. The texture and flavor a weird gelatinous material with a slightly sour taste layered on a dry yellow cake is one of my least favorite desert experiences.

In order to shake off my negative association lemons and desserts, I wanted to find a good recipe for lemon layer cake.

I knew I was on the right track when I stumbled on a recipe from Saveur with a description of a lemon infused masterpiece with lemon zest, lemon tart syrup and lemon curd frosting. Yum.

I was unsure how many lemons I needed to make a cup of lemon juice and a little more than ¼ cup of lemon zest. In my eagerness to avoid returning to the store to purchase a few additional lemons, I purchased 24 lemons and only used a dozen for the cake. As a result, I will be drinking lemonade for the next week.

eggsMaking the curd was probably the most interesting part of preparing the cake. Cooking ten egg yolks and 1 ½ cups of butter into a smooth creamy textured created a decadently delicious frosting and potentially a heart stopping dessert.

The cake was light and fluffy, but the rich lemon flavor of the curd made the cake a big success.

My advice to anyone interested in making the lemon layer cake is to make at least 50% more frosting than the recipe recommended.

Here are the ingredients for anyone considering making this tart treat.

For the cake and syrup:
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
2 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pans, sifted
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tbsp. lemon zest
4 eggs
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

For the frosting:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup lemon zest
1 tsp. kosher salt
10 egg yolks
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cocoa Puffs cupcakes are easy to make

Cocoa puffs cupcakes

I would not say the Cocoa Puffs cupcakes were the best cupcakes I have ever made or eaten, but they were quite good.

The recipe called for two cups of crushed Cocoa Puffs. As a result, the batter had a cookie dough consistency. I dolloped the mix into the cupcake liner and even out the batter with my spoon.

I added instant pudding mix and sour cream to pull everything together for a moist, chocolatey cupcakes.

I made a brown sugar buttercream frosting and added whole Cocoa Puffs on top.

The final result was a dense chocolate cupcake. The frosting had a rich favor fro the butter a brown sugar, but with an interesting crunch from the Cocoa Puffs.

I decided to wait until my other nephew’s birthday next week to make the Trix cupcakes. There is only so much cold cereal I can bake with on any given week and I more than met my quota For this week.

Birthday cupcakes made from Trix and Cocoa Puffa cereals

CocoaPuffstrixToday is my nephew’s birthday, so I am making cupcakes using his favorite cold cereals as ingredients. I am baking a dozen Trix cupcakes and a dozen Cocoa Puffs cupcakes.

I spent the last few days looking for a good recipe and have decide to merge several recipes I found online, so wish me luck.

I am off to the store and will update later today.

Cooking the ultimate chocolate cake for Valentine’s Day

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake

The Ultimate Chocolate Cake

I found an amazing recipe for the “Ultimate Chocolate Cake” from Martha Stewart and decided to put a Valentine’s Day twist to it for my wife by making a triple-decker, heart-shaped chocolate cake.

Keep in mind, the only cake I have ever made in the past came straight from a box. I also had to figure out how to stack and frost three layers of cake.

I used a heart shaped pan I purchased from Surfas in Culver City and baking the cake was pretty straight forward.

I knew the key to frosting the cake was to wait until it had completely cooled down. Patience is not one of my best virtues, but I let the cake cool for more than an hour before I started working with it.

This may be lame on my part, but I have seen how Chef’s level cakes on TLC’s the “Next Great Baker,” I took out a serrated knife and leveled all three cakes. There is a first time for everything. After the cakes were level, I stacked them one at a time and separated them with a layer of the “Ultimate Chocolate Frosting.”

Now, I am eagerly waiting for my wife to come home so we can taste the cake.