RED VELVET LAYERED CAKE FOR SEVEN YEARS OF BLOGGING!

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Better late than never, I can finally share a little cake to celebrate my 7th year of  food blogging. I knew I wanted to make a layered cake this time and also knew it had to be from a new cookbook I fell in “love at first page.”  Granted, I have quite a few books dedicated to cake baking, but Layered might be my favorite now. Not only Tessa Huff’s explanations are detailed enough to give confidence to a cake-challenged person, but  many of her cakes have enticing, unexpected flavors. Sure, you will find a chocolate cake, a shortbread strawberry, a Boston cream pie, but she will also awe you with combinations that bring together Raspberry and Stout.Lavender and Olive Oil... Butterscotch and Bourbon...   Pink Peppercorn and Cherry… Those are included in a wonderful chapter called “Adventurous Cakes.”  I have The Cake Bible from Rose Beranbaum and love it too, but I’d say that about 1/4 of the recipes of that book appeal to me, whereas I would gladly try more than 80% of the recipes from Layered.  Funny thing is that I almost did not buy it because I’m not too fond of naked layered cakes, and that’s what I saw on the cover of the book. Clearly I am part of a minority, as they are very popular these days.  But reading the many great comments on amazon made me change my mind.  So, it’s now officially confirmed the wisdom of:  “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  HA!

Red Velvet Cake

RECIPE OVERVIEW

Red Velvet Cake with Heritage Frosting, from Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes.

Originally this cake is supposed to have 6 layers, so you’ll make 3 red velvet cakes and slice each one crosswise in half. I baked three cakes, but as I started the assembly next day, I thought it was tall enough using only two of them. Plus, probably due to my inexperience and very limited skills, the amount of frosting I ended up with would not be enough to fill and cover a higher cake. Gravity plays tricks on me on a regular basis, perhaps it’s due to my last name. But, independent of the amount of available frosting, I liked the way it turned out as a 4-layer production, easier to slice and serve.

The cake component…  The cake batter uses grapeseed oil and sugar beaten together. To that, some eggs and red food coloring (preferably gel) are added and incorporated. Then, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, a touch of salt are sifted and added to the oil mixture in batches, together with buttermilk. Once the batter is smooth, a bit of baking soda dissolved in vinegar gets into the mixer.  The batter is divided equally into three 6-inch cake pans, and baked until a toothpick comes out clean.

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The frosting… contrary to most Red Velvet Cakes, this frosting is not based on cream cheese. It is an old-fashioned recipe called “Heritage Frosting” that starts with a thick cooked paste made with milk and flour. That gets incorporated into butter and sugar creamed together with a touch of vanilla. Very unusual, I had never heard of this type of frosting but it was reasonably easy to work with.

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Normally, Buck would be right by my foot and ready to take care of any potential messes. However, having learned painful lessons in the past, I decided that red food coloring and a Jack Russell could be too fiery a match.  Both him and Oscar stayed outside for the duration of my baking adventure. However, they both developed a fascination with my sandal even long after I washed it. Scent of a Frosting. It has movie potential…

Well, for once I will say this cake baking experience was “almost painless.”  At least the cake itself. No problems. A little hyperventilation here, another there, but overall fine. The frosting is another story. Every time I try to frost a cake, I feel this intense respect for those who do it for a living.  I opted for a rustic look, because hell would have to freeze over twice before I could apply a smooth layer of frosting to the top of a cake, let alone its sides…   But even if there is room for improvement in my technique, I think this was one tasty cake!

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Here’s what Phil had to say about it:

Quite often the frosting overpowers the taste of a cake, but this was not the case. The cake is flavorful, it has a very nice texture.  It’s substantial without being too heavy. Slices very well with a sharp knife without crumbling all over the place. The frosting is very creamy but stands well on the cake. It is much less sweet than buttercream or double-boiled white icing.  Enthusiastically approved!

