Saturday, June 15, 2013

Raspberry Coffee Cake

The calendar says spring, but Mother Nature apparently thinks that means it should rain for a week at a time.  It's actually nice and sunny today, but earlier in the week, the weather really had my down in the dumps, so I decided I needed to make something light and flavorful that would cheer me up.

You see, spring and summer are my favorite time of year.  Normally, it's something like this: the sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the sky is blue, the grass is green and the trees are in full bloom.  I'm driving with the radio up and the windows down, and all of my favorite fruits are in season: watermelon, strawberries, cantaloupe, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, watermelon (yes, I like watermelon so much it made the list twice).... mmm.

Only, mostly it's been like this: dark, chilly, wet, gloomy.  I'm really an outdoorsy person, but this weather makes it really hard for me to want to go from my front door to the car, never mind do anything fun.

Some early berries are starting to hit shelves, and they're everything you'd expect from seasonal fruit: bright and colorful, juicy and delicious.  So, I decided to the bring the outside in.  A lot of coffee cakes have a full bottom and top dough.  I liked this one because there was just a little bit of dough on top, which really lets the tartness of the raspberries take center stage.  If you prefer your coffee cake a little more contained, simply double the dough recipe.  The dough is quite a bit sticky, though, so you'll want to be careful spreading it over the raspberries.

I can't speak for everyone else, but this definitely brightened my mood.  The cake is light and fluffy and the raspberries are the perfect combination of sweet and tart.  While this would certainly work with frozen berries, this really lets the flavor of the fresh berries shine.

Raspberry Coffee Cake
To print this recipe, click here
For the filling:
1 cup raspberries
3 Tbs brown sugar

For the dough:
1 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1/2 c. sour cream
3 Tbs butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the icing:
1/4 c. confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tsp. milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8" square baking pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine raspberries and brown sugar; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and baking soda.  Stir in egg, sour cream, butter and vanilla.  Mix just until combined and moistened.

Spread batter into baking pan, reserving about 2/3 cup (I found it was easier to spread using just the very edge of a fork).  Top with raspberries.  Spoon remaining batter over raspberries.

Bake for 25 minutes, until raspberries are set and top is lightly browned.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Combine icing ingredients and drizzle over coffee cake.  Serve warm.  Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cake Pops: First Attempt

In honor of Josh's high school graduation, I was going to blog about his favorite recipe.  But, I promised him we could make it together this summer, so I will save the post for a later date and instead share about my first attempt at cake pops.

I like to think of this as a follow up to my post about Samantha's rainbow cupcakes.  See, I made some extra in case I had some casualties.  I had a couple, so it was a good thing I did.  I somehow ended up with a full extra dozen cupcakes.  I wanted to eat them, but I also wanted to do something different with them.  So, I decided I would try to make cake pops.
 "Try" is the key word, here.  I've already looked online and figured out some things I can try to make them come out better next time.  I used dipping chocolate and candy coating for these, and I had a much better and easier time with the chocolate.  Candy coating, apparently, is harder to use than you would think, which explains why I mostly ended up with (lumpy) cake balls instead of cake pops.
Here's the thing:  they look pretty ugly - or, at least not as awesome as all of the other ones on the internet - but holy crap they are delicious!
Josh gave me a box of red velvet cake mix awhile ago, and I think I am going to try to make those into cake pops.  I'm hoping that the idea in my head translates well in real life, but I think that if I combine that with what I read online and what I figured out the hard way, I'll be in good shape.  To be honest, I'm really excited about trying them again so that I can have something that looks as good as it tastes.
If you're thinking about making cake pops (or cake balls), I found this link to be pretty helpful: Common Cake Pop Issues & Tutorial.  Of course, you'll probably want to check it out before you start making them.

What's the last recipe you made that ended up being harder/more complicated than you expected?

Monday, June 3, 2013

Birthday Cupcakes

I am really excited about this post today.  I've been wanting to talk about it for awhile, but I was feeling superstitious and didn't want to jinx it.  "It" finally happened - successfully! - so now I want to tell you guys all about it.

Remember how I made rainbow birthday cake for a coworker a few months ago?  Well, my coworker, Stephanie, brought the rest of the cake home with her for kids.  Her oldest daughter, Samantha, LOVED it (okay, the other two kids loved it also, but they don't have anything to do with this story) and asked me to make rainbow cake for her birthday.  And then I found out that they were expecting ~100 people, so I decided that rainbow sheet cake(s) was/were out of the question and opted for rainbow cupcakes instead.  Of course, I had to make a test batch to see if they would satisfy my customer.

They were a success, but Sam's only real request was that they be actual rainbow colors and NO PINK!  I also wanted to do something different with the frosting.  I liked the chocolate/vanilla (dyed teal) swirl (reminded me of soft serve ice cream), but it started to look a little mucky towards the end.

After brainstorming with Joe, we decided I would take it up a notch.

(Yes, there is one missing!)
Rainbow cupcakes with solid colored frosting, set up to look like a rainbow.


Wanna see what they looked like on the inside?

Samantha asked for bright, rainbow colors, and I delivered.  I only stayed at the party for an hour or so, but the cupcakes were definitely a hit.  A bunch of Sam's friends sought me out to tell me how delicious they were, and I think I saw every small kid with at least one while I was there.  The coup de grace, though, was when one of Stephanie's friends told me that this was the first entire cupcake her 6 year old daughter had ever eaten.  She was telling me that her daughter will usually only eat a couple of bites before abandoning it, but this one she ate the whole entire thing in one sitting.  I realize that cupcakes are not actually that large, but holy crap!  I didn't even know what to say or how to react.  Inside, I was (am) doing backflips.

Overall, this was a ton of work and time, but totally worth it.  The cupcakes came out GREAT and it was a really awesome thing.  Hopefully, it's also a step in the right direction.

Happy birthday, Samantha!