Saturday, July 28, 2012

Simple Sprinkle Birthday Cake

Cake, icing, and cake filling are not safe in our house.  There is a 100% chance that if there is a tub of frosting in the fridge or a bag of cake scraps in the freezer, I will be eating it.  That being said, after I made the cupcakes for the wedding cake tasting, I was left with LOTS of delicious cake parts in our fridge.  Now, I did freeze a few types of filling so I have not been tempted to eat those, but there was a tub of buttercream frosting and peanut butter filling in the fridge that had to go.  Luckily, it was a coworkers birthday this past Thursday, and we were all planning on going out for drinks after work, so I decided to make a cake to bring along.  When I baked the wedding cupcakes I only made 12 of each kind so that I could also bake a 7" round layer of each flavor.  For this birthday cake, I used the vanilla and chocolate cakes, cut them each in half so there were four layers and spread a healthy (or unhealthy?) amount of peanut butter filling between each.

Then I frosted the cake with the leftover vanilla icing.  I wanted to add a little something extra to the cake though.  A little "lagniappe", if you will :)  So I made a quick chocolate ganache and poured it over the top, letting it drip down the sides.  Before the ganache cooled completely I shook on a few sprinkles and called it good.  

Unfortunately, the cake did not look this good by the time I brought it out for the birthday girl.  I had brought the cake to my desk during the day so it wouldn't have to sit in my car.  It looked fine when I left work to head to the restaurant, but after the very short ride in the car, every layer had shifted and slid to the side.  I blame it on the peanut butter filling since it gets VERY soft at room temperature and basically turned into a slippery slide for the cake.  We still ate the cake and it tasted good, but it was quite difficult to cut since the peanut butter filling made it kind of fall apart.  Oh well, now I've learned my lesson.  I still liked the look of the cake and will definitely make something like this again!

In these pictures you can see a little sneak peek of the dresser that we bought off Craigslist.  I've been working on a couple projects for decorating that dresser this weekend so hopefully I'll be able to post about it soon.

I hope you're all having a great weekend!  We'll see some of you next week :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

No-Knead Bread with Flavored Butters

When I last talked to y'all I was wishing a Happy Birthday to my sister Grace.  Today, before I tell you about this yummy bread, I'd like to wish a Happy 30th Anniversary to my parents.  Congrats on a long life of love together!

Dad is actually the one who told me about this no-knead bread after a coworker of his brought some in to work.  I finally got around to making it over a week ago but I haven't had a chance to write about it because we had such a busy weekend!  Friday night we drove to north Kansas City to buy a dresser that I found on Craigslist (it will be on the blog eventually), then we went to a friends house for game night.  On Saturday we worked on the outside of our house in the morning, then I worked on that dresser for the rest of the afternoon.  Then we ended up going to a different friend's house on Saturday night for more games!  On Sunday I spent almost my ENTIRE day making 5 kinds of cupcakes, 4 kinds of fillings and 2 kinds of icings.  A friend from Rolla has asked me if I'd like to make her wedding cake this October so I made all those cupcake combinations so she and her fiance could choose which flavor then want for their cake.  

Aaaaanyway, I just didn't have time to write a blog post, but now I do.  So back to the bread at hand.  This bread really was delicious and super easy to make!  It took a long time, but most of that was just waiting for the dough to rise.  I decided that if this bread turned out good, then it would need some tasty butter to go with it.  I used things we already had at the house to make 2 types of flavored butter, basil garlic butter and honey almond butter.  Both were amazing!  Joe really loved the basil garlic butter, but I liked the almond honey butter.  Even if you don't make this bread, you should definitely try whipping up some flavored butter for muffins, biscuits, pancakes, grilled cheese or anything else you could possibly want to spread butter on :)

Here is the recipe for the bread.  The only special equipment you need is a large, cast iron dutch oven with a lid.  

No-Knead Bread
6 cups bread flour (recommended) or all purpose flour
1/2 t. instant or active-dry yeast
2 1/2 t. salt
2 2/3 cups cool water

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast and salt.  Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated; the dough should be wet and sticky.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12-18 hours on the counter at room temperature.  When the surface of the risen dough has darkened slightly, smells yeasty, and is dotted with bubbles, it is ready.

Wet and sticky dough.

How the dough looked after about 20 hours of rising.

2. Lightly flour your hands and a work surface.  Place the dough on the work surface and sprinkle with more flour.  Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and, using floured fingers, tuck the dough underneath to form a rough ball.