Well, after getting enthusiastic approval from the resident cake critic, I enthusiastically invite you  to join me on my 8th year in the blogosphere… 

ONE YEAR AGO: Lemon-Lavender Bars

TWO YEARS AGO: Quinoa Fried Rice

THREE YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

SIX YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes

THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN TURNS SEVEN!

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(picture courtesy of our dear friend Karl)

Seven years blogging! Cliché or not, time goes by fast when you’re having so much fun…  The other day I was reading a very insightful blog post in which the blogger asked the question “why do we blog?”  In her case, the question arose mainly because after several years publishing posts, she realized a pattern. She would get excited about writing posts and go on periods of a lot of activity, then abandon her site for months in a row. Feeling guilty about it the whole time. Basically the blog becomes more a source of pressure/pain rather than pleasure, meriting the question “why do it?”.  For me, the question is easy to answer: blogging is fun, it makes me a better cook (or at least more adventurous), and it leads to many wonderful connections with other food bloggers (and readers), forming a sort of virtual family. So, there you have it, seven years and I have not tire of it yet. I don’t have a cake to celebrate the occasion because it was humanly impossible to bake one before our trip considering how busy we were then. Landing back on the very day of my blog-anniversary, I am forced to postpone the virtual party for a few days. Stay tuned. I do have a specific cake recipe in mind, and if all goes well… it will be legendary!

(I probably jinxed myself once more)

CAKES

Six cakes from previous Bewitching anniversaries…

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Bewitching Kitchen Turns Six!

TWO YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Five!

THREE YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Four!

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Three! 

FIVE YEARS AGO:  The Bewitching Kitchen turns Two!

SIX YEARS AGO:  Bewitching Birthday!

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Welcome to my blog!

 

ALOHA!

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Here we are, with the whole family enjoying a relaxing week in one of our favorite spots on Earth, the North Shore of Oahu.  I hope to have a new post coming up soon, for the time being life is busy in a deliciously unusual way….

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ALOHA!  MAHALO!  

ONE YEAR AGO: Baby Back Ribs with Tomatillo Glaze

TWO YEARS AGO: Ten Years Ago

THREE YEARS AGO: Someone Got a Summer Shave

FOUR YEARS AGO: Border Grill Margaritas

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Goodbye L.A.

SIX YEARS AGO:  Vermont Sourdough

SECRET RECIPE CLUB: BUCKLE UP FOR RASPBERRIES

First Monday of the month, it’s time to share with my readers one more post as part of The Secret Recipe Club. If you don’t know what it’s all about, the club joins two food bloggers in secret, one is the stalker, the other the stalkee… When Reveal Day comes, everyone blogs about a chosen recipe at the exact same time. A virtual thrill like no other, right?  The blog I was assigned to this month was Things I Make (for Dinner), hosted by Sarah from Ontario. I’ve only been to Canada once and fell in love with it and its people, although the snowstorm in the middle of the summer trip was a bit uncalled for. I am sure I told this story before, but for newcomers, here we go with the short and sweet of it: the late June snowstorm caught me wearing shorts and a tank top. My mood dropped to what in temperature would be approaching zero Kelvin. Anyway, I digress. Sarah has a great sense of humor, her posts are a delight to read. I found myself smiling and nodding my head all the way through the lengthy stalking process. Keep in mind she’s been blogging since 2007, so there’s a ton of stuff to choose from in her fun site. Obviously, I had a hard time settling on a recipe.  Take a look at my “short” list: Chicken Tikka Kebabs, Soft Pretzels (I cannot believe I still haven’t try to make those, they’ve been on my to make soon list for a decade!), Spicy Chicken Skewers, Thai-Style Steak Salad,  Lemon Bonbon Cookies (I actually bought all ingredients for it), Blueberry Cheesecake, Nutella Ice Cream (triple sigh of pure desire), Upside Down Black Forest Cake (yes, you read that right). So, what do I have for you? A Raspberry Buckle. Love the name.  Buckle is a dessert that has been around for centuries, very popular in New England. It refers to a coffee cake in which fresh fruit is mixed with a yellow cake batter. Very easy to make and I tell you it was a huge success in one of the several receptions we hosted last month. Believe it or not, I made it after arriving home from work, still had time to clean up the kitchen and serve it for the reception at 8pm. I felt like Super Woman after a successful mission. And, that – quoting Martha Stewart – is a good thing.

