Friday, December 24, 2010

Story of a Non-Baker

I've been challenging myself to push out of my comfort zone - in all aspects of my life.  Earlier in the week, I cold called a few customers, as call centers staff would say.  Something I would normally never do; however, I was pleasantly surprised that each person I spoke to was excited to hear from me.  They were aware of my service and have been meaning to call "me".  


On the cooking front: I have been attempting to bake more often.  The measuring, the scalding, the melting, the tempering, the beating, the folding, and most importantly the icing - all this only to put it into a 1960s oven that sometimes over heats or never heats at all.  With all those reasons not to bake, I chose to tackle a German chocolate cake.  I purchased all the ingredients earlier in the week to make life easier, and not fight the holiday rush.  I pulled out my recipe and proceeded to prepare the icing.   Ok, separate some eggs, heat a couple of things add butter and sugar...easy enough.  Cook till lightly golden - yay!  Icing done...confidence in check.  Next up the cake, standard ingredient - done (with flour all over of course).  Then I see BEAT the egg whites!! Seriously?  In the time I've spent on this cake I could have cooked 3 different entrées.  Oh well, can't quit now; egg whites done and folded.  Great, we must be done now, right? Nope! Two more directions on the card:  COVER bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round pans with waxed paper. ARE you kidding me?  Is this baking or craft time in kindergarten?  Ok, I've done my part  -- let's just hope the oven does his.


Obviously I don't enjoy baking.  I appreciate all of those who enjoy the art of baking.  It is certainly labor intensive for ONE item.  I admire those who spend the holiday season baking for their loved ones.  As I was preparing the icing, I felt transported back to my grandmother's kitchen.  She was one of those who made 7 types of cookies, pies, cakes and fudge and still had enough energy to cook dinner for her family.  I felt surrounded by the love of both grandmothers (Evelyn and Peggy).  One who inspires me every time I use her Kitchen Aid and the other for teaching a grandchild how to love a made from scratch cake.  For all those grandmothers I say....THANK YOU.


Here is the recipe and frosting/filling.:



Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting


Ingredients:


4 egg yolks
1 can  (12 oz.) evaporated milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups  sugar
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) butter or margarine
1 pkg.  (7 oz.) sweetened Coconut (about 2-2/3 cups)
1-1/2 cups  Chopped Pecans


Method






Beat egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with wire whisk until well blended. 





Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 min. or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.






Add coconut and pecans; mix well. Cool to room temperature and of desired spreading consistency.


You will see that as I get into the actual cake baking the pictures become more scarce. 


German Chocolate Cake


Ingredients:

4 oz. Good Quality Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup  water
4 eggs, separated
2 cups  flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp.  salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups  sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup  buttermilk



Method:



HEAT oven to 350°F.






Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.


Mix flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. 






Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.






In a separate bowl, beat egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; fold into batter; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.




Cover bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round pans with waxed paper; spray sides with cooking spray. 


Bake 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. Cool cakes in pans 15 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. 






Spread Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting between cake layers and onto top of cake.







The original recipe does not call for icing the entire cake, but some how I did not read that step at all.  Oh well,  I was done, and I was very happy to have baked such a great dessert to share with friends and loved ones.  It was a labor of frustration at times, but still one of love, and if the frosting is any indication this cake is going to ROCK.


Update:


The cake was an amazing success!  One bite into a cake that melts in your mouth, and you forget for one moment of bliss all of the heartache that gets you there...until next Christmas.

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