Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Red Velvet Cake

This should have been posted long ago, but somehow got lost in the shuffle.  Several of my co-workers were starting a major diet plan on January 1, 2010, so everyone wanted one last piece of cake before the fasting began.  I made this red velvet cake and brought it to work on December 31, and it quickly disappeared.  I particularly enjoyed the icing, as it complements the cake well without being as sickeningly sweet as some other cream cheese icings I have tried.
Another photo for good measure...
From America's Best Lost Recipes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Pinch salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
2 tablespoons (one 1-ounce bottle) red food coloring
2 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
16 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt

1. FOR THE CAKE: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla, and eggs in a large measuring cup. Mix the cocoa with the food coloring in a small bowl until a smooth paste forms.

2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and granulated sugar together until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture alternately in two batches, beating after each addition until combined. Add the cocoa mixture and beat on medium speed until completely incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  Cool the cakes in the pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely, at least 30 minutes.

3. FOR THE ICING: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese, one piece at a time, and beat until incorporated. Beat in the vanilla and salt.

4. Spread about 2 cups frosting on one cake layer. Top with the second cake layer and spread the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. Serve. (The cake can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lower Fat Granola

I have recently become interested in making homemade granola.  It is so incredibly expensive to buy, yet so easy (and much cheaper) to make at home.  Plus, it fills your house with a divine aroma as it bakes!  I like to use the oat mixture as a base, and then add different nuts and dried fruit to make new flavor combinations.  You can make lots of substitutions here - just make sure to keep the ratio of oat mixture to liquid mixture about the same.  This recipe is lower in fat than most because it uses only one tablespoon of oil.  If you don't have agave nectar you can substitute additional honey.
From Hannah's Kitchen

2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (omit if your nuts are salted)
6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons agave nectar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, wheat germ, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

3. In a small saucepan, warm the applesauce with the agave nectar, honey, and oil.

4. Mix the liquid into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined, then spread the mixture evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet.

5. Bake granola for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until the granola is deep golden brown.

6. Remove from oven and cool completely.  Add dried fruit and store in an airtight container for up to one month.