Monday, June 24, 2013

Strawberry Dream Cake

Announcement: I finally created a facebook page for my blog - the little link is directly to your right under my "About me" section.  I'd love to connect with you there, so come over and visit!!
Our family was recently invited to some friends' house for dinner.
It was the first time since we moved that someone other than my parents was brave enough to do so.
I mean, having a family of 7 over is no joke!
Not many people are willing to do it.
This particular family has 7 kids of their own, so I think they knew what they were doing. :)

I offered to bring something and was of course thrilled when our hostess said I could bring dessert.

Hurray!  Time to try out a new recipe!!
(Grant thinks I'm such an adrenaline junkie for doing that.....trying out new recipes on other people. But I know I'm not the only one.....y'all do it too, right????)
Well, I actually tried out two new recipes - the other one will be coming soon.  And it involves lots of chocolate.  So stay tuned!

If you like strawberries at ALL, this is a must-make before strawberry season ends.  Well, okay, strawberry season is over here in Arkansas, but we're still getting some beautiful berries from California, so they'll do just fine.

I really can't recommend this cake highly enough.

Perfectly strawberry without any food coloring or artificial colors or flavors. My kind of cake.

It's got frozen berries pressed of their juice, which is added to the cake, while the pulp is added to the frosting.  There are sliced fresh berries sandwiched in the middle and garnishing the top - and the delightfully from-scratch cake is covered with a cream cheese frosting reminiscent of strawberry ice cream.

Yeah, I know.

Who wouldn't want a piece of this?

Strawberry Dream Cake
adapted slightly from Galley Gourmet
Originally from Cook's Country, July 2011

*Note: If you don't have cake flour, you can use 2 cups of flour and 1/4 cup cornstarch.  Sift together several times.

10 ounces (2 cups) frozen whole strawberries
3/4 cup whole milk
7 large egg whites, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour*
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt (if you use unsalted butter, increase salt to 1 tsp.)
12 Tbsp. (6 oz) salted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened

10 Tbsp. (5 oz) salted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
12 ounces cream cheese, cold and cut into pieces
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pulp from frozen berries in cake
8 ounces fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thin

For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick baking spray. (Or just butter and flour the pans really well).
Put frozen berries in a microwave-safe bowl and heat until the strawberries are soft and have released their juice, about 5 minutes.  Place the berries in a fine mesh strainer set over a small saucepan.  Firmly press fruit dry (juice should measure 3/4 cup); reserving strawberry solids.  Bring juice to a boil over medium-high heat; cook stirring occasionally until syrupy and reduced to 1/4 cup, 6-8 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in milk.

Whisk strawberry milk, egg whites, and vanilla in a bowl. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until blended.  Add butter, one piece at a time and mix until only pea-size pieces remain.  Add half of the milk mixture, increase speed to medium-high, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Reduce speed to medium-low, add remaining milk mixture and beat just until incorporated, about 30 seconds.  Give the batter a final stir by hand.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans and bake until the cakes are lightly golden, about 20-25 minutes. Cool cakes in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the pans, discarding parchment, and cool completely, about 2 hours.  (Cooled cakes can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days)

For the frosting:
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter and sugar on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds.  Increase speed to medium-high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add cream cheese one piece at a time and beat until incorporated.  Add reserved strawberry solids, vanilla extract, and salt and mix until combined.  I had to remove a few stringy pieces of strawberry pulp.
Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use for up to 2 days.

Pat the strawberry slices dry with a paper towel.
Place one cooled cake on a serving plate.  Spread 3/4 cup frosting over the top of the cake.  Press 1 cup of the strawberries in an even layer over the frosting and cover with another 3/4 cup frosting.  Place the second cake on top and spread remaining frosting over the top and sides of cake.  Garnish the cake with the remaining strawberry slices.  Cake can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Linked to Finding Joy in My Kitchen

Friday, June 21, 2013

Gluten-Free Banana Coconut Flour Muffins

As I mentioned before, I've not ventured into the land of "gluten-free" very often.
Particularly in baking.

Enter my mom.
She recently confessed that some time ago, she heard/read about the benefits of coconut flour and proceeded to order a 25 lb (!!!) bag of it.  Organic and all.  And it had been sitting unopened in her laundry room ever since.  She didn't really know what to do with it.

I graciously told her that I would be more than happy to take some of it off of her hands and play around with it.  After all, I do a lot more baking than she does these days, with a family of 7 and all.  She's just cooking for herself and Dad most of the time.  She was delighted to share her abundance with me and gave me at least 12 lbs of it a couple of days ago.

