Monday, February 9, 2009

Ridiculously Large Brownies

I was reminded at the best time (8:45 PM) that I had offered to bring goodies to my Strategies in Family Education class the next day. When I checked my email I found a message from Jo-Ann stores, advertising a new brownie book from Wilton, with a recipe link. I decided to make these Cake Brownies to bring in, even though I had to run to the grocery store to get eggs. (Most of the eggs in the previous post were already used.) Because the recipe only made a smaller square pan, I decided to go ahead and double it for a 9 x 13 pan.

The pan of brownies could have anchored a boat. They were, without a doubt, the biggest brownies I have made. Of course, in a Chocolate Emergency type of situation, this would definitely be an attribute.

Here's a better view of the thickness of the brownies. The recipe used cake flour, which may have had an effect.

Instead of frosting the brownies, I gave them a good dusting of powdered sugar.

The brownies were a hit at class. I believe I am going to add this recipe to the list of State Fair entries for this year. The flavor is a good balance of chocolate and sweet. However, I've found that one recipe makes more than enough brownies to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Egg Cake Practice

When it comes to egg cakes....BE PREPARED!

Last year at the fair I entered the Angel Food Cake category. I have not made an angel food cake very much, so it was a learning experience. I scored a 90 out of 100, not too bad, so I think I have a good start. This weekend was my grandma's birthday, and angel food is one of her favorites, so I took the opportunity to practice the cake for this year. The recipe I used is from my 1969 version of Betty Crocker, called Deluxe Angel Food Cake (another version is Supreme Angel Food Cake). This same recipe is on the Betty Crocker web site as Heavenly Angel Food Cake.
I like beating the egg whites with my trusty partner-in-crime, the KA. Twelve egg whites have a LOT of volume when beaten!

The egg whites are ready when they form stiff peaks.

Next I sprinkle in the cake flour mixed with powdered sugar. I should be sifting this into the mixture. Next time I will not be so lazy.

Folding the flour/sugar mixture into the egg white mixture.

It's ready for the ungreased tube pan (again, nix the non-stick stuff). My pan is by Wilton.

I'm cutting through the mixture with a knife to eliminate any air pockets. They are my foes in this cake, causing those unsightly holes that are found in unpleasant ways (such as when the judges are slicing into the cake at the fair).

Cracks, cracks everywhere! These weren't terrible, but there IS room for improvement.

IMMEDIATELY after removing the cake from the oven, it must be inverted in order for it to cool without collapsing. I saved a glass Coke bottle just for this purpose. I bought the Coke just for this purpose of cooling foam type cakes.

The cooled cake, extracted from the pan. Not too shabby, but more test runs are needed. Those blasted air pockets get me every time! I think I need to push the batter into the pan more than I do. We'll see what happens next time.
The next experiment was an Orange Sponge Cake. I'd never made a sponge cake at all, so this task was a little more daunting. It's pretty similar to the Angel Food Cake, so I had an idea of how it should look. Still, it was a test run, so I had to buckle down and not slack on any part of the procedure. The recipe is from the 1953 Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

I'm whipping up the egg yolks and orange juice in the KA first.

The cake flour is sifted, then folded into the egg yolk mixture. (I did sift the flour for this cake.)

Next I beat the egg whites with my hand mixer.

This is how voluminous six egg whites become!

The eggs whites are folded into the other mixture.

Pushing the batter into the tube pan, same as the angel food cake.

My heart sank, much as the cake sank. I do not think I beat the egg yolks long enough. Next time the egg whites are going into the stand mixer, and the yolks will be beat by the hand mixer. I don't think my whisk attachment reached enough of the yolks in the initial beating process.

I placed the cake top side down on a cardboard cake round and drizzled an orange glaze over it. It was a little low in the middle, but it had good flavor. I may try a new recipe, to compare the results with this one.