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RASPBERRY BUCKLE
(from Things I Make for Dinner)

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 pint fresh raspberries
Heat oven to 350F. Grease a 9″ square baking pan. Clean raspberries. Stir together flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Gradually add flour mixture, being careful not to over mix. Spread in prepared pan, and scatter raspberries over the surface. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean.

Cool 20 minutes, sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream, if so desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: Life has been busier than ever for us. For those who do not know, when we moved from OU to KSU four years ago, Phil became the Head of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics. With that, commitments and challenges intensified more than we anticipated. Not only he has our research lab to consider in his professional life, but all the other things associated with running a department, from budget problems to teaching issues, from hiring new faculty to personnel evaluations. The list is huge, and the deadlines and pressure just keep building up. It is challenging for both of us, but I must say we enjoy it all.  The underlying feeling that we are trying to accomplish something on several fronts pump us up, keeps us on our toes. Recently he went through an intense process to hire a director for a particular center at KSU. Every candidate’s visit involved a reception in our home. I wanted to prepare something special for each of the three candidates, and this Raspberry Buckle was my best choice ever. If you need something simple and delicious, look no further. Sweet, tart, melt-in-your-mouth good…

Sarah, thanks for a great recipe that pleased all the guests who had a chance to try it. Nothing was left next morning to take to the department, which is a huge compliment to your Raspberry Buckle!

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As usual, I invite my readers to click on the smily blue frog at the end of this post. She will direct you to a list of blog posts published by my virtual friends at The Secret Recipe Club.  Enjoy the ride!

Raspberry Buckle

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Seafood Gratin for a Special Dinner

TWO YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-Vide: Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Loin

THREE YEARS AGO:  Farewell to a Bewitching Kitchen

FOUR YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen. June 2012

FIVE YEARS AGO: Goodbye L.A.

SIX YEARS AGO: 7-6-5 Pork Tenderloin

 

IN MY KITCHEN, YIN AND YANG

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Following the footsteps of Celia (Fig Jam and Lime Cordial) who started this party now hosted by our friend Maureen (The Orgasmic Chef), I invite you for a small virtual tour of our kitchen.

Starting with gifts, this month I have some pretty special ones….

…from our friend Dr. SL, fantastic selected goodies he got in a recent trip to Paris: truffles galore! Truffle mayo, truffle mustard, and truffled salt.  What have I done to deserve such great friends?

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…from my beloved husband, a surprise gift for Mother’s Day…

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When I opened the package.. here’s what I found: a huge platter, heavy-duty, very very beautiful… it makes any salad into a stunning meal!

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He keeps showering me with gifts from this artist, Mary Rose Young…  How about this for cuteness in coffee cup format?

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Or these adorable salad plates? Each a little different from the other… Irresistible!

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Our dear friends Karl and Virginia left a package in my mailbox at work…  Inside I found such a thoughtful gift for our home! It’s in our kitchen, where it definitely belongs…

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But, I can give gifts too!  This one I gave to Phil just because…  He loves to have a black and tan after playing golf, and this tool makes a perfect one.

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In our kitchen…

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A very delicious apple cake made for one of the receptions we hosted last month.  The recipe, already in the blog, is the most popular in the site!  And for good reason, it is wonderful and so simple to make…

In our kitchen…

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A rolling-pin I ordered all the way from Poland, after reading this post from Mimi… could not resist it. Stay tuned for a post on my first attempt at Polish Sugar Cookies.

In our kitchen…

heart2A nice heart on my morning cappuccino, made by the resident barista… I married the right man, obviously…

In our kitchen…

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My new addiction: Go-Chu-Jang sauce, the Korean darling of the food world these days. I resisted as much as I could, but when I saw the product for sale in our very own grocery store, I said what the heck, and brought it home. I love the paste so much I also bought the sauce which is like catchup on steroids.  I used the paste on sautéed ground beef for a flavorful lunch. If you are like me and resist all sorts of trends, do yourself a favor and cave to this one.

