Tuesday, November 20, 2007

life

There has been so much chaos in our lives lately that it's been hard to stop and say, 'hey, that would be good for the blog!'. Truth be told, we really haven't been cooking much and most of our meals have consisted of fast and easy, quick and cheesy.

What has kept us so busy?

Well, first trying to sell the condo. It's hard to cook elaborate meals when in the back of your mind you know that you need to keep your kitchen in tip top shape because at any point someone might want to come see it. It's a hard, hard life.

Second, there has been so much work/time spent in building a new construction home. Mind you, it's all been fun work, but still work none the less. There have been countless meetings, appliance shopping, brick choices, upgrade decisions, and the list goes on and on...and we still have 4 more months to go...

This week, the land was dug up and the foundation was laid. It's such a tiny step towards our new home, but yet so exciting!

Is this where the kitchen will be??

Lastly, the siblings and I had to plan an ambitious anniversary party for the in-laws. There was a lot of planning involved and a lot of food. It all went well but unfortunately in all the scramble, very few food pictures were taken. Here are a few...

Roasted vegetable baguettes with crumbled feta and hummus:

I also volunteered to bake a cake. As we know, cakes and I have a volatile relationship. Still, I always look for opportunities to bake because how will I ever get better if I never try, right? Right.
And I'm happy to say that this cake was somewhat of a success. It was a beautiful recipe from Dorie Greenspan.

Perfect Party Cake
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours

Cake
9 oz cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 3/4 fl. oz. buttermilk
4 large egg whites
10 1/2 oz sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Buttercream
7 oz sugar
4 large egg whites
12 oz unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 1-in pieces
2 1/4 fl. oz. fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves (I used strawberry)
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or butter two 9" x 2" round cake pans. Line the bottom of each cake pan with a buttered parchment circle.

For the cake: Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
Whisk the buttermilk and egg whites together in a separate bowl.
Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a stand mixer bowl and rub together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and smells like the lemon.
Add the butter to the mixer bowl and beat together with the sugar for 3 minutes on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy and light.
Add in the vanilla extract.
Add in the flour and buttermilk mixtures in alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour mixtures. Be sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next.
When everything is added beat the batter for an additional 2 minutes.
Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 30 minutes in the oven or until the tops are set and springy, and a cake tester inserted into the centers come out clean.
Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for a few minutes, then flip and unmold the cakes (run a knife around the sides of the cakes if necessary). Peel the parchment off and flip the cakes back over right side up on the wire racks to finish cooling.

For the buttercream: Combine the sugar and egg whites in a medium heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.
Whisk the sugar mixture constantly over heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture looks smooth and shiny, about 3 minutes.
Remove mixture from heat and pour into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture has cooled.
Switch to the paddle attachment and with the speed on low, add the butter a few pieces at a time, beating until smooth.
When all the butter has been added, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed for about 6-10 minutes until it is very thick and smooth.
Add in the lemon juice and beat until combined. Add in the vanilla.
The buttercream is ready to be used. Place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface until you are ready to use it to prevent it from drying out.

To assemble the cake: Using a sharp serrated knife, slice each cake layer horizontally in half.
Stir the raspberry preserves until it is loose and spreadable.
Place a layer on a cardboard cake round, cut side up. Spread about a third of the raspberry preserves on the cake layer.
Spread a layer of buttercream on top of the preserves. Top with a second cake layer. I found that if you have problems with this, you can spread the buttercream on a second cake layer and flip it over onto the preserve-covered layer - but you have to be very careful doing this or you'll break your cake layer!
Spread preserves and buttercream on the second cake layer as you did with the first. Top with a third cake layer.
Spread preserves and buttercream on the third cake layer as you did with the second. Top with the last cake layer, cut side down.
Use the rest of the buttercream to frost the sides and top of the cake.

Press the coconut over the sides and top of the cake.

So that is basically everything that has been going on in our life. We've been busy, but we're very happy. This is a good time for us and we're glad that we can share it with all of you.

7 comments:

Ima & Aba said...

So exciting to see your house foundation dug up !!!!!!

THANK YOU FOR AN AMAZING ANNIVERSARY SURPRISE PARTY !!!!!

Love,
Ima & Aba

Ima said...

THE CAKE WAS DELICIOUS !

Hillary said...

That raspberry cake looks fantastic, as do the baguettes!!

Annie Ruok said...

Pats on the back & hi-fives all around - I am so proud of us! Loved the cake (from someone who doesn't really eat cake!). I know u only use 'the real stuff' when u cook or bake, but had to ask about the sweetner, just to rule it out! Good job Dina & special thanx to my Master Chopper Mony!

Erin said...

Congrats! I hope you continue blogging about the new home and everything that comes along with it.

Chelsey said...

Hey, congrats on the new house! I´m sure we'll all want to see pics as the process unfolds. I hope that condo selling goes well for you and that the market up there is better than here in the states!

I'm very excited about those baguettes because not only do they look delicious, they aren't intimidating to a novice cook like myself. And it includes one of my favorite ingredients...hummus!

Thanx so much for the delicious ideas!

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