Saturday, September 27, 2014

Buttercream Rose Triple Tiered Cake

I had the pleasure of making this cake for our community's hard working youth leaders, including my sister and a number of close friends. I can finally scratch off two things I've always wanted to try: making a tiered cake and a fondant cake. Thanks to many professionals kind enough to share their incredible skills on youtube, I learned how to make this pinterest inspired cake. Each tier has two layers of red velvet cake, filled with vanilla buttercream. The bottom tier is 12 inches, topped with piped buttercream roses. The middle layer is 10 inches, covered with Wilton Fondant. The top layer is 8 inches, and again completed with buttercream roses.

I made two batches of vanilla buttercream, flavored with cream cheese extract.

The middle and top cake are resting on a cardboard circle for support, which you should cut to fit discreetly under the cake.

After frosting the middle layer, it's important to allow the buttercream to crust (set up until firm) before covering it with fondant. You can speed this process up by putting the cake in the refrigerator.

Little note to myself for timing purposes:
Baking cakes and cleaning: 3 hours
Baking 2 batches frosting, filling cakes and crumb coat and cleaning: 3 hours
Rolling and assembling fondant: 45 minutes

For the fondant 10 inch cake - after the buttercream fully crusted, I sprayed the cake with water from a mister in order for the fondant to easily stick. If you frost the cake with a much thicker layer of buttercream, it may not fully crust so the you will have to put it in the fridge for it to harden. You won't have to spray the cake with water though because the fondant will stick easily once the cake comes back to room temperature. I rolled the fondant out to an 18 inch circle and alittle less than 1/4 inch thick. I had alot of overhang, so it didn't need to be that big. The fondant was also a tiny bit see through so I would roll it out to 1/4 inch thick next time.

I put in 8 plastic straws/dowels in the 12 inch bottom cake and 7 in the middle 10 inch cake. You just stick them in, and mark them with a pen where you should cut it, just level with the cake. And of course take them back out the cake to cut it and then stick it back in. Much easier than I thought it was going to be!

Yield (wedding serving slices): 8 inch cake fed 24. 10 inch cake fed 38. 12 inch cake feeds 56.

Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
Yield: generously frosts 30 cupcakes

2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon clear vanilla
1 teaspoon cream cheese extract

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 8 minutes on medium speed (I use "4" on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale & creamy.
Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy and fluffy. Pipes the best if you use it right away.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mini Cheesecakes with Macerated Strawberries

I made these mini cheesecakes for our visit with Farheen and Sadiah. Farheen said it was the best cheesecake she ever had. I have to admit that it was one of my tastiest desserts. Probably because I make cheesecake in my sleep. Its funny how I can spend hours upon hours perfecting a new recipe but the ridiculously simple ones that I can remember with my eyes closed always turn out to be some of my best bites. 

I paired it with macerated strawberries. I considered making a strawberry glaze, but if you want to keep it fresh and summery, just stick to sprinkling the sugar and it'll make those strawberries give off their own juices.

I've recently taken notice of how much better cake recipes come out with room temperature eggs. I think this cheesecake came out extra creamy because of it. Adding cold eggs can create lumps in the batter. When they are room temperature, they mix in seamlessly.

I love the recipe for this crust! You don't taste the nuts, but they add an extra depth of flavor to the graham crackers. Another thing that really made a difference was using reduced fat cream cheese. The second time I made this recipe, I used three regular blocks of cream cheese and for some reason, it was not as creamy and flavorful as the first time I made it. I don't know what that's all about, maybe they just weren't thawed as well, but I wanted to make a note of that. Just be sure not to pick up fat free cream cheese.

Mini Cheesecakes with Macerated Strawberries
Yield: 4 mini cheesecakes (4.75" springform pans)

1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup finely chopped graham crackers
3 tablespoons melted butter

You can process all the ingredients in a food processor or blender to finely chop. Mix all ingredients together and press into the bottom and sides of four 4.75 inch springform pans. Set aside.

16 ounces reduced fat (1/3 less fat) cream cheese, softened almost to room temperature (DO NOT use fat free)
8 ounces regular cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend sugar and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Then add vanilla, and mix until smooth.

Divide the filling evenly between the mini springform pans, filling nearly to the top (about 1/2 inch to the top). Tap lightly on the counter to release any trapped air. Bake 30 minutes. Cheesecake will be just slightly jiggly in the center. Open oven door and turn off the oven. Allow to slowly cool inside oven. Then remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. When fully cool, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator.

Macerated Strawberries

Wash your strawberries very well, and even let them sit in water for 5-10 minutes to hydrate the skins. Cut them into fourths and sprinkle with granulated sugar until evenly coated. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The longer the better. The berries will become juicy, soft, and sweet!
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