Friday, July 11, 2014

Strawberry Shortcake - SCB

Here is another recipe from Southern Living’s new book The Southern Cake Book -2014

Strawberry Shortcake 
 Click HERE for recipe

Now Strawberry Shortcake is one of my favorite desserts. I love the traditional style where the cake is more of a biscuits and less of an angel food cake. Think of a fat, fluffy scone smothered in strawberries and whipped cream and you will get a hint of what I’m after. And while the shortcake version in The Southern Cake Book wasn’t exactly my ideal (a little too flat), I decided to expand my horizons and give it a try.

Well the end product turn out kind of pretty, but I wasn’t overly impressed with the taste.  The cake/biscuit part didn’t wow me. It was a little bland and nondescript. In the end I scraped off the strawberries and cream, threw the cake away, and stirred the salvaged strawberry into some vanilla ice cream.

So sad.  Where did I go wrong???? ;-(

The dough came together easy enough, but it was very wet and very sticky...

But the directions in the book warned of this and suggested using damp fingers to push and spread the dough around.  And it actually worked. I manged to fill all the gaps.

The only thing that I had trouble with was spreading the beaten egg whites over the top of the cake.  The directions says to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Well I guess I beat them too long because try as I might I couldn't get those egg whites to spread evenly.  Looks a little lumpy, ah?

Here is the cake right out of the oven.  Notice the scorching of the egg white?   Oven possibly too hot for egg whites?  Hummm...  There was one difference between the online version of the recipe and the recipe in the book.  The book says to bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes, but the online recipes says to bake at 300 degrees for 40 minutes.  I wonder which one is right?

I usually tastes cakes after I take them out of the oven, but I forgot in this case.  Stupid me because if I had tasted it first I wouldn't have wasted the strawberries and whipped cream.  Here is the cake being assembled...

And here is the finished cake.  Looks good, but in my opinion it just didn't have a great taste.  I probably did something wrong (I usually do), but with this cake I'm not even tempted to try it again. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Mississippi Mud Cupcakes - Southern Cake Book

My second baking adventure using the scrumptious looking The Southern Cake Book by Southern Living was Mississippi Mud Cupcakes

The final product looked so cute with its dainty, fluffy tuff of Marshmallow Frosting, and clusters of nuts and chocolate.  Click HERE for the recipe on the Southern Living website.

But appearances can be deceiving because despite its silky good looks I found the cake itself a little dry. Not Sahara desert dry, but it definitely needed a tall glass of milk to wash it down.  If I make it again I would do some tweaking to the recipe, and also reduce the baking time by 3-4 minutes.  

The mixing process also dirties a lot of bowls and utensils. One set for the blending of sugar & eggs, one for the dries, and one for the sour cream mixture.

Eventually everything goes into one bowl.

And then the beautiful chopped chocolate are added as the last step.

Dropped into the prepared cupcake liners the batter looks more like brownies than cake.

But after baking they puffed up nicely.  I baked mine for 17 minutes (18-20 was the recommended time).

Slicing one open shows just a few hints of the chopped chocolate that was added to the batter. It definitely needs more chopped chocolate, lots and lots more chopped chocolate.

The Marshmallow Frosting was the most eye-opening part of this baking adventure.  It was a flavorful mix of butter, cream cheese, and marshmallow cream. I’m not a big fan of marshmallows, but I have to say this stuff was really, really good. Not too sweet, with just a hint of marshmallow and cream cheese.  Neither taste was overpowering.   It was the perfect blending of both.


It also had a light airy consistency that added to its appeal. I think this will become my standard cupcake frosting. I also added a few drops of Americolor Bright White Food Color to bring the color back to pure white. Between the yellow butter and the brown vanilla extract the frosting had a slight yellowish cast.  A few drop of Bright White got rid of the frosting's jaundice look.

The final verdict came from my family at our 4th of July party.  Granted these cupcakes were competing with lots of festive red-white-and-blude desserts, but the cupcakes just sat there. Sad, lonely, forgotten.  A few were eaten but no one went back for seconds :-(

I took the leftovers home with me and ate them with ice cream. Nothing moistens up cake like melting ice cream.

So this adventure turn out a little disappointing. If I try these again I would do something to add moisture to the mix.  Maybe add some oil to the batter (2 Tablespoons), double up on the amount of chopped chocolate, and decrease the baking time by 2-3 minutes. I would start checking for doneness at 14 minutes and err on the side of undercooked instead of overcooked.

Overall I would give the cake 3 stars, but the Marshmallow Frosting gets the highest rating of 5 finger-licking stars. That stuff is good.