Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Friday!

Earlier in the week I had extra cake batter.  Normally I freeze my extra batter (*see note below!) but I already have a few containers of frozen batter, so I decided to bake off my leftover instead into 8" rounds.  I've been thinking all week what I wanted to do with the layers, and finally decided this afternoon to throw this cake together.  I often like to use up little bits of things I have around, so this cake ended up being vanilla layers with chocolate ganache, chocolate frosting, decorated with crushed Oreos and topped with whole Oreos. 

A few years ago I was the head baker at a start up cupcake shop. Until this point my whole baking career had been based around scratch recipes.  When I walked into the kitchen at the cupcake shop I saw a whole shelf of cake mixes.  A few weeks later I tried to switch the shop to scratch recipes, but I realized that even though I had great scratch recipes, it just didn't work.  The shelf life of scratch cupcakes is terrible.  And, to put it simply...customers are too used to grocery store cakes.  I needed to come up with something that was in between.  So that's exactly what I did.  Instead of having a "doctored cake mix" I created a "doctored scratch mix." My only issue with the following recipe is that it creates a rather large batch, but I am often used to baking in large quantities so it works for me.  At some point in the future I'm going to work on cutting the recipe down.  The recipe might seem a little odd, but it really is fantastic.  And the great thing is that it's a wonderful base recipe, especially because you can switch out the vanilla box mix for other flavors.

Vanilla Cake
1 cup butter (for cupcakes) or margarine (for cake)
2 cups sugar
1 TBS vanilla
1 vanilla cake mix (I've found that Betty Crocker work the best)
7 eggs
1/3 cup oil
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups water
1 TBS white vinegar plus enough milk to equal 1 cup

For cake:

Cream together margarine and sugar.  Add cake mix, vanilla, eggs and oil.  Mix in baking powder, salt, flour, water (cold), and milk/vinegar (cold) mixture until batter is smooth, well combined, and all the lumps are out. 

Bake at 350 degrees until the top is slightly brown and it bounces back when you touch it.

For cupcakes: 

Melt butter.  Heat milk/vinegar mixture.  Use HOT water.  (*See second note!)

Mix together all ingredients EXCEPT eggs (if you include eggs with hot butter and other hot liquids, you most likely will scramble your eggs!)  Once ingredients have mixed together, slowly start to incorporate eggs until they are all blended into the batter. 

Bake at 325-335 degrees.  Bake until the tops are just slightly golden and they bounce back when you touch them.

For cake, I can usually get a good 3 9" rounds, for cupcakes at least 4 dz. 

*Note One* Did you know that you can freeze cake batter?  Fill microwave safe containers with the batter, and when you are ready to use it, just heat it up to thaw!  Make sure you microwave it in increments (I usually do 1-2 minute) and stir in between.  Another cool thing with this is what my kids like to call "Magic Cake."  They take an ice cream scooper and scoop out some frozen batter, microwave for about 30-45 seconds (depending on the size of their scoop,) stir to even it out, then microwave again for another 30-45 seconds.  Easy single sized cake portions!

*Note Two* For the longest time I couldn't figure out how to get nice, rounded, domed tops on cupcakes.  I tried everything, and finally figured's the temperature of my ingredients!  When you have a cold batter, you will have flat cupcakes that run into each other or run over the cupcake pan.  If you liquid ingredients are nice and hot, making a warm batter, you will have nice, pretty topped cupcakes!

Happy weekend baking!

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