Sunday, October 30, 2011

Vanilla butter pound cake

What a weekend!  Watching my son's football team become division champions after a double overtime game was so exciting.  I went to bed being in October, and woke up in January - snow and lots of it.   After jumping up and down and screaming on a very cold and wet night (VERRRRY long half time plus the double over time makes for a long night), I was flat on my back all day Saturday feeling rotten.  I know the weather isn't supposed to make you sick, but it can take a cold and make into something more unpleasant.  The upside is the snow is melting, the Blue Devils are awesome, I am feeling better, and I didn't feel too guilty spending Saturday on looking at all of the Witch's Tea Parties.  Thanks Anna!  

And now, as promised, the recipe for one incredibly good pound cake.  This was sent to me by my mom a couple of years ago, and it is a winner.  A couple of hints for making a pound cake:  make sure your ingredients are room temperature and don't skip the alternating of ingredients (begin and end with the flour mixture).  If you don't follow these rules, the pound cake police will come to your house and confiscate your bundt pan.  

Vanilla Butter Pound Cake

6 large eggs (I always use brown eggs because I think they add a richer flavor)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup butter flavor shortening
3 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla butter emulsion (if you can't find it you can add extra vanilla or any other extract of  your choosing).
3 cups flour
1 cup milk

Spray or grease and flour a ten inch bundt cake pan.  Separate eggs.  Beat whites till stiff peaks form and then set aside.  Beat yolks with butter and shortening on high speed till fluffy.  Gradually add sugar and beat again.  Add in extracts and beat on low speed till blended.  Alternately add flour and sugar beginning and ending with flour.  With a spatula, gently fold egg whites into batter.  Pour into prepared pan and bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours.  For my baby bundt cakes, I baked them for 45 minutes.  Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes, then turn out of pan and continue to cool.   

You can drizzle a light glaze on top, or dust with powdered sugar, or do nothing at all.  The taste and texture stand alone quite well.  This also freezes beautifully, making it a great for the holidays or a weekend brunch for company.  I hope you try this and enjoy it as much as we do.  

And avoid getting a citation from the pound cake police.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Witch's Tea Party

Frosted Petunias

It is time for lovely Anna's tea party!  This magical event is found at Frosted Petunias and I hope to visit each and every party over the weekend because it promises to be the perfect celebration for the halloween season!

The first thing required at my party is decorations, so I glittered the word BOO and hung it by crystal chandelier chains over an antique mirror.

Then I prepared a special treat:  vanilla butter pound cakes.  They are rich, dense, and oh so moist!  I will share the recipe with you later this week.

Trust me when I say this is one recipe that you don't want to miss out on!

Now I need to say my special incantation to make tonight's beverage.

Mmmmmm, glowing apple cider.

I just need to get my costume ready before the festivities begin.

I hope no one disturbs the table before my guests arrive.

Hey, get your hand away from the candy before the party starts!  She tried to get my pink turtle cookies earlier this week.  Better keep an eye on this chick - she was NOT on the party list. 

I invited some "interesting" members of my family,

along with some dear friends.

I told everyone to bring along their black kitties - it is a plus one invite.

My kitties Ya Ya, Claude Monet, and Nugzie will be there for sure! 

And what would a party be without some hot guys.  I am expecting Vlad, Frankie, and Jack.

I also have plenty of free parking for brooms.

I got out my best set of tea cups and so everyone can choose their own.

I also thought we could carve pumpkins.

I have been watching Halloween Wars on the Food Network and feel inspired to try something more challenging for this year's pumpkin.

I think we will do the pumpkins outside in the garden - it is so beautiful this time of year.

I will put candles in the trees.

And light a fire to keep everyone warm.

I hope the ghosts don't show up this year.  They are one rowdy bunch, and hard to get rid of.

I see that some of my INVITED guests have arrived.

They like to giggle and tell secrets.

Sometimes one of them brings a crystal ball and they tell fortunes. 

It looks like the ladies have spotted the guys - or is it something else?

This crew is a little early - they can come back on November first.

I hope you enjoyed my Witch's tea party and I would love to have you stop back often!  Wishing you a magical halloween from the enchanted oven and friends.


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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Caramel krispie treats

This is one of THOSE recipes.  In halloween terms:  killer and devilishly good.  Not exactly a looker, so I jazzed them up with some icing spiders.  In case you are wondering, it is not easy to pipe icing on the uneven surface of a krispie treat, but I am compulsive in that department so I did it anyway. 

This recipe I adapted from the Ivy Bake Shoppe cookbook.  I cut back considerably on the amount of butter used and it tastes just as good.

Caramel krispie bar
1 14 oz bag caramels or caramel bits (the greatest invention EVER)
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 stick butter (I used 3 tbsp.)

1 1/2 sticks butter divided (I used about 4 tbsp. total)
10 cups miniature marshmallows divided
10 cups rice cereal divided

Place caramel, milk, and butter in bowl and microwave 3 minutes.  Stir until smooth.  Set aside to cool.
Melt half the butter (in my case that was 2 tbsp.) with half the marshmallows.  Add half the rice cereal and spread into a greased 9 x  13 inch pan (I made two 9 x 13 pans with one recipe and I liked the thickness plus you get twice as many treats).  Spread caramel mixture on top.  Chill.  Repeat with second layer of rice cereal mix.  Chill till firm.  If you are compulsive about decorating everything like I am, add icing spiders. 

These are incredibly rich even with the butter cut down, so cut into small pieces.  This is one of my kids' favorite treats (and mine too).   They are going to the football team this week and if they win this next game, they will be division champions!  Go Devils!

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pink turtle cookies

I made these cute little turtle cookies yesterday, and it occurred to me that I hadn't used any pink food coloring in a long time. 

Pink is my favorite color, and this has been a long stretch of fall/halloween baking.

I think maybe my soft and dark pink Amerigel food colors are feeling a little lonely and neglected.  Maybe it's a good thing to take a quick break from halloween baking.

Hey! Hands off those cookies sister!

Sigh.  I guess you can take the halloween out of the cookie, but you can't take the cookie out of the halloween.

Now I am back to baking up a storm for Frosted Petunia's Halloween Moon Tea this weekend.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Witch hat cake tutorial

I need to begin this post by saying that I would NEVER in a million years have figured out how to make a shape inside a cake without a tutorial from Amanda at I am Baker.  She has made all kinds of crazy creative cakes and to see some of the wonder click here

In fact, I had never decorated cookies or tried any icing techniques until one day last January when I stumbled upon that blog.  When I saw her ornament cake I  nearly fell off me chair.  I was smitten, and have been trying like crazy to learn the art of confection decorating ever since.  I was so inspired, that I immediately attempted to make a cake inside a cake - and made a real hot mess out of it.  It was so humiliating and depressing that I didn't even THINK about making another one until I made the brownie truffles a few weeks ago.  As I was molding the brownies, I started to realize that the brownie would make an excellent witch hat material.  So I put on a brave face, and tried again. 

And it WORKED!

The first thing you will need is thin layers of cake.  I wanted the look of a witch's red and white stockings, so I baked two 6 inch red cakes and one 6 inch white cake.  To make the brim of the witch's hat, I baked a 6 inch brownie layer and a small batch of slightly undercooked brownies.  When everything had cooled, I split each of the cake layers in half and stacked them with buttercream - just like a regular layer cake.  I didn't use all the layers because I didn't want the cake too tall.  I just kept going till it looked about the right size.  Notice that I have not yet stacked the brownie layer.  Put the stacked cake in the fridge or freezer till it is really firm.  This makes it much easier to work with. 

Now comes the tricky part.  You carve a cone shape out of the red and white layers, going all the way through to have the point at the bottom.

Go slowly, take your time, start in the middle, don't make yourself sick eating cake scraps.  Now take the pan of undercooked brownies and crumble it up in a bowl.  It is now time to pack the brownie scraps into the cone.  Pack it down well.

Hang on because you are almost there.  Take the 6 inch brownie layer and place it on the very top. 

Flip the entire sha-boom upside down on your cake plate. 

Chill the cake to firm it up again.  Sit down and have a stiff drink cup of tea.  I'm not going to lie - I didn't breath throughout the entire carving and packing and flipping.  When you are ready, frost and decorate your cake.  I used grey Swiss meringue buttercream and topped it with autumnal SMB flowers. 

I felt like I hadn't made any major errors, but I was still a nervous wreck cutting into it.  I made real certain that I started in the center of the cake and wiped the knife after each cut.  Then, TA DA!

You certainly don't have to use brownie, you could use cake crumbles mixed with icing like you would for making a cake ball (another major disaster of mine...I fear the cake ball).  So that's how it is done and I was over the moon that it worked.  Let me know if you give it a try or if you have any questions.  I'd love to cheer you on!

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Fanciful Twist Halloween Party!

It's finally here!  I am so happy to have you come to my party, and I hope you will also visit A Fanciful Twist and all the other delightful halloween parties!  I know I will be visiting each and every one of them with a cup of hot cider in my hand and a smile on my face.

To get into my party, you will need to have a special key to unlock the gate.

It is going to be a black cape optional event, but I do encourage stylish shoes and a mask.

All of my dearest friends will be there ready to dance and tell ghost stories and maybe even do some palm reading.  These girls know how to have a good time.                                                                    

   Because I am an animal lover, pets are always welcome to attend - even the flying variety.

Now that you here, let me show you around the enchanted village.

There are all kinds of shenanigans going. on because everyone is in the halloween spirit.  You can stop at the farm stand if you want for a pumpkin and some fresh cider.

I should warn you though, that across town things are a bit scarier.

This is where the ghosts, gargoyles, vampires and even a few monsters hang out. 

If I were you, I'd move quickly through the graveyard and for heaven's sake, don't play any tricks on anything anyone.  This isn't the kind of place for soaping windows or toilet papering the trees; not that I would know this from experience or anything.

Why don't we head back to my house for some refreshments?  I made a special cake for the occasion that I think you are going to like.

Lucious layers of delicate cake topped with Swiss meringue buttercream and piles of autumn flowers.

My halloween cake tastes good, for sure, but I also have a little surprise inside it.  You see, I always like to make me guests feel welcome.  You know, like extra toothpaste and fluffy towels for overnight visitors.  But for my halloween party, I wanted to make sure I had an extra hat and stockings in case anyone forgot theirs. And because it's a magical kind of party, I hid them in my cake.

That's right, a witch's hat with red and white stockings hidden inside the cake. 

So I hope you had a great time at the enchanted oven's party.  For my tutorial on how to make the cake, click here.
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