Friday, February 27, 2009

Taggage not unlike baggage...

I have never participated in a tag before because I normally don't believe in them. However, Allison tagged me to find the sixth file and the sixth picture in my pictures and I checked it out and it was this picture. I like this picture so I decided to post. This was taken, ironically, when Allison and I went to phoenix for a Counting Crows concert! We were at Tempe Market Place where there is a sweet misting system. For some reason for just a couple minutes the light was a certain way (at 3:00 in the afternoon) that you could not see even inches in front of you but I was able to snap a picture! So there is my first tag.... Happy Trails...

Button Frame

What was waiting on my door step when I got home from school today? RED VINTAGE BUTTONS!!!!!! Isnt that exciting? I sure think so! I have already put them to good use!

These have been floating in my brain for a while and I am thrilled to finally know what they look like! I am now on the search for the perfect picture for it!

Happy Trails...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Best Chocolate Cake Ever?

I have been doing alot of cake testing lately because my brother Preston and his fiance Mindi are very trusting and asked me to make their wedding cake. This launched me into the world of cake making that I have not entered before. I have been trying all sorts of new recipes and decorating techniques. I love everything about baking and making cakes and I think my family and close friends are cursing me since my new cake creating efforts are not condusive to their New Years Resolutions. I have found alot of new recipes and some really fantastic ones! Thanks Preston and Mindi for the ultimate baking and creating excuse and oppertunity!

This chocolate cake is a Bobby Flay recipe and is extremely good. I have heard many people tell me "this is the best cake I have ever tasted." Living in Safford this isn't the most amazing of compliments but I will take them! It is a chocolate cake with a chocolate toffee ganache in the middle with a coconut butter cream icing! I love it but it is the richest thing I have ever partaken of. I think it would even be chocolate enough for you Aaron!

For Valentines Day some good friends of ours asked me to make a cake for her husband. I had alot of fun decorating it.
For the recipe for this fantastic cake go here. Please don't be intimidated to make this cake if you would like to. It is not difficult it is just about following the steps. It is one of those things that when you are done and everyone is raving about your baking skills you will be very glad and proud that you did it! Let me know if you have any questions about the recipe. I have made this cake 4 times so far and will make it many more times since I think this cake is the final decision for the wedding cake! So is this chocolate cake with chili powder, toffee, and coconut icing the best chocolate cake ever? Maybe not but it is pretty freakin good!
Here's to delicious cakes.... Happy Trails!

Shadows and Tall Trees

Here is my newest painting and surprise it is a tree! I really like it thought. I love the branches of this one! My brothers fiance Mindi is having red and blue be the colors at her wedding and I guess it rubbed off on me because that is how this turned out. I didn't plan for it to be that way but I like it so all is well. I may add some to it or work on it a bit but I wanted to share because this is how it is for now. Happy Trails...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cranberry Obsession Snow Cake

I am a little late in posting about this cake since I made it for Christmas but I am finally getting around to it. This has been one of the hardest recipes I have ever made, not because it was actually hard, but because the recipe was so difficult to follow! I had to give my soul to it for the cake to turn out but I think that must have done the trick because it turned out very well! The butter cream frosting is now my favorite frosting that I use for everything! So if you are looking for a fantastic frosting this is an excellent recipe. Don't be afraid of this recipe though you can do it! If you like cranberries this you will probably love it and then it will all be worth it!

This is my finished cake. It is not a fantastic picture but I did my best.
This is not my picture or my cake. It is Sunset Magazines cake and it is gorgeous. This is what enticed me to make this cake!

10 ounce unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans
3 1/2 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
7 large egg whites, at room temperature
Cranberry filling
3 3/4 cups cranberries, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups cranberry or cherry preserves
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
12 ounces white chocolate (bars or a block, not chips), divided
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature
1/2 cup colorless liqueur such as crème de cacao or kirsch (you can just skip the liqueur if you want or you can boil it down so there is no alchohol or you can just put the liqueur)
About 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Butter two 9-in. cake pans; set aside.
2. Make cake: In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together on low speed until light and fluffy. Add egg whites in 3 batches, scraping inside of bowl as needed. Beat in flour mixture in 5 batches, adding 1/4 cup water after each addition (you will begin and end with flour); make sure flour is completely blended each time before adding water. Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing evenly. Smooth tops with a spatula.
3. Bake until center of cake feels firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cakes completely in pans on a rack.
4. Meanwhile, make cranberry filling: Combine 3 cups cranberries, the sugar, preserves, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until cranberries pop and preserves melt, 5 to 10 minutes. Add remaining 3/4 cup cranberries, stir to combine, and remove from heat. Transfer to a small bowl and chill until ready to assemble cake.
5. Make buttercream: Fill a 2-qt. pan with about 1 in. water and bring to a simmer over low heat. (They just want you to use a double boiler) Put egg whites, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Place bowl over hot water, making sure bottom of bowl isn't touching water, and heat whites, whisking constantly, until hot to the touch, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pan and bowl from heat.
6. Put bowl of warm whites on the mixer and whisk on high speed until tripled in volume and side of bowl is cool to the touch, about 10 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, chop 4 oz. white chocolate, put in a medium metal mixing bowl, and set in same pan of warm water off the heat to melt slowly, stirring occasionally. Remove bowl from pan and let cool to room temperature.
8. Reduce mixer speed to low and whisk butter into whites, about 1/4 cup at a time, until incorporated. Continue to whisk on low speed until smooth and fluffy, about 10 minutes (mixture may look grainy at some point but will come together).
9. With a rubber spatula, gently fold melted chocolate into buttercream until completely combined.
10. Assemble: Rub tops of both cakes gently with your hands to remove browned outer surface, then carefully invert cakes and rub undersides so that cakes are completely white. Place 1 cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate, top side up. Using a pastry brush, brush top with half the liqueur. Spread about 1 1/2 cups cranberry mixture over layer with a metal spatula, leaving a 1/2-in. empty border around edge. Place second cake layer on top, flattest side down, and brush with remaining liqueur. Spread top and sides of cake with a thin layer of buttercream to seal in crumbs and chill 30 minutes. Cover with remaining buttercream, starting with the sides and covering the top last.
11. Use the palm of your hand to warm remaining chocolate. Shave smooth side of chocolate bar with a vegetable peeler to make thin curls; scatter curls over cake's top. Sift powdered sugar over cake. Serve with remaining cranberry mixture on the side.

Happy Trails...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy Birthday Langston!

Happy Birthday to Langston Hughes!
Not every day is your favorite poets birthday so I feel as if I must acknowledge that, here, where I point out things like that. If he were still alive he would be 108 but he actually died at age 65. I have to say that I may have not read alot of poets in my short but fairly well read day but I do know a good one when I see him (or her) and my buddy Langston was a keeper from the very start. His poetry has truly been a friend to me. It makes me laugh, comforts me, tells me the truth even if I don't want to hear it, and helps me to see how the world really is. If that is not a friend I do not know what is. I appreciate this mans revolutionary spirit and his decisions to try to change things in this country and the lives of people in it through his poetry. He knew who he was and where he came from and I always appreciate that.
Thank you Langston for being my good friend... Happy Birthday!