Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sister!!!

On March 4th, my favorite sister turned 19.
Way to make me feel old, Kelly!

Here's Kelly with her "World's Best Boss" mug from her Office Kit.

My mom and I wanted to make her a really special cake for her last year as a teenager. We already knew it had to be something pink as that is Kelly's favorite color. We asked Kelly what flavor cake she wanted and she requested Cookies 'n' Cream. No problem!! But she requested Cookies 'n' Cream cake like they do on Ace of Cakes. Now even though I love to bake, I don't really watch any baking shows (Aside from Top Chef: Just Desserts, of course!) so I had no idea what she meant. Apparently, Chef Duff makes a white cake with a marble ribbon of Oreo cookie crumbs. Sounds delicious right? I searched high and low and couldn't find a "Marble Cookies and Cream" recipe, so we decided to wing it. It didn't come out exactly as I had hoped, but it was still really delicious and now I know exactly what I need to do for next time. That's what I'm here for right? Your personal guinea pig! ;o)

White Cake

This recipe was adapted from Joy of Baking. I pretty much followed the recipe exactly as it appers on the site, but I doubled it to make for a taller cake. You'll see why! I also want to mention, don't be intimidated by this recipe! It is a lot of steps and might seem a little complicated, but it's not difficult and it makes a really delicious cake. I chose this recipe specifically because I find that this cake isn't too sweet which is perfect since we're putting Oreo Cream icing on top of it and that is very sweet! In a good way, of course!

- 4 Large eggs separated

- 2 1/2 Cups cake flour, sifted

- 4 Teaspoons baking powder

- 1/2 Teaspoon salt

- 1 Cup unsalted butter (2 Sticks), at room temperature

- 2 Cups granulated sugar, divided

- 2 Teaspoons pur vanilla extract

- 1 Cup milk

- 1/4 Teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2- 9" round cake pans with butter or Pam. Cut out rounds of parchment paper to place in bottom of pan. Grease parchment paper and flour. Lightly flour sides of pan as well.

2. While eggs are cold, separate 4 eggs into two bowls: whites in one bowl and yolks in the other. Cover and set aside, allowing eggs to come to room temperature.

3. In a mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine.

4. In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat butter on medium speed until soft (about 1-2 minutes). Add 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). While beating on medium speed, add egg yolks one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl when necessary. Add vanilla extract and beat until combined.

5. With mixer on low speed, alternately add flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour. I used 5 incorporations to add everything in the pattern of: flour, milk, flour, milk, flour.

6. Attach whisk attachment to stand mixer or hand mixer.* In a clean bowl, beat eggs whites until foamy (about 4-5 minutes). Start out at a low speed and increase speed gradually. Add cream of tartar and continue beating at medium/high speed until soft peaks form.

It's kind of hard to see, but you can see the soft peaks here.

Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar until stiff peaks form.

Stiff peaks!

With a rubber spatula, gently fold egg white mixture into batter. This will inflate and lighten your batter. Overmixing will cause batter to deflate and your cake to come out flat.

*The recipe specifically says to use your stand mixer, but most people I know (myself included!) only have one stand mixer bowl! You can switch your batter to another bowl and use your stand mixer or you can just use a hand mixer, like I did. Boy, did it suck having to stand there holding that mixer for 5 minutes straight though! It made me appreciate Betty (my nickname for my Kitchenaid) all the more!*

Now, in an attempt to make the marble swirl, I added a few extra steps. Unfortunately, it wound up not being very cookie-y, but I'll explain what happened and how to correct it here. If you don't want the cookie crumbs in your cake, feel free to skip on down to step 4 below.

Cookies 'n' Cream Marble Swirl

1. Place sleeve (about 15 cookies) of Oreos, unwrapped, in a Ziploc bag. Do *not* zip the bag the entire way, leave a little opening for air to escape. Place Ziploc bag with cookies into another Ziploc bag with the zips facing away from each other. Again, do *not* zip bag entirely. Leave a small opening for air to escape. Repeat with second sleeve of cookies.

2. Using a mallet (or rolling pin, or hammer, or book, or anything heavy and handheld that you have lying around), crumble cookies into small pieces and crumbs.

