Thursday, 28 May 2009

Yank Bakes Mile High Devil's Food Cake with Brown Sugar Buttercream

So Sunday brought the first experiment in the kitchen for the all new weekly themed post Yank Bakes. This weeks Mile-High Devil’s Food Cake was brought to you by HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE.

The all important Recipe:

Mile-High Devil’s Food Cake (from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes by Alisa Huntsman and Peter Wynne)Makes an 8-inch 3-layer cake

1 cup unsweetened cocoa, not Dutch processed

1 ¼ cups hot water

3 cups light brown sugar, packed

2 2/3 cups cake flour*

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

9 ounces (2 sticks + 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature

3 large eggs1

½ teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cup cold water[*1 cup cake flour is equal to

¾ cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons of cornstarch]

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans (We baked ours in 9-inch pans, and they almost overflowed. Make sure your 8-inch pans are tall!). Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper and grease the paper as well.Place the cocoa in a medium bowl and add the hot water. Whisk until smooth and let it cool to room temperature. (To speed this up, whisk the cocoa into ¾ cup hot water. Then add ½ cup cold water to cool it down.)In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low blend to combine. Add the butter and the dissolved cocoa. Then raise the mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy.In a medium bowl whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and cold water until combined. Add this liquid to the batter in three additions scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Divide the batter among the three pans.Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a cakes tester inserted into the almost comes out clean. (Our 9-inch cakes were done at 25 minutes.) There should be a few crumbs attached still. Cool the cakes in the pans for 15 minutes. Then invert and remove parchment paper and cool completely on a wire rack.

Brown Sugar Buttercream

5 egg whites

1¼ cups brown sugar

¼ cup water (We omitted this)

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (We reduced this to 2 ½ sticks)

(We made our buttercream using the Swiss meringue method-- Whisk the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes, or until mixture is fluffy and cool to the touch. Switch to the paddle attachment. On medium speed, add butter a few tablespoons at a time. When all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture becomes very thick and smooth, about 3 minutes.)Place all the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer; set aside.In a heavy medium saucepan combine the sugar and water. Cook over medium heat stirring to dissolve the sugar. Then bring to a boil without stirring and cook until the syrup reaches 238 degrees F on a candy thermometer.Begin beating the egg whites on medium low speed. Slowly pour in the syrup making sure not to hit the beater. Increase the mixer speed to medium high and beat until the meringue has cooled to body temperature.With the mixer on med-low add 1-2 tablespoons of butter at a time. When all the butter has been added increase the mixer’s speed to medium and beat until the mixture looks curdled or separated. Continue to beat until the icing comes together again looking like soft smooth whipped butter.Assembling the cake:Place one layer flat side down and cover it with 2/3 cup of the frosting. (We used ½ cup frosting between each layer. We had just enough leftover to frost the top and sides.) Top with second layer and repeat process. Top with third layer and frost the sides of the cake.

So a few notes on how easy (or not) the recipe was to follow

I could not find non dutched cocoa for more information on the difference go here
I used normal cocoa and the world did not end and my cake tasted pretty darn good.

I could not find cake flour or corn starch so I just used plain old flour. I have since found corn starch so if I remake this recipe I will let you know if it works any better with the “cake flour”

I used 8inch pans and as my pans were not that tall I split the batch into four instead of 3. It gave the cake a cool look when sliced and I think it added to the mile high thing. Because I had an extra layer to sandwich I was much more conservative with the frosting on the sandwich layers and found I had more than enough for the tops and sides.

My four cakes took 23 mins except the one that seemed a little larger than the other 3 took 26 mins to cook

The Frosting: This caused more tears than the end of the sixth Harry Potter Book. I decided to follow the recipes directions not the notes by the woman whose blog I found this recipe on. The part about blending until the frosting looks curdled and comes back together again took about 20 mins, I don’t have a stand mixer so I stood holding my electric mixer for that 20 mins plus the 5-10 mins to get to this stage. Having made traditional Swiss merguine butter cream before that method is a whole lot simpler.

I also ran into a problem when I frosted the cake, filled all the layer great no problems but as I started to frost the tops and the sides the frosting split. I have had Swiss merguine butter cream split on me while making it but I have never had it split once it had come together. I am not sure what the issue was but I will not use the same recipe for frosting again and to be quite honest I did not feel that the brown sugar added enough to make it anymore special than good old butter cream. To save the cake I frosted it the best I could and then stuck in the fridge and about 20 mins later I pulled it out and smoothed it over as best I could and did this two or three times at about 20 min intervals as the butter cream hardened in the fridge.

Over all feelings: Damn this cake was good like really sickly good, like the only cake I have had in a long time that I knew there was no way I could go back for seconds right away because it was so rich. You only need a tiny sliver as well to be satisfied. So far the cake has served 12 pieces and I can probably get 4 more out of it so it would be ideal for large dinner parties.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

One Year On

Last night as I was pounding the pavement on my evening walk it occurred to me I had missed a milestone, yesterday was my one year anniversary at my job. What a difference a year makes. I had moved from a job that truly believed I existed to be used and abused into a job where I was made to feel welcome and my skills and hard work are appreciated. I have gone from just surviving working rotating shift that included night shifts to working basically 8-5 or 9-6 M-F. I have found the time to be concerned about the fact that I was over weight and start making changes to my lifestyle. I have refound my love of card making and scrapbooking. I have also learned that while it is a good belief that giving when you can with the hope that others will give when you need, you also need to realize that not everyone holds this belief. I have learned that it is okay to say no sometimes when it put you at a great inconvenience it is not my sole responsibility to right all the wrongs in the world. I am in such a happier place one year on.

