Thursday, September 10, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Ina Garten's Birthday Sheetcake


There is nothing wrong with your vision.  I know...the title says this is Ina Garten's Birthday Sheetcake. Instead, you are viewing a three-layer cake.  You see, this week's choice for the Barefoot Bloggers comes from Susy of "Everyday Gourmet".  Susy chose this recipe from Ina Garten's Cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Family Style (which I recently purchased), because it's her birthday month. Happy Birthday, Susy!

I admit, that I groaned when I first saw this recipe.  Don't get me wrong! I love cake, are you kidding?! It's just that my almost-21 year old son recently moved out and I'm adjusting to cooking for two.

What to do?  I decided to bake with two 9-inch round cake pans.  My second dilemma is that -- are you ready-- I'm not a huge fan of dark chocolate frosting.  I like milk chocolate, in moderation.   I just couldn't muster enough enthusiasm to make Ina's ganache-style frosting, because dark chocolate frosting just isn't my favorite thing. I do, however, appreciate a moist chocolate cake with vanilla frosting-- like my Chocolate Bliss Cake.  I admit that I considered using  the same lemon that I used for the zest, in this cake batter, to make a lemon butter cream.  On second thought, I figured I'd be deviating too far of a  from Ina's recipe...so,  I  had to carefully think outside the box. I jumped in without any set idea of where I would end up.

I'll quit yapping, and get on with the show--

Thanking my lemon tree, I zested one lemon and brought the eggs and butter to room temperature-- all the while my wheels were spinning on how to tone down the chocolate in this cake recipe. I busied myself, gathering the rest of the ingredients and gathering my baking tools gadgets.

Oh, yeah! I forgot that I had purchased these cake bands when I took a Wilton Cake Decorating class in July! I read that these help cakes to bake more evenly. OK, I'll give it a shot! It's a good thing I couldn't miss this label, or I would have skipped an important step of giving these a good soaking.

I mixed up the dry ingredients and I started creaming butter and sugar for five minutes, then... adding sour cream...


Adding eggs, and then the dry ingredients. Hmmm, this batter seems pretty thick (my thoughts in my busy brain).  Oooh! It sure tastes good! 


Still, I'm thinking that this dough is kinda thick. I used an off-set spatula to even it out a bit. I had extra batter, so I grabbed a third pan and filled it.

Holy Smoke!  Can you see the difference in layer height between the pan in front and the one in backwilt?  I think these bands really do work! However, I now have two tall layers and one kinda shrunken and a browner layer...what will I do?

I love using Wilton's Cake release, too. I don't need to butter and flour-- I just brush this product on and the cake pop right out of the pan! I kept admiring how tall and even colored these layers are! Now, what do I do next? Think, think, think! I settled on making vanilla pudding, deciding I would use that as a filler instead of all chocolate frosting. I've made Ina's pastry cream for her delicious strawberry tart, but I'm just not in the mood for all that extra work-- because I still have frosting to make.  So I grabbed boxed pudding-- the kind you cook and chill. Yes-- me, the person who strives to  cook all things from scratch.  Ha! I covered the pudding with plastic wrap and debated if I should make Ina's chocolate frosting, after all. I look at Ina's recipe and...


My decision is made. I'm making my own easy chocolate butter cream, using Dutch Processed Cocoa! My husband licked that beater blade clean, I'll tell you. He loved it. It's time to assemble the cake-- and I decide to grab a jar of my homemade raspberry jam.  I'm thinking vanilla cake, vanilla pudding, raspberry jam and chocolate-- that should do it! I seriously wanted to call my cake baking/decorating diva and friend-- Monica, from "Lick the Bowl Good".  I need ideas. I need support. Then,  I realize, I can't find her phone number. I'm utterly alone and out of my comfort zone. I confess-- I never finished the Wilton Cake Decorating Class.  I'm not very good at fancy cake decorating, and my Wilton roses look like cabbages.  So, I forge on and put into practice a couple of very useful tricks that I learned.

