Monday, May 23, 2011

Mother's Day (this post is a bit late)

Mother's Day is always a fun day. I usually let my mom wake up to a wonderful breakfast waiting for her in the dining room. But this year it wasn't like that. You see, my grandmother wasn't able to go to the family mother's day party due to health issues, so my mom thought of the idea of bringing another dinner to her. So we woke up early and headed to my grandmother's apartment in Flushing and prepared a wonderful dinner. She was so happy, and I absolutely love seeing her so happy. I think what really was the "icing on the cake" was the fact that I made a cake for her. She loved it. She always loves it when I bring her my baked goods. I was really happy to see her enjoy the cake so much. I bringing joy to peoples' lives through my desserts. I know that sounds corny, but it's true. 

I first made this cake around last Christmas. I had some left over coconut flakes from making seven layer cookie bars, so I decided to make a coconut-walnut cake with dulce de leche frosting. I think it was originally my brother's suggestion. It sounded kind of odd to me at first, but after I made it, I thought very differently. My goodness, it was delicious. I think the dulce de leche frosting was great, but what really made the cake was by adding texture by using walnuts. It wouldn't have been 100% without the walnuts. The cake's a bit time consuming and I put a lot of different elements together. There's quite a good amount of butter, but this cake was never intended to be healthy anyway, so why not? Here's the recipe:

Coconut Cake (adapted from Ina Garten) 

makes 2 9-inch cakes

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pans
2 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pans
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
4 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (This isn't in the original recipe, but I added it for texture. You can add more or less depending on your taste)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease2 (9-inch) round cake pans, then line them parchment paper. Grease them again. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light yellow and fluffy. Crack the eggs into a small bowl. With the mixer on medium speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl once during mixing. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well. The mixture might look curdled; don't be concerned. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk to the batter in 3 parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Fold in the 4 ounces of coconut with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter evenly into the 2 pans and smooth the top with a knife. Bake in the center of the oven for 45 to 55 minutes, until the tops are browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes, then turn the cakes out onto a baking rack to finish cooling.

Dulce de Leche Frosting:

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 c. Crisco shortening 
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 cups powdered sugar

In a mixer, cream the butter, shortening, and vanilla for 2-3 minutes, until it's light and fluffy. Then slowly incorporate the powdered sugar and cream that for about 3 minutes. You want the buttercream to look fluffy. Once it has come together and looks fluffy, slowly add the cooled dulce de leche. (Make sure the dulce de leche is cooled or the frosting will just melt!)

The assembly of this cake is no different from what you would usually do. It took me a while to frost the outside of the cake. Originally, I only used half the amount of frosting. However it didn't cover much of the cake so I just let that set overnight in the fridge and I whipped up another batch in the morning and re-frosted the cake. It looked much better then. So in the end, I used the entire frosting recipe....I should have just done that the first time... Regardless, the cake tasted delicious and looked wonderful. I really do recommend you making this cake. It's going to sell out, I promise!

Originally a four tiered cake, but the frosting soaked into the cake :(

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

I don't remember why, but for some reason I had bought some sour cream. I didn't want it to go to waste and I knew sour cream would make a mean coffee cake, so I decided to make cinnamon coffee cake. Funny story, I used to think that coffee cake actually had coffee in the cake. Now I know that it's called coffee cake because it's consumed with coffee or during a "coffee or tea break." At least, I think that's correct.

I've always been a big fan of coffee cake. My very first one was from Hostess....i think? It was one of those chain manufacturers. It was actually pretty good. Ever since then, I've been a very big fan of coffee cakes. They're delicious. I love the moist cake with cinnamon filling and the crumbly streusel topping all tied together with a nice glass of milk. It's a wonderful way to "celebrate" the fact that I just made a coffee cake.

This recipe is from King Arthur Flour's website. I was a bit unsure about it at first but after reading the reviews I decided to give it a try. It's a good thing too because it was a success! It's delicious, I really have to say. After having written so much about coffee cake, I kind of want some....oh well. I won't be writing the recipe out this time. Instead, here's the link. I think it's also a great recipe because it shows step-by-step photos of how to make the cake. It's a bit time consuming and uses a few bowls, but it's well worth the effort. I really recommend making this cake. You won't regret it, I promise!

Happy Baking!