Honolulu, Hawaii. Age? Not sure, but about six months old. Why do I look so cranky?
My birthday card/gift from my brother, Fred. I love it!
I'm happy to say that how I feel on the inside, doesn't match my true age. My birthday coincides with the that great leap for mankind-- our first landing on the moon. I was fourteen years old. Yes, you can do the math and that's my age.
Question: Is is strange for me to bake my own birthday cake?
There are very few good bakeries where I live. The ones I do like are expensive. I do not like cakes that come from those warehouse businesses (and I won't name names). Suffice it to say that I don't care for frosting that is made with shortening. Canned frosting is the devil. I won't buy it, and I can taste it blindfolded with a clothing pin on my nose. Chemicals, I tell you. Gross. My preferred cake frosting is a Swiss Meringue, and I've finally mastered how to make it-- it's surprisingly easy. A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a recipe for Old-Fashioned Cooked Vanilla frosting. I was intrigued about a frosting that uses a roux of milk and flour. Very interesting! I started to fixate on my favorite chocolate cake recipe. I'm not a big fan of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting-- but chocolate cake with white frosting? Yes!! We had a barbeque, this weekend, as an early birthday celebration. I decided to bake my favorite moist chocolate cake (recipe card will be at the end of this post.)
First you make a "roux" of flour and milk (I doubled the recipe, since I planned to frost a cake, instead of cupcakes.) I've mentioned this in a few previous posts, but I only use King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour. Sure, the flour costs a few quarters more, but it's the best quality flour I've ever used. You want to cook the milk/flour mixture on medium heat, until starts to thicken; then cook for 1-2 minutes more. You don't have to do this, but I decided to run the roux through a fine mesh sieve because I didn't want to risk having lumps. It's a bit labor intensive, but the roux looked nice and smooth. Next, you want to use unsalted (softened) butter and granulated sugar... not confectioners, which is used for a more traditional buttercream. Allow the roux to cool to room temperature, but don't refrigerate it!
You'll want to stir the roux every so often. The consistency is thick and creamy. Perfect!
Whip the butter and granulated sugar until it's fluffy. Add the roux a couple of tablespoons at a time...
...this is where the "magic" begins. The butter/sugar mixture begins to morph into a very creamy texture (about 6-8 minutes)..
Amazing! This is beginning to resemble whipped cream.
This icing even tastes like whipped cream! I added a little vanilla and then gave a final taste.
VERDICT: Delicious! Creamy! Sweet, but not nearly as sweet as a classic buttercream-- and I like this!
I detect a bit of sugar grains. Hmmmmm....
Time to frost...
This frosting is quite nice to work with...
Since there was leftover frosting, I decided to do a little piping. I was curious about how well this frosting would work in a pastry bag. I decided to chill the frosting for about 15 minutes, since it was a bit soft.
Not bad! I wanted roses on my cake, but I failed that part of my Wilton cake decorating class. My roses kinda looked like cabbages. I gave up. Someday, I'll attempt to learn how to make them again. (The "blob" of frosting, in the center, was to support the real roses.)
I decided to go "monochromatic" and cut a few of our white roses. Real roses would do just fine!
Happy Birthday to me!
Who wants a slice?
I love the contrasts of the dark chocolate and vanilla. I can hardly wait to serve the rest of my guests, so that I can have a taste.
FINAL VERDICT: If I do say so myself, this is one of the best cakes I've ever made! The chocolate cake is incredibly moist. It should be, since I've used both buttermilk and canola oil in the batter. The coffee that I've added intensifies the chocolate flavor-- though the cake doesn't taste at all like coffee. The frosting is silky and creamy and fluffy... and so good! My guests ooh and ahh over this cake, and several ask for seconds. Best of all, the sugar "graininess" that I initially detected, was unnoticeable as I ate the cake.
As a side note, once the remaining cake was refrigerated, the frosting hardens. I enjoyed the texture of the frosting just as much this way, as I did at room temperature when it was soft.
Now, I'm on the search for the Ultimate Moist White Cake! I promised some friends that I'd bake cupcakes for them, and I plan to use this very same frosting recipe.
I am linking this recipe to A Latte' with Otta-A's July's Iron Chef Challenge. This July's challenge is "Flour", sponsored by King Arthur Flour. Heaven only knows how many of their products are in my pantry-- I love their baking ingredients.