Tomorrow I debut the first post for Yank Bakes, I am very excited in the mean time I found this video on YouTube about a week ago and Cake or Death has become the catchphrase at our house now. I had heard this sketch by Eddie Izzard a while ago and it is soooooooo true. The legos only make it funnier.

Cake or Death

Friday, 22 May 2009

Yank Bakes

So I have done a little bit of renovating on my blog, I get bored of the same thing all the time so I thought I would shake it up. You may have noticed the Yank Bakes list on the right hand side; this is part of my new weekly “feature” post. Each one has a link to blog I found it on and one I have tried the recipe and reported back here it will change to a link to my blog entry. Don’t worries I promise the blog entry will link back to the original blog I found the recipe on. I will most likely be making up the recipes on the weekend and blogging about them on Mondays or Tuesday. I will also be adding new fun recipes as I find them so it should be never ending; the neighbours are going to love all the goodies! In true Yank style I have not figured out all the details yet I am just making up the rules and I go along. This weekend’s recipe is Mile High Devil’s Food Cake with Brown Sugar Butter cream Frosting

Wednesday, 20 May 2009


So last November Mr. Y in E and I got thrown a handful of YUCK, we thought the YUCK would be over quickly and life would return to normal. After Christmas it became apparent that the YUCK was not going to pass anytime soon and I went into crisis mode in hope of averting a complete meltdown while dealing with the YUCK. The problem with me going into crisis mode is that the only thing that does not fall apart when I am in crisis mode is the particular item that has thrown me into crisis mode. The YUCK seems to have moved on and due to some creative thinking has done little damage other than the fact that in the last six months we have not really move any closer to the goals we had set as a couple and also for ourselves. In a lot of way I consider us lucky and while certainly not sought out the YUCK has brought us much closer together. So when if was apparent that the YUCK was really on the way out the door I sat down to pick up the pieces of my life and move forward. So I have reconstructed the goals for 2009 slightly, some I have missed completely and had to rethink, others no longer seem so important. So in all its glory:

Goals for 2009

Loose another 20lbs by summer. Okay I have really sucked at this; I have actually gained a few pounds, what can I say I am a stress eater and stress baker. Good news I have found the most awesome recipe for chocolate chip cookies, bad news I have found the most awesome recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Plan moving forward only one baking project a week of which I get 1 portion the rest is donated to our neighbours/Mr Y in E’s family. Starting back up at Weight Watchers I got really slack with this and I need the accountability and the support. Restructured goal: Loose a stone by the end of summer and find an outdoor activity I can do 3-5 times a week for at least 30 mins. Buy a Pilates mat so I can actually do the Pilates DVD I bought a few weeks ago when the weather is too yucky to do out door activities.

Choose a feature topic for my blog, assign it a day and write on that topic weekly. Again another suck really and truly suck. I have rethought my original idea for a feature and I think I might link it to my above once a week baking, I have really enjoyed it and come across lots of good recipes I want to try.

Pay off the credit card. Due to above mentioned yuckiness this was not moving forward but I have done budget projections till year end and I am thinking it is still possible, there are a few variables that can not be accounted for but looks very probable.

Quit smoking. Fell off the band wagon, need to buy new ticket for the band wagon. Thinking might buy ticket for Saturday, will see. I promise not to bore you with how much my life sucks while I am quitting this time.

See more of England. Take advantage of the fact that I no longer work weekends and drag my mother in law or my husband out to the millions of cool things to see with in driving distance. Okay so this is really the only goal I have done particularly well at. February saw a trip to Wisley Gardens the flagship gardens for the RHS. March saw a return trip to Wisley Gardens with my MIL who had not been since she was a child. April saw a trip to Hyde Hall another RHS garden (I am a card carrying member of RHS). May has seen a trip to Sissinghurst Castle Gardens which has been on my list of to do for about two years. Wish List for the next few months: Canterbury Cathedral- it is spitting distance would be a shame not too. Long weekend to Guernsey* with a day trip to Sark- a girl can dream right?.

*Guernsey and Sark and not part of England, they are not even part of the United Kingdom, they are part of the Channel Islands which are bailiwicks of the United Kingdom.

Sunday, 17 May 2009


So as another summer draws closer I have yet again vowed that this will be the year that I will religiously use gradual tanner and for once I will not be the one with scary pasty white skin. Naturally I only have two colours WHITE and RED. Every year I buy my bottle of gradual tanner and after one or two application it is forgotten and is thrown out around Christmas. This year however I am painfully aware of my white skin, it is actually starting to creep me out, what I once considered as alabaster now just looks washed out.

I mentioned my intentions to my MIL last weekend as we strolled along at Sissinghurst Castle gardens, yes we were strolling and yes the whole experience was a little cliche but lovely all at the same time. She mentioned she had tried gradual tanning lotions the year before but had just ended up with orange hands. I asked if she had washed her hands after application as the bottle suggested and she said she hadn't bothered to read the bottle. I marvel at the woman who has successfully raised three terrific sons who still come home often to visit their mother, a woman who as been amazingly successful with her fiances although they have been small. A woman who no matter the hour or the strangeness of the item always has what I am in a tizzy to find for some project and quickly arrives at my house with it. The woman who expertly puts up with two eccentric foreign daughter in laws who apparently couldn't be bothered with reading the label on the bottle.

If anyone is wondering I washed my hands after I applied my lotion this evening I guess a lack of orange hands is the only thing the my one day future daughter in law will have to be awed by.