I made: Pineapple upside-down cake!

I’m a little behind at recording my baking projects here.  Last weekend was my husband’s birthday, and he requested pineapple upside-down cake, without cherries.

Easy enough!  There are lots of recipes for this kind of cake out there, and I’m sure most are good.  It’s actually a fairly easy cake, and I chose a skillet cake recipe just because it seemed fun and slightly different.  It also called for several tablespoons of rum, which sounded great to me.

I mostly followed the recipe–I think I added some cinnamon and clove in addition to the cardamom that was called for.  Now that I’ve made it, I also think I could have used more pineapple and been a little more strategic about their placement.  Overall, though, this was a very good recipe as-is, and I would bake again.  I used fresh pineapple and it was super duper tasty for several days.

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I made: Carrot cake!

Belated hoppy Easter to all!  I am really trying to work on my layer cake skills now that I know I don’t have any.  I looked at a million different carrot cake recipes before settling on this one from King Arthur’s Flour, which is a surprisingly reliable & comprehensive baking recipe resource.

This recipe has two components: the cake and the frosting.  I added a third component, which was the decorative carrot curls on top.

Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease two 9″ cake pans.
  • Beat together 1.5 cups vegetable oil, 2 cups sugar, 1 tsp salt, 4 large eggs, 1 tbsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and 2 tsp baking soda.
  • Stir in 2 cups flour until just blended.  Then stir in 3 cups finely grated carrots and 1.5 cups chopped nuts.  Pour into pans.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes and allow to cool before frosting.

Frosting:

  • Beat together 1/2 cup room temp unsalted butter and 8oz room temp cream cheese until smooth.  Add 1/4 tsp salt and 2 tsp vanilla.
  • Add 2.5-3.5 cups confectioners’ sugar gradually and beat until smooth, add a little bit of milk if it’s too liquidy.  Frost the cake.

Carrot curls (I used this recipe as a guideline):

  • Take about 2 large carrots and cut 15-20 strips using a peeler.
  • Bring 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a boil in a saucepan.  Place carrot strips in the water and reduce heat to a simmer, let simmer 15 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 225 degrees and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Once carrots are done simmering, drain and lay out on a baking sheet (not touching).  Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Working quickly, remove carrots from oven and wrap around a wooden spoon handle to curl.  Allow to sit a few seconds then slip off.
  • Sprinkle with extra sugar if you want, let cool, and then use to decorate as you wish.

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OVERALL:

  • This recipe tasted good and was VERY rich.
  • I did a few things differently from the recipe.  Mainly, I cut the layers in half so that I had four layers instead of just two.  I used a mixture of pecans, walnuts, and hazelnuts because I didn’t have enough of any single nut.
  • I also multiplied the frosting recipe by 1.5 because I figured I needed more due to the increased number of layers.
  • Lastly I made more carrot curls than called for because I figured some of them would look ugly so I’d need more.

NEXT TIME:

  • Okay so this recipe tasted good and looked okay but there are a LOT of things I need to think about or work on.
  • First of all, I had a cake crater AGAIN.  I am getting so frustrated by this.  Both of my cakes had fairly sizeable craters.  It’s a big reason why I cut them in half, because I was kind of worried they weren’t totally cooked and wanted to check.  I have researched and researched and tried multiple solutions and I’m still having this issue.  I’m not giving up yet though.
  • Also, I am very inexperienced at cutting layer cakes in half, as demonstrated by the mess of the middle of the cake pictured below.  I think part of the problem is that it’s tricky to cut cakes with chunks of nuts in them.  I’m going to try just a smooth cake next time.
  • Grating carrots is TERRIBLE.  Next time I would do this in advance, or enlist someone else to do it.
  • I’m getting better at spreading the frosting but still not great.  I want a turntable.
  • The carrot curls didn’t quite work as imagined.  Only a few of them really maintained their curl.  Some of them just snapped completely.  It ended up okay looking but not what I had hoped.

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I made: Hummingbird cake!

Hummingbird cake is a Southern classic comprised of a banana/pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting.  Y’all, I’m now up to TWO cakes for the year, which is about as many as I made in the entirety of last year.

I got this recipe from The Kitchn, which is my favorite professional-quality resource for baking.  The recipes from The Kitchn don’t just explain how to do things, they explain WHY they work and they provide very detailed photo step-by-step instructions.  Also, they almost never include dumb personal details about people’s kids that you have to scroll through before the actual recipe.

There are three parts to this recipe: the cake itself, the frosting, and the decorative pineapple “flowers.”  (Sadly, these are not potato chips, as many have thought.)

Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F, coat 2 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray and line bottoms with parchment paper rounds.
  • Mix dry ingredients in large bowl: 3 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1 cup packed dark brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Mix wet ingredients: 3 eggs, 3/4 cup canola oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 8-oz can crushed pineapple, 2 cups ripe mashed banana.  It’s ok if lumpy.
  • Combine wet and dry ingredients then fold in 1 cup chopped pecans.  Don’t overmix.
  • Pour the mix evenly into the 2 pans and bake for 35-40 minutes.  (I checked at 40 and felt like it could use another 5 minutes which seemed fine.)
  • Cool the cakes in pans for 10 minutes then flip out to finish cooling.

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(You may recall that in my previous post, I discussed having problems with my 9-inch cake pan.  Well, that’s because I’m a moron and I thought I had a 9-inch cake pan but it was actually clearly a much smaller pan.  I realized this when I went to the store and looked at the actual 9-inch pans.  Problem now solved.)