As I was deliberating what to make for breakfast this morning, I remembered the bananas languishing on the counter top and decided banana coconut muffins would be just the ticket.

I looked through a few recipes before deciding on one from Tropical Traditions, which is my favorite company from which to purchase coconut oil.

Having never baked with or even tasted coconut flour, I wasn't sure what to expect.

I read that coconut flour is high in fiber and protein, is of course gluten-free, and can be added to standard wheat recipes in small amounts to add extra protein.  Some recipes of muffins and quick breads can be accomplished with 100% coconut flour.  Since coconut flour contains natural sugar from the coconut meat, baked goods need less sugar added. The coconut flavor is fairly mild.

You need much less flour than in regular recipes - but that is countered by needing a lot of eggs, since it's a very dry and thickening flour. So these muffins end up with lots of protein from all those eggs and the flour -  and that's not a bad thing.  

I thought they were delicious.  The texture and flavor is a bit different from traditional wheat muffins, but I enjoyed them a lot.  The kids commented that they seemed not as sweet as our normal muffins, probably because I didn't sprinkle chocolate chips on top (don't know where they get the idea they need chocolate for breakfast.  I mean, really.)  I found them to be just sweet enough.  Grant thought they were really good, too.  

I will definitely make them again - variety is great - plus I still have 12 lbs of coconut flour to use!

Banana Coconut Flour Muffins
adapted slightly from Tropical Traditions
Yield: 16 regular muffins

1 cup coconut flour (organic is best)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
6 eggs
4 Tbsp. melted coconut oil (OR 2 Tbsp. melted butter + 2 Tbsp. oil)
3/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350°.
Sift the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together into a small bowl.  Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs together.  Add oil, milk, honey, sugar, and vanilla.  Whisk together to blend.
Stir in coconut flour mixture and bananas until well blended.  Batter will be thick.  Divide batter among greased or paper-lined muffin tins.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Perfect Chocolate Party Cake

If you've been around here for awhile, you know that I am a dedicated baker of the Hershey's Especially Dark Chocolate Cake - it is truly my favorite chocolate cake just for eating.  That being said, I don't make it for cakes that I intend to stack and frost for a birthday for a couple of reasons - first, it's a very moist cake that could crumble easily and not be the most sturdy; second, it can be pretty crumby - which makes frosting it with a white or light frosting very difficult.

I have tried several different chocolate cake recipes in search of a favorite for decorated cakes -
and this is the winner. Not only is it nice and sturdy, not super crumby, and easy to bake, it's still moist and absolutely delicious.

I've made it twice now - the first time was for the rather large cake seen above, made for my niece Christine's 14th birthday.  Since I was expecting about 22 people at the party and certainly did not want to run out of cake, I made a double batch of this recipe - for a grand total of 18 cups of batter - to fill two 12" round pans.  (I actually made an additional chocolate cake mix for the heart on top and some cupcakes - another niece can't eat dairy and I wanted her to have cake too.  She ate unfrosted cupcakes)   That cake ended up stretching further than I thought - it provided dessert for at least 16 people twice and there was still a huge hunk left over.

The second time I made it was for my nephew Jonathan's birthday, seen below - this time I made two 13 x 9" layers, so I made 1-1/3 this recipe, to make 12 cups of batter.  It was filled and frosted with chocolate buttercream and was wonderfully scrumptious.  He was absolutely delighted with it, and again, it really did feed a lot of people.

I'm so happy to have found this recipe - it's just perfect for party cakes. If you have a chance to make it, let me know how it turns out for you!

Chocolate Party Cake
Makes Three 8-inch cakes (9 cups of batter)

For 6-inch cakes fill each cake tin with 1.5-2 cups batter and check for doneness earlier then the suggested time.  For 10-inch cakes fill with 5-3/4 to 6 cups batter and bake for longer than the suggested time.

3 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/3 cups sour cream
1-1/3 cups boiling water

Cream together brown sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Add vanilla; turn beaters to medium-high; beat until light and fluffy.  Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in three additions, alternating with sour cream, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix just until combined.  Stir in water until evenly blended.  Pour into three 8-inch round cake pans buttered and lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° F. for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool 10 minutes before removing from pans and peeling off the parchment paper.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Teriyaki Chicken (Gluten Free/Dairy Free)

I am extremely thankful that we don't have any food allergies or sensitivities in my family (other than me with weird....and unfortunate).  

