red velvet cake

CakewithBerries_RedVelvet

Last night the Saucy San Diegan grilled a full aquarium (squid, oysters, swordfish, salmon, cod) in honor of Amy Boo Boo’s birthday celebration, and the Hungry Texans were in charge of apps and zerts. SSD requested red velvet, so red velvet it was! I was a little apprehensive as more often than not I feel like red velvet kind of dry, lackluster cake whose primary purpose is to make copious consumption of cream cheese frosting socially acceptable. That said, I put my biases aside and made a few modifications to a Saveur recipe that turned out super moist, flavorful, and good enough that I went straight for a slice for breakfast this morning.

For the cake:

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp red food coloring
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

For the icing:

Icing Ingredients

1 stick butter
1 package cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla

This cake couldn’t be quicker to whip up. Start by preheating your oven to 350. Combine all your dry ingredients – sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder together in a bowl. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer combine – vegetable oil, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, vinegar.

Liquid Mixing

Add your food coloring and combine.

Red Batter

Add your dry ingredients to your sanguine red batter.

Wet & Dry

Pour batter into two round parchment-lined and sprayed cake pans.

Finished Batter Batter in Pans

Bake for 25-30 minutes until your cakes pass the toothpick test. Set cakes aside to cool.

BakedCakes

While cakes are cooling, make your icing. In the bowl of your stand mixer cream together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Gradually add your powdered sugar until the icing reaches the desired flavor and consistency.

Assemble your cake. I achieved the coveted double-flip for this cake – making sure the round part was on top. I recommend, you do your first flip onto a plate, then flip back into your cake pan, and then flip on top of your first layer. Cake flipping is a delicate art, so you do you and figure out what works.

Layer1

Layer1Iced

Ice and decorate as desired.

IcedCake

Light the candles, slice and serve with ice cream. We served with homemade buttermilk ice cream! Yum!

DSC_0751

Make a wish!

Julia

orange ginger carrot cake

ogcc

This post is a special one because it just so happens to be my better half’s birthday cake! That’s right, this past Thursday we had a Hungry Texans’ birthday bash for Miss Liz and it was a belly-buster on all fronts. We dined with a wonderful group of friends at one of the most unique restaurants DC has to offer, Thai X-ing, and in the spirit of Thai flavors for dessert too Liz blew out the candles on an orange ginger carrot cake. My dear friend, Jonny, introduced me to this scrumptious cake years ago and before last week I’d recreated it once on my own. Until this week, we’d both stuck to letting the cake’s deliciousness speak for itself and not fussed over presentation – opting to prepare it in the suitable and ever-practical large, rectangular, pyrex; but for such a special occasion I had to prep this cake with a little more pomp. Despite initial hesitations about layering it, it turned out scrumptious! Even the non-dessert lovers at the table sang its praise, huzzah!

Before diving into the goodies, important to note this cake was a co-production with Boston Boy. It would have taken twice as long without him, and for his very first cake he pulled out a showstopper!

thebrowns

thewhites

thebrights

the cake

2 1/2 c all purpose flour

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 pound medium carrots, peeled & shredded

1/2 c brown sugar

4 eggs

1 tbl orange zest

1 1/2 c vegetable oil

~20 ginger candies, crushed or 1/2 cup crystallized ginger, minced

 icing_ingredients

frosting

8 ounces cream cheese

5 tbl butter

1 tbl orange juice

1 1/4 c powdered sugar

Start by whisking together your whites (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt) and most of your browns (all of your spices) in a large bowl.

Then, with the grater attachment of your food processor, start shredding your carrots (Be very careful handling these grating discs, Juju ended up with a little boo boo on her thumb. Don’t worry, Mom, no blood – just shaved off a layer of exterior skin). Transfer all shredded carrots into a large bowl.

Then, swap out your grating disc for your blade attachment and get to creaming your sugars. Combine brown & white sugar in a few quick pulses, then add your orange zest. Pulse to combine. Add your four eggs and run until your mixture gets a little frothy. Next, with the food processor running, drizzle in your oil until the mixture is emulsified. Scrape the mixture into the bowl topping your carrots (here’s a vine account of the above…!).

Next, stir in your candied ginger.

+gingercandy

Then, start slowly adding and mixing in your floury, dry mixture. Stir well!

dryingredients_gingercake

Mmmmm! Look at that batter, Boston Boy!

cakebatter

Pour into two parchment lined, circular baking dishes (or your baking dish of choice). I chose 2 pans (sorry, I’m not sorry).

