Monday, June 29, 2009

Easy as 1-2-3

Layer cakes are an impossible art (or science) to me. I already wrote about Megan's yellow cake. The cake part turned out fine, just not the frosting. It gets stuck on the crumbs and I didn't have time to make the frosting so I used the Betty Crocker kind, which wasn't enough to cover a two-layer cake. But anything I've made for my mom's birthday just takes the cake (sorry, I couldn't resist). I get ambitious and think I can make a black walnut cake without checking the pantry beforehand. Instead I improvised. What came out was a great tasting cake that fell apart where it stood. We called it the Great Rift, as 1/3 of the top layer split apart, much like the continents did way back when. I mended it with icing. Another year I made a basic white cake. The only embellishments were thinly sliced strawberries stuffed in between the layers and adorned on top. Unfortunately, I neglected to follow instructions on the frosting, which turned out to be to runny. It was sliding off the cake and pooling on the platter, along with all the strawberries. This year I realized my weakness and made carrot cake cupcakes (my mom's favorite).
They kicked ass. They even kicked ass when I ran out of vegetable and substituted olive oil. They even kicked ass when mom was out of large Ziplocks with which to frost the cupcakes using my secret method. They kicked so much as that my mom at TWO cupcakes after her birthday dinner and FOUR cupcakes yesterday.
Let me repeat that: FOUR CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING eaten by the woman who harasses my dad about his lipids, goes on 3-miles walks every day, plays tennis all the time, and even once staged an intervention to entreat me to go on Weight Watchers (which made me insecure for a while but actually pretty healthy in the long run).
photos courtesy of the new yorker and kidrobot. no time to take photos of these, so use your imagination. Carrot Cake Cupcakes: by Ina Gartner
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, beat sugar, oil and vanilla with electric mixer. Add one egg at a time, beating on a low speed.
In a separate, smaller bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Add half of dry mixture to wet mixture and mix. Add carrots and raisins to remaining dry mixture and stir to coat. Blend with the rest of the wet mixture with a spatula.
Fill lined cupcake tray with batter, filling each cup 3/4 of the way. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, reduce to 350 degrees and bake for another 25 minutes, until cupcakes are cooked through. Makes 24.
Cream Cheese Frosting: (note this is not Ina Gartner's recipe, so don't follow hers on that link)
4 1/2 ounces cream cheese (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE LIGHT)
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

In a small bowl with an electric mixer, blend all the ingredients together until smooth. If it's too thick, add a small amount of milk. To ice cupcakes using my secret method, transfer frosting to a large Ziplock baggie. Close baggie and cut a hole in one of the corners. Use it as if it were a pastry bag.

1 comment:

Jess said...

you are SO coming to the rescue of the bag of doomed baby carrots in the back of my fridge. my previous plan was to just pretend to forget them until they molded, then I could legitimately throw them out and not feel bad.
I'm a terror to vegetables.