Friday, June 25, 2010

David's Strawberry Birthday Cake

Yesterday was David's birthday, and I'd been in search of a perfect birthday treat for a little over a week. He loves strawberries, and if given the choice, will almost always choose a strawberry dessert over any other flavor. So when I found this cake on my cousin Lindsey's blog Yummy Things (which she found over at Homesick Texan), I had a feeling I'd found the perfect birthday cake.
When I found the recipe, I copied and pasted into an email and forwarded it to David while he was at work. The subject line said, "A possible birthday treat?" His simple reply was this, "Yes, please!" And it was wonderful! My favorite part of the cake was the frosting, though. The strawberry cream cheese icing is good enough (and not too overly sweet) to just eat with a spoon. I know this because I have eaten several spoonfulls of it! :) The cake recipe calls for two sticks of butter, but I only used one (because I misread the recipe), but it still turned out great! It's a very moist cake with a slight strawberry flavor. The cake isn't pink like boxed strawberry cake fact, it comes out a little brown because of a chemical reaction between the strawberries, the other ingredients, and the heat from baking. (I'm not a very scientific person, but that's the best way I can explain it. In other words, don't be concerned when your cake is brown. It will be delicious!)
Here's a picture of David and me at the wedding in St. Louis last weekend. We had a great time on our little trip and were so glad to be there for Daniel and MaryBeth's special day.
Strawberry Sheet Cake
12 oz. fresh strawberries, stems removed and chopped (about 3 cups)
2 cups sugar, plus 2 teaspoons
2 cups flour
2 sticks of butter (I used one, and it was fine)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1teaspoon vanilla
Over the chopped strawberries, sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/4 cup of water. Let them sit for an hour at room temperature so they can release some of their juices. The berries should reduce to about 1 1/2 cups. In a blender or food processor, crush the berries on a low speed for a few seconds. You want them juicy, but still with some texture. Take 1/2 cup of the strawberry mixture for the frosting and leave the remaining crushed strawberries for the cake.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
Sift the sugar and flour together in a bowl.
Melt the butter on low in a saucepan and then whisk it with the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and baking soda. Add the liquid to the flour and then stir in one cup of the crushed strawberries.
Pour batter into the pan and bake for 20 - 25 minutes. Cake is done when a knife comes out clean from the center. Let it cool and then frost with the strawberry cream cheese frosting (recipe below).
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 stick butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup crushed strawberries
2 tsp. lime juice (about half a lime)
1/4 tsp. lime zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Whip together the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar until blended. Add the strawberries, lime juice, lime zest, and vanilla. Spread over cooled cake.
Note: Depending on how juicy your berries are, your icing may be runnier than usual. If this is the cake, add more cream cheese to thicken it up.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TWD: Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake

I sit at my computer typing this with a very full stomach. Too full, actually. It's because of this:
That's the Dressy Chocolate Loaf Cake, which was chosen as this week's TWD recipe by Amy Ruth of Amy Ruth Bakes. Once again, I almost sat this one out...David and I made a whirlwind trip to St. Louis for his cousin's wedding. We left "the 'Ville" on Friday night and got back Sunday night. I usually do my TWD recipes on Sundays, but I was just too tired Sunday night to even think about baking. So I talked myself into throwing this together last night (and finished it at a little after 10!), and I'm so glad I did. It was so good. The cake portion really reminded me a lot of this cake (which, by the way, was made for MaryBeth's shower...and it was her wedding that we attended in St. Louis this weekend), but with a twist. This cake is filled with raspberry jam and an interesting frosting. The frosting is just semi-sweet chocolate and sour cream. I was skeptical about it, but it turned out delicious!
The chocolate sour cream frosting spread like a dream when it was still warm. I put the cake in the fridge overnight, and when we had a slice after dinner tonight, the frosting reminded me of a tangy ganache. Yum! This cake was so simple to make, but it looks impressive. Amy Ruth has the recipe posted at her site. Happy baking!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TWD: Raisin Swirl Bread