2panz

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes or until your cakes pass the toothpick test. Let your cakes cool (I left mine to cool overnight), but let them cool at least an hour or until they have reached room temperature.

bakedcake

first_layer

The frosting’s simple! In the bowl of a stand mixer with your paddle attachment, cream together cream cheese & butter, add orange juice, and then begin gradually adding powdered sugar until frosting reaches desired taste and consistency!

icingpic

Frost your cake however you please!

icing1
icing2

fully_iced

I turned this cake from plain white drab to birthday fab with a little died yellow sugar & some food colored frosting. I piped the birthday greeting through a ziploc bag (one of these days this Hungry Texan will get a proper pastry bag).

final

Make a wish,

Julia

texas birthday cheesecake

texas birthday cheesecakeCheesecake was far and above my favorite dessert when I was growing up & I was lucky enough to live right next door to the best cheesecake baker in all the land. My neighbor baked her delicious cheesecakes for a handful of Houston restaurants by the dozen, and was always quick to share samples of new flavors or the very rare cratered cake that was still scrumptious but wouldn’t win a beauty contest when plated at the restaurant. Elizabeth’s cheesecake is and always will be my gold standard, but miles and miles away from the expert I attempted my own and it came out better than I could have ever imagined! The impetus for this particular baking extravaganza was Boston Boy’s surprise birthday party. You see, Boston Boy doesn’t like sweets as much as this Hungry Texan, but he always says if he had to pick a favorite dessert it’d probably be cheesecake; and with that resounding enthusiasm who wouldn’t want to humor his tastebuds!

Cheesecake has always been super intimidating to me (you read about water baths and thermometers…stressful!), but this recipe is all things considered pretty “set it and forget it”. After texting with the expert, I also learned a couple of tricks that helped alleviate some of my fears!

  • Make your cheesecake a few days early if you can! I made mine Wednesday evening for Friday evening and it was delicious after a few days of rest in the fridge.
  • Once your cheesecake seems solidly cooked (the inside can & should be a little jiggly), turn off your oven and let the cheesecake cool in an oven whose temperature is very slowly decreasing opposed to the volatile elements of your kitchen. The slower your cake cools, the less likely it is to crack or crater!

To recreate this Texas cheesecake (that admittedly isn’t the most-Texas, but these HungryTexans couldn’t flaunt a “New York” cheesecake!), you’ll need:

For the crust:

8 graham crackers pulverized to crumbs in your food processor

2 tbl butter melted, plus additional for the crust

cheesecake ingredients

For the filling:

4 1/2 packages of cream cheese

1 cup sour cream

2 tbl lemon

1 1/2 tbl vanilla

1 1/2 c sugar

8 eggs (6 full, 2 yolks)

*note: half & half is pictured, but I didn’t end up using any!

Start by preheating your oven to 400 then make your crust! Pulverize your graham crackers, melt your butter, & combine. Press your crumbs into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan (already assembled). Pack your crumb crust in tight and use the back of a spoon to smooth it out. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the crust begins to golden.

cheesecake filling_steps

Turn your oven up to 500 and get working on your filling. Start by creaming your softened cream cheese with the paddle attachment of your mixer (it helps to cut the sticks in half). Cream for 3 minutes or so until the cream cheese is sufficiently soft. Add half of your sugar & keep mixing. Once that’s combined add the second half. Add your lemon & vanilla followed by the cup of sour cream. Keep mixing, mixing, mixing until everything’s smooth (being sure to frequently scrape the sides of your bowl). If you want to taste the filling, I recommend doing so now because your risk of salmonella poisoning is about to increase 8-fold! Now, los huevos! I had NO IDEA how many eggs go into a cheesecake! Sooooo many eggs! Count ’em e-i-g-h-t, delicious little pre-birds. Start by adding your two egg yolks and then procede to add your six whole eggs two at a time until everything’s combined. Give the sides of your bowl a few good scrapes and confirm everything’s combined. Your mix should be soupy, creamy, wonderful.

Put your crust pan on top of a cookie sheet (just in case) and pour your filling into the prepared crust. Pop into the oven and bake for 12 minutes at 500 before lowering the heat to 200. Check on your cake in an hour to see how it’s doing (but try your hardest to look and not touch…opening the door and changing the temperature of the oven even a little bit will increase its propensity to fall). Your cake will probably take ~an hour and a half to be sufficiently cooked. At this point, you might need to bite the bullet and give it a little poke. If everything seems like the appropriate cheesecake consistency (except maybe a little jiggle in the middle), shut off the oven and let the temperature fall while the cake cools. I left mine in the oven over night & plastic wrapped and popped it in the fridge the next morning.

I left my cake in at heat for a few minutes too long or opened the door too many times and it cracked (bummer!), but it was nothing a creative strawberry topping couldn’t cover. Remember when cakes give you cracks, get creative!

Say cheese!