Friday, September 11, 2009

BB Birthday Sheet Cake

So I'm off to a great start. It's my first ever Barefoot Bloggers post, and I'm late. =( The cookout that Husband and I went to ended up lasting past midnight (which is really impressive, actually, considering that I'm usually in the bed by 10pm and trying to count how many hours of sleep I'll get). Anyway, I was too tired to post when we got home so I'm doing it before work. Forgive me, I will do better next time!

I was actually kind of terrified to make this recipe (what with this being my BB debut and all). I don't really bake, I don't have a standing mixer (which seemed pretty necessary for this task) and the recipe had gotten some iffy reviews on the Food Network. Nonetheless, I rolled up my sleeves and got started.

I followed the recipe almost exactly--I omitted the lemon zest, used almond extract instead of vanilla (which is what I had on hand), and lessened the amount of baking soda (following the lead of other reviewers). For the icing (after reading more reviews), I decided to use half semi-sweet and half milk chocolate chips. I also did not have the correct size sheet pan, so I used a 9x13 inch baking pan. The cake took forever to cook, and never really set in the middle. Finally, I just got annoyed (and was already 30 minutes late to the cookout), so I took it out and hoped it would continue to cook a little during the car ride. I don't know enough about baking to know why that happened or what I might have done wrong, so any advice is greatly appreciated!

When we got to our friend's house, I proceeded to pour (that's right, pour) the icing over the cake. It was nowhere near thick enough, but I was anxious to finish the cake and take some pictures before everybody got a piece. Our friend, Chris, wanted to know what the "sauce" on my cake was. Nice. Also, it sunk in the middle (because it had not finished cooking) so it looked like I had a little chocolate pond in the center of the cake. Sigh.....apparently cakes aren't my thing (remember Husband's birthday incident last month?).

All that to say....the cake was actually delicious! I was really pleasantly surprised. It was moist, had a nice texture and the hint of almond gave it a wonderful flavor (I also added some Reese's Pieces to the top of the cake because I wanted it to look "fall-ish"). Here's the kicker--as we were leaving the cookout 5 hours later, I noticed that my frosting had thickened and had the perfect consistency. Of course.

Oh well. My new motto is, "It tastes good no matter what it looks like". I'm posting the recipe with my minor changes below, but you can find the original here. Enjoy!

Barefoot Contessa's Birthday Sheet Cake
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten)


For the cake:
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
12 ounces milk chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Chocolate candies for decorating
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.

To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then the sour cream, vanilla, and lemon zest, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix well. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir just until smooth. Finish mixing by hand to be sure the batter is well mixed. Pour evenly into the pan, smooth the top with a spatula, and bake in the center of the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan to room temperature.

For the frosting, place the chocolate chips and heavy cream in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chips are completely melted. Off the heat, add the corn syrup and vanilla and allow the chocolate mixture to cool to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the chocolate mixture and softened butter on medium speed for a few minutes, until it's thickened.

Spread the frosting evenly on the cake. Decorate with candies.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers

One of the things I love about blogging is the community. No matter what topic you blog about, chances are you can find several (or several hundred) people who LOVE to blog about the same thing! For me (obviously) it's cooking, so imagine my delight when I stumbled upon Barefoot Bloggers--a group of bloggers that love all things Ina (aka the Barefoot Contessa). Finally, people who will understand me when I begin a sentence with, "Well Ina says..". Husband just looks at me like I have three heads.

Anyway, here's how it works. Each month, two of Ina's recipes are chosen for members to cook or bake (members get to choose the featured recipes in an order determined by the date they join the site). Those recipes will be posted on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month, and then everyone gets to compare notes and talk about how the recipes turned out. Fun, right?

The first recipe for September is Ina's Birthday Sheet Cake. As it happens, Husband and I are cooking out with some friends tonight so now I can bring dessert! I'll post the pics and update later today.

Happy Cooking!