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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Mini cakes

A few weeks ago, a friend of a friend asked me if I'd be willing to make cakes for a baby shower she was co-hosting this weekend.  She wanted a few mini cakes, yellow cake and red velvet cake, in a lavender and white theme.  We discussed flavor options, decorations, and everything in between.  The final decision: yellow cake with lemon buttercream and red velvet cake with cream cheese icing.  I've been using my red velvet cake recipe for years, but I was in search of a good yellow cake recipe, so a few weeks ago I tried out the cake and icing recipe (these mini cupcakes were the result of my testing out the recipes).


I made four 6" cakes and four 4" cakes (2 of each flavor in each size), and assembled them into 4 tiered cakes.  In my opinion, the only icing acceptable for red velvet cake is cream cheese icing, so I made that for the red velvet cakes.  For the yellow cakes, the request was for lemon buttercream.  My friend wanted one of the red velvet cakes to have lavender icing for the mother-to-be, and she ordered the flowers for that cake from someone on Etsy.  Sticking with the lavender and white theme, I purchased lavender flowers for the rest of the cakes.


And, with the leftover batter, I made some cupcakes.  I included this surprise cupcake for the mom-to-be, as well.



Yellow Cake (from Smitten Kitchen)
Made two 4" and two 6" cakes, plus 6 cupcakes

Ingredients:
4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter cake pans and line with parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Or, use paper cupcake liners, or you can use a cooking spray. I used Pam for baking and was very impressed with the results.)

Sift together the dry ingredients EXCEPT for sugar in a medium bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla.
Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled).
Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Bake until golden on top and cooked throughout (the mini cupcakes took about 10 minutes, give or take a few).

Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan.
Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.


Ingredients:
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp lemon zest (fresh)
2 Tbsp lemon juice (I went with freshly squeezed)

Directions:
Mix the butter, lemon zest, and vanilla together until smooth.
Add milk, and quickly cream it into the butter mixture.
Mix in the confectioner's sugar 1/2 cup at a time.
Once the sugar is all in the bowl, cream on "high" for two minutes.
Mix in lemon juice.

Made two 4" and two 6" cake layers, plus 10 cupcakes
**Be forewarned...this recipe is great, but you use TONS of dishes**

3 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 Tbsp red food coloring (I only had gel food coloring, and last time I used a full 6 Tbsp, my cake was VERY red and so were my fingers, dishes, and sink....this time I used 4.5 Tbsp and it was definitely red enough)
3 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and lightly flour three 9- by 2-inch round cake pans (I just used Pam for baking), then line the bottoms with waxed paper (and I skipped the whole waxed paper part, too).
In a small bowl, sift the cake flour and set aside.
In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a small bowl, whisk together the red food coloring, cocoa, and vanilla. Add to the batter and beat well.
In a measuring cup, stir the salt into the buttermilk.
Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour.
With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat.
In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda (use a bowl a bit bigger than you think you'll need, as this bubbles and rises....think first attempt at an elementary school science fair volcano).
Add to the batter and mix well.
Scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth.
Divide the batter among the prepared pans.
Bake for 30-40 minutes (for the 9" circles; cupcakes take about 20 minutes), or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the layers cool in the pans for 1 hour.
Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

Cream Cheese Icing
I'm pretty sure I found this recipe on epicurious years ago, and I can't find it anywhere.  It's a good thing I have it committed to memory!

3 8 oz packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 stick of butter, at room temperature
Vanilla to taste (I usually end up using between 1 1/2 and 2 tsp)
3-4 cups of powdered sugar (again, to taste...I think the original recipe called for 4 cups, but I found it too sweet) 

Blend cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer. 
Add vanilla to taste. 
Add powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until desired sweetness.

I split the batch and used some purple gel food coloring to make the lavender icing.

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