Monday, March 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge #5

Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut (I didn't have raspberry so I used pineapple preserves and it worked very well. However, I'd really like to try the cake again with raspberry or blueberry.)

Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet. I used 2 square pans, because I like to be different.

(This is the lemon sugar in the first step for the cake)

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated.
Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.
Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).

To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes.
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla.
You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.

To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half.
Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves.
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top.
Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.

The result was very good~ we liked this cake a lot and shared it with friends. My only adjustment for making it again, is making the buttercream a little less lemony. I think 1/2 cup of lemon juice is overkill. Overall this was very very good.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Newest Deacons at Reformation Church

One of them happens to be my husband.

All Cleaned Up

(Sorry Dabney's blurry in this one~ I just had to show you Joshua's face. Managing 3 from behind a camera is hard work!)

Easter Morning '08

We hope you had a wonderful Resurrection Day! Our kids woke up and had a good time with their treats. We sang hymns about the resurrection and retold the story (hopefully tying the story and the day together). We didn't do big presents or anything because we didn't want to lose focus with the meaning of the day but we did give them a few small token gifts to symbolize the gift of new life we receive every day because Jesus rose from the dead, and the sweetness of life in Him. And needless to say we didn't tell our children that some ridiculous giant bunny left them presents either. While they were in that early morning chocolate haze, I slipped the rabbit ears on them and caught a picture of our munchkins for posterity. And for those of you concerned, Josh didn't eat any chocolate for breakfast.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

No time to post pictures of my own

Tomorrow is Good Friday and the stock market is closed (and that means that Tim is off) so we are going to have a sweet family from church over for a nice lunch. I’m quite excited about this because apart from entertaining during the week, it also means our Saturday is left wide open and we will have our Easter celebration, just the 5 of us. We’re going to have a ham and rolls and potatoes and strawberries and all the deviled eggs we can handle (eggs finally went on sale) and a nice red wine. I even changed out our snowflake dishes for our Pfaltzgraff flowered ones~ fitting I think for Resurrection weekend. Anyway, I wanted to share Friday’s entertaining menu and a recipe or two with you.

I wanted to have a nice light appetizer so I chose Fruit Salsa with cinnamon chips .

Then for lunch we’ll have pizza, (Philly cheesesteak, pineapple and ham, margharita & our version of meat lovers/ supreme), along with our favorite tortellini soup and parmesan breadsticks.

Last month, I told a reader that I’d share the recipe for the Philly cheesesteak pizza so here it is. I love cheesesteaks (real ones from Gino’s~ not Pat’s~ in real Philadelphia) and I think this recipe comes close~ barring the fact that I don’t use Cheez Whiz on my pizza. Going to Philly with my family and getting cheesesteaks is one of my favorite memories. I’m kind of winging it~ this is based on the most delicious pizza I tasted from California Pizza Kitchen. It’s not regularly on the menu, it was a monthly special a few years ago. Saute in a small amount of butter or olive oil: a half of an onion (sliced), and a few sliced mushrooms (canned or fresh) and a few steak-ums steaks. I used my own pizza tomato sauce, and topped with the sauted ingredients and green bell pepper and finished it with provolone cheese and some mozzarella (more provolone than mozzarella).

Then for dessert I’m making Tiramisu (for the adults) and our favorite brownies for the kids.

I’ve got to go for now, hopefully I’ll finish all of the ironing tonight, napkins included. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy (belated) Birthday Caitlin!

Happy Birthday Cait!
(Can you really be 20?)

**** These pictures were taken 20 years ago by a big sister who never claimed to be a photographer.***

With lots of aloha from your Colorado family.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day

Little Leprechaun

Dabney made a paper plate hat at church with the other girls. I helped her put it on her head and she said, "You crowned me Mom!"

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone! It’s a snowy day here in Colorado and we’ve been watching Riverdance today, or as Dabney calls it, “The dancer of the pond” (“I love their green skirts! Are they mermaids? Is he a fish? Where's the pond?) Even after all these years, Riverdance still mesmerizes me and make me wish my legs were longer. We’ve got plans to make Soda Bread later this afternoon, after naps. We had a great weekend and we had a wonderful family over for most of Saturday which was so fun. We found a great recipe online for some bread and the kids helped me make some little loaves this morning.

Dabney is her usual imaginative self. Yesterday she was “Pongo the dog with black spots and a white body”. She continues to be a help to me, especially with the boys. She makes Joshua smile continually and she “reads” books to David and she even tried to teach him his letters with the easel the other day.

David has continued his potty training triumphs and we are so thankful. One minor aspect is the fact that we are trying to get him to consistently say “underwear” instead of panties, which is of course what Dabney calls her underclothes. But he’s working on it and improving.

Joshua continues to be his jolly, happy self. He loves to grab everything he possibly can and eat new solid foods. Lately his favorites are bananas, pasta and yogurt. He’s outgrowing clothes at breakneck speed. He can now scoot on his bottom and crawl backwards, too.

Yesterday we were on our way to church and, as always, our kids were singing. They sing no matter what we do. This time it happened to be the theme for Reading Rainbow, although they don’t know all of the words. All of a sudden David burst into song singing, “Butterfly in the sky…..I.…can….go…. underwear!”

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Upstairs Hallway - Before and After



Look what I did last night! A few weeks ago, I went through the basement and sorted through quite a few things I don't use anymore and last week I sold them on eBay. (Praise God they sold!) This week, I took my earnings and made some investments in our home~ like better, matching light fixtures. (It seems like this will be the year that we finally upgrade the lighting that we opted out of when we moved in.) Also, arriving any day now is a gorgeous, gorgeous exterior lantern for our porch. And in case you are wondering, before I began I did quite a bit of research on lighting and electrical boxes and switching out light fixtures and read and re-read the instructions and low and behold when we turned the breakers on after I finished~ voila! There was beautiful light~ and no flames! Stay tuned for the next installment (get it?)~ our porch light makeover.
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