Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Incredibly Hot Ice Cream Cake

For those of you who don't know, New England has been having an absurdly hot summer this year.  I am not really complaining- it's better than the absurdly rainy summer we had last year.  It has though, been making baking a bit of a challenge.  My father's birthday was June 30th.  Like any good daughter, I decided to make him a cake.  Baking for my dad is a bit of a challenge because he doesn't eat chocolate at night, doesn't eat nuts (ever) and doesn't have anything that screams out "DAD" at you.  Or so I though.  Until I remembered caramel.  My father loves caramel, butterscotch, all of that burnt, overly-sweet, sugary goodness.  So, I thought I'd make him a caramel cake.  But it was 1,000 degrees, so I thought I'd make him a caramel ICE CREAM cake...

Here's what happened:

Early on the morning of June 30th, I woke up on the Cape.  My parents left to get my niece and I was all alone to bake and boil in peace.  I found a recipe I liked and decided to go to town.  It was 88 degrees in the house when I started the process.  I had not discovered and embraced the idea of grill baking. 

I got out all my ingredients and got going.

Step 1: boil sugar and water on the stove until it makes goo.

It was now 89 degrees in the house.

Step 2: Preheat oven to 350 degree

It was now 90 degrees in the house.

I put the cake together, using warm, rather than fully cooled caramel because, really, what was it going to cool to? and put it in the oven.  In a springform pan.


Step 3: While the cake was baking, I browned the butter for the frosting.  On the stove.

It was now 91 degrees in the house.

After 15 minutes, I was supposed to rotate the cake.  It's a good thing I did because HALF MY CAKE WAS NOW ON THE BOTTOM OF THE OVEN.

I turned off the oven and spent the next five minutes reaching into the 350 degree oven to get the cake batter off the bottom so the angry lady who lives in the smoke detector and incessantly yells "EVACUATE" would not start hollering at me.

It was now 1,000 degrees in the house. 

When the half-as-high-as-it-should-have-been cake came out of the oven, I went to the grocery store to get the ice cream.

Then came the fun part.  Assembling an ice cream cake in a 95 degree kitchen (it had cooled a bit).  I was really hot, and I kind of did this wrong, but I just want it to be done.

I cut the cake in half length-wise and put the bottom half in the springform pan in the freezer.  After a bit I took it out and smushed the ice cream on top of it.  I then poured on more caramel sauce, put the top of the cake on it, frosted it, dumped some caramel chips on and put it back in the freezer. 

I SHOULD have taken my time and put it back in the freezer after each step: cake, freeze, ice cream, freeze, caramel, freeze, cake top, freeze, and so on.  Because I was working too fast, stuff melted and the caramel sauce never really set.

In the end, it didn't matter, was tasted really good.  (it was actually too sweet for me, I peeled the cake off and just ate the ice cream and got laughed at, like usual) And it didn't look half bad either:

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Second Birthday Cake

My aforementioned niece Maggie turned two this month.  This fact is shocking because a. she is so fricken big, I have no idea when that happened, and b. she already has a little sister, who is already six months old (i.e. family events are a bit chaotic).

Here's a shot from the fourth of me with the two girls, Maggie and Zivah: 

Maggie had two birthday celebrations this year, one on her actual birthday at her house with her big brother, little sister, parents and grandparents (on her mom's side) and one at Grammy's Cape house with my parents (her grandparents on her dad's side) and me a few days later.  Note the pun in the post title: this was both her second birthday cake because she turned two, and the second birthday cake she had to celebrate.  (I crack me up).

Unfortunately, I only have slightly yellow pictures I took with my phone.  There might be more later if my father can find the cord that connects his camera to the computer.  I made a vanilla cake with strawberries and whipped cream because when asked what kind of birthday cake she wanted the week before, Maggie replied, "a white cake with strawberries," and well, we already knew she liked whipped cream.

The coolest part about the cake though, was that I cooked it on the grill.  It was way too hot to turn on the oven in house (a fact I learned the hard way when making my father's birthday cake a few weeks earlier - there is no post because I have no pictures and forgot about it until just now). We have a cookbook called Weber's Real Grilling, which is awesome.  I had made an apple cake from it on the grill in the past, and this time followed a recipe for a vanilla cake.    It was super easy, didn't heat up the house and was incredibly moist and delicious.

I made the single layer and let it cook and then cut it in half horizontally, filled it with whipped cream and strawberries, the decorated the top with the same and it was done.  I think it's one of the prettiest cakes I've ever made and was certainly one of the simplest as well.

One note: the recipe called for a 2" high cake pan.  The one I used was about 1.5" and it was OK, but was definitely pushing it.  I'll be picking up a higher one for when I do it again.  Also, if you make the apple cake (which I recommend), make the batter in a mixer, not a food processor.  I did it both ways and in the food processor the batter turned out too thin and it didn't come out as well.

My father found his camera cord!  Here are some more pics:

The Fourth of July

I am way behind on posting and there has been quite a bit of cooking going on around here.  I am going to start with the 4th of July barbecue this year.

Like last year, my mother did her annual 4th of July barbecue.  This year we thought we'd mix it up a little and decided to make, rather than hamburgers and hot dogs, tuna burger and salmon burger sliders.  The salmon burger was a pretty straight-forward recipe that I think we found somewhere online and the tuna burger was a Thai-style, with cilantro and soy.  Both were very tasty.  We made a cilantro mayonnaise, a wasabi mayonnaise and a chipotle mayonnaise to go along with them.  We found cute little rolls to go with them.  All in all, very successful.

For dessert, my mom found a recipe for a red velvet cake that she liked.  I said she should make it two layers and make one red velvet and the other dye blue, then with the white frosting, it would be red, white and blue.  The thought was taken one step beyond...

We did put whipped-cream filled strawberries on top of the cake.  There was nothing wrong with that.  We also discovered that my niece, Maggie, has no problem helping clean up the whipped cream making process: