Sunday, July 3, 2011

Moving, Summer, One Kitten, and Two Cakes

 My goodness, time really does get away from me. It's been over a month since I've posted anything!  Since then, I moved, put together several pieces of Ikea furniture (three of them alone!) got a new kitten (we now have a dog and two cats), had a birthday, and celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Phew. June was quite a month.  We also didn't have a working stove for the first week, and a really spotty internet connection for nearly a month. But, we're loving our new home and our new neighborhood.  It's so nice to take our dog, Pookie, for evening walks in a neighborhood that's really interesting and full of history.  We also love our new kitten.

Her name is Lily, and she's quite a little girl.  She loves purring, cuddling and sleeping.  She also loves clawing feet and sticking her head in my latte, not to mention a not-so healthy love of ambushing both Pookie and our cat, Molly, in their sleep. She's become the life of the household, almost always inserting herself in the action. We got her from the Humane Society near our new home, where they called her Sweetpea and had her on the news.  We were the lucky family that got to take this pretty girl home!   Lily has also become my baking buddy.  I never had a baking buddy before, and I didn't realize that I needed one.  Lily likes to place herself in a corner of the kitchen, occasionally coming over to swat my feet, but usually falling asleep and giving me something adorable to look at. She stays with me no matter how long it takes or how hot the oven makes the room.  Who says cats aren't loyal? 

 A baking buddy has become really handy lately, because I've been doing a lot of baking. I recently took Rose Levy Beranbaum's new cake book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes, out of the local library. My mom had a copy of The Cake Bible that I used to flip through from time to time, but I never really read what Rose had to say about cake.  She knows--and has been the one to discover--so much about cake!  Her recipes really are great. I find that I really do prefer her two-stage mixing technique, and that's something that I need to post about in the very near future.  I plan to change all of my favorite butter/oil cake recipes to use this method.  I've made several cakes in the book, including her recipe for red velvet, her yellow cake, and the white velvet cake (this one is so good!).  But, this is what I made for my birthday:

It's the Almond Shamah Cake, dressed up a bit, by using Rose's recipe for Raspberry Mousseline on the outside.  I used the raspberry flavored whipped cream for the filling. While the mousseline was really tough to make in hot, humid weather (really, it's the only thing I don't like about summer), it did help the leftover cake hold up really well, in the refrigerator, for about five days.

Four days after baking the Almond Shamah Cake, I baked an anniversary cake that looked like the top of our wedding cake (No, I am not manic, and yes, I do sleep).

To go back to what I was just saying, I didn't utilize the two-stage mixing technique (the recipe I used was from Martha Stewart Weddings), and while the cake was great, mixing the ingredients was tedious and messy.I also thought the recipe instructions were not as clear as a Rose recipe. Add to that a need to reduce all of the ingredients from a full-size wedding cake down  to one cake top, and you have a complicated task! Though this cake also took some time and patience, mainly because of the weather, again, I prefer baking to trying to eat freezer-burned cake, and then throwing the rest away.  I love cake far too much to ever do this. This was my first attempt at decorating a cake, and I was proud of myself, though it wasn't perfect.

And, that pretty much sums up my month, more or less. Tomorrow is the fourth of July, and I have lots of treats to prepare.  I'll be sure to report back with some of the results.