Friday, August 1, 2014

White Cake with Bavarian Buttercream

Originally, this post was scheduled to go up sometime mid August. This was just due to the fact that I had a bunch of entries already queued up and ready to go. I made this cake for a friend's bridal shower and it ended up being quite popular. In fact, it was a much bigger hit than I could have ever imagined and there was a high demand that I share this recipe v. quickly so here it is, two weeks earlier than originally planned. I rearranged several posts to make room for this one. You're welcome, cake addicts.

About a month ago, my fellow bridesmaids and I started planning a luxe bridal shower for the lovely bride-to-be and I volunteered to make the cake. Why? I love cake. I love making them and decorating them and eating them. I feel like if I were given a Bruce Bogtrotter moment (re: an opportunity to eat an entire cake on my own) I could totally champion my way through it. I don't know what it is about this fluffy beast of a dessert. Perhaps it's the fanfare, since cake is generally a celebratory dessert that's only brought out for special occasions. Or maybe it's the beauty of stacked layers and frosting and how it looks like it could make a really comfy bed. Or it could just be the sugar. Yeah, it's probably the sugar.

Anyway, I was brainstorming a little about what kind of cake to make and I decided to do a white cake with a simple buttercream, because it's really neutral and a crowd pleaser. But since this was for a really special occasion, I thought, why not do pink ombre layers?
Ingredients [yields three 9-inch layers and enough buttercream to frost the cakes]
white cake
2 sticks softened butter
1/2 cup shortening
2-1/2 cups sugar
5 room temperature eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*This cake recipe can be halved. However, since it's difficult to add two and a half eggs to a recipe, I recommend using two eggs and substituting the half egg with 2 tablespoons of milk or plain yogurt.

bavarian buttercream
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cornstarch
4 sticks cold butter

**Again, this recipe can be halved but we face the issue of halving eggs. Use one egg yolk and one whole egg.

***By the way, you could totally flavor the cake and buttercream however you want. For example, you could add lots of lemon zest or coconut extract and coconut flakes or orange zest or cinnamon extract and ground cinnamon, you get the idea.

First we'll discuss the cake. The moist, fluffy, sweet, crumby cake. This cake is really delicious. I mean, of course I think that; I made it. But in all honesty, it's v. soft, airy, cuts easily (making it great for serving to guests), and isn't cloyingly sweet. That last trait is the best, in my opinion. My sweet tooth is on the smaller side so when something is too sugary, it literally hurts my teeth.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Steamed Clams in White Wine

I love cooking. I looooove it. I mean, it's obvious, isn't it? I love it so much that I have a food blog. News flash: you're reading it right now. Cooking is so relaxing and fun and the best part is that it yields an amazing reward; duh, you get to eat something lovely when you're done. I always enjoy trying out really involved recipes like macarons and lasagna made with homemade pasta. I think that time consuming dishes are gratifying because I can turn on some music or throw a show up on Netflix to give me some enjoyable background noise and bustle away. And then, a few hours later, I've got a gorgeous, delicious, impressive dish to share with my fellow diners. That's why I look forward to cooking our Thanksgiving feast every year.

Food is extremely important to me so I'm all about only eating delicious things. If I'm going to be a fatty, the food I'm eating might as well be worth my while. But, it's not like I've always got loads of time to make something elaborate and fancy. I work a full time job (around 50 hours per week) so on weekends, sure, I'm totally up for trying something complicated and new. But on any given typical weekday, I'm a big fan of meals that are quick and easy to chuck together while still being satisfying and delicious and impressive looking. Today's recipe 100% fits that bill. Clams are so jazzy; they take under half an hour to whip up, and they're friggin' yummy, y'all.
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6 as an app, 2 as a main course]:
3 dozen clams
1 oz. salt pork, chopped (or substitute 1 or 2 slices of bacon)
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup white wine
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you're a pescetarian)
1 scallion, chopped
lemon slices
+ crusty bread for mopping
One v. important step when it comes to preparing clams is to clean them. You want to wash the sand off the outside and then give them a good soak so that if there's any sand inside their shells, they'll open up in the water and the sand will fall out. Once you've got them sitting in a bowl of clean water, leave the clams be for at least 20 minutes and don't disturb / jostle / poke. If you move them, they'll get scared and they won't open up and if they don't open up, the sand will remain trapped inside. And honestly, the crunch of sand in food ranks up there as one of the top ten worst textures ever (along with fibrous mango and hard pudding skin).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Garden Update 4

My aunt and uncle maintain a really decent garden and they shared their harvest with us recently. We were given cucumbers, eggplants, and squash. If you're wondering, those peppers came from our garden.
The squash was gorgeous. We turned it into hobak jun, a.k.a. Korean-style fried zucchini.
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