However, I know there are so many families that have to deal with various issues with food and it can get so complicated.  I recently had the pleasure of making a meal for a friend from church who had just given birth to her 5th boy...and was told by the meal coordinator that they needed a dinner that was wheat-free and dairy free.

Wow.  That ruled out nearly every recipe I normally make.  I am a big believer in the value of butter....and cheese....and I love pasta, biscuits, breads.....oh, you know.  And the desserts.  Eliminating dairy and wheat leaves the options pretty sparse, unless you go to a specialty store to buy some unusual ingredients like xanthum gum or sorghum flour.  Sure can't find those at Walmart.

Anyways, I ended up making BBQ meatballs (with water instead of milk), Confetti Rice and Bean Salad, roasted green beans, and a fruit salad with strawberries, grapes, and blueberries.

Brainstorming what to make for them helped me realize that it's a really good idea to have a running list of gluten and/or dairy-free recipes from which to choose, should the need arise.

This meal definitely makes the list for me.
It's a really simple dinner, just requires some time chopping and cutting veggies and meat and a little time stir-frying it all.  But it comes together beautifully and was a hit with everyone in my family, including Grant's parents.  It's flavorful and slightly sweet - and the best part - all of the ingredients are nearly always in my kitchen.  So it's an easy go-to meal when plans go awry and I need a back-up, stat.

What are some of your gluten or dairy free favorite recipes?

Teriyaki Chicken (Gluten and Dairy Free)
from Angela's Kitchen

1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken, cubed
oil for cooking (I use expeller pressed coconut oil)
4 carrots, sliced thinly
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 cups broccoli, chopped
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup gluten free soy sauce (reduced sodium)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 T. cornstarch or arrowroot
salt and pepper, to taste
Cooked rice, for serving

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, then saute it until browned and cooked through. Remove from skillet and set aside.  In the hot skillet (add a little more oil if necessary) stir fry the carrots and onions for several minutes. Once they're crisp/tender, add the broccoli and garlic and cook a couple of minutes longer.
Add the chicken to the skillet with the vegetables.  In a medium bowl, combine the water, soy sauce, and brown sugar.  Add 2/3 of the mixture to the skillet.  Bring to a boil.  To the remaining liquid, add the cornstarch and whisk until smooth. Add to the boiling mixture in the skillet and stir constantly until thickened.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over rice.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Quick Lemon Cake - SRC

Welcome to summer!

We finished up school a couple of weeks ago, just in time for our visit from Grant's parents (all the way from California).  This was their first visit to my home state of Arkansas and we had a great time exploring around, boating on a couple of area lakes, touring museums, and even taking a short vacation to Branson.  It was a terrific way to kick-start our summer break.

For my Secret Recipe Club assignment this month, I had the pleasure of perusing Jane's Adventures in Dinner, where Jane, who was trained as a chef and is now a teacher, has an amazing collection of scrumptious sounding Smoked Chicken and Cheese Popovers, Slow cooker Chicken Parmesan, and  Oven Fried Onion Rings among many others.

But I just couldn't resist the appeal of this quick and easy Lemon Cake.  One of the flavors that just screams "Summer!" to me is lemon.  Creamy lemon bars, ice-cold glasses of lemonade, lemon cookies.....everything bright and fresh. Well, if you can stand heating up the oven to bake, a lemon cake is a wonderful treat to enjoy.....pretty much any time.

Jane calls  it a "Two Minute" cake.....not because it is fast to whip up, but because it disappears in about two minutes.  I enforced portion control and managed to make it last over two meals - but I'm sure my kiddos would  have devoured the whole thing in a single sitting if I had let them.

It's a dense cake - with the surprising addition of cornmeal.  It has no oil or butter - but is made moist by lots of yogurt.  I just used plain, but I'm sure you could use vanilla or even lemon yogurt with great results.
My favorite part was the glaze - bursting with flavor from the lemon zest and just complements the cake perfectly.

Quick Lemon Cake
adapted slightly from Jane's Adventures in Dinner

2 cups plain yogurt
Zest and juice from 1 large lemon
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 cup cornmeal
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Zest and juice from 1 large lemon
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350°.
Butter and flour a bundt pan - set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, lemon zest and juice, eggs, and sugar.  Stir well.  Add in the baking powder, baking soda, cornmeal, and flour.  Fold gently until combined.  Don't overstir.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool for a few minutes in the pan, then loosen edges and remove from pan to a platter.
Use a toothpick to poke little holes all over the top of the cake.
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and zest with powdered sugar.  Pour slowly over warm cake.  The glaze will sink in and basically disappear....but don't worry, you'll still taste it!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...