I'm a kitchen gadget freak lover, so  here's my Wilton giant spatula. No more breaking cakes in half, while transferring from a cooling rack to a turntable! Has that ever happened to you? Frosting can hide lots of accidents, you know.   I did learn how to properly use a piping bag and I have an impressive ridiculous collection of tips. I haven't used all of them, but I grabbed a #21 tip and pipe a wall of frosting around my first layer.  This prevents jam from oozing onto the sides. Next, I add a layer of homemade raspberry jam-- and I have, yet, to blog about how I made. Yummy!

So far, so good...

I have extra pudding and a lot of frosting...the moment of truth.. do I go for three layers? I rarely do this, and that's a lot of cake!  With a courageous flourish, I add the third layer.  I grab tip #789 which is a really wide tip that helps to evenly apply frosting on top of the cake, and along the sides. It's pretty cool!


I stand back to admire my leaning tower of Pisa cake. Yikes! What have I done?  Because the cakes bake extra-high I have created a monster. Do I have enough frosting?  I race to my laptop and send Monica a frantic email!  She's the Queen of Mile High Cakes. Nothin'. She's probably enjoying some Texas Barbecue...  I'm in it now, I sigh to myself.  It's dinner time and I'm thinking of the Santa Maria Style tri-tip I needed to get on the grill... so, I didn't photograph the frosted cake. Instead, I remove food from the fridge to set the frosting, and we focus on the grill. After dinner, natural light is fading ...

...I carefully cut into the cake...


It's moist, but it has a dense texture.  Personally, I prefer light and tender cakes. It's good... but this recipe doesn't earn my "OMG, this is fantastic!" The cake reminds me of Pioneer Woman's Strawberry Shortcake Cake.
NOTE: After making this cake, I read the reviews. I wish I had done this in reverse order. This recipe doesn't have stellar reviews, but some folks said to reduce the baking soda down to 3/4 tsp. 

I immediately freeze half the cake, to give to my son when he comes to visit-- which I suspect will happen once he's tired of eating Top Ramen and frozen pizza.  The rest of the cake goes to my husband's office. I'm relieved, because I don't need that kind of temptation.

Overall, I made this cake more work than it needed to be. Sheet cakes are my lazy way of baking-- and I'm still in-love with Pioneer Woman's (Ree) Texas Chocolate Sheet cake, because it's so easy to make. Ree's recipe wins my OMG factor for chocolate ratio/moistness and ease to make-- (sorry, Ina).  Overall,   I much prefer a white cake that is made with only egg whites, and with a little hint of almond extract. I'm still searching for that perfect recipe.

Ina's recipes have never failed me, and I've posted several of her recipes. I wouldn't say this one failed me. It's just not one I would have personally chosen to make. Still, I enjoyed the challenge.  Would you believe the next BB's recipe is another cake-- chocolate, no less??  You're killing me!

I've posted Ina's recipe and my chocolate butter cream a the bottom of  this page.  Thanks, Susy, for encouraging me to think outside the box.  I can't wait to see what the other Barefoot Bloggers thought of this recipe.  Come check them out, too. Join us, if you are a fan of Ina Garten. I've met some really nice people through this group. But, please, no more cake recipes for a while, okay? My bathroom scale thanks you.



Baked with Love,






Ina Garten's Birthday Sheetcake, as a tall tower!

This recipe comes from 2002, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, which ...

See Ina Garten's Birthday Sheetcake, as a tall tower! on Key Ingredient.



Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting

This butter cream is very rich in chocolate flavor, from ...

See Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting on Key Ingredient.


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23 comments:

Kim said...

I enjoyed your post so much! I think you were able to capture what many of us go through in the kitchen. You had a very creative idea with the pudding and strawberry jam - delicious! I've also never seen the cake rings before and they look like they really worked - great info. It's a very pretty cake : )

Kate said...

Oh dear, I am late....I have a cake to bake tonight! Like you, I can't imagine having a sheet cake in the house! This will have to go to work with me.

I love your twist on the cake. It looks lovely!