3.  GENEROUSLY dust a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with enough flour, cornmeal or wheat bran to prevent the dough from sticking to the towel as it rises.  Place the dough seam side down on the towel and dust with more flour.  Cover with the edges or with a second towel and let rise for 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.

Doubled in size.

4.  After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Place a 6-8 quart dutch oven into the oven as it heats.  When the dough has risen fully, carefully remove the pot from the oven.  Remove the top towel from the dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel and flip the dough from the towel into the pot.

Trying to dump the dough into the pot.  But it was sticking...

Finally in the pot.

But this was left behind on the towel. :(  That's why I emphasized the GENEROUS in flouring the towel.

5.  Cover and bake for 40-50 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking for 5-10 minutes, until a deep chestnut brown.  The internal temp of the bread should be about 200 degrees.  You can check this with a meat thermometer if you want.

6.  Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Mm mm mm

To make the butters you'll need a stick of butter for each flavor you want and whatever mix-ins you're planning on using.  I used the following things:

Garlic Basil Butter: 1 clove garlic (grated), 8 basil leaves (chopped), a pinch of salt
Honey Almond Butter:  Honey, slivered almonds (chopped), cinnamon, almond flavoring

I just threw in random amounts of ingredients for the honey butter, but it worked out ok :)

Once the bread is cool and butters are made, EAT, and reward yourself for waiting sooooo long for the dough to rise!  Another tasty way to eat this bread is to make a little plate of olive oil and spices to dip the bread in.

Well, this post ended up being longer than I intended, but thanks for sticking with it if you made it to the end, haha.  I hope you're all having a great week and let me know if you make this bread or any yummy butters :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Gracie!

Today is my sister Grace's birthday.  She is turning 16 years old and I can just hardly believe it!  She started out as an adorable baby who took my spot as the youngest child (after 10 years!) and has turned into quite an amazing, beautiful and accomplished young woman.  When Grace was born, it was kind of like she had 4 moms.  Of course she had our real mom, and then she had Sara, Mary and me all telling her what to do.  I guess you could say she had quite a bit of pressure on her to be awesome :)  I think that dealing with all of us is what turned Gracie into the laid back (and slightly zoned out) person that she is today.  Don't get me wrong, she works hard and excels at school, sports, piano and her job at the ice cream shop, but if you know Grace, then you're know the zoned out look I'm talking about.  Of course she's probably just trying to think of new things to Google about One Direction, or planning her dream wedding to one of the band members.

This is pretty much going to be a post of pictures of Gracie through the years.  Believe it or not this is only about a third of the pictures I wanted to post.  There are just so many cute ones!  I hope you don't mind everyone seeing how cute you were, Grace :)  Not that you're not cute anymore...  I'll try and caption most of them with little bits about her.  Happy Birthday, Gracie!  I can't wait to see you in a couple weeks!

Sara and Grace on Grace's first Christmas.

Mary and Grace playing at our house in Indiana.  

Me and Gracie after I'd just finished feeding her.  She kind of looks like the Cheshire cat here.
Grace and Duncan.  He was a good cat.
Mimi and Papa with Grace.  
Grandma and Grace in Indiana.
Her first popsicle!  I had tons of pictures of this and they were all so funny.
Listening to some music on a trip to Montana.  We had to put the pillow on top of her head to make the earphones fit!
Ok, we skip a few years here, but I just couldn't find any toddler pictures on my computer or in my printed pictures.  I'm sure you can just imagine how cute she was :)

Grace's first dance recital.  Cutest teddy bear ever.
Sarah, Amanda, Grace and Mary.  This was the room Grace and I shared in Lake Charles until Sara left for college.
Grace's sense of style has improved immensely, haha!
Grace's first triathlon when she was only 8 years old!

On a trip to Galveston.

Mary and Grace at the Trowbridge cabin in Montana. 
You know she's a cool kid when she requests a Yoda birthday cake!
Grace and Mollie during their first winter in Ohio. 
I think we were baking some sort of Christmas treat.  

Christmas in Ohio.

One of her Christmas piano recitals. 

Hey Grace, remember the Jonas Brothers and how much you loved them.  I wonder if they're sad that you've moved on to One Direction?  Just kidding.

Trying out her new skates.
Aaah!  I seriously can't believe how grown up you look in this picture, Gracie!  So pretty.
Grace, Dad and Me after our Easter 5k this year.

In Lake Charles, celebrating Amanda Schram LaGrange's wedding.

Grace even caught the bouquet at our wedding.  One of those One Direction guys better propose soon.  

 Well, once again, happy birthday, Grace!  I hope you're having a great time on your mission trip and I'll see you in a few weeks.  Pizza sisters for life!