Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mimi's Poppy Seed Cake from Penzeys ( done by me)

This cake was no piece of cake to make.  It was the first time I made a multilayer cake, and with a pudding in the middle instead of the same frosting as I would put on the outside.  I found this cake in the Penzeys catalog a while ago and kept it on my fridge to remind me to make it one day.  Well, since my dad loves it when I bake cakes, I decided to make this for him for Father's Day.  The recipe called for vanilla extract in the cake batter and pudding, but I used Penzeys' lemon extract instead.  When my dad had his deli, he would bake lemon poppy seed muffins, and having been a huge fan of those muffins, I decided to make it into a cake.  Thanks to Mimi's family for providing such a great recipe in the Penzeys catalog.

Here's what you'll need for the cake:
  • 1/2 cup whole blue poppy seeds (I used Penzeys')
  • 1 cup milk (I used coconut milk to get rid of it.)
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract (I added another 1/4 tsp. because I didn't want the coconut to overwhelm the taste of the cake.)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 egg whites, beaten
Soak the poppy seeds in the milk for 2 hours.
 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cream the butter until fluffy.  Add the sugar and lemon extract and mix well.  Add the poppy seed mixture.
Gradually add the dry ingredients.  Fold in the beaten egg whites.  Pour into 2 greased 8-inch layer pans and bake for 25 minutes.
Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely. 

Now onto the filling:
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 6 egg yolks, beaten until thick, 1-2 minutes
  • 1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
  • pinch of salt
Dissolve the cornstarch in a little of the milk in a medium saucepan.  Add the rest of the milk and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens, about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.  Add the sugar to the beaten egg yolks.  Gradually add the hot milk mixture to the yolks, stirring constantly.  Return to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until thick and the mixture starts to bubble, stirring constantly, about 7-8 minutes.
Once the mixture bubbles, cook for an additional minute.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Stir in the lemon extract, cover  by putting plastic wrap right on the surface, and refrigerate until ready to use.

Now for the white frosting:
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until peaks form and set aside.  In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, water, cream of tartar and salt.  Place on the stove over medium heat and stir until it starts to boil, 4-8 minutes.
Cover tightly and cook over low heat for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  While beating, pour the sugar mixture slowly over the egg whites.  Beat until peaks form and the frosting is thick and glossy and has the consistency to spread.  This should take about 4-7 minutes.  Add the vanilla and beat just to combine.

After the cake is completely cool, cut each layer in half.  This was tricky for me because I cut them on an angle by accident.  Spread some filling between each layer.
I know it looks sloppy, but it turned out better than this.
Now frost with the white frosting.
Place in the fridge to firm up a bit before cutting.  Enjoy!  My family sure did.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes (Gluten-Free too)

I can't believe my blog is a year old already!  Hopefully I'll get more followers/viewers in this new year of my blog.  I made these cupcakes about two weeks ago when I was craving chocolate, and since the first cupcake batch came out well, I decided to go with my Gluten-Free Cupcakes cookbook by Elana Amsterdam.  They were also sugar free;  they were sweetened with agave nectar.  I like agave a lot, but sometimes when things are sweetened with it, it makes your baked goods extremely moist...a little more than I would like.  That being said, I thought the cupcakes were still very good, and the buttercream turned out really good too.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Here's what you'll need for the buttercream:
  • 1/2 cup Spectrum all-vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 9 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, cocoa powder, arrowroot powder, ground chia seeds, flax meal, salt, and baking soda.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, agave nectar, vinegar, and vanilla extract.
Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture with a large spoon until thoroughly combined.  Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into each prepared muffin cup.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 1 hour, then frost and serve.

Now onto the buttercream:

In large bowl, blend together the shortening and buttery spread with a handheld mixer until creamy.  Mix in the salt, agave nectar, and vanilla extract, whipping until smooth.
Refrigerate the frosting for 2 hours, or until firm.  Frost the cupcakes immediately, then place them into the fridge to keep the consistency of the frosting firm until serving.  Enjoy!