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Where, oh where, has the Cheesehead gone?

August 17, 2010

Oh where, oh where, can she be?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to put my face on a milk carton.  The Cheesehead has been wrapped up in work.

I have been baking, though.  Yes, mostly baking so if you’re less-than-enthused about cake, this post will likely not be your favorite.  If you’ll forgive the crappy quality of several of these, I’ll bring you up to speed on what I’ve been doing:

Margarita Cupcakes

I filled these, using the same cream I’d used for the Butterfly Cupcakes, but added some margarita mix to it.

Roasted Chickpeas

I must’ve misread this recipe the first time we made these – I grabbed Cajun seasoning and chili powder.  It worked, though… and we’ve never followed it exactly as listed, but Erin inspired us to try these and they’re FANTASTIC.  

Chocolate Covered Strawberries filled with Whipped Cream

Sorry, folks… no recipe.  Literally just hulled strawberries dipped in chocolate and then filled with whipped cream.  Confession: that whipped cream in the above picture?  Cool Whip.  I didn’t even bother to whip my own cream! ::gasp::

There have been other things, but I either didn’t take a picture and therefore wouldn’t try to convince you to make it yourself, or it was a flop.  Or worse…store-bought! 😉

And then my kitchen took a turn to the land of cake.  A few reasons:

  1.  Somehow, I acquired the affectionate title of “Cupcake Queen” among my peers.  Anyone who knows me, knows that if you say I am  fill in the blank , I’ll go out of my way to prove you otherwise.  Cupcake Queen is a nice title and all, but I wanted to do more than just cupcakes… I want to be good in the kitchen, period.  Cooking… baking… I wanted to be more adaptable than just cupcakes.
  2. I’ve had this long-fought battle with layer cakes.  They never come out right, and it bugs me.  I’ve wanted to figure out how to tackle a layer cake successfully for a while.
  3. My Aunt is getting married (Congrats, Aunt D!!)  She asked me if I was interested in doing her (small) wedding cake.  This was a tough decision for me because I am such a perfectionist… I didn’t want to agree to do it unless I felt I could deliver the best damned (small) wedding cake she could’ve gotten.  Not “the best damned wedding cake from her niece”, but just a really good wedding cake she and her future hubby could be happy with.
  4. As Mr. Cheesehead pointed out, I had become bored with cupcakes.  (Truthfully, to keep it real, his exact words were “You were f’ing bored, Paula!”  He was right.  I hate it when he’s right.)  I know I’ll return to my Cupcake Kingdom eventually, but for now, I’m moving on to bigger and better things (literally.) 

So I started with this cake from Beantown Baker:

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake – You see, Jen’s looked AMAZING and it made me want a piece.  That’s problematic since she’s a plane-ride away.  Also, she said this was her second layer cake, so I thought “Okay… if she can do it, I can too.  Mine might not look as good, but she did it!”  After reading and re-reading the tips I’d remembered seeing on smitten kitchen last year (layer cake tips + the biggest birthday cake yet), I set to work.  I made the raspberry curd from Jen’s blog and then moved on to the cake.  Of course, I’d forgotten fresh raspberries the day I assembled and decorated the cake and was too lazy to run back out.  I filled the top with leftover raspberry curd.

From there, I decided to move on to something more specific to the Big Event: finding the right white cake and blueberry-cream cheese filling.  I first tried Katie’s Almond Cake, but used a cream cheese mixture & blueberry sauce filling:

 

(In this attempt, I tried using what I thought would be the yummiest icing – a crusting cream cheese icing from Design Me a Cake.  However, I found the frosting got soft very easily, even with A TON of powdered sugar in it.  That wasn’t exactly something I wanted to contend with for a wedding cake so when I tried the next cake recipe, I also tried a different frosting.)

Practice cake #2:  I chose Bridget’s adaptation of Cooking Illustrated’s White Cake (white cake comparison 2).  The woman tested 3 different white cake recipes TWICE… I had to respect that and credit her with having much more experience with tasting white cakes than I myself had.  After tasting that many white cake recipes, identifying the differences, and adapting to get the best of all worlds, I thought her variation was an appropriate place to start.

On to the change in frostings.  A wedding cake needs to be transported.  The crusting cream cheese icing I’d used in my first attempt would not hold up an hour’s car ride and then possibly sit out until the reception.  (I also think I was a bit put-off by how much powdered sugar went into the cream cheese icing I’d used!)  It couldn’t hurt to try out other frostings, right?!  This is all about trial and error to find the right match, so  I returned to a frosting I knew to be less sweet: Swiss Buttercream.  I’d used it when I made Vanilla Bean Cupcakes (and looking back now, realize I never posted the recipe.)  This time, I went with smitten kitchen’s recipe.  She too used it for a wedding cake, so I thought it was appropriate for my situation:

Success!!  The frosting was a dream to work with in comparison to the cream cheese icing.  It also held together much better in my opinion.  The general consensus of my “taste testers” (neighbors, co-workers, and of course Mr. Cheesehead!) is this is the best frosting I’ve ever made.  In my opinion, I think the less sweet Swiss Buttercream allowed the flavors of the blueberry-cream cheese filling to shine through as well.

Anyway… that’s been the past few months of my life!  Stay tuned for more cake and adventures in the kitchen.

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