I nearly sat this week's TWD out, because I fear the yeast. And my fears were completely unfounded! I always thought yeast was temperamental stuff, but I learned that maybe that's not the case! I was so afraid I'd either kill it with milk that was too hot, or use milk that was too cold, which might not activate the yeast. I didn't want to use a thermometer, so the best advice I got came from Chet. He once told me that your liquid is the perfect temperature for yeast when it's pretty much the same temperature as your body. When you stick your finger in it, it shouldn't feel too warm or too cool.
I think his advice worked, what about you?! Isn't that a pretty, swirly loaf of bread? I had absolutely no problems making this...none at all! In fact, I really, really, really enjoyed working with the dough. I've been making a list of things for future baking, and yeast bread was on the list. But again, I was in fear of yeast and had been putting it off. But look out! I have conquered yeast, so hopefully much more bread baking is in my future!
I think this was my favorite part...rolling the dough, laying down the "fixin's", and rolling up the loaf. But see the cinnamon/cocoa mixture? I'd double it next time. I really wanted more cinnamon swirl in each bite. Other than that, I'd say this recipe was perfect! My bread the perfect texture (another fear...dense bread!), so I feel pretty confident. I didn't make the brioche that the group made awhile back, so I might have to try that soon.
If you're not afraid of yeast, or if you like cinnamon raisin bread, or if you do fear yeast and want to get over it, visit Susan over at Food.Baby! This was her pick, and she's got the recipe.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Asparagus Frittata

I think I may have mentioned once or twice that David's grandmother has an asparagus bed that keeps us in delicious asparagus for a good part of the spring. We discovered that we both love roasted asparagus in the oven. It doesn't matter how much asparagus I roast at a time...we eat it all. But this spring, I decided that I should try something a little different.
So, I tried an asparagus frittata. It was so very good! I had a little trouble with it, but it was my first frittata and a learning experience. I absolutely despise runny eggs, so I think I went a little too far and cooked my eggs a little too long before popping the skillet in the oven. I ended up with a too-brown bottom. But overall, it was a success. It made a nice light Sunday night supper several weeks ago. Easy and tasty!
Asparagus Frittata
2 tsp. olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. asparagus, tough ends snapped off, spears cut diagnonally into 1-inch lengths
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded Gruyere or Swiss cheese
Heat olive oil into a 10-inch oven-proof frying pan over medium high heat. Add onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 3 minutes. Add asparagus, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered, until the asparagus are barely tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour in eggs and cook until almost set, but still runny on top, about 2 minutes. While cooking, preheat oven broiler.
Sprinkle cheese over eggs and put in oven to broil until cheese is melted and browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from oven with oven mitts and slide frittata onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges. Serves 4.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TWD: Tender Shortcakes

It's been awhile, hasn't it? Over a week, to be exact. I apologize. As I told David yesterday, I think I've lost my mojo. I just have been in kind of a funk over the last week or so and haven't felt like doing much of anything...even cooking. Things around here have been pretty darn boring lately. But I think I might be getting a little bit of my mojo back. At least I made my shortcakes!
Aren't they pretty? These were just right for getting back into the swing of things. As I was mixing the dough, I thought to myself, "I really enjoy this." However, I was very afraid that I would overwork my dough. It's what I do, remember? I like to knead and knead and knead! But I used some restraint, even though I thought that maybe I had kneaded too much. But it looks like they turned out okay!
David's mom and dad just got back from Florida. They brought us some delicious peaches, and as soon as Shirley gave them to me, I knew they were destined for shortcakes! They were delicious, and they were perfect with the slightly sweet shortcakes and the lightly vanilla-flavored whipped cream. YUM! These shortcakes were so good...better than the ones I used to make with Bisquick (gasp!), but really just as easy!
We've got Cathy, of
The Tortefeasor, to thank for this pick. This was a perfect choice for this time of year! If you've got fresh berries or peaches, please click here for the recipe!
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