Frosting:

  • Beat 1 cup room temperature butter for about 1 minute until smooth.
  • Add 8 oz room temperature cream cheese and beat for about 3 minutes.
  • Add 1 pound sifted powdered sugar, about 4.5 cups, gradually adding 1 cup at a time and scraping down sides.
  • Add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp salt.
  • Beat again for 3-5 minutes.
  • Once the cake is cool, frost it.  It’s a pretty simple layer cake frosting.  Put one layer of the cake on the stand and anchor it down with a smudge of frosting on the very bottom.  Then put 1/3 of the frosting on top of the cake.  Then put the other layer of the cake on top and put another 1/3  of frosting on the top layer.  Finally put the last 1/3 of the frosting on the sides.  It’s definitely more than enough frosting so you won’t run out, just mush it on as well as you can.

Pineapple flowers:

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  • Set oven to 200F.  If you just baked your cake, leave the door open for a little bit to bring it down from 350.  Put a rack on the lowest part of the oven and remove the other racks.
  • Take a WHOLE PINEAPPLE, cut off the top and bottom, and peel it.  Trim off the “eyes.”
  • Thinly slice the pineapple into 1/8 inch thick rounds.  The recipe says that it should yield 24-36 thin slices.
  • Pat the slices dry with paper towels.
  • Set up the slices on wire racks on a baking sheet.  The recipe suggested using multiple wire racks stacked using foil balls as spacers so that you can fit all the pineapple on one baking sheet without overlapping them.
  • Bake for 2-3 hours.
  • Once you remove them, you can shape them around muffin tins, glasses, or your hands if you want.  Then put them on top of the cake!

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OVERALL:

  • This cake tasted really good!  It was kind of like banana bread, but sweeter and more cakey.
  • The cream cheese frosting was also amazing and went REALLY well with the pineapple flowers.  If you don’t want to make a cake I recommend just making pineapple flowers and dipping them into the frosting yum yum.

NEXT TIME:

  • I need to order some of those pre-cut parchment paper rounds if I’m gonna keep making round cakes. It’s really annoying to cut them out by hand.
  • The most difficult part of this was the pineapple flowers.  I think my problem was that some of my slices were too thick.  But even the ones that weren’t as thick definitely weren’t ready at 3 hours.  It took about 4 hours for the thinnest slices to get to a consistency I liked for decorations.  I had to get somewhere so sadly I left behind about half the slices in the oven.
  • I would want to get fancier with decorations.  You could do fun stuff with toasted pecans, or piping the frosting on top in prettier ways!

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I made: Cinnamon sour cream coffee cake

I’m finally making progress towards my baking resolution to make more cakes!  This is my first official cake of the year.  I decided to make it because it seemed pretty easy, and I could make it with stuff I had on hand, while using up some sour cream I was getting worried about.

The recipe came from Baked by an Introvert, same as the banana nutella cupcakes I made last week.  It has three components: the cake itself, topping, and glaze, all of which are relatively easy.

Cake:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray & flour, place a round piece of parchment paper in the bottom and spray a little more.
  • Beat 1/2 cup softened butter with 3/4 cup granulated sugar until light and fluffy.  Add 2 large eggs, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/2 cup sour cream until well combined.
  • Combine dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, and spices.  Now, as y’all know, if a recipe tells me “add 1 tsp cinnamon” I consider that a suggestion.  I also added:
    • 1 tsp cardamom
    • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp ground clove
    • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
    • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • Alternate adding 1/2 flour mixture to the butter mixture, followed by 1/2 cup buttermilk, followed by the remaining flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the pan.

Topping:

  • Combine 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed), and spices in a bowl.  (Recipe says 1 tsp cinnamon, I used that + 1/2 tsp cardamom + a sprinkle of ground ginger)
  • Cut in 1/3 cup softened unsalted butter until it is like wet sand.  (Recipe says use a pastry cutter but I HATE cleaning my pastry cutter so I just used a fork it was fine.)
  • Sprinkle the topping on top of the cake in the pan.
  • Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes.  (Recipe says to start checking at 20 minutes but that seems insane to me?  It took 40 minutes.)
  • Cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around outside edge to loosen, then remove from pan to cool completely.

Glaze:

  • Combine 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 2 tbsp sour cream, and 1 tbsp milk in a small bowl, stir until smooth, then drizzle on top of the cooled cake.

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I was too lazy to drizzle from a decorating bag so whatever, this was drizzly enough.

OVERALL:

  • This was a good cake and both my husband and workmates liked it.
  • I figured out how to take a cake to work!  I just cut it up into little bite-size pieces and put the pieces into cupcake liners.  They were all gone before lunch.  This wouldn’t work for very tall cakes, obviously.
  • Now, here is the downside of baking while sad or distracted.  I used what I THOUGHT was a normal 9-inch cake pan.  Then, when all the cake batter + topping more than filled the pan, I thought, “Hm, that’s a little odd,” then thinking nothing more of it, popped the almost overflowing pan into the oven.  I ended up with mushroom cake:

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  • And as you can see especially from the glazed picture, the center fell in a little.  I am going to blame this entirely on my cake pan.  I guess I need a different 9-inch cake pan?  There’s something wrong with mine!
  • It still tasted fine though, and not raw or anything.
  • Oh also, I ran out of sour cream before I got to the glaze, so instead of 2 tbsp sour cream + 1 tbsp milk, I used 1 tbsp buttermilk + 2 tbsp milk.  It was fine but I’m sorry I didn’t get to make the sour cream glaze.

NEXT TIME:

  • Well, like I said, I need a new cake pan, I had a problem here.
  • I liked the glaze, I would try to be a little more fancy with it if I felt like I had the time & energy.
  • I also really liked the streusel-y topping!  I would make this and just put it on top of random stuff.  Ice cream, maybe.