In our kitchen…

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Canned tomatillos and canned yellow tomatoes, both products bought with specific recipes in mind.  As soon as they went into my pantry I lost track of the recipes.  The one using canned tomatillos I suspect was in a cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen, but the yellow tomatoes?  I am clueless. Clue-less.  If anyone suffers from the same type of culinary amnesia, let’s have a virtual hug…

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This time our dogs are silent.

It is with a very heavy heart that I share the sad news that Chief was put to sleep on May 26th, a decision that crushed us, but had to be made. We will always remember him at the top of his game, rarely sitting still for a photo. In this shot (Summer 2001), his personality shines. He had just spotted a squirrel on the corner of the backyard, and one nanosecond after the picture was taken he was gone so fast our eyes could barely follow him.

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In my mind, the two inseparable buddies are finally together again…

 

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Chief
February 05th, 1999 – May 26th, 2016


ONE YEAR AGO:
Chocolate Toffee Banana Bread

TWO YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

THREE YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

FOUR YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

FIVE YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

SIX YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls

FAKEBBOULEH

Meet the lighter sibling of tabbouleh. Made with riced cauliflower instead of cracked wheat, it is every bit as delicious, but won’t make  you feel stuffed after going back for seconds. I don’t know about you, but I can never stop at one serving of tabbouleh. I always go back for another helping, or when dining at home just the two of us, I keep visiting the serving bowl with my own fork: a little mindless bit here, another there as we talk about life, the mysterious process of bacterial iron uptake, or which brand of shoes could prevent my ankle from saying nasty things to me during a longer run. You know, real important stuff.

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CAULIFLOWER A LA TABBOULEH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 head of cauliflower
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil)
salt and pepper
2 cucumbers, seeded, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried mint)
1/3 cup parsley leaves, minced (or amount to taste)
2 tablespoons olive oil
zest and juice 1/2 lemon

Rice the cauliflower florets in a food processor, blender, or grating box. Heat the coconut oil (or other fat of your choice) on a large skillet, preferably non-stick.  When the oil is hot, add the riced cauliflower, season lightly with salt and pepper, and move it around for a few minutes. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a dish to cool. I like to use a baking dish to get the cauli-rice well spread.

Add the cucumber, tomatoes and parsley to a bowl. Don’t be skimpy on the amount of parsley, and mince it very well. If using fresh mint, add it to the bowl too.

Make a quick and simple dressing with the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, add salt and pepper, dried mint if using it.

Add the cooled cauliflower rice to the veggies, pour the dressing on top and mix gently.  It gets better with a little time in the fridge.  Serve at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: There are several ways to cook riced cauliflower, each with a slightly different outcome. When I enjoy it as I would real rice, I prefer to bake it. For this type of recipe, I’ve tried three ways: baked, microwaved, and sautéed in oil. I favored the third option because the texture was perfect to mimic cracked wheat.  Baked would be my second choice, the problem is that the grains of cauliflower shrink a lot more in the oven. You can of course use any method you like, just make sure it is all at room temperature when you mix the fakebbouleh. As to the parsley,  next time I will add more to my version. I love it and like my tabbouleh – fake or authentic – to be pretty “herbal.”

Next day leftovers were all I had for lunch. I did squirt a little more lemon juice on top because I believe there is never too much lemon on this type of preparation. It freshens up everything. One last thought before I leave you… I usually add a lot less dressing to salads than most recipes call for, so if you try this recipe, keep that in mind and consider doubling the amount. A touch of Maldon salt flakes right before indulging is not mandatory, but quite pleasant for the taste buds.

