Give me freedom, or give me cake!
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty – it’s the weekend at last!
Which is more your cup of tea? Either way, yes – the weekend is here and yes I have my cake, AND I can finally add another post. My fingers have been itching for blog time (talk about lots of self control), and let me just say that I have not been idle this week. Or rather, Kari and I have not studied – instead, we are lab apprentices by day and covert (or not so) bakers by night. On this week’s menu: the real Champion Streusel Top Blueberry Muffins, Ina’s Coconut Cake, and what I am going to temporarily call Cake Bites on aStick.
So remember how I was craving blueberry muffins last week? Well, Kari has a sixth sense that apparently reads all my cravings like a radar. So, she ALSO made muffins. Dear Lord – too many blueberry muffins in one weekend. But let me announce, loud and clear – Kari’s Epicurious Champion Struesel Top Blueberry Muffins ARE infinitely better than either my Donna Hay or Martha Stewart recipes! Her muffins were also made with tears and sweat of love, whereas mine were made via robot (stand mixer) and as a result did not taste as good? I’m not sure. But her muffins were amazing – and I was definitely sold by the golden-brown, slightly crunchy streusel topping. Yum. So, there you go Karen Lam. You win. I accept defeat. And I give you permission to gloat. However, I am going to replicate the recipe this weekend just to verify…
I swear the lives of Berkeley students are plenty full – with lectures, discussion sections, lab time, work, meetings, gym, and the like – Kari and I just manage our time REALLY well (ahem) and still have time left over for TWO cake recipes this week. Like all things, there is a trade-off. In our case, this means, zero sleep and only cat naps during OChem lecture the next morning. And why do we put ourselves through such trials? Why, ’tis all for Aman! So, we found an Ina (Kari’s long time favorite, and my recent love) recipe for Coconut Cake in Kari’s new book, Barefoot Contessa at Home (thanks Sasha!) , and we fell in love with the beautiful cloudy white fluff of a cake. And characteristic of Ina food, this recipe was simple, the ingredients were very accessible, and the effort college student friendly – well, maybe not the latter, but it was well worth the effort. I finished frosting the whole thing at around 4 in the morning, fed Aman and Kari a bite while singing the birthday song, and promptly fell asleep on the floor. No joke. I come back later that night to find half the cake gone – Kari ate it all because she was too lazy to cook anything else. This is also the same girl who eats frosting out of the can instead of dinner because dinner requires too much clean up… yes – the life of busy college girls. But it was THAT good.
In addition, our friend Aman also received the loveliest Cake-Balls or Cake-Bites-on-a-Sticks, whichever name you prefer. Kari and I were inspired by Bakerella and attempted to replicate the masterpiece – and we failed, or rather, uhm, we had our own special twist to it. And what a disaster! A cavity waiting to happen! A surge of insulin rushing to one’s liver to break down all that sugar! Super sweet and far too much effort. Making the cake, breaking it up, balling it together, coating it with chocolate, decorating it with sprinkles and sugar, then letting it set to dry. Oh dear gosh. Fun to make, and very messy. But with some practice, I think we could have made ours more presentable and pleasing to the eye. For now, I suppose they suffice. But honestly, check out Bakerella’s blog, she’s amazing. These would make really great party favors I think – a nice take home in a little tiny box… my mind wanders, it’s getting late. But yes, three recipes in the span of 5 days. I am clearly not doing well in school right now – still on Winter Break mode, but hopefully I can rid myself of all Winter Break lethargy and kick into first gear (or second or third whatever the heck the saying is – someoneiknow – help me out here?)
for original instructions, please see Bakerella’s Red Velvet Cake Balls
1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)
Champion Streusel Blueberry Muffins
originally from Gourmet Sept 03
For the Batter:
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 whole large egg
1 large yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh blueberries (12 oz)
For the Topping:
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Ina Garten’s Coconut Cake
originally from Barefoot Contessa at Home
For the Batter:
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again and dust lightly with flour.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don’t be concerned.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula.
Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.
For the frosting, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and almond extract on low speed. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until just smooth (don’t whip!).
To assemble, place 1 layer on a flat serving plate, top side down, and spread with frosting. Place the second layer on top, top side up, and frost the top and sides. To decorate the cake, sprinkle the top with coconut and lightly press more coconut onto the sides. Serve at room temperature to Aman at 3:47 am.
Happy 20th my love! May all your wildest dreams come true, and that you grow more beautiful (in and out) with each passing year. And because it is New Year’s weekend, hope you have a terrific time at any of the many festivals and events happening this Saturday and Sunday. May your year be blessed and that all your wishes come true.