Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cake baking Tips

Cake tips from a housewife that attempts to bake cakes. Yep- zero expert advice here just simply a couple things I have learned along the way- that work for me.

Use helps like parchment paper and baking strips. 
Lining your pan with parchment gives you even edges and an easy removal.
 Grease your pan and flour it if you don't have parchment- Use flour for white cakes and cocoa for chocolate cakes when dusting.
To better adhere your parchment spray your pan, use as a "glue" to affix paper, then lightly spray again.

Baking strips are available from Wilton, they come in various lengths and when applied to the outside of your pan will keep the cake from rising in the center creating a more dense cake that doesn't require much if any leveling. Be sure and follow directions when using- They MUST be soaked in water first!

Don't over bake or under bake your cakes but.... bake on the lesser amount of time required. What I mean by that is test your cake at the least required amount of time for baking. If they test in the center as done get them out! Any over baking at all begins to toughen the texture.
Always use a cake tester- everyone used a toothpick when I was growing up, feel free to use in a pinch but I recommend a metal one, mostly because when hot from the cake they clean up quickly with a wipe and can be reused eliminating the search for more toothpicks and spilling them on the floor and then jamming them into your feet- not that I have ever done that. Cake testers have a way of disappearing in the drawer so keep it where you can find it!

Let cakes cool!!!!!!
Best ways to ruin a cake you will decorate-
removing from pan too quickly
icing when warm
Let it cool- go make fondant or something- go clean the bathroom- get away from the cake if you have the urge to ice.
Trust me I have done this too many times.
In fact feel free to freeze your cake until tomorrow if you like. Wrap it in wax or parchment paper then seal with plastic wrap.

Use the right cake mix.
If your going to do any stacking, carving, or layering make sure your cake can handle it. A Box cake is great for a simple swirl of icing but if your going to try your hand at a topsy turvy cake- they won't cut it- literally.
Use a sponge or madeira or a trusted recipe from a cake book that specializes in cake making.

I will link some cake books I like at the bottom of the post.

When working in layers- try to keep them even. When they just are not even- happens to me all the time- use your icing as a filler. Always place an icing edge between your layers and fillings. The icing boarder will eliminate the gap and will keep any raspberry filling from oozing out and mixing with your finished layer.

Make butter cream icing;
1 cup butter, softened
4 c powdered sugar (adjust to consistency needed)
1/4 c milk
2 tsp vanilla
Cream butter, add 4 c powdered sugar, milk and extract. Add remaining sugar until smooth spreadable consistency. Adjust thickness of icing with milk and powdered sugar amounts. 

See the gap here in above photo- This occurs when the cake is uneven and the icing boarder is insufficient. If you refer to the top photo you will see this cake had massive orange flowers on it so I was able to hide the gap. It would have been better to trim  and level the cake!
But when you do......
you get crumbs!!! Lots of crumbs- so what then?

The crumb coat-

If you don't crumb coat, now is the time to start!
Ice your cake in a thin layer- Do NOT worry about how it looks or all the crumbs in it!
Now put it in the fridge for 30 minutes up to a couple hours.
 Ice your cake when the cake is cool and all those nasty crumbs are fixed in place. You will have a much smoother and easier time icing now.
crumb coat

icing over crumb coat

If you like to use fondant you can place it directly over your crumb coat. It is best to chill your cake before applying fondant like you would between icing layers.
Fondant can be bought at cake supply stores or where ever you find Wilton cake decorating supplies.
 Home made Fondant-
See recipe for marshmallow fondant HERE

Non marshmallow homemade fondant
2 pounds powdered sugar
5 tsp powdered gelatin- Like Knox unflavored gelatin
1/4 c water
1/2 c corn syrup
1 1/2 TBS glycerin- sold in Wilton aisle

Stir gelatin and water together in a sauce pan, let set for 3 minutes to bloom.
Stir in corn syrup and glycerin and heat on med until gelatin is dissolved, stir constantly- mixture will burn.
In a large mixing bowel place powdered sugar and mix in gelatin until well combined.
I do not have a powerful mixer so I do most of my fondant mixing and kneading on a silpat mat. I also use the Wilton fondant mat. Be sure and place powdered sugar onto surface to prevent sticking .
Tip- if mixing on a mat or counter, grease surface and hands with crisco then place large amount of powdered sugar and make a well, pour in gelatin and begin incorporating.

Some of my favorite cake books- not exclusive these are just some I have and use.
Cake Decorating for the first time
click Here for info

Cakes and Cake Decorating

Beginner's Guide to Cake Decorating (Love Food) (Making Cakes)


Party Cakes: 45 Fabulous Cakes for All Occasions, with Easy Ideas for Children's Cakes

Essential Guide to Cake Decorating

All things Wilton

Monday, February 18, 2013

Carrot Cake Scones

Carrot Cake Scones
I love these, easy to make and they give you a taste of carrot cake without all the calories!

