Making good on my promise to try the mini-layer stack again, I went with chocolate, pastry cream, strawberries, and Mom's frosting. Angorian suggested that room temperature eggs might have been the key to success and non-sinking cakes, so I warmed mine up in a bowl of warm water, since I never plan far enough ahead to take things out of the fridge. To bring butter to room temp, I stick it in the microwave (on a plate) and nuke it for one minute at power level 1 and it seems to do the trick.
I had a few recipes in my recipe box. The provenance of the Dutch Chocolate Cake was sketchy, which proved to be a problem when I got to that last ingredient: "1/2 c. _________ ." Added alternately with flour mixture. Whoopsie. I decided it was sour cream, but that was just a guess.
Dutch Chocolate Cake
1 c. hot water, almost boiling
1/4 c. cocoa
1 c. softened butter
1 1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. sour cream
Stir together hot water and cocoa and set aside. Cream butter and sugars together, then add eggs, one at a time. Add cocoa water and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt, then add alternately with sour cream, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Bake at 300 degrees F for 12 minutes.
When you put the cocoa water in the butter-sugar mixture, something very . . . pebbly . . . happens. I did panic. This had the consistency of something you might throw up. All the butter turns into tiny nuggets, and you think it's lost. It really looks bad and gross.
But add the flour stuff and it all works out. PHEW. I was pretty much amazed, I must say. It turned into regular chocolate cake batter. Must have something to do with mixing water into solid-ish butter, it all kind of seizes up and freaks out.
Again with the mini pans. This batter fills up only ten of them instead of twelve. I'll have recipes for you when I get back but I'm rushing out the door here in a minute so this'll be the short version but come back later or tomorrow for the details. Nigella, I love your little blue measuring cups. I didn't think I would, but I do.
Took these out after about twelve minutes when the toothpick came out clean. Cut the top off this one and found a molten core. But it turned out it was the only one like this, so it must have been in a weird place in the oven. I live in fear of burning cakes, so I always try to take them out a minute early. But not this early.
Pastry cream: yum. Lots of recipes out there for this; mine is just basic. Then a run out to Safeway for strawberries. Got the third-to-last container of strawberries left at Safeway (it was 7 p.m. by this time) and they were really awful — not ripe, and bruised. So I salvaged what I could and sliced them really thin. Everyone on earth was buying strawberries and roses yesterday.
Whipped up some of Mom's frosting — light as a cloud. I'm going to call it "Cloudburst Frosting" instead of what we usually call it, "frosting with the milk and the flour stuff." I love this frosting so much.
4 T. flour
1 c. whole milk
1 c. butter
1 t. almond
2 c. sifted confectioners sugar
In small pan, whisk together flour and milk. Simmer until thick over low heat. Remove from heat and let cool completely but NOT in refrigerator. Cream together butter and almond; add sugar and beat until fluffy. Add flour mixture and beat until fluffy. The frosting will appear to separate, but just keep beating on high until it whips up into smooth, fluffy clouds.
I have to say, the frosting is a bit temperamental — but it tastes sooooo good. It was really light, in a weird way. I mean, relatively speaking. I think it was much better than the vanilla-raspberry buttercream cakes I made last week.
I tinted the frosting a little bit pink, and then just did the blobs with the star tip.
Andy made Ina's Chicken with Morels and I dinked around with these cakes and got in his way. It was sooooo late by the time we finally got to the eatin'. I pretty much massacred this one. You have to cut little slices with a steak knife, or risk smooshing the whole thing. Dang, that cake was good. Took me 47 hours to make it, but it was good.