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Dinner is served!  Grilled chicken breasts were perfect with my fakebbouleh…

ONE YEAR AGO: Yellow Squash Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: Grilled Chicken with Tamarind and Coconut Glaze

THREE YEARS AGO: Chicken-Apricot Skewers

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Asparagus Quiche

FIVE YEARS AGO: Two-stage Pea and Prosciutto Risotto

SIX YEARS AGO: Mellow Bakers: Corn Bread

 

 

 

 

 

TORTA DE LIQUIDIFICADOR

Come again? 

:-)


The best translation for this Brazilian recipe would be “Blender Pie.” First, let’s learn how to say it like a native. Repeat after me, three times:
.

Easy, right? I knew you could do it.

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I have a sister in Brazil who is 16 years older than me. By the time I got into my teens she was already married, throwing parties, and pretty involved into cooking. One of the things she used to make was this blender pie, but her favorite filling was tuna with green peas, black olives and tomatoes. Being the mega picky girl I was, I never touched that kind, preferring instead more friendly (and austere) versions with ham and cheese, at most a touch of oregano. The basic process is always the same, a thick batter is made in the blender, half of it gets poured into a baking dish, the filling of choice scattered on top, and the rest of the batter spread all over. It is comfort food by default, or as we say in Portuguese, por definição. I won’t sugar coat the pill, it is a bit heavy. Accept it and move on. As an appetizer a couple of small squares will be enough for each guest. If you’d like to serve it as dinner with a salad on the side this full recipe feeds six hungry people.

Blender Pie

TORTA DE LIQUIDIFICADOR
(BLENDER PIE)
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the “dough”
1 cup oil (I used canola)
2 cups milk (full-fat)
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano cheese
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

for the filling
caramelized onions
sautéed mushrooms
shredded mozzarella cheese
diced tomatoes
(or any other filling you like to use)

Heat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease or spray with oil a baking dish (9 x 13 or slightly smaller is fine).

Make the dough: add to a powerful blender all the ingredients, and blend for 5 minutes until completely smooth. Stop the blender and clean its sides a couple of times during the process.

Pour half of the batter in the prepared dish, add all ingredients for the filling on top, pour the rest of the batter, spreading gently with an offset spatula to enclose all the filling.

Bake for 45 minutes or until all puffed up and golden on top. Let it cool until just warm before cutting in slices. It can be prepared a couple of days in advance, to re-heat use a low oven, microwave is not recommended.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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The beauty of this recipe is its versatility. You can pretty much use any filling you imagine: shredded barbecued chicken, ground beef with taco seasonings, roasted veggies, maybe some grilled shrimp, all doable. One popular version in Brazil uses corn and peas, green and yellow like the colors of the country. I do think cheese is pretty much mandatory in any kind of blender pie. If using shrimp or roasted veggies I suppose a bit of crumbled feta would be a nice option. No need to measure anything, just cover the extension of the baking dish with a hearty amount of filling.

I made this particular version for a reception we hosted. Keep in mind that in the span of two weeks we hosted three receptions for faculty and one pizza-party for our whole lab. After the pizza party we had some toppings leftover, so this Brazilian concoction of my past was a perfect choice to use it all up. But to make it more special, I prepared a batch of  caramelized onions, following this recipe from my friend Elaine. She used a clever method that allows caramelization to be an almost hands-free process, by making them in a low oven. I added a smidgen of balsamic vinegar to the onions, together with salt, pepper and olive oil.

Here they are, in a before and after shot…
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I intended to add black olives to the filling too, but found the bowl with pitted Kalamata staring at me right after shutting down the oven door. Not the first time I pull this type of trick on myself, I believe it won’t be the last. Black olives would have been wonderful… (sigh)

The little pie squares are irresistibly gooey due to all the cheese…

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So there you have it, a Brazilian concoction from my teenage years finally featured in the Bewitching Kitchen. I hope I made my sister proud!  

ONE YEAR AGO: Lamb Meatballs with Toasted Orzo

TWO YEARS AGO: Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Bars

THREE YEARS AGO: Penne with Trapanese Pesto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Superman

FIVE YEARS AGO: Spring Pasta

SIX YEARS AGO: Ice Cream Melts for Mango