3 cups flour (you may need a little more, be sure mix is thick enough to be able to pat out)
2/3 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 c ground walnuts
1/2 c unsalted butter
1 c buttermilk
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 c shredded carrots
1/2 c dried cranberries

Mix flour, sugar, salt, soda, b powder, cinnamon, walnuts together. Cut in with a pastry cutter or a fork the butter until small chunks are evenly incorporated. Make a well and add egg, vanilla and milk.
Mix well, stir in carrots and cranberries.
 Heat oven to 400
Pat out dough and cut into circles or use a cookie scoop to form rounds.
Place on parchment lined baking sheet or stoneware and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and done in the center.

Cream Cheese Glaze
1/2 c softened cream cheese
2 c powdered sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
Mix and spoon over tops

Carrot Garnish
Mix 1/2 c shredded carrot with 1/2 c coconut and 1/2 tsp cinnamon, lightly toast in a non sick skillet, sprinkle tops of scones.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Cranberry Pomegranate Wine

Oh Baby! Your fine as cherry wine.
Well that is what he said- to me....years ago.
I guess it was his pick up line.
He worked for the carnival.....and looked like he worked for the carnival.
His pick up line didn't work.! We have just finished bottling our first wine.
Recipe at end of post

Crushing berries, fermenting in 5 gallon pail, covered with heavy plastic and tied down.

Waiting for fermenting (the other carboy is rhubarb that has not yet been bottled) Note airlock set up.

Our vintage corker- good thing my husband has some strength! Not the easiest to use.

cleaning bottles

soaking corks and prepping for bottling

when racking and bottling use a rubber tube with filter attachment at end

The assembly line. We ended up using 2 magnum bottles, 1 half and 21 standard.

Using a heat gun to seal bottles after corking.

Cranberry Pomegranate Wine
1 lb fresh cranberries crushed (frozen may be used- thaw at room temp before continuing)
1 Qt pomegranate juice
10 lb sugar
2 tsp acid -(note- the recipe calls for 2 tsp Vinacid R, this is a brand no longer used. I had on hand only citric acid and used 2 tsp and it turned out fine, however when talking with local wine making experts they recommended a blend of citric and tartaric)
6 Qt hot water
2 tsp yeast nutrient
2 tsp Pectic enzyme
1 tsp liquid tannin
8 Campden tablets crushed
8 Qt cold water
1 pkt Champagne yeast
Secondary Ingredients
Gelatin finings
1/4 tsp Sulphite crystals
10 oz wine conditioner

In 5 gallon pail mix crushed berries, pomegranate juice, hot water, sugar, and acids, stir until sugar is dissolved. (this is referred to as the must)
Add yeast nutrient, pectic enzyme, tannin, campden, and cold water.
Stir well, check specific gravity (SG), it should be 1.100*
Temperature should be 75 degrees.
Add yeast packet to 1 c warm water, let stand for 10 minutes and stir into must.
Cover with plastic sheet and tie down. Keep as close to 75 degrees as possible, check after 24 hours for fermentation. Foam and bubbles should appear.
Stir twice daily.
Stuck fermentation- yep it happens! first- give it a little more time, second- make sure temp is warm enough, third- if necessary use another yeast packet dissolved in 1/2 gallon of the must, feed with 2 tsp yeast energizer, when this begins to bubble- add to must.

When SG reaches 1.020 strain cranberries into mesh bag- squeezing out juice into pail. Discard pulp.
Rack into a clean 5 gallon carboy and top with cold water.* tap water is fine, oxygen is bad for wine so be sure to keep minimal exposure in your carboy and air lock!
Attach a fermentation lock, move to a cooler area (65 degrees- approx)
After 10 days or SG of 1.000, rack into clean carboy, top with cold water.
After 3 weeks or SG of .990-.995 rack again into a clean carboy.
Add finings and top off with cold water if necessary.
10 days later Rack and filter into clean carboy and add sulphite crystals that have been dissolved in small amount of cool water.
Bulk age 1 month.
Add wine conditioner and bottle.
Bottle age 7 months.

Tips and info
you will need a 5 gallon bucket
2 -5 gallon carboys
an air lock and probably a #10 rubber cork if using standard water carboys
tubing and filter tip end that fits tubing
large stainless steel or wooden spoon
mesh bag or cheesecloth
no rinse cleaner- sold in wine supplies
seal bands
ingredients listed above

When corking soak corks at least one hour in warm water, you can use a little glycerin to help them slide in- this can also be bought in cake making supplies at stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels.
I am not going to lie, unless you have a great corker...this is hard and not the most fun part.

This recipe adapted from Winemaking by Anderson and Anderson,

* ok I have a hydrometer used to measure alcohol levels, I will tell you this- I am no expert at using this....I kind of went through the motions and really have no idea if I did it right. I used time a little more than actual measurements as  my basis for moving on in the steps. I read that the more you pay for a hydrometer the more accurate it is. Please research the use of a hydrometer or check the instructions that accompany your device. Our wine looks good and tastes good- that is all I know to tell you. If you have tips on using this device please leave them in the comments.

image belongs to and can be purchased as a wall poster through them.  

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