Jackie said...

Hello! :) This is my first time stopping your blog (through our Barefoot Bloggers :)) and I really enjoyed your post. Beautiful pictures and I love how you took us step by step through your thought process. I love your tips about using the cake rings -- I might have to try this out for myself. Plus, my mouth was watering about using the pudding/jam filling. Yum.

Marguerite said...

Wow, what a fabulous cake! I would love to have a piece right now. Great recipe and step-by-step photos.

Monica H said...

Despite how you felt about the cake, I think it's beautiful and looks darn delicious!

Funny thing, I was out having BBQ- ha! THe only email I got from you was showing me the cake rings. I didn't get one asking for help. I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you.

Like I said, I think you did a great job. To avoid the "leaning tower" thing, next time if I were you, I'd use the pudding in one layer and the jam in another- not together. Also, once the cake is assembled, refrigerate it so it has time to set. Your dam of frosting should keep it in place once the frosting hardens in the fridge. Then you can ice it. If it still slides around (because sometimes mine do too!) insert a bamboo skewer or kabob in the center. That'll hold it in place.

I've seen the cake rings but have never tried them. They apparently work! My question to you: Was there a texture difference between the cakes that rose to the top and the layer that didn't?

((Hugs)) beautiful cake maker!

Monica

Monica H said...

Oooh, by the way. I just posted my final Wilton cake, complete with cabbages on top :-)

funny coincidence.

Melissa said...

Your cake looks great!!! Mine turned out dense also even with less baking soda. Bummer.

Cheryl said...

That is gorgeous, way beyond my ability. did the cake bands contribute to your cake coming out so perfectly flat?

Judy said...

I can appreciate how you feel about baking when it's just the two of you. In my house (just 2) my hubby doesn't even like dessert that much, so when I bake, if I don't give it away, I get to eat it. It doesn't stop me from baking though. My neighbors love me!

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Cheryl, I think the band helped the cake to bake evenly, and I got more height than the pan without the baking bands. I'm sold on these! I paid about $3.00 for them at Michael's Craft Store.

Palidor said...

I like layer cakes better than sheet cakes - they look more impressive. And your certainly is! The cake looks soooooo delicious! I wish I could have a slice.

Valerina said...

You are so resourceful! And that cake looks perfect. :) I'm so jealous of all the cook gadgets that you have too. The only thing is that I'm hooked on dark chocolate... That cake would be dangerous in my kitchen.

Well done!

Kerstin said...

It looks fabulous, I'm completely impressed!!

food with style said...

oh this looks fantastic... as in all your pics and food, always a treat to pop in and i love sharing your pics!

TKW said...

Look at you, going all Iron Chef on Ina's cake! I love it! I'm with you honey...the original cake is just "okay."

Danielle said...

This is one beautiful cake! I love the pudding and raspberry combo. Nothing better than raspberries anc chocolate.

Close to home said...

love your pictures, looks really tasty and definitely with a twist.

Velva said...

This blog post was great. I love Ina's recipes and this cake was looking quite delicious!

Donna-FFW said...

I am so loving your collage photos, wish I knew how to do them. Kitchen gadget freak, huh? Join my world:)

This cake looks fantastic, marvelous job, I like you love milk choc over dark.

Debinhawaii said...

Your cake turned out perfectly--love the layers!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

It's amazing the difference those cake bands make. I'm going to look into it, as I'm a sucker for a tall, romantic looking cake. And, you certainly achieved that! Love all the beautiful layers!

Heidi said...

I have never tried comparing the layers baked with the bake even strips. That was quite facinating to see the difference. I enjoyed your step by step post on making and frosting a cake. And I love the idea of putting the jam and the pudding in the middle. I just might have to try that!
Hope you don't mind me commenting! I stop by your blog frequently and I have enjoyed all of my visits!

Proud Italian Cook said...

You are so funny, loved this post Debby! I've never heard of cake bands and that huge spatula ( I'll be hitting my local Wilton store for that), I'm clearly out of the baking loop!