Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cook It Up!: October challenge

This season I'm linking up with my good friend Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity. Trish is challenging us in her Cook It Up Challenge to get some use out of some of the cookbooks that far too often sit on the shelf and go unused.

I'm putting a slight twist on the challenge simply because I have many goals in my kitchen right now and still need to be productive this month. My choice for October is actually one of my go-to cookbooks, not one of my unused ones. I justified the choice because I only ever use the cookie and breakfast sections of this book, and there are dozens of sections!! So, while I'm halfway cheating by not dusting off an unused book (and I do have several), I am at least still making recipes that I've never tried, and I think that's the ultimate point of the challenge when all is said and done.

Last Thursday evening I made a two-layer Spice Cake with Browned Butter Frosting from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. This special Breast Cancer Awareness edition of the cookbook was a gift from my sister about 8 years ago.

Let me preface the rest of my post by saying that this was not my best cooking experience. During the roughly one and a half hours I was trying to make the cake, I was interrupted and distracted so many times I lost count. But here's a sample of what I was dealing with:
  • First, I had to change two poopy diapers, the first of which required a BATH it was so toxic. After the bath, after my sweet cherub of a baby was all clean, good-smelling, dry, and propped up in his chair in the kitchen again, he promptly soiled another diaper with similar toxic waste. 
  • Second, it took so long for me to clean up the mess from diaper #2--after having decided I just didn't have time to re-bathe the baby and finish my cake before bedtime--that he had a great time peeing all over me before I could get a new diaper on him.  (At the end of diaper #2, I was like, "I NEED CAKE, SO HELP ME GOD!!")
He is so cute, though...little goober.
  • One of the eggs I cracked completely shattered when I tapped it on the side of the mixing bowl. I was literally having to comb my fingers through my batter to find egg shell remnants. :(
  • I discovered that I do not have 2 cake pans the same size for layers, which meant I would either have to bake one layer at a time, which I didn't have time for, or bake two-different sized layers. I ended up making what can only be described as a postmodern cake. The bottom layer is a square and the top layer is a circle. Luckily the diameter of the circle was the same length as the side of the square pan (both 8.5 inches). My cake looked a little funny, but it also looks slightly artsy. At least that's what I told myself.
  • My mother- and father-in-law showed up without warning before the cake was iced (still cooling).  I wasn't dressed appropriately for company and had to run back to our bedroom to change after I let them in. But, on the plus side, at least I had a nice cake to offer my husband's parents once it cooled.
The cake turned out light and fluffy in texture. While I stand by my decision to reduce the amount of sugar, I could taste a sure difference between mine and sweeter restaurant or store-bought cakes. If I make this again, I'll likely increase the spices a bit and/or add spices to the icing. The cake was mellow, and I prefer bright flavors.  My husband and I bought thought that the cake had more flavor on the second and third days, though. The cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves were more potent, and I enjoyed it more on those days.

The Browned Butter Frosting was very nice and vanilla-y (I might have poured in too much vanilla). Next time, I might try a more traditional butter frosting and also use butter. All I had on hand was margarine that didn't have a very high fat content.  However, it was delicious!  I had twice the amount of frosting than what I needed for this two-layer cake, so I'm making a second spice cake today since we have more company staying with us tonight. No sense letting perfectly good frosting go to waste! ;)

Thanks, Trish, for hosting! My husband thanks you for inspiring me to make a cake (or two!). I'll try to follow the rules better next month and pick a dusty cookbook.


Trish said...

I'm sure your post modern cake was delicious! Especially with that frosting. Your post made me laugh as I've definitely been there and done that. We've come a long way from being able to decorate Christmas cookies without interruption, huh? ;)

Baby S is adorable!

Laurie C said...

I tend to slather on the frosting as we are all big frosting fans here, and don't mind sugary cakes either! I love spice cake with butter cream frosting and haven't had one in a while!

Katherine P said...

What an adventure! I'm a brown butter fan but it's definitely a very noticeable flavor so it's not for everyone. I love your post-modern cake and the toxic diaper brought me back. I'm not sad all of mine are out of that stage. I vividly remember one where I was pretty sure it'd never get cleaned up! I'm not sure I've really tried many Better Homes and Gardens recipes somehow. I'll have to fix that. Thanks for sharing!