3. Pour 1/4 of batter into each prepared 9" pan. Set aside additional batter. Sprinkle cookies crumbs in a ring in each pan. Divide batter and pour left over batter over cookies crumbs.*

*Here's where I made my mistake. I *assumed* (and we all know what they say about people who assume, don't we?!) that the cookie crumbs would sink and settle into my batter while baking. I didn't want to end up with the crumbs at the bottom, so I sprinkled them on top and put them in the oven to bake. If I had a less dense cake batter, it might've worked. Unfortunately for me, they didn't sink. The cookie crumbs just baked right into the top of the cake. When I leveled the cakes to stack them, I pretty much removed all the cookie crumbs from the cake itself. Whoops! But, I tried those cake scraps and OH MAN was it good! Yum!*

My oreo crumbs on top of the cake batter. Womp womp.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 22- 28 minutes (25 was the magic number for my oven.) or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cakes completely on wire racks before leveling/frosting.

Oreo Cream Icing

This recipe was adapted from Better Homes & Garden. We chose this recipe because we wanted a recipe that tastes like the cream you find inside an Oreo (and this one tastes exactly like that!) and because we needed a smooth icing recipe (one with no cookie pieces in the icing). Again, you'll see why! I don't make this up for no reason! Hehe! This recipe was tripled from the recipe that you will find on BHG's site. And I still needed extra after all was said and done. Bananas, I know.

- 1 1/2 Cups vegetable shortening

- 3 Teaspoons vanilla

- 6 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted, divided

- 4- 6 Tablespoons milk

1. In a large mixing bowl, beat vanilla and shortening at medium speed for about 30 seconds. Sift 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar into a separate bowl.

2. With mixer at low/medium speed, gradually add powdered sugar until mixed well. Add 3 tablespoons milk and beat until incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl when necessary.

3. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar into a separate bowl. With mixer at low/medium speed, gradually add powdered sugar, beating until incorporated.

4. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until icing has reached desired consistency.

*Since I had a little fail as far as the cookies 'n' cream cake went, I added some cookies crumbs to part of the icing. I used this icing to fill and crumb coat the cake. I left the rest of the icing smooth for piping.*

Cookies and Cream crumb coat!

And here is the reason I needed so much icing! We wanted to do a pink "ombre swirl" cake. If you have no idea what "ombre" is, it is the French word for "shade" or "shading". As far as hair and clothes, ombre refers to the gradual deepening or lightening of a color. Here is how I got the ombre effect.

Pink Swirl Ombre

1. Prepare your favorite icing recipe (doubling or tripling if necessary, this design takes quite a bit of icing!). Using a toothpick, add a very small amount food coloring gel (not liquid food coloring drops!) to entire batch of icing. Once you've reached the desired color, set aside about 1 1/2 cups of icing in a separate bowl. This will be your top most design layer so it will cover the top as well as the sides.

2. Using a toothpick, add a little more food coloring gel to remaining icing. This should be one shade darker than the icing you have set aside. Set aside 1/2 cup of icing in a separate bowl. Repeat twice more until you have 4 shades of color.

The darkest pink isn't shown since it was transferred from my mixing bowl directly to a piping bag.

3. Prepare an icing bag with your chosen star tip (open or closed, doesn't matter, but each will give your design a different effect). I used Wilton's #21. It's mid-sized and worked out perfectly for this cake. Originally I had planned to use Wilton's 1M, but that was a little large for this cake. Fill bag with darkest color icing.

4. Beginning at the bottom of the cake, pipe icing onto cake in a circular motion. I started from the outside and swirled the icing into the center of the circles I made, but either way really works. Continue around the entire cake. Repeat with other icing colors.

5. For the top, I started piping my swirls along the outer perimeter of the top of the cake and gradually worked my way to the middle. You might notice some "bald" spots on the sides or the top. You can fill these in by squeezing leftover icing (in the corresponding color) into the space. If it's a bigger bald spot, use a curved or swirling motion so the additional icing goes along with the original design.

Now doesn't that look sweet?

And oh boy, it was.

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